I like your blog.
Julie Hemmingway, a recent college graduate, is preparing to leave for the mission field. When she meets Adam Jacobs, her well-organized plans begin to go awry. Will she fight to hold onto her own agenda, or open her heart to a new – yet, Hidden Path?
BLURB: Staying in Vermont on the family farm wasn’t what JULIE HEMMINGWAY, a 22-year-old nursing school graduate, had envisioned for her life. After all, she had just spent four years of school in preparation to join a mission agency to use her nursing skills overseas. However, those plans quickly change when her father suffered a massive heart attack and dies. Out of necessity, she decides to stay home to help her mom manage the farm. Not only that, but to help make ends meet, Julie accepts a new job at a construction company where many unexpected things happen. Will Julie learn that she can trust in God and His plans for her?
Available in e-book & Print format through Amazon and B&N
Desert Breeze Publishing:
Julie Hemmingway's thoughts centered on one thing -- and one thing only -- the letter which had arrived yesterday. Her dreams were coming true at last. She hummed a little Christmas tune and pushed her cart to the return rack. Scooping up her bags, Julie turned to walk out of the grocery store. The next thing she knew, her face was planted against a wool sweater and a coat's zipper. The paper bag filled with groceries crushed against her midsection with a sickening crunch. Thankfully, with a firm grip, she somehow managed to hold onto the second bag. She stood stunned for a moment. Please tell me I didn't just run into the person behind me.
"Are you okay?" His warm bass voice vibrated through his chest and beat against her cheek.
So much for that wish. Julie wrapped her arm tighter around the bag resting between them to prevent it from plummeting to the floor and pushed herself back.
The guy gently gripped her forearms to steady her. "I'm sorry. I should have been paying closer attention to where I was going." He pointed with his thumb toward the colored lights twinkling merrily in the window. "I was looking at the decorations. They're amazing."
Julie let her gaze travel up until she met his blue eyes. The second bag, which had managed to escape the fiasco, slipped out of her grasp. She looked down in horror at the mess on the floor. "Oh man, it looks like I just did some decorating of my own -- but not the pretty or festive kind." She groaned. "I think that bag had my eggs."
"If that's the case, they're now scrambled." He took the bag, with lettuce spewing over the side, away from her and stepped back to assess the damage. "Or at least, sunny-side up."
Julie grinned at his quick wit as she kicked loose coffee beans off the top of her shoe.
With a crooked smile, he introduced himself. "I'm Adam." Before Julie could tell him her name, he plucked a piece of lettuce draped over her sleeve like a scarf. "I must say, these lovely, um... accessories, don't do your beautiful coat justice."
***Paradox: YA Novella - Desert Breeze Publishing.
In this compelling story of hope, set amidst the grandeur of Vermont, like a rose —with both beauty and thorns—Lilly struggles to surrender her dreams to God.
Ric Walker, Holland Lodge’s grounds keeper, is Lilly’s only link to sanity. His steady presence and strong faith encourages her through this trying situation. However, that sanity is threatened as she realizes her feelings for him are changing into something more, something deeper.
Will Lilly learn that Paradox is more than a town’s name, but rather a divine place where God can reveal His power, bring healing, and love, just when she thinks all hope is gone?
Purchase Link for Desert Breeze Publishing: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-168/JoAnne-Carter-Paradox/Detail.bok
I'd like to share the first chapter with you. :)
(c) 2011 JoAnn Carter
"Lilly? It's me... I'm in trouble."
"What's the matter?" Lilly slumped onto the stool by her workbench as she switched the telephone to her other ear.
"Trevor..." her sister sobbed, sounding near hysterics, "I had no idea... and oh--"
The flower arrangement Lilly had been working on was all but forgotten as her heart raced. Her sister never panicked, which made her obvious plight seem even worse. "Sharon, take it easy. I can't understand what you're saying. Something about a Trevor... who's Trevor?"
Sharon hiccuped, ignoring Lilly's question. "I'm in jail!"
Lilly heard that crystal clear, but the words made no sense. Sharon in trouble with the law? That would be like saying there was a beach house in the middle of the desert. Sharon was the good sister -- always. "Jail?"
