Tuesday, February 21, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: STEVEN MANCHESTER





ABOUT THE BOOK

Middle-aged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast thought they were completely done with each other. Perceived betrayal had burned the bridge between them, tossing them into the icy river of estrangement. But life – and death – has a robust sense of irony, and when they learn that their cruel father has died and made his final request that they travel together across the country to spread his ashes, they have no choice but to spend a long, long car trip in each other's company. It's either that or lose out on the contents of the envelope he's left with his lawyer. The trip will be as gut-wrenching as each expects it to be and revealing in ways neither of them is prepared for. 

At turns humorous, biting, poignant, and surprisingly tender, Ashes puts a new spin on family and dysfunction with a story that is at once fresh and timelessly universal.



EXCERPT FROM ASHES


The Reunion


Tom wheeled his late-model, platinum-colored BMW into Attorney Russell Norman’s freshly-paved lot and parked between a brand new Lexus—sporting the license plate, JUSTIS4U—and a custom pickup truck. Looks like I’m going after the hillbilly, he thought when he spotted the faded Massachusetts Department of Correction sticker in the rear window. His blood turned cold. “It must be Jason,” he thought aloud. I didn’t think he’d come.

Tom took a few deep breaths, not because he was nervous about his father’s death or talking to any lawyer but because he hadn’t seen his Neanderthal brother—for fifteen years, I think. He paused for a moment to give it more thought. Although their relationship had essentially vaporized in their late teens—the result of a fall-out that still haunted his dreams—they’d occasionally wound up in each other’s orbits; weddings, funerals and the like, enough to remain familiar with each other’s career choices, wives and children. But even that came to an end fifteen years ago, he confirmed in his aching head before opening the door. While his toothache-induced migraine threatened to blind him, he took one step into the oak-paneled waiting room. His and Jason’s eyes met for the briefest moment. As though they were complete strangers, they both looked away. And here he is, Tom thought, disappointed. This is just great.

Through peripheral vision, Tom noticed that his older brother now wore a scar over his right eye, just above a bushy eyebrow that could have easily belonged to a homeless Scotsman. A jagged ear lobe, a piece clearly torn away, pointed to a crooked nose which sat sideways on his face—all of it rearranged since birth. What a big tub of crap he’s turned in to, Tom thought, struggling to ignore his throbbing face and head. He’s as fat as a wood tick now, he thought, grinning, and he looks like he’s ready to pop. Jason looked straight at him, as if reading his mind. Tom immediately looked away, his rapid heartbeat starting to pound in his ears, intensifying his physical pain. Unbelievable, he thought. After all the years and all the distance, his elder brother—by only two years—still scared the hell out of him. He’s just a big imbecil, that’s all, he told himself, but he still couldn’t bring himself to rejoin his brother’s penetrating gaze.

The secretary answered her phone before calling out, “Mr. Prendergast . . . ”

Both brothers stood.

“Attorney Norman will see you now.”

Tom walked in first, letting the door close behind him—right in Jason’s face.

“Still a weasel,” Jason muttered, loud enough for all to hear.

“What was that?” Tom asked just inside the door.

“Don’t even think about playing with me,” Jason warned, “’cause I have no problem throwing you over my knee and spanking you right in front of this guy.”

I’m fifty years old, for God’s sake, Tom thought, and he thinks he’s going to spank me? I’m surprised the prison even let him out.

The attorney—his hand extended for anyone willing to give it a shake—looked mortified by the childish exchange.

Tom shook the man’s hand before settling into a soft leather wing chair. Jason followed suit.
The room was framed in rich mahogany paneling. The desk could have belonged in the oval office. Beneath a green glassed banker’s lamp, stacks of file folders took up most of the vast desktop. An American flag stood in one corner, while framed diplomas and certificates, bearing witness to the man’s intelligence and vast education, covered the brown walls.

Attorney Norman wore a pin striped shirt and pleated charcoal-colored slacks, held up by a pair of black suspenders. He had a bow tie, a receding hairline that begged to be shaved bald and a pair of eyeglasses that John Lennon would have been proud to call his own. There’s no denying it, Tom thought, trying to ignore his brother’s wheezing beside him, he’s either a lawyer or a banker. He couldn’t be anything else.

While Jason squirmed in his seat, visibly uncomfortable to be sitting in a lawyer’s office, his hands squeezed the arms of the chair. What a chicken, Tom thought, trying to make himself feel better. Peering sideways, he noticed that his brother’s knuckles were so swollen with scar tissue they could have belonged to a man who made his living as a bare knuckle brawler. He’s still an animal too, he decided.

Attorney Norman took a seat, grabbed a manila file from atop the deep stack and cleared his throat. “The reason you’re both here . . . ”

“…is to make sure the old man’s really dead,” Jason interrupted.

In spite of himself and his harsh feelings for his brother, Tom chuckled—drawing looks from both men.


“The reason we’re all here,” Attorney Norman repeated, “is to read Stuart Prendergast’s last will and testament.” He flipped open the folder.

This ought to be good, Tom thought, while Jason took a deep breath and sighed heavily. Both brothers sat erect in their plush chairs, waiting to hear more.

As if he were Stuart Prendergast sitting there in the flesh, the mouth piece read, “My final wish is that my two sons, Jason and Thomas, bring my final remains to 1165 Milford Road in Seattle, Washington, where they will spread my ashes.”

“Seattle, Washington?” Tom blurted, his wagging tongue catching his tooth, making him wince in pain. Quickly concealing his weakness, he slid to the edge of his seat. “Oh, I don’t think so,” he mumbled, careful not to touch the tooth again.

Jason was shaking his head. “Hell no,” he said.

The attorney read on. “I’ve always been afraid to fly, so I’m asking that I not be transported by airplane but driven by car.”

“No way,” Tom instinctively sputtered.

Jason laughed aloud. “This is just great. The old man’s dead and he’s still screwing with us.”
The less-than-amused attorney revealed a sealed envelope and continued on. “As my final gift to my sons . . . ”

“Only gift,” Tom muttered, feeling a cauldron of bad feelings bubbling in his gut.

“I’m leaving this sealed envelope for them to share, once and only once they’ve taken me to my final resting place.”

“What the . . . ” Jason blurted.

Every cell in Tom’s overloaded brain flashed red. Don’t do it, he thought. You don’t owe that old man a damned thing. But every cell in his body was flooded with curiosity. He looked at Jason, who was no longer shaking his fat head.

