The Rhythm of Secrets by Patti Lacy

I just finished reading Patti Lacy’s newest novel  The Rhythm of Secrets. What a complex melody of words & plot. Here’s a bit from the back of the book:

Sheila Franklin has masqueraded as the precocious daughter of avant-garde parents in colorful 1940s New Orleans, a teen desperate for love and acceptance, and an unwed mother sent North with her shame.

After marrying Edward, Sheila artfully masks her secrets, allowing Edward to gain prominence as a conservative pastor. When one phone call from a disillusioned Veitnam veteran destroys her cover, Sheila faces an impossible choice: save her son and his beloved…or imperil Edward’s ambitions.

Inspired by a true story, The Rhythm of Secrets intermingles jazz, classical, and sacred music in a symphony trumpeting God’s grace.

This beautifully crafted story, rich with descriptions and vivid detail, is the tale of a woman sifting through three lives to find
herself. Through heartbreak Sheila Franklin steps from the shadows of her life to  become the woman God has called her to be. Determined to rescue her son’s fiancé and be free of the guilt in her past, Sheila finds hope in the truth of God’s faithfulness and forgiveness.

My heart trembled with Sheila’s as the façade of her quiet life flashed into an orchestra of dissonance and the truth of her past left her with a choice to make. A choice that would change her life forever. It wasbeautiful to watch her grow and grasp the greatness of the God she serves.

A compelling story about a God who makes amends of our pasts and provides eternal hope for our future.

Love at First Thought with Audra Harders

Ever had one of those moments where you met someone and there was an immediate connection?



Well, I had that wonderful experience when I met author Audra Harders at ACFW last year. I’d not had an opportunity to connect with her alot before ACFW, but once I met her…it was love at first hug. She is absolutely wonderful! Sweet, encouraging, and someone who knows how to pray.

Audra kind of took me under her wing, and I can’t tell you what a joy and comfort it was.

Between Audra and Patti Lacy, I was REALLY mentored for my very first ACFW (and I really hope to do it again in September)

I can’t say how blessed I was to have met her and now call her my friend.

Let’s here about Audra’s inspiration.

Pepper, thanks for the invitation to share my writing thoughts. You have a good idea of how my mind works and you still asked me to join the fun. Brave girl. Just for that, you’ve earned some chocolates, LOL!

My very first novel? Oh my that was a tomb of epic proportions and all the while I was trying to create an historical novel ala Kathleen Woodiwiss. Silly me. Still, I loved historical romances and wrote several of them, never quite finding my own voice.
And then I discovered country singer/rodeo cowboy Chris LeDoux and his songs/ballads. This is really where the story begins. All his songs tell a story of some aspect of cowboy and rodeo life. And he has the dreamiest voice, I could listen to the man sing for hours on end. The good Lord called him home way too early. I’m still shaking my head over that.
My first cowboy romance, Rough Ride, was the product of a multitude of rodeo songs by Chris and watching tons of PBR events (Professional Bull Riders) on television. All of my what-ifs grew from cowboys risking their lives to ride one and a half tons of meanness for eight seconds. Wow. I’ve been enthralled by cowboys my entire life. Finding out what makes them tick has become a challenge from which I can’t walk away : )
Cowboys are best, Pepper. 18th century Gypsies run a close second, but I’ll save them for another talk : )

Oh what fun, Audra. And cowboys….whew, GREAT idea 😉

Inspirational Thought:

Romans 8:29 (from the Message paraphrase version)

God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.

The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored.

We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.

After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

Do you ever wonder what your story is? Life ever get so confusing or convoluted that you can tell which way is up?

Well, you’re not alone. We’ve all been there. The great thing about it is – God has been writing your story from the beginning of time.

Without Christ, the view of our lives is worse that convoluted and confusing. It’s chaos.

We are utterly lost in the middle of a story with splashes of black ink colored pages, crinkled with sin.

We are a lost, horrible story.

Until Jesus picks up the pen.

In an amazing act of love and grace, he rewrites our torn and tattered pages of brokenness and selfishness. From the beginning of His story in our lives, though there will be conflict, trials, and hardship, there is an overarching theme of love – and a ‘glorious’ ending.

The story of our lives, covered with God’s fingerprints and Christ’s blood, wrapped in the cover of love, assures us of a happy ending.

What a story!

What a Savior!

Love at First Thought with Siri Mitchell

Oh boy, a new week of wonderful guests. Wanna know who’s stopping by?

