How Not to Avoid the Rejection Blues, or embracing the inner Smurf… by Julian Rosado-Machain

44How Not to Avoid the Rejection Blues, or embracing the inner Smurf…

By Julian Rosado-Machain

Ah, the rejection blues! When all the hope built up during those long, interminable weeks that pass between sending a query letter or a manuscript and receiving a response is annihilated by the simple “Thank you, but….”

I blame the “but..” God, how I learned to hate the “but…”.

11“Thank you, ” at least, shows a modicum of sympathy, but “but…”? I am sure that everything after the “but…” is optional. The “but…” seals the deal, what you wrote isn’t good enough, at least to the “Thank you,” people. They are grateful that you thought about them, they might or might not have read what you sent, discussed it, placed it on the table as a probable project, fought for it to be accepted by the uber-bosses of the company, it may have moved their hearts, changed their lives and they keep a copy close to the pillows…

“but…”

Its unavoidable… rejection always feels like a stab in the heart, or at least the spleen, depending on who rejects the manuscript and your hopes about that literary agent or publishing house taking up on your manuscript.

It’s going to happen, so don’t avoid it… Embrace it. I once went to the home of a friend who had been left at the altar, an envoy of his parents to see if he was okay because he didn’t answer his phone, my heart sank when I found the door to his apartment unlocked, and I went in and thankfully found him with a bottle of rum on one hand and watching Star Wars on a VHS. His words of wisdom that stuck with me I will now convey to you:

“Let me enjoy my depression in peace.” He said. “I’ll be over it tomorrow.”

He was so blue he looked like a Smurf and to be completely truthful the blue didn’t wash out overnight, but the rum wasn’t there the next day.

So yeah, embrace it, turn blue and Smurf it and turn it around, go back and edit, fix, twitch and fiddle with your manuscript, then do it again. Or, if you get tired of the “but..” like I did, self publish, BUT (and this one applies) please, do it only after editing, fixing, twitching and fiddling…thoroughly and preferably with the help of a professional… at least the editing bit.

Hopefully, and with a lot of work,(and let’s be honest, wishful thinking) you might hit it and then maybe the “Thank you,” people will come looking for you and you will be the one saying “Oh wow!…This is great!..but…”

Wouldn’t that be something?

So turn blue, embrace it, might as well try to enjoy it and use it in your writing, learn from it and then dream a little dream… and get over it.

BTW… my Smurfy friend found his Smurfette a couple of years later… and now they have little Smurflings of their own.

He got over it and so can we.

About the Author:

Julian Rosado-MachainJulian Rosado-Machain has enjoyed pizza in three continents, worked in graphic design, armored vehicles, built computers, handcrafted alebrijes and swears that he has seen at least one ghost.

He lives in San Diego, California. And enjoys the sun with his wife, three children and cat.

His latest book is the YA fantasy adventure, Guardians Inc.: The Cypher.

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About the Book:

Guardians Inc 7GUARDIANS INC.: THE CYPHER is two stories in one. A glimpse into a multinational company that is in reality the oldest of secret societies, one that spans close to seven thousand years of existence, weaving in and out of history, guiding and protecting humanity from creatures and forces that most of us believe are only mythology and fairy tales.

The other is the story of Thomas Byrne, a young man thrust into secrets he shouldn’t be aware of and dangers he shouldn’t face but, that he ultimately will, for he is a Cypher. The only one who can steer humanity’s future.

The ultimate conspiracy theory is that Magic is real. Kept in check by technology but, every five hundred years the balance can shift and, if it does, technology will fail and those creatures we’ve driven into myth will come back with a vengeance.

To protect the present, Guardians Incorporated needs to know the future, and to unlock the future they need a Cypher.

This is the first book of the Guardians Inc Series.

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Interview with Lisa Consiglio Ryan: ‘Nutrition doesn’t have to be so boring or rule-oriented’

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Lisa Consiglio RyanLisa Consiglio Ryan is the founder of Whole Health Designs, juicy clean living advocate and mama of two. She loves her yoga practice, running, and has a mission to spread the word, “Food is love.” She provides detox programsand private coachingfor women who desire to embrace clean living.

As a Certified Health and Nutrition Coach, Lisa has worked with thousands in her Renewal 10 Day Detox programs. Her work has been featured in Fitness Magazine, TinyBuddha, Elephant Journal, Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Life, The Daily Meal, and Mind Body Green. You can also check out Lisa’s new membership program, Clean + Sexy 2014 (year-long detox + community) Kickin’ It Clean gluten-freemeal plans for plant lovers and Juice Shop. Lisa is leading a wellness retreat in Costa Rica this July: Clean + Sexy Wellness Retreat.

Her latest book is the health/wellness/cookbook, Renewal “Anytime” 10 Day Detox.

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About the Book:

Renewal 2Lose weight, energize, and glow with over 50 recipes and complete 10 day detox plan. This whole foods cleanse includes detailed menu plan, shopping list, and bonus recipes to make after your cleanse. Renewal “Anytime” also includes pre-detox plan, daily instructions, FAQ’s, and post-detox next steps.

For More Information

  • Renewal “Anytime” 10 Day Detox is available at Amazon.
  • Download your copy at iTunes.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Can you tell us what your book is about?

Renewal “Anytime” 10 Day Detox is a detox plan with over 50 recipes. It’s a whole foods cleanse including detailed menu plan, shopping list, and bonus recipes to make after your cleanse. Renewal “Anytime” also includes pre-detox plan, daily instructions, FAQ’s, and post-detox next steps.

Why did you write your book?

As a health coach who focuses on detoxes and juicing, it was pretty much a natural thing to do. I do seasonal cleanses with my community each year and many have requested a book from me. It was a no brainer.

What kind of message is your book trying to tell your readers?  

My main message is that nutrition doesn’t have to be boring or so rule-oriented with weighing, counting calories, looking at numbers. Nutrition can be quite fun and sexy when you let your body take the lead. Your body has all the answers to losing weight, getting more energy, finding balance. Just take a listen and let go.

What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

Sleep. Yep. Sleep. A nap is such a luxury.

Which holiday is your favorite and why?

It might sound quite strange, but Halloween. I LOVE the mystery of it all, the legends, traditions like treat –o-treating, parties, the autumn weather, decorations, and making fun treats. Fall is my favorite time of year and Halloween just makes it even more fun.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to be active and be outside. So SUP, yoga on the beach, biking, swimming, running, hiking, I love it all. But my main fun would be traveling. I’ve been all over the world, to Italy, Spain, Greece, Costa Rica, Mexico, England, and still have many more countries to explore.

Can you tell us about your family?

I so love my little family. My husband Kevin and I have been married for 13 years and he is a big supporter of mine. He’s my biggest cheerleader! Kate is 11 years old and is gorgeous, talented, and super smart. She wants to be a dancer and is also very creative. Jack is beautiful, sensitive, intelligent, funny, and so cuddly. He is 9 years old and is an amazing basketball, soccer and baseball athlete.

What do you like the most about being an author?

That I can my story. I can serve many people all over the world with tools that can help with weight loss and overall wellness.

What kind of advice would you give other non-fiction authors?

