Jennifer Pierce’s debut romantic suspense, Hidden Danger, is raking in great
reviews on amazon. I had the opportunity to chat with Jennifer about writerly things
including her just released follow up Expecting
I know you’re a paralegal by day, has your experiences
in the legal field informed you writing in any way?
Not really. We don’t
handle criminal cases so all of the information relating to crimes and policing
I’ve had to research. My addiction to #LivePD and other cop related shows has
helped the most in that area. I’ve also done a couple Citizen’s Academy in my
area that have helped a lot.
“Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when
they come for you.” Sorry, I loved cop shows back in the day! Speaking of
things we appreciate, what is your favorite aspect of writing?
I love being
creative, putting a story on paper and sharing with the world.
What is your least favorite aspect of writing?
grammar related actually. My French grade in high school was always better than
my English grade, if that tells you anything.
LOL! Some people dream of falling forever or drowning, we writers
have nightmares of being chased by misplaced commas. Another aspect of a
writer’s life that has been a hot topic in the twitterverse as of late, are
writing rooms. Do you have a certain place where you write?
After I sold Hidden Danger, I got a desk and set it
up to write. I’m sad to say, it’s currently being used to hold clothes and other
miscellaneous things. I’ve found that I’m able to concentrate and write better
on my lunch break. I don’t know if it’s because there’s nothing there to
distract me or what. I actually write in a notebook when I write and then type
it into a word document while watching TV with the kids.
You wrote Hidden Danger in a notebook? That’s incredible! You
may have to break out your notebook for this next one. Imagine that the readers
of this blog belong to an alien race who don’t understand verbs and tell us a
little about Expecting Danger. (Just
kidding, the alien race that follow this blog do understand verbs, so feel free
to use them)
Pregnant Kate good.
Kate and Jake good together.
You nailed it! Great job!
If you see the answer to question number three, you’ll know
why that was hard for me!The official
blurb, complete with verbs is:
Kate has been on the run from the men who killed her husband
and left her for dead—which isn’t easy considering she’s eight months pregnant—but
now they’ve found her. Again. Still reeling from her late husband’s betrayal,
the last thing Kate wants is the help of a handsome stranger.
Security expert, Jacob Jones, is still grieving the loss of
his pregnant wife, and he’s not ready to move on. But when he thwarts an
attempted abduction of the beautiful Kate, he finds himself inexplicably drawn
to her. Despite her reluctance, he’s determined to do whatever it takes to save
her, including giving up his own life.
Kate’s only option is to take a leap of faith and allow
Jacob to help her. But can she trust him to keep her and her unborn baby alive?
Or will he fail her like everyone else in her life?
Sounds intriguing. I’ve read in other interviews you’ve given that you are a
pantser and not a plotter? Did that make writing a sequel (of sorts) more
I really didn’t have much trouble writing Expecting Danger
other than trying to remember names and details from Hidden Danger, which I
think even plotters have to deal with. I’m currently working on the third in the
series and am having all kinds of trouble now. Pantsting worked for the first
15,000 words but the remaining 40,000 is causing me troubles.
Without spoiling anything, what scene are you most proud of
in Expecting Danger?
Hmmm. That’s hard. I have two. There’s a scene where Jake
and Kate have dinner with Jake’s sister Maggie and her husband Cody (the main
characters from Hidden Danger). I really love that entire portion, from sitting
at the dinner table to clean up. Jake makes a comment that my daughter laughed
uncontrollably at, and so did my editor. If you wanna know what it is, you’ll
have to read it. 😊
The second is the final scene. A friend of mine told me it
made her cry.
If you can make a reader laugh and cry in the same novel, I
think you’ve done your job. Do you have any advice for any new or young writers
Don’t give up. Keep writing. Find other writers and get
connected, you’ll be surprised the things you can learn from them.
Final question and my inner geek demands I ask this. Did you
know that Jennifer Pierce is the secret identity of a DC Comics superhero? If
you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I didn’t know that until I started Googling myself looking
for reviews on Hidden Danger. My uncle owns a comic book store and is probably
disappointed in me. I’ve failed the family. I think I’d want super speed. I
like to sleep. I could sleep in and still make it to work on time. Plus, it’s
wintertime so if I had super speed that would be less time I’d have to be
Super speed would be awesome! Thanks for joining me today.
Read on for more about Jennifer Pierce.
Jennifer Pierce currently lives in Arkansas with her husband
and two children. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and
River Valley Writers, where she serves as secretary.
