Tag Archives: Jo Huddleston

Unraveled with Jo Huddleston

HuddlestonJo Huddleston is a multi-published author who writes novels inspired by her fascination with the 1950s and her love of her native American South. Novels in her endearing Caney Creek series, her West Virginia Mountains series, as well as her stand-alone release, Tidewater Summer, are sweet Southern romance novels. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN). Visit Jo at her website (www.johuddleston.com) where you can sign up for her mailing list and read the first chapters of her novels and novellas.

UNRAVELED 300 dpiUnraveled Back Cover Blurb:

 Alice loses herself in grief and can’t find her way back.

In 1954, twenty-six-year-old Alice Patterson undergoes a pregnancy loss that affects everything and everyone she touches. Emotionally and physically drained, she must come to terms with her traumatic loss or risk losing her husband, her best friend, and her sanity.

Her best friend JayNell and her husband Paul offer Alice support and comfort. She persists in her grieving, which hinders her healing. The doctor advises there is no normal recovery period for what Alice has undergone. Time is her best ally.

In her small southern Mississippi town, her church Sewing Circle’s new project triggers an unsettling setback to Alice’s recovery. Afterward, she succumbs to suspicions of Paul’s infidelity that causes her collapse, from which she may not recover.

Paul’s unspoken goal is that they will recapture the love they held for one another on their wedding day. He’s hopeful that the approaching spring season will bring a reawakening of the Alice he married, as it brings a newness to all living things.

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Tuesday, March 2, 1954—Talasia, Mississippi

Alice Patterson bolted upright in the bed and listened for what had awakened her. She heard nothing out of the ordinary. Only the hushed, even snores from her husband Paul’s side of the bed. The black hole in her recurring nightmares must have invaded her subliminal mind—again. She had awakened before she sank into its depths. Paul still slept. Obviously, she hadn’t screamed out this time.

She eased from beneath the covers, pushed her feet into house slippers, and grabbed her pink terry cloth robe lying across the foot of the bed. After stepping into the hall and pulling the door shut, she stuffed her arms into her robe and tied the sash around her waist. She knew her house, even in the night, and walked to the darkened bedroom next to hers and Paul’s.

Pale light from the street lamp outside huddled beyond the curtains covering the lone window. Standing in the middle of the room, she peered toward the baby bed, then her gaze focused on the rocking chair with the golden cushions padding its back and seat. She went to the small chest placed against the wall across the room and opened the music box sitting atop it. The tiny box played its shrill rendition of “Brahms’ Lullaby.”

Alice sat in the rocking chair and idly moved it with one foot grazing the hardwood floor, her arms empty. She remained there even after the music box played its last note. Blinding light burst from the hall and pierced the darkness of the room to reveal the baby bed. Empty.

Paul’s voice reached her through the night. “You all right?”

Would she ever be all right again? She turned toward the open door where her husband’s silhouette stood in dark contrast to the brightness behind him. “I couldn’t sleep.”

“It’ll be daylight soon. Come on back to bed. If you can’t sleep, at least you can rest your body. You need to conserve your energy to help regain your strength.”

Paul repeated what Dr. Stallings had told her before he released her from the hospital ten days ago. But what did she need her strength for? She no longer carried the baby they’d both dreamed of. Her body was now empty like her arms and the baby bed.

Book’s Purchase Link: http://amzn.to/2rczXKZ

Links to Huddleston Online:

BookBub Profile: http://bit.ly/2liB0G3

Website and blog (Read novel first chapters here): http://www.johuddleston.com

Sign up for Jo’s mailing list: http://bit.ly/1ZFaZwG

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2cfSroU

Facebook author page: http://bit.ly/2aqFEeT

Facebook personal page: http://on.fb.me/1Ubic69

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1QAPtFv

Inspirational blog: http://bit.ly/2gttKVr

Tidewater Summer with Jo Huddleston

Mistakes happen and today I made one. I accidentally re-posted a book from Jo Huddleston that I’d already told you about. Here is the book I was supposed to share with you today. Sorry for the extra post.

TidewaterWill Rose find the solitude she seeks during her island summer or is solitude what she really wants?

A compelling story of one woman’s pursuit of restoration from physical abuse at the hands of her fiancé. Rose Marie Henley’s Great-Aunt Clara convinces Rose to spend the summer at her South Carolina beach house.

Aunt Clara’s handyman sends his nephew to repair Rose’s water heater. Last year Rose would have been excited to see his over-the-top handsome nephew, Frank Sutton. But now she doesn’t want any man in her life again.

Frank has an instant attraction to Rose. Can he break through her defenses? He’ll do anything to protect her, but will she open her heart to trust him?

huddlestonJo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Novels in her West Virginia Mountains series, her Caney Creek series, and her standalone novel, Tidewater Summer, are sweet Southern historical romances. Jo is a member of ACFW and the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN). Learn more at www.johuddleston.com where you can read first chapters of her novels and novellas and also sign up for her mailing list.

