Tag Archive | marriage

Ten Years

Ten years ago, I listened to a still, small voice telling me to write a novel during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for more info go to http://www.nanowrimo.org).

So I did.

The first novel I ever wrote, finally released in November of 2017.

I wrote 117,000 words in 21 days. The goal was 50,000 words in 30 days. I had a blast. I was hooked.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. By the time I published my first novel in 2015, I had written my complete 5-book Gothic Regency series as well as four other novels. I had published a flash fiction and a short story. I was working as an editor for a small publishing house, Prism Book Group, which was eventually bought out by Pelican Book Group.

As of today…those totals have increased to 20 completed titles. 15 of those are published, three more are contracted and in the process of getting to publication. Two are awaiting a home. Five are available in audiobook and I’m working on recording some of my novels. I now teach workshops at writer’s conferences and at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh through their continuing education department.

I have four more stories started.

My first published novel, with a new cover!

Life has changed significantly since God first called me to write.

Writing was initially an escape. A place to go to hide from the pain of my daily life. I wrote the happily-ever-after stories I wanted to read. I wrote about the love that I hadn’t experienced but believed was possible. I poured my own personal pain into the pages of my novels.

Then it happened.

Just as God revealed Himself in amazing ways as I wrote, he finally gave me my own happily-ever-after. After a long time of loneliness, struggling to obey God in my difficult circumstances, and finding freedom from that in 2017, God brought love into my life in 2018.

It wasn’t without obstacles. What good romance goes smoothly? Matter of fact, some of those obstacles remain, but I’ve found a new life to be LIVED, not just on the pages of my novels, but to experience and enjoy. And I found someone to do it with.

I won’t go into details of my struggle here. Those who have walked with me on that path have prayed, listened, encouraged, and even challenged me. I am grateful for their love and support.

Last year I didn’t do NaNoWriMo for the first time (after winning 8 years in a row!) because I was recovering from shoulder surgery, planning a wedding, helping remodel a house, and preparing to move my family. Oh, and all at Christmas-time!

God is good, even in the darkest days when I wondered if He would be good to me, I never doubted that it was His character. I am blessed beyond measure. I look forward to how my new life will impact my writing.

My poor hubby doesn’t understand all I do but is a champion of my work anyway. He’s loved the stories he’s read/listened to. This will be his first NaNoWriMo…so here’s hoping he can cope with this crazy writer. He’s done fairly well so far…

Happy November!

Spatzle Speaks: ‘Til Dice Do Us Part (Book Review)

Julie Cosgrove has written several dramatic romantic suspenses around the subject of human trafficking, but she’s also been the master of cozy mysteries and ‘Til Dice Do Us Part is book number 4 in her Bunco Biddies Mystery series. The final installment.

While preparing for a wedding shower, one of the Bunco Biddies falls from a ladder. in her drugged and painful state she overhears a crime being discussed behind the curtain next to her room in the ER.

Janie can’t quite get her son-in-law to investigate so the Bunco Biddies decide to do some on their own resulting in hilarity and danger and on the wedding day–a missing groom!

Everything gets crazy as the crime is uncovered and once again the intrepid older women are able to prove just how valuable they are to the local police department.

This was a fun series and the characters are a delight to read, or so my mom says. I just get to sit next to her and listen to her chuckle. Which is fine with me so I give it five bones because I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

 

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

God’s Sense of Humor

I haven’t posted here for a long time. Life got crazy last year between writing, editing, teaching high school until June, speaking at conferences, and then shoulder surgery. To top it off I met a man through online dating.

First I tried Zoosk and I hate to say it, but I got romanced by a guy I never met face-to-face. I had to learn the hard way about things like “bread-crumbing” and it was amazing the kind of research I needed to do to navigate this new world. I finally decided the guy was a fraud and ended that communication, but boy, could he write the sweetest emails! Ah, the course of true love never runs smooth, right? I’m a romance author. I should know that better than anyone.

After a few months of keeping my standards high, I had some communications via text, email, and a few phone calls, but dismissing anyone who didn’t quite make the cut. You have cats? Um, not happening as they make my eyes swell shut! Oh, your dog won’t like my dog? Sounds like it’s a pass for both of us. Seriously, these were some of the things that came up. I had no face-to-face dates although a few men were interested. They didn’t make the cut. I finally tried E-Harmony as Zoosk wasn’t finding me the quality of man I wanted. I signed up and then thought maybe I needed to wait until after my shoulder surgery was done, but it was too late. I couldn’t back out. E-Harmony wouldn’t let me. That whole idea of “three-day right to rescind” doesn’t apply to online dating sites.

So I was stuck. I started looking. I smiled at some potential guys that “matched” well. One of them smiled back. Then we texted and finally talked on the phone on my birthday. For two hours. I asked him three times: “So, do you want to meet?” He finally agreed and we set the date for the next day.

He showed up early (huge points in my book!) and brought me flowers (sweet!) in my favorite color and even wore a shirt that had the same color in it. We met at Qdoba. I had already had lunch, it was mid-afternoon on a Sunday, so I ordered nachos and a soda. My points on my card allowed me to have the nachos free – so all my date had to pay for was his quesadilla, his soda, and mine. My part: $1.50. Yup – cheap first date. For a man who values frugality that was a good thing!

