*** Elaine is very graciously giving away one ebook copy of HER GOOD GIRL to a commenter. Include contact information. However, at a price of only 99cents today (January 21) only, don't delay!
He lifts his left brow then the corners of his lips. Just a little, as he glances over the two-tier table of specialty breads. Did you notice? I did.
Her gaze catches mine and we exchange smiles before she turns away. Will she be looking for others?
A thirty-something father is engaged in a serious discussion about action figures with his young son… until the boy suddenly looks up at me, widens his eyes, and smiles. At me. A perfect stranger. Or, am I?
Daily it seems as if we all come in contact with strangers, who like us, are simply plodding on in life, running errands, darting off to work, or what have you. Then, there are the times when there is an unexplainable connection to a person we meet by chance. A little sparkle in his or her eye. A slight nod, as if to say, yes, you’ll be okay, continue on. Think what you may of the situation or even of me, but my belief is that these chance meetings are not merely random, after all. Angels? Messengers of encouragement from The Most Holy Encourager?
I can only hope and believe.
Here’s the thing: we all need support, someone to lean on, and love. It sure is nice when it comes from a family member or friend, but sometimes that person isn’t around or available. Sometimes, you feel as if you’re facing the world yourself and it sure is a big world out there!
I can only hope and believe that God, in His love for each of us, sends a Presence to cheer us along.
This is where the premise of my newest novel started to take shape: what if a family needs help? Ramp up the tension: what happens if their love for each other is so buried and trapped under years of hurt and mistreatment that they are blinded to the everyday life around them that causes more anguish? Stack the odds against them: what happens to a family within 5 days when the hurt gets so bad that an outsider decides to take things into his own hands and its not for the better… but then the totally unexpected crisis happens that threatens everyone?
Is Her Good Girl sad or hopeful? Will it make you feel emotions that haven’t been stirred for a while? Will you cry? I hope so! Yes, it’s based upon several cases of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy I’ve researched. MSP is not a pretty relationship between parent and child and often results in death. Then there is the cave exploration element that I wrote into the story after reading extensively about spelunking and watching hours and hours of caving videos… and firing off the imagination of an adventure that meets danger. But, what I’m really hoping is that you will have to dry your teary eyes from love and hope when least expected for a family that gave up on
it long ago.
I can only hope that we each encounter a directly sent Encourager each and every time we need to cling to His Hope and Grace.
Cover Blurb for Her Good Girl:
Sometimes digging deep frees you to bloom.
Sadie Tremont’s will to survive is killing her. Almost 18, she’s battled mysterious illnesses, which her mom treats. While her dad devotes his time to underground caving and her grandmother waits for a miracle, Sadie is running out of time.
Sky, Sadie’s new boyfriend, offers a sliver of joy. But when he schemes that the only way for Sadie to be happy is to escape with him from her native West Virginia hills by killing her mom, she’s trapped. She can’t partner with Sky to hurt the mom who has hurt her for years … or can she?
When tragedy strikes and threatens the ground the Tremonts stand on, will they pull together or give in to the weakened earth beneath their feet?
Opening pages of Her Good Girl:
Finally. After hours under her watch, I’m sitting solo on the front porch. It’s a little bit after three in the morning and all’s quiet. The birds aren’t yet doing their chirpy choir thing, though they will shortly fill the muggy June air with song. But my heart is pounding. Goosebumps pock my arms. Sweat sluices down my back. My belly is rock ‘n’ rolling to an obnoxious beat. I rub at the floppy waves, but the sensation becomes wicked. Am I about to puke? This scares me more and I spring to my feet. Too fast. Black dots explode before my eyes. I cling to the railing in hope this passes faster than one of Tara-Lynn’s moods. I’m so sick of the unknown.
Sick. Sick. Sick. That’s the worst word in my vocabulary.
But, that’s what I am. Sick. So, she says.
Chill, I order myself and slump back onto the step. Focus on feeling better, graduating high school, and getting out of these wacked West Virginia hills as fast as possible.
It’s now that counts, right? Live in the moment, and all that nonsense. No one is shoving medications down my throat. No one is making me eat certain foods that spike my heart rate or send me running into the bathroom every ten minutes. Tara-Lynn—no way am I calling her Mom—asleep in her cellar recliner, will find me soon enough, whether it’s sitting here on the front porch or elsewhere. She always does.
Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out, slowly. Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out, slowly. Feel each muscle relax. Let peace in.
That’s the garbage the school nurse instructed me to do a few years ago when I suffered my first breathing attack—her choice of words. I Googled my symptoms to discover I most likely experienced a panic attack. Whatever. Sometimes the breathing exercise works. Often, not.
My tangled body stays tense. I’m not only disobedient to Tara-Lynn, but also to myself.
Bad girl. The reprimand ricochets in my mind. Another one follows. And bad girls need fixing.
I grope for the cross around my neck. Silly me. I’d quit wearing that old thing months ago. Belief in a big God in heaven watching out for us down here may work for others, but not me. At least not anymore, not when my SOS prayers come back flopping in my face like they’d been stamped with a big fat REJECTED across them. A wallop of a curse stabs my tongue, but I swallow it back when I think of Grandma. She’s the one person I don’t want to disappoint.
The front door opens. Daddy—plain old Adam to everyone else—steps outside. In one hand, he holds a knapsack that I know is crammed with caving gear like emergency first-aid stuff, food, batteries, and dry clothes. In his other hand, he grips a new set of ropes he’ll use to descend and then ascend in the caves. Though I’ve watched him leave for these explorations one too many times, my insides turn cold. Maybe colder than those underground passages that Daddy crawls through in sheer joy. I shove my hands under my legs to stop the shaking. My gaze strays to the near woods that crowd the east side of the property then to my bare bony knees peeking out from my jean shorts.
“Hey, Kit Kat. What are you up to this time of morning?”
He may have used his pet name for me yet I can’t read his attitude since his tone is not gruff, but it’s sure not happy either. I look into his eyes. “Waiting for you.” And that’s the truth.
He purses his lips.
Nervous, I further open the gate to my thoughts and let words rush out, right or wrong. “You know, sometimes I’m unsure whether I wait for you to stay or leave.”
Daddy plops the ropes and knapsack onto the porch floor. The equipment clanks and rattles inside as if alive and itching to begin a new exploration. My heart leaps an extra beat, but I tamp down my hopes. He won’t stay. He never does. His leaving stirs up a lot of trouble between him and Tara-Lynn. So much stress that it seems like after each of his caving trips she hovers over me more, eyeballing every move I make. One cough or sneeze propels her into nursing me back to health even if I feel fine.
Elaine Stock is the author of Always With You, which released in January 2016 and has won the 2017 Christian Small Publishers Association Book of the Year Award in fiction. She has also penned the novella And You Came Along, originally part of the Winter’s Kiss novella collection, plus several short-stories. Her novels fuse romance, family drama and faith in a clean fiction style. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and contributes to the international “Happy Sis Magazine” and “InD’tale Magazine.” In addition to Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, she hangs out on her active blog, Everyone’s Story, dedicated to uplifting and encouraging all readers through the power of story and hope.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Elaine has now been living in upstate, rural New York with her husband for more years than her stint as a NYC gal. She enjoys long walks down country roads, visiting New England towns, and of course, a good book.
Social Media Links:
Everyone’s Story Blog http://www.elainestock.com/blog/
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1JYAwNy
**Amazon Pre-Order Kindle page (only 99 cent until January 22nd!): http://amzn.to/2l0WMxM