 

Buy Link for book: http://amzn.to/2ezu16V

 Links to Huddleston Online:

Website and blog (Read novel first chapters here): http://www.johuddleston.com

Sign up for Jo’s mailing list: http://bit.ly/1ZFaZwG

With Good Intentions by Jo Huddleston

A sweet romance spiced with deception, set in 1959.
With Good IntentionsJean Stewart and her mama stand firm to protect their family business from a big-city developer’s takeover. Oscar Wainworth sends his son William to convince the ladies to sell their property. William has an instant attraction to Jean, believes he shouldn’t be the one to discuss the sale with the Stewarts, and gives them a fake name. If they know he’s a Wainworth, he’s likely to find himself out on the sidewalk.

One lie leads to another until William may have dug a hole too deep to escape. By stealth he learns that Jean can’t associate with anyone who is dishonest. To win Jean’s love, William must convince her that his lies flowed from good intentions.

huddlestonJo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Novels in her West Virginia Mountains series, her Caney Creek series, and her standalone novel, Tidewater Summer, are sweet Southern historical romances. Jo is a member of ACFW and the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN). Learn more at www.johuddleston.com where you can read first chapters of her novels and novellas and also sign up for her mailing list.

 

 

 

Book’s Purchase Link:

http://amzn.to/2lTR7LF

 

Links to Huddleston Online:

Website and blog (Read novel first chapters here): http://www.johuddleston.com

Sign up for Jo’s mailing list: http://bit.ly/1ZFaZwG

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2cfSroU

Facebook author page: http://bit.ly/2aqFEeT

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

October 1959—Birmingham, Alabama

William Wainworth shifted in his chair, stretched his long legs beneath the massive conference table, and braced for the impending reprimand from the CEO. This regular Monday morning meeting of Wainworth Development sales staff had gone on longer than he’d expected.

He would loosen his necktie but doing so would violate the expectations Wainworth’s CEO held for his male employees: wear a coat and tie when representing Wainworth Development. His daddy being the CEO of Wainworth Development, William had that rule ingrained in him from an early age.

Among other stellar traits, his daddy dressed immaculately, and he expected his workforce to follow his example. His appearance had favorably impressed many clients who sat with him in his Birmingham office. Every weekday, he never ventured outside his home without the requisite coat and necktie. William had never seen him wear wrinkled pants or curled-up shirt collars.

Now, Oscar Wainworth stood tall, slender, and good-looking between the head of the table and an easel, his index finger tapping on a sketch positioned there. William moved his attention from his daddy to the sketch, a street-level drawing of storefronts along a sidewalk in Conroy, Alabama.

Wainworth Development sought to purchase that entire block of businesses, demolish the buildings, and replace them with an apartment complex having a bookstore on the first floor. Sitting across the street from a growing college, the location proved ideal for Wainworth’s purpose.

The building plans had received the city’s approval. Wainworth representatives had successfully gained signatures on real estate contracts to acquire all the properties except one. The smallest business on the block refused to sell, despite repeated overtures from Wainworth Development.

Oscar Wainworth faced the dozen or so men seated around the table in chairs upholstered in rich, brown leather. He put his palms on the gleaming tabletop and leaned forward. “Gentlemen, this one small store is the monkey wrench in this whole deal. We’ve bought up all the properties on the block, yet here’s this little hole-in-the-wall ice cream shop smack-dab in the middle that you’ve not convinced to sell. Why is that? Why this one store?”

Mumbled reasons and comments circulated around the massive table. William and Oscar had heard them all before. Oscar Wainworth stood straight, his six-foot-four height menacing, and met the eyes of each salesman. “Yes, the owners are females, and you’ve all probably tried to be gentlemanly in your contacts with them. That’s commendable and appropriate.

“But, men, you need to work with these ladies just as you would any other client. Wainworth Development is a business, and you must conduct yourselves accordingly—doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a man or a woman. However, it’s time to get tough with these women. Understood?”

The men bobbed their heads in sync as if they followed the directions of an orchestra conductor, and his daddy continued. “Do I have to go down there and show you how it’s done? Must I close this deal myself? I assure you I will not be happy if I do.”

His gaze settled on his son. “William, I want you to go down to Conroy and convince the owners to sell. This has become a special case, and if you’ve learned anything from me in your thirty-two years, you’ll be successful. You drive on down there and stay as long as it takes to get the job done.”

“Yes, sir, I will.”

“Get going. Now.” He waved a hand toward the closed door to spur William into motion. “Ask Gloria for the files on this property and be on your way. Check back with me when you get there.”

William pushed his chair away from the conference table and rose. “Yes, sir.” His daddy was a workaholic, especially since his wife, William’s mama, had died five years ago. Oscar Wainworth put in a sixty-hour work week, never leaving a job undone. He expected similar dedication in his staff.

Finally outside the conference room and waiting at Gloria’s desk for her to collect the files, William exhaled. He didn’t mind that his daddy booted him out of the meeting—anything beat sitting in a stuffy roomful of cigar smoke.

