Breathing Life into Words

August 22, 2014

As so many children go back to school, there’s been much discussion about it on the web. My days of sending children off are long gone but not the memories of their days in school. Combine that with some poetry discussions and one of those old school memories emerged. But I’ll get to that later. The truth is poetry surrounds us. From the the youngest of children’s books to the songs that we love to sing, there is poetry.

But for some reason, if you say poetry to most school-aged children, they will shriek, cover their ears, and close down their brains. Maybe because they’ve never been shown how much poetry touches their lives or how exciting it can be.

My daughter decided to whine one night at dinner about how boring it was to study Edgar Allan Poe. (OMG! Can you hear my deep sigh? I knew what was coming.) My husband almost jumped on the table. How could anyone call Poe boring? The man was a genius!

My daughter prepared to defend her position – she lost before she had a chance. My husband began to recite The Raven. Both our girls sat stunned at their father’s rendition.

The next day, my daughter told her English teacher that her dad loved Poe and could recite The Raven. The teacher asked if he’d do it for the class.  My husband said surely and then asked me if I’d get some black material and make him a grim reaper-sort-of hooded thing.  At seven o’clock, I’m running to the local hobby store to buy a few yards of black material. The next morning, he left for her school expecting to do his thing and go to work. The surprise was on him.

The teacher politely introduced him to the class. There he was in dress slacks and a white shirt, looking very much like a father who worked in an office. (He was a computer guru…um, developer/programmer.) As he donned his black (think pillowcase with arms and a hood – I had two hours to buy the material and make this) costume, he told them a wee bit about Poe. Then he started.IMG_9896

Low and slow he began to recite The Raven. He was such a darn thespian/clown. No one stirred. The whole high school classroom sat glued to his every word. And when he had finished he told them don’t just read it, READ it, breathe life into it. Get caught into the emotion of the words, because poetry is a form of expression, it will make you laugh, sing, cry, sway, dance, think, wonder, or fall in love.

He never did go to work that day. He was passed from one English teacher to another, each clamoring for him to recite The Raven to the students.  He wasn’t certain how many times he recited that poem, as he lost count along the way. But the effect was always the same.  To the students, this was just another dull piece of literature and Poe was just another boring author, until someone breathed life into it. To hear it with emotion, changed their perspective. (I can picture him flapping those long sleeves and making other dramatic moves. His voice rising and falling depending on the line.)

The teacher called at the end of the day to thank him and then called back much later to tell us that every class he had visited and changed. A noticeable change in attitude towards the classics and literature in general. They were seeing things with new eyes, looking for those sparks and ways to breathe life into it.

If you’ve not read The Raven recently, you’ll find it HERE. Take a moment and see if you can breathe life into it. Can you find the deep despair and torment of a man who has lost a lover? Writers write and good writers breathe life into what they are writing. Poe breathed life into what he wrote.

There are many greats in the arts. Some have done it with paint or stone, others with film, and some with words. Today there are plenty of talented writers who write poems or stories that touch something inside of us. Is there someone you love to read? Do you keep a few authors in your watch box and wait for their next book? Tell us your favorites.


Story Starts

August 15, 2014

Ever get stuck? Apparently it happens all the time to some people. They pull up a blank word document and stare at it, waiting for words to appear.  If that ever happens towhirlpool me, I’ll probably go into panic mode. Story starts rumble through my brain constantly. I will be driving down the road and six of them will form. And since I have a this crazy mind that that tosses this stuff out like lottery tickets, I figured I’d share them. I’m going to insert [***] for names. You get to pick those. Maybe you’ll find one that’s a winner.

[***] stared at the pen in his hand. The imprinted name on it meant nothing.  How did it get here?

[***] walked out of the room leaving the sweet scent of [***] in his/her wake. [***] loved/hated the delicious/cloying smell/bouquet.

At least the tether locking the tiny computer to his/her wrist would keep [***] from losing it.  This was the third computer he/she’d bought this month and it was an unnecessary expense.

Raindrops hit the glass window and slid down the pane, gathering others with it, yet leaving trails of water in their wake. There was nothing to see beyond the glass and only the sound of [***].

The newspaper/article/Internet revealed nothing he/she didn’t already know.

From this vantage point, the ocean appeared to be a calm endless blue slab, yet the secrets it held were beyond the imagination and more turbulent than life itself.

Darkness broken only with specks of twinkling light, a slight hum, and the scent of [***].

