Win a free copy of Out of Agony in Paperback

OutOfAgonyCoverArtOut of Agony, Book 4 in the Starting Over Series, is now available in paperback.

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 longer, 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 has a virulent cancer with aggressive treatments that take such a toll they wouldn’t 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?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winning title? Give me your ideas!

Jordan never expected to be a single mom. As a disability rights attorney she has a full life even before baby. As a blind mom she builds a network of support after her husband, David, runs fast and far because he doesn’t want to hurt her or their baby with his addiction. David’s arrest and jail time give him time to think and determination to get his life back together. Will Jordan trust him enough to let him back into their life?

This is Book Five in the Starting Over Series. My working title was Better Than You Think or Better Than You Know. I’m not satisfied with either — I need something that catches the interest of readers and tells just enough about the story to whet their appetite.

The winner will receive a copy of the book and their name in the book as well. (I have a female character and a male character whose names can be changed to yours or one you choose.)

I am looking for a title that is matter-of-fact about a blind mom and professional woman living life. This is not a super-mom book. It is, I hope, a real life look at parenting with a disability. And of course it is also a love story. Check out all the Starting Over series on Amazon or Desert Breeze Publishing.

To enter, please fill out the form by clicking here.

Lynette Name That Book

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 Joy met Mark

Joy Huffman doesn’t know how to get on with her life after Steve’s fatal accident. Then, several years after his death, he calls to her in a dream and urges her to go to the cabin they’d designed together, and that she has never seen. Can she embrace this home Steve built for them, and find a way to let love in once more?

Excerpt, The Return of Joy:

She stepped from the vehicle and took a deep, steadying breath to shake off the long day’s fatigue. Evelyn moved more slowly, chatting with Charity as she unbuckled the child from her safety seat.joy cover

“Now there’s the woman I like to see,” Evelyn commented.

Joy turned to smile at her. “I’m so excited to be here.”

Here, where I can be more like the woman you knew years ago. The woman Steve loved.

For a brief moment, she was no longer in mourning. She was full of joy.

A movement from beyond Evelyn caught her attention, and a man emerged from the woods, a yellow lab trotting at his side. As he moved closer, Joy stepped toward him with a smile and a greeting.

Then the greeting died on her lips, and she swallowed, hard. Something about his presence startled her. He was under six feet — only a few inches over her own five-seven. He had thick, dark, wavy hair that brushed his collar, and a red chamois shirt he’d rolled up to display his muscular arms. His face was mobile and expressive, showing determination, tension, and — something else. Joy wasn’t sure what. He moved with a graceful, confident stride. An athlete’s stride. Tight jeans hugged his hips. He stirred something within her, something she hadn’t felt for a long time.

“Hi.” She shook his extended hand, a large, strong hand that engulfed hers and made her feel dainty and petite. She gazed up into his eyes; they were of an indeterminate color — maybe blue, maybe green, maybe gray. To call the color indeterminate was unfair. They were beautiful eyes, with depths like a fine gemstone.

“You must be Joy Huffman. I’m your tenant, Mark Stone. This is my dog, Atlas.”

She had expected someone different. A pale computer nerd, maybe. After all, he ran a computer business from here. She had not expected this masculine man.

You can buy The Return of Joy at Amazon or Desert Breeze Publishing.

How did Paige and Joshua meet?

cover for on line adThis excerpt from More Than A Job tells their first meeting. This week we will look at the first meeting for all the Starting Over stories. Next, the animals in their lives. Then, first kisses!

Excerpt: More Than a Job

Paige stumbled across the office complex parking lot toward her car, shaking as reality hit her. She blinked at the tears blurring her vision and attempted to straighten her spine, to keep her head up, but her body was stiff, wooden, clumsy. She clutched the box of remnants from her office, representing ten years of her professional life. Could she make it to her car before she fell apart completely? Why had she parked so far from the door?

For the exercise. She was such a fool.

A car horn blared in the silence, close by, startling her. Her heart raced as she turned toward the sound, and turned an ankle in the process. She went down on her knees and the box slid out of her arms and across the pavement, scattering her destroyed career over ten square feet of asphalt.

I am unemployed. She couldn’t catch her breath. The job she’d poured herself into for the last ten years was over. She fought back sobs by gulping air. I have to get up. Have to get out of here.

“Are you okay?” A deep baritone penetrated her foggy brain. Shiny dress cowboy boots appeared almost within reach of her left hand. Paige pushed up with both hands and leaned back on her heels. She glanced up briefly, then reached for her fallen sunglasses and shoved them back into place, hoping they would hide some of the tears running down her cheeks. Her knees and her palms stung from contact with the rough pavement.

A man towered above her, backlit so she couldn’t see his face, only his long, lean silhouette and the hand he had extended to her. “Can you stand? Let me help you.”

A witness to her embarrassing downfall. Shaking her head, unable to speak, she gathered the items she could reach. A few books. A desk clock. The picture of her parents, the last one taken before her mother died. She turned it as she pulled it closer. The glass was broken. That indignity was the final straw, and she let everything slip from her trembling hands as she sobbed in earnest.

The man dropped to one knee beside her, suit and all. He hesitated a brief moment, then brought his long, lean, tanned face close to hers, placed a hand gently against one of her cheeks and nudged her so she looked up.

This time, she could see his eyes. They were compassionate, dark with concern. He said gently, “Are you injured?”

She shook her head, but could not find her voice.

“Good.” He sounded relieved. “I was worried. Listen, just sit here a minute. Let me pick up your things. It’s the least I can do.”

