Tuesday’s Teaser with LoRee Peery

Meet in the Middle

Thank you for being here today, LoRee.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

The concept for this story began because I heard a pig squeal from a TV in the hospital at the time of my husband’s back surgery in October 2017

How would you describe your main character(s)?

Elena Garber was raised in an apartment above a bar, so she has become a self-reliant recluse. She’s sure of herself, capable, and resists the influence of others, except her grandmother, who is now deceased. Elena moves from the city onto her grandmother’s small farm and works from home as a voice over internet.

Colin Lovelady worked as an EMT and ambulance driver but now has PTSD. He also carries a facial scar from a bullet that grazed him and knocked him out while his best friend died beside him. Colin retreats to the quiet of his uncle’s old place, which border’s Elena’s grandmother’s farm. He first meets Queenie, then follows her and meets Elena.

Queenie, a feral pot-bellied pig, is also a star character.

What is the problem your character(s) face in your story?

Elena discovers a letter pointing to buried money that would grant security if she remains on her grandmother’s farm. Colin is in a dark, scary place and can’t pull himself out of it, but his uncle’s money, buried between his place and Elena’s would help him fix up the house.

What would you like your readers to know about your characters?

Elena and Colin carry scars and/or wounds that make them who they are as adults. They deal with their own insecurities and face the prospect of letting another person in on their lives (and secrets). Neither is looking for romance, but Queenie keeps thrusting the two together.


Find her publications at Pelican and Amazon


Read an excerpt from Meet in the Middle

How had Colin come so low as to stay in his uncle’s uninhabitable shack? Especially considering it sat on the edge of this Podunk town, where rumors once abounded about Glen Lovelady’s gambling. The bed, such as it was, had him off the grotesque floor. He’d all but covered his head to fight off the chill so, at least to his awareness, no rodents had crept over him during the night.

He fluffed his pillow and smoothed the sleeping bag over the cot. In the gray light of early dawn, he straightened to get out the kinks, rolled and cracked his neck.

The smell hit him. Rotten wood. Mold. Fecund animal droppings. He’d been too tired to breathe last night. Who knew what kind of filth he’d inhaled as he slept? The place looked horrid in the daylight. Unsanitary even for an avid outdoorsman, which he’d never considered himself. He’d have to find a room in town until his next step.

Whatever that might be. What was he even doing here? A desperate move on his part, thinking he could fix up the small house and make a profit so he’d have the means to stay by himself without a job. Just a while longer, at least until the end of summer.

Wouldn’t it be something if the rumors about hidden money were true?

He dragged open the door, no easy feat due to the swollen, broken wood panels, and stepped on the rotted porch. A rusty hinge from a nonexistent screen door snagged his flannel shirt. If he attempted to stay, what should he fix first? A sneeze jerked him. No surprise, considering the dust.

He lumbered to his truck, grabbed a reasonably clean napkin from the console, and blew his nose. He stuffed the used napkin in the white sack from last night’s drive-through meal purchased halfway between here and Lincoln.

Then he retraced his steps, zipped his pillow inside the sleeping bag, and tucked the bundle behind his truck seat. He sneezed again on his return to the poor excuse for a house, retrieved the cot, where he stored it in the truck bed against the cab.

It may be April, but the onset of spring sparked nary a thought of anything good for Colin. Rather than pay attention to varied greens and the touch of the sun now visible above the horizon, he blinked away from the rising orb. Adam had always laughed at those times the sun’s brightness made Colin sneeze. He rolled his shoulders and gazed at the trees lining the Platte River.

And this flat land. It’s prime, surrounding Maplewood, his mom’s hometown, where its bottom land proved fantastic for producing rich crops.

The distant foghorn of air brakes carried from the highway on the other side of the water, as a semi slowed for the lower speed to go through the village.

Poets no doubt had a heyday penning beautiful words concentrated on fresh mornings such as this, but the glory of the day mocked his severed heart. Let the world welcome spring in all its rebirth glory. The only thing that consumed Colin was loss.

The ecstasy of his own rebirth, thanks to Jesus, just as well belong to some other man. He stretched. “How long, Lord, how long until I want to live as I once did, in tune with Your Spirit?”

It took too much energy to pursue a good mood. Easier to stay low, remaining in a dark frame of mind seemed friendlier at the moment.

Friend. He knew in his head that Adam now spent his time in the presence of Jesus. Yet, rejoicing for his friend’s home in heaven escaped Colin’s sensibility.

