Tag Archives: contemporary fiction

Interview with Mary Carter, author of ‘Three Months in Florence’

Mary Carter 2Mary Carter is a freelance writer and novelist.  Three Months in Florence is her seventh novel. Her other works include:  The Things I Do For You, The Pub Across the Pond, My Sister’s Voice, Sunnyside Blues, She’ll Take It, and Accidentally Engaged.  In addition to her novels she has written three novellas: A Kiss Before Midnight in the anthology, You’re Still the One, A Very Maui Christmas in the New York Times best selling anthology Holiday Magic, and The Honeymoon House in the New York Times best selling anthology Almost Home.

Mary is working on two more novellas for winter and summer of 2014, as well as her eighth novel.

Visit her website at www.MaryCarterBooks.com.

Connect & socialize with Mary at Twitter: https://twitter.com/marycarterbooks

Like her on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-Carter-Books/248226365259

Click here to enter the $25 Amazon Gift Card + Books Giveaway!

About the Book:

Three Months in Florence 2Lena Wallace was supposed to go to Italy on her honeymoon. That was sixteen years ago. Instead, she settles for cooking Spaghetti Bolognese for her two children while her husband, Alex, is on yet another business trip to Florence without her. Lena deals with his absences in the same stoic way she deals with all her responsibilities. And then comes the call that changes everything–the one from Alex’s Italian mistress.

Stunned and heartsick, Lena flies to Florence to confront Alex. The city is every bit as beautiful as she imagined, from its glittering fountains and cafés to the golden sunsets over rolling hills. But the further she goes to salvage her marriage, the less Lena recognizes herself–or the husband she’s trying to win back. Instead, she’s catching glimpses of the person she once hoped to be and the life and family she truly wants. Most of all, she’s wondering if the real journey is only just beginning. . .

In a novel as warm and vibrant as its rich Italian setting, author Mary Carter explores the intricacies of marriage, the ways love can both liberate and confine, and the journey to happiness that begins with one surprising step. . .

Purchase your copy at AMAZON.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Mary. Can you tell us what your latest book, Three Months in Florence, is all about?

It is about Lena Wallace, a stay-at-home Mom who learns her husband is having an affair while teaching abroad in Florence Italy. Lena flies the family to Florence to confront her husband and his mistress.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Lena Wallace is a devoted mother, an artist who let her canvas lapse, and a wife desperate to save her marriage. Alex is a professor of art history, and a man tempted by a beautiful, young woman. Alexandria is a drop-dead gorgeous Italian woman. She’s feisty and in love with a married man. Marco, is her equally handsome boyfriend who is also upset by the affair.

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

I think a little of myself can’t help but eke into each character, and for Lena I borrowed the name and her looks from a true-life friend of mine, but the similarities stop there. The characters always end up taking off and becoming their own fully-fleshed-out people.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

Truly, a bit of both. I’m required to write an outline for my publisher but he always knows I’m going to veer from it in the process of writing. Sometimes I take huge detours. Writing as you go tends to feel a lot more natural to me, but there are other times where outlines are extremely helpful.

Q: Your book is set in Florence, Italy. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

Simply because I fell absolutely in love with it when I went to visit and I wanted to live there for a year. I didn’t get to, but I did get to experience it again through Lena.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Absolutely. Besides seeing it through Lena’s touristy eyes, it was a challenge to have something so ugly happening to Lena in a city so magical and beautiful. That was part of the challenge of writing the novel. And since Florence is such an artistic city, the element of art played a large role in the plot as well.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Lena and the kids are waiting at The Fountain of Neptune for Alex to arrive. He’s coming now….

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

I would have to sit down and re-read the novel for the best excerpt, but here is a teaser from when Lena is “meeting” the mistress for the first time:

The young woman looks me in the eye, her pretty little chin tilts up, and she keeps her gaze steady. “Yes. I speak English.” She sits back in her chair and waits. Now that her face isn’t taking up the entire screen, I can clearly see that she isn’t in Alex’s dorm. Gone are the plain white walls and the MIchelangelo calendar perpetually open to the statue of David. Here I can make out a kitchen behind her with a squat white refrigerator covered in pictures, and a counter littered with empty bottles of wine, their corks bobbing next to them like murder weapons carelessly dropped next to dead bodies. Besides the wine there is a large basket of fruit and a hunk of yellow cheese sitting on a cutting board. It’s like an Italian still-life painting and it feels as if I can reach out and touch it.

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

Write. One of my favorite writing quotes—paraphrased—My father drove a truck for twenty years. I don’t ever remember him getting “Truck Drivers Block.” Writing is a job. You just have to do it.

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

I’m going to go against the grain here. I actually have a lot of time on my hands. I can only write so many hours a day, I don’t have kids, and my other freelance work has been quiet lately. So I don’t want an extra hour today. I would probably feel guilty that I wasn’t doing something productive. Were you trying to get me to say I’d use it to write?

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

There are too many of them to mention. A recent one would be Gone Girl. I love psychological suspense and enjoyed the novel along with many others. The Hunger Games—I loved the series. Brilliant premise too. Time and Again by Jack Finney. I wish I had a tenth of the beautiful prose of Colum McCann. Gone With the Wind, of course. City of Thieves, Bel Canto, Racing in the Rain, The Room, Turn of Mind….You’re depressing me now. Can I change my answer to the question above and use my extra hour to drink and think of all the novels I wish I had written?

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

Promotion is a tricky one. It really is. I haven’t hit on a magic formula yet. The one I try to hold onto is that the best thing to do is concentrate on making your next novel as good as you can get it. Oh—and I also wish I had written As Good As It Gets…. I might need an extra two hours….

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Mary. We wish you much success!

Thank you! I can be found on Facebook, twitter, and marycarterbooks.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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Interview with J.B. Miller, author of NO TIME FOR LOVE

00J.B. Miller is a published author of fiction, non-fiction, award-winning poetry, music, and numerous articles and blogs. No Time For Love is her first novel. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children.

Visit her blog at http://notimeforlovebyjbmiller.wordpress.com.

Welcome to As the Pages Turn, J.B.!  Can you tell us more about your heroine, Chatham?

