Monthly Archives: February 2013

Guilt Free

2012-08-17 17.58.54Recently I listened to several stay-at-home moms of young children talk about the guilt they often feel because they are not in the workforce. They expressed feeling as if they always had to be doing something productive to justify staying at home with their children, to the point that even taking a break to read was too much. This broke my heart. People who have jobs get breaks and lunch breaks to do as they please, and believe me, staying at home with children, keeping the house clean, preparing meals, doing the carpool thing etc… is a job–just one that doesn’t pay monetarily.

To all you stay-at-home parents please listen. It is okay to take a break. No one expects you (or at least no one should) to work from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed and often during the middle of the night too. That is asking too much of any one person. Take a break when your child is sleeping to read for a short time, or catch a power nap. You will be happier and everyone around you will be too because you will be in a better place.

Finally, to all of you who think less or yourself or feel guilt for staying a home with your child–STOP. Child care is expensive, so are housekeepers and paying people in general to do the job you do. I imagine if you were to total the cost of paying someone to do all that you do, you’d have to have a very high paying job to afford you.:) Give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy this time in your life. Stop feeling guilty for being a parent and don’t let anyone else make you feel like less of a person for the choice you made.

I imagine the parents who need to read this are too busy to notice it, so feel free to share with your stay-at-home friends who could use some encouragement.

If you haven’t yet commented on Monday’s post be sure to do so, if you would like to be entered for a chance to win a Copy of Elizabeth Maddrey’s book.

Wisdom to Know & Give Away

WTK Cover

Back Cover Description

Lydia Brown has taken just about every wrong turn she could find. When an abortion leaves her overwhelmed by guilt, she turns to drugs to escape her pain. After a single car accident lands her in the hospital facing DUI charges, Lydia is forced to reevaluate her choices.

Kevin McGregor has been biding his time since high school when he heard God tell him that Lydia Brown was the woman he would marry. In the aftermath of Lydia’s accident, Kevin must come to grips with the truth about her secret life.

While Kevin works to convince himself and God that loving Lydia is a mistake, Lydia struggles to accept the feelings she has for Kevin, though she fears her sin may be too much for anyone to forgive.

Before we go any further, the winner of last weeks drawing is Kay M. I will contact you later today for your snail mail address. Thanks for commenting, Kay.

1. Welcome to Kimberly’s Musings, Elizabeth. Please Tell us about your book. 

Wisdom to Know tells the story of Lydia Brown. She’s someone I consider a pretty typical “good” young woman who, despite growing up in church, has never really made her faith her own. So she goes through the motions and knows all the right answers, but other than Sundays, you don’t see faith impacting her life all that much…until the consequences of her actions start catching up with her. When that happens, Lydia isn’t sure how to handle the crisis and she spirals into a deep pit without really caring what relationships she destroys in the process. After she finally crashes at the bottom, she realizes how much she needs God if there’s any hope of rebuilding those relationships.

2. I read the blurb for your book and noticed that it tackles some tough issues. What inspired the story?

I grew up active in pro-life ministry. My mother ran a Crisis Pregnancy Center for twenty years and over that time, I spent a lot of time helping out, both as a volunteer and on staff. One of the things we did a great deal of at our Center was after-abortion healing. The women and men who choose abortion tend to be forgotten (at best) in the pro-life arena and in churches, and so many of them are desperately hurting. Those who are believers (and the abortion rates aren’t significantly different for folks in the church when compared to those outside) often feel that they don’t deserve forgiveness – that they’ve done the one thing bigger than God’s grace. But it’s not true! Unfortunately, even though God forgives us, the consequences of our sin can wreck our human relationships – and wrestling with that, recovering from that, is one of the things Lydia and Kevin both have to do.

 3. How long did it take you to write this and did you have to do any special research?

I actually started Wisdom to Know in 2002 and then set it aside for a while because I was feeling stuck. I went on writing other things, but Lydia’s story kept pulling at me. When NaNoWriMo came around in 2011, I dug it back out, thinking I’d start completely over but keep the idea. I did end up keeping a little more than just the idea – but I wrote all but approximately 10K words of the story (the bit that I kept from 2002) in November and December of 2011. Once I let myself go with the story, it just flowed.

I didn’t have to do a ton of special research. The main thing I looked into were rehab facilities and DUI charges to get a feel for how to make that aspect of the story realistic.

4. When did you first start writing and is it something you have always wanted to do, or did you fall into it later?

I’ve always been writing. My mom gave me a blank book when I was five and pretty much from that point forward, I’ve been writing down my stories. I’ve always harbored the dream of being published, but transitioning from dream to goal was terrifying. The prospect of the rejection that goes hand in hand with putting your work out there for anyone to read left me paralyzed for a long time. It really was only getting to the end of Lydia’s story, and realizing that it was a story that I wasn’t going to be able to let just hang out on my hard drive, that pushed me past the fear.

5. Is there a must read book, you’d recommend, or what is your current favorite book? 

This is tough – I tend to read around 120 books a year and I really enjoy the majority of them. But I do have some I go back to over and over again. Anne of Green Gables (that whole series – honestly Anne of Windy Poplars is my absolute favorite) is one that I think everyone should read at least once. The Dragon King trilogy by Stephen Lawhead is another – I read that series when I was eleven and it’s one I still love re-reading. And then really, if you’ve not read the entire Narnia series, you’re missing out.

