Celebrating book release with a chance to win!

OutOfAgonyCoverArtOut of Agony now available!

I am so excited about the release of Book Four in the Starting Over Series. I hope you are, too.

We are celebrating with some great prizes including an Amazon gift card, a Starbucks/Teavana Gift Card and a free download of one of the other books in this series.

Comment here and enter for a chance to win

About this book: Brian Van Pelt has barely survived an anguished year of loss, hiding his sorrows under the facade of a cool and uncaring attorney. Not able to deny his grief any long, heartache drives him to collapse and his life takes an unexpected turn.

When Jessie Ingram comes to work at his law firm, she is intrigued by the conflicting darkness of Brian’s behavior and the tender inconsistencies that hint at something deeper within him.

Despite her interest, she has her own pain, supporting her niece Sara, who is has a virulent cancer with aggressive treatments that take such a toll they would not be worth it — except they are Sara’s only hope of survival.

Will life’s hardships bring Brian and Jessie together? Will they be able to heal and possibly find love?

Excerpt:

Will caught Jessie’s gaze. “Sorry that meltdown came now, of all times. Looks like you may be on your own with Adams, unless something changes very soon.” He bent down and picked up the papers on the floor. When he straightened he handed them to her.

“Sir, may I ask what that was all about?”

“You may, but it isn’t my story to tell. Let’s just say Brian had more than his share of personal sadness in the last year and it’s finally caught up with him.”

“Okay, I understand. But, sir, as I tried to tell Van Pelt, I can’t find the files and depositions from his earlier work. Would it be okay if I looked around in his office? If he isn’t here…”

“You’re right, we can’t wait much longer.” With a short nod, Will headed to Brian’s office, unlocked the main door, and another one in the back of the room — a storage closet?

“Thank you, sir.” Her boss left for his office and closed the door. She looked around the room. Sterile, too neat. Maybe the files in his desk drawers would reveal more.

Brian’s desk chair sat oddly positioned. Not to one side as one would leave it naturally after rising from it, but pushed back against the desk and perfectly centered in the opening. As she had done the day before, Jessie pulled it out and perched on the edge of the too-tall chair. She opened the file drawer on the left, and found it empty. How very strange. She turned to the other side of the desk, and opened the top utility drawer. Empty, too. The bottom drawer held only one thin file, unlabeled. She pulled it out and placed it on the desk. She opened it to find what she least expected.

The picture of a little girl smiled up at her. She was probably around kindergarten age, judging by the one missing front tooth. Was Brian Van Pelt a father? She turned to the next sheet and found a crayon picture of a house, three people and a dog. The people were labeled Mommy, Daddy and Trudy in a child’s crayoned letters. The dog was Ollie. Beside the house was a big tree with a swing hanging from it.

She put the folder back into the drawer and turned to the closet. She didn’t mean to be nosy about his personal life. Will said he’d recently divorced. All the personal connections were probably damaged or at least fragile, even with his little girl. Still, it was mind boggling that he didn’t have a single work paper in his desk. He must have work files somewhere.

She opened the closet door and gasped at the sight of open file drawers, some no longer in the frame but tipped on their sides against the marred walls as if someone had thrown them there. It would take great strength to throw a full file drawer. Papers spread everywhere. She looked over her shoulder at the compulsively neat office, and back at the devastation before her. Could these contrasting areas be the workspace of the same man? It was incomprehensible. How could the cold, calculating, maybe even mean man be the man who saved the kindergarten photo and drawing in the place closest to him?

Download now and read the rest of this story.

 

When the first meeting is off to a bad start — Brian and Jessie

Excerpt from Out of Agony:brew-coffee-substitute

Jessie Ingram watched the self-important guy in the grey suit. He was so obnoxious. He butted into the line, and didn’t even look at the woman with a child when he cut them off. He leaned in toward the person behind the cash register. When he slammed his drink onto the counter some sloshed over the top. As if that wasn’t satisfying enough he gave it another shove and the drink toppled over, spilling the hot coffee. The young man jumped at the jerky, angry movements of the suit. He grabbed at the cup to right it and began to mop up the spill.

