Tag Archives: women’s fiction

Love Will Find a Way – Blitz

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Romance, Women’s Fiction
Date Published: September 2018
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Drake Parker is a young 45-year-old ambitious stockbroker who has gallbladder cancer and it is inoperable. He has maybe a year to live. His tan skin, white teeth, and crooked smile have been his trademark, but now after days of being a shut-in, he can barely recognize the face staring back at him. That’s when he determines it’s time to accept the inevitable. That is also when he makes his bucket list of things he wants to do.
Trinity Hunter is every inch the image of the successful businesswoman with the extra appeal of long hair, almond-shaped eyes, and dimples on her high cheekbones. This camouflage softens a fast-talking take charge businesswoman who is pushy, but fun-loving and sure of herself until she finds out she has a rare cancer, desmoplastic small-round-cell tumor. The cancer has advanced and she is given a year to live.
Parker determined not to give in to depression and self-pity begins work on his bucket lists and on an outing, is run over by the free-spirited Trinity Hunter who is out for a jog on the Lake Ontario boardwalk. The two enjoy a very powerful romance until Parker accidentally learns that Trinity has been keeping a secret from him: She too is dying of terminal cancer.
Two lonely people, both terminally ill, have a short-lived love affair, sharing a series of adventures in which they live out their childhood dreams.
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 Excerpt
Drake Parker is a young 45 year old ambitious stock broker who is told he has gallbladder cancer and it is inoperable. When he asks, he is told he has maybe a year to live. His tan skin, white teeth and crooked smile has been his trademark, but now after days of being a shut in he can barely recognize the face staring back at him. That’s when he determines it’s time to accept the inevitable. That is also when he makes his bucket list of things he wants to do.
Trinity Hunter is every inch the image of the successful business woman with the extra appeal of long hair, almond shaped eyes and dimples on her high cheek bones. This camouflage softens a fast-talking take charge business woman who is pushy, but fun loving and sure of herself until she finds out she has a rare cancer, desmoplastic small-round-cell tumor. The cancer has advanced, and she is given a year to live.
Parker determined not to give in to depression and self-pity begins work on his bucket lists and on an outing, is run over by the free-spirited Trinity Hunter who is out for a jog on the Lake Ontario boardwalk. The two enjoy a very powerful romance until Parker accidentally learns that Trinity has been keeping a secret from him: She too is dying of terminal cancer.
Two lonely people, both terminally ill, have a short-lived love affair, sharing a series of adventures in which they live out their childhood dreams.
About the Author

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Juanita Tischendorf has written several works of nonfiction books that include “Who Says I’m Small”, “The Madman, The Marathoner”, “Til Death Do Us Part?” and “An UnFair Advantage (A Murder In Oklahoma)” and the self-help book, “The Selfie, (Adolescent/Teen Girl Self Development)”.  She released her first fiction book “Body of Evidence” in 2016, and currently promoting her next book, “Playground In My Mind”.
Juanita completed a writing course at the University of Washington, has taken a James Paterson training course.  Juanita is a member of the Writers Guild of America.
Her achievements and awards include a career profile by Rochester’s “About Time Magazine, and a taped interview by the Syracuse NY cable TV  for “Successful Women in Upstate New York’’ segment.  She appeared on the WOKR-TV program entitled “Shades of Gray”, received the 2003 Editor’s choice award for outstanding achievement in poetry and is listed in the 1991 edition of “2000 Notable American Women”.
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Chance For Rain – Virtual Book Tour

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Fiction—Romance, Women’s Fiction
Date Published: August 2018
Publisher: Front Street Press
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Elite athlete Rainey Abbott is an intense competitor on the outside, but inside, she feels a daunting apprehension about her chances of finding true love. Her life as a downhill skier and race car driver keeps her on the edge, but her love life is stuck in neutral. A tragedy from her past has left her feeling insecure and unlovable.
Now that she’s in her thirties, Rainey’s best friend Natalie insists she take a leap and try online dating. Rainey connects with brian85 and becomes cautiously hopeful as a natural attraction grows between them. Fearful a face to face meeting could ruin the magic, Rainey enlists Natalie to scheme up an encounter between the two where Brian is unaware he is meeting his online mystery woman. Rainey is left feeling both guilty about the deception and disappointed by something Brian says.
When they finally meet in earnest, Rainey’s insecurities threaten to derail the blossoming romance. As she struggles with self-acceptance, she reveals the risks we all must take to have a chance for love.

EXCERPT

Chapter 19

 

The days begin to pass quickly. At a time of year when most people are hunkered down, hibernating, and waiting out the winter, my life is in full motion. I have been skiing way more than teaching, socializing, or even thinking about Brian. My days in the mountains are intense with workouts and tryouts and the anticipation of the Games in March.

When I finally get a weekend off, I relish the opportunity to be in my own bed, sleeping in and enjoying the laziness most people take for granted. I open my eyes, and the sun shines radiantly, though there are still flurries coming down off and on. Yesterday was a downright snowy December day, and it felt weird to be in town while there was probably some great skiing to be had in the hills. But, on this Saturday, when the ground is blanketed with white, I have absolutely nothing planned for the day and no idea where I’m going or what I will do. I’m in a funk, probably because once I get into the groove of hard training; it’s hard to take a day off. I feel like I’m losing my fitness and my edge, although realistically I know they don’t simply disappear overnight. I also haven’t had any great conversations with Brian, although we’re still writing daily.

I roll out of bed, head to the shower, and get ready for the day. While I’m rinsing my hair, I come up with a plan. I’ll head to the showroom where I know Jake will be working on his car, getting ready to put it on a trailer to head to South Carolina for next week’s race.

