Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Claire Sanders

Is there a story behind your book, The Last Lonely Christmas?
A lot of my stories come from problems I’m trying to solve in my own life. I’ve been faced with the problem of spending holidays alone and having to decide if I wanted to suffer in silence or do something about it. I hope the reader notes that the heroine of this story solves her problem before the hero steps in and changes her life.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
The demands of everyday life can easily keep me from writing. I work full time and have a family, so finding a few hours to write can be a challenge. I’ve learned to stop measuring my writing by how many words I produce each day. Instead, I focus on inching my way toward the finish line.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Although they’re not writers for the Christian market, my favorite authors are Deborah Smith, Dorothea Frank Benton, Suzanne Elizabeth Phillips, and Jennifer Cruisie.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
The heroine of “The Last Lonely Christmas” is a capable young woman who can solve almost any problem in her life. But when the only solution is something she can’t provide for herself, she learns she must learn to rely on others. This is so much like me it’s a bit scary. I’ve often taken self-reliance to the extreme.

What is your favorite season of the year?
I live in the Houston area, and we are notorious for our steamy, hot summers. It’s no wonder then that my favorite season is autumn. When that first cool breeze blows through in October, I feel like the whole world is sighing in relief. In fact, I decorated my bedroom in autumnal colors so I could enjoy the season year-round.

What do you like most about the area where you live and/or grew up?
People who visit central Texas for the first time sometimes comment that the land is vast and empty. It’s true that this part of the state has few forests but the wide-open vistas and massive sky are familiar to me. I revel in the feeling of openness. Whenever I visit the dense forests in the eastern part of Texas, it feels gloomy and claustrophobic. To each her own, I suppose, but those empty prairies are home to me.        

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Any time I have to make a phone call to someone I don’t know, I grit my teeth, say a quick prayer, and dial the number. I find that communicating in writing or face-to-face is so much easier than trying to talk to a disembodied voice. I love email and texting but I’m afraid they’re only enabling my reluctance to talk on the phone!

Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?
My favorite place to travel is any place I haven’t been before. I love learning new things and visiting a new place or a different culture is ripe with opportunities to learn.

 Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  
My books “The Captive Bird” and “A Thousand Little Blessings” are both about forgiveness and the powerful healing that comes when one forgives. Another common theme in my stories is women who do not know their true worth, but learn that they are much more than caregivers or good workers.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

I have several books currently in print. You can read about all of them at my website Also, friend me on Facebook and you’ll receive notices of my new releases.

To purchase Claire's book:

Claire Sanders is giving away a copy of The Last Lonely Christmas.  The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book Winners

Once again, we want to welcome our readers to the Bookshelf of the Barn Door Book Loft. We've got some real page turners for you this week. Our hope is that these books will make you stop and think.

But before we announce our winners we’d like to offer a special thanks to:

Vicki Buchhold who offered her Speculative Fiction  Wake the Dead.
Beth Wiseman who offered her Romance  The Promise.
Lora Young who offered her Historical Romance Mystery Malicious Mischief.
Sharon A. Lavy who offered her novel Farewell For A While.
Carole Brown who offered her World War II novel  With Music In Their Hearts.
And April McGowan who offered her novel Macy.
And now: We're pleased to announce this week’s winners:

Lisa Lickel has won Vicki Buchhold’s Speculative Fiction  Wake the Dead.
Britney Adams has won Beth Wiseman’ Romance  The Promise.
Caryl Kane has won Lora Young’s Historical Romance Mystery Malicious Mischief.
Wendy Newcom has won Sharon A. Lavy’s novel Farewell For A While.
Squires J. has won Carole Brown’s World War II novel  With Music In Their Hearts.
And Elaine Stock has won April McGowan’s novel Macy.
Congratulations Winners! Remember, it's your responsibility to contact me  sharonalavy {at} gmail {dot} com) with your address so the author can send you a book. 

Be sure to check past winners posts. Subscribing by email will ensure you don't miss seeing the winners list.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Florida Author Diane Dean White

Welcome Diane! Is there a story behind your book Winter Wonderland?

