Relaxed Friday 18

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
From my upcoming release The Haberdasher’s Wife, Chapter 3:
Josefa mouthed the words of the prayer, her voice a mere whisper escaping her lips. The words echoed in her head, swirling amid a swarm of thoughts that had nothing to do with her mother or the sickness that weakened her with each passing day. Distraction was Josefa’s greatest enemy. And everything seemed to distract her when she needed most to concentrate on her prayers—the brightly painted frescoes, the statuary, the pungent smell of incense, the glow of candlelight on the gold all around the church. Father Anselm would certainly tell her that her mother’s life depended on it. But Josefa was never good at prayer. She found no comfort in it.
Another bead slid through her cold fingers. 𝐻𝑎𝑖𝑙 𝑀𝑎𝑟𝑦, 𝑓𝑢𝑙𝑙 𝑜𝑓 𝐺𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑒, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐿𝑜𝑟𝑑 𝑖𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑒…
Empty, hollow words.

~ Laurean Brooks ~
From Not What He Ordered: Josh Kramer mistakes a pretty young lady for his aunt’s domestic help and hauls her to his ranch. What he doesn’t know is, his aunt did not order domestic help, but a BRIDE for Josh. CARRIE FRANKLIN was tempted to leave, but she’d made a promise and meant to keep it.
“Excuse me,” a smooth baritone voice sounded above her head.
Carrie gazed up into hooded, black eyes that pierced through to her soul. The tall cowboy wore a black Stetson over coal-black hair with curls that caressed his ears. His strong jaw suggested determination and stubborness. A little lower, a red bandana circled his neck. Molly failed to mention he was handsome. But only an egotist would boast about his looks.
“Are you the woman I’m looking for?” he asked.
Carrie’s heart raced. If only she were. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. “I…I–” was all she could manage.
The cowboy shuffled his booted feet. “Well, what are you waiting for? A ranch doesn’t run itself. It’s a ten-mile drive. Let’s get going.”
“Mr. Kramer, I’m not–.”
He pointed to the valise at Carrie’s feet,“Where are your other bags? Is that all your luggage?”
She could only nod. The cowboy’s intimidating demeanor had paralyzed her tongue. He snatched up her bag, tramping out of the depot before she could explain she was not the woman he’d ordered.
Carrie hurried after him, catching up as he set her valise in his buckboard. “But, Mister Kramer…I’m not–.”
“Are you ready to go, Miss Davis?”
Miss Davis? He really thought she was— “Mr. Kramer, I need to tell you something.”

Journey To Writing

By Laurean Brooks (Photo by Martin Winkler)

I had wanted to become a published writer since my teacher announced to our 5th grade class, “One day, Laurie will become an author.”

I married too young, and paying bills got in the way. When I graduated high school, I got a job in the textile industry. I hated the daily push and grind of trying to make production. I developed many lasting friendships with co-workers. It was the work I hated. I felt as if my brain was becoming petrified by doing the same thing over and over. I added it up once, and estimated that I’d attached over 3 million back pockets to 1.5 million pairs of Chic jeans, during the years I worked at that plant.

By the time NAFTA closed our plant, I had a job as a quality control technician (inspecting garments.) NAFTA gave us the option to go to college. I took it, drove 100 miles per day-round trip-to WKTC in Paducah, Kentucky. The entrance test showed I would do well in the creative arena. But, as the lady in the office said, “I’m sorry, but we offer no creative classes here.”

I decided to take Legal Assistant classes, because it seemed more interesting than anything else offered. I had an instructor who piled on homework. I was up until 2. a.m some nights completing it. Before I entered college, I did not know one end of a computer from the other. The first 6 weeks were grueling as I attempted to believe what one instructor said.”Your computer is your best friend.” It was hard to swallow since I crashed mine at least once in every class. I struggled to keep up with 19 and 20 year olds, who made everything look so simple. It took me longer to do my work, but I strove to make the finished product error-free.

By taking a heavy load of summer classes, I graduated in 16 months, and on the honor roll. Can you believe it? But, there were few job openings for Legal Assistants. I worked for four attorneys in the first two years. Each law office downsized, and I was the first to go.

