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

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

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

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

Tool

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

Photo by Jason Abdilla

Toy

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

Photo by Wolfgang Eckert

Card

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

Photo by Kate Macate

Present

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

Photo by Kari Shea

Relaxed Friday 10

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

Let’s kick off the party like it’s 1938 with this excerpt from Journey To Forgiveness by Laurean Brooks.

Where was Austin? She’d seen him leave a minute ago.
Something stirred inside the church bus. Jenny flattened her back against the metal building and inched closer for a better look. Her heart hitched when through the open bus door she spied Austin through the open door of the mission bus, kneeling before the strongbox. He reached into it, scooped up a stack of bills from the mission fund and counted them. He returned some of the money to the box, stuffing a larger roll into his shirt pocket. The metal lid slammed shut. Jenny fled back inside the the shelter, tears streaming, and her heart pounding against her ribcage.
Tears streamed down her face. The man she loved was a thief!

Let’s drop in on Will and Domo. (This time we’re visiting William Bradshaw and Fool’s Gold.)
“This is a new level of weirdness even for you, Will,” Domo said.
“I’m just gardening,” he replied. “Why does everybody act like I’m biting the heads off dolls?”
“That’s something the guys would accept, even appreciate. This just plain doesn’t make sense. Why are you growing food when you get it for free?”
Will leaned the hoe against the fence and wiped sweat off his brow. “I thought it would be a nice gesture to the innkeeper.”
“I don’t follow you.”
Will pulled his king contract out from his pocket. “My contract lets me eat free anywhere I go, but I always go to the same inn since it’s the only place nearby. The innkeeper feeds me three free meals a day, and it’s got to be costing him a bundle. It won’t be so hard on him if I grow some of my own food.”
Domo stared at him. “Is this that ‘fairness’ thing you keep going on about?”
“What’s wrong with thinking about other people?”
Domo pointed his walking stick at Will. “You were taken off your world and tricked into being our King. You don’t get paid. Three quarters of the planet’s population hates you. You’ve almost been killed dozens of times. What’s fair about that?”
“Nothing,” Will said. “But just because other people aren’t fair to me doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be fair to other people.”

Decorate

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

Light

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

Photo by Colin Behrens

“Unless we form the habit of going to the Bible in bright moments as well as in trouble, we cannot fully respond to its consolations because we lack equilibrium between light and darkness.” ~ Helen Keller

Tree

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

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” ~ Martin Luther

Forest

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

“No traveler, whether a tree lover or not, will ever forget his first walk in a sugar-pine forest. The majestic crowns approaching one another make a glorious canopy, through the feathery arches of which the sunbeams pour, silvering the needles and gilding the stately columns and the ground into a scene of enchantment.” ~ John Muir

Photo by Tobias Tullius