Jennifer Froelich’s Author Interview

Hello Jennifer!

Jennifer Froelich

It is so very nice to meet you! Tell us a bit about you where are you from and other than writing what else do you enjoy?

Thanks for having me, Eve. I was born in Phoenix and spent the next twenty years of my life moving all over the western U.S. My father was bipolar and had a bad case of wanderlust, so we never stayed anywhere for long. I went to twelves schools in twelve years, then went on to college and got my degree in journalism from Arizona State University. Now I really enjoy living in one place – Idaho! My favorite thing to do besides writing is sewing. I especially enjoy designing and constructing clothing.

How did you start writing? What was your inspiration to create?

I have been writing since I was a little girl, but didn’t consider it as a career choice until I was in college when I changed majors from accounting to journalism. I find inspiration everywhere. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ll die with a handful of story ideas still unwritten in my head. Hopefully, I’ll have time to write the best ones!

Who is your favorite author, is there anyone out there that inspires you?

My favorite author is M.M. Kaye, who wrote wonderful novels about nineteenth-century India such as The Far Pavillions, but also delightful mid-century murder mysteries like Death in Zanzibar and Death in Kenya. Her name is not well known, but she was a master at weaving history into her stories, creating realistic characters and building suspense that would literally get my heart pounding.  And yet, she didn’t really see financial success as a writer until she was in her seventies, which reminds me to keep at it, no matter what.

If you’ve published a series, what is the series about?

I am in the process of writing a trilogy for young adults. The first book, Stealing Liberty, was published by Clean Reads in 2017. It is about a group of teenagers who are locked in a re-education facility by a post-American government because their parents are deemed enemies of the state. While there, they discover a secret cache of books in tunnels under the school that tells them a different story than the one they learn in class. Then they learn the government has plans to sell the Liberty Bell… so they decide to steal it. The two sequels to Stealing Liberty are Weeping Justice, which I am writing now, and Chasing Freedom, which will round out the story.

Have you ever thought about writing in a different genre? If you could, what genre would you like to dabble in? 

Yes. I love Jane Austen and have a story idea about one of her minor characters that I would love to write someday.

 What has been your most proud moment as an author? 

Shortly after I published my debut novel, Dream of Me, my sister called and asked me, “have you seen your review on Amazon?” I quickly logged on and found my first review. The reader gave it five stars, said she was “completely mesmerized” by the book and that she was amazed it was the first novel. I cried, of course. Having a complete stranger praise my work that way was the most amazing feeling!

Are you a “plotter” or a fly by the seat of your pants “pantster” as a writer?

Both?  I definitely plot the major points ahead of time, but as far as what is going to happen to my characters in between, I am flying by the seat of my pants. My characters often respond to the crises they face in ways I don’t anticipate, which means I either have to work them back toward my outline or rewrite it! Sometimes my best writing comes from these acts of rebellion by my characters, so I just go with it.

Am I the only one who gets hung up on commas? Do they make you go blah! when you’re writing? 

Oscar Wilde said, “I was working on my poem all morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon, I put it back again.” I think that proves even the best of us struggle with the little beasts.

So… where can we get your books?

Amazon links for my books are: 

Barnes & Noble and iTunes

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I spend SO much time doing research. I majored in journalism at Arizona State, and learned that with both interviews and research, you generally want to use about 10 percent of what you learn, which, if said a different way, means you want to research ten times as much information as you will actually put in the story. I find it necessary, though. Hopefully it makes each story richer. The most research I ever did was for my second novel, A Place Between Breaths, which was set in Mexico’s Copper Canyon and revolved around a serial killer who believed he was the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca reincarnated. I spent so much time researching Mexico, the canyon system, the Raramuri people, Aztec legend and even the Aztec calendar. I also researched the FBI and the Mexican federal police, along with border issues, drug cartels, even the subway system in Mexico City! It was a lot of work, but I believe it paid off. Writer’s Digest gave A Place Between Breaths a perfect score in their 23rd annual self-published book competition in the very competitive genre fiction category.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Most of the time they are from my imagination, but sometimes someone real is my starting place. For example, in Stealing Liberty, Xoey began as my daughter and Sam began as my son. Physically they are similar to my kids and some of their broad characteristics are the same. It didn’t take long for Xoey and Sam to insist on their independence, though. By the time I finished the book, they were their own people.

Tell us about how you develop your characters? 

Character development is very important to me. I feel like if I can get to know my characters thoroughly, then I don’t so much have to push them to do this or that. Instead, when something happens in my story, I simply have to ask myself, “what would he or she do in this situation?”  One technique I use to develop characters is based on Multiple Intelligence Theory. MIT is the idea that there are eight types of intelligence: language, math/science, kinesthetics, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, music and nature and that everyone has strengths or weaknesses in these eight areas. I used this technique when I created characters for STEALING LIBERTY.

StealingLiberty1400x2100

Contact Info:

website: www.jenniferfroelich.com 

blog: wakeofechoes.blogspot.com

Facebook and Twitter: @jenfroelich

Instagram: @jennifer.froelich

 

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Award-Winning Author E.A. West

Hello Elizabeth.

EAWestAuthorPhoto

It is nice to meet you! Tell us a bit about you where are you from and other than writing what else do you enjoy? 

I was born and raised in Indiana, and I still live there today. When I’m not writing, I love to read, knit, crochet, draw, watch movies and TV, spend time with my family. I have two dogs who demand a lot of attention as well.

How did you start writing? What was your inspiration to create? 

I loved making up stories but hated writing until my freshman year of high school. An English class assignment required me to create a fictional character and write a biography for him/her. Thinking about the character and details about his life, and then writing it down to share with others showed me how much fun writing could be. I’ve been writing down the stories in my head ever since.

What genre do you enjoy reading? What’s your favorite book and why?

I enjoy reading a variety of genres, everything from romance to thrillers, historical fiction to fantasy. I also love a good nonfiction book now and then. Basically, the next book I read is whatever catches my eye, regardless of genre. I don’t really have a favorite book, although I’ve read a lot of great books. A few that come to mind are the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, The 13th Tribe by Robert Liparulo, and When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon.

If you’ve published a series, what is the series about? 

I have a series of inspirational romances called the Veteran Hearts series. It’s about military veterans in college who find love. So far there are only two novels (Battlefield of the Heart and Trust of the Heart) and a short story prequel (Wounds of the Heart) in the series, but I have ideas for a few more novels.

 Battlefield Of The Heart        Trust Of The Heart   

Wounds Of The Heart

What was it like creating back to back stories that link? 

It was a lot of fun to get immersed in the world of the Veteran Hearts series. The hero of Trust of the Heart started out as an important secondary character in Battlefield of the Heart, so it was great to get to know him better. By the time I finished both novels and the prequel, I’d spent so much time with the characters that I missed them.

Have you ever thought about writing in a different genre? If you could, what genre would you like to dabble in? 

Actually, I’ve done more than think about it. I’ve published inspirational romance, sweet romance, contemporary young adult, and I’m in the midst of serializing a women’s fiction novel. I also have a few speculative fiction ideas partially written. You know, science fiction and fantasy. My tastes in writing are as varied as my tastes in reading.

Are you a “plotter” or a fly by the seat of your pants “pantster” as a writer?

