Posted in About the Book

Life After the Epilogue: A Bonus Scene for The Accident by A.M. Heath

For a special treat, I have a bonus scene for The Accident. This scene DOES contain some spoilers and is best enjoyed and understood if you’ve already read the novella. So if you found this page a little too early, I encourage you to bookmark it or look for it later under the “Bonus Scenes” section on my Novel Extras page here on the blog. 
And if you haven’t read the novella yet, you can read a sample or pick up your ebook copy for .99 on Amazon.

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Life Beyond the Epilogue

October 30, 2017

Ashlyn’s Diary

    Uh-oh. Just when I thought the cell phone thing was behind me, something returned to bite me in the rear. Ok, so here’s what happened at dinner tonight:
    I was lost in my world of chicken quesadillas when Daddy suddenly stopped chewing and stared at me. He leaned both forearms against the table and studied me.
    Momma stopped eating and looked between the two of us.
    I sent a questioning glance to Momma, who only shrugged.
   “Chris, what’s the matter?”
   Dad’s eyes zeroed in on my shirt, then back to my eyes. “It was you, wasn’t it?”
   I set my partially eaten quesadilla down. “What did I do now?”
   “That day at the hospital?”
   I felt the color drain from my face. I stared at him with my jaw hanging open. I had been found out. When he didn’t recognize me after our first real meeting, I assumed I was in the clear. But apparently not.      Dad let out a dry chuckle and wiped a hand over his mouth. He leaned back in his chair.
    “What is it?” Mom asked, looking from me to him, again and again.
    He pointed to me but looked at Momma. “Do you remember reading my message to Ashlyn … you know, in the beginning, when I thought she was you, and I said that some girl walked into my hospital room and stood there staring at me?”
    I watched the color drain from Momma’s face, as Daddy gave her a look with hiked brows, all the while pointing at me with his finger.
    “Ashlyn!” she hissed.
    I shifted on my seat. “Please don’t be mad,” I rushed out.
   Momma’s face melted even further. “Then it’s true?”
   I started but stopped, then finally spoke, “I didn’t plan it. We were there to visit Ms. Amber and Daddy–err, Chris at the time–texted to say he was about to be discharged. I had a chance to see him face to face. I didn’t think about it, I just … did it.”
   “Ashlyn! How could you? What if–”
    I waved her off. “He didn’t know who I was. I pretended to be lost, and he believed me … until now,” I uttered, flipping my gaze back to him.
    Dad only chuckled and rubbed his face again. He does that a lot when he doesn’t know what else to say. “What are we going to do with you?”
    I winced and lifted my shoulders. “Love me?”
   They both laughed.
   “Oh, we’ll love you, all right,” Mom muttered. “So, this whole time, you knew who Chris really was?”
    I nodded. “I knew. I knew he was perfect for you and me. I just didn’t know how to tell him that he didn’t really know you.”
   I turned to Daddy. “But how did you figure it out? I thought you’d recognize me the first time, but you didn’t. Why now?”
    He pointed to my shirt. “You were wearing the same kitty astronaut shirt. It stuck out to me because I thought it was charming, in a weird sort of way. Just now, when I saw the shirt, I had the same thought run through my mind; then it hit me that the last time I had seen a shirt like was on a red-headed girl about your age, your height, and your build standing in my room that day.” He smirked and shook his head.
   “Am I in trouble now?”
   They eyed each other.
   Mom sighed.
   “I won’t do it again, I promise!”
   Momma rolled her eyes, then turned to Dad.
   “What’s done is done, I suppose. But, Ashlyn …”
   “I know,” I muttered, hanging my head.
   He patted my arm, and I looked up at him. “Where has that shirt been all this time?”
   I shrugged. “I found it buried in my closet the other day and washed it.”
   They dropped it and we moved on for the night. But what a close call! Just think, if the hospital visit had come out earlier, I would have been toast. Needless to say, I won’t do that again.

Danielle and Chris:

Chris 9:05 pm:
I’m at the store. Did you finally decide what you wanted?

Danielle 9:05 pm:
Umm …

Chris 9:05 pm:
LOL Is it going to be like this for the next 7½ months?

Danielle 9:06 pm:
LOL I hope not, but it’s been a long while since I’ve been pregnant. Things might have changed since then. 😉

Chris 9:06 pm:
LOL Fair enough.
Well, last night, the little nugget wanted a Butterfinger.

Danielle 9:07 pm:
He said not tonight. I think he wants ice cream.

Chris 9:07 pm:
She wants ice cream, you mean. What kind does she want?

Danielle 9:07 pm:
Moose Tracks. HE definitely wants Moose Tracks.

Chris 9:07 pm:
LOL
Has Ashlyn suspected anything yet?

Danielle 9:08 pm:
Not yet. I want to get this first appointment over with so we can tell her.

Chris 9:10 pm:
I can’t wait. She’ll be a good big sister.
All right. I have the ice cream. I’ll be home soon.

Danielle 9:10 pm:
Okay, thanks. I love you. And drive carefully.

Chris 9:11 pm:
Will do. I love you too.

Danielle 9:11 pm:
Oh, go ahead and pick up a Butterfinger. 😉

Chris 9:12 pm:
LOL I already did. 😉 So far, life has taught me that my little women are tricky, and I had best be on my toes at all times.

Danielle 9:12 pm:
LOL I’m glad to know you’re teachable.

Chris 9:13 pm:
Ha. Ha. Ha.

Danielle 9:13 pm:
😉

Chris 9:13 pm:
Oh, I’ve been meaning to ask you. What do you think of the name Annabelle if it’s a girl?

Danielle 9:14 pm:
Ooooh! I like that! I like it a lot!

Danielle 9:14 pm:
Christopher if it’s a boy?