Lilly ran her hand over her forehead and closed her eyes. A thousand questions plummeted through her mind like water rushing over a falls. "Why? Where are you? Are you okay?"
"Time's almost up, miss," someone barked in the background. It startled Lilly, even through the telephone line.
Sharon's voice was soft, low, and resigned. "I'm in Burlington, at the police station. I don't have time to explain what happened. Would you please call Mr. Schmidt? I need to talk to him."
Silence hung in the air as a sense of dread filled Lilly's heart. Their family lawyer... when was the last time they needed his help? The seriousness of this whole jail business threatened to choke her. "Yes, of course I'll call him. I'll come as soon as I'm done."
In a small voice, Sharon said, "Thanks."
"Hey, sis..." The line remained quiet. "I'll be praying for you."
"I need it."
That scared Lilly even more than finding out Sharon was in jail. In the last four years, since she had given her heart to Christ, her sister had never asked her to pray for anything.
The gruff voice in the distance called, "Time's up."
"I gotta go. Love you."
"I love you, too. Hang in there. It's going to be okay." With a shaky finger, she hit the disconnect button and then reached for the phone book. It will, Lord, won't it?
Lilly fussed with the silk scarf draped around her neck and entered the police station. She glanced around the cold, utilitarian room and let her gaze rest on the clerk. He sat behind a thick glass enclosure -- as if she was a potential threat to his wellbeing. She didn't like the feeling.
Not one bit.
She took a deep breath, hoping to settle the queasy feeling in the pit of her stomach, while praying she wouldn't loose her breakfast. She tapped on the window and the clerk glanced up. He opened the small window in the bulletproof encasement and asked, "Can I help you?"
"Yes, I hope so. My sister is here..." Lilly stood directly under the heating vent, which caused wisps of her hair to flutter around her face. Frustrated at the distraction, she took a step back.
The man pushed aside the forms he was working on and glanced at Lilly over the rims of his glasses. "What's the name, miss?"
"Hmm." The clerk pointed to a man sitting on the bench seat. "You know that gentleman over there?"
Lilly turned her head to see whom the clerk referred to. She spotted him right away. Her breath caught in the back of her throat.
A few months before she left for college, Ric had come to the lodge seeking employment for the winter. His work in the building trades industry had slowed to the point where his company had to laid-off some workers. When her parents had hired him as a talented twenty-one year old carpenter, they thought it would only be a temporary situation.
She shook her head and tried to figure it out. What would make him stay past winter?
Well, whatever the reason, if it had been anyone else, she was sure she would have forgotten their name, but Ric was... different. Unfortunately, that difference didn't change the fact that he was part of the lodge; the part of her life she wanted to forget.
Lilly turned back to the clerk and shook off her daydreaming. "Yes, I know him. He works at my family's business."
The clerk pressed his lips together. "I see. Then please step to the side or have a seat. An officer will be here shortly to assist you."
She felt Ric's gaze on her back and turned in the opposite direction while trying to collect herself. Her stomach rolled as she prayed she wouldn't have to wait long.
Her stomach churned again, but this time from the sound of Ric's deep voice. So much for staying clear of trouble. It looks like it has found me again... this time in the form of the lodge's handyman. A little help here, Lord... please. Pasting on a smile, she looked up and saw him approach. His leather jacket fit his broad shoulders and lean frame like a second skin. He held out his hand as soon as he was close enough.
"I don't know if you remember me or not, but I'm Ric Walker. I work at the lodge."
Lilly placed her hand within his. His grasp swallowed her hand whole. She cleared her throat. "Yes. I remember." She could have gone into detail about the day he fixed the air conditioner in her room at the lodge. How could she not? Forgetting the day love bloomed in your heart isn't something you can wish away. And although she remembered that moment in time in full detail, what were the chances he would? She was sure he never noticed her as something other than his boss's crazy daughter anyway.
She bit on her bottom lip, disgusted with herself. She should be way beyond this and concerned only for her sister, not about how she may nor may not have looked to this man years ago.