Well, Wednesday, the lovely Patti Lacy is my guest.

Friday, we get to enjoy the sweetness of Audra Harders.

But today…

Get ready for the fabulous Siri Mitchell.

I just received Siri’s newest novel in the mail. A Heart Most Worthy. I can’t wait to read it. Siri is one of those authors who really likes to challenge herself as a writer. If you’d like to learn more about her versatile novel-writing background, check out this interview at The Writers Alley.

Siri gives us some insight about where her ideas come from. Check out the wonderful list of inspiring thoughts.

It seems like most of my recent novels have begun with something — some fact, some picture, some idea — that makes me go ‘hmm…’

A Constant Heart — Women poisoned themselves with their cosmetics.

Love’s Pursuit — A woman could be accused of doing something terrible (even though people ought to have known better) simply for what she was wearing.

She Walks in Beauty — Women ruined their health by wearing corsets.

A Heart Most Worthy — A group of woman at a dressmaking shop sewed wedding gowns for each other >>> to which was added the fact that Italian immigrants were the second most lynched group in America (after African Americans)

Hannah’s Heart — (I’m currently working on this one) There was at least one Quaker spy and there were several Quaker generals during the Revolutionary War. What made them decided to abandon their believes and take sides?

Other facts that have struck me and are waiting to be turned into stories somehow: Did you know if you put daffodils and tulips in the same vase, the daffodils will poison the tulips?; a woman who feels the urge to constantly re-arrange her furniture; in France, the Havilland China company imported American painters for their dishes — these people were regularly attacked and couldn’t go anywhere at night.

Rarely do any of these facts or ideas have anything to do with a plot. Sometimes, they’re not even about people…which can present some problems since novels are about people. But I just note them all down on a spreadsheet and when it comes time to choose what to write next, I review all the ideas and see which ones my subconscious has been working on.

My contemporary novels were different. Kissing Adrien was inspired by a non-fiction manuscript I’d written. Something Beyond the Sky was inspired by my own experiences as a military wife. Chateau of Echoes was my last-ditch attempt to get published, so I threw in all the elements I liked to read in a novel; I was also feeling homesick for France, so I imagined myself up in a castle. The Cubicle Next Door began as a book about a girl who used to be nice, but Jackie sort of hijacked it. Moon Over Tokyo I think was written in an attempt to explain Japan to myself.

Ideas are everywhere! I can’t turn all of them into novels, and sometimes my skill set has had to grow in order to be able to turn one of them into a novel, but somehow my brain seems to know which ones will work and which ones are just interesting facts to know.

Isn’t this fascinating?!? Look at all the various ways Siri finds her inspiration. Wow! And she has a wealth of books to prove that inspiration does pay J If you’ve never had an opportunity to read a Siri Mitchell book, get to Amazon or your nearest bookshop TODAY!! They are worth it!

And have I mentioned that she is SUPER sweet in person. Really, truly!

 One quick inspirational ‘beginning’:

2 Timothy 1:8-10

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Our good works, our writing, our love…none of them make God love us any more than he already does. You know why? He already loves us completely. He brought us into His kingdom as sin-cloaked rebels transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ. We were hand-picked, just because of love.

His love.

Extravagant, beautiful, unconditional, and far beyond our understanding.

He saved us. He called us.

Just because of love.


New Blog Series on the way….

Okay, so I’ve been a bad blogger.

And I have a loooong list of great excuses, but I’m sure you’d much rather hear my other news 😉

Starting next week, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I’ll start a series entitled: Love At First Thought

Stories start from somewhere and sometimes in the most unexpected places – so…

Award winning authors will let us in on the inspiration behind their first novels.

Get ready for some fun, faith, laughter, and love…and maybe a little bit of weirdness (so come with your imagination firmly intact).

We’ll hear from authors like:

Patti Lacy

Julie Lessman

Mary Connealy

Ruth Logan Herne

Tina Russo Radcliffe

Siri Mitchell

Missy Tippens

Jamie Carie

Keli Gwyn

Margaret Brownley

and more….

Starting Monday, February 7th!

Come join the imagination…and allow the overflowing creativity to inspire you too.


photos above  from:

Self-Editing and Scene Goals

I’m reading Self-Editing For Fiction Writers, recommended by Patti Lacy.

It’s very good.

And is causing me to go back through my pages to see where I can make things tighter. Show more than tell, use more action verbs.

