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Holiday Memories: Shouldering the Cross at Christmas by Ellen Chaksil

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!


Shouldering the Cross at Christmas
by Ellen Chaksil

With the approach of Christmas, I confided a terrible, heartbreaking suspicion to my cousin, Ann. My son David had been staying with me temporarily, and he was planning to once more get an apartment of his own. I had undertaken the chore of helping clear out some of his things. In the process of doing so, I had come across an abundance of pills in one of his bureau drawers. Since it was not the first time I had found them, I really became alarmed, thinking, Could he possibly be addicted to those pills?

“Oh, come on!” Ann interrupted. “I don’t think so. You did say they’re prescription drugs. Maybe that old football injury is kicking up. Then, too, he’s had a few minor accidents since then, so he might need them for pain.”

After a bit more discussion, I was ashamed of myself for having shared that ugly suspicion with Ann. When she got up to leave, I felt even worse that I had burdened her, for I could see that she was becoming more and more incapacitated by her rheumatoid arthritis, yet I marveled at how she almost never complained or made reference to her pain.

After Ann left, I prayed, asking the Lord to give her the strength she needed to cope; especially with the Christmas season upon us, there was so much to do. I also petitioned the Lord, asking Him to protect David. I so hoped Ann was right in her assessment, that he couldn’t be addicted to those pain pills, yet I had my doubts, as for some time I had known that all was not right in his life.

During the Christmas holidays, I invited Ann to dinner. When we finished eating, we retired to the living room and sat before the blazing fire in the fireplace. At first its warmth and charm failed to alter her sad mood. With folded arms, appearing totally dejected, she stared down at her misshapen feet and sounded even unhappier, saying, “Ellen, thanks for inviting me over; if you hadn’t called I would probably be lying down, hoping I could fall asleep. It seems that’s all I want to do anymore.”

In an effort to change her mood, I responded, “Ann, please don’t talk that way; God had given you a beautiful family and they desperately need you.”

“Oh, come on, Ellen,” she answered, releasing a well of tears. “Just take a good look at me.” Almost inaudibly she added, “Sometimes, even though I know better, I feel God doesn’t even exist. Or if He does, He has forgotten all about me.”

Hearing her, I began to understand her quiet demeanor; she had kept all that pain buried within herself.

I responded immediately. “Ann, I know how drastically your life has changed because of this illness, but you can’t just give up on life or on God. With and in Him you can find the peace and comfort you need to carry on.” A shiver of determination went through my body as I reached for my Bible. “You may not be up to it right now,” I said. “But let’s see if the Lord has a Word for us, one to lift us up.”

She gave no sign of either objection or agreement, so I simply went ahead and randomly opened the Bible. My eyes fell upon Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 16; in briefly scanning it, I considered it a most appropriate passage for us in that moment in time.

Before I began reading, I silently thanked God, knowing the scripture had opened to that exact page only through the guidance of His Holy Spirit:

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to be a follower of Mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow Me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lost it; but anyone who loses his life for My sake will find it. What then will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life?”

Reading from the accompanying reference notes, I added, “Ann, here we read that the word ‘life’ means the life of our soul as well as that of our person. Jesus is telling us that even if we possess the entire world, we are not able to buy an extra second of life on Earth. And that’s okay, because what we must be concerned about is the life of our soul, our spirit, because it lives on after physical death. And we cannot risk the loss of our soul by turning away from God.”

“In that Scripture reading, Jesus is telling us to accept our burden, to carry our cross, whatever it might be. He did, after all, lay out the pattern for us; we need only follow in His Way and we will find the strength we need to persevere.”

I could see the tears running down Ann’s cheeks and I handed her a tissue to dry her eyes. I also needed one for myself. It grieved me to see my beloved cousin suffering so much. After a few moments had passed, I said, “Ann, I know it’s difficult to accept this hope-filled message, especially when you are suffering as much as you are, but remember Jesus promised that when we accept and carry our cross, it will be lightened. C’mon, what do you say? Let’s continue getting together to pray, read, and learn about the Way He offers.”

I was so pleased when I saw her nod her head in agreement.

In the following months, I was even happier as I watched an almost miraculous change take place in Ann. While her physical condition continued to worsen, she no longer appeared to be depressed. Once again we could see her beautiful dimples, because she smiled more often.