I grew up in Michigan and we’d often go to Detroit for special events; the Tiger ball games, plays at the Fisher Theatre and to shop at Hudson’s Department Store. I wanted to capture some of the past, as Detroit has had a lot of hard knocks lately. I decided on the year 1951when so much was happening with WWII over, veterans returning, and Detroit was prospering with large companies moving in. Michigan is known as the Winter and Water Wonderland state, thus the title. J

What started you on your writing journey?

An old black Royal manual typewriter in sixth grades; I wrote poetry and then short-stories. I worked as a secretary at Michigan State University and when my hubby’s job took us to the county seat of a southern town I worked as a newspaper reporter. The people that I interviewed were so interesting, and I had my own column which brought me attention. I was hooked with my first byline! I continued to write while raising my family, doing stringer work for area newspapers and donor appeal writing for non-profit organizations as well as family research for a book. After the kids left for college I started writing short-stories and many were picked up for publication in a variety of books and magazines. It was until 2004 that I wrote my first novel, Carolina in the Morning, and soon after had a weekly column in a Michigan magazine. In 2010 I stopped writing for my weekly and worked on my book On a Summer Night…and kept on writing!

What distracts you from writing the easiest?

I turn the rest of the world out when I’m caught up in a creative mood; perhaps a call from our daughter or grand’s who are across oceans with their dad’s work. OR our son who serves on the mission field, and we have a chance to SKYPE with him. Otherwise, I’m fairly dedicated to staying with my writing until a natural break takes place, usually after a few hours, when I leave the computer room and spend time with my hubby until it beacons me again. J

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?

Ruth is my main character. She and her mother, Cora, have a good relationship and she seems like the kind of daughter who would have been happy and loving in 1951. She’s a Christian with strong morals, and excited about her work and new job….until someone enters her life. I enjoyed the research about the area, no I’m not from that time zone, and much research was involved. My hubby is from the Detroit suburb so he helped in some areas. J I grew up in the capitol city of Michigan.

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?

The fun things our granddaughters share when we talk. Or when they visit and we go out to our annual voyage to a tea room. They love to dress up and are such fun.

What is a favorite memory from your childhood?

I wrote about it in the story “White Christmas”…we lived across from the University and my parents rented rooms for the students. When they went home at Christmas break the house was ours (me and my younger brother). The movie “White Christmas” was popular in the mid-fifties, and when Dad got home we all went downtown to see it. There hadn’t been a lot of snow yet, and during the movie it came down in constant flurries. When we exited the theatre after seeing that special film, we walked into a wonderland of snow, it was a beautiful sight. Something as a family we did before Christmas, and I always remembered.

Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?

We’ve just settled into a new home in Florida, but have aspirations to travel with a motor home and see the country. I have severe back problems which make travels hard on me via car; and have to lie down often. A trip to Michigan is always a special place, and I enjoy visiting family when we go.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?

I do share Christ and the salvation plan in my books, and I try to show readers true life experiences and reality, but also how problems can be faced trusting Christ to help them. Sometimes that doesn’t happen and again reality, as in everyday life, is the focus.   

Could you share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. 
“Delight thyself in the Lord and He will give thee the desires of thy heart. “ Psalms 37:4
I love this verse and feel it’s true. I’ve felt His leading time and again, and my love for writing is something He has given me. I rely on His guidance in my books and through prayer try to share with readers what He would want me to.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

I’ve been working on a novel, This Side of Heaven, for a couple of years. It’s set to release in February 2015. This takes place in rural Georgia and follows a young mother who flees with her two young children in a protection program, and meets someone very special. But being a new Christian and knowing how the Lord led her from an abusive situation, doesn’t act on that…until she learns of her husband’s passing. And she is free to fall in love again. The story shares sadness, triumphs, tragedy, a visiting older aunt who becomes terribly important, and a well read retired Judge, who makes this story a favorite of mine. It’s a weave of romance and suspense. 

Thanks for sharing with us today, Diane!

