Archive for the ‘My Kitchen Table’ Category
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." ~ John 15:12-14
May God bless all who have fallen and their families.
The graphic below repeats intentionally, invoking Matthew 18:19.
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for,
it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” ~Matthew 18:19 (NIV)
INSPIRATIONAL ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
“Vicki Hinze has rocked this entire series!” ~Readers Corner
Framed for Treason
Madison McKay doesn’t trust anyone. The former military woman and owner of Lost, Inc., learned about betrayal the hard way, in work and in love. That’s why she’d never let herself fall for ex-military special investigator Grant Deaver. Yet when Madison is framed for a security breach at a top secret military facility, she’s forced to put her life in Grant’s hands. But after she discovers that he’s been deceiving her, everything will be torn apart unless Grant can convince her to trust him with her life…and her heart.
Publication Date: February 5, 2013 | Series: Love Inspired Suspense
“Great book. I have been waiting for this conclusion to the series and it was well worth the wait. It kept me guessing almost to the end. Great job and thank you for writing this series.” ~Lori Carey, Amazon
“I always enjoy a good mystery with lots of romance and suspense. Loyalty is hard to keep as a priority in lots of cases.” ~Shirley E. Lee
“Romantic Suspense with a kick. One of the great strengths of this book is the kick-butt heroine. A war hero with gritty determination and a near inability to trust. Talk about fodder for plot-lines! Madison is a character I won’t soon forget. Grant’s devotion, his steady pursuit and infinite patience with Madison is the stuff romance readers drool over. At least this one did. And he has an internal conflict that ups the angst quite a few notches.
But be prepared for a complex plot that relies on the two previous books in the series. If you haven’t read them, just go with the flow at the beginning because you’re given a lot of information that you won’t be able to process right away. It will all come together though as the story progresses with plenty of twists and turns and confusions galore to keep your mind reeling. Quality: 5, Value: 5. Meets Expectations: 5.” ~KavR
Sample Chapter©2013 Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Under the cover of deep darkness, Madison McKay slid on her belly in the dirt, lifted the binoculars to her eyes, then peered through a break in the thick woods and studied the distant top secret facility known as the Nest. It had grown. A lot. In her days as an analyst there, the majority of the structures, a labyrinth of bunkers, had been built underground. Now, not one but four large buildings jutted into the night sky. A wide stretch of asphalt surrounded them, forming a clearing that ensured any approach would be noticed. Armed guards stood posted every twenty feet on the ground near concrete barricades, their backs to the buildings, and more soldiers were staggered on the rooftops. Obviously the commander expected something unusual to happen.
An attack? Unlikely. Only a handful of people assigned to the military installation surrounding the Nest knew the facility hidden at its core existed. So what had the Nest on high alert?
Her stomach burned; her fingers tingled. Northwest Florida had pretty mild winters, but being out in the woods, exposed to stiff winds and lying flat on the cold ground was enough to numb her gloved fingers and the tip of her masked nose. The stomach burn was acid due to sheer nerves.
Getting caught on the base without authorization would be bad, but getting caught on the perimeter of the Nest…
Not daring to think about the consequences, she cut off those thoughts, and kept watch.
Hours passed. Her eyelids grew heavy, then heavier, lulling her to doze off. She fought the temptation. Stay awake, Madison. Of all places, here—must stay alert.
Her resolve redoubled, she kept her breathing shallow, hoping that the mask would keep her exhaled breaths from fogging the air. Even something that slight from this distance could be noted. She kept watching, kept waiting.
Dawn threatened. Soon it would expose her, and in the past four hours, the only noteworthy observations she’d seen were changing of the guards. The soldiers had been relieved and replaced every hour, and that frequency proved telling. Whatever event or threat they expected hadn’t yet passed and the commander wanted the soldiers fresh, sharp and on their toes.
In the year she’d been stationed at the Nest, they’d only been on high alert once, for a practice drill in a readiness exercise that had lasted less than two hours. A string of forty-seven eighteen-wheelers had been stopped at the main facility’s outer gate. Soldiers had driven the trucks into the Nest, parked at the loading docks and unloaded boxes. The trucks were then returned to the outer gates and their drivers departed with them. The installation had been deemed ready.