She didn’t have the strength to argue and watched numbly as he righted the box and organized the items inside it. He moved around her, leaning, reaching, pulling together the scattered pieces, then set the box on the back of a red convertible angled across the drive. Its driver’s side door gaped open, left that way when he’d rushed to her aid. A gentle ding, ding, ding warned that the keys were still in the ignition. To stave off her distress, she fixated on his boots. Finely tooled leather cowboy boots. Then he was at her side again, crouching beside her.

“Ready to stand?” he asked.

Paige looked up into his warm brown eyes and lost herself in them for just an instant. She found it calming not to have to think, not to have to handle this moment alone.

“I think so.” She reached for his extended hand and let his warmth surround her as he grasped it firmly and pulled her to her feet. She wobbled just a little, found her balance again. Her ankle was only a little sore. She could bear her own weight

The stranger tucked her arm into his. “May I walk you to your car?”

She managed a smile. This would be a romantic meeting if she weren’t so sad. She stared down at her torn tights, runs feathering out in all directions from her skinned knees, and winced. She nodded her permission and gestured six spaces down. “It’s the silver two-door.”

He placed his other hand over hers where it rested on his arm. “You’re gonna be okay, you know.”

She didn’t know how. Despair washed over her again, and she stumbled against him.

He stopped, steadied her, and put his arm around her. “It’s okay.”

Somehow she found that leaning into his strength made things at least a little bit okay. She was aware, under her misery, of his height and the long, hard muscles under her hand. Had he gotten all those muscles from time spent in the gym or from working hard? Or both?

He cleared his throat. “I didn’t cause you to fall, did I?”

What did he mean? She looked up to see if his expression gave her a clue.

“If I’d hit the brakes instead of my horn, you might not have taken that spill.”

“You are not at fault, really.” She smiled a little smile. Maybe he was being so nice because he was afraid she’d sue him. “I wasn’t watching where I was going. I had too much on my mind. And my ankle twisted out from under me before I knew what happened.”

They had reached her car door. She unclipped her keys from her belt, and found the weight of them in her hand odd. Where she had carried a dozen keys — for her office, group homes, med cabinets, and fire alarm systems representing her job responsibilities — now she had only two. Her car key and her apartment key seemed very lonely on the large hook.

“You go ahead and sit, and I’ll bring your box.”

She kept her eyes on his back as he moved away and shivered in the autumn air, aware of the loss of his body heat. She popped open her trunk and waited for him, still standing, reluctant to drive away.

He placed the box into the trunk and turned, taking both her hands in his and examining her palms.

“You need a little first aid. I see you’re prepared.” His words were ironic, really. Would she have carried a first aid kit in her trunk if her job hadn’t required it? He nodded toward the mounted white box. “May I?”

“Thank you, yes.” Usually she would have said no. She didn’t like needing help and tended to push away such offers. She could take care of herself. But she didn’t want him to go just yet. His hands were warm and felt good holding hers.

He guided her to the driver’s seat where she sat sideways, feet on the pavement, while he got the first aid kit, then knelt to clean and dress the scrapes on her hands. He dabbed at her knees with the wipes, too, but appeared baffled by how to work around her torn hosiery.

“Here, let me. They’re ruined anyway.” She tore the fabric open at each knee, giving him full access to her wounds. He rested a palm on the side of one knee to steady his hand as he cleaned away the gravel. The gentleness of his fingers against her legs was very professional. So why did she sense a shiver of eroticism underneath his almost medical touch?

“You’re good at this.” she said, once the gauze pads were firmly in place, the bandages neat and tight.

He gave her a little smile. “I’ve bandaged a few scrapes in my time.” He looked up, catching her in the rich chocolate of his eyes. “Never for so beautiful a patient, though. Now, which ankle is bothering you? Let me give it a look.”

Paige extended her left foot. “This one, although it’s better. I twisted it when I went down, but it’s not too sore. I don’t think it’s sprained.”

The man felt her ankle, probing a little. “No pain? I can wrap it for you if you want.”

“No, I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s nothing a little rest won’t fix. I’m okay, really.”

He nodded, snapped the first aid kit closed, and returned it to its rack, pushing down on the trunk lid to latch it, then wiping his hands with another wipe. He collected the trash, and she held out her hands for it. “There you go.”

“Thank you.” Such inadequate words. Without his gentle insistence, she might still be sobbing on the asphalt. She stuffed the trash into the bag by the seat and turned to look at him. “You’ve been so kind to me, and I don’t even know your name.” She extended a bandaged hand in greeting. “I’m Paige.”

“Joshua.” He grasped her hand gently in a handshake, then covered their joined hands with his other hand. “You gonna be all right, Paige?”

Drat it all. Sympathy undid her every time. She sucked in a quick breath, bit her lip, fought back her tears, and nodded. She sniffed, horrified her nose was running, and worse, turning red as tears gathered in her eyes. Time to get out of here. “I’ll be fine. Thanks for helping.”

“My pleasure. I hope we’ll meet again another day.”

Before she could question herself, before she could berate herself as a fool under stress, Paige gave in to an impulse. She leaned toward him where he bent over her, fished the pen from the breast pocket of his Western suit, and turned his hand palm up. She scribbled her cell phone number on the smooth brown surface, right along his long life line.

“If you mean it, call me in a week or two.” She loved the way his eyes widened, then crinkled in a smile. “Maybe I’ll be having a better day.”

“Count on it.”

Order More Than A Job from my Amazon Author Page in either paperback or Kindle version. Other electronic formats are available form my publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing.

About disability…

cropped-start-banner-21.jpg

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.