Connect with Diane Dean White at:

Diane Dean White is giving away a copy of Winter Wonderland. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Winter Wonderland by Diane Dean White

In 1951 WWII has ended and the economy is booming around the country. Jeb and Cora Willis are excited about a new start. Like many families, they decide to move to the city of Detroit for a factory job that will bring prosperity and a better life.

While most young women are looking for husbands, Ruth tries to further her career and concentrates on obtaining a job with her business skills at Detroit’s J. L. Hudson Department Store. She feels good about her new office position and then meets Clint…who changes everything.

 Was he part of the reason for their move? During a health problem will their faith hold them together or threaten a loving relationship?  Celebrate the Christmas holiday and follow Ruth in this romantic story, during Detroit’s heyday, in Winter Wonderland. 

Book Excerpt

Chapter One
   Ruth sat up front with her parents in Jeb’s 1947 Chevrolet Fleetmaster station wagon, while the younger children slept in the back seats. Cora packed a hearty meal for her family for their first couple of days on the road, thinking they’d stop at a road side park and enjoy some cool water with her fried chicken, biscuits, beans, apples and her grandmother’s recipe for shortbread cookies, which the children loved.
   “How long will it take to reach Tennessee, Father?” Ruth woke from a drowsy rest trying to focus where they were.
   “We should be there less than an hour. Then onto Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan.” Jeb was alert and looked forward to a factory job with good pay. “The longest day is past; going through the entire state of Florida can be a challenge. I’m happy for good weather and easy driving conditions.”
   “It’s always best to get an early start before the rooster crows; it gives us time on the road and not as much heavy traffic.” Cora was quick to encourage her daughter.
   “How will we know where to go, to find a house, Mother?” Ruth’s concern showed. She didn’t blame her dad; she knew he was a hard worker. But having to move when she had a good job in the small town where they’d lived, well, what was Michigan like?
   “Spoke with John Turley; he said they have room for us to spend the night. I have his number to call once we get to the city.” Jeb was confident. “Glad we’ve kept in touch through the years.”
   “It’s a Godsend people are willing to open their doors to others. They must be good Christian folks to be so kind.” Cora used a handkerchief to wipe perspiration off her brow.
   “I wonder if I can find an office position somewhere in Detroit. I’d like to continue to use the business skills I developed in high school. Maybe I could attend night school.” Ruth contemplated. “I’m grateful for the bookkeeping job Mr. Jakes gave me; it was good experience since graduation a year ago. Oh, I didn’t open the letter he gave me when I went for my pay and to tell him good-bye.” Ruth reached for her purse.
   She read the note briefly and along with her weekly pay was a fifty-dollar bill. “I know I didn’t make this much. Says it’s a bonus, and he included a reference.” Ruth brightened. “That makes my day a great one already.”
   “That’s quite a gift and I know you did a good job, Ruth. Your father and I are proud of you.” Cora patted her daughter’s hand. “Look, we’ve reached the Tennessee state sign; we’re officially in the land of the Grand Ole Opry.” Cora smiled.

About The Author

Diane is a former newspaper reporter and weekly columnist. She is the author of over three-hundred short-stories. Her first novel, Carolina in the Morning is followed by On a Summer Night, Stories from a Porch Swing, Texting Mr. Right and Winter Wonderland. Look for This Side of Heaven in February 2015.  She and her hubby Stephen have been married for forty-two years, the parents of three grown children and three grand gals. They make their home in the sunshine state.

Purchase Winter Wonderland at:

Diane Dean White is giving away a copy of Winter Wonderland. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Katie Clark

It's a pleasure to welcome Katie to the Barn Door Book Loft today. Katie your book sounds intriquing. Tell us:

Is there a story behind your book Vanquished?
There is! I’d had the idea for my characters for years, literally. They’d been floating around my brain, just itching to come out. When someone suggested I write a book set in a world with no Bible, I knew these characters had finally found their place. The story flew from there!

What started you on your writing journey? 
My grandpa started taking me to the library when I was a little girl. I used to pick the Choose Your Own Adventure Books, because I wanted to be in charge of the stories. From there, I went into writing my own stories in high school, to eventually studying the craft and getting into publishing.

What distracts you from writing the easiest? 
FACEBOOK, hands down!

