A Timely Surprise

 “Am I worthy of love again after all these years? I think I am, but it sure hasn’t worked in my favor,” Kate said.

“If you believe, that’s half the battle.”

Kate found herself stopped in the road of the campground, wondering whose gentle voice that was. Turning around, she looked into the handsome face of a man with a splash of graying hair. His azure blue eyes expressed sincerity and caused unexpected butterflies in her stomach.
“I can’t believe I said that out loud!” Kate was mortified!

“It’s okay…I do it all the time. My name’s Jim, by the way,” he said while holding out his hand as he climbed out of his golf cart. “I work here, but I’m actually retired. I keep telling myself that, but tending to these grounds is just something I love to do so it’s hard to let go.” He smiled and those butterflies became active again.

“I can see why you love working here – it’s so beautiful. I’m only staying for the weekend…my name’s Kate.” She shook his hand unable to ignore the powerful surge of electricity. Butterflies and electricity. Where in the world did these come from? Jim also felt that spark, a feeling he hadn’t felt in over two years. But by the few words he accidentally heard her say, he knew she was upset about something. He probably heard too much already and it was certainly none of his business.

Within seconds, Kate’s mind drifted to when she arrived earlier that afternoon. After unpacking, she sat in the rocker by the window and opened up the Sandra Brown book she’s been reading. She read the same line twenty times and still couldn’t recite it by memory. Kate thought the silence and peace would be good for her. Instead, the quiet was more pronounced in the small cabin than when she lived in the big house with her ex. Words between them were anything but present – which led to this temporary get-away. It took both partners to communicate in order for any relationship to work, yet, she was the one doing all the talking.

Getting away for a few days to regroup was a perfect prescription for her heart and mind. She wanted to rent a cabin with a front porch and was able to find one. Even if uncertainty joined her for a sip, she couldn’t wait to enjoy a glass of wine that evening on the porch while attempting to combat the turmoil in her life. Kate was not going to let her ex control her self-esteem, and she certainly wasn’t too old to let love in her life again. She’s often read encouraging stories of people finding romance later in life. So why should she be exempt? Not that she’s looking this very moment, but it wouldn’t matter. The candle went out years ago in her marriage. She just kept looking for the good and fighting for this relationship that may soon end.

Before Kate left for the campground, she called her sister, Jane, who lived an hour away.

“Hey, Sis, how’re you doing?” Jane asked as she put the call on speaker phone.

“Hi Jane. I’m alright, but I need your advice because you’re the more logical one.”

“Uh oh, what’s this about?”

 “Well, honestly, I don’t know what to do. Should I accept my marriage as it is with hope that it’ll get better? Or would it be best for both of us if we divorced? I want to keep my marriage going, but if I’m the only one trying, then I feel like I’m stuck with no way out and I don’t want to settle. What do you think I should do?”

“Oh, Kate, you know I can’t tell you what to do. But I know you’ve been unhappy for years and nothing’s going to change on his end. I think deep down inside you know that, too, even though it breaks your heart into tiny pieces. I honestly believe the ball is in your court – the decision has to be yours for any changes to occur, and whether you know this or not, you are worthy of happiness! He’s a good man, we both know that, but couples grow apart over time. So, if you acknowledge this, then it’s okay to move forward. You’ve given your marriage your all and it’s been twenty-two years! When will it be time to think about your happiness? Guilt shouldn’t be your best friend.” Jane sighed, hoping beyond hope that she didn’t say anything she’ll regret. All she heard was silence. “Kate, are you okay? Are you there?”

“Hmm…I’m here, just thinking over your words. You’re right; it’s just that taking that step feels like walking in sinking sand. It’ll be a slow process.”

“And that’s okay. Go at your pace, but once you make the choice, everything will become easier and fall into place.”

“I know. Oh, and by the way, I hung up my RN uniform for the weekend, heading to Pine Lakes.” Kate and Jane shared fond memories of the lake when they were little. Those memories evoked many great times that they wanted to carry the tradition into their adult lives.