 I’m a total pantser. Every time I’ve tried to outline a book, it’s killed my creativity and made it impossible to write. So, I start with a vague idea and a character or two, and see where it goes. Sometimes that method enables me to write quickly. I wrote my new adult romance Covered in a week and Bogota Blessings in three weeks. But sometimes the ideas drift off into the ether midway through a book, and I have to set it aside until I know what happens next. That happened several times with Battlefield of the Heart. It took over five years to finish the first draft of that one. The good news is that I always have another partial manuscript I can work on.

  What are you working on now? What will you release next? 

As I mentioned earlier, I’m in the midst of serializing a women’s fiction novel. The title is Out of Her Element, and it’s about a Palestinian immigrant who learns that living a life of luxury may not be as great as it sounds.

Out Of Her Element

 So… where can we get your books? 

You can find them on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. But the easiest way to see all of my books in one place (and find links to buy them) is to visit my website: http://eawest.mcphitty.com/books.html

 If you want to read Out of Her Element, a new chapter gets released every Friday on my blog (http://thewestcorner.wordpress.com) and Tapas (http://tapas.io/series/Out-of-Her-Element). You can also download the Tapas app and read it there.

 Buy Links:

 Amazon: http://smarturl.it/RedeemingHonor

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/redeeming-honor-ea-west/1125635977?ean=9781522300007

iTunes: https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/redeeming-honor/id1202312439

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/redeeming-honor

Pelican Book Group: http://pelicanbookgroup.com/ec/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=37_46&products_id=834

 What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? 

 My research methods are kind of fluid. I may do a little research before I start writing, but most of the research happens while I’m writing the story or during the revision stage. Since I write by the seat of my pants, I rarely know what I need to research in advance. I have to wait until it pops up in the story and then learn enough to write that bit so I can continue on. It’s probably not the best way to do research, and it’s definitely not what the experts recommend, but it works for me.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I do read them. The good ones always provide a little boost to my mood. The really good ones I like to share with others. I may have even done a happy dance while reading some of the best. When I read a bad review, however, I learn what I can from the reviewer’s comments and move on. I’ve actually learned quite a bit about how to improve my writing from less-than-stellar reviews.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

All my characters are figments of my imagination. I sometimes get inspiration for reactions to things from real people, usually by asking various family members or friends, “If this thing happened, what would you do/say?” But all those answers get tossed together and something that works for the particular character involved comes out. My characters tend to take on a life of their own during the writing process and become unique individuals. If anyone reads one of my books and thinks, “Hey! That sounds just like (whoever)!” I can assure them that it’s entirely coincidental.

What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction? 

I started writing Out of Her Element at a time when Israel and Palestine were in the news often. There was a lot of tension between the two countries at the time, and I couldn’t help wondering about the individuals trying to live their lives with all the political turmoil and terrorist attacks. There was also a lot of anti-Muslim, anti-Middle Eastern sentiment floating around in the US. A character and a situation to toss her into popped into my head, and the story was born.

Which one of your characters is your favorite and why?

I have several favorites, but for now I’ll go with Basir Hamidi, the hero of Redeeming Honor. I learned a lot while writing him, and he’s got a romantic side that I would totally swoon over if he were a real person.

 What would you like readers to know? 

Readers are some of my favorite people on the planet. Without you guys, I wouldn’t be in this business. After all, what’s the point of writing stories if you don’t have anyone to share them with? So, thank you for reading and sharing your favorite books with others. I’ve discovered more than one favorite author because someone recommended a book to me.

Contact Info:

Website: http://eawest.mcphitty.com

Newsletter: http://eawest.mcphitty.com/newsletter.html

Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/EAWestAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/eawest

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/authoreawest

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/eawest

 

BONUS INFO:

Redeeming Honor

 

Redeeming Honor

 

Tag line:

 One man’s honor is another man’s shame.

Back Cover Blurb:

Meghan Carpenter loves God, her yarn business, and her twin brother Ryan — a former marine who currently lives with her. When she agrees to let his wounded buddy live with them on her small Indiana alpaca farm, she expects an American marine. What she gets is a former Afghan interpreter who’s painfully shy around women.

 Scarred from the war, both physically and emotionally, Basir Hamidi is grateful for a place to live. But his attraction to Meghan is a problem. With his honor destroyed by events in his homeland, and nothing to offer her but his broken, scarred self, he vows to avoid her and protect her reputation. Yet he is drawn to her with a strength that can only be God’s leading. For a man who has lost everything, letting go of the past is a difficult process. When he must also redeem his honor, his only chance of success is to rely on God.

 Excerpt:

The oven timer dinged, and Meghan grabbed a hot pad. Golden-brown cookies filled the air with the delicious scents of vanilla and chocolate. She set the tray on the granite counter, shut off the oven, and then turned to the task of transferring chocolate chip cookies to the cooling rack.

As she set the baking sheet in the sink, the front door opened. Meghan’s heart jumped, and she hurried from the kitchen, eager to see which of Ryan’s friends would be living in her house. She stepped into the hall and spotted her brother and a swarthy-skinned, black-haired man wearing huge dark sunglasses. Each of them carried a black suitcase.

 Ryan grinned as his friend closed the door. “Hey, Meghan, this is my buddy Basir Hamidi. Basir, meet my sister, Meghan.”

 The black-haired man removed his sunglasses to reveal a pair of wire-rimmed glasses and scar tissue around his tawny-brown eyes. “Thank you for letting me stay in your home.”

 Meghan swallowed her surprise at his heavy accent and pushed aside her sorrow that he had endured something terrible to cause the scars. Regardless of what he had been through, the only thing that should matter to her was helping him to feel comfortable in her home. She offered a warm smile and clasped her hands at her waist. “I’m glad I had an empty guestroom for you. I’ll let Ryan give you the grand tour of the place while I put the finishing touches on lunch, but remember that this is your home, too, for however long you need it.”

 “Thank you.” He inclined his head, his right hand over his heart. Then, he lowered his hand and glanced at Ryan.

 Her brother slung an arm around Basir’s shoulders and guided him to the stairs. “Your room’s up here.”

 Meghan returned to the kitchen and struggled to wrap her mind around her new houseguest. She’d expected an American marine, but her brother had brought home an Afghan man. Had Basir somehow become a marine? Had he been part of the Afghan army? Questions flowed in a steady stream as she chopped hardboiled eggs for the chef’s salads she’d planned.

 

 

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Author Interview with Melody Delgado

Hello Melody, nice to meet you!

(Bonus material includes the first 500 words of OOPS-A-DAISY.)

Melody - Author pic

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is your favorite author, is there anyone out there that inspires you? 

Louisa May Alcott and Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote funny stories that also had lots of heart.

What genre do you enjoy reading and what’s your favorite book and why?

I actually really enjoy reading humorous middle-grade, the genre I write in. With all the work to be done and all the serious things going on in the world, it’s nice to sit down with a book and have a laugh.

If you’ve published a series, what is the series about? 

I am working on a series, The De La Cruz Diaries. OOPS-A-DAISY is the first book in the series. It is about a sixth-grade Jennifer Lopez wannabe who attends an arts magnet school in Miami. When her favorite teacher is replaced by a stuffy new music professor, Daisy tries to impress him. But she is hijacked by her goofy brainiac father, her maniac of a dog and her big-mouthed little sister. The story revolves around the zany situations Daisy and her family get into as she tries to seek fame and fortune.