Gloria returned and handed him several file folders. “Here are the files you need. Good luck. I hope your trip goes better than those of the other men Mr. Wainworth has sent down there.”

“Thanks. Where did the other guys stay? You got the name of a hotel?”

“Yes, they stayed at the Conroy Hotel. I’ll telephone to reserve you a room. How long will you be staying?”

“Maybe for the remainder of the week.”

~

Same Day—Conroy, Alabama

William carried his luggage up to a second-floor hotel room, then returned downstairs to grab a late lunch in the hotel’s dining room. When he crossed the lobby, the antiquated wooden floors groaned beneath his every step. Inside the dining room, booths lined one wall and tables covered with white linen tablecloths dotted the floor space.

He asked the hostess for a booth, and she seated him at a high-back wooden booth near the entrance. After a light lunch of steaming vegetable soup and a ham sandwich, he found a pay phone in the lobby and stepped into the booth to call Birmingham.

“Good afternoon. Wainworth Development.”

“Gloria, ring my daddy’s office, please.”

Shortly, he heard his daddy’s voice. “That you, William? How does the lay of the land look down there?”

“Just letting you know I’m here. Haven’t seen the owners yet, but plan to go there now.”

“Fine, fine. How about you call me every morning about ten o’clock to bring me up-to-date with what you’re doing? We’ve got to get this deal finalized.”

“Yes, sir, I’ll do that.”

William stepped out of the telephone booth to walk outside the red brick hotel. He stood on the sidewalk, hands shoved into his pants pockets. Without haste, he scanned what he could see of the town—to his left, a bank stood on the corner, and to his right, a drugstore anchored that corner, its front facing away from him.

Not many folks moving around, and from the casual dress of those passing by him, then had to be college students. He glanced at his polished shoes and creased dress pants—shades of Oscar Wainworth. He’d stand out like a palm tree at the North Pole among these young people. Might as well put a sign on his back saying, Here I am from the big city. I want to buy your property.

He returned to his hotel room, tugging off his necktie as he opened his luggage. Later, again on the sidewalk, dressed in blue jeans with his long-sleeved dress shirt now open at the neck, his black leather bomber jacket, and loafers, William breathed in the fresh air. A satisfying change from the pollution that filled the air over Birmingham.

Turning to his right, he sauntered west until he reached the corner and stopped. He faced the street in front of the drugstore and read the signpost: College Street. Some committee must have worked many hours to come up with that original name—the street sliced through downtown Conroy, Alabama, between the college and the town. The next block to his left held the businesses Wainworth Development had bought. Except for the ice cream shop. Might as well head on down there.

He crossed the street when the traffic light changed. Again on the sidewalk, he passed the stores that would soon disappear once Wainworth had acquired all the properties.

Before he reached his destination, the clock tower atop a lofty red brick building across College Street tolled the hour. Three o’clock. A spattering of foot traffic moved across the manicured lawns of nearby campus buildings. Probably class-changing time.

A short distance farther, William stood outside the building whose purchase depended on him. The sign above the door read: Stewart’s Ice Cream Shop.

Inside, William verified that his daddy had been correct when he referred to the business as a hole-in-the-wall place. With about only 400 square feet, the twelve-foot wide, deep room measured about thirty-five feet from the entrance to a closed swinging door in the back. Along the right wall, chairs occupied the length of the room, stopping at a pay phone attached to the wall and a display case that faced the entrance.

The tile floor shone, and on his left stood three ice cream cases, each about eight feet long. Their fronts were white and spotless, and no fingerprints smudged the glass through which sat numerous opened tubs of ice cream. The sweet, pleasant scent of ice cream filled the room and drew William to follow the customers already in the shop.

He fell in line with a few college students awaiting their turn to be served. The kids weren’t impatient, but rather they calmly shuffled toward the cash register. He’d skipped dessert in anticipation of his visit to the ice cream shop, and the various flavors listed on the wall tempted him.

An attractive woman probably in her late forties with dark hair and a pleasant face worked efficiently behind the counter. Another female stood behind the tall display case near the rear of the room. He could only see the back of her head and didn’t have a clue to what she did. Soon William stood first in the line.

“May I help you?” the woman asked.

“Yes, ma’am. I’d like a cone—two scoops, please.”

“What flavor?”

“Vanilla and chocolate. Would you please put the vanilla on the cone first and then the chocolate?”

The woman dipped his ice cream onto a cone while William read the flavors painted on a wooden board hanging above a counter behind her. “You certainly offer a lot of flavors here.”

“And yet you choose our trusty standbys—vanilla and chocolate.”

“Yes, ma’am. Always been my favorites.”

William paid for his treat and took a seat in the last chair against the wall. From there he had an unlimited view of the business except for the area behind the display case to his right. His attention fell to the contents of the case. Behind the glass sat numerous delicious-looking desserts—artfully decorated cakes and pies waiting to be personalized with someone’s name, a tray of individually-wrapped ice cream sandwiches, and two log rolls made of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.