Lilly pulled her hand back and said in a nonchalant tone, "You're the guy who can build or fix anything, right?"
His clear blue eyes sparkled and he grinned, causing the little laugh lines next to his eyes to deepen. "Well, I wouldn't say that, but I'm always willing to give things a try." He glanced around and then pointed to one of the blue plastic bench seats up against the wall, which he had recently vacated. "I know they don't look very comfortable, but would you care to sit down?"
"No, not really." Granted, she may be here for her sister, but she was only human. The idea of sitting next to him set her nerves even more on edge. If this kept up, she'd better consider stock in an antacid company.
He lifted an eyebrow in response.
Lilly scrunched up her nose as common sense took over. "I guess this could take awhile, so why not." She hiked the strap of the purse further up her shoulder and made her way over to the seats. After taking a seat, she drew in a deep breath and asked, "Why are you here?"
Ric smiled his hundred-watt smile. "It seemed like the right thing to do. As soon as I found out Sharon was here, I came down to see if I could help somehow." He shrugged, "I know this probably sounds strange, but she feels more like family to me than a boss."
Lilly nodded, then leaned forward, and pinched the bridge of her nose between her thumb and middle finger. This man is closer to my family than I am. How pathetic is that? "No, it makes sense. Since it's a family run lodge and all... I'm sure Mom and Dad trust you like a son or they would have never kept you on."
Ric nodded and then searched her face. "Lilly, the press will soon get news of this story, you know."
That comment snapped her thoughts right back to Sharon and the lodge. Subsequently, the sense of dread filled her heart again. She could only remember too well, how life at the lodge was like living in a glass house with no privacy whatsoever. What kind of fallout would this leave for her family's livelihood?
Lilly leaned back again, staring up at the ceiling as if all the answers were hidden in the suspended tiles. "I know. Bad publicity is the last thing the lodge needs." Lilly let her gaze settle again on Ric. Half-hoping, half-dreading he would know the answers to some of her questions she needed to ask, "What exactly happened that Sharon ended up in here? She wasn't able to tell me much at all."
Ric shrugged and was about to answer when someone called her name. "Ms. Holland?"
Lilly glanced up.
"Mr. Schmidt. Thank you so much for coming." Lilly stood and relaxed a tad for the first time since Sharon called. Finally, someone safe. She turned back toward Ric and introduced the men. "Ric, this is our lawyer, Mr. Schmidt."
Ric stood and extended his hand, his six-foot plus height towering over the lawyer. "Ric Walker. I work at the Holland Lodge. Just came to see if I could be of any assistance."
Mr. Schmidt seemed to consider him for a moment, then nodded. "Ah, yes, the Holland's have mentioned you from time to time. I know they've appreciated all help you've been to them. Thank you for coming to support Sharon." He turned his attention back to Lilly. "I realize you want to see your sister, but I think that perhaps I should speak with her first."
Shoot. When will I find out what's going on?
Lilly's shoulders sagged. "If you think that's best..."
"I do." He shuffled his briefcase to his other hand. "Things can get a little complicated. I need to know what happened so I can get to work sorting out this situation."
She sank the edge of the chair. "Okay. I'll wait here, then." She hated the fact that her voice was laced with defeat, but she couldn't help it.
"Can you stick around for awhile?" Mr. Schmidt asked Ric.
He nodded. "I'll be out as soon as I can."
"We'll be here," Ric said for them both.
Ric peered at Lilly out of the corner of his eye, which was nothing new. In fact, since she first walked through the police station door, he couldn't seem to stop watching her. How different she seemed from what he remembered. Although he had only met her a few months before she graduated school and left, he thought about her from time to time throughout the years. Her personality reminded him of a painter's palate with all different colors. Once the artist set to work, they would somehow blend to make something beautiful on the canvas, but for now, it was hard to see what kind of picture would be made. One part of Lilly had been fun and exuberant, yet another part of her seemed tempered by a kind sadness that lurked in the depth of her eyes. She had moved with grace and poise, yet with the quick, flightiness of girlhood spontaneity. She walked with a sense of confidence and yet of uncertainty.