We sat and talked for three hours. He lived 42 miles south of my town. He wasn’t going to move. I wasn’t going to move because I had three teenagers who were in school in our town and I wasn’t going to move them away from that – or leave my church. Does that sound selfish? We ended the date and stood in the parking lot.

“So, what do we do now?” he asked.

“I guess we can be friends?”

Friends who kept calling each other almost every day. We went to a musical the next week. We had dinner and closed out the restaurant. After that date, I gave him a hug because I do hug my friends and that’s all we were going to be. We had a few other dates. I really liked talking to his guy. He ticked off all the right boxes other than location. There were no deal-breakers. He was a godly man and he seemed to like me and accept that I was a tad on the crazy side. My two youngest teens were thrilled for me and liked him when they met him.

All the time I was texting my bestie with reasons why I should just stop seeing him and cease talking to him. She encouraged me to keep giving him a chance. He never did anything to raise any alarm bells.

Our fifth date – before we even kissed. Love the photo-bomber!

I was afraid to trust a man again after what I’d been through.

We didn’t kiss until the fifth date. He respected my boundaries and I told him when the time came I wanted it to be special. When I was ready, I had to make it clear:  I WANT A KISS. Like NOW! He got the message and oh, it was worth the wait!

The next day he surprised me by delivering a dozen long-stemmed red roses with baby’s breath. (swoon!)-in person.

I traveled to Philadelphia for a writer’s conference and had trouble getting home. He was willing to drive to downtown Chicago at 2 am if need be to pick me if that’s where I could fly into. As it was, I made it into Milwaukee, but he still had to wait in the parking lot till almost 3 am as I waited to file a claim on my lost luggage. What a guy!

I texted: “I’m still waiting.”

He responded: “Funny thing, so am I.”

A few days later I had shoulder surgery – torn rotator cuff and bicep was reattached. Awful pain. Long recovery. He came every day to take my dog out, wash dishes, make sure I had ice packs and watched many Marvel movies as well as all of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with me. The poor man hadn’t seen any of those! Sometimes I would fall asleep on his shoulder and then the movie would end and he’d sit there, the screen blank, because he didn’t want to wake me up. He even helped me proof audiobooks, which was about as much I could cope with as far as writing went due to the challenges of recovery. He’s a fan of Hallmark movies so proofing romance novels was not something he had a problem with and it was fun gauging his reactions to the stories. (hint: he really liked them!)

He decided he had nothing keeping him where he was. He was willing to move. He wanted to get married. To me.

No way! I wasn’t going to get married that fast. Ridiculous!

He said, “How about December?”

Absolutely not!

God had other plans. The joke was on me. He proposed, I accepted. He bought a home for us all, and together we worked on remodeling and I underwent physical therapy while trying to plan a wedding and a move to our new home. We underwent vigorous pre-marital counseling. He’d been married almost 40 years. I’d made it to 27 in my previous marriage. God had some healing to do in both of us and my new husband has been a huge part of that process.

December wasn’t a bad month to get married, the church was decorated so beautifully! The pastor asked why the rush. I told him that I refused to have sex until we were married and I really wanted to have sex. A friend who reads my books asked me if I was going to do like I write in my books.

“You mean not have sex until I’m married?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s why we’re getting married in December-it’s hard to wait!”

There are so many more stories I could share. Our relationship has been rich in laughter and love, but not everything is for public consumption. and not everyone has been supportive, although the majority of people have been overwhelmingly cheering us on. We’ve settled into our new home and I’m trying to adjust to a new life and how to fit in my writing and editing in the midst of that as I have so much more to live for and enjoy than the escape that my work used to provide. It’s not all love and roses all the time, but it is good – so much better than I could have dreamed for myself. I awake every morning with a smile grateful for the man next to me. That I get to do this life with him.

Someone told me a few years ago “Susan, you just haven’t had your happily-ever-after yet.”

On our wedding day, another friend said: “Now you get to live the happily-ever-after like you always write about.”

God has a sense of humor and He blessed me with a man who not only gets my goofiness but has a great sense of humor as well. One of the things I wrote on my E-Harmony post was that I wanted someone who was willing to dance with me in the kitchen. We have a favorite song for that which was supposed to be the song we walked down the aisle to as husband and wife. Well, the joke was on us as it didn’t happen as planned due to a technical glitch, but I’ll share the song with you anyway because it’s a favorite for us to slow dance to.

And in this crazy life
And through these crazy times
It’s you, it’s you
You make me sing
You’re every line
You’re every word
You’re everything

 

Spatzle Speaks: Meow Matrimony (Book Review)

Lisa Lickel follows up Meow Mayhem, her first novel in the Fancy Cat Cozy Mystery series with Meow MatrimonyI love that this comes out on Valentine’s Day weekend!

Ivy Preston can’t seem to stay out of trouble in her new town of Apple Grove. Now that her fiance is the mayor, life has changed. Planning a wedding is a lot of work and when the wrong invitations arrive at her door, what would a good neighbor do but deliver them to the correct bride? Only when doing so Ivy discovers the bride-to-be is dead! Soon she and her former fiance, Stanley, become suspects and chaos ensues.