What kind of books do you enjoy reading? (Book recommendations very welcome!)
Being completely honest when I say I can read the encyclopedia. Or romances. Or westerns. Or YA dystopian. Or contemporaries. I love stories, and as long as it’s a good story I am on board.

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud? 
Unexpected humor. I love finding irony in life, or just wacky things in unexpected places.

What is your favorite season of the year?  
Oooh! Hard one. I have always loved fall most, but in the last few years I’ve slowly moved into loving summer, too. So it’s a toss up—summer or fall!

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them? 

Now this is an easy on! Laundry and dishes are my nemesis. They defeat me daily.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it? 
The entire Enslaved Series releases together from Pelican Book Group on November 22, 2014. I also have a new YA series with them that will come out next year! These books won’t be a long, continuing story like the Enslaved Series. The new series will be stand-alone books with a common theme—lost Biblical treasures. Book 1 is titled Shadowed Eden, and it will come out first (I describe it as the TV show “Lost” meets Christian YA!).

To buy her book, go here:



About Katie:
KATIE CLARK writes young adult speculative fiction, including her dystopian Enslaved Series, made up of VanquishedDeliverance, and Redeemer

You can connect with her at:

KATIE  is giving away a copy of VANQUISHED. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Announcing More Book Winners!

Its frosty and cold outside, but once again, we offer you a warm welcome to the Bookshelf of the Barn Door Book Loft.
And before we announce our winners we’d like to offer a special thanks to the following: 
Liz Tolsma who offered her Historical Romance  Daisies  Are Forever.
Shakira R. Thompson who offered her Christian Novel  High Noon Justice.
Raelee May Carpenter who offered her Allegory ebook  Kings and Shepherds.
David Royse who offered his Speculative Fiction  A Ghost's Story: Caught Between Life and Death.
Terri Gillespie who offered her Devotional book  Making Eye Contact with God.
And Sarah Sundin who offered her Historical Romance Novella Collection Where Treetops Glisten.

Thank you Authors for sharing your work with our readers.
And now: We're happy to announce today’s winners:

Ellen Gray has won Liz Tolsma’s Historical Romance  Daisies  Are Forever.
Lysette Lam (bn100) has won Shakira R. Thompson’s Christian Novel  High Noon Justice.
Deanna Steven has won Raelee May Carpenter’s Allegory ebook  Kings and Shepherds.
Linda Kish has won David Royse’s Speculative Fiction  A Ghost's Story: Caught Between Life and Death.
Kelly Youngblood  has won Terri Gillespie’s Devotional book  Making Eye Contact with God.
And Caryl Kane has won Sarah Sundin’s Historical Romance Novella Collection Where Treetops Glisten.

Congratulations Winners! Remember, it's your responsibility to contact me  sharonalavy {at} gmail {dot} com) with your address so the author can send you a book.

Vaquished by Katie Clark

Back Cover Blurb

When Hana’s mom is diagnosed with the mutation, she is denied the medication that might save her life.

Fischer, a medic at the hospital, implies there are people who can help—except Hana’s not sure she can trust him; Fischer is involved in a religious group, and religion has been outlawed for the last hundred years. Hana embarks on a dangerous journey, seeking the answers Fischer insists are available.

When the truth is uncovered does Hana stick to what she knows?  Or does she join the rebellion, taking a stand against an untrustworthy society?

Read an Excerpt:

Chapter One Excerpt

The old hospital looms in front of me like some ancient castle from the Early Days. This is where they keep people with the mutation. My heart races at the thought of going inside. I’ve never been in a hospital before. In fact,

I’ve never been in a building that big at all. I wish I’d taken Jamie’s offer to come with me or had come with Dad last night. I wish that Mom hadn’t gotten the mutation at all.

I take a deep breath and push through the double doors.

The quiet lobby area is dim, lit by a few small windows and a couple of glowing lamps. I knew the hospital gets extra electricity allowance, but I’ve almost never seen anyone use manufactured lighting during the day. I’m awed by the sight. In front of me is an abandoned office area, and to my right is an old cafeteria. A sign dangles over the counter by one chain. It seems like someone would have taken it down by now.

