Achieving Friends in Costa Rica by Helen D. Frame

Recently another author, who also writes about Costa Rica, mentioned to me that foreigners find it difficult to make friends with Costa Ricans.

At best, he said, they are acquaintances who will accept invitations to a foreigner’s home but won’t reciprocate. I beg to differ. I also asked a number of other foreigners about the concept. They also debunked the theory. Of course, we form beliefs based on our experiences in life.

I feel ecstatic about all the wonderful experiences I’ve had with Costa Rican friends–from dancing at a local restaurant with live music on Saturday nights to attending a Belen municipality boyero (drover) sponsored fiestita (party) complete with food, drink, marimbas, and folkloric dancers not to mention the oxen the size of rhinoceros that were on display.

In addition, the Tica friend that I went dancing with invited me to go to Guanacaste and stay in one of her brothers’ houses from Friday to Tuesday. It was so hot that I took two cool showers a day. It was most interesting to visit with a Tico family and to learn about their lifestyle firsthand. It gave me a chance to visit places in and around Playas del Coco (a popular beach on the west coast) that I was writing about and for us to have lunch at an associate’s home. Not only did my American friend invite us both to stay in her studio apartment, my Tico friend’s sister-in-law invited me to return to her home three times. You know people may extend such an invitation once to be polite but with the third one, it felt real. Later, I would be invited to visit again, but the heat had become too much for me by then and I had to decline.

When you go to a Tico’s home, it is routine to bring supplies like food, liquor (which I do worldwide), bath towels, blankets, and sheets. I discovered I should have brought more shorts; fortunately, I had packed extra blouses so I could put a clean one when I sweated. Due to the tradition, the rice cooker was on the counter all day long, ready for people to eat at will. They made coffee in a chorreador which is a coffee-making device used in Costa Rica for over two hundred years in which hot water leaches through coffee grounds held in a cloth filter mounted on a wooden stand, then drips into a cup or pot.

Wanting to understand why every expat is not able to make friends; I discussed with my dancing companion what made me so accepted. She answered “La Forma,” translated as saying please and thank you and not dictating orders to others but asking and including the ability to communicate in Spanish, all polite considerations. It also means greeting people you know upon arrival and departure with a kiss on the cheek and a hug, and not turning your back on someone speaking to a group even if the person does not address you directly. Sometimes strangers will shake your hand but if you reach out like a native, the person usually reciprocates.

During the years I have lived here (since early 2005) I often experienced making friends with Ticos, a name they call themselves. First and foremost, is my “adopted” Tico son Felipe. When I arrived in the country I found a house outside of Puriscal in the town of Carit. It was a three-bedroom, two-bath house with an open-concept living area. One of the bathrooms was unique. The toilet and small sink were in a powder room and the large shower was in a separate room, both off a wide hall. The covered parking area was large enough to park two cars, one behind the other except I had no car and used it as a patio. A large concrete pila (sink), made by one of the sons for his mother, now deceased, and my washer and dryer were also outside undercover. A large garden surrounded three sides of the house that also featured a small covered porch out front.

Felipe still lives in the house next to my former abode. He would take care of the garden in his mother’s memory. Now, he calls me his American mother. My “adopted Tico son” told me he and his family felt very happy that I visited them and had lunch in their home when I made the trek to Puriscal (two buses and about three hours each way). Often I would go to one of his brother’s home nearby for a drink before heading home.

Another of his brothers and his wife had me to their home in Carit on several occasions and would give me rides into town. In return, I helped the family’s children with their English studies. This brother inherited the largest part of the family farm on which all our homes still stand. On occasion, we hosted together a joint dinner in their Rancho (an open-air house with no walls and a kitchen). He often sends fruit from his property when Felipe visits me several times a year. I used to cook lunch for Felipe; now he takes me to lunch at a nearby restaurant.

Other grown children, most with offspring, live in houses that are all part of the original family Finca (farm). While I lived in Carit for two years, a woman would come to my house to give me a manicure and pedicure. She would follow me to other towns as I moved from one place to another until it became too expensive to drive to my home unless I had friends come for a nail-fest. When the group dwindled, we reluctantly ended the relationship.