“Maybe the degenerate finally hit it big at the dog track?” Jason suggested.

Tom nodded in agreement, but secretly wondered, Could it be the deed to the land Pop bragged about owning in Maine? He stared at the envelope. For as long as I can remember, he claimed to own forty plus acres with a brook running straight through it. He stared harder. Could it be? he wondered, wishing he had x-ray vision. A parcel of land in Maine sure would make a nice retirement . . . 


“How ‘bout we travel separately and meet in Seattle to spread the ashes?” Jason said, interrupting his thoughts.

“Great idea,” Tom said, hoping against all hope that the idea would fly with their father’s lawyer.

Attorney Norman shook his head. “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but your father specifically requested that you travel together with his remains to Seattle. Any deviation from this can and will prohibit you from attaining the sealed envelope.”

There was a long pause; the room blanketed in a heavy silence. Son-of-a-bitch, Tom thought, this couldn’t have come at a worst time. He turned to Jason, who was already looking at him. “What do you say?” he asked, already cursing his inability to curb his curiosity.
Jason shook his head in disgust. “The last thing I want to do is to go on some stupid road trip with you.”

“Trust me, that’s a mutual feeling,” Tom shot back.

“But I don’t think we have a choice,” Jason added. “Our messed up father wants to play one last game with us, so to hell with it—let’s play.”

This is insane, but he’s right, Tom thought. With a single nod, Tom stood. “Okay, let’s have the ashes then,” he told the lawyer.

The attorney shook his head. “I don’t have them. They’re currently at a funeral home in Salem.”

“Salem?” Tom squeaked, unhappy that his tone betrayed his distress.

“That’s right. You have to take custody of your father’s remains from the Buffington Funeral Home in Salem, Massachusetts.”

“You must be kidding me?” Jason said.

The attorney smirked. “I kid you not,” he said, throwing the letter onto his desk.

Salem? Tom repeated in his head. Just when I thought Pop couldn’t be a bigger prick . . . The migraine knocked even harder from the inside of his skull, making him feel nauseous. Amidst the pain, his synapses fired wildly, considering all this would mean: I’ll have to take bereavement leave from school and find someone to cover my classes. I should probably double my treatment with Dr. Baxter tomorrow. And what about Caleb and Caroline? he asked himself, quickly deciding, They’ll be fine without me for a few days. Then he pictured his wife’s face. And Carmen, she’ll be fine without me for a lot longer than that. The nausea increased. Screw her.

“Are we done here?” Jason asked, obviously itching to leave.

The lawyer nodded. “I’ll need proof in the form of a video or a series of photos that you’ve deposited your father’s remains where he wished. Once I have that, the letter’s all yours.”
“How wonderful,” Jason said sarcastically. He stood, turned on his heels and headed for the door.

Tom also got to his feet. He looked at the lawyer and, trying to ignore his physical discomfort, he smiled. “Don’t mind him,” he said, shrugging, “that imbecil is exactly what our father trained him to be.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin' Chair, Pressed Pennies, and Gooseberry Island as well as the novels Goodnight, Brian and The Changing Season. His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning, and BET's Nightly News. Three of Manchester's short stories were selected “101 Best” for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He lives with his family in southern Massachusetts.


Connect with Steven:
Website  |  
 
Facebook  |  Twitter     


Buy the book:


iBooks   |   Amazon  |   Barnes & Noble 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: LAURA BRADFORD



ABOUT THE BOOK

When Tobi Tobias decided to open her own ad agency, having to moonlight in a pet shop wasn’t part of her vision . . . of course, neither was murder.
 
Sometimes when opportunity knocks, the door you open leads to a closet. That’s certainly the case for Tobi, whose weekends spent cleaning cages in her best friend’s pet shop may soon be over. She’s just landed her first big break—Zander Closet Company needs a catchy campaign slogan ASAP, and Tobi thinks she’s got the right hook to knock ’em dead: “When we’re done, even your skeletons will have a place.”
 
But when a real dead body topples out of a showcase closet, she’s about to discover there is such a thing as bad publicity. To save her fledgling business and not get killed by the competition, Tobi takes on a new pet project: solving the murder. But with a stressed-out parrot as the only witness to the crime, Tobi will really have to wing it to put the cagey killer behind bars.



INTERVIEW WITH LAURA BRADFORD


Laura, do you have a writing routine?  
I do. I’m a morning writer. Unless I’m on a deadline, I’m pretty much good until about 3 p.m.  If I’m on a deadline, I can write all day/all night.  I tend to write in a certain corner of my living room couch . . . or sometimes I head to the café at my local B & N and write there.

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
The middle. The beginning is always exciting because it’s new. The end is always exciting because everything is coming together.  The middle is when it’s hard to make myself write day after day.

I totally agree! How often do you read?

My reading time comes on the elliptical machine at the gym. If I’m at the gym, I’m reading. Keeps me motivated to keep exercising.

What do you think makes a good story?
Characters I care about.

What books do you currently have published?

I’ll tell you by series . . . 


Jenkins & Burns Mysteries (my first series)
*Deadly Readings (formerly Jury of One)
*Deadly Getaway   (formerly Forecast of Evil)
*Deadly Expression  (Formerly Marked by Fate)
*Deadly Ambition

Amish Mysteries
*Hearse and Buggy
*Assaulted Pretzel
*Shunned and Dangerous
*Suspendered Sentence
*A Churn for the Worse


Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries
*Éclair and Present Danger
*The Silence of the Flans
(coming 3/7)

Tobi Tobias Mysteries
*Death in Advertising
*30 Second Death
(coming in july)

**I also have 11 books in the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries I write under the pen name, Elizabeth Lynn Casey (# 12 will release in June) . . . and a handful of romance novels.

Wow! You're obviously very talented. Do you have any secret talents?
I can recite the Big Mac ingredient list backwards.

Awesome! How often do you tweet?
I’m a horrible tweeter. But I try.

How do you feel about Facebook?
I love Facebook. I’ve become friends with many of my readers via my Facebook author page (that’s the one with me sitting in an Amish buggy as my profile picture).

What five things would you never want to live without?
Photographs. A pen. Paper. Books. Music.

What’s one thing you never leave the house without?
My purse.

What's your favorite treat for movie night?
Milk Duds.

What’s your favorite beverage?
A vanilla milkshake.

What drives you crazy?
Liars, insincerity, a lack of empathy.