Take action would be my advice. During this writing journey, I realized that I had a lot of information in my head and getting it down on paper was quite challenging. So just taking one step, one action, got the momentum going and I was able to finish my book and share it with the world.

 

 

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Interview with Christina Hoffman, author of INVITATION

Invitation banner

Christina HoffmanChristina Hoffman was born in London, England. She moved with her family throughout Canada and the US, and has finally put down her suitcase, for now, in San Francisco.

She believes that everyone has the right to feel both smart and sexy. We don’t have to be one or the other! She writes stories about characters who live in the real world and who, somehow, still believe in love.

She’s starting a mini-revolution. She writes sexy stories, but hasn’t lost the romance from her Romances. Enough with whips — back to lips!

She hopes you enjoy her stories and see yourself in her characters. After all, they are based on smart and sexy people, just like you.

Christina’s latest book is the contemporary romance, Invitation.

Visit her website at www.christinahoffman.com.

Thank you for this interview, Christina.  Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Hello, and thanks so much for having me. I was born in England, and travelled around a lot as a young person. Right now I’m in San Francisco, and I love it (apart from the seagulls, and the cold weather – I thought California would be warmer!)

Invitation 7I’ve written on and off for a while, but this is my first attempt at a romance novel.

Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?

This book came to me one evening. Madison just popped into my mind. She is a young woman who used to be full of life and passion. Something really awful happened a couple of years ago and she is damaged and afraid. But, at the beginning of the book, she is finally tired of feeling afraid all the time, and wants to get back into life. She’s not sure how to do it, but then Liam shows up and makes her an offer she can’t refuse.

Why did you choose your particular genre?

Two reasons, really. The first is that all my research told me that romance readers are the greatest readers on the planet. They’re intelligent, they read a lot of books, and they’re loyal to the authors they love. Of course I wanted to be part of that world.

The other answer is that this story needed to be told as a contemporary romance. I knew it would have a happy ending, and I knew there needed to be a lot of physical passion and love. The story decided what it needed to be.

What was your greatest challenge writing this book?

I was as going to say that the greatest challenge was making time in a busy life – I haven’t read a book or watched tv in 2 months…

But, really, the hardest part was just starting. I had to tell myself that it was all right to try and fail. I can be really hard on myself, so I had to shut that nasty voice inside up for a while. THAT was hard!

Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?

I chose self-publishing because I didn’t want to wait years to hear back from agents and publishers. I wanted to have the control to decide when to publish, what the cover would be…all that stuff.

Was it the right choice for you? 

I’m not sure. The processes of writing and publishing have been great. But, getting the book noticed, getting it into the hands of people who will buy it and like it – that has been incredibly challenging. I have spent almost as much time on “promotion” as I did writing it, which is frustrating. I can see the appeal now of just handing your finished manuscript over to the publisher and getting right back to work on writing the next book!

Thankfully, there are bloggers and readers who are willing to go out of their way to find and support new books. So, a big shout out to all of you! This couldn’t work without you.

If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?

This is a bit tricky because I don’t know yet what will work. I’ll just say that I spent $40 “boosting” my post on Facebook. Supposedly it reached 20,000 people interested in romance novels, but it resulted in ZERO sales! If you have a little bit of money, I would check out smaller websites like World Literary Café or Bargain Booksy. They seem to be better use of your money.

Oh! And get really great cover. You can’t skimp on this one.

What’s next for you?

Hopefully more books. People are already asking for more Liam and Madison, which is really exciting because I love them and would love to tell more of their story.

The next book I have planned is about a big-city cellist who is supposed to get a spot at a prestigious musicians’ retreat in the mountains, but is beaten out by another woman (who is sleeping with the prof.) So, she gets to attend the conference, but has to stay at a rugged ranch instead of the fancy resort. Of course there’s a gorgeous man working at the ranch. They hate each other at first, but…

Thank you for this interview, Christina.  Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?

Of course! Here goes…

Facebook Author Page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Christina-Hoffman-Writer/589141921177089?ref=hl

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/choffmanbooks

Website:

http://christinahoffman.com

Goodreads Author Page:

https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomsmart_sexy

Google Plus:

https://plus.google.com/104252934935341899994/posts/p/pub

Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/Christina-Hoffman/e/B00JE2Z366/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

- See more at: http://asthepageturns.blogspot.com/2014/05/interview-with-christina-hoffman-author.html#sthash.igPm0ZgB.dpuf

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On the Spotlight: Shiloh’s True Nature, by D.W. Raleigh


shilo
Title
: Shiloh’s True Nature

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Author: D.W. Raleigh

Pages: 260

Publisher: Hobbes End Publishing

Purchase at Amazon 

When 12 year-old farm boy Shiloh Williams is sent to stay with his estranged grandfather, he discovers a mysterious new world inhabited by ‘Movers’. The Movers live in symbiotic harmony with one another, except one extremely powerful Mover who has stolen the town’s most precious artifact, the Eternal Flame. Shiloh investigates his supernatural surroundings, makes new friends, and begins to think of the town as home. However, just as soon as he starts to fit in, he realizes his newfound happiness is about to come to an abrupt end. One decision and one extreme consequence are all that remain.

Chapter One

July 20th

Shiloh Williams walked along in the late-afternoon heat, on his way home from the town of Salem. The lanky twelve-year-old brushed his sweat-soaked, brown hair away from his blue eyes with one hand while trying to finish the ice-cream cone he carried in the other. His bare feet were relieved to step off the asphalt main road and onto the narrow, shady dirt path leading to his home.

The dusty, dirt lane was flanked by a vast cornfield to one side and towering black willow trees and intertwined brush on the other. Shiloh inhaled the sweet scent of honeysuckle as he licked the cone, gazing toward the two-story, white Victorian house in the distance. The house was his home, and the cornfield part of his family’s farm. One of the few farms left in the area, his father always liked to mention.

Shiloh was in a good mood: partly because he had spent the day in town playing with some friends, but mostly because this was his first actual vacation day of the summer. Until today, he had been working on the farm all day every day, since school ended. When his father told him he was receiving a two-week break, Shiloh decided he was going to make the most of it and be thankful he didn’t have to work another day in the brutal July heat.

As he strolled along the dusty path, Shiloh heard something rustling in the brush beside him. He turned his head and saw two large black birds only a couple of feet away. The birds cawed as they boldly jumped from branch to branch trying to keep pace with him. He assumed it was the ice cream they were after, so Shiloh tossed the remainder of the cone toward the brush and watched as the birds descended upon it.

Farther along, Shiloh spotted an expensive-looking, black car in front of the house. It was parked next to his father’s battered, old pickup truck, which made any other vehicle look nice. There was a man leaning against the rear of the car wearing a black suit and cap. Shiloh found that strange, considering he was dressed in a white T-shirt and shorts and had been sweating since he stepped outside that morning.

As he drew closer to the house, Shiloh realized his hands were sticky with ice-cream residue. He wasn’t supposed to be eating sweets this close to his suppertime, and knew his mother would scold him if she found out. So he slipped into the cornfield to let the giant stalks conceal his five-foot frame until he could reach the back of the house to wash off undetected.

