I'm so thrilled that REUNION IN OCTOBER, Book II of the Calendar Girls Series, is a finalist in the NJRW's Golden Leaf Contest for 2015. It is a great honor, especially when I see the list of other authors in my category. I admire them all so I don't envy the judges having to choose between them (though I envy they get to read all those books!)
To celebrate the good news, I'm going to give away several copies (one a week) in digital or paperback to readers who reply to my blog or Facebook posts until the big night, Friday, October 16, 2015 at the Put Your Heart in a Book Conference. *Fine print* Each week, beginning today, I'll use the Random.org generator to pull a winner. Winners will be notified and have 72 hours to claim their prize. If they do not get back to me within the specified time period, another winner will be chosen.
Meanwhile, here's a teaser from the book to whet your appetite:
On my second day in the hospital, I toyed with a lump of beige meat—chicken? Salisbury steak?—swimming in shiny-topped brown gravy. Dr. Stewart had ordered a low-fat, low-sodium, no-taste, and apparently, no-recognition diet for my stay here. For all I knew, this wasn’t meat at all, but some kind of tofu patty.
I’d pretty much given up identifying today’s lunch without a CSI team when a hesitant voice said, “Emily?”
Dropping my fork, I glanced up into the worried expression of Ambrose Chase peering from the foot of my snoring roommate’s bed. “Mr. Chase.” I waved him closer and rolled my bed tray with the unappetizing lunch out of the way. I had no intention of eating that slop anyway. “Come in. Please.”
“I won’t stay long,” he said, inching toward the visitor’s chair, but never making any move to sit. “I just wanted to be sure you were all right.” He stared at the floor. Either a stain on the linoleum fascinated him, or he couldn’t bring himself to make eye contact with me—a complete one-eighty from the guy I met yesterday who hammered me with research questions. “You…umm…had us all pretty worried.”
His obvious discomfort embarrassed me, and I wondered what I’d done at the library to make him so ill-at-ease now. Had I vomited on him? Wet my pants? Said something totally inappropriate before I hit the ground? Whatever had occurred, I’d have to try to smooth over the bumps with casual conversation. After all, Dr. Stewart said I owed this man my life. “Thanks for knowing what to do,” I said. “With the CPR, I mean.”
“Well, to be honest, I’ve…umm…I’ve never done CPR before. You got lucky. I’d just done the research for my book. I mean, like, an hour before you and I met in the library. I was doing all the compressions and stuff from memory. Once Miss Lydia got through to the 911 dispatcher, though, they talked me through the step-by-step. So, you see, you shouldn’t really thank me. Without the directions, I would’ve screwed up and made things worse for you, trust me.”
As I watched him shuffling his feet, staring at the walls, never making eye contact, I couldn’t tell if he had an inflated case of low self-esteem or false modesty. “Who was manning the calls over there?” I asked. “At the precinct, I mean. Rowena or Jake?”
“Jake, I guess. It was a man, so I’d say it was Jake, though I didn’t get a name.”
“Good.” I let out a relieved sigh and settled back against my pillow. “Rowena still needs to read the book to give the step-by-step.”
“And that’s a bad thing?”
“It can be. If you don’t know what to do off-script, you aren’t fully prepared for any possible eventuality. People in an emergency situation don’t have a book to go by, you know?”
He shrugged. “I guess.”
“Lemme put it this way.” I sat up again. “Suppose you’re in a case like what happened with you and me. I go down, you start CPR, based on what you remember, and by the time dispatch gets involved you’ve already screwed up one or two of the steps. Should Jake go back to Step One and make you start all over or should he know how to improvise?”
At last, my visitor sank into the chair beside my bed, his wide eyes and slack jaw showing how engaged he’d grown regarding our discussion. I probably awakened the writer in him. “Improvise, I suppose.”
I wagged an index finger. “Not necessarily. It all depends on what steps you’ve screwed up and how I’m responding to what you’ve done so far. Jake’s good at figuring things out on the fly. Rowena…” I shook my head. “…not so much.”
“And you? Are you a by-the-book-girl, or can you work off-script?”
“I’m somewhere in the middle,” I admitted with a rueful curl to my lip. “It all depends on the scenario. Of the three of us, Jake’s got the most experience. He was an Army corpsman. Did a lot of triage in the first Gulf War and has the nerves of steel to prove it. I, on the other hand, got my training here at home.”
“You were a soldier?”
I laughed. “God, no! I’m just a mom.”
“And a wife,” a woman’s voice said, followed by the click of heels on the floor and the entrance of my greatest nightmare.
My mother-in-law had arrived in her usual indomitable way--like an army tank in designer clothes and a fur-trimmed coat.
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