Ready for what? No one, not even Madison, who analyzed delivery efficiency of the boxed contents defined only by one-word codes like Seeds or Purifier, had a clue.
But this alert was different, and two facts proved it: the absence of activity during the alert negated it being a readiness exercise drill, and the tension in the guards proved whatever initiated the alert was not ordinary.
The first signs of dawn pierced the horizon, tingeing it with a thin, pale streak that would soon thicken to daybreak. Her instincts told her to stay put, but she didn’t dare. If discovered, she’d never be in a position to expose the truth. The commander would see to that…and possibly to a lot more.
Disappointment battered her. Tonight, after the St. Valentine’s ball, she’d try again. Whatever happened here would happen at night.
The wind gusted. Madison’s eyes teared. She blinked hard and fast. If the commander and/or his vice commander had done what she suspected, she had to be vigilant and cautious. She was the only thing left standing between them and their possible actions, and those actions could not happen again. Not on her watch. No more lost ones could be sacrificed here. They must find their way home….
Tonight. Tomorrow night. Six months of nights— whatever it takes, Madison promised herself, then rose to a crouch and scanned the woods. Stealth and hy-peralert, noting nothing unexpected, she moved from bush to tree through the thick woods, stepping lightly to avoid creating magnified sounds of dry leaves and twigs crunching underfoot.
With a scant fifteen minutes to spare before daylight exposed her, she left the restricted area and reached the public highway, then sprinted in the woods alongside the road to the sheltered spot where she’d parked her car to hide it from view.
Something odd was definitely going on out there. Whether or not it was connected to her case, she had no idea—yet. Bitterness filled her throat. Swallowing it, she eased into her silver Jaguar still hidden by darkness and shut the door.
“You want to explain what you’re doing out there?”
Madison’s heart rocketed. A man in her car. Oh, no. She’d been caught!
Madison squinted in the half-light, trying to identify the deeply shadowed silhouette of the man in her passenger seat. She recognized him.
Her heart rate shot off the charts, and she inwardly groaned. Given the choice of a firing squad of the guards or this man, she’d take the firing squad. Them, she knew she couldn’t trust. But Grant? The jury was still out on him. “You want to explain how you got into my car?”
He held up a key. “I used this.”
She should have picked up on his cologne as soon as she opened the door. But she’d been so lost in thought that she’d missed it. Bad mistake. “Funny, I don’t recall giving you a key to my vehicle.”
“We’ve been dating since October, Madison,” he reminded her. “Totally plausible you did and forgot it.”
She hadn’t forgotten a thing. He’d found the spare key she stowed in a magnetic case under the back bumper. “For the record, while you’re endearing, your being here is not.” He’d scared ten years off her, though she didn’t mention it. She’d learned the hard way that exposing vulnerabilities was often interpreted as giving others a license to use them against you. Yes, they were dating. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. But she strongly suspected he was under orders to spy on her and her staff. Of course, she kept him close. How else could she protect her staff or herself? That she found him attractive anyway, well, that was a challenge she just had to fight. “Why are you following me—and where’s your car?”
“You walked all the way out here?” It was ten miles into North Bay proper. Why would he do that? And how had he known where she’d be? Fair questions she needed answered after she got away from this facility. She cranked the engine and pulled over the deep shoulder and onto the road.
“My transportation is insignificant.” He frowned at her. “And gauging by what I’ve observed—you pulling surveillance on an off-limits, highly classified military installation—you’re hardly in a position to ask anyone questions.” He lifted an irritated hand. “Dressed in covert operation gear with greasepaint smeared all over your face.” She passed him her binoculars. “What are you doing out there at all, much less dressed like that? Are you trying to get yourself shot?”
She lowered the mask, let its strings loosely loop her neck and braked to a stop at the traffic light. The office or home?
Definitely not home. Not with him in the car. She’d shower and change at the office. It’d be hours before anyone else arrived. She hung a left and cruised past the sign to North Bay. “Since this is my car and you’re in it uninvited, I’m perfectly positioned to ask whatever questions I want.” She spared him a glance. “Why are you following me and how did you find me?”
Concern and anger feuded in his eyes, shone in the reflective light from the dash. “You were edgy all day—even more so than usual, which is saying something. You denied anything was up, so I had a friend drop me off.”