“That’s good to hear. Nature’s always good at clearing up messy minds, Kate.”

“Yeah, I can’t wait to be in the mountains, walking among the pines and hanging out with the birds and squirrels. I should probably go, so I’ll keep you posted. Love you, and thanks for everything.”

 “Love you, too, and you know I always have your back. Stay safe, Sis!” Jane wanted nothing more than her sister to find joy and love again and she had no doubt that it was more than possible. But it would take her sister to open her eyes to new possibilities. Right now, Kate had the shades of possibilities closed securely because she had drained all of her energy into her marriage that became stagnant. She’s exhausted. However, she deserves to have that same attention by someone who truly cares about her.

Suddenly, with a soft touch on the arm from Jim, Kate returned to reality. “Kate, are you alright?” he asked, sounding a little worried. It was too soon to know why he felt concerned since he didn’t know her, but the feeling was significant.  “You were in another world.”

“Uh, yes…yes, I’m okay. My mind just wandered. It does that sometimes,” Kate answered with a nervous chuckle because embarrassment rapidly washed over her. She hoped her face wasn’t the shade of a pomegranate!

“Those things happen. My mind drifts all the time, so don’t worry about it. Look, we hardly know each other, but I wonder if you’d want to go for a walk sometime? I know the grounds pretty well around here,” he said with a smile. “Unless, of course, I’m being too forward. I know we just met,” he added, but his baby blues were a bit too irresistible.

She has no reason not to trust Jim, but she has no reason to trust him, either, so it’s a fifty-fifty chance either way. Kate chuckled at his subtle humor – of course, he knew his way around the campground. She also admired his welcomed honesty, not to mention again, her interest was surely piqued by this sudden attraction. Her messy mind deserved some good company and an interesting distraction from the rocky road ahead. After getting the green light from her sister and now meeting Jim unexpectedly, she gladly opened up those shades of possibilities and could already feel warmth from promises on the horizon.

 “Sure. I’d like that. I’m still settling in today, though, so would tomorrow afternoon work?”

“Tomorrow afternoon would be great. I work in the morning, so the afternoon is free. Why don’t we meet in the lobby at 3:00?”

“Sounds great,” she replies. Kate, what are you doing?!

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

New Book Launch ‘Eternal Road – The Final Stop’ by John W. Howell

It is my pleasure to have the talented John Howell visit today for the launch of his new book ‘Eternal Road – The final stop’. I’ve read Eternal Road and it is worth all the publicity it has been given. Interlaced in the protagonists’ story is just about every genre and topic you can imagine: adventure, science fiction, old west, suspense, romance, and artificial intelligence, to name a few. And now, John, the floor is yours!

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Lauren, and thank you for helping me launch this book. I know you are very busy so I appreciate you taking the time to help with the launch. Speaking of the book, let me describe it. Eternal Road is the story of two people finding their way through the selection process leading to the place where one will spend eternity. Yes, it is true. They both have passed away. James Wainwright just died in an auto accident. Samantha Tourneau died seventeen years before. Sam is James’s guide to help him decide where to spend eternity. This is not your usual thriller or paranormal romance. It is a piece of fiction that is a combination of inspiration, adventure, time travel, sci-fi, a touch of erotica, and a dash of spiritual. In short, it is a lot of things, but hopefully, a story that will make you happy to have read it.

It is now available on Amazon in paper and Kindle. The Kindle edition is introductory priced at 99¢ until October 15th.

Here are the universal links

Kindle Universal link  mybook.to/EternalRoad

Paper universal link mybook.to/Eternalroadpaper

The blurb

James Wainwright picks up a hitchhiker and discovers two things 1. The woman he picks up is his childhood sweetheart, only Seventeen years older. 2. He is no longer of this world.