Those sorts of things.

But one thing I hadn’t really considered was working each of my scenes around a central goal.

For  example, I have three scenes in the first chapter of The Thornbearer. Well, after a hearty critique by Patti – I now have three scenes in my first chapter. With some helpful prods from Patti and some faithful toe-crushing, education from SelfEditing For Fiction Writers, I’ve come up with goals for each of the scenes in my first three chapters…I think. (It’s me and Patti in the pic to the right – at ACFW. Isn’t she cute 🙂

Have you ever done this?

I’ll show you how I have mine set up. I’d love to see how you set up your goals, or learn ways you come to a goal for a scene. Remember, each scene serves the purpose of moving the story forward.

Chapter 1

  1. Get out of America (Ashleigh’s POV)
    1. Ending hook: Sam is coming too
    2. Keep Sam from coming (Ashleigh’s POV)
      1. Ending hook: Letters, Michael onboard?
      2. Get on that boat with Ashleigh – and sort out his feelings (Sam’s POV)
        1. Ending hook: Lusitania threatened. Feelings for Ashleigh?

Chapter 2

  1. Prove to Sam she is not a child (Ashleigh’s POV)
    1. Ending hook: “Maybe you do not know me or my sister as well as you think you do?”
    2. Make amends for his behavior…realization a change in his feelings for her  (Sam’s POV)
      1. Ending hook: Confrontation with Michael 

What about you?

Encouragement From Green Gables

I’m feeling sorry for Anne Shirley. Or I’m feeling LIKE Anne Shirley when she dyed her hair green.


I’m borderline ‘depths of despair’ with my writing, so I’m taking a moment to sympathize with Anne and bellyache to cyberspace.

Ever been there. Life takes over and writing…well, it drops into the depths. Gone. Nonexistent until an unforeseen future time when everything else slows down a little.

So…all those stories in my head, have to wait.

Ever been frustrated by that? Lost in the shuffle of reality, tough critiques, dulled creativity, or NO time.

What do you do to inspire creativity?



Well, besides the three BIG words I try to remember (Patience, Perseverance, & Prayer), I thought I’d share some inspiration from Anne of Green Gables.

Five ‘Finds’, A ‘Write’, and a ‘Look’.



Yeah, express my emotions. That can take various forms, but I find that just singing, talking, or praying really loudly in my van while I’m driving down the road works for me. When I have five minutes, I’ll jot down my feelings into my journal. There’s just something about getting out the frustration with pen and paper that helps me bring things into perspective.

(Plus, writing about it allows me the opportunity to use it later in my novels 🙂


It sure makes me feel a whole lot better when someone will just listen to my whining and frustration. It happened recently with Patti Lacy – and what an encouragement she provided. It was a down-in-the dumps week, when writing was as possible as full-night’s sleep with a newborn. I just needed to spill my heart to someone who ‘got it’. Not that my mom and my hubby aren’t good listeners, but a fellow writer ‘gets’ what nonwriters can’t.  It was such a relief and comfort.


Laughter and silliness can knock a foul mood out of the way about as well as chocolate. Looking for just a few minutes to have fun, laugh, eat chocolate, laugh, eat chocolate…oh wait, I’m stuck… play Wii with my kids, read jokes, watch a romantic comedy, look at family pics, going ice skating (when you’re naturally clumsy) – all of those things loosen up the tension and help those feelings of frustration dissipate.


A good hug goes a LOOOOOOONG way. It supports the ‘good listener’ idea that somebody cares about me even when I’m not my ‘cheery’ self. That I can be genuine and grumpy, and still be loved. The depths don’t seem to be as deep when I look at it from the arms of someone who loves me.



For me, inspiration is EVERYWHERE. But when I shake off the sad-cloak and open my eyes to what’s around me, REALLY open my eyes, there are new ideas waiting to be explored. And, God will provide the time to write them. Daydreaming is a great way to pull myself out of my own gloom and jump back into the God-given realm of creativity. Just considering what God can do with only his Word or His fingers, it should spark awe and creativity – and a jolt of reality.

He’s in control and it’s okay.

Psalm 8:3

3 When I consider your heavens,
   the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
   which you have set in place,

What is man that you are mindful to him?

Mankind that you care for them?

Sometimes all I have, and all I really need, is a few minutes alone to meditate on Him and His love. The story He’s writing in my life in this very moment, clears up the fog self-doubt and frustration conjure up inside my spirit.