He quietly snuck through the field and came up behind the giant stack of hay bales perpetually piled at the rear of the house. After glancing around to make sure it was clear, he crept up to the porch and over to the rusty, old spigot. He winced as he slowly turned the squeaky faucet handle, hoping the noise didn’t make it through the kitchen screen door just a few feet away.

As Shiloh cleaned his hands, the aroma of his mother’s cooking filled his nostrils, while the sound of arguing voices filled his ears. When his hands were no longer sticky, he quietly moved over to the back door, and stopped when he could hear the discussion in the kitchen. He immediately recognized one voice as his father’s, but there was another, unfamiliar, rough-sounding man’s voice. It must have been whoever came in the black car, he thought.

Listening intently, Shiloh was startled when something rubbed against his leg. It was one of his cats, Lovie. The gray and black tabby mix rubbed her face against his anklebones as she walked figure eights between his legs. Shiloh knew if Lovie was around, his other feline, Cheepie, couldn’t be far behind. He looked over his shoulder toward the faucet and found the other gray tabby, one that looked like a miniature tiger, entranced by the remaining water droplets dribbling from the nozzle.

His attention returned to the kitchen door when the rough voice said, “I don’t know how you’re keeping this farm productive when all the others in this area have gone under, but whatever you’re doing is going to fail eventually. So you might as well sell it to me before I decide to withdraw my more than generous offer.”

Shiloh imagined the scowl on his father’s face as he heard him answer, “You’ve been trying to get your hands on this property for years, but I’m not going to give it to you. Not now. Not ever. Not at any price. And if there are problems with the soil around here, you need only look in the mirror for the cause.”

“I’ll not be insulted by the likes of you, Joseph Williams. Good day,” the man huffed.

Shiloh heard footsteps, followed by the front door slamming. He was curious about this unfamiliar man, so he leapt off the porch and ran up along the side of the house. In his haste to see the stranger, Shiloh slipped on some pebbles and fell just as he reached the front corner of the house. The man immediately turned toward Shiloh scowling. Shiloh looked up at the stranger, but the bright sunshine kept him from distinguishing any of his features. The one thing Shiloh did notice was, like his driver, the man was dressed all in black, except for a hideously bright orange tie.

The man’s gaze was broken as two black birds descended and began attacking him. The man quickly ducked into the rear of the car, the birds turning their attention to his driver, who ran around to the other side to enter. As the car pulled away, Shiloh noticed it had a peculiar, black license plate with orange lettering reading HAINES.

When the vehicle left his sight, Shiloh returned to the back door, but again paused by the screen door when he heard his father’s agitated voice. “The crops looked a little off today. We definitely need to get some cash together for fertilizer. They could use a dusting too. And on top of that, I haven’t paid Rikki and Peco for a couple weeks. I’m glad I agreed to let them stay in the old barn. Otherwise they might’ve left by now. I’ll need to find a way to make it up to them.”

Shiloh heard the oven door open and close, followed by his mother’s voice, “Are you having second thoughts about Haines’ offer, Joe?”

“What? No! I’ll work the fields alone and eat dirt before I let that man get his hands on this land, Mary,” Joe stubbornly declared.

Mary scoffed. “Okay. Well, I’ll see if I can round up some recipes for dirt . . . just in case.”

Joe chuckled slightly and Shiloh smiled to himself, thinking about the easy way his mother was always able to diffuse his father’s anger.

Joe then noted, “By the way, I spoke to Doc and he said it would be all right. In fact, he suggested it before I even asked.”

“He’s not going to be happy about it,” Mary sighed.

Shiloh frowned, wondering what they were talking about, as Joe continued, “Well, that’s too bad. A vacation is a vacation. He’s almost a man now, and he needs to learn that part of being a man is having to do stuff you don’t want to do.”

Mary snorted sarcastically. “Say it just like that, Joe. That’ll make him feel better about it.”

Joe chuckled again and said, “Give me a break, Mary.”

“I won’t give you a break, but I will give you dinner. Go wash up,” Mary replied with a giggle.

Shiloh heard a chair slide across the kitchen floor and waited until the footsteps faded before opening the screen door. When he stepped through the doorway onto the black and white tile, he found his mother’s tall and slender frame at the sink. As Mary washed her hands, her long sandy-blond hair was illuminated by the sun shining in from the window above the sink.

After she dried her hands, Mary turned to open one of the nearby wooden cabinets and said, “No . . .” pointing in Shiloh’s direction and downward. Shiloh looked around in confusion. “. . . I’m making dinner and those two are not coming in here,” she finished.

Shiloh looked down and realized she was referring to the cats lingering in the doorway.

“One keeps trying to drag dead mice in the house. And the other keeps eating bugs, which wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t throwing them up all over the place afterward,” she continued.

A tight-lipped smile rolled across Shiloh’s face as he turned to shoo the cats back out the door.

When he turned back around, Shiloh found himself face-to-face with his mother. Her chestnut-colored eyes stared straight into his baby blues with a smirk. “What’s this?” she asked, pointing to his chest. “Ice cream?”

Shiloh looked down at his T-shirt to see a couple of stains from his earlier treat. “Oh . . . that was from earlier this afternoon,” he replied with a wide grin.

“Really? Because it still looks wet,” Mary noted, returning his smile with a shake of her head. “Go wash up. Dinner is almost ready.”

The family dinner was relatively quiet. Shiloh tried to stuff himself so he wouldn’t be lectured by his mother about eating ice cream before supper. He avoided eye contact with his father, because after hearing Joe grumble about all of the farm’s problems, he feared he might lose his time off.

When he finished, Shiloh took his plate to the sink and tried to make a hasty retreat out the back door without saying a word. However, it wasn’t to be. “Hey . . . take a seat,” Joe called, pointing to Shiloh’s empty chair at the dinner table.

Shiloh walked back to the chair feeling certain his father was about to revoke his vacation time “for the good of the farm.” He looked up to see his father leaning forward with his elbows on the table and his large callused hands folded. Joe was a tall, muscular man with perpetually unkempt, light-brown hair, piercing blue eyes, and his face always appeared to need a shave.

Joe stared at Shiloh for a moment before asking, “How would feel you about spending some time with your grandfather?”

He was taken off guard by the question, but shrugged and answered, “Okay, I guess.”

“Good,” Joe smiled. “He’ll be by to pick you up tomorrow.”

“What?” Shiloh responded in shock.

“You’re going to spend a couple weeks with your grandfather,” Joe answered pointedly.

Shiloh’s disbelief and agitation spilled out of his mouth in rapid succession. “A couple weeks? Why? I’m supposed to go swimming at the pond tomorrow! The carnival is in town next week! My birthday is in two weeks! I don’t want to go!”

Joe leaned back in his chair, shaking his head, “You’ve been complaining about having to work the fields all summer. I’d think you’d be glad to get a break from it.”

“Yeah, I wanted a break to have some fun with my friends. Not a break where I’m sent away to some strange place . . . I’m not going!” Shiloh’s voice shook with anger.

Joe, not the kind of man to listen to long protestations, replied, “You are going. End of discussion.” He returned to his meal.

