If you are a person who likes to write things down in order to keep track of your schedule and plan what your next actions will be, you no doubt own a planner. Maybe even more one. A planner keeps you from writing important information on scraps of paper, which are sure to get lost. So, if you don’t yet have a planner, you probably have it on your Christmas shopping list.

But wait! Before you go planner-hunting, let me introduce you to the Horacio Planner, the planner to beat all planners. With the gold-embossed words on the cover, THE BEST IS YET TO COME, the Horacio Planner welcomes you into a world where you can unplug from technology, put your feet up and dream big with God.

Polly and her crew at Horacio printing designed the Horacio Planner as more than a place to log your appointments and to-do lists. It’s a dream planner, a place that helps you take a critical look at where you are spiritually, financially, physically, professionally, and in other areas, and where you would like God to take you. The scripture verses on each page will encourage you and help you become more rooted and grounded in Christ.

Let’s take a closer look:

There are other pages that provide you with a comprehensive guide to help you dream big AND have your dreams fulfilled. This is what I like best about the Horatio Planner 2022. There are calendars for each month with enough space for you to record your daily to-do list or keep track of what you did each day, a blank page at the end of each month as well as another one for your praise report.

The Planner comes in four different colors and designs. The white marble planner is shown above.

Blush leather coil
Black leather dream

Are you convinced yet that the Horacio Planner is just what you need to help you build a God-focused schedule in 2022? I am, and I am thankful to Frontgate for sending me this review copy of the Horacio planner. I highly recommend the planner to anyone who is serious about becoming your best in 2022.

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Why am I posting about National Breast Cancer Awareness Month on a writing blog? The main reason is that October is the month set aside to bring awareness to this prevalent illness and to remember those who are struggling with or have lost the struggle with the disease.

The other reason though is that one of the main characters in my newest release Love, Lies, and Grace has breast cancer and I thought that presenting her struggle in the form of a novel might bring greater awareness and hope to someone who is dealing with the disease. If you or someone close to you has or has had breast cancer, my heart goes out to you.

In no way do I wish to make light of breast cancer. As someone who was diagnosed with kidney cancer a couple years ago and, thank God, is now in remission, I know the shock and fear the word cancer can bring to your mind. Also, after working in the health field for many years, I tend to incorporate some of the knowledge I’ve gained by including health topics in my novels.

In Love, Lies, and Grace, Milli is a young, white woman in her early thirties, separated from her husband and has a young son. Could anything be more devastating to discover that you have cancer and don’t have the support of your husband? Fortunately for Milli, she has the unwavering friendship of two great friends.

When you read Love, Lies, and Grace, you will see some of the symptoms Milli has to deal with, the treatments she has to undergo and her reaction to all these issues, like losing her breast, for example. This is a novel with a happy ending, so I tried to tone down her suffering as much as possible and make things work out well for Milli in the end.

If you have not yet read the book, I encourage you to get a copy during this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, read it and share it with someone you think can benefit from it. With your help, I will be able to donate a generous sum toward breast cancer research this year.

Here are some excerpts from Love, Lies, and Grace :

Milli stepped out of the tub and dried herself carefully, studying her reflection in the mirror. Although she’d lost weight, her left breast seemed bigger than the right. Disgusted, she turned away from the sight.

She would have a blood test first thing tomorrow then she would meet with her doctor to discuss the results of her biopsy and her treatment options. Cancer treatment. Was she ready?

On the way home, Milli tried to analyze her feelings. Was it relief now that she was finally facing her illness, or was it comfort from knowing she had people around her who cared? She wasn’t surprised at the answer that came out of her mouth when Miss Grace asked, “How do you feel, dear?”

“Relieved.”

Miss Grace squeezed her hand. “I’m glad.”

“A lot of it has to do with you being there helping me ask the right questions.”

The woman nodded. “Do you feel scared at all?”

Milli thought for a moment. “Maybe a little. I think it’s only normal, don’t you?”

“Of course. I would be scared.”

“But after hearing that the cancer is not the very fast-growing one and that many people are surviving breast cancer, I feel encouraged.”

“That’s good. When are you going back to work?”

“Tomorrow. I’ll work until … if I have to have surgery. My boss is very understanding.”

“Joe’s a great guy.” She braked at the light then continued, “If you can find the time, you should join a support group.”

“I thought that was for after the surgery.”

“They work just as well before too. I can give you the number for one I know of. I heard good things about them.”

“I’ll do anything you recommend.”

For more about Milli and her friends, get your copy of Love, Lies, and Grace here.

If you enjoyed this post and want to read more like it, please sign up in the box below.

 

Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama,

Published: September 2021

Publisher: Black Rose Writing



Crippling unemployment and a life-threatening illness push Eddy and Gayle toward life’s dark edge where they hope a Statue of Jesus, the IRS, some magical thinking, and family ties will save the day.

Eddy, a supervisor for a cable company, loses his job. Gayle, a tax accountant, is recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Unemployment, failed chemotherapy, and no insurance bring them to life’s precipice. Desperate, Eddy turns to a statue of Jesus, seeking a miracle, while Gayle dives deeper into a scheme she has been concocting for twenty-five years. The ‘statue’ responds, but in an unexpected and nearly catastrophic way.

In the meantime, their adult offspring, Rich and Sandy, grapple with the aftershock of a tragic incident that has shadowed their lives since high school. What will happen when their secret is revealed? At the eleventh hour, Gayle re-enters treatment. Will it be too late?

This is a story of resilience in the face of uncertainty, hope in the midst of darkness, and family ties strengthened by life’s vicissitudes.