I make a split decision and yank it down. Chains clatter as they plunge to the floor. It stays on the ground, and I turn back to the main lobby. My heartbeat calms at regaining this tiny bit of control.

Beyond the cafeteria several signs hang on the wall. One points me to the stairs.

My dad said Mom was on the third floor. Back in the Early Days they fought the mutation with chemotherapy drugs and something called radiation. We don’t have those things anymore, so we fight it with fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it doesn’t. I don’t want to think about what this means for Mom.

The door to the stairs is beside the old elevator shafts. I reach out and feel the cool metal doors. They reflect my image back to me, but I don’t pay attention to that. I’ve seen enough of my short blond hair and not-so-tall stature, but I’ve never actually seen elevators before. I wish the doors would open, and I could peek inside. Riding up to the third floor would be even better, but no one has enough electricity allowance to run elevators, not even the hospital I guess.

I make the climb to the third floor without even getting winded, and more manufactured lighting greets me. Long bulbs line the ceiling. These lights are brighter than the lamps downstairs, and they make an odd buzzing noise. I stumbled into a beehive once, and the angry bees buzzed a lot like the lights.

There are so many rooms down the long hallway, I can’t imagine there would ever be enough sick people to fill them all, but then I remember what they tell us about the Early Days. There were a lot more people back then. Now there are so few people I think we could all fit in this hospital together. How would it feel to be around so many people, all the time? Would it feel crowded? I don’t think so. I think it would feel safe.

The hallway is empty, but a faint beeping comes from down the hall.

I pass an old desk on my way toward the beeping. A dumpy computer sits on the desk. People still have those? I pass one door, two doors, and then an irritated voice stops me in my tracks.

“We could give her chemo at the onset to slow things down a bit, and then start the natural healing. The least we can do is to give her a fighting chance. She’s a Middle, after all.” It’s a woman’s voice, coming from the room with the faint beeping. Her tone is hushed and angry.

I look at the piece of paper that’s been tacked to the wall outside the room.

Maya Norfolk.

I suck in a tight breath. They’re talking about Mom? What do they mean by ‘a fighting chance’? My heart picks up speed, and I step closer to the room, careful to stay out of view.

“It takes time to get approval for chemo drugs, and what if she talks? Everyone who gets the mutation will start demanding them. What’s her occupation?” It’s a man’s voice, and he sounds just as angry.

Papers shuffle and the woman says, “Professor at the military academy. I say we do it. She knows how to keep secrets if she’s worked in the military. What chance does she have otherwise?”

The pause in conversation is excruciating as Mom’s life hangs in the balance. Meanwhile my mind spins. Chemo drugs? They’re not even supposed to exist. How can they be talking about this so casually? Have the rest of us have been lied to all this time?

“Do you need some help?”

I jerk around, my heart thumping like the rain during a torrential downpour. A boy stands in front of me. He doesn’t look much older than my 17 years, but definitely old enough to have taken the Test.

 “I was looking for my mom’s room,” I say quickly. “I’ve never been here before.” I hope that sounded innocent and confused, and not like I’m scared to be caught eavesdropping.

To buy her book, go here:



About Katie:

KATIE CLARK writes young adult speculative fiction, including her dystopian Enslaved Series, made up of Vanquished, Deliverance, and Redeemer

You can connect with her at:

KATIE  is giving away a copy of VANQUISHED. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Friday, November 21, 2014

Calculated Risk by Zoe McCarthy

Back Cover Blurb

What happens when an analytical numbers man meets a mercurial marketing Rep? Romance is a calculated risk.

Whoever said opposites attract was right, of course…but no one ever said what they attract.

Jilted by the latest of her father’s choices of “real men,” Cisney Baldwin rashly accepts an invitation to spend Thanksgiving weekend with a sympathetic colleague and his family. Nick LeCrone is a man too much her opposite to interest her and too mild-mannered to make her overbearing father’s “list.” Now, Cisney fears Nick wants to take advantage of her vulnerable state over the holiday. Boy, is she wrong.

