Tag: romance (page 1 of 2)

Charmed By Charlie Release Day Has Arrived

Everybody Loves Marketing Whiz Charlie Solanger…except the woman he really wants.

I fell in love with Charlie Solanger the moment I dreamed him up one afternoon while bingeing on Gilmore Girls Netflix episodes with my thirteen-year-old daughter. He’s good-looking, intelligent, rich and charming…what more could a reader ask for in a romantic hero? And he just won’t leave the heroine Valerie Wilson alone, despite the fact that she wants nothing to do with such an obvious flirt.

I shared the first chapter with a few beta readers, who like me, wanted to know more. Was Charlie only a ladies’ man? Or beneath his charming veneer, was their depth and substance?

I kept writing and before I knew it, things were heating up at Reynolds Paint Company in Cleveland, Ohio. Poor Valerie doesn’t know what to believe as Charlie knocks her off kilter and keeps her (and readers) guessing throughout the story.

What exactly is Charlie’s story? And will poor Val ever be able to discover the truth and find true love surrounded by such quirky office companions?

At just $3.99 for the ebook and $9.25 for the paperback, it won’t cost much for you to find out!

Available at these retailers:
Amazon
Boroughs Publishing
Smashwords
Kobo
Nook
iTunes

About Charmed By Charlie

PAINT, PROMOTIONS & PERFECTION
Creative genius Charlie Solanger has it all: good looks, money, intelligence, charm. And when he swoops in to save Reynolds Paint Company with a brilliant marketing campaign, he has all the ladies in the office vying for his attention. Everyone except math whiz Valerie Wilson.

Val’s not happy Charlie stole her promotion. Worse, his brand of flirtatious charm is reminiscent of her cheating ex-fiancé. So, how come she can’t get him out of her head? The more she challenges him, the more interested—and interesting—he becomes. What secrets is Charlie hiding, and who or what is behind the sudden mysterious drain on their company’s funds? The only way to find out is to join forces. Then it will be a battle of wills…and a triumph of hearts.

Join me!
What’s a new book without a party? Come and learn about CHARMED BY CHARLIE! This award-winning contemporary romance placed third in the 2016 Cleveland Rocks Romance Writers Contest. Enjoy light refreshments and appetizers, giveaways and prizes. Browse the stores for unique items for sale! Signed paperback copies will be available for purchase.

Wanna win a free paperback copy?
Sign up for my giveaway on Goodreads starting April 21!

#CharmedByCharlie Release Day Has Arrived! #NewRelease #mustread @Boroughspubgrp #Books #Romance… Click To Tweet

Mind Waves Release Day

Mind WavesToday’s the BIG day. My novel, Mind Waves, is unleashed to the world! Buy the book, either as an ebook or paperback, at any of these locations:

The Wild Rose Press: http://bit.ly/2bR06aC
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2d0KIbJ
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2bAG3No
Nook: http://bit.ly/2c78i4y
iTunes: https://itun.es/us/ce0Feb.l
Bookstrand: http://bit.ly/2ciKHR3
Google Play:  http://bit.ly/2dph4Aq

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Readers are saying
“When I got half way through the book, I was thinking – this would be a great series and I was thrilled to see if will be one. I absolutely can’t wait to read the next one. Wow!!” — Goodreads Reviewer

It was a mixture of genres and it was woven together in such a way that you did not see the distinction between genres. It just works! — www.thegenreminx.com

A delightful, fast paced story, with all the elements necessary for a great read. Mind Waves has plenty of action, romance and danger, creating a captivating read from Amanda Uhl. This story will stay with you long after you have finished the last page. – Readers’ Favorite

“Finished it!! And really, really enjoyed it!!! You nailed the characters of David and Grace–David was so intriguing and mysterious and completely like able. Grace’s mental commentary made you feel like you knew her and made her relatable right from the start. All the characters for that matter were really well developed and unique. I loved the story line as well. Such a cool concept. I kept wanting to read more, especially as the book progressed and their predicament was building. — Advanced Reader

WOW WOW WOW!!!! Amazing read! From the start up to the last, I was hooked on this book! – http://msme28.blogspot.com

I look forward to reading more books by this author! The concept is intriguing, and I loved how she incorporated it into the modern world. Great book! – www.ladywithaquill.com

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Here’s a brief description:

If he can control her mind…
Government operative David Jenkins is skilled at controlling his emotions. Feelings are lethal when your job is to infiltrate minds, erase and implant thoughts, and guard the nation’s intellectual capital. But even he can’t fight his strange attraction to Grace Woznisky. He’ll do whatever it takes to protect her from a madman intent on possessing both their minds. Neither suspect their dangerous enemy has a larger motive, and David may be Grace’s only chance for survival.