[***]  hadn’t seen [***] in years, but there was no mistaking that face. Why was [***] here? Of all times, why return now?

Cold wrapped [***] in a numbing blanket. The desire to stay awake ceased. He/she only needed to close his/her eyes.

[***] jolted awake. With heart pounding, he/she sat up. Something was very wrong.coffee

Hey, if you use it and it turns out to be an international best-seller, you can send me a note of thinks along with a Starbucks gift card for a cup of coffee.  :-)

If you want more of these let me know.  My brain is filled with this stuff and it’s useless to me. I have way too many bits and pieces that I’ll never use.


Kindle Unlimited

August 6, 2014

I don’t know abut the rest of the writing world, but so far, I’m impressed. I don’t read like I used to because I don’t have enough time to read, but for under $10 there are an amazing number, over 600,000 and growing, of books from which to choose.

The last time I bought a granddaughter a paperback it was over $11. And really, I’m a serious sucker when it comes to children and reading. If one of my grandchildren wants a book, I’ll get it for her. I don’t buy games or movies, but I’ll buy them a book! My whole family knows that including nieces, nephews, and now grandnephews.

Kids who have their noses in books aren’t usually getting into trouble. They tend to have higher grades because of better reading skills, and in general just do better with life.  But oh it can get expensive!

There were book clubs when my girls were little. They were each in two clubs. That cost added up quickly and often there was no choice in what was sent. Of course you could send back anything that you didn’t like, but it was a hassle. Now a family can spend $9.99 and have more books than ever.  You can read a different book every night to your children, and if you are anything like me, I can read a book a day and if it’s short – two or more. No more expensive paperback books! Never has reading been so afARWlandspe 400 x 600fordable!

So what has it done to my sales? Flattened them! But my books are still being bought through the Kindle Unlimited program. It’s a mixed bag for me. Kindle does pay me for the downloads, not much, but something. That’s my problem, not the Kindle Unlimited reader who is taking advantage of this great opportunity to read as much as they want.

In my attempt to try to find you a direct link to to sign up for their 30 day free trial- I signed myself up for 30 days! It was so easy! :-)

Here’s how I did it. I went to my book A RANCHER’S WOMAN

See where it says:

Kindle Unlimited Read this title for free and get unlimited access to over 600,000 titles. Learn More

Click on Learn More.

Now you’ll see a page with a picture and it says watch video. Well under that it says something about free trial. Yep, that’s what I clicked and I now have a free month of reading happiness!  And you don’t need a Kindle – any Kindle app will work!

The author world is actually quite small. We know who writes what and who is good. I’m actually thinking about starting a reader review for books. A place where anyone can post their super favorite books. Maybe it will help everyone find some great books. But in the meantime, if you have a question, or want to know about a great sci-fi author or a good… ask!

And since I have a whole month of free shopping – guess where I’m headed! And don’t forget to pick up a few of my books!

Have you signed up for Kindle Unlimited? What do you think?


Why People Really Read Romances

August 3, 2014

Yes, it’s an escape from daily life. For those who have never experienced love, it’s a great way to be introduced to it, for those who have and have no one to love, it fills in the gap, and for those whose true love is snoring beside you…it reminds you why you fell in love.

The act of falling in love is a hormone, pheromone, and endorphin driven thing. When it happens, we feel good. When we’re hooked on the feeling, we want to feed it, to make it happen again and again – to happen all the time. That’s a romance junkie!

You get to pretend you are someone else. You’re beautiful, fabulously rich, and every man for miles wants you. You get to wear sexy leather skirts, red lace panties, or beautiful silk dresses that barely skim the shoulders, or maybe a skin-tight, metallic number that hugs every curve while you fight the bad guys with laser accuracy. That swashbuckling captain of the pirate ship really is a good guy. He’s just pretending to be a pirate because he wants to trap the real pirates and get back the fortune that was stolen from his family. Have another peppermint patty, because it’s only in a book.

Reality check!

Go to your Facebook page and check messages. I probably get at least two requests each month to be my friend from men who obviously don’t speak English, but swears I am the most beautiful woman they have ever seen. Oh, do they need a pair of glasses.

Believe it or not, my daughter left behind a leather skirt in the closet. It fits me. Am I supposed to expose these super white roadmaps I call my legs? My gams are so white they’d probably glow in the low light of most bars and restaurants.