“This drink is all wrong.” Voice strident, the man continued in an over-loud, angry tone. “It’s too sweet. I wanted one pump of hazelnut. There have to be at least four.” She glanced behind them. Everyone in the place listened in.

“Obviously you are an idiot who can’t count. You are incompetent. I will see you don’t work here after today. There is no excuse…”

That was enough. She could take no more. To pull his attention away from the young man, who was almost in tears, she grasped the customer’s forearm and made him face her instead. “Hey, mister, what is wrong with you? It’s a cup of coffee.”

He turned his frosty blue gaze to meet hers and said brusquely, “This is not your business.” He turned back to the barista and leaned in, opened his mouth to continue his tirade.

Not on her watch. She grabbed his arm again, gripped it hard this time, so he couldn’t ignore her. “So what has your pants in such a wad, mister?”

Surprise crossed his face for a second, before irritation won the day. He opened his mouth but she wasn’t about to let him speak. She stepped into his personal space, right up close. She kept her voice even and clear, but didn’t raise it. “There is a place and time to insist on customer service, but you crossed the line with this public dressing down. Are you just having a bad day or are you always such a jerk? Get out of here. The rest of us would like a chance to get a cup before the day is out.”

He stiffened, looked like he might say more, then closed his mouth into a tight line. Cheeks flaming, he turned without a word and pushed through the crowd to the door. The other patrons broke into scattered applause. Jessie turned to the guy who took the orders and placed her own. “Your largest Earl Grey tea, please. Three pumps vanilla, two percent milk, and extra foam.” When she tried to pay, the harried young man shook his head.

“No charge for you, ma’am. On the house.”

Now that was nice. A perfect way to start her first day at her new job as one of the associates with Barnes and Associates.

Out of Agony is available July 21 from Desert Breeze Publishing or Amazon.com

About disability…

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Because much of my professional life is lived in the disability rights and justice community, some of the characters in my books, including main ones, have disabilities. Here are some examples.

In More Than a Job, Paige and Joshua work for a company that provides small, personalized and respectful living settings for people with cognitive disabilities, in contrast to the institution where some of her family once resided. The book addresses some of the problems with institutions and the very controversial topic of parents who have a cognitive disability.

In Out of Agony, Brian works through the depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that result from the death of his daughter. One of his clients is a man with MS who loses his job in what appears to be discrimination because of his disability, but becomes something more when his employer attempts to steal his patent for a new pain medication that will mean relief without liver damage for people with chronic pain.

In the next release, next January, the heroine is a blind single mom, loosely based on someone I know, and explores the prejudice in society against people with disabilities being parents. It is especially challenging when her ex attempts to gain full custody of their child.

You can find all my books, paperbacks and eBooks on Amazon or eBooks only on my publisher’s page, Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc..

Does God cause pain or use it or???

Wildfires, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes — did these natural disasters and their losses or close escapes come from God?36451078204185961_HMZmvGgi_b

There was another shooting, a mass murder, in the news this weekend. How does a loving God let things like that happen?

I talked with three people today whose family members committed suicide (not recently, but in every case it was still a painful, devastating, life-altering blow.)  I was reminded of a mom I knew, a warm, giving mom who welcomed her daughter’s friends from church camp into their home during the youth rally. I will never fully understand the depths of her depression, and how she first shot her daughter before she took her own life and left her husband to die of a broken heart.

I just received word that a dear friend has cancer of the kidneys, with a grim prognosis. Her younger sister with Alzheimer’s has been living with her, so now she is seeking wisdom for how to explain the outcome — institutional care at the point when she can no longer provide care — to the sister.

Last year I watched as my oldest friend fought breast cancer and is cancer free today — while her niece, still in her 20s,  lost the fight to overcome a very fast-growing, virulent strain of cancer.

We live in a broken world. The world is broken because of sin in it — in our own lives, sometime, and all around us.

