Tuesday’s Teaser with Susan Anne Mason

The Highest of Hopes

Today I have Susan Mason talking about her new book, The Highest of Hopes. Welcome, Susan. Let’s get started.

How would you describe your main character(s)?

Outwardly, Emmaline Moore is a vivacious, independent young woman, but on the inside, she suffers scars from the many losses in her life. She is an only child, raised by her grandparents in the small village of Wheatley, England. After her grandmother’s death, Emma became even closer to her grandfather and helped him run his watch shop by keeping his books. The Great War took a toll on her. Her fiancé was killed in battle and her best friend Jonathan was wounded. Just when Jonathan returns home and her world starts to brighten, Emma’s grandfather’s death turns her world upside down again.

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

When Emmaline loses her beloved grandfather, her last living relative, she believes she’s alone in the world. Except for her best friend Jonathan and his aunt Trudy. Then she finds a box of letters in her grandfather’s belongings that leads her to believe that her father is actually alive and living in Canada. She cannot fathom why her grandparents kept this from her but becomes determined to find the man and learn why he never claimed her as his own. Jonathan insists on traveling with her, certain that this trip will bring nothing but disaster. And when Emma meets Randall Moore, law professor and candidate for the mayor of Toronto, Jonathan’s prediction seems to come true. Yet despite the unfriendly reception, Emma remains determined to win her father over and have the father-daughter relationship she’s always dreamed of.

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

Emma is a devoted friend—loyal, determined, and courageous. She has a flair for fashion yet doesn’t realize her own beauty. She is overly optimistic at times, to the point where some people feel she is too naïve for her own good. She has a huge stubborn streak, overshadowed only by her big heart and generous nature. When she loves someone, she loves unconditionally with her whole being. It takes a lot for Emma to give up on someone. Despite many disappointments, she still believes in a person’s ability to change for the better. Will Randall Moore be the one person to prove Emma wrong?


Read the first chapter of The Highest of Hopes

CHAPTER 1

June 1919

There was no turning back now!

The shrill scream of the steam whistle signaled the locomotive’s departure from the last stop before they reached their ultimate destination of Toronto. Emma gripped the wooden arm rests until her fingers ached, though it did little to rid her body of the tension building within her. Perhaps it was due to stress and fatigue, but on this final stage of her long journey, a cloud doubt had crept in to plague her.

Had she made the worst mistake of her life, selling everything she owned to journey halfway across the world? For the first time since leaving England, Emma feared she may have.

Smoke billowed past the passenger car windows, momentarily masking her view of a sparkling blue lake amid the rolling countryside—not quite as scenic as the landscape in Wheatley, but certainly prettier than she’d imagined. Emma smoothed a hand over her stomach, which roiled with a mixture of anticipation and dread. She had no idea what to expect upon her arrival in Toronto, and the very real fear that she’d placed too great an importance on this trip continued to nag at her—as well as the uncomfortable feeling that she hadn’t really consulted with God before making her impulsive decision. What if Jonathan was right about giving her father fair warning before simply appearing on his doorstep? What if her father wanted nothing to do with her?

Emma leaned back and took a deep breath. Nothing would be gained by this tiresome worrying. Only time would tell whether her journey would be worth leaving everything behind—or not.

In the seat beside her, Jonathan slept with his head against the window. He still looked somewhat green, a color that seemed to haunt him since their ocean crossing. Who knew he would make such a poor sailor? Despite the doctor’s pronouncement that he was fine, their six-day sojourn in Halifax had done little to restore Jonathan’s equilibrium, and the extreme jostling of the train for the past two days had only exacerbated his condition. Because of the constant nausea, he’d barely been able to eat more than a few saltine crackers and tea and had slept most of the time.

A door opened at the far end of the car, and a man in a conductor’s uniform entered. He stopped at the first seat and requested to see the occupants’ tickets, as he’d done after every new stop.

Several rows ahead, a young girl slipped away from her mother and darted into the aisle. Despite the jerky movement of the train, the girl managed to race toward Emma, a grin of triumph lighting her face.

She came to an abrupt halt at Emma’s seat and stared with dancing eyes. “Hello. My name’s Sarah. I like your hat.”

Before Emma could reply, a bearded man approached. “Sarah, you must stay where your mama and I can see you.” He lifted the girl into his arms and dropped a kiss on her cheek. “Come now. You can give the conductor our tickets.”