In the swirling snow of the Great
White North, there exists an author so earnest, talented and kind that I’m sure
her debut novel, Northern Deception, will be a hit. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to chat with Laurie Wood
where we discussed polar bears, her writing process and the demise of
Alright, Laurie, let’s get this thing started.What is your deepest darkest secret? Just
kidding! Did you always want to be a writer or was there some other dream that
led to this one?
My deepest darkest secret is that my favorite story when I
was a child was Peter Pan, and I always imagined myself as Peter, fighting the
pirates and leading the Lost Boys. No being Wendy for me, sewing on buttons and
telling bedtime stories! Still, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Always. I
went to college and took what we call in Canada “Radio and Television Arts”
(although I really wanted to go to university to become a journalist) and there
was a lot of writing involved in that program. I didn’t have the luxury of going
to university and had to support myself, so life got in the way and writing
fiction became just a dream. Later, when I was married and home with our two
children, I took up that dream again and wrote a couple of novels. They were
“practice” novels, like everyone does and I loved writing them. And then I
wrote this book which began as just a first chapter and synopsis for a contest
and I banged that off in a day and threw it into the contest. And here we are—it’s
the book which I finally sold.
Cool! What is your favorite aspect of writing?
There are two things I love about writing. I love creating
my characters and their world. Ideas usually come to me in pieces. I might get
a glimpse of a character and his/her issues or them in a particular setting.
And the other thing I absolutely love about writing is doing the research
necessary to bring the piece alive. Because there’s nothing I hate more than
reading a book that’s so generic you can tell the writer did nothing to
research anything about the setting or
who the characters are—I want my readers to learn something from my books and I
want them to come away feeling like they spent time with real people.
I usually have to tell myself to stop researching because
you can go down rabbit holes and waste time. But then, you can always use those
tidbits in another story, or take those ideas and use them somewhere else.
I’ve often heard authors refer to researching for a novel as
a “necessary evil.” It’s interesting that you think the opposite. What then, is
your least favorite aspect of writing?
I suppose those days when the words just seem to be all
drivel and have no spark. We all have those times when everything we write
seems wooden and trite and our story seems like the worst thing we’ve ever
done. For me, that’s around the middle to the three-quarter mark. I’m a
“plotter” so I’ll have outlined and I know where I’m going with my characters
and where the story should be going, but still, it can feel like you’ve just
spent the day writing “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” about
three thousand times.
On that note, do you have a specific writing routine?
No. Surprise! I wish I could say I have a favorite
Starbucks, or I only write to “Ride of the Valkyries”, or I have to light a
patchouli candle, but the truth is—I’m at my best between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
and I’d better get myself in my chair at the dining table and get writing! I
try to get chores and other things done on either end of those hours so I’m
available to my adult children when they get home from work (they have special needs), and also to just use my brain when it’s at its most creative. But as to
having a specific routine, I guess I’m pretty boring! I have taken my laptop
and written in a nearby Starbucks a couple of times when I was on deadline and
had to work Saturdays though because when everyone’s home, our house is too
small to work with everyone ploughing in and out of the dining room.
I would guess that most writing routines aren’t exactly thrilling
so boring is just fine, except in answering this next question. Using the most
beautiful prose you can muster and without using the word “the”, tell us a
little about Northern Deception. Just
kidding, all words are fair game.
Northern Deception was
written for a contest originally and it was looking for stories about Canadian
heroes. They could be in any job, anywhere in Canada or living outside of
Canada, but they had to be Canadian. I thought this was a fabulous challenge!
I’d never written from the male point of view before. Then on the news, we saw
one of those Jumbotron proposals where the poor guy went down on one knee, and
the girl just threw her hands up and ran out of the stands, leaving him high
and dry. I felt so sorry for him! Most writers go into “what if?” mode, and I combined
that aspect of “what if a girl ran out on a marriage proposal without
explaining why?” with “what if she had a horrible secret?” and “what if they
both found each other years later in Canada’s far north?” and then once we’d
been to our local zoo to see our wonderful polar bear exhibit with polar bears
that’ve been rescued from Churchill, Manitoba, it all clicked together. Boom! Both
characters had a reason to be in the far north, and once I came up with her
horrible secret, the story ran on from there.
Intriguing! Without spoiling anything, what is your favorite
scene in Northern Deception?
