Wake Up Your Muse Book Launch

Just in time for NaNoWriMo!

Wake Up Your Muse Book Launch Celebration

Looking for some inspiration for your NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Novel?

Look no further.


I'm excited to announce that my latest book...

Wake Up Your Muse
1001 Story Starters for Fiction Writers

is now available at both Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com!


To kick off our book launch, we will be giving away a Wake Up Your Muse coffee mug and a copy of Wake Up Your Muse - hot off the presses!

To participate, just submit a story to our Flash Fiction Challenge at WakeUpYourMuse.com

If you'd like a signed copy of Wake Up Your Muse, just drop me an EMAIL.


Need some inspiration while waiting for your copy to arrive? Check out the prompt generator at http://www.wakeupyourmuse.com and have fun!

Happy Writing,
Jan

Calling all Readers

"So what are those magic ingredients that make a novel a page-turner? What sustains the interest of the reader? What makes the reader care about what happens? What gives the reader a sense of involvement? What makes you buy a novel?"

I saw these questions on a writing forum today and they really grabbed my attention. I'm a writer, but before I was a writer, I was a reader.  It just makes sense that if I answer these questions as a reader, I will be a better writer...right?

So, I'm curious...as a reader, how would you answer these questions? I would love to hear your answers, because your opinion will make me a better writer, too.

Jan


-------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Alive and Kickin'

Bet you all thought I'd fell off the face of the earth. Nope, I'm still here.

My last post was August 12th - a week before I started back to work at Camelback Academy, then just as I was getting used to my new schedule, my brother's car broke down and I started driving him to work every day (2 hours in the morning and 2 hours at night). So, you can see that I haven't had much time to write lately.

The good news is that my brother got his car back today, so starting tomorrow, I get 4 hours added back into my day...plenty of time to write, but I just couldn't wait until tomorrow to post, so I'm doing it now!

Lots of fun things coming up for me. My book, Wake Up Your Muse - 1001 Story Starters for Fiction Writers is due out the first week of October and a devotional I wrote is being published in Gary Chapman's Love is a Verb Devotional, also due out the first of October.

I'm attending the American Christian Writer's conference in Phoenix at the end of October and will be participating in NaNoWriMo in November (writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days). I'm really excited about NaNoWriMo this year because my publisher, Written World Communications has arranged for Wake Up Your Muse to be a sponsor of NaNoWriMo this year.

As you can see - I've got a busy couple of months ahead of me, but I'm excited about what God's doing in my life and looking forward to all the fun.

So, what have YOU been up to lately? Leave me a comment so we can catch up with one another.

Jan

-------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Out Stealing Horses

As a writer, I've read many, many books on the writing process. I also love to read for the sheer enjoyment of it, but since the writing bug bit me several years ago, I read with a writer's eye, that is...as I read, I pay attention to how the author coins a phrase so that it evokes an emotion from me, how they describe the setting so I feel as if Im been there, how they plot the action so I feel like I'm right in the thick of it.

Today I read an excerpt from Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson that made me stop and think about the process of writing...

What I do, which I have never let anyone know, is I close my eyes every time I have to do something practical apart from the daily chores everyone has, and then I picture how my father would have done it or how he actually did do it while I was watching him, and then I copy that until I fall into the proper rhythm, and the task reveals itself and grows visible, and that’s what I have done for as long as I can remember, as if the secret lies in how the body behaves towards the task at hand, in a certain balance when you start, like hitting the board in a long jump and the early calculation of how much you need, or how little, and the mechanism that is always there in every kind of job; first one thing and then the other, in a context that is buried in each piece of work, in fact as if what you are going to do already exists in its finished form, and what the body has to do when it starts to move is to draw aside the veil so it all can be read by the person observing.

Per Petterson (2003/2007). Out Stealing Horses. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press.

I thought about the character and how he watched his father for clues when tackling a task he was unsure of and how taking those first steps the task seemed to reveal itself to him, so that he knew which step - which direction to take next.  I liked the idea of treating the piece of work as if it already exists in its finished form and then letting yourself be lead to the completion of the work.

It's like stepping out in faith, trusting that God will direct my writing as I go - seeing the finished product, then allowing God to take me there.

I've sort of been stuck at the beginning of my novel, afraid to take the next step because I'm not sure of the right direction.  I think that's because I've been trying to get there on my own, instead of allowing my Father to show me the way.

Over the next several days, I want to form a mental picture of my book, finished and doing well. Blessing those who read it - a work I can be proud of - one that agents and publishers would be proud to represent. Then, I'm going to start again, allowing Father, God to direct my writing.

It won't matter how long it takes or how many times I have to revise it, because each step of the journey will be revealed to me.

At least that's my plan...and it's a better plan than any I've had before, so we'll see what happens.

What do you think about this excerpt? Does it resonate with you like it did with me? Feel free to leave your comments. I'd love to hear what you think.


-------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Sleep Come Quickly


Sleep come quickly, come deeply, come soon
Let me drift off to Netherlands where my spirit is free.

Let me run with the angels on streets made of gold.
Let me bow with the saints as we worship our Lord.

Let me sit with my Father, who's gone on before
as we speak words of love that we couldn't before.

Sleep come quickly.


-------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Wake Up Your Muse

Need a little something to jumpstart your writing? How about a fun summer writing challenge and a chance to win a Wake Up Your Muse coffee mug?

In celebration of my upcoming release of Wake Up Your Muse - 1001 Story Starters for Fiction Writers, due out in October 2011, I'm is hosting a short story challenge.

Just hop on over to http://www.wakeupyourmuse.com, select one of five writing prompts from my book and enter to win.

You can also check out the Wake Up Your Muse writing prompt generator on the site.

Have fun and keep writing!

Jan

Starbucks Search Week

You all know that since my Borders is closing that I am in need of a new "Cheers" to do my away from home writing.  Thanks to LindaLou, who suggested I try Starbucks, I'm declaring this week Starbucks Search Week!

I know of at least 3 close to me and I'll bet I can find 2 more fairly close, so I'll go to one each day this week to see which one has the best atmosphere and friendliest staff.

If that doesn't work...I'll be trying other places close to me. Gotta find someplace I can run to when the house starts closing in on me.

There is a Barnes & Noble nearby and I like the idea of being surrounded by books while I write, so maybe I'll give that a whirl, too. Wish there was a little Mom/Pop Cafe that serves great (and cheaper) coffee (preferably lattes) that wouldn't mind if I hung out there, but again, I wouldn't be surrounded by books. Could do the library, but...no coffee.

Feel free to suggest other places you think might work.

Wish me luck!

-------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Who's Watching the Children?

Flash Fiction based on an experience I witnessed at McDonalds this evening...

"Do you like cookies and ketchup?"

I looked down to see a little girl about 5 years old pumping ketchup into a white paper cup. She lined it up with five other filled cups on the counter, licked some excess ketchup off her fingers and then reached for another cup.

"I like cookies and ketchup," she said pumping the next cup full.

"Alicia! Come here now!" called a woman standing in line to place her order.

She looked at me as if I were some kind of pervert who had enticed her daughter into a conversation.

I finished filling my cup with Diet Coke as the child reached for another cup and began pumping. "Do you want some ketchup?" she asked.

"Alicia! I said come here," called her mother again.

Alicia ignored her and continued filling the cup. "You want some ketchup?" she asked again, setting one of the white cups on my tray.