Praise For Broken Pieces of God

“A sensitive and moving tale of family tragedy and renewal.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A truly lovely book, gentle and humorous, about a couple having to deal with the hard stuff life can throw at you and finding a way through.” –Reedsy Discovery



Excerpt
Chapter 1


The first week off was fine. He fairly flew out of bed each morning, as if he were on vacation, eager to get at the day. He’d brew coffee, read the paper, check the weather forecast, shovel the snow, warm the cars, do the grocery shopping. But after ten days, his once scintillating routine had become drab and lifeless, mirroring his mood.

By then Eddy Kimes was struggling each morning to find an adequate reason to leave the shelter of his cocoon-ish bed. How deliciously soft the mattress was, how sauna-like the comforter. Was it possible that the sheets were lined with an invisible adhesive? So difficult it had become to throw them off, to sit on the edge of the bed and then stand on what felt like a ledge, to face a new day. Now Gayle was the first one up each morning, something that had never happened before. With all that was going on, bed was the last place she wanted to be.

Eddy’s normal routine was to rise at 5:30am to be at work by 7:00am even though he didn’t need to be there until nine. It was the best way to stay on top of things, to make sure his crew was ready to go. You could never tell what might happen and when. An outage somewhere. A storm coming. Pole down from a drunk driver. Always something.

Eddy sat on his bed for several minutes watching the curtains wave in the breeze. Spring was struggling to arrive; the air was still so cold it could have been the dead of winter. Eddy got up, made the bed, showered and finally started to wake up. The house was quiet. He wondered how, or if, Gayle had slept.

He looked in the mirror at his morning shadow and decided he didn’t need to shave today. By dinner he’d look like a fading boxer—pug nose, square teeth, puffy eyes and a dark veil across his jaw. He’d like to grow a beard but Gayle thought it would make him look pudgier. Not pudgy, but pudgier. He leaned closer. He had extra face on every side.

Eddy got dressed, a pair of fire hose work pants, a black T and a flannel shirt.

He had forgotten that Gayle had early appointments. He didn’t like having strangers in the house when he was still waking up, but like she said, “Tax season is tax season; we need every penny.” Truer now than before. Gayle was a hard worker. And a good wife.

Coffee was brewed. He stood in the kitchen admiring March. There was snow in the far corner of the back yard where sunlight couldn’t reach. The garden was thawing. No buds on the trees, but there were daffodils and tulips showing. A wedge of geese overhead, a reticulated woodpecker working the oak, some wrens at the feeder. The sky was blue. Nevertheless, they could easily get ten inches of snow that night. March in western New York.

The door to Gayle’s office was closed. Eddy could hear murmurs inside so he knocked and stuck his head in. Jesse Gordon sat across the table from Gayle.

“Hey, Eddy, how’s it going?” Jesse owned a string of gas stations.

“Good. You?”

“I’ll know in about an hour.” He smiled broadly. “I don’t know what I’d do without Gayle here. And I’m not alone.” He winked.

“C’mon now.” Gayle was hunched over her computer, a legal pad beside her, tax forms stacked all around.

Jesse turned sideways in his chair. “Any final news on Universal and Scope?”

“Nothing,” said Eddy.

“What a mess?”

“How’s the gas business?”

“Prices are holding. Never can tell, though.”

Gayle looked up from her work. Her face was sallow. She smiled.

“Morning, honey. How’s it going?”

Her back now to Jesse, her smile turned into a grimace. “Fine.”

“Can I get you something? Tea, maybe?”

She stuck out her tongue. “No thanks.”

“How about—”

“Nothing, really.” Their eyes locked for a moment.

“Okay. I’m going for a walk. I’ve got my phone if you need anything. From the store or whatever.”

Jesse shifted in his seat, eager to get back to his refunds.

Eddy stood on the front porch for several minutes. White clouds with smoky bottoms had arrived from the west. He breathed deep as a bellows. As the sun emerged from behind a cloud, he could feel a hint of warmth on his face. He unzipped his jacket. Another deep breath and he headed down the sidewalk.

Caroline Kerrigan was digging near her front porch. She wore baggy sweats and a hoody. And gardening knee pads. Her gray hair was tied in a red checked kerchief.

“Getting started already,” said Eddy.

She got up on her hands and knees and then sat back on her heels. “You’re still alive, I see. I don’t think I’ve seen you since December.”

“Decided to come out.”

She got up and met him at the fence.

“We’re like groundhogs, aren’t we?”

“How was winter?”

“The kids came home for the holidays. Then they went back. We’ve been waiting for spring ever since.”

“Yep.”

“And you? How are you doing?” She leaned on the fence post. “How’s Gayle?”

“Busy with taxes.”

“Nothing stops that girl.” Caroline leaned across the fence. “I think that’s good.”

Caroline’s face had a pliable quality. Her smile could spread ear to ear, eyebrows up to her hairline. Or it could get small and closed down, eyes narrow and lips curled at the corners, held in place by her ample cheeks. That was the face she used now as she spoke; a face that was trying to say more than her words could tell. “It can be hard.”

“This is true. See you.”

“Okay. My best to your better half.”

When Eddy was growing up, the Park Pharmacy was on the corner across from the village square. A few years ago, it was replaced with a Walgreen’s so big that locals called it the battleship. Eddy wondered why they needed a drug store that sold groceries. The only smart thing they did in this transition was to keep Sam Cunningham as the pharmacist.

Sam was a classmate of Eddy’s in high school. He was a star basketball player. Eddy wasn’t. He had good grades. Eddy didn’t. He went away to school. Eddy stayed home. Eddy was his best man when he married Marianne. And he held Sam’s hand for months after Marianne died.

