When a Complete Back Story Works #Open Book Blog Hop #Excerpt

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

I like the idea of letting the reader discover the back story as the book progresses. For example, I’m currently reading Hello, Summer by Mary K. Andrews. After her job in Washington D.C. disappears, an award-winning journalist is compelled to return to her small hometown in Florida and work in her family’s newspaper after so many years away. Why did she leave her hometown? I get the feeling it’s not because she wanted a higher-paying job. Will just have to find out.

But in some instances, providing the back story at once is necessary. Take, for example, the prolog of my latest book, The Red Dress. My main character, Eve, ends up telling her college roommate, Charlene, the history behind the red dress she keeps in the back of her closet, a dress she hasn’t worn since her disastrous prom night. Charlene is someone who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and she wants that dress. In the following excerpt, I’m providing the full back story to emphasize Charlene’s selfishness. This will be important later in the book.

***

Eve found herself blurting it all out.

“Mom made that dress for my senior prom. I had a date with Trent Boyer, the cutest boy in school.  He was the captain of the football team, and I loved watching him play.”

“Wow, just like Alex.”

“Yeah. Well, at the prom, we danced to that song, and I felt like I truly loved him, and I thought  he loved me. Afterwards, he said he had to use the restroom. Other boys asked me to dance, and I  got to talking with my friends, and when I looked around the gym later, I couldn’t find him. I  asked my friends if they’d seen him, and they just shook their heads.”

“Oh, gosh.”

“Like I said, I thought he loved me. I didn’t think he’d leave me. I decided to go out to the  parking lot to see if his car was still there. He’d dropped me off at the entrance, so I didn’t  know where he’d parked. It took me a while to find his car, but I did, in a dark corner up against  the fence by the football field. I looked in the window and saw two figures in the back seat.”

“Oh, my God.”

“I thought I was imagining things. I was on the driver’s side, so I opened that door, and of course  the light came on, and there they were, Trent and my best friend, Adele Matthews. Or at least I  thought she was my best friend.”

Eve paused to fight back more tears, and Charlene asked, “Were they actually having sex, or were  they just necking?”

“They were totally naked. Of course they stopped when I opened the door, and they both looked at me  like I was from another planet or something. I said a few choice words I’d learned from my dad,  then slammed the door and ran back into the building.”

“Good for you.”

“I went to the restroom and cried my eyes out. Fortunately, no one was there. Then I washed my face  and put on more makeup so I wouldn’t look as if I’d been crying. I went to the pay phone in the  hall near the main office and called home. Mom answered, and she could tell something was wrong, so  she came and picked me up.”

“I’ll bet you didn’t want to go back to school after that.”

“I didn’t, but Mom and Dad said it wouldn’t do any good to hide from my problems. I had to face  them head on.”

“What did you do when you saw Trent and Adele at school?”

“I didn’t speak to them, and they never spoke to me. Other kids knew, I think, but nobody said  anything to me about it. Boy, was I glad a few weeks later, when graduation came.”

“I’ll bet. Have you heard from Adele or Trent since then?”

“No. Adele was planning to come here with me and major in drama, like you, but I heard that Trent  got her pregnant, and they ran off to Las Vegas to get married.”

“So why did you bring that dress with you?”

“Mom insisted I take it in case there was something formal here.”

“Like the homecoming dance.”

“I’m not going to the dance. You can borrow the dress if you want.”

“You know, I can see why you put this dress off to one side. It’s only hurting you now. Let me take  it off your hands. You don’t need it anymore.”

“But my mother made it. Of course I wanted a store–bought dress, but she wanted to save money and  make me one. She worked long days at her job as director of the public library. There were only two  weeks left until the prom when I told her I wanted a new dress, so she stayed up nights and  scrambled to get it done.”

“Oh, you poor, homesick baby. Now you miss your mommy, who made this beautiful dress for you. Are  you gonna cry now? Go ahead, crybaby. Cry.”

