There’s a lot of me in Bailey Brown, the heroine of my Washout Express Series. A past of rejection leading to low self-esteem. It is such a great joy to share Bailey’s journey to wholeness through learning who she is in Jesus Christ. It’s easy to express that joy because I went through the same transformation.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I just don’t know. I consider myself a card carrying nerd, actually, so everything is quirky. Crocheted 1000 candy corn amigurami to go with my book Yellow Bottom Bob? Gave them away to schools? The fact that I still write snail mail to famous people I admire? I have a little stack of letters from Jan Karon, and one from Sheldon Vanauken (a student of C. S. Lewis) who wrote A Severe Mercy. That’s the only fruit I’ve gleaned from that quirky snail mail habit.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I was in the 5th grade when I won a poetry contest at
Newman Elementary School
in . I got to go to the office and letter
the poem on poster board, which was displayed in the school foyer. I don’t
remember anything about it except I based it on the Charlie Brown craze at the
time, “Happiness is…” I remember that the last line was “and at schoolwork,
doing your best.” The idea that words out of my head and heart could make an
impact on others captured me and never let go. El Paso, Texas
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I work at a library so I dip my reading foot in all kinds of various genre pools. I read a lot of books for review as well, so when I get to read for pleasure, I tend toward biographies, and inspirational fiction.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
When I figure that out, I’ll let you know. Seriously, though, I’m a pretty organized person so that helps, but sometimes it overwhelms me. I feel like the ocean is slamming and overflowing me. During those times, I just try to “float” on the help of God.
Good answer. How do you choose your characters’ names?
I’m terrible at it! I rely on name generators and the help of my writers’ group, Critique Café. I’m even worse at titles!
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Hard to say. I’ve been around for a long time, lol. The first thing that came to my mind when I read the question though is my six living epistles. I’m very proud of the five daughters and one son that we’ve raised, and the 15 grandchildren we’ve been blessed with so far. Recently, I became acquainted with a pastor in
pastors a church that is 80% children. These precious children are suffering
the results of the drug culture. A friend of mine helped me make 120 children’s
blankets (crocheted) and gather Christmas gifts and Spanish Bibles. Our church
got involved and we’re going to be able also take money to help Pastor Vicki
feed the children. We are so excited to help this little church at Christmas
time. I guess I’m more grateful than proud of this. Wrapped in Prayer Blanket
Ministry grew out of that effort. Juarez,
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I think I would choose to be a horse. I respond to given love, and love to serve, carry others on my back, if you will.
What is your favorite food?
Fried chicken (which I don’t eat very often anymore) but since my mom passed away, there will never be any fried chicken like hers again. I never learned to cook it well. My husband is not a fan of chicken! I tell him there will be a star in my crown for feeding six children and a pastor husband without chicken!
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Time. I still work full time, and will for a few more years. I’ve had to learn to get up early and to steal time when I can get it to write. National Novel Writers Month is a lifesaver. I draft all my books that month usually. My job is also flexible. I can write at work if my work is done, but there are too many distractions. You know what they say: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Tell us about the featured book.
Joy Express is Book 3 in the Washout Express series. In Books 1 and 2, we watch Bailey and Scott find each other, and through many obstacles finally reach the altar. Book 3 is a little different in that there is some serious tragedy and trauma that must be overcome. All their former demons threaten to derail the progress they’ve made. They are expecting twins – double the blessing, but where’s the joy? (This book is dedicated to some dear friends of ours who lost a child while I was writing this book. Their faith has been an inspiration.)
Please give us the first page of the book.
I squeezed the couch cushion with both hands as a Braxton Hicks contraction tightened my lower back. Or was it a real one? Eight months in, so it could happen right now. I focused on ivy shadows dancing behind the lacy window curtains until it passed. Moving around in the mid-morning air would help.
My usual get-off-the-couch ritual proved more difficult every day. I spread my swollen feet, anchored one hand on the arm of the couch, pushed off with the other hand, and propelled the basketball stomach into the air. The few feet from the living room couch to the front porch of the inn stretched miles away, but I waddled there anyway.
I wiggled into a porch rocker and willed a cooler breeze to materialize. My perfect, snowy wedding nearly a year ago spoiled me for every December to come. The piney woods across the road shone green in the sunlight. Normally I’d seek refuge from the heat with a stroll on the fragrant, dead pine needles. My football-sized feet prevented any pleasure jaunts among the cool shadows.
