Finally, Haven’s Fire is Coming!

IMG_2373My cat, Link, looks the way I feel after all my writing, editing, composing dedications, acknowledgements, and doing all the other promotional stuff writers need to do in the wake of a book’s release.

But it’s finally here. Haven’s Fire, book three of the Hunting Haven series is set to release on April 16th on Amazon. It will be on sale for 99 cents in the Kindle version on that day!

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Kids Don’t Forget

img_2610When I was in the first grade I had a rather severe teacher named Mrs. Flaherty. She was a good teacher, though, and I enjoyed writing in my workbooks and reading stories and doing art.

Mrs. Flaherty had a mass of wavy dark hair, cut short, as was the style in 1960. She wore knee-length dresses, cinched in, and I admired her slender waist and the graceful, adult way that she walked and talked.

Someday, I’ll be a grown-up, I thought, and I’ll wear pretty dresses and my hair will be styled just like Mrs. Flaherty’s.

I was a quiet child—way too quiet— but studious, smart, obedient. But one day, Mrs. Flaherty told us all not to talk. Since I was a quiet child, and my mouth was always closed anyways, this was not a problem for me. But the girl next to me was not a quiet child, and she continued to chat at me. Finally, I whispered, “You’re not supposed to talk.”

And Mrs. Flaherty caught me—not her—talking.

She said, “All right, I said not to talk.” I knew even at the age of six that she meant to make an example of me. “Go out into the hall and sit there until I say you can come back,” she said in her severe way.

I sat, frozen, unable to protest. Going out into the hall was humiliating. It meant, “You’re a bad kid.” But I wasn’t a bad kid. I was just a frightened, withdrawn, pathologically shy six year old. Surely when Mrs. Flaherty saw how truly upset I was she’d relent and forgive me. But, no. She repeated, “Go out into the hall.”

I couldn’t move. Nothing like this had ever happened to me at school. My mouth went dry.

Mrs. Flaherty came and stood over me, folding her long elegant arms across her chest, her glance telling me forgiveness was not going to happen. When I still couldn’t make my legs move, she said in her grown-up, scary way, “Do you want me to carry you?”

The rest of the class sat as frozen as I was, watching with horrified eyes, probably relieved they weren’t the object of Mrs. Flaherty’s humiliation.

Finally, I stood, trembling with humiliation and the injustice of it all, and crept to the door that led to the inner hallway of the school.

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(I’m the cute little girl on the right with my big sisters, Lee and Lori.)

I didn’t forget that incident. Neither have I forgotten the incident which occurred two months later when I accidentally stepped on Mrs. Flaherty’s foot in my happy haste to exit the school-room door at the end of the day.

She hauled me back into the room and accused me of having stepped on her foot on purpose. At the age of six, most kids haven’t learned to take such revenge. I know this because I’ve worked with kids my whole life, and six year olds don’t think that far. They’re very much in the moment.

Anyway, after a stern lecture, and bringing me to tears, she let me go.

I think it’s sad that a good teacher isn’t remembered for her success, but her failure. Since she was clearly aware that I was a good child and a good student, and very, very shy, she could have extended grace. But no, it was more important to make an example of me.

Mrs. Flaherty did not realize, or care, how such interactions affect a child. For a terribly shy child, this kind of treatment only served to make me withdraw even more. She let her personal need to establish her authority and control sweep away all feelings of compassion or understanding for an unsmiling, withdrawn child.

In the sixth grade, I was blessed to have the exact opposite teacher. Mrs. Steele studied her pupils and worked each day to bring out the best in them. She cared when adults failed to listen to kids. But she never pampered us or praised us simply for existing. She discovered that I was talented in art and praised me for my works, even commissioning me to paint murals for the school. When she saw that I was athletic, she encouraged me to take some bold steps in joining the track team and competing in the intramural contests. I’ve never forgotten her kindness, her smoky deep voice, and her justice.

Kids need justice. Not just endless mercy or undue harshness. When adults are biased or unfair, kids never forget. Some grow up to champion the underdog. Others form a hard crust around their hearts.

Those childhood experiences stayed with me as I worked with special ed kids, or taught music classes, or theater. Find the key to each child’s heart and gently open so you can pour kindness and instruction into them.

Praise Him, all ye little Children

I’m a writer now, and I’ve been thinking about why I write. Why do other people write? I have a theory about this. I believe that writing is a way of redressing some kind of injustice. Think about it: how many good stories are about the underdog and his journey to rise about his status? We’ve all experienced injustice of some sort. And sometimes, the most powerful of those happened when we were young and just beginning to learn that the world is not fair.

 

I’ve got a new novel releasing on May 10. It’s the third installment of my Hunting Haven trilogy, and it, too, is about injustice. I hope you’ll give it a try. It’s called, Haven’s Fire. And yes, there is a real fire in the story. It’ll be available through Amazon as both an ebook and a paperback.