Chris 9:14 pm:
Sure.
But it’s a girl. 😉

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Posted in About the Book

Now Available: The Accident: An Epistolary Novella by A.M. Heath

It’s here! It’s finally here! The Accident is my first published novella, my first epistolary, and my 6th publication, so there’s much to celebrate. I can’t wait to introduce you to Chris, Ashlyn, and Danielle. I think you’ll find someone you can relate to between the three of them. We’ve all gone through difficult seasons or have experienced troubled relationships. Ashlyn and Danielle bring a lot of honest feelings to light in this novella. And Chris is such a sound word of wisdom to them both. I hope you’ll grab yourself a copy soon and enjoy it! Keep scrolling for a sneak peek. 

Accident 1600x2400Can a wrong number bring true love or only heartache? 

Ashlyn Conner’s life is spiraling out of control. She’s already lost her father, and now that her mom is battling thyroid cancer, she fears being orphaned at fifteen. When a friendly stranger texts the wrong number, Ashlyn finds a confidant she didn’t realize she needed. The more Ashlyn gets to know Chris Knowles, the more she’s convinced he could be the caring husband and loving father the Conner women so desperately need.

If only she’d been honest and hadn’t made him believe he was texting her mother, Danielle.

When the truth comes out, will she lose her friendship with Chris and damage her relationship with her mother? Or can God make something beautiful out of her lie?

Told through text messages and Ashlyn’s journal entries, The Accident is a heartwarming, family-centered story.

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The Accident is available on Kindle Unlimited or for purchase on Amazon. Ebook copies are .99 and paperback is coming soon. You can also add it to your Goodreads shelf.
I’m looking for bloggers for the upcoming blog tour. If you’re interested in reading and reviewing The Accident on your blog, please fill out the form. *Form closes on Jan 22, 2019.
And if you’re curious how a story can be told through text messages and journal entries, please enjoy this sneak peek … 

Chapter One

May 18, 2017

Chris 6:03 pm:

I’ve been in a car accident. They say I’ll live, but I’ll be in some pain for a while yet. My car on the other hand …

Chris 6:05 pm:

Oh, I’m in room 321 at the hospital.

Chris 9:36 pm:

Sis?

Danielle 9:39 pm:

I’m very sorry to hear about your accident! But, ummm, you’ve texted me three times tonight by mistake. Your sister didn’t get your messages.

I hope you feel better soon.

Chris 9:45 pm:

I’m terribly sorry! I had no idea! Here I was wondering why my sister didn’t bother to respond, and it’s because I’m an idiot. I’ll blame it on the pain meds. LOL

Danielle 9:47 pm:

LOL It’s no problem, I promise. I hope you finally got ahold of your sister.

Chris 9:48 pm:

I did. She was properly concerned and insisted on seeing me first thing in the morning. She also got a big kick out of my blunder. I still can’t believe I did that.

Danielle 9:53 pm:

It’s ok, really. I’m not bothered, but I am curious about something. How did you text the wrong number? Isn’t your sister in your contacts?

Chris 9:54 pm:

That’s a mystery to me. Darn phone lost everything during the accident. It was like a factory reboot or something. It was so weird. But I’m just glad it still works.

Anyway, I was texting from my memory … which turns out is as dependable as my phone.

Danielle 9:54 pm:

Weird. LOL

Chris 9:55 pm:

Definitely. But nothing about this night has been normal.

Danielle 9:55 pm:

Sounds like it.

How are you feeling? What happened? … If you don’t mind me asking.

Chris 9:57 pm:

Someone pulled out in front of me. I tried to stop in time but couldn’t. Unfortunately, I flipped the car over, got a lump on the side of my head (which is why they’re keeping me overnight), severely bruised some ribs, and broke my wrist.

Oh, my name is Chris Knowles, by the way.

Danielle 10:02 pm:

YIKES! I’m so sorry. That sounds dreadful.

And I’m Danielle Conner.

Chris 10:04 pm:

Thanks for keeping me company, Danielle. I probably should leave you alone now. It’s getting late.

Danielle 10:06 pm:

It’s no biggie on my end. I’m not ready to sleep, and there’s nothing on TV anyway. But I’m sure you could use the rest.

Chris 10:07 pm:

Are you kidding?! I work a night shift, so I’m used to being up during this time. The nurse would feel better if I slept, but I’m a little too wired for that. The energy drink I had just before the accident may be part of the reason.

Danielle 10:07 pm:

Is that where you were going when you had the accident?

Chris 10:08 pm:

Yep. I’ve been at the pencil factory for the past two years. And this just happened to be my last week on night shift. What a way to go out.

What about you? Why aren’t you rushing to bed like normal folks?

Danielle 10:09 pm:

LOL The simple of it is this: Life for me hasn’t been normal in far too long. Plus, I’m a bit of a night owl.

Ashlyn Conner’s Diary:

I lied! I still can’t believe I did it! I was sitting here, thumbing through the channels — there really should be more cool stuff on TV! Where did all the good stuff go, anyways? Like I want to watch another home remodeling show! Or worse, some old guys picking through cluttered barns for some worthless “treasure!” — Anyways, mom’s phone kept going off. I didn’t recognize the number, so I didn’t bother to answer it. There’s nothing worse than a wrong number who keeps texting you, so I finally answered it to set him straight. Turns out, it was someone trying to tell his sister that he was in the hospital!! What are the chances?! I felt bad for not answering him sooner, but how was I to know? We chatted for a bit. The guy says he’ll live and they’re only keeping him overnight for observation. Lucky! He said his name is Chris Knowles, but when it was my turn to give him my name, I panicked. I gave him Mom’s name instead. I really shouldn’t have done that! But, I mean, I know lying is a sin and all that, but Mom’s always on my case about not talking to strangers or giving out my name and stuff. Urg! I should have just stopped texting him … but I didn’t. I can’t explain it. He seemed … lonely. Don’t ask me how I know that. I just do.