I don’t believe that the horrific things that happen in our world are direct, individual punishment for individual sin. (Although sometimes things happen to us that are a direct result of our sin.) I am reminded of the disciples who asked Jesus, about a man born blind, who had sinned? Him or his parents? The answer was that all things are for God’s glory.

All things, not just the happy moments, but the sad ones, too. And through it all He is the one in control. He will comfort us through the storm. He will help us use the adversity that finds and floors us. He is our hope, our help, the one we turn to in life when we are forced — by our own decisions or things outside our control — to start over.

I wrote the Starting Over series because starting over is required of most of us at some point in the ups and downs that are life on this broken earth. I hope you will take time to read the stories — and then share your own with me, because there are more books ahead in the series.

Comment — what do you think? Why do bad things happen? A lucky commenter will be selected for a free download of Out of Agony, my July 21 release.

All books, electronic and paper, are listed on my Amazon author page.

 

Work in Process…Out of Agony

When Jen and Brian lost their daughter Trudy in a tragic accident, their marriage fell apart. Jen’s story is told in Finding Her Voice. That book left Brian in bitter denial. Frankly I didn’t like him ver36451078204185961_HMZmvGgi_by much. He left Jen when she was most vulnerable and returned to the careless and arrogant man he had been before Jen’s warmth and love changed him. The family man turned cold, uncaring attorney. My readers felt there was more to know about his journey. And as his story unfolded, they were right to want to hear it.

Out of Agony is Brian’s story of grief that would not be denied, and pain that took root in a way that put his life on a completely unexpected road. When Jessie came to work at his firm, she instantly disliked the man and yet was intrigued by inconsistencies that hinted at  something more to know about her co-worker. But she didn’t have time to explore those thoughts — she was deep in her own pain as she  supported her niece Sara, who was struggling with a virulent cancer and the aggressive treatments that took such a toll they would not be worth it — except they are her only hope to save her life.

Coming July 21 from Dessert Breeze Publishing, Out of Agony is the fourth book in the Starting Over Series and like the prior volume, is inspirational romance. Starting Over Book Five, will be released in January, 2015. While each book stands alone, some of our favorite characters cross over from book to book.

Psychologist in desperate need of a guardian angel this Christmas

AngelToTheRescueCoverArt72dpiAngel to the Rescue Blurb:

Child psychologist Rachel Kelly isn’t quite sure how to handle the situation with her newest client — a six-year-old boy who says he can talk to angels and one is coming to help Rachel. She already has her hands full of trouble this Christmas season, and things quickly take a turn for the worse when a stalker crashes Rachel’s Christmas party and takes her young clients hostage.

Police negotiator, Lt. Jake Dillon, walked away from his fiancée Rachel when she suddenly balked at having kids. His kids. Yet when the hostage crisis erupts, Rachel calls Jake first. Now he has a choice to make — stand back and wait for the cavalry to save Rachel or step in and try to save her himself. Time is running out, and Jake may be their only chance for rescue.

Unless Rachel’s little angel-spying client is telling the truth…

Angel to the Rescue Excerpt:  Jay meets Sassy

The second Jay shut the outer office door, Sassy let loose a loud squawk and snagged the boy’s attention. His eyes lit up like a Christmas tree, and he craned his neck to see into Rachel’s office.

Olivia smiled, seeing that she’d guessed right. “We have a surprise for you today, Jay,” she said, as Rachel stepped out of her office. “A very special guest. I hope you like birds.”

“I do,” he said, almost quivering with excitement. “Where is it?”

“Her name’s Sassy, and she’s in here,” Rachel answered. “She’s my pet conure. I’m getting her toenails and wings clipped after work, so I brought her in today. Want to meet her?”

“Sure,” he said and quickly closed the distance to her office.

His eyes sparkled. This was the most emotion she’d seen in Jay since he first walked through her door. Striding past her, he made a beeline for the cage. Sassy blurted one quick squawk and scurried to the end of the perch closest to the boy.

“Love you. Love you,” the bird muttered.

