The Benevolent Light on StoryFinds!

RothanCover2updated

 

 

 

 

 

 

So a fellow writer, Cheryl Alleway, turned me onto this site for authors called Story Finds. This is geared toward allowing authors to showcase their work to a whole new audience of readers. My books are listed there and The Benevolent Light was chosen to be featured in their Medieval Romance Week! You should visit me there, read the excerpt of said featured book, and watch the trailer!

There is also a poll that will be taking place the 23rd through the 30th of March! Yes, that is next week as well! This is where you can go to vote on a cover to help that author win a little more exposure! So I would assume that all you readers will head over there on Sunday to vote for The Benevolent Light’s cover, right??

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Story Finds is a great way to connect authors and readers. The best way to support an author is to be supportive of events and spread the word. Your word of mouth means everything to starving artists everywhere! The best part about that is it only takes one or two seconds to “share” an author with your friends so you really invest very little time in showing your support! But I guarantee you that it means the world to that person who dedicates hours upon hours to fill your mind with images and stories with their words. A “like” is just not enough, guys. They are appreciated, but that “share” is the frosting on that cake of success.

If you really love an author, your thoughts on the books you have read are vital. Don’t think of it as a formal review. We want your honest, constructive thoughts. Keep in mind that if a book just isn’t your style, don’t just head to Amazon and bash it. You are entitled to your opinion, but being nasty to someone who may not deserve it could ruin their writing career. In any book, you should be able to find at least one positive thought…even if it is that you liked the cover.

Be loving, be kind, be supportive! That is what makes the world go ’round! Don’t forget to visit me on Story Finds!

What Aspen Series Character are You?

So an idea crept back into my head this afternoon and I came home from work to make it! What fun infographics are!! So… By reading the graph below, what character are you? Leave me your comment below!

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The Art of You “Finale” Part 12

Fly with the wings life gives you.

Fly with the wings life gives you.

 

 

 

 

It was a warm day, that third week of June when someone knocked at my door. Curious, I peeked out from between the blinds that hung in my front window and was very surprised to see Davis on my porch.

Opening the door, I felt a flood of emotions. “What do you want?” I asked none too friendly.

Davis pleaded with me through his eyes. “I need you to come with me, Ruby.”

I laughed at him. “Really? Well, I think not. Have a good one.”

I shut the door and he slid his foot in the way. “Please, Ruby. I need you to come with me.”

His insistence made me stop to wonder what was so important.

“Give me one good reason why,” I challenged.

“Well, I don’t have one. I have just been ordered to deliver you somewhere,” he said evasively.

I closed my eyes and rested my forehead on the edge of the front door. “I can’t bear it, Davis. This last year has been torture for me. I can’t go through all that again.”

“Come out of your cocoon, Ruby. Time to spread those wings wide and fly. Take a chance and get in the car…or do I have to put you there myself?” he added with a nostalgic grin.

I sighed and grabbed my purse shouting out to the boys that I would be back in a while. All I heard in reply was some noise that came out of their mouths mixed with the sounds of video games.

I found myself in the back seat once again. The car looked the same and it smelled the same. We drove through town and got onto the freeway that took us into the very outdoorsy town of Eagle. Taking the busy thoroughfare north, we pulled into the parking lot of a hotel by the river. I could see dozens of people poised with their cameras and ready to strike, as Jack had put it once. Davis came around and let me out and I just stood there not knowing where to go or what to do.

The cameras all clicked and flashed around me. Jack came out through the doors of the hotel. He smiled at me with that relaxed smile of his.

“Ruby!” he greeted pulling me into his embrace.

Shocked, I hugged him back but not knowing what to say or how to feel. I was shocked, to say the very least.

“What are you doing here?” I asked feeling breathless.

“Look. I have missed you and have thought of you many, many times over the last year. I came back here to take my stand against anyone who wants to tell me otherwise. You can see the art of me just as I can see the art of you. You taught me that. You have shown me that there aren’t many people who will ever just love you for who you are. And I know you don’t care about the fame or the money or you wouldn’t have been real with me last year. You are the one I want and you are just as pretty as the day I dropped you off…but I never said goodbye. You did, but not me. I didn’t want that to be the end. I’ve had my struggles as I am sure you have, but it is time I claimed my freedom too. Can you forgive me for how I handled ‘us’ last year and start again?” he asked me in front of all those cameras.

