3. Fairy and Blood: Lilac

Fairy and BloodTHE BOOK: Fairy and Blood: Lilac

PUBLISHED: 2013

AUTHOR: William Crisel

PUBLISHED BY: Self published through Amazon’s create space.

SUMMARY: This is a dark fantasy tale of a lone fairy who goes on a journey to bring balance to her world. She faces gods, beasts and the harsh environment of her world in order to do so. She puts herself directly in the path of danger in order to succeed.

BACWilliam CristelK STORY: The book idea came about during a conversation of myths and fantasy. How fairies were magical happy creatures that assisted others via magic or wisdom. I pondered if there where any stories that put this creature in a more heroic role – one wasn’t childish – and more something darker. I could not find such a tale so I decided to write it myself.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE READ THIS BOOK: It takes a creature who by its mythos lives in sort of a dark world and it puts them in a story that keeps it dark-natured. The tale itself is unique. It takes the fairy known for its magical prowess and strips it away, forcing her to be more daring and bold in her actions. It’s full of action and close calls. It’s overall a great tale.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I suppose you could say I’m a dreamer. I try seeing the world differently then the norm. I’ve always had an imagination and creative streak. I’m your typical fantasy, si-fi loving guy who likes things simple, yet on occasions complicated.

REVIEWS:

By bookreader on January 26, 2014:

“This story took me to a spectacular journey to the land of fairy tales. William J Crisel has his way of describing the events within the story which is entertaining and interesting. One reads within this story the dark and bloody side of fantasy. Another positive aspect of Fairy and Blood:Lilac is a nice layout and font. I recommend this book to fairy tale lovers. I am glad i bought it.”

 

By jen mitchell on September 25, 2015.

“I may be late to the game on posting my review but I must say this book is remarkable. If you’re into dark fairy tales, this is the book for you. I remember staying up with William at all hours of the night to listen to tidbits of chapters before it was fully released and i couldn’t wait for him to finalize it. To see what it became when it was released is amazing. I’m so proud of him it’s unreal. So yes, give this book a chance. It’s definitely worth it.”

 

By Roses are Amber on May 31, 2014

Format: Kindle Edition

Fairy and blood is a dark tale of pain and struggle. We meet the fairy Lilac resting in the woods. She’s a hunter and fighter and wants to put the world back in balance. A quest follows, but first we see first hand how ruthless Lilac is when she takes on a badger to the death. She seeks out the sprites who have taken on the powers of the four seasons, but have grown corrupt with their powers. Spring has become a growth of wickedness. Summer is filled with rage and fire, whilst autumn lives in a black void. The sprite who is winter is just sad and lonely wanting an escape from the cruel world.

As the tale unfolds we learn how Lilac removes the powers from the sprites as well as the story of a star who gifted these powers to greedy fairies long ago. In a final battle with a powerful foe Lilac returns the balance of power to earth.

The story is very well written, there are lots of passages full of eloquent words, Lilac’s quest is a lonely one with very few opportunities for dialogue with other characters. At times I struggled to pick up the flow of the storyline as I stopped to check out words from my dictionary.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER. On Amazon.

AUTHOR COMMENT: “All I would like in regards to my book would be for it to find its way into someone’s hands. I would hope that they enjoyed it and that maybe it could hold a place in their heart and mind. That maybe it could spark someone else’s creative juices.”

WHERE TO BUY IT: Places to purchase: It can be found on Amazon both in paperback and ebook. You could also request it at any book store be it books a million or barns and noble and they should be able to order it for you.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: If anyone needs to get a hold of me, they can contact me via monk410@comcast.net or find me on Twitter via William Crisel.

1. Rejection

OUR OTHER TWO FEATURED BOOKS, “AGNES CANON’S WAR,” BY DEBORAH LINCOLN AND “TEAMSTER,” BY QUORENA SBROCCA, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST.

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Mark DavisTHE BOOK: Rejection.

AUTHOR: Mark Davis.

PUBLISHED: 2010

EDITOR: University of South Carolina and Carol Woody

PUBLISHER: Poinsettia

SUMMARY: Perno Morris is desperate. After years of rejection letters and returned manuscripts, decades of frustration, disappointment and stacks of rejection letters, he decides to take matters into his own hands. After seeing super literary agent Susan McCarthy on a national talk show, where she mentioned her vacation home, and that she has a six year old daughter, Perno decides to kidnap her little girl to get his book published. Dressed as a catholic priest, Perno takes little Christine McCarthy from a McDonald’s restaurant when her babysitter went to the restroom. He is videotaped from an ATM machine camera across the street, but can only be identified as a man of clergy. The camera’s view of his car is blocked by a delivery truck, and images are not recorded. He holds her hostage in the basement of his farm house miles from town.

THE BACK STORY: I saw a super agent on 60 Minutes boasting that she was the top literary agent and that publisher’s have an “open door” to any author she signed. As a rain-maker of best selling authors she had made publisher’s a small fortune. She also mentioned that she vacationed and her lake home with her six year old daughter. I thought that it was somewhat risky mentioning where she vacationed and she could possibly be at risk for some psycho or disgruntled wanna be author who may have been rejected by her. And so the plot for my novel was born.

RejectionWHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I reveal some of the harsh facts about the up-hill battle of getting published and the ineptness of the FBI in locating missing children. The combination of facts interwoven with the story of a frustrated writer makes for an informative and thought provoking novel.

REVIEWS:

“The concept is intriguing and a little frightening. Perno is a fascinating character. The plot has the momentum of a car chase. But the ending was what truly stunned me. There is no way I could have predicted that. Davis has created the novel equivalent of a set of nesting Russian dolls … a mystery, inside an enigma, inside a puzzle. — Tonya Murphy.
“Amazing view point from a author’s perspective as well as how the print industry works. Has a captivating story line with a great twist at the end.” — Bill, on Amazon.

“A really good writer with a great story to tell…a thriller for all of us who ever dreamed of seeing our book displayed in a bookstore window.” —  Steve Thayer, New York Times Best Selling Author.

AUTHOR PROFILE: “I have been a creative director and advertising copywriter for more than thirty years, with a focus on print advertising, I have written thousands of brochures, corporate literature and product ads for national and international companies. I have written and directed numerous documentary films, one of which was “Variations on America,” counterpoint to the 60 minutes segment on foreigners owning U.S. soil. The documentary aired on national PBS. I have been a feature writer for multiple business, regional and entertainment magazines. (Virginia Business, LB Business Magazine, Arts & Entertainment Monthly).”