Wow, Elizabeth I thought I read a lot.:) Thanks for sharing with us today. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you a bit and learning about your book. Elizabeth has offered to give away one copy of her book Wisdom to Know. Keep reading to see how to enter.

ElizabethMaddreyHeadshot

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. Her debut novel, Wisdom to Know, Book 1 of the Grant Us Grace Series, was released in January, 2013. Courage to Change (April, 2013) is the second in that series and continues the story of characters from the first book. She is also the co-author of A is for Airstrip: A Missionary’s Jungle Adventure, a children’s book based on the work of a Wycliffe missionary.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey

Thanks for offering to give away one copy of Wisdom to Know to a lucky commenter. Is there any question you would like commenter to answer to qualify for the give away?

If you could choose any monument or historic location for the site of the man of your dreams to proposal, what or where would it be?

Rules: You must answer Elizabeth’s question to be included in the drawing. If you become a new follower, my system will tell me and I will include your name twice in this weeks drawing. This drawing is only open to USA addresses. Void where prohibited by law. I will contact the lucky winner on Monday March 4th. If you do not respond within seven days a new winner will be drawn. There needs to be a minimum of ten entries for a drawing to take place. Happy reading!

Where Would You Go?

2011-08-20 15.18.14My oldest will graduate from high school in 2014. Recently I asked him if he could go anywhere for one last vacation with the family before he becomes an adult where he would like to go. Then I qualified that it had to be within driving distance i.e. not more than six hours.:)

His answer didn’t come as much of a surprise. He wants to see a Seahawks game and spend a night in Seattle. Sounds like fun to me too.

What about you? If you could go anywhere where would you go?

I hope you are all enjoying the new Monday format. Be sure to check back on Monday for my interview with Elizabeth Maddrey, and be sure to leave a comment on this past Monday’s post to be entered for a chance to win the featured book.

Mind of Her Own

Mind of Her Own

Mind of Her Own by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer is kicking off the new Monday format. If you would like to enter for a chance to win a copy of Mind of Her Own please leave a comment and tell me the title of the last book you read.
This drawing is only open to USA addresses. Void where prohibited by law.

Back cover description for Mind of Her Own

Who knew making dinner could change your life? Louisa Copeland certainly didn’t. But when the George Foreman grill fell out of the pantry onto her head, resulting in a bump and a mighty case of amnesia, Louisa’s life takes a turn for the unexpected. Who was this Collin fellow, claiming she was his wife? And whose kids are those? Her name couldn’t be Louisa. Why, she was the renowned romance writer Jazz Sweet, not a Midwestern mom of three. Struggling to put the pieces together of the life she’s told she had, Louisa/Jazz may realize that some memories are better left alone.

Dian Brandmeyer small

Christian author, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, writes historical and contemporary romances. Author of Mind of Her Own, A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee and We’re Not Blended-We’re Pureed, A Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families. Once widowed and now remarried she writes with humor and experience on the difficulty of joining two families be it fictional or real life.

Diana has graciously included the fist chapter below and offered to give away one copy of Mind of Her Own to one lucky commenter. If you would like to enter to win a copy of her book be sure to leave a comment. The winner will be announced Monday February 25th. This drawing is only open to addresses in the USA. Void where prohibited by law.

You will need to scroll past the first little bit to get to Chapter one. Happy reading everyone, and be sure to check back next Monday for my interview with Elizabeth Maddrey and a chance to win a copy of her book Wisdom to Know.

MIND OF HER OWN
DIANA LESIRE BRANDMEYER
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Carol Stream, Illinois
Visit Tyndale online at http://www.tyndale.com.
Visit Diana Lesire Brandmeyer’s website at http://www.dianabrandmeyer.com.
TYNDALE and Tyndale’s quill logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Mind of Her Own
Copyright © 2013 by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer. All rights reserved.
Cover and title page designed by Jacqueline L. Nuñez
Published in association with the literary agency of The Steve Laube Agency.
Mind of Her Own is a work of fiction. Where real people, events, establishments, organizations, or locales appear, they are used fictitiously. All other elements of the novel are drawn from the author’s imagination.
ISBN 978- 1-4143-8103-9 (Apple); ISBN 978- 1-4143-8102-2 (ePub);
ISBN 978- 1-4143-8101-5 (Mobi)
Nancy Brown Whitley,
thank you for your excitement about Jazz’s story.

vii
Rhonda Langefeld, for being there from the beginning.
Jennifer Tiszai, Jenny Carry, Julie Lessman, Liz Tolsma, Robin Bayne, and Laura V. Hilton, for all your critiques.
Marty C. Lintvedt, thank you for your help on researching retrograde amnesia.
Danika King, thank you for your amazing editor skills and kindness.
Acknowledgments