 

 

Writing Inspiration

 

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So, last weekend, my honey and I had tickets (courtesy of my wonderful son and daughter-in-law, Ian and Danielle) to the ballet, Sleeping Beauty. Bruce made reservations at our favorite downtown Seattle hotel and also dinner reservations at the Metropolitan, my favorite steak restaurant.

Here’s me, enjoying oysters on the half shell. I LOVE oysters!

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The ballet was exquisite, the dancing, the set design, the music. And to top it off, no one sat directly in front. Being only five foot one, the seat in front of me is always a spoiler. I usually get the person over six foot tall, or the person with really big hair. Worse yet are the two affectionate people in front of me who love to snuggle and whisper sweet nothings, completely obscuring the action on stage. Argh!

But this time, like a special gift from God, no one had purchased seat A12. Praise the Lord! Thank You, Father.

We took the Monorail to the downtown stop, hopped off and hoofed it the rest of the way to the Metropolitan. Expensive, but for a once-a-year treat, highly recommended.

Another gift from God: at our hotel, we were upgraded to a luxurious corner room , just yards away from the seaport, where I got to settle into a comfy chair and watch the Ferries come in and then embark a few minutes later.

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These weekend specials don’t happen all the time. Most weekends, we’re doing home improvements, entertaining, shopping for groceries, getting ready for Sunday ministries. But it’s nice every once and a while to to something lovely and out of the ordinary.

And when our planned special day turns out even better than we’d anticipated, I see the tracks of God all over it. I imagine Him saying, “There you go, my child. Something special, just because……….”

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Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

Link, the Cat

My daughter moved up here to stay with us temporarily. She brought her cat, Link.

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At eight months old, Link is still a kitten, with all the playfulness, mischief and energy the word, kitten, implies.

It’s amazing how one’s household changes with another person residing upstairs. But the presence of a cat totally changes the way Bruce and I operate.

For one thing, we have to be very careful where we step. Link likes to weave through our feet, a recipe for disaster when you’re walking downstairs.

Link likes to bite. Not bad bites, and he stops as soon as you go “ach!”

Like most youngsters, Link has boundless energy and loves to be the center of attention. It’s hard not to pay attention to him. He’s adorable, with marmalade fur, amber eyes, and a line of darker fur which slants downward from his eyes to his temples, giving him a somewhat comically sad expression.

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And his tail. What a tail! He’s got medium length, very soft fur, but his tail is the tail of a Persian cat. I find it hard to resist playing with that wondrous tail even when he’s getting more playful and more prone to bite at each passing second.

Link likes to watch TV, especially when I’m watching my favorite Nat Geo animal shows. He runs over to the TV and tries to bat at the wild animals moving across the screen.

As a growing boy, he’s always hungry. He’s gotten me so soft that I gave him my last bite of sliced roast beef.

I have to keep the lid of the piano down any time I’m not practicing because he loves to explore the length of the ivory, jumping at the strange sounds that tink or plunk or growl from the throat of this big mahogany beast. I say, “Link, get off Joanne! She doesn’t like you running on her keys.”

Like any youngster, Link loves to explore. He accidentally got locked inside our storage room the other day when Kiri went down there to get something. But he wasn’t upset. He spent those two dark hours,—I imagine—inspecting, sniffing, jumping up, jumping down, discovering and batting about a bug or spider carcass, mapping in his cat head those places he might explore more thoroughly at a later opportunity.

A dog would have howled if he’d been left locked up downstairs, away from his person. But not Link. He’s a cat’s cat, a miniature tiger, a natural-born killer, roaming his new domicile, ever hopeful that a mouse or bunny will appear to satisfy his craving for the hunt and the kill.  Vocalizing, “kick,kick,kick” softly, in the back of his throat at the sight of birds or squirrels at the bird feeder on my deck.

Everything about cats is stalking and killing. Besides procreating and rearing their young, cats only think about murder. Sure, they’re affectionate, and they enjoy the attention of their people. But even when they’re enjoying your attention, their tails twitch and their eyes watch the movement of your hands for any signs of becoming  prey. If Link were thirty pounds bigger, he’d probably kill one of us in a second of unbridled instinct.

Still, I’ve grown fond of this marmalade-colored murderer. With a few adaptations on my part, I think I can keep my feet and ankles safe from his claws.

When Kiri is ready to move, I’ll miss the cat, too.

 

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This is totally off the subject, but I wanted to give you a heads-up about the release of book three of The Hunted series. Haven’s Fire, the exciting, slightly creepy, romantic suspense-filled completion of this trilogy is due to release on May 10th. It will be a paper-back and an ebook.

I’m currently looking for volunteers who would be willing to read an Advance Reader Copy and post a review on Amazon a few days before the book releases. If you’re interested in doing this, the Advance Reader Copy will be sent to you as an ebook. (No paper-back copies. Sorry!) I need tons of reviews, so please consider this.

Let me know in the comments section if you’re interested.

Have a wonderful day!

Seeking the Creator in nature and the arts

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