No Time for LoveJB: Chatham is the type of heroine that all women can relate to. She does her best to keep up with the demands of her family, her work and unfortunately, does not have enough time for herself. So many readers I talk to can relate to Chatham as though they are reading about themselves. She is today’s every day heroine.

The first chapter sets the tone for the whole book. Why did you decide to start it in the kitchen over waffles?

JB: I want the reader to identify with the heroine right away. I want her to be within reach. Every mother in the world lives a secret life of chaos that many will not even admit to, but when they read about Chatham’s life, they can settle right in alongside her.

The kids seem to be Chatham’s top priority and rightly so. What are her thoughts on dating?

JB: Dating is not even on the burner. She has fleeting wistful thoughts of love, but her everyday demands steal all of her time. I believe in love finding us when we least expect it and even in Chatham’s family centered world, love sneaks up on her.

Does Chatham believe in soul mates?

JB: Her husband was her soul mate and sadly, Chatham does not think that she will ever find another. She is wrong.

What does Chatham do for a living?

JB: Chatham works in advertising. In particular, she writes catchy slogans and jingles for advertising campaigns. She is quirky but relatable. There are a few creations she has come up with that I think should be real companies like Vatican Air – get there on angels wings.

What is Chatham’s favorite pastime?

JB: Sleeping is high on the list, but she doesn’t get much.

What do you believe is Chatham’s biggest obstacle?

JB: Chatham’s biggest obstacle is letting herself follow her heart when love finds her. If she can’t decide which love is for her, then how will she finally find true happiness? The reader will have to see where it all ends up.

That is such a fun cover. Who designed it?

JB:I enlisted a top graphic designer to create my vision. I wanted love and time to jump off the page. I think they do.

Is chick lit a new genre for you?

JB:I have written short stories in the genre and many award winning poems. One of my favorite poems is I Don’t Do Socks.

Thank you so much for this interview, JB. Do you have any final words?

JB:I wrote No Time For Love so that women everywhere can feel that the real person they are is understood. I want mothers to know that it’s OK to not always keep it all together. When the reader finishes the book, I want them to believe in true love.

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Read a Chapter: Women’s Fiction ‘The Third Grace’ by Deb Elkink

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the women’s fiction, The Third Grace, by Deb Elkink. Enjoy!

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  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Greenbrier Book Company, LLC (December 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937573001
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937573003

WINNER OF 2012 BOOK OF YEAR AWARD
The past casts a long shadow — especially when it points to a woman’s first love.
Her name was Mary Grace until she fell in love with the French exchange student visiting her family’s Nebraska farm. François renamed her “Aglaia” — after the beautiful Third Grace of Greek mythology — and set the seventeen-year-old girl longing for something more than her parents’ simplistic life and faith. Now, fifteen years later, Aglaia works as a costume designer in Denver. Her budding success in the city’s posh arts scene convinces her that she’s left the country bumpkin far behind. But “Mary Grace” has deep roots, as Aglaia learns during a business trip to Paris. Her discovery of sensual notes François jotted into a Bible during that long-ago fling, a silly errand imposed by her mother, and the scheming of her sophisticated mentor conspire to create a thirst in her soul that neither evocative daydreams nor professional success can quench. The Third Grace is a captivating debut novel that will take you on a dual journey across oceans and time — in the footsteps of a woman torn between her rural upbringing and her search for self.

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Chapter One

Light from the floor lamp winked at Aglaia through the garnet wine as her guest swirled the glass upward—winked as though it shared Aglaia’s secret, just waiting for her to ask her question again. But she held back. She was pacing herself . . .

She studied the profile of Dr. Lou Chapman, the critical eye and the nose thrust aggressively into the bouquet of the vintage. She shifted on the sofa and reached for her goblet to mimic Lou’s actions, careful not to slosh her own wine over the rim. She didn’t want to appear gauche; it was awkward enough trying to draw outfrom Lou the information she needed to prevail in her search.

Maybe she shouldn’t have asked the professor up following the theater tonight after all, she thought. Work had beendemanding of late, and this afternoon’s traffic brutal in the drenching rain. She’d arrived back at her apartment with no time to slouch into relaxation—just a few minutes to pin her hair into a messy nest and slip on the sapphire chemise that now lay against her skin, silky as a French boy’swhisper.

“Nice legs,” Lou said.

Aglaia crossed them instinctively but caught herself before saying thanks, realizing just in time that the compliment was intended for the wine. Feeling foolish, she straightened her back and feigned a worldly, knowing air.

Lou picked up the bottle, tilted it towards the light, and read the label through the bottom half of trendy spectacles. “Where did you purchase it?”

“At Santé on East Sixth Avenue,” Aglaia said with a shrug, as though she stopped in at the posh Denver cellar regularly on her way home from work rather than just the once—last week for a tasting with her wine appreciation class. But Aglaia wondered if she’d ever truly appreciate wine. This bottle of imported pinot noir had cost her dearly but it was worth the money to gain Lou’s confidence and, besides, Aglaia’s growing collection of corks in the green bowl on the coffee table proved she was recovering from her habit of temperance.

With eyes closed Lou sampled the wine, swished, sucked air in past pursed lips. “Subdued, earthy with a subtle berry, long finish. Excellent choice.”

Aglaia couldn’t detect earth or berry, but she was glad now she hadn’t caved in to her first impulse to grab a domestic merlot at half the price.

“A toast to your enduring success in the arts,” Lou said, wine stem raised, “even if it is in the private sector instead of the university, where talent like yours belongs.”

Glasses clinked; the two women sipped.

Aglaia swallowed the astringent and watched Lou’s eyebrows, the most animated part of her face. They signaled her mood, usually dipping downward at the outer edges in world-weariness but arched now in approval. Lou’s slate-cold eyes themselves were flat, two dimensional, and gave nothing away.

Aglaia angled her glass and looked into its blood-red interior. Wine was a symbol of communion, she thought, and she was using it with carnal deliberation to seal this relationship that had so much to offer her. As she lifted the glass to her lips again, she hoped her own silhouette projected an image of glamor. Alcohol had been taboo in the home of her youth. In her current lapsed state, the mere thought of consuming it was intoxicatingin itself—and emboldening. She was about to pose her question again when Lou spoke up.