Have you ever thought about writing in a different genre? If you could, what genre would you like to dabble in?

I released an inspirational historical romance last year also called ROYALLY ENTITLED. It is in the young adult genre. But I had to include some silly stuff.   

What has been your most proud moment as an author? 

Holding the print copy of OOPS-A-DAISY in my hands and getting emails from people who like my books and are eager for the next installment.

 OopsaDaisy500x750 (1)

 

Was there ever a time you wanted to pick up your laptop, and then launch it out the window with frustration?

 One? Ha! Try one dozen! Revising is hard work.

What three tips would you give any aspiring writer? 

 1 – Persevere. You will get better and you will finish your book if you keep at it.

2 – Be willing to listen to the advice of other writers. If two or more people point out a weakness in your writing, you may want to listen up.

3 – Make an outline, even if it’s rough. I used to be a pantser, but a wrote myself into a fog. Now I plot.

What are you working on now?

I am working on the follow-up to OOPS-A-DAISY, which is called NO WAY, JOSE.

What will you release next?

I am also finishing up the follow-up to ROYALLY ENTITLED, which is called, ROYALLY SCHEMING.  

So… where can we get your books? 

Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, etc.

What would you like readers to know? 

I am also a reader, so I am trying to write for readers that want to take a break and enjoy a good story or have a good laugh at someone else’s foibles. I’m just trying to entertain, though a side benefit might be that you may also be encouraged or inspired by reading one of my stories.

Contact Info:

Bio:

Melody Delgado is the author of OOPS-A-DAISY, a humorous, inspirational novel for young readers. It is the first in the De La Cruz Diaries series released by Clean Reads. She lives in Florida with her husband and children and is represented by Cyle Young of the Hartline Literary Agency. She is currently working on book #2 in the series, NO WAY, JOSE.

contact@melodydelgado.com

 

Bonus Material:

 

https://trailershelf.com/oops-a-daisy/

(click to view trailer of the book)

 

OOPS-A-DAISY

By

Melody Delgado

 

Chapter One – Puercito the Pasta Lover

Okay, so I was standing in the middle of a television studio about to shoot my first commercial. Woohoo! I’d been dreaming of getting my big break for a super long time. Like three whole weeks to be exact. All right, so maybe I’d been waiting my whole life. Well, not exactly my whole life, but for at least two years I’d dreamed of nothing else but becoming the next Gloria Florez. And since G-Flo started out in commercials I figured I was on the right track.

“Places!” a stagehand hollered.

I bolted to the set, which was designed to look like an average kitchen.

“You Daisy De La Cruz?” the stagehand asked me.

“Oh…um…yeah…I mean yes!”

He pointed to a piece of masking tape stuck to the floor. “If you’ll come over here and stand on your marker, we’re just about ready to shoot.”

I trudged over to the spot as quickly as I could considering I was wearing a shaggy dog suit with about twenty tons of fake fur hanging from it, and slid a rubber doggy mask over my sweaty head. My shoulder length hair had been blown dry that morning, so it would be sleek and straight, but with all the heat and humidity it was starting to curl and frizz. But, hey, I finally had my first shot at show business, so I wasn’t about to complain.

Once I was in position a Miss America look-alike, wearing too much make-up, joined me on the set.

“Lights! Camera! Take one!” Snap.

Miss America gazed into the camera and sang to the tune of London Bridge.

Queeny once had stinky breath,

stinky breath, stinky breath.

         Yuck! I almost choked to death.

         Now she’s better.

I came in on cue, continuing the song.

Mom gave me some Stink-Away,

         Stink-Away, Stink-Away.

         Now my breath is A-Okay,

         I’m all better.

         Aooooooo!

The announcer’s voice piped in. “Stink-Away is all natural and safe. Side effects may include loud barking, non-stop scratching and increased car chasing. Why not try Stink-Away…today?”

“Cut!” the director hollered. “Let’s try it again. This time, Queeny, howl like you mean it.”

By the time we ran through 16 takes I was dripping so much sweat, my howl was full of meaning.

The director fingered his beard and exhaled loudly. “Why don’t we take a short break?”

As I wrenched off my mask and searched for a place to sit, I realized my dark hair was totally matted to my head. There was a bench outside so I headed toward the exit, but once I realized there’d be no chance for a breeze, I decided to stick it out inside. The only thing waiting for me out there was a giant dose of Miami summer steam.

After trudging down the hall a few more steps, some furniture came into view. I dropped onto a leather couch so hard and fast it groaned. I leaned back and pulled a piece of paper from a hollow ear inside the mask. It was a letter from my grandfather. In my eyes my grandfather was just about perfect. He was one of my favorite people ever because he always managed to see the good in things and had a way of making me laugh no matter what was going on.

And he didn’t think my dreams were stupid, or a waste of time, either. I’d caught some of my other relatives rolling their eyes whenever I talked about my plans, but not him. He’d never even think about embarrassing me like that.

We didn’t get to see each other often, though, since he didn’t exactly live close by. Since my abuelo lived in Puerto Rico, he spoke fluent Spanish, but he was still trying to learn English. I’d already scanned his note five or six times that day even though it was a little tricky to understand, but I unfolded it and read it again.

 

To a special grill,

I happy you making crummercial. Now you on your way to bee big starr. I know you will go farm and become a big celery. I wish I could have tocked longer on the fone the udder day but it was getting late and it was time to eat my zipper. I look forward to visit you soon.

P.S. Happy 12 birdday – Use the chick to bye what you want two.

Love,

Your favorit Grandfeather

 

“Let’s roll!” I heard the stagehand holler.

So much for rest and relaxation. When I’m heading up my own studio the actors won’t get a measly little five-minute break. No way! I’ll give them at least six.

I hurried back to the set and stood in position. We ran through the entire commercial again and did it exactly like every other take we’d done. I crossed my fingers and waited.

“Cut!” the director hollered. “That’s a wrap.”

Phew! I felt as wet as if I’d been surfing at Miami Beach, but that was a small sacrifice to make for my first paying gig. Woohoo! I couldn’t believe I was getting paid just for dressing up and singing.

Miss America hit me with a high-five before batting her probably false eyelashes at the director. “Ya’ll got any more shoots coming up? For something like jewelry or perfume?” She glanced over at me then whispered, “For humans?” What did she think? I was a real dog and I’d be insulted if I overheard? Either she was a nickel short of a dollar in the brains department, or my acting was incredibly convincing.

“Let’s see.” The director scanned a chart on the wall. “Warts, cold sores, athlete’s foot fungus…Any of those interest you?”

“Of course!” Miss America’s eyelashes fluttered again. “Give me a ring. Tootles.” She smiled, waved and strode out as if she had just won another pageant.

Maybe he’s got another commercial for me too. Something that’ll get me some attention. “You shooting anything that’ll air like…nationally?”

The director eyed my doggie getup and laughed. “Not at the moment, Queeny. But I’ll keep you in mind if I need a singing cat.”

“Great! I meow much better than I can howl.”

He laughed again and took off in a hurry.

My shoulders started to slouch, but I quickly straightened them. G-Flo’s first commercial was for kitty litter and now she’s topping the charts with her music and movies. When you start at the bottom the only place to go is up, right?

