An Excerpt From Wesley's Women


...Abby knocked timidly on his door and called to him.

"Come in."

Everything was a blur after that -- the discharge, the farewell to his father and step-mother, retrieving the plastic bag that held his belongings from the closet.

She didn't become clearheaded again until they were in her SUV rolling out of the hospital parking lot on the way to his apartment.

He was as handsome as ever, and more dear to her than he had ever been, but he was different. The experience had changed him. He seemed folded in on himself, tucked inside a protective shell. It pained her and it worried her. But it would have been unrealistic to expect him to bounce back from his ordeal just because he was going home.

"Um," she said as they inched their way through the traffic. "When I was out earlier, I was going to stop by the supermarket and pick up up a few groceries for you, but I wanted to get back to the hospital. If you like, we can stop on the way and get you a few things."

"All right."

He replied to her questions or comments readily enough, but he said nothing of his own accord.  He had always been a man of few words, but this was heartbreaking.

She had no idea what he was going through, what his thoughts and feelings were, but she knew he did not need a flow of chatter from her, so she curbed her words, as well.

In his tiny kitchen, they put the groceries away together.

"Wesley, are you hungry? Would you like me to make you a sandwich or something?"

"Yeah, I'm a little hungry. I can make a sandwich, though."

"But I want to."

"Okay."

"I think I'll have one, too."

"Okay."

They sat on the tall stools at the breakfast bar and Abby scarfed down half her sandwich before she realized Wesley hadn't taken a single bite.

She wanted to ask if he was all right, if there was something wrong with the sandwich, if there was something else he wanted, something she could do for him -- but a small voice inside told her to zip it. He needed love, all the love she could give, but he also needed space. So she took another bite and ate in silence.

She looked up once to see him gazing at her with an odd expression and her brows rose. His face crumpled and he tried unsuccessfully to stifle an explosive sob, then wiped tears from his eyes and brought himself back under control.

"Aw, hey, c'mon," she said softly. "It can't be that bad. Some ham, some Swiss, a little mayo, but if you'd rather have Miracle Whip--"

There was another, smaller explosion, half sob, half laughter. "Could you come over here please?"

She slid off the stool and walked the single pace to him and he took her in a tight embrace. She circled her arms around him as he buried his face in her shoulder. He shook and he cried, really cried, deep, wracking sobs that used up his breath, and he had to pause to inhale deeply and the sobs would begin again. Tears soaked her shirt.

"My poor Wesley," she murmured, "so hurt, so broken. But it will be all right I promise you. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning."

Gradually his sobbing slowed and tears stopped, and his breathing normalized. He straightened and looked at her, straight into her eyes.

"It's not a very manly thing to cry on your woman's shoulder."

"That's one of the things shoulders were made for. Women's. Men's. If men weren't supposed to cry, God wouldn't have given them tear ducts. Oh, Wesley, my dear, wonderful man, I can't begin to fathom what you've been through. It oppresses my spirit just trying to think about it. But to me, crying seems like a totally understandable response."

He shook his head, not in negation but amazement. "Nothing I do shocks you, nothing I say makes you shudder or cringe. I can't understand you but ... I love you." He swallowed hard and took in a shaky breath. "Thank you for saving my life."

She pulled him close and kissed him. His answering kiss matched hers. One eager kiss followed the other and soon eagerness turned to passion. Abby deeply regretted that she had to bring this under control.

"Maybe someday," she said, soft and low, against his mouth. "But not now, not yet."

She let go of him and stepped back to see him gazing at her with a sultry look of desire.

"It must be morning," he said, his voice laced with the longing that burned in his eyes.

She nodded understanding and assent. They dared not embrace and kiss again and temp passion, but for now, joy was more than enough.

After a few moments, Abby pointed to his sandwich and said, "Um, are you gonna eat that, because I'm still a little hungry--"

He laughed, then, a genuine, deep, old-Wesley laugh that stretched his sunshine grin across his face and scrunched his eyes to slits. "Let's half it." 

===========

Wesley's Women is a work in progress. Publication tentatively set for first quarter 2021.
 

RIP, Flipper

I had to say goodbye to my sweet boy, Flipper, in November. He was FIV positive and his little body could no longer withstand infections. Plus, due to the FIV, which is incurable, he had long-standing stomatitis (infection and inflammation of the mouth), one of the most painful conditions a cat can experience.

 He was probably only about eight years old. He had been with us five years. He just showed up one day, and took up with us.  He would get into fights when he was outside, the skin behind his ears would be sliced open.

Once, he disappeared for a week, and I was beside myself. When  he finally came home, I brought him inside and never let him out again, although he longed to go out and wander. Every so often, he would escape and be gone 24 to 48 hours, but he never again stayed out for a week.


I took him to the vet to be neutered, and that was when we found out he tested positive for FIV. He probably got it from the fighting. Some time later, we found out he had stomatitis, which gradually worsened with time. I would take him to the vet every few months for steroid and antibiotic shots. But those gradually become less effective, and have to be given more often.