Everyone had been served, and either left with their ice cream or taken seats along the wall to eat their treats. The woman who had served him sauntered toward where William sat. She stopped at the empty counter space across from him, reached underneath it, and brought out a large piece of flat cardboard decorated with balloons of red, blue, green, and yellow and the name of the ice cream shop.

While the woman worked with the cardboard, she spoke to the girl behind the display case near him. “Did any Wainworth people contact you before I came to work?”

William angled his body toward the entrance, pretending lack of interest in what the woman had said. He watched the traffic outside the front window but kept his attention on the conversation before him.

The girl behind the display case joined the woman assembling the cardboard into a cake box. “No, ma’am. No one has come by or called, which is unusual for a Monday. For weeks now they’ve been persistent, showing up here almost every day.” The girl had on a white basic bib apron, as the older woman did, over her skirt and blouse and wore blue Keds on her feet.

“Maybe you’ve finally convinced them you mean it when you say we don’t want to sell.”

“Mama, I hope so, but I doubt that.” The two could be sisters, as attractive as they were, rather than mother and daughter. Probably the owners. The girl reached beneath the counter and pulled out another sheet of cardboard to give the older woman. “I’ve talked with some of the other business owners, and it appears we’re the only holdouts on the block.

“If that’s the case, rather than give up, Wainworth Development will increase their pressure on us to sell. I cringe every time someone dressed in a suit and necktie come through the door. All the Wainworth people think they can make us sell—they’re so arrogant and expect us to roll over and play dead when they wave money in front of us.”

Good thing William had changed clothes before visiting their shop.

“Their money would be nice, Jean. We could pay off the mortgage here and have some left over. I could get used to not working outside the home again.”

“Mama, please don’t go soft on this. We’re not going to sell! Daddy started this business, and we’ll do everything we can to keep it going.”

Jean’s mama put the assembled boxes underneath the counter and started toward the cash register to help new customers. The girl returned to whatever kept her busy behind the dessert case.

William left his chair and stepped nearer the display case, continuing to enjoy his ice cream cone. Bending at the waist and peering inside at the cakes, William didn’t notice the girl behind the case had approached him. A female voice drew his attention. “May I help you with something from the dessert case?”

He straightened and turned toward the voice. When their eyes met, hers were the color of the deepest part of the Gulf of Mexico waters and turned him into a bumbling adolescent. “Ah, well, no, thank you. Just, uh, looking. Did you make all these pretty cakes?”

She smiled, apparently enjoying his discomfort. “Yes, I did. See something you like in there?”

Not in the dessert case, he didn’t. But he wouldn’t mind getting to know the dark-haired woman standing next to him. “No, thanks. Guess I’ll just finish this cone I’ve started.”

“I recognize our regulars, the college kids, but I don’t believe you’ve been in here before. You new in town?”

“Yeah, you could say that. I’m, er, I’m doing some work on the college campus.”

“Oh? What’s that?”

“Uh, helping one of the professors with some research.”

“Then welcome to our town. I’m Jean Stewart.”

“Thanks. I’m Will….” Beyond her shoulder, he saw the wooden board where they listed their ice cream flavors. “…Will Woods.”

 

 

 

With Good Intentions with Jo Huddleston

Jhuddlestono Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Novels in her West Virginia Mountains series, her Caney Creek series, and her standalone novel, Tidewater Summer, are sweet Southern historical romances. Jo is a member of ACFW and the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN). Learn more at www.johuddleston.com where you can read first chapters of her novels and novellas and also sign up for her mailing list.

 

 

with-good-intentionsWith Good Intentions is A sweet romance spiced with deception, set in 1959.

Jean Stewart and her mama stand firm to protect their family business from a big-city developer’s takeover. Oscar Wainworth sends his son William to convince the ladies to sell their property. William has an instant attraction to Jean, believes he shouldn’t be the one to discuss the sale with the Stewarts, and gives them a fake name. If they know he’s a Wainworth, he’s likely to find himself out on the sidewalk.

One lie leads to another until William may have dug a hole too deep to escape. By stealth he learns that Jean can’t associate with anyone who is dishonest. To win Jean’s love, William must convince her that his lies flowed from good intentions.

Chapter 1

October 1959—Birmingham, Alabama

William Wainworth shifted in his chair, stretched his long legs beneath the massive conference table, and braced for the impending reprimand from the CEO. This regular Monday morning meeting of Wainworth Development sales staff had gone on longer than he’d expected.

He would loosen his necktie but doing so would violate the expectations Wainworth’s CEO held for his male employees: wear a coat and tie when representing Wainworth Development. His daddy being the CEO of Wainworth Development, William had that rule ingrained in him from an early age.

Among other stellar traits, his daddy dressed immaculately, and he expected his workforce to follow his example. His appearance had favorably impressed many clients who sat with him in his Birmingham office. Every weekday, he never ventured outside his home without the requisite coat and necktie. William had never seen him wear wrinkled pants or curled-up shirt collars.

Now, Oscar Wainworth stood tall, slender, and good-looking between the head of the table and an easel, his index finger tapping on a sketch positioned there. William moved his attention from his daddy to the sketch, a street-level drawing of storefronts along a sidewalk in Conroy, Alabama.