“The costumes in tonight’s performance were remarkable, but your Phantom stole the show.”

“Not myPhantomexactly,” Aglaia said.

“Don’t be coy. You’re obviously an accomplished artisan and you deserve to be discovered.”

Heat rushed to Aglaia’s cheeks but she knew she’d earned the praise. Her boss at Incognito Costume Shop wouldn’t let another employee touch the feature pieces contracted for the production, and they’d shown well on stage tonight.

Earlier this evening the curtains had closed to robust applause, but Aglaia waited until the last scalloped hem and tip of a feathered cap disappeared into the wings before joining in with the rest of the audience. When she recognized a critic from the Denver Post dashing backstage for an interview with the cast, she knew for certain that the name of Aglaia Klassen, up-and-coming costume designer, would appear again in the weekend reviews; her creations had worked their usual opening night magic. Indeed, Aglaia herself had been transported in her imagination to the play’s setting of the world-famous opera house in Paris.

Paris! It was the city of her dreams where, in just three days’ time, she’d finally be walking in the flesh. Aglaia took another sip to sober her elation over the imminent business trip, particularly regarding her plans for how she’d spend her free time there. Of course this would include a whirlwind tour of the city sights but other, admittedly idealistic, aspirations were at the forefront of her mind and had been all evening.

After the play, as Lou had driven through the city to take her home, Aglaia barely heard her scholarly assessment of the musical score because she was caught up in her thoughts of international travel. When Aglaia did speak, it was to articulate the undercurrent running though her subconscious for most of the performance—for most of her life, it seemed. That was when she’d casually brought the subject up with Lou.

“I wonder how someone can just disappear in Paris.”

Lou, slowing to make the turn onto Aglaia’s street, had said, “I suppose you’re talking about the masked villain spiriting the fair maiden away to his lair beneath the OpéraGarnier.”

“No, I mean nowadays, in real life. How would someone find a missing person in Paris?”

“That’s hardly the first question that comes to mind in critiquingThe Phantom of the Opera,” Lou had said, and she coughed out a laugh as if expecting an analysis of the play’s Faustian implications or something as cerebral. Aglaia’s own interests were much more intuitive, and she’d let the matter drop as Lou pulled into the space facing the apartment block, armed the car lock, and followed her up the steps while pontificating on the literary elements of the script.

Lou had remarked on Aglaia’s use of the Greek mask of tragedy as a pattern for the Phantom’s own disguise—a clever adaptation—and her mirroring of Hellenistic fashion in the simplicity of the heroine’s robe, guessing correctly that Aglaia’s inspiration had come from the Greek style of the Opéra’s architecture.

But all the while, right up to the time Lou had opened the wine, Aglaia was reviewing and reframing her question—her quest—regarding Paris. Lou, a sociologist at Platte River University and a jetsetter, was versed in things European, and Aglaia could use an expert at this point. Her Internet surveillance over the past month had turned up nothing very helpful.

Now Lou plucked a cat hair from the arm of the loveseat and Aglaia regretted not having vacuumed more thoroughly—Lou probably had a cleaning lady. Before the other woman could resume her intellectualized thread of the discussion on the evening’s entertainment, and at the risk of sounding fixated, Aglaia ventured a third query.

“So, Lou, if you were looking for someone in Paris, where would you start?”

This time Lou heard her, though she frowned. It clearly wasn’t her topic of choice. “Well, maybe I’d launch an investigation through the préfecture or contact the American embassy. Sightseers must go missing now and then. Or,” she gibed, “are you afraid of getting lost yourself when you’re over there, all alone in the big, bad city?”

Aglaia ignored her sarcasm. “It’s not a tourist issue.”

“You’re referring to a resident?” Lou asked with her eyebrow cocked. “The telephone book then, I suppose.”

The local phone book, of course. Aglaia would start with that notion as soon as she got to Paris. It might be a long shot, but she had this one chance for disclosure and she wasn’t going to let it slip away. She knew now how she would begin her on-site manhunt and felt herself unwinding for the first time all night.

But then the apartment buzzer rasped.

She didn’t expect anyone. Before she could answer it, the door was bumped open by her elderly mother. Tina Klassen, cheeks perpetually rouged by prairie wind and high blood pressure, was caught midsentence as though continuing an interrupted dialogue, her Low German accent still discernible.

“. . . and your father is in such a hurry to get home, Mary Grace. When harvest is wet like this and so late, you know how tense he is.”

She pronounced it “tanse” and, more out of habit than necessity, threw a Plautdietsch word into her ramble here and there—about the rain rotting the crops on the Laundt and about how Henry was waiting in the Trock outside. The tongue of the Klassen heritage was still spoken in many rural Mennonite households, but it was just partially understood and strictly avoided by Aglaia herself. She hoped Lou didn’t catch Tina’s flat, sticky words and the use of her old name, which Mom still hadn’t given up after all these years—or wouldn’t give up.

Maybe it was just as well. Tina wasn’t able to pronounce “Aglaia” correctly either, no matter how many times she was reminded that it rhymed with “I’ll pay ya.”

Tina pushed farther into the apartment. “Your father needed to pick up a tractor part none of the local dealerships had, and I don’t like it when he drives alone so long and so far. I only have a minute, dear. I brought you some fresh-baked Zwieback.

Aglaia was trying to lose a few pounds before the trip but—oh!—those rolls smelled delicious. The aroma disarmed her; she knew she should be hustling Tina out the door but couldn’t find her words.

“Did you get my parcel?” her mother asked, not yet noticing Lou sitting on Aglaia’s couch. “I didn’t know I was coming to town or I would have waited to bring it along and saved the postage. But I wanted to be sure it got to you before you left on your trip.”

In fact, when Aglaia received the package yesterday after work, she immediately began to tear at the brown paper, piqued about what her mother might be sending, until she saw the two-word title on the spine glaring through torn edges: Holy Bible. Annoyance at her mother’s intrusiveness soured her then and rose again now like acid in the back of her throat. Tina knew Aglaia was disinterested in religion—and that was an understatement.