SAMPLE CHAPTER: On the thirty-fifth floor overlooking Times Square, Diane Baker sat at her desk opening the mail. A stack of more than a hundred envelopes were addressed to Susan McCarthy, literary agent. The morning sun filled the office on a clear and unusually warm, autumn day. Diane sipped her Starbucks caramel macchiato as she carefully sliced open each envelope. Most of the letters would end up in the waste basket, but some would be held for the next step in the difficult process of selection. Diane was trained to recognize the good from the bad, the prepared from the unprepared, and Susan counted on her to know which was correct. She had been Susan’s assistant for more than a decade.

Possibly, one of the envelopes held the outline of the next best-seller; the next John Grisham, Tom Clancy, James Patterson or Stephen King. But most would be stamped with the standard rejection notice and sent back to the want-to-be author. Only the exceptional would be held for Susan.

Any cover letter or outline that was hand-written instead of typed was automatically placed on the pile to be returned. If the envelope did not include a return, self-addressed, stamped envelope, it was quickly fed into a shredder and transformed into confetti for New Years Eve, when thousands of authors’ submissions would become a cloud of paper strips raining down on a half-million people bringing in the New Year. The closet held a plastic trash bag already half full with tiny strips—thousands of manuscripts made into confetti and street litter.

When she finished the mailed submissions, she went for the one overnight envelope. When she opened it and read it her life was changed forever. Inside was a cover letter and computer disk. She immediately looked for the return envelope. She fed the overnight envelope into the shredder beside her desk. The letter had been typed on a computer and definitely had the required catchy first line to grab the attention of the literary agent. It stopped Diane in her tracks.

Dear Susan McCarthy:

By the time you read this letter, I will already have taken your daughter.

Diane stared at the words. Her eye shadow quickly disappeared behind her eyelids.

“Oh my God,” she gasped into the empty office as she read the opening words. “This has to be a joke!” Her mouth dropped open in astonishment.

This is no work of fiction. The author stated. You are to tell no one of this letter or your little girl will most certainly die. My demand is very simple…publish my novel by November fifteenth, or pay the consequence.

Enclosed is the manuscript of my book. As you can see, it is on computer disk. I say book because you will make it so—you will take it from words and sentences on a computer and make them words and sentences on paper, nicely printed in Goudy Old Style and bound as a hard-cover novel. This will surely be next year’s best-selling work.  You are to have it published exactly as I have written it.

I saw you on the national morning television show not too long ago bragging about your successes as a literary agent, so now is the time for you to prove it to me and to your pretty little girl Christine.  I will expect you to promote my novel prior to the release to be sure that it sells. Sorry that you won’t have a picture of the author for the back cover…just use anything, I don’t really care.  However, a rejection of this manuscript will mean the death of your little girl.  I will expect to see my book in every major bookstore in the country on November fifteenth. This has nothing to do with money, which is no longer important to me; it’s a question of my success as an author.

I will not contact you until the day of the release of the book…then, and only then, will you see your daughter. I will visit a bookstore of my choosing on that day, and I expect to see this work on the shelf.  If it is, you can have your daughter back.

I must go now, but I will expect to see this novel in each and every book store. You may use the name Thomas Canvanaugh as the author, I’ve always liked that name.

Signed,

Your new client.

Diane dropped the letter on her desk and picked up the CD. She couldn’t believe what she had just read. She gathered her thoughts and then picked up the phone to call Susan McCarthy. She had the number programmed in her phone for speed dial. Within seconds the phone was ringing at Sue’s home, but no answer. She then tried her cell phone. Again there was no answer, but it did connect with Sue’s voice mail.

“Sue, this is Diane. This is urgent. Please, call me as soon as you receive this voice mail…it’s critical. Wait! I can’t say anything over the phone, so maybe you had better come into the office. Bring Christine with you…don’t leave her out of your sight. Please, come right away.”

Diane suddenly realized that perhaps she shouldn’t have touched the letter or the computer disk, so she dropped it onto the desk. As she rose from her chair while trying to think of what to do next, she accidentally caught her blouse sleeve on the desk pad. It lifted and slid to the right knocking over the coffee. A flood of brown liquid flowed over the letter and began leaching into the paper fiber. She grabbed it and waved it in the air. In a panic she cried out… “Oh God!   Oh God!”

AVAILABLE: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: mdnovelist@gmail.com

2. Agnes Canon’s War

Agnes Canon's WarTHE BOOK: Agnes Canon’s War.

PUBLISHED IN: 2014.

THE AUTHOR: Deborah Lincoln.

THE EDITOR: Kristina Blank Makansi.

THE PUBLISHER: Blank Slate Press, St. Louis. A partner in Amphorae Publishing Group.

SUMMARY: Agnes Canon’s War is the fictionalized story of my great great-grandparents’ experiences during the Civil War in Missouri. Agnes Canon is 28 and a spinster when she leaves her home in Pennsylvania in the spring of 1852. She joins a group of cousins who immigrate to frontier Holt County in northwest Missouri. There she meets and marries Jabez Robinson, a doctor who grew up in Maine and in his youth traveled to the California gold fields and the Southwest in search of adventure. In the decade before the Civil War actually breaks out, both Kansas and Missouri are a battleground of politics and acts of violence, and Agnes and Jabez are in the thick of it. This is the story of two people who watch their family, their town, everything that keeps a society civil, crumble into a chaos that they are powerless to stop.

THE BACK STORY: I had access to the basic facts of my ancestors’ lives, which were compiled by a cousin in the 1970s. The characters were so exceptional, the events so extraordinary, that I didn’t want the story to die out. Agnes seemed to me to stand out from other nineteenth-century women, in that she chose to turn her back on her family home in Pennsylvania and venture into the unknown. And Jabez, too, was a fascinating and even romantic character: though he was born and raised in Maine, he held secessionist views during the Civil War and suffered from them. The “plot” was tailor-made for a novel, and though I left out lots of events and made up others, I hope I did them justice.Deborah Lincoln

I worked on the novel off and on for nearly twenty years. When I retired, I found the time concentrate on it, then discovered I needed to know a lot more about the craft of writing. So I nearly started over and spent another five years polishing and finding a publisher.