“I thought I hated you. I mean really hated you. I still want to hate you,” I started.

“Okay, I know you hate me. But think of what I was dealing with at the same time. You of all people should be able to understand all those emotions,” he defended himself.

I fluttered my eyelashes in irritation. “Let me finish. While I still want to hate you, I just found out that I forgave you a long time ago. I could never hate you because…well, because I love you too much. Maybe you don’t really want to hear that, but there it is.”

Jack laughed at my sentiment and hugged me tight again. I had found the door to save him when he cried for help and he led me from the darkness and into the light. We were there for each other when we needed each other the very most.

“For old time’s sake,” he said smiling huge and a sparkle in his eye.

Before I knew what was happening, he drew me up into his arms as he had the day we went for pancakes. The day his wife died. The day my dreams came to a screeching halt.

I squealed in surprise. “You still have those strong arms,” I remarked.

“All the better to carry you with. I plan to carry you anytime you need me to, Ruby.”

And then the prince took me into his castle where we would plot out the rest of our lives together. You notice I didn’t say “happily ever after”? Well, that’s because it is impossible to be normal people and not disagree ever, so I thought that politically incorrect to say. But I will say that he has made me very happy and I soar with those big butterfly wings from my cocoon, the very one he coaxed me out of knowing I was ready to fly.

The Art of You Part 11

Life is adapting to where you are placed.

Life is adapting to where you are placed.

 

 

 

 

The mail came that afternoon and coincidentally there was a letter from Jack Harrington’s offices in Hollywood. Ignoring the other bills that came that day demanding payment, I ripped his open and unfolded the paper. There was my photo card for my camera along with his scrawling handwriting that simply said: “I thought you might like this back. Thinking of you, Jack.”

There was no revelation of missing me. Just the card. I plugged it into my computer and they were all there. That anger came back and I thought I might pitch them to the media. I thought I might sell my story to the news. I thought I would write him a good thanks-but-no-thanks letter in response. And then I flipped to the photo taken on the couch and I realized I missed him a lot but I was growing to hate him at the same time.

My fury spun out of control and I cleaned my house. I made plans for what I wanted to do in restoring it. I would spend every last cent he gave me just so he couldn’t have it back.

When the boys came home, we went shopping and bought clothes. We bought new furniture. We went out to dinner. I spent money on food at the grocery store like I had never spent before. We had so much fun together and then spent the next several weeks painting the house and doing remodeling projects from off the internet. That was our Christmas, buying the things we never could before and I had a glimpse into Jack’s life. Acquiring all those things, but not having anyone to come home to. Oh wait! He had some beautiful blonde on his arm now. I growled in frustration and hoped she would spend all of his money in careless, frivolous ways until he was broke and too old to be the sexy hero in the movies any longer.

Several more months passed and summer approached. Daniel graduated from high school and I bought him a new car to take to college. He was accepted at a school in Utah so I wanted him to have some reliable transportation. Okay, I wanted to spend more of that money that I had earned with my life. I wanted to erase Jack from my life. And as hard as I tried, he wouldn’t just leave.

So I decided to just make him visible to me the way I wanted to see him. I took the photo of him on the couch and removed the color from it. Then, I printed it out and put it out on my pretty new dresser. I suppose I felt a little bit better.

With the weather turning for the better, I hired some guys to work on the house and spruce it up some. I was nearing the end of my bucket. I knew I would have enough to pay the bills through the end of the year so I decided to use the summer to take photos that I could sell once again.

I started going to the gym a few miles away and in two months, I was back into a size 10. Feeling better about myself, I started getting out. Daniel and I bought him some things for his apartment and began to prepare to say goodbye to him as well.

When I made it into a size 8, I celebrated with a new wardrobe. It wasn’t where I wanted to be, but I could be content. I wasn’t as small as I had been, but I was showing some definition at long last. My waist was slimmer and my legs were strong, but I still fought the flab around my belly.