Sarah threw her arms around the man’s neck. “Then can I have some candy, Papa?”

The man chuckled, gazing at the child with such adoration that Emma’s throat tightened.

“If you promise to stay in your seat, you may have a peppermint,” he said.

Emma watched them until they disappeared from view, but the image of the man’s expression as he held his daughter remained seared in Emma’s mind, igniting a burgeoning seed of hope.

She’d travelled four thousand miles to receive a look such as that.

When the conductor reached them, Emma handed him the tickets. “How much longer until we reach Toronto?”

The man’s expression brightened as he met her inquiring gaze. He appeared to be a little older than Jonathan, perhaps twenty-five or so, but his uniform gave him an air of authority. “About three hours, miss. More or less.”

“Thank you.” She bit her bottom lip. Only three hours until she’d disembark in the city where Randall Moore had been living for the past twenty-two years. Twenty-two years that Emma had believed her father to be dead. Was she daft to come so far in search of him without writing first?

Jonathan seemed to think so. He’d tried to get her to postpone her trip until she’d contacted Randall. However, the fear that her father would reject her before she’d even had the chance to meet him had spurred her to take immediate action. A letter could be ignored, but it would be a lot harder to dismiss her when she was standing right in front of him.

“Are you all right, miss?” The conductor peered at her, a concerned frown wrinkling his brow. “You’re not feeling ill, I hope.” He glanced over at her companion, perhaps fearing she had succumbed to motion sickness as well.

Emma managed a smile. “I’m fine. Just a bit nervous is all.”

“Heartier than your husband, I see.” He chuckled as he punched their tickets.

“He’s not my husband,” Emma replied quickly. “Just a dear friend who was good enough to accompany me on this trip.”

Curiosity animated the man’s rugged features. “First time to Canada?”

“Yes.” She squeezed her gloved hands together on her lap. “I’m here to…visit some relatives I’ve never met before.”

The train jerked as it rounded a bend, and the conductor grabbed the back of the seat to steady himself. “I’m sure they must be as excited as you are. I know I would be to have such a lovely guest arriving.” He winked at her. “As much as I’d love to hear more, I’d best get back to work. Enjoy your stay in Toronto.” He tipped his cap and set off down the car.

“Breaking hearts all over the country, I see.”

Jonathan’s wry voice brought the heat to Emma’s cheeks.

“Don’t be silly. He was just being friendly. Like all the Canadians we’ve met so far.”

Jonathan opened one eye to give her a disbelieving look. “I doubt they’d be as friendly if I were travelling alone.”

“Go back to sleep, Grumpy Gus. You have three more hours until you’re free of this torture.”

Jonathan shifted in his seat, straightening to look out the window at the passing countryside. “It’s not so bad. Better than being on that ship.” He turned to look at Emma. “I suppose our first order of business when we arrive will be to secure lodgings.”

Emma nodded. Her thoughts flew back to her safe little room above Grandad’s watch shop and a wave of homesickness hit hard. What if things went wrong here? There was no cozy flat to go back to. No suitor waiting in the wings either. Her last letter to Lord Terrence had made sure of that.

“Should we try the boarding house Grace mentioned?” Jonathan’s voice brought Emma out of her musings. “It will likely be more reasonable than staying at a hotel.”

“That sounds like a good place to start.” Although the impatient part of her wanted to delve right into locating her father, practicalities had to be considered before that could happen.

“And if there’s no room, perhaps the landlady could refer us elsewhere.” Jonathan’s brown hair was sticking up in all directions from being plastered against the window for most of the morning. A shadow of a beard hugged his jaw, which was unusual for Jonathan who normally prided himself on being impeccably groomed. Further proof that he still wasn’t feeling up to par.

Emma pointed to his wayward tufts. “You’d better freshen up or you’re likely to scare the proprietress off. You look like an outlaw right now.”

He scowled at her as he ran his fingers over his jaw. “You try shaving in a room smaller than a closet. Besides, with this constant motion, I’d likely slit my throat.”

Emma forced a laughed. “I’m sure there will be a restroom at the Toronto station. From what I hear, it’s quite the grand place.”

“It is indeed.” The man seated across from them lowered his newspaper. “Recently renovated and everything. You can get a great shoe shine there,” he said to Jonathan.

“Sounds like you know the place well.”