I rounded the corner casually, then ripped off my mask and trotted toward the water cooler. It wasn’t clear why, but I felt a sudden urge to lap up the water with my tongue. I guzzled what seemed like gallons of cool clear liquid before my mother found me, helped me change back into normal clothes and led me outside to her Toyota hybrid.

Once we got home I rushed upstairs to shower. As I dried myself off in my bedroom, I thought about calling Miss Rivera, my music teacher at the Rosenthal School of the Arts. Miss Rivera was the one who told me about the Stink-Away audition. I decided it might be better not to bug her over summer vacation. We could talk about the shoot when school started in a couple of weeks.

The phone rang as I pulled a T-shirt over my head. My best friend, Tamika, was on the line. I was hoping she was calling to invite me to Miami Beach. My Dad only took us in the evenings, so we wouldn’t get sunburns. Tamika’s family went to the beach whenever they felt like it, as in normal daytime hours.

“You won’t believe this,” she said in a rush.

I sprawled out on my unmade bed. Tamika was a talker and something like getting a new toothbrush could excite her. “Let me guess? You went to the dentist and he gave you a sticker for being good?”

“Miss Rivera won’t be back next year.”

I shot into an upright position. “What?”

“I just heard. The PTA meeting is still going on in the living room. Everyone was talking about it when I went to the kitchen for a drink.”

“You must’ve heard wrong.” I stood up. “She would have told me!”

“She had to rush to out of here to help her sick mother in New York.”

I gripped the phone tighter. “That means she won’t be here on the first day of school. We won’t even get a chance to say goodbye.”

“Yeah, it totally stinks. But get this. They’ve already found someone to take her place.”

“No way!”

A Scottish professor is moving here from some conservatory in London. Wait till you hear his name. Professor Romeo Nigel Magoon. Does he sound like a total loser or what?” Tamika’s voice dropped to a whisper. “Gotta run. My dad’s headed this way and I’m not supposed to know anything.”

I felt like I’d fallen so hard the wind was knocked out of me. Miss Rivera had been my teacher since first grade. We’d gotten close after being together for five years. I trusted her so much she almost felt like an Aunt, or an older sister. It wasn’t like she was just teaching me and helping me. She believed in me and seemed to think I had a shot at fulfilling my dreams. I sat on my bed trying to let the news sink in.

After a few minutes I threw on some shorts and headed downstairs to look for my mother. She was in the kitchen stirring a huge pot of black beans. I sat on a stool and picked at the cotton stuffing erupting from a hole in the cushion. “Miss Rivera’s gone. She won’t be coming back next year.”

Mom pushed her short straight hair behind her ears and gave me a hug. “Oh no. I’m so sorry, mija. Miss Rivera believed in you. What happened?” I took a deep breath and filled her in on what Tamika told me. Mom measured rice into a pot that was so old and black it looked like a cauldron. “Miss Rivera was a real gem, but you might learn a lot from her replacement too. Who knows? He might have connections with other artist types and might even be able to help Rosa.”

Just then, my five-year-old sister popped out from hiding in the pantry. “I’m gonna sing like Daisy. I’m gonna sing like Daisy,” Rosa chanted. Her brown curls bounced as she daintily held the hem of her floral-print dress and skipped from the room.

I rested my chin in my hands while Mom finished cooking dinner and thought about the good times I’d had with Miss Rivera and all she’d taught me. It would be tough adjusting to a new teacher. But Mom was right. There were still a lot of things I wanted to do. I needed to give the new guy a chance and work hard to show him I was a serious student.

Dad wandered into the kitchen with sage green paint splattered all over his ripped jeans and sneakers. “One bathroom down, the entire house to go. So much for buying a big old fixer upper.” He wrenched off his baseball cap, wiped his balding head with a paper towel and scrubbed his dark hands under the sink. “Sorry it’s taken so long to get started.”

Long? Try two years, Papasito.

“I’ll get to your rooms next, girls, I promise,” Dad said.

I wondered if my grandfather’s upcoming visit had anything to do with Dad’s sudden urge to clean things up. As if a coat of paint was the only thing our ancient house needed.

Rosa scurried in from the living room shouting, “Pink, pink, pink! I want pink!”

“Hmmm,” I said. “I’m not so sure I want pink in my room.”

“Fine.” Dad grabbed a spoon and snatched a bite of rice. “I’ll paint Rosa’s room first. Rosa, why don’t you come with me when I pick out the color?”

“Okay.” She gazed up at him with her huge brown eyes. “After we pick out the dog you promised.”

I smirked. “You only get a dog if you quit complaining about starting school.”

“Ah, si.” Dad nodded. “I forgot about the dog.”

Rosa hopped up and down. “You can’t forget! I can’t wait to start kindergarten. It’s my most favoritist thing in the world. Kindergarten rocks!”

Dad dried his hands. “Something tells me I’ll have someone to remind me.”

****

After Dad brought Mom and I home after church, he took Rosa to the pound to pick out a dog as promised.

Rosa raced into the house an hour later. “See my new doggie!” She was carrying what looked like a filthy mop.

“What is that?” I asked, backing away from her. I didn’t see any eyes, a nose, or a mouth, just a mass of dirty gray hair. “It looks creepy.”

“I know,” Rosa said, hopping up and down. “That’s why I picked it!”

 

After Rosa and Dad gave it a bath it went from looking like a mop to resembling a swatch of white carpet. A neighbor told them it was a living, breathing life form known as a Maltese. And could that thing eat. It must have been half-starved. Only a high voltage vacuum cleaner could suck up food faster.

A walking piece of carpet with a vacuum for a mouth described him perfectly. And he looked just like the costume I wore in the Stink-Away commercial. I only had to look at him to be reminded of sweating like a pig. And his breath! He was the perfect candidate for a free Stink-Away sample. That was it, I decided. Puercito. Little pig would be his name. It suited him perfectly. I just had to convince Rosa.

“Here, Puercito,” I called.

“Oh! I like that name!” Rosa cried. “You’re my little pig, aren’t you?” She scooped him up and kissed him till he growled at her.

****

On the first day of school, Puercito acted just like his namesake. I poured Rosa a bowl of cereal and as soon as she wandered off to find a spoon, he hopped from a kitchen chair to the table and devoured her breakfast. I poured her a new bowl and he wolfed it down again. We couldn’t get rid of him until I wrenched open the door leading to the back yard. Talk about a little pig! Yes, Puercito is the perfect name for him, unless we go with Hairy-Alien-Trash-Eating-Stinky-Breath-Puff-Ball. 

Dad drove us to school a few minutes later. It was only a short ride to my arts magnet school, which was just like a regular elementary school, but with a strong focus on the arts.

As we meandered down winding lanes and passed rows of older homes, I started squirming like a toddler. It was hard to know what to expect from Professor Magoon with all the rumors flying around. I decided the name Romeo had an elegant ring to it. Maybe he’ll end up being as handsome as his name. He could turn out to be a nice guy after all and he might be able to help me just as much as Miss Rivera did. I knew I had to meet him and make a good impression as soon as possible.

