Thursday, December 13, 2018

FLYING FOSSILS - Lynne Gentry - One Free Print Book or Ebook

Dear Readers, Lynne Gentry has been a dear friend for a long time. We share a love of writing novels, and we’ve often served as a confidant and prayer warrior for each other. I’m thrilled to share this book with you today.

Welcome back, Lynne. Tell us about your salvation experience.
Growing up going to church every time the doors were open gave me an understanding of religion. But it was in the wide-open spaces of a summer camp that I came to love the Lord.

You’re planning a writing retreat where you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?
That’s a tough one. I love the strong heroines of Kate Quinn. The romance of Becky Wade. The intriguing character arcs of Kellie Coates Gilbert. And the heart-pounding action of Lisa Harris…and I’d squeeze you in too, Lena.

I’d love to retreat with all of those women. Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that.
My training is on the stage, so I love it whenever I have an opportunity to stand behind a microphone and share the faithfulness of God and His unconditional love.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?
I am a closet perfectionist. Not long after I published Walking Shoes I began to get emails that said the story was good but all of the typos made it hard to read. I was mortified. Typos? How could that be? Three editors had poured over that book. Upon further investigation, I discovered that somehow during the formatting process the number 2 had been liberally sprinkled over the entire manuscript. In the end, all I could do was swallow my pride, admit I’d made a mistake, and offer to replace the glitchy manuscripts.

People are always telling me that they’d like to write a book someday. I’m sure they do to you, too. What would you tell someone who came up to you and said that?
Better get started. It’s a lot of work.

That’s the truth. Tell us about the featured book.
Twenty-five years ago, the Slocum women buried their close mother-daughter relationship in the Frio River and went their separate ways. Sara and Charlotte pretend their weekly long-distance call fulfills their family obligation until Sara falls and breaks her hip. Now Charlotte must drop everything and fly to Texas. Charlotte’s short-term care-giving plans are dashed when she realizes her aging mother needs long-term care. While Sara struggles to regain her independence, Charlotte grapples with the impossible task of juggling a high-pressure job, a rebellious teenage daughter, and a slightly demented mother.

Please give us the first page of the book.
Sara: An Independent Mother
As usual, you’re being overly dramatic, Charlotte Ann.” I hug the phone receiver between my ear and shoulder, stretch the cord across the kitchen, then snag a butcher knife from the wooden block. “Putting a few dents in a lawnmower is hardly a reason for me to give up my ranch.”

“Mother, you totaled a two-thousand-dollar riding mower!” My daughter’s anger crackles on the line. “What if you’d been hurt?”

Contrary to Charlotte’s insinuations, I’m not some fragile, rusty weathervane easily spun by the changing winds that sweep through these Texas Hill Country valleys. As per the invariant order of things, my feet have become deeply rooted in the rocky soil. I’m attached to this land tighter than the fossils that cling to the banks of the Frio River.

For forty-two years, I’ve been the mother. Charlotte the child. Simple laws govern our parent-child relationship. I’ll admit, there are rules that allow for an orderly transition of power, if that sad time should ever come. But, I’ll not be pushed into speeding things along simply because it suits Charlotte.

Trading roles with my daughter now would be like winter unexpectedly giving way to fall.  Buds waiting to bloom would shrivel and die. There’d be no crops to harvest. Birds would never head north. Nothing would ever be right again. I know, because twenty-three years ago I was forced to go against the expected order of life. It was a tragedy that has ruined everything.

“Mother, did you hear me?” Somewhere in Charlotte’s aggravation, I hear the little girl I used to know, the one who sat beside me on the piano bench…frustrated that she was having difficulty mastering “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”…worried that she never would.

I shift the receiver and whack a Bartlett pear into tiny pieces. “Don’t worry, I’ll pay you back.”

“You know this is not about the money!” Charlotte barks.

“Then why did you bring it up?” I ignore my daughter’s huge sigh and slide a piece of fruit through the bars of my ringneck parrot’s cage. “Here you go, Polygon.”

My bird waddles his perch shouting, “God save the Queen.”

“Loyal and smart.” I say as I wiggle the pear enticingly. “You need more roughage in your diet, my feathered friend. Can’t have you getting backed up again.”

“Mother, could you please stop talking to that blasted bird and finish our conversation?”

Polygon hops off his perch, wraps his claws around my arthritic knuckle, and begins to peck at the fruit. Touch is the sensation of touch I miss more than conversation. Which is strange, considering the complaints I lodged with Martin when I felt worn out by the constant pawing of third graders. Guess that goes to show how easy it is to take something for granted until it’s gone.

I release the fruit and Polygon waddles toward his seed dish with a full mouth.  “At least my bird listens.”

Charlotte sighs. “I bought the riding mower to help you. The doctor said the strain of pushing a mower over that huge yard is putting your heart at risk.” Her continued exasperation rattles me more than her exaggeration. “Obviously, power equipment isn’t the answer.”