Yes! What do you wish you could do?
Play the fiddle.

What is one of your happiest moments?

Walt Disney World with my kids (specifically if we’re in Mickey or Minnie’s presence).

Where is your favorite place to visit?
If I have a day to myself, I like to go down to New York City (upper west side) and have a quiet breakfast in my favorite café, and then walk across Central Park to watch the sea lion feeding. 

Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?

Sure. My sweet tooth.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

"What you are is God’s gift to you.  What you become is your gift to God." Love that.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
I work as a patient ambassador for those living with Multiple Sclerosis. As part of the program, I had to write “my story.” Writing about myself as opposed to characters—especially about something so close to me—took a lot out of me. But it was worth it a million times over.

How do you like your pizza?


Plain cheese.

Describe yourself in 5 words.
Loyal. Honest. Sincere. Empathetic. Kind.

What is your favorite movie?
I loved The Intern!

What are you working on now?
I just turned in the 3rd Tobi Tobias Mystery (out in December) and am now turning my attention to a brand new genre/project I just contracted with Kensington Publishing. But I’ll wait to share more details until it gets a little closer.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura is the national bestselling author of several mystery series, including the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, the Amish Mysteries, the Jenkins & Burns Mysteries, and the brand new Tobi Tobias Mysteries. She is a former Agatha Award nominee, and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award in romance. When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys making memories with her family, baking, and being an advocate for those living with Multiple Sclerosis.
To learn more, visit her website, or hang out with her on Facebook. She can also be found occasionally tweeting at: @Bradfordauthor.

Buy the book
:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble


Sunday, February 12, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: DIERDRE VERNE




ABOUT THE BOOK

A lover of all things green, CeCe Prentice is not impressed when a fully-sustainable development, Green Acres, pops up next to her family’s homestead. It’s not so much the ridiculous price tag of the million dollar homes built entirely from re-usable materials and powered by the sun, but rather the new neighbors who think they can simply buy a green lifestyle.


To make matters worse, one homeowner turns out to be CeCe’s high school nemesis, Phoebe Purcell, a hair-tossing vamp who tried to break up CeCe and her long-time boyfriend, Charlie. 

Already disillusioned by the so-called eco-friendly development, CeCe’s family home is threatened when a series of power-outages at Green Acres kicks off a rash of home invasions. When neighbors start showing up dead, the mood at Green Acres turns south. But when Charlie, CeCe’s on-again, off-again love interest is implicated in the murders, CeCe springs into action when she discovers the only clue – a portrait she painted years ago.





INTERVIEW WITH DIERDRE VERNE


Dierdre, do you have a writing routine?
I hope readers can relate to my routine. When I get home from work, I ferry my kids around town, pick socks off the floor, go the market, make dinner, finish laundry . . . Then, I sit down and write.

Do you write every day?
I write almost every day depending upon my never-ending list of chores above.

What’s more important – characters or plot?
I think it’s hard to create new plots in a series especially if your main character isn’t a detective. You have to find a way to insert your character into the action. My main character, CeCe Prentice, becomes a sketch artist after her brother is murdered. Her profession comes in handy, and I try to weave plots around her expertise.

How often do you read?
In the summer, I’ll read two to three books a week. I tend to write more in the winter which leaves less time for reading.

What books do you currently have published?
Drawing Conclusions (2015), Drawing Blood (2016), The Drawing Game (2016)

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
Probably HGTV. I love International House Hunters because it has inspired me to travel. My goal is to retire and rent an apartment in a new city every year.

How often do you tweet?
Rarely. I just don’t get it.

How do you feel about Facebook?

I don’t have a dog or a cat so I don’t post as often as most people. I’m thinking about getting a dog for the sole purpose of increasing my posts.

I hear you! For what would you like to be remembered?

Dialogue. My characters are known for their snappy banter that readers seem to enjoy.

What five things would you never want to live without?
My library card, Elizabeth Arden 8-hour cream, Tretorn white canvas sneakers, a beach towel, M&M’s.

What’s one thing you never leave the house without (besides your phone)?
I always forget my phone, but I try to remember my prescription sunglasses.

What do you love about where you live?
I live in lower Westchester, a 30-minute train ride to Manhattan.  I don’t go into the city as often as I’d like, but when I do, I’m so glad it’s near-by.

What's your favorite treat for movie night?
Sno-Caps, a Diet Coke, and my kids. We recently saw Arrival and it was a big hit. Definitely a two-box of Sno-Caps kind of night.

What is your superpower?
I can still remember every item of clothing my best friends wore in high school.


Name one thing you’re really good at and one thing you’re really bad at.
I can write with both hands. Somehow, I can’t remember to use either hand to write down my husband’s birthday. I’m always late with a gift.
 

What do you like to do when there’s nothing to do?
Sit under an umbrella on my deck with a magazine or a book.

Where is your favorite place to visit?

I just got back from Sedona, Arizona. What incredible scenery! Breathtaking.

What’s your least favorite chore?
I can’t stand the supermarket. Just typing this sentence makes me cringe. Why? I’m overwhelmed by the number of brands and versions. Do we really need eight different types of Oreos?

I totally agree. 
Would you rather be a movie star, sports star, or rock star?

All I’ve ever wanted to be was Deborah Harry from the punk rock group Blondie. I have a picture of me in the 80’s trying very hard to pull off the look.

What’s in your refrigerator right now?
I’m currently on a broccoli and salmon kick. I grill every night. Of course, with such a healthy dinner I have to have ice cream in the freezer.

What would your main character say about you?

I knew you weren’t that nice.

Oh my! 
Pretend you have a personal chef for the night. What would you ask him to prepare? As long as the chef does the supermarket shopping, I can handle the cooking.


How do you like your pizza?
Without calories, which is why I rarely indulge. That being said, there is a great pizza place near me that does a mean Brussel sprout pizza.



What are you working on now?
I’m working on a thriller called The Devil’s Blind Spot. It’s a bit out of character for me, but I’m having fun with it. The plot requires me to drive randomly through the Bronx in search of dicey scene settings.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Deirdre Verne is the author of Drawing Conclusions (2015), Drawing Blood (February 2016) and The Drawing Game (December 2017). Deirdre’s interest in green living inspired her to create an off-the-grid character, CeCe Prentice, who Dumpster dives her way through the Sketch in Crime mystery series. “Verne’s mystery is a winner…” Kirkus Reviews.  A member of Sisters in Crime, Deirdre’s stories appear in all three NewYork chapter anthologies – Murder New York Style, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices and Family Matters.