1
Rain pelted the ceiling- to-floor windows of the family room. The grayness of the evening invaded Louisa Copeland’s mind and home. The oversize chair she snuggled in helped hide her surroundings. The thick romance in her hand further darkened her mood as she read how the hero whisked away the heroine for a surprise dinner on some pier. Were there relationships like that? She didn’t know of any.
“Give it to him!” Joey, her five- year-old son, joined the fray as Madison, her twelve- year-old daughter, dangled a plastic horse over the head of Tim, her youngest son, just out of his reach.
Jolted from the fantasy world into the real one, where
Chapter One
2 || MIND OF HER OWN
rainy days turned children into caged animals, Louisa gripped the book tight and took five deep breaths. “Madison, if you don’t give it back to Tim now, I will take your phone away for the rest of the day.”
Madison’s eyes narrowed. “Daddy won’t let you.”
“He isn’t here at the moment. He is working but will be home for dinner, and you can discuss it with him then. But for now give it to Tim.”
“Baby.” Madison sneered at Tim. “Take your stupid horse.”
Problem solved, Louisa retreated into the book to finish the chapter. Done, she sighed and laid the book face up on the side table next to her reading chair. The love- struck characters standing in front of a houseboat mocked her from the cover and filled her with jealousy. She longed to be the woman between those pages. She closed her eyes, pursed her lips against her hand, and tried to imagine the feel of Collin’s lips on hers.
She couldn’t. Her hand didn’t smell woodsy like Collin. Why would it? They hadn’t slept together in over a week. Not since that hurtful night when he’d accused her of not loving him enough. And until he apologized, he wouldn’t be back in her bed. She wasn’t going to give in this time, even if she did toss and turn all night in that enormous bed because she missed him. But letting him back in her bed without a true “I’m sorry” would mean he’d won, and she couldn’t accept that. He would have to come to her first, and sending her those two dozen roses didn’t count either. She knew he had
DIANA LESIRE BRANDMEYER || 3
his secretary call the florist, and Louisa didn’t want a quick- fix apology. No, she wanted a heartfelt, grand gesture of some kind. She hadn’t quite figured out what it would take for Collin to make the sting of his words dissolve, but she knew it would have to come from him, not his office staff.
“Mom? Are you kissing your hand?”
Startled by her son, Louisa felt her face flush. Her thoughts twirled around themselves as she tried to come up with a reason for her action. “I was pretending to be a jellyfish. See?” She put the back of her hand against her lips and wiggled her fingers like tentacles.
“Why?” His serious face moved closer to hers to inspect the gesture.
“Because I was reading a book that has the ocean and jellyfish in it.” She could tell Tim believed her the minute his hand went to his own face. He walked away with his own pretend jellyfish flailing its tentacles.
She considered the morality of lying to her child but dismissed it. Her children didn’t need to know she couldn’t remember how their father’s kisses felt. She and Collin had lost the spark, the excitement and joy. Even their communication had dwindled to no more than a few small phrases—“Where’s the paper?” and “Have you seen my phone?” Did his commitment to her exist any longer? Had he found someone else?
Her head started to pound again from a migraine that had first made its appearance when a save- the-date for her family reunion had arrived in the morning mail. She still couldn’t
4 | | MIND OF HER OWN
believe it. A save- the-date? When did my family get so fancy? A phone call from her mother had followed minutes later. She demanded that Louisa tell her whether or not she and Collin would be there. An argument had started about Louisa being a snob and not wanting to know her own family, not wanting to spend time with her mother, which then led into why Louisa and Collin weren’t taking the children to church. The call ended with the usual rebuttal of “We will when we find a church we like.”
Her mother always brought out Louisa’s obstinate side. Louisa knew she had that effect on her own daughter, but she wasn’t sure how to fix either problem. She rubbed a thumb knuckle into the center of her forehead the way the neurologist had shown her to ease the pain. She wouldn’t be scratching cleaning the van off her list today. Bending over made the pounding worse.
This morning, Collin had promised he would be home for dinner— for the first time since he’d announced he wanted to make partner this year at his firm. He’d informed her that he would be working extra hours and expected her to take care of the family. So she did her part and his. Then, less than a month later, he’d accused her of loving the children more than she loved him. How could he make that judgment since he was never home? The roses his secretary sent the next day didn’t even make it to a vase. She’d trotted out to the curb and stuffed them in the trash, where he’d see them when he came home that night. Since then, the two of them had lived like oil and vinegar unshaken in a jar.
DIANA LESIRE BRANDMEYER | | 5
Thunder rolled and lighting sparked in the distance. Maybe Collin wanted to make amends tonight, and that was why he was making an effort to be home early. Or maybe he wanted to tell her something else, something she might not want to hear. Would she listen? What if he wanted to tell her she wasn’t the kind of wife a partner at his firm would need? She did complain about having to attend office functions. They made her feel small— just a stay- at-home mom. She couldn’t compete with the woman lawyers, especially Emmie, the tall, stick- thin beauty who had an office next to Collin. Louisa could share a recipe or where the best dog park was located, but nothing brilliant or witty crossed her lips anymore. She rose from her chair and walked to the glass door. The waves on the lake had increased in height. Cleo, their dog, was out there somewhere.