Can he control her heart?
All freelance artist Grace wants is steady-paying work and to see her flighty sister to the altar. But after David offers her a job, she finds herself in the middle of a mental tug of war—one that has her reeling from nightmares and fighting for her life. She must decide: Are her growing feelings for her new boss authentic, or is she a victim of his mind-altering abilities?

A short excerpt is available here –> http://wp.me/P6dMeM-12.

Tell others you liked it
I lot of work went into writing and pitching this story, so I do hope you enjoy it. If you do, please consider writing a review on Amazon or Goodreads.  Reviews really help an author spread the word about their book and raise visibility on Amazon. Even just giving a book a “star” rating is appreciated.

If you enjoyed Mind Waves, I am hard at work on book two in the series, Cross Waves. Read an excerpt.

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zIMG_6833_ppcrpfxfAbout the Author: 
Amanda Uhl has always had a fascination with the mystical. Having drawn her first breath in a century home rumored to be haunted, you might say she was “born” into it. After a brief stint in college as a paid psychic, Amanda graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in theatre and a master’s degree in marketing. Over the past twenty years, she has worked as an admissions representative and graphic designer, owned her own freelance writing company, and managed communications for several Fortune 500 companies, most recently specializing in cyber security. Amanda is an avid reader and writes fast-paced, paranormal romantic suspense and humorous contemporary romance from her home in Cleveland, Ohio. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find Amanda with her husband and three children, gathering beach glass on the Lake Erie shoreline or biking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Visit her online at www.amandauhl.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amandauhlauthor or Twitter at @AuAuthor.
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Want a signed copy?
Connect with me at an upcoming event.

Mind Waves Cover Reveal — Check It Out!

AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDERS! DEBUTING OCT. 7!

It’s here, it’s here! Mind Waves is finally here!

It’s been nearly three years since I wrote the book, so as you can imagine, I’m pretty darn excited the day has come for you all to see the cover.

Isn’t it perfect?

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY AT ANY OF THESE LOCATIONS!

The Wild Rose Press
Amazon
Nook
Kobo
iTunes
Bookstrand

Congratulations to all who preordered Mind Waves or shared the buy links on social media and then entered my raffle to win one of  5 $20 Amazon gift cards.  Winners below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


zIMG_6537_ppcrpAbout the Author

Amanda Uhl has always had a fascination with the mystical. Having drawn her first breath in a century home rumored to be haunted, you might say she was “born” into it. After a brief stint in college as a paid psychic, Amanda graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in theatre and a master’s degree in marketing. Over the past twenty years, she has worked as an admissions representative and graphic designer, owned her own freelance writing company, and managed communications for several Fortune 500 companies, most recently specializing in cyber security. Amanda is an avid reader and writes fast-paced, paranormal romantic suspense and humorous contemporary romance from her home in Cleveland, Ohio. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find Amanda with her husband and three children, gathering beach glass on the Lake Erie shoreline or biking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Visit her online:
Facebook
Twitter
Amazon
Goodreads
Pinterest
Website

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Check Out Haunted Souls — Great New Romantic Suspense Novel

From time to time, I feature a few special writers and their books on my site. Kathryn Knight is a fellow author with The Wild Rose Press. This month she released her newest paranormal romantic suspense novel, a military ghost mystery called Haunted Souls. Check it out!

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Description
Four years ago, Emily Shea and Staff Sergeant Brett Leeds agreed to part with no strings attached. Sparks flew during their brief affair, but fate intervened, sending Brett overseas. When an unexpected pregnancy derailed Emily’s own plans, her attempts to locate Brett were soon overwhelmed by the challenges of single motherhood. Now, Brett has returned home, and Emily is forced to share her secret.

Despite feeling betrayed, Brett is determined to forge a relationship with their son, Tyler. As the former lovers battle both their inner demons and their mutual desire, another presence enters their lives—Tyler’s imaginary friend.

