The Trucker’s Cat eBook is FREE

My patriotic romance, The Trucker’s Cat, is FREE

Thursday, April 27th – Saturday, April 29th!

 

The Trucker’s Cat Amazon Link 

 

Some men think there’s a choice between right and wrong. Great men know there is none.” ~General Steven Randall

At the Russian Embassy where she lives with her mother and stepfather, Samantha Randall uncovers a plot to assassinate the U.S. President. Her father’s famous speech urges her to act, so she treks cross-country to warn the driver that his cargo has the proof. She soon finds herself stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Driving a truck on a covert assignment, Major Logan McCormick had sworn off women after his bitter divorce. Against protocol, he rescues Samantha and gives the wildcat a ride. Although drawn to Samantha’s uplifting spirit, he uses his sullen nature as a shield against her. Will she see through his rigid manner?

With Russian special forces searching for Logan’s cargo and another team chasing Samantha, they quickly realize they must work together to prevent the unthinkable. Will their sacrifices be enough to stop the assault?

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A Painful Lesson

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A few years ago, as a distraction from the long wait after submitting my Series to various publishers, I wrote The Trucker’s Cat and then put that out into the universe, too. Finally, it happened; two different publishers were looking for two different stories and happened to make me offers at the same time.

Well, I worked with 48fourteen Publishing for Chemical Attraction first. We went back and forth with changes until we were in agreement. I loved that process.

Not all publishers are the same. (I thought I had done enough research.) The Trucker’s Cat publisher was new to the business. We all have to start somewhere, right? My experience was not a pleasant one. She changed much of the story without permitting me to defend my work. It hurt. Three months after publication, that publisher decided to go in another direction and took my novel off the market.

I learned all of this through a brief email with very little explanation. At the time, I was shocked, distraught, angry, depressed, and lost, a personal hit. It took almost a year to rebuild the confidence to self-publish the eBook version, but it’s written the way I intended. That painful lesson gave me a greater respect and appreciation for Juanita Samborski and 48fourteen Publishing.

Now, still using Deidre Hof’s amazing cover art, The Trucker’s Cat is available in PRINT.

I had struggled with formatting the interior for the new and improved story and read various blogs by authors who knew more on the subject. Definitely a test of my patience for my lack of knowhow.

Here’s what I learn from this experience. From hard work to pain and embarrassment to more hard work to another personal triumph; my best has gotten better. I had overcome that constant nagging question in my head.

“Do you know what you’re doing?” my inner critic asked.

“No, but I will figure it out,” I replied.

And so I did. Way to go, Me!!

 

The Trucker’s Cat in PRINT

 

Do you know that feeling? The Struggle is real…

 

The Trucker’s Cat Blurb

“Some men think there’s a choice between right and wrong. Great men know there is none.”  ~ General Steven Randall

At the Russian Embassy where she lives with her mother and stepfather, Samantha Randall uncovers a plot to assassinate the U.S. President. Her father’s famous speech urges her to act, so she treks cross-country to warn the driver that his cargo has the proof. She soon finds herself stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Driving a truck on a covert assignment, Major Logan McCormick had sworn off women after his bitter divorce. Against protocol, he rescues Samantha and gives the wildcat a ride. Although drawn to Samantha’s uplifting spirit, he uses his sullen nature as a shield against her. Will she see through his rigid manner?

With Russian special forces searching for Logan’s cargo and another team chasing Samantha, they quickly realize they must work together to prevent the unthinkable. Will their sacrifices be enough to stop the assault?

 

DID YOU KNOW: The Garden Collection

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Some writers say they put bits of themselves into their stories. I, too, have incorporated parts of my life into my writing. I call it—Therapy. These are a few of my bits and pieces that sparked this novel.

DID YOU KNOW my daughter, Andrea, drew the cover art? She captured the essence of the story as a touch of hope amid Brianna’s bleak reality.

DID YOU KNOW the Holiday proposal commercials for Kay’s Jewelry inspired Donovan’s Family business? Those sappy ads with the perfect hokey proposals make women weep and men cringe at the romance.

In the story, Lucy Donovan tells her brother, Robert, “We have the real romance with you and Brianna. How much better will our commercials be when we show the creators’ history behind the designs? Every couple has a unique story to their romance…”

DID YOU KNOW I modeled Robert’s father, Paul Donovan, after The Most Reverend Paul V. Donovan, Bishop Emeritus of Kalamazoo? As a teenager, I met him a couple of times and thought he was the kindest man I had ever known. I still think that about him. Larger than life, he had a serene demeanor. Everyone was important to him. Using those same traits, my fictional Paul Donovan is highly respected by his peers for his patience and compassion.