"Thank you," I said.

Alicia's mother stepped out of line, stormed across the room and snatched her daughter away, leaving 7 little white paper cups filled with ketchup sitting in a neat row on the stainless steel counter.

As she passed, the woman gave me a dirty look.

So, I guess it was my fault that her daughter was talking to a stranger.

Wake up people!

-------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Got my critique back!

I won a 1st Five Pages critique from the nice folks at Seekerville. Submitted them last week and got my review back this week.  They said...

"Thanks for the opportunity to read your pages. I’ll tell you right now you have a very unique story idea which comes with its own built in conflict. You nailed the hard part. 

Now the easy part is tweaking this story..."

There was lots more helpful critique and encouragement, so I'm excited about continuing on with my novel, Zoey's Quest, thought not so sure that writing the entire novel is "the easy part!"

Love the gals at Seekerville. Drop by if you get a chance and say hello to them.
-------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

God is up to something!

grapic courtesy  ba1969,
rgbstock.com
After writing my last post about Borders closing, I moped around for a couple of hours, wondering what I was going to do, now.  No more "I'm running up to Borders."  It was a real pity party until I heard God's small, still voice inside me whisper a scripture...

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19

At once I felt a little tickle of excitement rising up inside.  I love it when God is up to something new in my life! I don't know what it is and I'm sure it will mean that He has to sand off a few more of my rough edges, but I'm in!

That was Sunday - the past couple of days have been fun.  I've had this air of expectancy and joy about me and a heightened awareness of God working in my life.  What could be better than that???

Bring it on, God - I'm ready!

-------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Goodbye Old Friend

Photo courtesy theBoyds, Flickr.com
This is ridiculous! I am sitting here sobbing because a bookstore is closing.

Thought I would pop up to Borders to check out the sales, now that the store is closing. Never dreamed I would have this reaction.

I was just there on Tuesday with my friend Joy, as we normally do on Tuesdays. Talked with some of the employees about the store closing and how sad it is, but didn't really expect things to happen so quickly. Kristy, my sweet little barista made me a latte as usual, browsed through the store, then Joy and I settled down at the reference table for a rousing game of Bananagrams.  We've been doing this for several years, now, and I love it.

I've written 2 books while sipping lattes in that Borders and Lee and I have had many date nights that end at Borders for a latte nightcap.  In fact, Lee and I have been going to Borders for over 17 years!  It's the place I go when I'm bored, when I need to get out of the house, when I need to write without distraction...when I want a good latte.  It's my place!

When I walked in today, I headed for the cafe for a last latte and it was roped off, dark and deserted...closed forever. all the gals and guys that made me lattes over the years are now out of work.  The place was crawling with scavengers - where were they when the store was struggling to stay open?

I'm sure I'll get over this, but for now, a big part of me is gone.  Isn't that silly...crying over a bookstore???

-------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Side-Tracked by a Man and a Sock Monkey

Whew! It's been a busy time around the old homestead the past couple of weeks. LeeMan was off work for a week, so I got nothin' done, except for the couple of days he went fishing.  He had a blast as you can see from the big smile on his face.

I also got side-tracked from my writing by an order for a custom sock monkey.  For those of you who don't know, I run Sock Monkey Ranch, creating custom one-of-a-kind sock monkeys.  This week I had a request for a pirate, so I  created Scurvy Sam the Peg Leg Sock Monkey. You can see more pictures of him here.

I've done pirate sock monkeys before, but this is my first one with a peg leg....what a challenge!  If you'd like to take a look at some more monkeys I've created, hop on over to the site and look through the Monkey Gallery.

On the writing front, I'm excited about winning a First Five Pages Critique from Seekerville.  I'm polishing the first five pages of Zoey's Quest to send in...crossing my fingers that they tell me it's good.

It looks as if all this side-tracking has derailed my Camp NaNoWriMo goal of finishing the book in 30 days, but I'm going to sign up for next month, too and try to complete it by the end of August.  Hopefully, there will be less distraction for me.

Til next time....ta-ta!

-------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Camp Pests

Photo courtesy lusi,
rgbstock.com
Spent the past 2 days (except for going to the camp chapel meeting on Sunday morning ) pouring through my new book, Writing the Christian Novel, and now I'm ready to really tackle this thing!

My dear sweet husband is on vacation this week and since I'm at camp, he had decided to join me. Of course he doesn't write, so I will have to find some errands for him to do and activities to keep him busy and out of my hair while I work on this book.

Just kidding...just kidding...I love having him underfoot around when I'm trying to write.  He often does annoying cute little things that I can use in my books.  You might say he's my inspiration...my muse...

Yeah, you might say that...but you'd be WRONG!

He's taking a shower right now, then we're headed for Borders so I can work on my book and he can read some books about guns (mostly pictures).  I'm pretty sure that if he keeps looking at those same books every time we go there, they are going to make him buy them because he's worn them out!

Am I being snarky?

I really love him, but why did he decide to take a vacation this week?????

-------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Thrift Store Blessing!

I'm sooooo excited! I've been looking at Gail Gaymer Martin's book, Writing the Christian Romance for a while now, wishing I could buy it.  Not that it's so expensive, but we are really tight on money right now. I've never been able to take a writing course, so everything I know about writing has come from books.  Since I'm just starting my first inspirational romance, I thought this book could really help.

Today my hubby was off work, so he dragged me away from Camp to go to lunch, which turned into a trip to Borders and 2 thrift stores.  You'll never guess what I found in the second thrift store.

Oh, you did guess...good for you!


I was so excited, I did a little happy dance right in the store, then called my husband, who was on the opposite side of the store and squealed in his ear!  Isn't God good?????

This should be a tremendous help. Off to read it now.

Oh, and no words added to my novel yet today (hubby's fault), but I did put an awesome blog post on Refreshed by the Word this morning.

(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Broke through that brick wall!

Whew! I feel much better today. Got some much needed encouragement from my friends and some invaluable writing advice from a "pro" (thank you, AJ) and I'm back on track.

Figured out an outlining method that works for me, so now I have a plan that will help when (if) I get stuck again. I had to do a little re-writing, kick a character out of the book (she was the fly in the ointment) and introduced another character.  Everyone's playing together fine, now.

They served stew in the mess hall tonight...really? Stew in the middle of summer? Would much rather have had something lighter. I'm thinking about sneaking off the grounds for a trip to Dairy Queen tonight.  Wonder if I would get caught?

5623 word count and a brand new lease on my writing life!

PS - Still wearing my Nano Shirt!


(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Hitting a Brick Wall

I'm really struggling today. Have revised the first 3 chapters again, but having trouble moving on. Wonder if this happens to "real" writers?

On a brighter note, I received my Camp NaNoWriMo t-shirt! (Oh, and I got a sun-burn while swimming.)


Maybe my nifty shirt will inspire me tomorrow.

----------------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Camp NaNoWriMo Day Five

Took a break from writing yesterday to spend the holiday with the family. They all drove out to Camp NaNoWriMo for family day. We had a big BBQ and canoe races down at the lake. Bubba tipped our cano and we all fell in. Lucky I didn't have my laptop with me!

Can you see the smiley face in my latte?
Anyway, they've all gone home now and I'm back at the keyboard. Had a special delivery latte from my favorite barista, Kristy today. She made a cute little smiley face in the foam to cheer me on, which was good because I had to write the scene where Zoey's grandfather died...so sad. I don't know which of us took it harder, Zoey or me.