“I travel for business, so I’ve spent my fair share of time waiting for trains there.” He smiled. “I’m Stan Olsen. Born and bred in Toronto. If I can be of any help, let me know.”

Emma restrained herself from barraging the poor man with questions. In a city the size of Toronto, chances were slim that he’d ever heard of her father.

Jonathan shot her an inquiring look, then leaned forward. “As a matter of fact,” he said, “we’re looking for someone. I don’t suppose you know a man named Randall Moore?”

The man’s brows rose. “Not personally. But most Torontonians know who he is.” He turned the newspaper back to the front page and handed it over. “Just finished reading an article about him. Bottom right hand column.”

Emma’s pulse raced. “Not in the obituaries, I hope.”

“No. He’s very much alive and kicking.” The gentleman’s eyes held a trace of amusement.

“I’m almost afraid to ask what that means.” Jonathan held the paper between them so Emma could see it.

The headline of the article read: Mayoral Candidate Randall Moore Ramps Up His Campaign.

Emma exchanged a look with Jonathan, then bent closer to read the fine print.

Despite his recent defeat in the Toronto mayoral race, Professor Randall Moore has kicked off his next campaign with a bang. In light of the close finish in January’s election, it’s apparent that public support for Moore is reaching an all-time high. “Tommy Church can’t win forever,” Moore stated. “And I intend to be the one to unseat him.”

The University of Toronto professor’s bold declaration has issued a clear challenge to the mayor. If Moore’s popularity continues, it seems likely he might indeed unseat Mr. Church in the next election.

Emma’s mouth fell open. “He’s running for mayor? Isn’t that a rather mammoth undertaking?”

Mr. Olsen nodded. “A lot of time and money go into the campaign, especially from the candidate trying to unseat the current mayor who’s been elected three years in a row.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “What do you want with Randall Moore?”

Emma laid the newspaper on her lap. It wouldn’t be fair for anyone else to learn about her visit before she had the chance to meet her father. “He’s a…distant relative. I promised I’d look him up when I got to Toronto.” She went to hand the paper back, but the man waved it off.

“You keep it. You might want to save that article for your family back home.”

“Thank you.” She folded the paper and placed it in her handbag.

Mr. Olsen didn’t need to know that she had no family left. That Grandad was gone, leaving her with nothing but lies and deception.

Emma swallowed the hurt that rose in her throat.

She only prayed that once she met her father, he would provide her with answers to the questions that haunted her. Otherwise this arduous voyage would all be for naught.

 

Jonathan entered the dining car of the train and steadied himself with a hand to the wall. A low din filled the room. Seated at the cloth-covered tables, various passengers chatted over plates of food, their conversation punctuated by the clink of silverware and china.

Jonathan’s stomach, however, rebelled at the variety of smells that assaulted him. Bacon, beef, and a hint of barley soup. He wished he was up to eating something solid, but tea seemed the only thing that could ease the constant nausea that had plagued him since leaving the shores of England.

He made his way to the bar where a large balding man in an apron was wiping the counter. Jonathan sat down in one of the chairs. “A cup of Earl Grey tea, please.”

The man blinked. “How about orange pekoe?”

“That will do. Thank you.”

The fellow turned and lifted a pot from behind him and grabbed a cup with the other hand. He studied Jonathan while he poured the hot beverage. “Didn’t I see you in here this morning with your wife? Couldn’t help but notice her.” He winked at Jonathan.

Jonathan had been in with Emma for breakfast, but again had only been able to get down a few swallows of tea. “She’s not my wife. Just a very good friend.”

“Oh, I get it.” The man waggled his brows.

Jonathan held back a groan. He’d come on this voyage to keep Emma safe, not sully her reputation. “No, sir. I don’t believe you do. Emma considers me a brother. Not that I’d mind changing that opinion.” He poured some milk into the tea and took a quick sip.

“A brother, eh? You must have known each other a long time.”

“Indeed. Since the age of ten when I moved next door to her. Emma and I were both orphans – or so she thought at the time.” He lowered his cup. “She helped me cope with the loss of my family. We’ve been best friends ever since.”

The man peered at him. “I’m guessing things changed once you got older?”

“For me, yes. But not for her. I’m trying to figure out how to remedy that.” Jonathan shifted his gaze to the counter. Why had he just spilled his innermost thoughts to this hefty stranger with coffee stains on his shirt?