WHY THIS TITLE? Agnes’s war was fought on several fronts: obviously, the Civil War and the events that led up to it were driving forces in her life. But she also fought a war against the expectations society had of women in the mid-19th century, a war against the boredom and lack of meaning that a single, aging woman encountered, and a war to ensure her legacy and that of her husband lived on in future generations.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Agnes is a strong, fascinating character. One contest judge said “Agnes is a force to be reckoned with!” I think young women, especially, will find a role model in her. At the same time, many readers have told me they learned so much more than is generally known about the war in Missouri and how war on the home ground affects, even destroys, a small close-knit society.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“The author is a master of characterization and plot. . . . It features strong protagonists and antagonists and is one of the best books I’ve read this year.” Paula, Amazon

“The characters are likeable, intelligent, humorous, spunky and passionate people whose zest for adventure is met and then some! Superb historical fiction this reviewer highly recommends.” Viviane Crystal, Historical Novel Society

“This story sucked me in from the very first pages. Lincoln has a gift for writing prose that is both lyrical and highly readable, and she creates some very memorable characters. It’s the story of a relationship bewteen two people who don’t seem to fit within the boundaries of traditional society, yet who manage to find one another. The historical backdrop of the Civil War period and related events makes for an action-packed read that balances out the romantic element of the book.” Book Blog Too Fond

AUTHOR PROFILE: Award-winning author Deborah Lincoln has lived on the Central Oregon Coast for ten years. She grew up in the small town of Celina, Ohio and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Michigan. She and her husband have three grown sons. She was awarded first place in the 2013 Chanticleer Laramie Awards (best in category) and was a 2015 finalist for a Willa Award in historical fiction presented by Women Writing the West. She’s working on a sequel to Agnes Canon’s War.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “I love historical fiction because I’m fascinated by the way events—wars and cataclysms and upheavals, of course, but the everyday changes that wash over everyday lives—bring a poignancy to a person’s efforts to survive and prosper. Agnes Canon’s War grew out of the need to keep the memory of these extraordinary people alive. It’s part of the instinct toward immortality that most everyone feels at some time or another—what’s the point of enduring trials and triumphs if no one remembers? It’s also a way of realizing how fragile is the train of incidents that leads to one’s own existence. One death, one misstep, and everything would be very different.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER: You can read the first chapter on Amazon.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Your local bookstore can purchase ACW through its normal channels. It is distributed by Midpoint Trade.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Agnes Canon’s War is available on * Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/AgnesCanonsWar) – paperback and Kindle * Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/agnes-canons-war) – paperback and Nook

PRICE: $14.95 paperback; various prices, Kindle and Nook CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I’d love to hear from you!

WEBSITE: http://www.deborahlincoln.org GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21882293-agnes-canon-s-war Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deborahslincoln?fref=ts

Twitter: @dslincoln51

The Teamster

The TeamsterTHE BOOK: The Teamster (The Crossing Hour #1.5)

PUBLISHED IN: 2015

THE AUTHOR: Quoleena Sbrocca.

SUMMARY: In the 20th century, Jimmy Hoffa was a man obsessed with power. The mob wanted him dead, and on July 30, 1975, they hired his friend to do it. But Hoffa was never murdered that night…and the mob didn’t know about time travel. Every four and five years, invisible doorways open and close. Any living being caught within the magnetic, gravitational field awakens incoherently to a future world. On July 31, 1975, it happened to Jimmy Hoffa, and he awoke in the summer of 2010. Before he could ever learn the truth of what happened that night, he was imprisoned in a facility, guarded by a team of agents. Would he ever escape to see his kids, grown and years older than he? Or would he forever remain at the will of another, stripped of all sense of a word that he once knew so well?

THE BACK STORY: The Teamster was originally intended to be a short story, but it grew to become 15 chapters and nearing 300 pages. It is a segue of sorts to book 2, coming 2016.

WHY THIS TITLE?: This book takes off where the first book ended. I say “take off” as opposed to “pick up.” To say more would be too much of a spoiler.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT: This book resolves the mystery behind Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance. Is time travel real? Jimmy Hoffa now believes it is.

AUTHOR PROFILE: My name is Quoleena Sbrocca. (If you try to pronounce it too fast, you’ll likely get a brain freeze. Kwo-LEE-nuh Su-BROH-kuh). I’m a Denver native. I went to San Diego State University as a dance major then earned an MFA in Photography from The Academy of Art University. If you’re interested in checking out my photography, you can visit my website: http://www.sbroccaphotography.com I’ve always loved creative writing. I realized I wanted to write a book during my senior year in college. It only took 14 years for me to try. Truth is, I never had an idea for one until August 2014. Before I even completed that first draft, I “knew” I only had one story to tell. Then that story became a series, and now I can’t stop writing. The ideas just keep coming. The obsession is real.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: On Amazon.

WHERE TO BUY IT:

eBook http://www.amazon.com/Teamster-Crossing-Hour-1-5-ebook/dp/B00W8E2V7G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1444435097&sr=8-1&keywords=the+teamster

Paperback http://www.amazon.com/Teamster-Crossing-Hour-1-5/dp/1512036595/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1444435097&sr=8-1

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-teamster-quoleena-sbrocca/1122336629?ean=9781512036596

PRICE: eBook $2.99

Paperback $10.85

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: quoleenasbrocca@gmail.com

Twitter: @QJSbrocca

1. Ocean City Cover-Up

Ocean City Cover-Up

Kim Kash 2PUBLISHED IN: 2015

THE AUTHOR: Kim Kash

THE EDITOR: Paul Covington and Barb Goffman

THE PUBLISHER: Capri House

SUMMARY: Euro-trash collides with American gangsta in Maryland’s gleefully cheesy beach resort. Reporter Jamie August befriends a spoiled heiress who is being pursued by Russian mobsters—and a chart-topping rap star. Meanwhile, a raging crime spree is keeping Jamie busy—and so is a hot new boyfriend and a strict jogging and frozen custard fitness plan. Action careens from OC to Dubai, from the wild shores of Assateague to a wild-west campground. Will Jamie survive to debut her fringed leopard-print bikini?

THE BACK STORY: In 2008, I wrote a travel guide to Ocean City for the Tourist Town series. While I was researching the book (read: eating crabcakes and playing mini-golf), it occurred to me that it would be really fun to read some mysteries set in Ocean City. When I searched, I found there were almost none. So I figured it was some kind of a sign—I started a rough draft of OCEAN CITY LOWDOWN, the first book in the series, shortly after the travel guide was published.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The term “cover-up” was a very deliberate choice. In the context of my story it has three shades of meaning. It’s a hiding away of something. It’s also a piece of clothing you throw over your bathing suit at the beach. And finally, it’s a reference to the practice of covering oneself for modesty, as women in the Middle East do for religious and cultural reasons. In OCEAN CITY COVER-UP our hometown heroine, Jamie August, is whisked away to Dubai. She stays for a few luxurious days in the penthouse home of an oil tycoon and his family. There Jamie has a crash course in Muslim fashion, and covering up outside of one’s home is something she learns about.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT: The Jamie August series has been very popular so far with people who are familiar with Ocean City, Maryland because I fill the stories with references to real places in the region. I have also heard from people who have never been, but now want to go to Ocean City to see the craziness for themselves! Now, with OCEAN CITY COVER-UP, I am also hearing from the expat community in the Middle East about how much they enjoyed my take on Dubai. My stories are very much fixed in real locations, and I enjoy writing about a down-to-earth, imperfect heroine in genuine places that I know and love.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“High-spirited, slyly humorous page-turner.” – Marcia Talley, Agatha and Anthony award-winning author of DAUGHTER OF ASHES