Chapter Two

May 19, 2017

Chris 11:34 am:

You are not going to believe what just happened. I’m sitting here, waiting for my discharge papers, when this girl just walked into my room. LOL She just walked in as pretty as you please, then stopped in the middle of the room and stared at me. I asked her if I could do something for her, but she just stood there, then asked if this was Charlie’s room. When I told her it wasn’t, she apologized and took off like a rocket.

LOL Well, if I can dial the wrong number, then I suppose she can wander into the wrong room.

Danielle 11:41 am:

LOL That is so funny! Do these sorts of things always happen to you?

Chris 11:42 am:

Nope. But maybe I needed a little variety in my life. LOL

Danielle 11:45 am:

Maybe. LOL But I’ll stick to variety in my ice cream. I mean, variety in life isn’t always so pleasant.

Ashlyn’s Diary:

I saw him! I couldn’t help myself!! I know I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t resist. I was sitting here in Ms. Amber’s room. She had hip surgery this morning. Momma said that she had brought us too many tuna casseroles not to go visit her. So we just happened to be at the hospital when Chris texted to say he was about to be discharged. It was my one shot to actually SEE the man that I was texting last night. He’s perfect for Momma!! He was sitting on the edge of his bed when I walked in — And I did walk in. I can hardly believe it, but I just walked into his room and stood there, staring at him, — and I could tell by the way his legs stretched out onto the floor and continued out that he was tall. My legs barely touch the floor. His hair is a sandy color. And his eyes looked green. He’s so handsome!! And his smile is so soft and welcoming. I can hardly put into words how he made me feel when he smiled at me. It was like coming home. LOL It’s funny now because Chris texted me about it right after I walked out. He just thought I was a confused kid. But he was really cool about it. In person, I could tell that he was surprised, but he offered to help me. Over the phone, he just laughed it off. I know it was wrong of me to continue to lie to him about who I really am, but it was comforting to know that he wasn’t just being nice to my face, you know? He meant it.

Chris 4:15 pm:

Danielle, I’ve had something on my mind all afternoon. I’m sorry for not asking sooner. Are you alright? I don’t know. Maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but you mentioned twice that things weren’t so pleasant for you. I know I’m virtually a stranger to you and all, but I just want you to know that I can be a friend to you if you need. I can listen. And who knows, maybe talking to a stranger will be easier than talking to someone around you. Anyway, I don’t mean to scare you off or anything, but my offer stands. Take it or leave it; it’s your call.

Ashlyn’s Diary:

Chris asked me if everything was alright, and I didn’t know how to respond. I just sat there, curled up on the chair beside the window, and stared at the screen. Momma is asleep again. It’s one of her bad days, probably because she insisted on getting out today when she was already dragging. I hate seeing her like this.

People say that rest is a good thing, but it doesn’t feel good to watch her sleep this much. Seeing her so droopy all the time just reminds me of how sick she is and that she may never get better.

The doctor said her lack of energy is due to being off of her thyroid meds. He said she’ll feel much better after her treatment is over, but she has this long diet to endure first. He said it’s normal and that I shouldn’t panic, but he’s not standing by day in and day out, watching her fade away like this. It makes remission look impossible and death all the more certain.