I started to go back to my hairdresser and had him bring back my Hollywood hair, short and sassy.

After one year, I put makeup back on my face.

“I’m not so ugly,” I reasoned to the mirror.

It had taken me a long time, but I did it. I was myself again.

We made it a point to stay busy and in truth, I hardly thought about those men in my life that I mourned. They grew to be ghosts of my memories.

The Art of You Part 10

The battle rages on.

The battle rages on.

 

 

Two days after Jack had left, I decided I had better get some photos ready for printing and mounting. I put the card in my computer and uploaded the ones I had. I was excited to see some of the photos I knew would be amazing. I gulped in panic when only six photos popped up and they were all of the carpet in the hotel room, like someone didn’t know how to use the thing. But the last one was a picture of a note.

“Don’t be mad. I’m sorry.

But I hope a few dollars in the bank will help out. ~Jack”

My ears were pounding with my pulse. I found it hard to gulp at the air. He had taken my pictures. While I had been sleeping, he stole my property. The anger I felt at the thought that he had messed with my livelihood did anger me more than his gracious rejection. I decided it was a good thing he had left or I would have told him what I really thought. Oh, who was I kidding? I wouldn’t have said anything more than I already had to him.

Curiously, I opened the internet browser and looked up my online banking. My hand flew to my mouth and I stifled a cry. I had three figures sitting in my at one time, overdrawn bank account. There was $100,000 sitting there. He told me everything was taken care of, that I didn’t need to worry. I believed him and I had felt safe with him.

Angry that he stole my pictures, I decided I wouldn’t use his money unless I absolutely had to. But I began to spiral into a depression, not unlike the one I’d had a few years earlier. It was a natural response to the lot I had been dealt in life.

But that depression continued and I sat on that couch just watching television and eating ice cream for months. Pathetic, I know. But I could barely get myself up to go to the bathroom.

Daniel turned 18 on me and that was hard because he was my baby. He was doing well in school and worked at a local pizza joint, applying for colleges to major in theater. But he was wise beyond his years and talked to me about how I had been acting.

“I miss my mom,” he said at last. “I don’t like this person who sits here and cries all day long. This isn’t the mom that raised me.”

How could I explain?

“I’m sorry, Daniel. I never planned for this to happen, I don’t like it either,” I said with obvious tears in my eyes.

“I know,” he said pulling me into an embrace. “But you need to get out. You need to take a shower. I think he’s around and not happy that you are just throwing your life away. I can’t seem to bring myself to move out on my own and leave you here like this.”

I cried, okay? I bawled like a little baby in my son’s arms. He helped me to the bathroom and started my shower water, laying my towel out on the counter beside my bathrobe. Then, he left me alone.

Stripping off my clothes, I didn’t even recognize myself. Where I was once a size 5, I was now in a size 14. That fun little rockabilly girl had flown the coop and left behind and old fat woman.

The shower felt so good and I just stood there a while feeling each stream of water hit my skin. I really had wasted so much of my life and now my baby was a man ready to leave the nest in search his own dreams.

Daniel cooked dinner that night and we all sat together at the table for the first time in several months. His fish was just the best. We made small talk with each other and it was then that they asked to hear the whole story. So I told them.

Neither one had much to say. It wasn’t their heart that had been broken or their pride that had been shattered. But I told them I would never trust another man as long as I lived. They just smiled.

“Well not from the couch, you won’t,” Daniel said shoving fish in his mouth.

I had to give him that one. I wasn’t doing anything from the couch.

Sleeping in my own bed that night made me feel strange. It was a combination of missing my husband being there and those nights sleeping at Shore Lodge with Jack on the couch. I didn’t quite know what to feel. But I uttered a prayer and fell into a deep and restful sleep for the first time since I had been back home.

I woke to snowflakes outside my window. It was late and the boys were gone to school so the house was quiet. I contemplated just staying in bed and remembered the conversation with my son the night before. It was time to get back to normal.

“Ruby, you have to do something with yourself. This isn’t you!” I scolded myself.

I slid out of bed and threw on my robe to make me a smoothie instead of having my usual bowl of sugared cereal. It was the first step.