I have spent most of my life keeping my underpants out of what they are covering. Why would I purposely wear something that is supposed to go in there? Besides lace is rather scratchy or itchy. No thanks!

A friend does re-enactment stuff. She swears, while wearing a corset, if for any reason you wind up on your back, you will feel like a turtle that is desperately trying to right itself. No thank you! I don’t want anything tight on my body.

And as for wearing a size three? Laughable. I didn’t wear that when I got married and I only weighed 105 pounds of solid muscle stretched over a tall, thin frame. Those sizes were something little, tiny, petite girls wore.

I’ll admit I had a daughter who didn’t fit into a girls-size ten. Someone suggested a try the store for petite women! Yep , triple zero! OMG, her clothes were expensive!

Yes, I have heroines who wear thongs. Seems most young people today do. Why is beyond me.

End of reality check.

Romance reading is fun. No one is going to test you on your comprehension skills. For some readers, comprehension skills are sorely lacking. A fellow author and I were looking a terrible review she had on a book. It was hysterical. It was as if the reviewer had mixed another book with it. I have one where the review is very nice but she has the names and places confused. Oh well, at least she enjoyed the book.

No matter what we write, there will be people who don’t like it and those who do. Even loyal fans will dislike a particular story for any number of reasons. I write contemporary urban, contemporary western and historical western. I have readers who will read anything and readers who will only read my westerns. But I have my own preferences when I read, too.

But the concept of a great guy is always part of any M/F romance and the thought of having him wrap his arms around you is what it’s all about. The xemenia and jacob 433_pewhole fall-in-love sensation that romance readers want. We get to do it over and over again. It’s not a betrayal to the man we do love because it’s fictional. Sometimes we transpose our guy into the hero. For a few hours, he can wear a gun and ride a horse, or save us from a burning building.

It’s the feel good ending. It’s the bad guy gets it and the good guy wins. It doesn’t cure any ills, or make us a better person. There’s no magic formula tucked in there to bring world peace. But a few extra endorphins floating through our system makes us a little happier. And just maybe that allows us to cope with squabbling children and a crappy job, or it just makes us feel better about ourselves for a little while. Because you aren’t going to find the same happily-ever-after any place other than a book. Movies come close but it’s not quite the same.

 


Names

July 29, 2014

I love names and I love naming my characters. I’ve often wondered if we become our names? If you name a child Rose, do they grow up to be sweet pretty things? What about Lily? Will she be sweet and pure, or the harbinger of death?

But what about names like Phoenix? Are they impossible to keep down? Dofile0001668306671 you put those Phoenix children down for naps and they rise up refusing to take  one? There are lots of names that are virtually genderless. I’ve seen plenty of Shawns that were girls, and now Michel or Michael. Then those with names of cities and places, Paris, Dallas, Asia, and London. We have a few Houstons in our family but it’s pronounced house-ton and it was the last name of some distant relative and is used now as a middle name.

Then there are the names that make me giggle because no one asked about the spelling. One that I often see is Francis instead of Frances for a girl and Beverly for a girl when the feminine form is Beverley. There are the states of mind: Hope, Faith, Free, etc. The nature nouns: Brook, Ocean, Rock, River, Desert, Forest, Snow, Rain, Oak, Daisy, Tulip, Pebble. Would you really name your child Pebble? Is he or she a chip off the old block? Maybe Chip is, but Pebble?

The updated and converted spellings of names; Leroy is now Leroi – it’s much more regal. The soundex generated ones: Jaimai, Ladancia, Sharazza, Lamonda. The medical terms, which I won’t even bother to mention. I’ve barely scratched the surface of names and naming. And how did we get nicknames like Muffy?

The USA is a huge melting pot of people from all over the world with lots of ethnic names. Names change and evolve. When our west was settling, many of the people who went there were escaping criminal charges in eastern cities, some just wanted to get away from the life they had, others just didn’t like the opportunities in the east and wanted something different. Names changed. Throughout history, the last name was often the occupation. And it happened in the west. The young cowboy from the French family that joined the cattle drive as a cook  in Phoenix, became Phoenix Cook and that probably evolved again into Nick Cook.