Back to Chris, I don’t know what to do about him. I want to talk to him, but how much can I say? How trustworthy is this man? Then again, he doesn’t know me or anyone I know, so what’s the harm in being honest with him?

~~~

I took a break for lunch. Food has a way of bringing clarity.

I’m going to text Chris back. I’ve decided that much. I still don’t know what I’ll say, or how I’ll get around to telling him that I’m not Danielle, but her daughter, or maybe I never will. But I can’t keep writing in a journal that doesn’t answer. Or waiting for a God who doesn’t speak. Chris will answer back at least, and that’s something more than I have right now.

 

Posted in About the Book

Cover Reveal: Art of Love Book 2 by A.M. Heath

Cover Tease Painter AD

Eeek! It’s finally time to share info about my upcoming novel with you. The Art of Love series is something different from me. Each of the novels in this series are 100% stand-alone, which means there will not be any crossover characters. This will allow readers to pick up the books in any order without conflict.
Art of Love is a series based on a similar theme. Each book will feature a different form of art. They have been so much fun to write. And they’ve been a blast to reread too!
The series kicks off with Dance With Me which releases 4/8/19. I’m currently working on revisions for the 2nd book in the series which is projected to release in fall of 2019. So … are you ready to learn more about this one?

Painted PNG

Official Description:

Getting over Grady was the hardest thing Olivia Jernigan ever had to do. Now, three years after his death and on the verge of marrying another, her plans come to a screeching halt when she receives a shocking wedding gift from her great aunt that may change everything—a picture painted by her deceased fiancé. Bent on discovering the truth, Olivia flees home to learn what really happened to the man she thought loved her, a man who was supposed to have died in the Korean War.

Grady Barnes woke up in a hospital room three years ago with no knowledge of his identity. The only memory to resurface was the image of a woman. A woman he can’t stop painting. Will these paintings be the key to helping him find his way home, and how can the woman in the painting affect the direction of his life?

Olivia and Grady have a history, but do they still have a future?
Or is their romance just a painted memory?

The Art of Love is a series compiled of stand-alone novels where the characters tell their own stories and love means so much more than passion.

Painter Banner

I’ll be honest. I don’t know whether to sigh in awe or scream for joy. Lol Olivia and Grady share a beautiful love story like nothing I’ve ever written before. There is something so … pure here. I’ve said that about each of the books in this series. I think that’s one of the things they all have in common. And it’s why I’ve used that phrasing in the description and advertisements for the series: love means so much more than passion. Each of the stories involves a love that is so much deeper than your common whirl-wind romance. It’s deeper than the lustful expression of love that we commonly see today. I find myself standing back with readers on this one, just breathing in a sigh of awe at the devotion these characters show toward one another.
There is a third book planned in the series and it features an actress, but I’m not currently working on it so there will be a long gap before the series is closed. But that’s one of the perks to writing a stand-alone series! 🙂 Here are some more details on the series:

You can mark Dance With Me on Goodreads. Painted Memories is now available on Goodreads as well.
The pre-order links are not available yet, but you can be sure not to miss the release of either novel by signing up for my newsletter. I’ll send you a link directly into your inbox the morning of the release, as well as an early preview of each novel two weeks before they release.

Coming 2019 plus one

Posted in About the Book

RELEASE DAY: Yesterday’s Christmas by A.M. Heath

Every release sparks a measure of excitement. But this one sparks something a little more. This is my first full-sized Christmas story. It contains all the warm, cozy Christmas moments someone could hope for. There’s a sweet romance set in 1954 that will thrill the heart of any Hallmark Christmas movie fan. But there’s more … Yesterday’s Christmas is also a love story about a couple on the brink of divorce after thirty years of marriage. 
Ouch. 
Divorce and Christmas are two things we don’t want to see together. But they’re two things that often are together in our fallen world. And that’s what makes this story so beautiful. Along with the warm, fuzzy, entertainment is a story for the heart and a lesson for the soul. 
The characters, Betty and Glenn, do not represent my life and marriage, however, I did draw inspiration from the personalities and differences found in my own marriage. And the Lord has blessed it greatly. Readers are messaging me with these comments (actual quotes): “It was like she wrote it for me.” “It has spoken to me especially the part about God changing Betty not Glenn. It was like God was saying that to me. Thank you for this story.” “I could relate to her feelings and emotions.” “I’m a Betty married to a Glenn.” 
I don’t glory in so many struggling marriages but I do glory in the ability to pen a story with a message that was clearly needed. 
I think this is a story that readers can enjoy whether they’re married or not. And for those who are, I pray it blesses your heart in a special way. With every release, there is a slew of exciting activities happening, so let’s take a look: 

Betty Party

There’s a party taking place today! You can join me on Facebook. If you’re unable to make it at 10 a.m. (central) you can join me later that day or the next. I prefer to keep my parties extended for those who aren’t able to make the specific hour. Did I mention that I’ll be giving away two paperback copies at the party? 

There’s also a blog tour. You can visit other bloggers to hear their thoughts on the novel, as well as earn bonus entries for the grand prize giveaway. 

Betty Tour

Tour Schedule: 
Nov. 5: 
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny
Spotlight

Nov. 6:
A. Kaylee Harrison @ Kaylee’s Kind of Writes
Plus Interview!

Nov. 7:
Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings

Nov. 8: 
Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae

Nov. 9:
Debbie Curto @ Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
Plus Interview!

Nov. 12: 
Deana Dick @ Texas Book-aholic

Nov. 13:
Robbie Pink @ Captive Dreams Window

Nov. 15:
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny
Plus Interview!

Nov. 16:
Faith Blum @ Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections
Spotlight and Interview

Betty Grand Prize copy

You can enter the grand prize giveaway here. It closes Nov. 16, 2018.
I’ll announce the winner here on the blog.
I’m sorry, the giveaway is only open to Continental U.S. residents. 

Final 1600x2400During a snowstorm, Betty Tanner finds herself stuck with her estranged husband. Spending Christmas with Glenn wasn’t what she had in mind, and her thoughts reluctantly travel back three decades to their first Christmas together, when another snowstorm caused her to wreck her car outside the Tanner home … 

1954: Stranded with the Tanners over Christmas, Betty is forced into the company of Glenn, who has spurned her for years. But as the snow falls outside, the walls between Betty and Glenn begin to melt, revealing a side of him she never knew existed. A side she longs to know better.