Could I even find shoes that didn’t hurt for the Barkley House dedication this afternoon? Maybe I could get away with dressy flip-flops. That was standard
East Texas footwear all year
round anyway, except maybe three days in February. The snow last December
I decided to just rest for five more minutes. My speech needed practicing. I also needed to pull our wedding cake topper from the freezer. Maybe there’d be time for a private first-anniversary celebration tonight. Two weeks early, but the actual date was too close to my due date.
My sweet, hard-working husband balked at leaving me alone. I’d shooed him on. I’d promised to keep my cell phone near me and Phoebe was just up the road at the diner. So much work to be done and I couldn’t help Scott with any of it.
“Welcome to the Grand Opening of the Helen Barkley Missionary Retreat,” I whispered. I planned to keep it short, given I couldn’t stand very long. “I may never be able to erase the picture of Pinewood Manor, my grandmother’s home, and one of
finest antebellum mansions, smoldering in ashes in the spot just a little over
a year ago. But the building of Barkley House has brought healing. Mother and I
know that Gran would be pleased that we have a resting place for missionaries,
because they were so close to her heart.” Marshall
There was that old, black vehicle again. I’d seen the classic car creeping around Exit 477 several times over the last couple of days. The canopied lane that banked the road to our home seemed to draw strays. I’d been one of them.
Now, how did the rest of it go? “On this special day…”
The car pulled into the driveway.
My tortoise speed preempted a stand-up greeting, but I leaned forward in the rocker.
The reflection of tall pines on the windshield hid the driver’s face from view.
My heartbeat sped up, and I placed a protective hand on my stomach. I reached for the phone in my maternity jeans pocket. I’d left it on the coffee table. So much for my promise.
The driver climbed out but stood by the door. He ran a hand through a head of hair more gray than brown. He hesitated as if he might slide his fiftyish, slight build back into the car. Instead, determination flashed in his dark eyes as he took a step away from his vehicle and slammed the door.
Probably just someone scouting out a weekend stay at the inn for Christmas. Couldn’t he see the CLOSED UNTIL SPRING sign?
I rubbed my damp palms on my jeans, and tried to swallow.
A shock raced up my spine, and my vision blurred. The pines, the black car, and the ivy covered porch rails melded into blackish, green waves. I was five years old again, crouching in the back of a Pinewood Manor hall closet. The musty coats making me cough. The fear he’d hear. He’d raged at Mom for a long time. I’d covered my ears. But as he’d stormed down the hall, I heard the words that became my prison.
“You baby her too much, she’s too fat, and she’ll never amount to anything!” Slam.
Beloved, you are free.
The heavenly whisper steadied me a bit. I remembered. Yes, Father. The present returned and my dad’s words that I’d work like skin all my life fell away. Move, Bailey. Get up and go in the house. What does one say to the father who abandoned my precious mother and me in a molten rage and never so much as called in over twenty years? “What do you want?” formed in my brain, but never registered with my mouth.
He stepped onto the porch and lunged right into my space, both his fists tightly knotted by his side. His eyes narrowed into sinister slits. “You’re coming with me.”
“No, I’m not.” I managed to push out of the rocker and tried to turn toward the front door.
He grabbed my arm and pain shot to my fingers as he pulled me down the stairs.
I stumbled, but managed not to fall. I jerked my arm as hard as I could, but his grip only tightened. A sharp pain and a kind of pop ripped inside, below my babies. “Help!” A pain and incredible pressure gripped my lower back. “Please, I’m due any minute. Let me go!”
“I can see that. It does complicate things a bit, but it’s all up to you.” He jerked me toward the sedan. He opened the car door, pulled the driver’s seat forward, and shoved me in the back. “Lie down, and shut up!”
I screamed until he pulled a pistol from behind his back and pointed it at my stomach. His hand shook. “I said shut up. Lie down and don’t get up until I tell you.”
Tears slid down my face as I lay on the car set. I rubbed the red stripes on my arm and watched the pines whiz by in a green haze. My son and daughter moved within me.
Wow! How can readers find you on the Internet?
Washout Express “fan” page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/187909868038111/
Thank you, Jody, for sharing this book with my blog readers and me. I can hardly wait until my copy arrives. I’m eager to find out what’s going on.
Readers, here is a link to the book.Joy Express
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