So now two people had followed her and knew where she’d gone. Oh, definitely not good. “So because I chose not to answer you, you have the right to shadow me?” She slid him a mild frown. “If I wanted to disclose, I’d disclose.” Inside, a part of her felt pleased he was concerned and wanted to protect her. Not surprising; he was a Christian, but one in an awkward position. She buried her emotional pleasure under the real facts. No way did she dare trust him. “Who brought you out here?”
Her assistant. Pins of betrayal pricked and peppered her skin. “You’re kidding me.”
“She knows the danger, Madison.”
She did. She’d been married to the former base commander. Still, telling Grant where Madison was and bringing him out there? What had Mrs. Renault been thinking?
“Don’t get knotted up at her. I was worried about you and so was she.” He paused and lowered his voice, not bothering to remove the sarcasm lacing it. “Worry. That’s something normal people do when they care about someone—in between the times they’re questioning their sanity for caring for someone as stubborn as you.”
She opened her mouth to object. Before she got out the first word, he cut her off.
“You know what? Don’t even bother. This has gone on long enough.” He sighed irritably and dragged a hand through his short brown hair. “What’s it going to take for you to trust me, Madison?”
That trust question had simmered unspoken between them from the start. She’d wished a hundred times in the past four months she could just drag the matter out into the open. But now that it was in the open, all she wanted to do was shove it back into the shadows.
Instead, she clicked her blinker with her pinkie, signaling a left turn. Trust was hard for her, maybe impossible, and for just cause. Once betrayed, twice shy. Still, he deserved…
Q. I’ve been reading your blog posts for a while and I’ve gone back and looked at early ones. Many focus on helping others. How does spending so much time doing that instead of writing more books affect your career?
A. Frankly, I’m not sure. I could write more if I reached out to others less. That’s always been the case, and as it becomes more difficult to earn a living writing, there’s every logical reason to do so—focus more on writing and producing more books instead of mentoring and helping others. It isn’t that I’m unaware of the costs. Believe me, I am. But I’m not just building a career, I’m building a life. To be of value to me, my life must have purpose, and my purpose is to help the broken heal.
I try to do that in my books and articles, but I also try to do it through helping writers. That’s been a big part of what I’m about and the life I’ve chosen to build since I began writing. It stemmed, in part, from not knowing other writers early on. I spent so much time frustrated over the most basic things because I had no one to ask, and I promised myself if I ever learned anything about the craft and/or business of writing, I’d share what I learned. I’ve tried to do that and I’ve trusted that my personal needs would be met.
Over the years, that decision has made for some belt-squeezing times and some where I’ve had to take leaps of faith that everything would work out, but it always has. When agents suggested that I stop “helping” and write more to elevate myself, I’ve changed agents. While they were wonderful and very good at what they do, we didn’t have a merging of the minds on my purpose.
I’m not driven by money. It doesn’t define my success. Worth to me is more about caring, nurturing, helping others see their own potential and to assist them in seeing the best in themselves and their purpose. Honestly, that’s been a blessing and a curse and it’s made for some scary times. But during those times, you just keep working in faith and trust that things will work out.
The world looks at you and your work and sees less. That creates some challenges and disappointments, but they’re not as significant on the grand scale of things. Admittedly, times have changed in publishing and that too has created new challenges. Today, more so than ever before, it’s a bottom-line market. Publisher fiscal health depends on that, and the business side of me (I was in corporate for years before writing) understands that. So these days require bigger leaps of faith. And, being brutally honest and blunt, I will write until I can’t afford to write anymore. And I’ll continue to help others in ways I can until I can’t. It’s my purpose.
You know, it’s easy to do the hard things when times are great and everything is going your way. But when it’s not, it’s harder, and yet that’s when you define your destiny. Like everyone else, I’m standing to meet my destiny. Sometimes on rubber knees, but I’m standing.
Q. I read your Lost, Inc. books and enjoyed them. Are you going to write more books in that series?
I’ve been asked this a lot in the last month or so, but I can’t honestly answer that question at this time. I’d like to—I love the premise of people helping others who are lost find their way in life—and I certainly could write more of the Lost, Inc. books. The decision is currently pending. The publisher would like more of them, but I’m waiting to see how they are received in the market before making that call.
