Monday, July 29, 2019

Ready. Set. Go!

July 29, 1989

Pappaw bent over and reached for his toes, his fingers didn’t quite touch his loafers. I repeated the gesture though I knew nothing of its purpose, I just hoped it’d make me run faster than the year before when he beat me by a country mile. I think he was exaggerating cuz the miles in gym class seemed a lot bigger than my backyard. But maybe a country mile was smaller than a gym class mile. Maybe a country mile fit in between the mossy maple tree we stood under and the rickety wood fence opposite us. Whether it did or didn’t was of little importance, as long as I won. As long as I touched that termite tunneled fence post first. As long as I got the answer he promised.
                “I’m gonna beat you by a gym class mile,” I said bending my legs, my toes against the invisible starting line.
                “Is that right?” He pulled up his dress pants like he was preparin’ to cross a creek, flashing white cotton socks. “I hope so, but I gotta tell ya, I ain’t gonna let you beat me. You gotta earn it.”
                “Yeah. Yeah.” I gestured dismissively. “Let’s do this. My birthday cake is waitin’.”
                And the thrill of victory would make it taste that much sweeter.
                “Okie-Dokie.” He said bending his knock knees like mine. “Mammaw, you got the start.”
                Mammaw sat under the shade of the porch awning with Dad, fanning herself with a floral print church fan like she was one of the Chinese ladies in a Kung Fu movie.
                “Aren’t you a little too old for this foolishness?” she said.
                “The boy and I got a wager. When he beats me, I’ll tell him the----
                -----Yeah. Yeah,” she said. “We know. I just don’t want you gettin’ yourself hurt.”
                “I survived two years in a Vietcong prison camp, a little race with my grandson ain’t gonna do me in. Now if you wouldn’t mind.”
                “Fine, but I ain’t payin for the funeral,” she said before raising her hand. “Ready…”
                I pulled in a breath.
                I crouched low like a cat.
                I launched myself forward, kickin up grass with my bare feet. I was off to a good start, a gym class mile a head of the old man at the halfway point before his shadow crossed over mine as he passed me. I strove to catch up, but before long he was outta reach of me and my shadow. When I made it to the post, he was leanin’ against it, his chest heavin’.
                “You’ve gotten better, boy,” he said. “But you’re not there yet. You gave it a good effort though.”
                I kicked at a bare spot in the grass with my toe. “It ain’t matter none, I didn’t win.”
                He nodded, then produced a handkerchief from a back pocket and used it to dab the sweat off his forehead. “Tell you what, since you gave it such a good effort, that you think didn’t matter none, I’ll tell you---
                ---The secret to life?” I blurted out.
                “No. You only get that once you beat me. But because you gave it such a good effort and you didn’t quit once I reached the post like last year, I’ll tell you what it ain’t.”
                “Like a…clue!” I said.
                “Yep. ‘Spose so. Like a clue.”
                “Okay!” I said, clappin’ my hands. “Tell me. Tell me. Tell me.”
                Pappaw bent down on a knee so his cloudless blue eyes met mine. “Boy, the secret to life ain’t about gettin’ a good start.”
                He stood, a rusty crane lumbering to life.
                “That’s it?” I said, my brow crinkled. “That’s my clue?”
                He chuckled but said no more as he headed for the back porch. I stood for a moment, pondering what it ain’t until Mom came through the screen door carrying my birthday cake. My frustration faded away and I ran toward the porch.
                There were seven candles burning for me.