Pride and bitterness can make a beast out of anyone. And the hardships they face in their relationship are of their own making. But can following Christ’s ways lead Betty and Glenn to the reconciliation they long for?

A.M. Heath invites you to spend Christmas with the Tanners in a dual-timeline novel loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast. You’re sure to fall in love again and again.

Christmas Ebook Sale

You can add Yesterday’s Christmas to your TBR list on Goodreads or pick up your copy today at Amazon. You’ll find both novels in A Season Passed on sale for a limited time.

Hold on with date

 

Posted in About the Book

Preview: Yesterday’s Christmas by A.M. Heath

We’re just a week away from the release of my latest novel, Yesterday’s Christmas! My team and I have worked so hard this past year to bring you books 1 and 2 of A Season Passed so close together. I hope you’re as excited about this as I am!
Originally, If Only It Were Yesterday was meant to be a standalone novel. But I was aching to write another Christmas short story and had been on the search for the perfect idea. I was collecting virtual teapots for Betty’s character in If Only It Were Yesterday when I came across a picture of Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast. The very second I saw that image, inspiration struck. BETTY could be Belle in a Christmas version of Beauty and the Beast! It was perfect! I simultaneously crafted 2 plots: a young woman being stranded with a man and his family during Christmas AND a married couple being stranded together during Christmas. BOTH plots pulled at me, and I struggled to pick just one. … Until I realized that I could choose both. And thus, Yesterday’s Christmas was born.
It is both a story of falling in love for the first time and recommitment. Yesterday’s Christmas isn’t quite a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but I think you’ll find the moments of inspiration easily enough as you read the novel. It’ll be a fun little treasure hunt. Until you can get your hands on the full novel, please enjoy the first full chapter of Yesterday’s Christmas

One

The wise woman builds her house, but with her

own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

~ Proverbs 14:1

Christmas Eve, 1985

I shouldn’t have been on any twisted backroad in the middle of a snowstorm, but I most certainly shouldn’t be on this road. I turned on my lights and whispered another prayer.

Why had I been so persistent in leaving the safety of my daughter’s house when I could have very well stayed put?

Because I’m miserable, that’s why.

Because as much as I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, all I wanted was to be home alone to wallow in my self-pity in any way that I deemed appropriate. This was to be my first Christmas without Glenn.

Pretending there was nothing wrong between us had slowly taken its toll on me until I couldn’t bear it another moment. Living apart these last three months hadn’t been easy, but, at least with our separation, I finally knew where I stood. A woman likes to be told that she is still beautiful in her man’s eyes. That she is still an important part of his happiness. Especially once she is past her prime. But whatever Glenn felt, he kept to himself … or kept for another. I had stood under a cloud of doubt for so long concerning his affections for me that I could barely stand up under it. He always claimed he’d never cheated on me, and I never found proof otherwise, but if the man wasn’t passionate about me anymore, whom was he passionate about? After spending countless years feeling like he had one foot out the door, I had finally snapped and pushed him the rest of the way out.

Self-preservation required distance, and it seemed to have been working. And, yet, there I was on the verge of tears with a darkening sky and snow so thick I could hardly see in front of my car.

I shouldn’t have been there. In fact, none of this should have been happening. If only Glenn had deemed our family more important. Deemed me more important. Those endless hours at work and distant hours at home had only succeeded in killing our marriage.

It didn’t do any good to blame Glenn, even if he was at fault. I had learned over the months that hating him for it didn’t change anything. It just made it harder for me to cope. Ignoring him, ignoring the memories, was my best option right now.

I popped the tape out of the cassette player on the dashboard, putting an end to Kenny Rogers’ and Dolly Parton’s Christmas tunes.

I gripped the steering wheel a little tighter, my knuckles as white as the powder gathering outside of my window. Leaning closer, I paid more attention to the upcoming curves in the road. I knew them by heart, but the snow distorted things until I was no longer confident of anything.

Lord, please see me home safely. I was such a fool, but, Lord, have mercy on this fool.

I rounded one bend, but there were more just up ahead. My stomach flipped. I hated this curve. I hated that house just around the curve. I hated this road.

This road was a shortcut, and, at the time, it had seemed important. In the heavy snowfall, it certainly was important; however, this was no place to be in the middle of a snowstorm.

But it was more than just slick roads. It was the Tanner house just around the corner. Just up ahead sat Glenn’s family home. Just up ahead, my estranged husband was probably sitting inside the house.

My nerves twisted and jumped like that of a school girl out on her first date. Glenn certainly wouldn’t see me as I drove by. He wouldn’t be looking out the window, and, yet, I couldn’t help but feel as if thousands of pairs of eyes were watching me as I inched around one curve and got closer and closer to the next.

A flash of brown shot out in front of my car. I sucked in a screech and slammed on my brakes. The brown, which I now recognized as a deer, jolted from his momentary stupor and finished his leap across the road. My tires spun, first locking up and then turning to one side. I gripped the wheel and yanked it in one direction, but it only turned my car in the other. I yanked it back, and again, it spun harder–too hard–in the other direction until my car suddenly stopped, its nose dipping down into the ditch.

I sat there in the ditch on the side of the road, first stunned and then angry.

No. No. No! This cannot be happening. How could You let this happen, Lord? Why now? Why here? Somehow my prayers of protection had turned into me being delivered into the ditch in front of Glenn’s house. With more frustration than pain, I opened the door, the blistering wind and a mixture of snow and ice drilling my face. I sucked in an involuntary gasp and tightened the scarf around my neck.

I bent over and grabbed my purse out of the passenger seat–no, make that the floorboard, where it now sat.

I checked my car again. There was no one around, and my car was safely tucked far enough into the ditch that no one should hit it if they were to venture down this treacherous road. Not that anyone else was foolish enough to bother. Folks in Tennessee knew to stay indoors when it snowed, so I had no excuse for being out in the weather.

I slammed the car door closed with more force than necessary, but it didn’t release any of my pent-up steam. I knew what to do. There’d be no choice in it. Looking left and then right only confirmed what I knew was true. There wasn’t another house on this road for quite a ways. Why did the Tanners have to build their house on the other side of this curve?

I hiked up the long gravel driveway. The hollow sound of crunching snow under my leather-fringed boots filled my ears, but I didn’t delight in any of it. Nearly three inches of snow had already fallen. The snowfall was a rare beauty, but I wasn’t taking the time to admire it.