When you opened the door at Walgreen’s, a tone sounded and someone would say, “Hi, how are you? Can I help you?”

Today, though, Nellie was behind the counter. She turned on her mic. “Oh no, is that Eddy Kimes; quick, tie everything down.”

Eddy grinned and asked Nellie how she was doing.

That son of mine is going to be the death of me. That’s how I’m doing.” She went on from there. It had taken many visits over an extended period of time before Eddy understood that Nellie didn’t want any response, especially any suggestions; she mainly wanted an ear. He stood and nodded.

Is the boss in?”

Where else would he be?” She pointed toward the pharmacy.

Eddy passed row upon row of painkillers, sleep aids, nausea medicine, stool softeners and antacids before he found the condoms. He emptied five boxes into his jacket. He dinged the bell repeatedly when he reached the pharmacy counter.

Sam’s white lab coat was pristine. He had four pens in his pocket protector. He took off his glasses, pulled a wipe from a nearby dispenser and rubbed his lenses with care. He held them up to the light and was dissatisfied, so he huffed on them and wiped again, this time with a tissue.

And what can I do for you today? I can see you are experiencing great discomfort. If I were to guess, I’d say it was hemorrhoids. Wait, no, that’s not it. Incontinence, right? I can see it in your eyes.”

Wow, and you didn’t even go to medical school.”

Sam pointed at Eddy’s jacket. “What’s going on there?”

Eddy unzipped his jacket, leaned over and the condoms filled the counter like so many shrink-wrapped checkers.

An aspirational purchase. Always important to dream.”

Eddy bowed slightly at the waist.

You are becoming a degenerate old fool,” said Sam.

What do you mean, old?”

Another customer approached. Sam picked through the alphabetized prescription bins.

There you go, Mrs. Hollings. Do you have any questions today?”

Mrs. Hollings shifted her cane from one hand to the other so she could manage the card reader better. She was breathing hard and found it difficult to speak. “No.”

Okay. Just click there… That’s it… Now swipe. Let’s try it again… The other way. No, the other other way… Okay, there you go. Just check the upper box. Now all you have to do is sign and you’re free to go.”

Thank God.” Mrs. Hollings’s face was stern. She held up a crooked finger. “Didn’t used to have to do all this. I don’t like it.”

No one does. That’s the beauty part.” Sam folded the top of the bag and handed it to Mrs. Hollings. “There you go. See you next week, Nancy. Take care.”

Mrs. Hollings inched away from the counter, her back arched.

That’s going to be us, Eddy.”

Come on.”

No, really.” They both watched as Mrs. Hollings reached the front door, Nellie helping her out. “You sooner than me, but still.” Sam swept the condoms into a box and put them under the counter.

The phone rang. Someone had questions about statins. Eddy was impressed with how much Sam knew about medicine. He should have been a doctor. But Sam told him it wasn’t the life he wanted. Being on call all the time. Never turning off the light and calling it a day. Eddy didn’t believe him.

Sam hung up and leaned on the counter. “So, have you heard anything yet?”

Heard anything?”

Yeah.”

About what?”

“Come on.”

Nothing really.”

Going to call them?”

“They’ll call us, I’m sure.”

Sam shook his head and looked at the register.

What?”

Don’t wait too long.”

Eddy nodded at the bins behind Sam. “I think you’ve got something back there for Gayle.”

Sam retrieved a bag. “This should help some with the pain. At least for now.”

“That’s what we want.”

Yeah. Pain is, well, pain.”

Sam’s face got puffy and old right before Eddy’s eyes, like he remembered everything in his life all at once and it wore him out.

Look, Sam, thanks for—”

It’s nothing. Now go on before Gayley thinks you’re lost.”

Sam and Gayle had dated all through high school. They were lab partners in ninth grade biology. She was head of Debate Club. He was president of Key Club. They went to every dance and every sporting event together. If one was seen alone, someone always asked where the other one was. Sam and Eddy hung together on the weekends and some week nights, but Gayle always came first. Eddy and Gayle were friends by association.

Sam and Gayle double-dated to the prom with Eddy and Maggie Dunaway. Sam drove his uncle’s white Caddy. The school had a tradition of couples switching partners for one dance, so Eddy danced with Gayle. He didn’t think anything of it until she was pressed against his chest. Being face-to-face, her eyes so pale, so blue, was overwhelming. When she talked, her voice gently vibrating, she seemed so comfortable. Eddy’s heart skipped beat after beat, though Gayle seemed not to notice. They clapped at the end and thanked each other. She smiled and pressed his arm with her left hand.

Sam left for college in early August. Gayle enrolled in community college near home and Eddy got a job with the cable company. Sam asked Eddy to check on his girl from time to time, which Eddy did, reluctantly at first. He’d call her on the phone or stop by if he saw her on the porch. Once they got together for lunch. Then they started seeing each other regularly.

When Sam came home at Christmas, they told him. He’d wondered why her letters had gotten shorter and shorter and less frequent. “You can punch me out if you want,” Eddy had said. Sam laughed but stayed away until he went back to school in January. When Sam came home in the spring, he had a new girlfriend. He acted like nothing had ever happened. They never spoke of it again.

From time to time, though, he would still call Gayle “Gayley,” his high school pet name for her.

Will do,” said Eddy. He turned to leave, then stopped. “How’s Jamie?”

A frown crossed Sam’s face. “Jamie is Jamie, you know.”

Has he come back from respite care yet?”

Pick him up tomorrow.”

How did he do this time?”

Pretty good, I guess. Less upset. At least that’s what they said.”