After all, he’s the one who deserved the bullet.

The Bible talked about restored joy in the morning. He’d rather stay in the dark and absorb the sound of silence, which had become his latest best friend. But he had no power to stave off a new day. The earth still spun on its axis. Living things continued taking the next breath.

All the while, he wallowed in mourning and fought off horrific nightmares that always ended the same. With him unable to save his best friend.

He stumbled along through the weed-entangled yard. Why had he paid taxes to keep this place all these years? Inherited from his mother, who got it from his bachelor uncle, just to keep it in the Lovelady family?

A wadded ball of dried roots from years of over-grown weeds caught his toe. He staggered, regained his balance, and looked up again. Silly. No one around to see him almost fall on his face. He knelt to untangle his booted foot. Moist soil met his fingertips.

A grunt jerked his head to the right.

He rubbed his eyes in disbelief. He blinked. Focused. Nope. No figment of his imagination. He knew what it was, but he’d only seen the pigs on film.

A pot-bellied pig ambled along the ancient rusted wire of the fence that marked his Uncle Glen’s decrepit property, the last acre on this edge of town, bordering a picturesque small farmstead.

Curious, Colin followed the pig’s journey as though it was the Pied Piper. Past Uncle Glen’s property line and onto the next, which happened to be the first farmstead outside Maplewood.

The pendulous animal snorted again, bobbed its snout, and a clot of roots topped by dried strands flew to the side.

The act would be funny, if he felt like laughing.

First, they came upon a small shed, bordered by a plot of fallow, unfenced garden. The pig bypassed a row of what looked like maroon tipped flower heads poking through earth like pebbles to greet the sun, and circled toward the only wreck on the place, an old corncrib with the sun glinting through its unpainted ribs on the back of the farmstead.

His steps ground to a halt as he closed in on the leaning building. He stared through the empty center of the peaked structure. The crib. Money. Whoever in the family came up with the rumor that Uncle Glen had buried money near a building? No buildings on his place, except an unsafe, lilting garage.

Details of the old story flew out of nowhere. A notorious gambler, Glen Lovelady never believed in banks. Family lore claimed Uncle Glen had hidden thousands of dollars at the corner of some old building, way back when.

Colin surveyed the surroundings of the neighbor’s acreage surrounded by farmland. A garden shed. A detached garage. The corncrib. No barn, outhouse, well house, or machine shed. Such buildings would have existed fifty years ago.

Who paid attention to rumors anyhow?

The reality of buried treasure was way too fanciful for a guy like him to consider. On second thought, he had to pull life together and heal from the incident that stole his normal life.


About LoRee

Christian romance author LoRee Peery writes to feel alive, as a way of contributing, and to pass forward the hope of rescue from sin. She writes of redeeming grace with a sense of place. LoRee clings to 1 John 5:4 and prays her family sees that faith. She has authored the Frivolities Series and other e-books. Her desire for readers, the same as for her characters, is to discover where they fit in this life journey to best work out the Lord’s life plan. She is who she is by the grace of God: Christian, country girl, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, and author. She’s been a reader since before kindergarten. Connect with LoRee through these links: www.loreepeery.com

https://twitter.com/LoreePeery

https://www.facebook.com/LoReePeery

Tuesday’s Teaser with Pamela Thibodeaux

Tempered Hearts

How would you describe your main character(s)?

Craig Harris is arrogant, chauvinistic and incredibly sexy. Left to shoulder the responsibilities of pulling the Rockin’ H ranch out of near ruin at the age of fifteen, Craig has grown up hard and fast and he’s used to women throwing themselves at him. Despite his past disappointments with women, he longs for an old fashioned marriage and family.

Tamera Collins earned her degree as a large animal Veterinarian at the tender age of twenty four. A sheltered only child, she is crushed when her parents are killed in a tragic airplane accident. Having been nicknamed Temper Tantrum by her father (shortened to Temper as she got older) her high strung, temperamental personality is the perfect match to Craig’s.

What is the problem your character(s) face in your book?

Both have past disappointments and tragedies and mutual distrust of the opposite sex to overcome in order to open up to the love blossoming between them.

What would you like your readers to know about your character(s)?

Like most people, Craig and Tamera are quick to form judgments and opinions of each other, and like most, come to realize that first impressions aren’t always the truest.


Now in print and audio!