I bypassed the front door and walked straight to the back. It had been the entrance most commonly used when his mother was alive. I knocked on the door and waited, but I didn’t hear any movement inside. I knocked a little harder, and then the door was snatched out from underneath my hand.

Betty?” Glenn said in a question, blinking back his surprise. “Wh-what are you doing here?”

I gave a shrug and an ill-humored grin. “Just thought I’d pop in,” I answered sarcastically.

His brow, a dark brown dusted with gray, lowered over his right eye–a look I had long ago memorized. He stood before me in sweats and knee-high socks. I knew they were knee-high with the red stripes around the top because I remembered buying them. They looked in need of a wash, but what did I expect since I wasn’t here to do his laundry? I fought back the urge to roll my eyes. I’d hate to see his hamper. It was probably empty while his clothes lay all on the floor around it, because he never could put his clothes inside the hamper. The man could shoot basketball like a pro, but socks in a hamper? Humph, forget about it.

I tamped down all of these ill feelings. I wasn’t here to complain about his housekeeping. I had done enough of that over the last thirty years of marriage. Nope, as much as I hated to admit it, he would be my savior this hour, and there was nothing I could do except thank him.

He still hadn’t caught on to the reason for my visit, but, again, I wasn’t shocked. He seemed to notice so little concerning me unless I spelled it out for him. A new dress, a new hairstyle. Nope. Didn’t matter.

He scratched his shoulder, revealing a slight tear in the sleeve of his t-shirt. “Umm,” he started, looking over my shoulder at the covered carport behind me. “Where’s your car?”

I gave him another one of my mirthless smirks. “I parked it out front.”

His eyebrows shot up, clear to his hairline. But now, at last, he seemed to understand the nature of my visit. Glenn stepped down the concrete steps and onto the carport, peeking around the side of the house.

I just watched and waited for it.

Silently, a hand slapped across his mouth as he viewed my crafty parking job. Glenn slid his hand down his face. He turned to me, his lips pinched and his brows still high. He didn’t say anything, his chest filling with air, deflating, and filling again. He gave a slow shake of his head. “Well, Betty, I didn’t think it was possible for lightning to strike twice, but you proved ’em wrong.” He looked down at his watch, as if it might tell him more than the time. “And on Christmas Eve, too?”

I snorted, a short bubble of laughter rising and dying on my lips. “Do you mind?” I asked, knowing that he wouldn’t. I was the mother of his children, after all. Laura and Peter wouldn’t be here without me, nor would the countless father-of-the-year coffee mugs that he had collected since the kids had been born.

He welcomed me into the house with a tilt of his head and a wave of his hand toward the door. Glenn was right about one thing: lightning had struck twice.

Two

There was once a very rich merchant …

~ Beauty and the Beast

Thirty-one years earlier: Christmas Eve, 1954 …

Final 1600x2400

During a snowstorm, Betty Tanner finds herself stuck with her estranged husband. Spending Christmas with Glenn wasn’t what she had in mind, and her thoughts reluctantly travel back three decades to their first Christmas together, when another snowstorm caused her to wreck her car outside the Tanner home … 

1954: Stranded with the Tanners over Christmas, Betty is forced into the company of Glenn, who has spurned her for years. But as the snow falls outside, the walls between Betty and Glenn begin to melt, revealing a side of him she never knew existed. A side she longs to know better.

Pride and bitterness can make a beast out of anyone. And the hardships they face in their relationship are of their own making. But can following Christ’s ways lead Betty and Glenn to the reconciliation they long for?

A.M. Heath invites you to spend Christmas with the Tanners in a dual-timeline novel loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast. You’re sure to fall in love again and again.

You can pre-order Yesterday’s Christmas on Amazon for .99
or add it to your Goodreads’ list. 

Rich Merchant with date (1)

Posted in About the Book

A Peek Inside my Workshop and the Drafts in Progress

I’m giving you a tour inside my workshop today! I want to warn you upfront that each author approaches the writing life a tad differently, so you don’t be surprised. However, I’m sure there will be plenty of similarities as well.

For me: I’ve come to notice that I use two different sides of my brain while I’m working. I have a creative side, that typically feels very free. And then there’s the side that edits everything it touches. The editing portion tends to stress me, so I like to keep at least one draft in progress open that I can pick up and do some freestyle creative work in. But the moment that draft becomes a complete first draft, it shifts over to the editing section of my brain.

The graphic below is the one I’ve been using for months now to show my Street Team the progression of a variety of novels. And here’s a quick rundown of the various steps involved in a novel:

Progress Chart Layout

Plotting: Some authors take more time to plot their novel than I do, which is why the plotting portion is a sliver.

First Draft: This is that freestyle moment that I mentioned. Since I’m not using a strict outline, it really does require a great deal of freestyle work. I listen to my characters, write with my gut, and enjoy the ride. 😉 Or most of it at least. I can and do get stuck from time to time.

There are two major phases to the revision process. The first step is to revise the actual content. And this section is broken into two portions as well. My first goal is to read over my manuscript on my own and make as many revisions as I can spot on my own. Then I begin working with the critique team. I send the manuscript out to a group of readers who return it with some suggestions for ways to better the story as a whole. They’re looking for things like character and plot development. They’re also pointing out areas that may appear inconsistent, unclear, or where the story may lag. I work with their feedback and then often resend the manuscript to see how the story sits with readers. Once I have a draft that I’m confident in and that readers are enjoying, I’m ready for the next phase of revisions.

So it’s off to the editing staff. I work with a group of volunteers who bless me more than I can ever convey. I send it to the first pair of line editors who are poring over the document, looking for grammar errors. Once I make the corrections they’re pointing out, I send it to a second pair. After those corrections are made, I send it to yet one more team. I call them my Spotters. They read the almost ready manuscript and help me sniff out any lingering errors. I make those corrections then read the novel myself for the last time.

Once the manuscript is polished, I’m ready to format. Formatting is always a bit of a headache for me, but I’ll not get into that here. You only have to read my Facebook page to hear what all goes on during this phase. But here, I make a spare copy of the document, then make two more copies. One for paperback and one for ebook. Then I sweat and toil until the files are ready to go. Also during this time, the paperback cover is being designed and I’m test-printing it to see how the coloring works when in print. And once all the pieces are together, the book is ready for publication! The only thing that remains is to promote the novel.