After those attempts, I decided to try for my childhood dream of writing. What did I have to lose? Most of my classes had required Microsoft Word. I submitted an essay to our local Hometown magazine. It was accepted. And they paid me $25. I was on cloud nine. I immediately wrote more essays, some they published. But my dream was to write a book. Not any book, but my mother’s story–her life during the Great Depression. She’d repeated it so often that it had become part of me.

That book, Journey To Forgiveness, was published in January 2009, and I’ve never looked back. If you come out with anything from this post, the important thing I want to convey is, “Never give up on your dream.” There will be obstacles. Kick them out of the way and forge ahead. Writing is an emotionally satisfying career well worth fighting for.

Sometimes, I feel like I failed myself and others because I earned the diploma, but didn’t pursue the career of a legal office assistant. But honestly, my heart was never in it. And maybe—just maybe—it was in God’s plan that I take college courses to learn computer programs and skills I would need to become a writer.

Connect with the author: Laurean Brooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laurean.brooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Laurean2
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Laurean-Brooks/e/B00SBXMVL4

Sign

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Sign. [More info]

Almost Made the Blurb

Featured photo by Scott R. Rezer (Saguaro National Monument, February 2019)

In the book blurb, those words an author uses to tell you why you should read this book, authors often struggle with exactly what to reveal and how much of it. The perfect blurb is sometimes the last or near the last hurdle between a work-in-progress and a published work. Authors might be slow to admit it, but we’re pretty sure the inclusion of an idea, a sentence, or an entire paragraph is sometimes decided by a coin toss. Sometimes though, the decision is a little more complicated. Scott R. Rezer conveys a great example of one such time.

With the publication of my first Civil War novel, Love Abideth Still, I originally left out of the blurb the part that the book was based on the lives of my 3rd great parents. I had planned to make it obvious at first what the book was about, but as I got into the actual writing, I decided that I wanted to surprise the reader toward the end of the story when one of the characters is finally referred to by her last name which is the same as mine. At the last moment, I changed the blurb as well. (I do explain it later in my author’s note.) Once reviews started mentioning that the book was based on my family it sort of let the cat out of the bag and so now the blurb mentions it! Writing plans sometimes take surprising twists and turns!

Connect with the author: Scott R. Rezer

Website/Blog: https://scottrezer.weebly.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Scott-R-Rezer-83136191431
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/scottrezer
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Scott-R-Rezer/e/B002BRESGM

Tell

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaboration is Tell. [More info]

Photo by Pixabay user FunkyFocus

Radio

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaboration is Radio. [More info]

Photo by Lubos Houska

Communicate

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaboration is Communicate. [More info]

Featured image is an adaptation of a graphic by Muhammad Ribkhan.

Connect

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Connect. [More info]

Photo by congerdesign on Pixabay

Relaxed Friday 17

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Let’s get this Friday party started with an excerpt from Sunlight and Shadows by Jessica Marie Holt.
*
If there was one thing Betty couldn’t ever come to terms with, it was how the best day of her life also ended up being the worst day of her life. The irony of it all seemed especially cruel, like it ought to go against some kind of sacred law of nature. But it was the hard, cold truth; October twenty-fifth, 1870 — two weeks after her seventeenth birthday — was the day everything came together, and the day it all began falling apart.
*

From Love Abideth Still: A Novel of the Civil War by Scott R. Rezer

From To Trust Her Heart by Laurean Brooks
(Amanda at a job interview with Attorney Jake Tyler. She just told him, his reckless driving through a puddle splattered mud all over her yellow coat.) Jake pushed a button on his desk phone. His deep voice boomed over the intercom. “Willa, will you come to my office,please?”
Was he planning to use his receptionist to swear he had been in his office at the time of the incident? Because Amanda knew better.
The receptionist cracked the door enough to poke her head through.
The woman’s voice quavered. “You wanted to see me, Mr.Tyler?”
She felt sorry for the gray-haired lady who appeared to be intimidated by her employer. His deep voiced didn’t help matters.
Amanda’s throat tightened. She should not have applied for this position. What happened to his last secretary? Did she run for cover?
“Yes, Willa.” The attorney’s voice softened. Pulling the soiled coat off Amanda’s arm, he dangled it in front of the receptionist. “Drop this by the cleaners on your way home, please. Charge it to my account, and tell them to have it cleaned as quickly as possible.” 