Wainworth Development sought to purchase that entire block of businesses, demolish the buildings, and replace them with an apartment complex having a bookstore on the first floor. Sitting across the street from a growing college, the location proved ideal for Wainworth’s purpose.

The building plans had received the city’s approval. Wainworth representatives had successfully gained signatures on real estate contracts to acquire all the properties except one. The smallest business on the block refused to sell, despite repeated overtures from Wainworth Development.

Oscar Wainworth faced the dozen or so men seated around the table in chairs upholstered in rich, brown leather. He put his palms on the gleaming tabletop and leaned forward. “Gentlemen, this one small store is the monkey wrench in this whole deal. We’ve bought up all the properties on the block, yet here’s this little hole-in-the-wall ice cream shop smack-dab in the middle that you’ve not convinced to sell. Why is that? Why this one store?”

Mumbled reasons and comments circulated around the massive table. William and Oscar had heard them all before. Oscar Wainworth stood straight, his six-foot-four height menacing, and met the eyes of each salesman. “Yes, the owners are females, and you’ve all probably tried to be gentlemanly in your contacts with them. That’s commendable and appropriate.

“But, men, you need to work with these ladies just as you would any other client. Wainworth Development is a business, and you must conduct yourselves accordingly—doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a man or a woman. However, it’s time to get tough with these women. Understood?”

The men bobbed their heads in sync as if they followed the directions of an orchestra conductor, and his daddy continued. “Do I have to go down there and show you how it’s done? Must I close this deal myself? I assure you I will not be happy if I do.”

His gaze settled on his son. “William, I want you to go down to Conroy and convince the owners to sell. This has become a special case, and if you’ve learned anything from me in your thirty-two years, you’ll be successful. You drive on down there and stay as long as it takes to get the job done.”

“Yes, sir, I will.”

“Get going. Now.” He waved a hand toward the closed door to spur William into motion. “Ask Gloria for the files on this property and be on your way. Check back with me when you get there.”

William pushed his chair away from the conference table and rose. “Yes, sir.” His daddy was a workaholic, especially since his wife, William’s mama, had died five years ago. Oscar Wainworth put in a sixty-hour work week, never leaving a job undone. He expected similar dedication in his staff.

Finally outside the conference room and waiting at Gloria’s desk for her to collect the files, William exhaled. He didn’t mind that his daddy booted him out of the meeting—anything beat sitting in a stuffy roomful of cigar smoke.

Gloria returned and handed him several file folders. “Here are the files you need. Good luck. I hope your trip goes better than those of the other men Mr. Wainworth has sent down there.”

“Thanks. Where did the other guys stay? You got the name of a hotel?”

“Yes, they stayed at the Conroy Hotel. I’ll telephone to reserve you a room. How long will you be staying?”

“Maybe for the remainder of the week.”

~

Same Day—Conroy, Alabama

William carried his luggage up to a second-floor hotel room, then returned downstairs to grab a late lunch in the hotel’s dining room. When he crossed the lobby, the antiquated wooden floors groaned beneath his every step. Inside the dining room, booths lined one wall and tables covered with white linen tablecloths dotted the floor space.

He asked the hostess for a booth, and she seated him at a high-back wooden booth near the entrance. After a light lunch of steaming vegetable soup and a ham sandwich, he found a pay phone in the lobby and stepped into the booth to call Birmingham.

“Good afternoon. Wainworth Development.”

“Gloria, ring my daddy’s office, please.”

Shortly, he heard his daddy’s voice. “That you, William? How does the lay of the land look down there?”

“Just letting you know I’m here. Haven’t seen the owners yet, but plan to go there now.”

“Fine, fine. How about you call me every morning about ten o’clock to bring me up-to-date with what you’re doing? We’ve got to get this deal finalized.”

“Yes, sir, I’ll do that.”

William stepped out of the telephone booth to walk outside the red brick hotel. He stood on the sidewalk, hands shoved into his pants pockets. Without haste, he scanned what he could see of the town—to his left, a bank stood on the corner, and to his right, a drugstore anchored that corner, its front facing away from him.

Not many folks moving around, and from the casual dress of those passing by him, then had to be college students. He glanced at his polished shoes and creased dress pants—shades of Oscar Wainworth. He’d stand out like a palm tree at the North Pole among these young people. Might as well put a sign on his back saying, Here I am from the big city. I want to buy your property.

He returned to his hotel room, tugging off his necktie as he opened his luggage. Later, again on the sidewalk, dressed in blue jeans with his long-sleeved dress shirt now open at the neck, his black leather bomber jacket, and loafers, William breathed in the fresh air. A satisfying change from the pollution that filled the air over Birmingham.

Turning to his right, he sauntered west until he reached the corner and stopped. He faced the street in front of the drugstore and read the signpost: College Street. Some committee must have worked many hours to come up with that original name—the street sliced through downtown Conroy, Alabama, between the college and the town. The next block to his left held the businesses Wainworth Development had bought. Except for the ice cream shop. Might as well head on down there.

