Lost Love Reunion (Short Story)

I used to think he was the man I would marry. My teenage crush. He was everything I wanted in a man. He was taller than me with blond hair and he loved the Lord with a passion that inspired me. I expected him to be a great pastor someday . . . and maybe I would be his wife.

But he never saw me as anything more than a friend. We both left for different colleges and lost touch.

It never stopped me from dreaming and hoping but eventually I met a guy and married him blind to the fact that he was not God’s best for me. At the time I felt like no one would want me. I had been led to believe that. So I took what I could get and paid the price for it.

So now, twenty-five years later, at the local coffee shop, I’m face to face with the man I had once dreamed about sleeping next to for those intervening years.

“Paul?”

“Sharon?”

“Wow, how have you been? Whatcha been up to?” I look at the receding hairline and the deep lines carved into his forehead and around his eyes. He looks older than his actual age. He nods to an empty chair and I motion for him to sit.

“Married, got a job, wife died and now I’m a widower with two grown kids.”

“I’m sad to hear of your loss. That must have been hard.”

“It wasn’t a good marriage by any means. I’m glad it’s over. Breast cancer that reoccurred and spread. The last year was brutal.” He shuddered.

“Oh, okay. Did you go to seminary after high school? Where do you work?”

He shook his head, blue eyes dull. “I gave up on God years ago. I work in a factory.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“How about you?”

“Oh, well, I did go to seminary and worked for awhile in ministry but kind of got burned out and took to writing.”

“Writing?”

“Yeah, I write inspirational fiction.”

“Oh, God is love and happily ever after type crap.”

I nod and then shake my head. I cringe at his dismal of my work. So much for my own dreams. “What brings you back to town?”

“I came to visit my buddy, Kurt. Remember him?”

“Yeah, I do.” Kurt was a sweet guy in high school. Big guy. Tried to date me and took me to the drive thru movie, Rocky. I spent the night swatting mosquitoes and avoiding him trying to put his arm around me. I think it took him a few hours the next day to clean off his windshield but he gave up on dating me and settled for friendship instead.

“Came to visit. Only problem is he keeps trying to get me to turn back to God.”

“And what’s wrong with that? It’s something you would have done had you stayed the course.”

He smiled and grunted. “Yeah, you’re probably right. So where are you at now? Married? I don’t see a wedding ring.”

I look down at the mother of pearl ring I wear. “I stopped wearing my ring years before he left me. I thought he loved God but it turned out to be an act. He knew about God but didn’t have a relationship with God. He left me for someone younger, thinner and prettier. A year later he dumped her too.”

“I’m sorry. You deserved better than that.”

“It’s sweet of you to say so.”

“Maybe you and I could do dinner sometime? I’m in town for the week and even after that I only live three hours south.”

My heart skipped a beat and I bit my lip. This was the kind of thing I had hoped for years ago. That mythical reunion of lost souls finding one another in love after too many years apart. But the years have, I hope, helped me grow in wisdom. “I appreciate the offer but I’m going to have to decline.”

“Got someone else on the hook?”

“No. There’s no one else, but Jesus.”

He stepped back as if I had slapped him. He looked away and then down to his feet. “Oh.”

“I got burned once, Paul, but I had been deceived. I’m not going to fall into that again knowing how you feel about my faith.”

“But…”

“No buts. I would rather be alone and grounded in my faith, than in a relationship with you or anyone else that would make me choose.”

I watched his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed the truth of what I was saying.

“Well, then I guess it’s been nice seeing you.” He rose to his fee and turned to walk away.

“Yeah, Paul, it’s been nice.” And eye opening. I rise, slip my coat on, grab my purse and head to my car and home. Alone, but content, because sometimes a dead dream is better to walk away from than try to resurrect.

 

Rant on Mental Illness

I was talking to a friend today and she said, “The fact that you have a degree in Counseling Psych and have worked in the field of mental health, is pretty funny.” Sure is. Irony must be my middle name.

This past week there as another shooting at Fort Hood and I was angry when the media started to bill the shooter as someone with mental illness, possibly PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). So? That kind of diagnosis doesn’t make someone a murderer. It doesn’t even mean that individual will hurt someone. What the media has done though is send those with mental illness back into a shadow of shame.