Nick wants little to do with Cisney. She drives him crazy with all her sticky notes and quirks. He extended an invitation because he felt sorry for her. Now he’s stuck, and to make matters worse, his family thinks she’s his perfect match. He’ll do what he can to keep his distance, but there’s just one problem—he’s starting to believe Cisney’s magnetism is stronger than he can resist.

In search of the yellow sticky with her ideas for today’s meeting, Cisney Baldwin sifted through papers on her desk. She had a choice: honor her rash commitment to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with Nick LeCrone and his family, or lie and join her friends on the Colorado ski slopes.
     Biting cold air and exhilarating speed might keep her mind off slime-ball Jason. And, she’d need her Richmond friends nearby to nurse her self-esteem after she told Daddy she’d lost his pick for her future.
     She planted fists on her hips and stared at the papers sprinkled with yellow stickies that covered her workspace. Minutes before her meetings with Nick, she could never put her fingers on her notes. Why did this always happen?
     How was she going to face him today, after he’d stood in her office doorway last week and watched her disintegrate during Jason’s dump-Cisney phone call? If only she’d stopped there, but no, she hung up and blubbered about the end of her six-month relationship and having nowhere to go for Thanksgiving.
     She splayed her arms over her paper-covered desk and knocked her head on the piles. This was all Jason’s fault. Jason needed space? Right. What he needed was freedom to date that woman with a waist the size of his muscular neck.
     She shot erect, raking her hair from her face.
     Nick stood in her doorway. He didn’t have a greasy mop of hair or wear button-down shirts two sizes too small, but he carried a calculator loaded with countless complicated functions. The joke around Marketing was that actuaries were accountants without personalities.
     Nick came from a long line of actuaries, several still kicking. And unlike go-getter, snap-decision-maker Jason, built like a football tackle, lean Nick was analytical, reserved, and deliberating.
     Daddy would eat him for lunch.
     She peeled a yellow sticky from her arm and stuck it back on her desk. “Hi. Come in and have a seat.” She moved aside a stack of company summaries. Her new marketing strategy would turn the profiled companies into customers for Virginia National Health Insurance—if Nick approved the financial risks.
     As he eased into the chair beside her desk, she fiddled with her pen. She needed to back out of the weekend now, before he had a chance to give her holiday details. Which of her excuses would avoid hurting his feelings?
     He hooked his arm over the back of the chair and rested his ankle on his knee, as if he had no upcoming trips on his mind. “Did you come up with an alternative to shortening the pre-existing period?”
     Happy day! Could he have forgotten he’d invited her to spend Thanksgiving with his family? Oh, yeah, he never chitchatted before getting down to business. Didn’t he want to know how she was holding up the week after her boyfriend had dumped her? He must know her heart still hurt like a triple bypass.
     She lifted a legal pad. None of the yellow stickies beneath it had miraculously morphed into the one she needed since the last time she’d checked. “Yes, I do have a couple of new ideas that came out of our focus groups.” If she could find them. She picked up an empty foam cup hinting of French vanilla and threw it into the trashcan. Maybe this was a good time to renege on their trip south.
     Nick leaned over and removed a yellow sticky adhering to the side of her desk. “Is this what you’re looking for?”
     She squinted. Yep, that was the sticky. “How’d it get there?”
     The knowing smile on the tight-lipped man’s face probably meant he thought she’d resorted to using other surfaces of her desk, now that no space existed on top. What next, her forehead?
     “Let’s see…” She turned over a memo and drew boxes, circles, squiggles, and lines, labeling them while she pitched her proposal. His gaze kept up with her scurrying pen, until the paper filled with shapes and words, and she stopped.
     He studied her pen scratches.
     Was he entering one of his endless deliberations of her great ideas? Cisney didn’t need this right now. Boyfriend problems and Thanksgiving among a family of actuaries still loitering on her calendar was enough. She would not nudge Nick for his opinions. Today, she’d let him sit and think. She’d bring blood to her lips before she’d say a word. She tapped her toe under the desk.
     He didn’t move. Not a comment. Not a question.