DID YOU KNOW I dedicated the novel to my daughter and to the fifth-grade boy from my class who stood up to a bully for me? After all these years, I still hold his sweet gesture close to my heart. He made a difference.

The Garden Collection Blurb

A few words of encouragement can stay with you for a lifetime. Robert and Brianna’s childhood friendship grew into respect for each other and their ideas. Robert gave her the confidence to stand up for herself. Brianna helped him see his artistic potential and encouraged him to travel for his inspiration. He found it in the letters she wrote.

Now struggling to care for her six-year-old half-sister, Chloe, after their mother abandoned them, Brianna Carlson receives news that her abusive stepfather will be released from prison. Still limping from a once broken leg, she’s terrified he’ll come back to hurt Chloe this time. She decides to leave town.

While traveling for his family’s jewelry business, Robert Donovan designed The Garden Collection, his newest line of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Returning home, he discovers Brianna had lied in every letter she sent. She never received any of his. Before he can demand answers, she disappears without Chloe. As Robert learns about Brianna’s life during his absence, he sets out to find her and convince her to trust him again.

For a copy of The Garden Collection, click HERE.

 

 

Believing in Something Greater

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“Some men think there’s a choice between right and wrong. Great men know there is none.”

~ General Steven Randall

 

With a family history of military service, I’ve learned that believing in something greater, whether it’s the love of God, country, or each other, affects us in powerful ways.

In The Trucker’s Cat, Samantha Randall and Major Logan McCormick have a choice, and they choose not to have one. They will do what’s necessary to prevent the unthinkable—a Presidential assassination. Will their sacrifices be enough to stop the assault?

After a painful divorce, Logan swears off women, but he finds himself drawn to Samantha’s uplifting spirit and genuine smile. As an Army brat, Samantha is naturally attracted to Logan’s bravery and rough exterior.

On their mission, they discover their motives are the same. Will they let their hearts expand from the joy of that connection? Will Logan keep his loneliness a secret and do nothing, or will Sam see through his rigid manner?

Find out in The Trucker’s Cat on Amazon

This romantic adventure with a patriotic theme is on SALE for ONLY $0.99.

The Birds of Winter

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Today, I’m featuring a short story written by my brother, James. I’d like to think my passion for writing is rubbing off on him…

 

The Birds of Winter

By James Bennett

I knew returning to Michigan was going to be hard. Under these circumstances perhaps even harder. It had just started to snow as I arrived at my mother’s house. A gust of cold wind blew across my neck as I made my way to the door. She was ready with a glass of wine and a deck of cards hoping to make up some lost time. It’s been tough for her since her father died two months ago. Especially on Sunday when we used to gather for the traditional family dinner.

We sat down at the kitchen table and had time for a few games before my brother and sisters arrived. “Gin again,” my mother said as she slapped down her cards. I had never quite got the hang of the game she taught us when we were kids. She left me there to shuffle the cards as she journeyed to refill her drink.

Just then a cloud passed overhead and cast a shadow on the room. When I glanced outside I noticed a bright red Cardinal staring at me from the feeder. I was mesmerized by his flickering motion and instantly transported on a memory to my grandfather’s house. I was six years old standing perfectly still in a foot of snow with my arms outstretched. Wrapped in a faded purple snowsuit that was handed down from my sister, I waited patiently.

I remember my grandfather telling me that if I was perfectly still, they would come. And as the minutes passed, standing there trying not to shiver from the cold, they came. I was hypnotized by the movement, watching them dart back and forth. I could see them jump around on the different feeders hanging from the small maple tree. They would jump from a branch to the feeder and back again waiting for their turn. Sometimes they would light in the huge black walnut tree just down the hill and sometimes they would seem to appear out of nowhere. I knew each type of bird. My mother and grandfather both taught me the difference between Sparrows, Wrens, Finches and a dozen others.

Finally, it happened. First a Chickadee, then another, then a Wren and two sparrows. They took turns hopping in and out of my hands taking a bit of seed each time. Their tiny feet felt like snowflakes dancing in my hand. I’ve never felt closer to nature.

“What are you staring at?” my mother said as she returned with her drink.

“I was just remembering when grandpa taught us how the birds could eat out of our hands.”

“I haven’t thought about that for years. What made you think of that?”

“I just noticed the birds outside on your feeder. Do they stick around all winter?”

“Of course,” she said.

“But, don’t most birds migrate for the winter? What makes these stay though the harsh bitter cold months?”