Soon, however, the chilling evidence points to a different conclusion: a ghost has formed a dangerous connection with their son. Emily’s attempts to help both a lost soul and a friend in need spiral toward a deadly confrontation, and Brett must race to save Emily before he loses her again—forever.

To order
Kindle link: https://www.amazon.com/Haunted-Souls-Kathryn-Knight-ebook/dp/B01EZLQX9G?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc

Nook link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/haunted-souls-kathryn-knight/1123684427?ean=2940158295799

imageAbout Kathryn
Kathryn Knight spends a great deal of time in her fictional world, where mundane chores don’t exist and daily life involves steamy romance, dangerous secrets, and spooky suspense. Kathryn writes contemporary romance spiked with mysterious hauntings as well as YA paranormal romance filled with forbidden love. Her novels are award-winning #1 Amazon Bestsellers and RomCon Reader Rated picks. When she’s not reading or writing, Kathryn spends her time catching up on those mundane chores, driving kids around, and teaching writing classes. Two of her ghost story/romance titles, Gull Harbor and Haunted Souls, are set on beautiful Cape Cod, where she lives with her husband, their two sons, and a number of rescued pets. Please visit her at Kathryn Knight books on Facebook, @k_knightbooks on Twitter, or at www.kathrynknightbooks.blogspot.com.

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Age and Experience Sweeten the Cup for Writers

Old vintage books and cup with heart shape on wooden table
Two and a half years ago, I found the courage to go after a dream. I sat down at my dining room table and typed the first words to a story that would later be titled Mind Waves.

That first chapter would be edited and re-edited and eventually deleted all together, as I sought to improve the storyline enough to catch and capture an editor’s interest. It wasn’t easy.

Finding a publisher
I met my editor, Ms. Laura Kelly with The Wild Rose Press, at the first conference I ever attended. That was more than a year ago. She was the second editor I pitched. It took almost a year of rewrites and dozens of contest entries (to garner feedback) before Ms. Kelly said yes to the book (and me:)

I thought those ten months were the most agonizing, depressing ten months of my life. Like a wild roller coaster, my mood would swing up with a kind word from a beta reader or down with a contest failure. Up with a contest win, then a sudden plunge down, down with a barrage of rejections. When the future is uncertain and there’s no end in sight, it can be difficult to stay on course.

So, why did I keep at it?
I’d like to tell you it was one activity or person that inspired me, but it was not. The gas in my tank was a stubborn refusal and belief in myself and my writing skills. This is what I needed to carry me through the long haul of disappointments and lack of interest. Whenever I got a rejection, I would remind myself that I could do better and then go at it again the next day.

One thing I didn’t do was stay still. And I’m glad. Because failure one day would lead to success on another. For instance, on a day when I felt particularly frustrated, I began writing a new story to shake off the doldrums. That story placed third in the contemporary long category of the Cleveland Rocks Romance Writer’s Contest.

Ironically, what I found agonizingly slow, other writers tell me is fast. They marvel at how quickly I navigated the process. One writer friend compared my journey to a snowball rolling down hill, picking up speed and size. (I love the imagery of writer friends.) That’s when I first began to consider and appreciate my age and experience in this business.

I’m no spring chicken
I have been writing in the corporate world for more than twenty years. I’ve produced news stories in an hour with someone standing over my shoulder, urging me to type faster. I’ve pulled together marketing brochures and posters that have gone on to win awards. I’ve accepted and incorporated feedback over and over again from clients who don’t like the way something is written.

Last weekend at the Cleveland Writing Workshop, I met a lady who wanted to write military novels at nineteen but was told she needed more experience. So she joined the military and became a medic. She has since retired from service but has spent the past twenty years perfecting the craft and has more than six books under her belt.

In the writing world, age and experience are not a liability. Like fine wine, they enrich and sweeten our work.

Age and Experience Sweeten the Cup for Writers #TWRP #Romance #Amwriting Click To Tweet

What If Your Greatest Frustration Powered Your Next Big Idea?

A writer’s life is filled with some highs, lots of lows and even more waiting around in between. The glacial movement of the publication process can be frustrating, especially for doers like me.

When I began the writing journey two years ago, the only thought in my head was whether or not it was possible for me to finish a novel and have the story make sense. I gave little consideration to what comes after.

I didn’t know I would spend a year querying agents and editors, attending meetings, reading and learning about the craft of writing and rethinking the work until I could barely look at it again without feeling a dead weight in the pit of my stomach.