During my time living in Carit, I attended two Quinceañera (15-year-old) birthday parties. Both girls were considered becoming young women at that age and had more than 200 guests in attendance. At one event, I remember I was seated with a family group because I spoke a little Spanish and they appreciated that I was making the effort to communicate. The other two Americans were seated at a table by themselves. I told their young son I wanted to dance with him. When I finally cornered him, he acted surprised at my ability and exclaimed, “She can dance our dances.”

Another Tica invited me to her home for her birthday party after knowing me only a few weeks. She had encouraged me to attend the Mexican Mother’s Day celebration (on May 10th that year, the day after the U.S. holiday). Another Tica, a Nica (Nicaraguan), and a Columbiana went with us.

After I moved to Cariari I began enlarging my circle of acquaintances and friends among both expats and Hispanics from various countries. The diversification pleased me. Some people I encountered only at meetings. Quite quickly locals accepted me into their friendship circles where I often stood out as the only obvious foreigner hailing from the United States, Canada, or Europe.

For almost eight years now I have lived on a property in San Rafael de Santa Ana that currently has four apartments and the main house. When I moved here, the second building was a Hostel that was later turned into two apartments. When some 20-year olds lived upstairs, they invited me to a gathering and were surprised that I arrived with my own cocktail.

A family from Venezuela (one daughter was born in Costa Rica) who moved into one of the apartments invited me to have a midnight meal on New Year’s Eve. In return, I helped the father learn some English.

My house was only recently turned into a two-unit apartment house. Some improvements were made but my unit still exudes character. The owners are an American woman and a Tico, who has lived in the U.S. We are friends and do things with and for each other.

Of course, the family is very important to Costa Ricans and it will come first. It always takes an effort to establish friendships no matter where one lives but granted it may be more difficult in Costa Rica due to its ingrained culture. Just remember, it’s not impossible. It’s still a great place to retire.

 

During Helen’s business career, she wore many hats including professional writer, editor, marketing/public relations specialist, Real Estate Director for franchisees, sales, and commercial real estate broker (licensed in Texas and specializing in restaurants and retail).

 

In Costa Rica, where she has spent most of her time since 2005, she wrote a nonfiction anecdotal book based on extensive research and her adventure with input from other expats. It’s goal is to help readers jump-start their due diligence in order to find their paradise for retirement or possibly for a vacation home or investment in Costa Rica.

 

Her books, the third edition (2017) of Retiring in Costa Rica or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida,” Secrets Behind the Big Pencil, Inspired by an Actual Scandal,” (2014) Greek Ghosts, (2003, listed on Amazon 2011 and given a new cover 2016) and Wetumpka Widow (2016) are available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon. A booklet called Retirement 101 (2017) is available on Kindle only. Soon to be published is Expat Tales, Actual Experiences from Retirees in Costa Rica.

 

Dark Portrait by Rick Homan

I write murder mysteries in which sex and violence are minimal, and an amateur sleuth solves the crime through reasoning.. After writing four of them, I’ve learned that even in the cozy and traditional genres, one can address great ideas and profound evils. Hence the theme of the series: Dark Mural, Dark Exhibit, Dark Picasso, and now Dark  Portrait.

For the fourth book in the series, my amateur sleuth, Nicole Tang Noonan, returns to her hometown, San Francisco, from the rural campus in Ohio where she teaches art history. She finds it much different from the city in which she grew up. The explosive growth of tech companies has gentrified formerly working-class neighborhoods, resulting in homelessness, and a host of other social ills.

When she notices someone is posting videos of rococo portraits set afire, she cannot help seeing the parallel between twenty-first-century San Francisco and France on the eve of the French Revolution. Then she finds a link between the portraits and the murder and of a tech executive.

The murder mystery is one of those forms in which readers don’t want to know in advance what the hero discovers. “Don’t give away the ending” is a rule universally respected by writers, fans and critics. Also, “don’t give away what the sleuth discovers halfway through!”

So, promoting a murder mystery is tricky. I want to give potential readers an idea of what they’re in for without giving anything away. I rely on a section of my blog, “Nicole’s World,” to give readers a preview of what I’m researching for the next book. It can be seen at www.RickHoman.com.