James began a road trip alone in his 1956 Oldsmobile. He stops for a hitchhiker only to discover she is his childhood sweetheart, Sam, who disappeared seventeen years before. James learns from Sam falling asleep miles back caused him to perish in a one-car accident. He also comes to understand that Sam was taken and murdered all those years ago, and now she has come back to help him find his eternal home.

The pair visit a number of times and places and are witness to a number of historical events. The rules dictate that they do no harm to the time continuum. Trying to be careful, they inadvertently come to the attention of Lucifer, who would love to have their souls as his subjects. They also find a threat to human survival and desperately need to put in place the fix necessary to save humankind.

The question becomes, will James find his eternal home in grace or lose the battle with Satan for his immortal soul and the future of human life with it? If you like time-travel, adventure, mystery, justice, and the supernatural, this story is for you.

An Excerpt

James shakes his head. “Lucifer has an assistant every bit as scary as him. Was it my imagination, or did that voice sound like it came from the deepest part of hell?”

Sam folds her arms. “You can assume it did. I don’t believe she works in a call center in the Philippines.”

James smiles. “Did you enjoy the part where Lucifer wants you to attend as well?”

Sam unfolds her arms. “Gave me the creeps. You don’t know what a nasty guy he is. If you think of everything that has gone wrong in the world, you can bet he was behind it.”

“Why do you suppose he wants to talk to us?”

“As I said, he wants to make a deal for your soul.”

James sighs. “What kind of deal would I make? I’m already on the right side of God, why would I give that up?”

“I have no idea.”

James puts his hands to his face. “Are you sure we can’t call someone to give us help?”

Sam sits on the bed. “I’m afraid we’re on our own. No one can help us.”

“What about God?”

“I’m sure he’s busy. Besides, God would tell you to follow your heart no matter what Lucifer proposed. He wouldn’t step in but would want you to make the best decision.”

James sighs and stares at the floor. Sam takes his hand and places it over her lips. An irresistible impulse to kiss her moves him, and he acts on it. The sensation feels as if he touched an electrical wire to his mouth. The sparks blind him, and his head grows lighter.
James wraps his arms around Sam, and the two go into free-fall. Sam yells above the roar of the wind that pulls them down, “Hold me tight. We can’t let go of one another, or one of us may get lost.”

James tries to yell, but the noise proves too much. The wind blows his words away as soon as they come out of his mouth. Instead, he intertwines his fingers behind Sam’s back and holds on for dear life. The fall continues until James can no longer remain conscious. He fights hard. The pressure of Sam’s body, and the comfort of her arms wrapped around his waist, reassure him. As long as they have each other, they will come to no harm. He pulls Sam in tighter, and then the pull of unconsciousness wins, even though he fights. With no choice and little time, James vows to remember Sam forever and thinks of her while the blackness seeps into his soul.

The trailer

John is an award-winning author who, after an extensive business career, began writing full time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written five other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. The paperback versions are also available in the Indie Lector store.

John lives in Lakeway, Texas, with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Contact John

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

John’s other books

My GRL,

His Revenge

Our Justice

Circumstances of Childhood

The Contract: between heaven and earth

After All This Time…

Dear Friends,

My blog sat alone for almost a year and a half, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Baydreamer and I had been forgotten. At the end of 2018, I posted about the success of a medical procedure, and then I fell off the blog for over a year? Since then my health has been back to normal, but soon after, I felt the need to disengage from technology. Now, I’m drawn to blogging again because with physical distancing, the connections that blogging offers are welcomed. As to writing, I drifted from poetry; instead, I have been writing personal essays and trying my hand at fiction, which has been challenging but rewarding. Occasionally, though, a poem begins to form.

How surreal I return in uncertain times, living in a pandemic world. I realize when the sun shines and the sky brightens to a beautiful cerulean blue, my attitude shifts to positive thoughts. When I stroll around our backyard, enjoying all the spring blooms, I wonder if the flowers have the slightest hunch of what Covid-19 is and its impact on human society. Probably not, which is why they bloom in spite of the bleakness all around the globe.

