Here Again, Gone Again, Here Again

It seems like every time I plan to start a new series of blogs, or just recommit to blog more frequently, something happens. And that something is not small – it’s usually a major life crisis – either in my own life or in the life of someone near and dear.

For those of you who know me, or were reading my blog when I actually managed to post something, you will know that earlier this year, my sister and I dealt with closing up my parents’ house after forty years of living there. We moved them in with her and her husband around the end of February and after a few weeks of adjustments on the women’s part, they all seem to be getting along fairly well. We had a massive estate sale in May and sold a lot of “treasures” and were left with a lot of trash, er excuse me, treasures. Remember, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

In December of last year, my employer cut my hours and pay. I had seen the handwriting on the wall. After all, part of my responsibilities is all of the financial work. And I knew that the powers to be were too kind-hearted to bring the subject up themselves. So I volunteered and with a great sigh of relief, they agreed.  I now work four mornings a week – two mornings at the office and two from home. This change in schedule has helped tremendously, giving me the freedom to do what I need/want to do. All those well-laid plans…

In October of last year, my sweet hubby, Dave, came home from a week-long business trip feeling as if he were getting the flu. Over the weekend, he felt worse and by Monday, was ready to see a doctor. His physician told him he had pneumonia, gave him some antibiotics and sent him home. He took the usual 10 day dosage, got better for a couple of weeks and got sick again. This happened four times – get sick, take antibiotics, get better – get sick, take antibiotics…you get the picture. When he got sick the fifth time, I insisted he find a doctor in the city where we live and even recommended one. He saw that doctor who immediately referred him to a pulmonologist. This was in late March. To make a very long story a wee bit shorter, since March, Dave has seen two pulmonologists, two thoracic surgeons and an infectious disease specialist. He has had three CAT scans, two bronchoscopies and there is discussion of a third one to be done this week. At last count, he has had over ten vials of blood drawn for an unknown number of lab tests. No one has determined what the problem is. Many ugly diseases, such as lung cancer, tuberculosis, lymphoma, leukemia, etc. have been ruled out and for that, we are truly, truly grateful. But we need a diagnosis. We are weary…especially Dave. He has battled whatever this is for almost nine months. (This is in addition to his long-standing, chronic back/hip/leg pain.) We are in the midst of deciding what the next step should be. Do we stay with the doctors he is already established with or do we ask our insurance company for a referral to a different doctor or perhaps even to the Mayo Clinic?  Your prayers for wisdom and for complete and total healing for Dave are greatly appreciated.

Once my hours and pay were cut at my job, I knew I needed to try and bring in some extra income. For over 25 years, I have typed, proofed, and edited manuscripts, college papers, theses, resumes, etc. Many times, I’ve done the work for friends at no charge, or a very minimum charge. I have now started my own company, Monarch Writing Services. I’m doing the same thing I’ve done all these years, but now it’s “official.” J I’ve only been “open” for business about six weeks and already have four clients.

I’ve written all of these situations as just part of what’s been going on in my life that has prevented me from blogging more often. Hopefully, I can and will get my schedule a little more organized and will be able to blog more frequently. I do have some fantastic Christian women’s fiction and/or Christian romance books to be given away. So if you want some great books for summer reading, keep your eyes on this blog.

Blessings to all and thanks for sticking with me even when I disappear for several months at a time!

 Tell us a bit about who you are outside of the writing field.

I’m a born-and-bred California gal, transplanted to Oklahoma at age 50. Talk about your “change of life!” My husband and I moved here in 2008, after he was medically retired (with COPD) and needed to get out of the San Joaquin Valley in California, with its sadly tarnished air. I am fortunate to be able to write full time—a new thing for me, and I’m loving it!

The Solomon’s Gate Series sounds intriguing, with the whole dating agency concept. Is your new release, Kylie’s Kiss, a part of that series? Share a bit about Solomon’s Gate.

Solomon’s Gate is a set of three books, based around a Christian dating agency of the same name. The introductory novel, Destiny’s Dream, focuses on Destiny May, who founds a Christian dating agency in a mid-sized, conservative California town. The two follow-up novels involve a couple of Destiny’s “Seekers,” which is her name for the people who come to her seeking a soul mate.