I send out a newsletter, “Plans to Publish,” for people who want to share my writing and publishing process. I share selectively on social media everyday details of my life, because I think people like to know who they’re buying from. And I am learning how to advertise on Amazon.

Mostly I rely on the ultimate promotional strategy: write another book. I’ve heard several industry professionals say, “Nothing sells a book like another book.”

 

Rick Homan is the author of the Nicole Tang Noonan mysteries available at Amazon.com. He was a professor of theater arts for thirty years and has performed as an actor and guitarist. Rick lives in San Francisco with his wife, Ann.

The Haunted Storage Van by Nancy Boyarsky

As mystery writers, we dream up plots, then create characters to act them out. But in every day life, we often encounter mysteries of a different sort, if we take the time to be observant.

On my morning walks around my neighborhood, I’ve spotted some strange and even scary stuff. These aren’t the kind of situations I’d write a book about. But they stir my interest, and I find myself trying to puzzle out what’s going on. It’s kind of like the old game, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

Take one example: A couple of blocks away from me is a house that has looked deserted as long as I can remember and has fallen into serious disrepair.

It wasn’t so much the house that caught my attention but the backyard, which was surrounded by a tall wire fence and further screened from the street by a hedge, dying from lack of water.

One day I paused to look through the thinning hedge and spotted something odd. Lining both sides of the yard were cages (rusty and leaning in various directions) large enough to hold human beings. The cages were empty. But then I noticed a very large portable storage unit (in a similar run-down state) parked at the back of the property. It got me thinking. Could whatever was once held in those cages now be locked up in the storage unit? There was no smell, but still . . .

I started walking on the other side of the street. Some months later, I saw a moving van in front of the house. Two men were moving furniture from the house into a van. This came as a surprise, since I’d never seen evidence of anyone living there. Besides the movers, I noticed that the storage unit was now standing wide open. I hurried across the street to get a look. Inside were various neatly stacked cartons, labeled “towels,” “sheets,” “clothes,” etc. At the very back of the trailer were pet beds, stacked all the way to the ceiling, starting with the largest on the bottom and the smallest at the top.

So, I concluded, the house must have belonged to someone who had once owned a pet store or ran a pet rescue organization. Nothing sinister after all. I have to admit I was almost disappointed.

 

Nancy Boyarsky

Nancy was born in Oakland, California, and grew up with her parents and two sisters in the flatlands of East Oakland. When she was around eight—in a world that was a lot safer that today—she was allowed to roam the neighborhood by herself, and her visits to the tiny Alandale Public Library were the highlight of her week.

She attended public schools in Oakland. Her father opposed the idea of sending girls to college, being of the opinion that they would be better off working as waitresses to prepare them for their life’s work as housewives. Nancy ignored his advice and went on to UC Berkeley, where she supported herself by working in the campus library. In addition to the pleasure of working around books, the job had an added benefit of allowing student clerks to disappear into the stacks and read when work was slow. Nancy majored in English literature and graduated from Berkeley with honors.

Her first job was as an associate editor for a small, long-vanished publishing house in San Francisco. When her two daughters were born, she stayed home and began writing freelance articles for a local paper, as well as teaming up with her husband, Bill Boyarsky, on magazine articles. They lived in Sacramento for ten years, while her husband covered the state capital and political campaigns for the Associated Press.

The family moved to Los Angeles when Bill joined the staff of the Los Angeles Times. When her girls were in their teens, Nancy gave up freelancing and returned to full-time work, first as associate editor of Los Angeles Lawyer magazine and later as communications director for political affairs for ARCO. She quit ARCO when the first of her two granddaughters was born. Since then, she has devoted herself to writing and editing. Her primary hobby is painting portraits and images from old family photos dating from the early 1900s. She loves reading fiction, the theater, films, and travel, especially to the UK where the theater and books are a national passion.

Nancy Boyarsky coauthored Backroom Politics, a New York Times notable book, with her husband. She has written several textbooks on the justice system and contributed to political anthologies, including In the Running, about women’s political campaigns and The Challenge of California by the late Eugene Lee. She has also written articles on a variety of subjects for the Los Angeles Times, West magazine, Forbes, McCalls, Playgirl, Westways and other publications.