He crossed the street when the traffic light changed. Again on the sidewalk, he passed the stores that would soon disappear once Wainworth had acquired all the properties.

Before he reached his destination, the clock tower atop a lofty red brick building across College Street tolled the hour. Three o’clock. A spattering of foot traffic moved across the manicured lawns of nearby campus buildings. Probably class-changing time.

A short distance farther, William stood outside the building whose purchase depended on him. The sign above the door read: Stewart’s Ice Cream Shop.

Inside, William verified that his daddy had been correct when he referred to the business as a hole-in-the-wall place. With about only 400 square feet, the twelve-foot wide, deep room measured about thirty-five feet from the entrance to a closed swinging door in the back. Along the right wall, chairs occupied the length of the room, stopping at a pay phone attached to the wall and a display case that faced the entrance.

The tile floor shone, and on his left stood three ice cream cases, each about eight feet long. Their fronts were white and spotless, and no fingerprints smudged the glass through which sat numerous opened tubs of ice cream. The sweet, pleasant scent of ice cream filled the room and drew William to follow the customers already in the shop.

He fell in line with a few college students awaiting their turn to be served. The kids weren’t impatient, but rather they calmly shuffled toward the cash register. He’d skipped dessert in anticipation of his visit to the ice cream shop, and the various flavors listed on the wall tempted him.

An attractive woman probably in her late forties with dark hair and a pleasant face worked efficiently behind the counter. Another female stood behind the tall display case near the rear of the room. He could only see the back of her head and didn’t have a clue to what she did. Soon William stood first in the line.

“May I help you?” the woman asked.

“Yes, ma’am. I’d like a cone—two scoops, please.”

“What flavor?”

“Vanilla and chocolate. Would you please put the vanilla on the cone first and then the chocolate?”

The woman dipped his ice cream onto a cone while William read the flavors painted on a wooden board hanging above a counter behind her. “You certainly offer a lot of flavors here.”

“And yet you choose our trusty standbys—vanilla and chocolate.”

“Yes, ma’am. Always been my favorites.”

William paid for his treat and took a seat in the last chair against the wall. From there he had an unlimited view of the business except for the area behind the display case to his right. His attention fell to the contents of the case. Behind the glass sat numerous delicious-looking desserts—artfully decorated cakes and pies waiting to be personalized with someone’s name, a tray of individually-wrapped ice cream sandwiches, and two log rolls made of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.

Everyone had been served, and either left with their ice cream or taken seats along the wall to eat their treats. The woman who had served him sauntered toward where William sat. She stopped at the empty counter space across from him, reached underneath it, and brought out a large piece of flat cardboard decorated with balloons of red, blue, green, and yellow and the name of the ice cream shop.

While the woman worked with the cardboard, she spoke to the girl behind the display case near him. “Did any Wainworth people contact you before I came to work?”

William angled his body toward the entrance, pretending lack of interest in what the woman had said. He watched the traffic outside the front window but kept his attention on the conversation before him.

The girl behind the display case joined the woman assembling the cardboard into a cake box. “No, ma’am. No one has come by or called, which is unusual for a Monday. For weeks now they’ve been persistent, showing up here almost every day.” The girl had on a white basic bib apron, as the older woman did, over her skirt and blouse and wore blue Keds on her feet.

“Maybe you’ve finally convinced them you mean it when you say we don’t want to sell.”

“Mama, I hope so, but I doubt that.” The two could be sisters, as attractive as they were, rather than mother and daughter. Probably the owners. The girl reached beneath the counter and pulled out another sheet of cardboard to give the older woman. “I’ve talked with some of the other business owners, and it appears we’re the only holdouts on the block.

“If that’s the case, rather than give up, Wainworth Development will increase their pressure on us to sell. I cringe every time someone dressed in a suit and necktie come through the door. All the Wainworth people think they can make us sell—they’re so arrogant and expect us to roll over and play dead when they wave money in front of us.”

Good thing William had changed clothes before visiting their shop.

“Their money would be nice, Jean. We could pay off the mortgage here and have some left over. I could get used to not working outside the home again.”

“Mama, please don’t go soft on this. We’re not going to sell! Daddy started this business, and we’ll do everything we can to keep it going.”

Jean’s mama put the assembled boxes underneath the counter and started toward the cash register to help new customers. The girl returned to whatever kept her busy behind the dessert case.

William left his chair and stepped nearer the display case, continuing to enjoy his ice cream cone. Bending at the waist and peering inside at the cakes, William didn’t notice the girl behind the case had approached him. A female voice drew his attention. “May I help you with something from the dessert case?”

He straightened and turned toward the voice. When their eyes met, hers were the color of the deepest part of the Gulf of Mexico waters and turned him into a bumbling adolescent. “Ah, well, no, thank you. Just, uh, looking. Did you make all these pretty cakes?”

She smiled, apparently enjoying his discomfort. “Yes, I did. See something you like in there?”