“Jamie is a smart, sexy and unforgettable heroine I’d love to be my guide to the real Ocean City, Maryland–no matter what the season.”- Sujata Massey, Agatha and Macavity Award winner of the Rei Shimura Series and THE SLEEPING DICTIONARY

“Kim Kash has crafted a solid mystery with plenty of twists, whip-smart dialogue, and a sprinkle of romance. OCEAN CITY COVER-

UP kept me awake into the wee hours, flipping pages and collecting clues with Jamie.” – LynDee Walker, Agatha Award-nominated author of DEVIL IN THE DEADLINE

AUTHOR PROFILE: Kim Kash is the author of two Jamie August mystery novels: OCEAN CITY LOWDOWN and OCEAN CITY COVER-UP, and the best-selling travel guide OCEAN CITY: A GUIDE TO MARYLAND’S SEASIDE RESORT. For the last six years, she has been dividing her time between Maryland and the Middle East. Which can be weird.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I love writing a series set in the beach town of my home state. Especially since I am now living overseas, where life is very different, very much more constrained. I love my expat life, don’t get me wrong, and I’m learning a ton about life outside our culturally insulated United States. It’s all good. But sometimes I just want to walk down the OC boardwalk in trashy cut-offs and a t-shirt, and drink margaritas. Writing this series is a wonderful catharsis. It keeps me connected to, and in love with, my home state of Maryland.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

My lungs were ready to burst by the time I hit Tenth Street, and I slowed to a walk. I stopped to hang onto a lamppost, bent forward at the waist, and tried to catch my breath.

It was just after eight a.m. on July 1. The start of week four of my Get-Your-Ass-In-Shape campaign. Every year at the beginning of the summer season, I hit the Ocean City boardwalk shops and picked out a new bikini. This year, I’d been really irritated that I couldn’t find anything that looked good on me. Everything made me look fat—or at least kind of doughy and soft.

Then I realized that the bathing suits hadn’t changed. I had changed. No longer could I scarf down Slurpees and chili cheese fries and stay skinny. The late-twenties pounds were showing up. I wanted the leopard skin bikini with the fringes—it was only twelve dollars!—but I just couldn’t work it the way I used to. I found myself looking at sensible one-pieces, and that’s when I found Jesus, right there in the fitting room at the Bikini Depot.

“Tammy, I swear by the Fourth of July I am gonna rock this bikini,” I said to my best friend, who was trying on minidresses.

“Do it!” Tammy said.

“Yeah!”

“So, how are you gonna make it happen?”

I was caught off guard thinking about the logistics of exercise. “Huh. I can’t afford the gym.”

“So go running. That’s free.”

“That sounds hideous.”

Tammy shrugged and pulled her dressing room curtain closed.

“Shit. Okay, you’re right. I’ll do it.”

From that day on, I went jogging every day on Ocean City’s wide boardwalk. As June progressed, my runs got longer and my belly really did get flatter. Now, one month later, I was feeling pretty good about the way I looked, but that didn’t mean I liked the damn running part. I stopped for a thirty-second break, hitting the stopwatch button on my plastic running watch.

“I hate my hormones,” I said out loud just as three fifty-something women strolled past.

One of them turned and said, “You think you hate ’em now, honey? Just wait.” They laughed and kept walking.

I was too out of breath to come up with a response. I waited for my heart rate to come down, then did a few hamstring stretches, checking out my nicely toned legs with satisfaction.

I straightened and looked down the boards, undoing and redoing the ponytail holder on my straight, dark hair, blowing my bangs

out of my eyes. I spotted what I was looking for off in the distance. I hit the stopwatch button on my plastic sports watch again, squared my shoulders, and jogged on.

Finally I reached my destination: Kohr Brothers. I got in line and did another set of stretches as I waited. Despite the early hour, the line was six deep for the original, often imitated but never duplicated Kohr Brothers frozen custard. I told myself this was a healthier alternative to ice cream, that I could budget the 130 calories in that small, beautiful cone. But the truth was, if I didn’t know there was a Kohr Brothers cone waiting for me at the end of every run, I wouldn’t run. I just wouldn’t do it. I would buy the granny one-piece, and maybe throw in some elastic-waist jeans, too.

The three teenage boys ahead of me in line finished with their order and their lame attempt to chat up the Russian summer workers behind the counter, and then I stepped up to the booth.

“Vanilla. Plain. Small. Hurry!”

“Your run was good?” one of the girls asked, smiling and tucking her cute bobbed hair behind one ear. She asked me this every morning.

“Awesome,” I said. “Couldn’t be better. Today I ran all the way from the other end of the boardwalk.”

“That is maybe forty blocks, yes?” asked the other, more sultry girl. “That is far. How you do?”

“Brute force,” I said, pulling exact change out of the little pocket in my running shorts. The cute one handed me a cone piled high with snowy vanilla soft-serve and collected the money. The sultry one twirled a long blond strand of hair.

“Knocked twenty seconds off my time today,” I said, then took the first glorious bite of frozen custard. I wiped a sticky drip on my chin.

“That’s great,” the cute one said. “Twenty seconds off the exact same run from yesterday? You are doing well.”

“You have stopwatch on that?” the sultry one asked.

I showed her my black and safety-yellow rubber watch. “Yeah. Got it at Daffodils, eighteen bucks. Says it’s a Timex, but probably a knockoff. Whatever. Really helps me track my progress.”

“I have this function also,” she said, extending her slender wrist and showing me a watch that looked to be completely covered in diamonds. It had small, round dials arranged within a larger analog clock face. “This dial here is stopwatch,” she said, delicately pointing to one of them.

“That’s a fitness watch?” I said, guffawing.

“Of course. Piaget Miss Protocole XL.”

The cute one whipped her head around and stared at her friend.

“Replica,” she amended. “Of course.”

“Piaget. Sounds like a car,” I said. “Anyway, it’s amazing.”

“Thank you.”

“One of those sure would improve my look when I’m out for my morning run.”

“Yes. But I do not understand,” the sultry one said. “Why you not go on diet? Would be easier than this run, run, run every day, no?”

“Are you kidding? I am on a diet. Otherwise I would order the waffle cone with cookie crumbles and double jimmies. I am totally cutting back.”

“When I want lose weight, I don’t eat. Easy.”

“I can’t not eat. I’d die. Well, I mean of course anyone would die if they didn’t eat. What I mean is, I would kill myself.”

“No, is easy,” she said, one hand on a beautifully curvy hip. “Stop eat. Only smoke.”

Well, she had me there. I quit smoking nearly a year before, and I knew that was a big contributor to this season’s bikini crisis. Still, with only one or two minor lapses, I had kicked the habit and

I wasn’t about to go back. Couldn’t afford it, for one thing.

“Easy for you to say.” I rolled my eyes. “What are you, twenty?”

“Twenty-one.”