Before Aglaia could shut the closet door, her mother spotted the packet amongst the shoes in the shadow of the coats and reached down for it. “Why, it’s right here,” she said. “Didn’t you read the note to call me?” Aglaia hadn’t gotten that far in her unwrapping, and she recoiled as Tina shoved the bundle at her. Then her mother glanced up, for the first time seeing Lou in the living room. “Oh, my,” Tina said, tightening the knot on her kerchief, “I didn’t know you had company.”

Tina seemed to have shriveled even since the last time she and Henry made the two-hundred-mile pilgrimage to Denver—a city, a state, a lifetime away from their Nebraska farm. Aglaia looked down on her though she wasn’t tall herself. She looked as far down on Mom as she looked up at Lou. Tina’s jacket didn’t hide the dowdy housedress and her shoes were muddy. Aglaia was sorry again that she ever gave her mother a key to the apartment. Resigned she made introductions.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Lou arose and offered a manicured hand. “Do come in,” she said, as if she were the hostess. Aglaia didn’t blame Lou for wanting to compensate for her own uncomfortable silence.

But Tina, a teetotaler, now eyed up the wine glasses and Aglaia could almost hear her judgmental thoughts about her daughter’s rejection of long-held Klassen values. Aglaia couldn’t risk letting Tina make further comment in Lou’s presence and took hold of her mother’s arm to steer her towards the outer hallway.

“Isn’t that Dad honking outside? You have a long drive home tonight.” That was true; they wouldn’t get back until well after midnight. “I’ll walk you down.”

“No, no. I need to explain.” Tina, flustered, ripped the butcher’s paper fully off the cumbersome black leather book, exposing it to Lou’s purview. “I found this when I was digging around under the basement stairs. I haven’t opened that trunk since the summer the French boy came to stay with us. You remember?”

Did she remember? It was all Aglaia could do to keep her memories under wraps.

Tina was opening the Bible now to the dedication page. “It says, ‘Presented to François Vivier from the Klassens.’ I thought to myself, that boy must have meant to take this home with him, since he carried it to church every Sunday he was with us, and to every Wednesday prayer meeting.”

Horrified, Aglaia opened her mouth to protest, but no sound emerged. This was worse than she first imagined—worse than her mother simply sending her a Bible for reasons of maternal concern over her spiritual state. Tina was trotting out the one aspect of Aglaia’s life she’d been trying to hide, especially from Lou. Not only was this a Bible that linked her to a personal religion, but it was the very Bible owned by the person who’d totally reformed her religion.

“He wrote notes into the margins, starting right here in Genesis,” Tina said. She pointed to a finely penciled script but, thankfully, didn’t read the misquotation aloud: In the beginning, the gods created.Tina went on, “It was too small for me to make out without my reading glasses there in the basement, and Henry was about to leave for town so I had to rush if I wanted to get it into the mail. Can you see what it says?” Tina held the book out at arm’s length for a moment before giving up. “Anyway, I decided that, since you were going to Paris, you should pack it into your suitcase and take it to him.”

Aglaia bit down hard to stop herself from exclaiming and kept her face turned towards her mom so that the other woman wouldn’t discern her mortification. She heard Lou say under her breath, “Ah, hence the questions,” and was immobilized by her mother’s proposition—in fact, by her own resolution—to find François, which sounded completely ridiculous when spoken aloud.

“Mom, I have no idea where he lives,” she said, but in her heart she wanted to shout, If only I knew where he lived!

Tina responded, “He said he was going back to that famous school. What was it called?”

“The Sorbonne, but that was years ago.” Aglaia kept her voice curt, not wanting to give Lou—who was openly eavesdropping—any reason to suppose she’d put up with the nonsense of taking a Bible along to France. “Who knows what’s happened to him since? It’d be impossible to find him.”

Aglaia doubted her mother would yield to the argument. Once she got a bone in her teeth, she was stubborn. Aglaia wouldn’t mention that looking for François had been her daydream all along. Hoping her own voice didn’t reveal her desire, she quickly added, “Besides, I’m in Paris for only a few days.” Only a few days allotted to explore the world’s most elegant city, an impossible few days to run an old heartthrob to ground.

Tina’s wrinkles deepened as her forehead puckered. True to her nature, she persisted, “I just know he’d want this precious Büak.”

As if François would care about that Bible, Aglaia thought.

Tina fiddled with the cover, thumbing the gilded edges that on her Bible had long ago lost their shine. A museum postcard slipped from between the pages to the floor, image facing up, immediately recognizable to Aglaia. She hadn’t seen the postcard for fifteen years and she stared at it, transfixed all over again by the sculpture of the three nude women. Helpless, she plummeted into the memory of that first viewing like a pebble into the pond behind the barn, once again sitting with her family around the table with François on the warm May night he came to them—seated close to him, touched by his breath.

Tarrying together, the three marble nudes stand silken in the light, immortal young sisters polished with the ages—arm encircling waist, head on shoulder. Mary Grace is intoxicated with them, captured on one of the many glossy cards he brought to show off Paris to his American host family. She doesn’t pay attention to his descriptions of the Eiffel Tower or the bridges, but only to the timbre of his voice, the poetry weaving through his hesitant English.

He turns to her for a moment and says, “They have your name, non? Les TroisGrâces—Mary Grace.”

Her brother grins and kicks her under the table but she ignores him. She’s consumed with the statues and with François’s fingertips tracing the two-dimensional outline, caressing the nymphen forms as though they’re warm and living flesh. She’s disconcerted because her own womanhood is so new. Does he mean to excite her? 

Lou stepped forward to pick up the card before Aglaia shook her reverie.

Tina squinted at it. “I hope that French Jung didn’t take such a picture into church with him.”

“Perhaps he was using it as a bookmark,” Lou said. She turned the card over and Aglaia saw it was blank except for the museum information printed on the back. “Pradier, 1790-1852. Les TroisGrâces—the Three Graces,” Lou read aloud. “Your François appreciated the female form, I see—good taste.”

Aglaia attempted to change the course of conversation. “Mom, it’s too bad I didn’t know you were coming tonight or I’d have gotten you and Dad tickets for the play.” Not that they ever attended the stage.