Her mother and Adam both believe in her innocence and then in addition to all that, one of her kittens falls ill. Ivy fears that if she can’t keep a kitten alive how would she ever be a good mother someday? With suspicion of murder hanging over her head could she ever be the wife of the mayor?

With Adam’s unfailing love, her mother’s support and the company of dear friends she’s made in her new home, is it possible she can be cleared of her crime in time for her wedding? But even more than that, can they find the real killer?

As I’ve said before, I love cats so this series has my undivided love and affection. With sweet romance and an intrepid heroine, this mystery will keep you guessing till the end just “who-done-it.” The mark of an excellent author. I give this book five bones because I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Spatzle Speaks: Clue Into Kindness (Book Review)

clue into kindnessThis book two in the “Love is . . .” series by Prism Book Group. Gay Lewis often writes about a ditzy but sweet angel, but that’s not Clue Into Kindness is about.

This story is about Georgia. She really loves her hubby but he’s really kind of a class-A jerk. She responds to every cutting remark with kindness. I’d like to bite him for every cruel comment and remark he makes to his wife. And she takes it? I don’t get it and neither does her best friend Jana who really would like to slap the guy. But her husband tells her that’s not really who Ken always was.

Georgia has work to do that gives her more positive feedback. Especially when a handsome business owner wines and dines her and offers her a job . . . and possibly more? Georgia backs away although given the way she’s treated at home, she’s very tempted. But as a follower she could never betray her husband like that. Although who could blame her.

Things change when they gather to celebrate her father-in-law’s birthday. While Georgia is away from the table, Alan hears some hard truths but he refuse to believe them. He follows up and God gets ahold of his heart . . .

But can Georgia really accept that kind of change? Can she forgive all that verbal abuse and trust that the man she vowed to love and has stayed faithful to really has changed? Guess you’ll have to read to find out.

I like light-hearted stories and this was not one of them. But to shine a light on the subtle and yet devastating abuses that can take place even in a Christian marriage through verbal abuse is a good thing to explore. I still wish Georgia hadn’t been so much of a doormat but maybe if it had continued, in time, she would have recognized it for what it was.

This story illustrates “Love is kind” from 1 Corinthians 13 and what better way to do that than set it up against someone so blatantly unkind and in a relationship that is hard to leave. Romance? Not so much, but a difficult story of loving in spite of another’s choices, this book definitely hits the mark for that.

I’ll give it four bones (I’m a dog, I don’t do stars) for tackling an uncomfortable issue and a happy ending. It’s a novella so it’s short. A longer book might have explored this even further, but might have also been harder to read from an emotional standpoint.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that's how we roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

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Reviving Jules (Book Review)

reviving julesPeggy Trotter loves to take women beaten down by life and resurrect them and hopping into her stories to enjoy the journey is an adventure. This is no less true than with her latest contemporary inspirational romance novel, Reviving Jules.

Believing marriage was forever, Jules Summers is stunned when her’s falls apart. She runs from her church, family and town to lick her wounds in private. And she runs away from the God she believes let it happen. humiliated, depressed and alone, she struggles to survive day by day. When a little girl appears in her backyard, she has no clue that God is showing her just how little He forgets.

Rhett Carsen is the father of the little girl and strikes up a friendship with Jules. He too has been wounded by love-gone-wrong and has vowed to never remarry. But trying to work full-time and care for his precocious daughter when he needs to travel means he needs help.

He enlists the lovely Jules as a nanny since she to be a teacher and has bonded with his daughter. Her life is moorless and his need for help is so great, what could be wrong with a business relationship to ensure that?

The journey these two characters take is heartwarming. I’m not sure why Jules’s journey resonated so much with me but it did and watching her come alive to God, to love and to forgiveness in the wake of all the challenges she faced was a joy to read.

 

It Had To Be You (Book Review)

it had to be youI have loved the Wedding by Bella series written by Janice Thompson and It Had to Be You did not disappoint (except that it means the series has ended? Say it ain’t so, Janice!).

Bella is planning her own wedding to her hunky cowboy while at the same time planning a wedding between her aunt and uncle (unrelated to each other) who have loved each other for years but didn’t acknowledge it until the previous book.

Every wedding has it’s challenges and this one does as well with fights and a swing band that magically can help heal relationships and the most oddly humorous assortment of characters you will ever meet, including a mobster and a parrot that sings Amazing Grace among other things! I don’t even know if I could survive a week in that household given the emotional upheavals and drama.

Overall of that is love. Bella learns a huge lesson about grace and learning to depend on others when her body finally tells her to stop. I mean, literally, it stops her in her tracks. I love DJ and his faithful patience and adoration and listening to his bride-to-be. I really do hope they have the happily ever after they were planning on, because after all, it’s not the wedding that’s the most important, but the marriage, and I think Bella finally got that at the end.

Kudos to you Janice for another laugh-out-loud Texas sized romp with Italian sized heart. I enjoyed my trip to your imaginary world (but wish it were real because it would be fun to visit!)