“Just wait,” I said, realizing with horror that I was mimicking those women who’d mocked me earlier. “Twenty-seven is a bitch.”

LOCAL OUTLETS: The News Center in West Ocean City has copies (or can get them), as does Browseabout Books in Rehoboth, and Bethany Beach Books. Daedalus Books in Columbia, MD stocks it, and any bookstore can order it for you, as it is distributed via Ingram.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, of course! If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow it for free.

PRICE: $16.99 for the paperback; $2.99 for the ebook (or, again, free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Web page: http://www.kimkash.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Author-Kim-Kash-533950016639103/timeline/?ref=hl

Twitter handle: @kash_kim

Lost Sister

Lost Sister

PUBLISHED IN: 2005

THE AUTHOR:  Jean Ryan.

THE EDITOR: Self-edited.

THE PUBLISHER: iUniverse

SUMMARY: A saute cook at a Berkeley restaurant, Lorrie Rivers is weary of her job and tired of the dating circuit; she needs to make some changes in her life. More than anything, she wants to visit her estranged sister Bett, for whom she feels tremendous love—and guilt. When Ginger, Bett’s look-alike, appears, Lorrie instantly bonds with the girl and enjoys a second chance at being the older sister. But joy turns to fear as Lorrie begins to understand not only what happened in her own family, but the peril surrounding the young girl.

THE BACK STORY: The story was always inside me, and eventually it surfaced. The actual writing, which took place over about two years, felt like an imperative, requiring more soul-searching than research.

WHY THIS TITLE? The narrator’s sister lives a transient life, moving from one town to the next, never feeling at home anywhere. Lorrie believes that Bett’s inability to find peace, to form true connections, is a result of the harm she suffered as a child. Essentially she feels that Bett is lost.

Jean RyanWHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: This story concerns child sexual abuse, a crime that is largely unpunished and one that leaves irreparable damage. There have been plenty of tell-all books regarding monstrous parenting, but few that take a tender and focused look at the harm itself and what it feels like to have one’s sense of freedom taken away at a young age.

CUSTOMER REVIEWS:

“I have just finished living though Lorrie Rivers, the main character in Ms. Ryan’s first novel, Lost Sister. I could not put it down. I was captured by the honesty and tenderness with which she presents her characters’ lives. They are people in the throes of human frailty and circumstance going about their day. Having lived in Berkeley for a number of years myself, I was delighted to revisit it through her eyes. She has truly captured and presents us with the quirky; `uniquely Berkeley’, a city people joke about, and its inhabitants love like an old pair of Birkenstock’s.

I was touched by her careful illumination of the ghostly masks of child abuse. Lost Sister is both disconcerting and comforting. It touches a chord familiar to so many women. Ms Ryan’s steady, metered style of telling a story is infused with kindness, humor and hope. I was empowered by it and look forward to her next book with great anticipation.”

“Having enjoyed so many of her previously published poignant short stories, I looked forward with much anticipation to reading Jean Ryan’s first novel, LOST SISTER. And I was not disappointed – what a great read it was! Her acumen, wit and sensitive story-telling revealed a compelling emotional courage in confronting a journey many can relate to. LOST SISTER was a riveting and insightful novel, an excellent narrative tapestry which so wove me into its essence that I wished it could have continued on – sorry that I would be missing my new friend, Lorrie Rivers, and wishing I knew her more. I’m looking forward to future works from this talented author, Jean Ryan.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The story brought back happy memories of childhood’s favorite books and pastimes. And yet it was topical as well. The vividness of Ms. Ryan’s descriptions made me frequently return to a phrase just to read it again and savor her skilled use of language. I admire Ms. Ryan’s humor, knowledge and talent and hope this novel not only achieves the success it deserves but leads to more stories from this gifted author. This is one of the few books that really captivated me and made me want to read it again.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in Napa, California. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, and she has been nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize. Her debut collection of short stories, SURVIVAL SKILLS, was published in April 2013 by Ashland Creek Press and was short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award. Her story “Manatee Gardens” is included in the anthology OUTER VOICES/INNER LIVES; her story “Greyhound” appears in the anthology AMONG ANIMALS. Ryan is presently editing a second collection of short stories and a collection of nature essays, many of which originally appeared as blog posts on her website: http://jean-ryan.com/. There you can find her posts, as well as reviews of SURVIVAL SKILLS. The Story Links page contains links to stories available for reading online.

AUTHOR COMMENT: “I spend an extraordinary amount of time on my writing, believing there are no shortcuts. Writers must stay on course, figuring out what they want to convey, putting their idea into words, then finding the right words—precise and beautiful at once. Every so often the perfect word or phrase arrives unbidden, but writing in general is hard work. If it isn’t, it probably isn’t worth much.”

With LOST SISTER I hope to bring greater awareness to the problem of child abuse and to offer comfort for those who have been harmed.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

At the age of two she was wearing glasses, light blue frames with butterflies on the corners. Behind the thick lenses her eyes were enormous, and when she peered up at people on the street, they stopped and beamed at her; they couldn’t help it. That wispy blonde hair. Those glasses.

So now she’s in Virginia. I look at the photo on the postcard: a curving road, a field of yellow flowers, slate blue mountains in the distance, then turn the card over and read her words again. “It’s hot here. The frogs are noisy at night. Lots of bugs too—I just counted 14 daddy longlegs on the ceiling. I have a job. Maybe just for the summer though. The kitchen is pink!”

This, as usual, is all the information she offers and I stand in the hallway trying to piece together her life. She forgot to include her address, though the postmark tells me that she’s living in or near a town called Burkes Pond. She must be renting a cabin, something cheap and poorly made, on the edge of a lake. Her job is seasonal, dependent on tourists or vacationers. Maybe she’s working at a roadside restaurant, one of those old snack bars strung with yellow light bulbs and mired in the sweet reek of fried food; families, barefoot and sunburned, swarm the place at dusk, jamming the battered picnic tables. Or maybe she’s got a job at the boat rental, filling up gas cans, handing out red and white flotation cushions.

I walk down the hall and into my bedroom, a small rectangle barely big enough for the furniture: a mahogany double bed and dresser my Aunt Rose left me, a bedside table and a stuffed blue chair, occupied as usual by Murphy, my 16-year-old yellow tomcat. I pet his broad head a couple times, which brings on his staticky purr, and then I walk over to the corkboard on the wall and tack this latest postcard, photo side down, next to the others she’s sent me. I collect these cards: I use them to track her, to fix her in time.

At the top of the corkboard are my two favorite pictures of Bett, the first taken just after she got her glasses. She is standing next to our green Plymouth station wagon and Barbara has a hand on either side of her head, keeping her face to the camera; I am there too, squinting, one foot hooked behind the other. She is still unsteady, and her legs, in red corduroy pants with snaps on the inseams, are braced apart, her arms lifted for extra balance. She is grinning, as she always was back then; her joy was instinctive, a natural, boundless response to being alive.