ELLEN CHAKSIL (pen name for Helen Silvestri) is the author of “With God There Is Hope: Hope for Humanity.” She is a member of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Charismatic Prayer Group in Scranton, Pa. She began receiving messages from God in 1978. She needed to share what she experienced with church officials. Her quest led her from her home in Northeast Pennsylvania to the Vatican. After numerous attempts, she was able to make contact. In 1992, she met Pope John Paul II and in 1996 she received official recognition that he had read her letter detailing the prophecy she received from God. Ellen also contacted Boguslaw Lipinski, Ph.D of Harvard Medical School. He provided hypothetical proof of the concept that when people gather to pray, energy is emitted. Now Ellen’s goal is to help unite the world in prayer to generate the power great enough to forestall catastrophe and enable humanity’s continued existence. She hopes her book will be an instrument to raise awareness of the power of prayer.

Visit Ellen’s blog at: catholiccharismaticprophecies.blogspot.com
Visit Ellen’s Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000344651305&ref=name

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Holiday Memories: The Night Santa Tiptoed by Juanita Salazar Lamb

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!


The Night Santa Tiptoed
by Juanita Salazar Lamb

I was seven years old and it was the last Christmas I would believe in Santa for many years to come.  We were living in “La Colonia”, the projects in Oxnard, California. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and rolling over in bed, causing the rusted iron frame of my cot to squeak and screech as I tried to find a comfortable spot on the sagging mattress.  I heard the tip-toeing of footsteps across bare linoleum from the living room to the bottom of the staircase, where they stopped for a minute, then retreated.  I could see the glow of a light from downstairs, and knew with all my heart that Santa was busy laying out our Christmas presents.  I jiggled around in bed to make it squeak again, testing my theory of who the footsteps belonged to. Sure enough, once again I heard the tiptoeing  come to the bottom of the stairs, where they stopped then retreated.  I wanted so much to go down and see Santa, but I also knew he would disappear if I saw his face. And what if he hadn’t laid out my presents yet?  We didn’t have a chimney and I figured he wouldn’t want to get caught up in the power lines that rang along the roof tops, so I just knew Santa had parked his sleigh in the little patch of backyard next to the clothesline, but not too close to the garbage can. The bedroom I shared with my sister faced the front, and my brothers’ bedroom looked out over the backyard.  How I wanted to go into their room and see Santa’s sleigh, but just that afternoon my brothers had threatened me with my life if I EVER went into their room again.   What a dilemma: get to see Santa’s sleigh but not live to open presents; or never see his sleigh but get to enjoy Christmas morning?  Before I could make a decision I fell back asleep, dreaming of what Santa would leave for me under the tree.

Juanita Salazar Lamb is a member of the Latino Writers Collective who once again believes in Santa. Her most recent stories are included in the anthology “Cuentos del Centro: Stories from the Latino Heartland”. She is currently working on a novel.

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Christmas Memories: An Old-Fashioned Christmas at Pardee Square by Molly Roe

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!


An Old-Fashioned Christmas at Pardee Square
by Molly Roe

“A tree? In the house?” Pat and James laughed when I shook my head at the doings in the parlor. Mrs. Pardee had ordered the strongest servants to remove some heavy pieces of furniture to make room for a ten foot tree.

“The ways of the wealthy are strange, Katie. When you have too much money it scrambles your brain,” said James.

“Guess my senses will never be addled then,” I said.

“Mrs. Pardee imported all the decorations and candle-holders from Germany. Christmas trees are a popular tradition there,” said Pat.

“Here, here, get to work and stop gossiping about your betters,” said Mrs. Lane, who had only heard Pat’s last comment. Mrs. Lane directed the staff in decorating the branches with candles, glass balls, and tin ornaments. James’s towering height and long arms were needed to reach the highest branches. The candles sat on the boughs in cleverly designed pendulum holders that were balanced by weighted stars. With the candles lit, the dangling glass balls and tin ornaments reflected a soft radiance. Baby Frank reached out a chubby hand to grasp the colorful objects, but his nursery maid whisked him out of range. Once the evergreen was in place, I had to admit the piney aroma and cheerful appearance was a welcome change from the parlor’s usual stuffy atmosphere. A Christmas tree was a lot of work, but the finished product was lovely. As I stepped back to admire the effect, small fists tugged on my uniform skirt.