Not in the dessert case, he didn’t. But he wouldn’t mind getting to know the dark-haired woman standing next to him. “No, thanks. Guess I’ll just finish this cone I’ve started.”

“I recognize our regulars, the college kids, but I don’t believe you’ve been in here before. You new in town?”

“Yeah, you could say that. I’m, er, I’m doing some work on the college campus.”

“Oh? What’s that?”

“Uh, helping one of the professors with some research.”

“Then welcome to our town. I’m Jean Stewart.”

“Thanks. I’m Will….” Beyond her shoulder, he saw the wooden board where they listed their ice cream flavors. “…Will Woods.”

Book’s Purchase Link:

http://amzn.to/2lTR7LF

 

Links to Huddleston Online:

Website and blog (Read novel first chapters here): http://www.johuddleston.com

Sign up for Jo’s mailing list: http://bit.ly/1ZFaZwG

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2cfSroU

Facebook author page: http://bit.ly/2aqFEeT

Facebook personal page: http://on.fb.me/1Ubic69

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1QAPtFv

Inspirational blog: http://bit.ly/2gttKVr

BookBub Profile: http://bit.ly/2liB0G3

 

Equipment for Valley Travel by Jo Huddleston

Ephesians 2:14

My bedside vigil stretched into days as I watched meningitis suck precious life from the still form of my college-age child. Sunday afternoon I sat alone with my daughter, watching the disease apparently winning its battle. Gone were the twinkle in her eyes and the ready smile on her lips. The nurse had just left, the same one who had been coming in every 15 minutes to take vital signs. Pained and discouraged, I watched when she recorded on her chart a blood pressure reading only half what it should be.

Alone again in the hospital room, each of us experienced our own unique agony. Lying curled in a fetal position, my daughter moved only her eyes. With them almost swollen shut, she looked up at me through her consumed torture. “Mother, this may be my time to die,” she whispered. No panic or fear registered in her words or in her fevered eyes.

The same thought had been silently hammering inside my mind all afternoon. Holding her limp hand in mine, I leaned closer and said quietly, “Darling, it may be.” She shared a labored smile with me and slowly closed her eyes.

Amazingly, I did not curse God or offer him any arguments or attempt to bargain with Him to spare her life. I knew without doubt that my daughter believed in God’s Son and trusted Him for her salvation and eternal life.

As precious minutes slipped away in that lonely hospital room, I trusted God for his comfort and everlasting strength to support me (Isaiah 26:4). I rested in the assurance that my daughter also claimed these same promises. I saw peace on her swollen face when she closed her eyes. We both accepted God’s will.

Our pastor and his wife came by after evening church services. They barely concealed their shock at seeing my daughter’s hands and face twice their normal size. After speaking encouragement to her, they prayed with us in that still, quiet hospital room.

Looking back, I can only believe the Holy Spirit influenced every medical move my daughter’s doctors and nurses made. The next day, her health made an unbelievable change for the better. Since she was fully recovered by Wednesday morning, the doctors released her from their care.

On Wednesday evening when our pastor found my daughter’s hospital bed empty, he asked about her at the nurses’ station. Later he told us how much the nurses had marveled about her unexplainable recovery. “It’s just a miracle that she survived,” one nurse told him. We all smile now, knowing what absolute truth she spoke.

Does a Christian experience valleys between the mountaintop experiences? Yes. Those trying days when it was evident I might outlive my daughter were one of the deepest valleys I’ve traveled. God promises His buffering strength and calming peace for valley travel. We can always cling to His promises.

JO PK full

Jo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Her debut novels in the Caney Creek Series and her latest book, Wait for Me are sweet Southern romances. She is a member of ACFW, the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN), and holds a M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University. Jo lives in the U.S. Southeast with her husband, near their two grown children and four grandchildren. Visit Jo at www.johuddleston.com.

WAIT FOR ME finalBACK COVER BLURB for Wait for Me:

Can Julie, an only child raised with privilege and groomed for high society, and Robby, a coal miner’s son, escape the binds of their socioeconomic backgrounds? Set in a coal mining community in West Virginia in the 1950s, can their love survive their cultural boundaries?

 

This is a tragically beautiful love story of a simple yet deep love between two soul mates, Robby and Julie. The American South’s rigid caste system and her mother demand that Julie chooses to marry an ambitious young man from a prominent and suitable family. Julie counters her mother’s stringent social rules with deception and secrets in order to keep Robby in her life. Can the couple break the shackles of polite society and spend their lives together? Will Julie’s mother ever accept Robby?

You can purchase eBook for Kindle and print copies of Wait for Me at: http://tiny.cc/xndfwx

Claiming Peace

Claiming Peace final I’m happy to welcome back Jo Huddleston to share with us about her newest release Claiming Peace. Thanks for joining us again, Jo! Please tell us about your book.