Okay, true confession time. I don't have a laptop. When I'm at home I write on my PC, but when I'm out in the woods (or at Borders) I use my handy-dandy little Alpha-Smart word processor. It's a light weight gadget that woks on Palm Pilot software. I can upload my documents from it to my PC with one keystroke and I never have to worry about a dead battery. It can run 25 hours on one charge or a set of AA batteries.

1485 words so far today, but I'm hoping to get back to it this evening after everyone else hits their bunks. (4566 words total.)

Thanks to all my online friends who are cheering me on. It sure helps to have so much encouragement!  S'mores for everyone!

(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Camp NaNoWriMo Day Three

Shhhhhh - It's 2:15 AM and I'm hiding under the covers typing away at my manuscript. My cabin mates are fast asleep, but not me.  My characters are keeping me awake. They've been apart for six years, but Zoey has come back to Carter's Creek because her Grandfather is dying.  Of course, she runs into the one person she had hoped to avoid...Jack Matthews.

It was awkward, but they both felt the old chemistry...I could tell. I just don't know if Zoey will be able to forgive Jack for the way he....

Oh, no - I'm not giving away any of their secrets tonight. In fact, I think I'm just going to let them both cool their heels until tomorrow.

Shutting down the old laptop. Good night all!

Total word count: 3081 (Did a lot of revisions today on chapters 1 & 2)

(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Camp NaNoWriMo Day Two

Greetings from Day 2 of Camp NaNoWriMo!  As some of you who are my friends on Facebook know, the counselors gave us some free time, so I'm spent it in the woods, sitting on a big flat rock near the stream with my lap top. (At least that's where I was in my head.) I was actually sitting at home in front of the computer, but I was enjoying the fantasy!

Got another chapter done today before my knight in shining armor came home and whisked me off to dinner and a movie.  What a guy!  My word count is up to 2822, which is just a little over 400 words short of my target for day two, so I might write more after my knight falls asleep on the couch in front of the TV.  It's a nightly (knightly) phenomenon. 


Jan
PS - Send more marshmallows & chocolate bars!



(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Letter from Camp-Day 1

My first day of Camp NaNoWriMo got off to a slow start.  I was so excited about my new book that I stayed up way too late last night, working on the story line.  I had to work on it under the covers with a flashlight because the other girls in my cabin were sleeping.  By 4:00 AM, I felt reasonably certain that I had all the kinks worked out and fell into a deep sleep.

Completely missed my wake-up call which is a huge clanging metal bell in the center of the campground. Well, actually, it was so loud and annoying that I couldn't miss hearing it, but once I pulled the pillow over my head to block out the sound, I fell right back asleep.

The camp counselors were none too happy with me, so they gave me KP duty and a few extra chores to do this morning, which meant I got a late start on writing my novel.

Still, I was able to pound out a little over 1200 words this evening.  I'm happy with the beginning chapter, but I think I'll turn in early so I can get a head start on writing in the morning.  Just going to run over to the campfire and roast a few mallows before I turn in.

I'll let you know how things go tomorrow.

So long for now from Camp NaNoWriMo,
Jan

(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Camp NaNoWriMo Day One

Well, this is it - day one of Camp NaNoWriMo and the day I start my novel!

If you've never heard of NaNoWriMo (which stands for National Novel Writing Month), let me explain. It's crazy! You sit down on the first day of the month and start writing. You need to have a 50,000 word novel written by the last day of the month to be considered a NaNoWriMo winner. See, I told you it was crazy!


NaNoWriMo is usually held each year in November, but this year they're running two summer camps. You can start on July 1st or August 1st and finish up your novel by the end of the month. I'm going with July.

Here's the synopsis for my story...Zoey's Quest

Zoey Braxton grew up in Carter's Creek, but her past was a mystery-one her grandfather refused to discuss. When he died, all he left was his tattered Bible and a parting message. "You'll find everything you need in this book."

She isn't interested. Zoey is tired of her grandfather's religion with all its rules and restrictions. She's ready to live life on her own terms until she discovers a secret pocket cut into the cover of the old man's Bible and its contents turn her world upside down.

Zoey sets out to find the truth about her past and the twin sister she never knew existed, totally unaware that this quest might just cost her life and the newly rekindled love of her high school sweetheart, Jack Matthews.

Follow my letters home from camp here on my blog as I chronicle my way through writing Zoey's Quest. Let's see how much trouble I can get my characters into and then watch to see how they get themselves out of each sticky situation I throw at them.

I've checked into my cabin and so far I'm alone.  Sure hope some other campers show up, cause I'm all stocked up on coffee, chocolate, marshmallows, potato chips and soda - everything a camper needs to survive, and I'm ready to have some FUN at Camp NaNoWriMo!

Let the writing begin!

(If you're doing Camp NaNoWriMo, too, leave a comment. Maybe we can share a cabin.)


(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Guest post by Susan Sleeman


Enter to win a copy of Susan Sleeman's Behind the Badge and a $50 Amazon gift card!

Susan Sleeman here. Behind the Badge, my second romantic suspense book for Love Inspired Suspense will release on June 6th and in honor of all of you, the readers, I am hosting a special contest on my website for the month of June.

Let’s face it. Without you, the wonderful readers, books would not exist and I wouldn’t be able to wake up looking forward to a job that is fresh and exciting each and every day. Praise God for this incredible opportunity!

Now back to the contest. All you have to do is read the excerpt below then go to my WEBSITE and answer the following question. That's it. You're entered to win.

If you'd like to sign up for my mailing list to learn of other contests in the future you can do that at the same time, too. Full contest rules are on the entry page. Remember only one entry per person.

QUESTION: What item let Russ know the bike was street legal? 


SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of romantic suspense and mystery novels. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing romantic suspense and mystery novels and hosting the popular internet website TheSuspenseZone.com.

Her books include Nipped in the Bud, High-Stakes Inheritance, Behind the Badge, and The Christmas Witness. Also watch for the first two romantic suspense books in her Justice Agency series coming from Love Inspired suspense in 2012 and featuring a private investigations firm specializing in helping those who traditional law enforcement has failed.

Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson.

To learn more about Susan visit her website, Facebook , or Twitter.

Behind the Badge
"YOUR SISTER IS NEXT!"
A killer is threatening the life of rookie cop Sydney Tucker's sister-unless Sydney turns over evidence from a drug bust. But she doesn't have the evidence. Not that the thug believes her. Now she and the sibling in her care are under the watchful eye of Logan Lake police chief Russ Morgan…but will his protection be enough?
The killer is closing in, picking off the people and places that mean the most to Sydney. A list that now includes Russ. To protect her loved ones, will she pay the ultimate price-her life?