Connect with Dierdre:
Website  |  
Blog  |  Facebook Twitter  |  
Goodreads  
Buy the book:
Amazon

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

CHARACTER INTERVIEW with LACY DAWN



ABOUT THE BOOK

Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children’s Story. For Adults.


WHAT THEY'RE SAYING . . .

"…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy."  —Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)

“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.”
—Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest

“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.”  —Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review
“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” —Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author

“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” -- The Baryon Review

“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.”—Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)



ABOUT ROBERT EGGLETON'S CHARACTER, LACY DAWN:

Lacy Dawn begins the story as an eleven year old victim of child maltreatment living in an impoverished hollow in West Virginia. Her mother’s teeth are rotting out and her father is war damaged from his service during the Iraq War – PTSD related night terrors and anger outbursts. She is also a very special child. Genetically manipulated for millennia, she is a most unlikely savior of the universe. In the first scene, Lacy Dawn and her best friend, Faith, are studying for a spelling quiz. Readers learn that she already knows how to spell all the words in the textbook and most others in any human language. This scene closes with Lacy Dawn’s disclosure to Faith that she has another best friend, someone who teaches her stuff and lives in the sky.

An android, DotCom (his name is a recurring pun), has been assigned by Universal Management to recruit and train Lacy Dawn to save the universe from an imminent threat. All other prior efforts to get the Capitalists and Socialists to cooperate have been disastrous and Lacy Dawn is the only hope. During visits to the android’s spaceship hidden in a cave behind her house, she is an excellent student of all subjects: economics, psychology, biology…. She also learns how to negotiate the best deals. Lacy Dawn doesn’t mind saving the universe but her family and friends come first.

"…I was hesitant to accept. I usually do not read or review books that discuss child abuse or domestic violence; however, I was intrigued by the excerpt and decided to give it a shot. I am glad that I took a risk; otherwise, I would have missed out on a fantastic story with a bright, resourceful, and strong protagonist that grabbed my heart and did not let go…."  On My Kindle Book Reviews

In colloquial voice, Lacy Dawn is also a little girl who expresses age-appropriate interests, including that of having a boyfriend for when she is old enough. Like many little girls, she dreams of getting married one day, imagines her wedding, school dances . . . She “perches precariously between the psychosis of childhood and the multiple neuroses of adolescence, buffeted by powerful gusts of budding sexuality and infused with a yearning to escape the grim and brutal life of a rural Appalachian existence . . . ”  Electric Review

After having vowed to not smoke marijuana until after she has graduated from college and to not have sex for the first time until after she is married, Lacy Dawn ends the story as a fourteen-year-old empowered victim, a successful savior of the universe, a celebrity in the eyes of trillions of beings, and popular in high school.



INTERVIEW WITH LACY DAWN


Lacy Dawn, how did you first meet Robert?
Well, my school sent me to this mental health place because they thought that I was acting weird. I wasn’t. You can ask anybody. I didn’t want to go, but it turned out to be pretty cool. I got a lot of stuff off my chest. There were other kids there who had problems and that’s all they did – talk, talk, talk about their problems. I decided to help them out. Instead of just talking about my problems, I told everybody about my dreams for the future and what I planned to do to make my dreams come true. My writer, Robert Eggleton, was there. He was my therapist.  Now, I’m his therapist. Life’s funny, huh?

Yes it is. Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?
Because I saved the universe, silly. If I hadn’t taken that job, there would be no books, no people, no nothing. The bosses of everything had gotten so mad at each other for so long that they couldn’t even think straight. It took me some time to figure it all out, almost like they didn’t even care anymore if the universe did go down as long as they won the big argument. All I really did was to get them to talk together again, but everybody thought that I was a hero or something. So, what the heck – I got paid good. Now, I’ve got a good mommy and daddy who really love me and I love them right back. 

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
That’s an easy one. I was Roundabend in DotCom’s spaceship studying when I could sense that something was wrong at home. I used my magic to get there in a few seconds. My daddy was about to beat up my mom again. She had found his Playboy collection from high school and had burned them up. I don’t blame her. Anyway, he found out and got his switch down off the wall. I went in through the back door and stood up to him for the first time. My mom was on the floor crying and was just about to get her G.E.D. study guide out from behind the gas can where it was hidden. Daddy would have killed her if he would have seen that. I stood straight and tall, looked him in the eyes, and used logic every time that he tried to tell me that he was doing the right thing – that mommy deserved what she was going to get. He got so flabbergasted that he started mumbling. He always used to do that when he was all mixed up. He ended up dropping the switch and leaving in his truck. I got so many hugs from mommy.   

I'll bet. Tell the truth. What do you think of the other characters in the book?
Everybody in my family is really cool now. They didn’t use to be before DotCom figured out how to cure them. It used to be that daddy couldn’t hold down a job and kept destroying everything, like punching holes in the walls. Mostly, mommy used to cry all the time and she kept apologizing to me because she thought that she had done a bad job raising me up. I’m proud of both of them now. Mommy got her G.E.D. and driver’s license, Daddy is doing great and has a good job, and the house was really fixed up. It’s nice. Even the bathroom has a door now.

Tom, he’s our neighbor, smokes too much pot. But, he’s okay except he would be better off if he got a divorce from his last wife who don’t even come around anymore and found a good woman. He has sex on the brain, but I understand why since I’ve studied all that stuff. He don’t do nothing mean about it. Actually, he’s a really good man on the inside, and all that partying stuff is probably a cover up. He has Bipolar Disorder and thinks that pot helps him out better than the medicines that he’s tried. Maybe he’s right.

DotCom, I love him. He used to be an android and it was annoying that he didn’t understand my feelings. It was really hard to relate to him when he was going through the human development stage, especially when he was a teenager. He sure is smart, but between you and me, he’s still kind of immature. If he ever grows up, we are going to get married, maybe when I’m twenty-five or something.

Mr. Prump was a bad man, if a big cockroach can be called a man. When I first met him, all he thought about was making money. He made his secretary sit on his lap, and that’s nasty. He wouldn’t listen to nobody – thought that he knew it all. Mr. Rump was a good man but no matter how hard he tried, it didn’t help out the universe. He was hard-headed too. I don’t see how first cousins can get so mad at each other. Anyway, now that they are talking to each other again, both are more reasonable and it seems like they are a lot happier too. Mr. Prump still likes to make money, that’s how he makes himself feel like a success. And, Mr. Rump still likes to think about helping poor people. That’s how he makes himself feel good. I don’t want to hang out with either of them, but they’re okay, I guess.

