Saturday, November 8, 2014

Macy by April McGowan

Back Cover Blurb:
Independent...or Alone?

Macy longed for independence her whole life. Maybe marrying Arthur to escape her home hadn t been the best plan, but it seemed good enough at the time. Now, pregnant and abandoned in a diner far from anyone she knows, Macy must start life all over again. Relying on the mercy of the diner's owners, she begins to put things back together. Macy must make her own decisions for the first time in her adult life but it isn't all it's cracked up to be. And with the too-alluring Toby at her side instead of her husband, she s discovering those decisions harder to make than ever.

All too soon the illusion of freedom comes crashing down when she realizes her family back home might lose everything if she doesn't return. She'd married Arthur to get away from those responsibilities, so how can she face ending up where she started?

With her grandmother's lessons on faith coming to mind again for the first time in years, Macy has to learn what freedom really is...and which road will lead her to where she ought to have been all along.

Read an Excerpt here:


They say there is a time and a place for everything. I could tell by the way Arthur held his fork, this was neither. It swiveled in his hand, looking more like a stabbing device than an eating implement. The pieces of salad fell from the tines onto the booth’s laminate tabletop, splattering it with red Catalina French salad dressing. As if listening in, the restaurant seemed to go peculiarly quiet.

He leaned toward me. Steel gray eyes stared me down. “You’re what?”

“We’re going to have a baby.” I whispered, certain everyone had turned their attention on us. Then the busboy dropped a tray of dirty dishes, and a half-eaten portion of chicken-fried steak hit the big trucker at the bar, and gravy coated the wall. They no longer cared about two strangers in the back, their lives at a sudden impasse.

 I curled a strand of red hair around my finger, gripping it tight. My husband’s gaze bore down on me, and everything around us went still. It reminded me of the time we stayed over in California during one of their earthquakes. The breeze stopped and the birds quieted like someone’d tossed a blanket over the whole place. Then it came on us, shaking me to my core, tossing me from my comfortable seat.

I gripped the table.

Arthur shook his head at me, and disgust curled his lips into a false smile. “I’m a long-haul trucker. We live in our sleeper cab. We don’t have a house.” He listed things in a cold, detached way that told me his stress level had reached an all-time high. I also noticed he left the biggest issue off his list. He never wanted children. Until the moment I took the pregnancy test, neither had I.

“Would you like some herb tea?” My hand shook as I lifted the silver teapot toward him.

His eyes refocused on me. “Tea?”

I motioned to the basket of mixed teabags the waitress had left for us. “To calm you down.”

I waited for him to yell. Maybe take a swing at me.

But he didn’t. Instead, Arthur did something that surprised me. He got up, tossed money on the table, and walked out. Stunned, I didn’t move. He must have needed time to think. After all, I’d had a week to process the idea. He’d come back in a while, and we’d figure out what to do. Arthur could be a hard man, no one knew that better than me. The baby would change all that.

A picture of a house nestled in the trees, a garden out back, and maybe a dog to keep us company while Arthur was out on the road, formed in my mind. I touched my stomach, daydreaming, until a familiar rumble startled me back to the present. I peered out the window, tipping to the side to see the parking lot, and saw diesel smoke bellow out of the chrome stacks.

 He was warming up the truck. I took fast bites of my lunch, not wanting to make him wait for me any longer, but my stomach rebelled. I’d get a to-go box and take it with me. And the tea—that’d be just the thing to settle my stomach on the road. I almost got the waitress’s attention when I heard the engine shift from idling to engaged. My hand froze mid-air and I watched as if in slow motion. Our big rig pulled out of the parking lot and past the window where I sat. The brown cab, splotched with dirt and oil from thousands of miles on the road, moved across the front parking lot of the restaurant, pulled out, drove to the light, then turned the corner out of sight. My heart raced, but my legs went numb.

He’d left. He’d be back, he had to come back. I read the maps for him. He probably went to get supplies to let me finish lunch. We were overdue on an oil change—hadn’t he noticed the shop up the road? I nibbled my food, glancing out the window between bites, sure he’d come pulling in any minute. Any minute.

A full hour later, I still sat in the booth. The waitress refilled my hot water pot. “You okay, honey?”

I started to say what we all say when a stranger asks such a question. I started to tell her I was fine. Instead, when I opened my mouth, a sob came out.

“He’s gone,” I managed to get out and then swallowed hard, realizing a new point of panic. “I don’t even know where I am.” The smell of fried potatoes and eggs wafted off the waitress and traipsed over to my nose. My stomach churned.

“I’m sure he’ll be back.”