So now that you know the general flow, here’s the breakdown of what’s actually on my desk:

Progress Chart For Blog

As you know, Yesterday’s Christmas releases 11/5/18. Also in the revision process is Dance With Me and The Accident. Dance With Me is currently hanging out with the first grammar pair. The Accident is in between critique teams. I had sent it out once and am not finished with those revisions. And I plan to send it to a new set of readers when it’s ready.

In the writing department, I happen to have a total of seven novels in progress!! I’m not even sure how that happened! I won’t be able to go into too much detail just yet, but I’ll share with you a bit about the drafts currently sitting on my desk.

#2 Art of Love Novel: I’m not sharing the title or the cover until I have the first draft. But suffice it to say that this story has stolen my heart in a special way and I often find myself reaching for tissues while I’m writing it. I really think you’re going to love it.

The Birth of Grace: This is a standalone novel that I had shared with you before. It was inspired by my grandmother and carries a pro-life theme. I’m really looking forward to finishing this one and bringing it to you.

The Hope of Yesterday: Book 3 of A Season Passed. Already readers are eagerly awaiting the completion of this series, and I long to give it to you! Unfortunately, the stories weren’t quite ready to be told so we’ll have a gap in the publication. But fear not, the Lord has given me some other great stories to share in the meantime. But I will tell you that this is Logan’s story.

Yesterday’s Trouble: And Book 4 of A Season Passed is Ruby’s story. In both of these novels, we’ll be in 1885 and we’ll find out what really happened to the Hillman siblings that we met in Liz’s dream in If Only It Were Yesterday.

Top Secret Project: I recently stumbled upon a bit of local history which inspired a fiction story. And as often as I told myself that I wasn’t ready to work on it, the characters came to life and I had little choice but to follow them around. I think I’m going to sit on the details of this one until I have the first draft. But it’s remarkable and a bit different than some of my other novels. I can tell you that it’s set in the 1930s, so this is a different era than I’ve been working in so far. But I’m loving it there! In fact, I love it so much that it’s not the only story I’m writing that’s set in the ‘30s.

Top Secret Novella: For the first time ever, I’m teaming up with 3 other authors to write a novella set! We’re all extremely excited about this venture, but we’re not quite ready to go public, so I have to be quiet here too. I can tell you that our stories will be connected. Sadly, we’re all busy with other projects so this is something that we’re kinda playing with on the side at the moment. Lord willing, it will move up in importance at the right time and become a story you can’t wait to read. 🙂

Ancient Words Spin-Off: I had created a set of stories that feature the next generation of Maple Grove, and I’m attempting to write them as novellas and publish them as a set. I’m currently uncertain whether or not these stories can be contained to a short plot that a novella requires so I thought I’d give it a try and see what shakes out. So I’m currently working on the story titled The Runaway Bride which features Frank Harper’s daughter, Louise. As much as this particular set will interest readers, I can tell you now that it’ll be a long wait before these are released. But I am working on them already with the hopes that they’ll be released shortly after books 4 and 5 of the Ancient Words series … which are just sitting off of my “currently writing” list. Lord willing, once some of these are completed, I’ll be back in Maple Grove!

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my workshop. It’s almost wrong of me to tease you with the stories that are still in the early stages of taking shape, but this will give you an idea of what you’re praying for. You’ll have to let me know which of the stories I mentioned that you’re most eager to see come into completion.

Fall Writing Campaign: Now that Yesterday’s Christmas is wrapping up and Dance With Me is spending time off of my desk, I find myself with more writing time and plenty to write! It’s a personal goal of mine to finish one or two of these drafts by the end of the year, but if I don’t make it, hopefully, I’ll finish them by the end of winter. So I’ll be sharing more updates on my writing progress in the weeks to come. And now you know a bit about the drafts I’m working on!

Follow me on Facebook where I’ll give weekly and sometimes daily writing updates during the Fall Writing Campaign. You’ll also find more info on the older drafts here.

Posted in About the Book

Cover Reveal: The Accident by A.M. Heath

Accident teaser

I may have mentioned a novella that I have been working on in my spare time. It’s something different from me, but it’s just as precious with memorable characters and a heartfelt message as anything else I’ve written. This one is an epistolary novella. Allow me to explain:
Epistolary is composed of documents (usually letters).
A novella is a shorter novel.
So, an epistolary novella is a short novel written ONLY with documents. In this particular story, I wrote it using text messages and journal entries.

I’m a sucker for letters and journals, so I’ve always enjoyed epistolaries. I decided to challenge myself to write one. This was such a blast to write, and I hope you enjoy it! But today, I share with you the cover:

Accident 1600x2400

The Accident: Is it possible to find true love by texting the wrong number? Or will there only be heartache and frustration? 

Since The Accident is something I’m working on in my spare time, I don’t have a release date set for this one. So stay tuned!

Posted in About the Book

Novel Inspirations: If Only It Were Yesterday

AmazonLiz

I want to show you some of the images that inspired characters, buildings, and the overall setting for my latest novel If Only It Were Yesterday. Whether you’ve read the novel or are about to, you might like to see some of the visuals I had in my head.
* I own none of these pictures, except the cover. All others were Pinterest treasures and used only as visual aids and shared only for your enjoyment.

We’ll start with the characters. Obviously, you can see the main character, Liz, on the cover. But here’s a look at who you don’t see.

Liz Characters

Below is something I had in mind for the Eden’s home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And this grand home was what I had in mind when I wrote about Grandmother Hillman’s mansion.

31

Take a look at Mrs. Eden’s outdoor and indoor garden.

And the following pictures were images of the era that helped inspire me as I was getting emersed in my setting.

3032343738

And last but not least: Betty Tanner’s teapot for every day of the week:

Sunday:

Sunday

Monday:

Monday

Tuesday:

Tuesday

Wednesday:

Wednesday

Thursday:

Thursday

Friday:

Friday

Saturday:

Saturday

And a bonus pot for the evenings:

Evening

 

 

Posted in About the Book

Shopping List for Alice in Wonderland Fans

Are you a fan of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? Or do you know someone who is? I put together a shopping list sure to please any Wonderland fan. Obviously, my list will not be extensive, so feel free to share your favorite Wonderland products in the comments.

200Adult Coloring Book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Coloring Book
They used the classic illustrations and novel quotes when they put this one together.