If readers embrace the books and want more of them, they’ll let me know. Now that the third book in that series, Torn Loyalties, is out, the answer won’t be far off. So far, the reaction has been good. Reader feedback has been positive and the book, like the previous two in the series, has been on multiple Amazon bestseller lists. So early signs are good. I just need to give this third book a little more time to let the reaction filter back to me and then I’ll know if more Lost, Inc. books should be done.
This is another situation where the business side of me says, “Definitely do it,” but the purpose side of me says, “Give it a bit to determine if it’s best.” Here’s the conflict: Any one writer can only write so many books. Time’s a hard taskmaster that way. So it’s really important to write the right books to do what you’re trying to do in writing at all.
I’m eager to write case stories in that series. I think those would be fascinating and fun to write. So I’m hopeful and indications are good, but I can’t say for sure right this minute. Another month or two of data and feedback and I’ll know. When I do know, I’ll share it in the newsletter.
Q. I’ve been writing ten years and always earned a living. But it’s hard now and I’m torn between writing and doing something else where my income is stable and I have benefits. Am I the only writer with this problem? Is it me or just the way things are now?
It isn’t just you. (See the first question above. ) Listen, I’ve written full-time since 1988. I sold the first book in 1992 and then nothing for two years. Since then, I’ve been publishing. There have been times in between when I had a year between contracts (I had a lot of eye surgeries in a short span of time that totally derailed momentum writing) and I faced the choice you’re facing. Should I return to corporate or stick with writing?
The truth is I can’t answer that question for you. Only you know what one needs to know to make that call. I did answer it for me, and I’ll share that for what it’s worth.
I did a lot of soul-searching and discovered my bottom line: I’d never be content not writing. There wouldn’t be a day that I wouldn’t miss it or a day when I’d know I turned my back on what I was supposed to be doing with my life.
It took a while to reach that bottom line, and it wasn’t a pleasant process. But it was an essential one and it did quell the questioning. There are no benefits and for most writers the money isn’t great. There are some for whom it’s fabulous and whether or not you’ll be one of those or one who struggles, well, you never know. Good writers land in both camps, and so do not-so-good writers. Readers make that call, and all writers can do is write their stories the best they can and pray. A lot.
This is going to sound harsh, but here it is—without any veneer or varnish to soften it:
If you can quit writing, quit. Get a job with stable pay and good benefits. If your heart isn’t in it, you’re better off to find a place your heart is. You’ll be more content there.
If you love writing, you won’t be able to quit. You’ll think on it and get to the place where you realize odds are stacked against you, you’ll work for an unknown amount of money with no benefits and absolutely no assurances (even signed contracts get cancelled) but a bad day or month or year writing is better than a good day doing anything else. You’ll take a part-time job doing what you must, if you must, to meet your fiscal needs, but you’ll write anyway. Because you need to write and want to write and the idea of not writing makes you physically ill.
That’s the best I do for you on this. It’s a personal call. There’s no right or wrong answer, only the right answer for you, and only you can make the decision.
I wish I could tell you that if you work hard and do your best, you’ll be fine. But I honestly can’t do that because sometimes it is fine and sometimes it isn’t. I know many writers who had successful careers suddenly tank and they were forced by circumstance to walk away. I also know many writers who had tanked careers and started over at the bottom of the ladder and zoomed to the top. Again, there’s no way of predicting which any one writer will be. You can do everything right and not reach fiscal stability. You can do everything wrong and stick to it like it was surgically applied. Writers can’t predict it, agents can’t predict it, publishers can’t predict it, booksellers can’t predict it. An author or project can look golden and tank. Or look like a midlist or low-income book and hit the stratosphere in sales. You write your book and take your chances. It’s that way on every book.
Whatever you decide, I wish you joy and contentment and peace with your decision. Spend some time with yourself and do your version of soul-searching. What most matters to you? Why? What do you need (versus want) and what must you do to get it? Ask yourself the hard, uncomfortable questions and answer them honestly. By the time you’re done, you’ll know what’s right for you.
Thanks so much for your questions. It’s a joy to hear from you. If I may, I’d like to thank you for the many notes you’ve written with comments and offering support and prayers for me (especially during the recent illness). I so appreciate being a part of your lives, and I’m grateful for your concern about me.