My dog, Brownie, is the best friend a person could have. Dogs have special gifts, you know. They can sense things, empathize – I told you that I know big words, but I don’t like to use them. If it hadn’t been for Brownie and his ability to communicate with the most vile insects on any planet, Earth would be dust right now. Since he has earn replacement parts forever and won’t wear out, I don’t have to worry so much about one of the saddest parts of life, your pet dying. It’s so sad. Some are them are buried in my back yard, and it still makes me cry to think about them being gone.

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they've known you for a while?
If it’s the first time that I’ve met somebody, of course you can’t really tell but I think that they think I’m a hick. I like it that way. Mainly, I just want to fit in with other kids. After a while, after they get to know me, they think that I’m nice and smart, but I don’t like for my smarts to show too much. All I want to do is enough to make straight A’s in school. That’s it. Sure, I want to get a scholarship to college. Who doesn’t? I always intentionally miss a few questions on any school test. Some girls think that I’m weird because I don’t talk about boys all the time like they do. I just tell them that I’ve got a boyfriend already who goes to a different school.  



What's the worst thing that's happened in your life?
I used to think that being born was the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life. After that, I thought that not being able to save Faith from her daddy and her getting murdered was the worst thing. I don’t really think about bad things very much now, except remembering when my pets died every time I go in the backyard. I don’t think it’s healthy to think about the past all the time. Life is too short. Well, I mean that your life is too short. I get free replacement parts too as part of the deal for saving the universe, but I still don’t want to think about stuff that there’s nothing that I can do about. 



Tell us about your best friend.
I’ve got some friends. Some of them I met when I was locked up in that mental hospital when I was eight, before I met Robert. He would never let that happen to me again. I’ll tell you about Faith. She used to live the next house down in the hollow. You could almost see her house from mine. After her daddy murdered her, I thought that she was gone forever. In school, she used to pretend to have mental retardation so that she would be put in special education class where the work is easier and the teacher let you do puzzles. Right before she was murdered, I’d convinced her to stop faking it. Her daddy was the meanest daddy on Earth. He did awful things to all of his daughters. But, Faith wouldn’t tell anybody except me. She had been locked up too and figured that putting up with what her daddy did was better that welfare taking her and putting her who knows where. Anyway, one day when I was on my way to DotCom’s spaceship, Faith shows up from inside a rock. She had turned into a ghost and went inside one rock or tree after another beside the path. We’re still best friends. But she can be totally annoying. She always looks on the negative side of things and seems to get a kick out of bursting other people’s bubble. I do love her, except some of her jokes can be a pain.   

What are you most afraid of?
I ain’t afraid of nothing!

Good for you! What’s your author’s worst habit?

He smokes cigarettes and works too hard. I’m going to miss him when he’s gone and it won’t be long if he doesn’t get it together.

What makes you stand out from any other characters in your genre?
I don’t think there are any similar characters, if that’s what you want to call me. I’ve been called worse. A lot of people, you know, book reviewers, have said that I’m unique. The other powerful girls all have swords or lasers, or worse, use sex appeal to get stuff done. I think that a lot of stuff can be fixed without violence if you figure it out right. And, I’m sure not sexy and don’t want to be, not now anyway. I’m not putting them down, but I’m sure not putting out any time soon, if you know what I mean. Since you’re a girl, I’m sure that you do.

Sure I do. It sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders. Will you encourage Robert to write a sequel?
I’ve been after him and after him to send Ivy to the editor. He says that he has to change some things because of all the stuff that I’ve taught him. I think that he’s stalling so that I can become more famous and other people will want to read his next story. But, I keep thinking about all the people whose lives are being ruined by drugs. You see, Mr. Prump started an invasion of Earth so long ago that he doesn’t remember. It’s still going on in autopilot. There used to be this town named Ivy a few hollows away from mine. I could probably fix the whole problem in a few weekends without even missing a day of school. However, that’s another story.

Thanks for talking with me. You’re cool. 
Why thank you, Lacy Dawn. I think you're cool too!



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next -- never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.
   
Today, he is a recently retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. The second edition of Rarity from the Hollow was release on November 3, 2016. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia.

Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

Connect with Robert:
Website  |   Facebook  |   Twitter  |   Goodreads   |  Amazon

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Lulu  |  Dog Horn Publishing

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

REBLOG POST FROM READE AND WRITE



It’s Release Day!

Good Tuesday morning! When I started working on The House on Candlewick Lane a million years ago (at least it seems that way), it felt like February 7, 2017, would never arrive. But here it is, and I’m thrilled to have the book out in the world!

amy-reade

For those readers who may not be familiar with what the book is about, here’s the Amazon teaser, along with the link to purchase the book if you’re interested:

“It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Greer Dobbins’ daughter has been kidnapped—and spirited across the Atlantic to a hiding place in Scotland. Greer will do anything to find her, but the streets of Edinburgh hide a thousand secrets—including some she’d rather not face.

Art historian Dr. Greer Dobbins thought her ex-husband, Neill, had his gambling addiction under control. But in fact he was spiraling deeper and deeper into debt. When a group of shady lenders threatens to harm the divorced couple’s five-year-old daughter if he doesn’t pay up, a desperate Neill abducts the girl and flees to his native Scotland. Though the trail seems cold, Greer refuses to give up and embarks on a frantic search through the medieval alleys of Edinburgh—a city as beguiling as it is dangerous. But as the nightmare thickens with cryptic messages and a mysterious attack, Greer herself will become a target, along with everyone she holds dear.”

Link: click here

If you read my guest post on Just 4 My Books last week, you’ll know that I spent one semester in college as an intern at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. And even though I was only there for a few months, the organization and the work it does for families made a lasting impact on me. I learned that familial kidnapping is far more prevalent than stranger kidnapping, even though stranger kidnappings are almost always the ones we hear about on the news. The topic of familial kidnapping is explored in the book, albeit in the wrapping of a larger, more far-reaching mystery.

The House on Candlewick Lane is the first book in the Malice series, which currently consists of three books. Each book has a different main character, but you’ll find some characters that drop in throughout the series (some more than others). The second book in the series is called Highland Peril and will be out in the fall. The third book, with a working title of Death Comes to Thistlecross, will be out next year. I sincerely hope you’ll read the books and enjoy them as they introduce you (or take you back, if you’ve been there) to some of the most beautiful places in the United Kingdom.