She is currently working on another mystery featuring Nicole, as well as Family Recipes for Gastroenteritis, a tragicomic memoir of growing up in Oakland in a family at the far end of disfunctionality.​

She lives in Los Angeles with her journalist husband, Bill Boyarsky.

MY SECOND DRIFTER SERIES NOVELLA HAS BEEN RELEASED Jackie Taylor Zortman

The second novella in my Drifters Series, JAKE-Winds of Change was recently released on Amazon.com. The first was called JAKE-Whiskey, Water & Wildfire and was enthusiastically received by my readers. Both novellas are eBooks and when the third is published, it will be a large trade paperback containing all three books in the series, also available as an eBook.

Jake is a wildland firefighter with a Harley who stays in top physical shape for his profession and is blessed with the kind of good looks that make women yearn to be his lover and men envious, being what is known as a “man’s man”.  He’s a drifter who travels until some town mentally signals him that he should stop and stay awhile. A pending disaster is usually the reason he is needed. Once the need is fulfilled, he rides again until another town flags him down. He once left a heartbroken woman in his wake and their relationship haunts him, having always been single and dedicated to remaining that way forever.

A ski trip to Telluride inspires him to remain in southwestern Colorado. He fails to find a job as a firefighter, so takes the Colorado law enforcement exam and becomes a police officer. He lands a job with the small Sierra, Colorado PD and is hired as their Fire Investigator.

Renting one of only two apartments in the historic Wander Inn, his neighbor in the other apartment is a gorgeous single woman named Kioni and they develop a sizzling, mutually agreeable no-strings-attached romance. Jake’s first friend in Sierra was Kioni’s mother, Yvette, a strangely mystical and magnetic older woman who works part-time in the local bookstore.

On a three-day road trip with Kioni, Jake unexpectedly manages to gather the loose ends of a case that has been his focus since the first moment he noticed the strange person of interest’s suspicious activities in Sierra. Unexpected twists and turns lead the case back to the Sierra PD and reveal shocking ties to the department’s detective.

Jake has a tremendous secret that is eventually revealed in each novella. Find out what his secret is at www.amazon.com/dp/B07WZVMWJH/.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jackie lives in a bustling Colorado mountain tourist town with her husband and Siamese cat. When the deep snows blanket the terrain outside her windows, it becomes the perfect spot in which to write. She’s an avid reader and loves being outdoors. She’s had numerous short stories and articles published for twenty-six years and is the author of a non-fiction book called We Are Different Now-A Grandparent’s Journey With Grief, two award-winning fiction novels featuring homicide detective Max Richards called Footprints in the Frost and Snow Angel and the first two of three Drifter novellas – JAKE-Whiskey, Water & Wildfire and JAKE-Winds of Change. In addition, she is a contributing author to the anthologies, Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides, American Blue, Recipes by the Book:  Oak Tree Authors Cook; Echoes From the Silence; Dusting Off Dreams and The Centennial Book of the National Society of Daughter of the Union 1861-1865. She is a Charter Member of The Public Safety Writers Association and a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She has won ten writing awards in the last six years.

www.jtzortman.wordpress.com

www.amazon.com/author/jackietaylorzortman

Spy Dreams or How I Took an Unexpected Trip by JoAnn Smith Ainsworth

When fiction spills over into the everyday, it’s time to pull back, don’t you think?

 

It happened to me. The end result could’ve been traumatic, like a broken bone or a concussion. It wasn’t, but it could’ve been. I’ve decided to focus my attention in a different direction for a while. It’ll be healthier.

 

Recently, I’ve been focusing intensely on refining and editing the manuscript of my third paranormal suspense novel. It’s a WWII spy story wherein the U.S. government recruits psychics to locate Nazi spies, and I identified with the story. I worked longer hours than normal and pushed past my tolerance level. The end result was that, by the end of a workday, I got exhausted to the point of not being able to do another thing. Totally out of it. Consequently, some of the exercises and the normally varied work I do each week for lifestyle balance went by the wayside. Result? Lack of balance.

 

I’m paying for it now. I’m finding it hard to relax. It’s taking longer than usual.

 

I had a wake-up call.