Mental illness does not deserve censure. It deserves compassion. As much as someone with diabetes or an autoimmune disease or perhaps suffering with recurring migraines. We have compassion for those people, even if we can’t “see” their illness. It’s not like a broken bone that can heal. The mind of some people (not all) with mental illness is fast paced and can resemble a runaway train. The only problem is the engineer can’t put on the brakes. sherlock - whats it like in your funny little brains

The brilliance of the show, Sherlock (BBC), is that they show to a certain degree the workings of this genius’ mind. He calls himself a high functioning sociopath. In reality this is a subcategory of the Anti-social personality disorder. In many ways, this self-diagnosis is correct and he makes good use of his almost savant capabilities. In essence, Sherlock Holmes is mentally ill. Not all people have minds like Sherlock’s, but many have thoughts that race, or emotions that flux out of control. Unless one has experienced this first-hand, it’s hard to understand or grasp.

The point I’m trying to make though is that we need to be less judgemental and more compassionate towards those that struggle with any kind of mental illness. Having said that, we also need to understand that some can be highly annoying and without the grace of God, socially devastating in a person’s ability to function in the world of work and relationships.

Sherlock lives for the excitement of the chase because he mind is racing all the time. He has pent-up energy thrumming through is body. I doubt that ASPD is his only diagnosis if we were honest. He has found a way to make use of his skills, but as Inspector Lastraud says in Season 1, Epsiode 1, when asked why he puts up with Sherlock: “Because I think he’s a great man and someday, he might even be a good one.” The show is not so much about saving lives and solving murders, but is more about his growth as a human being as he interacts with Dr. John Watson who becomes, over time, his one and only friend.

On a side note: Dr. John Watson is apparently a PTSD sufferer. Fascinating that his therapist encourages him to blog about what happens his life as part of his recovery. I loved his pre-Sherlock response to that. “Nothing every happens to me.” Ha!

So you have two mentally ill people saving London . . . and perhapse the world. Maybe we’re not all so bad anyway? Maybe we are even useful?

So please, let’s just realize we all have something wrong with us. It’s called sin. And sin causes people to put labels on others and judge them without truly understanding. Sin leads to blanket assumptions, like the one about PTSD. And please, for the sake of the men and women who have served, let’s give them the honor and grace to heal without bearing the shame of mental illness too. They would have died for you and your right to be free in this country. They volunteered for that when they joined. They have seen things God never intended for man to have to experience.

Honor. Duty. Respect. It’s a hard world out there for all of us and we all face a battle every day, some of use face it inside, some face it on the outside and for some the two feed off each other.

And for the rest of us, those who struggle in battles unseen, I pray we have compassion and grace for ourselves. Peace, friends.

Tide and Tempest (Book Review)

Tide and TempestI am given opportunities to review books and was thrilled to read Elizabeth Ludwig’s newest novel, Tide and Tempest

I knew I was getting a historical romantic suspense and was transported into the world of Irish immigrants and their struggle to fight for their country’s freedom as well as adapt to life in a the new world of America.

It’s been two years since Tillie McGrath left her Irish home, against the wishes of her parents, to travel with her fiancee to America. He died before they could arrive and Tillie has forged a new life for herself, moving past her grief and loss and personal shame over some of her own choices. She now lives in New York boardinghouse, has a steady job and plans to open an orphanage. Maybe she would never marry and have children of her own, but she would care for others. Living a life of hard work and service in an effort to purge her soul of her own sins, her life comes to an abrupt change.

Captain Keondrick Morgan had never forgotten the young Irish lass who had been heartbroken on his ship. Following a life of duty though, precludes marriage. When he discovers that Tillie’s fiancee had been murdered, he worries now that maybe whoever did it might also be after Tillie. Morgan will do everything in his power to keep the invisible threat from succeeding.

Accompanied by his younger brother, Cass, Morgan struggles with stronger feelings for Tillie, who he believes he can never have. At the same time he starts to unravel a threat more deadly than he ever expected. Now he will do everything in his power to keep Tillie safe, even if it means giving his own life or losing her to the affections of his charming brother.

This book starts out slow as it builds the characters and the rich picture of the evil that is simmering behind the scenes. There is a light touch given to the faith of the characters. It is most fun when things really start to move forward with the action and the complexity of the underground societies that exist and could eventually bring about the demise of them all.

With a beautiful ending this book qualifies as a happily-ever-after. If you love historicals and some suspense, this is a great read.

I was given a copy of the book, by Bethany House, in exchange for this review.

The Crash of the Loose Train of Thought

Image courtesy of Tom Curtis / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Tom Curtis / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have come off some busy crazy weeks just dealing with my primary job of being a mom.

It’s kind of sad that when your kids are babies we try so hard to get them to talk. To say “momma,” and “dadda” and then later to “use their words” instead of throwing a temper tantrum to get what they want.

My kids are older now. I’m tired of hearing their words.

It’s exhausting! They want to be fed all the time. This is especially true for my nine year old daughter who I suspect is hitting a growth spurt. I think she eats nonstop from the moment she gets home from school to bedtime. “Mom. I’m hungry,” are words I hear too often.