On awakening, like everyone else, I have my rituals. One of them is to read from the Bible and then to pull a quote for the day and reflect on how the two–the reading and the quote–interrelate. The quote for today is:
“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” -Edith Wharton
There are a lot of ways to look at that quote. And I expect one sees in it what they’re looking for at the time. Today, my interpretation of it is that we’re all both candles and mirrors at different points in time on different issues and in different situations.
I think that’s a good thing. When we’re capable of creating paths (whether we really want to walk them or we feel compelled to walk them for the greater good), of doing things that need doing (pleasant or not), or we take action to make situations better, we’re the candle.
When we are the candle, we emit light into shadows and darkness and others see it and find their way or reflect it, emulating us, like mirrors. When your children mimic your actions. If you ask them for something and always say thank you, then they automatically do, too. When you treat others with respect, conduct yourself with dignity and grace, then others are more apt to treat you that way, as well. Not certain to, but more apt to. With free will, that’s the best you can do: be responsible for yourself.
When you’re the candle, you choose what light you cast. Knowing others reflect it, you should aspire to have it be the best you have to give.
When others are the candle and we act in harmony with them, then we are the mirror that reflects their light. This is why it is so important to choose those you surround yourself with carefully. If the light they cast is negative, harmful, hurtful–either inflicted directly or condoned–then you reflect it. If it is positive and constructive and helpful–either inflicted directly or condoned–then you reflect it.
When you’re the mirror–and at times we all are–then you don’t choose good or bad, right or wrong, negative or positive, or destructive or constructive. You simply reflect.
I’m being nudged this morning to write this post, and I never question spiritual nudgings. But this reads like a lecture on life, and I guess when you get down to it, it is. Yet like everything else it does apply to writing.
Writing is all about characters–people–and if you don’t believe that, take Scarlet and Rhett out of GONE WITH THE WIND and see what you’ve got left. Since writing is about people, it is a mirror that reflects light.
Which makes the point of this that every author is a candle. And all the fiction the author produces is a mirror that reflects the light from her candle. That is a compass for authors to consider the impact of what they write. To consider the light they emit that others will mirror and reflect.
Carrying this one step further, solely into the fictional world, the characters are candles or mirrors, too. As writers, we serve them well by remembering that.
I hope this helps–and that you all have a glorious day filled with joy and many…
P.S. Because I know someone is going to ask, I’ll just answer the why question now.
I get these nudges often, and when I do, I heed them and post. Without fail, someone who gains some something from the post emails to say so. That’s held true in all the ten years (or whatever it’s been now) that I’ve done this. At first, I considered it coincidence. Now I accept that in these posts, I’m not the candle. I’m a mirror.
NOTE: The website crashed and is in the process of being rebuilt. Everything is there, it’s just not in pristine order yet. If you’re looking for a specific post, like this one, You might want to use the search box on the “Blog” page. I tried it and it pulled the article right up. I’m re-posting this article, as requested, below:
KEY MOMENTS THAT DEFINE YOUR LIFE
© 2011, Vicki Hinze
Life-defining moments. We all have them. Yet when we think of them in abstract terms, we think they’re these huge events. But the keys are often not in huge events. They’re in small, seemingly insignificant events that truly define to us who we are and who we choose to be.
As you’d expect, these defining moments don’t all happen at once, but over the course of our lives, and all through our lives we’re presented with opportunities to change our minds. That’s a good thing, because sometimes we take wrong turns, or as my darling daughter would put it, “We don’t make wise choices.” So we’re given chances to redefine ourselves.
Let me share a few examples.
In second grade, I had a buffalo head nickel and a comic book that said it was worth a lot more than a nickel. We also had a jar on the window ledge in our classroom that was for donations. I had to choose. Do I keep the nickel for myself or put it in the jar to help others?
That doesn’t seem like a monumental choice, does it? A little thing for a little girl. But it was a life-defining moment. I could put my wants/needs first or try to help others. I knew it. Something inside me told me this was a big decision. I chose the jar. And it became a theme in my life. Oh, I didn’t define it as one then. But it did influence my focus and future decisions until as an adult it became a conscious way of life.
I chose the jar. And that put me on a path that had me adopting “I Serve” as a personal motto. When I can, I help others.