I’d have to say both
where Kira meets Lukas’s little girl for the first time, and the ending. I
wrote the ending so many ways; it was hard. I wanted it to be perfect. Not
mushy or overdone. I modeled it on my husband’s proposal to me, although we
didn’t have a toddler interrupting the proceedings!
Polar Bears are probably my favorite species of bear,
besides gummy bears, and I know that they are featured prominently in Northern Deception, how much research
went to accurately portraying them? Since you like researching, I’m going to guess
I did a TON of
research, and it was all enjoyable. I got verified facts, and some written
studies from our own Assiniboine Park Zoo here in Winnipeg where we have six
rescued polar bears who were either orphaned up north or who didn’t do well in
human/bear encounters and needed to be relocated. And I reached out to Polar
Bear International as well. One of the fun things I was able to do on my
website and with my newsletter subscribers in mid-October into November was to
hook up with the link to the Polar Bear webcam that goes live in Churchill. You
can watch them on the tundra, and as that’s the same time period I set Northern Deception in, I think that garnered
a lot of interest in the book.
Do you have any advice for any new or young writers out
Yes! Take some respected
writing classes either online or through your local college. Learn your craft.
There are writing associations out there like American Christian Fiction
Writers, Romance Writers of America, and they run writing courses. You can Google
great writing teachers like Michael Hauge, K.M. Weiland, Margie Lawson, Laura
Drake, for a few names, and they all teach writing courses online. Put money into learning how to write and don’t
just throw your first efforts up for sale on Amazon or at a publisher. Writing
takes practice and we’re all learning with every book we write. It’s a
wonderful journey and we will never reach our final destination. I think that’s
the fun of it!
Final question and I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask this. How
do you and your fellow Canadians feel about the rock band Nickelback. I ask
because here in the States, they went from being cool to a comment section punchline
and I’m not sure why.
I’m a HUGE Nickelback fan! Love them, love them, love them,
although I’m not a fan of how Chad treated his wife Avril when she came down
with Lyme disease and their marriage fell apart. However, how did they go from
being “cool” to being a “punchline” is easy—the muck and mire of social media.
They’re a perfect example of how a mob can form on social media and gossip
takes off and before you know it, a career is tanked. James 3:6 tells us: “And
among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole
world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on
fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.”We all know that what goes out on social media is out there forever.
Even we Christians need to remind ourselves of that from time to time. And not
just about social media, but in our daily interactions with each other. Gossip
will kill a church faster than anything. But, the short answer to your question
is: Canadians love our boys from Alberta and social media mobbing is what
killed off their career. And I always felt sorry about it.
I appreciate the wisdom and it’s good to hear that
Nickelback still has some support out there. I’ve enjoyed this interview immensely.
Thanks for joining me.
Thanks so much for hosting me today, Sean, and for putting a
little twist on your questions!
Find out more about Laurie and Northern Deception below.
Reunions can be deadly.
After a savage attack in
university, Kira Summers fled to the safety of northern Canada and her work as
a polar bear scientist. But when her whistleblower brother dies in a mysterious
car crash, she must return home to bury him and pack his belongings. Unaware
she’s carrying explosive evidence someone’s willing to kill for, she has no
choice but to rely on the one person she never thought she’d see again.
Lukas Tanner, a widowed
single father of a special needs toddler, moved to Churchill five years ago. As
the proud owner of Guiding Star Enterprises, a wilderness tour company, he and
his daughter lead a simple life. But when Kira comes crashing back into his
world, he realizes God has other plans. Now, Lukas and Kira must confront a
merciless killer as their past and present collide in a deadly race—a race they
must win if they have any hope of a future together.
Laurie Wood is a military
wife who’s lived across Canada and visited six of its ten provinces. She and
her husband have raised two wonderful children with Down Syndrome to adulthood,
and their son and daughter are a wonderful blessing to their lives. Over the
years, Laurie’s books have finaled in prestigious contests such as the Daphne
du Maurier (twice), the TARA, the Jasmine, and the Genesis. Her family lives in
central Canada with a menagerie of rescue dogs and cats. If the house were
bigger, no doubt they’d have more.
No. I’m not talking about me, though I am none of those things.
His name was---Oh! I forgot one more thing…
He was that, too.
His name was Eli, and he was a super spy. An amalgamation
(a.k.a. rip off) of my three favorite characters of the spy genre: James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Ethan Hunt.