Listen

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Listen. [More info]

Photo by olafpictures from Pixabay

Author Search

Searching for an author who prefers the clean end of the spectrum? You’ve come to the right place. However, since today is National Puzzle Day, we’re not going to make it easy on you. Look forward, backward, and even diagonally to find the ten authors listed below. Click each name to visit their Amazon profiles and learn more.

To view the pieces of the puzzle in a different tab or window for printing, just remember to close the new tabs or windows to return here. The puzzle and (MAJOR SPOILER) answer key are JPG images. The list is also available as a text document.

Katherine Karrol
Danielle Thorne
Jessica L. Elliott
Ruth O’Neil
Scott R. Rezer
Laurean Brooks
Rebekah Lyn
Katy Huth Jones
Jessica Marie Holt
Earl Chinnici

Puzzle

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Puzzle. [More info]

Featured image is an adaptation of a photo by Hans-Peter Gauster

Adore

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Adore. [More info]

Featured photo by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Compliment

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Compliment. [More info]

Featured image is an adaptation of a photo by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay

Marry

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Marry. [More info]

Photo by Sandy Millar

Relaxed Friday 16

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Featured image is a minor adaptation of a photo by Aaron Burden.

Review Highlights
Jonquils in the Snow by Laurean Brooks ~ “A beautiful, heartwarming story of grief and loneliness being overcome by love; Miranda and Brady touched my heart and the author’s wit made me smile. Definitely a thumbs up read.” ~ Rebecca J. Vickery

~~~

Shadow of the Mountain by Scott R. Rezer —Chosen… or delusional? How does one man persevere when he is given a message that will either test the strength of his faith or convince him he has lost his mind?
“… a version of the Noah story from the Old Testament that is both richly imagined and radically different from anything readers are likely to have read before… well-done political intrigue, vexing questions of faith, and a deep and challenging portrait of Noah himself. The action builds slowly and expertly as the unthinkable disaster of the Flood looms closer and closer, and Rezer’s so skilful at infusing his entirely human stories with drama that most readers will likely start to think of the forty days and forty nights of rain as something of an anti-climax. Very strongly recommended.” ~ Steve Donoghue, Historical Novel Society Reviews [Editor’s Choice Selection]

Divide

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Divide. [More info]

Photo by Kate Honish

Multiply

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Multiply. [More info]

Technical Difficulties
We are experiencing some te

Subtract

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Subtract. [More info]

Add

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Add. [More info]

Photo by Ulrike Leone

Calculate

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Calculate. [More info]

Photo by Steve Buissinne

Relaxed Friday 15

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo is a selected portion of a larger photo by Mohamed Ajufaan.

Laurean Brooks ~ Journey to Forgiveness is the book I wrote and dedicated to my parents. It is loosely based on their lives (romance) in 1938 Chicago. Witty and sassy characters, goofy ones–but all interesting–grace the pages of this heartwarming story of a mission trip to rebuild a small town after 5 tornadoes destroy homes. A time when the last of Chicago’s gangsters were captured. Or…were they?

Find

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Find. [More info]

Photo by Tom_Crew

Book Search

What could possibly be as much good, clean fun as looking for a great book? Exactly. So we’ve collaborated with authors who prefer the clean end of the spectrum to create a word search puzzle containing twenty-six book titles. You’ll need to look in every direction forward, backward, and even diagonally to find them all.

To view the pieces of the puzzle in a different tab or window for printing, just remember to close the new tabs or windows to return here. The word search puzzle and (MAJOR SPOILER) answer key are JPG images. The list is also available as a text document.

Sunlight and Shadows
Fathers and Sons
Lunch Ladies
The King’s Shadow
Leandra’s Enchanted Flute
Journey To Forgiveness
Fixed In The Tempest
Stormy With a Chance of Love
Murder Under the Magnolias