Don’t these flowers radiate joy? How can the same elation flood through our veins despite hearing the grim accounts of this virus? Answers vary, but two thoughts come to mind: Faith and Hope. Whatever you believe in and no matter how far you need to stretch to grasp even a fraction of Hope, without these, we can easily become defeated and remain in that gloomy headspace. It seems taking one day at a time is applicable once again.

Even while practicing physical distancing, there is some good that comes to light: I have seen more smiles on the street while walking our chocolate lab mix, Copper. Not to mention, the neighborhood has never been so joyfully packed with people of all ages out for a walk. This truly is a welcoming site. Stories of people helping each other are abundant – offering to grocery shop for a neighbor or reaching out to those who are lonely where isolation is more challenging. These simple gestures are a means to stay sane in the midst of this insane scenario. Acts of kindness make us feel good and they afford a sense of purpose. At 8 pm each night in our community, everyone howls in gratitude for the heroes working in essential jobs risking their lives for us. My family participates in this gesture of appreciation, and Copper sings his part in the chorus, too.

However, five weeks into sheltering-in-place does not advise complacency. It’s not over until it’s over. We still need to be responsible in taking precautions to help mitigate the spreading of the virus. We wash our hands a million times a day, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes stay within reach, and we wear masks and gloves, not just to protect ourselves but to protect each other. Those who have lost loved ones to the virus remain in our hearts. This health crisis is serious and if any doubts arise, simply turn on the news. There is no exemption card. The effects from Covid-19 are devastating, overwhelming, and heartbreaking.

But while staying at home, the time is at hand to find beauty in each day: an opportunity to complete unfinished projects, spend quality time with family, get exercise, pick up a good book, put thoughts to paper, or step outside where flora and fauna are abundant. I revel in the gorgeous spring blooms where hope blossoms. They provide a sense of normalcy in these most abnormal circumstances. My family and friends are doing well and we are beyond grateful. And after all this time, thank you so much for stopping by, but mostly, I hope you’ll stay safe and healthy. 

For those of you who are new to my site or who haven’t visited my other pages, I encourage you to visit my “About Me” page and sign my “Guestbook.” 

In Love and Friendship,

Lauren

 

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

 

 

 

Five Ways Novelists Are Just Like Poets

I’m sharing a wonderful and informative post by my good friend, Louise, from her blog, A.B. Michaels and am honored to have been included in this comparison between novelists and poets.  She is the amazing author of a romantic series, Sinner’s Grove, The Art of Love, and The Lair, which are all available on Amazon. I encourage you to take the time to visit her site, http://abmichaels.com.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NE18GYY
http://www.amazon.com/Art-Love-Origins-Sinners-Grove-ebook/dp/B00K5C0JYA/
http://www.amazon.com/Lair-Sinners-Grove-Novel-ebook/dp/B00YYJT2G6/

The Lair by AB Michaels

A very good friend from my years in northern California is the poet Lauren Scott. (lscotthoughts.com). We are both writers, but while she writes pieces with minimal words, I write full-length novels. Not much overlap, right? Wrong. The truth is, long-form writers and poets have quite a bit in common:

We both love words. I mean love them. I know that even though she may write a first draft intuitively, Lauren considers every single word that goes into every single poem she writes. Is it conveying the emotion I want it to? Is it describing the scene I’ve created as well as it could? Does it sound right next to the other words I’ve chosen?
As a novelist, I do the same thing, except that I have a bit more latitude, because my readers are kind enough to give me ample space to set my scene, introduce my characters, tell my story, and so forth. But sometimes, having all that leeway causes “bloviating,” as one television commentator calls it. I simply write too much and have to get rid of the excess. Sometimes that’s painful. Sometimes, for the sake of the story, I have to say goodbye to a bit of writing I love very much. My guess is, sometimes Lauren has to say the same goodbyes. With such a short form within which to share her vision, she can’t afford to have even one word that doesn’t work for her.
BOOK COVER FINAL 1.26.15