Did Collin love someone else? Like a virus, the image of Emmie with her cute clothes and bright smile at the Fourth of July party threaded from Louisa’s mind and invaded her spirit. She swallowed back the fear that rose from her heart and lodged in her throat. That just couldn’t happen. Collin was hers and only hers. He didn’t belong to the firm or anyone else. She had to find a way to make him understand that she did love him, that he came first in her life. She wished she could open up and tell him everything. Maybe then he would . . . no, he would never love her if he knew her secret. No, that story could never be told. She would have to find another way.
The first thing she’d do was prepare a meal so delicious he
6 | | MIND OF HER OWN
wouldn’t want to miss another one. She knew it was foolish to put such expectations on her cooking but held out that there might be a fraction of hope, a glimmer of a possibility.
Behind her, Madison shrieked at her brother, lurching Louisa back to her own reality show. “Give me back the remote!”
“It’s my turn!” Joey tried to outshout his sister.
“Yeah, it’s our turn!” four- year-old Tim echoed.
The noise brought fresh, sharp spears of pain to Louisa’s head. With a sigh, she ignored the opportunity to jump into the fray and yell herself. In her stocking feet she crossed the great expanse of the golden oak floor to the kitchen, which was located to the side of the family room. When they first moved in, it had seemed like a great floor plan, all open, but now she regretted having chosen it. It made her always available to the children, and if one room wasn’t picked up, the whole house looked like a mess.
The clock in the entryway chimed five times. The hour had come! If only she could cook like Emeril, she might have a chance to win back her husband’s love— or at least his presence at the table. Then again, Collin might break his promise to her and the kids again and not even come home for dinner.
She flipped through the cookbook that rested on top of a cobalt- blue stand, where it usually sat for looks.
“Mom?” Tim ran circles around the kitchen island. “Joey and me want a snack.”
“Not now.” The page in front of her held a beautiful
DIANA LESIRE BRANDMEYER | | 7
prospect for a meal, just not one made by her. Who cooks dinner like this? She flipped the page. Why had she bought this book? Surely she didn’t think she would ever have time to prepare a dish from it or be able to get her children to eat it. . . . She read the ingredient list. What is jicama?
“Mom, can we have Crunch Squares for dinner?” Tim interrupted her thoughts, tugging on the bottom of her shirt.
Louisa turned her attention from the cookbook pages. She placed her hands on her hips in her don’t- mess-with-me stance and stared down at two small, pleading faces. Her sons craved anything coated or sprinkled with sugar. “Sorry, boys, you cannot have cereal for dinner. You need protein and vegetables so you grow big and strong like your daddy.” She pried Joey’s fingers from the bright orange and red cardboard box.
“The commercial says it has all the vitamins and nutrients we need.” Madison bellowed her opinion from the family room.
“Don’t believe everything you see on TV, Madison.” Making dinner night after night for three kids and Collin had never entered her mind when she said “I do” at the church thirteen years ago. She closed the book, weary of its glossy pictures. She couldn’t pull off a gourmet meal tonight, not with this roaring headache. She’d be better prepared this weekend. Possibly Collin would eat with them Sunday night if she gave him enough notice.
“We’re having grilled chicken.” She looked down at the two waifs standing in front of her. Joey and Tim both
8 | | MIND OF HER OWN
frowned in unison. She blinked at their action and shrugged it off. Some days she thought those two had to be twins, even though that was physically impossible since she had given birth to them twelve months apart. “You two, pick up the fort you’ve assembled in the other room. I don’t want to see or step on even one plastic block tonight.”
“It’s not a fort. It’s a space station.” Tim scrunched his face in disgust. “I told you a hundred times, Mom.”
“It’s a grand space station, but you still need to put it away.” She watched them leave the room, thinking a sloth could move faster than those two when it came to cleaning.
Chicken—
that’s what she was doing, wasn’t it? What else should she put on the table? Maybe a salad and mac and cheese, she thought. Yes, that would be best. It would cause less tension around the table if everyone had something they liked.
Cleo whimpered at the back door. Her nails scratching against the glass felt like tiny needles pushing into Louisa’s optic nerves. It ratcheted her headache higher on the pain- management scale. She had never wanted a big dog, but Collin wouldn’t settle for anything small. Not even medium size. It had to be a brindled Great Dane, the gentle beast, to make him happy. It didn’t matter to him that she would be the one hauling the dog to the vet and puppy day care for socialization and training classes. She tried to ignore the pathetic whining coming through the door. Maybe the kids would let the dog inside.
Peering through the open archway, Louisa checked to see
DIANA LESIRE BRANDMEYER | | 9
if anyone was moving. She could hear a satisfying plunk of plastic hitting plastic— the boys were picking up like she’d asked. Slow, but at least the rug had begun to appear. She had been cleaning for most of the day and wanted to enjoy an orderly space after dinner. Madison lay on the couch with her head hanging over the end. Her blonde hair almost touched the floor as it moved in time to a music video.
“Madison, let Cleo in before she chews through the door.”
“But, Mom, this is my favorite song,” Madison whined from the couch. “Can’t Joey let her in?”
“No. I told you to do it.” Louisa squatted down in front of the cabinet and grabbed a pot for the macaroni. As it filled with water, she rubbed her temples with her fingers. Cleo scratched against the door again.