Mercy’s Prince
New Beginnings
A Summer of Rainbows
Second Chance
A Mermaid Under the Mistletoe
Flying with the Billionaire
The Leper King
If You Believe
Little Women
Reluctantly Yours
Never Ask A Dinosaur
Abide
The King’s Trial
A Chronetic Memory
Aliens Love Astronauts
The Pawns of Sion
Severed Hearts

Search

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Search. [More info]

Photo by Francesca Tirico

Decide

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Decide. [More info]

Photo by Stux from Pixabay

Hope

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Hope. [More info]

Photo by Myriam Zilles

Bless

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Bless. [More info]

Relaxed Friday 14

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Incidentally, we started off this Relaxed Friday article with a cute kitten in a tree photo but we’re going to move quickly forward to a thousand zombies and tortured metal. Let’s get this Friday party started with an excerpt from Time For Blood. This work-in-progress is part of The Blood Series by Michael Lynes and it’s expected to be released November of this year.

“Ow!” He let go of the handle and began rubbing his arm. “Okay, I get it. . .the air stinks like a thousand zombies and our door is all beat-up. Plus, the whole place is a wreck, and it’s pretty spooky in here.” He gestured toward the scratches and dings along the doorjamb. “But look. . .whoever wrecked this place might have tried to break in, but as far as I can tell the door hasn’t been forced. Second, besides the locks, we also have a little magical protection on the space. Even if the Undead had managed to break down the door, I don’t think they would have gotten past that.” I nodded reluctantly as my heart began to slow. “So let’s go in, grab what we came for, and get out. No muss, no fuss.”
He turned back to the door and inserted his key, unlocking the deadbolt. He reached to turn the knob. Before he could touch it, the door swung open without a sound. Pearl’s hilt jumped under my hand and her light flared sun-bright. I felt my heart stop. A howling wail filled the air and scores of dead-white arms erupted from the darkness. The door disappeared with a shriek of tortured metal as it was ripped it from its hinges. We sprang back, drawing our swords as zombies surged through the shattered doorframe.

Laurean Brooks shares with us today from Beneath A Macon Moon.
“Born with a silver spoon in her mouth” described Jaela’s life to a tee; but if her mother’s behavior was any indication, Jaela’s perfect world was about to shatter. The late afternoon sun slanted through half-closed blinds, glinting off the ballerina atop the music box. As a child, Jaela found comfort in the melody. The music box had not been wound since Dad died. The compulsion to hear it grew until it overcame Jaela’s fear of invoking bittersweet memories.
She picked up the box and wound it. Beautiful music flooded the room. Jaela hugged it close and waltzed around the room, soaking in the tinkling melody of “You’ll Be In My Heart.” 
When the music died, she dropped the lid. But it would not close. An envelope, folded to fit the interior, was wedged in the music box, preventing it from closing.
Who had put it there, and what did the message say?

Scott R. Rezer shares from a work-in-progress.
Anger had gotten the better of her, but now she tried to bring it back under control, difficult as it always was when talking to her brother. “And because of it, I almost spurned a chance for happiness simply because the man I fell in love with is a commoner. Do me the favor and don’t bother to lecture me, Anton, about marrying a man beneath my station, for in all truth, he has more nobility in his common blood, than you or I have in ours.”
He wagged a finger before her face as if scolding a defiant child. He clenched his pipe between his teeth. “If you do this, Johanna, if you marry this commoner, this haberdasher, you do so without my blessing. And in so doing, you give up everything—your title, your wealth, the security of everything you’ve ever known—and for what? Love? Life needs a few more assurances than simple love.”
“If love isn’t enough, Anton, then none of those things hold any meaning. It’s a pity you have forgotten that, or maybe, you never did.”

Chair

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Chair. [More info]

Photo by Kari Shea

Unsung Heroes

Photo by Timothy Eberly

Heroes often carry on without much ado following their heroic deeds. Some, such as first responders, perform many heroic deeds daily or at least weekly and most of those heroic acts are barely mentioned. It’s sad, really. So we decided to shine a light on a couple special folks who aren’t main characters yet they are heroes nonetheless, Mr. Niff and Lucy.