Thanks, Kimberly. Claiming Peace is book 3 in the Caney Creek Series, a Southern inspirational historical romance. Here is the back cover blurb:

Facing her lowest moments, Callie’s life begins to crumble. As he’s done with others of his extended family, can Jim help her find peace? Visit again the Callaway family and friends in 1951 who live in the Southern Appalachians of East Tennessee. Why did Callie have an appointment with a neurologist? Will she work her way through whatever lies ahead for her and her family? Does Emmajean’s attraction for the young lawyer, Terry, blossom further or die on the vine when he wants her to meet his parents? Can Caroline and Jim find happiness in their long-delayed marriage? You’ll meet some new characters as the Callaway saga continues. Follow the Callaway family throughout the Caney Creek Series—live their triumphs, sorrows, achievements, and losses.

Great teaser! What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

If you feel God has given you a story to write, write it, and don’t give up!

That’s wonderful advice that is applicable to all areas of our lives. 🙂 What are you currently working on?

I’m busy with promotion on this last book of the Caney Creek Series. I have ideas for another series, set in West Virginia, but nothing official at this point.

We look forward to seeing what you end up doing with those ideas.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you absolutely want to have with you.

Only three? Let me think here. Many people know I am uncomfortable in the dark. So…my Bible, lots of candles and matches, and lots of drinkable water. I’d love to have paper and pencil to write, but I decided water would be more important on the island.

LOL, That’s more than three. Thanks for offering to give one lucky commenter a copy of Claiming Peace.

For a chance to win a copy of Claiming Peace please answer the following question:

What is your favorite holiday?

Rules: There must be at least 10 qualifying comments for the drawing to take place. You must have a U.S mailing address to qualify. Entries close at midnight Pacific time 9/29/13. The winner will be notified 9/30/13 and have until 10/6/13 to respond with a snail mail address. No alternate winner will be drawn if the winner doesn’t reply. Void where prohibited by law.

JO PHOTOJo Huddleston’s debut novel, That Summer, released in December 2012 as the first book in The Caney Creek Series. Huddleston holds a B.A. degree with honors from Lincoln Memorial University (TN), and is a member of their Literary Hall of Fame. She earned a M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University. Professional membership: American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Beyond the Past

A  B.P. COVER FINALToday we welcome Jo Huddleston to share with us about Beyond the Past. Please tell us about Beyond the Past, Jo.

Beyond the Past is an inspirational Southern historical novel with threads of romance and set in the Southern Appalachians of East Tennessee. Here is a little something about the book: Emmajean Callaway’s life in Atlanta plummets from bad to worse. Can big brother, Jim, lead her back to the family who loves her and also hold the imploding Callaway family together?

Jim Callaway looks forward to 1951 and the chance to forge a relationship with Caroline after twenty years apart. He’s sidetracked when his sister and his best friend need his help. His baby sister, Emmajean, skids into jail on drug charges in Atlanta. The ordeal of incarceration and trial diminishes her and she needs rescuing, not only physically but spiritually. She struggles toward recovery and restoration with her lawyer’s help as he champions her inside and outside the courtroom. Jim’s nephew Joe is one step ahead of the truant officer, wrecks his car, and officials suspect alcohol is involved. Joe awaits his fate at the hands of the juvenile court judge. Jim and Caroline continue their bumpy journey as they seek realization of their dreams, wondering if they really can overcome obstacles to their being together after so many years.

I noticed that this is the second book in the series. what was your inspiration?

I and my ancestors were raised in the Southern Appalachians of East Tennessee. I know and care about the people and lifestyle there, which gave me a unique perspective from which to write That Summer. At family reunions I’d listen to my relatives’ fascinating stories about time before I was born. Eventually, I wanted to do this novel and tell about some of the things I’d heard. This is a novel, a work of my imagination combined with remembrances of my family’s stories.

What is next for you?

I’m writing book #3 in the Caney Creek Series, Claiming Peace, which is scheduled to release September 2013.

Thanks for sharing with us about Beyond the Past. Now for a fun question.:) What is your favorite dessert? If you don’t like sweets. What is your favorite meal?

My favorite meal is (drum roll, please) pizza.


Ah, yes–pizza is good. Now for one last question. If your book were an animal what kind of animal would it be and why?

I can’t really equate my book to an animal. I will say that if I were to be an animal I would be an eagle. I love their graceful glide. And no other bird would pick on me!

What a great choice! Thanks for sharing.

Jo has offered to give away a copy of either the first book in the series (That Summer) or Beyond the Past to one lucky commenter,

To be entered you must answer the following question. Considering the explosion of eBook numbers, if you won a contest and had your choice of a print book or an eBook copy, which would you choose and why?

Contest rules: You must have a USA address. You must answer the above question. There must be ten qualifying comments for the drawing to take place. Void where prohibited by law. New followers receive an extra entry.

JO PHOTOJo Huddleston’s debut novel, That Summer, released in December 2012 as the first book in The Caney Creek Series. Huddleston holds a B.A. degree with honors from Lincoln Memorial University (TN), and is a member of their Literary Hall of Fame. She earned a M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University. Professional membership: American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Signed copies available in the left column on my site www.johuddleston.com