When I got to class, all Mrs. Sandberg had us do was set up our desks. Since we weren’t busy I thought about ways of sneaking out to meet Romeo. I can pretend to sprain my ankle. But that will only bring me as far as the nurse’s office – with someone helping.

I tried to concentrate when Mrs. Sandberg finally gave us a reading assignment, but my thoughts kept getting interrupted by visions of Romeo’s handsome face.

Finally, the lunch bell rang. I reached for my wallet. It was empty. Instead of sneaking off to the music room to catch a glimpse of my new teacher, I found myself in the school office calling home.

“Hello, Dad?” I spoke into the phone beside the secretary’s desk. “I forgot my lunch money. Can you bail me out?”

“Your timing is perfect,” said Dad, out of breath. “I’m about to take Puercito to the vet. I’ll be right there.”

“Great.”

“Oh, and one more thing.”

I shifted the phone to my other ear. “What?”

“I wanted to tell you to quit chewing the carpet you little non-stop-eating-machine! Get outside you creepy…shaggy…thingy!” There was loud barking and then a door slammed shut.

“Dad?”

“Sorry,” he said. “I just wanted to tell you to stop that yapping I can’t even hear myself think!”

I tapped my fingers on the gleaming counter. “Dad my lunch break is only—”

“Sorry. I wanted to tell you I’ll be painting your room next, so think about what color you want.”

I trudged outdoors to wait on the concrete steps beside the carpool drop-off. As I watched for approaching cars, I imagined my first meeting with my new music teacher. I’ll be extra polite and use my best manners, so he’ll be able to recognize me as the star I’m destined to become. I’ll bring him his morning coffee, help him conduct the choir, work with him on important musical productions….

The sound of a blue heron rustling in a nearby palm tree awakened me from my dreams. As I breathed in, smelling a mixture of bug repellant and fertilizer, an ancient convertible with the top down, screeched to a halt in front of the curb.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Dad said breathlessly. “The people at the pound didn’t give me a leash when I picked him up yesterday. I had a hard time getting him in the car.” He tossed me the money. “Here’s your dinero. I’ve got to hurry to make my appointment.”

I leaned against the dusty car. “Whoa! Dad, wait a minute!”

“¿Qué pasa?

I frowned. “Your clothes are covered in paint. Your hair and eyebrows are pink. I can’t believe you left the house looking like this.”

Dad sighed. “It was either get cleaned up or leave you to starve.”

“Okay, Papi. It’s just that—”

Puercito seized the opportunity to jump from the back seat of the motionless car and hit the pavement running.

I chased him, but all my short arms managed to grab was hot air, not Puercito. He blew past me, scurrying inside the brick building in between the black jazz shoes of some dance instructors who were leaving.

Dad hollered from the car. “I’ll park. Go in after him. Don’t lose him!”

Sprinting up the concrete steps, I spotted the fur ball bounding across the beige tiled floor and heading toward the cafeteria and the strong odor of burnt spaghetti sauce. I followed, rushed into the lunchroom and spotted the little pig causing a big commotion at the sixth-grade tables.

All the kids in my class stared as Puercito landed on their table and plodded over plates of spaghetti. He snarfed bites of pasta as he worked his way down his own personal buffet. His creamy white fur was soon covered in red sauce.

Some of the kids cheered as they stood up and watched from behind their chairs.

“Wow!”

“Go, dog!”

“Do it again!”

After knocking over several cartons of open milk containers, Puercito eyed a huge juicy meatball a few plates down. He rushed over to it, sniffed it, licked it and swallowed it whole in one gulp. Then he started coughing and hacking. As he gave one mighty belch, the meatball hurtled out of his mouth and landed on the other end of the table. He ran back to it, sniffed it, licked it and swallowed it whole again.

Tamika yelled, “How disgusting!”

I witnessed it all from the next table, where I stood frozen. I have to be watching a video of someone else’s life. This embarrassing moment can’t possibly be a scene from mine.

A pudgy older man with hair sticking out in every direction bustled over from the other side of the large noise-filled cafeteria.

“What in the world is going on here?” he asked, glaring at Puercito.

At that moment, Dad rushed in. Surveying the damage, he quickly scooped up Puercito before he could attack another plate of spaghetti. “I can splain,” Dad said to the man. Dad’s accent always got stronger when he was nervous.

The midget of a man stared up at Dad through thick horn-rimmed glasses. “Who are you?”

Dad stared at the tomato splattered floor, mumbling, “Yo soy…I mean…I’m Dr. Juan Ramon De La Cruz. The, uh, father of one of the students here.”

I wandered over to my father and whispered, “Dad, don’t you think you and Puercito should be leaving now?”

“Ah, si. Jes. I mean yes. Again, I’m so sorry,” he said. “I’m buying him a leash today. This will never happen again.”

As Dad made to leave, Puercito shook himself off. Large drops of sauce landed all over my white blouse as well as the glasses of Mr. Stubby-Little-Elf.

He wiped the sauce off of his glasses with a scowl. “See that it doesn’t.” My father made his escape. The man took a deep breath, shook his head and glanced back toward my class. “I suggest those of you in need of a new lunch get back in line immediately.”

Cinnamon Cleaver threw her huge mass of rust-colored waves over her shoulder and stomped her foot. “We’ll be late for modern dance.” Her thin figure and stylish clothes gave her the look of a young supermodel, except for her nose, which was slightly too big for her face. She’d landed the lead in almost every school play until I managed to snatch the lead from her last spring. And she’d held a grudge against me ever since.

The man flapped his arms like a goose collecting its goslings. “Dance class can wait. Let’s keep things moving. At this rate we’ll have to ask for tomorrow’s breakfast menu.”

Cinnamon turned around in line, shooting me with invisible I-so-do-not-like-you x-ray beams. “What do you have to say for yourself now?”

“Oops-a-daisy?” said Tamika’s twin brother, Brad. His dreadlocks shook against his baggy T-shirt, so I could tell he was trying not to laugh at Cinnamon.

“Enough with the chatter, Mr. Robinson,” said the man.

Brad’s grin disappeared as he hung his head. “Sorry, Professor.”

The air slowly drained from my lungs. I gripped the back of a chair for support. “W-what did you call him?” Please, please, please. There’s no way he can possibly be—

“Young lady,” the man stood tall, raising his chin as if on stage, ready to burst into song. “My name is Professor Magoon. Professor Romeo Nigel Magoon.”

 

Chapter Two – Queen of the School

“May I p-please go to the girl’s room to clean up my b-blouse?”

Professor Magoon eyed me like I had a contagious disease. “Yes, please do.”

I did not just make my first impression on this guy in the cafeteria of all places. And that creepy little spaghetti monster of a dog did not introduce us. No way!

I entered the shiny tiled bathroom, bent over a sink and splashed my hot face with cool water.

The door opened behind me. “You okay?” It was Tamika. After I dried myself off I saw the look of concern on her face. It was nice of her to offer some comfort.

I took a deep breath. “Do you think what just happened was a total and complete disaster or a minor disaster? Because a total and complete disaster is not something I can handle right now.”

Tamika crossed her arms and made a face. “It was definitely a disaster. But…on a scale of one to ten I’d give it a three. That would make it a teeny-tiny disaster.”

I leaned against a white porcelain sink. “Good. I can live with that.”