With winter fully set in, it seems like forever since I’ve spent quality time with Jake as sounding board, confidant, fellow speed demon. Ever since I found out he was happily married and I would never be Mrs. Jake, he’s turned into a pick-me-up, taking his role seriously. He always tries to make me feel better in moments like this when all I want to do is sit around and sulk.

As I push my chair across the linoleum floor of the showroom where we all keep our cars indoors during the winter, I spy Jake under the hood tinkering. I roll up to him in silence and manage a very slight “Hey.” I’m so quiet, partly because I don’t want to scare the crap out of him and partly because I don’t have the energy to be any more exuberant.

“Hey, Rainey, how ya doing?” Jake turns his head to look at me while still ducked under the hood.

I don’t say anything, only look at him with pathetic puppy dog eyes until he catches on that things in my world aren’t quite right. He stops what he’s doing, wipes off his hands with the nearest cloth, and comes over to me, getting down on one knee, so he is at my level. For a moment, I envision this gesture as the tender scene of a marriage proposal, but I know better. Jake is being polite. Getting down on my level to talk rather than standing tall and talking down to me. This is one thing I love about him. He thinks about these etiquette details, and I appreciate it.

“Jake, am I doomed to live my life alone? Why can’t I get myself to call Brian, ask him out to lunch, and meet him in person? Why am I so scared?

“We both know you’re in serious like with Brian. You have to be willing to let go. Let yourself feel and take a chance. Even if it doesn’t work out, it’s giving it a shot that counts. He might not be the one for you. That is a definite possibility, and there is a chance you’ll lose him, but that’s part of life. You can lose anything, on any day. You know that. You can lose your ability to walk, lose your family, or lose this relationship you have been building online. But that doesn’t mean you should live holding your breath, waiting for the worst. Why not go into this with hope instead of dread?”

“Because I want to be realistic.”

He stops talking long enough to stand up and retrieve his soda from the roof of the car and then returns to his position in front of me. I begin to get uncomfortable since I know what’s coming. It’s me. I know it’s me, getting in my own way.

“Rainey, you know what I believe? If you always go into situations expecting the worst, often that’s what you’ll get. I know you’ve learned this a million times as a skier and as a driver. When you’re on the ski hill or the track, and you feel outclassed and believe you’ll never win, you won’t. You don’t stand a chance. You have to have some amount of confidence and faith that things will work out the way they are supposed to. And it might not be with Brian. He’s the first guy you’ve dated … if I can use that term … though you haven’t actually even met him yet. Maybe it’ll be the next guy who is the right one. Or the one after that. You realize that Amber is not the first woman I’ve dated, right? Don’t tell her that,” he says as he winks at me.

Amber, Jake, and I are all keenly aware that Jake is a hot commodity, and that he’s had women throw themselves at him over the course of his thirty-three years.

Then he launches into the lecture that I know I need.

“Love is difficult. It can be fun, but it can also be exhausting. It’s hard work, but ultimately, it’s rewarding. That’s why it’s such a huge emotion. It has to be able to encompass all those things. It’s not all sap and romance like in the movies. Even your parents probably had those spiritless relationship moments of ‘Uh, you again?’ But there’s something about knowing you have that bond, and you’re united by a common feeling that belongs only to the two of you. To get there, you have to be willing to stick your neck out. And that’s where you’re getting hung up. You realize this isn’t all about the chair or your mom and Sunny, don’t you? It’s really about your unwillingness to open your mind. To be out of control and take the plunge. You’re staying in your protective little shell.”

Jake has me figured out, and as he looks directly into my eyes, I feel my body shrink into itself. I cross my arms and brace myself to take the rest of what he has to deliver.

“Rainey, it’s okay to feel scared, but the only one who can take the leap of faith is you,” he continues. “Being in love is like driving your car. You have to trust your machine, your mechanics, your tires. But more than that, you have to trust yourself. Think about how scary it was the first time you raced in a field of other cars. Did you ever get that lump in your throat when you were hitting a turn in a race, and there were cars on all sides of you, and you prayed that you would get through unscathed? You were totally out of your comfort zone, right? I don’t know about you, but I love that feeling when your skin prickles and the little hairs on your arms stand at attention because it makes me feel alive. Yeah, sometimes I feel like I’m gonna crap my pants, but when it’s over, and you’ve crossed the finish line, you know you’re a better racer because you had courage. And the more times you crossed that line, the more comfortable you got. Now it feels like home. You get on the track, and as soon as the flag waves and the race starts, you settle in and know exactly what you’re doing.”

He is right. There was a time when racing scared me out of my mind. But the more I did it, the more comfortable and confident I got. I learned my car inside and out. Got to know its quirks and when something wasn’t dialed in quite right. I wanted to learn to race so badly that I kept on pushing through all the scary stuff. I always thought—keep my eye on the goal.

“Approach falling in love with the same confidence and faith,” he continues. “Picture yourself with everything working like clockwork. But instead of being on the racetrack, picture yourself on a Sunday afternoon drive. Don’t rush to the finish line. Breathe it in and really feel it. Experience it for the butterflies it gives you. Even feel it for the lump you get in your throat when you disagree. Let yourself feel emotion because then you know you’re alive. You are living, Rainey. If you don’t, you’re just as guilty as what you assume about all the men out there. You are confined. Not to your chair, like people might say, but to your thoughts. That somehow different is bad. You have so much to offer because of your situation. Turn it around. You are the prize and it’s their loss if they can’t see it. Not yours.”

“Jake, I know. But I’m terrified. I want so badly to find someone who sees me as a person, not a chair or a tragedy. How do I get over this?”

I am so caught up in my woe-is-me drama that I don’t realize someone else has walked into our area in the showroom and is standing within earshot listening in.