July 29, 1992
                “Looks like Clinton’s gonna win the nomination,” my daddy said. “I’m sure you got somethin’ to say about that, don’t you, Pa.”
                I cupped my chin with my hand and sighed. Yeah. More boring president stuff.
                “Not right now, he don’t,” Mammaw said. “I have to hear what he and his VFW buddies have to say about it all the time.”
                “You been goin’ down to the Legion with Pa?” Dad said.
                “No, he brings it home with him.”
                “Good. I was worried you finally got a taste for cheap beer and took a likin’ to it.”
                “I just may, if I have to hear any more politics at my grandson’s birthday party.”
                “Well if you ever do,” Pappaw said. “I gotta few recommendations.”
                Mammaw slapped him playfully on the arm. Pappaw laughed, his belly jiggglin. I didn’t see what was so funny.
                I reached over and pulled on Pappaw’s sleeve, interrupting his laughter. “Is it time yet?”
                “Depends. You 10 yet?”
                “I turned 10 at 12:37 today.”
                “Good,” he said with a wink. “I won’t feel so bad about beatin’ a 10 year old.”
                “I slipped last year,” I said.
                “And the year before that?” he asked.
                I shrugged. “I still had short little legs, my legs had grown at least a foot since then.”
                 It sure felt like it since Mom seemed to be draggin’ me to K-Mart all the time to get new jeans.
                “Those sound like excuses and you know what I say about them.”
                “Excuses are like butt holes,” I repeated. “Everyone has em and they all----“
                “---Pappaw!” Mammaw said. “I can’t believe you taught him that.”
                Pappaw raised his palms, a guilty smirk on his face. “I’d make an excuse, but…”
                Mammaw shot him a glare from across the table.
                He stood and gestured. “Come on, boy, let’s have this race before I get us into any more trouble.”
                We reached the shade of the maple tree and took our positions at the invisible starting line.  
                “You remember the last clues I gave ya?” Pappaw asked.
                “The secret to life ain’t about gettin’ a good start.”
                He nodded.
                “The secret to life ain’t about the toys you own, even the ones you get for your birthday.”
                “Go on.”
                “The secret to life ain’t little league baseball----wait. Are you making them up as you go?”
                Last year I was sure I was gonna win because I led my little league team in stolen bases and I said as much before we started.
                “Beat me in this race and you’ll find out.”
                I rubbed my knuckles and dug my feet into the turf.
                Pappaw gave Mammaw the cue and she gave us the start. “Ready. Set. Go!”
                I bolted from the shade of the old maple, sure of every step, but Pappaw was right there with me, pullin’ away as we neared the post. He slapped it first, then with hands on his hips, leaned back and let out a howl.
                “Woo-Wee! Still got it!” he said between breaths. “You almost got me, but I still got it.”
                I glanced back toward the maple. I didn’t slip. No stinky butt-hole excuses this year.
                “All right,” I said, disappointed. “Let me hear another made up clue.”
                “I never said they’re made up. I just said you’d find out if you beat me.”
                “Okay. Just give me the clue.”
                He peered up at the sky for a moment, tappin’ his chin. “Hmmm…the secret to life…the secret to life ain’t about whose in office.”
                “The Principal’s office?”
                He chuckled. “No. The President.”
                “Oh.” Even more boring.
                He reached down and jostled my hair. “Now come on.”
                “Pappaw,” I said after we started walkin’, “if I was runnin’ for president, would you vote for me?”
                “Sure would, boy,” he replied.  “And ya know why?”
“Because you wouldn’t make excuses.”

July 29, 1994
                She leaned over the side of the play-pen and bounced a fluffy bunny in the air while my baby sister giggled and clapped.
                I huffed out a frustrated breath. “She ain’t even watchin’.”
                My new baby sister was a star and like everyone else, Emily had been caught in her gravitational pull.
                Pappaw twisted his body from left to right and back again. “You sure you want her to watch this? What happens if I beat ya?”
                I shrugged. “Don’t matter anyway. She’s just a girl. I don’t know why I even invited her to my birthday party.”
                Maybe because she was the only person my age who lived on my road. Or because she dressed as the Pink Power Ranger last Halloween. Or because her hair smelled like strawberries, and I didn’t mind that she was taller than me...
                Pappaw arched a gray eyebrow.
                “What?” I said. “I felt bad for her okay. That’s why I invited her.”
                “Whatever you say.” He bent down, his right foot against the invisible starting line. “You ready?”
                I nodded and took my mark.
                Pappaw gestured to Mammaw. “My beautiful wife. If you would?”
                She raised an arm. “Ready. Set. Go!”
                Just as she said go, Emily turned around to face me. Our eyes met and I froze. Her dimpled cheeks and the way the light played on her strawberry smellin’ hair…
                -----Crap in a trap! Pappaw was half-way there!
                Breaking out of my trance, I took off like a cat chasin’ a mouse. Pappaw for his part didn’t look back, he just pumped those knock knees and pointy elbows like they was pistons. He neared the fence post. I dove to beat him, extendin’ my arm like I was Stretch Armstrong. Apparently I didn’t have enough gooey syrup in me because my reach wasn’t long enough and Pappaw smacked the fence post first while all I got for it was face full of grass and dirt.
                Spitting out a clump of turf, I climbed to my feet and glanced over at Emily. She was laughin’.
Pappaw, hands on his thighs, bent over fighting for breath.
                “Now…that…was….a fun race,” he said. “Woo-Wee.”
                I clenched my jaw. “No it wasn’t. I lost again.”
                “You can still have fun even when you lose,” he said.
                “Not when there’s a girl watchin’.”
                Pappaw glanced over at her then back at me. “I thought you only invited her cuz you felt bad for her.”
“I…I….” I peered down at my feet.
“Tell you what, boy. The Secret to life ain’t about girls.”
“What about Mammaw?”
“What about her?”
“You love her?”
“Do June bugs like it when you leave the porch light on?”
Yes. Of course they do, but I didn’t say anything.
Pappaw straightened himself and pulled out the old handkerchief. “You want my advice. I say you dust yourself off and go tell that girl what you think of her.”
                “I thought you said the secret of life ain’t about girls.”
                “It ain’t,” he said before winking. “Most of the time.”
                I flashed a nervous smile as I dusted myself off, before swallowing hard and heading in her direction.