***

Thanks to Stevie Turner’s Open Book Blog Hop for inspiring this. To participate and learn how other authors handle back story, click here.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

 

Importance of Knowing the Time #Tuesday Tidbit, #Excerpt

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

In January of 2006, three months after Bill and I were married and two weeks before he suffered his first stroke, I learned the value of having an effective time piece. Bill and I took the bus from our home in Sheridan, Wyoming, to Fowler, Colorado, to visit Bill’s sister and other family and friends for a couple of weeks. In our haste to get to the Sheridan bus station at three in the morning, I forgot to put on my talking watch after showering and didn’t realize it until it was too late. The following excerpt from My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds describes a faux pas that occurred as a result of me not having my watch.

***

One morning, soon after we arrived in Fowler, Bill shook me awake and told me it was seven o’clock. Shirley’s cleaning lady was due at eight, and I didn’t want her to catch us in bed. At a quarter to eight, after having showered and dressed, I settled in a recliner in the living room with my radio and headphones.

Shirley wasn’t up yet, and this seemed odd. I also noticed that it didn’t appear to be getting any lighter. I tuned in a public radio station out of Pueblo, and after fifteen minutes of national news, a local announcer said, “Good morning. It’s six a.m.”

Barely able to contain my anger, I stomped into the bedroom where Bill was dressing. I didn’t want to yell for fear of waking Shirley. “You idiot! It’s only six o’clock.”

Bill laughed. “I thought my watch said it was seven.”

“Yeah, right,” I said, as I sat on the bed and took off my shoes. “That’s why I don’t use a Braille watch anymore.”

“Well, let’s go out to breakfast.”

“You go out to breakfast,” I said, as I lay on the bed and covered myself with the blanket. “I’m going back to sleep.”

I turned on my side and closed my eyes. I heard him leave and knew he was mad, but I didn’t care. As I drifted back to sleep, I vowed never to forget my watch again. Little did I know that this was the last trip Bill and I would take together.

***

How about you? Can you remember an instance when you didn’t have a watch or a way to tell time? What happened as a result?

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

What Did You Do New Year’s Eve #Wednesday Words, #Excerpt

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Two months after Bill and I were married in 2005, we decided to toast the new year with French silk pie from Schwan. At a little before midnight, he served us each a slice of this chocolaty, rich dessert. Then, when he tried to put the pie back in the refrigerator, the dish slipped out of his hand, and the pie ended up on our carpeted kitchen floor. Needless to say, when 2006 arrived, we were cleaning bits of chocolate off the rug. We then ate our slices, laughed, and wished each other a happy New Year, unaware of what the new year would bring.

I don’t know why I didn’t include this in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. But the following excerpt explains how Bill and I celebrated our first Christmas and New Year’s after his first debilitating stroke, when he could no longer slice a French silk pie.

***

Christmas was a relatively simple affair compared to Thanksgiving. My uncle and aunt offered to come over on Christmas Day and bring chili. We had no out−of−town relatives visiting, just me, Bill, Dad, Grandma, and my uncle and aunt. It was a nice, quiet holiday. Bill and I rang in the New Year by watching Casablanca.

The past few months were tough at times, but we finally settled into a routine, and I could do most tasks associated with Bill’s care without thinking or worrying too much about them. Bill had recently started outpatient physical and occupational therapy, and I hoped he would develop the strength to do more on his own. However, as we snuggled together in bed after the movie, little did we know what lay ahead.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

Delicious Dialog #Wednesday Words #Excerpt

I’ve always enjoyed writing dialog, even when I wrote stories as a kid. To me, it’s the most effective way of making my characters come alive. But there have been times when I’ve used narrative, then realized it would be better to show my readers, through dialog, instead of telling them.

Take, for example, the following passage from The Red Dress. In my original draft, I wrote a paragraph or two, explaining how my main character, Eve, and her husband, Greg, developed a policy with their children that everyone do their own laundry and help with housework instead of Eve doing it all herself. While editing, I decided instead to insert a dinner scene during which the policy is discussed and the children react. If, after reading this, you want to know who Virginia, Charlene and Brenda are and the children’s ages, you’d better read the whole book.