“Well, because, this is their home and this is where their families are.” After a moment, we both smiled at each other.

“Now deal the cards,” she said.

xxx

Thanks again for stopping by. Did you enjoy the story?

Let James know in the comments.

Happy 2017—a Year of Kindness & Encouragement!

 

Searching for Her

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“Synchronicity happens when you align with the flow of the Universe rather than insisting the Universe flows your way.” – Akemi G

I finally finished Searching for Her, an anthology of short stories about Joe Roberts from The Chemical Attraction Series. Each story shares secrets about Joe’s family, secrets that aren’t revealed anywhere in the novels.

Throughout the seven shorts, Joe gradually loses faith that he’ll find his one. Convinced that Madeline Pierce is his perfect match, Joe’s sisters push for a connection between them. Each time they force a meeting, it backfires in a big way. With synchronicity keeping them apart, Joe and Madeline are unaware God’s Plan for them is grander.

“Purple Roses” is my favorite of the bunch, which isn’t surprising. I love all the poignant scenes between Joe and Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia. Over coffee, they ponder Tennyson’s quote, ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Joe wants his life to be better, but he’s tired of searching.

I’ll share the anthology for FREE in a few months when The Kindred Code, the next book in the Series, is released. In the meantime, sign up for my NEWSLETTER. Not only will you be the first to read the anthology, you’ll qualify for giveaways and special promotions.

Sign up HERE

Thank you for your support and Happy New Year.

THE GARDEN COLLECTION: Prologue

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Tuesday, December 31st

When the side door to the singlewide trailer slammed shut, Brianna Carlson sighed with relief. In her cramped bedroom, she bounced her eleven-month-old half-sister, Chloe, on her hip to keep her quiet. Her mom and Wayne had argued all afternoon. The fight had escalated, and they blamed her.

While she waited for the door to jar the trailer again, she gazed into the mirror propped on top of her worn dresser. Between caring for Chloe and getting ready, it had taken two hours to style her hair into a loose bun with long brown ringlets. Now, strands of it fell around her heart-shaped face.

She picked up the paper cup next to her brush. She had wanted to put the tiny silk rosebuds throughout. Not now, and it would take forever to comb out the hairspray.

Sidestepping the crib wedged between the wall and her bed, she listened at the door. She slowly cracked it open. The dark wood paneling and water-stained ceiling tiles trapped the tension along with the lingering scent of cigarette smoke. The drawn shades with frayed edges mimicked her hidden life.

Bree didn’t hear her stepfather; she saw her torn pale pink princess dress draped over his greasy plaid recliner. Well, that just confirmed it. She wasn’t leaving tonight. After shifting Chloe to her other hip, she checked the dress. Maybe she could repair it.

When she heard the refrigerator door open and the clink of beer bottles, she winced and hugged her sister closer to her chest. Chloe seemed to sense her anxiety and whimpered as they faced Wayne Miller. His sweat-stained t-shirt uncovered his hairy gut as he chugged his beer from the kitchen doorway.

He rubbed his stubble and belched. “Jesus, Bree. You just couldn’t watch the baby for one night? You pushed her over the edge. She ain’t coming back this time.”

“I watch the baby every night. I wanted to go to the New Year’s Eve Ball with Lucy.”

“Now, nobody’s going,” he said.

“It’s not my fault. I asked months ago.”

His hand clenched into a fist. She braced herself and turned the baby away. The full force of his fist smashed into her cheek. The sharp pain shot through her head and down her neck as he wrenched it to the side. A flash of light behind her eyes blinded her. She would have fallen to the floor, but the back of the shabby sofa kept her upright. Afraid of dropping Chloe, she gripped her tighter. Her sister wailed, and Bree’s eye swelled.

“It is your fault,” he growled, before depositing his empty bottle on the counter with the others.

With blurred vision, she staggered back to her bedroom. When the side door slammed shut, she blew out a breath. That was her fault. She should have waited a while longer. Gently bouncing her sister, Bree hummed to keep herself from sobbing.

With her stepdad gone for the night and her mom gone for good, the thick tension dissipated within their dumpy trailer at Hilton’s Trailer Park in Rushing, Michigan. Chloe immediately stopped crying and wrapped her tiny arms around Bree’s neck.

In the kitchen, Brianna reached for a bag of peas from the freezer. “Don’t worry, my sweet Clover. I’ll never leave you.”

Slightly dizzy, Bree sat at the kitchen table and turned the baby around. Chloe grabbed the spoon from the edge of the round table while Bree held the peas against her cheek. She cringed from the cold pain. The side of her face throbbed. Closing her eyes, she frowned at the disappearing possibilities.