I met Eli in a dark Manhattan alley on a rainy, spring
night. He was running surveillance and calling the shots on a job that was
about to go south. Dripping wet, I climbed into the car with him and another
man. A few drops of water spattered onto Eli’s arm, but he barely noticed. He
was locked in. What unfolded over the next thirty seconds is still a blur to
me, but Eli remembers all of it. A gunshot rang out. Shattered glass. Blood and
brain matter splattered onto the leather interior of the sedan, on my lap, in
the crevices of my fingers. We scrambled out of the car to face his attacker,
and, thus Eli’s adventure began.
I tagged along and learned the most basic of writing lessons.
Writing can be a heck of a lot of fun.
My first book, a historical fiction novel set during the
American Civil War, took me six years to write and the rush of emotion I felt
when I finally typed the words “The End” was exhilarating, but in many ways I
didn’t enjoy writing that book. Like Mamma’s paddle, it taught me some hard lessons.
Eli taught me
some hard lessons as well. However, kind of like that high school buddy
who talked you into doing something stupid every time you hung out, we had a
lot of fun learning them.
And that’s what I want to focus on now.
Whatever you do in life, as long as it’s appropriate, try to
have a little fun. Cut loose. Do something kind of crazy. Make someone laugh or
laugh with someone. Let those moments linger, breathe them in deep and wait to
exhale for as long as you can. Be thankful for the sweat (both literal and
metaphorical) at the end of the day, because you’re alive and you’re doing
Hard lessons will come. Life’s paddle won’t stay away
forever, but remembering that gut busting joke shared at the lunchroom table or
that pleasant surprise you received just when you needed it will lessen the
Eli and I only hung out for nine months before our time
together came to halt when I typed the words, “The End.” But I often think of
him when my well of inspiration runs dry or when I’m standing in the shadow of
a mountain of editing, and I plow forward knowing the sting of life’s paddle
makes all the fun times that much sweeter.
Gephart’s life is a chronicle of loser-hood. Trapped by the decaying walls of
his family’s trailer and saddled with the responsibility of caring for a
grandmother stricken with a wicked combination of Alzheimer’s and cancer, Timothy
isn’t exactly thriving in the teenage chapter of his life. To make matters
worse, his girlfriend inexplicably dumps him through a text message.
Heartbroken, Tim drives his grandmother to and from her radiation treatments as
if the last page of his life has already been written. And then the enigmatic
Rachel Wilson struts into the cancer center’s waiting room.
scientist Rachel Wilson hasn’t reconciled herself to her mother’s cancer, but
she’s doing her best to stay positive...and distracted. With his dry wit and
easy acceptance of her bright blue hair, Timothy might be the answer to a
prayer Rachel hasn’t had the strength to ask.
As a fast friendship
blossoms into something more, Timothy and Rachel learn that Rachel’s father’s
job will soon take her family to a new life across the country. Knowing that
their time together is running out, Timothy and Rachel go all in on an
experiment that will put every romantic comedy cliche to the test, to say
nothing of the foundation on which their relationship was built.
Happily-ever-after has never been so hard.
Recording of Candidate 749’s Psychological Evaluation
Dr. Namor: “What’s keeping you here?”
Candidate 749: “Gravity.”
Dr. Namor: “Seriously, Candidate. You
can leave the program at any time. You can always go home.”
Candidate 749: “Now why would anyone
want to go and do a thing like that?”
0300: Approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes until launch
Redgrave slid into a booth at the 495 Truck Stop, grabbed a menu and vacantly
stared at it for a few minutes.
stop wasn’t his typical hangout. The smell of burnt bacon grease and stale
cigarettes wasn’t something that appealed to him. But it was the only place
open and better yet, no one even deigned a glance in his direction when he
potbellied man in a corner booth lit a cigarette then punched in a number on
his cell-phone. Joseph’s attention shifted from the man to a no-smoking sign
posted on the wall a few feet away from the man’s booth before shifting back to
the man. As he pulled in a drag, the end of the man’s cigarette lit up orange,
calling to mind the glow of rocket exhaust from the archival footage of the
Apollo missions Joseph watched again and again when he was a kid. Joseph’s
stomach knotted up.
Did those Apollo
guys get this nervous before they launched?
snapped his attention away from the man’s cigarette.
woman with olive skin, dark eyes, and long hair pulled back into ponytail stood
at the edge of his table, holding a steaming pot of coffee. If Joseph were to
venture a guess, the waitress was of Puerto Rican decent and probably 18 or 19
years old. Twenty at the most.
fresh,” she said with an awkward smile.
thanks,” he replied.