His mouth dropped open. “She talks!”

Huddled together just inside the door, Rachel and Olivia both started laughing.

“Does she ever,” Rachel said, “and pretty soon you’ll wish she would shut up.”

“No,” he said, shaking his head, “not me.”

“Gimme a kiss,” the bird chirped, plain as day.

Jay’s eyes almost popped right out of his head. “Can I hold her?”

Rachel stepped swiftly to his side and put out a hand. “Wait just a second. We have to make sure she won’t nip you. Birds choose their friends, not the other way around. Birds like some people instantly, and some people they need a lot of time to get used to, and some people they just never get used to.”

“I can guess which one I am,” Olivia muttered.

“We’ll pop the top door rather than the side,” Rachel said, releasing the catch. The double doors covering the crest of the cage folded back, and Sassy leaped out of the opening to scramble for a perch on the top bars.

 “Don’t try to pick her up yet,” Rachel cautioned. “Inch a little closer and stay just out of reach. Let’s see what she does first.”

He followed directions, and the small green parrot scooted over close to him, muttering, “Love you,” as she went. All her feathers lay smooth against her body with nary a one plumped up. Clinging to the edge of the cage, Sassy telescoped her neck as far as she could in an attempt to reach Jay, which brought a spontaneous laugh from him. Undaunted, she continued straining to reach him and almost fell off the side of the cage.

“I think she may like you,” Rachel said quietly. “Lift your finger up near her, but be ready to move. If she leans toward you slowly with her beak open, she’s reaching for your finger to pull it in close enough for her to step up. If she lunges for you with her beak open, she’s going to bite.”

Taking a deep breath, Jay eased his right index finger up, higher and higher. His eyes danced with excitement.

The bird muttered one last “love you,” gently clamped onto Jay’s finger to pull it toward her, and stepped aboard. Little melodious notes suddenly filled the air as the bird made it clear she was delighted with her new ride. Moving his finger up near his shoulder, he allowed Sassy to disembark on firmer ground, much to Rachel’s delight.

McCarty_Petie_WebsiteImage“What do you know,” she said. “My bird likes you.”

“Can I hold her for a while?” he asked expectantly.

“Of course you can, but every fifteen minutes or so put her back on her cage for a few minutes. I’d hate to have her leave an accident on your shoulder. They’re gross.”

He laughed outright, his first full-hearted laugh since their sessions began.

She was ecstatic. “Why don’t you have a seat on the couch, and we’ll get started. Do you want a drink or anything?”

“No ma’am,” he said, a wide grin firmly implanted on his face.

As Olivia ducked out, Rachel closed the door and took a seat next to him, a little closer than normal in the off chance she needed to snatch Sassy at a moment’s notice.

“Does she say a lot of things?” he asked.

“About eight or nine phrases are all conures can manage. She has lots of noises though. Every time I reach for a tissue, when she’s on my shoulder, she makes tiny coughing sounds. Started doing that last month when I had a bad cold and coughed a lot.”

Jay shifted on the couch, and Sassy grabbed his shirt with her beak to hang on.

 “Remember, she’s not on her best behavior or her most talkative right now. She’s too excited about you holding her.”

Sassy the StarThe bird hadn’t stopped making little noises since Jay picked her up, little happy sounds that passed for imitations of them talking. “You’ve spent a lot of time with her, haven’t you?” he asked.

“Yes, we’ve gotten very close in the last few months. Sometimes Sassy makes me crazy, but I love her a lot. She’s my baby.”

He stared at Rachel for such a long time that she wondered if he would clam up again. Then out of nowhere, a deep slow smile slid across his face — a smile of pure contentment.

“Maybe you could ask your mom to get you a bird of your own.”

His body tensed, and his smile promptly faded.

Rachel waited patiently for him to respond.

As Jay was about to speak, Sassy chattered “love you” three times in a row and promptly skittered around onto the front pocket of his shirt, using her beak and claws to hold on.

Startled, he said, “What’s she doing?”

“She wants you to hug her.”