When I realize 1-5 and put things into perspective, then my depths aren’t quite so deep anymore and I stop. Think. And realize I can only do what I CAN do. So…

I write when I can. In the nooks and crannies of my life. At stoplights. In carline. For ten minutes before bed until my eyelids won’t stay open. During my lunch break.

God’s called me to this amazing writing world – and He’ll take whatever I can give.

He sees my heart and that’s a BIG encouragement.


Everything else falls into place when I get my mind off of me and in the write…er…right place.

On Christ.

Somehow, for His own good pleasure, He’s given me the desire and (hopefully) talent to write. He hands out the talents.

He also hands out the timing.

I just need to remember it and use my talents (whenever I can) for His glory.

Basically in EVERYTHING I do, do it with my whole heart for the glory of God. I really have no reason to despair – EVER!

We have an eternal hope and a God who has placed us in time-cramped, or frustrating, or heartbreaking places  because…

He loves us – and knows exactly what we need to make us more like Him. For our good.  Even the yucky stuff.


I’m humbled.

In fact- just ’emoting’ through this post has helped me feel a whole lot better and put things into a proper perspective.

Does life get messy sometimes? Do you ever fall flat on your face in the muck of self-doubt? Are we discouraged and frustrated sometimes? Do we desperately need a rescue from ourselves or the pain sometimes?

Yes. Yes. Yes. & Yes.

And lucky us, Our Heavenly Father’s provided just that – pulled us out of those murky depths of despair and given us eternal hope.

 God places our feet on His mountain. From a God’s-eye view, all these troubles are very small and His love is extraordinary.

A true inspiration.

Seasons Change and WINNERS!

Well, well – it’s another wonderful week of authors and excerpts and moments of revelation.

I took this picture last weekend, just as the leaves are starting to change. What a view! What a GOD!

So – before we get to the weekly lineup – let’s announce some winners.

Winner of Mary Connealy’s new release Wrangler in Petticoats, is Cindy Martin.

Casey Herringshaw is the winner of Patti Lacy’s book, What the Bayou Saw.

Please send me your snail mail address to pepperbasham(at)yahoo(dot)com

Congrats to the winners!!

Okay – so what’s happening this week?

On Monday, we welcome author Margaret Brownley. Margaret taught a wonderful class at ACFW on writing historical fiction. LOTS of resources.

Wednesday, Janet Dean joins us. (she’s the lovely lady in middle of this picture)

Friday brings the Queen of Kisses, Julie Lessman.

Stop by and join the fun!

Seasons Change – Fall Into Love with Patti Lacy

Oh boy, another day of ‘excerpts’. Who else thinks this is fun?!?

And I have a fun lady for you today. Patti Lacy. I met her at ACFW last month and she was wonderful. Generous, excited, with a dry wit I happen to like a lot. Here is a pic of me and Patti at ACFW. Patti writes women’s fiction that spans multi-cultural and ethnic boundaries.

She lives in Normal, Illinois – which I can’t help but snicker about. Normal? Come on, Patti, how many jokes do you get about THAT one?!? 🙂

ONE MORE THING: Patti’s giving away one copy of either An Irishwoman’s Tale or What the Bayou Saw to some lucky commenter. So make sure you leave a comment with your email to win.

Winners for this book and Mary Connealy’s book from Monday’s post will be announced tomorrow!!

Okay, let’s get to the good stuff. (and let me warn you, Patti has an excerpt that is fantastic – and has a length that might make Julie Lessman’s head spin) 🙂

So GLAD to have you here, Patti. I can’t tell you what a pleasure it was to get to meet you at ACFW! To the questions:

  1. What are some elements that are present when a hero and heroine first
    realize they are falling in love with each other?

 Since I am spontaneous, my hubby is methodical, I am a secret slob, my hubby is a neat freak, I ADORE the ages-old development of the “Opposites Attract” theme. It dates back to Lancelot and Guinevere and continues to modern times with a recent well-publicized marriage between a D.C. liberal and a D.C. conservative. 

 So…his GI buzz drives her crazy. Her tie-dye shirt makes him itch all over. Why does he salute every man over 50? Why does she smack gum and gobble granola?

 What do you do with such a literary…and romantic…mess?

 Start off with the two fencing off, figuratively, idealogically…maybe literally!!

 A common value—something heroic—maybe a hurt child, a deep faith, links them.

 Sparks fly…but they ignore the white-hot flame.