Louisa felt herself stiffen as she prepared to go into battle with Madison. She turned to see what her daughter was doing. Madison had stood but had not moved in the direction of the door. Instead she watched the television screen and swayed to the beat of the music.
“Madison, step away from the TV.”
“I’m going. You don’t have to tell me everything twice. I’m not stupid.” She glared at her mother.
This is what the counselor they were seeing called a standoff. She and Collin were supposed to be stern in their commands and follow through with them. Well, she didn’t have any problem with following through, but Collin did. All Madison had to do was turn her lower lip down into a pout and Collin backed off, afraid to upset his little girl. There was
10 | | MIND OF HER OWN
a time when Collin would do anything for me, too, she thought. Those days disappeared the minute Madison said “Daddy.”
Louisa removed her glasses and rubbed her eyes. The intensity of the headache rose. “Thank you, Madison, for promptly doing what I asked.”
Madison clenched her lips tight, straightened her back, and stomped over to the door and yanked it open. Cleo came bounding through, her nails clicking over the wooden floor like fingers on a keyboard. Madison turned, whipping her long hair around like a weapon, and stared at Louisa as if to say, “I did it. Don’t ask me to do anything else ever again.”
“Thank you.” Louisa slid her glasses back on and smoothed her hair behind her ears. She checked to make sure the boys were still doing as she’d asked. They were making progress.
The clock in the entryway weakly imitated England’s Big Ben at the half- hour mark. It wouldn’t be long before Collin came home. Maybe he would relieve her tonight. A hot bath— no, a long, hot bath, she corrected herself— sounded wonderful if not dreamlike. Please, God, let him be in a good mood and willing to play with the kids tonight, she offered in silent prayer. She loved these kids; she really did. It was just that today, with all their requests, they had drained her of the will to live. School had begun less than a month ago. Why the school board felt the teachers needed to take off already for a two- day conference escaped her tonight.
Back in the kitchen, Louisa picked up a glass from the counter, a dribble of milk left in the bottom. A quick rinse under the faucet, and then she placed it in the dishwasher.
DIANA LESIRE BRANDMEYER | | 11
All the small chores were done. The counter no longer held books, toys, or dirty dishes. Louisa opened the pantry door and caught a cereal box as it fell. She shook it. Almost empty. Someone had been snacking in secret, probably Madison. She reached for the indoor grill on the top shelf. The cord dripped over the edge and dangled in her way. She wrapped it around her hand to keep it out of her face. Standing on tiptoes, she used her fingertips to work the grill out.
Barking, Cleo burst through the kitchen, chased by Joey.
“Stop running in the house!” They wouldn’t; she knew from past experience. Once Cleo began a game, she wouldn’t quit until she wanted to. Louisa almost had the grill in her hands. If she were just a little taller . . . there! She balanced it on her fingers.
“Look out!” Joey screamed.
Louisa jerked her head around and saw the tiger- striped 120- pound dog skidding across the floor, straight for her. The “gentle giant” rammed into her leg. She felt her sock- clad feet give way and slide out from under her. The grill slipped from her grasp as she fell to the floor. Her last thought was that dinner would be late.
***
Salt water burned her lips as she floated onto a white, sandy beach. Piccolo notes from seagulls called to her as they landed in an uneven line onshore. They hunted for forgotten corn curls and abandoned sandwich crusts, their tiny claws etching the sand behind them. A flash of white danced into her
12 | | MIND OF HER OWN
view. She glanced at the gauzy skirt grazing her ankles and wondered when she’d changed clothes. Then she noticed her hand held a bundle of calla lilies tied with a dark- green satin ribbon that trailed to her knees.
Next to her, the ocean increased its crescendo. Froth swirled around her bare feet, and the small white bubbles tickled her toes. Like a child, she wove up and down the shore, playing a game of tag with the swash marks on the sandy shoreline. She slowed her steps as a man ahead of her grew larger and larger until she finally stood next to him. He didn’t have a name, but she knew she would marry him this day. Her lips began to form the words “I do” when a voice crashed her wedding.
“Come on, baby, wake up.” Warm fingers brushed across her cheek. Startled, she tried to open her eyelids, but they felt weighted as if someone had stacked pennies on them. Peeking through her lashes, she discovered a pair of chocolate- brown eyes gazing into hers. And not the milk- chocolate kind but the dark, eat- me-now-and-I’ll-solve-your-problems kind. She tried to sit, but the onslaught of pain in her head stilled her like Atlanta traffic in a snow shower. Bright light lit the room around her, but it wasn’t a room she knew.
“Louisa, baby. You gave me quite a scare. How do you feel?” His hand trembled as it gently swept across her forehead.
“I’m Jazz.” Her words oozed like cold honey past her thickened tongue. She was desperate for information and a cool drink of water. “Wrong woman. Where am I?”
DIANA LESIRE BRANDMEYER | | 13
His hand dropped to his side, and he stepped back from her. “Dr. Harrison?” His weight shifted from one foot to the other.
The man she assumed to be the doctor maneuvered past Mystery Man. From his pocket, he pulled out a penlight and shone it into her eyes.
“Evil man. That’s a bit torturous to my brain.” She swatted at his hand but pulled back before making contact, realizing his purpose was to help, not hurt her.
“You’re in the ER. You suffered a nasty bump on the head, Louisa. You have a concussion, which is making your head hurt.” He clicked off the light and placed it back into the pocket of his lab coat. “Your scan came back clean. There is no bleeding in your brain. I’ll have the nurse come in and unhook the heart monitor in a minute. You can go home with your husband in a little while.”