Ellis Island file000166703835

Ellis Island Today

People who came to America from other places wanted to be accepted as Americans.  So hard to pronounce last names were changed to things like Brown, Black, Smith, Jones.  Then thanks to people working in places like Ellis Island, more names were changed as these new arrivals were registered. Overworked and understaffed, the workers didn’t have time to decipher what people were saying. A friend’s grandfather came from northern Europe and when asked his name he gave it, then began to spell it, C-first then a… The worker wrote Seafirst. So the new immigrant immediately wrote his family and said when you come to America, your name is Seafirst. He had a new American name to go with his new status as an American.

The BIA, Bureau of Indian Affairs, stepped in and wanted all the American Indians to have English sounding names to make the paperwork easier and as a way to “civilize” these people. Of course, many of these natives ignored the names, others accepted them. There’s a long story as to why Bia became the last name for so many, but it’s not hard to figure out. I used that information in  A Rancher’s Woman when Many Feathers was given the English name Mark Hunter and how his friend became Robert Hunter.

Names clue readers to backgrounds. If I say Bianca Valdez, you probably just pictured a beautiful dark-haired Latina. But she could be a lovely blue-eyed blonde from Panama. Lydia Schwartz could be from a Pacific Rim country. We’re not the only melting pot!

But I like to use names as clues or as surprises.  In my River City novels, Tess Martinez is a petite blue-eyed blonde who is married to a man from Mexico. Amy Schulster married Berto who is from Mexico. And in Campaign, Kathryn “Ryn” Demary has South American roots, but her family has been here for several generations. When you read my River City books you will discover that the city is filled with people from all over, and in many ways, resembles quite a few cities near me where there is a very diverse population. With it, comes unusual names.

And like many cities, people from different backgrounds wind up living in areas where there are others from the same places. Maybe not as pronounced as Chinatown, but the pockets exist. If you see an Asian grocery store you know there is a high population of Asians nearby.

Along the way, we have gained and lost names. Some names just have a good ring to them. When I come across one, I often write it down. The problem is, if I’m not at the computer, I’ll write it on anything handy. Six months later, I discover the name on a piece of paper and wonder who or what.  Was that the name of the guy I was talking to when my Internet connection went down? Or is it just a name.

Names are a way of not only identifying characters but making them stand chinese-street-foodout. It allows diversity as I write. We’re not an all-European nation and never have been. Heroines come in all sizes and colors as do heroes. Walk into any of our Chinese buffet-style restaurants around here and you’re apt to find kimchi, sitting next to lumpia, tacos, and pizza slices. There’s macaroni salad, bourbon chicken, pulled pork with Carolina BBQ sauce (it’s not what you are thinking if you think it’s that sweet sticky sauce), next to the kung pao chicken, and hunan beef, and collard greens, mashed potatoes, tofu, and ham with pineapple. Add a little food from the Midddle East, and every imaginable kind of seafood. I’m just waiting for the day I find sauerbraten! Just as all the foods are different, our characters should be, too!

Naming our children can be harder than naming our characters. When we name our children, we are giving them a piece of us. When we name our characters, we are giving them a background and a point of focus/reference for our readers. If our children become their names, then maybe our characters names must become them. The name needs to reflect who they are.

There’s a whole world filled with names. Make your characters unique and allow them to stand out in your readers’ minds. Set your heroes apart from the crowd and give them some individuality, then do the same with the heroines. But choose wisely. I don’t see too many men with the name Simon Diamondstein signing onto a cattle drive. That young man would drop his first name in favor of a nickname and only keep half of his last name. “Hi, I’m Buck Diamond.”

When my heroine in A Challenge discovered she was pregnant, she referred to the child she was carrying as PeeWee. As her due date approached, she knew she had to have a name for the baby. She and Ari quickly settled on the name Pamela Wendy. And PeeWee? It’s a pet name for their daughter.

Enjoy picking just the right names for your characters, because there’s a whole lot more to name than just being a name. And that includes all the minor characters within our stories.


My Taste in Music

July 25, 2014

My taste in music is as varied as my moods. I can enjoy Janis Joplin, Mozart, the big bands, a little Motown, toss in a little Kingston Trio, the Beetles Beatles, Mick Jagger, Arlo Guthrie and Willy Nelson, Ella Fitzgerald, Abba, Maurice Jarre, Yanni, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, today’s country, a little Spanish guitar, a piano, and the clear tones of a flute, New Age, and even elevator music. Actually the list of songs and artists I enjoy is too long to name. I’d say I like everything, but that’s not true. Every genre of music has its great sounds, and there ones that sound like fingernails on the blackboard to me within that genre. Music is very individual, but I’m always open to listening to something new.

