Saturday, January 23, 2010

One Lovely Blog Award -- A Minute With Marianne Has Won!

Thank you, fellow author E.A. West for giving my blog this award!

However, accepting the "Lovely" award comes with responsibility! I now have the honor and privilege of passing it on to others. Those who have won, here are the rules:

Accept the award, then post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, along with their blog link. Pass the award to 10 other blogs that you enjoy. (Okay, so 10 can be a lot to come up with! Pass it on to as many bloggers as you can, up to 10. I'm passing it on to 7.) Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

And so, I pass this award on to these truly deserving blogs. I hope you will check each one of them out!

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Minute with

You enter the restaurant and scope out an early-evening crowd that already packs the tables and booths at 220 Merrill, the swanky, upscale eatery located in downtown Birmingham, Michigan.

You spot your party and grin, looking forward to fun and gossip. You step up as Kiara Jordan sips from a wine goblet, half-filled with chilled chardonnay. On approach, you overhear her sigh, and say with unmistakable affection:

“…I swear. I love her to pieces, but sometimes Marianne is just so ridiculous! It’s silly to be shy about sharing a great love story with the world, right? … Oh! Hi!”

Kiara spots you and stands, sliding out gracefully from the intimate corner booth. She beams a from-the-heart smile, greeting you with an enthusiastic hug.

“Sit down! I’m so glad you made it!”

“Am I late?” You ask, joining the table of a half-dozen or so friends who send up cheery salutations as well.

“Not a bit.” Kiara sits back down. Along with everyone else, she resumes snacking on hor douvres. A rolling hum of conversation fills the air, as does the aroma of roasting meats and savory spices. Wait staff, dressed in traditional black and white, move smoothly past. You order your drink of choice, and settle in, grabbing a chunk of perfectly prepared bruschetta. Then some risotto balls.

You don’t want to be behind the times, so you lean into the conversation at hand, continue to munch on some delectables, and beseech: “So fill me in, Kiara – tell me what’s going on with Daveny and Collin! From what I understand, those two are amazing!”

"Are they ever! I love those two! Talk about a God-ordained couple..."

On that heartfelt declaration, Kiara wastes no time launching into a full report.

“You see, here's the thing. Marianne documented their story in Hearts Crossing, but I’ve been Daveny’s best friend since college. I’ve worked with her ever since she opened the doors of Montgomery Landscaping – and I’ve never seen Daveny so swept away, so captivated by a wonderful man…and Collin – well – let me just say, despite their tribulations, I wish I could find a man just like him…"


"How do you feel about God, Collin?"

"I don't."

Collin Edwards, a former parishioner at Woodland Church of Christ, has renounced God without apology, his faith drained away in the face of a tragic loss.

Daveny Montgomery cares deeply about her relationship with God, and the community of woodland. Lately she's been in a rut, longing for something to reignite her spiritual enthusiasm.

A beautificiation project at Woodland seems the answer for them both. Daveny spearheads the effort and Collin assists, but only with the renovations, and only because he wants to know Daveny better. Despite his deepening feelings for her, even stepping into the common areas of the church stirs tension and anger.

Can Daveny trust in Collin's fledgling return to faith? And can Collin ever accept the fact that while he turned his back on God, God never turned his back on him?


Wistful sighs course the table. One participant asks: "So what happens next? Tell me more!"

Like an imp, Kiara just grins, then helps herself to some calamari - perfectly prepared. A handsome and solicitous waiter asks if a refill is necessary on Kiara's nearly empty wine goblet. Completely enthralled by the story, she negligently refuses his offer. Meanwhile, he lingers, watching her with unabashed longing. Several of your tablemates share knowing grins. Kiara's a knock-out, yet has no realization of her impact.

So, the hostess with the mostess continues, excited and thrilled for her dearest friend...


The closer he got to Woodland Church, the more Collin's tension increased. He faced that fact without flinching, and without apologizing.

He couldn't help the sense of anger he felt whenever he considered matters of faith, so he didn't try to stem the tide. Helping his mom is what mattered, and the thought kept Collin centered as he turned off Jefferson Avenue and into the church parking lot.


The single word exclamation was Collin's instinctive reaction upon seeing the church. Grounds were torn up in large spots and contractors worked at the open sores. He slowed his truck to a stop next to a series of graders, haulers and a semi presently swarmed by what he assumed were church volunteers.

He hopped down from the cab and released the back latch, looking for a person who might be deemed the project leader.

The fact that he stopped to stare drew the attention of a by-passer, who called affably, “Need some help?”

“Delivery. Can you point me to the right person?”

“That’d be Daveny. She’ll get you taken care of. Follow me over.”

They crossed the lot and closed in on a cluster of folks who were in scrubby clothes, water bottles and gardening tools in hand. At the center stood a slender, petite woman wearing jeans and a lime green t-shirt. They stepped up and Collin realized she was in the process of assigning volunteers to designated sections of the church grounds.

During a pause, Collin's escort spoke up. “Daveny, this gentleman brought us some supplies.”

“Perfect. Thanks, Gabe.”