 Then passion melts their resistance.

 It’s over. They’ve both lost…to love.

  Here’s two scenes from An Irishwoman’s Tale. Choose either one…or none! Sigh. I haven’t looked at this manuscript since 2008!

 As the chill from the storm began to permeate the walls of her store, she grabbed her mouton coat, thankful for the thick fur, and her purse. Ratso’s, a couple of blocks away, specialized in mounds of brown rice and undercooked vegetables heaped onto army surplus plates. The last she’d checked, they stayed open until midnight.

She stepped into a snowy maelstrom that obscured all but the barest outline of the grand Chicago skyline. Wind roared down the asphalt swath as glass and steel watched helplessly and then creaked a response. One measured step at a time, like walking on a frozen pond, she negotiated the trip. When a gust knocked her off balance, she clutched at her coat and strode on.

When she shoved the door open, the wind whooshed in with her. A gloved hand flew to her mouth. There was Paul, perched on a lunch counter stool.

“Hello,” she said, her heart pounding. How long had he been making his weekly visits, punctual as the tides? Four months? Five?  Since she’d ignored his overture that first day, they’d barely spoken. Now she studied him anew.

“Hello yourself.” The eyes still pierced her, like they had that first day.

Immediately, she knew what was different—he’d grown a beard, thick and bushy, heightening his aura of intrigue and mystery.

With barely a second glance at her, he turned back to the heaping plate of food like it was his lover and leaned over to capture every grain of rice.

Mary stepped back. How could he look so good with such a big mouthful of food? “Looks good,” she continued, grinning at her little inside joke. Would he offer her a seat? She shook snow off her coat, then stepped closer. “This weather’s piqued my appetite.”

He didn’t say a word.

Mary followed his rhythmic loading and unloading like a spectator at a tennis match. There’s something else . . . What is it? The answer almost knocked her down like the wind had. He hadn’t changed; she had. Before, she’d ignored him because somehow she’d sensed that this relationship could be different. Not just a relationship based on physical attraction, but mental. And perhaps spiritual. Her heart unfolded like a rosebud, and she leaned still closer. “You having the special?”

He continued the love affair with his food.

Mary managed to heft herself onto a stool. “Aren’t you going to say anything?”

“You look like a giant carrot cake. What is that thing, anyway?”

She bristled. “It’s a mouton,” she sniffed. “Of course you wouldn’t know about that.”

He kept chewing.

“Greta Garbo wore one,” she added, wanting to keep this going.

“Was that in How Not to Dress? Or was it Anna Karenina? I’d guess the latter, with the Russian themes of natural isolation. Their climate and all.”

Mary’s mouth flew open. “You’ve seen that? Then why didn’t you . . .”

He swiveled his stool around and wiped a snowflake off the tip of her nose.

Just inches away, a pair of smoldering coals enflamed Mary in a way she’d never imagined. Suddenly, the room seemed suffocatingly hot, and if she hadn’t been frozen to her seat, she would have pulled off her coat.

“You don’t know much about me, but you’re about to find out.” He set down his fork, the love affair with his food over.

Hours later, they closed down Ratso’s. The manager had to push them out the door.

[text break]

As a blast of north wind carried off their last customer of the day, Mary went to hang the “Closed” sign on the door. Then she returned to the cold reality of the ledger, which lay open on the bar. “It’s there in black and white,” her only paid worker had told her. “You can’t keep giving away food.” But the figures were just a jumble to her; after a few minutes, she slammed the book shut.

Paul, who’d come in after his last run, scraped out a last bite of chowder as if nothing was going on. She imagined by now he was used to what Gio called “Irish flares.” For two months, she’d cooked, and they’d gotten closer; and he’d eaten, and they’d gotten closer; and he’d delivered produce, and she’d run the store, and they’d gotten closer. When she was with him, she was usually happy. When she wasn’t, doubt visited. Sometimes Mary thought doubt was good and kept them from getting too close. But sometimes, like now, she wanted them to be close.

Finally, Paul seemed to notice her frustration. “Let me take a look.”

“No.” Mary slapped her palm down. How could she expose her financial ineptitude? That would be like opening her underwear drawer to a stranger.

Paul jumped off his stool, walked with measured strides to the coat rack, and grabbed his jacket. “Where’s that crate you wanted me to pitch?” he asked, his voice as cold as the climate. “After all, I am the vegetable man.”