It’s hard. But sometimes you have to take a break.”

Yeah, well…” He pursed his lips and raised his eyebrows.

Both men shook their heads and looked at the floor. “If you need anything, Sam…”

Eddy stood at the corner of Park and Main. Grand elms, oaks and horse chestnuts filled the town square, their limbs still bare, some showing green tips. These trees, some over two hundred years old, were a source of pride for the town. Some had metal rods between their heavier, longer branches, and a few were rotting, but their resilience made everyone feel rooted, feel good.

The square had crisscrossing sidewalks that met in the middle at a white gazebo that was trimmed in navy; it had a vaulted roof and a flag on top that was so big you could hear it flapping from almost everywhere on the square. There were swings and slides and sandboxes in the southeast corner. A flower garden. A fountain that soon would be operational sat in the northwest corner. There were benches and picnic tables, all anchored in cement since several had been stolen a few years back. Great mounds of icy, blackened snow were piled in every corner, the only place the DPW could think to put it in the depths of winter. While most of the grass was brown, there were hopeful patches of green here and there.

Clevon Gaddis sat on a bench near the gazebo.

How about this,” said Eddy as he looked up at the trees. “Gives you a good feeling when you can sit on the square again.”

I suppose it does.”

Eddy sat down and both men were quiet for a few moments. Clevon took off his gloves and laid them on the bench. His hands were chunky and raw, work hands.

So,” he said.

Yeah, I know.”

What do you know?”

I’m afraid not much more than you know. I am way outside the loop at this point.”

Damn.” Clevon shook his head hard. “Not fair, not fair at all, plain and simple.”

Well—”

What’s going to happen to us?”

Well, no one’s closed the doors. Nothing like that. I’ve seen a lot of owners come and go. They all had ‘new ideas’,” he air-quoted. “And then they’d settle down or they’d sell out and we’d start over again. But the work still had to be done by someone. Cable doesn’t lay itself. And that means they need people, people like you and me.”

Clevon had been with Universal for seven years, which made him a newcomer. Eddy had been with the company when they were Minute Cable, Total Cable, Cable Quest, Cable 4U, Everlasting Cable, then Unlimited Cable and, nine years ago, Universal Cable. Every time there were changes, wages dropped, layoffs followed, some jobs were lost, then most people were hired back and, in the end, they went on.

I still don’t like it.” Clevon’s hands were fidgety and he looked back and forth like he was waiting for a train that was never going to come. “How many weeks you been off?”

Eight.”

Eight. I’m ten. Driving me a little crazy. I don’t want to sit; I want to work. That’s what I do.”

Any hobbies?”

“You’re looking at it.”

Well, I’m sure—”

Of what? Did you hear about overtime?”

Eddy had heard rumors that he tried to ignore.

I’ve heard a lot of stuff. Nothing certain.”

Well, this is certain. Ralph was at the meeting this morning and Danvers himself told everyone that unlimited overtime was a thing of the past. Do you believe that?”

Eddy unfolded his arms. “He said what?”

“What I said—no unlimited overtime. Period. End of sentence.”

Now it was Eddy’s hands that were fidgeting. The family room—overtime had helped buy that. The boat—overtime again. College for Rich and Sandy—if it weren’t for overtime, they’d be working at Walmart, or worse, Universal.

Are you sure about this? I mean, are you sure Danvers didn’t say they were thinking about this or were just threatening to do it—”

None of that. Done deal.” Clevon was breathing hard.

Eddy rubbed his palms on his pant legs and leaned forward, his elbows on his knees.

Look, Eddy, I know you been a company man for a long time; and the company’s done good by you. You’re a supervisor and all that. But times have changed. That don’t matter anymore. Then was then. Now is now.”

Clevon opened his mouth but closed it again. He patted Eddy on the back and stood. They shook hands. Then Clevon crossed the street and got into his gray Saturn.

Eddy didn’t think he needed to tell Gayle any of this, at least not now. When you’ve been married as long as they’d been married, you learn when to say things and when to wait. Everyone says ‘being honest’ and ‘always telling the truth’ are what make for a good marriage. Eddy agreed. Up to a point. When it came to being honest, timing was everything. It’s not what you say, but when you say it and how you say it. Or, whether you ever say it at all.

It takes a long time to figure this out, especially with someone you love. When Eddy was laid off the first time, Gayle was pregnant with Richie. It was a hard pregnancy. She was very sick. Eddy got up every morning and ‘went to work’ even though he didn’t have a job, just to keep things normal. It was about three months before new owners settled in and he got his job back. In the end, he never told her. What did it matter? Sometimes you have to keep things to yourself; otherwise, everything might crash into a million pieces on the floor. Then what? Life only seems imperishable.

The park was getting busy. A half dozen squirrels on the run, moms and dads pushing strollers, kids on swings. Cardinals trilling and somewhere a woodpecker was pounding. When winter came, Eddy loved the silence. But he loved the sound of spring even more.

The chimes at the First Presbyterian Church marked the hour. Eddy stopped for a moment to watch city workers clean the fountain and then he headed for the church. A few tiles were missing from its slender spire. There were modest double doors at the entrance. There were stained glass windows on either side of the front door and three larger ones on both sides of the building. Above the entrance was a rose window depicting creation, modeled after the one at the National Cathedral. The sanctuary was lined with oak pews. Wood beams anchored the vaulted ceiling. On the altar there were a small lectern and a larger raised one where the preacher preached. The choir loft was behind the altar and above the loft was a gold cross, probably nine feet tall. At least that’s how Eddy remembered it from when he and Gayle had gotten married.