“Husband?” The monitor showed a jump in her heart rate. “Please, I’m not who you think I am.” She wished for them both to dissolve from her sight and for someone, anyone, even a disgruntled fan, to appear in their place. Something like wind seemed to roar in her ears, and she struggled to catch her breath.
“Just calm down. Take a few breaths.” Dr. Harrison patted her hand.
The old, reliable remedy— take in oxygen and the world’s problems will be solved. Somehow that made her feel normal. She could go home soon, or at least Louisa could. She closed her eyes, willing the two of them to go away.
14 | | MIND OF HER OWN
“Open your eyes, Louisa,” the doctor ordered.
Still not willing to play their game, she compromised and opened one. “Light hurts. I’m not Louisa.”
“You’re just a bit confused right now. Your name is Louisa, Louisa Copeland. The bang on your head gave you quite a headache, didn’t it?” The doctor patted her arm as if doing that would change her identity. “This is all to be expected, just a bit of disorientation. Don’t worry. Once the swelling goes down, you should remember everything.”
Respect for his position kept her from saying that maybe he needed to switch places with her. After all, she knew she was Jazz Sweet.
The doctor turned his back to her. “Collin, I think you need to take her home. Once she’s home in familiar surroundings, I believe her memory will return.”
Collin. She considered the name. Irish, she thought. A romance hero’s name. Maybe she would use it in her next book. He certainly looked the part— strong chin and thick brown hair that begged for a path to be wound through it with willing fingers.
“What if she doesn’t?” Collin asked.
“Take her to your family doctor for a follow- up tomorrow. Wake her a couple times tonight and ask her questions. Make her answer with words; full sentences would be even better.” She heard the familiar rough scratch of pen on paper. “Give her acetaminophen or ibuprofen tonight.” He tore the paper from his pad and slapped it into Collin’s hand. “Fill this for pain if she needs it.”
DIANA LESIRE BRANDMEYER | | 15
Home? Whose home? Jazz dropped the characterization of her newest hero. Home with Collin? She focused on those three words. That couldn’t be right— she loved adventure, but going home with a man she didn’t know went beyond what she would do for book material. She didn’t go anywhere without a folder full of notes, and she hadn’t spent any time researching living with this man. Panic ran like ice water down her neck.
She struggled to prop herself up on an elbow and demand an explanation. The end of the bed wavered like a desert mirage, causing her to wonder if the head injury had affected her sight. She squinted, trying to sharpen her vision, but it didn’t help much.
She needed to tell the doctor— maybe then he wouldn’t send her with this man. Jazz started to call out, but the white of the doctor’s coat blurred out of her sight before she could recall his name.
Collin bent over her. She noticed that for a man who’d been working all day, he still smelled nice. “Well, honey, you heard him. Let’s get you back home.”
“Water. Please.” She pointed to a sweating water bottle that beckoned just out of her reach. Collin put it in her hand but held on to it. For a moment she thought he planned to help her bring it to her lips like an invalid. Good thing he didn’t or he’d be wearing it, she wanted to say, but thirst won over talking.
The liquid slid down her parched throat. Feeling better, she returned the bottle to him and then hit him with the big question. “Tell me who Louisa is and why you think I’m her!”
16 | | MIND OF HER OWN
***
Collin sank down in the chair next to Louisa’s bed. She looked paler than his daughter’s collectible porcelain dolls. “You don’t remember us?”
“Remember you? No. I’ve never met you. Wait, you weren’t at Jen’s party, were you?” Hope touched the edge of her voice.
“Who’s Jen?” He rubbed his earlobe while he went through a quick list of Louisa’s friends.
“My agent. Jen is my agent.”
“Agent? For what?” He knew they hadn’t been communicating well, but when did she decide to sell their house? No, she’d said her agent, not ours.
“I write inspirational romance novels.” She crumpled the edge of the bedsheet between her fingers.
“Romance?” Collin felt like he had fallen into another dimension. Louisa had never written a word, much less a book or books. She had said novels, as in more than one. Hadn’t she? He assessed the situation. It had to be a grasp for attention. He had been working hard, and yes, he probably deserved this. He’d play along for a little bit. “Who do you think you are?”
“Jazz Sweet. I live at . . . on an island or the coast. Florida, I think.” She rubbed her forehead with the tips of her fingers.
“Louisa, you win, okay? I’m sorry— I really am— about what I said.” He squeezed his hand into a fist and then released it, a futile attempt at ridding himself of the tension
DIANA LESIRE BRANDMEYER | | 17
in his body. “Let’s not play games here. It’s late, and it would be nice to go home, wouldn’t it?”
“Games? What games are we playing?” She cocked her head at him, her eyebrow raised in question.
The look she gave him wasn’t one he recognized. She truly looked lost and confused. His gut clenched. She really didn’t know who she was. “Never mind, it’s not important. Once you get home, I’m sure you’ll be back to normal.”
“Go find your wife. Maybe she’s in the next room.” She waved her hand at him as if to dismiss him. The diamonds on her finger caught the overhead light and winked at him.
Collin grasped her hand out of the air. He felt a tug at his heart as she struggled to pull away from him. “Wait. Look at your hand. See, you have a wedding ring; it belonged to my great- grandmother.” He traced it with his finger. “Honey, you’re not a writer. And you live with us in Hazel, Illinois.”
She brought her hand close to her face and inspected the ring as if she had never seen it before. She jerked her face toward his, and comprehension of the plural word rode across her face. “Us? How many people make an us?”