Website address: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com

Blog: http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com

Face Book: http://facebook.com/pamelasthibodeaux

https://www.facebook.com/pamelasthibodeauxauthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/psthib @psthib

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pamelasthibodea/

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1jUVcdU

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/pamela-s-thibodeaux

Instagram: https://instagram.com/pamelasthibodeauxauthor


Read an excerpt from Chapter 1

Chapter One

Craig Harris pushed his half-empty plate away and signaled the waitress for a cup of coffee. He scrubbed a hand over his face, rubbed his tired, gritty eyes and looked out the window, hoping to avoid idle chit-chat with the woman as she sidled up to him, coffee pot in hand, seductive sway to her hips, and a hint of suggestion in her smile.

“Wonder when I’ll have the opportunity to leave you looking so haggard,” she remarked.

His gaze cut to her in a quick, scathing look that stopped further conversation. A flash of movement and color caught the corner of his eye. Craig glanced out the window to see a red Corvette toting a horse trailer drive into the service station across the street.

Impossible, he thought, with a shake of his head. He rubbed his eyes again, positive he was hallucinating. Sure enough, it was there, plain as day. Seen it all now, he thought, and watched a petite blonde disembark from the vehicle, speak to the attendant, then unload her horse. Craig admired the care she lavished on the huge animal. Admiration turned to awe then anger when she loaded the horse back in the trailer and headed in the direction of the diner where he sat. He lay in wait. She was seated comfortably at the counter when he approached her.

“Gonna leave that horse out there long while you sit in here where it’s nice and cool?” he asked. As a rancher, Craig detested the misuse of any animal, especially horses.

Tamera Collins turned and looked into the angriest—and prettiest—steel-gray eyes she’d ever seen. “Are you talking to me?”

“No,” he snarled. “I’m talking to Harry. Who else would I be talking to? You’re the only idiot I’ve seen put her horse in a trailer in one hundred-degree heat!”

Tamera knew the stranger had no way of knowing her horse trailer was equipped with oscillating fans to keep its occupant cool and it was on the tip of her tongue to tell him, but the sheer audacity of him attacking her stayed her words. She stiffened and desperately held on to her rising temper. “Look, mister, I don’t know who you are or where you get off being so rude, but I’ll have you know my horse is well taken care of.”

With a low growl, he grabbed her by the arm, nearly unseating her. “It’s hotter than blazes outside, and even hotter in that trailer! I want to know how long you’re going to leave him in there before you get moving?”

Tamera’s already strained temper shot up another degree. She jerked free of his grasp. “Don’t manhandle me, mister. My daddy never manhandled me. You can bet some half-cocked stranger’s not going to either!”

A collective gasp sounded in the cafe, followed by absolute silence as the customers waited to see what happened next. Not one of them would have crossed him in any manner, and everyone wondered what he’d do to the mere slip of a girl who dared to.

Caught between surprise and shock, Craig bit back a curse. Little spitfire. Got nerve too. “Looks like your daddy never spanked you, either, sweetheart,” he drawled. “Now answer me and make it quick. I’m not used to waiting when I ask a question, and I’m extremely low on patience right now.”

Tamera saw red—bright, hot, furious, red. Low on patience? More like low on manners! How dare he manhandle her, insult her father, then calmly demand an answer to an unwarranted attack on her ability to take care of her horse!

Before he could blink, she grabbed her glass of water off the counter and tossed it in his face. “Cool off, Mister. Show some courtesy from now on and next time you just might get your answer.”

She stormed into the bathroom, locked the door and burst into tears, the confrontation an overload to her taut emotions. “Arrogant jerk cowboy!”

Craig stared in stunned disbelief, eyes narrowing as he realized she’d succeeded in humiliating him in front of an entire room of his peers. He glared around as customers ducked heads, sipped drinks, or hid snickers and smiles behind their hands. With a muttered curse, he started toward the bathroom.

“No more, Craig,” Harry interrupted with quiet authority, fully aware Craig would tear the door down to get to her. God only knew what would happen then. “Leave her alone.”

Turning on his heel, Craig stormed out of the cafe. The customers burst into wild laughter the moment he was out the door. Craig Harris owned one of the largest and most successful ranches in the state. And he never let anyone forget it.

Craig tore out of the drive, the jeep’s tires spun, throwing dust and gravel everywhere. Harry waited until he was gone before he went to the ladies’ room.

“Come on out, honey, he’s gone,” he encouraged the occupant.

Tamera clamped a lid on her whirling emotions, washed her face then opened the door. A flush of embarrassment stained her pale cheeks. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.