“No use waiting any longer,” she said, taking the end of the spoon out of Chloe’s mouth.

She set the baby in her playpen and handed her the bag of peas. Chloe stuck a corner into her mouth and smiled as it numbed her sore gums. Brianna dialed her best friend, Lucy Donovan, who lived in the big house on the hill next to the golf course.

“Bree, are you ready? How do the roses look in your hair? Robert will pick you up at seven-thirty. He has your ticket.”

“Well, he can let someone else have it. I can’t go,” she replied, forcing herself not to cry.

“No! Bree! You got permission months ago. What happened?”

“Apparently they forgot. You go and have fun. I want to hear all about it tomorrow.”

“I think it sucks, especially on your birthday.”

“My birthday isn’t until tomorrow so it doesn’t count.” She grimaced as she touched her puffy cheek.

“We were pretending that it was your Sweet Sixteen Coming Out party,” Lucy pouted.

“It’s not a big deal. There’s always next year.”

“All right, well, we’re having a family dinner for Robert tomorrow before he leaves. You can come and bring Chloe, too.”

“Sure, Lucy. Call me tomorrow.”

Bree wouldn’t go. She’d get too many sympathetic looks from Lucy’s family. Paul and Marta Donovan welcomed her into their home, but she caught the glimpses. She was the scruffy kitten they fed on their back doorstep.

Lucy had been her best friend since kindergarten. She didn’t care that Bree wore clothes from Goodwill. They bonded over each other’s hair. Bree was fascinated with Lucy’s short blond curls, and Lucy liked to brush Bree’s thick brown mane like her dolls. Bree didn’t mind. It was soothing and quite funny that someone envied her.

Through the years, Lucy tried every type of expensive shampoo to make her blond hair stronger and longer. She jokingly begged her for the secret. Bree’s secret was a ninety-nine cent bottle of Suave shampoo and her dad’s genetics. He had a thick head of hair. That’s what she was told anyway. He left when she was four. A distant memory now. She wallowed in self-pity for a few more minutes and then saw Chloe covered in mashed peas.

“Oh, Clover. What have you done?” Chloe smiled and held out a pea for her. Bree laughed and lifted her out of the playpen. “You made a mess. I hope they were good.”

Chloe shoved one into Bree’s mouth and giggled. Her mood lightened as her sister fed her the mashed peas off her shirt, her arms, her hair. While she took her time cleaning Chloe and the peas, she thought about the party.

For the last month, she imagined that it was in honor of her sixteenth birthday. She had saved her money from her part-time job at Mason’s Diner and had found the dress at a second-hand store. She loved the frilly pink ruffles. Now, her ripped dress lay across the recliner.

While Chloe played in her clean playpen, Bree hung her pink pretty in the closet. After one last look, she sighed. She had hoped to dance with Lucy’s brother, Robert. Five years younger, she’d had a crush on him since she was in the fifth grade.

Years ago, Robert had picked her and Lucy up after school. He had just gotten his driver’s license and wanted to show off his new car. As she and Lucy walked toward him, one of the boys in her class made fun of her watercolor artwork and tore it in half. After yelling at the boy, Robert said he liked the picture. He had asked for it and had carefully put the ripped pieces next to his seat as if a priceless possession. She had never felt so proud to have someone like her art. She would always remember that feeling and has secretly loved him ever since.

She smiled. Her imagination usually exceeded her reality. She figured it’s supposed to work that way. With her friend’s play by play, she could still enjoy the party. Lucy’s bubbly personality and dramatic views amused her. Lucy lived in a happy mystical world.

With another sigh, she returned to the living room and picked up the baby. “Okay, my sweet Clover, it’s time for bed. Tomorrow is a new year full of hope and adventure.”

As the ache permeated through the rest of her body, she slowly sat in the rocker and hummed to her fussy sister. She loved the quiet trailer. For an hour, she held Chloe while she slept in her arms. Chloe needed her, and Bree promised to be there for her, always. Her little sister would never feel her pain.

Hearing a tap on the side door, she looked up. Robert peeked through the glass. She wiggled her finger for him to come in. He carefully opened the door so as not to wake the baby.

He had just graduated college with degrees in both business and art and would be leaving for Italy tomorrow. He wanted to travel to find authentic art designs for Donovan’s Jewelry, his family’s business.

In a black tuxedo with pale pink shirt and bow tie, he had slicked back his light brown hair into a short ponytail. His green eyes narrowed. His jaw clenched.