Slamming his hands on the table, Shiloh rose from his chair, and walked toward the back door. “Get back here,” Joe called, as Shiloh forcefully pushed open the screen door.

He heard his father yell, “Shiloh!” but he ignored him and ran into the immense cornfield. He ran through the field until he grew so tired he had to walk. He continued walking until he found himself on the far edge of the field, where he stepped out onto a narrow dirt trail that surrounded it.

Shiloh looked back to see how far he had come and the farm’s old horse barn caught his eye. The faded, maroon monstrosity had fallen into disrepair, but the barn’s current residents, Rikki and Peco, loved it for some reason. It was their big, red dilapidated mansion.

When his gaze drifted across the field, Shiloh saw his home in the distance. The towering cornstalks obscured all but the top half of the house. Taking a couple of steps backward, trying to find a better view, he suddenly lost his balance. He began tumbling down a slick embankment covered with reeds and into the swampy marsh that separated his family’s property from the Delahanna River.

Shiloh was uninjured by the fall, but landed on his backside in the mud. He sat for a moment to catch his breath, gazing toward the river stretching out in front of him. He saw some Great Blue Herons standing nearby in the marsh. The large gray birds were motionless, with their S-shaped necks pointing up into the distance.

Following the herons’ gaze, Shiloh saw the large factory to the south. He knew the factory was there, but never paid it much attention. It was practically invisible due to the thick cluster of hickory trees lining the rear of the farm. The factory’s most distinguishing feature was an enormous cylindrical brick smokestack with a giant, orange H on its side. The huge tower emitted a perpetual gray smoke that seemed to linger in the air.

Hearing voices in the distance, Shiloh turned back toward the river. An old fishing boat was anchored just offshore with some young people frolicking around the deck. He watched as a young man jumped from the deck into the river. “It’s freezing!” the young man hollered, emerging from the water.

Shiloh smiled, remembering how he used to love the crisp bite of the river water on a hot summer afternoon. His parents wouldn’t allow him to swim in the river anymore. They said it was too polluted and dirty.

Straight across the river were some lights from the town of Old New Castle. Just beyond that was Pike Creek, where his grandfather lived and where he would apparently be going the next day. This made him think of the things he’d be missing in the next two weeks: going swimming, the carnival, spending time with his friends.

Thoughts of his impending departure made Shiloh feel sick to his stomach, so he tried thinking of something else. He looked around and noticed several gray puddles of water with a number of long-stemmed, gray wildflowers growing out of them. He frowned because he couldn’t recall ever seeing a gray flower before. He plucked the closest one and thought it was a wild daisy of some kind.

Another flower grew out of the puddle right before his eyes, taking the place of the one he picked. This second flower was not gray, but golden yellow with a black center. Though startled, Shiloh scowled and dismissed the peculiar occurrence, recalling how he’d seen colorful mushrooms grow right before his eyes while working very early in the morning on the farm.

As the sun began to set, Shiloh climbed the embankment, deciding he had better return to the house. He chose to walk back through the cornfield instead of the path along the edge of the field, because it was shorter. He came to regret that decision when the sunlight faded and the tall cornstalks blocked out what little light was left in the sky. To make matters worse, it was a new moon, so there was no heavenly light to guide him.

In the darkness, the size of the farm became more apparent than ever. Shiloh walked and walked, seeing only dark rows of corn ahead of him. He knew he would escape them eventually, but not knowing exactly where he was made him uncomfortable. The odd collection of noises echoing out of the darkness only added to his discomfort.

Shiloh dismissed some fluttering and flapping sounds, thinking it was probably one of the Great Blue Herons he saw earlier in the marsh. He then heard an odd, thumping sound, as if something was running around. He tried to dismiss that as well, remembering his father had mentioned seeing red foxes in the fields. Shiloh had never seen a fox on the farm, but supposed one could be the source of the noise.

The thumping sound seemed to grow closer and closer, but every time Shiloh stopped to listen, it would cease. The louder the noise grew, the more Shiloh’s heart raced. He tried to ignore the sound, focusing into the distance to locate his house. When the thumping became so loud it seemed just a step away, Shiloh panicked, breaking into a run.

He sprinted along until he tripped, falling forward onto the ground. Shiloh remained still and listened for a moment, but the only sound he could hear was his pounding heart. Looking behind him, down the corn row, he saw an indistinct dark mass just a few feet away.

Fear gripped Shiloh, who now thought only of escape. He turned his head around, thinking if he could just stand he might be able to outrun whatever was back there. He was shocked to discover a second dark figure blocking his path. The second shape was lower to the ground, with glowing eyes, and it was growling.

Shiloh didn’t know what to do, but figured whatever it was would have to start with him being on his feet. He took a deep breath and readied himself to stand, but before he could, the second dark figure charged him. He placed his hands over his head, preparing for an attack. However, no attack came. The figure leapt over him, chasing whatever was behind him down the corn row. Shiloh stood and sprinted away as fast as he could.

As he neared the edge of the field, he could hear a loud, fierce growling and tussling behind him. Resisting the temptation to look back, he broke through the edge of the cornfield and ran straight into the house.

 

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First Chapter Reveal: In the Mirror by Kaira Rouda

In the Mirror 2Title: In the Mirror
Author: Kaira Rouda
Publisher: Real You Publishing Group
Pages: 214
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

What choices would you make if you knew you might die soon?

From the multi award-winning, best-selling author of four books, including Here, Home, Hope, In the Mirror best sellera gripping and heart wrenching novel about a young mother who has it all. The only problem is she may be dying.

In her previous works including All the Difference, Rouda’s characters “sparkle with humor and heart,” and the stories are “told with honest insight and humor” (Booklist). “Inspirational and engaging” (ForeWord), these are the novels you’ll turn to for strong female characters and an “engaging read” (Kirkus).

In the Mirror is the story of Jennifer Benson, a woman who seems to have it all. Diagnosed with cancer, she enters an experimental treatment facility to tackle her disease the same way she tackled her life – head on. But while she’s busy fighting for a cure, running her business, planning a party, staying connected with her kids, and trying to keep her sanity, she ignores her own intuition and warnings from others and reignites an old relationship best left behind.

If you knew you might die, what choices would you make? How would it affect your marriage? How would you live each day? And how would you say no to the one who got away?

First Chapter:

Rolling over to get out of bed, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and cringed. My reflection said it all. Everything had changed.

I looked like death.

I blinked, moving my gaze from the mirror, and noticed the calendar. It was Monday again. That meant everything in the real world. It meant groaning about the morning and getting the kids off to school. It meant struggling to get to the office on time and then forcing yourself to move through the day. It meant the start of something new and fresh and undetermined. But Mondays meant nothing at Shady Valley. We lived in the “pause” world, between “play” and “stop.” Suspension was the toughest part for me. And loneliness. Sure, I had visitors, but it wasn’t the same as being surrounded by people in motion. I’d been on fast-forward in the real world, juggling two kids and my business, struggling to stay connected to my husband, my friends. At Shady Valley, with beige-colored day after cottage-cheese-tasting day, my pace was, well –

I had to get moving.