His eyes got as big as saucers.

“Put your right hand flat on your chest, fingers together and thumb straight up, and watch what happens.”

He did as instructed, and the little bird adeptly lowered one foot to his index finger while her beak clutched his shirt. With a stable foothold, she lowered the other foot to rest alongside. As soon as she was comfortable, she leaned back to look at Jay.

His grin returned, wider than before, and he tried to focus on the bird so close to his face. “Hi there,” he said softly.

“Use your other hand to pet her. Start at her head and go to her tail.” Rachel said softly. “It’s how I love on her when I hold her. She doesn’t let just anybody do this. You should feel honored.”

He followed her instructions, and the little bird made soft cooing noises as he stroked her. Captivated, he focused all his attention on the conure.

Rachel let out a sigh of relief. Thank you, Sassy.

A minute or so passed with Jay continually stroking the contented bird. Out of nowhere, he said, “My mom would have to ask my dad for permission to buy a bird, and she wouldn’t ask for something like that.”

A little surprised by his comment, Rachel said, “I know you said your father calls the shots at home, but why wouldn’t your mom ask for a bird for you?”

His grin disappeared. “She only asks for certain things. They have to be real special.”

Rachel knew not to mention Christmas presents since Jay had already said his family didn’t do much for the holiday. She chose her next words carefully. “But a bird for you would be very special. I still don’t see why she wouldn’t ask.” She waited so long for his answer, she wondered if it would ever come.

Finally, he turned to stare at Rachel. “She’s afraid of him.”

She felt a sick thud in the pit of her stomach. The boy watched her. Only his hand moved, stroking the contented bird. His eyes never blinked.

She chose her next words carefully. “It would help me to understand better if I know why your mother is afraid.”

He pondered her request, then turned away. He gazed out the window, still mechanically stroking the small green bird. Only Sassy’s periodic chirps broke the silence.

She took a deep breath and went back to her earlier question. “Why would your mother be afraid to ask him for a bird?”

Still no response. The hand stroking the bird picked up its pace.

She waited another few minutes, then prodded again. “Jay, why would your mother not ask for a bird?”

The stroking pace increased until Sassy’s head bobbed like a cork. No response.

One more try. “Jay, I…”

“Because he’d hit her!” he shrieked.

Squawk!

Startled by his outburst, poor Sassy snatched his index finger as it came over the top of her head.

“Ow!” he yelped and jerked his finger away.

Rachel cringed, fearful the boy might lash out at the parrot, but he kept still. The bird remained perched on his finger. Sassy settled down and waited for her stroking to resume. The boy sat still as stone.

Second-guessing the use of her own pet in this experiment, Rachel debated whether to move over and take the bird or leave her be. She waited a few moments to allow Jay to calm down. Tears trickled down both cheeks and onto his shirt.

She was treading delicate ground.

Help me, God — please.

A second later, Sassy muttered, “Love you.”

Jay’s left hand slowly moved back to the top of her head, a bit tentative as he attempted to stroke her. The tears continued to fall. His head stayed down.

Choking back her own tears, Rachel said softly, “I’m so sorry, Jay.”

His hand continued the repetitive stroking, Sassy again comfortable with her handling.

Rachel took a deep breath and calculated her options. She couldn’t afford to let this opportunity pass. If the wall built around his heart went back up, it may never come down again. She tuned into the boy’s movements and waited for the right moment.

“Does he hit you, too?”

The boy went completely still. The hand-stroking ceased. A slight shudder shook the boy’s frame and from beneath his bowed head, came a choked response. “Yes.”

She had to work fast. “Just a spanking or worse?” She kept her voice soft.

“Worse.”

“Does he beat you and your mother?”

A short sob racked his frame. “Yes,” he whispered.

“Jay, I can help you. Let me contact the authorities and have them put a stop to this.”

He turned a wild-eyed stare at her. “No!”

Sassy squawked at his shriek, but didn’t bite this time.

“If you tell, I’ll never talk to you again!” he cried.