“I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Then how did you mean it?” When she didn’t answer, he continued. “Do you think I would cheat you?” When she still didn’t answer, his breath came out quietly but his words didn’t. “I need to know.”

Rooted to the spot, she clamped her mouth shut. Why couldn’t they leave things alone for now? Everything was fine. What would happen when he found out about the dysfunction in her families? She’d met the Freemans, and they were thicker than chowder. What would he think when he entered the coldness of her parents’ home?

The yawning silence engulfed the whole room.

“Okay.” He pulled out his keys. “Have it your way.”

About the time he passed the organic cake mixes, Mary, ledger in hand, ran from behind the bar, the sight of his back necessitating action. She caught up with him at the bulk foods. “So that’s it? You’re just going to walk out?”

When he did an about-face, it was in such a slow, unemotional manner that her blood boiled and she struggled to clamp down the tempest within.

“What do you want me to do?” he asked.

Mary blinked. Dare she tell him the truth? Love me. Don’t change or start drinking or abuse me or give me up or cheat on me or . . . She stepped back. “Help me figure out how to keep this place open.” She tried to keep her voice light, but when she handed him the ledger, her hands shook.

The room seemed to whirl, the predominant colors, black and blue and flesh.

“I don’t think that’s what you want.” He grabbed her and yanked her toward him, papers slipping onto the floor with a sigh. He stroked her hair and kissed her as he never had. She couldn’t catch her breath between kissing him and trying to control the whimper that slipped out every so often. He couldn’t love her like this, could he? She kissed him again. Could he?

“It’s okay, Betsy.” He kissed her again.

Her wrists, her neck, virtually every pulse point throbbed. She wanted him to take her to the back room, but they’d talked about that. And decided it wasn’t an option.

He kissed her a third time, then moved away a bit. “It’s time for you to trust me. For me to meet them. For us to make plans.”

“I do trust you. See?” She pointed to the pages strewn all over the floor.

“Is that what you want? An accountant?”

She shook her head. Of course, she didn’t want that; couldn’t he see it in her eyes? She wanted to be with him, for him to never leave. She looked into black onyx, and along with the fire, she saw rock-hard constancy. Something she needed. Something Michael hadn’t had. She tried to smile, but her lips failed her. “No. I want you to be . . . I trust you, Paul. Can we leave it there right now?”

He didn’t smile that often, but he smiled at her then, and passion sliced through her that even Mrs. Appleby with all her intuition could not have predicted.

He took off his jacket and slid back onto the stool. So graceful yet powerful. She wanted him. The physical and mental and all of it. “Okay,” he said in a businesslike way. “But I still want to meet them.”

She wiped her mouth on her sleeve and stepped back behind the bar. It had been close, so close, a near mid-air collision. But she was safe. For now.

“Fine,” she said. “But they’re nothing like your family. We’re not even talking.”

“Then you need to start.” Before she could respond, he slid the ledger toward her. “The rent hike’s a problem. If it goes through, I don’t know how you’ll manage.”

She threw up her hands. “Gio works for free, and Mrs. Appleby won’t take more than minimum wage.”

He chuckled. “You don’t know who she is, Betsy, do you? Her father was Lloyd Appleby, the stockyard baron.”

“No wonder she doesn’t eat meat.” Mary laughed, but her mind was on something else. “Paul?” Her voice became soft.

He seemed preoccupied with the numbers. “Huh?”

“Why do you call me Betsy?”

He grimaced.

She leaned closer to him, drawn by the musk and lime. “Tell me. I want to know.”

Paul fidgeted first with the pocket of his shirt, then with his collar. About the time he blushed, Mary felt herself fidgeting too. Was there a rival for his affections?

Words came, slow at first. “When I was in third grade, there was this girl.”


He nodded. “I called her brother some name; she punched me so hard I felt my jaw snap. She was no bigger than a pencil, all sinew and scabbed kneecaps and braids.”

“So you fell in love with her?”

He growled and grizzled his eyebrows, like a bear. “I was all of eight. The next day, she brought me a bouquet of goldenrod.”

When the giggle started, deep in Mary, she couldn’t stop. “Paul, really.”

He clamped his hand over hers, and she gasped that his one hand could pin her to the bar. She didn’t dare look in his face for fear of the passion she might detect.

“I’ve been looking for a Betsy ever since. Someone that plunges into a sweet-smelling bouquet, ends up with pollen for face powder, and doesn’t care. Someone who empties petty cash out for the homeless. Someone who can dress up and dress down.”