From behind me, in the corner, piping up in a demure female southern voice, she matter-of-factly answers my question. “Just jump.” I can see the big loving smile on Jake’s face as we turn around to see Amber behind us, having heard our entire conversation.

About the Author

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Tricia Downing is recognized as a pioneer in the sport of women’s paratriathlon, as the first female paraplegic to finish an Iron distance triathlon. She has competed in that sport both nationally and internationally, in addition to competing in road racing and other endurance events. She has represented the United States in international competition in five different sport disciplines—cycling (as a tandem pilot prior to her 2000 accident), triathlon, duathlon, rowing and Olympic style shooting, in which she was a member of Team USA at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
She was featured in the Warren Miller documentary Superior Beings and on the lifestyle TV magazine show Life Moments. She has been featured in Muscle and Fitness Hers, Mile High Sports and Rocky Mountain Sports magazines.
Additionally, she is founder of The Cycle of Hope (www.thecycleofhope.org), a non-profit organization designed for female wheelchair users to promote health and healing on all levels—mind, body and spirit.
Tricia studied Journalism as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland and holds Masters degrees in both Sports Management (Eastern Illinois University) and Disability Studies (Regis University).
She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband Steve and two cats, Jack and Charlie. Visit Tricia at triciadowning.com
 
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Finding Family – Blitz

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Salty Key Inn Series, Book 4
Women’s Fiction
Date Published: September 22, 2018
Publisher: Wild Quail Publishing
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Sheena Sullivan Morelli and her sisters, Darcy and Regan, work to complete their Uncle Gavin’s challenge of turning his rundown hotel into a profitable operation within one year. Winning means earning a share in their uncle’s sizable estate. More than that, it determines how they’ll spend the rest of their lives. Sheena wants to stay on at the hotel, overseeing the hotel operation. But Darcy and Regan want to move on with their lives—Darcy writing a novel and Regan going into the interior decorating business with Mo. But life has other plans for them. And in the end, all three realize that the only thing that really matters is finding—and keeping—family.
Other Books in the Salty Key Inn Series:
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Finding Me
Salty Key Inn Series, Book 1
Publisher: Wild Quail Publishing
Published: February 2017
Sheena Sullivan Morelli and her sisters, Darcy and Regan, receive the unexpected news that their Uncle Gavin Sullivan, the black sheep of the family, has left them a hotel on the Gulf coast of Florida. The gift comes with a twist. They must live together for one year at the hotel and prepare the hotel to receive guests within a year. Sheena, eager to escape her role of unappreciated wife and mother, can’t wait for the opportunity to find herself. Dreams of sitting on the beach sipping margaritas are shattered when they see the property in need of renovation. But they begin their work of meeting the challenge. If they succeed, the bulk of Gavin’s estate will be theirs. Facing the unexpected, working together, the three sisters learn a lot about each other and the gift of family love.
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Finding My Way 
Salty Key Inn Series, Book 2
Publisher: Wild Quail Publishing
Published: June 2017
Darcy Sullivan and her two sisters continue to work hard at the Salty Key Inn, the small, Florida hotel they unexpectedly inherited. In order to inherit the rest of Uncle Gavin’s sizeable estate, they must meet his challenge to open the neglected hotel by the end of the year. Darcy figures once they meet the challenge, she’ll take off, travel the world, and maybe, just maybe, begin writing the world’s best novel. When she meets Nick Howard, an older man who is a reporter for the local newspaper and takes over his weekly column, her life changes. Under his tutelage, she writes about local residents, learning to see people in a different way—especially after meeting a cousin no one knew about. Her joy at having the part-time job that’s always been her dream is shattered when she learns Nick is dying. For support, she turns to Austin Blakely, whose grandmother is terminally ill, and through their growing relationship, comes to understand what true love is.
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Finding Love
Salty Key Inn Series, Book 3
Publisher: Wild Quail Publishing
Published: February 2018
As Regan Sullivan continues to work with her sisters, Sheena and Darcy, to meet their Uncle Gavin’s challenge to make the Salty Key Inn a success, she wonders why she can never find the man of her dreams. Her sisters are happily settled with men they love. Why can’t she do the same? When she’s involved in a motorcycle accident with Brian Harwood, Regan learns to think differently about both her appearance and herself. And as she deals with her injuries and helps Brian recover from the accident she feels guilty about causing, Regan discovers that the love she’s always sought has been there all along.
Excerpt
CHAPTER ONE
SHEENA
Sheena Sullivan Morelli stood outside Gavin’s, the new restaurant at the Salty Key Inn on the Gulf Coast of Florida, feeling as festive as the mini-lights wound around the trunks of the palm trees that softened the outline of the building. She was dressed in her finest on this unusually warm, mid-December night, and the tropical Gulf breezes felt good as they caressed her skin.
From among the hibiscus planted around the perimeter of the restaurant, lights twinkled like the stars in the inky sky above and lent a sense of peace to the area. That, and the fact that Petey, the pesky peacock Rocky Gatto had rescued and brought to the hotel, had decided not to bother with this celebration and was hanging out down by the bay.
“Let’s make this an evening to remember!” said Sheena, giving her younger sisters, Darcy and Regan, an encouraging smile.
Named after their uncle, the restaurant would, they hoped, bring in enough revenue for them to be considered successful in meeting the terms of his will. With less than a month before their final meeting with Gavin’s estate lawyer in Boston, they were trying their best to prove to him that they had succeeded in beating the challenge of turning his rundown hotel into a profitable operation within one year. Winning meant they would inherit Gavin’s sizable estate along with the hotel. More than that, it would determine how they’d spend the rest of their lives.