Mr. Niff

Mr. Niff is a goblin warrior in the William Bradshaw King of the Goblins series. Like most goblins, he is small, weak, stupid and more than a little crazy. Unlike most goblins he isn’t cowardly. Mr. Niff runs toward every fight, eager to defend his king from any enemy (and a startling number of innocent bystanders).
This stems from an event in his youth where the goblin found a little girl lost in the woods. He led her to the nearest human settlement, and she rewarded Niff by giving him her rag doll. This convinced Niff that he is in fact a hero, brave, strong and skilled in battle. Through means no one understands he has become the hero he thinks he is, surviving against incredible odds and winning when defeat was certain.
Mr. Niff is also addicted to taking trophies from his victories, and has filled the goblin treasury with useless knickknacks like melted swords, broken masks and a hideously ugly tie that he claimed from his enemies.

Lucy

The main character in Of Bows and Cinnamon is Elena, a breast cancer survivor. Elena nonetheless fears allowing a man into her heart because there’s no guarantee she will stay cancer free. In comes sweet and fearless Lucy, a woman who has been down that road. Lucy helps give Elena the courage to live her life without worrying about tomorrow. Lucy is one of her author’s very favorite side characters, largely based on a sweet angel she knew growing up.

At times there’s a good reason a hero’s name is not well-known.

I actually love for side characters to become heroes, especially if it is unexpected. I think my book Sunlight and Shadows is a great example of this. In fact, one of the main things Betty learns is that ordinary people can be extraordinary heroes, in big and small ways. There are lots of twists and turns in this story, and I don’t want to spoil anything for you. But whether it’s a neighbor appearing in the middle of the night to rescue her father, or an unexpected source of help delivering a baby, or townspeople putting aside their petty grievances and banding together to rescue someone in need, or a long-buried great act of heroism that only reveals itself through tragedy, I really wanted to explore the idea that people are complex, and heroism, big and small, can come from really unexpected places. ~ Jessica Marie Holt

Table

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Table. [More info]

Photo by Davide Cantelli

Desk

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Desk. [More info]

Photo by MagicDesk from Pixabay

Bed

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Bed. [More info]

Photo by Mark Champs

Wardrobe

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Wardrobe. [More info]

Photo by moritz320 from Pixabay

Relaxed Friday 13

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo by Earl Chinnici captured January 3, 2013. #FlashbackFriday

For today’s Relaxed Friday treat, we’re visiting Severed Hearts, a Vietnam-era novella by Laurean Brooks.

“Johnny, did you hear about the Lewis boy from Winchester?” Julie asked. He stopped chewing, his jaw clenched. 
“No…what?”
“His plane was shot down in Saigon. They don’t know if he and the other two soldiers were killed or taken hostage.”
Johnny turned his root beer up and swigged it down, setting the empty bottle on the counter. His somber gaze met Julie’s. “We need a plan to end this conflict. Half of Flyntburg has at least one family member involved.”
“I’m praying for an end to the conflict;” she said, “but above all, I’m asking God to protect our troops.”
Johnny threw down his napkin. “Yeah, I know we should pray–only it seems like God’s not doing anything.”
“Don’t say, that! Sometimes we can’t see it…but He is.”
Johnny glanced at the clock and rose from the bar stool. “Time to hit the road.” His smile didn’t reach his eyes. “Gotta go. See you, tomorrow.”

Home

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Home. [More info]

Photo by Sam Beasley

New Year 2020

Happy New Year!

I wish all our readers a happy New Year! At this time when we make goals and plans for the coming year, remember that a plan requires action. Make 2020 your year! ~ Jessica L. Elliott

Photo by Jamie Street

Friend

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Friend. [More info]

Photo by Frank Winkler

Plan

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Plan. [More info]

Photo by Plush Design Studio

Away

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Away. [More info]

Photo by Michael Held