She wriggled, but he clamped harder, and with his other hand traced her lips.

“Someone who loves to read and loves to cook.”

Now she did look in his eyes, and what she saw melted a dark pit in her, a place no one had ever touched.

He kissed her forehead. “Mrs. Appleby has kept me well informed about you.”

Tears rolled down her face, but his expression didn’t change. In fact, the more she looked at him, it seemed he was discussing the weather.

“That’s why I called you Betsy. Any other questions?”

Her body went limp. For two months, he’d only hinted at wells of passion. Now that they had surfaced, it overwhelmed her.

He glanced at his watch. “Gotta go. Deliveries.” He blew her a kiss, the drama of minutes ago checked like a gentleman’s hat. He was out the door when she remembered he’d called her Betsy that first time they’d met, and her shriek rattled the front door.


Can I say that again?

Whew! WHAT A SET OF SCENES! I’m gonna read that last one again – just because it’s SOOOO good.

Did you experiencing that heart-melting too?

Patti, WOWZERS!! I’d forgotten about this scene in An Irishwoman’s Tale – THANKS for reminding me. 🙂

Inspirational Moment:

Romans 8:31-32

“Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”

Beyond comprehension, guilt, sin, hatred, pain, loss – WE ARE LOVED.

Not we WILL be loved. Not we HAVE been loved.

We ARE loved. Right now. In this moment, wherever we are. Final.

And NOTHING can change His love for His kids. Nothing.

Seasons Change – Fall Into Love

Get ready for a new blog series on Words Seasoned With Salt.

Seasons Change – Fall Into Love, is a blog series to celebrate the moment one person recognizes their love for the other. It might be a look, a feeling, a kiss – all sorts of possibilities tickle the romantic spot, but that’s what it’s about. The essence of that moment and how is described in fiction

Starting next week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, various authors will answer the following question:

What are some elements that are present when a hero and heroine first realize they are falling in love with each other? What are some beautiful, interesting, unique ways of showing that realization?

Then each author will provide an excerpt to demonstrate their answer.

The lineup for next week?

Starting off the week with a kiss and a smile, is author Mary Connealy.



Wednesday, Rachel Hauck joins in.



And we end the week with Patti Lacy.

Stop by and enjoy the fun!

Last ACFW pics – I promise (mostly)

Okay, I’m going to get back to blogging after today, but I wanted to post a few more pics from my time in Indianapolis.

It barely feels real now – especially since I returned back to my nonfiction world at full throttle. Got home at 8pm Monday night and back up at 6am for kids’ school and my job on Tuesday morning. I cannot tell you ANYTHING about my Tuesday 🙂

Highlights of  the trip?

(to the left is a pic with Kim Vogel Sawyer and Kaye Dacus (said DAY-cus – I learned the hard way 😉

Meeting Cyberpals in person, such as the glorious Seeker gals, Julie Lessman, Mary Connealy, Audra Harders, Janet Dean, Cara Lynn James, Debby Giusti, Cheryl Wyatt, Camy Tang, & Pam Hillman.

Seeing Mary Connealy win a Carol (Mary doesn’t mind if I keep showing this picture. She’s kinda proud of that award 😉

Seeing Pam Hillman win a Carol

Meeting other clients who share my agent, Les Stobbe. (Hi guys, you are SOOOO wonderful. Go, Ben. GO!!. Waving to Barry & Jeff too)

Having Caramel Hot Chocolate with Siri Mitchell

Hugging and praying with Cathy Marie Hake.

Getting stuck in an elevator with Rachel Hauck 🙂 Fun times.

Chatting with Dan Walsh – what a GREAT guy!!

The list could go on and on.

Jeff Gerke’s class (FABULOUS presenter and really cool guy. Did I mention his book is great too)

Meeting Revell editor Andrea Doering.

Laughing with Patti Lacy

Gleaning encouragement from Patty Hall.

Dining with Melanie Dickerson and Linore Rose Burkard

Working the registration desk!! I met Carol Voekel there AND Janette Oke.

Rooming with my FABULOUS writing buddy, K. Dawn Byrd, even though the toilet exploded in our room and we had to move to a different room. LOL. By no fault of our own, mind you.

Seriously, it was wonderful.

So – I’m done. I know I’ve forgotten to list a few things, but I’ll try to keep you in suspense. A little. 🙂