But that is, indeed, what happened.

Big Idea Rocket

Frustration spurs creativity
The greatest source of my frustration during this period was how difficult it was to be heard and seen in such a crowded marketplace. Ironically, this led to renewed inspiration. I wondered: What could I write that would make me stand out from the crowd? What is the hardest story to tell?

My brain fired back–one that contains humor and is told mostly in dialogue. I happened to be watching Gilmore Girls with my daughter at the time, which contains a lot of face-paced, witty scenes. I’d also just read, Bet Me, by Jennifer Cruise, and the idea for Charmed By Charlie was born.

A star is born
It would be an office romance with several colorful side characters. Charlie, the hero, would be a flirt and a creative genius. Val, the heroine, would be a math whiz, who is wary of charmers due to a bad experience. There would be a mystery to solve–someone is embezzling money from the firm–which can only be resolved by the hero and heroine joining forces. Val would have to confront and adjust her prejudices about Charlie. Charlie would need to give up his freedom-loving ways for Val.

The first chapter wrote itself, and every chapter since has rolled fluidly from my keyboard onto my iPad. I began sharing chapter installments with several beta readers who were enthusiastic about the work. Write faster, they told me.

I, too, want to write faster. I, too, want to know what will happen next.

Last week, I flew into Phoenix for the Desert Dreams conference, where I met with two agents. I had intended to pitch my paranormal romantic suspense series, Mind Hackers. But a few weeks ago, I signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for Mind Waves, the first book in the series, and as a result, neither of the agents were interested in that world. So, I pitched Charmed By Charlie instead, and both agents I spoke with asked for sample chapters.

One of my critique partners suggested I enter the first few chapters into the long contemporary category of the 2016 Cleveland Rocks Romance Writers Contest. On Monday, I learned that Charmed By Charlie was a finalist in that category. Winners will be announced on May 21. I couldn’t be more excited.

When the going gets tough
Sometimes, when we feel like giving up, we just have to keep going. We have to ignore the naysayers (we all have them) and the little voices in our head that keeps us from going after what we love. We have to use the roadblocks in our way as fuel to take a different stance, look at the world a bit differently, and try something new.

It could be our greatest hurdle will produce our next big idea.

You Can Get More Than Mashed Potatoes at Thanksgiving

Ah, the holiday season. Time to kick back, relax and enjoy family time, right?

Only in fantasy land folks, as this recent Saturday Night Live episode with Adele illustrates. But there is a silver lining to Aunt Mabel’s fear of refugees, Cousin Dan’s loud condemnation of Republicans or your brother-in-law’s liquor-filled expositions on life. At least, if you’re a romance writer.

Romance writers are keen observers of the world around them. Although many of them dread interaction with other humans, relationships compose the core of their work.

Thanksgiving leftovers
When I began writing my first manuscript, I thought the developing characters were pure fantasy–whipped up from some hidden part of my psyche with no basis in reality. But a funny thing happened when I read the story in its entirety for the first time. The heroine, Grace’s personality was strangely like my own, complete with all my quirky insecurities and inner fears. Although exaggerated, Grace’s mother, Elaine’s anxieties mirrored my mother-in-law’s, who frets over her children and grandchildren. And certain aspects of the needy sister, Claire, in the story, are drawn straight from my relationship with my own dear sister (sorry sis). Even my father-in-law, who couldn’t imagine he would ever end up in a romance novel, pointed out that he wants royalties since I gave the hero, David, his crooked finger.

These authentic personality traits, although unintentional on my part, made the story come alive. Contest judges reviewing the entry remarked, “I understand Grace’s worries. I have felt the same way” and “The sister is believable.”

Once I understood the importance of real-life situations and personalities to literary character development, I became much more conscientious about my own powers of observation. Everything…and I mean everything…has become fertilizer for the next crop of words. Yes, family and friends, beware!

Stuffing for the brain

This year's Thanksgiving turkey.

This year’s Thanksgiving turkey.

Besides the obvious writing inspiration, there’s an emotional payoff as well. It’s easier to ignore your cousin Cheryl’s barbed comments when you are analyzing their cause and effect. Instead of taking the words to heart, your mind is occupied with the words unspoken. What are Cheryl’s goals, motivations and conflict? Has she just lost her job and the fact that you landed a brilliant, new position hard to stomach? Perhaps she doesn’t feel loved by her husband and her bitter words reveal her pain and disillusionment. Or maybe she has never shared the close relationship you have with your mother, with her own?