“Can I get
you something else? A soda? A beer? An orange juice?”
the alcohol, none of those things were on the prohibited list. The rest of the
crew were massive coffee drinkers, but he’d never acquired the taste despite
his lifelong propensity to rise early and work late into the night.
he said, simply.
woman nodded. “Coming right up.”
waitress vanished behind a set of double saloon style doors and Joseph returned
to the menu. Nothing seemed particularly appetizing. But that wasn’t too
surprising, considering that very little about Earth was appetizing to him
anymore. This cold detachment, which didn’t fully blossom until his father
passed away the night before Joseph graduated from high school, was also the
decisive factor in him being selected to the mission. The admin at NASA claimed
publicly that it was his superb credentials, military experience and work
ethic, but Joseph had read the classified file and he knew that it was the
psychologist's recognition of his borderline anti-social disorder that put him
over the thousands of other applicants. Joseph wasn’t a sociopath, but just
close enough to be the perfect candidate. In the psych’s words, “Mr. Redgrave
is empathetic and pragmatic enough to successfully work as part of a team but
lacks the ability to form personal relationships that could harm the mission.”
Joseph had read those words initially, he’d felt a sense of relief as they
confirmed something he’s always suspected about himself, but just hours before
the launch they were threatening to become something else, a chain holding him
to the earth. He’d mastered everything he’d ever tried to do and soon would
master space travel, yet a sense of failure lurked at the edges of his mind. He
had tried to attach himself to others, but he could never maintain the grip.
People were just too slippery.
waitress returned with a cup of water and crushed ice. She placed the glass on
know what you want to order?” she asked.
tapped the menu against the surface of the table. He had to order something, he
couldn’t just hang out with a cup of water. He blew out a long breath. “What’s
she replied. “At this time of night. Nothing. But we do have a special that
started at midnight.”
guess, steak and eggs?”
flashed genuine surprise. “How’d you know? We haven’t even written it on the
gestured to a smudgy whiteboard located near the entrance that still listed
yesterday’s special; fish and chips.
guess,” he replied.
nothing to do with it. Every diner, truck stop or small-town café within a
fifty-mile radius of Cape Canaveral would run the same special today. Steak and
Eggs was a NASA tradition going back to when they first strapped Alan Shepherd
to a 5-ton missile and launched him into space.
you’re one of those clairvoyants I’ve seen on YouTube. You do look familiar.”
shrugged. “I’ll take the special. Steak medium. Eggs over easy.”
waitress scribbled his order onto a little notepad. “Biscuit or toast.”
matter. He probably wasn’t going to touch his meal.
me.” He folded the menu and extended it to the young woman.
waitress scribbled his surprise onto the paper then took the menu. “Name’s
Maria, just let me know if you want something else.”
accent was unique as if it had a slight north-eastern flavor. It reminded him
of his college roommate’s accent. Reggie was from New York.
disappeared into the kitchen and Joseph peered out at the window. Trucks buzzed
by on I-95, the roar of the diesel engines still audible over a country crooner
cooing from an old jukebox. The endless parade of headlights sparked the memory
of the first time he’d climbed into the kiddie version of NASA’s G-Force
training centrifuge. Attached to the end of a metal arm, the machine spun him
so fast that the ceiling lights stretched into a single line. He’d went the
fastest and lasted the longest, his heart swelling with pride as he recounted
the accomplishment to his father during the ride home from Space Camp. Of
course, he left out how he fainted and woke up covered in vomit, but that
would’ve made little difference anyway. His father was proud. Joseph could
still feel the touch of his father’s calloused hand as he tussled his hair.
his father think now? Would he still be proud? Or would he be sad that his son
was leaving Earth forever?
matter, Joseph thought, because he’s dead.
closed his eyes and pushed down the ache bubbling up inside. Time didn’t heal
me, are you all right?”
opened his eyes. Maria stood at side of the booth, tiny notepad in hand.
A bit of
flush rushed to Joseph’s cheeks. “I’m fine,” he said. “Just a little anxious
Maria lowered her left hand to her stomach.
“I’m not exactly looking forward to when I get off my shift.”
brought the glass of water to his lips. “Like working here that much, huh?”
chuckled. “No. I don’t even like living in this state.”