Eddy headed round back to the meditation garden. It was sequestered behind dense holly bushes surrounding a twelve-foot-tall statue of Jesus. The bronze plaque said—Jesus the Consoler.

In the ‘50s, when the church was going great guns, a rich congregant died and left money for the church, stipulating that it had to be used for an “external adornment of a religious nature.” Church folk say that the marble was quarried in Greece and sculpted in Italy. It arrived on a massive flatbed. Schools closed early so children could watch the fifty-foot crane hoist the gleaming white Jesus into place.

Some whispered that area Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans and Catholics smiled through thinly veiled covetousness when Rev. Cecil Upchurch discovered an imperfection—a chip the size of a man’s thumb near Jesus’s collarbone.

Stunned and embarrassed, church elders wanted to sue. But Rev. Upchurch saved the day. Kind of. He said the “notch,” as it became known, was a sign of Jesus’s identification with human imperfection and a reminder that Christ alone was perfect. Most members accepted this, though several members left for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where money matters were handled more deftly.

This opened the door for every arm chair theologian in town to take shots at The Consoler. The biggest complaint was that Jesus’s nose was too large; that it wasn’t “Anglo-Saxon” enough; that it looked, well, “Jewy.” Upchurch explained that Jesus was middle-eastern. And a Jew. Many congregants were aghast. Behind closed doors, some members suggested that it might be time for Rev. Upchurch to consider a new calling. Some even referred to him as “Rev. Upchuck.” Others left to join the Chapel of the End Times out on Town Line Rd.

Finding no one in the garden, Eddy sat on the cool marble bench. He looked up at Jesus’s face, which was tilted down as if looking back at him. “Howdy.” Jesus looked a little sixties-ish, his hair long and his beard thick. There was a faint smile on his lips. His arms were outstretched, billowy sleeves hanging loose, palms up, fingers open and curled slightly. His feet were bare. The years and the winters had replaced his gleam with elephant gray grit.

Eddy came to the garden for the first time when he started getting bad news. He was out for a walk and passed the church. The bushes rustled in the wind and he looked up, noticing Jesus’s face peering over the holly. At first, it seemed funny to Eddy. Notre Dame may have their Touchdown Jesus, but we have Jesus the Voyeur. He kept walking, but on the way back, he went through the opening in the bushes and sat down on the bench. There was nothing out of the ordinary about his visit, except that he enjoyed the aloneness of it. He went back from time to time after that.

When he first told Gayle, she stopped folding the laundry. Her expression said, ‘I don’t know who you are at all’. Not that she was anti-religion. It was more that they had never been church people. Neither of their families had been regular either. They went on holidays, but even then, it didn’t matter which church they went to, just so it wasn’t too far away. Eddy felt uncomfortable under Gayle’s gaze. He tried to explain. “I, it’s, I don’t know what it is…it’s just…”

Gayle seemed to accept his reasoning. “Do you pray or something?”

I don’t know.”

Okay.”

He kept going. Touching the statue’s feet or the robe made him feel different. He couldn’t say why, except that he felt far away and nearby all at the same time. Other times, it felt worrisome to sit there staring at a giant slab of marble made to look like a famous man from old.

Hey, Eddy.” Peter Goff had been the minister for fifteen years. He was tall, slender, a little bent over, perhaps from the burdens of his calling; sinewy; a shock of white hair that made him look like an Old Testament prophet. Gray eyes. Peter was nearing his seventies. He wore black trousers, black shoes, and a long-sleeved white shirt buttoned to the neck.

Mind if I join you?”

Rev. Goff often arrived shortly after Eddy sat down, his office window within sight on the second floor of the education wing.

We could use a coffee machine out here.” His eyes closed and his cheeks swelled when he smiled.

You’re the boss, aren’t you?”

Peter eyed the statue. “Actually, he’s the boss. From what I’ve read, he’d probably favor a wine rack to a coffee maker.”

There was always patter at the beginning, usually about the weather or the need for repairs on the roof, sometimes sports. This was followed by quiet, adjustments to sitting on the stone bench, and then one of them would speak, if only to break the thunderous silence.

You know, I’ve been studying that face for a long time. I think I’ve figured it out.”

Rev. Goff liked to say things that invited a question. “What’s that?”

He pointed up. “Who he looks like.”

Oh.”

I’ve only seen the painting in person once.”

Painting?”

The Mona Lisa.”

Eddy shook his head.

I think his smile is Mona Lisa’s smile.” He waited for Eddy to respond, but he didn’t. “You know, some researchers did a study of her smile. They had people rate whether she was happy or sad or what. And ninety-seven percent said she was happy.” He rubbed his stubbled chin. “As far as I’m concerned, I don’t know if it’s that clear cut. Maybe all those people just wanted her to look happy.” Eddy stole a glance at his watch. “The smile, if you want to call it that, seems more ambiguous, more mysterious to me.”

There was eagerness on Peter’s face. Eddy often didn’t understand what Rev. Goff was talking about, but he liked him anyway. He liked that even though he was a minster, Rev. Goff insisted on being called Peter; he liked how curious he was about everything, like a child. And even though he usually came to the garden to be alone, he appreciated Rev. Goff showing up from time to time.

I just think it’s a nice statue.”

The holly rustled and darker clouds began to assemble.

So, Eddy, how are you doing?”

I’m doing.”

I’m sure you are.” Peter folded his hands in his lap and looked sideways at Eddy.

You have a lot going on.”

Yes.”

Must be hard at times. Carrying so much.”

Well—”

You’ve been coming here pretty often of late.” He pointed to his office window. “I have an even better view of you than Jesus here.”

That you do.”