The Morgan Brothers - Bk 2
Love Inspired Suspense June 6, 2011
ISBN-10: 0373444478
ISBN-13: 978-0373444472

READ AN EXCERPT:
Chapter One
Gunshots split the inky darkness.
Deputy Sydney Tucker hit the cold ground, a jagged rock slashing into her forehead on the way down. She reached for her service weapon. Came up empty handed. She'd stopped after work to check on the construction of her townhouse and left her gun and cell phone in the car.
Dumb, Sydney. Really dumb. Now what're you gonna do?
Inching her head above knee-high grass, she listened. The keening whistle of the wind died, leaving the air damp and heavy with tension but silence reigned.
Had she overreacted? Could be target practice. But at night? Maybe. Hunters did crazy things sometimes.
Footfalls pounded from below like someone charging through the brush. No. Two people. Maybe a chase. One person after another. A loud crash, branches snapping.
"What're you doin', man," a panicked male voice traveled through the night. "No! Don't shoot! We can work this out."
Three more gunshots rang out. A moan drifted up the hill.
Not target practice. Someone had been shot.
Sydney lurched to her feet, dizziness swirling around her. Blood dripped into her eyes. She wiped it away, blinked hard and steadied herself on a large rock while peering into the wall of darkness for the best escape route.
Heavy footfalls crunched up the gravel path.
"I know you're here, Deputy Tucker," a male voice, disguised with a high nasally pitch, called out. "We need to talk about this. C'mon out."
Yeah, right. Come out and die. Not hardly.
Praying, pleading for safety, she scrambled deeper into the scrub. Over rocks. Through grass tangling her feet. Her heart pounded in her head, drowning the prayers with fear.
"I'm losing patience, Deputy," he called again in that strange voice. "You're not like Dixon. He had it coming. You don't."
Dixon? Did he mean the man she arrested for providing alcohol to her teenage sister and for selling drugs? Was that what this was about?
Rocks skittered down the incline. The shooter was on the move again. No time to think. She had to go. Now!
Blindly she felt her way past shrubs, over uneven ground. Dried leaves crunched underfoot. Branches slapped her face and clawed at her arms, but she stifled her cries of pain.
"I hear you, Deputy."
She wrenched around to determine his location. A protruding rock caught her foot, catapulting her forward. She somersaulted through the air. Her knee slammed into the packed earth and she crashed down the hill. Wrapping arms around her head for protection, she came to a stop, breath knocked out of her chest, lying flat on her back in a thick stand of weeds.
"So you want to play it that way, do you Deputy? Fine. Just remember, you can run, but you can't hide. I will find you. This will be resolved one way or another." His disembodied laugh swirled into the night.
The darkness pressed closer. Blinding. Overwhelming. Terrifying.
She was easy prey. Even with her bulletproof vest, a few rounds fired in her direction would take her out. She had to get up.
She rose to her knees, but pain knifed into her knee, keeping her anchored to the ground.
Lord, please don't let me die like this. Give me the strength to move. I need to live for Nikki. She's only seventeen. She has no one.
Sydney uncurled and came to a standing position. Taking a few halting steps, she tested the pain. Nearly unbearable. But she could-no she had to do this for her sister.
Thinking of Nikki, she gritted her teeth and set off, moving slowly, taking care not to make a sound.
Out of the darkness, a hand shot out. Clamped over her mouth.
Screams tore from her throat, but died behind fingers pressed hard against her lips.
A muscled arm jerked her against a solid chest and dragged her deep into the brush.
God, please, no.
She twisted, arched her back, pushing against arms like iron bands.
She dug her heels into the ground, but he was too strong. He kept going deeper into the brush before settling them both on the ground behind a large boulder.
"Relax Sydney, it's Russ Morgan," Logan Lake's Police Chief whispered, his lips close to her ear.
Russ Morgan? What was he doing here?
"Sorry about the hand." His tone said she was nothing more than a stranger instead of someone she'd known for years. "I didn't want you to alert the shooter with a scream. I'm gonna remove my hand now. Nod if you understand me."
She let all of her relief escape in a sharp jerk of her head. His fingers dropped away.
"Once the shooter rounded that curve, you would've been a goner," he whispered while still firmly holding her. "Good thing a neighbor reported gunshots."
Sydney started to shiver and breathed deep to steady her galloping pulse. Air rushed into her lungs. She was alive, but barely. No thanks to her own skills.
"You okay?" he asked, his breath stirring her hair.
"Yes." She willed her body to stop shaking and eased out a hiss of disappointment in her performance as a deputy. "How long have you been here?"
"Long enough to hear the shooter claim he's hit Dixon and is coming after you next," he whispered again, but urgency lit his voice and rekindled her fear. "This have to do with your arrest of Carl Dixon the other day?"
"I don't know," she whispered back. "I just stopped to check on the construction of my townhouse on my way home from work."
"Off duty, huh? Explains why you don't have your weapon drawn."
"I left my duty belt in my car." She waited for his reaction to not carrying, but he simply gave a quick nod as footfalls grated against gravel.
"Shh, he's about to pass us." Russ leaned forward and drew his gun with his free hand, but didn't release his hold on her.
Crunching steps came within a few feet of their location. Halted.
"Can you feel me breathing down your neck, Deputy? I'm inches from finding you." He didn't know the accuracy of his words.
She felt Russ's breathing speed up, upping her concern and washing away the brief blanket of security his arms provided. Adrenaline urged her to move. To keep from panicking, she focused on Russ's unwavering weapon.
The shooter took a few steps closer. Her heart thumped, threatening to leave her chest. Russ tightened his hold as if he knew she wanted to bolt.
The shooter spun sending gravel flying then headed up the path.
As his footsteps receded, she tried to relax taut muscles. The warmth from Russ's body helped chase out her fear and the chill of the night. Thank God Russ was here. If he hadn't come.
She refused to go there. God had watched over her. Provided rescue, just not in the form she'd have chosen.
Not only was Russ an officer from the city police force-a team often in competition with the county sheriff's department where she worked-but a man she'd had a crazy crush on in high school. A man whose rugged good looks still turned women's heads.
She let out a long sigh.
"I know this's awkward," he whispered, "but hang tight for a few more minutes. We need to wait for him to head back down the hill."
She wanted to protest and suggest they flee now, but not Russ. He thought clearly. Taking off now gave the killer the advantage of higher ground, making them moving targets. They'd have to sit like this until he passed them again.
If they made it out of here, which the approaching footfalls told her wasn't at all certain.
They pounded closer. The shooter moved at a quick clip this time as if he thought she'd gotten away and he was fleeing. Or maybe he was heading to her car to lay in wait for her.
As the footsteps receded again, she felt Russ's arm slacken.
"Time to roll," he whispered. "Stay here."
"But I-"
"You have a backup?" He referred to a back up gun officers often carry.
She shook her head.
"Then wait here." He gave her the hard stare that'd made him famous around town and crept toward the path.
She leaned against the boulder and wrapped her arms around the warm circle on her waist where he'd held her. Without his warmth, she couldn't quit shaking. The reality of the night froze her inner core.
She should listen to Russ. Lay low. Wait until he apprehended the killer.
That was the safe thing to do.
The easy thing to do.
The wrong thing to do.
Not for everyone, but for an officer of the law, letting a shooter escape without trying to stop him wasn't an option. Even if that shooter had her in his sights, she'd make her way to her car for her gun and help Russ stop this maniac before he hurt anyone else.
*****
Near the ditch, Russ came to a stop and fought to catch his breath. Taillights on a mud splattered dirt bike roared up the trail. He'd warned the suspect to stop, but short of shooting him in the back, Russ couldn't stop him from fleeing into the dark.
At least he'd accomplished his primary objective. To protect Sydney and keep her alive. Now he needed to alert his men and the sheriff's office to the suspect's whereabouts.
He lifted his shoulder mic and ordered a unit from his office to stake out the end of the trail for the motorcycle and an ambulance in case Dixon survived. Then he asked dispatch to patch him through to the county sheriff's department to make sure they knew he'd taken charge of the scene so none of their hotshot deputies arrived with the hope of usurping control.
He turned on his Maglight and headed up the hill. The beam of light skipped over gravel and lush plants lining the winding path. Midway up, rustling brush stopped him cold. He'd left Sydney higher up. Nearer the lake.
Was a second shooter hoping to ambush him?
He flipped off his light and sought protection behind a tree. His breath came in little pulses in the unusually cold air for a typical Oregon fall. Adrenaline with little time to ebb away came roaring back, but even as the noise grew louder, he resisted the urge to take action.
Maybe it was Sydney. The Sydney he used to know wouldn't have listened to his directive and stayed put. She'd trounce down the hill, her chin tilted at the same insolent angle as when he told her he didn't return her crazy crush her freshman year of high school. Not that he'd wanted to send a beautiful, lively girl like her away. He could easily have dated her, but he was four years older, in college. With their age difference, it wouldn't have been right.
Bushes at the path's edge shook then parted. Slowly, like a sleek panther, Sydney slipped out. He watched until she stood tall on those incredibly long legs he'd admired since she was sixteen before lowering his gun and aiming his flashlight at her.
She jumped. Peered up at him, an impudent look planted on her face. This was the Sydney he'd known as a teen and heaven help him, in less than thirty minutes, she'd sparked his interest again.
"Care to shine that somewhere other than my face." She perched her hand over her eyes, warding off the glare.
He moved the light but not before he caught a good look at a gaping wound running from her hairline to eyebrow, covered in congealed blood. He lifted his hand to check out her injury, but stopped. He wouldn't probe a wound on one of his men's faces. As a fellow LEO-law enforcement officer-he wouldn't treat Sydney any differently.
"I told you to stay put." He infused his words with authority.
"I wanted to help. Wish I'd listened. I tripped over the body." She held out blood-covered hands. Her eyes watered as if she might cry.
Man. Don't do that. Don't fall apart. He couldn't remain detached if she started crying. He'd have to empathize, maybe give her a reassuring pat on the arm. Maybe feel her pain and resurrect all the reasons he'd left his homicide job in Portland.
He changed his focus. Nodded at the brush. "Show me the body."
As a faint whine of sirens spiraled in the distance, she limped into tall grass, a grimace of pain marring her beautiful face. He followed, illuminating the area ahead of her. About ten feet in, she suddenly stopped. He shone his light a few feet ahead of her.
Diffused rays slid over a young male lying on his back. Russ swung the beam to the man's face landing on open eyes staring into the blackness above.
Sydney gasped and swung around him. She rushed toward the main path. Even though Russ knew it was a lost cause, he bent down to check for a pulse. No question, this man hadn't made it and no question about his identity. Carl Dixon, a man every LEO in the area knew from his frequent blips onto the police radar and the most recent arrest for selling drugs.
All that ended with three gunshots to the chest at close range from what Russ could see with his flashlight. Once they thoroughly processed the scene, he'd know better. But first, they needed to vacate the area before further contaminating the scene.
He found Sydney near the path, gaze fixed in the distance, hands clasped on her hips and exhaling long breaths as if trying to expel what she'd just seen.
Haunted eyes peered at him. "He's dead, right?"
"Yeah."
"And what about the killer?"
"Couldn't catch him. He took off on a dirt bike."
Disappointment crowded out the fear on her face. "Did you at least see him?"
"From the back. He was my height or a little taller, but lean. Wore a black stocking cap. The bike has a plate so it must be street legal. I caught the first few digits."
"That's something, then."
Russ didn't want to tell her it would do little for them in terms of searching DMV records as three digits would return thousands of bikes, but he didn't think she could take any more bad news so he kept quiet. "Let's head down to the parking lot."
He gave her the flashlight and urged her to take the lead down the steep hill. Once on solid concrete, she handed it back to him. Holding it overhead, he watched her closely for dizziness or other impairments from her fall. He saw nothing out of the ordinary, but a head injury could mean a concussion. He'd have the EMT's check her out when they got here.
He pointed at a rough-hewn bench. "Maybe you should sit down."
"I'm fine " Her voice cracked and she seemed embarrassed over reacting to the murder.
"It's okay to be upset, Syd. A horrible thing happened tonight."
"I'm fine really. I'll be back to a hundred percent by morning."