Harry chuckled, leading her back to her seat as the patrons burst into spontaneous applause. “It’s okay, sweetheart. Craig Harris can be a real jerk sometimes. Most of the time actually. He’s a fine man, but he does demand respect.”

She gasped in petrified shock. “You don’t mean the Craig Harris who owns the Rockin’ H Ranch do you?”

“Yep, one and the same.”

Embarrassment washed over her in angry waves. Tamera hung her head. Of all the strange twists of fate, this certainly topped her list of ‘life’s little ironies’.

“My daddy always warned me to watch my temper,” she said in a humiliated whisper. “Now I know why.”

“Don’t worry, honey, he’ll get over it.” Harry assured.

I doubt it, Tamera thought, knowing she’d find out soon enough.


About Pamela

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” Sign up to receive Pam’s newsletter and get a FREE short story!

Tuesday’s Teaser with Kathleen Neely

Beauty for Ashes

by Kathleen Neely

I have Kathleen Neely here today talking about her new release, Beauty for Ashes. She’s been so gracious to talk with us about her characters, leave us with an excerpt, and allow you a chance to win a FREE digital copy of her new book!

Welcome, Kathleen. Let’s get started.

How would you describe your main characters?

I’m pleased to introduce you to Nathan Drummond and Angelina Hernandez.

If you’re a reader of mysteries, you may recognize Nathan from his book covers. He has seven novels to his credit and has been on the NY Times Best Seller List. Readers see his picture and his bio, but they never see the mystery that his life holds. Nathan’s kept that secret close for many years. That is, until he met Angie. She changed everything.

Joyful is probably the best adjective to describe Angie Hernandez. Her father says she was appropriately named Angelina, an angel of grace. She helps to run The Herald Center, an urban after-school ministry for teens. Her heart of compassion earns her the respect of even the toughest of those kids. The immediate attraction between Angie and Nathan gives her hope for the future. But it comes to a screeching halt. And all she knows is that Nathan keeps a secret from his past. A secret that he claims will not allow them a future together.

What problems do your characters face?

Nathan thought he had overcome the problems that plagued him, causing panic attacks through his college years. Counseling helped, but his counselor never knew the real root of the problem. Everyone thought it was the stress of college. Those problems have a resurgence when he returns to his hometown, coming face to face with reminders.

Nathan thinks that writing may help. He begins a new novel that parallels the events from years ago. As it nears completion, a new concern surfaces. Is it too close to the truth? Will it expose his secret?

Angie is a gifted violinist who put aside her dreams of playing professionally when her family needed her to help at The Herald Center. Nathan encourages her to pursue those dreams. She follows her heart by seeking a musical career and a future with Nathan. But that suddenly ends. What brought about the change in him?

What would you like your readers to know about your characters?

Nathan is determined to never forget the past. He journals about it daily, but must destroy each entry so no one ever sees. The jar filled with ashes is a ready reminder of the consequences of his sin.

Angie’s nature is to always see the good in people. Her Uncle Ramón taught her to look deeper. He said that people have a lot of hurt inside.


Read an excerpt of Beauty for Ashes

Angie couldn’t get past the feeling that she knew this man. She planned to ask, but first the situation with Carlos had to be addressed. “Why don’t we walk through the area where tutoring occurs. You can see the set up, and we’ll find a spot to talk with Carlos.”

Nathan hurriedly tossed the pinnies and balls into their proper space. Angie led him into a long hall with doors on each side. “These are our tutoring rooms. We’re blessed to be able to separate the groups. It helps with the noise, and all doors have windows for safety purposes. Either Jonas or I will be in the hallway walking back and forth, checking in.”

Nathan stretched his neck to peer into the occupied rooms. “You have some larger groups and a few with only three?”

“Yes, eight students are maximum for any tutor, but we try to group them according to their academic needs. Some are significantly delayed while others just need motivation.”

Nathan nodded his understanding. “Where would you place Del?”

“Significant.” Angie answered without hesitation. “I’m sure there are learning disabilities that were never addressed, but that’s not our call. We don’t diagnose.”

“They have snacks while they work. Do you supply them or do they bring their own?”

“Oh, we supply an afterschool snack. If they brought their own, most wouldn’t have anything. It’s a big line item for our budget, but we get some help from a few venders.” Angie slowed her steps. “Carlos is in here.” She stepped into the doorway. “I apologize for the interruption, but may I see Carlos for a moment?”