Peter shifted and crossed his legs. He licked his lips and took a few breaths before he spoke again.

You know, Eddy, this statue is called Jesus the Consoler for a reason. Everybody needs consolation, comfort, at one time or another.”

Peter, his face aglow, looked up at the Consoler.

Sometimes you need to lift up your burdens. You know, turn them over to a higher power.”

This was the first time that Peter had ever gone religious on Eddy. Eddy understood, though, that Peter didn’t show up so often just for sports talk and the weather. He knew Peter would love to bring him into the fold, to have him sit inside instead of out. Eddy wanted to say something, but he couldn’t find words for the confusion inside.

Well, I should go,” said Rev. Goff. “Do you mind if I pray?”

He took Eddy’s hands in his and bowed his head. His forehead was furrowed and his eyes fluttered, but he didn’t say a thing for a minute or more, just “Amen.”

Eddy stayed a few minutes longer after Rev. Goff had left. The brisk air made him stand. He looked at the stone face of Jesus towering over him. He started to walk away but stopped and turned back. Something was different. He stood on tiptoes to get a closer look. Then he turned away, blinked hard and looked at the face again. He did this several times.

It was the mouth. Something was different about the mouth. He stood back a few feet and squinted. He was sure that if a bunch of researchers asked a thousand people about this smile right now, ninety-seven percent would see sadness. He closed his eyes again and then took another look. Or was it puzzlement?


About the Author

Broken Pieces of God is David B. Seaburn’s eighth novel. He was a Finalist for the National Indie Excellence Award in General Fiction (2011), placed second in the TAZ Awards for Fiction (2017), was short listed for the Somerset Award (2018), was an American Book Fest Finalist for “Best Book” in General Fiction (2019), and a Semi-Finalist in Literary, Contemporary and Satire Fiction for the Somerset Award (2019). Seaburn lives with his wife near Rochester, NY. They have two married daughters and four wonderful grandchildren.


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September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month, and I thought it a good time to repost this article I wrote some time ago in case you missed it (ICYMI). Why am I posting about suicide on my writing blog? Because In the Wilderness, the second book in my Egypt series, deals with suicide and it’s now going at a discounted rate.

Life is beautiful. Those are the words on a pretty little plaque that hangs in my guest bathroom. It features a very cheery design with bright, colorful circles and a few glittering pom poms. Whenever I look at it, I get the feeling that life is indeed beautiful.

But is it always?

This week the world was saddened and shocked by the suicide deaths of Kate Spade, handbag designer, and Anthony Bourdain, food writer and TV celebrity, famous for his weekly documentary “Parts Unknown.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates have risen nearly 30% since 1999. This is shocking to say the least. What is the reason for this? When we look at Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain and other celebrities, their lives seem to be beautiful, but “you don’t know if the roof is leaking until you get inside,” Anthony Bourdain.

You may be wondering why I’m writing about suicide on this blog. The reason is that the second book in my Egypt series, In the Wilderness, deals with this very topic. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, here it is in a nutshell:

Marva, the protagonist, is tortured by guilt after having killed her father as a result of sexual abuse. Certain that the police will one day arrest her for the murder, she sees suicide as her only option. But before she can carry out her carefully-laid plans, something terrible happens – something that uncovers her closely guarded secret and leaves her groping in the wilderness.

Here we see one of the factors that can contribute to depression and suicidal thoughts – guilt – but experts tell us that there’s usually a combination of factors that push someone over the edge. As someone who has worked in behavioral health, counseling suicidal patients, I have some idea of the burden these people carry. That is why I wrote this book – to give hope to people who are hopeless and understanding to those who love them and suffer along with them.

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The Black Origins of Mysticism and Psychology

Psychology

Date Published: September 14, 2021

Publisher: Inner Traditions; 3rd Edition, Revised Edition of The African Unconscious



Reveals how spirituality and the collective unconscious of all of humanity originated in Africa

Examines the Oldawan, the Ancient Soul of Africa, and its correlation with what modern psychologists have defined as the collective unconscious

Draws on archaeology, DNA research, history, and depth psychology to reveal how the biological and spiritual roots of religion and science came out of Africa

Explores the reflections of our African unconscious in the present confrontation in the Americas, in the work of the Founding Fathers, and in modern psychospirituality

The fossil record confirms that humanity originated in Africa. Yet somehow we have overlooked that Africa is also at the root of all that makes us human–our spirituality, civilization, arts, sciences, philosophy, and our conscious and unconscious minds.

In this African-revisioned look at the unfolding of human history and culture, Edward Bruce Bynum reveals how our collective unconscious is African. Drawing on archaeology, DNA research, history, depth psychology, and the biological and spiritual roots of religion and science, he demonstrates how all modern human beings, regardless of ethnic or racial categorizations, share a common deeper identity, both psychically and genetically, connected with a primordial African unconscious.

Exploring the beginning of early religions, spirituality, and mysticism in Africa, along with philosophy, art, and science, the author looks at the Egyptian Nubian role in the rise of civilization and the emergence of Kemetic Egypt, revealing how and why ancient Egypt was separated from the rest of Africa in the Western mind–despite it being the most sophisticated expression of the Mother Continent. He examines the Oldawan, the Ancient Soul, and its correlation with what modern psychologists have defined as the collective unconscious. Revealing the spiritual and psychological ramifications of our shared African ancestry, the author examines its reflections in the present confrontation in the Americas, in the work of the Founding Fathers, and in modern Black spirituality, which arose from African diaspora religion and philosophy.