Here’s an excerpt from Laurean Brooks via our Facebook CleanWIP group. If you’re a writer who prefers the clean end of the writing spectrum, we’d love to hear from you as well.
“My aunt invited me to move to Houston to live, but Papa would not allow it. He said the big city was no place for a decent young lady. I stayed mad at him for days.
“Papa and Mama try to smother us. I’m sure it’s why Margie ran away. We’re not children. I turned eighteen in May, and Margie turned twenty in June. Don’t think running away hasn’t crossed my mind, too.” Jessica rolled her eyes. “But, if I do,, it won’t be to marry a virtual stranger.”

Relaxed Friday 12

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo Earl Chinnici December 18, 2014

Arthur Daigle shares with us a short piece from William Bradshaw and Urban Problems:
“Hello!” an echoing voice called out. It took Will a few seconds to spot a pit dug into the trail. It had been covered with a thin wood board coated with dirt, blending in perfectly until some unwitting person stepped on it and broke through. Whoever was trapped in the pit called out again, “Is anyone there?”
“We hear you,” Will replied. He thought about who could be trapped in the pit, and then covered his face with his hand. “Excuse me, but are you the puppet person who came to warn us?”
“Yes, that’s me,” the puppet person replied. He had an echoing voice, like he was speaking inside a box, but he still sounded friendly. “I don’t wish to be a bother, but I was wondering if you could lend a hand. This pit is proving a tad inconvenient.”
“See, this is why I don’t like you guys making so many traps,” Will told the goblins. “We get an ambassador—”
“President,” the puppet person corrected him from inside the pit.
“A president comes to visit and he ends up in a pit!” Will shouted. “We either need to cut back on the traps or have someone around to keep them from catching innocent bystanders.”
“It’s not like we killed the guy,” Mr. Niff protested. He leaned over the pit and asked, “You’re alive, right?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Exasperated, Will said, “Just help me get him out.”

Laurean Brooks shares from To Trust Her Heart.
Amanda Wilcox marched through the door of Tyler Law Office, fuming. She’d wanted to look her best for the interview. But when she started across the street, a dark-haired man in a sporty convertible, sped by and splattered mud across her buttercream trench coat. How she’d love to give the inconsiderate bum a piece of her mind!
The silver-haired receptionist welcomed Amanda and sent her directly to the attorney’s office. “Good afternoon, Miss…Wilcox, is it?” The attorney’s penetrating gray eyes raked her before he looked down at her resume’.
Amanda’s breath caught when she recognized him a the man who had slung mud all over her. “Yes-s.” Should she reprimand him and thereby kill her chances of obtaining a position as his secretary?
She needed this job. As a young widow, she was penniless. Her philandering dead husband–his body found in his mangled sports car along with that of his young secretary–had gambled away all their assets. She even stood to lose their home.

Song

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Song. [More info]

Photo by Gerd Altmann

Christmas

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Christmas. [More info]

Photo by Jill Wellington

Parade

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Parade. [More info]

Photo by Brandi Day

Band

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Band. [More info]

Photo by Pexels

Festival

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Festival. [More info]

Photo by KT Photography

From Laurean Brooks

Emily laid a calming hand on Clint’s clenched one. “I’m just saying—you know how some kids are. The more you try to control them, the more they rebel. I sense a rebellious streak in Alissia.”
And from what Emily had seen, the girl had come by it honest. Not only from her mother, but from her brother. Her pa called it “a generous dose of stubborn.”
Clint’s shoulders visibly relaxed. His stern tone was replaced by a gentler one. “What do you suggest?”
Instinct told Emily, he would not be easily sold on any idea that threw his little sister in with a boy. But she had to try. “You could allow Alissia to go to the dance. According to her, the dance at Coopers’ barn is the main event of the year in Taylor County.”
“Yes. It started as a festival to celebrate fall harvest. People come from miles around.”
“And since it’s set for the first Saturday in October,” Emily added, “Alissia will almost be sixteen.”
“Her birthday isn’t until the following week,” he muttered. She won’t be going with that Reilly kid as long as I have any say. If she does go to the dance, she’ll go with me. With us.”