Text copyright © by Susan Sleeman
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.


-----------------------------------------------------------------
Thank, you Susan for being a guest blogger today and for giving us a look at your new book. I can't wait to read it!

Jan

Camp NaNoWriMo

I'm getting ready for Camp NaNoWriMo!

Not familiar with NaNoWriMo?

According to Wikipedia,
National Novel Writing Month (also known as NaNoWriMo) is an annual internet-based creative writing project which challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel in one month.

The project started in July 1999 with just 21 participants, but by the 2010 event over 200,000 people took part - writing a total of over 2.8 billion words.

Writers wishing to participate first register on the project's website, where they can post profiles and information about their novels, including synopsis and excerpts. Word counts are validated on the site, with writers submitting a copy of their novel for automatic counting. Municipal leaders and regional forums help connect local writers with one another for holding writing events and provide encouragement.
 According to me, it's the most fun I've ever had in November. (Unless you count the time back in 1971 when I gave birth to my daughter, but that wasn't really all that much fun.)

I wrote my first novel, Vintage Roses during NaNoWriMo back in 2009 and I have the winner's stamp to prove it. Of course that manuscript is laying in my desk drawer untouched. It's a good story, but since I did absolutely no planning ahead of time, it's a hot mess and would probably take months of rewriting to whip it into any kind of publishable shape.

This year, NaNoWriMo has announced it's doing a summer campaign - Camp NaNoWriMo. They're busy working on a new web site to host it, with a beta version scheduled for July and a full-blown version ready by August.

So, I'm getting ready to "go to camp." I've been working on the story line, setting, character worksheets and so forth...this time I'm going to be ready!

My new story is called Zoey's Quest and here's a one sentence sneak peak -

"After her grandfather's death, Zoey Braxton finds a letter hidden in a secret pocket of his old Bible that leads her on a quest that might just cost her life." 
 
It's an inspirational suspense novel with a little romance thrown in.. I'm hoping it will eventually get picked up by a traditional publishing house and make me rich and famous. Okay, the rich and famous part is not going to happen with one book, but it's a start, right?

---------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright © 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Thank you, Ruth Logan Herne!

Received a Goodie Basket in the mail today from my author friend Ruth Logan Herne (better known as Ruthy)

It was a give-away on Seekerville.com - a great site for writers who are working hard to get published.

Can't wait to read the books - two of Ruthy (Reunited Hearts and Small-Town Hearts) and one of Missy Tippins (A Family for Faith). Both are great inspirational romance writers.



I gave the candy to Lee since I'm being all self-disciplined and stuff.  Sure hope he enjoys it (whatever).

Thanks, Ruthy!

(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Finished Two Books!

I finished two books today! No, they weren't books I'd written, but books written by someone else.