At about twenty, I was struggling. Money was tight, everything was a struggle. I went into a store and made a small purchase. The clerk made a mistake and gave me $20 too much change. That was a lot of money then. A week’s worth of groceries. Gas for the car for a month. I was broke and times were hard and I had to choose: keep it or tell the clerk she’d made a mistake. In that position, it was a mental war and the temptation to do the wrong thing was powerful—a life-defining moment.
That money would have made my life a lot easier, but my conscience would have hammered me. What kind of person did I want to be? I knew I was deciding that, standing at the drugstore checkout counter. I chose to be honest. I gave the money back to her. Life-defining.
Later still, I was grown; a wife and a mother. I went grocery shopping and put a book in the top part of the cart so it wouldn’t be wet by the cold stuff. My handbag was atop it. I checked out, paid for the groceries and went to my car. When I unloaded the cart and lifted my purse, I saw the book was there. I hadn’t paid for it. I checked the receipt to be sure, but sure enough, it wasn’t on it. Yet another life-defining moment. Did I get in the car or go back into the store and pay for the book?
I went back and paid for the book. I still wanted to be honest. I didn’t want to feel badly every time I walked into that store, and if I hadn’t, I would have.
Those are three little examples but they’re significant because they’re not huge events and they’re not major incidents. In the grand scheme of things, they’re little things. A nickel, twenty dollars, a paperback novel aren’t exactly fortune making or breaking. But they are character-making or breaking things.
In each case, I was totally aware that I had to choose. I had to decide how I would define my life. And I knew that I alone was responsible for the decisions I made.
We all have life-defining moments. Many of them. I didn’t always make the right choices. But I have always been given more opportunities to change my mind and make wiser choices. We all are.
My point? We choose. We might have endured horrific things, wicked events in our lives where we have every reason—some would say every justification for being adults lacking character. But the truth is we become adults. As adults, we experience life-defining moments where no matter what we’ve endured or suffered or experienced, we decide. We innately know our options and we choose.
Our decisions define our lives. We are the people we choose to be in the ways that most matter. A lesson from my daughter: choose wisely. You will live with the choices you make.
The choices you make define your character. And your character defines how you feel about yourself. That image of you is projected in hundreds of ways to others.
So today, you have homework. What have been your life-defining moments? Who have you chosen to be?
And, yes, you may consider this an opportunity to revisit those choices and make wiser ones.
That, my dear friends, is the purpose of this post.
TORN LOYALTIES BLOG HOP
This is a MULTI-GENRE blog hop! (See rules and specifics below the post.)
First, let’s talk about torn loyalties and us. Okay, you’re in a pickle. A fix. You didn’t put yourself there, but in it you are, and now you must choose: Do you do the right thing? Or do you do the easy thing?
Oh, the temptation is strong. You’re weary and worn and you silently scream, “Easy! Can I just this once go Easy? I’ve fought the good fight. I’ve tried to be a good person, to treat people well, to do what I say, and not be a jerk about things. I do what I can to help others—even though when I need help, often no one’s home. And for my trouble I’ve been betrayed, stabbed in the back, unjustly accused, stepped on, lied to—you name it.”
Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt that way at one time or another. And we’ve all been so weary of it all that we just want to duck our heads back under the covers and block out the world.
But we don’t duck because we know the world won’t go away. Because we know we have to come out sometime. And if we don’t deal with “this junk” (whatever it might be) now, we’ll have to deal with it later—and odds are that the time lapse will only make the problem worse. Instead of enduring a little mess, we’ll have to endure a big one.
All that aside, we’re good people. We have values and ethics. We stand up for what we believe in—even when it’s not popular. Even when we’re condemned, ridiculed or … well, just look at the list above and insert your pick of adjectives.
We’ve chosen the right way, as we see it. We keep fighting the fights we think are worth fighting. We keep doing what we determine we should do because we see it as right and worth doing. But, boy, we long for easy. Not in everything—that’d be idealistic—but in just something. Especially when the choice we must make impacts not just us but those we love.
That’s Beth’s situation in NOT THIS TIME. She’s got this lifelong best friend Sara who is also her business partner. Together they own this little software company that has been extremely successful. Sara’s shy and quiet—far more at home in her lab. Beth’s outgoing and where Sara whispers, Beth naturally roars. They’re a good team.