Sheena brushed an imaginary crumb off her blue linen dress and studied her sisters. Darcy was wearing a green sheath that offset her red curls nicely. And Regan, beautiful as ever, even with the scar on her face she couldn’t quite hide, had chosen a violet, flowy dress that matched her striking eyes. Funny, Sheena thought, how she hadn’t really known her sisters until the three of them had been forced to live and work together at the hotel. And when Regan and Brian Harwood, now her fiancé, were in a serious motorcycle accident a few months ago, frightening everyone, they’d become even closer.
“I hope everyone likes what they see,” Regan said. “Mo and I did our best decorating the interior with the budget we had.”
“Don’t worry. It’s gorgeous,” said Darcy, giving Regan an impish nudge with her elbow.
“The restaurant is stunning,” said Sheena, “and the food is great. We were lucky to get Graham Howard as our chef.” She turned as a stream of people headed their way from the parking lot, which was filling up fast.
“Here we go! Make it good,” said Sheena softly, prompting Darcy and Regan to roll their eyes at the big-sister moment Sheena couldn’t help.
They’d invited county commissioners, members of nearby city and town councils, other government officials, news people, owners and managers of other hotels in the area, and even the governor of Florida to join them for this grand opening. It had been a bold move on their part, but it had already paid off in publicity, even though the governor and some county commissioners had politely declined. The fact that Darcy had been writing a column for a local newspaper helped them. She was acquainted with the ins and outs of generating publicity and had invited several writers of local social columns, travel bloggers, and magazines.
 Sheena was soon swept up greeting people and ushering them inside to enjoy drinks and to taste the delicious-looking food displayed in the bar and on a long buffet in the dining room.
The dark wood paneling on the walls of the main dining room supplied a rich background for the brass and crystal wall sconces that spread a soft glow along the room’s edges. Crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling, casting their own warm light. White linen cloths covered the tabletops, which were set with sparkling wine goblets and silverware that reflected the light from the chandeliers and sconces. Flickering battery candles sat among tasteful, holiday greenery, adding a pine perfume to the mouth-watering aroma of the hors d’oeuvres being passed by staff.
Upstairs, the large function room held another bar and more food to sample, drawing people through the entire restaurant. A buzz of conversation enhanced the sense of excitement. The crowd was a pleasing mixture of people who, hopefully, would be a source of future business.
Kenneth Cochran, better known as Casey, was a Cornell Hotel School grad and manager of the restaurant. Tall and thin, he was a natural at his job with his ever-present smile and alert blue eyes. Tonight, he seemed to be everywhere, overseeing staff, and greeting people. Sheena observed him with satisfaction as guests responded to his attention. If she and her sisters won the challenge, they hoped to hire Casey as the hotel manager to help Sheena, who would remain an active overseer of the property.
Sheena looked up as her husband, Tony, appeared with their two children. Tears stung her eyes when she noticed the effort Michael, at eighteen, and Meaghan, at fifteen, had put into their appearance. After initially being against her plan to come to Florida, they now embraced their new lives and were proud of all she was doing.
“Hi, Mom,” said Michael. His brown eyes, so like Tony’s, sparkled. “Okay if I help myself to some of the food?”
She laughed at the typical, teenage hunger of a still-growing, young man. “Of course.   Enjoy.”
“You look pretty, Mom,” Meaghan said. “Thanks for letting me wear your necklace. It’s great with my new holiday dress.” She twirled in front of Sheena. Her auburn hair, like Sheena’s, swung above her shoulders and brought out the hazel in her eyes.
“You look pretty, too, sweetheart,” Sheena said. Her little girl was growing into a beautiful young woman.
Tony gave her a smile that warmed her heart. His smile had been one of the reasons their marriage had been prompted by the unexpected creation of Michael all those years ago. And though they’d always loved each other, their relationship had grown even stronger during their time in Florida.
He kissed her. “See you later. I’m going to mix with the crowd a little. Brian and I are hoping to pick up some new business.”
She gave him a heartfelt smile. Following Brian Harwood’s motorcycle accident with Regan, Tony had agreed to become a partner in Brian’s construction company and was now settled into his new life in Florida. As Tony walked away, Sheena noticed Blackie Gatto headed in her direction.
Blackie was Uncle Gavin’s financial advisor and a great supporter of her and her sisters as they attempted to do as their uncle wished by transforming what had been a small, run-down, family hotel into the upscale, full-service resort property he’d envisioned.
“Welcome to Gavin’s,” Sheena said to him, giving him a quick hug. “I’m so glad you could make it.”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he replied, lifting her hand, and kissing it in a gallant gesture. He indicated their surroundings with a sweep of his arm. “I think Gavin would be very pleased with this.”
“We hope it brings in enough new business and revenue for us to complete our challenge here the Salty Key Inn.”
He nodded and settled his gaze on her. “I hope so, too. The downside of borrowing the money from Gavin’s estate to complete the restaurant could be difficult for you and your sisters if you fail.”
Sheena’s stomach curled inside her, but she didn’t want Blackie to see how worried she was. For the sake of her sisters and her family, she had to remain upbeat. With only a few weeks remaining to accomplish everything they had left to do, self-doubt could ruin them.
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About the Author

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Judith Keim was born and raised in Elmira, New York, and now makes her home in Idaho with her husband and their two dachshunds, Winston and Wally, and other members of her family.
Growing up, books were always present being read, ready to go back to the library, or about to be discovered. Information from the books was shared in general conversation, giving all of us in the family a wealth of knowledge and a lot of imagination. Perhaps that is why I was drawn to the idea of writing stories early on. I particularly love to write novels about women who face unexpected challenges and meet them with strength.
A hybrid author who both has a publisher and who self-publishes, Ms. Keim writes heart-warming stories of strong women who face challenges and find love and happiness along the way. Her books are based, in part, on many of the places she’s lived or visited and on the interesting people she’s met, creating believable characters and realistic settings her many, loyal readers love.
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Saving Phoebe Murrow – Blitz