The first was Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix, one of my favorite authors. It was a redo of Cinderella, but one like you've never read before! It tells what happened after Cinderella moved into the palace to marry Prince Charming and that happily ever after part....uh, not so much.  I loved the book, just as I do many of Ms Haddix's books. Ella is a feisty little gal and Charming...let's just say he doesn't live up to his name.  I'd highly recommend this book to anyone.

Other books I'd recommend by this author are The Shadow Children Series and Double Identity.


The second book was A Bride most Begrudging set in colonial Virginia. It involves a kidnapping on a slave ship, a forced marriage and another spit-fire heroine. The author, Deeanne Gist did a wonderful job of making you feel like you were really back in colonial times, which made me glad I was born in 1950, not the 1600s!

I loved the way she built the relationship between the hero and heroine and all the ups and downs that the characters had to go through. It had me laughing one minute, mad as heck the next and crying in other parts. Deeanne Gist can write! Can't wait to read her other books.


Read any good books lately that you would recommend? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Also wondering if other people do what I do when I read a book that I loved - contact the author to thank them for writing a book. I know that as a writer, I always appreciate it when people let me know they enjoy my books, short stories or devotionals.

----------------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

We Need to Talk


I used two prompts this time. "We need to talk" and "The huge lump in my throat made it hard to swallow."

----------------------------------------

"We need to talk," she said.

My heart skipped a beat or two. Those four words are every guy's nightmare. It could mean anything from "Honey, I bounced a check." to "I think I'm pregnant."

"Emma, you're my wife, I love you. No matter what it is, I'll understand." I said. That seemed like a safe response.

Her chin quivered and tears welled up in her eyes.

I gambled on my next move and stepped forward to take her in my arms. Sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn't. You could never tell with Emma. If the something she needed to talk about was something I'd done wrong, the hugging move could just make her more angry, but if she was sad, it was usually a good move.

She didn't pull away.

"It's okay, honey," I said, patting her on the back, "just tell me what's wrong."

"I…I…um…put a dent in the car today," she said, eyes pleading with me not to be angry.

I managed a smile. "Oh, hon, don't worry about it," I said, relieved that it wasn't something worse, "That old Taurus has seen better days."

I felt her tremble.

"It wasn't the Taurus." she whispered, barely loud enough for me to hear.

Not the Taurus? Then, what….oh, no…not-not the Vette. She never drove the Vette. Dear God, not the Vette! Six years and nearly $10,000 in restoration work. Please, not the Vette.

The huge lump in my throat made it hard to swallow. "Not the Taurus?" I repeated, hoping against hope that I was wrong about the Vette.

She shook her head, then her words tumbled out one on top of the other. "Janet wanted to go for a ride down the coast this morning. It was such a beautiful day and…well, I've been cooped up in the house for the past couple of days…and she said she would love to ride in the Vette with the top down and well, we stopped for an ice cream at the Ice Cream Palace and these guys were looking the car over and Janet was flirting with them and I told her we should leave. I started backing out and didn't see the pole behind me…and…"

Please God, please, help me to handle this right, I prayed.

I swallowed hard, "It's only a car, honey. Let's go take a look."

"It's not in the garage," she said.

I kept my voice steady. "Where is it, dear?"

"It burnt up," she said.

An insidious gray cloud began to fog my brain. "B-burnt up?"

"Well, the fireman explained it all, but I didn't understand it," she said, handing me two business cards.

"What's this?" I croaked, barely able to speak.

"One is the Ice Cream Palace owner's card and one is his lawyer's card."

My head was spinning. "Owner? Lawyer?"

"Yeah, he gave them to me before they took him away in the ambulance. I don't think he was seriously hurt, just his legs, but we'll probably have to pay for the front of the building and his hospital bills." Tears streaming down her face, now.

"Building? Hospital?" I knew I was babbling, but I couldn't think straight.

"Yeah," she said, nodding her head slowly, "After I hit the pole, I put it in drive and ran through the front of the Ice Cream Palace."

It was at this point that everything went black and I hit the floor, with those four words echoing in my head, We need to talk…we need to talk …we need to talk …

--------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)


Be careful how you answer!

Prompt: The frown on her face and the wrinkles on her forehead told me I was in big trouble.

I let the screen door slam behind me and hollered, "Hi Mom, I'm home."

"Up here," she answered.

"Two, four, six, eight," I counted the stairs as I took them two at a time.

Mom was standing at the top of the stairs with her hands on her hips. The frown on her face and the wrinkles on her forehead told me I was in big trouble.

"James Joshua Johnston," she said slowly between clenched teeth. "Do you have any idea what I found in your room today?"

Now, how's a kid supposed to answer that? I had several things in mind, but if none of them were the thing she had found, I could be in much worse trouble than I apparently was already.

"No, ma'am," I said, hanging my head in what I thought might be the appropriate response for a repentant child.

"Think, young man," she said, "Think hard."

I was thinking - so hard that my thoughts were whirling around in my head like a tornado. My palms began to sweat and I felt my throat closing up. Had she found my stash of fireworks? The cigarette I'd swiped from Dad in case I ever got up the nerve to try smoking? The almost naked picture of a movie star?

"Uhhhh," I stalled.

"Ants! That's what I found, Joshua, ants!" she yelled. "How many times do I have to tell you not to take food into your bedroom?"

Ants? She had found ants? I couldn't help it, I started laughing. Just a snicker at first, but the more I tried to hold it in the bigger it got until it burst past my lips right in my mom's face.

I was grounded for the rest of the week, but I didn't mind a bit!

-----------------------------------------
(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Debra, De-brat!

Today's prompt from Wake Up Your Muse:
She fingered the ivory rosette broach.

**********

Debra, De-brat!

I fingered the ivory rosette broach, remembering the day my grandmother had promised it to me.

"Tilly," she had said, "when I'm gone on to heaven, I want you to have this broach. It was a gift to me from your father."

I wished that she had given it to me then. That way my step-sister wouldn't have it laying here in her jewelry box among a tangle of junk jewelry. It didn't mean anything to her. My father was not her father. The only reason she had it was because she had whined to Ellen, my step-mother that as the oldest daughter, she should get it. She only wanted it to keep me from having it and I hated her for that!

I turned the broach over in my hand and read the inscription on the back just as I had done a hundred other times. "To Mama, my first love." Grandma had been Daddy's first love, then my mother and then me. Ellen had come later after my mother died and along with her came Debra. (I secretly called her De-brat!)

"What are you doing in my room?"

I turned to see my nemesis standing in the doorway with her hands on her hips. Someone should tell her that mini-skirts make hips look really wide.

I closed my fingers around the broach and put it behind my back.

"Nothing," I said.

"Well, get out!" said De-brat, jerking her thumb over her shoulder.

I hadn't meant to take the broach. I just didn't know how to get it back into her jewelry box without setting her off, so I kept it hidden in my hand as I brushed past her, pausing only long enough to stick my tongue out at her when she slammed the door behind me.

I slammed the door to my own bedroom, then leaned against it and opened my hand to see Grandma's broach had pressed the outline of a rosette into my palm.

It felt good to have the broach. Somehow it seemed like I had a piece of my father back. I missed him so. He had been gone for three years. Nine years old is too young to lose your father. I didn't even remember my mother, although I knew from the pictures under my mattress (the ones that Ellen hadn't destroyed), that she was beautiful.

I wanted to keep the broach, but I knew that De-brat would eventually discover it missing and tell Ellen, then I'd get about a million things added to my chore list. WWJD, I asked myself…what would Jesus do?