***

One evening a week later, they were all at the dining room table.

“This tuna casserole is great!” said Thomas through a mouthful of food. “It sure beats the frozen stuff.”

Eve smiled, resisting the urge to chide her son for talking with his mouth full. “I’m glad you like it. It was your grandma’s recipe. I asked your grandpa to email it to me. When we go to Fowler for my class reunion, I plan to look through her other recipes to see what else I could make.”

“Cool,” said Julie. “I remember she used to make a really good chocolate pie, probably better than Virginia’s.”

“I know,” said Eve. “Your grandpa sent me that recipe, too. I would have made it to go with the tuna casserole, but I just didn’t have time. You know my writing keeps me busy, but I’m really trying to make more time for all of you.”

She braced herself for an outburst from Julie, but none came. Instead, Greg said with a reassuring smile, “Honey, you’re doing great. We’ve had some good meals over the past week, haven’t we, guys?”

“Yeah, I loved Jan’s lasagna recipe we had a few nights ago,” said Thomas.

“And her goulash was pretty good,” said Julie. “Oh, and thanks for washing my Sugar Shack t–shirt.”

“You’re welcome,” said Eve. “While we’re on the subject, I could use your help. When Ashley and I were in California, we found out that Brenda did a lot of housework and cooking while her mother was sick.”

Ashley turned pale, and her fork slipped out of her hand and fell to the floor with a clatter. “Mom, what are you saying?”

As the others stared at her in consternation, Eve realized she hadn’t phrased that well. “Oh, honey, no! I’m not dying of cancer, like Charlene. I’m just saying that there’s no reason why you, Thomas, and Julie couldn’t pitch in.”

Julie glared at her mother. “Mom, you’ve got to be kidding. I have a job. I don’t have time to do laundry or housework.”

“You don’t have to do it all,” said Eve, struggling to hide her exasperation. “We can all do it together. Let’s start with the laundry. Tomorrow, I’ll show you all how to use the washer and dryer, and after that, you can each do your own laundry.”

Ashley brightened. “When Brenda and I were putting our towels in the dryer, she gave me some tips on doing laundry that she learned in her home economics class last year. If she can do it, I can, too.” She picked up her fork from the floor and went to the kitchen for a clean one.

“I guess washing clothes isn’t any harder than painting the fence or changing a bike tire,” said Thomas. “In Tom Sawyer’s day, they didn’t even have washing machines.”

“You’re right, buddy,” said Greg. “Laundry nowadays isn’t hard to do. When I was in college and before I married your mom, I did my own laundry.”

“I don’t believe this,” said Julie. “When am I gonna have time to do my laundry? I’m working six to eight–hour shifts.”

She looked to her father, and Eve expected him to say that he would do her laundry, but he surprised her. “Hey, I don’t like your attitude. Your mom’s right. We all need to pitch in. There’s no reason why she has to do everything. She’s not our maid. She’s my wife and your mother.”

Julie hung her head.

To soften the blow, Eve said, “You can do your laundry on your days off. That’s what your father and I did when we were both working.”

Ashley, having returned to the table, said, “At least you don’t have to whitewash the fence all by yourself.”

“Whatever,” said Julie, picking up her fork.

“And I don’t like this ‘whatever’ business, either,” said Greg. “You’re using the word in the wrong context.”

Julie said nothing and continued eating while a solitary tear rolled down her cheek.

***

The above was inspired by this week’s Open Book Blog Hop prompt by Stevie Turner. If you’d like to participate, click here.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website  Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

What’s Cooking? #Tuesday Tidbit

I was never much of a cook. But after I married Bill, I had to learn. Originally, we agreed he would do the coking, and I would help with clean-up. But three months after we were married, he suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side, and he was never able to cook again. The following excerpt from My Ideal Partner details my ill-fated attempt at preparing oatmeal under Bill’s guidance.