“Us?” Emily’s heart fluttered. Was he asking her for a date?
Clint yanked off his hat and pressed it to his chest. “Will you go to Cooper’s Barn Dance with me, Miss Emily. Ma shouldn’t need constant care by then.” He whirled around and pointed to the buggy in the shed. “There’s plenty of room for the three of us.”
Three of us? Emily’s joy dimmed. She’d thought it was a real date. Instead, they would be chaperones for his sister. She swallowed her disappointment. She would do it for Alissia’s sake.
“Of course I’ll go.”Emily ventured another question. “Will we swing by to pick up Landon? We could make it a double date.”
“That is not going to happen,” Clint groused. If he wants to go, he can meet us at the dance. I won’t forbid Landon to dance with my sister as long as they keep plenty of daylight between them.” He ducked his head and looked Emily in the eye. “I will be watching them. You can tell her that.”
Emily flashed him a smile. She was sure Alissia already knew it.

Relaxed Friday 11

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

To crank up this party, let’s visit a WIP of Scott R. Rezer: The Haberdasher’s Wife, expected to be released in the spring of 2020.

Josefa pulled harder on his hand. “I’m thinking there will be a much better gift waiting for me at the end of this hunt as a reward for bringing me out in this frigid cold. Am I right?”

“I guess that depends on your definition of a reward,” he said and sprinted past her as the falling snow began to thicken, laughing. Josefa squealed with delight and ran after him.

We encourage our frequent contributors to let loose on Fridays and share teases and news from both works-in-progress and published books. Here’s some fun from Journey to Forgiveness by Laurean Brooks. (A heartwarming, emotional romance.)

Jenny looked up and met the gaze of the luggage thief she’d encountered in Kankakee.

His cerulean blue eyes danced with mischief as he flashed his pearly, white teeth. “I never did get your name.”

“Get away from me!” she hissed.

He persisted. “Sorry we got off on the wrong foot. Do you think we could start over?”

“Over my dead body!” Jenny glanced toward the Ladies’ room. Where was her aunt when she needed her?

“Now, we wouldn’t want that,” he breathed. “You’re too cute to die.” His eyebrows pulled together. “You don’t really believe I wanted your vanity case, do you?”

His brows arched when she didn’t reply, but he pressed on. “How long will you be in Chicago?”

She glared at him, her heart racing. “None of your business.”

A stout middle-aged man approached the table and the unwelcome guest hovering over her. “Are you ready to go?” the man asked her obnoxious intruder.

“Be right with you,” he replied before turning back to Jenny. “Who knows, sweetie, we could meet again. I’ve heard that good things come in threes.” He winked, then swaggered out the diner door.

Gift

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Gift. [More info]

Photo by Yvette Fang

Kindle Stuffers

Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production

Did you know you can give most Kindle books available in the Kindle Store as a gift to anyone with an email address? Recipients can read their new Kindle book on any supported Amazon device or the Kindle reading app. A note in Amazon’s help area does state you’ll need a valid 1-Click payment method set up for your account. (Manage Your Content and Devices, select Settings, then click Edit Payment Method below Digital Payment Settings.)

Once you’re sure your 1-Click is set up, just select the book you’d like to send as a gift and on the product detail page, click the Buy for others button. Enter the email address of your gift recipient, a delivery date, and a message. When you’re sure of the other info, click Place your order.

If you’re unsure of the recipient’s email address, you can select Email the gift to me before placing your order so you can forward the gift email or print and personally deliver it. The recipient simply enters the gift claim code from the email, after logging in to their Amazon account.

With this in mind, and also because the owner of CleanWIP Magazine is an Amazon Associate who earns from qualifying purchases, we asked frequent CleanWIP Magazine contributors to suggest one of their books as a Kindle Stuffer to help our readers who might be struggling with gift ideas. (The snarky bits are our own attempts at levity.)