Kylie’s Kiss, book two in the series, released April 29. I’m excited about this book, and the true-to-life issues in the storyline. Here’s a blurb:

On a dare, Kylie Matthews lands smack in the middle of Solomon’s Gate—Castle Creek’s new Christian dating agency—and she finds herself revealing exactly what she’s waiting for in a relationship: “The kiss that steals my breath away.”

What she doesn’t reveal is her lack of self-esteem or her irrational reaction to facial disfigurement. Neither is applicable to her quest to find the perfect match. But that seemingly superficial malady becomes all-important when her first agency-arranged date is Rick Dale—a man who is everything Kylie is searching for. He’s handsome, smart, fun. Rick has it all…including an angelic six-year-old daughter with severe scarring on one side of her face.

Hard at work founding a therapy camp for young female victims of deformity or disfigurement, Rick wants Kylie to be a part of those plans. She’d love to say yes…but how can she, when every contact with the facility’s guests—and Rick’s own daughter—will make her violently ill?

Kylie is ready to admit their relationship doesn’t stand a chance, but she’s forgotten that God makes a way where there seems no way.

How do you market your work, or does your publisher do the majority of the marketing?

My publisher is wonderful about doing everything they can to get the word out and place our books. They are, however, a small press, and I am expected to help with the marketing. That said, even large publishing houses are now asking authors to contribute something to the promotional process, so I don’t mind. I’m grateful to find a reputable home for my books. White Rose is recognized by both RWA and ACFW, so they must be doing something right.

We’d love a little hint about what’s inside Kylie’s Kiss. Would you share a scene from the book?

I’d love to!

Rick settled into a seat across from Kylie and Clay and sat in silence for a moment, a slight frown drawing his dark brows together. Finally he looked up, first at Clay, then in her direction. “Kylie, I haven’t had a chance to share with you about Lea, though I believe Clay knows a little.”

Her heart sank and her gaze flew to her boss, who nodded. Yes, he knew about Lea, whoever she was. This didn’t sound good. “Who’s Lea?”

“She’s my little girl.” Kylie drew in a slow, deliberate breath, forcing herself to stay calm. So he had a daughter. As long as a wife wasn’t the next announcement, she could handle that.

“You have a child. How old is she?”

“She just turned six.” Rick’s expression softened as he spoke, and Kylie knew without a doubt that Lea was his life. His green eyes, startling against the olive of his skin, met hers without flinching. “She’s a special child, Kylie. Smart, beautiful, charming….” Kylie found herself fascinated by the adorable little self-derisive grin that played about his lips. “And sweet as cotton candy.”

Kylie couldn’t help smiling. “You don’t like her much, huh?”

“She is my heart and soul.” A little sheepish, but unrepentant.

“When do we get to meet this perfect child?” Clay’s grin lit up his craggy face. “Destiny’s already looking forward to it, but be warned—she’s going to try to keep her. My wife has a thing with kids, man. She loves ’em, and they always love her right back.”

Rick laughed a little, but his tone was serious. “I hope she still feels that way after she meets Lea.” He pulled a wallet from his pocket, then sat for a moment, saying nothing.

Puzzled, Kylie watched him run slender fingers through his thick black hair. Again and again he invaded the thick waves, managing to somehow leave them only slightly mussed. Finally he opened the billfold and pulled out a photo.

When he raised his head, revealing the torment in his eyes, her heart nearly stopped. What was wrong with Lea? Whatever it was, did Rick think it would make a difference in how she or Clay might feel about the child? If so, he certainly didn’t give them much credit.

“This is Lea.” He handed the photo to Clay, who smiled and passed it on to Kylie.

“She’s a cutie all right, my friend. You weren’t exaggerating. So what’s the problem?”

 Kylie wondered the same thing. The photo showed a partial silhouette of an extraordinarily beautiful child. Unlike her olive-skinned father, Lea was a vision of light. Golden hair, porcelain skin, eyes the color of a robin’s egg. Kylie met Rick’s gaze, mystified by his obvious unease. “She’s lovely.”

“Thank you. I think so.” He pulled out another photo and handed it to Clay. “In spite of this.”