“Katie, Katie, look how I stayed in the lines!” Six-year-old Bart Pardee and his older brother, Izzie, were helping to decorate, cutting out Thomas Nast’s newspaper sketches of Santa Claus and coloring them. I complimented the boys and cut pieces of tinsel garland to tie their artwork onto the tree.

My favorite display was the three-tiered pyramid contraption on a side table. The draft created by small red candles moved wooden paddle blades, and a carved Nativity scene twirled before my fascinated eyes. I wished my sisters could see the delights. At least I was able to take the stubs when the candles were replaced. I would send them to Murphy’s Patch so a candle would remain burning in our window through the Christmas season.

One afternoon Mrs. Pardee announced a shopping trip to the Kristkindlmarkt in Pottsville. The outside fair would feature imported gift items for Christmas. German cuckoo clocks, Moravian stars, creche scenes, and intricate toys for the younger children were among the items for sale.

Mrs. P. planned to buy a large ceramic stein. She started planning a trip by train to the city. The most exciting news was that I would attend Mrs. Pardee and the children.

On the day of departure, we hustled to the station with enough luggage for several days. Porters carried the bags onto the train, but I would be in charge of everything once we were on board. A reddish-brown car with crisp gold lettering was already pulled up at the siding. I was more excited than Izzie and Bart since we were traveling in a luxury box with soft leather seats and plush velvet hangings for privacy. Our tickets gave us access to the lounge car and other exclusive areas that I had never seen before. To give Mrs. Pardee some quiet time, I took the two children for a walk through the cars to the observation deck.

“Oh, look at the horses in the field… and the hex sign on that barn.” I pointed out the green-glazed windows at highlights of the landscape to keep the children occupied. When we went back to our berth, we played counting and memory games until the children were lulled into naps. The lurching of the train stopping at Pottsville station awoke the children, and we gathered our possessions and left the car.

A coachman was waiting for us at the brick P&R station when we alit from the train amidst a cloud of steam, and he swept us by carriage to Pennsylvania Hall where a luxury suite was set aside for the Pardees. Visiting coal barons to the Schuylkill County seat always stayed in the hotel’s deluxe accommodations. Even my room, on the least exclusive floor, was delightful. I bounced onto the wide bed and giggled as I was almost launched off the other side.

I freshened up and had a cold luncheon before going to the outdoor market with Mrs. Pardee and her sons. The street scene was bustling with excitement. Large kegs at the intersections blocked out traffic to provide safe travel for pedestrians through small wooden booths and canvas-covered displays.

Mrs. Pardee examined and ordered many items. Some were to be personalized or created especially to her taste. The children wove between people in the crowd and raced each other from booth to booth.

“Boys, stop!” I chased them down a crowded lane and scolded them. “Your mother is looking for you.”

“Mother, can I buy something?” asked Bart, pointing at a toy display.

“Nothing for yourself, but you may purchase something for your brothers and sister.”

Mrs. Pardee took note of their choices for Christmas gifts. The long day was beginning to wear on the boys, and they started to push each other and bicker.

“Time to return to the hotel,” said Mrs. Pardee amidst complaints from her sons.

Once Izzie and Bart were settled with a maid from the hotel to oversee their supper, Mrs. Pardee and I returned to the market to choose items for the children. By five o’clock the vendors had fires and lamps lit to allow their customers to see their merchandise. The festive scene was very enjoyable and since I was wearing my warmest outer garments, including gloves and scarf, the bite of the cold air did not affect my pleasure. Every breath filled my lungs with the smell of chestnuts, pretzels or spicy sausages roasting on open grates. Candles, incense, toasted candied peanuts, gingerbread, and other exotic scents mingled in the air. Laughter and music met my ears. It was as much a social event as it was a market.

My employer smiled and discussed the merchandise with the vendors, but her good mood disappeared when time came to order. Spoiled by the constant pandering of merchants in Hazleton and Philadelphia, Mrs. Pardee was dumbstruck that she would have to wait for some of the items.