I supposed my longing for activity was behind my rather childish wish to throw a party for myself. At least it gave me a mission of sorts. A delineation of time beyond what the latest in a long line of cancer treatments dictated. It had been more than 18 months of treatments, doctor’s appointments, hospitalizations and the like. I embraced the solidity of a deadline. The finality of putting a date on the calendar and knowing that at least this, my party, was something I could control.

I noticed the veins standing tall and blue and bubbly atop my pale, bony hands. I felt a swell of gratitude for the snakelike signs of life, the entry points for experimental treatments; without them, I’d be worse than on pause by now.

I pulled my favorite blue sweatshirt over my head and tugged on my matching blue sweatpants.

Moving at last, I brushed my teeth and then headed next door to Ralph’s. He was my best friend at Shady Valley—a special all-suite, last-ditch-effort experimental facility for the sick and dying—or at least he had been until I began planning my party. I was on his last nerve with this, but he’d welcome the company, if not the topic. He was paused too.

My thick cotton socks helped me shuffle across my fake wood floor, but it was slow going once I reached the grassy knoll—the leaf-green carpet that had overgrown the hallway. An institutional attempt at Eden, I supposed. On our good days, Ralph and I sometimes sneaked my son’s plastic bowling set out there to partake in vicious matches. We had both been highly competitive, type-A people in the “real” world and the suspended reality of hushed voices and tiptoeing relatives was unbearable at times.

“I’ve narrowed it down to three choices,” I said, reaching Ralph’s open door. “’Please come celebrate my life on the eve of my death. RSVP immediately. I’m running out of time.’”

“Oh, honestly,” Ralph said, rolling his head back onto the pillows propping him up. I knew my time in Shady Valley was only bearable because of this man, his humanizing presence. Even though we both looked like shadows of our outside, real-world selves, we carried on a relationship as if we were healthy, alive. I ignored the surgery scars on his bald, now misshapen head. He constantly told me I was beautiful. It worked for us.

“Too morbid? How about: ‘Only two months left. Come see the incredible, shrinking woman. Learn diet secrets of the doomed,’” I said, smiling then, hoping he’d join in.

“Jennifer, give it a rest would you?” Ralph said.

“You don’t have to be so testy. Do you want me to leave?” I asked, ready to retreat back to my room.

“No, come in. Let’s just talk about something else, OK, beautiful?”

Ralph was lonely, too. Friends from his days as the city’s most promising young investment banker had turned their backs—they didn’t or couldn’t make time for his death. His wife, Barbara, and their three teenage kids were his only regular visitors. Some days, I felt closer to Ralph than to my own family, who seemed increasingly more absorbed in their own lives despite weekly flowers from Daddy and dutiful visits from Henry, my husband of six years. Poor Henry. It was hard to have meaningful visits at Shady Valley, with nurses and treatments and all manner of interruptions. We still held hands and kissed, but intimacy—even when I was feeling up to it—was impossible.

So, there we were, Ralph and I, two near-death invalids fighting for our lives and planning a party to celebrate that fact. It seemed perfectly reasonable, at least to me, because while I knew I should be living in the moment, the future seemed a little hazy without a party to focus on.

“Seriously, I need input on my party invitations. It’s got to be right before I hand it over to Mother. I value your judgment, Ralph; is that too much to ask?”

“For God’s sake, let me see them.” Ralph snatched the paper out of my hand. After a moment, he handed it back to me. “The last one’s the best. The others are too, well, self-pitying and stupid. Are you sure you can’t just have a funeral like the rest of us?”

I glared at him, but agreed, “That’s my favorite, too.”

Mr. & Mrs. E. David Wells

request your presence at a

celebration in honor of their daughter

Jennifer Wells Benson

Please see insert for your party time

Shady Valley Center

2700 Hocking Ridge Road

RSVP to Mrs. Juliana Duncan Wells

No gifts please—donations to breast cancer research appreciated.

#

At first, I had been incredibly angry about the cancer. Hannah’s birth, so joyous, had marked the end of my life as a “normal” person. Apparently, it happened a lot. While a baby’s cells multiplied, the mom’s got into the act, mutating, turning on each other. Hannah was barely two weeks old when I became violently ill. My fever was 105 degrees when we arrived in the ER. I think the ER doctors suspected a retained placenta or even some sort of infectious disease, although I was so feverish I can’t remember much from that time. All I remember was the feeling of being cut off from my family—Henry, two-year-old Hank, and newborn Hannah—and marooned on the maternity ward, a place for mothers-to-be on bed rest until their due dates. That was hell.

At 33, I was a pathetic sight. My headache was so intense the curtains were drawn at all times. I didn’t look pregnant anymore, so all the nurses thought my baby had died. That first shift tip-toed around me, murmuring. By the second night, one of them posted a sign: “The baby is fine. Mother is sick.” It answered their questions since I couldn’t. It hurt my head too much to try.

By the third day, my headache had receded to a dull roar. Surgery revealed that there was no retained placenta after all. I was ready to go home to my newborn and my life. So with a slight fever and no answers, I escaped from the hospital and went home to a grateful Henry and a chaotic household. I was weak and tired, but everyone agreed that was to be expected. I thanked God for the millionth time for two healthy kids and my blessed, if busy, life.

And then, not two weeks later, I found the lump.

Not a dramatic occurrence, really, at least not at first. I was shaving under my arm, and I happened to bump into my left breast with my hand. I could feel an odd mass that hadn’t been there before. When I pushed on the top part of my breast, closest to my underarm, it hurt. I freaked out and called for Henry.

“I’m sure it’s fine,” he reassured me while his eyes revealed his own fears. “We’ll make an appointment to have it checked out first thing tomorrow, OK?”

Our eyes locked then, and in that moment, I think we both knew.

It wasn’t, of course, fine. When the radiologist at the Women’s Imaging Center read the mammogram, she called my doctor right away. The solid, spider-webby mass had tentacles spreading through my left breast. Deadly, dangerous tentacles full of cancerous cells. Surgery confirmed that what I had felt was a malignant mass that had already begun to metastasize to my lymph nodes. They moved me to the cancer floor and began treatments immediately, and that’s where I’d been, in body or spirit, for more than a year.

Ralph was the one to describe them as “circle mouths”: the initial reactions of family and friends expressing sympathy for our rotten luck. When the doctors finally figured out what was wrong with me, my family was the first to respond with their blank stares and circle mouths. “OOOOOO, Jennifer, we’re sOOOOOO sorry.” But, really, what else could we expect? Before I had cancer, I know I probably reacted the same way.

Initially, I was caught up in the angry stage of grief, enveloped by it. It ate away at my soul and left me spent with useless emotion. Why me? What had I done differently than anyone else I knew? Did I drink too many Diet Cokes? Eat too much McDonald’s? Did I live downstream from a pesticide runoff? Was I a bad person? Why didn’t my children deserve to grow up with a mother? Why? Exhausted by remorse, I eventually found myself safely encased in quasi-acceptance that wrapped around me like a blanket, smoldering the dreams of middle– and old age, and draping the vision of my children as teenagers and adults, tamping out hope.