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Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Upper Hand Press
Date Published: September 2016
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Inspired by the tragic story of Megan Meier, who committed suicide following a cyber-bullying incident, Saving Phoebe Murrow follows DC lawyer Isabel Winthrop as she struggles to balance work and the responsibilities of being a mother and wife. She does everything in her power to keep Phoebe safe but fails when the mysterious Shane appears on Facebook and flirts with her teenage daughter.
This novel, which has won three separate awards (most recently a 2018 National Indie Excellence Award), explores the devastating impact social media can have on teenage girls along with the difficult, yet delicate relationship between mothers and their teenage daughters through five different points-of-view.
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Excerpt
Monday, November 10, 2008
At the end of the day, as Isabel stepped through the large glass doors of her law office, a strange thing happened. Outside in the cold, she suddenly felt trapped in a bright cone of light. As if some alien spaceship were training its eye on her.
Uneasily, she gazed into the dark November sky. There was the culprit. A smiling gibbous moon. Or was it smirking, maybe even mocking her? Yes, she thought, that would be more appropriate. Work had become insanely busy, though in its own strange way that kept her mind from dwelling on her recent topsy-turvy personal life.
Which included that awful teen party at Sandy Littleton’s, an event that had ruined the weekend. Phoebe drunk, and when Isabel brought her home, Ron found their daughter’s wobbly walk vaguely amusing. In front of Phoebe, they’d kept a united front. But later, in the bedroom Ron told Isabel she was being too harsh on their daughter.
‘She’s thirteen, Ron.’
‘Almost fourteen,’ he’d said.
She really couldn’t understand Ron’s blasé attitude toward the drinking that Sandy had allowed, encouraged even, nor could she understand Phoebe’s recent obsession with some boy named Shane. They’d met on Facebook, of all places, and he’d promised to show up at the party, then hadn’t. Ron had attributed Phoebe’s drinking to her disappointment over this no-show, as if that made it okay. Not okay, definitely not.
Nor did she like the fact that Phoebe had never actually met this character Shane, that all of her communication with him had been online. Who was he anyway? Again, Ron thought it was no big deal! ‘That’s the way kids communicate these days,’ he’d said.
In the end, Isabel had caved, and Phoebe was only denied use of her computer and phone for a day. Mostly because she feared the possibility of the ninth-grade kids teasing and taunting her as so many classmates had the previous year. Now, she was eager to get home to find out how Phoebe’s school day had gone. She hoped there had been no fallout from the Saturday night fiasco, though of course Phoebe didn’t know what her mother had done. Kids could be incredibly cruel.
Isabel strode hurriedly to the underground garage. The wind, gusting up Pennsylvania Avenue, tossed stray bits of paper into the air, bouncing them about inside tiny swirling tornadoes. She flipped up the collar of her raincoat.
Traffic seemed unusually heavy, though rush-hour congestion in DC was routine, and cars were backed up as far down Pennsylvania as Isabel could see. As she inched along in her BMW, she mused on the few recent signs of behavior that Ron, her husband of sixteen years, had exhibited only once before. It had been two presidential campaigns ago, to be precise, after he’d been on the road for several weeks covering John McCain’s bid for the Republican nomination. In early 2000. At home, Ron had turned sour, testy, distant. She’d attributed his mood to work. He’d wanted to be on George Bush’s campaign trail, in the company of the sudden darling of the Republicans and his attendant court of megawatt reporters. Traipsing after McCain, Ron saw himself as nothing more than second string. She’d tried to soothe him, and he’d come around, at least a little.
But then she discovered the true source of his discontent. One night she picked up the phone to call her mother and stumbled on Ron speaking with a woman in an unmistakably amorous tone. Making plans. Her insides had grown watery. Their relationship suffered a blow. She’d been on the verge of calling it quits. If not for five-year-old Phoebe and their infant son, Jackson, she might have. No, she would have. She wouldn’t suffer another betrayal. She’d made that clear. And Isabel was a woman of her word. Actions had consequences.
When Phoebe entered her Cleveland Park home, an elegant Victorian where she’d lived her entire short life, she could feel the void of human vibration. She hated coming home to an empty house. It depressed her. ‘Hagrid,’ she called out. ‘Where are you, kitty?’ At least their housekeeper, Milly, had left the light on in the foyer.
She’d had a tough day. Shortly before lunch, her once best friend Jessie had hissed accusingly, ‘Your mother called the cops on my parents, do you know that?’ Followed by: ‘Do you get what a b-i-t-c-h she is?’ Phoebe had stared at her mutely. Had her mother done that? It was true on Saturday there’d been drinking at Jessie’s party, but afterward Phoebe had been with her mother and she hadn’t heard her make such a call. It would completely suck if she had. So embarrassing. Not to mention that her relationship with Jessie had been on the precipice of a thaw.
Phoebe switched on all the lights in her path – ‘Hagrid, here kitty, kitty!’ – and stopped in the kitchen. If Milly had been home, she would have offered her some cookies and milk, and they could have had a chat. She loved their housekeeper Milly, her reassuring grandmotherly manner. But it was probably best that she not have cookies. No, cookies were the enemy. Had her mother been home, which she rarely was at this time of day, she’d probably have given her carrots.
Phoebe rummaged through the fridge, found a couple of plastic-wrapped cheese sticks, grabbed those along with a small bottle of carrot juice and trudged up to the third floor, her heavy backpack weighing her down. As she ascended, one thought brightened her mood. At last she’d be able to talk to Shane. Well, sort of talk. On Facebook.
She’d finally be able to ask him the question that had plagued her since Saturday night. Why hadn’t he shown up at Jessie’s party? He’d promised, and she’d waited. And waited. Then, on Sunday, because she’d been caught drinking, she was denied use of her computer, her phone, basically all forms of communication, and she hadn’t been able to contact him.
Now, at last, she’d discover what had happened, and even more importantly she’d remind him of her birthday party, only five days away. She and Skyla were turning fourteen and they’d invited the entire ninth grade, plus Shane, who lived … well, she didn’t know exactly where he lived, but his handsome Facebook visage hovered in her mind. That mischievous dimpled smile that separated him from all the other boys she knew. Even Noah.
In her room, Phoebe flopped onto her bed, burrowing her back into a mad pile of pillows and favorite stuffed animals; she flipped on her computer, then logged on to Facebook. It had taken some doing, but her mother had finally agreed to let her invite Shane even though he went to Walter J High, a public school about twenty minutes away in Bethesda, and was only a Facebook friend. Phoebe knew she’d mostly agreed because there, at the party, her mother could meet him in person and oversee their encounter.