I flipped on the television and changed the channel until it fell on the news. There was Jack, walking out of some fancy building with some young model hanging on his arm dripping in diamonds. He was all smiles, a little older but still handsome as ever. The headline at the bottom of the screen said this woman was his fiancé. I snorted out loud and shut off the television.

I felt steam build within me and a fury like none other fueled my soul.

The Art of You Part 9

Sometimes life is like a thistle...So beautiful, but can inflict so much pain.

Sometimes life is like a thistle…So beautiful, but can inflict so much pain.

 

 

The next morning, I rose with a heavy heart but I was excited to see my sons. It truly felt like it had been months when it had barely been a week. Carefully, I packed up my things after I had showered and done up my face.

Jack peeked in on me every so often. He spoke little and I worried that I had really hurt his feelings. But I had nothing to lose, so why not say something? He was free to live his life as I was, but he chose to be that figure for the world. I chose to be no one special, just a mom and one who captured life on film.

I picked up my bag from off the bed and sighed looking around the room. Then I slung my camera bag over my shoulder and headed out to pack the car.

“Give those to me,” Jack ordered holding out his hands to take my bags from me.

I threw him a look of true independence. “I’m okay, really.” And I continued out the door.

“Ruby…” he called in his you-are-in-so-much-trouble voice.

I turned back to him and rolled my eyes, handing over the bags. He smiled rather victoriously and took them out to the car for me. Why did he have to be so perfect? I felt my chin tremble and cleared my throat, determined not to ruin my fabulous makeup.

He came bounding back inside to make one last sweep for things we might have missed. All I could do was stare, to watch his body move so fluidly, the way he bent and the way he would peek around the furnishings. Then he looked up and we just stared at each other for what felt like minutes.

“What?” he asked with a grin.

My eyes finally blinked. “Nothing,” I said and left the room.

It was a warm day in the mountains that day. It felt strange to sit in the passenger’s seat of my own car. Jack slid in with his knees to his chest and he laughed.

“Short people,” he said and then adjusted the seat back for his long legs.

Davis pulled up behind us and Jack started the engine. A lively song from years and years ago blared out of the speakers from the doo wop station and Jack’s hands stilled on the wheel. He looked over at me thoroughly amused.

“I should have expected it,” Jack said. At that moment, he looked like your everyday guy. Then, he shoved his very expensive, very shiny sunglasses on his face and he looked like a movie star again.

I just sighed when I wanted to smile at his playfulness.

The drive down the mountain went pretty easy as most of the traffic was coming up instead of down. Jack seemed to enjoy his time behind the wheel and it made me wonder how long it had been since he had driven himself anywhere.

“It feels strange driving on this side of the road!” he exclaimed as we rounded a corner in the road.

“I couldn’t imagine it any other way!” I laughed.

“Thank you for an amazing week, Ruby. I know how you must feel and I’m sorry if I had ever given you the wrong idea. I hope I didn’t offend you in any way,” he said turning the radio down so I could barely hear it.

Well, that was it. There would be no confessions of possible love budding but there would be goodbyes.

“You didn’t offend me, Jack. It’s easy to be happy in a fantasy world. When reality comes back in the picture, the real world never quite seems the same. The fantasy was good while it lasted and those memories will stay with me forever. That has to be good enough,” I said softly.

“I don’t think you would be ready for a relationship even if the right guy was in front of you,” Jack blurted out and I turned my face toward him in the fashion of someone possessed.

“Why in the world would you say that?” I asked incredulously. I seriously couldn’t believe he just said that when it was none of his concern.

He glanced at me quickly as his hands worked the wheel of the car. “Oh come on, Ruby. You haven’t let go of him yet. How can you move on with someone else? You are still living in the past. You came up here for closure and you visited every site the two of you had ever been to, am I right?”

Numbly, I nodded. He was correct.

“One photograph of yourself reminds you of things you had done for him, right?”

I nodded again.

“You are not free. You live within your cocoon because you are too afraid to step out and live life for yourself because you feel guilty. I highly doubt your husband wanted that for you, I really do,” he said firmly. “To latch onto someone new right now, would be to continue living the life the two of you had shared. So if, let’s say, you and I saw each other for a time. Where would we go for fun?”