Hope. I knew my family thought the party was a sign that I had given up, that I was welcoming death, maybe even hastening it a bit by my bold invitation. And yet, hope to me was just another four-letter word without substance. I needed a reason to hang on, to continue what had become a painful and tedious daily struggle. For me, the best thing about life was the people in it. Friends, lovers, teachers, role models—they all made me the person I had become. I needed to reconnect with the living if only for a single night, to be assured my life had meant something and I was not as forgotten as I felt in my institutional isolation. No, the party was not a sign of lost hope, but the opposite—a desperate gathering of the people from my past, as if each held a piece of some cosmic puzzle that could be reconfigured into something whole—and healthy. Hope.

“It looks nice, Jennifer, really,” Ralph said, jarring me from my reverie. “Why are your parents hosting it, though? Why not you and Henry?”

“Ah, because Juliana Duncan Wells would never forgive me if I denied her the chance to host a party. She’s a professional hostess, you know.”

Ralph chuckled weakly. His brown eyes were lifeless, tired. I inspected his pale, thin, worn face more closely. His head, which had been shaved and cut open for multiple surgeries, was now more lumpy and grooved with scars than round. He was an attractive man, but he had a prominent dent over his left eye, swooping to his ear. My scars were tucked away inside my cozy sweatshirt. My head was newly covered in short curly blonde hair. It had been straight before chemo.

I looked away and asked, “What’s wrong today, Ralph? You look really sad. New meds?” Ralph’s room sported the same fake leather chairs arranged around an imitation wood table that mine did. His naugahyde was burgundy; mine was brown. Other than that, our rooms were identical, with green-striped walls and white wicker stands on either side of white bedside tables; a fake cheeriness that tried to mask the anguish of the patients who resided here. I made my slow trek to one of the chairs and sank into it.

“It’s nothing, Jennifer, really,” Ralph answered unconvincingly, clasping his thin hands together on his stomach. I noticed he had moved his platinum wedding band to his middle left finger.

I knew he was lying, but I also knew enough not to pry. Ralph Waldo Erickson—his real name, and his parents knew better—had discovered cancer when he felt a pain in his right cheek while shaving. He had a headache, too, both of which his doctor dismissed as a sinus infection when he first called. A few days later, he woke screaming in the middle of the night, and was rushed to the ER, where an MRI revealed a malignant growth the size of a lemon. On the operating table, the skin of his face was pulled to the side while the doctors cut out the tumor. Success—until they found more tumors. And more still, after radiation, after chemo. He was forty-five years old.

Six months earlier, he’d had a headache. Now, he had four months, tops.

After a few minutes of silence, he suddenly asked, “Did you know it’s the fall harvest?” with his eyes sparkling and his hands gesturing in front of him. “I mean, all those years I drank wine—loved wine—and I didn’t even take the time to learn about it. You know, learn how they make it, when they pick the grapes. God, that’s sad. They’re out there right now, in California, France, even Ohio for God’s sake, just outside our windows, and I never bothered to learn a thing about it. Sure, I did the touristy winery hop in Napa and Sonoma a time or two. But, this is harvest season! The most beautiful time of the year, and I never bothered to be a part of it—you know?” Ralph finished and looked up at the ceiling, clasping his hands again. I’d never noticed how long his fingers were before.

“So, add it to our list, Buddy, OK?” I said, gently, knowing it wouldn’t really help, knowing the impossibility of Ralph ever leaving Shady Valley, much less visiting Napa Valley for the harvest. “Hey, it’s treatment time. I need to go back. Buzz me when you feel like it.”

Ralph didn’t answer, and I didn’t really expect him to. We all went through depressions at Shady Valley, triggered by almost anything: harvest time, or an especially beautiful orange-purple sunset. It was hard to keep your spirits up all the time. He’d be fine in a little while.

I made my way slowly back across the slick floor and padded down the thick green carpet back into my room. Promptly at four, Nurse Hadley arrived with her arsenal of vials and needles, all part of a new therapy I was determined to try.

“Well, aren’t we pretty in blue,” she said, as if speaking to a child.

“My veins do look stunning today,” I agreed. Her eyes darted to mine and then away. Heck, they are nice veins, I thought, as I prepared to receive the latest experimental drug with a mixture of dread and barely detectable hope. The side effects might be hell—but still, this could be the one.

#

The shrill ring of my industrial-sized speakerphone woke me up. Caller ID revealed it was my business partner, Jacob DuPry. I had faxed him the invitation choices, knowing he’d have an opinion.

“I’m positive you should have no more than two reception times. Period. And you know I love the idea of the party,” Jacob said, exhaling loudly into the phone. I imagined him pushing his blonde bangs to the right with the palm of his left hand. A signature move. “I wish Randolph or Patrick had thought about it before they succumbed. Too late. You have more friends than they did, though. Their death receptions would’ve appealed simply to the curious, beyond me. But you—well with the Loop’s customers alone, you’ll fill the place.”

Jacob was heir apparent to our successful clothing boutique that could’ve been much more. Maybe Clothes the Loop would grow, still, without me. If Jacob stayed focused he could do it.

“Life celebration, not death reception,” I answered, still groggy from sleep. “And, just a reminder, you hated Patrick. Anyway, I just want enough time with each person —kind of like a one-on-one receiving line.”

I talked at the speakerphone, still lying down in bed. The new miracle drug hadn’t made my hair fall out, but my equilibrium was gone. I couldn’t stand, or shuffle to Ralph’s. I had to buzz the nurses for help to the bathroom.

Thank goodness for a voice beyond Shady Valley.

“Schedule appointments, silly. It’s like we do with the trunk shows, if you want a really banal comparison,” Jacob said.

“I don’t,” I snipped. He deserved it; he sounded distracted. “Are you paying attention?”

“Of course, I am walking to the back office, right now, OK? Does that make you happy? I hope so because we are slammed and I AM WALKING TO THE BACK. For you,” Jacob yelled. I imagined him in his shiny black shoes, with risers in the heel to make him taller. I wondered if he was a platinum or a dirty blonde this week. “What I meant was, on the invite, tell them you’d like to spend quality time with each of them, and that you’ll be up to receiving visitors during that same week. Let them decide when to visit.”

“You’re right,” I sighed, sounding old, dead tired. Dying tired. “But where’s the party in that? I wanted a party, Jacob.”

“Have a final party at the end of the week. Make it special. You might not like everyone anymore. Or worse.”

“Good point, but Suzanne’ll be here any minute and now I have nothing for her to typeset,” I moaned, immobilized. “I’m too dizzy to get to my computer.”

“I’ll do it and fax it over. Just tell Suzanne to wait. She owes you a little time after all the printing business you’ve given her,” Jacob said. “Don’t worry, 15 minutes. Oh no, it’s Mrs. Drezner. You knew she’d walk in now. I’ve already dealt with Rachel White today.”

“Aren’t you in the back?” I asked, picturing him, the store, the activity. Missing it all, and him. Even the nosey neighbors who never bought and just snooped for gossip, like Rachel White. I’d love to hear what’s going on from her about now. I didn’t want to see Mrs. Drezner, though, he was right about that.

“Jennifer, I am in the back but you’ve been away too long. Remember, I can hear her when she’s at the antique store, a block down the street that loud, pinched, up-tight—”

“Jacob, stop.”