Friends who know me will often send me something from YouTube with a you-got-to-hear-this message. Which usually sets me down the path of listening to music for hours. It was in the course of one of those off-the- beaten-path musical ventures that I stumbled into Cesar Espinoza playing Unchained Melody.  I sent his video to friend whose musical taste is a strange as mine. In return, she sent me the link to Leo Rojas.

I’ll admit both men are easy on the eyes, and both are worth taking the time to listen to their music. The only way to describe it is hauntingly beautiful. And you can’t beat a handsome man playing it!

Leo won a Supertalent 2011 (similar to America’s Got Talent) in Germany, and he has a website there. I have no idea how someone from Ecuador wound up in Germany. Maybe one of those of you who understands German can tell me. Hope you’ve brushed up on your German.

Fortunately Cesar Espinoza’s website is in English and he lives in the USA. When you get there can view a video of him playing and his links to where you can buy his music. That link also give you a chance to listen to various clips of his songs on his albums. I’ve already chosen four that I want!

From Wikipedia’s site on pan flutes

Now, let me back up and try to explain a pan flute. It’s a series of reeds, stuck together in a long curve, and the bottom of each reed is closed. So I think it’s like blowing into the top of a soda bottle, except these are perfectly tuned. I guess I first heard a pan flute years ago when Gheorghe Zamfir had a whole album done with a pan flute.

I happen to like the sound of a flute. You’re all thinking about that tinny sound from your years in band, right? Think again. When my girls were young, I lived in a townhouse and when a young family moved in, the mother said she played the flute and liked to practice after her husband and children left in the morning. She wanted to make sure it didn’t bother me.  I told her no problem, the entire neighborhood was empty by about 9 a.m., and the townhouses were very soundproof. Turns out, if I stood in my walk-in closet, I could hear her.  I think I stood there for 15 minutes listening to her. Then I ran downstairs grabbed a cup of coffee and knocked on her door! Every morning for an hour, I had my very own serenade. She played pure classical as she was a concert flutist with a sterling silver flute. To be in the same room, made my skin tingle. Awesome!

(One of my granddaughters took flute in school and made first chair. I promise she never sounded like my neighbor or any of the men who I have mentioned here.)

And who hasn’t bought their child one of those wooden six-holed flutes? Yes, you really can play music on them. My dad wanted to strangle my mom when she bought me a reed flute from a “trinket” store, as we drove through a reservation when I was a child. Mom actually taught me the basics of music during that month-long road trip. (Thanks for putting up with so much, Dad! And thanks, Mom, for the music lessons.)

Flutes seem to be a common folk instrument no matter where you visit in the world. With the American Indians, we normally think of drums and the repetitive vocals. Their flute playing seemed limited to courtship and healing, but also for fun. People like Mary Youngblood and the 1960’s interest in folk music brought these traditional Am. Indian songs to light with the general population and she won a Grammy for it.

I’m a listener. I can barely find the notes to play the piano, I had some ability with a guitar, a mandolin, and I’m the proud owner of a balalaika. I tried so hard to learn the play that thing and never did manage to do much with it other than wear out my fingertips.  But my husband could play it. (But if he had a instrument in his hands,  he could play it in a matter of minutes and actually sound good!) Back to being a listener… I just know when I like something and apparently what is being played now as native songs have been “modernized” and has what many call a New Age sound to it.

How do you modernize music? I have no clue, but I’ll assume it’s a little like what Hooked on Classics did for classical music and Chip Davis did with Christmas songs (Mannheim Steamroller) And the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO)  has done to bring classic to a new level of rock.

I was lucky to grow up knowing Leonard Bernstein and going to many of his concerts. In a way, he probably expanded my enjoyment of music. Not that I sat and had long discussions with him – I was a kid! But being dragged to concerts meant I heard live  performances and garnered an appreciation of music.

Today with so many school budget cuts, children are not being exposed to the arts. I’ll save that for another day and another post. But the Internet has opened the world to us and with it, its music. Take a few minutes and click the links on the names Cesar, Leo, and Mary and treat yourself to some new sounds. You just might discover some new music that you enjoy.

And I’ve emailed Cesar and asked him to stop by. I’ll cross my fingers and hope that he comes to say hello. Maybe he can explain this new interest in the pan flute and other native flutes. I know I’d love for him to do a guest post on ethnic flutes.