“Anyone could’ve confused all those fancy pedals.”

“You’re seventy-two, Mother.” She always manages to cite my age before overstepping the boundaries we’ve set in place. “There’s no shame in admitting that you can no longer keep up with three hundred acres of rugged hill country.”

I wipe the window with the sleeve of my robe and gaze at the pasture dotted with patches of this spring’s fading bluebonnets. “No one was hurt.”

“This time.” The strain in her voice is as irritating as a mandatory fire drill.

“You want me to let the place grow up around my ears?”

“Of course not.” She sighs to emphasize the stress I’m obviously adding to her very busy day. “But since you refuse to consider a move, I have to hire you some help.”

I bite my tongue. Silence won’t end this conversation with Charlotte, but it won’t hurt her to believe it’s the only defense I have left.

“I’m worried about you, Mother.”

Charlotte’s deep inhalation is my cue to take a seat because the recounting of my shortcomings that she feels honor bound to recite has grown into a rather long list. “In the last six months, you’ve flushed your dentures down the toilet.”

“Just the lowers.”

“You got lost on the way to town.”

“Winnie found me and hauled me back home.” I add, “Long before dark.”

“I hate to think what would have happened if you hadn’t run out of gas along her mail route.”
Overstated dramatics always harden my resolve. Ask any child who was unlucky enough to have me as their teacher. “No law against trying a change of scenery.”

“You don’t like change, Mother,” my daughter snips. “That’s why we can’t seem to have an honest and productive conversation about your future.”

I sink into the chair and rest my elbow on the table. “Just because you think the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be…” I cringe at that I’ve resorted to using slang. “…that doesn’t mean I want to leave my home of forty-five years and move to Washington, D.C., Charlotte Ann.”

Surely it wasn’t that many years ago that Martin and I ignored a weathered No Trespassing sign, climbed an old, barbed-wire fence, shed our clothes, and jumped from a thirty-foot bluff with the abandon of two people with more nerve than sense. The moment our naked bodies slid into the crystal-clear water, we knew the Fossil Ridge Ranch was meant to be our little piece of heaven.
I’ve loved and lost on this land. I can’t bear to leave any of it.

“I know this is hard,” Charlotte whispers.

“How could you know? You only come home once a year.”

“Mother, that’s not true. I’ve flown to Texas four times since Thanksgiving. And if you don’t start cooperating, I’m going to have to come home in April as well.”

Without following the school calendar dates scramble in my head. “Four times?”

“Yes,” she says. “I have a job, a teenager, and a marriage I’m trying to keep together. I can’t keep dropping everything to…”

Her pause is my cue to say something that will soothe her conscience, to grant a pass that lets her off the hook. That’s been our unspoken agreement for twenty-some years. I don’t get a pass. She doesn’t get a pass. That way neither one of us has to forgive the other. Slocums are like that. Charlotte may have taken on that fancy McCandless surname when she married a good-for-nothing playboy, but roots deep as ours are tougher than weeds to yank out.

Charlotte’s quiet. But I can hear her ripping the tiny gold treble clef back and forth on the thin silver chain around her neck. She’s gearing up to issue my ultimatum. I suppose I should take some consolation in the fact that she still wears the little trinket I gave her years ago. Perhaps we’re not completely lost to each other.

“If you want to stay on the Fossil Ridge, then you’ll have to give this new guy a chance.”

“He’s already mowed over the bluebonnets in my front yard. They’re beautiful this year, but he cut them down before they could seed. Next thing you know, he’ll be toppin’ my myrtles.”

“I’ll text him to be more careful. Please, for my peace of mind, can you just give this new guy a try?” Charlotte’s breathing is becoming more rapid. Any minute she’ll blow, unable to leave well enough alone. “That’s all I ask.”

“That’s all?” Anger pumps through my veins and I spring from the chair, a taut rubber band aimed at the class bully. “If you call stripping my independence guarding my heart, Charlotte Ann, I’ll take my chances with high cholesterol and a push mower.”

I hang up the phone with a decisive slam and march to the counter. Sticky juice oozes from what remains of the mutilated mound of fruit.

Whatever happened to family taking care of family? My neighbor LaVera’s grown son takes care of her. Bo isn’t pressuring his mother to leave her place, nor does he pawn off his responsibilities on hired help.

I swallow a bite of the vanilla-sweet flesh then poke a sliver through the bars of the birdcage. “Charlotte won’t be satisfied until I sign over complete control of my life.”

My bird abandons his preening and snatches his breakfast with his bright red beak.

“Sweet Moses,” I snap. “Say something, Polygon!”

I know better than to encourage this feathered chatterbox to speak with his mouth full, but this traitorous deed by Charlotte has me in such a stew I’m willing to risk the undoing of my bird’s etiquette training.