“I’ll hide from her. Not mature, but doable. If the girls try to find me to help Mrs. Drezner, I’ll sneak out the back door. Don’t worry, I’ll get the invite done.”

#

And he did. He changed more than I thought he should, but I liked it.

Suzanne, the busybody owner of the local print shop who for some reason spoke with a hint of a southern accent, didn’t. She came bustling into my room and headed straight for the fax machine. When she found nothing there yet, she sat and tried to talk to me for a while, clearly uncomfortable all the while.

“You’d think from reading this Henry wasn’t in the picture or somethin’, honey,” she said, anxiously scanning the fax the moment it did spit out of the machine. I had to give her credit: she had tried to sit still until it came. I’d watched as she uncomfortably folded her rounded body into one of my brown square chairs. The sun streaked in over her shoulder, so I couldn’t see her face, but I guessed it registered impatience. I was too dizzy to care.

“Why? Because Mom’s the RSVP? She wants to do it,” I said.

“How about, ‘Please Join Henry Benson in celebrating the life of . . .” Suzanne suggested. I could tell she was pacing, her voice kept coming from different places in the room, but I didn’t open my eyes.

“Fine,” I said.

“I’ll typeset both versions. Fax it to you. Show it to your mom, Henry, whoever. Then call and we’ll go with whatever you want, honey. OK? I’ve gotta go, you know, gotta get back to the city.”

“Sure, I know how it is,” I said. I did. Suzanne’s hatred of Shady Valley exuded from her every word and movement. It was an unimaginable place, yet here I was.

“OK, glad to see you, Jennifer. Really. You look great. Whatever they’re doing must be really working. You’ll be outta here in no time. I’ll fax you, OK? Great. See ya soon,” Suzanne said. The tap tap of her high heels on my fake wood floor picked up speed and then ended before the word “great.” The last words were from the hall. She was gone.

I pushed my nurse call button. “Yes, Jennifer?” I hated to call them unless it was an emergency. I knew they kept track of who pushed their button and when. Too many times and they got revenge: No response, or at the very least a really slow response. In the middle of the night, it better be death knocking on your door if you buzzed them.

“Sorry to bother you, but this latest treatment is, well, I’m still dizzy and I think I’m getting worse.” I sounded so helpless. I hated that, but I hated the way the room was pitching and swaying more.

“We’ll call your doctor, Jennifer, and see what he recommends.” Probably what he’d recommend would be to stop looking for a miracle, stop looking for a future. We’d exhausted his supply of hope. Henry pushing, then my mother, and then Henry again. “Please, doctor, money’s no object.”

“We’re doing all we can. All I know to do,” Dr. Chris, my exhausted oncologist, would tell them.

“Do more, doctor,” my mother said, like she could simply charge it up on her platinum American Express card. “Whatever you can find, you should try.” Though she’d never smoked, she had a breathy, B-movie actress voice—she had kissed Elvis on screen once—she used it while looking straight into his eyes. Most people, like Dr. Chris, were forced to look away.

And behind it all, I guess, I pushed the hardest. After all, I had the most to lose.

My son Hank believed lightning was God taking pictures, and when I went to heaven, he’d know I was taking lots of pictures of him when the storms came. Death was pretty clear cut for him, really. Poof, I’d be gone, up to heaven. Taking flash photos. At first, I hadn’t wanted to tell him that Mommy might not get better. I wanted to hold him and promise him everything would be all right and that I would be the strong, happy mommy I hoped he could still remember from his toddlerhood. But after six months of hospital visits and guilty silence whenever he entered the room, he knew “Mommy’s sick” didn’t quite cover it. He was one smart cookie, my Hank. Henry and I decided to level with him when I moved to Shady Valley and he absorbed the possibility of my demise with the heartbreaking practicality of a three year old. I would still be his mommy, just in the clouds, taking photos.

Tears threatened to overtake me whenever I thought too much about the kids. Fifteen months without a mother at home. Baby Hannah had only known what it was like to have me rock her to sleep or tuck her in at night in her crib a few blessed times, in between hospital stays and when I wasn’t too ill at home. Paige was a wonderful nanny, a godsend really, but she wasn’t me.

Anger mixed with sadness choked me. I wanted to brush my teeth, but I couldn’t get up. I felt helplessness overwhelm me. This living in the moment thing was hell. Where was Henry? He was supposed to be coming for our “date night,” as we lamely called them. What time was it anyway?

#

There was a time when he couldn’t keep his hands off of me, my Henry. Our first year of marriage was something of a dream, now. Making love in the morning before work, some days, meeting at home at our condo at noon for more. Evenings were filled with workouts at the gym, dinners out and then more sweet, slow lovemaking. Beyond work, no outside distractions, no kiddos yet, no responsibilities except to discover each other.

“I’ve never been this happy,” he whispered to me as we cuddled in bed, the evening of our first anniversary. It was a beautiful, starry night and we had shared a candlelit dinner on our patio.

“Because I’ve finally learned how to cook?” I teased, looking up into his sparkling blue eyes. To say I hadn’t really mastered any meal would be an understatement. That evening, for our anniversary, I’d created gazpacho from scratch. I didn’t realize, though, that garlic cloves are pieces of garlic bulbs. I’d added eight bulbs. Fortunately, we both took our first bites—and spit them out at the same time.

“Yes, your cooking is the reason, clearly,” Henry answered, chuckling as he rolled over on top of me. “What you lack in the kitchen you more than make up for in the bedroom. Happy anniversary, love of my life,” he added before we made love again.

#

“Hi, honey. Weather channel again?” Henry said when he walked in my door. I had wanted to look good, a little attractive or at least not be smelly, when he arrived, but the dizziness had kept me from getting ready. I pulled the sheet up over my face and struggled to throw off my dark mood. I didn’t want to waste what little time we shared these days with pointless self-pity.

“Did you know storms turn to the right after dark? I just heard that,” I said through the sheet. I could see Henry through the thin fabric—the handsome man who used to want to touch me all over. Now we discussed the weather.

Henry’s cleft chin nodded in my direction. “The nurses said you had a tough day. They’re still waiting for Dr. Chris to figure out something to counteract the dizziness. They’ll figure it out. Now pull the covers down. You know I think you look fine just how you are. I brought your favorite pasta, and a work problem for you to help me with, so get that sheet off your face and give me a kiss.”

I pulled the sheet down slowly as Henry smiled, then bent over and kissed my forehead. More brotherly than affectionate, but at least he still cared enough to kiss me. It wasn’t the passionate, intense kiss of our life before kids, nor was it the amazed, team-spirited kiss we used to share when we were both exhausted new parents and Hank was finally asleep. No, these kisses were those of a friend, a caring companion, a long-lost uncle. I don’t know where the old kisses went, or how, if ever, to get them back.