 

Just before dawn the other day I engaged in a powerful dream. As the dream developed, I found myself chased by a spy and engaging in personal defense of a kickboxing nature. Even in my dream, I wasn’t very good at it and the spy was winning. I got more passionate about my defense and brought the dreamed defense into real life. My leg kicked out, hit the dresser and, the next thing I knew, I was falling to the floor.

 

From deep sleep to the rude awakening of falling out of bed and landing on a hardwood floor is not the way I like to start my day. Fortunately, I must’ve been loose enough from sleep because I didn’t hurt myself—other than some bruising and my leg hurting from ramming against the dresser.

 

As you can imagine, I’ve adjusted my exercise regimen and my work habits so my dreams are nonviolent. I’m going swimming. I’ll do some gardening and get my bike out. I’ve learned my lesson. Moderation. No spy dreams from now on.

 

What about you? Have you had reality spill into your dreams? Did the dream come back and affect you in life? Tell me about it.

 

DESCRIPTION

During WWII, the US government recruits psychics to find Nazi spies on the East Coast.

 

Opening herself to ridicule by revealing she’s clairvoyant is the last thing U.S. WAVES Lieutenant Livvy Delacourt wants, but when Uncle Sam needs her psychic skill to track down Nazi spies, she jumps in with both feet.

 

Expect Trouble released in print and e-book formats and as an audiobook from Audible, Hoopla, Overdrive, and other audiobook distributors and clubs.

 

It was Runner-up for the Shelf Unbound Award and a Semifinalist for the East Texas Writers Guild First Chapter Award.

 

 

 

AUTHOR BIO

JoAnn Smith Ainsworth experienced WWII food rationing, Victory Gardens, and blackout sirens as a child. She lived in Philadelphia during the ’50s and she attended the Berkeley Psychic Institute in the late ’70s. These experiences bring authenticity to her historical paranormal suspense series.

 

She is the author of six published novels. She earned a B.A. from UC-Berkeley, an M.A.T. from Fairleigh Dickenson University, and M.B.A. studies from Pepperdine University. Ainsworth lives in northern California.

 

To learn more about this award-winning author, visit www.joannsmithainsworth.com.

 

 

 

LINKS:

For more, visit:  http://www.joannsmithainsworth.com.

Twitter @JoAnnAinsworth

Facebook:  JoAnn Smith Ainsworth Fan Page (https://www.facebook.com/JoAnnSmithAinsworthAuthor?ref=hl) and Profile Page.

Goodreads Blog:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1366481.JoAnn_Smith_Ainsworth/blog?format=rss

 

Contact her at JoAnnSmithAinsworth@gmail.com.

 

BUY LINKS:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/Zgbls6

Barnes & Noble – http://bit.ly/HMX2KH

Books a Million (BAM) –   http://www.booksamillion.com/search?id=6000031779635&query=joann+smith+ainsworth&where=Books&search.x=22&search.y=8or http://tinyurl.com/ld8czbf

 

…and at an independent bookstore near you – http://www.indiebound.org/indie-bookstore-finder

 

 

 

 

Reviews of Expect Trouble: (286 words)

 

It’s 1943 and Lieutenant Olivia Delacourt is assigned her first really important mission. She is anxious to show the powers-that-be just how efficient she is. Olivia’s first surprise comes when she finds out who her commanding officer will be. Barrington Drew III is someone Olivia’s known since high school. As they set up their offices and welcome staff, she wonders what this mission will entail. The entire staff is in for a huge surprise.

I am elated about this book. Well written, plotted well AND history? It’s a sure fire winner. The characters are well defined and three dimensional. Ms. Ainsworth tells this story in an easy manner and keeps you asking for more. I found myself rooting for Olivia and her team. Imagine if this were a true story. It would add another layer to World War II. I enjoyed the setting and getting acquainted with the characters. I am ready for more of Ms. Ainsworth’s work!