For once, Polygon behaves and remains silent. Although pleased the hours I’ve invested in my parrot’s behavior has finally begun to pay off, I admit that at this very moment a word of encouragement, even a feathery nod would be a comfort. How many years has it been since I’ve had someone in my corner?

More than I care to count.

The screaming kettle gyrates above the gas flame. “We’ll show Charlotte who can still take care of themselves, won’t we, Polygon?”

I pour boiling water over a twice-used tea bag then wait for the water to brown. It’s maddening that my life has come to recycling tea bags. Martin and I had planned to spend our golden years spoiling a passel of grandchildren. I shuffle to the fridge. My gnarled finger traces the photograph that curls beneath the World’s Best Teacher magnet stuck to the door.

The little beauty sitting beside me and Charlotte is my only grandchild. Aria was eight when this photo was taken nearly five years ago. I haven’t seen this little lioness in months. Busy teenager stuff, her mother claims. But I can’t help but wonder if Ari has also outgrown her need for me. After all, she’s probably taller than me by now, and well-past the age of appreciating anything I could teach her. And I’d planned to teach her so much. Her times tables. Piano scales. How to tell a barn swallow from a sparrow. The best way to free a fossil from the limestone that lines the river.

Some dreams are best forgotten.

I return to my tea, splurge and add a cube of sugar, then lift the rose-patterned porcelain cup to my lips.

My apple-green bird tilts his head, his beady eyes assessing my brewing storm. I blow steam in his direction. “You won’t leave me, will you, Polygon?”

“C’mere.” He waddles the length of his perch. “Pretty girl.”

I rest the cup on a saucer and stick my finger through the wires and stroke the soft down above his beak. “If only family were as loyal.”

I’d give anything to have my Martin pat my fanny as I wash up the supper dishes. Or have my ambitious Caroline hug my neck after I admire her work. Or have my sweet Charlotte crawl into my lap and beg for another song on the piano.

“Thank you for sticking it out, Polygon.” Through tears, I look my bird in the eye.  “Once I send Charlotte’s new hire packing, we’ll have our life back.”

“Be nice.” Polygon gives my finger a peck.

“Traitor.” I recoil at his siding with Charlotte. “This has to be done, Polygon. And, no matter what anyone tries to tell me, I’m still the woman to do it.”

I love it, Lynne. How can readers find you on the Internet?
I love to hear from readers. Reach out to me at http://www.lynnegentry.com

Thank you, Lynne, for sharing this story with my blog readers and me. I can hardly wait to read the rest of it.

Readers, here are links to the book.
Flying Fossils (Women of Fossil Ridge) (Volume 1) - Amazon paperback
Flying Fossils (Women of Fossil Ridge Book 1) - Kindle

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13 comments:

Linda Kish said...

This sounds like a story I would really enjoy. Linda in CA

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Lynne Gentry said...

Linda, the Slocum women are winning hearts everywhere. I hope you'll give this series a go.

Robin in NC said...

I can't wait to find out what Sara decides to do! You can't blame Charlotte though, 300 acres is definitely a lot for anybody to keep up with, much less a 72 year old woman! Thanks for sharing with us.
Robin in NC

Melanie Backus said...

I think this would be a great book and I would love to read it. Thank you for the opportunity. Melanie Backus, TX

Lynne Gentry said...

Robin, you are so right. 300 acres is a lot to keep up with. 72 isn't that old, that's why for Sara's memory to begin to fail her is such a tragedy. Hope you get a chance to read this heartwarming story.

Melanie - you will have to laugh to keep from crying with this one.

Anne Payne said...

Sounds like an emotional read that I would enjoy. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

Anne, VA

Kay Garrett said...

What a fascinating and emotion story! After reading the excerpt, I definitely placed it on my TBR list. Now I can't wait for the opportunity to read it. Thank you for the chance to win a print copy!
Kay Garrett from Mountain View, AR
2clowns at arkansas dot net

Connie Leonard said...

I love Lynne's writing, and I love books about family. I can't wait to read this.
Connie L. in Texas

Lynne Gentry said...

Ann, Kay, and Connie, this series comes from a deep place in my heart. After caring for my mother for two years and helping with my mother-in-law's fight with cancer, I have a deep love and respect for caregivers. I also have a great admiration for the women fighting to maintain their dignity and give their family the tools they will need to carry on after their departure. Hope you will give the Women of Fossil Ridge series a read.

Connie Porter Saunders said...

The mother/daughter relationship is certainly complex and this book sounds very realistic and intriguing. Thanks for sharing.
Connie from Kentucky
cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

Lynne Gentry said...

Hope you'll give Flying Fossils a try, Connie.

Sharon Bryant said...

Enter me in your awesome giveaway for the print copy!!
Conway SC.

Caryl Kane said...

Lynne's books are a must read!

Caryl K in TEXAS