Still, excitement and relief descended on her at the thought that, finally, she’d meet the real live sophomore boy who’d picked her and friended her. Who said he really liked her and was ‘dying to hook up’ with her. Whom she’d set her sights on after several weeks of private chats on Facebook. He was the single bright spot in an otherwise bleak Monday.
Her eyes darted to her private messages on the lower right-hand side of her Facebook page. Five awaited her. And, yes!, one from Shane.
 Eyes affixed to the screen, she read, I don’t want to see you. Ever. Her hopeful smile faded into a frown. Ever?
Phoebe read the message a second and third time. What was Shane talking about? Her stomach dipped. She checked for the little green dot that indicated he was available to chat, but it wasn’t lit. She stared at his name in the right-hand column of her Home page and prayed he would log on. Her mouth felt dry. I don’t want to see you. Ever. ‘Ever?’ Why was he saying that? What had she done? And her birthday party only a few days away.
Phoebe’s glance zigzagged across the room, her attic hideaway, landing first on her childhood saddle and riding gear, then on her Victorian dollhouse with the hidden box cutter, and, finally, on the wall to her right, where the lime green and purple bulletin board hung chock full of photos and memories. She’d pinned Shane’s Facebook photo in the middle of all the other memorabilia. He had gorgeous wavy hair and green eyes that blazed with self-confidence.
The green dot popped on next to his name. Her fingers typed as fast as they could: Why are you saying that? You’re joking, right?
She held her breath.
Not joking.
            A tiny gasp escaped her lips. Shane, what are you talking about? Again, she waited.
            Your mother called the police on Jessie’s parents … you tattled about the booze at the party. And then the Littletons were arrested.
            I did not tattle, she thought briefly, but that was replaced by the bitter realization that Jessie may have been right: her mother had called the police. Had she? Panicked, Phoebe wrote: I didn’t say anything to my mom, I swear.
So why’d she go inside the Littletons?
I don’t know, I guess she was looking for me.
            That’s so lame.
            Her thoughts swirled as she wrote. You weren’t even at the party, so how do you know all that stuff?
            No response. She waited, barely breathing, then his reply appeared. Don’t you worry how. I just do.
            She was hardly paying attention to these strange words; she could only think how much she wanted to see him, talk to him, get him to kiss her, to understand this was all a terrible mistake. What should she say? Finally, she wrote: Why didn’t you come to Jessie’s? You promised.
I didn’t because I heard you’ve been messing around with Dylan.
            What? Who told you that?
Instead of private messages, his response now appeared on her Facebook Wall, where everyone could see what he was saying: I don’t tell on my friends.
            She wrote back a private message: It has to be Jessie, but if it is, she’s lying.
            Again he posted his message on her Wall: You’re calling Jessie a liar?
            And now, to defend herself, Phoebe switched to making her responses public too:  No, I meant if she said that about me, she’s not telling the truth. Why don’t you believe me?
Again, several moments passed before an answer appeared: I don’t trust you. I heard you said Jessie was fat and no boy wants her, especially Dylan. That’s bitchy. Nobody likes bitchy girls.
            Tears sprang to Phoebe’s eyes. Why was he making things up? That’s not true, she wrote. I never said that!! Please let’s talk. On the phone? In the four weeks they’d been communicating, she’d never heard his voice. All their exchanges had happened right here, on Facebook. He’d suggested that hearing the sound of one another’s voices would be a wonderful surprise when they finally met. And to save it for that special day.
            But then this from Shane: I get it, your mom hates Mrs. Littleton, so you hate Jessie.
            She stared at the words. That’s sooo not true. I swear, she wrote. Though in fact she knew her mother didn’t care for Jessie, and probably not Mrs. Littleton either. This was happening because of her mother. All because of her mother. She glanced at the dollhouse. Through the blur of tears, she saw Shane’s green dot disappear.
Her gaze fixed on his name. If only she had his cell number. She began rubbing her arms, her fingers absently running over scars and recently healed wounds. ‘No, no,’ she muttered softly. She typed a private message: Shane, please believe me. I didn’t say anything. Whoever told you I did was lying.
            She waited for him to respond, her breath catching. Her eyes flicked to the box cutter’s hiding place and lingered there for several moments before returning to Shane’s photo. He was the cutest boy who’d ever friended her, and a year and a half older than she. His dimpled smile grinned at her from the bulletin board. He looked amazingly like the guy in Twilight, though without the ghostly pallor. Why didn’t he believe her? Why would he believe Jessie? Had someone else said something? Yet, who could that be? Skyla? How could things get so messed up? Phoebe saw her dream of Shane as her boyfriend slip away.
Why had her mother called the police on Saturday night? This was all her fault. About to retrieve the blade from the dollhouse, she snatched her cell phone instead and angrily tapped her mother’s number.
Isabel’s iPhone released its symphonic chime. Without taking her eyes off the road, she grabbed the phone. ‘Hello?’
            A frantic voice shouted into her ear: ‘Mawm, you’ve ruined everything! You called the police on the Littletons! How could you? Now Shane thinks I lied and he won’t see me. Ever!’
            Phoebe’s attack caught her by surprise. ‘Calm down. What are you talking about?’ Isabel said, although her daughter was right. She had called the police. She’d felt duty-bound. Irresponsible parents feeding young teens alcohol! But how had this ridiculous Shane found out?
Phoebe’s response came in the form of loud panicked sobs.
‘Phoebe? Sweetheart, talk to me.’ Isabel kept her voice even despite the sudden onslaught of guilt. ‘Exactly what did he say?’
            Between sniffles, she managed, ‘That he couldn’t trust me because obviously I must have told you about the drinking. And you know that’s not true! And then he claimed that I said Jessie’s fat and no boy would ever like her.’
            ‘Did you? No, I mean—’ Isabel cast around for the appropriate thing to say.  ‘Phoebe, darling, are you there? I know you wouldn’t say that. Where did he get such an idea?’
            ‘Mom, what difference does it make? I like him and now he says he won’t see me! Not at my birthday party! Not ever!’
            Isabel recognized the panic in Phoebe’s voice. For the past year, she’d been flying into emotional overdrive at the drop of a hat, but she was also sensitive, overly sensitive. For an instant, Isabel saw the wounds on her daughter’s arms, self-inflicted cuts that made her want to cry. The whole thing actually did sound like a mess. But how had it happened? This guy was only a Facebook friend. ‘Honey, I’ll be home in ten minutes. I’ll make you some hot chocolate and we’ll sort this out. Okay?’ She knew it might take her as long as half an hour, but she’d get there and calm her daughter down.