Joseph felt about the planet.
relate to that.”
we are,” she said.
narrowed and Joseph felt a sting of panic at the thought that he’d blown his
you mean?” she asked.
didn’t recognize him. “You’re young enough. You can move.”
“I wish it
were that easy, but...”
you just go back home?”
leaned back a bit, taking on a playfully combative posture. “How do you know
that this isn’t my home?”
from the Northeast. New York probably.”
widened. “The Bronx actually. How’d you know? Are you really psychic or
accent,” he replied. “It pops up here and there.”
frowned. “I guess you can take a girl out of the Bronx, but you can’t take the
Bronx out of a girl.”
it seem like that’s a bad thing.”
shrugged. The potbellied trucker lit up another cigarette. Maria glanced over, a
mixture of frustration and something else, helplessness maybe, swept across her
countenance as the smell of his cigarette smoke quickly filtered throughout the
like him smoking in here, do you?” Joseph asked.
have ash trays which means the owners don’t care so it doesn’t matter what I
think. Even if…” She drew her lips into a line and brought her left hand to her
realization clicked into place and Joseph slid out of the booth. “Excuse me for
stepped aside and Joseph approached the trucker. “Hey mister, can I have a word
trucker blew out a long puff of smoke. “What do you want?”
braced himself on the surface of the table and whispered, “Normally I wouldn’t care
about you smoking in here but that young waitress over there is pregnant, so do
the decent thing and cut it out or take it outside.”
man said, his expression shifting to one of remorse as he snuffed out his
cigarette in the ash tray. “My bad.”
returned to his booth. Maria waited there with curious look on her face.
“What’d you tell him?”
“I just went
over there and did my best Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse impression.”
crinkled her brow. Obviously she didn’t get the reference.
shook his head, “Never mind,” then quickly changed the subject. “How far along
seemed a little caught off guard by the question. She titled her head slightly.
“How’d you know?”
“I have a
sixth sense about these things.”
it was a lucky guess, or a lucky
hypothesis. Maria could’ve just been afraid of the dangers of second hand
really are a psychic?”
replied. “Just a jerk unafraid to make an ass out of himself by assuming a
woman is pregnant.”
laughed. “Now you sound like my dad.”
hear that I’m not alone.”
would probably get along real well, as long as you aren’t a Red Sox fan.”
pulled up one of his pant legs. “Whites only for me. I had a bad experience
with red socks once. They turn the rest of my whites pink.”
that’s a joke only he would laugh at.”
two things we have in common.”
it’s three,” she said. “Because he like you was always wide awake cracking bad
jokes at three in the morning.”
tipped his glass of water in acknowledgment then took a drink.
turned to leave but abruptly whipped herself back around. “You’re not a baker, are
donuts and pastries?”
do you ask?”
my dad is. He’s the second generation in a pastry shop.” She frowns again. “I
was supposed to be the third.”
nodded. “Is that why you left home?”
“You ask a
lot of nosy questions, mister.”
shrugged again. “People interest me.”
she did, for the moment.
mostly because of a boyfriend…an ex-boyfriend.”
followed a boyfriend here?”
sighed. “All over actually, but he dumped me here after a gig, but not before
leaving me….” She placed a palm over her stomach. “At least he’s paying for the---
A cook in a greasy white apron smacked his hand on a bar, next to plate of
steaming food. “Order up.”
like your steak and eggs are ready.”
retrieved Joseph’s order, a group of bikers walked in. They occupied an entire
wall of booths. One of them cast a long glance of recognition in Joseph’s
direction, then nodded. Joseph nodded back. His anonymity here wouldn’t last
placed Joseph’s plate of food on the table before him, then topped off his
water. “You need anything else?” she asked.
She reached into the pocket of her apron and produced the notepad. She tore off
the bill and sat it on the table. “You can pay here or at the register. It was
nice talking to you, mister.”
back. “You, too.”
Maria ventured over to take the bikers’ orders, a Florida State Police officer
and a Military Police-woman entered the truck stop restaurant. Joseph sighed
and reached for his wallet. The pair approached him.
surprised it took you this long,” he said without looking up.
aware that you are in violation of launch procedure protocol,” the military
fret, I’m not trying to run,” Joseph said, counting out the money he needed to
pay the bill. “I just wanted to stretch my legs a bit before I go.”
think you’ve done that enough,” she replied.
finally looked up. “One of you wouldn’t happen to have a pen on you, would
patrolman pulled a pen from a front breast pocket and handed it to Joseph.
kindly.” Joseph pulled the rest of the cash out of his wallet and placed it on
the table. It was a large sum, but he wouldn’t need it anymore anyway.