In the other photo she is wearing a two-piece, faded blue swimsuit and leaping ahead of a wave. She is four years old. Her golden hair is caught in the wind and she is shrieking with laughter. There she is, arms up, knee cocked, forever outrunning the Gulf of Mexico.

When Barbara saw the postcards she started to cry. “Why do you do that? Pin them up like that, with her pictures on top. It’s sad, Lorrie. It’s like a shrine. It’s like a missing person poster.”

Her words startled me, because I knew they were true. I’ve been pursuing my younger sister for most of my life, even before she left home. There will never be enough clues in these cards she sends. They tell me where she is, but who, at this point, can find her?

Behind me Murphy stretches and groans. His groans sound human. He doesn’t even meow like a cat. He opens his mouth and says, “Buk? Buk-buk?” Like a chicken.

He came to me by way of a friend who joined the Peace Corps and had to leave him behind. I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of adopting him—I wanted a kitten, some sweet little thing that would race up the side of the bed, tuck itself under my chin and fall asleep. Murphy was nine years old and overweight. He had a broken fang and his ears were scarred and tattered at the tips. He didn’t want much, just his food and a soft chair and permission to follow me around. He didn’t twine around my legs, or ram his head into my hand, demanding to be petted. He didn’t

even cry to go out; he simply sat in front of the door waiting to be noticed, and if I didn’t take heed, he would start to pick the threshold, very gently. It didn’t take long to love him.

I bend down and kiss his head—it smells dusty—and his paws stretch and crimp. “Who’s my boy?” I murmur, and he looks up at me in sleepy confusion, his upper lip caught for a moment on what’s left of his fang. A bead of drool slides down his chin.

“Who’s my beautiful boy?”

I check my watch again. It’s 1:40 pm, which gives me ten minutes to get ready for work—more than enough time. Unlike most people, I dress down for my job, in jeans and sneakers and spotted T-shirts—only when I’ve managed to stain something is it suitable for work.

Some days I tell myself that a lucky chain of events brought me to cooking, that a mysterious and knowing force directed me away from the tidy corporate world and into the fun house of kitchen work.

And there are other days, more and more of them, when I look at my life squarely and find, not serendipity, but sabotage. That’s when I see, with stunning clarity, each wrong turn I’ve made, and how much these blunders and bargains have cost me.

I should have stuck, in the first place, with science. As a child I was enthralled with shows that took me underwater: Flipper, Sea Hunt, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. I wanted to live in a world of chattering dolphins and singing whales; I wanted to search for giant squid with eyes as wide as dinner plates. “I’m going to do what they do,” I announced to my mother one evening. We were watching a Jacques Cousteau special. Jacques had hold of a sea turtle and his crew—four skinny men—were cutting away the fishing net it was trapped in. My mother, snuggled into the sofa, sipped her scotch and nodded. She was happy, smoking cigarettes and watching TV; my father, who wouldn’t permit these pleasures, was away on business.

Anything that slid through water, even through a mud puddle, captivated me, and I took to carrying a plastic bucket wherever I went, coming home with my catch of the day: silver minnows, velvety tadpoles, yellow-bellied newts. These I tried to nurture in a fish bowl on my bedside table, but they never lasted very long, especially the spry minnows, whose wizened bodies I’d find on the hardwood floor. One time I ordered a pair of seahorses through the mail. They were a disappointment from the start, a lot smaller than I imagined and not much fun to watch. For four days they clung to the scrap of seaweed they came with, and then they simply let go and died. They weren’t, in the end, any better than sea monkeys.

Still I wasn’t deterred. What I needed, I told my mother, was an aquarium, and, eying the latest casualty on my bedroom floor, she agreed. The next day she cashed in her green stamps and bought me a starter tank with all the accessories, and instead of scooping my pets out of puddles and ditches I began to buy them. I still have that aquarium, and two others. That’s what my dream has amounted to: three fish tanks in my livingroom.

Where would I be now if I had stayed true to this first love? Navigating the Amazon? Anchored off the coast of Figi? What would I be doing at this very moment if, 14 years ago, I had held my course and majored in biology? Instead, panicking over the math, I veered off into English literature. Wrong turn number one.

I take off my sweatpants and pull on the jeans I wore yesterday, then open my dresser and pull out a clean t-shirt. That’s one of the compensations of cooking, not having to spend a ton of money on clothes. I don’t have to fuss with makeup either; I work behind a swinging door and no one but the staff sees me.

I pause in front of the mirror and smooth back my short hair with my hands. My hair gets a lot of attention, mostly because I’m 32 and it’s white. Ten years ago, when I noticed the first silver streaks, I was more curious than anything: if my hair was going, what else was? Since then I haven’t given it much thought. People seems to like my hair, though that’s not the reason I don’t color it. The truth is, I can’t be bothered, can’t imagine having to worry about my roots and whether they’re showing.

I lift my purse off the the doorknob and turn to Murphy.

“Okay, Murph. It’s time.”

He gets to his feet and carefully lowers his haunches to the floor. I follow his yellow bulk as he walks, head down, out the bedroom, through the kitchen and utility room, to the back door. He breaks my heart, this cat.

It’s a sunny afternoon, surprisingly warm for the end of May. Locking the door, I smell the neighbor’s creeping jasmine. Fat black bees hum in the red trumpet-shaped flowers that hang above my head. Vines have mobbed this place. You can’t even see the fence anymore, just a cool blue wall of morning glory.

Though the rent is nearly half my income, I’m lucky to be here. Not many people in Berkeley get to live in a cottage, and this one, trimmed in flowers, is perfect. Just big enough for one person, or a couple, but only if they’ve learned to live like a pair of old slippers, side by side in quiet agreement. Rita and I never made it that far, which is why her leaving was such a relief.

The house in front of my cottage is occupied by Joel and Sasha, a free-spirited pair who grow marijuana among the tomato plants in our backyard. There is a three-story home next door and a set of apartments behind us, but people here respect this sort of enterprise and kindly look the other way.

Joel, who paints murals, is standing in his kitchen as I walk past the house. He lifts his beer and grins at me through the window, and I wave back. He is a slight man in his late 20s with green eyes and a gorgeous jaw. He dyes his hair platinum, wears neon-colored T-shirts and likes to sing, often in the garden as he trims his pot plants. Sasha is an ardent cyclist; today she’s pedaling through the east bay hills, training for a race in Salinas next week. While not as good-looking as Joel, Sasha is the picture of fitness; I like the veins in her forearms, and I never get tired of gazing at her sinewy legs.