Our words must tell a story. Novelists like me have hundreds of pages in which to tell their story; poets like Lauren measure the length of their work in lines, not pages. Yet we must both serve the same master: the story.
I so admire the discipline that Lauren and other poets use to shape their work, that I thought I’d share a writing exercise that fiction writers sometimes use to fine tune their editing chops. The general term for it is “flash fiction” and those of you who like poetry might also follow flash fiction writers.
I subscribe to a writing blog written by Morgen E. Bailey (she’s a writer in the U.K.) https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/flash-fiction-fridays/ and she regularly publishes examples of very short fiction (less than 500 words) and better yet, six-word stories. That’s right. Six words. Even Lauren’s poetry has more than six words!

The key to this exercise is that your six words must tell a story.

“She had a new blue cell.” Is there a story there? Meh.

“The cell beeped and she screamed.” A story? Possibly. As readers, we wonder, why did she scream? Who was calling her that she should have such an extreme reaction? Is she in danger now? Yeah, but maybe she just wasn’t used to the sound and that’s all it was. Not much of a story after all.

“The cell’s silence lacerated her heart.” Not great, but best of the bunch, I think. We imagine something intense is going on with the woman; she’s experiencing a profound sadness because someone on the other end of that cell isn’t calling. There’s a story there. Both Lauren and I look for the story and try to tell it the best way we can.

We seek an emotional response. Okay, so the beeping cell that caused the woman to scream? Maybe it’s a story, maybe not. Let’s say it is. Are we emotionally invested? We might surmise the woman’s in danger, but do we really care enough about her at this point? I don’t (but maybe I’m cold and heartless!). In example three, however, the reader has a sharper sense of what’s going on. We don’t know the details, but we wonder. And we empathize. In short, we connect. Lauren strives for that response from the reader and so do I.
We strive to capture the imagination through imagery. In long form, this is a matter of style. Some writers take great pride in their descriptive ability; they love to use metaphor and simile to describe character, setting or emotion. Others feel their work is best served by keeping such word play to a minimum. I’m somewhere in the middle. Too much of “The willows undulated like dancers in a riverfront’s far flung chorus line” takes me away from the story; too little leaves me feeling like I’ve just eaten unbuttered toast. I strive to keep the right balance in my writing.
For poets like Lauren, however, capturing the reader’s attention through vivid imagery is their stock in trade. Since they work with so few words, they have to make virtually every word do some heavy lifting. Here’s an example from Lauren’s poem, “Pillow”:

It’s not the best night
for a mutual agreement
instead my stomach
entertains a live
basketball game
where thoughts dribble
and strategy is weak
You ask about the score?
It’s looking like a blowout,
not in my favor

©2015 Lauren Scott

I can perfectly picture what Lauren’s protagonist is going through, thanks to her basketball game metaphor. I too look for ways to bring the idea I want to get across through vivid images.

We want our readers to take something away from the experience. Let’s face it – most writers, even if their main goal is to entertain, consider it a bonus if their readers walk away with something – a thought, a feeling, a new way of looking at some aspect of life, a nugget they might remember and mull over after they’ve read the last line or the last page. Consciously or not, we interject theme into our work, that underlying takeaway. It’s our way of saying, “Hey, this is what I think or feel or wonder about this subject, and I’d like to share it with you.” Poets and writers of any form have this trait in common. It’s what keeps us tapping away.
Are you a poetry lover? Have you ever used that form to express yourself? What other similarities do you see with longer forms of writing? I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. Lauren’s books of poetry are available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and Xlibris (links are below)

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Finding+a+Balance+Lauren+Scott
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/new-day-new-dreams-lauren-scott/1117050670?ean=9781483685687
http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-0140289049/New-Day-New-Dreams.aspx

(ALL proceeds will be donated to The Chris Klug Foundation to help spread the importance of becoming an organ donor; to offer second chances on life.)