But Lou, looking at the photo again, continued in spite of Aglaia’s red herring. “Pradier sculpted in the neo-classical style and used the ancient Greek mythsas subject material. The Three Graces, companions of Aphrodite, were very popular, and you can see that Pradier included their signature themes of fertility, beauty, and hospitality in this work. Note the way he utilized plants and jewels to get his idea across.” She stretched her arm out so that mother and daughter could see what she meant, but Aglaia knew Lou’s point would be lost on Tina. “The mythology of Greece made its imprint throughout history along many avenues,” Lou said. “For example, the plot of The Phantom of the Opera may well have had its origins in the story of Europa, the beautiful maiden who was stolen away by Zeus disguised as a bull.”

Tina scrunched her face in confusion.

As for Aglaia, she’d first heard the Greek tale whispered into her eager young ear by François’s impassioned young lips, and then read it again in Bulfinch’s Mythology, a text she discovered in twelfth grade on the shelves of the school library after her curiosity about the gods had been aroused. Her reading matter since her childhood days might surprise and even disturb Tina if she understood its content; it wasn’t quite the holy pap Aglaia was brought up on. But Tina’s disapproval wasn’t her concern at the moment, for Lou—satisfied with her examination of the postcard—was now craning towards the Bible as though she wanted to get a good close look at it next.

“Mom, I’ll take that,” Aglaia said. She reached for the book.

Tina handed it off to her readily. “Then you will return it to the boy? I knew you’d agree that it’s just meant to be.”

Aglaia intended only to get it out of sight—out of Lou’s sight, especially. The thought of delivering it was preposterous. But she zipped it into the front pouch of hersuitcase, packed and ready on the entry table. There was time enough to deal with it later, after she got rid of her mother and recouped her image with Lou, who probably thought she was totally incompetent about now.

Reprinted from The Third Grace by Deb Elkink. © 2012 by Greenbriar Book Company.

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Interview with Husband/Wife Writing Team Elyse Douglas, Authors of ‘Wanting Rita’

Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the married writing team Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse grew up near the sea, roaming the beaches, reading and writing stories and poetry, receiving a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Columbia University. She has enjoyed careers as an English teacher, an actress and a speech-language pathologist. She and her husband, Douglas Pennington, have completed three novels: The Astrologer’s Daughter, Wanting Rita and a Christmas novel to be released later this year.

Douglas grew up in a family where music and astrology were second and third languages. He attended the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and played the piano professionally for many years. With his wife, Elyse, he has helped to pen The Astrologer’s Daughter and Wanting Rita.

When asked how they write a novel together, Doug often answers, “Well… If Elyse is dismissive and quietly pacing, then I know something’s not working. If I’m defensive, dramatic and defiant, then I know Elyse will soon be scowling and quietly pacing. We remind ourselves of Rita and Alan James in our novel, Wanting Rita. How the books get finished, I don’t know.”

Elyse Douglas live in New York City.

To learn more about Elyse Douglas, go to their website: www.elysedouglas.com

To get your e-copy of Wanting Rita by Elyse Douglas at Amazon:http://amzn.to/ILDZQ4

Visit Elyse Douglas on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#/douglaselyse

Like Elyse Douglas on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elyse.authorsdouglas

Q: Thank you for this interview, Elyse and Douglas.  Can you tell us what your latest book, Wanting Rita, is all about?

 

Wanting Rita is a love story about a nerdy, sensitive rich boy and a radiant, volatile small-town beauty queen from a poor family. They form a strong connection in high school but Rita marries someone else.  Fifteen years later, after Rita suffers a tragedy, Dr. Alan Lincoln returns to his Pennsylvania hometown to see her.  His own marriage of three years is disintegrating, and he sees in Rita the chance to begin again with the true love of his life.  During the ensuing passionate summer, their rekindled love is threatened by old ghosts and new secrets.

 

In one sentence, Wanting Rita is a story about the obsession of first love and the later, shattering, tender journey of an all-consuming love affair.

 

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

 

Rita Fitzgerald is a beautiful, impulsive and intelligent young woman who shoots to small-town stardom after winning a local beauty contest.  Her family is poor and her father has a dark past.  Rita carries emotional scars from that past.

 

Alan James Lincoln is a highly intelligent snob, who is excited and baffled by Rita.  Her beauty awakens a young passion that engulfs him. Through his persistent and loyal love for her, he grows both as a boy and then as a man.

 

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

 

Usually our characters are imaginary, although Rita is loosely based on two women Doug dated when he was in high school and college.

 

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

 

We usually begin with a vague outline and then discover the plot as we go along.  WANTING RITA was somewhat different; it seemed to come from the ether: plot, emotion, characters and setting.  The idea came in one night – actually, early one morning.  The story was like an anxious friend, who kept saying “stop messin’ around here, and finish this thing.  Here it is, take it down.”  The book seemed to be waiting for us every morning; we worked on the first draft 6 days a week, 6 hours a day.

 

Q: Your book is set in Hartsfield, Pennsylvania and then in New York City.  Can you tell us why you chose these locations in particular? 

 

Hartsfield is an imaginary small town, although it is based on a small town in Pennsylvania that had gone through economic hard times.  Part of the idea for the novel came as a result of an article in The New York Times about the disappearing small towns in Pennsylvania and Ohio.  The economic hardship in Hartsfield was integral to the plot, in that it helped to frame tragic events to come.  The New York City location helps to contrast rich and poor.  Dr. Alan Lincoln lives in New York City, while Rita, his first love, experiences her tragedy in small town impoverished Hartsfield.

 

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story? 

 

Yes, as stated above, the contrast between rich and poor in a small town helps drive the plot.  The setting is also crucial in establishing the psychological complexities of the two high school lovers, who come from such different family cultures and social positions.

 

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

 

It’s a flashback to the first time that Alan is alone with Rita.  It’s an unabashedly romantic scene, but one of our favorites.

 

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

 

This excerpt is from the scene mentioned above, on page 69.

 

I couldn’t speak.  Rita took me in for a moment, searchingly, and smiled.  When she kissed me, her lips damp and soft, I shivered.  My heart throbbed with the first wildness of true love, and suddenly and unexpectedly, I cried.  All my defenses were breached and my senses were stung by a sweet and wicked bliss.  My eyes were fully open and Rita saw the tears.  She touched them in wonder and surprise, and kissed them, as the shadows danced around us.  Feeling hopeless and ashamed, I looked away.