“So? You’re hungry? Didn’t I just feed you?”

“Yes, but I’m hungry again.”

Of course it is never for leftovers in the fridge. It’s always something that requires me to get up and prepare it for her.

I swear if tragedy comes upon this family, my kids will starve to death rather than get their own food, or refill their water bottles.

What kind of kids am I raising?

So why am I telling you all this?

Because life is full of what a friend of mine once called “the dailies.” The daily stresses we all have to deal with. Throw in demanding children, head lice (yeah, really), science fair projects, regenerating laundry pile and financial worries and the dailies begin to feel too much.

My pastor talked on Sunday about how we have an adversary as we seek to persevere in our faith. Ironically, as he finished his message that was when the adversary whacked me upside the head. Depression is a vicious weapon when aimed at a weary soul. The message?

“Would anyone even miss you if you weren’t here?”

Sounds a bit like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” doesn’t it? Ouch. My heart cracked as my brain sped into overdrive reciting all the things I do to use the gifts God has given me to honor and glorify him. As if my value is tied up in that?

Why would the enemy think he can use that line of attack? Because fellow believers have used it too, only with subtle changes in wording. The enemy doesn’t have to work too hard sometimes to defeat me.

So my day was spent spinning my wheels. I journaled a prayer, tried to watch a movie and couldn’t write. I repeatedly fed my kids. I gave up all attempts at productivity and sat down to read a novel. I started it the day before and struggled to set it aside. I read the last 300 pages of it. Done. Finished. LOVED it.

I wish my heart had a reset button. My computer has a reset to a previous version of a backup. If it gets corrupted, I can reset it and maybe lose some data but overcome perhaps another more damaging issue.

I prayed. I journaled. It wasn’t until I lost myself in the adventure, courage and perseverance of faith of someone else (yeah, fictional people, but still) that my heart recalibrated.

I’m still tired, but not as beaten down as I was earlier. The power of great fiction can be used by God in so many ways we often never realize. What an honor it is to be part of the business of putting stories like that into the hands, and hearts, of readers. Maybe it’s a selfish thing though, because I get the blessing of those words before the general public does.

I guess my train of thought is back on the tracks now. Whew!

 

 

Confessions of a Newbie Editor

A year ago I took a step of faith and became part of the Prism Book Group team, taking on the role of Acquisitions Editor. This article is not an attempt to brag, but more of a confession of sorts. prism logo

Lessons: I had never been an editor before, so there was a learning curve. Here is some of what I learned:

  • I discovered how much fear held me back until I had to push against deadlines to make sure my authors had books ready for publication.
  • I relished how good it feels to give an author that contract – and to celebrate with them when their dreams are in print for the world to read. 
  • I’ve developed a way of giving rejections that takes some of the sting out and helps writers grow. I may not contract them but I do still care. This was the scariest part of taking the job. I still don’t like to do it but at least I don’t crush dreams (or try not to).
  • I delight in encouraging authors at conferences.  

People. All the highlights this past year have shown up in the form of relationships:  

Lisa Lickel is the person who passed along the job opportunity with Prism. At first I couldn’t believe it. You think I could do what? But I asked friends, took a test (and passed) and prayed about it. Then I took the plunge and have not regretted it. She became the first author (in a group of four) that I signed. She protested, “I didn’t tell you to get the job so you would publish me!” I’m glad I did, as Brave New Century was a huge revelation. I worked with four different authors and stories all at once. Do you know how intimidating it was to edit an editor’s work as well as when she is a dear friend? She must not have minded Prism at all as she just came out with another novel, The Last Detail, in January. Because it wasn’t a strict romance, fellow editor Marcy Dyer did the honors of working on that book.

Anita Klumpers entrusted her debut novel to me and worked her butt off with such cheerfulness. Anything I threw at her she took and was grateful. Her attitude was such a bolster to me and a bit frightening. Sure. She had never been through this process before. But neither had I. Her novel was released on January 22nd. Just coming up the the title, Winter Watch, with her was an adventure in and of itself. I loved every minute.

Daisy Jerico also entrusted me with her fun novella and delivered the best pitch I ever heard to date. She talked like she loved her characters and she was telling the story of something that happened to a close friend. The Love Thief ebook has done well and if you want sassy and suspenseful romance – that book is pure delight. I must not have done too bad with her as she signed with me again. Sparks Fly is due out in July. Oh, and we’ve had coffee together and both emerged victorious during 2013′s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

Paula Mowery was part of an anthology I had contracted and became interested in doing my job. Well, not my job, but the same position. There’s plenty of great fiction to go around! I have now worked with her on not one – but two books! Brave New Century released in November of 2013 and Love and Legacy released March 19, 2014.