With that, she turned. Collin's world tilted when her gaze lifted to his in greeting. Something overwhelming and instantly captivating swept through him like wind song when she smiled.

“Hi, I'm Daveny Montgomery.”

Collin stumbled over his own name, stalling out while he stared at her. There was a purity he sensed – elusive and instantly haunting.

“Collin Edwards,” he finally managed, taking hold of her extended hand. Firm grip, he realized, soft as silk skin. Nice.

Suddenly, he didn't want to leave. Not quite yet anyway.


The evening continues amidst laughter and fun. Table candles flicker and glow, illuminating the space around you. At that point, at long last, Marianne enters the scene and slides into place next to Kiara, asking, "What have I missed?"

The entire table of friends erupts into laughter.

"Oh...nothing..." Kiara answers, sharing a wink with the group at large.

Meanwhile, you notice the way Marianne casts a calculating glance at the willowy, super-model chic woman who hosts the evening's festivities. You can almost see the wheels turning. Perhaps Marianne is considering: Wouldn't paybacks be fun? Wouldn't Kiara be knocked out of sight by starring in a love story of her very own...?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Wow. Just...WOW.

So there I was - innocent as a lamb - noodling on the Net when along came an e-mail that set my world spinning.

But wait, I'm sorry. I need to back up a pace or two and catch you up. I need to fill you in on the complete picture of my life at a most extraordinary moment in time.

My son and his wife had just arrived in town for the holidays. My daughter had also just arrived home from Michigan State University. My hubby and our entire family were camped out in the kitchen, making traditional Christmas Sugar cookies (Grandma DeCou's recipie...Yum-Yum...!) for Christmas Eve festivities in a couple of days. A sudden comment came from my son, Dan. "Mom, while Mary's out for a minute, can you show me the top you got her for Christmas? I think I may have gotten her the same thing. I want to make sure my gift is different from yours."

The top in question was already wrapped and under the tree, but I since I had ordered the item on line, I had an e-mail confirmation from the company, complete with a photograph of the item.

"Sure - " I answered. "Come on over to the computer. I'll show you there."

Okay, question. Busy as we were (cookie dough waited - as did green and red sprinkles and multi-colored sugar-balls...) why did everyone follow? Why? Because a God moment was brewing, and God knows exactly what He's doing. Always.

I paged through my e-mails and as I hunted down and opened the confirmation notice Dan wanted to see, I also noticed a new, unopened missive that made my heart pound. The sender was Nicola Martinez, Editor in Chief of White Rose Publishing. The subject line: Hearts Crossing Contest Entry.

I passed it by. I didn't want to click the 'open' button at all. In fact, I showed Dan the picture of my gift item - found out duplication was no longer an issue - then took a deep breath and logged off my e-mail account.

Here's my justification: Just days away from welcoming 14 family members to my home on Christmas Eve, I didn't want to find out I had lost the Hearts Crossing writing contest sponsored by White Rose Publishing. I was happy and content. I didn't want anything to interfere with that fact. When you don't "know" there's always hope, right?

You see, this contest meant a great deal to me. For quite a while now, I've wanted to break into the Christian inspirational market, and White Rose has a strong, growing reputation in the industry. So, the contest, which I entered back in September, was a wonderful opportunity to do just that - but at the same time, I was realistic enough to realize victory was beyond my wildest hopes. After all, a lot of incredibly talented people were vying for the grand prize - a book contract with the publisher.

So, I figured the e-mail would read something like: "Thank you so much for entering the contest. While your submission featured many appealing elements, the competition was very tight, and we regret to inform you that..."

Yeah -- you get the drift.

When I turned away from the computer, I caught my husband's eye and he could tell something was up just by looking at me. All I said to him was, "I think the verdict is in on Hearts Crossing." Steve sweats and bleeds publication issues right along with me - a partner in the best sense of the word. Unfailingly supportive he said, "Well, come on! Open it up! Let's find out!"

I was, shall we say, somewhat less enthusiastic. In fact, I was nervous as all get out. I even explained all the reasons why I avoided opening the e-mail. His answer to that somewhat psychotic behavior? "Marianne. Really. If you win, we're all here around you. If you've lost, we're all here around you. What more could you ask for?"

Dang he's smart sometimes!

I huffed and I sat, opening up my e-mail once more. Another deep breath later I clicked on the e-mail from Nicola. As it opened, Steve quipped, "Hey, it'll probably say Congratulations or something!"

First word of the e-mail? "Congratulations..."

I have to confess, and don't tell Nicola this, but, initially, I didn't read much beyond that first word. I burst into tears. Meanwhile, Steve and the kids burst into whoops and cheers. What a thrill! What an honor! I found myself blessed by such an incredible moment, and I got to share with the ones I love so much, and who have supported me through all the inevitable rejections and sad times that also come along quite frequently in the world of publishing.

The tentative release date for Hearts Crossing is January 29th. Below is a video trailer for the book. Also, if you visit my website: you can read a blurb and excerpt!

Please stop by, enjoy the read, and leave a comment on my guest book. I'm eager to know what you think!