“You, me, and . . .”
She tapped her lower lip with two fingers as she concentrated on the information he was giving her.
“The kids.” He leaned back in the chair, confident she would remember the children.
Louisa splayed her hand against her chest. “Kids? What kids?” she squealed as if he’d said she lived with a rowdy bunch of sailors. “I think I had better call Kristen now.”
18 | | MIND OF HER OWN
Collin grew even more confused, starting to doubt he was looking at his own wife. Louisa loved those kids. How could she not remember them?
“Who’s Kristen?” he managed to ask while massaging the back of his neck with his hand.
“She is my assistant. She’s organized and knows all my plans. I can’t keep any deadline without her.” She peered around him. “Is there a phone in here?”
Collin looked at the ceiling and counted the white tiles over the bed. He took a deep breath, then let it out. “I’ll call Kristen if you give me her number.”
“I– I don’t know it,” Louisa stuttered. Her blue eyes filled with tears, and she whipped her face away from him. The tension in his shoulders eased. This was a behavior he recognized. Louisa never let him see her cry.
“Then for now, why don’t you come home with me?” He used the persuasive voice he typically saved for jurors.
“But . . .”
He placed his fingers on her lips to silence her. “I know you’re my wife, even if you can’t remember. So I’m thinking, why not come home with me and see if your memory returns?”
“You really think I’m your wife?” She glanced at the door expectantly as if waiting for someone to come and tell him differently.
“I know it. And I can prove it when we get home. I’ll show you our wedding pictures.” Louisa had organized their photos in matching albums. It wouldn’t take any effort to find the right year.
DIANA LESIRE BRANDMEYER | | 19
“Did we get married on the beach?” Uncertainty shone on her face, but her voice held confidence that he would say yes.
Collin took another punch to his gut. She didn’t remember the expensive wedding— her very own fairy- tale day, she’d called it. He shook his head. “No, Louisa. We were married in your parents’ church.”
“Again, not me.” Louisa swung her legs to the edge of the bed. She grabbed her head with both hands. “Ouch. What happened to me, anyway?”
“The indoor grill fell on your head.”
She snorted. “Right, like I own one of those.”
“You do. While you were getting it off the shelf, Cleo knocked you down.”
“Is Cleo your daughter?”
Collin rubbed his chin with his hand and held back a groan of frustration. “Cleo is our dog, a Great Dane, our gentle beast.”
“Collin?” Her voice softened, and he leaned in closer to hear. “How many kids are there?”
“Just the three,” he said.
“Three? Just three? Do you— we—have a nanny?” She rubbed the side of her face with the palm of her hand.
Collin laughed at the absurdity of the question, then sobered, realizing she didn’t know the answer to her own question. This could not be good. He summoned his patience before speaking. “Louisa, you didn’t want a nanny for them, remember?”
“No. I don’t remember. I’m Jazz— have you forgotten?
20 | | MIND OF HER OWN
And I’ve decided. I will not be going anywhere with you. Who knows? You might be a serial killer or a stalker.” She crossed her arms and held them against her chest.
“I’m not either of those things. Look, honey, I’m tired. I’ve worked over twenty- five hours this week and it’s only Tuesday. I shouldn’t even have come home when I did, but I promised you that I would make it for dinner.”
“Please don’t call me ‘honey,’ ‘cutie,’ or any of those couple names. We’re not a couple, and besides, they sound silly.”
He didn’t know what to say. Louisa liked his terms of endearment. Didn’t she? The differences between the wife he had left at home this morning and this seemingly new one dumbfounded him.
“Why did you get married and have a family if you weren’t going to participate? What kind of important career do you have? Do you save peoples’ lives? Are you a surgeon?” She glared at him, waiting for an answer.
Her rapid- fire questioning made him feel like he was standing on the courthouse steps facing a battalion of reporters. It didn’t matter that the question was one he’d been asking himself lately— right now, being home wasn’t feasible. Not with several trial cases and the promise of a partnership dangling in front of him. He didn’t have time for anything. If Louisa wanted to be Jazz, he didn’t care as long as she kept their family life intact. “I’m a lawyer. That means I have a lot to do tonight. So get dressed and we’ll go home. I’m sure you’ll remember everything when we get there.”
“I’m not going with you.” Louisa slid her legs back onto
DIANA LESIRE BRANDMEYER | | 21
the bed and pulled the sheet up under her chin like a child refusing to go to school. “I’ll get dressed as soon as you leave, and then I’m going to— to—”
“To what? Where are you going to go?” He waited to hear her plan, watching her eyebrows bob up and down while she thought. “Well?”
“I’ll go to a hotel. So there, problem solved. You don’t have to worry about me anymore. You’re free to go.” Again, she waved her hand toward the door, dismissing him as she lay back against the pillow. “If you don’t mind, would you hand me my purse before you leave?”
“It’s at home.” He looked down at her. Her blonde hair feathered across the pillow and caught the light from overhead, softening the silky strands. He reached out to touch it as he often did, but her icy look kept him at a distance. “That’s what you want? To be here alone in a hospital, in this town, and not knowing anyone?”
She nodded and pointed to the door.
“Then I’ll go.” Collin paused at the doorway and turned to give her a chance to change her mind. She didn’t say anything, just lay there looking like a lost child, eyes wide and fighting tears. “Nice meeting you, Jazz Sweet.” He knew he needed to convince her to come home with him. He couldn’t leave her here until her memory returned. There had to be a way, but for now, he’d let her think she’d won this battle. He left the room and didn’t look back.