I guess I knew the answer to that question before I even asked it.

I crossed the hall to my step-sister's door and knocked. When she flung the door open I was standing there holding the broach out to her in my open hand.

"I'm sorry, I took this. I didn't mean to. I just wanted to look at it." I muttered.

And then the oddest thing happened. De-brat shrugged her shoulders and said, "Keep it. I don't know what you want that old piece of junk for anyway." Then she slammed the door in my face again.

It was mine! My grandmother's broach was finally mine…and all because I had done the right thing.

"Thank you, Debra." I called through the closed door. And thank you, I said to Jesus, knowing that it was He who had prompted Debra to give me the broach. Maybe she wasn't so bad after all.

I wondered how many other ways Jesus could make Debra nice if I just kept doing the right thing. That would be funny! He could turn her into a nice person whether she liked it or not if I just kept treating her the way he wanted me to.


"I'll do it!," I said out loud.


"Get away from my door, you little creep!" Debra yelled.


"Boy do you have a lot of work to do, Jesus" I thought.
----------------------------------------------------------------

(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Micro Fiction Writing Challenge


Want to give Micro Fiction a whirl?

In 100 words or less, describe someone’s hands and let them tell the story.

Here's my stab at it...

His hands were meticulously manicured – smooth and wrinkle-free.  His razor-like fingernails protruded 3 inches past the tips of his fingers and curled slightly downward.  A gold ring with an enormous square-cut ruby encircled his index finger and when the light hit it just right, the color perfectly matched the blood dripping from his nails.

Feel free to post your story as a comment. I'd love to read with you write from the prompt.

---------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright © 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Canned Laughter


My Daddy loved to plant a garden and watch it grow.  He didn't like weeding it, or picking the veggies, or helping with the canning or freezing, but he did love the eatin' part of the whole thing.


Mama didn't like the garden - not one bit! When early spring came, she complained about all the seedlings scattered round the house, soaking up sun in the windows, sprouting under lamps and needin' water. Once they were out of the house and in the ground, she didn't mind so much.

The six of us kids hated the garden! It was our chore to do all the weedin'.  All spring and summer we had to keep after the garden, pullin' weeds, dusting the plants for bugs, scatterin' Miracle Grow - such a boring way for a kid to spend their free time!

I remember one year when the garden was more than plentiful. Daddy beamed with pride, us kids stole all the strawberries before they could ever make it to a shortcake and Mama - well, Mama was not a happy woman that year.  You see, a plentiful garden means lots of jars to boil, lots of corn to shuck, peas to de-pod, beans to string, and so forth.

The day she canned tomatoes sticks out in my mind. There must have been twenty bushels to be canned that day. Me being the only girl in the family, it fell to me to help her. We boiled water, blanched the tomatoes, stuck them in ice water, then peeled them.  Next came cutting them up and fitting them in the sterilized jars, pourin' on some liquid and screwing down the lids.

Now, normally Mama canned our tomatoes in a water bath, but this year she had found a pressure canner at the Goodwill and thought it would make the job a might easier.  We got the first batch filled and in the canner and Mama locked the lid down tight. We watched the gauge to make sure it got to 11 lbs of pressure just like the instructions said, then we put the little weight on its prong and went to work on boilin' another batch.

Pretty soon that little weight began to jiggle and hiss.

"Mama, are you sure that thing's safe," I asks.

Mama just shot me one of her looks and went back to icing down the tomatoes.  Did I mention that Mama didn't really enjoy canning?

Well, a little more time goes by and that jiggly thing was a hoppin' like a mad cricket.  It sputtered and hissed and made an awful racket.  I was really getting' worried about it, but didn't want to get Mama all riled up by asking her about it again, although I did see her steal a nervous glance at it a time or two.

We was just filling the next batch of jars when all hell broke loose. Oh, excuse me, I ain't allowed to say that word. I meant when all heck broke loose.  We heard a terrible loud boom and the lid blew right off the canner, jiggly thing and all. Jars began explodin' and tomatoes began splatterin' and I began screamin'. Mama reached over and turned the fire off from under the pot, then we both ran outside to catch our breath.

Daddy came a runnin' from the shed to see what all the commotion was about.  He took one look at the kitchen and commenced to laughin' til I thought he'd never stop.  I don't think that was such a smart move on Daddy's part, though, because  Mama came all unglued and before you could say Jack Sprat, Daddy and all five of my brothers (except the baby, of course) was scrubbin' tomatoes of the kitchen walls.

After that, we went back to using the regular canner, but canning was much easier in all the years that followed because for whatever reason, Daddy began planting much smaller gardens.

That made us all happy.
---------------------------------------------
(Copyright © 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Score!

Ok, so I know it's best to buy books from fellow authors I love at full price, but when I ran across a whole shelf of brand new Love Inspired books by some of my favorite authors at a thrift store, I just couldn't pass them up!

Waiting Out the Storm - Ruth Logan Herne
Cowboy Daddy - Carolyne Aarsen
Second  Chance Courtship - Glynna Kaye
Anna Meets Her Match - Arlene James
A Family for Faith - Missy Tippens
Made to Order Family, Ruth Logan Herne
Formula for Danger - Camy Tang
Four of these are brand new and in large print (which my eyes will thank me for).  The others used, but in great condition. Looks like I'm gonna be busy for quite some time!  Some day I want to see my name on the front of a Love Inspired book...and I won't even mind if you buy it in a thrift store!

-------------------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Writers are so Misunderstood!


Prompt: One morning you are sitting in front of your computer working on your novel when, suddenly, the computer starts talking to you. What does it say? Does it deliver an important message or just want to chat? (taken from Writer's Digest )

 
I took another swig from my coffee mug and nearly spit it all over my laptop - cold again. I'd been sitting at Borders for 2 hours trying to force the words onto the page, but it just wasn't happening.

My novel was due at the publisher's in less than a week and I still couldn't get the characters to cooperate and finish up the story.  They kept going off on tangents, ignoring the plot line entirely.

"Ethel, look at this," said the blue-haired lady at the next table, which launched she and her friend into a rather loud debate about whether Jennifer Lopez uses botox or not.

How annoying!

I pulled my earphones out and plugged them into the laptop, logged into Pandora and hit the link for soft jazz, then turned my attention back to the task at hand.

Suddenly the music was interrupted and I heard, "Jan, we have to talk."

I took out my earphones and looked around to see who had spoken, but saw no one I knew. Weird.

Earphones back in place, I heard the voice once more, "Jan, it's me, Dirk Hansen, we need to talk."

Dirk Hansen? The detective from the book I'm writing?

"Yeah, that Dirk Hansen. I think I'm falling for Scarlet and I want you to do something about it. She won't give me the time of day," came the voice again.

Ok, now I know I'm losing it, my computer is talking to me…no, my character is talking to me.

"Hey, Jan - Scarlett here. Tell Dirk not to get his panties in an uproar, even though you've been writing as if this whole thing is leading up to a romance, are you kidding me?"

Wait - I'm the writer, I'll decide how this story goes.

"That's cute, Jan. You think you're in control," Scarlet said, "but what are you going to do when you find out that I am working for his wife and that the two of us are about to expose his embezzlement from the agency? Dirk Hansen will never work in this town again. In fact, he's headed for jail!"
Hey, that's not in the outline! Dirk's not even married - embezzlement from the agency? It's his agency, for crying out loud!