Jacqueline Hopper is another Acquisitions Editor at Prism Book Group and an author in her own right. She has been a great support and willing to answer all kinds of questions to the newbie on the block. She helps with scheduling reviews and making teasers and trailers for our books. (Check out her novella The Gingerbread House!)

I also had the honor of working a repeat Prism author, Penelope Marzec on her book Patriot’s Heart which released in February.

Finally, I have to mention Joan Alley, the owner, and Editor-in-Chief of Prism Book Group. She was willing to take a chance on me and I am grateful she did as I have learned so much in the process about writing, about speaking, and about myself.

I’ll be honest. I did this as a way to earn a little income while waiting for my own books to come to print.

I gained something far more valuable in the process, and I am grateful.

Legacy and Love (Book Review)

LegacyandLove_ebook2 copy (1)The book, Legacy and Love by Paula Mowery is not just a book. In reality it is two romance novellas put together because they have similar themes of which the title represents.

The first story in the book is The Prayer Shawl. Sean Holland has dismissed the Christian faith and is living his life as a magazine reporter. Challenged by his editor to find a new story, he stumbles across Hope, a nurse at the hospital who makes prayer shawls for people who are sick.

Hope learned to make the shawls from the grandmother who has since died. With a strong faith in God she knits them together with love and a lot of prayer. Sean sees a story, but when multiple crisis hit Sean’s life, he turns to Hope for help. She has to decide how much to provide given the lack of his faith in God.

Inheritance is the second story in the book. Alex Lyndon has lost her job, is divorced and with little money in the bank. She discovers, on top of all that, her Granny Olivia, her only family left, is dying. She rushes to her side but is too late to talk much to her one last time. Instead her Granny has set her on a search with a cryptic message.

A mysterious check shows up along with a handsome man. Chase Carson is a book editor who ended up taking over the reigns of his family’s publishing company. His one get-away is to go see Granny Olivia only this time he arrives to find she has died. He’s heard about Alex but Alex has not heard about him nor had any clue of the secret Chase kept for Granny. Together they search for clues to the inheritance left, the missing document he needs and the purpose Alex has been desitined for all along. But can love survive the miles and the secrets still held? 

Two grandmothers with amazing legacies that impact far more than the people they leave them to. The butterfly effect is how one action can have a ripple throught time and impact, potentially, millions. This book tells two stories of such impacts in a beautiful way.

I’m Probably on the FBI and TSA Watch-Lists and other Silliness

Watch lists? FBI? TSA? Well, if I wasn’t before, I probably will be now!

Funny, isn’t it? Authors search all kinds of odd things. I had one story I worked on last year where I had to search on how to defuse a bomb. No intention of ever having to do it either and at this point in time I could not tell you which wires to snip in order to not be blown up. And no, my bomb didn’t have an on/off switch like in Sherlock (The Empty Hearse episode).

Last week I had a delicious breakfast with a friend. Three hours of talking about life, writing, funerals, autopsies, tissue donation and donating bodies for science to save money on burial. You know, the practical stuff of life. Oh, and how I need to ask some questions of a funeral director I know. Won’t that be fun?

I even submitted that bomb book to the FBI for fact checking purposes. See. I’m sure I’m on a watch list with them. The gal who emailed me really liked my story too and that was a really rough draft.

I’m cracking myself up because, well, it’s all true! Now you know why this is the silygoos blog.

Writers can be irreverant but they also are artists at heart who care deeply about the characters we create out of our imaginations. We feel the depth of their pain. So why they may not be real, their words and emotions are very much real in our minds.

That includes the passions of our villans as well.

But then, you want a good story to evoke emotion. Now personally, I avoid Nicholas Sparks because I don’t like crying at the end of every novel. To be honest, I only read three, but that was enough for me to know that he was not a happily-ever-after storyteller.

So if the FBI or TSA show up at my door, please point them to my blog so they know I would never blow anyone up, shoot them, plant a bomb or any of the other horrific deaths I’ve perpetrated on my imaginary villians. Not to mention the torture I’ve perpetrated on my main characters. I don’t even own a handgun or rifle, although if I did, I’ve been told I would be a crack shot. Better than a crack pot. Or would that be cracked pot?

Writers. We’re a despicable lot. Shocking at times, but also fun and hyper-sensitive about imaginary people.

A book is a wonderful friend and escape from the trials of this world. I hope you find many to read and enjoy. Stay tuned because I keep trying to share with you the new and upcoming great authors here, as well as some who have multi-published and become faves of mine.