She felt like a giant hand squeezed her heart. “Jay, please,” she pleaded.

“No! You can’t!” He glowered at her. “It’ll be worse. I have to protect Will.”

She fought hard for composure. Not getting personally involved was the hardest part about being a psychologist. She had to fight the natural impulse in order to help the patient, and this boy desperately needed her.

She steeled herself. “Jay, listen to me. Your father is wrong. He’s wrong to beat your mother, and he’s horribly wrong to beat you. You and your mother did nothing to deserve that. Do you hear me? Nothing! Something is wrong with your father to make him do that, but it’s not you!”

A minute passed. His hand moved toward the cage and set Sassy down.

Squawk!

The conure voiced her displeasure.

“Jay? Did you hear–“

The boy lurched sideways and threw himself into her arms, his body battered by gut-wrenching sobs.

Download and read the book today, Desert Breeze Publishing or Petie’s author page on Amazon where you can get her other great books as well.

A Christmas Bonus – she has to work on Christmas!

DSC01807I am so excited to have Patty Froese with me today to talk about her Christmas release. Patty, how are holiday stories different from your usual writing?

I don’t think they are very different from what I normally write, because I’m a pretty romantic soul as it is. Christmas just gives the perfect setting for romance, humor and some tugging at the heartstrings.

I’m one of those people who has to be physically restrained from setting up the tree before Halloween. Mind you, I live in a place where snow comes early, so that’s my excuse. 😉

What was the inspiration for this story?

This is a workplace romance. Andrew, the CEO, is being blackmailed by his grandfather to go home for Christmas, even though Andrew has a huge account he has to work on. His solution is to simply bring his faithful assistant, Millie, along with him in return for a hefty Christmas bonus. Millie, however, is tired of this arrangement, and while she agrees to the trip, she has plans to quit by New Year.

The inspiration is from my own working days. I never did like my jobs. I was a writer at heart, and I worked in order to pay my rent and sAChristmasBonusCoverArt72dpi(1)pend the rest of my time hammering out novels. Millie has other plans to open her own photography business, and this job was only meant to be a temporary solution. In that way, Millie is a lot like me.

How much of your writing is drawn from real life and how much is from other sources?

That’s hard to tell, because I live in my head a lot. LOL! I’m one of those people who can’t hear an idle piece of information without mentally spinning a whole story around it.

What fun! Then you can’t always know in advance how the story will unwind. Is there an underlying message in your writing? What do you want readers to take away from the story?

I always want my readers to come away from my books feeling hopeful. I truly, deeply believe that there is a lid for every pot, and I suppose that is the message I want to give. Don’t give up hope for love. Life is full of beautiful, sparkling opportunities, if we can just look up and see them.

Book Blurb

When Millie’s boss asks her to work over Christmas, she’s hesitant to give him any more overtime. She has plans for her life that include quitting this job and starting her own photography business, and she promises herself to quit by New Years.

Andrew Holmes has no desire to go back to his tiny hometown for the holidays, but his manipulative grandfather gives him an ultimatum that he just can’t refuse. So in order to get the last project of the year finished in time, he asks his assistant, Millie, to make the trip with him.

With a disgruntled brother, a sister-in-law struggling with infertility and a little boy who shows up claiming that one of the Holmes men is his father, Christmas is about to get complicated…

 Buy link

Patty’s websites: http://patriciajohnsromance.com and http://pattyfroese.com

Reviews for Finding Her Voice

From Amazon Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars How Do You Heal a Broken Heart? July 22, 2013FindingHerVoiceCoverArt
Format:Kindle Edition
What does one do when everything begins to go wrong? Finding Her Voice is a heart wrenching story about a young couple with a sweet young daughter, who soon learn what it really means to have to deal with tragedy from the first page and on through the book. When they learn of the death of their daughter, not only are two hearts broken, neither are able to find a way to heal and go on. Not able to cope together the couple ends up in divorce, they also lose their home, and Jennifer, the mother, struggling miserably with her own grief, her faith, and her loss of peace, has to venture off on her own to find some answers.As a historical romance writer, I don’t normally read contemporary fiction, but I found this story to be a fast-paced page turner from the beginning to the end, sometimes difficult to read because of the sadness, but so well written I had to go on to find out what would happen next — An easy to read, true-to-life book of friendship, faith, and hope.