It had often made him wonder what made her tick and what kind of woman she grew into. Now that he saw her, he was even more intrigued. Granted, Lilly had been a beauty even in high school, but now, she was more than that. She was different somehow. He couldn't put his finger on it, but it made him all the more curious. Why hadn't she returned to the lodge on her summer school breaks or once she graduated from college?
"So I heard from your folks that your business is doing well."
For a fleeting moment, she looked surprised, but then shrugged. "I'm just doing what I love. It feels more like a ministry to folks than a business most of the time." Her face lit up as she spoke. "There's nothing like watching the expression of someone who received an arrangement that I crafted for them -- now that's true beauty." Lilly lowered her gaze and looked up at him through her long lashes. "Sorry. Sometimes I get a bit carried away when I talk about my flowers."
"Don't be sorry. I think it's refreshing. Besides," Ric leaned forward and took off his coat, "It says a lot about you."
He nodded. "I give you credit for following your heart. I'm sure running a shop can be challenging, but I guess you learned all about that from living at the lodge."
Lilly chin snapped up. Her reply was quick and decisive. "Oh, my flower shop isn't anything at all like the lodge."
He tilted his head and wondered what caused the apparent chip on her shoulder. Cautiously he said, "I don't think the lodge is such a bad place. In fact, I like it there."
Lilly smiled a guileless smile. "I'm glad."
Interesting, so whatever is bothering Lilly wasn't the lodge itself. Then what was it, Ric wondered?
"Speaking of the lodge," She crossed one thin ankle over the other. "I'm kind of surprised you're still working there. I thought this job was just a interim kind of thing."
He rubbed his fingers against his five o'clock shadow. "Yep, that's how it started out anyway. I thought I'd only be here for a season, but then before I knew it turned into a year and then two until..." He shrugged, "Here we are now."
"Why?" Lilly's brow puckered in confusion. "Don't you miss your carpentry work? I heard you were very good."
He was amazed at how much her praise mattered. To cover his own reaction he teased, "Were? I beg your pardon." He chuckled when her cheeks grew pink. "I'm just fooling around. Besides, believe me, I get plenty of opportunities to use my skills around the lodge."
If that were the only reason he decided to stay on at the lodge, life would be so much better, but it wasn't. He lowered his voice. "My mother's health is not good. In fact, she's getting worse every day." He took a deep breath. "It's cancer."
Lilly's green eyes darkened to emerald, "I'm sorry."
Thankfully, she didn't ask for details. As it was, he was just holding himself together, which was strange. Usually, this wasn't something he would talk about in the first place. And if he did, he made sure his feelings never got the better of him. But the look of compassion in her eyes was doing odd things to his sense of equilibrium. Granted, she may be a foot smaller than he was and not much more that a hundred pounds soaking wet, but there was a strength about her that reminded him of his mother, a strength that can only be acquired by walking through the Refiner's fire. He swallowed hard and in a matter-of-fact tone said, "Unfortunately, the medical bills are more than my father can handle on his own. Working at the lodge is a stable, good job." He winked and tried to lighten things up a bit. "Besides, like I said, I like what I'm doing."
"Does your family live nearby then?"
"Yep, only about a half-hour away."
Lilly nodded. A few blond highlights in her light brown hair caught the light just right reminding him of sun glistening on water. She placed her lower lip between her teeth for a moment as if she wanted to say something, but held back. Finally, she said, "I'm glad you're so close to your family."
"I couldn't imagine it any other way."
Lilly wasn't sure how much time passed before Mr. Schmidt finally came out. She jumped to her feet when she saw him. "How's Sharon?"
Mr. Schmidt rubbed his beard. "She's fine, fine..."
Ric moved to her side. "But?" Lilly let the question hang.
"I need to refer this case. I have a colleague I'd like her to speak to."
What in the world did that mean? He was their lawyer. Why would he balk now that they needed him most? It must be even more horrific than she had previously thought. She pulled back her shoulders trying to prepare for the worst-case scenario. "I don't understand. Why?"
Mr. Schmidt glanced at Ric and then back again. "Would you like to go someplace where we could speak in private?"