 

Melanie Adkins, Book Reviewer

 

 

 

 

ManicReaders Review:  Despite its minor issues, the book’s twists and turns, not to mention the surprise ending, will keep you turning pages. …. Expect Trouble definitely gives the reader an authentic flavor of the WWII era on the home front, including the pace of life when the world wasn’t accessible via a computer keyboard and telephones were connected by switchboard operators. ……… Merrylee, Reviewer

 

 

If you like the British series The Bletchley Circle, you will enjoy this book! ………….. Patricia Simpson, Award Winning Author

 

 

Affair de Coeur Review Magazine:  This talented author strategically and skillfully takes the reader on a trip that will stay with them for a very long time. What a treasure! ……… Lauren Calder, Reviewer

Spotlight: The Very Least by Ken Kuhlken

ISBN-10: 1725909782

ISBN-13: 978-1725909786

Publisher: CreateSpace

September 13, 2018, 330 pages

Genre: Suspense thriller

Series: Hickey Family Crime Novel

 

 

Also available for Kindle

 

 

A dear friend of Clifford Hickey’s cousin Bo crosses the border on the run from a charge of molesting children in a church nursery school. Because Bo believes him innocent, journalist Clifford agrees to investigate. Soon he has made enemies of gangsters, politicians, and tycoons on both sides of the border. That’s the bad news. The good news: he meets Jodi McGee who helps him discover his purpose and write this story.

 

The Very Least is both a standalone novel of crime and suspense and a volume in the much-praised and awarded Hickey Family Crime series.

Anne Tyler, as Chair of the Ernest Hemingway Award selection committee, wrote, “The pace, clarity, and assurance of Midheaven made it a pleasure to read.”

From Kirkus Reviews: “Kuhlken has, with Jodi, created a character new to us–the born again adolescent who’s in-the-know–and he provides her with grit and honesty.”

Novelist Andy Straka commented, “Midheaven is one of those rare gems of a novel that sneaks up on you and nestles in your soul. I especially enjoyed the setting and character development. The sun-dappled mountains and cold water beauty of Lake Tahoe hold too many secrets for a teenage girl to bear. Jodi is a character you won’t soon forget.”

 

Some of Ken’s favorites are early mornings, the desert in spring, kind and honest people, baseball and other sports played by those who don’t take themselves too seriously, most kids, and films he and his Zoe can enjoy together.

He reads classic novels, philosophy, theology, and all sorts of mysteries. On his blog, he offers some hard truths and encouragement about living as a writer.

He has long been the author of novels, stories, articles, poems, and essays. Lots of honors have come his way, including a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship; Poets, Essayists and Novelist’s Ernest Hemingway Award; Private Eye Writers of America Best First Novel and Shamus Best Novel; and several San Diego and Los Angeles Book Awards.

https://www.kenkuhlken.net/

https://www.amazon.com/Ken-Kuhlken/e/B001JPBYLY/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

 

The Very Least

Amazon: https://amzn.to/30FEa91

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-very-least-ken-kuhlken/1129158286?ean=9781725909786

Tracy Richardson interview

Tracy Richardson agreed to answer a few questions for us so we can get to know her a little better:

  1. Do you have a fear, phobia, or habit you’d rather no one knew about?

I’m afraid of rodents. Spiders and insects are fine, but mice and rats – eeeekkk!! I once beat a small gray mouse that had found its way into my pantry to death with a broom. I’m not proud of it, but it could have attacked me! Just saying…

2. Tell us about your book. (Title and story blurb.)

The Field

Eric Horton sees fire.

 

When he sleeps, he dreams of a world screaming in the midst of devastating explosions. These dreams terrify him, and as more strange happenings unfold around him, he’s unable to shake the feeling that what he’s seeing isn’t just a dream.

 

When a new student, Renee, appears in his science class, he could swear he’s known her forever. But how could that be? As they get to know each other, he meets her father, who explains the experiments he’s been conducting involving “the Universal Energy Field” and “Collective Consciousness”—two things Eric has never heard of before. They seem to be tied to the idea that we are all connected by the same energy and are all more powerful than we realize. Eric begins to learn more about these groundbreaking concepts—but can they be real?

 

As his life continues to shift and his knowledge of the Field increases, Eric will be tested beyond anything he’s experienced before. He must decide whether he believes in that part of himself which ties him to the world around him, and he must access it—or lose everything he’s been working to keep.

 

3.  Is it part of a series? If so, include other titles. What do you enjoy most about writing a series? What part do you loathe?