Tamika pulled a pick from her jean purse and fluffed her inch-long Afro. “Puercito is one cute little puppy even if he is a total mess. But I hear you. I don’t want to get on Professor Magoon’s bad side, either.”

I dabbed at my blouse with a wet paper towel. “Why? What else have you heard?”

The door barged open and in sauntered Cinnamon Cleaver with her jewelry jangling and her high heels click-click-clicking across the floor. Cinnamon let the door slam behind her and marched right up to me. “If you wanted Magoon to notice you, Miss Attention-Seeker, he did.”

I tried drying my blouse with another towel. “Hello! If I wanted him to notice me don’t you think I would’ve come up with a better way to get his attention?”

Cinnamon scowled and her face became almost as red as her frilly expensive blouse. “Whatever! Your disgusting mutt got sauce all over my white designer sandals. They’re Manolos, not that you’d know.”

“White is sooo not practical,” I mumbled, tossing my paper towel in the trash and ignoring the fact that I wore white myself.

Tamika giggled.

“What was that?” Cinnamon snapped.

“I’m sorry about your sandals,” I said. “But he’s not my dog, he’s—”

“Adorable.” Tamika cut in.

“Whatever!” Cinnamon ripped her shoes off and rinsed them under the sink. “I should make you pay for these, but you probably can’t afford designer prices. I’ll be stuck dying them red.”

I blew on my blouse hoping it would dry faster. “How do you know what I can afford? I earned some money over the summer.”

Cinnamon put her sandals back on. “Like we need to be reminded that you landed your first commercial. Ooooh! Goodie goodie for you.”

“You can audition for stuff too, you know.”

“Believe me, now that my mom’s back in town, I’m going to,” Cinnamon said, storming off.

“That girl is one snootie-patootie!” Tamika said, shaking her head.

“I’ve heard that can happen when you always get what you want.”

“Not anymore.” Tamika smirked. “Not with you suddenly pulling up from behind.”

Yeah, I pull up from behind and look what happens. People hate me. I guess what I’ve heard about success is true. Someone might just be unhappy about it and end up feeling jealous. I was done wasting my energy thinking about someone as spoiled rotten as Cinnamon Cleaver. I headed for the door. “So much for trying to eat lunch.”

“I got a few bites down before your dog trashed my plate,” said Tamika. “Let’s go see if we’ve got time to make it through the line.”

Tiny green lizards scrambled in and out of palmetto bushes and onto the sidewalk as we rushed back to the cafeteria. I spotted a poster on the wall and stopped to read it.

The Rosenthal School of the Arts presents:

La Isla Del Encanto – A Musical Extravaganza

All students in kindergarten through sixth-grade

welcome to audition

“A musical about Puerto Rico? No way,” I said. “That’s where my parents are from.”

“It’s supposed to be a big deal,” Tamika said. “It might be a great chance to get discovered.”

“Discovered? By who?”

Tamika’s hands moved around wildly. They did that whenever she got excited. “That’s what I was trying to tell you a minute ago. Big Bad Romeo is asking all kinds of big wigs to come and see the show.”

“Where’d you hear that?” I asked her.

“My mom’s PTA President, remember?” Tamika was smiling so wide and showing so many teeth she reminded me of the cat from Alice in Wonderland. “She’s got a big mouth and I’ve got big ears.”

I wondered if what Tamika said was true. It was hard to know for sure because she exaggerated sometimes. She wouldn’t do it on purpose, or anything. But she just got excited about little things super easily and then made them out to be bigger than what they actually were.

Like last year during winter break. She called me up and said she had a paying gig. For both of us. And we’d be singing in front of lots of people. So I got all dressed up. She and her mother drove over to pick me up and we ended up pulling into the parking lot of some fancy-pants building that looked like an old time plantation.

“Where are we?” I asked.

“Macon Manor. It’s a nursing home,” Mrs. Robinson said. “My mother lives here. Our church choir comes over every Christmas Eve to sing for the residents.”

We wandered inside and Tamika sang her little heart out. She had two solos, but she let me sing a few lines of Jingle Bells. They passed around a basket afterwards and a bunch of old people tossed their spare change into it. The choir let Tamika and I split the loot. We each made a whopping $2.73. Woohoo!

Since Tamika hadn’t sung many solos in public before, it was a big deal for her. But I didn’t mind going along with Tamika when she made a big deal out of things because being easy to please made her fun to be around.

I turned away from the poster and started hustling toward the lunchroom again.

“I sure hope they have more meatballs,” Tamika said, following.

“Me too,” I said as my stomach let out a huge growl.

But as soon as we plowed through the cafeteria doors the bell rang, signaling the end of lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Ann Jones – does it again!

If you haven’t read either book by Ann Jones, you are in for a treat. Check out the review of her new book, Trapping.

https://www.pandorasboxjt.com/single-post/2018/06/11/Book-Review-Trapping-By-Ann-Jones

Book Review: Trapping, By Ann Jones

June 11, 2018    

Eve Culley

 

Book Review of Trapping, Written By Ann Jones

Review By Eve Culley

I first fell in love with Ann Jones books when I read Missing. Couldn’t wait for the second book to come out. In fact, I “pestered” Ann about her time table. So, I was understandably ecstatic when her second novel was released. The book did not disapoint!

Trapping picks up where the first book ended and the twists and turns begin. Dectective Lyn Kramer, is a strong, female lead with a mind for details. Her family is important to her and she will do all she can to protect them from harm.  With a gorgous partner who has issues of his own, Lyn will have her hands full in this fast paced novel.

 So, Ann – ah when is the next book due? Just kidding (well, not really). I recommend this book for everyone. Give it a read and you’ll see why Ann Jones is one of my favorite authors.

About the Book

 A bittersweet reunion…

 Separated by feuding families when they were children, Detective Lyn Kramer of the Elm Grove Police Department and her estranged twin sister, high school teacher Melissa Farnsworth, have finally been reunited—but under terrifying circumstances. After freeing her sister from the clutches of Lester Barton, a devious crime boss who also happens to be their sadistic uncle, Lyn vows to keep Melissa and her family safe. However, that goal is thwarted when Barton, working behind the scenes, infiltrates their sleepy town with drug traffickers and threatens to destroy the sisters and everyone they love as an act of revenge.

Can the recently reunified twins lure the ringleader out of hiding and into the cold light of justice? Or will their evil uncle succeed in terrorizing the sisters into submission?

About the Author

 

 Author Ann Jones lives in Washington with her husband and a devoted, eclectic group of wildlife. Ann loves writing, exploring, traveling and reading. When not doing any of that she is either playing music too loud, driving too fast or eating ice cream, sometimes all at once.

 Connect with Ann on Facebook and herwebsite. Missing (Lyn Kramer Mystery Book 1) is free at her website

 

About the Reviewer

 

My hubby and I were missionaries in the 70’s and 80’s raising money for Bibles, New Testaments, Book of John, paper, ink and helped set up a couple of print shops in churches. We traveled with our 2 small boys with our base here in Texas.

 

With our family grown and grand-children galore, we live in west-central Texas with a barn full of critters enjoying the country life.

 

Connect with Eve on her websiteblog, and Twitter.

 

 

You can read Eve’s column on the 2nd Monday each month here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.