Lilly shook her head. Although she was only beginning to become reacquainted with Ric, there was something about him that made her think there was a good chance they could become friends. He was a real down to earth guy and easy to talk to. Besides, as an employee of the lodge and had a right to know. "No, it's all right. Ric will hear all this sooner or later anyway."
Mr. Schmidt gave a quick nod. "Sharon was in a car with a driver who had his license suspended--"
"You mean this Trevor fellow she mentioned?" Lilly shifted from one foot to the other, her nerves a jittery mess.
If Mr. Schmidt was surprised at her knowledge, he didn't show it, nor did he answer her question. He continued as if he had never been cut off. "When the police pulled him over for speeding, they found a bag of cocaine in the glove box."
The air whooshed from Lilly's lungs. She opened her mouth to drag in a breath and her chin felt heavy enough to hit the floor.
"They charged both your sister and the driver with possession."
The lawyer's words filtered into her hearing, barely making it past the pulse pounding in her ears. She was sure her heart would pound clear out of her chest, or break her ribs trying. Sharon and cocaine? She shook her head to clear it. Impossible. "Sharon would never have anything to do with drugs."
"I realize that. However, the police don't." Mr. Schmidt dropped his voice so low that Lilly had to lean close to catch his words. "Unfortunately, since she was in such close proximity to the drugs, it's placed her in an area of high suspicion."
"Was she even aware drugs were in the car?" Lilly whispered back.
"That doesn't matter at this point. Unless the driver claims them as his own, they most likely will try to prosecute Sharon."
Lilly groaned, "Oh."
"That's why I'd like to contact a colleague of mine. He's experienced with drug related cases and knows very specific, strategic defenses that he may be able to use in court if it comes to that."
A strange numbness settled over Lilly. All the details and questions she still had meshed into a dull grayness. "Can Sharon come home?"
"Why don't you sit down, Lilly?" Ric asked as he turned his gaze toward the lawyer. "Mr. Schmidt?"
Mr. Schmidt nodded. "Good idea." While they took their seats the lawyer said in a soft voice, "The process from booking to posting the bail usually lasts no more than twenty-four hours. Thirty-six at the most."
Lilly nearly cried. "You mean she may need to stay here overnight?"
"I hope not, but it is a distinct possibility unless the driver is willing to tell all."
Normally, Lilly appreciated a person who was honest at all costs. However, today was far from normal. Why couldn't their lawyer buffer his words and calm the panic rising within her rather than aggravate it? What was this Trevor like? Would he even care what happened to Sharon? And of course, all this had happen when their parents were overseas...
Ric leaned forward. "Is there anything we can do here to help?"
Mr. Schmidt shook his head. "I'm afraid not. Normal procedures and protocols take time. After bail is set, or if Sharon is released on her own recognizance, the next step will be the arraignment, the first courtroom step in the process. It will take awhile to clear up."
"So, what do we do in the meantime?"
Mr. Schmidt didn't even blink. "Forgive me if this seems too personal, but I've been with your family a long time. I'd suggest you consider the immediate future. Perhaps you should fill in for Sharon at the lodge until things are settled."
Lilly shook her head. Even if she were able to think clearly, she'd never be able to fill those shoes. Born a CEO, Sharon was perfect for the job as director at their family lodge. Lilly never had the least bit of interest in, or the adeptness for work at the lodge. Her communication skills with the guest were little to non-existent and her administration skills to over see the day to day operation would be even worse than that. She shook her head.
Granted, common sense told her she should be able to handle it. She had earned her Associate Degree in Business Management right out of school so she could fulfill her dream -- a little horticulture shop of her very own. And she had done just that, but her heart made it clear, this was a totally different situation. Running the shop was her life, not a job.
The only thing she would manage to accomplish would be wrecking everything her family had worked so hard to build over the last sixty-eight years.
She'd do anything to help her sister... anything, but that.
You can scoop up your copy today @ http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-168/JoAnne-Carter-Paradox/Detail.bok ($4.49) This is also available at Amazon.com, B&N as well as other e-book retailers.
*This title will be available as a paperback May 2013