“Ah, unrequited love. I totally understand.” The big man’s belly hung over the bar as he leaned forward, ready to share a confidence. “There was a girl in my hometown. Never could get her to notice me. Hope you have more luck, pal.”

“You and me both, sir.” He raised his cup in a mock salute and drained the contents, then rose to make his way back to the next car.

Emma had taken his spot by the window and was dozing in the seat, her long lashes a dark smudge against her skin. Jonathan sat beside her and inhaled deeply. The stuffy air in the train did nothing to help his stomach, nor could it calm his worry.

His dearest friend was in for a huge disappointment, and Jonathan had no idea how to prevent the crushing blow she would soon receive. Emma seemed blinded to the fact that her father didn’t appear to want her in his life. If he had, he would have made more of an effort to contact her. More than a handful of letters that Emma had never received until the day she’d cleaned out her grandfather’s desk.

Yet Jonathan couldn’t blame her for wanting to meet the man. He just wished she’d waited to correspond with him first, to better ascertain the chance at being well-received. She claimed she needed the element of surprise in her favor. But from Jonathan’s experience, the sort of surprise she had in mind rarely worked out the way one intended.

Something he would do well to remember himself.

He reached up to pat the breast pocket of his jacket where the envelope that held his future rested. A measure of guilt weighed on his conscience at keeping this information from Emma. But if he’d told her before they left, she would have demanded he stay behind. He’d had a hard enough time convincing Emma that Aunt Trudy would be all right without him for the summer. In truth, Jonathan hated leaving his aunt alone, especially after just returning from four years at war, but in the end, he had no choice. There was no way he’d ever allow Emma to travel halfway across the world alone.

His news could wait for a more opportune time. In fact, if things went according to his expectations, they might be on a ship home within a few weeks. He pressed a hand to his still tender abdomen. Not a trip he was looking forward to, but it would be worth the seasickness to have Emma home where she belonged.

With him.

Jonathan snuck a glimpse at Emma’s profile as she slept. Dark curls framed her heart-shaped face, and her pert nose was peppered with light freckles. But it was her stunning blue eyes that captivated him the most. Those eyes could turn from mischievous to furious with little warning, reflecting every thought and emotion that flittered across her delicate features. He still found it difficult to comprehend how the girl he’d grown up with—the one he used to view as a little sister—could have turned into the woman who had captured his heart so completely.

Yet the question remained. How would he ever get Emma to see him as anything other than her best friend and surrogate brother?

Jonathan rubbed a hand over his whiskered jaw. He must look a sight after being sick the whole voyage over. He’d thought he could use the time on the ship to get closer to Emma, to re-establish their bond, somewhat strained after his four years away at war. Not to mention the relationship with some baron that had started near the end of the hostilities—while Jonathan was recuperating in France. Thankfully, she’d come to her senses and written to Lord Terrence the Terrible—as Jonathan had secretly taken to calling him—before they set sail, turning down his proposal of marriage. One less obstacle for Jonathan to overcome.

However, he would now have to make up for lost time and begin to woo the woman he was determined to make his wife.

If only he could be sure there was a chance Emma would one day reciprocate his feelings.


Get your copy here:
Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Christian Books

Tuesday’s Teaser with Linda Shenton Matchett

Thank you for being here today, Linda. Let’s talk about your new book, Love’s Rescue.

Describe your main characters.

(a) Parisienne Rolande Bisset has recently come to faith in Jesus Christ and is struggling to shed the guilt of her past. Trapped in a life of prostitution, she is seeking a way out, while trying to stay alive during the chaotic and dangerous last days of the occupation of Paris. She is alternately trusting and cynical having been exposed to both the best and worst of life. Despite the hurt she experienced from her family, she loves them and wants to reconcile.

(b) Part of a “high-society” American family, Simon Harlow is a Special Forces officer who used to see life in black and white. Four years fighting overseas for Uncle Sam has proven that life is often viewed in shades of gray. He wishes he were more like his best friend, Eddie, whose “shoot from the hip” approach to life has both intrigued and annoyed him.

What is the problem your characters face in the book?

Love’s Rescue is about how we all need rescuing by God no matter how “well-placed” we are. That all human beings fall short of God’s plan for us, and that without a personal relationship with Jesus we’re lost. Nothing we can do can save us. Both Rolande and Simon suffer from pre-conceived notions about other people which can lead to confusion, misinterpretation, and hurt. Rolande must embrace God’s grace fully and accept that she is a new creation in Him. Simon must shed his judgmental version of faith in order to accept that Rolande is a new creation.