By recognizing our shared African unconscious, the matrix that forms the deepest luminous core of human identity, we can learn to see and feel that the differences between one person and another are merely superficial and ultimately there is no real separation between the material and the spiritual


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The United States Supreme Court’s ruling on the Texas ban on abortion by women who are more than six weeks pregnant continues to draw strong reactions from many sectors of our society. The reason I’m writing this post is to show the relevance of what happened to my protagonist in the first novel of my series Coming Out of Egypt to what is taking place in the news today.

So, ICYMI, here’s an excerpt of that blog post I wrote :

In my debut novel Coming Out of Egypt, the protagonist Marva and her sister June Garcia were both sexually abused by their father. Marva became pregnant and her father instructed her mother to perform an abortion on her. In a scene following her birthday party, Marva recounts to June what happened:

“I had to have an abortion because of Daddy. He made Mama do it to me. The pain was so bad he gave me a shot of gin to dull the pain. And it helped. That was my first drink. After that, I dropped out of school. I knew the teachers were talking about me. It was horrible. I don’t want the same thing happening to you. I don’t want anything to stop you from finishing your education and making something of yourself.”

In another scene where she is being questioned by a police officer:

“Marva, years ago you had an abortion, didn’t you?”

She sprang up from her chair. “Who told you about that?” She turned her back and folded her arms in a show of defiance. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Then it’s true. You did have an abortion.”

Seconds passed before she replied, “Yes, I had an abortion, and I don’t want to talk about it.” She paused. “I never had so much pain in my life.”

As you read the book, you will see that this traumatic event left a long and lasting effect on Marva, as I believe it does on a lot of women. Years ago in college, I chose abortion as the topic for my persuasive speech in Speech class. After a lot of research, I discovered that many women who have abortions either do so for economic reasons or they are pressured by their boyfriends or even their husbands.

From my biology class, I learned that life does begin at conception; that by the time a woman realizes she is pregnant, the fetus (or blob of blood as some like to call it) already has a heartbeat. All this information solidified my Christian belief that women should not have abortions. I guess my speech was so convincing I received the highest grade in all the speech classes in my year.

So what I’m going to say next may shock you. I don’t think a woman should have an abortion unless her life is at risk, however, I also believe she does have the right to choose whether she wishes to keep her baby or not. If she could look herself in the mirror and decide she wants to have an abortion, that’s between her and God. She and she alone will have to answer to Him when the time comes.

I know I’ll receive a lot of flak for this but I believe there’s a lot more to being a Christian than just being against abortion. There’s no big sin and little sin where God is concerned. I believe women should not have to suffer the way Marva and countless other women suffered long ago— when abortion was illegal — and some still do today. ‘Nuff said.

To learn more about Marva and June, go to my author page where you will see the other books in the Egypt series. The first book Coming Out of Egypt is just 99c. and if you are in Kindle Unlimited, you can read the other two books for free. Also, for Labor Day and until the end of this month, the other two books in the series, In the Wilderness and In the Promised Land are both discounted by a dollar each. Enjoy!

 


  Books 1, Cavendish Family Chronicles

Historical Romance (steamy)

Date Published: August 26, 2021



A penniless widow. A baron running from love. Will a marriage of convenience save them or tear them apart?

Widow Sarah Pennington has no time for love. Sending a son to Harrow is not cheap, and her husband’s lies left them in poverty. When she loses her position at the bookshop, she knows marriage isn’t the answer. Only her own hard work will save the day.

It seems Baron Eaden can’t love a woman without her dying. To keep his daughters, and his heart, safe, he roams the world, keeping his distance. But when his hunt for a rare book brings him back to London, he knows he must do the one thing he’s avoided for years—find them a mother. He needs a woman who’s up to the challenge, not one to fall in love with. Because he’s vowed never to make that mistake again.

The determined, lovely-eyed widow in the bookshop challenges Henry in every way. She’s exactly who his daughters need. But she’d rather have the book he’s after than his hand in marriage.

A marriage of convenience could save Sarah and her son, but when she finds passion in the baron’s arms, she realizes security isn’t enough. She wants Henry’s heart. If he can find the courage to trust her with it.


Excerpt

Sarah stopped their progress and pulled away from him. Twisting her hands in front of her, she watched her son walk farther ahead then drew in a breath, and seemed to conquer whatever ailed her. Henry enjoyed watching the process of her gathering fortitude for whatever it was she was about to say.

Did you truly come back to issue a third proposal of marriage?”

You know I have.”

She smirked. “Third time’s the charm?”

No. That suggests luck. Luck doesn’t obtain much of anything important. I’ve come prepared this time.” He resisted looking toward James. He kept his eyes pinned on hers. “The first time I proposed I did so on a moment’s whim. The second time, I’d determined that my whim was logical and correct, but I was not in the best of states to make a persuasive argument.”

She eyed him from boots to hat. “And you are in a better state now?” she asked.

While James had been fitted for new clothes, Henry had returned to Steven’s for a bath and a shave. He knew he didn’t make a shabby picture.

I believe I am prepared.” Henry stepped closer and untwisted Mrs. Pennington’s hands. Folding them in his own, he said, “Mrs. Pennington, we just met yesterday, but I believe we have much to offer one another. I’ll not repeat those arguments I made yesterday. You know them as well as I. Instead, I’ll say what I did not and should have.”

He’d not said words like he was about to say to any woman in over five years, and he’d never said them to anyone on so short an acquaintance. But they must be said. They were true, he found, despite it all. He reached a hand to her temple where a curl had escaped her simple chignon.

I think you’re exquisite,” he said. “I think you’re smart. I think you’re brave. I think there’s no woman in England I’d rather marry half as much as you.”