***

Following his instructions, I poured a generous amount of oatmeal into a saucepan and added enough milk to cover it. “How long do I cook it?” I asked after I placed the pan on the stove and turned the heat to medium.

“I don’t know. Till it’s done.”

When Bill did the cooking, he had a sixth sense that told him when food was cooked, I thought as I stirred the pan’s contents. A few minutes later, when it seemed to be done, he said, “Ooh, I gotta pee. Oh, it’s too late. I wet my pants.”

With a sigh of resignation, I turned off the stove and took Bill into the bathroom. It took another fifteen minutes to remove his soiled jeans and underwear and replace them with clean ones. After I settled him back at the kitchen table and returned to the stove, I discovered that the oatmeal had congealed to the consistency of cement.

I added more milk, turned on the heat, stirred vigorously, and served it up a few minutes later. It didn’t taste very good, even with added sugar, but we were too hungry to care. We ate in silence. Finally, I said, “Honey, maybe you should have married a woman who can cook.”

“Come here, woman.” This was what he said when he wanted to hold me, and I wasn’t within reach. I got up and walked around to his right side, and after we embraced, he said, “You’ll learn, sweetie. I love you.”

***

This inspired a scene from The Red Dress in which my main character Eve’s attempt at making oatmeal has similar results.

***

She poured two and a half cups of oatmeal into a saucepan, covered it with four and a half cups of  milk, and turned on the stove burner to medium heat. As she was stirring the mixture, her cell rang.

The caller was Charlene. Oh, great, Eve thought, but she couldn’t send her to voicemail. Charlene  didn’t always have the strength to talk. Thinking she could let the mixture simmer for a few  minutes without stirring it while they chatted, she answered the call.

“Hi, did I get you at a bad time?” asked Charlene in her usual raspy voice.

“Not really. I’m making oatmeal.”

“Oh, God, remember the stuff they served at CU that passed for oatmeal?”

Eve laughed. “The problem there was that they made it with water. I make it with milk, the way my  mother did.”

“Oh, yeah. My mom did it that way, too. You have to keep stirring it, though. Otherwise, it’ll turn  into cement.”

“I know, but I wasn’t sure when you’d be strong enough to talk again.”

“I hear you. It seems that lately, the times when I’m strong are getting few and far between. By  the way, Brenda and I are getting excited about seeing you and Ashley. My husband, Jon, is also  anxious to meet you. There’s plenty of room, so if you all wanted to stay here, you could. And we  have a swimming pool.”

Eve chuckled. “Greg and the kids just might take you up on that. Of course, Greg will want to see  his family. They’re in Pasadena.”

“Oh, yeah. That’s not far from Valley Village, where we live.”

They chatted a while longer. As Eve was putting her phone away, the kids trooped into the kitchen.

“Ugh! What’s that you’re making?” Julie said, pointing to the congealed mixture on the stove.

Eve sighed. “It’s oatmeal. I’m sorry. I got tied up on the phone.”

“With Charlene?” asked Ashley as Eve poured more milk into the saucepan and stirred.

“Yes, Charlene. They want all of us to stay with them when we go there next week. They have a  swimming pool.”

“Cool!” said Thomas.

“Maybe we should have leftover meatloaf for breakfast,” said Julie. “Dad says it’s pretty good.”

“It is good,” said Ashley, “but not for breakfast. Yuck!”

“Ashley’s right,” said Eve, continuing to stir the mixture. “It’s getting better, now, so all is  not lost. Ashley, get me the cinnamon out of the cupboard above the microwave, will you?”

***

Who is Charlene? Why is she not always strong enough to talk on the phone, and why is she inviting Eve’s family to California? Read The Red Dress and find out.

By the way, from July 1st through 31st, you can download My Ideal Partner and The Red Dress absolutely free from Smashwords as part of its annual summer/winter sale. Click here to visit my Smashwords author page.

Also, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. Thank you for reading.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.