http://www.dianabrandmeyer.com

http://www.dianabrandmeyer.com/blog (blog)

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/dianalesirebrandmeyerauthor

Twitter @dianabrandmeyer

Changes Are in the Air

2012-08-04 12.48.21If you follow my Facebook page this change isn’t new to you. Incidentally, you can like my page at https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyRoseJohnson?ref=hl

Beginning Monday February 18th, I will no longer be reviewing books. Instead, I have booked author interviews where they will take about their new release. Most have agreed to give away one copy of their book to a lucky commenter.

I hope you enjoy this new format and tell all your friends so they can get in on the drawings. Next weeks author is Diana Lesire Brandmeyer. She didn’t do an interview, but is sharing the first chapter with us and giving away one copy of her book Mind of Her Own.

Love’s Journey Home

953184Love’s Journey Home by Kelly Irvin is an Amish romance.

Back cover description

It’s been seven years since her husband died, but Helen Crouch is doing just fine. She’s selling her jams and canned goods at the bakery and making a tidy living. But her whole world goes topsy-turvy when a new family moves to town. Gabriel Gless has brought his children to Bliss Creek to escape the worldly influences in Indiana. Helen and Gabriel have so much in common–the loss of their beloved spouses, the experience of raising their families alone, their rock-solid faith–so why can’t they seem to speak without arguing?

And that’s not all that’s going on in Bliss Creek this summer. In the middle of a punishing drought, the community is faced with the decision to uproot their families and establish a new settlement. As families struggle to say goodbye, each one must find the faith to follow the Lord’s direction.

I’m not a huge fan of Amish fiction and I warned Kelly of this when I offered to read it, but I think anyone who enjoys Amish fiction will thoroughly enjoy this book. The characters are engaging and distinct and the story line is well thought out. This is the third book in the series, but easily stands alone. I received a copy of this book book for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to give a positive review.

The Next Big Thing

A bunch of authors are doing a fun blog hop to let people know what they are working on. I was asked to participate  and thought it would be fun. Be sure to click on the links at the end to keeping hopping. The following is a series of interview questions I was presented with about my own book that will release later this year.

What is the working title of your book? A Christmas Surprise

Where did the idea come from for the book?  I was trying to think of a fun setting and have always enjoyed visiting Leavenworth WA. The idea stuck and two weeks later I was on a train with my mom. We had a great time visiting with the locals and with my husband’s family as they shared about the Bavarian Village.

What genre does your book fall under?  Inspirational romance.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  This is a tough question. Unlike many writers I don’t visualize an actual person when I write.  I almost hate to say because I’d be typecasting my characters, but I’ll give it a shot. I saw a recent photo of Cate Blanchett  with a cute bob and that picture of her is a good rendition of how I imagine Keira.

For Pete my hero, Greg Vaughan would be a good choice.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  A young widow is ready to find love again, but she must first overcome her fear from the past to move toward her future.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents line is my publisher.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  I’m guessing here, because I can’t remember, but I believe it was a few months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  Smitten. The first story in the book in particular. Birthday Wishes  by Colleen Coble

Who or What inspired you to write this book?  I think my love of romance and the feeling I get when I’m in Leavenworth made me want to write this story. This is actually the category romance I have ever written. For several years I wrote romantic suspense, but was unable to find a publisher for my manuscripts. A friend suggested I try category romance and voila, A Christmas Surprise was born. 🙂

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? For me the setting is amazing. Imagine a quaint German village nestled in the mountains with a smattering of snow and lovely Christmas lights and greenery adorning all the buildings.

If you love dogs you won’t be disappointed. The Hero is a veterinarian, and the most adorable puppies play a role in the storyline.

Don’t forget to hop over to these blogs next Wednesday to find out what their next big thing is. Thanks for reading about my next big thing!

http://www.sharonalavy.com

http://judeurbanski.blogspot.com

www.booksbyjoicopeland.blogspot.com