She blinked several times. Her mouth parted slightly. Her chest rose and fell faster than it had moments before.

I have one more argument, and it may be my most persuasive yet.”

Oh?”

He snaked his arm around her waist and pulled her against his chest. He dipped his head until their noses touched. “Always put your best argument last.” His lips brushed hers before sinking in to drink long and full. The kiss was to him like water to the desert-lost soul. Her soft curves pushed against his chest, her long, strong back beneath his fingertips, all overwhelmed his senses.

When her hands flattened against his chest, flexed, then roamed upward to wind around his neck, he moaned, then parted her lips with his tongue to drink of her more deeply.

She let him make a spectacle of them both in the street until he was convinced, completely and utterly, of her answer. He grinned in their kiss, pulling away to view her flushed face.

Well?” he asked. “Are you persuaded?” He needed to hear her say it. Yes.

Her hands still curled around his neck, and she stood on tiptoe, leaning against him. Her body resting against his for balance, for stability, felt like perfection. Better than the hot Egyptian sun. Better than a soft bed or warm bath. Better than being back at Cavendish Manor.

She smiled, bit her lip. He knew what her smile meant. It meant victory.


About The Author

Charlie Lane traded in academic databases and scholarly journals for writing steamy Regency romcoms like the ones she’s always loved to read. Her favorite authors are Jane Austen (who else?), Toni Morrison, William Blake, Julia Quinn, Tessa Dare, and Amanda Quick, and when she’s not writing humorous conversations, dramatic confrontations, or sexy times, she’s flying high in the air as a circus-obsessed acrobat.


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If I were to answer this question, I know immediately what I would say, “It holds my interest.” If I were to delve a little further to determine why it holds my interest, I think the answer I may come up with is the character/characters. It’s like remembering your favorite movie. What made you like it, tell others about it, want to see it again? The character/s captivated you.

Character – And so it is with any book I read. I want a protagonist who is relatable, interesting, and likeable. This does not mean you will like everything your character does, however, you may find the character’s actions justifiable. Which brings me to another point.

Motive – A character’s motive in the story should be tied in with either her intrinsic (internal) or extrinsic (external) needs. For example in my first novel Coming Out of Egypt, Marva the protagonist kills her father just before the story begins. What could be her motive for carrying out such a heinous act? Readers later discover that the killing was accidental and occurred during the process of Marva trying to rescue June her younger sister from their father’s abuse (external). Her internal needs were always to escape his abuse and forge a new life for herself and June. This brings me to the next important element:

Plot – This action on Marva’s part sets the plot into motion. Everything that follows is as a result of that first spur-of-the-moment decision. By this time the reader is either rooting for Marva, turning the pages to see what happens next, or she has tossed the book aside, thinking it a waste of time. I am happy to report that Coming Out of Egypt has not had one negative review. Everyone has had only positive things to say about her and about the book in general.

Marva is the star of the show. The other characters follow her lead, either to support her or to attempt to throw her into prison. Like Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice), Katniss (The Hunger Games), and Jane Eyre, Marva captures the image of a young woman willing to take risks and stand up for what she believes in.

If you have not yet read Coming Out of Egypt, you should do so now, while the price is just .99c. And while you are at it, why not get the other two books in the series, In the Wilderness and In the Promised Land.

Interesting title, isn’t it? I’m sure it will hook you the way it did me, but this book by Penn and Kim Holderness will hook you even more. It asks the same questions many of us ask ourselves: Is our marriage in trouble if we fight all the time? Is it possible to learn how to fight?

In Everybody Fights, couples will learn how to:

  • conjure the magic of metacommunication
  • break free of secret contracts
  • banish the three Ds—distraction, denial, and delay
  • carry their own individual baggage while helping each other deal with theirs

Everybody Fights is not only realistic, it’s entertaining, enlightening and life-changing (or marriage-changing, if you will.) If you want to learn how to “get better at fighting” and put the spark back into your marriage, I highly recommend you read this book.

You can purchase the book here: http://bit.ly/EverybodyFightsBook

Watch the video to learn more.

Would you like a pop quiz? Yes? Okay, here goes. What was the first social media platform and when was it started? Extra points if you didn’t google it. In case you couldn’t bother to look it up, the first social media site was SixDegrees.com, born in 1997.

Then we got Friendster (2002), My Space (2003), followed by the king of them all, Facebook. Other popular sites are Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest and a host of others, all having their own set of rules and all keeping us glued to our devices whether we want to or not.

I must confess when I first heard about Facebook I was determined to ignore it as I had done MySpace, but once I began writing professionally, I saw the value of Facebook to help me get the word out about my work. Then I discovered I could establish connections with like-minded individuals, friends and relatives from every corner of the globe and get to know people I would otherwise never meet. Social media is a wonderful tool.

But like everything else, it can be misused. We have heard in recent times about the accounts of prominent officials— not just here in America, but other parts of the world— being suspended. Some see this as an infringement on their freedom of speech; others see it as a necessary means of curtailing activities that can be harmful to individuals or the general public.

As with any freedom we enjoy, speech should be used responsibly. I don’t like it when people send me messages I didn’t invite them to or consider inappropriate, as happened recently. I was able to delete the message but could not block the sender and I didn’t have the time to contact Facebook there and then.

That’s just a small example of the way social media can be abused. I have seen other hate-filled responses directed at someone simply because they did not agree with the post. Social media should not be a battlefield but a place to establish worthwhile connections, exchange ideas and learn from each. So on this social media day, will you contact a friend and tell them you’re thinking of them and you appreciate having them as your friend?

Having said all of that, will you share this post with a friend and follow me on the platforms listed below? Thank you!

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