     Would it be impolite to ease her new phone from her pocket and set the stopwatch? She put down her pen and bit her lip. Cisney Ann, do not open your mouth.
     She sat back and crossed her arms. Did Nick have a girlfriend? He wasn’t bad looking. Hair, ho-hum brown. Decent nose. Maybe turned slightly to the right? Lips…kissable, if actuaries knew how to kiss. Eyes…whoa. Nice job, Mr. and Mrs. LeCrone.
     Why, in the year she’d professionally known this man, hadn’t she noticed how his abundant lashes framed and gave life to his gentle brown eyes? Probably because of the get-down-to-business glasses he always slipped on as soon as he sat.
     Nick punched numbers on his calculator and jotted figures next to her drawings.
     Ah, movement from the actuary. Come on, Risk Man, bless my proposal.
     Who’d have thought this analytical man of few words would sympathize with her falling-apart moment and tell her she’d spend Thanksgiving with his family in some small town in North Carolina? Who’d have…?
     Ha! He hadn’t asked her, he’d told her. She’d nodded, while she blew her nose, but her nod was ever so slight. So insignificant it didn’t count as a commitment.
     “Sounds doable and the risks are manageable.”
     She startled. “What?”
     “They’re good ideas, Cisney.”
     She sat up straight. “Really? I mean, that’s great.” She jetted her hands upward. “Hurray! I can move forward with actuarially sound ideas.”
     He smiled while removing his glasses. “I knew you’d come up with something workable.”
     Was that a second bona fide compliment? “Thanks, Nick.”
     “Anything else?”
     She rose as he stood. Time to weasel out of Thanksgiving with the LeCrones. Her heart hammered and her hands trembled. Could she deliver her spiel without her voice betraying her twist of the truth? She swallowed. She could do this. The words were simple: She was so sorry. When she’d accepted his kind offer during her stressful moment, she’d forgotten about the ski trip with her friends.
     “Um…” Her tongue sought saliva, but finding none, ran over her lips like a dry cotton swab.
     Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
     But she needed the companionship of the other singles in Marketing. Marketing people were outgoing and fun. With Mom and Daddy in Germany, wasn’t a ski trip with her friends the balm for her wounded heart? Angela and the others were her safety net after she told Daddy his ideal future son-in-law had bolted.
     Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
     OK. Fine. She’d go with Nick.
     He collected his calculator and legal pad. Wasn’t he going to give her trip details? After all, they would leave for his hometown in less than three days. She needed to know the Thanksgiving dress code and what time he’d pick her up.
     He put his pen in his shirt pocket.
     If he still wanted her to spend four days with his actuary infested family, why didn’t he act like it? She widened her eyes and arched her eyebrows. “Well…?”
     He met her gaze. “Yes?”
     She refused to drag trip information from him. He needed to learn to communicate. Before she’d met Jason’s parents, Jason told her to wear her royal blue dress, bring a homemade dish to wow his mother, and remove her shoes on the welcome mat.
     She shrugged off her comment.
     He moved to the door.
     Lord, aren’t you going to prod him, as you so rightly did me?
     Nick stopped.
     Ah. Now he remembered he’d invited a guest who needed particulars.
     He nodded at the paper she’d used to pitch her proposal. “As soon as you turn your collage into a document, get it to Julie, and she’ll run the official numbers.”
     She stared at him, speechless.
     He held up his hand in farewell and left.

     She sank to her chair and thrust her hands toward the drop-ceiling tiles. “Actuaries! They should be forced to take remedial communication classes.”

Author Bio

Zoe M. McCarthy believes the little known fact that opposites distract. Thus, she spins inspirational contemporary romances entangling extreme opposites. Her tagline is “Distraction to Attraction, Magnetic Romances Between Opposites.” Calculated Risk, Zoe’s debut novel, will be available November 21, 2014. Christian Fiction Online Magazine published two of her short stories. Zoe enjoys leading workshops on the craft of writing, speaking about her faith, planning fun events for her 5 grandchildren, and exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she lives with her husband, John.

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Zoe McCarthy is giving away a copy of Calculated Risk.  The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart

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