In the driveway, two strips of concrete with grass in the middle, sits their battered Volkswagen van. It’s plastered with pleas: Save Mono Lake, Think Green, Buy Organic, Protect Your Local Planet. I don’t have a car, or a license to drive one. At 16, having failed the road test twice, I blew my nerve; now I can’t even think about trying again without breaking into a sweat.

Fortunately the restaurant is only four blocks away. Reaching the corner I turn onto Telegraph Avenue and the world is suddenly filled with cars and motion. On either side of the street people are taking care of business: walking dogs down the the gum-studded sidewalk, shoving wet laundry into the dryers at Bing Wong’s, pushing shopping carts through the Co-op parking lot. An elderly woman, her face mottled and shrunken, sits on a milk crate and holds out her hand. Coming toward me are three Hare Krishna, bald and equally ugly; then a tall black man who is talking to himself with great enthusiasm, his arms a blur of gestures. Next comes a Hindu woman in a hurry. She brushes by me, her eyes dark with worry; I look at the red dot on her forehead and feel as though I’ve just been warned—or cursed.

I don’t see Zee’s bicycle when I come around the side of the restaurant. Maybe she got a ride? No, Ann assures me, her voice exultant.

“Zee called an hour ago. She hurt her foot and can’t walk. Or so she says,” Ann adds, arching an eyebrow.

Shit. I grab a menu to see how much work I have to do; without Zee I’ll have to prep the pantry station as well as saute. The salads aren’t bad: Caesar, of course; mixed greens with a roasted shallot vinaigrette; butter lettuce with gorgonzola. Looking at the first courses I see that I have to clean mussels, slice prosciutto and make some kind of soup. Oh no. There are five pastas tonight and one of them has calamari in it.

I look up from the menu and glare at Ann; satisfied, she turns away.

“Why didn’t you call me?” I say.

She shrugs. “I didn’t think about it.”

Ann likes me, as well as she likes anyone. She’s just mad at the world and her revenge is reflexive. She’s not pretty, that’s the main trouble. Her face is a long box, her eyes are a watery, bloodshot blue, and her mouth is a junkyard of crooked teeth. What she really wants to be is a concert pianist; she doesn’t like to talk about this and I have no idea what’s stopping her. I do know that she’s a good broiler cook, though she hates every minute she spends here and never tires of telling me what “crap food” we make. Today she’s especially spiteful and, taking another look at the menu, I see why: one of the appetizers is fritto misto.

Robert, our bright-eyed, boyish pastry chef, has taken off his apron and is scraping the dried dough from his butcher block. While he works only four hours a day and could easily wash a case of lettuce, I don’t bother to ask him: he won’t. I don’t blame him, in fact I admire his boundaries. Usually. Right now I can’t even look at him.

I throw a pan of shallots in the oven and start slicing through heads of romaine. The lettuce is muddier than usual and in a few minutes my cutting board is smudged and gritty. And the quality isn’t good either—there’s no heart to speak of, just tough dark green leaves. Molly won’t be happy about this, though it’s probably her fault: I bet she forgot to pay the produce bill; either that or she sent them a bad check. Our paychecks bounce all the time, which is why we race each other to the bank; if we don’t make it there before the funds run out we have to go back and tell Molly, who feigns surprise and remorse, then unlocks her desk drawer and pulls out some cash. I was stunned the first time this happened, and embarrassed for Molly, but now it’s just tedious.

The water in the bus tub is dark brown—I’ll have to rinse this stuff three times. At least I don’t have to dry it by hand. Someone had the clever idea of buying a used washing machine; we just dump in the wet lettuce and turn on the spin cycle. You can only use it for romaine though, the other greens won’t hold up. My anger mounts as I think about the flimsy butter lettuce and how long that’ll take me; and the dressings, the soup, the pasta prep, not to mention the five pounds of calamari. For a minute I think about asking Molly to take if off the menu, but I know the pained look she’ll give me and what she’ll say: “Oh Lorrie, I wish I could, but the menus are already printed”—like that three bucks she spends at the copy place is such a big investment.

I look out the back door and see Juan watering the garden. Juan lives behind the restaurant, in an apartment owned by Molly. In exchange for rent he tends the garden, breaks down boxes, washes dishes and runs errands. On days when he’s not feeling like a kept man, he can be charmed into helping me clean fish, chop parsley, dice onions. This doesn’t happen often and it won’t happen today. I can tell by the stubborn set of his shoulders, by the way his legs are planted, that my feminine wiles will be of no use.

Well I’m not making a pureed soup, that’s for sure; and they’re getting yesterday’s crostini; and if I have to make salads all night I’m premixing the Caesar dressing and grating the Parmesan ahead of time.

There are a few small rewards: Zee squeezed lemon juice last night, we have four quarts of bolognese in the freezer, the faucet next to the stove has been fixed and we don’t have any reservations until 6:45.

I grasp another squid, cut off the tentacles and squeeze out the soft white guts, then slide my finger into the slick tube and drag out the quill. And this is nothing compared to some of the things I do here. Last month, for instance, we had what they call the “Unmentionables Dinner,” a ritual we practice once a year to amuse a few ruthless chefs. I think it benefits something, certainly not the animals. I couldn’t bring myself to pluck the starlings so they made me peel turkey testicles.

The only civilized part of my workday comes at 4:45 when the cooks and waiters sit down to dinner. We’re supposed to discuss the specials, which we prepare for this purpose, but after the first five minutes the conversation dilates and we end up talking about movies, or the concert program at the Greek theater, or a sublet someone heard about, or current airfare to Italy. Our wait staff is an accomplished lot, one a professional photographer, another a published author. None of us intended to work in a restaurant and we all believe we’ll find a way out.

It’s a night like many others. The start is slow, just a handful of walk-ins before the predictable 7 to 8 flurry, then a lull that nobody trusts. Sure enough we get hit again just after 9—a play or movie must have ended. For a while I manage fine, sprinting between the stove and salad station, keeping track of my tickets, but then they start streaming in and before I know it I’m buried. Ann, seeing this, barks out the orders and I just keep my head down and make them. At one point Paul, one of our newer waiters, tells me he needs a frutti di mare without scallops and an alfredo without garlic. “Write it down!” I hiss, shoving the ticket at him. He makes a note on the order and eases it back to me and I snatch it from his hand. The worst moment comes when he tells me he dropped a pasta carbonara. “Great,” I say. “Fucking great. That helps a lot.” He blanches and flees the kitchen and I hurl another saute pan onto the stove.

By 9:45 every table is eating and aside from plating a few desserts and putting things away my job is over. I walk over to the grill station and thank Ann for calling out the orders. Happy to be leaving soon, she gives me a snaggle-toothed smile and says she knows what it’s like, working without a pantry cook. The floor in front of the deep fryer is splattered with grease and she’s pushing a bar towel across the area with her foot. Ann’s had a bad night too; her apron is filthy, her bangs are sticking to her forehead, and there’s a fresh burn on her forearm.