Turning to me with a stern look she said, “You’ll have to stay in the city two extra days to collect my purchases and ensure their quality.”

“Yes, M’am.” I answered in a demure way, but beneath my composed face I was delighted.

Annoyed that she would have to take the trip back without my help, Mrs. P. pushed a purse into my hands and gave me last minute instructions. The money was to pay for the orders, for cab fare and tips, and for the return trip to Hazleton. She and the children bustled off to the station to catch the train home.

Early the next morning I set out on my mission. One of the bellboys was especially friendly. He called a cab and refused the tip I offered.

“Sure you need the money more than I do, darlin’. Buy yourself something at the fair.”

The cab lurched off before I could refuse the bellboy’s generosity, but I had an idea of what I’d buy with the unexpected spending money. The leather seat sighed as I settled into it.

I paid the driver and stepped onto the slate sidewalk. I thought about what I could buy my parents and sisters at the market. The small drawstring bag in which I kept my money clinked as I jiggled it. I wished that I had more money. It would be difficult to stretch the funds four ways.

Just as the thought entered my mind, I had a brainstorm. The ticket! I searched through my bag and located the return ticket that Mrs. Pardee pushed into my hand last night. It was a first class seat! My emotions soared. I could exchange the expensive ticket for a cheap seat in a combination car. I didn’t mind traveling with the ordinary passengers and baggage, especially since it meant several extra dollars in my purse.

I sallied off to the street fair feeling like a wealthy capitalist. My first purchase was simple. I decided to purchase some fragrant spices and a cookie press shaped like an angel for my mother, the baker.

The next stall has wonderful three-tiered pyramids like the one at Pardee Square. The carving and paintwork on the tiny figures was exquisite, but the prices were far beyond my pocketbook. Fortunately a little farther along I came to a booth with small German woodcarvings. One piece, depicting a trio of girls playing Ring a-ring o’roses, reminded me of my sisters and me in early childhood. My father would appreciate both the subject and the quality of the piece, so I added that gift to my basket.

My sisters would be happy with some candy, but should it be fudge, sugar mice, parma violets, barley toy candy, or rock candy strings? Apothecary-style jars lined the open shelves in the rear of the stand with more choices than I had ever seen in one place. The colorful and tempting plate of broken candy for sampling helped with my decision. Red and green barley pops finished my shopping list.

I swung the string-wrapped parcels and imagined my family’s delight on Christmas morning. I collected the merchandise for Mrs. Pardee and returned to the hotel. Passing my friend the bellboy, I smiled and told him that my little sisters would appreciate his kindness on Christmas morning.

MOLLY ROE (pen name for Mary Garrity Slaby) is the author of “Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires” and a contributor to “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk High School.” She is a veteran language arts & reading teacher at Lake-Lehman Junior Senior High School. Mary holds a Ph.D. in education from Temple University, and Pennsylvania teaching certification in six areas. She has pursued the hobby of genealogy for the past decade. Mary was born in Philadelphia, raised in Schuylkill County, and currently lives in Dallas, Pennsylvania with her husband, John. They are parents of two grown children, Melissa and John Garrett, cover illustrator of “Call Me Kate.” Digging into the past has given Mary newfound respect for her ancestors and a better understanding of history. Call Me Kate is the first in the author’s trilogy of historical novels loosely based on the lives of the strong women who preceded her.

Visit Molly’s blog at: conversationsfromthesideporch.blogspot.com
Visit Molly’s Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1504351498&ref

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Guest Blogger Marta Stephens: A Christmas Presence

Sleigh bells ring…are you listening….Christmas is exactly one week from today, can you believe it? All that running around still isn’t done for a lot of good folks out there, but I’ve got a treat for you. Sit back, sip a hot toddy and enjoy a little Christmas story sent in by Marta Stephens, a writer I truly admire for a lot of reasons.

She’s been on a virtual book tour this month and I’ve hosted her at some of my other blogs, but what I have found that I didn’t know before was how great she is with people. She has hosted some of my authors on her blog, Murder by 4, and did so very graciously, never complaining when a blog post came late and never demanding anything really.