July 23, 1996
                The rain dripped off the porch awning, forming unsteady prison bars of water. I sat at the edge of my bed, the crumpled up letter in my hands, part of the ink smudged, blurring some of the words.
                The bedroom door creaked open and I barely noticed.
                “What you up to?” Pappaw asked.
                “I’m…ummm…” I dropped the note to my side on the bed. “I’m just gettin’ ready to watch some TV.”
                “On such a wonderful day like this?” He gestured toward the window.
                “Really Pappaw?”
                “What? Rain doesn’t have to put a damper on your day.”
                It wasn’t the rain puttin’ a damper on my day. Pappaw must’ve noticed. He frowned as he lowered himself onto the bed next to me.
                “I know you’re hurtin’, boy. I know.”
                Did the whole world know? Had Mom and Dad told everyone? Was it on the news?
                This just in, local boy, dumped by his girlfriend two days before his 13th birthday. My stomach knotted up.
                “I’m fine, Pappaw. I’m fine.”
                Pappaw placed a hand on my knee. His bony fingers seemed thinner than usual.
                “I know what’ll cheer you up. Beating your pappaw in a race.”
                I looked over at him. “You serious?”
                “Yeah. Why wouldn’t I be? The rain will give your young legs an advantage. Maybe you’ll finally beat me.”
                I blew out a long breath and peered down at my note.
                “I’m too old to be racin’ you.”
                Too old to wanna play Power Rangers. Too old for Marco Polo at the pool. Too old to build forts out of blankets. Too old to be actin’ like a kid.
                You’re too old?” Pappaw laughed. “That’s the funniest things I heard all year.”
                “It’s true. It’s time I grow up. It’s time I start actin’-acting like an adult.”
                “You have your whole life to be actin’ like an adult. Enjoy being a kid.”  
                If only Emily felt the same way he did. I need someone more mature. The blurry words, right where my tears had hit ‘em.
                “Come on,” Pappaw said, pushing himself up off the bed. “I’m tired of carryin’ this secret around.”
                I remained sitting, the blurry words repeating in my head.
                Pappaw extended his hand toward me, but I gently pushed it down. “I’m sorry, Pappaw. I don’t really feel like racing.”
                A glimmer of sadness passed over the old man’s face, his sky blues eyes clouding’ up. “Okay,” he said with a nod. “But if you change your mind. You know where to find me.”
                “Okay, pappaw.”
                He paused in the doorway and turned around. “I want ya to remember somethin’.  There are no tears in the rain.”
                With that he left, pulling the door shut behind him. I turned and peered out my window at the broken stump where the old maple tree once stood.