Andre walks up with half a bottle of Montepulciano and pours us each a glass.

“79 covers,” he says. He turns to Ann and clinks his glass against hers. “And 32 fritto mistos.” He looks at her, cocks his head in sympathy. “Sorry. I wasn’t trying to sell them.”

“Everyone loves fried food,” I say, picking up my wine.

Paul rounds the corner and, seeing me, pauses. Feigning interest in the flowers on the end of the bar, he plucks off a few dead blossoms.

I walk over to him and place my hand on his arm. “Paul. I’m sorry for snapping at you.”

“It’s okay.” He turns from the flowers and looks at me and I notice what long lashes he has. “I’m sorry about dropping that pasta.”

Every night it’s the same. The rush ends and we all emerge, as if from the same cage, dazed and grateful, our hearts swollen with forgiveness. I give his arm a squeeze and head back into the kitchen.

At two minutes after ten, a breathless young couple shows up at our locked door, tapping on the glass, pleading to be fed, and naturally Molly lets them in. What they want of course is pasta—I just dumped both pots of water.

There’s no fog cover tonight and the air is chilly. Telegraph Avenue is quiet now, with only a few cars going by. I walk quickly, not because I’m afraid of being out at night, simply because I want to get home. I don’t fear being assaulted in this city. Berkeley is home to the homeless, a haven for lost souls. The free-loving 60s still resonate, and while petty theft is common enough, real criminals can get no purchase here.

Murphy is waiting on the steps. He hoists himself up when he sees me and lays a paw against the door.

“Hi sweetie,” I whisper, petting his back, which he arches in compliance. His fur isn’t very soft anymore; like old upholstery it’s showing wear.

Right away I pour myself another glass of wine and collapse on the sofa. On my clothes I can smell the foods I made tonight, my fingers reek of garlic. Murphy doesn’t mind; he settles in beside me and gazes at my face. I love sitting here in the soft glow of the aquariums, Murphy purring, the pumps humming. Hypnotized by the movements of the fish, I lull myself into a stupor.

When I have finished my wine there is nothing to do but go to bed. Shifting Murphy, I rise from the sofa, my legs weak and rubbery. It’s not good to be on your feet for so long. I’ll probably get varicose veins.

I am so tired that even brushing my teeth is a chore. Accomplishing that, I wash up at the sink—no way could I manage a shower—and make my way to the bedroom. Buttoning my pajamas I study the new postcard from Bett. Virginia. A pond. A pink kitchen.

Murphy, considerate as always, lies down at the foot of the bed and I climb in and pull up the covers. A breeze comes through the window and I hear wind chimes. I don’t like chimes, not at night. That disembodied music, that tinkling in the dark. It makes me feel lonely.

It’s 2:30 in the morning in Virginia. I see Bett, unable to sleep, leaving her cabin and walking through tall wet grass down to the pond. The crickets are shrill and constant. A television flickers in a nearby window. When she reaches the mucky bank small green frogs jump into the water. She wraps her arms around herself and looks out over the pond. A zigzag of moonlight slides across the black surface. The cry of a loon carries over the water; she tries but can’t see it. For several moments she stands there, her jeans soaked with dew, and then she turns around, heads for the yellow light of her porch.

WHERE TO BUY IT: LOST SISTER is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The price is $12.95. Used copies are available.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: http://jean-ryan.com/ lena1000@sbcglobal.net https://www.facebook.com/Jean-Ryan-Author-177400552374366/?ref=hl

Twitter: @JeanRyan_

3. It Happened in a Lutheran Church

It Happened

THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Moatz.

THE PUBLISHER:  Xulon Press. They are the largest Christian Self-Publishing company owned and operated by Salem Media Group. They have self-published over 10,000 Christian Authors since 2001. I won my publishing package through a contest they hold every year by submitting a personal essay I wrote entitled Angels Among Us.

SUMMARY:  Churches are often called “sanctuaries,” but the experience of Rebecca Moatz and her son was just the opposite. In “It Happened in a Lutheran Church,” she writes with heartfelt candor about how rumors about her son not only affected both their lives, but carved an ugly split in the congregation that had once nurtured them. This is a personal story, but also a cautionary tale about how churches are not immune to rumor, gossip and conflict.

BACK STORY:  Because Joshua was only ten years old when these incidents took place, he grew into adulthood from that point on having to work through someone else’s issues, anger and attitude that he didn’t even initially understand. Three years later, just as it was all far enough behind him to start fading away, we ran into our former pastor.

The memories came flooding back, and he was then old enough to figure out what he may have been accused of.  Our pastor refused to disclose that information to us.  Looking at the situation three years later was both horrifying and embarrassing for him.

By sharing our experience, however, we have worked through all of the difficult emotions and came through stronger from it.  It is my hope that other children and their families can learn something valuable from our journey, recognize the signs of communication breakdown and make healthy decisions for themselves and those they share a house of worship with.

READER COMMENTS:

By Angela J. Shirley on August 15, 2014

Format: Paperback

This story is happening in a lot of churches and Rebecca was brave enough to bring it to our attention. Too many times things are swept under the carpet and left there. Too many times the scars are there and people do not see them. Too many times people give up on believing due to what they experienced at a church. This is a must read for anyone that is attending a church and feeling safe. This book will give you some insight into the possibilities and teach you to be alert. Too many times church goers attend services seeking answers to life’s questions or needing someone to care about what they are going through in life. Too many times they are taken advantage of. I am hoping this book will help those churches that do really care to be aware of the pain that is going on out there with other churches. Who knows, some of their new members could be coming from such a church. This book is a must read for anyone that cares about people and to learn as much as they can about people and what they may or may not do to you. Rebecca has opened up her insides to hopefully save others from going through what she did. It is people like these that save lives and give others hope!
By sheilakay on July 3, 2013

Format: Paperback

WHO MIGHT LIKE TO READ THIS: Lutherans, Members of Clergy, Members of all houses of worship, Parents of school-age children, Grandparents, Godparents.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I was born in Wilmington, DE and grew up in rural Pennsylvania. A series of challenges have led me to reinvent myself many times to meet the needs of my family. I have worked in medical, technical and creative fields and have operated several in home businesses, including a daycare, and bring the sum of my experiences to my writing.

With a unique balance of empathy and understanding to offer the reader, I now heal others with my words and bring a fresh perspective to some of the more difficult life situations. It Happened in a Lutheran Church is my first book and I have plans for many more.

A recent widow, I live in Reading, PA with my son and three sensational feline siblings.

Visit my blog, The Controversial Christian at: http://moonlightscribe.simplesite.com/282257900 where I write about finding inspiration in the least likely of places.

WHERE TO BUY IT: My book is available through Xulon Press and Amazon.com. It can also be ordered locally through Barnes and Noble in Wyomissing, PA.