 

“Hey…don’t turn away from me, Alan James.  No, no, don’t turn away.  No one has ever cried for me before.  Ever.  No one.”  She took my head in her soft hands and looked deeply into my eyes.  “It’s okay.  It’s okay to want me.  Wanting me is okay.”

 

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

 

Doug:  Frankly, I don’t have time for writer’s block.  I have too many projects lined up, like airplanes on a runway, waiting for take-off.

 

Elyse:  I get up and go for a walk.

 

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

 

Doug:  Write.

 

Elyse:  Meditate.

 

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

 

Elyse:  Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve.  I got completely lost in that story; I loved the setting, the characters and the plot.

 

Doug: Any book by John D. MacDonald, because he’s a great writer.

 

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

 

Take two Tylenol.  Take a nap.  Then continue doing what you love and be persistent.  Try things.  Mix things up.  Keep one foot in the box and the other up over the side but not on the floor.  Focus your marketing and don’t overspend.  If the product is good, you’ll find an audience.  Write more than one book.

 

Thank you so much for this interview, Elyse and Douglas.  We wish you much success!

 

 

 

 

 

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Read a Chapter: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen…The Redeemers’ by Michael Scott Miller

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring Ladies and Gentlemen…The Redeemers by Michael Scott Miller. Ordering information follows. Enjoy!

Ladies and Gentlemen…The Redeemers tells the story of Bert Ingram, once a successful rep in the music industry, who has lost his way.  Desperate for redemption, the perpetual dreamer decides to put together a band, recruiting musicians who have only one thing in common:  the need to overcome a significant obstacle in their lives.  The volatile mix of the musicians’ personalities and backgrounds threatens to derail the band at every opportunity, but in time, the Redeemers begin to realize they have more to gain from one another than they ever could have imagined.

Chapter 1 – Abe and Bert

“Miss!  Miss!  Hi!  You look like a patron of the arts.  Could I trouble you for a small contribution for my friend Abe over there?”  Bert matched a young woman stride for stride as she strode briskly across the subway concourse.  He pointed toward Abe, who was standing along the white tiled wall, next to the Fresh Cut Flowers stand, singing Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”  The woman forged ahead.

“Fully tax deductible!” Bert continued cheerfully, and with that, the woman turned to look at Bert with a skeptical glance.  “Okay, okay.  It’s not really tax deductible,” Bert said with a laugh.

The woman returned a brief smile, seemingly somewhat amused by Bert’s approach.  She unzipped her handbag and pulled out a crumpled dollar bill.  She gave Bert the bill along with a distinct look of finality.

“Thank you, miss.  God bless,” said Bert with a tip of his hat, ending a routine that had been rehearsed over many years of strolling through the subway corridors beneath San Francisco.  He carefully unfolded the bill and wrapped it around the other six dollar bills he had collected.

The 7:30 A.M. rush hour crowd swarmed through the Montgomery Street station of San Francisco’s BART, or Bay Area Rapid Transit, system.  Bert headed back toward the spot where Abe stood, as he had for the last three years, every Monday through Friday except holidays, in the main corridor that led from the subway turnstiles to the stairs that led to street level.

A hulking, legally blind African-American, Abe Jackson towered over most of the subway crowd.  He stood at 6’3” and weighed close to 250 pounds.  His habitual costume — black shoes, black dress pants, a blue crew neck, long-sleeved shirt, and black wraparound sunglasses – perfectly complemented the classic 1960s Motown tunes he sang.  In his left hand he held a plastic, gallon-sized milk jug, filled about a quarter of the way with coins and bills.

Bert Ingram had stepped into Abe’s life about a month earlier, pitching Abe on the idea of working the crowd in order to increase the donations.  Abe had not been particularly interested, being satisfied with his routine and his low-pressure approach.  Plus, he showed an obvious distrust of the stranger.  So Bert simply appeared every few days at first to give the crowd his sales pitch.

More recently, Bert had started showing up every day.  Today, he wore chocolate-brown polyester pants, a cream-colored shirt, brown paisley tie, and a brown and tan checked sport jacket.  His ubiquitous gray fedora rested on his head, pushed slightly back so the brim tilted upward.  Bert always wore his signature hat whether it matched his outfit or like today, did not.

As Bert crossed in front of him, Abe spoke in a booming voice that resonated through the subway concourse corridors.  “I told you, Bert, I don’t need your help.  You ain’t my manager, I don’t need an agent, and you’re just stealin’ my money.”

“Are you crazy, Abe?  I’m a money machine!” Bert countered.  “I’ve collected seven dollars in just the few minutes I’ve been here this morning.  We’re a great team.  You just keep singing, and I’ll handle the sales and marketing side of things.  You should feel lucky to have a manager like me.  Bands used to clamor to have me as their manager.”

“Do we have to play this out every morning, man?  I told you this is my territory and I’m quite fine, just singing and taking in what I take in.”

“Don’t be foolish,” replied Bert, ignoring Abe’s frown.  “Don’t you get how much we’re pulling in together?  How much did you bring home every day before I showed up?”

Abe’s frown deepened.  “I don’t know.  Thirty dollars, maybe forty on a good day.”

“See, and just yesterday you took home sixty-two dollars, and that was after giving me my share.”

“Yeah, well, I couldn’t help but notice that it’s not me ‘giving’ you your share, but you collecting the proceeds, taking your piece of the action off the top, and giving me what’s left.”

“Fine.  Split hairs if you like, but I’ve raised your income over fifty percent, so what’s the difference?”

“We’ll settle this after the crowd goes.  We’re losing precious time here,” Abe muttered, and with that, he broke into Sam Cooke’s “Cupid,” hitting each note, the high and the low, with expert precision.

By 9:30 the crowd heading into San Francisco had dwindled, and Abe wrapped up his last song.  Bert was seated on a bench a few feet away, tallying the bills and coins he had collected on Abe’s behalf.  He got up and walked over to Abe.  “Here you are, buddy, seventeen dollars and thirty-eight cents.  Add that to what you’ve collected on your own in that jug which looks to be around, oh, I’d say, ten to twelve dollars and you’ve had a pretty good morning.  And we’ve still got the afternoon shift.”