210

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
You’ll find the ebook for free on Amazon and copies in paperback and hardback. *And don’t forget to look for In the Looking Glass!

CUPS!:

201

Disney Parks Exclusive Alice in Wonderland Triple Stack

202

Disney Parks Exclusive Alice in Wonderland Mad as a Hatter 

203

Disney Store Alice in Wonderland Classic Mug

204

Disappearing Chesire Cat Mug

205

Alice in Wonderland Fine China Teacup and Saucer *Be sure to rabbit trail with this one. There’s a whole matching set!

206

Anise in Wonderland: Novel Tea Tins
*FYI: They have a whole collection of novel-inspired teas.

208

Queen of Hearts itty bitty
*You’ll also find Alice and Mad Hatter

209

KEYS! It’s such a simple thing, but it’s not Wonderland with keys!
I actually have one on a ribbon that I wear as a necklace. But you could add them to anything for a subtle Wonderland feel.

211

Alice in Wonderland Tote by Litographs
SERIOUSLY, you MUST check out this website!! They create shirts, totes, scarfs, and posters with the actual words from your favorite classic novels! I’m only showing you one picture. There are 3 for Alice and soooooooo many more great novels to consider. GO CHECK OUT THIS LINK ASAP! And you’re welcome. 😉

Christian Fiction Books: 

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Girls of Wonder series by Christina Coryell

AmazonLiz

If Only It Were Yesterday by A.M. Heath
🙂 I couldn’t leave my own novel off of the list, now could I?

Did you find anything to add to your wishlist? Or do you have a product link that you’d like to share with me? 

Posted in About the Book, History

Researching the South during the Gilded Age

In this post, I want to do two things: I want to share with you some of the research that went into my novel, If Only It Were Yesterday, and I also want to review and recommend one of my key research books.

Whether you’re a historical fiction fan or history buff, you’re likely to notice that our focus shifts from region to region based on what’s going on during that time. It’s not hard to find books (fiction or non-fiction) based on life in the South during the Civil War or even the years leading up to or shortly after the war. However, the last three decades of the nineteenth century shifts our focus either to the west during the western expansion or to the north during the Industrial Revolution. But what was life like in the South during those years?

I’m not saying you won’t find ANY information, but it is a lot harder to come by. Because the focus in our nation shifts, there’s a gaping hole in our common knowledge of the period where the South is concerned. As a historical fiction fan, when I think of books during the Gilded Era, I think of stories in the North featuring either wealthy families or poor immigrant families. Because of what we commonly see, when  I sat down to write If Only It Were Yesterday, I had some questions: The last time we looked at the South, wealthy families had slaves or paid black freedmen. But the average snapshot of America during the Gilded Age shows me that most servants are immigrants. The last time we looked at the South, they were destitute. For the first time, both the rich and the poor, the black and the white, had a great deal in common: they had a great deal of nothing. But the average snapshot of America during the Gilded Age shows that electricity was becoming common, among other advances. So it begged the question: How many of these common understandings of the North were true of the South?

I don’t doubt one of you will take up the challenge and do a quick Google search and find all that it took me months to find. But for me, it was like pulling teeth to find documented proof of what the South looked like during a time that was so focused on the North or the West. Which makes From Morning to Night by Elizabeth L. O’Leary an answer to prayer.

Right there on the cover, it says “Domestic Service in Maymont House and the Gilded Age South.” FINALLY! This was the sort of book that promised to answer my questions. And, boy, did it! It’s one of those books that I highlighted but found myself wanting to highlight nearly the entire page. There was so much information packed in here.

The book features an extremely wealthy family in Richmond. The Dooleys were the exception here in the South, but O’Leary graciously explained what was commonplace for the Dooley’s and how it compared with others around them. It offered insight into the progression of technology within the home during those inventive years. It also weaves in terminology and common practices between servants and the families they served. It offers insight into the lifestyles of the servants and their employers, helping others like myself who wish to know more about the day to day life of those in the South. Since the Dooley’s were among the wealthiest in the South, you are given a look at the best that money could buy as well as how it compared to those who wouldn’t have afforded quite so much.
And in case you were wondering the answers to my questions: servants in the South during that time were primarily black people and very few were immigrants or poorer white Americans. And while electricity was becoming commonplace in the North, it was behind in the South. Wealthy families in larger cities had a better chance of having access to it, but smaller cities or rural areas couldn’t afford to supply it.

I highly recommend From Morning to Night to anyone who wishes to look deeper into the relationship between servant and employer, even if your primary concern isn’t focused on the South. But the book does bring the unique situation of the Gilded Age in the South to light. O’Leary balances what the historical documents reveal about the Dooleys with common experiences throughout the South as well as using quotes from various sources to further prove or explain the information.
I gladly give it 5 stars and a permanent place on my research shelf.

 

337Step off the lush carpet and push through the swinging door of the butler’s pantry to enter the bustling realm of domestic workers at Maymont House from 1893 to 1925. In From Morning to Night, Elizabeth O’Leary takes the reader behind the scenes in the opulent mansion of the Richmond multimillionaire James H. Dooley and his wife, Sallie. Drawing upon personal letters, business and government documents, and numerous oral histories of older Richmonders―both black and white―O’Leary examines the parallel and divergent viewpoints of server and served in this Virginia version of “Upstairs/Downstairs.”

Raised in slave-owning households before the Civil War, the Dooleys experienced the transformation of the master/mistress-slave relationship to that of employer-employee. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they relied on a full complement of domestic servants to maintain their lavish residences and lifestyle. In turn, numerous men and women―predominantly African American―labored to meet the day-to-day challenges of running an elaborate household. At the same time, they negotiated the era’s increasing Jim Crow restrictions and, during precious hours off-duty, helped support families, churches, and the larger black community.

By examining the formalities and practices of the Dooleys at home and by giving a presence and voice to their “help,” From Morning to Night offers insights into domestic and social systems at work within and beyond the upper-class household in the Gilded Age South.

Buying Options: At the time that I was writing this post, I checked Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Half.com and found both used and new options cheaper at Amazon.