I do believe I have another western coming with a hero or heroine who plays the flute. I have already written one story about a school teacher who plays the flute, in Ask Me Again. It’s a sexy little novella!

Rob Miller’s life is on overload. His business is thriving and his life is in fast forward, until he’s called home to deal with a family crisis. The last thing on his mind is romance, but when he bumps into Torrey Timberlake, a face from his past, he’s forced to re-evaluate his priorities. Could she possibly be the best thing that ever happened to him at the worst of times?

Yeah, I think I have another flute player coming. Maybe this one will be playing the pan flute and it won’t be Camille Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals he’s playing. It’s been an interesting journey and I hope you explore these traditional sounds, too!


Pay attention. I am talking!

July 21, 2014

Did you know there are probably 300,000 people in the USA who are mute? Really! The problem is the numbers my not be accurate. No where does anyone fill in a government form that says I’m mute! So the numbers are complied from several sources and it’s believed that 300,000 is on the low side.

Deafness and muteness often go together. Mainly because if someone doesn’t hear, they usually don’t do much talking.

I’ve been lucky to been blessed with friends who have had disabilities. To see a deaf-mute couple, raise two normal children and play with their normal grandchildren, is wonderful. I remember when my daughter was selling Girl Scout cookies. I made her go to the door of the deaf-mute couple. Just as many other people are afraid to approach and speak to a deaf-mute, so was she. I explained that they had a doorbell that flashes a light. Just hand them the forms. I practically threatened her. I can still remember her standing on their doorstep begging me not to do it.

She gathered her courage and pushed the button. When the woman answered, my daughter handed over the forms. The woman waved to me. What seemed like a lifetime later, my daughter emerged, grinning from ear to ear. They hadn’t had those cookies since their daughter was little. They showed my daughter everything from the TV with words on the screen (a big deal back then) to their special phone, etc. That was it, my daughter was hooked, and they adored her.

My daughter took her friends to see all the gizmos in that house. If I lost her in the neighborhood, the odds were I’d find her bike parked by their door. The woman made lemonade from scratch! She’d even let my daughter squeeze the lemons.

The woman told me later that because my daughter would come visit, the neighbors suddenly began to wave and say hello. The neighborhood no longer treated them as though they didn’t exist. The woman could speak, although it was very flat and not always easy to understand. She worked for a law office and was a paralegal. He was an engineer. People who knew them accepted their disabilities. Those who didn’t would back away.

In my newest book, Campaign, A River City Novel, the heroine is mute from a riding accident as a child. She’s coping in a vocal world. Her mother barely knows how to sign and her father never really learned. She went to a school for children with disabilities, then went to college, only to return with her teaching certificate to teach where she had once been a student. Through her dorm mate from college, she’s introduced to Brad Shoemaker. Their online dating became a strong friendship, and he invited her to visit with the idea of taking the friendship to the next level. And that’s where the story starts, except no one told him she was mute.

Don’t think it could happen? I know someone who is married to a deaf mute. They met at college. ASL or American Sign Language is often taught as a language in high schools and college. The woman I know figured it was easier than taking a foreign language. The professor told the class about a special “silent” dinner where no talking was allowed but they could use sign language. He offered them extra credit if they went. Considering she was a typical student who hated to study, she figured she needed the extra credit. So she went. There was this gorgeous guy at another table. She drooled her way through the meal and went the next time they had such a dinner, and the next, and the next, and the next until she finally caught his eye.  They started to sign to each other and he asked her out.  She figured he was there for extra credit, too. Imagine her surprise when she discovered he was deaf and mute!  Seriously she’s a beautiful young woman who probably could have had any guy based on her looks alone. She fell in love and they are happily married.

In Campaign, Brad Shoemaker has political aspirations. He wanted a wife who could help him along the way. He may have fallen in love with Ryn before actually meeting her, but her muteness tosses a different light on his goals. Ryn has her own problems which includes depression. She’s making her way in a world that doesn’t understand disabilities. But it’s a constant battle for acceptance.

Here’s a snippet where Ryn meets Brad’s family for the first time.

Ryn looked at Brad and spelled tea.

“I doubt that. Do you know what sweet tea is?”

Ryn nodded.

“Okay. Are you sure you don’t want coffee?”

She shook her head and spelled, “Ice?”

