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!)

They Almost Always Come Home (Book Review)

They Almost Always Come Home is a debut novel by Cynthia Ruchti and a book I recommend reading. I found it hard to put down once I started.

Libby’s marriage is toast and her husband has not returned from his supposed trip to the Canadian wilderness. Is he dead or alive? Is he really up in the wilderness or somewhere tropical with a love interest? Not Greg. Never Greg. Libby is ready to call her marriage quits but doesn’t know if her husband has taken the choice away from her. Is he injured? Then get him home so she can file for divorce. Is he dead? How do you plan a funeral with no body or proof?  Eventually she decides to go look for her husband herself so she can get closure on a dead-end marriage.  She takes two others with her. But what she initially seeks is not necessarily what God had in mind.

I hadn’t completely finished this novel when I had already established an opinion about it. The main character, Libby, is a whiner. Okay, I’m honest. She annoyed me at times! But written from the perspective of a wife whose husband is missing, what else could an author do but explore the emotions and thoughts that run rampant in this woman’s head?  Later in the  book, the reader is privy to the husband’s own journey as well.

Does he make it home? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

I do recommend this novel though for this reason. Good literature forces us to take a look at ourselves. Libby annoyed me because she reflected some of my own inner struggles (and my husband is not lost in the Canadian wilderness). Her journey back to God and to trusting in Him regardless of the outcome was subtle and refreshing because you saw how slowly God sometimes makes those changes in our hearts even though we would (most of the time) prefer the instant miracle.

Cynthia also does a wonderful job at painting the journey in Canada. I’ve never been there but almost feel like I was as I journeyed north with Libby, her friend Jen and her father-in-law Frank. The characters are well defined and relatable. Greg’s story, when we get to see it, gives a beautiful counterbalance to the struggle that this husband and wife faced, and the brutality of sometimes facing our own failures.

So go ahead. Get the book and read it. But be prepared that God might challenge  you when you do.

A Mood

James B. Pollard  (10/1/1920 – 1/22/89)

This piece was written during my paternal grandfather’s time in India in World War II – as part of a journal he kept. I had this read at my wedding, which he did not live to see. He was a hero, a gentle and gracious soul and I still miss him all these years later.

J.B. Pollard (WWII pic)

My Grandpa in 1944

Nightfall is once more preparing to enshroud Assam in its blanket of pitch darkness. An American soldier sits alone in his tent on the edge of his canvas cot, his heavy G-I shoes unlaced to cool his burning feet, a cigarette smoldering listlessly between his fingers.

He gazes out at the lengthening shadows in the nearby jungle. He listens to the weird cry of the small jungle wild life – and the insects. He becomes aware of the steady purr of the diesel generators which run constantly day and night supplying power for the small garrison.

Outside he hears the crunch of the guard’s boots on the gravel path as he starts his first tour of duty around the area on his long night vigil keeping his sleeping buddies from harm.

He hears the steady drone of jeeps and trucks racing back and forth on the nearby Stillwell Road. A G-I in a nearby tent is strumming a guitar and singing Western songs softly, while another next door makes a feeble attempt to blow some jazz out of a squeaky clarinet.

The generator coughs and sputters, then catches again and continues on and on with its steady rhythm.

The soldier’s eye falls to on a picture of his family, of which he has been thinking. The children’s locks of hair are in the little frame. He looks closely at it, then back at the picture. He wipes the mold from the leather frame and replaces the picture in its spot on the crude rough cupboard he has made. He continues to look at his pretty young wife and sees many things – First, the woman he is so deeply in love with. His mind flashes quickly back over the few preceding years and he is doubly homesick. He also sees the mother of his children – the financial wizard who makes ends meet somehow on a meager monthly sum. He sees the wonderful cook, who in happier days planned and prepared his menus. He sees many things in that wonderful wife. In his children he sees the happiness of days past and in those to come.

The tent door slams and the Sergeant from Tennessee appears, whistling loudly, “Flying Home.” He reaches over the rough table, snaps on the light and suddenly becomes quiet. His happy mood has been killed by the sullen expression on his friend’s face.

“What’s the matter ‘J.B.’ . . .  homesick?”

A dull reply of “Yeah. . . “ and the cigarette is ground into the concrete floor. For a moment, silence, except for the sounds of nature – and the machinery.

The Sergeant breaks the spell again, “Let’s get out of this rat trap, wander over the day-room and I’ll beat the pants off you in ping-pong.”

The door slams – the two men walk down the narrow path together, staring into the black jungle ahead. Neither man speaks. . .they are thinking. . .

It is nighttime in Assam.  . . .

Proposal gone wrong

I had my first proposal of marriage on Valentine’s Day, more years back than I would care to admit. While we had looked at rings, I truly was surprised when the moment came. No flowers or fancy environment, he proposed in my living room late in the morning. He got down on one knee (I was sitting) and pulled out a ring and said, “Will you marry me?”

Now any sane young woman would say “Yes” to a proposal – or maybe “No” or “Let me think about it. . .”  Not me. No, I looked at the beautiful gold band with a diamond and two rubies and said “Oh, it’s the wrong ring!”

I think that took him a bit by surprised. “Is that a yes or a no?”

“Yes! But, it’s the wrong ring! I wanted white gold!”

I accepted the proposal and rejected the ring. Seriously. He had worked hard to get that ring, in the right size, for that particular day. I found out that an employee from the jewelery store had to drive to another store the day before to pick it up and have it ready. Imagine her surprise when we walked into that jewelry store to exchange the ring for one with while gold (no rubies although they were not the issue.)  We had to wait a few days for the diamond to be reset, and then he did the proposal – again.

When I called my parents to let them know I was engaged, my father answered. I told him about the issue with the ring and what I had said. He surprised me with his response: “Your mother said the same thing to me when I proposed!” Too funny! I had never heard that story before!

I still, all these years later, laugh at how I responded to a marriage proposal, unwittingly the same way as my own mother had!

We won’t talk about whether it was the “right man.”  He canceled the engagement six months before the wedding and I returned the ring at that time.