The last ones he got lasted two weeks, infection in his mouth returned, eating was too painful for him and he stopped. He lost weight down to six pounds (he had weighed about 11 pounds at one point in our time together) and that was when we took him in to be euthanized. The vet recommended it based on Flipper's quality of life, or lack thereof. He would never get better, nothing could be done to temporarily relieve his pain. He would be in increasing pain as long as he lived.

We were with him, petting and touching him, when the vet gave him the injection that stopped his heart.

It is wrenching to lose a pet. But it is also wrenching to see a pet suffer. And with stomatitis, they suffer.

He was such a good cat, sweet-tempered. Not as cuddly as I would have liked, but never mean, he never bit, never clawed. And the times he deigned to sleep with me, it was a joy to hear him purr beside me.

Goodbye sweet boy. I'm glad your pain has stopped.


* * *  

I was noodling around online recently when I found a marvelous photo of a gray tabby with a clipped ear, a bad eye, and a noble, stoic expression. A street cat, for sure, possibly (but not necessarily) feral. I decided his story needed to be told. So now "My Cat, Farrell" is on my list of WIPs. Not sure when I can get to it, or what the overall story will be about, but my hero or heroine will have similar experiences with Farrell that I had with Flipper.

Here's a working cover.





Changes in the works

I am in the process of republishing my novels with new covers, blurbs and other changes. The first, Southern Man, is scheduled for publication in October 2019.

Here's a look at the new covers. They are basically ready, though may require some tweaking.

LEGACY OF FORTITUDE  


Wesley's Women and Neo-Confederate will become Single Title books. 

 And the Life and Love in Dixie Romantic Suspense titles will get rather drastically changed covers,
All of this is in preparation for learning promotion and marketing so I can sell more books. So far, with no promotion at all, I've made enough in royalties to buy a Happy Meal.

Wish me luck, folks!

I'm also completely redesigning my website and hope to go live with it in the next week. You can see the header above, in blog-size. Veddy Southern coastal, don't you think?





Alex Austin -- available as a free download


Follow the link below to download a free copy of my baseball romance novelette, Alex Austin. You will be invited to subscribe to my email newsletter, and I hope you will, but you'll get the download whether you subscribe or not.

Nothing says SUMMER like baseball--and romance. And quick reads are perfect for busy summer schedules. Follow Kate and Alex as they negotiate an uncertain path toward love, with some pretty substantial barriers along the way.

Completed video trailer for Wesley's Women

Uploaded to YouTube minutes ago.

The book is on schedule for release later in the summer.

 

Check back often for updates on publishing new titles, book promotions and give-aways, newsletter info and more. 

Getting back in the Video Editing Swing

This is a mockup of a video trailer for my WIP, Wesley's Women. It's a mockup because I'm still looking for images for the final cut. I'll use many that are in the mockup, though.

Also I will use other music. The music on the mockup are free cuts from Jewel Beat. They are about 15 seconds long and I just string them together on the video edit screen's timeline.

My editing softeware is old and not supported by the manufacturer anymore. Nevertheless, it is quite capable, with  number of fancy transitions -- checkerboards, blinds, page peels and such. I don't particularly enjoy seeing those in videos, so I don't use them in mine. I prefer straight cuts or dissolves.

The video below is quite rough. There are missing fades and such I intended to go back and remedy, but the program crashed and I'm probably going to have to reinstall it and deal with some other problems. involving third party codecs, about which I know nothing. I don't even know what a codec is. Many Internet searches  lie ahead for me.

But it IS a rough so ...  it's rough. You can still get an idea about what the finished trailer will be like -- and hopefully, what my novel is about.

Wesley's Women is about 1/3 to 1/2 finished. The video depicts events from the first half of the book. So, there's still quite a bit of writing to do.

(Mockup removed. See next blog post for finished video.)

I have already posted an image of the cover on the blog -- scroll back to see it. Once this video is completed, I think I will go back and make video trailers for Storm Surge and Little Sister.

A New Direction

In the ten years since if first uploaded Southern Man to Amazon.com, I have sold enough books, of all my titles, to buy a Happy Meal. Well, it's not quite that dismal, but it's pretty bad. The problem is not my writing -- far more badly written fiction gets published and sells ... the problem is that I cannot stand to do marketing and promotion. And it just HAS to be done.

As P.T. Barnum said....

"Without promotion, something terrible happens.
Nothing."

So I am I'm learning how to promote my titles. I have made a Facebook author page. I have completely redesigned my author website, and it is ready to upload when I find a new webhost. I am learning about "reader magnets" and newsletters. I am going to republish some of my older books, and re-cover and re-blurb all of them.

There are other aspects of promotion and marketing I will have to learn, but this is a start. We will see how it goes.

Here are two of the re-designed covers, for my romantic suspense titles. All I did was add people to the cover, but the folks in my writers groups think this change makes them look more like romances. 




Meanwhile, I'm working on Book Four of the Legacy of Fortitude series... It is turning out to be a real heart-tugger.


And waiting out there in the future, the Walravens....