What do you want readers to know about your characters?

It was challenging to write Rolande. She comes to Christ during the story while still working as a prostitute and must learn to trust in God to provide for her. I wanted to show how her understanding of sin changed as she grew as a Christian. It was also difficult to write Simon, because he could have easily come off as a critical jerk who thinks he’s perfect. Hopefully, that didn’t happen! 


Love’s Rescue

Read an excerpt

Paris, August 1944

Rolande Bisset ducked her head and pulled the brim of her starched cotton sunhat lower over her face, not so much to block the sun’s glare, but to avoid the merchants’ ogling and shoppers’ sneers. She hurried past the darkened shops, most no longer operating since the Germans arrived four years ago. Would she ever smell freshly-baked croissants or peruse a succulent collection of vegetables again?

A scorching breeze sent her hat’s veil dancing. Perspiration trickled between her shoulder blades and threatened to ruin her cobalt-blue silk suit. Her pumps had seen better days, but thanks to leather rationing, a new pair was not in the offing. The Occupiers needed the material for their boots.

Intent upon reaching her destination, Rolande failed to see a rotund woman approaching. They collided, and the woman’s elaborate chapeau slid from her upswept hair and poked Rolande in the face before landing on the pavement.

“I beg your pardon, madam.” Rolande bent to retrieve the confection of flowers, birds, and ribbons.

The woman narrowed her eyes. “Watch where you’re going, collaborateur.” She snatched the millinery masterpiece from Rolande’s grasp and drew her skirts close. Looking down her nose, she plunked the hat on her head and marched down the sidewalk.

No longer hungry, she continued down the avenue past Aux Cerises Café where the outdoor tables were filled with German soldiers. One of the men whistled and smirked, his Aryan features marred by a long scar that ran from his eye to his jaw. Her stomach clenched, and nausea threatened.

Pigs. Men were all pigs.

She continued along the avenue until she came to the tiny market her older brother owned. He never acknowledged her presence in the shop, but neither did he forbid her to enter. His wife typically looked at her with a mixture of pity and contempt.

The brass bell jangled above her head as she pushed open the door and stepped inside. Vacant shelves greeted her, and she sighed. Most patrons were smart enough to come first thing in the morning for the best selection, but she had been entertaining.

Little did he realize, Standartenführer Wilhelm Wagner was one of her most reliable sources for information. Tipsy when he arrived; before he left at the end of the evening, he was deep in his cups. With minimal prodding, he’d told her about the anticipated invasion by the Allied troops. Sure, the rumor had been circulating among civilians, but to hear it from a military man made the possibility plausible.

Liberation, at last.

“I set this aside for you.”

Rolande’s head whipped around.

Her sister-in-law, Louise, stood behind her, a brown-paper package in her hands. She looked toward the door then shoved the parcel into Rolande’s arms. “You are later than usual, and I was concerned there’d be no food remaining. There are a few potatoes and carrots in the bin, but nothing else.”

“You’re very kind.”

“It’s nothing. Now, hurry before Henri returns.”

“Je vous remercie. Why are you doing this?”

Louise waved her hand and frowned. “There is no time. He is due any moment. Give me your ration book.”

Rolande handed her the book. Her sister-in-law tore out the required stamps, then pushed the pamphlet back into Rolande’s hand.

“How much do I owe you?”

“Nothing. We are famille, no matter how Henri acts.”

For the second time that morning, Rolande’s eyes filled with tears. She was getting soft. That would have to change for her to survive the Occupation. Dipping her head, she tucked the package into her canvas bag then threaded her way through the shop to the front door where she came face-to-face with Henri.

Visage dark, he scowled. “Did anyone see you come here?”

“The whole world, Henri. It is a public street. Would you like me to wear a disguise in the future? Perhaps sunglasses and a wig.”

“Non. What I would like is for you to find somewhere else to purchase your food.”

Louise gasped. “Henri. She is your sister.”

His lips compressed into a thin line, and he crossed his arms. “She is dead to me.”

Rolande drew back as if he’d slapped her. He’d always been condescending, but to declare her dead…the words cut through her.