The book is part of a series, but they are companion books, not sequels. The first book chronologically is Indian Summer featuring Eric’s younger sister, Marcie, and takes place three years prior to the events in The Field. The next book after The Field is Catalyst, again featuring Marcie. Catalyst takes place a year and a half after The Field. The fourth book in the series will be more of a sequel to Catalyst. It’s as yet untitled and I’ve just started writing it.

 

The best part of writing a series is connecting with the characters who I love and learning more about them as their stories develop. There isn’t anything that I loathe about it! As long as there is still a story to tell I’m happy to do it!

 

4.  Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

That’s really hard to answer. It’s like saying which one of your children is your favorite!! I love them all equally but for different reasons. In some ways, they all have aspects of myself in them. I love Eric’s athleticism and good heart. Marcie’s developing sense of self and self-confidence is something I think we can all identify with. Cole is so brash and unapologetically unique. Mrs. Horton is such a 20th-century working woman trying to balance the career she loves with taking care of her family.

 

5.  What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself from writing?

Sometimes when I go back and read what I’ve written I’m surprised at what I’ve created. While I do use actual people, places and events as inspiration, the stories themselves come completely from my imagination. I’ll think ‘dang, I did this’. Of course, it took a lot of hard work and ‘BIC” or Butt In Chair time to do it.

6. Tell us about the defining moment when you felt as if you’d finally made it as an author.

I was giving a presentation to 200 librarians at the Indiana Public Library conference. John Green (author of A Fault in Our Stars) also gave a presentation – his was to 1000 librarians, though. But still – we were at the same conference!! Of course, I was terrified at the time!

 

And here is a brief excerpt from The Field:

I position myself in the goal. I touch the left side of the goal, then walk to the right side, touch it, and then move to the center and touch the crossbar to orient myself. It’s my ritual. I crouch in the center with my knees bent and arms in position to catch a ball.

I feel confident, strong—ready.

The coach starts the play. The other team immediately takes control of the ball and the play moves onto my side of the field. Good. More action for me. The opposing team’s striker sends the ball out to his right and his midfielder runs onto it. I move to that side of the goal and my left back covers the front. Our defender is all over the midfielder. I see that the opposing striker has moved into position in front of the goal to take a pass from the midfielder.

“Watch for the cross!” I yell.

I’ve got the near post of the goal covered, coiled and ready to spring and I want my center back to cover the forward. The midfielder beats my defender and sends a pass through to his forward in front of the goal. I see it coming and leap out to punch the ball clear of the goal before the forward can head it in. My fist connects with the ball with a satisfying thwack! My center back takes the ball and sends it in a long arc to the other end of the field.

Yes! Adrenaline is surging through me and I’m pumped from stopping the cross. Now the play is on the other end of the field. I watch, staying focused on the action. The other keeper makes a save and quickly punts the ball down the field before my defenders have moved back. The opposing forward runs onto the ball. He takes off, sprinting toward the goal, and beats my defender.

It’s a breakaway!

My heart is pounding. It’s just me and him. The forward is approaching fast. Should I come out to meet him and dive at his feet or stay big and block the shot? It’s a split-second decision. Make the wrong choice and it’s a goal.

Wait! A thought flashes into my consciousness. I know where the shot will be. Left side— DIVE! I’m off my feet almost before the forward’s foot connects for the shot. I feel myself flying through the air, arms reaching. The ball is rocketing toward me. The ball strikes my palms and I push it wide, deflecting it outside of the goal and then I crash to the ground.

I jump up quickly in case the ball is still in play. My team has control of the ball and is moving it down the field. Squinting into the sun, I watch the play. Adrenalin is coursing through my veins. Total rush!

When I get subbed out I scan the sidelines for Will and jog over to him so we can rehash the play.

Will smacks me on the back. “You stuffed him!”

Will’s hair is dark with sweat, his face glistening and gritty. “How do you do that? I swear you were off the ground before he took the shot.”

I wipe my face on my shirt and take a long drink from my water bottle before answering. “I don’t know. Just reflexes I guess.” I don’t want to make too big a deal about it with Will, but sometimes I just get a feeling of knowing. It just flashes into my head. Maybe it’s from years of playing, but when it happens it feels different than reacting on instinct without thinking. It’s like knowing without thinking.

 

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