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Interview with Chigozie Mbadugha

Hello Chigozie Anuli Mbadugha. It is nice to meet you!  

authorpic mbadugha

Please, tell us a bit about you, where you are from and other than writing what else do you enjoy? 

I am an eye surgeon, but I love writing fiction. I am a Nigerian. I love singing and I occasionally write songs. I find music very uplifting.

How did you start writing? What was your inspiration to create? 

I wrote my first story when I was six years old. I think I have always enjoyed fiction. I enjoy escaping from stress by creating my own world in which I can control events in the lives of my characters which I cannot do in real life. My debut publication – Beyond the Trial, is a collection of short stories that celebrate the strength of character of the African woman. Even though the stories in Beyond the Trial are not my personal experiences, my interactions with women inspired me to be a voice for the voiceless. I needed to put gender-based issues in Africa on the front burner.

What genre do you enjoy reading? What’s your favorite book and why?

I like reading mystery books. My favourite books are books written by Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner. I like them because they are mentally engaging and captivating.

Have you ever thought about writing in a different genre? If you could, what genre would you like to dabble in? 

 I would like to write mystery or detective books because I enjoy reading them, but I am not sure if I can keep my readers guessing till the last page to find out who the villain is.

What has been your most proud moment as an author? 

My most proud moment was when I held the first copy of my book in print. Suddenly all the sleepless nights, editing and re-editing felt worth it! I was also very elated when Beyond the Trial was awarded the Samuel Ajayi Crowther Prize for best Christian fiction in the Nigerian Christian Literature Awards 2017!

What three tips would you give any aspiring writer? 

I would advise them to

  • Research extensively about their subject matter and the other aspects of ‘author-preneurship’ such as marketing,
  • They should ensure that their books are properly edited before publication
  • Keep writing and not give up.

What are you working on now? What will you release next? 

I love writing short stories so I am working on a number of short stories simultaneously. I plan to write a sequel to my debut fiction short story collection Beyond the Trial. I hope I can complete writing that before the end of this year. The sequel to Beyond the Trial is what I plan to release next.

So… where can we get your books? 

BTT book cover

My book Beyond the Trial is available on:

 Amazon (Paperback):  https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Trial-Chigozie-Anuli-Mbadugha/dp/1504935055

Amazon (kindle edition) https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Trial-Chigozie-Anuli-Mbadugha-ebook/dp/B0793PJHFQ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/ebook/beyond-the-trial-2

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beyond-the-trial-chigozie-anuli-mbadugha/1121184053

Konga.com (Online Bookstore Nigeria):

https://www.konga.com/beyond-the-trial-by-chigozie-anuli-mbadugha-1802878

Does a big ego help or hurt writers? 

I think a big ego does not help authors because it will make it hard for them to accept criticism in good faith. They might also be too proud to market their books effectively. Marketing, and the rejection that can come with it, require some level of humility.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones? 

I read my book reviews, and I try to learn from the bad ones. I want to write better books, so every negative feedback is a nudge to make me a better writer. Good reviews are encouraging to me. They validate my ability in a way. Like most authors I have interacted with, they are days I wonder if anybody is going to want to buy and read my work.

What’s your writing schedule like?

I have a full-time day job so I tend to write when I can. When I wrote Beyond the Trial, I did most of my writing at night. I, however, carry a notebook and paper around and jot down ideas that cross my mind for development later.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Most of my characters are totally from my imagination although there are traits I may see in real people that may trigger my imagination of a character.

Which one of your characters is your favorite and why?

 I loved the three female protagonists in Beyond the Trial: Funke, Nkechi, and Ada very much because they define resilience, doggedness, and determination that characterize strong African women. It is very difficult for me to choose my favourite amongst them because they all fought different individual battles with positive attitudes.

Book info:

Beyond the Trial is a collection of three short stories. The first story, Erased
Reproach, is the story of young love and ruthless heartbreak. Funke, a teenager at the beginning of the story, gives in to peer pressure and ends up with an unwanted pregnancy which leads her into forced exile from her childhood home. In Rude Awakening, Nkechi’s eutopic word is brought to a rude halt when her husband of eleven years dies suddenly in a car accident. She must face a chequered future alone with three sons. A family’s past is hunting its members in Shadows from the Past and it is Ada’s responsibility to lead her entire family out of darkness and into the light. A long-postponed visit home opens a can of worms about the past and provides the opportunity to deal with it and put it well behind them all. Beyond the Trial is a collection of three short stories about three women who choose to see life beyond their trials and dared to reach for it.

Social media links:

Beyond The Trial Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/63FoYzZCHZg?t=9

Website: http://cambabooks.com/beyondthetrial.html

Twitter Handle: @cambabooks

Facebook Page: https://web.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009179463242

Contact info: cmbadugha@yahoo.co.uk; author@cambabooks.com

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Visit with Spunky Doodle

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An Unexpected Visitor – continued

The horrible racket coming from the ducks caught my ear as I leisurely crossed the barnyard. Reaching the half door, I hopped up, cautiously peering inside as one of the ducks, Danny, continued to toss dust in the air with his wings as he fled nowhere in a circle.

Danny, the eldest Peking drake, flapping his wings as he walked in circles cried, “What shall we do? What shall we do?” Swirls of dust surrounded the ducks rising above their heads. Darrell, Denise, and Darla were crowding him, trying to comfort him while talking over one another.

“Call Stripe! Call Stripe!” (“Was that Darla?” I speculated.) “No, no! Call the Sheriff!” (“That was Denise,” I thought.) The calming tones of Darrell spoke, “It will be fine. It will be fine.” In the midst of this, Danny’s strident call continued, “What shall we do? What shall we do?”

Looking around the barn area, I could see no evident threat facing them as I cleared my throat. Opening my mouth to speak, CJ, the rooster, alerted once more causing all the hens to raise loud cackles outside the barn. I looked toward CJ who was standing guard just beyond the ducks. I still did not see anything to cause all this fuss.

Just about to speak, I saw a black head with a white stripe poke its nose out of the metal nest box next to the door. OH! NO! Jumping quickly and quietly, I landed on the floor outside the door. Now I was wondering “What to do. What to do? OK, the Sheriff wouldn’t be afraid. The Sheriff would take care of business.” So swallowing a deep breath, I hopped back on the top of the door.

Sticking my neck over the edge and hoping for the best, I peered down at the nest box. At that very moment out pops a skunk. The ducks are too involved with their circle of terror to move away from the danger. CJ, like the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace, is frozen in place with not a muscle moving or a peep coming out of his mouth. The skunk continues on his way down the wall toward the back of the barn. His tail held high and at the ready to perfume the area. I wisely keep my mouth shut. Barely breathing, I watch him proceed toward the old truck tire nest at the corner of the back wall. As he disappears, I open the door and motion for the ducks to get out.  Still loudly complaining they waddle out single file. CJ has yet to move. I watch him for a moment or two and then follow out after the ducks.

Moving to let the goats and donkey out,  I say, “Well that was interesting, wasn’t it? Never thought I’d be that close to a skunk and not get sprayed. By-the-way Savanah, thanks for the heads up.”

Savanah doesn’t even respond.  Instead, she pushes past me asking,”Where’s the Sheriff? I’m hungry.” Coco coming out behind her says, “I’ll go up to Village House and ask Honey for breakfast.” Savanah nods,”Good idea! Let me go with you.” Off they go with all the other goats trailing along behind like nothing was ever wrong. Shaking my head, I think to myself, “Oh, Stripe! What could be wrong? I don’t know, maybe – SKUNK!”