Kylie’s stomach clenched and threatened to revolt. Her boss’s flinch was slight, but unmistakable. Oh, dear God, please help me handle whatever this is with grace. How ironic that her first real prayer in years would be one of such a pitifully begging nature. Somehow she knew her reaction to this photo could mean life or death for her relationship with Rick. How strange that she’d be thinking in terms of a relationship now, when only moments before she’d been ready to concede defeat.

Clay nodded slowly, then met Kylie’s eyes. He held briefly to the picture even after her fingers closed on it. His words were directed to his friend, but his gaze held hers. “You’re right, my friend. Nothing could make this child anything less than perfect.”

He released the photo into Kylie’s grip. By now she did not want to look at it. Something in Rick’s eyes and Clay’s voice told her she could be in trouble. But what choice did she have?

Her eyes moved in slow, jerking movements from Clay’s face to the photo in her hands. She gasped, overwhelmed with sympathy—and total panic.

Another silhouette, shot from the opposite side of Lea’s face. Long, lumpy red welts stained her exquisite skin, puckering her cheek into an inhuman mask. Kylie had no idea she was crying until the tears tickled her face, even as her throat closed and her stomach lurched.

The photo fluttered to the floor as she leaped to her feet. Sending the two men a desperately apologetic look, she flew out of the room with a hand over her mouth.

What can we expect from you next?

I’m working on a book of women’s fiction. It incorporates characters from two of my earlier books…Yesterday’s Promise and Goldeneyes. This is a bit unusual, since Goldeneyes is set in 1936 and 1959, and Yesterday’s Promise is a contemporary romance. Readers who’ve read either or both of those books will definitely be interested in this one. I’m also working on a short novella for a Valentine collection. Now to find a home for it… 🙂

What advice would you give to budding authors who have published a book and now ask, “What next?”?

Start writing your next one! That said, it’s so important to learn everything you can about marketing a book, because you should be doing that even before yours is released. If you don’t already have a platform of followers/fans, start building one—yesterday! Use as many social networking tools as you can efficiently handle, and work them. If you don’t have a website, get one. This will be crucial to your publicity, and if you can’t afford to have one done professionally, there are numerous free web hosting companies online. Webs.com is a good one. Above all, place your career in the hands of God and follow His lead. He sees the bumps in the road ahead that are not within your line of sight yet, and He knows how to guide you through, around, under or over them…whichever is best for your situation. Trust Him!

As a successful author, are there any words of wisdom you’d like to share?

“Successful” is probably stretching it a bit. I’m still struggling to make a name for myself and get my books on the bookstore shelves, because I truly feel that each of them hold a message from God for someone—hopefully more than one someone. My advice is always, first of all, to write from the heart. Also, I think it’s absolutely vital to a writer’s success to find a place they can call their own, whether that means a fully-dedicated office, the corner of a bedroom, the end of a dining table, or a closet dedicated to the cause. Wherever, whatever it is, go to that place every day, preferably at the same time every day, and write. Write badly if necessary on some days, but write. That’s what writer’s do.

Do you have a favorite verse of scripture?

I actually have two, and it’s impossible for me to choose one over the other.

This first one is my daily plea, because I need a new, clean heart every day—and only God can keep my spirit right and steadfast!

Psalm 51:10—Create in me a clean heart, O God,And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

And this one I like to read every morning, because it reminds me where my mind should be channelled.

Philippians 4:8— 8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Just for fun, what super power would you like to be blessed with?

Just one? I think I’d like to be able to fly, then I could visit all the places I’d love to see without having to spend the money to get there.

Before you “fly” off, thanks for being my guest today.

Thanks for having me, Edwina. It’s been fun!
To all my readers, Delia is celebrating the release of Kylie’s Kiss by giving away this beautiful Oil Bottle Necklace/Pendant. All you have to do is leave a comment on my blog. For extra chances to win, here is a list of blogs participating in today’s celebration. Feel free to leave a comment on their blog as well. The more you enter, the more chances you have to win.

                 Isn’t it gorgeous?? Hmmm….I wonder if I left a comment on someone else’s blog…could I win this pendant?

And speaking of commenting on someone else’s blog, here is the list of names and the website address for their blogs.

Robin Bayne www.robinbayne.com

Patty Wysong (June 27-28) http://www.barndoorbookloft.net