Until next time,
Amy

P.S. Please feel free to (read: you’ll have my eternal gratitude!) spread this post far and wide!
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Monday, February 6, 2017

EXCERPT: SAY YES, TESS!



I'm over at Facebook today talking about romance and cozy mysteries. I want to give readers a chance to see a sample of the romance that is included in my Short & Tall Tales in Goose Pimple Junction, so here's an excerpt from the book. This chapter continues the love story of Jack and Tess, the main characters in Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction. Stop by the Readers Love Cozies Facebook page today for some fun giveaways and for posts from more authors through February 14.





BOOK EXCERPT FROM SHORT & TALL TALES IN GOOSE PIMPLE JUNCTION


Say Yes, Tess!


You took as long as a month of Sundays. ~Southern hyperbole

Jack and Tess were having a picnic at their favorite spot on a hill overlooking Goose Creek. Tess loved the old trees and the wild flowers that dotted the area. She had just finished eating a chicken wrap, and she was taking a sip of sweet tea when Jack said, “Let’s get married.“

Too much tea went down her throat in one gulp, and she coughed for several seconds, her hand on her Adam’s apple. Finally, she choked out, “Excuse me?”

“I think we should get married.” He said it as if he were reporting the weather.

“Um . . . no.” She began cleaning up the wrappers and napkins.

“Come again?”

“No, thank you.” She smiled disingenuously.

“Well, well why not?” His back became ramrod straight.

“Jack, you know I love you – ”

“So let’s get married.”

She held out her index finger. “Number one, I don’t think a marriage proposal should be made so lightly. I’m not asking you to wear shining armor and gallop up on a horse, but I’m not about to take a marriage proposal seriously when the question could just as easily have been ‘Would you like pie?’”

He shook his head. “We don’t have any pie.”

She rolled her eyes. “It was just an example.”

“What’s number two?”

“We’ve only been seeing each other for a short time. It’s too fast.”
The subject was changed that day, but Jack persisted. A few days later, he took her fishing. It was summertime, and the trees were lush and full; the sun shone on the water like diamonds. Jack fished and Tess watched, enjoying the scenery, the nice day, and being with Jack. He pulled his line from the water and reeled it in. Walking together to another spot, he said over his shoulder to her, “Marry me."

“No,” was her quick response.

He just shook his head.

She spread out her hands. “Jack, you have a fishing pole in your hand, for heaven’s sake.”

“So?”
Soon after that, they were playing Scrabble, and he spelled out “MARRY ME” on the game board.

She scowled at him. “You cheater. There’s no way you just happened to get those tiles.”

He simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well?”

She had to wait several turns, but she finally got the right tiles to make the word “NO.”
Tess was walking to work one day when she saw single letters written in chalk on each square of the sidewalk ahead spelling out, “MARRY ME, PLEASE?” The please was written in extra heavy chalk.
One square of sidewalk had a whole message written on it: “I LOVE YOU A TON,” except the last two words ran together and looked like “ATON.”

She laughed out loud and pulled out her cell phone, first taking a picture of the sidewalk message, and then texting Jack: “NO.”

His immediate reply: “Ah, come on, Boo. Why not? We’re perfect for each other.”

“You’re very cute, but it’s too soon.”

The next day, she got a letter in the mail reminiscent of the threatening letter she’d gotten just a month before. Jack had imitated that letter by also writing the message in cutout magazine letters:
That night, she climbed in bed and turned out the lights. As she lay there, glow in the dark letters appeared on her ceiling over her bed with the now familiar message: MARRY ME.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” she said to the dark room.

Her text notification chimed. She picked up her phone and saw “Well?” on the screen.

She typed, “How did you know I just saw your message?”

“I’ve been sitting outside your house for 30 minutes waiting for the light to go out.”

Then another message rolled in: “What say you?”

“Too soon.”

There was no response.

She lay there in the dark thinking about Jack. She loved him more than was probably sane and couldn’t imagine life without him. He was everything she’d ever wanted in a man. So why wasn’t she saying yes? Tess loved his sense of humor, and she laughed more with him than she ever had with anyone else, but she had a nagging feeling that she was ahead of him in the falling in love department. And they’d only been together for a few months. She fell asleep thinking, It’s too soon, and he’s not taking this seriously. Marriage isn’t a game.
As if Jack read her mind, he upped his game. He came to her house
one night and not so nonchalantly asked, “So what is your ring size?”

She mockingly swooned. “You’re so romantic.”

He put his hands in the air. “I can’t get you a ring if I don’t know what size to get.”

“And you can’t surprise me if you ask obvious questions like that.”

“Okay. How about this for a surprise?” He pulled a ring box from his jacket pocket and opened the lid. A two-carat sparking diamond ring sat in the cushion.

She gasped and her hand flew to her mouth. “Jack,” was all she could say.

He got down on one knee and said, “Tess Tremaine, will you please marry me?”

She got down on her knees so she could look him in the eye. “I’ll give it some serious consideration.” Then she kissed him.
A week later, she still had not made up her mind. As she walked to work, an unusual number of people were walking toward her on the sidewalk, and they all had on the same T-shirt in an unusual shade of coral. As she approached the bookstore, a dozen people mingled out front, all wearing the same coral T-shirt.

Then she heard someone say, “She’s coming.” They suddenly turned their backs to her and formed a line, shoulder to shoulder, so that their shirts spelled out “MARRY ME, TESS!” The same people who had passed her on the sidewalk a minute ago all stood on the opposite street corner. They too had their backs to her, and each of their shirts said: “SAY YES, TESS!”

As everyone began clapping, she hurried inside and ran smack into Jack, who was waiting just inside the door. He too was wearing a coral T-shirt that said: “SAY YES, TESS.”

“You’ve got the whole town involved in your proposal now?”

“Well, I wasn’t doing so hot on my own,” he joked, as Louetta and Pickle, also wearing coral T-shirts and big smiles, came from the back room.

Louetta walked toward them with her finger pointed at Tess. “Tess Tremaine, you won’t find a better man than this one here,” her finger moved from Tess’s direction to Jack’s and back again, “and you know it. I swan, if you don’t hurry up and say yes, I’m gonna steal him out from under you.”

“And I might just let her too.” Jack put his arm around Louetta and squeezed her into his side.