Art doesn’t just reflect life, it mirrors it back at you in exaggerated form. The core of character development has its roots in reality. When I take the time to listen and observe the dynamics of the conversations taking place around the dinner table, I gain in perspective. Not just a greater openness and sense of wonder to explore my own life’s journey, but a wealth of material for my next great masterpiece.

So, thank you dear Aunt Mabel. Now would you please pass the mashed potatoes?

How a Whispered Prayer Wrought An Umbrella and My Future Husband

I once prayed for a good man. I didn’t really believe the prayer would be answered. But I was a bit lonely my freshman year in college, so it felt good to tell someone who would listen and not ask a lot of questions.

The thing about prayer, though, is that God always answers. Sometimes his answers are immediate, but more often, at least for me, they take time to come to fruition.

The umbrella
Shortly after I said that prayer, I met my future husband in a theatre class. Of course, I didn’t know he was my future husband. I paid more attention to his umbrella.

“Excuse me,” I asked him. “Can you move your umbrella?” It was one of those long, skinny, masculine ones with a large, black handle, and it was in my way nearly every day as I tried to slip past him in the auditorium style classroom.

“Sorry. No problem.” He would reach out to nab the offending object and quickly pull it under his seat, allowing me to slide into my seat next to him. Once when I did this, I noticed an open notebook on his lap where he had scribbled some words. I tried to read what he had written but was unsuccessful.

Fundamentals of Theatre
“Are you a theatre major?” He spoke, his tone friendly.

“Yes, what about you?”

“Oh no. I’m a telecommunications major. I just took this class as an elective.”

I noticed his clothing; artsy for a guy. He looked like a theatre major. Later, I would learn that his mother, a hairdresser, bought all of his clothing, but in the moment, I just noticed it as a casual observation. I was not interested in talking, so I settled in, opening my book.

“Welcome to Fundamentals of Theatre I.” The professor began his monologue. “Attendance sheets are being passed along.”

As he spoke, the girl seated to my left handed me a white notebook. I scribbled my name and passed it along to the young man with the umbrella.

Years later, he would confess that he had memorized my name on the attendance sheet, writing it in his notebook. But he was too shy to ask me on a date. Good thing he didn’t, because I’m not sure I would have accepted. I didn’t handle attention from the opposite sex well, and I didn’t go on a lot of dates. Plus, I had just met another boy at a party, and I was a bit infatuated.

And truthfully? If God had whispered in my ear that day, saying, “I’m answering your prayer. See that boy? He’s the one,” I wouldn’t have believed it.

Just like I wouldn’t have believed if the voice said, “You will be struck by lightening. Or you will win the lottery.”

I never forgot the boy or his umbrella, though. Long after we completed the class, I would see him on campus. Each time we’d run into one another, I’d ask, “Are you taking any theatre classes?”

And he would answer, “No, Amanda, I’m not a theatre major.”

There were no umbrellas on our wedding day. Although it did rain that morning, the sun came out before we said "I do."

There were no umbrellas on our wedding day. 

First comes love
And then, one day, the stars aligned. We ran into each other on campus and as he tells it, “It was now or never.” He finally screwed up his courage to ask for my telephone number. (This was before the days of cell phones and texting.)

And I, who had sworn off dating, but wasn’t above going out as friends, gave him my number.

We went on a few dates, which led to a few more. My future husband, I learned, had a great sense of humor and was universally liked by everyone he came in contact with. We complemented each other well. He was outgoing; I was introverted. He taught me not to take everything so seriously. I taught him how to take everything more seriously.

A few weeks later, we had a major “Back to the Future” moment. You know, the one where Marty’s parents finally kiss and his future comes to be? Yeah, it was that kind of moment.

Then comes marriage

Our three beautiful children.

Our three beautiful children.

Some twenty-three anniversaries later, we have three kids, a dwindling mortgage, and a jet ski.

Times have not always been easy. There was a period, shortly after college when we both lost our jobs and couldn’t afford a wedding. We called ourselves “the trash couple,” because it seemed like we never slept or had money to buy anything nice.

There was another time, shortly after our second child was born, when I had a raging temperature for days, while our jaundice son lay in an incubator next to me.