 I glanced at her hopeful blue eyes. Her name tag said DONNA. The lines around her smile and age spots on her hands showed her to be in her mid-fifties. “They all come back.”

“I didn’t think he’d leave.” I shivered even as others around me shed their jackets. Maybe I was going into shock.

“Come with me, sweetie.” She pulled me up from the booth and led me down the hall, past the kitchen entry—where I held my breath—to a door painted white with a seventies confetti sparkle. After pulling out a key, she unlocked it, revealing a long shadowy staircase.

 “We’ve got a small apartment up there. Just a studio.” She paused, her voice softening. “It’s unoccupied. Go lay down a bit. Life always looks better after a nap.”

At the very suggestion of a nap, my body went on autopilot. I trudged up the stairwell and she closed and locked the door behind me. For a moment, I considered if I’d been voluntarily kidnapped. As I topped the stairs, I found a cozy room with a kitchenette. In the corner sat a daybed, all made up, as if waiting for me. I headed toward it, past the love seat and small coffee table, my eyes focused on the pillow. Everything was clean, dust free, hair free. I lay down and turned my face into the bedding. As the aroma of baby powder dryer sheets met my nose, I gave in and cried myself to sleep.

 The smell of coffee woke me. I cracked my eyes and took in my surroundings. It hit me again that I’d been abandoned, and I buried deeper under the comforter. A bright light came in through the window sheers as the sun rose. I heard rustling in the kitchenette and saw Donna’s back.

“What time is it?” My croaky voice surprised me. I must have cried harder than I thought.

Donna turned and gave me a soft smile. Her eyes held regret. “Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you. It’s just a bit after five.”

Five? In the morning?” I sat up too fast and the room spun.

 Donna rushed over and kept me from toppling off the bed. “I peeked in on you after closing last night, and you were sleeping hard. You looked like you needed the rest.”

I’d been there all night. We’d been married for seven years and not once had I spent the night away from Arthur. He’d never even let me go home for a visit.

 “I’ve got coffee in the kitchen.”

Autopilot kicked on, because otherwise I’d be sobbing. “Thanks.” I looked around and saw a door. “Is that the bathroom?”

“Sure is. You go clean up—fresh towels inside. Feel free to take your time. You come on down for breakfast when you feel up to it.” She patted my back and headed out of the room. Her heels clicked on the stairs as she tromped down. “I’m locking you in, but you can flip it from the inside. It’s just to keep wanderers out.”

“Thanks,” I called. Bracing myself against the bed, I got up and waited for the room to still again. Low blood sugar ran in my family. I remembered hearing my mama complaining about it when she was pregnant with my sisters and brother. That must be what was wrong with me. Heading into the bathroom, I found not only fresh towels, but a bottle of shampoo, soap, packaged toothbrush, and toothpaste. A shiny clean hairbrush sat on the mirror shelf. And a fresh package of underwear, amazingly just about my size, lay on the back of the toilet. Tears pooled in my eyes.

Glancing into the mirror over the tiny sink, I caught sight of matted red hair and mascara stains running down my cheeks. I hoped I hadn’t ruined Donna’s pillowcase. In the shower, I ran my soapy fingers over the tiny hump I imagined on my stomach. Realistically, the baby couldn’t be showing yet—but something felt different. Firmer. As I stepped from the shower, emotionally lighter, nausea washed through me. Before I knew it, I was over the toilet, vomiting bile.

 My mother survived this four times, and toward the end of each one, resentment began to show.

As it was only my third time throwing up, I didn’t feel bitter yet. Maybe that would come later? Fully clothed and cleaned, I felt more human. My toast had gone cold. A real breakfast sounded good. I headed downstairs, thinking about how I could pay back Donna for her kindness—and for the breakfast I would eat. My hand protectively covered my stomach. I needed to figure out what to do next, but I couldn’t get my brain to engage. I didn’t have any cash on me. I needed to find my bank. Regret passed over me. I’d worked hard to save my secret money for emergencies.

Being abandoned qualified.

The restaurant murmured with early morning customers, sipping coffee from their mugs in zombie-like trances. I could almost see the light of life begin to sparkle in their eyes. The aroma of ham and eggs and all things breakfast-like cozied around me.

“There you are.” Donna gave me a bright smile and motioned me to a booth. “What sounds good this morning, sweetie?”

“An omelet, some hash browns, side of fruit?”

 “Coming right up.” Donna turned to go.

I caught her arm and motioned her to come closer so I could whisper my shame. “Donna, I don’t have any money right now.”

“It’s on me.” She winked.