In comes Mr. Perfect—and he sets his sights on Sara. Beth’s got his number. He’s a user and a loser bent on exploiting Sara and getting his grubby manicured hands on her money. But worse is what he’ll do to her fragile heart. Sara, of course, doesn’t see it. And so the tension between Sara and Beth begins, and Beth’s at juncture point one on the dilemma path of torn loyalties. Does she bite her tongue and keep her mouth shut, or warn Sara? Sara’s brilliant, Beth decides. Surely she’ll see it on her own…
The easy way—and taking it ushers in juncture point two—only at this juncture, it’s already too late. He’s swept Sara off her feet and they’ve eloped. Now what? Beth again must choose: stay loyal to Sara and bite her tongue or have a full-out war with Mr. Perfect who is anything but.
Beth’s torn. I was torn. Have been torn. You have too. We’ve made our choices because we thought they were right and we’ve lived with our choices. Sometimes that’s been harder than others, but it’s never comfortable. And, let’s face it. Sometimes there just aren’t any comfortable choices or even semi, sort-of-comfortable ones. Every road leads to some kind of heartache, heartbreak or severance. We all know it. None of us like it, but we know it. And so all that’s left is for us to do what we think is right and be at peace with it—whatever comes.
And so that’s what Beth does. Things are different between her and Sara, of course. That hurts them, as it would us all. But they’re adjusting, finding their new normal, though Mr. Perfect isn’t content with that. He still wants more, and that more means Beth is in his way, and so he sets out to remove her as an obstacle.
Now Mr. Perfect’s pushed. Hard. We can relate to that. Someone’s pushed us, too. But has he pushed Beth too hard? He’s missing, then worse, and then worse still—and it appears Beth is a primary suspect. Surely, in this position, after all that’s come before, Beth’s earned a little “Easy,” right? Right. But like too many of us, she doesn’t get it. Instead she gets another dilemma and is required to make another choice. Again she suffers torn loyalties.
I’ve written the story, and endured Beth’s dilemmas and wondered how in the world she’d get through them. I wondered too what getting through them would do to her. How would she be different? Would she be bitter? Lack trust? Avoid giving her loyalty? I just didn’t know. I “think” I know how I’d react, but can we ever be really sure until we’re in the heat of the specific situation?
I do know that inside I railed against the injustice of them, the basic pure and simple truth that what was happening was just plain wrong. But I have to tell you, I never saw what was coming, and even I couldn’t see how this would resolve. I mean, okay, Beth’s not going to get easy in any of this—that was abundantly clear. But did she have to get “you’ve got to be kidding me, that’d have me on my knees for the duration” difficult?
I’m laughing as I write this. Now. I sure wasn’t laughing then. Until that point, I was under the delusion that I was deciding what to write. Well, did I get fooled. I had to write to see what happened, and how things worked out.
And that brings me to the point of this post. Life is like that, too. You suffer torn loyalties. You choose what you believe is right. Whichever it proves to be, right or wrong, you suffer the consequences. And sometimes you suffer the consequences others thrust on you that you never see coming. Sometimes things work out; sometimes they work out in ways you couldn’t have imagined. The point is, they do work out.
Regardless of how they work out, you always come out the other side of the battle scarred. Yet there is a certain beauty in those scars. They’re badges, proof that the experience has made you wiser and stronger. I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but I can say that when it was done, I thought, “Whoa, I want what Beth’s got.”
Not her money, though I wouldn’t object to that. Her self-respect and integrity and her sense of worth—all that’s good. All that’s welcome. But what she’s got that I want is something far more valuable. It’s grace. Dignity and grace.
I pause here and think back, and I’m betting Beth sleeps good at night and she doesn’t have a bit of trouble meeting her own eyes in the mirror. Those are the measuring sticks I’ve always used to wade through gray areas, searching for what’s “right.”
So much in our worlds is out of our control. We are embroiled in more and more difficult choices where there is no easy way out. Often we’re forced to choose between two painful choices. But you know, I’m not worried about us. We’ve all got internal moral compasses and we’re experienced at using them. (See, all those prior dilemma’s payoff eventually.)