I stared until I realized he wanted an answer. Him and I? How could I possibly answer that?

I stammered a bit. “Well, I suppose I would take you to SilverCity in the late spring and all through the summer. It is my favorite place,” I answered.

“And did you go there with him?” Jack asked.

I sucked in my breath and let it out slowly. “I never knew about that place until he took me there.”

“See? Everything you do is because you are still so attached to him. A new relationship can’t work for you until you can let go and be here in the present with someone new.”

“But that isn’t really fair. He was a part of my life for thirteen years. We did everything together. I would have to move away from here to not ever see anything that reminded me of him again,” I fired back.

“It isn’t that everything reminds you of him, it is the look you get. It is the battle inside you. I saw it many times this last week. You start to make progress and live in the here and now, but then you seem to find that guilt again and you clam up like you are doing something wrong. He should always be a part of your memory, but he doesn’t need to be a part of every memory if you move on,” he said and I heard his voice crack a little bit.

There I was, being scolded by a man who had lost his wife just hours before. How could he be so cold and calloused? I took him to be a much more romantic man than that. Had he spent the week moving on without his wife on purpose, or was it that he didn’t want to end up like me?

“I suppose I started moving on because I have come to care more for you than anyone else in these last three years,” I confessed and I watched his shoulders sink.

“I’m sorry, Ruby,” he apologized and slapped his hand on my knee a couple of times.

My arms folded protectively against my chest and I glowered at him. Even baring my soul to him didn’t matter. Dark emotions began brewing during that drive home, emotions of anger and frustration.

We made it to the house and I cringed as we pulled into the driveway. I climbed out of the car and my boys stepped out onto the porch to wave. The older of the two came to grab my bags and I thanked him, giving him a quick hug.

“Jack, this is my son, Daniel and Jordan is over there,” I said pointing and puffed up proud to introduce my kids to a movie star they loved as much as I did…okay, well maybe not quite as much as I did, but they stared at him with stars in their eyes when they shook his hand. I could hear him laugh at their enthusiasm.

I asked my boys to go on inside and I turned to Jack.

“Well, this is goodbye then,” I smiled.

He didn’t say anything, but pulled me in for a tight hug. He took my face between his hands and placed a kiss on my forehead. “Thank you again, Ruby.”

And then, he got in his fancy black car and Davis drove away with everyone waving at me through the windows.

The Art of You Part 8

There is sorrow in loss. I can't remember where I found this photo, but it isn't mine.

There is sorrow in loss.
I can’t remember where I found this photo, but it isn’t mine.

 

 

 

 

 

I had no right to be sad in seeing him go. I really didn’t. But I distinctly remember going in the bathroom and closing the door. This time, I locked it. Pulling the lid to the toilet closed, I sat down and buried my face in my hands, the tears flowing freely. I felt defeated. That’s the word for it. Life had beat me up so many times that I was broken and hollow and now, defeated.

Now, I’m not a religious person. I was when I was younger and even a while when my husband was still alive. But I felt lost, like a wayward ship upon story waters. My compass was broken and my soul bled. I had no choice to go down with my ship.

I took in a ragged breath and I knelt at the toilet, folding my hands piously and resting my forehead on them.

“Dear Lord,” I cried, “I’m so thankful for everything you have given me, but I am so lost right now. I know it has been a long time since we’ve had a conversation and I’m sorry about that. See, I don’t know what to do. I’m so confused. I finally allow myself to care for another guy after all these years. I feel like I finally started to enjoy living again and he gets taken away from me too. What was the purpose for all this if I’m just supposed to be alone? I don’t understand and this is one of those moments in my life that I really need you to carry me through it. Lend me comfort, I pray…”

A loud rap on the door scared the daylights out of me and I gasped loudly, quickly sitting back down and pulling at the toilet paper to mop my face.

“Ruby?” Jack asked sounding panicked.

“Yes?” I replied feebly, hoping the emotion couldn’t be heard beneath my voice.

“The door is locked. Are you alright?”