Only one disappointment for me was in not finding out what happened to a very important character in the story who could not bear the tragedy of a lost child.

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy contemporary fiction with real life circumstances.

Shirley Kiger Connolly,
award winning author of both historical romance and nonfiction books of reflection

No Easy Answers

Posted by Natalie Chamberlain on 16th Jul 2013

I don’t usually read this genre of literature but I really enjoyed this book. As a pastor, I especially appreciated the fact that Lynette Endicott not only chose not to give easy, pat answers to difficult questions, she even confronted those easy answers, showing them to be more harmful than helpful.

The happily ever after ending was expected but the journey there wasn’t. The story is well written and engaging. The characters are true to life as are their situations. I found it to be a very hopeful book and well worth the time to read it.

Dog is a key Character in New Release

Oliver Twist is my personal dog, a therapy dog like Atlas in The Return of Joy.download

I didn’t own pets until after my 50th birthday, so they mean a lot to me. (I didn’t engage with the ones in the household as I was growing up — they belonged to other people.)

When I walked into the pet store to get something for the cats that my daughter convinced me we needed, I saw Ollie in a cage with the other rescues. He was looking right at me, and I knew if I looked back I would bring him home, and I did.

So I had to include Ollie as a character in my latest release, Finding Her Voice.

A remarkably talented artist has just finished a statue of him for me to use in promoting Finding Her Voice when he can’t come along in person. And here it is with his actual photo for comparison.

Check out more of Jennifer Rudkin’s art at:

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Newest Release: Finding Her Voice

The Pain will never go away — but Love Helps Jen Cope

Jennifer had the perfect life. A loving husband, a beautiful daughter, a flexible job in the family business. When it was all taken from her, Jen struggled to move through her days with the help of friends and family — but they couldn’t understand, and somehow expected her to get over her grief. Even her twin brother, Joshua, was unable to help her heal.FindingHerVoiceCoverArt

Ollie, her daughter’s rescued dog, was the only one who seemed to share her grief and understand her pain in losing her daughter. When the divorce ended in the sale of their home, she and Ollie set out on a road trip of discovery. She needed time and the care of an old friend, and along the way met others who had lost a child or a marriage or both. None of them expected her to get over it, but they did help her go on living.

Her old friend listened, and with love guided her to an outlet for her feeling through music — and she found comfort through on-line contact with other bereaved parents, including Michael.

Life would never be the same, but maybe she could find the music, find her voice, find her own path to living after her loss. And if she was lucky, find love along the way.

Excerpt

Time to get this show on the road. She typed out a text and sent it in a blast to her whole family.

I’m packed and headed out. Thanks for understanding. I’ll update you from time to time.

Then she gave a little whistle and commanded Ollie to get up. He clambered into the seat where she belted him in.

“Well, boy, here we go. Off on an adventure.”

They called every ride an adventure. He had no idea how long a trip he was in for. Or that he would never come back to the place they’d called home. But then, she wasn’t certain how long it would be either.

Jen went around to the driver’s side, climbed in, and dropped her phone into the sound system so she could take or make phone calls if she wanted.

She started the van and, out of habit, started the tunes saved to her phone.

The song that came up was one she and Trudy sang together, a fun, silly song. She couldn’t bear it. She shut down the music. It was too hard. She couldn’t sing. Not anymore. She took one last look at the house that had been home to her now-destroyed family, then threw the van into reverse and turned so she could steer out of the driveway and onto the road. She didn’t look back. Her goal today was to drive as fast as the law allowed, and as far as her energy would support. She needed distance between her wrecked life and whatever was ahead.

Available July 11 from my publisher, and along with the paperback and epub versions of Books One and Two, on my Amazon Author Page.