We know to seek and we do. We know that sometimes we have to take the high road, the hard road, and we do it so that, like Beth, we can meet our own eyes and feel comfortable with what we see inside our souls, inside ourselves. We can sleep in peace. And in real life, if we can do that and look back and see dignity and grace, then regardless of what others think or say or do, we’ve won the battle—and it was one worth fighting.
P.S. I got so wrapped up in the torn loyalties theme, that I’ve written another book with a different type of conflict. It’s TORN LOYALTIES (surprise!), the 3rd book in the Lost-Inc. series. It’s just out in paperback and eBook.
P.S.S. I can’t say if I’m done with this issue. It’s still nagging at me.. Maybe it’s March Madness.
March Madness: That time of year when women across the country are left to their own devices during the NCAA basketball playoff tournament.
Sure we could do some early spring cleaning, catch up on laundry, organize closets, and throw out all the junk in the garage/attic, but where’s the fun in that? So, instead of work, we thought we’d host our version of March Madness: A prize filled hop presented by some of the best names in romance. And we’ve made it easy for you to join in.
Simply hop from blog to blog—the links are below—and “follow”, “Like”, “Friend” etc. the authors sites then leave a comment on their blog post.
Each author is participating in the Rafflecopter Grand-Prize Giveaway of a Kindle Fire OR Nook Color, A $50 Amazon/B&N Gift Card, A $25 Amazon/B&N Gift Card, and 6 – $10 Amazon/B&N Gift Cards, as well as a “basket” of books. The event is live from March 5 – March 31st, 2013 to give you plenty of time to tour all the sites.
Rules: You must be 18 years or older as of 12:01AM March 5, 2013. No purchase Necessary. Void where prohibited. This event is open to worldwide participation (basket of books limited to US/Canada shipping address only). You are limited to one tweet, follow, like etc. per day, however you can follow one blog, tweet about another, and like a 3rd’s facebook page all on the same day
Be sure to follow the rules laid out by the individual authors about their respective giveaways, as they will vary form site to site. Rules and Terms are listed in the Rafflecopter. Grand-prizes will be announced on or about April 5th, 2013 on SnSreviews.blogspot.com. While we will make every effort to contact you, it is ultimately the winner’s responsibility to check winning status and claim their prize. Posted winners will have 5 days, from the date of post to contact host and claim their respective prize. If the posted winner fails to contact host, prize may be forfeited and awarded to another randomly drawn entrant and distributed without further notice.
Just heard from my publisher that SHADES OF GRAY (Kindle) is $1.99 for the next 2 days. This is a special promotion by them (for which I’m grateful!)
|Digital List Price:||$1.99 What’s this?|
|Print List Price:||$13.95|
|Kindle Price:||$1.99 includes free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet|
|You Save:||$11.96 (86%)|
You can read more about Shades of Gray, including the first chapter HERE.
You can get a copy at the reduced price at
So sorry to drop out of sight for so long without a word. Fear I’ll be out a bit longer.
It started with a lovely trip to Disney with the children and grands and my daughter-in-laws lovely parents. We had a wonderful time and it meant the world to me to get to see so much of the family.
The trouble started on the way home. I started coughing and by the time we got home four hours later, I had 101+ temperature. From there things went downhill.
I had the flu (yes, I had the shot but got it anyway) and then got an n-virus on top of it. Bluntly put, it’s knocked me flat out for two plus weeks and I’m still on the mend and feeling genuinely lousy and beaten up. I shouldn’t complain, and I’m not really. I’m still here, and so anything this side of the opposite is a win.
I just wanted to let you know that I am still recovering and look forward to getting back to work just as soon as I can. When a writer is too sick to think or develop story ideas even in her head, well, that’s not a pleasing thing.
For those inclined, your prayers are deeply appreciated. Right now, I’m incapable of doing any of the things I usually do. I apologize to Writers’ Zone members for that and want to alert those who read my articles on Social In’s network that authors Piper Bayard and CIA agent Holmes are filling in for me until I’m well and can resume my articles there. They’re always so interesting.
Also, my apologies to fans and publishers of Torn Loyalties, the third Lost, Inc. series book and LEGEND OF THE MIST (aka Festival), both new releases that haven’t received the attention from me that they should. As I am able…
Be well, and thank you for your patience.