Tonight I was dizzy, but sometimes on our date nights, I had felt OK. Shady Valley wasn’t a place conducive to making love, of course, but still. Lately, he had seemed more and more distracted, and I struggled to find topics to hold his interest. New meds and side effects only took us so far. In the old days, he had shared every detail of his day with me and often asked my advice about work issues. He was passionate about life. About me and our relationship, and he’d swoop in from work and grab me in a tight hug and lingering kiss. He loved his job and was determined to be the best, and I loved that about him. He still made an effort to share bits and pieces of his life with me, but I couldn’t shake the sensation that he was just going through the motions for my sake.

“You would not believe what an idiot Bill Jackson is,” Henry said, sweeping into our condo and grabbing me in a bear hug. I’d been rummaging through our refrigerator, trying to decide if I should attempt a meal. After a big kiss, he explained his boss at the law firm’s latest rainmaker scheme, which involved Henry joining the board of almost every nonprofit in town.

“But honey, it does seem like a good way to get your name out there—and your firm’s name out there,” I answered. I’d poured him a glass of Chianti and carried it to him, where he sat fuming in his favorite chair. Our condo was furnished in the traditional just-starting-out manner: one gray leather couch, one coffee table, one gray leather side chair. We had both told our parents we didn’t want help with furniture, so we were working and acquiring things slowly. His choice of his favorite chair was really his only choice.

“That’s not the point. You shouldn’t join boards of charities unless you believe in them. And I want to specialize in business startups,” he said.

“Well, a lot of nonprofits are run like small businesses,” I offered. “I’ll help you find a couple that would be a good fit. Maybe even a small-business incubator/funding group.”

“I love you, Jenn,” Henry said, and I walked over and climbed on his lap. “Once I’m here with you, nothing else matters.”

I looked away from the window and pulled my sheet back over my head. What matters now? I wondered. In high school, Henry’s prowess on the football field had made him quite the heartthrob with the local girls. At thirty-five, his sandy blonde hair was definitely thinning on top, but he still had the broad shoulders and air of confidence that turned heads in a crowd. I didn’t mind as long as I was standing beside him. But now, he’s out in the real world, turning heads, making deals, and I’m here.

Together, we had made a picture-perfect pair. In the early years of our marriage, we were always in the social pages, smiling, successful, in love. Henry came from a much more demonstrative family than mine, and he was constantly holding my hand, hugging and kissing me in public. When we first started dating, I’d blushed constantly, unaccustomed to the overt attention and the pulsing sexual tension underlying each of our dates. Our relationship started out magnetic and intense—and it was obvious to those around us. During our first date, over lunch, it felt as if the air pulsed around us. When our fingers accidentally touched as he passed me the bread, I had felt the touch everywhere. And wanted more. A few months later, my friend, Maddie Wilson, the city’s gossip columnist, described us as the couple “most in need of a cold shower or a quick exit from every fundraiser” in her annual awards. Of course, I had blushed and Henry had laughed.

I wondered if he ever felt as lonely as I did. He had to. Even though that initial head-over heels attraction had waned somewhat with the arrival of kids and a busy life, we still had had a vibrant sex life, before this. Before now. Did his healthy body crave the warmth and companionship of someone equally strong and vibrant? Every inch of me had been poked and prodded, radiated, and shot with chemicals. The doctors warned us that sexual intercourse would be tough during some treatments, with vaginal dryness, early menopause, and other physical…blessings. But they said we should try to maintain intimacy. Touching. Holding hands. As much as I could tolerate, as much as Henry and I could naturally feel in this unnatural state, this artificial place. Until today, and until these new meds, I’d felt as if we could try to have sex. But with the room swooping, I felt lucky being able to communicate.

I looked up at Henry. How does he see me now? As a wife? As a lover? At six feet, three inches, Henry exuded vitality, while I seemed to be shrinking by the day. Would he notice if I disappeared entirely? Or would he be relieved it was over at last?

“Pull the sheet down honey,” Henry said. “Your mother said Alex Thomas is back in town. Did you know that?”

Alex Thomas…

I kept the sheet over my face so Henry couldn’t see me blush. My ex-boyfriend, here. In town. My past, back in my present.

And something in me wanted to see him.

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A Kiss for You by Dianne Powell-Eddings Book Blitz – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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A Kiss for YouTitle: A Kiss for You
Author: Dianne Powell-Eddings
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 92
Genre: Poetry
Format: Ebook

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This book of poems is targeted for ages 13 year olds to Adults. Most women find comfort in A Kiss for You!  Between each page Is encouraging thoughts of wisdom, unity, awesome power, bringing nations, communities, families and young people together to share in an awesome experience of A kiss for You  is sweeter than honey on a honeycomb.

This book also includes my true love story about My Million Dollar Man I met in the Detroit Dollar Store.  It invites you to become an Organ and Tissue Donor in your state or support organ and tissue donation by purchasing a license plate with Donate Life on it in your state.

This book also includes my true love story about My Million Dollar Man I met in the Detroit Dollar Store. It invites you to become an Organ and Tissue Donor in your state or support organ and tissue donation by purchasing a license plate with Donate Life on it in your state.

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Dianne Powell Eddings is a retired teacher with Detroit Public Schools.  An advocate with Donor Alliance Colorado.  She has won poetry contest, spoken at numerous events, weddings, conferences, funerals and other special events throughout Colorado, Detroit and Florida.  Her ministries are registered with the state of Colorado named Poetic Ministries.  She enjoys baking and Zumba.

 

Dianne is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins July 1 and ends on July 15.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Thursday, July 17 .
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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The Way to Financial Independence by Pearl Iseabell Roberts Book Blitz – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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120064-ROBE-soft-LSI-111512.inddTitle:
 The Way to Financial Independence
Author: Pearl Iseabell Roberts
Publisher: Xlibris
Pages: 48
Genre: Business/Economics
Format: Ebook

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The way to financial independence is like building a house. You can’t build unless you have a solid foundation. You need to have the desire, the determination, and the goals to become self-sufficient. Be confident in yourself and be motivated. Let’s name some of the building materials that you will need: education, as much as you can get, and the learning process never stops. As I converse with people, I find myself saying, “I didn’t know that” While learning how to manage your money, also pay off your debts. Have a budget and saving plan. Be disciplined in spending. Don’t be wasteful. Take time to get the best for your buck. Learn how to invest. Know what you are investing in and how it will make you money. Do not do risky investment, and do not gamble and be responsible. Learn everything that you can about finance and save, save, save.

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Pearl Iseabell Poole Roberts is a born again Christian. I am a widow. I was married for thirty-eight and a half years. I am the mother of three children. My oldest son Walter Leon Roberts is deceased. My second son is Brian Keith Roberts. I have a daughter, Paula Lynette Brown, a son-in-law, Otis Tito Brown and two grandsons, Otis Tyree Brown and Omarie Thomas Brown. I am a retired licensed practical nurse. I worked as a nurse for forty-five years. I worked for one of the largest hospital in Philadelphia, PA and for several nursing agencies. When you retire, you should retire from something to something. So your life will be full. The things that I didn’t have time to do when I was working, now I can do them. I like spending time with family and friends. I am active in my church and other ministries outside of my church. I like to read, watch movies, travel, and play games. I enjoy listening to gospel music and bowling, just to name a few.

 

Pearl is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins July 1 and ends on July 15.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Thursday, July 17 .
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Leave a comment

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