“Well, then there’s only one thing I can say.” Tess began walking toward the back room.

Jack spoke up. “So that’s a yes?”

She stopped walking and turned around to face him. Walking back to stand before him, she cupped his cheek and said, “I hope you two will be very happy.” Then she turned on her heel and walked away.
For three days, everywhere she went, someone had on a “SAY YES, TESS” T-shirt. And it seemed that everywhere she looked, she saw the same message written:
  • with magnets on the refrigerator
  • with a glass pen on the diner’s front window
  • inside her menu at the Silly Goose
  • on her paper cup from the Muffin Man
  • spelled out with green peppers on a pizza
  • on the table spelled out in Cheerios

One day, every person she ran into handed her a flyer that said: “SAY YES, TESS!” By the end of the day, she had a ream or more of flyers. She tried to form Team Tess and have them spread the message, “GET BACK, JACK,” but everyone was on Jack’s side.
Finally, on a hot day in late August, she was gathering her things to go home when Louetta handed her a hard copy of The Princess Bride. When she looked quizzically at Lou, her friend bobbed her head at the book and said, “Open it.” Inside, she found a note:

Twu wuv…you are my twu wuv…if you were a book, I’d read you all night. Now go to Slick & Junebug’s Diner.

“What in the Sam Hill – ”

Louetta folded her arms. “You best be getting on to the diner, missy.”

Tess walked out into the soup that used to be air and felt like she waded down the sidewalk to Slick & Junebug’s Diner. Walking into the restaurant, she thought about the first time, and all of the subsequent times, she and Jack had come here to eat. She sat down at the counter next to Earl.

Clive was on Earl’s other side, and he leaned over his friend to tell Tess, “You’re slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, you know that? What’s the matter with you? When you gonna say yes to that man?”

Tess raised her eyebrows. “Seriously? He sent me over here to get a lecture from you gentlemen?”
Junebug stepped up to the counter, holding a paper napkin. “No, he did not. He sent you here for this.”

The napkin said:
I love you more than a fat kid loves cake. Now kindly go to the Muffin Man.

Junebug handed her a cupcake with the word “YES” spelled out on top in frosting. “Give him this, sugar. Put the man out of his misery.”

She walked to the Muffin Man thinking about the first time she and Jack ever talked to one another in that very coffee shop. At the counter, the barista handed her a paper cup with lemonade tea inside. Written on the outside was:
You’re the cream in my coffee, the sugar in my tea. I sure wish you would marry me. Next stop: the Silly Goose.
She just shook her head and headed for the Silly Goose, thinking about all the romantic dinners they’d had at that restaurant. Inside, the hostess handed her a candle with a slip of paper curled around it. She unrolled it and read:
You are the light to my candle. Now please go to Fern & Moody’s.
Fern & Moody’s General Store was the specialty store where they always got their picnic lunches. At Fern & Moody’s, she was given an apple with a note tied to a string, which was attached to the stem. The note said: 
You are the apple to my pie. See? There is pie! Next stop: the Second National Bank.
Tess walked to the bank, thinking about the robbery that occurred there in 1932 and how that one event brought her and Jack together. The main teller was Dee Dee, a dour, grumpy woman who always wore a sour expression.

“Ya ain’t gonna get rich with that’n, that’s for sure.” She handed Tess a bank envelope. Inside was a penny and a note:
You’re the copper to my penny. If I had a penny for every person I've met who makes me feel the way you do, I'd have exactly one cent. Marry me, woman! If you’re still unsure, please go to the Pure Oil Gas Station.
The gas station. That frightening day when she and Martha Maye were trapped came rushing to her thoughts. Then she remembered flying out the door and into Jack’s arms. Jeb Crowley, the owner of the filling station, was washing a windshield in the full-service lane while the car’s tank filled with gas. He looked up as Tess approached and shook his head.

“I don’t have the foggiest idea what that man is up to, but he said to give you this.“ He reached into his pocket and pulled out an object wrapped in paper. She unwrapped it and found a spark plug and a note that said:
You are the spark to my plug. Okay, I’m reaching on this one. Help me out and say yes.

Tess looked up at Jeb, and he said, “He said to tell you if you still won’t say yes – and woman, why you wouldn’t say yes is beyond me – but he said to tell you to go to Doc’s Hardware.”

She walked in a fog to the hardware store. How can anyone be sure in just a couple of months?

Inside the store, Doc gave her a box, and inside it was a small metal spring with a tag attached that said:
You’re the spring to my step. Now spring on over to the gazebo.
Walking toward the gazebo in the town green, she saw that the area was practically deserted. Her eyes went to the gazebo, and there stood Jack with a huge smile on his face and Ezzie at his feet. Behind them, she noticed the gazebo was filled with deep blue hydrangeas – her favorite.

Jack was wearing tan dress slacks, a light pink button-down Oxford shirt, and loafers. He looked good enough to eat. Ezzie saw Tess and let out a bark, her tail wagging and thumping on the floor of the gazebo. Jack and Tess’s eyes locked as she walked toward him. He took her hand and led her into the gazebo. She had never seen such beautiful hydrangeas, and they covered almost every surface. He’d made sure there was room enough for two on the bench. They sat down, Jack still holding onto her hand.

“Jack, I – ”

“Me first,” he interrupted.

She nodded.

“I know it’s only been a couple of months. But I know I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. When I’m with you, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. When we’re apart, all I can think about is seeing you again. I want you all the time, Tess. I want us to be together. I want us to spend the rest of our lives making each other happy. And I know we will be. Tess, I want you to be my wife. Please say you’ll marry me. Please say yes.” Ezzie’s cold nose bumped her leg.

Without hesitation, Tess said, “Yes.”

In one fluid motion, he stood, pulling her into his arms. Still holding on tight, he yelled over her shoulder, “She said yes!”

People came out of every nook and cranny, applauding.

Jack and Tess stood laughing and holding and kissing each other. When he broke the kiss, he looked at her, nose-to-nose, and said, “You did just say yes, right?”

Holding on tight to his hand, she went to the gazebo’s entrance and shouted, “I said yes!”


GOOSE PIMPLE JUNCTION MYSTERY SERIES

Short & Tall Tales in Goose Pimple Junction is just $0.99 for Kindle on Amazon. You can read the beginning of Jack and Tess's love story in Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction; read about Johnny and Martha Maye's romance in Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction; and read about Hank and Wynona in Rogues & Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction,




Friday, February 3, 2017

BOOK EXCERPT: CHRISTINE MEUNIER'S CONTAGIOUS




ABOUT THE BOOK

Not everything that can be caught by another person is a bad thing. As Jacqui, Geordie and Hannah learn about managing the health of their horses and avoiding contagious germs, they learn that their attitudes can be contagious, too.