We survived frequent job changes, loss of loved ones, health emergencies. When I lost my two front teeth in an accident, he took me to the dentist and held my hand. When my daughter lost hers after jumping and missing an obstacle course at school, he held my hand as we watched the dentist reinsert them.

Through all of lives’ joys and disappointments, we’ve held on tight and cherished one another.

I can’t imagine going through life without him by my side.

I can’t imagine a life without him.

To those who say God doesn’t exist, I say, try praying for something that really matters. You just might get what you asked for.

And be sure to look out for the umbrella.

Fourteen and Me: Growing Up in a Super-sized Family

imageMy husband doesn’t understand why I don’t write more about growing up in a family of 15. “It’s so unusual. Everyone will be interested,” he tells me.

Maybe he’s right. In fact, maybe that’s precisely why I have trouble writing about it. It marks me as unusual…different…odd. It makes me uncomfortable. I have spent a lifetime struggling to fit in — to go unnoticed for peculiarities like having an outlandish number of siblings. Why bring this fact to light now?

When I think of my childhood, I think of a rich vein of yellow gold surrounded by dark soil. There are treasures there, but I have to dig for them. Sometimes my shovel glitters, and sometimes, I get nothing but dirt. Usually, there’s a mixture of both.

The dirt
My sister and I have embarrassing memories of being called down to the office at our grade school to try on donated clothing. We were considered “poor,” I guess. Although I certainly never felt poor and indeed was wealthy in the things that really mattered — good home cooked food, a loving family, a brain that helped me succeed in school and plenty of God-given talents.

The glitter
By the time she and I came along, there were no more children. We were the last of the litter. We were the lucky ones. The older siblings doted on us, and we were given attention that the middle siblings never received.

Growing up on a semi-farm with 14 siblings meant that we didn’t spend a lot of company with other children outside our family. There was no need. We had a built-in baseball and football team and someone to play with whenever we felt the desire. For a while, it seemed like family gatherings happened every weekend, and there was always a new face around the dinner table.

I remember bonfires and volleyball games that seemed to last all night. I remember singing around the campfire, while my older sister and brother played guitar. I remember sleep-overs at my Godmother’s house every summer. I remember peanut butter milk shakes made in the old blender with broken buttons and coming home from school to see my dad shaking out the strands of homemade pasta so they would dry, and we could sell them at auction. He was proud of the fact that the pasta he made and my mother’s apple pies and Italian bread would always sell for a good price.

The Dirt

Just a small portion of the family garden, neatly laid out and ready to produce a bumper crop.

Just a small portion of the family garden, neatly laid out and ready to produce a bumper crop.

I never knew where that “auction” took place. It is only in later years that I realized how much they depended on getting a good price at auction for our livelihood.

My mother was a practical sort. Her days were spent baking bread, canning vegetables, spanking our bottoms and keeping my dad happy. I think the only time I caught her reading a romance was when she was recovering from flu and read the novel excerpt in her Good Housekeeping magazine. She recounted the entire story to me the next day, until I was so curious that I found the same magazine and read it, too.

I never remember her reading to me. She was far too busy for that luxury. When I started school, I could not read well. It would take some encouraging teachers and hard work on my part before reading became a pleasure and not a chore. But somehow I learned and when I graduated from eighth grade, I was given the language arts award.

And that really is how I remember most of my childhood. Few handouts, lots of hard work, eventual rewards.

The glitter
I remember sitting around giant metal tubs filled with carrots, usually with another sibling or two. Our job? Scrape each carrot clean, cut off the ends, and add to another giant metal tub. It was canning time.

To mask the drudgery, we would play games like charades or tell one another riddles. There was always something to talk about and someone to talk about it with.

When the chores were done, my mother would call us in around the piano. We were each asked to sing a part. I was soprano, my sister, alto, and the boys would be tenor and base. One of the frequent songs was called, “Tavern on the Green.” If you ask, I can still hum the soprano melody today.

I don’t remember how I learned to play piano. There was no money for lessons. Like most things in my life, playing the piano just kind of happened. One day, I looked at the music, and I recognized the notes.

The dirt
A few years ago, my father, who is now 90, decided he would learn to play the piano, too. He began to practice daily and soon he was picking out small melodies. While I was visiting one weekend, I sat and played a little of the open songbook he had been working on. He turned to my mother and said, “Why she’s quite good. I didn’t know she could play piano. How did she learn to play like that?”