“Fine. I will not bother you again.” She pushed past him into the stifling heat. Where would she find food? Two other shops in town had already refused to serve her.


Get your copy here:

Amazon

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Apple Books


About Linda

Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent and archivist at the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library. She lives in central New Hampshire.


You can find Linda online here:

Website/Blog: http://wwwLindaShentonMatchett.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LindaShentonMatchettAuthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lindasmatchett

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

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Shenton-Matchett/e/B01DNB54S0

BookBub Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/linda-shenton-matchett

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/authorlindamatchett

Tuesday’s Teaser with Kathleen Neely

The Street Singer

Today I have award-winning author, Kathleen Neely here to talk about her new book. Welcome, Kathleen. Let’s begin talking about The Street Singer.

How would you describe your main characters?

I’m pleased to introduce you to Trisha Mills and Adda Marsh.

Trisha, a student in her final year of law school, is no stranger to loss. After losing her parents in an auto accident, she was raised by her grandparents in an old house at the foothills of the mountains in rural Asheville, NC. When they died, she found herself without a family. It left Trisha with a passion for any remembrance of her past.

Adda Marsh has an extraordinary singing voice, at least she did before old age compromised her vocals. She won’t be nominated for another Grammy, as she once was when the world knew her as Adaline, but she could still gather a crowd from her spot on the corner of an Asheville street. Adda would never use the name Adaline again. It carried too many memories, and most of them were not good.

What problems do your characters face?

Although generations and ethnicity separate Trisha and Adda, they have a connection. Trisha’s grandfather played Adaline’s records when he taught Trisha to dance. They both loved her music. How is it possible that this once-famous singer now entertains people from a street corner and lives off of money from the donation box?

Nostalgia, compassion, and a spunky spirit drive Trisha to uncover the story, despite the friction it creates with her fiancée, Grant Ramsey. When attorney Rusty Bergstrom agrees to help Adda, Trisha begins to examine her life, her feelings, and her future.

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

No character is completely good or completely bad. Each is flawed, and each is driven by a different source.

— Trisha longs to hold on to the past.

— Adda does what she needs to do for daily survival, but protects her box of memories.

— Grant is programmed through his political family to filter everything through the eyes of the media.

— Rusty practices law to right wrongs and help people.


Read an excerpt of The Street Singer

Adda sat on the mattress to catch her breath before lifting the lid off of the remembering box. It was the fullest. There was a lot more to remember than there was to eat. Some of the remembering was good. But mostly it was hard.

Adda picked up a photograph of her family. She never questioned where they got it, or how they had afforded such a fine picture. It was black and white with a white border around the whole thing. Little curvy cuts made up the white paper frame. There was her mama and daddy, standing straight in the middle, all nine of their children surrounding them, everyone smiling for the picture.

She started with the one on her left because that was the way she was told to read—left to right. Leila, Jamal, and Rosa were first, next to Mama. Then Daddy was standing with Berta, Kande, Kioni, and Luther, beside him. Adda and Minny were in front of Mama and Daddy. They were the littlest. Adda figured she must have been around four years old, and Minny just a tad younger.

Adda looked beyond the people and saw her growing-up home. There was that old house with the two windows that always stayed open, trying to get some air inside those three rooms. The front porch had big rocks pushed under the corner poles to keep it level. Adda remembered the time Luther slithered under that porch, hiding when he was a’feared that Daddy was gonna whoop him. Didn’t take Daddy no time to find him cause that dry old dust started Luther coughing. Daddy whooped him, once for disobeying and twice for hiding.

The big pole furthest from the door had the clothesline attached. Then it stretched out to a big old Elm tree. There were no clothes hanging on it, which was a strange sight. Adda never remembered the clothesline being empty.

She placed the picture face down and pulled out a frayed piece of fabric, no bigger than a hand towel. The floral pattern was faded beyond recognition, but Adda saw it clearly. She had those tiny pink roses burned in her mind, their green swirly stems all sewed with hand stitches. Mama had sewn the blanket when Berta was a little child, but when she tried to hand it on down, Berta threw a fit. Adda kept sneaking to use it, and Berta would snatch it back. That was about the finest thing inside that little old rough wood building. Adda held the scrap to her face and brushed its softness against her cheek. Mama. Why didn’t you help me?


About Kathleen

Kathleen Neely resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading. She is a retired elementary principal.

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 first 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.

Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers.