Happy Easter to You and Yours

What I’ve Been Up To

3-Chapter Edit by Yours Truly for Aspiring Authors

The Romance Writer’s Super Stack

Excerpt from A Dare and a Prayer


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For Marcy, the blackest day of the year was always Good Friday.
More often than not, the weather was foul or overcast, and from childhood,
she’d always felt a sense of foreboding on that day, in particular.

She’d never forgotten the mournful look on her mother’s face
when she said Jesus had hung on the cross from noon until 3:00 p.m.
From that moment on, rain or shine, there were no more insidious hours in the year.
She never understood until she was older just why it was called “Good Friday,”
for the mood of the day was anything but good.

A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman


Happy “Best” Friday!

You know, Marcy and I have a lot in common when it comes to Good Friday. Growing up, it always seemed to be a pretty dismal daydark and somber—and anything but “good,” given the fact that Jesus died on the cross.

But as I grew older, it wasn’t just “Good Friday” anymore—no, it became the BEST Friday of alla time of reflection and remembering exactly what God did for us in setting us free to be all He intended us to be.

A number of years ago, our pastor told a wonderful story, whichno surprisehad me sodden with tears. It seems there was this elderly couple celebrating their 65th anniversary, and so the family held a large party for them with lots of family, friends, food and presents. The old couple were ushered in, tottering ever so slowly to two chairs at the front of the auditorium. Holding hands, they sat and watched the celebration with tired but contented smiles, enjoying the music the family had selected from the couple’s era.

All at once, the couple’s song began to play, and the man wobbled to his feet, offering his sweetheart a gnarled hand. Frail fingers took his as she rose, legs unsteady but smile sure, the two shuffling in a circle at an unhurried pace. Their arthritic bodies were jerky, slow and stiff … until the man leaned close to his wife’s ear and whispered something that brought a shy smile to her lips.

Their laughter was soft and low and so intimate, those watching felt almost an intrusion. All at once the man dipped his wife back with shaky motion and then again with a grace that seemed impossibly smooth. Before everyone’s eyes, their dance seemed to whirl into the past where he was tall and handsome and she, small and shy, the beauty who’d first caught his eye at summer ice cream social.

Time fell away, taking with it the aches and agony of age while they moved as one, fluid and fearless like the young lovers they used to be. Remembering a past that had brought them so much joy.

Remembering. That’s what it’s all about for me at Easter. Rememberingreally remembering—how Jesus took me from the darkness into His glorious light. Remembering that without Him, I would be lost. But on Easter—oh, precious Easter—I am miraculously found!!!

May each and every one of us take the time to remember this Easter and be found anew, resting in the arms of a gracious Savior and a truly glorious God.


What I’ve Been Up To!

Every January through March, Keith and I head south to spend time with family and friends in Florida, where to be honest, I don’t get a lot of writing done. Almost none, actually, but I DO get to spend a lot of time with God, family, and friends and just recharge for the rest of the year.

Somehow I did, however, manage to write three chapters in Henry’s story, A Dare and a Prayer, so I’ll include the VERY rough draft for that at the end of this blog to give you a little sneak peek as to where I am heading. I’m shooting for release in October, so prayers for supernatural productivity, creativity, and anointing MUCH appreciated so maybe I can get it out sooner! 🙏

But I DID get to do a ton of fun things with family and friends like hold a baby alligator on a Everglades Tour, go pirating on a pirate cruise, take a family photo, and spend LOTS of time with my grands, which is one of my favorite things to do! So here’s a tiny glimpse of what I’ve been up to:


3-Chapter Edit for Aspiring Authors!


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Excerpt from A Dare and a Prayer

Chapter One

Saipan, Mariana Islands, east of the Phillipines, November, 1944, (Note: This novel begins months prior to the end of Book 2, A Hope and a Prayer)

“I swear it’s downright criminal. Nothing but sheer luck because you’re not that good-looking, Dennehy.” Lieutenant John “Jackpot” Duckworth shook his head as he handed over a twenty-dollar bill to his copilot Lieutenant Henry Dennehy in the mess hall of Kagman Field on the island of Saipan, obviously disgusted with losing another bet.

Henry laughed. “I may not be, Jackpot, but Private Tootsie certainly is.” Scrubbing the head of the scruffy Yorkshire Terrier who sat obediently at his feet, Henry slipped a piece of his biscuit to the little guy who ranked as the unofficial mascot of the 6th Night Fighter Squadron. Ever since the pup had pilfered some of Henry’s Tootsie Rolls from a care package his mother had sent, Tootsie had more than earned his name, getting so violently sick, Henry had rushed him to the hospital. The skin-and-bones little mutt had quickly won the hearts of everyone there, including Henry. But it was Henry who took care of him, and Henry whom he followed around like a shadow. Which suited Henry just fine because he was crazy about the little pooch.

Snatching the bill from Duck’s hand, Henry dove into his eggs with gusto. He was always ravenous after an all-night sortie over Saipan, the largest of the Mariana Islands, where his squadron worked nightly to provide fighter defense against Japanese night air attacks. He downed a hefty glug of lukewarm coffee before flashing a cheeky grin to Duck and the rest of the guys at their usual table by the door. “And it’s not sheer luck, Jackpot—it’s sheer skill, although Tootsie is a definite plus.” With a flick of his fingers, he folded the twenty and slipped it into the pocket of his olive drab shirt before chomping on a piece of shoe-leather sausage. “And for your information, I believe the ladies beg to differ.”

“Hate to say it, Duck, but he’s right.” Lieutenant Stuart Leroi elbowed Duckworth before upending the last of his orange juice. He swiped his mouth with his sleeve. “Both Tootsie and Hanky-Pank are better looking than you,” he said with a wink, utilizing the crew’s nickname for Henry because of his notoriety with women, “not to mention smarter since he’s got more of your money that you do.”

Lieutenant Louis Lizotte laughed as he popped the rest of his biscuit in his mouth, sympathy lacing his tone while he smiled at Duck. “Regrettably sad, but true, my friend.”

Laughter circled the table as Duckworth grimaced, their entire squadron well aware of Jackpot’s propensity to gamble, betting on anything from the mess menu that day to how many Bed-check Charlies they’d spot on missions at night.

Henry grinned. Or as in today’s loss—which nurse or USO hostess Henry could charm next.

“So, you engaged now or what?” Duck said with a scowl as he pushed his half-eaten tray away with a groan, his bet that Henry couldn’t turn the head of his favorite nurse leaving him as cold as his uneaten eggs.

“Naw.” Henry waggled his brows as he wolfed down a piece of biscuit. “But she did promise to name her firstborn after me.”

“Dollars to doggies she’d rather have her firstborn with ya,” Lieutenant Wade (Cowboy) Walker said with a wayward grin, his Texas drawl thick as he tossed a piece of honeyed biscuit into his mouth.” He winked at Henry. “Or me.”

Stu chuckled. “Now that’s a safe bet, Duck, if you’ve got any more money to spend.” Pushing his tray away, he lounged back in his chair with a fold of thick arms. “I swear Hank and Cowboy see more action on the ground than they do in the air.”

“Uh … speaking of action …” Duckworth’s voice trailed off as he sat up straight, gaze glued to the open-flap door of the mess tent where a group of nurses entered for breakfast. “Look who just walked in …” His voice took on a breathy quality that made Henry grin as he glanced up at the woman who had stolen Duck’s heart—and every other man’s on the airbase, apparently. “It’s her.”

Her. Amy Leigh MacArthur, the newest nurse at the hospital, and the one woman every man on base considered utterly untouchable. Pretty, brilliant, and fiercely devoted to her calling, Nurse MacArthur was a girl who emanated the aura of a saint. Henry squinted to assess her while all the other guys gawked outright, their table suddenly as still as if they were in a church.

Henry’s mouth compressed. Yeah, she was pretty in an unassuming way, he supposed, for a girl who didn’t wear a stitch of makeup. Deep auburn hair that seemed aflame and eyes as green as the limestone forests that capped the chain of volcanoes of the Mariana Islands. But not overly so, he decided, and certainly the least attractive of the five nurses now seated at that table.

He fought off a shiver. Definitely not his type. Too wholesome, too innocent, and deep down he sensed, too much trouble. And yet, he was reluctant to admit, she exuded a pull that could halt a soldier’s pulse. He expelled a slow, uneven breath. Maybe it was the fact she seemed to be a ray of hope in a totally bleak environment, a touch of purity in a violently evil situation. Whatever the draw, Amy Leigh MacArthur was a magnet in a glass case that no man dare approach.

Henry shoved his tray away and lounged back in his chair with arms braced to the back of his neck. “Oh, for crying out loud, Duck, why don’t you just ask the woman to dance at the next USO event?”

Duck’s jaw dropped as he stared at Henry outright. “Are you out of your pea-pickin’ mind?” He leaned in, fingers gripped to the table as he enunciated every word. “That’s-Amy-Leigh-MacArthur!”

Henry blasted out a sigh of frustration that a mere girl could hamstring so many men. “She’s a girl, Duck, just like any other.”

Cowboy blew out a long, slow whistle. “Sorry, old buddy, but this is where you and I part ways. I agree with Duck. Hear tell she plans to become a nun or a missionary or something like that after the war, which means that thar woman is as untouchable as Lady Liberty, and I’ve heard stories to prove it.”

Henry grunted. “And as stone cold, no doubt,” he said, annoyed that any woman—other than his sister Hope, who was in a class all her own—could ever be put on a pedestal like that. He wrinkled his nose as he stared at her. “Although even Lady Liberty has a torch aflame.” He winked. “For the right guy, that is.”

Duck gaped, mouth as wide as his eyes. “Oh, and I suppose you’re the right guy?”

Henry shrugged. “Could be, I guess—if I was interested, which I’m not.”

Jackpot leaned in with a gleam in his eyes. “Care to put your money where your mouth is, Hanky-Pank? Because I gotta feeling I can make my money back and then some.”

Henry blinked, caught off-guard by the sudden challenge in Jackpot’s eyes, as if he had a couple of aces up his sleeve. Shooting a glance at the table of nurses, Henry had a gut feeling he should just shut up and walk away, but then that was something he’d never been very good at. Not with his cousin Gabe, a pipsqueak of a girl who’d pushed him around when he was young, or with his mother—two women that had always tried to ride roughshod over him. He fought off another shiver. Dear Lord, that was the last thing he needed! “No thanks, Jackpot, she’s all yours.”

Duck laughed. “What, you afraid, Dennehy? Scared that a little woman will finally put you in your place?” He reached in his pocket and pulled out two more twenties, slapping them on the table. “Forty bucks says you’re chicken.”

Henry chuckled, the sound more grunt than humor. “No, Jackpot, I’m just not interested, so put your money away.”

Henry’s pulse stopped when Gator slapped two more twenty on top of Duck’s. “I think Duck may be right, Hank. My money says you can’t do it. How ‘bout you, Cowboy?”

Cowboy studied Hank with a half-lidded look while he rolled a toothpick in his mouth. “I’m inclined to agree with the boys. You’re good, Hank—but nobody’s that good.” He glanced over his shoulder, gaze darting to the table of nurses and back. “Here tell that filly’s shot down more flyboys than the Japs.” He tossed his own money on top of the others with a goading grin. “I dare you, Dennehy—prove us wrong.”

Challenge rose up in Henry’s chest as he observed the table of nurses, all of them glancing their way.

All except one.

“What are the terms?” Henry asked, determination steeling his jaw.

All three pilots glanced at each other before Duck finally spoke up, chin thrust high. “Get her to dance with you at the next USO event next week—”

And kiss her there,” Gator interrupted with a smirk—

“Without her slapping you silly,” Cowboy added with a sly grin.

“Do that, Hanky-Pank …” A slow grin slid across Duck’s face, his tone as smug as his look. “And get her to fall for you—confirmed by one of her friends, of course—and you can pocket $120 big ones … along with our unending admiration.”

Henry fought a gulp, gaze darting toward the nurse’s table and back. The edge of his lips curled in a grin that belied the queasy roll of his stomach. “Double it,  boys, and you’ve got yourself a deal.”

His friends traded smirks before Duck finally sealed the dare with a dip of his chin. “You’re on, buddy boy, and no chickening out for any reason, agreed? If you lose, Dennehy, you pay us $80 dollars each.”

“Agreed.” With an easy smile, Henry casually lifted Tootsie onto his lap as if his heart wasn’t thudding double time against his ribs. “After she eats and unloads her tray, I’ll show you boys how it’s done, all right?”

Jawing with the guys about the close call they’d had chasing a Japanese Irving fighter in and out of clouds, Henry bided his time lazing against the wall with one eye on Miss Amy Leigh MacArthur while he petted Tootsie to sleep in his lap. The thrill of his buddies’ dare surged through his veins like adrenaline, making him antsy to get started, but he sure didn’t have long to wait. The girl in question suddenly shot to her feet like a rocket, causing a commotion at her table before she bolted away with her tray.

“Well, boys, I believe I’m on.” Scooping Tootsie up, he handed him over to Cowboy before picking up his tray. “And to prove I can do it on my charm alone, I’m leaving the pup here.” Giving the terrier a quick rub, Henry zeroed in on the back of Nurse MacArthur’s head as she hurried to unload her tray at the dishwashing station. All at once, he imagined that thick victory roll unpinned and spilling russet curls over her shoulders. His heart stalled at the thought as he pushed in his chair a tad too quickly. “I don’t like taking advantage of you boys, because it’ll truly be painful to do—like taking candy from a baby.” He gave a quick salute before turning to follow her, grinning as he shot a cocky wink over his shoulder. “Good thing I have an insatiable sweet tooth, eh?”

Tootsie in his lap, Cowboy plucked the toothpick from his mouth. “Oh, and Hank?” he called, “one more thing.”

Henry paused, hip cocked in a half turn. “Yeah, old buddy?”

Scratching the back of his neck, Cowboy offered a cocky grin. “Cain’t swear to it, of course, Hanky-Pank, but a buddy of mine worked with that filly in Hawaii afore she came here. Claims rumor has it her godfather is the Big Chief.”

Henry blinked, the blood slowly siphoning from his face. “The Big Chief?” he whispered, his voice little more than a squeak. Eyelids sinking closed, he dropped his head while the boys yucked it up but good.

The Big Chief.

Henry couldn’t hide the gulp this time.

Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, Southwest Pacific.

General Douglas MacArthur

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Okay, guys, start saying those prayers for supernatural speed, productivity, and anointing so I can get this puppy to you this summer rather than this fall! 😉

Hugs and Happy Easter!