As her tour comes to a close, I asked her if she would like to send me a Christmas story so I could put it up at As the Pages Turn before she left. It’s going to be sad to see her go, but we’ve already become lifetime friends so at least I know this won’t be the last I’ll hear from her!

But, back to her story….if you love ghostie stories as well as Christmas stories, you’ll love this. Thank you, Marta, and have a Merry Christmas!

A Christmas Presence
© Marta Stephens 2008 all rights reserved

snowman1It was well after midnight before Ted, our two young children, and I returned home from my parents’ on Christmas Eve. Outside, a gentle snow drifted to the ground, the air was calm and the night was as peaceful as any greeting card promised this night should be.

Inside our century-old home, Sara and Jimmy, ages five and three, were wound up tighter than a timekeeper’s watch with the prospect of Santa’s impending arrival. I placed the near empty green bean casserole dish on the counter and tossed my purse onto one of the overstuffed chairs. It landed as gracefully as my husband had when he dropped into his recliner.

“Time for bed, kids,” he said, draping an arm over his eyes.
“Five more minutes.” The plea on Sara’s face was perfectly mirrored in Jimmy’s eyes.

“No, silly,” I said, as I hung their coats in the closet then shut the door. “You know Santa won’t come until we’re all sound asleep. Come on, straight to bed, you two.” They knew the drill, yet I wasn’t surprised at their repeated resistance. After all, Christmas was a once-a-year special event. It was about presents and bright colored lights, laughter and songs and a multiple of things that sent ripples of excitement through the evening air.

christmas-tree2By the time Ted made his way into the kids’ bedroom, they had slipped on their pajamas but were still giggling and squealing with excitement. I kissed them goodnight and watched as he futilely tucked them in knowing they were nowhere near ready to sleep.

“S-h-h-h,” he said as he kissed them goodnight too then left the room.
I turned off their light and quietly closed the door. Tomorrow, I thought, our families would arrive by noon. My focus switched to the fifteen-pound turkey thawing inside the fridge that needed to go in the oven by seven a.m. The list of ingredients for my cranberry dressing had crossed my mind too when I saw Ted tiptoe down the stairs with an armful of presents.

“Come on,” he whispered and motioned with a nod for me to follow, “let’s get these under the tree.”

I leaned an ear toward the children’s room a final time. Certain they had fallen asleep, I picked up the pace, followed Ted down the stairs and into the living room. He had arranged his gift boxes beneath the tree and let out a sigh by the time I arrived with a load of presents that filled my outstretched arms clear up to my chin. The largest box in my hands was the miniature china tea set Sara had seen in a store the month before. Several smaller boxes contained shirts and sweaters that Jimmy would toss on the couch the minute he opened them. A quick tally of gifts encircling the tree assured me we hadn’t left any behind. I drew in a cleansing breath. With it came a sudden sense of tranquility—a peace I hadn’t felt since the shopping madness took over my life five weeks before.

Each year Ted and I promised not to cave in to the commercialization of Christmas and yet, the number of gift bags and boxes that encircled our artificial tree, the garland of Christmas cards hanging across the archway leading into the next room, and the diminished balance in our check book was a testament to our growing weakness. The holidays of my youth were far simpler, or so I thought, and in spite of our annual promise, we had fallen shamefully short of fulfilling our vow once more.

“If this old house could talk,” I said.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s a hundred years old. Don’t you ever wonder about the families who lived here before us—who they were, what they did for a living?”

“Not really.” Ted stifled a yawn and rubbed his eyes.

“Do you suppose their children were anything like Sara and Jimmy?”

“Amanda …”

“Can’t you just imagine what Christmas must have been like in this house at the turn of the century?”

“Yeah, bitter cold and no modern conveniences.”

“Bet they were quaint.”

“You’re romanticizing it, my sweet. Come, on. It’s almost two.” He wrapped an arm around my waist and nudged me upstairs. “Let’s get to bed. We’re not going to get much sleep as it is and we’re in for a long day tomorrow.”

Unsure why that bit of nostalgia hit me just then, I surrendered to my husband’s urging. Christmas or not, my body ached for a few hours of sleep so I raced him into the bedroom, slipped on my night clothes and just as quickly slid under the covers and closed my eyes.