"I heard that, Scarlett - you must be some kind of crazy; and to think, I was falling for you.  Jan, go ahead and write it just like she said. I've got a few tricks up my sleeve that will make her wish she'd never heard of Dirk Hansen!"

I couldn't take anymore. My own characters trying to hi-jack my novel. "Listen you, two, I don't give a flyin' fig what you think. Just shut up and let me write!" I blurted out.

"Well, I never!" said the blue-haired lady, to which her companion added, "This is a free country, girly and a public place. We can sit here and talk if we want to!"  Then she flashed a hand signal that left no question about how she felt.

I packed up my laptop and high-tailed it out of there. Just wait until I get my fingers on that keyboard again, I thought, "Dirk and Scarlet aren't going to know what hit them!” No more writer's block!

(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Flash Fiction - Thanks, Mom!

Prompt: He was driving her crazy. If he didn't leave, she couldn't be responsible for her actions


Photo courtesy  nazreth,
rgbstock.com
He was driving her crazy. If he didn't leave, she couldn't be responsible for her actions.

Elaine pulled a $5.00 bill out of her purse. "Go," she said, waving it at him, "just go!"

Josh grabbed the money with just a slight twinge of guilt, kissed his Mom on the cheek and ran out the back door. He had told her that he was meeting Dirk and Len at the Circle Burger, but that wasn't quite true. He didn't have plans to meet anyone, but he was hoping like heck that Jen would be there.

Jen had been his best friend ever since he could remember. She lived three doors down and they had hung out together all through grade school and junior high. She had gone away for the summer after 8th grade graduation and hadn't returned until the night before school started, so he hadn't seen her until the first day of school.  He had hardly recognized her, but the image of her waiting for him at the bus stop had been on his mind every waking minute since.

Her hair fell across her shoulders in soft curls, framing her heart-shaped face. The baby blue cashmere sweater and straight skirt she wore accentuated curves that he never remembered her having and when she saw him, her eyes lit up, all sparkly-like and her smile melted his heart.

Nope, he had not been able to get that picture out of his mind, nor did he want to.

He pulled the chrome and glass door of the Circle Burger open and stepped inside, sweeping the room with his eyes.

"Hey, Josh," said Jen waving from the booth in the back.

"Oh, hey, Jen," he said, feeling his face flush as the three girls sitting in the booth with Jen turned to stare at him.

He ran his fingers through his course red hair, shrugged his shoulders and took a seat at the counter.

Becky Jo, the waitress working the counter. stopped snapping her chewing gum long enough to ask, "Whadda ya have, kid?"

"Uh, I'll have a chocolate shake and can you make a strawberry soda and send it over to the blonde in the back booth?" he said, never taking his eyes from the salt and pepper shakers in front of him.

"Sure thing, sweetie," she said, as she resumed snapping her gum .

Ten minutes later he saw her head to the back booth with a tall strawberry soda, topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. Then he heard Jen's friends giggling and felt himself go all flush again. Girls!

He didn't see Jen slip up behind him, so he jumped when he heard her say, "Thank you, Josh." She set her soda on the counter and sidled onto the stool beside him.

She chatted away as they finished their drinks, hardly giving Josh a chance to get a word in edgewise, but that was okay with him. Sitting this close to her made him even more aware of how beautiful she had become; a fact that made formulating words rather difficult.

"You want to go for a walk?" she asked.

He nodded, grinning at his good fortune.  His felt his heart speed up when Jen slipped her hand into his as they walked down the sidewalk.

That was the best $5.00 my mom ever spent! he thought.

---------------------------------------------------------
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Flash Fiction - Redemption


Prompt: A gnarly tree stood guard at the entrance of the cemetery.

Photo courtesy howardignatius,
rgbstock.com
Carly smoothed the crumpled piece of paper out on the hood of her car and aimed the beam from her flashlight at it.

From what she could tell, she was at the west entrance of the cemetery, which is where the map said the grave was located. A gnarly tree stood guard at the entrance nearly blocking the tall iron gate, which looked as if it had rusted in place years ago. Fortunately, it had rusted slightly ajar, allowing just enough room for Carly to slip her slim body through the opening.

A shiver ran down her spine.

"Just the cold, Carly" she said out loud. "Nothing out here to be afraid of."

It had been a long three years tracking down the grave of her great-grandmother, but hopefully it was almost over. She would find the grave and recover the stolen money and clear the family name for good.

Her feet and pant legs were soaked already from the overgrown, damp grass that grasped at her with every step and more than once she stumbled over a tree root.

Just what you need, Carly, she thought, Trip over a root, hit the ground and knock yourself out. No one would find you for weeks. God, she prayed, please let me find it and get out of here alive.

Wilson, O'Leary, Johnston…

She turned the flashlight in the other direction.

Simms, Greenly, Hickson - Hickson! There it was - Elizabeth Jane Hickson, her grandmother.

The stone was large and ornate compared to the others she'd seen. Stepping in behind it, she ran her fingers over the rough stone. The hidden compartment was supposed to be on the left bottom corner.

A twig snapped behind her. She clicked off the flashlight and froze in place. Voices wafted on the night air. Low and muffled, but growing closer. She moved quickly behind the giant oak that stood over her grandmother's grave.

Shadowy figures of two men emerged from the mist and made their way directly toward her.

"I tell you, it's right over here by this big oak tree," said one.

His partner snarled, "This better be the right one this time, Frank. I'm tired of rootin' around in this graveyard."

"I tell it's the right one, Elizabeth Jane Hickson, Leland. That's what the old guy said and I found the gravestone just this morning." said Frank, "Don't look like no body's messed with it, either."

"Well, let's git to diggin', then," said Leland.

Carly stood shivering and praying in the cold as she watched the two men dig all around the base of the gravestone. Her legs were aching and her heart was pounding, but she didn't dare move an inch.

"Dang it!" said one of the men, "my darn boot's stuck in the mud."

"Well, pull it out, stupid!"

Carly heard a sucking sound, then a streak of cuss words that would make a sailor blush.

"My #$%^*&^%# foot came out of my boot and now I'm up to my @$$ in mud, yelled Leland, "That's it, I'm done. There's no bag of loot buried here, you idiot. I'm going home."

With that he limped off, leaving his left boot stuck in the mud.

Frank followed after him, dragging both shovels and swearing up and down that this was the right spot.

Once they moved far enough away that they couldn't hear her, Carly took a deep breath and gingerly moved her legs. Her feet were numb with cold and she was shivering from head to foot.

She moved quickly to the gravestone, carefully avoiding the muddy hole with a boot protruding out of it. Then knelt low to the ground and ran her fingers under the ledge of the ornamental beading until they found a smooth spot. She pushed hard on it and a section of the stone moved slightly. Pulling it out of place, she reached inside the opening and closed her freezing fingers around a cloth bag, jumped to her feet and ran for the car as quickly as her stiff legs would carry her.

Safe inside, she started the car and sped off back toward the motel. She had found it - the money that had haunted her family for ages and now she would be able to return it to its rightful owner - or his descendants and her family's name would be cleared.

She didn't notice the headlights behind her. She didn't see Frank and Leland pull into the parking lot of the seedy little motel and she didn't hear them pick the lock of her door a couple of hours later.


(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)