Of late, Bert had also started to show up for the outbound commuter rush in the late afternoons.

“I do have to admit, Bert, you’ve got a certain talent,” Abe responded with a grudging grin.  “But you’re still a leech.”

“Glad you recognize my skills.  I’m just a born talent scout,” replied Bert.  “By the way, I’ve been meaning to run a proposition by you.  Can I buy you a cup of coffee and we’ll talk?”

Abe shrugged.  “It’s your money, man.”

The two walked toward the north stairs, Abe using his red-tipped white cane for guidance.  Bert took Abe’s arm as they reached the stairs that led up to the street level.

Abe jerked his arm away.  “I’ve been coming up and down these stairs for years without you.  I don’t need your help.”

“My apologies, my friend,” responded Bert quickly, trying to recover from the unexpected scolding.

“Yeah, well, I don’t like being touched, and I’m not one for help or attention.  I just do my own thing, my own way.  That’s all.”

Bert followed Abe silently up the stairs and into the sunlight.  The early morning haze that enshrouded San Francisco had lifted, and it had become a typical clear, comfortable, seventy-five-degree late summer day.  The two men followed Market Street in the direction of the bay, stopping at a Donut World.  Bert bought them each a large cup of coffee, which he paid for by dumping a pile of coins on the counter, sorting out the correct change, then gathering the remaining change off the counter.

The two men continued on until they reached the plaza at Battery Street, where they headed for the unoccupied benches near the Mechanics Monument, the large bronze sculpture that served as the plaza’s centerpiece.  Bert chose one where an overhanging tree threw some shade.  People walked quickly through the red and gray brick plaza, and a couple of teenagers were kicking up their skateboards and trying to catch them, but otherwise the plaza was empty.  The two men sat down, Abe placing the milk jug between himself and Bert, keeping a hold on the handle.  He leaned the cane against the bench.

“Glorious day, eh, Abe?” started Bert.

“You gonna proposition me or what,” countered Abe.

“Okay, okay.  All business.  I get it.”  Bert paused for dramatic effect.  “Here’s the idea.  I’m putting together a band.  I’m the manager, and I’d like you to be the lead singer.”

“Are you bullshitting me?” Abe snorted.

“Of course not.  I told you I used to manage bands.”

“You haven’t really managed bands.  What would you be doing hanging out in the subway?”

That cue was all Bert needed to launch into the story.  “Things change, my friend,” he started with a sigh.  “Many years ago, in my previous life, I was in the recording industry, working as an A&R rep for Sapphire Records.  I used to tour the country, going to bars and clubs, scouting for new bands.  My job was to spot who had the talent, the energy, the drive — that intangible quality that meant the difference between a bunch of guys having fun playing in a bar and getting their drinks for free, and being the next big thing.”

Bert took a long, slow sip of his coffee, then continued.  “The guys at Sapphire loved me.  On some of the high-potential bands, they put me in as the manager.”

“Uh huh,” said Abe.  “Let me guess.  You’re Berry Gordy’s long lost son?”

“Of course not,” answered Bert.  “But I had some successes.  You’ve heard of the Crooning Wombats, right?”

“No.”

“Well, anyway.  They were going to be the next big thing.  They had kind of a funky blues sound. I discovered them at One-Eyed Jack’s in Olympia.  That was long ago, of course.”

Bert paused to assess Abe’s reaction, but Abe just waited.  “The band put out a few albums,” Bert went on, “and we had a few good years.  But the band broke up before putting together any kind of breakthrough album.  Too many egos.  The band couldn’t agree on anything.”

“Keep talking,” said Abe, starting to display faint traces of a smile.

“Silent Scream did all right too,” continued Bert.  “And of course there were lots of other bands.  Those were the days.  I had a place on Nob Hill and life was one big party.”

Abe stirred.  “Okay.  I’ll bite.  Then what happened.”

“Then I lost the house in a messy divorce.  And things change fast in the music biz.  One day you’re a star, the next you’re odd man out.”  Bert quickly added, “But that’s okay.  I still have a few bucks left.  I work when I want to, doing this and that.”  He looked toward Abe.  “I don’t let them get me down.”

“And what makes you think Bert’s going to get back to the top?” asked Abe.  “Begging for dollars in the subway with some blind guy ain’t exactly the first rung on the ladder of success.”

“It’s been awhile but I’ve still got contacts.  Listen to me, Abe.  I can pull this off.”  Bert’s voice grew in both excitement and volume.  “Get this concept!  I’m building the band from talented performers such as yourself, who got dealt a bad hand in life.  It’ll be a bunch of –”  He paused to think of the right words.  “Gritty, street-hardened folks with the hunger and the passion to rise up and get one more chance at the world!”

Then Bert took on a quiet, passionate tone.  “Abe, you’ve got the fire inside you, and you’ve got the sweetest voice I’ve ever heard.  The band needs you.”  He took a deep breath.  “What do you say?”

Abe’s face broke into a wide smile and he started laughing heartily, his big body convulsing with each guffaw.  “What do I say?  What do I say?”  He gave another chuckle.  “I say you’re full of shit, brother.  Great story, though.”  He slapped Bert’s arm gently with the back of his hand.  “But I’ll tell you what.  I’ll call your bluff.  If you can pull together the musicians, I’m in.  But here’s the rest of the deal.  Until then, you need to stay away from my turf.”

“Fair enough,” answered Bert cheerfully, and the two men sat on the bench in the plaza silently for several minutes.  Then Bert spoke.  “Hey, Abe.  What’s your deal?  How’d you end up singing in the subways for a living?”

“Look.  Don’t get all chummy with me, all right?” Abe answered irritably.  “You laid out a deal and I agreed to it.  That’s all you need to know.  I don’t need you getting inside my head.”

Bert looked at Abe, wondering whether to respond and decided to let it go.  In any case, he had his singer.  He stood and tossed his empty cup into a trash can.  “All right.  I’ll keep in touch.”

“You know where to find me,” said Abe.

Bert sensed that Abe figured that come later this afternoon, they’d be right back where they had been – Abe singing in the Montgomery Street Station, and Bert hustling for his money.  He’d figure out soon enough that Bert was serious.

