It's been a challenging thing, getting back into writing regularly after taking a break to grieve. However, I'm happy that I pushed through emotional pain to create a heartfelt story between a mother and daughter at a July 4th beach day for the Cat & Mouse Beach Holiday contest. I've been submitting short stories to this contest since 2018, but I haven't been successful since that first time at seeing my story among others in an award-winning anthology series. I've learned, though, that rejections aren't a bad thing for a writer. I use it to propel me to continue creating stories that I'd like to read. Besides, I already have a plan for any short story I write. One way or another, as I have breath, I will make them available for the world to enjoy.
Busy in the height of tax season, I put off thinking through what to submit until the beginning of May. However, days later, a memory that had stayed with me since my childhood came to mind. I proposed my idea via email, and Matt gave it a nod. Memorial weekend (U.S.) afforded me the couple hours I needed to write the story. I was so pleased when Matt accepted the piece and asked for my bio.
I look forward to reading the other authors' stories upon release.
Interested in participating? Check out Rings of Kindness (matthewjgoldberg.com). He's still accepting submissions. Good luck!
Just Between Us is a story about a pregnant single mom, Tosha, who is hesitant about giving love another chance after walking in on her daughter's father while he was with another woman. Tosha's friends assure her that blind date Zach is worth the leap, but she isn't sure this is the right move, especially now that she's pregnant with her cheating ex's baby.
Inspiration / Muse: One of the scenes in this story came to me during a weeklong bout with the flu back in 2012. High on fever, I dreamt up this drama-filled and sizzling romance novel. I was too sick to write notes as the scenes continued flashing through my mind. The story took on a life of its own. However, the pictures were so impactful, I never forgot what happened over the ten-year period it took me to prepare for its release.
Theme: Heartache happens to everyone at sometime during a lifetime. This story deals with how a person may respond to extreme betrayal and broken promises. Learning to trust again is not easy, even if the people around that individual can vouch beyond a doubt that this person is legit. Insecurities and doubts also play a part in how and whether the broken-hearted moves forward.
Journey: From 2012 to 2018, I'd worked on this story a little at a time. I read rough drafts to one of my older sisters as a bedtime story. She could hardly wait for me to finish the rest of it. When 2019 started, I focused on spending at least one hour per week building toward what I thought would be a novella. However, one some weekends, the characters wouldn't stop their chatter for hours. By mid-December of 2019, I finished the first draft of Zach and Tosha's story. I sent it to a Beta reader, but with the onslaught of the pandemic, it would take over a year before I received feedback. I'd missed the desired release date of January 20, 2021. Determined not to miss January 20, 2022, I pressed on to find an editor and a cover designer who could help me make that goal. In addition, I held a poll with fans to come up with the current title.
Meaning behind the cover: I asked the artistic, college-aged daughter of a work friend for help in designing a cover for Just Between Us. A swan sculpture plays a huge part in connecting Zach and Tosha, so both the Beta reader and I agreed that this symbol ought to be the focal point of the cover. I had so much fun fleshing out the idea during Zoom meetings and follow-up emails. Also, the purple color goes well with my icon pictured below.
Impact / Tribute: The special connection between devout siblings and close friends is the thread that flows throughout this novel. The value of these relationships revealed much during the past couple years. Many would not have made it through without them while others wished for such bonds. My heritage also played a huge part in this novel. I am a child of Kittitian immigrants. I found great pleasure in presenting what that is like through Zach's eyes.
Just Between Us continues to take the world by storm. Even after casual conversations about my newest release, people have asked to purchase this story. Routine visits to a hair salon have led to at least two book sales. After being fortunate enough to speak with a female veteran for the first time, she asked for a shipment of five autographed books, including Just Between Us and Danny R.O.S.S. I can't wait to hear what she thinks about them.
These two books have been a part of my life for the better part of a decade. I am so thrilled that more and more readers are delving into these stories and others that I have written with sweat, determination, and a ton of heart.
Being a writer isn't trivial work. Hours of editing take a lot of time and effort and the right person to catch the things that can make or break a story. I am grateful for critique groups, open mics, and friends who continue to cheer me on.
As always, for those of you who've read anything I've written, please do leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. I greatly appreciate your honest feedback.
Saturday, February 26, 2022, started out as any other vendor event day as I drove with a carful of books, a wagon, and a display case to my destination in Willingboro, NJ. Many other vehicles vied for position around me, quite busy for 8am traffic. A half-hour later, I pulled up to the curb in a space just vacated by another hopeful vendor. The crisp morning air didn't delay the flutter of helpers. Even check-in went without a hitch. I paced myself, not wanting to expend a lot of energy too soon. After all, I had nine hours ahead of me. I said a prayer and began to unpack the tablecloths, signage, bookmarks, mugs, and books. Hope welled up within me as the start time drew closer.
Once the flow of shoppers began, it hardly slowed down. I greeted many and gave the elevator pitch for the fourteen books stacked on the six-tier stand. The popular question, "You wrote all these books?" was met with something like, "Eleven, yes. I have short stories in two Chicken Soup for the Soul editions and one in a Cat & Mouse anthology." Jaws couldn't drop any lower. A handful of folks who'd heard me read a scene the previous week from Just Between Us picked up the book they'd thought about ever since I'd introduced them to Zach and Tosha. I kept signing books until after closing.
At the end of the day, I'd experienced my best sales day ever. These are the kinds of days every indie author dreams about. I'm so very grateful. Thank you to everyone who visited my table. You are much appreciated. Enjoy!
I released Just Between Us on January 20, 2022, on Amazon (Kindle, Print) and held a book release party on Facebook on January 22, 2022. I was so thrilled to celebrate an older sister's birthday in this way. I wanted to publish this story a year ago, but so many things worked against that happening. In fact, the release almost didn't occur this year on the day I wanted. I spent the better part of the previous week applying proofreading corrections and formatting the manuscript for both eBook and paperback.
The party was a hit with over a dozen in attendance and numerous views afterwards. I read the first two chapters plus the beginning of the third in voices that match how I heard each character speaking as I wrote the story. Many of the viewers suggested I record audio books. More to come on that possibility.
In the meantime, please consider purchasing a copy of Just Between Us and do leave a review so others can read what you thought about it.
Single mom Tosha has made a home with Chaz, her fiancé, and their toddler, Emily. She’d hoped that Chaz would have given her a wedding band after Emily’s birth, but he keeps dragging things out. During a visit to her friends’, Karida and Tevin, house, Tosha discovers she’s pregnant with Chaz’s second child. She figures he’d rush to the altar now. That is until she walks in on Chaz doing the nasty with another woman.
Young bachelor Zach is ready to commit to the right woman, but after the latest breakup, he’s grown hopeless that he’d find his match. His friends, Karida and Tevin, convince him to go on a blind date with a woman they are sure he’ll adore. Zach experiences an immediate connection to Tosha and takes her to visit a crystal statue of intertwined swans. She wins his heart when she gets the significance of the swan dance.
Tosha is amazed at how much she’s into Zach. The only problem: she bids him goodnight without telling him about her daughter and the baby on the way. He calls after the date as promised, but guilt over her secret prevents her from answering. Tosha’s not sure she’s ready to trust another man with her still healing heart.