July 20, 1997
                I settled into my seat behind Mammaw who sobbed into the arms of my aunt Ruthie. Next to me, Mom dabbed tears from her eyes with a tissue while my sister, curled up in her lap, played with a beanie baby. The large crowd that had gathered, Pappaw’s younger brother who drove up from Florida, his church folk, his old work buddies and his friends from the VFW, quieted down as my dad approached the small podium next to the open casket. So many people around me were crying, I had yet to shed a tear.
                “Good afternoon,” Dad began, his red swollen eyes in paradox to the gentle smile he wore as he adjusted the microphone. “When my Pa was in hospice he asked me to speak for him at his funeral. I reluctantly agreed…because I knew what to say, because he’d already told me. You see on my fifth or sixth birthday, Pa said that he knew the secret to life. That he’d found it while in a Vietcong Prison camp. At that age, I thought it must be real good if King Kong was guarding it, so I asked him to tell me. He told me he would, once I beat him in a foot race. As you know, he was spry and I’m not exactly light of foot, so I didn’t beat him until my 15th birthday. But when I did, true to his word, he told me.”
                My mind conjured up the broken stump in the corner of my backyard, a knot of regret formed in my stomach.
                “Panting under the summer heat, Pa said, ‘the secret to life ain’t your diploma, or a college degree. It ain’t your career or the money you’ll make from it. It ain’t even the pretty girl you’ll marry someday or the house you’ll fill with children…The secret to life is that on this side of eternity, the only races worth runnin’ are the ones that have an end.’”
                The termite tunneled fence post bloomed on the surface of my mind. The knot in my stomach tightened.
                “I think…” Dad continued, “I think I stared at him in confusion for a good long minute until he said, ‘boy, one day you’ll be a man and you’ll feel the tug at your heart for more. More money, more prestige. But I want ya to remember somethin’, that’s a race you can’t win because it don’t end. More is never enough.’”
Dad paused to regain the grip on his composure. “Knowing a bit about what he’d experienced in war, I said to him then, ‘You found that in a prison camp?’ His face when stone rigid for a moment before he chuckled and replied, ‘I was a nobody in that camp, all I had left belonged to a race that had an end. And that’s when I learned it. The bad stuff, the pain of heartbreak, the ache of failure, the loneliness we sometimes feel, is all part of the race that has an end, the race worth runnin’.”
                The knot in my stomach verged on tearing in half. The pain he talked about. I felt it. Like something been torn from me.
There was more, right? The secret to life couldn’t only be pain. There had to be more…right?
             My dad peered down at me for a moment, then continued, “I had the same look I see on my own son’s face. How can the race worth runnin’ have so much bad stuff? So much disappointment, pain and hurt? Well I asked him.”
                I closed my eyes, pinched them shut, a dam holding back the tears and Pappaw appeared speaking to me his reply.
                “Because the bad stuff won’t last forever and the good stuff, the things that make you smile, they’re just a preview of what happens when your time in this world is over. When the race is finished and all that's left on this side of things is the memory of it. Catching your first fish, holding that girl’s hand, your son finally beatin’ ya in a foot race..." 
                The knot in my stomach----a violin string, vibrated, sang in tune with his words. My heart pounded in my chest as my body began to tremble, like I would shatter if I didn’t get it out. As my dad instructed everyone to bow their heads to pray with him, I snuck out of my seat and headed for the exit. Stepping out into a wet afternoon, I let the dam break. Teary eyed, I peered up at the rainy sky.
                “I’m sorry, pappaw. I’m sorry.”
                As the rain pelted my face, hiding my tears, I knew his reply.
                “There are no tears in the rain.”

                “You promise you’ll tell me?” he asks.
                “Yep,” I say. “But I ain’t gonna let you beat me. You gotta earn it.”
                My son readies himself next to a young maple tree in my backyard, his toes edged against the invisible starting line.
                I gesture to my wife. “Give us the start.”
                She raises her hand.


 I was inspired to write this story after listening to an episode of the "Thinking Out Loud" Podcast by Cameron McAllister and Nathan Rittenhouse of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) entitled "Limitations, Delicacy, and Beauty". Check them out
If you enjoyed this story, please share it with others who might enjoy it. Also, you may like my novel The Truth about Romantic Comedies, a coming-of-age romance about a young couple who set out to determine if romantic cliches and tropes actually help people fall in love.  Click Here if Interested :) 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Broken Hallelujahs and Bronze Medals

You probably remember the opening lyric of the song "Hallelujah" written by Leonard Cohen but made famous by Jeff Buckley and Shrek:

"Well I've heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord..."

Well, Mr. Cohen, Mr. Buckley and Mr. Shrek, maybe it wasn't just one chord but all of them. Bear with me here.

In the 1980's biopic film "Chariots of Fire" Scottish Olympic Gold medalist, Eric Liddel says to his sister, "God made me for a purpose...but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure."
If you don't remember the movie, you probably remember the theme.
There's a lot of truth in that line. The first time I caught a fly ball playing centerfield, I thrusted both arms into the air in celebration and immediately looked for my dad in the stands. He was smiling. Can you recall a moment from your childhood like that? Do you remember how it felt?

We all have our own talents or gifts and whether yours is noticeable like writing music like Leonard Cohen and running fast like Eric Liddel or something less noticeable (but perhaps more important) like being a good friend or helping people behind the scenes, the one who created you takes pleasure in seeing you use those gifts.

You aren't always going to be successful but the amazing thing is, effort counts. So whatever is you do, try your best at it and remember this: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (James 1:17)

Even broken hallelujahs and bronze medals bring God pleasure.

Monday, January 14, 2019

It's here! Really here!

The day has finally arrived. It's time for me to push this little birdy out of the nest and see if it can fly. 

Soar, little birdy, soar. 

Now available!

Click to Purchase

Friday, December 14, 2018

Writing Rooms and Super Powers: An interview with author Jennifer Pierce

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 Danger. 

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?

 Commas. Anything 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.
Kazakov bad.
Jake good.
Kate and Jake good together.
The end.

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 challenging?

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 out there?

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 outside freezing.

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.

Check out Expecting Danger by clicking on the cover.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Baby, it's cold outside! An interview with Canadian author Laurie Wood

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 Nickelback.

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 a lot.

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 there?

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.

About the Author:

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.