As Bert walked along the plaza and turned to head up Battery Street, he heard Abe bellow.  “Hey, Bert!  Your band need a sax player?”  Bert froze in his steps and turned back to face Abe, who was still on the bench.  “Sure,” he yelled back, unsure whether Abe was just setting him up.

“Go find Charlie at the Sixteenth Street Mission Station.”

“How will I recognize him?”

“You know how to play three card monte?”

“Yeah.”

“Good luck then.” Abe laughed, drank down the last bit of his coffee, crumbled the cup in his hand, and reclined on the bench, arms outstretched to take in all the sun that now shone on the bench.

– Book excerpt from Ladies and Gentlemen…The Redeemers. Purchase your copy at Amazon.

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Interview with Tina Murray, author of ‘A Chance to Say Yes’

Romance readers will recognize Southwest Florida resident Tina Murray from her published work Dead Palm Trees in Jackie Hofer’s anthology Tree Magic and from her essays in the USF literary journal Palm Prints.

A recluse at heart, Tina has ventured her way into the publishing world after years spent in a wide range of pursuits. Insight gained, especially as an actress and artist, subsequently enhanced by degrees in art education, education, art and drama from the the Florida State University and the University of Miami, has fed her imagination for her debut romance novel A Chance to Say Yes. Now she enjoys the sunny shores of paradise as she prepares the sequel in her movie-star dynasty.

www.tinamurrayauthor.com

www.tinyurl.com/ACTSYamazon

www.tinyurl.com/ACTSYbooktrailer

Q: Thank you for this interview, Tina. Can you tell us what your latest book, A Chance to Say Yes, is all about?

Poppy Talbot, an art dealer in wealthy Naples, Florida, must cope with her repressed love for drop-dead handsome Heston Demming, her old high-school boyfriend, who returns to town as one of the world’s biggest movie stars. Should she tell him her secret—or not?

Q: Is this your first novel?  If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?

A Chance to Say Yes, which is being released in a second edition, is my first published novel. Writing this novel was different from writing my first one and a half novels because, by the time I wrote A Chance to Say Yes, I had learned more about craft, the technique of writing fiction. I was very, very fortunate to have stumbled upon my publisher. He made me aware of ingredients missing from the recipe. Using what he and my editor taught me, I plan to go back and re-write my earlier works.

Q: How difficult was it writing your book?  Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

I had no problems related to the material or the writing process.  I did not experience writer’s block while writing A Chance to Say Yes.

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel?  Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

Many fans have expressed enthusiasm about A Chance to Say Yes. They have become emotionally engaged with the characters, loving some, hating others. They ask for revenge in the sequels. Ah, wait and see, I tell them. The sequel, A Wild Dream of Love, will be out soon, and there will be a third book.

Q: What is your daily writing routine?

Ideally, my routine is to arise in the morning and work for a few hours. Realistically, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, I write in the middle of the night. Morning and deepest night work best for me as a writer. These are the best times to mentally interact with the unseen world, if you will. In the morning, my mind is alert. In the wee hours, it’s closer to a dream state. Afternoons and early evenings, however, are iffy, even problematic. If I’ve overslept, I just do the best I can. Mostly, it’s a matter of having my mind free and clear of extraneous mental noise. My mind must be open to receive.

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

Lie down, put my feet up, listen to music for a few minutes. I go to Curves and do the workout. I go for a walk. See, I now type or keyboard standing up.

Q: What book changed your life?

A book that changed my attitude towards life was The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. It may be out of fashion, at the moment, but it helped me to understand one of life’s basics:  you choose your own thoughts.

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

Perhaps something akin to Oh! Now I Get It!, although I might lose the vulgarism and call it Oh! Now I Understand. Actually, I still don’t understand, so that title is not accurate. I do have episodes where I connect the dots, but I never reach a full understanding of anything. I’ll keep mulling this question.

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

Ouch. Let the list begin.  Oh, you mean one thing.  Okay. “…I take in a lot of information from the world around me, and I must have time to process it. If I don’t have time, I jam up mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Then I reach tilt, overload, and I spin out. Hence, I am reflective, a trait common among writers.

Recently—I don’t know, maybe I was flipping the channels or reading something—I came across a scene in which a man sitting at his desk was staring into space. A woman entered the room. Seeing him, she said, “I thought you were writing today.” He looked at her and said, “I am writing.”

Thank you for this interview. Tina.  I wish you much success on your latest release, A Chance to Say Yes!

Thank you very much to As the Pages Turn for introducing me to your readers. Thanks to your readers for reading.

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Christmas and Cousins by Joy DeKok

Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world. We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!

Christmas and Cousins

by Joy DeKok

I got a small doll with a high chair and other extras. My brother got a car race track. As much as we enjoyed the presents, it was the cousins that mattered most.

We were gathered at Dorothy and Lee’s house where they lived with their three boys. My cousin Sheila was there and so was our Grandma. My uncle and dad enjoyed the race track and played with it more than the boys. My brother was a cowboy that year and our cousin Scott an army guy. Sheila and I were pretend mommies and best friends.

We were allowed to stay up late and while that sounded good, I tend to get a little on the goofy side when over tired.  I was nearing exhaustion, but nowhere near ready to give up unless required to do so.

 

 

As adults do when watching the kids they love, the noticed how we’d grown – we were like stair steps– Randy the oldest to Scott the youngest. Tallest to shortest.

Lining us up for a picture was a bit of a challenge. We were all agreeable and obedient, but one of us had a problem. Me. I could not stop laughing and nothing funny had happened. I was alive and happy and tired and out of control.

For a moment driven by the need to take a deep breath (and after a stern parental look) I’d been able to stop giggling. Then, it happened. I heard Randy laugh. Then Steve. Then Sheila. Well, then it was my turn again and I was worse off than before – I now had back up! 

We enjoyed our family, our gifts, and the yummy food, but the best part was the line-up of laughing cousins.

Joy DeKok and her husband, Jon, live in Minnesota on thirty-five acres of woods and fields. Joy has been writing most of her life and as a popular speaker shares her heart and passion for God with women. In addition to writing novels, she has also published a devotional and several children’s books.

Visit Joy online at: www.joydekok.com, www.raindancebook.com, www.believe4kids.com and www.gettingitwrite.net. 

 

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