When Captain and Jaq fall ill, Jacqui questions what else she can do instead of riding. The timing couldn’t be worse – she needs to practice for her upcoming dressage test.

Unexpectedly finding herself spending time with Jared, Jacqui is surprised when he declares he wants to learn to ride. And he wants her to teach him. Should she say yes?


BOOK EXCERPT FROM CONTAGIOUS—FREE REIN BOOK #6


Jacqui wasn’t sure whether to be surprised by the topic at kid’s church on Sunday or amused.  She was starting to realise that anything they discussed could be applied to something going on in her life.  She wasn’t sure if this was a coincidence, if it was God, or just to be expected.

“So today we’re going to talk about something that’s extremely contagious.  Do we all know what contagious means?” their teacher asked them.

Each of the children nodded their head.

“Great!  Give me some examples,” he said, wanting to make sure the word was understood.

“Chicken pox!” one said.

“A virus,” Jacqui called out.

“A cold,” another spoke up.

Brian nodded.

“All good answers.  All horrible things.  Can we think of something good that can be contagious?”
This was met by silence.  Brian looked around at each and every person sitting before him.  He grinned and turned his attention to Jacob.

“Jacob!  How are you today?” he asked in a gruff voice.

“Umm… good?” Jacob responded, unsure.

“And what about you, Jacqui?” Brian asked her softly.

“I’m well, thank you,” Jacqui replied just as softly.

“Geordie!  How has your week been?” Brian asked cheerfully.

“Great!” Geordie responded enthusiastically.

Brian laughed as the students watched him, confused.

“Did you think I was angry with you when I addressed you, Jacob?”

The young boy shrugged.

“I wasn’t sure why you were upset. I was questioning if it was something to do with me or something else.”

Brian nodded.

“Did everyone notice that the way I asked the question affected the way each person answered me?” he asked slowly.

As the children thought about this, they started to nod their heads.

“I think I would have answered you in my usual cheery tone,” Geordie argued, causing Brian to laugh.

“Wonderful!  And that brings me to a point I’d like us to discuss.  Firstly, I’d like to point out that our attitudes can be contagious.  It is up to us whether they are good or bad.”

He paused for a second to let everyone think about this.

“Geordie has already told us quite convincingly that she would be happy whether or not I spoke to her nicely,” Brian said with a grin, “and this is a good lesson for us to make note of.  People can be fickle.  We are happy with God as long as things are going well.  As soon as we hit a difficulty, then our attitude turns sour.  We think God is angry with us, or we get angry with Him!  We need to make sure our attitude is positive even when we’re going through negative things.  If we don’t, then we’re likely to affect people in a negative manner.”

Jacqui found herself thinking about Friday afternoon with Jared.  After he’d asked her to talk about horses she’d stopped talking.  He’d copied her and left her alone.  Although she was relieved by this, she wondered if it was her negative attitude toward him that had led him to not talking for the rest of the afternoon.

“You’re quiet,” Geordie observed as they headed out of kid’s church.

Jacqui shrugged.

“I was just thinking about what Brian said.  Because the horses have been sick, I’ve only thought about something contagious being a bad thing.  I didn’t really think that I could have a good attitude that other people could catch.”

Geordie grinned.

“Me neither!  But I like it.  I’m going to test it out.”

Jacqui looked at her friend in surprise, pausing.

“How?”

“By being really happy around people and seeing if it makes them respond in the same way!” she stated simply.

Jacqui thought about this and smiled.

“It sounds so simple when you put it that way.”

“Isn’t it?” Geordie asked, causing Jacqui to laugh.

“I guess it is that easy.  I’ll have to test your theory with Jared, then,” she said before thinking.
She put a hand to her mouth, wishing she hadn’t said anything.  Geordie looked at her friend in surprise, a smile making its way across her face slowly.

“There’s a story behind what you just said, I can tell!  What happened?”

Jacqui sighed.

“Because I can’t ride Jaq at the moment I was helping mum plant some trees after school on Friday.  You know how Jared helps mum in the garden on Fridays…” Jacqui prompted, earning a nod from Geordie.

“But I thought that was for the veggie garden?” her friend asked.

“Yeah, but when there isn’t anything to do in the veggie garden mum still sets Jared to work,” Jacqui explained, Geordie grinning at the statement.

“So you were both working with your mum?” Geordie guessed.

Jacqui nodded.

“And I think I was rude to Jared.  He said I didn’t talk much and then when I didn’t continue a conversation with him… well he ended up really quiet, too.”

Geordie thought about this as they headed towards Jacqui’s parents.

“Well if you think Jared’s quiet because of you, then it’s your turn to ask him a question.”

“Like what?” Jacqui asked as she looked for her parents.

“Like…  ‘Hey Jared, do you have a girlfriend?’” Geordie asked, causing Jacqui to look at her in surprise.

Geordie laughed as her friend turned red and looked around warily.  Jared had come along to church that morning with his two younger brothers.  Jacqui hadn’t seen him since they had gone to kid’s church.

“I was joking, Jacqui.  But… he is cute; I wouldn’t be surprised if he did,” Geordie caught her attention again.

Jacqui frowned at her friend.

“Well you’ve just proven your own theory wrong,” the young blonde said to her red headed friend.
“How?” Geordie asked curiously.

“Because you’re being positive while talking and it hasn’t had a positive effect on me,” she responded simply, walking over to her parents.

Geordie laughed and followed her friend.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christine Meunier considers herself introduced to the wonderful world of horses at the late age of 13 when her parents agreed to lease a horse for her. She started experiencing horses via books from a young age and continues to do so, but recognises that horses cannot be learnt solely from books.
She has been studying horses from age 16, starting with the Certificate II in Horse Studies and she completed the Bachelor of Equine Science in 2016.


Christine has worked at numerous thoroughbred studs in Australia as well as overseas in Ireland for a breeding season.
She then gained experience in a couple of Melbourne based horse riding schools, instructing at a basic level before heading off overseas again, this time to South Africa to spend hours in the saddle of endurance and trail horses on the Wild Coast.


She writes a blog about equine education.



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2017 Interview with Christine

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