Brad grabbed a glass and filled it with ice from the large stainless steel refrigerator that looked out of place in the older kitchen.

“Don’t be so shy and don’t let him boss you around.” Mrs. Shoemaker fixed several more glasses of sweet tea.

Ryn smiled as a silent giggle shook in her chest. No man was going to run over her under any circumstances.

“Mom. I’m not bossing her around.” He handed Ryn her tea.

The cold, super-sweet liquid cooled her throat. She wondered how long it would take before they realized she was mute.

Brad’s mom turned a knob on the old stove and peeked under a pot’s lid. “Just a second and I’ll show you the deck we built this spring. We did it ourselves. Bought the plans and the lumber. It wasn’t very difficult, except Brad’s dad wouldn’t let me use any of the power tools. I held, and he screwed everything together.” She wiped her hands on a towel and headed for the back door. “Stay here and talk to your father. I’ll show Ryn our handiwork.”

Ryn looked at Brad, and he shrugged. She followed the woman into the backyard. The huge deck took up most of the yard, and what was left was mostly rose gardens. The honey-spiced scent of roses made her inhale deeply and follow her nose to the containers filled with yellow roses. Sun Sprinkles. She signed, “My favorite.”

Mrs. Shoemaker stared at her and Ryn smiled back. She’ll figure it out. Another spicy scent hit her nose and she spotted the Cheddar Pink Carnations. It seemed as if every flower was grown for its beauty and fragrance. Ryn grinned. Then admired the deck and gave Mrs. Shoemaker a thumbs-up sign.

 

“Honey, I don’t bite. You don’t have to be afraid to talk to me.”B&R

Ryn smiled. Pay attention. I am talking. She signed, “I am mute.”

The woman cocked her head and furrowed her brow.

“I am mute.”

“You’re dumb?”

Ryn closed her eyes. Hatred for being called dumb crawled up the back of her neck. She was an intelligent woman. She opened her eyes and shook her head. Slowly she spelled mute.

The woman turned and went back inside.

Ryn stood on the deck. She knew the woman meant no harm, and her reaction wasn’t at all surprising, but Ryn wasn’t expecting it, at least not from Brad’s parents. She had two choices, she could follow Mrs. Shoemaker back inside or she could give Brad a few minutes with his parents. Giving Brad a chance to straighten out the situation was fine with her.

She ducked as a pair of young male hummingbirds whizzed by her and then fought over the feeder that hung from a shepherd’s hook next to the deck. The tiny yard was alive with birds and bees. The edge of the deck was a perfect place to sit and admire the peaceful beauty that surrounded her.

When she heard the back door open, she turned expecting to see Brad, but instead she saw his dad. He sat beside her and wrung his hands.

“My wife’s in there crying. She’s afraid you won’t like us or our son.”

“Why?” she signed.

The man looked at her so she took his hand and wrote in his palm, “Why?”

“We didn’t know. Thought the cat got your tongue.”

“It’s ok,” she wrote in his palm.

“He said you had a computer that you used to communicate, but it got lost the other night.”

She nodded.

“I’m sorry. From what he said it’ll turn up. No one in that crowd would steal it.”

She patted the deck and gave him a thumbs-up sign.

“Took us five weekends to build it. My wife’s real proud of it.”

Ryn grinned and pointed to the gardens.

“It’s our hobby.”

Ryn sniffed and then signed, “Sun Sprinkles.”

He took a pen and folded piece of paper from a pocket. “Want to write?”

She grinned and took the proffered items. “Sun Sprinkles.”

“You know about roses?”

She shook her head and pointed to her words on the page. “Sun Sprinkles.”

“Yes, that’s what they are.” He stood and offered her his hand. “I know what you need.”

She followed him inside. He took a dry erase board from the side of the refrigerator and handed it to her.

“How’s that?”

“Perfect!”

Brad was standing by his mom and an older couple was sitting at the table.

“These are my grandparents.”

Ryn shook hands with both of them.

“Pleased to meet you, young lady,” the man almost hollered.

“Granddad, she can hear. She just can’t talk.”

I have Campaign specially priced at 99 cents for a few days for my loyal readers. So grab it quick before the price goes to its regular price. Just as all my River City novels have strong mainstream elements so does this, but I promise there’s the happily-ever-after that you want in a romance. It’s available at Amazon only! If that’s a problem, let me know and I’ll send you a copy in whatever format you need. I want to keep all my readers happy!

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