Ted did likewise and for a minute or two a wonderful silence engulfed us. That is, until we heard the pitter patter of footsteps going down the stairs.

“Darn those two! They’re up,” I said. “Ted … the kids.”

He sounded off a few unpleasant grunts, swung his feet out from under the covers and dashed down the hallway. I heard him thunder downstairs first, then followed the sounds of his steps as he returned to the second floor landing and into Sara’s and Jimmy’s room. I sat up expecting to hear another round of giggles, instead, Ted shuffled into our room and got back in bed.

“Well?” I asked. “What are they doing?”

“They’re sound asleep.”

“But I heard their steps—I mean, so did you, didn’t you?”

“Thought I did. It’s this house, could have been the furnace.” With that he turned on his side and pulled the covers up over his head again. “Good night.”

The first glimmer of dawn came much faster than I would have liked, but adrenalin kicked in to make up for sleep deprivation. Still in my robe and without bothering to put on my slippers, I began to get things in motion for our annual family Christmas luncheon. Soon, the smell of freshly brewed coffee permeated my kitchen as did the smell of finely chopped onions and celery intended to flavor the dressing. I basted the turkey with a wonderful cranberry glaze and shoved it into the oven where it would need to roast for several hours.

With a piece of buttered toast in my hand I poured myself a cup of some much needed coffee and went into the living room to plug in the tree. Bright colored ornaments reflected the twinkle of the tiny white lights we had cursed at some weeks before as we labored to untangle the mess of twisted wires. I pulled open the drapes to find it had snowed overnight. A glint of early sunshine swept over the snow-covered ground adding a splash of its color across the landscape. Not a footprint or tire track had scarred its sparkling surface. Just as in a Christmas of long ago, I thought. Ted’s words echoed back shaming me into dismissing the notion as utter nonsense. I moved back to admire the Christmas tree one last time before Sara and Jimmy came down and tore into their presents. The peace of the moment was shattered, however, by the excruciating pain in the ball of my foot from whatever I had mindlessly stepped on.

I looked at the metal jack in disbelief. It resembled those from a set of ten I used to play with when I was a little girl—the kind that came with a small, bright red rubber ball. I hadn’t seen one like this in years and the thought forced a million images through my mind. Sara’s jacks were big, plastic, and pink and no one had been to our house since I vacuumed the room the morning before. I couldn’t explain how this little jack had found its way to the spot in front of our tree.

A chill ran up my arms as I glanced back at the staircase and wondered what presence had visited our home on that Christmas morning. Had a special child’s spirit or a playful angel stopped for a holiday visit, intentionally leaving the toy behind as tangible proof of their existence? I couldn’t say. All I know is that I felt as if I was meant to find it in my own clumsy way. Inexplicable as it was, I might have imagined the sounds of those tiny steps, but I couldn’t dismiss the object in the palm of my hand. I don’t know if it was a sign or an incredible coincidence. Whatever the answer, it left me with a warm sense of connection and a renewed belief in Christmas magic.

The End

Marta Stephens is a native of Argentina who has made Indiana her home since the age of four. This mild-manner lady turned to crime with the publication of the first in her Sam Harper Crime Mystery series, SILENCED CRY (2007) which went on to receive honorable mention at the 2008 New York Book Festival and top ten in the 2007 Preditors & Editors Reader Poll. The second book in the Harper series, THE DEVIL CAN WAIT, will be released by BeWrite Books (UK) on November 3, 2008.

Stephens holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism/Public Relations from Ball State University (IN) where she is employed in human resources. She is a member of Sisters in Crime International, Sisters in Crime Speed City Indiana Chapter, and the Midwest Writer’s Workshop.

Stephens believes learning is a life-long adventure. Aside from her writing, she is trained in graphic and web design. She co-designed the award-winning book cover of her debut novel, SILENCED CRY with friend Scott Parkison (IN), created the book trailer, and designed/administers her website, www.martastephens-author.com, her personal blog, http://mstephens-musings.blogspot.com, and the authors’ blog, MURDER BY 4 http://murderby4.blogspot.com.

Stephens lives with her husband, daughter (22), and son (20). She enjoys oil paintings, gardening, the family’s pet Boston Bulls and mini Daschunds, and shared moments with family and friends.

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