A Mermaid Under the Mistletoe by Jessica L. Elliott is perfect for the reader who enjoys romance with a little mystery and seems a great way to start off a Kindle stuffing spree. Loosely inspired by the fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, A Mermaid Under the Mistletoe takes a professional mermaid from Hawaii to Minneapolis where she meets a cynical insurance investigator, and a girl in need of a second chance. Heartwarming, fun, and with a beautiful message of hope and faith.

For those who like inspirational memoirs, Overcoming the Odds is Keith Guernsey’s amazing true story of triumphs over cancer, two rounds of life-threatening brain surgery and a battle with obesity! We hear it also makes a great Kindle Stuffer.

Arthur Daigle’s Goblin Stories is a collection of short stories that blend into a single cohesive story. It’s fun for all ages, with goblin related stupidity, craziness and traps big enough to catch armies. No Kindle stuffing would be complete without some goblins. You can be sure of that.

Even readers who prefer the clean end of the spectrum sometimes yearn to hear about the many scandals entangling the lives of others.
In Laurean Brooks’ To Trust Her Heart, the scandal surrounding Amanda Wilkes’ husband’s death and the debt he leaves behind, forces her to seek employment. The bad marriage strengthens her resolve to remain single. Then one at her new boss, Attorney Jake Tyler, leaves Amanda confused. Dare she trust her heart again?
Jake Tyler plans to raise his seven-year-old-son alone, following his wife’s death. But his resolve teeters at the sparks in Amanda’s green eyes. What lies behind his secretary’s cool facade, and why does she weep over sad love songs? Can he handle what he uncovers?
An enemy crouches in Tyler Law Firm determined to destroy Amanda’s reputation and get her fired. Who is it and what lies behind this ploy?
Well, that really is the million dollar question as they say. Stuff a friend’s Kindle with it and you’re sure to find out soon.

In Love Abideth Still: A Novel of the Civil War (Letters from War Book 1) by Scott R Rezer, we have a grieving widow, a country torn by civil war, and a handful of letters professing a husband’s love… Here at CleanWIP Magazine, this sounds like the recipe for a Kindle Stuffer if we’ve ever heard one.
Five months after his death, the body of Sarah’s husband, a Union soldier, finally comes home for burial in Philadelphia. Taylor’s burial, though, rather than putting her unresolved grief to rest, begins a journey that will not just test her faith, but will plumb the depths of her devotion to her dead husband. Pushed to the edge of anger and despair, Sarah turns to the few letters sent to her by Taylor from the front lines in a desperate need to understand the guilt she feels over his death. From the bloody battlefields of Winchester and Bull Run to the quiet streets of Philadelphia, comes a tale of war and forgiveness—of a love rekindled from beyond the grave.

Christmas at Dumpster Corral by Irene Onorato is 100% Kindle stuffing material. When Noel Dupree’s estranged father undermines her recently deceased mother’s will, he takes away her childhood home and the florist business her mother left to her. Fate steps in when a blinding rainstorm causes her to miss a turn on the way to a friend’s house, leading her to an unlikely place, and an uncertain destiny.

You’ll definitely want to stuff a few Kindles with Second Chance in Summit County (Summit County Series Book 1) by Katherine Karrol.
Her: “My marriage, career, and reputation just crashed around me and eliminated the little trust I had left in myself to make good decisions. I packed my bags, shook the dust off my feet, and started driving, begging God to tell me where to go. He brought me to a tiny, charming Northern Michigan town, where I’m recreating my life from scratch – without men.”
Him: “My whole world turned upside down when I lost the love of my life and had to start over as a single father. I am now both mother and father to my little girl and have built my life around taking care of her and protecting my heart from ever being hurt like that again. Love is not a part of my life anymore.”
God: “We’ll see about that.”

No Kindle stuffing is complete without at least one murder so we present Murder Under the Magnolias (Grace’s Augusta Mysteries Book 1) by Charmain Zimmerman Brackett.
A major golf tournament in town makes for a busy social calendar for floral designer Grace Ward. When she discovers a body face up in the Savannah River, she wonders if there’s more than golf in town for the week.

Like a murderer maybe. But then, Grace might not know it was murder since probably no one told her the title of the book. It’s thoughts like these that beg to be pondered that have made so many short of time and scurrying for gift ideas in the first place. Guess it’s time we get busy stuffing Kindles.