The teen walked into the hallway without a glance in Nathan’s direction. Angie motioned them away from the classroom door. “Carlos, I told Mr. Nathan that you wish to talk with him.”

He looked instead at Angie. “Me disculparé, pero le has dicho que no me tocara?”

She nodded her head and responded. “We will discuss that, but you must remember that Nathan is a volunteer. His time is a gift to you.”

Carlos turned toward Nathan. “Me disculparé …”

Angie shook her head. “English, please.”

He began again. “I’m sorry I pushed you. I don’t like to be touched.”

He looked like a small child in an oversized body. She glanced at Nathan and saw the same understanding, a gentleness in his expression.

“I’ll try to remember that, Carlos. And I’ll learn everyone’s names. If I had remembered your name, I wouldn’t have touched your shoulder. I’ll try to do better.”

Angie waited, but no further conversation occurred.

“You better return to tutoring now.” Carlos made his way back to the room. “Thank you, Nathan. We both know his action was unacceptable, but you allowed him to save face by accepting some responsibility regarding his name. That was very kind.”

Nathan smiled, the first real smile that Angie had seen.

“So, what was his question before that? I don’t speak Spanish.”

“He asked me to tell you that he doesn’t like to be touched.” Angie always had a protectiveness regarding Carlos. “He’s not a bad kid.”

“Has he been abused?”

He looked into her upturned face, and she quickly became aware of the nearness. She stepped back, creating space between them. “Why do you ask that?”

“Training sessions on how to recognize signs of abuse. Fear of touch is characteristic.”

“Probably. If I saw physical signs, I’d have to report it, but I just see fragile emotions. His father has two domestic violence charges for injuring his mother, and now she has a restraining order against him. I have no way to know if he physically harmed Carlos as well. I feel certain that social services would have questioned him.” Angie touched Nathan’s arm to indicate that they’d walk back to the multi-purpose room, away from the tutoring area. “You look so familiar to me. You said this is your first time volunteering?”

“Yes. I’ve never been here before this week.” He answered while they walked but glanced her way while he spoke.

Angie caught an amused light in his eyes. She stopped walking and looked up at him. “So where do I know you from?”

“I don’t know.” His amusement grew.

Her head tilted to one side, squinting an eye. “I think you’re teasing me.”

Nathan laughed out loud. “Sorry. Do you enjoy mystery novels?”

She gave him a confused look. “Yes, what does that…” Then it came to her. “Nathan Drummond? I should have known.”

A grin spread across his face. “I never know who’s a reader. Some people wouldn’t know my name or picture. Others recognize me immediately.”

“I should have been one of the latter. I’ve read most of your writings. I’m very pleased that you’ve come to our center. Perhaps we could have you speak about writing to those who are interested.”

“I’d be happy to. Anytime.” They continued walking and entered the foyer. Nathan’s eyes turned toward the portrait of Ramón Garcia, his expression growing somber. He quickly looked away.

“What days will you be here?”

“I’ve signed up for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Does that work?”

“We’re blessed to have any time you can spare. Some volunteers can only give us one day a week, so three is very generous. I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday.” Angie stood by the scuffed glass of the front door and watched him walk to his car.

*

The tip of the pen rested on the journal as Nathan sat thinking. A cold sweat gathered on his forehead as he relived the scene. Somehow it had more clarity ten years later than it had that night. Setting the pen aside, he paced circles around the room. A burn rose in the back of his throat. Sometimes there weren’t sufficient words to capture all that needed to be communicated.

Returning to his desk, he picked up the pen and stared at the thin blue lines where sentences should be. Then he began moving the pen, writing just a single word—If. Nathan stared at the emptiness. Finally, he began filling the space between parallel lines. Reaching the bottom of the paper, he read what he had written. But if was an act of futility. He ripped it from the threaded seam, and crinkled it into a ball, flinging it across the room. Then he ran to retrieve it so no one would ever read his words. He took a lighter to the paper and watched as it was reduced to ashes.

While he had fought for adequate journal entry words, the discipline prepared him for the story in progress. When he opened the file, his fingers flew over the keys. Thoughts came faster than he could capture them. It would require some serious editing, but words flowed.


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About Kathleen

Kathleen Neely is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes (4-26-19), and The Least of These (5-30-19). She is a former elementary teacher. Following her years in the classroom, she moved into administration, serving as an elementary principal. Kathleen is an alumnus of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and Regent University in Virginia.

Among her writing accomplishments, Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions. She continues to speak to students about writing. Kathleen is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers.

She resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.