“Come on, sir,” the policewoman said. “Admin
is anxious to have you back.”
they’ll have me back, after one last thing.”
flipped over the bill and quickly scribed a note on the back before placing it
on top of the cash. The military policewoman tapped her foot impatiently.
piled a salt shaker on top and slid out of the booth. “Take me to your leader.”
the two officers escorted him out, one of the bikers shouted, “Good luck,
seemingly frozen in place, stared at him with curious disbelief.
winked at her as he passed by. “I left you a tip.”
another word, the spaceman exited the truck stop.
Uber waited for Maria at the back of the parking lot. She climbed into the
backseat, her feet aching from a long night of work and her stomach
in knots. The disbelief about her encounter with the spaceman had faded,
replaced with the heaviness her upcoming appointment deserved.
driver paid her little attention. Gripping his steering wheel, he leaned
forward to peer at something though the windshield.
commentator spoke with restrained excitement from the car’s stereo. “This is it
folks. T-Minus 10 seconds and counting…”
driver reached over and turned up the radio.
4. 3. 2…”
knee bouncing with nervousness, Maria glanced up from her phone. A bright light
flashed across the horizon, like a firecracker bursting in the distance,
followed by a streak of exhaust.
have lift off! We have lift off! There it is, folks. History in the making! The
first colonists of Mars are on their way, led by Commander Joseph L.----
driver flicked off the radio. “That was nothing like the movies,” he said,
before turning back to Maria, his arm stretching over the back of the passenger
seat. “1020 Wipple Road, correct?”
watched the streak of exhaust for a moment longer, transfixed by it.
the driver said. “The Planned Parenthood
on 1020 Wipple Road, right?”
the mention of her appointment, she snapped back to reality.
man put the car into gear and pulled away. Maria, gazed at the streak of
exhaust spiraling upward, pressing against the rim of a beautiful blue sky for
as long as she could, the words of the Spaceman’s message lingering in her mind
until they compelled and abrupt shift inside her.
said, reaching forward grabbing the driver by the shoulder. “Can you take me to
the airport instead?’
it will cost you extra.”
peered into her purse. The wad of money wrapped in the spaceman’s receipt was
more than enough.
smiled into the rearview mirror. “Sure do.”
smiled back then reached for her phone. Biting down on the corner of her lip,
she called a number she hadn’t in over a year.
but familiar voice picked up after the second ring. “Lugo’s Bakery, this is
She squeezed the bottom hem of her dress until her knuckles turned white.
Maria! Is that you? Please tell me that’s you.”
Pappi, it’s me.” she said, her voice cracking as tears welled in her eyes. “And
I’m coming home.”
Declassified Recording of Commander Joseph
L. Redgrave’s Psychological Evaluation
Dr. Namor: “Seriously, Candidate. You
can leave the program at any time. You can always go home.”
Joseph L. Redgrave: “Now why would
anyone want to go and do a thing like that?”
A reckless mistake landed Jacob “Jay” Mathews behind bars,
but it was his inescapable guilt that led him to God. Upon his release, with
the help of a spiritual mentor and friend, he strives to move forward with his
life. Determined to graduate college, get a job, and follow God’s word, the
last thing Jay needs or wants is a girlfriend. Until he meets Lacey Bennett.
When fervent prayers for reconciliation between her
divorced parents go unanswered, and her older sister tragically dies, Lacey
questions how God could allow such tragedies to befall her family. Turning her
back on her past and God, she focuses on her future. College and theater are
her ultimate goals; falling for the one type of guy she swore to avoid---a
Christian---is not. No matter how much she wants to resist, Jay is
As their relationship deepens, Jay struggles with Lacey’s
unresolved anger and her unwillingness to even discuss faith. All he wants to
do is reveal how God changed his life, but doing so would mean revealing his
status as an ex convict. Finally, as she begins to rekindle her faith, past
secrets collide, threatening to destroy everything they’ve built. Now, Jay must
rely on his faith more than he ever has before. Can they learn to forgive---or
is their relationship fractured beyond repair?
Sara Beth Williams was born and raised in
Northern California, and resides with her husband and two daughters. When she’s
not held hostage by the keyboard, she enjoys teaching children, playing guitar,
reading, and spending time with family and friends.