Why wasn’t Ron home yet, she suddenly wondered. He’d be there shortly, she reassured herself, unless some assignment had delayed him. She’d call him.
            ‘This is horrible,’ Phoebe moaned.
‘It’s going to be all right,’ Isabel said soothingly. ‘Just get off Facebook, okay?’
Once home, she’d explain the truth to Phoebe. She would explain how sometimes you have to make difficult choices, stand up for your beliefs, and that you can’t worry about what other people think. Is that what she’d tell her? And then there was this mysterious Shane character; she’d been wary about him, apparently for good reason. Who was he to treat her daughter this way? Maybe now, for once, Ron would listen to her. That’s when she remembered he hadn’t called her all day.
She waited for Phoebe to say something, but there was silence on the other end. ‘Phoebe, honey, talk to me.’ She had to keep her on the phone. Then she heard her weeping miserably. ‘Phoebe, sweetheart, I’m sure he’ll see you. It’s just a misunderstanding.’ The sounds of distress suddenly grew distant then stopped.
            ‘Phoebe?’
            She glanced at the phone and saw that Phoebe had disconnected the call.                 
The latticework of cuts on the inside of Phoebe’s pale arm, and many more on her thigh, swirled into Isabel’s mind as she finally reached 22nd Street and sped north, aiming for the entrance to Rock Creek Parkway near Dupont Circle. She had to get home, but traffic in the nation’s capital – oh hell, the light was turning red. She stepped on the gas.
Seconds later, a siren wailed behind her.
The furious lights of a police car blinked in Isabel’s rearview mirror. ‘Oh, God, not now.’ She looked for a place to stop on the one-way street, hoping the siren was intended for someone else.
But the vehicle stopped behind her. ‘Damn it,’ Isabel moaned. In her side mirror, she watched the policeman’s eyes sweep the length of her new convertible BMW, probably making a judgment about her. He sauntered up to the window in that idiotic, languid way some cops have of showing off their authority. If ever she needed to exhibit self-control, now was that time.
            She rolled down the window, drew on her lawyerly restraint and explained to the man an abbreviated version of what had just transpired on the telephone with her daughter. Surely he’d understand her need to hurry. Seeing his bemused expression, his complete lack of interest, she went on to describe Phoebe’s high-strung personality, and then against her better judgment and sense of privacy told him of her tendency to cut herself when under extreme emotional distress.
But he just stared at her. ‘You ran a red light, lady,’ he said, ‘I need to see your license and registration.’
            Isabel fished through her purse, finally managing to locate the documents. ‘Please, officer, I’m telling you the truth.’
            He took the items from her, glanced at them, said, ‘Be right back,’ and strolled to his vehicle. She watched him retreat in her mirror. She picked up her cell phone and tried Phoebe again. After five rings Phoebe’s voicemail switched on.
            ‘Hi,’ her sweet young voice said. ‘You know what to do … so do it.’
Isabel felt the same alien anxiety she’d experienced earlier. I have to get home. With one more backward glance at the police car, she cut the lights, put the BMW into gear and eased into traffic. She drove toward the P Street entrance of Rock Creek Parkway, only a couple of blocks away. Never in her entire life had she done anything like this.
As the smiling gibbous moon shone overhead, she kept looking in the rearview mirror, but saw no sign of the police. Her foot pressed harder on the gas, one eye fixed on the odometer. She could kick herself for what she’d done on Saturday night. Calling 911 had been spur of the moment. She always said you shouldn’t act in the heat of anger. Still she’d been right to do it. Damn that Sandy! Now she had to explain it all to Phoebe. She tapped their home number and waited for someone to answer. Despite two more calls to Phoebe, plus one to Ron, no one picked up. Damn it!
Phoebe fought back her tears. She was struggling to make sense of the fact that her mother had called the cops. Now she knew for certain that Jessie and Shane had been right. But Shane had also accused her of having been complicit in Mr. and Mrs. Littleton’s arrest. Why can’t you just admit it, he’d said. And yet there was nothing to admit, she hadn’t told her mother! Worst of all, he was no longer interested in meeting her and he WASN’T coming to her party! She’d NEVER get to know him. She’d never be a ‘10’ in his eyes! And now everyone would HATE her for what her mother had done.
She fetched the box cutter and began marching around the room. What could she say? How could she defend herself? She ran her thumb across the blade’s sharp edge, then returned to her computer on the bed and laid the box cutter beside it. She would announce that she was sorry, very sorry, but she couldn’t be held responsible for her mother.
Before she typed a single word, there in broad daylight, posted on her Facebook Wall, she saw that all sorts of people were slamming her. Messages from girls and boys, some she hardly knew. A couple she didn’t know at all. What a loser. Glad you’re not my ‘friend.’ Several accused her of tattling to her mother about the drinking and called her mother ‘sick’ for calling the police.
Oh, please, not again, Phoebe thought, she couldn’t take another year like the last one. She just couldn’t, and this was definitely worse.
How low! You are such a piece of trash!
The words on the screen became a grating noise in Phoebe’s head. She closed her eyes and covered her ears. This can’t be happening. Make it stop. Please! And where was her friend Emma? She knew she could count on her. But the slights and insults kept coming.
Her hand flew to her mouth when she read: The world would be better off without you. Don’t you know that? She might have expected something this cruel from Skyla or some of the others, but not Shane. No, not Shane.
Isabel maneuvered the car along the curves of Rock Creek Parkway. She pressed harder on the gas pedal, allowing the speedometer to climb well past the speed limit, half an eye on the road, she kept the other on her iPhone. ‘Hell’s bells,’ she said aloud, fumbling with the icons, touching the wrong one, banging ‘end,’ then striking another. Finally, she tapped Ron’s name again and listened to the phone’s endless ring.
‘Damn it,’ she said viciously, ‘answer the fucking phone.’
A feeling of dread lodged itself in Isabel’s gut, and a sense of foreboding and darkness galloped through her mind. One moment it was the certainty that something bad had happened to Phoebe, and in the next the irrevocable fact that only minutes earlier she’d escaped the policeman, who couldn’t be far behind.
She looked into the rearview mirror every few seconds, knowing that when he or another cop caught up to her there’d be hell to pay. How would she talk her way out of this? Could she be disbarred? She only knew that she had to get home and make sure Phoebe hadn’t resorted to anything drastic. Anything, God forbid, irreversible. Then she remembered something she’d read on the Internet about cutting: the worst thing of all about self-injury is that it is strongly connected to later suicide attempts and death by suicide. No, no, no, she told herself. NO!
Concentrating, watching the car lap up the road, she chased the thought from her mind.
Once more, she tried the home number. But no one answered. The gibbous moon continued to stare down at her with its mocking smile.
About the Author