Again, I was taken aback. It’d been a long time since I’d met anyone who didn’t want something for, well, everything. Worries rushed through my head. All of my things, though few, were with Arthur. I had no clothes. I had no job. I had no means of getting a job. Reading road maps for the past seven years, and raising my siblings before that, didn’t qualify me for much of anything. While my schoolmates were finishing high school and working at the Fresh Freeze, I directed my husband across the country. My meager savings wouldn’t last long at all.

Donna put the plate before me. “What’s your name, honey?”

 This woman fed and housed me, and I’d never even introduced myself to her. I blushed. “Macy Stone.”

“So, Macy, what are your plans?” Donna tucked her order pad into her apron pocket and sat down across from me.

Panic threatened to pop the lid covering my emotions. I had never been on my own. I thought marrying Arthur would take care of my future and give me the freedom I’d dreamed of.

Bit of a mistake there. “I need a job.”

“Just so happens, I’m down a waitress. You ever waitressed before?”

I shook my head.

“I can train you, but you need to assure me you’re in for the duration. I don’t want you skipping off to the next place as soon as I get you broke in.”

I almost laughed. I’d never skipped anywhere. And I had no place to go. “What if Arthur comes back?” My question was a hollow one.

“If he comes back, then you can go with him. If you want to.”

My eyes locked on hers. If I wanted to?

Have you ever looked at a lion in a zoo habitat too small for it? You’d expect it to pace back and forth, yell and carry on to be let out. But it just sits there with all the hope squeezed out of it. The idea that there could be something else doesn’t enter its mind anymore. It was just waiting.

Waiting for the next rain, for the next meal, for the next time little kids made growling noises at it.

 That had been me. But for the first time in my life, I wondered if there was something more.

Buy her book here:

About April:
April McGowan loves to write healing fiction. Her novel, Jasmine, was a debut novel finalist for the 2014 Carol Awards. She and her husband, two children, and her mews, Spookers, live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. April is a member of Oregon Christian Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers. When she's not writing, reading down her book list, homeschooling her two children, or playing board games, you might find her at her drum kit, imagining she's on a world tour. Hey, it could happen.

Connect with April here:
Twitter : or @aprilkmcgowan

April is giving away a copy of Macy. 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


Sm said...

Your book sounds intriguing about a pregnant girl. I d love to win it! Sm CA.

Unknown said...

April Gowan is a new-to-me author, but I'll certainly be adding her to my TO READ list!! "Macy" looks like a great read! Thank you for sharing this book!
Kelly Y
kelly *at* dkcountryarts *dot* com

Carol Q. said...

This book sounds really good and this being a new author to me it will be a grand adventure. thank you for this chance to be introduced to her book

Deanna Stevens said...

Awww, to be abandoned in a truck stop & pregnant, but what a nice waitress. I'd really enjoy finding out what happens to Macy :) dkstevensne AT outlook DOTCOM

Caryl Kane said...

April Gowan is a new author for me also. Thanks for the introduction! I'm looking forward to reading "Macy". Thanks :)


Connie Cousins said...

I love discovering a new author. The excerpt I read was intriguing and I'm eager to read it. As writer also, I learn from other writers.and

Boos Mum said...

I have wanted to read this book for so long. Please count me in. A lot of emotions going on in the excerpt. Thanks for the giveaway.

sweetdarknectar at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I loved the excerpt. I'd love to read the book. It sounds wonderful.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Tammy said...

This book sounds wonderful! I always love a twist of faith into the story as God is such a big, loving part of our lives. Can't wait to read!

Patty said...

My heart breaks for Macy just reading that excerpt!


Patricia Bradley said...

Great excerpt. Really hooks you.

cjajsmommy said...

So many people need a Donna in their life! This excerpt has really drawn me in. I want to know the rest of Macy's story. Please enter me in your giveaway. cjajsmommy (at) gmail (dot) com

Deb R.

Gail Kittleson said...

April, I'm impressed with your story's beginning…you took us RIGHT THERE, which is something I have to work hard at in my own writing. You created an EXPERIENCE, watching the salad and dressing fall from the hero's fork. Way to GO!!!

And I'd love to win your book. I share all mine w/my 88 year-old mother-in-law, who read suspense all her life, but now is into plain and simple romance. Smile…Gail K

Anonymous said...

Would love to read this! :)


Anonymous said...

I would love to win and read April's book. I would be my first. Thanks for a chance.
Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

Elaine Stock said...

So excited for this Giveaway offer. I'd love to win. Just being honest :)


Britney Adams said...

The excerpt certainly hooked me and I am eager to read more! Thank you for the chance to win a copy of MACY.

texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

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