She flinched. “Robert, I’m sorry. Lucy was supposed to tell you I couldn’t go,” she quickly whispered.

“What the hell happened to your eye?”

She shushed him as Chloe stirred. She had forgotten about it until now. It ached, but she was used to her stepfather’s fist and her mother’s hand. He folded his arms and waited. She stood stiffly. Not seeing clearly, she banged her shin into the coffee table. Biting her lip to keep from gasping aloud, she put the baby in the crib. She cracked the door and turned to face him.

“I’m sorry you made the trip here for nothing,” she whispered.

“Did Wayne do that?”

She nodded. He lightly lifted her chin for a better look at her eye. Her pain lessened. His concern touched her. She didn’t dare say anything for fear of crying. He growled and tugged her hand toward the kitchen. After sitting her in the chair, he retrieved the half bag of mashed peas that had refrozen into a hard block.

“What happened?” he asked in a slightly calmer tone.

She pressed the bag against her cheek and shook her head.

“I’m going to give him his own black eye,” he said.

“Please, don’t. It’ll only make things worse,” she replied.

“I’ll call Chief Mason,” he said, pulling his cell from his pocket. “Wayne can rot in jail.”

She sighed. “For a couple of days? Then what? I’ll be fine.”

She hoped she’d be fine. She wasn’t sure what would happen now with her mom gone. She’d have to rely on Wayne until she graduated high school. Maybe she could pick up more hours at the diner. And what about Chloe? Who would watch her while she went to school and work?

Sitting across from her, he stared. She broke the long silence. “You’re going to miss the party,” she said.

“You think I care about the damn party now? Can you even see out of your eye?”

“I have the other one.” She smiled. The fact that he was mad made her feel better.

“It’s not funny, Anna.”

“Don’t call me that.” She tossed the clump of re-thawed peas in the trash. After pushing the empty bottles and a full ashtray back from the edge of the countertop, she leaned against it.

“Why? It’s your name. Bree is too flaky and whimsical. Anna is grown up and fits your personality better.”

“Like an elderly aunt?”

He laughed. “Like a sixteen year old who’s taking good care of her sister.”

She wanted to tell him about her situation but held back. Why bring him down? What good would it do? He was leaving for an adventure tomorrow. Hiding her frown, she retrieved a small tatty ring box from her purse. She handed it to him.

He grinned. “Are you proposing?”

“Certainly not, I’m a mess. It’s a going-away present. Just promise to save it for the plane.”

“You’re not coming to dinner tomorrow?” he asked as he slipped it into his tuxedo pocket. When she shook her head, he held out a slightly larger sparkling red box. “Then Happy Birthday.”

She gaped as he set it in her cupped hands. The lovely box had a bright white bow on the top. The tag read To Anna from Robert.

He laughed. “Anna, it’s not a snake. It won’t bite.”

“Thank you,” she whispered as she carefully lifted the top. She caught her breath. “Oh my, it’s stunning but way too expensive. I can’t accept this.” She held out the box for him.

“Of course, you can,” he replied, taking the gold heart locket out of the box. Swirls of etched ivy covered the front and back. A heart-shaped emerald gleamed in the center. He placed the chain over her head and stood back to admire it. “It’ll match your one green eye,” he said with a grin.

Her hand trembled as she touched it. “It’s the nicest gift I’ve ever gotten.” It was actually the only gift. Born to alcoholic parents on January first had its drawbacks. They slept off the hangovers for the full day. “But it’s too much, Robert.”

“If you want to make it even, you can write to me at the villa.”

“I can do that.”

“I’ll expect a letter every few weeks that’s at least two pages long. You can fill me in on Lucy’s antics,” he said, reaching for her hand. “This is my big chance to prove myself. You understand, right?”

She nodded and held her other hand over her locket. “Thank you,” she whispered again.

Taking a step closer, he leaned down and kissed her. Her mind went numb, but her toes tingled. She didn’t want him to stop. He gently pulled her against him. She parted her lips letting him taste her. His tongue sent a wave of warmth throughout her body. She didn’t realize kissing was a pain reliever. Her cold body wanted to hide in the safety of his embrace.

“Robert. Please. Don’t leave me, too,” she silently begged.

He let her go and played with a long ringlet by her ear. “Oh, Anna, even with one eye, you’re still the prettiest girl I know. I’ll miss you,” he said, before leaving.

Standing alone in the middle of the room, she closed her eyes. A profound sadness settled over her heart. She wept.

 

To read more about Robert and Brianna’s romance, click on this LINK to get your copy of The Garden Collection.