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Herta Feely is the author of numerous short stories and memoir published in literary journals and anthologies. She received two fellowships for a novel in progress, the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and an Artist in Literature from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, and an American Independent Writers award for a personal essay.
Now an editor, writing coach and ghostwriter at Chrysalis Editorial, a company she founded, Herta has worked with hundreds of writers helping them to perfect their writing as well as find agents and publishers for their work. She has ghostwritten three memoirs, all of which have been published. On occasion, she also reviews books for the Washington Independent Review of Books.
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Chance for Rain – Blitz

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Fiction—Romance, Women’s Fiction
Date Published: August 2018
Publisher: Front Street Press
 
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Elite athlete Rainey Abbott is an intense competitor on the outside, but inside, she feels a daunting apprehension about her chances of finding true love. Her life as a downhill skier and race car driver keeps her on the edge, but her love life is stuck in neutral. A tragedy from her past has left her feeling insecure and unlovable.
Now that she’s in her thirties, Rainey’s best friend Natalie insists she take a leap and try online dating. Rainey connects with brian85 and becomes cautiously hopeful as a natural attraction grows between them. Fearful a face to face meeting could ruin the magic, Rainey enlists Natalie to scheme up an encounter between the two where Brian is unaware he is meeting his online mystery woman. Rainey is left feeling both guilty about the deception and disappointed by something Brian says.
When they finally meet in earnest, Rainey’s insecurities threaten to derail the blossoming romance. As she struggles with self-acceptance, she reveals the risks we all must take to have a chance for love.
About the Author

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Tricia Downing is recognized as a pioneer in the sport of women’s paratriathlon, as the first female paraplegic to finish an Iron distance triathlon. She has competed in that sport both nationally and internationally, in addition to competing in road racing and other endurance events. She has represented the United States in international competition in five different sport disciplines—cycling (as a tandem pilot prior to her 2000 accident), triathlon, duathlon, rowing and Olympic style shooting, in which she was a member of Team USA at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
She was featured in the Warren Miller documentary Superior Beings and on the lifestyle TV magazine show Life Moments. She has been featured in Muscle and Fitness Hers, Mile High Sports and Rocky Mountain Sports magazines.
Additionally, she is founder of The Cycle of Hope (www.thecycleofhope.org), a non-profit organization designed for female wheelchair users to promote health and healing on all levels—mind, body and spirit.
Tricia studied Journalism as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland and holds Masters degrees in both Sports Management (Eastern Illinois University) and Disability Studies (Regis University).
She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband Steve and two cats, Jack and Charlie. Visit Tricia at triciadowning.com
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