In a family of 15, the accomplishments of any one child went largely unnoticed. My younger sister was in 7th grade before anyone noticed she could draw. My oldest brother broke his leg and had to be homeschooled before anyone recognized his high IQ. Under the extra attention from my mother, he blossomed, eventually earning a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Attention is something you longed for but never quite got. In a family our size, you learned early not to expect a lot of fanfare for accomplishments. You had to be your own cheerleader, your own life coach, your own dreamer.

The glitter
I guess you could say being raised in a big family builds character. It certainly built mine. People have labeled me a work-horse, determined and persistent. If I am any of these things, I am grateful. I will need them to succeed in my writing journey.

One thing is for certain, I don’t spend a lot of time looking for or expecting handouts.

And that, dear reader, is the sweet sound of my shovel striking gold.

That time a ghost followed me home from school

imageGhosts and romance are unlikely bedfellows. Ebenezer Scrooge had the ghosts but not the romance. Jane Eyre had the romance but not the ghost. The movie, “Ghost,” had both. Of course, the ghost, played by Patrick Swayze, could no longer kiss and hold his love, Demi Moore. Therein lies the crux of the problem.

Swayze needed an emissary — a middle man so to speak — or in this case a middle woman, so delightfully played by Whoopie Goldberg.

I have thought a lot about the role of mediums since I saw that movie. You might think this odd, since I write paranormal romance and talk about my own experiences with ghosts frequently on this blog, but I often wonder if mediums are authentic. Oh, I know there are people like the Long Island medium who claim to be for real, but are they actually having conversations with dead people during the day when they are awake? It seems unlikely. After all, if that were the case, wouldn’t murders be solved daily because ghosts would be pointing mediums to their killers?

Most of my ghostly experiences have come in dreams, without any act of will or desire on my part. There are the odd exceptions, though.

Ghost in the classroom
I stand in a line facing the chalkboard with six other little girls in our fourth grade class. Our mission? To see a ghost, any ghost, but preferably one that is friendly.

Ghosts have been the subject of conversation during recess. We tell each other scary stories of family or friends that claim to see spirits. We wonder if it might be possible for us to see a ghost, too.

We have pulled the blinds down low. The only light that penetrates the room is from the small crack at the bottom of the line of windows behind us.

I lead the conversation. In our little circle of friends, I am always the one in charge when it comes to the supernatural. At ten, I have an innate instinct for how to speak to the dead. “Is there a ghost in this room? If so, show yourself,” I command in my squeaky, prepubescent voice.

We watch and wait. Nothing. We can hear the sounds of other children on the playground outside the classroom walls. A car passes slowly on the street that runs by the school. The sound of its revved up engine blares through the windows. Still nothing.

“If there is a ghost in this room, show yourself,” I call out again. This time I brilliantly add, “Give us a sign. Tell us who you want to go home with.”

A shadow morphs on the opposite wall near the door. I watch, stunned as it speeds around the classroom, casts a breeze on my cheek, slides to the door opposite, and disappears.

“What was that?” one of the others pipe up.

“A ghost,” we all say, our voices overlapping in our excitement.

“Did anyone feel anything?” I question.

“I think I did,” my best friend, who is standing next to me, admits.

“I did, too,” I acknowledge. “Who do you think it wants to go home with?”

“You,” she unhesitatingly replies.

Later that night, I shiver under the blankets.
From the glow of the hallway light in our century home, I can see what appear to be faces in the Victorian wallpaper. Their unsightly mouths yawn wide, screaming silently. While I watch, the big oak door to my brother’s room opens. My eyes peer into the space beyond, waiting patiently for someone to come out. No one does. Instead, the door slams shut. The hallway light flicks on, off, and on again. Downstairs I hear the sound of muted laughter as my parents and older siblings watch T.V.

“Who is that?” my sister calls from her side of the double bed we share.

“I…don’t know,” I say, some part of me not willing to acknowledge what I have just witnessed.

“Will you sing me a song?” she asks, her voice small and scared.

As the big sister, it is my job to comfort her. I take the role seriously. My voice wobbles, but I manage to crank out Twinkle, Twinkle and then move on to Christmas carols, although it is the middle of the summer. The sound of my voice singing Away In A Manger in the dark room strengthens and calms me. I feel the Lord’s arms around me, telling me gently that it will be okay. Beside me, my sister snores softly. I pull the covers over my head and fall asleep.

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