The turkeys are loudly demanding to get out of their area. Moseying over to them, I open their gate. Tom, the daddy turkey, is not a nice bird. He will try and flog you if you’re not watching him. I honestly don’t know why the Sheriff and Honey keep him around.

Tom grumbles, “About time!” as he struts out into the barnyard. Alice, the usually complaining turkey hen, follows quietly.

I check one more time and see that CJ is still on guard duty in the duck area and I nod to him. No response. That rooster can be just plain scary sometimes with how diligent he is guarding the flock. I decide it’s time to bring my first daily report to the Sheriff. We will have to come up with a plan about that skunk.

 

Stinky is back!

 

skunk -1

 

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An unexpected visitor?

What a shock to the system! Totally unexpected! Cause for alarm!

A visitor to the barn this morning that we were not ready for under any circumstances.

As soon as my heart slows down I will explain. But first, I must calm the ducks, quiet the roosters, get the turkeys to come out of their pen, and give Savannah a big hug. She was a brave girl.

More to come on this horrific morning, I promise.

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New Logo for Barn Town Children’s Books

barn town logo 5-31-18

Thank you Eric. I really like it!

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Interview with Sue Ford – Children’s Author as well as an Adult Romance Author

Hello Sue!

Sue Ford

It is nice to meet you! Tell us a bit about you where are you from and other than writing what else do you enjoy?

I grew up in a town in southern Oregon and only lived in two houses and one apartment (the latter with a girlfriend) before I got married. Since then we’ve lived in four states and ten cities all larger than where I grew up. I love trees, leaves, and going to the Oregon coast. I love spending time with family and friends. My church family has always been important to me wherever I’ve lived.

Have you ever thought about writing in a different genre? If you could, what genre would you like to dabble in?

For me, this adult book is writing in a different genre. When I initially started writing, I wanted to write for adults, but didn’t know any writers and didn’t know what to do with my writing. And I had a lot to learn. I ended up taking a correspondence course through the Institute of Children’s Literature and fell in love with kidlit. That’s where I spend most of my time. For children, I write under my maiden name, Susan Uhlig. My website is www.susanuhlig.com.

Was there ever a time you wanted to pick up your laptop, and then launch it out the window with frustration?

Oh, yeah. Usually, it is with technical issues. And I’m good at computers, so when I get frustrated, look out!

Are you a “plotter” or a fly by the seat of your pants “pantser” as a writer?

I’m a pantser with a plan, although sometimes it is a very vague plan. When I start writing a novel, I usually have no idea for a title, so my files often get saved under the main character’s name.

What three tips would you give any aspiring writer?

One – read what you want to write. If you think “nothing it out there like my book,” most likely you are wrong.

Two – keep learning about the craft of writing.

Three – find your tribe. You need those who will encourage you, those who will challenge you, and those willing to look at your writing and tell you what is working and what isn’t working.

So… where can we get your books?

My adult book is on Amazon as an ebook and audiobook: https://www.amazon.com/Alone-SM-Ford-ebook/dp/B01HR7O0Y0/

It can also be found on Audible:https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Alone-Audiobook/B078HZ7X2H  

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

A big ego hurts writers. You will be told by critique partners or beta readers that your work is not perfect, that sections confuse, that you’ve made grammar mistakes, that you’ve left out material or need to cut material. If you aren’t willing to accept constructive criticism, reviews are going to hurt even more.

What’s your writing schedule like?

I wish I was more consistent with my actual writing. It’s easy to get sucked into writing business stuff. I volunteer with the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators. There’s researching agents (what I’m currently doing for my children’s lit) and writing query letters. Freelance editing. I’m an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature for the basic and advanced magazine writing course, too. Social media. Research for the actual writing. My weekly critique group. Maintaining logs for taxes and copying receipts, etc. Blogging. But I’m usually writing or doing the above in the mornings, breaking for lunch, then getting back at it in the afternoon, four to five days a week. Of course, there are the interruptions of necessary appointments or phone calls on those days. Sometimes, I write on Saturdays, too. Reading in my genres is usually reserved for late afternoons, evenings, and weekends.

How have your family and friends accepted your career as a writer? Are they supportive?

My husband and daughters have always been supportive. It’s a really good thing since I sure haven’t made much money! For the most part friends, who don’t write, don’t really “get it.” That’s why finding other writers to be with is so important for me. I’ve done it through conferences and writing events and through online groups, such as Facebook groups.

Where would you like to travel to and why?

I’d love to go to Australia and New Zealand. The latter was inspired by a book by Mary Stewart, the queen of romantic suspense. The book is called Touch Not the Cat and in it a character dreams about the Ninety Mile Beach in New Zealand. The writing made me want to go! And then Peter Jackson built so many Lord of the Rings’ sets there for the movies. I want to see Bilbo’s hobbit hole! And as for Australia, koalas, kangaroos. And since I was a child, I’ve wanted to go to Africa and see the animals in their own settings.

What would you like readers to know?

Bio:

SM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too.

When she was 13 she got hooked on Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense books, although she has been a reader as long as she can remember, and is an eclectic reader. Inspirational authors she enjoys include: Francine Rivers, Bodie Thoene, Dee Henderson, Jan Karon, and many more.

SM Ford is a Pacific Northwest gal, but has also lived in the midwest (Colorado and Kansas) and on the east coast (New Jersey). She and her husband have two daughters and two sons-in-law and three grandsons. She can’t figure out how she got to be old enough for all that, however.

She loves assisting other writers on their journeys and is a writing teacher, speaker, mentor, and blogger about writing.

She also writes a monthly parenting column called Real Parenting for Pandora’s Box Gazette, an online magazine. Here’s a link to one of those columns: https://www.pandorasboxjt.com/single-post/2018/03/22/Real-Parenting-Rainy-Day-Campout. They are posted on the fourth Thursday of the month.

ALONE is an inspirational romantic suspense novel. It released from Clean Reads in June 2016 as an ebook.

Alone - 1

ALONE blurb:

Ready for adventure in the snowy Colorado mountains, Cecelia Gage is thrilled to be employed as the live-in housekeeper for her favorite bestselling author. The twenty-five-year-old doesn’t count on Mark Andrews being so prickly, nor becoming part of the small town gossip centering on the celebrity. Neither does she expect to become involved in Andrews family drama and a relationship with Simon Lindley, Mark’s oh-so-good-looking best friend. And certainly, Cecelia has no idea she’ll be mixed up in a murder investigation because of this job. Will Cecelia’s faith get her through all the trouble that lies ahead?

BUY:

This ebook is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and iTunes.

BUY LINKS:

Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com/Alone-SM-Ford-ebook/dp/B01HR7O0Y0/#nav-subnav

Barnes and Noblehttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/alone-sm-ford/1124041307?ean=2940158495786

iBookshttps://itunes.apple.com/us/book/alone/id1129622915?mt=11

Kobohttps://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/alone-74

Smashwordshttps://www.smashwords.com/books/view/650072

CONTACT:

Website: www.smfordbooks.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SMFordwriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SMFordBooks

 

 

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