I chuckled. “I’m fine, Jack. Be out in a minute.”

“Don’t scare me like that!” he exclaimed and a pain shot through my chest.

I could tell he cared and he wasn’t meaning to hurt me at all. I was merely being selfish and wanting what I was not meant for. My status was not the same as his, we were from completely different worlds, and I was an emotional mess.

I ran some cold water over my face and pat it dry. Then, I paused as I unlocked the door and opened it to find him still standing there. That dang lump formed in my throat and burned so bad I could not speak. I looked down at the floor so he wouldn’t see my tears and I moved past him.

He reached out and grabbed my wrist, pulling me to him. I felt those strong arms close around me and my weak ones wound around him. We just stood there together for a time. My silent tears ran over my face and wet his shirt. His silent tears ran down his face and wet the top of my head.

“Thank you,” he croaked out.

“For what?” I sniffed and looked up at him.

“You opened my eyes, that’s what,” he smiled.

I was speechless. “I’m not following you.”

He took my hand and led me to the couch where we both sat.

“I can’t really describe it. I was cut off from the world even though I was a big part of it. I was angry, I was impatient, and I was ungrateful. Davis hitting you with the car was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and I mean that. There is only so much happiness that money can buy,” he gave a false chuckle.

I looked down at my hands. He envied my simple life and I envied his lavish one.

“Thank you, Jack. I can’t say that being hit with your car was the best thing that ever happened to me, but I’m glad that I was able to know you for the good man that you are. I will be really honest, my first impression of you wasn’t the best even though I am probably your biggest fan,” I laughed and he joined me. “I do want you to know that I wasn’t following you. You really did keep popping up everywhere I went. I was not stalking you, I promise.”

His hand found my shoulder. “I know. Perhaps there were greater forces that kept throwing me in your path.”

“I came up here to find closure and I found you and your great kids…and the bumper of your car. But you have helped me too. You have shown me there is so much more to life that I have missed out on these last few years. I thank you for that,” I said wringing my hands in nervousness.

“You want to know what I think?” he asked.

I tilted my head and looked at him with narrowed eyes. “Do I want to?”

He smiled, the lines around his mouth deepened and the lines around his eyes crinkled. “I think you look for the magic in the world because you don’t have any magic in your life. You have to find it somewhere to keep from going batty. But I think you are an old soul that has been very sad for a long time and if I was able to help you out of that, even for an hour, I’m happy I could help you back. But what you did for me was more than I could ever do for you.”

I shook my head to the negative and I felt the sadness creep up on me again. If he cared so much, and if I did so much for him, why couldn’t he just make a promise to me that he would come back someday? Was I so undeserving? Was it really as silly as it sounded? I mean, we were two human beings. Why did it matter so much about the stereotypes of the world? I felt like the peasant who fell in love with the prince and everyone around him was telling him how the peasant girl was not good enough or have royal enough blood to be with him. If only more princes stood up to those people and broke the bonds of society.

“What are you thinking right now?” he asked when I didn’t respond.

I flicked my gaze to his. “You don’t want to know.”

My thoughts piqued his interest and his eyebrows shot up. A hint of a smile played on my own lips but I didn’t want to feel happy.

My brain worked quickly, searching the corners for some viable excuse. “I was feeling free.”

“What do you mean by that?” he asked quietly.

“Well, I am able to make my own decisions, except when a movie star takes me out with his car and I’m forced to stay in his hotel room.” I heard him laugh out loud. “But I’m pretty in control of my life. Yes, I have bills that are late, most people do. I can choose who I take with me to dinner. I can choose what clothes I wear. I can be who I want to be and it’s okay. But you…you have expectations to live up to. You are forced to put your own life last for the entertainment of millions of people. You can’t be seen in public with people who aren’t of a certain status. You are forced to vacation in tiny mountain towns to escape cameras. While I might envy your bank account, I’m much freer than you are.”

I stood then and left him on the couch headed for the bedroom. I paused before I passed through the doorway and looked back at him just staring into nothing, the muscles of his jaw leaping as they clenched and unclenched.

“I told you that you didn’t want to know…” I muttered and went to lie down.