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Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Eva Marie Everson's Southern Voice is Moving!

Hello everyone!

I'm ... "moving."

No, no! You don't have to send a "new home" gift! But I do hope you will follow me to my new location. We'll start the new year (and the new blogsite) off right ... with a contest!

So, stay tuned. Come January 2nd, head over to EvaMarieEversonAuthor.com

Until then,

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Merry Christmas (Day 2)

Our family room boasts the "big tree." Originally my mother's, now ours. This is what we call the "Children's Tree." It is housed within the "Children's Room" as far as Christmas decorations are concerned (you'll see what I mean in days to come). This tree is filled with Santas and snowmen and anything we think will make a child's eyes grow wide with wonder. 

This year, after I'd finished decorating the room, our 2-year-old grandson Vonche' came over with his mommy. As soon as he saw the tree, he ran over, pointed to this ornament and said, "Wooooooooow!" For the remainder of the evening, he'd periodically stop what he was doing, return to the tree, and stare.

Oh, to be a child at Christmas again!

This rather large ornament was found in a church's thrift store in a small town on the way to Cedar Key, Florida. I think I paid $2 for it, but for me, it's worth a million for the memory it now holds.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Merry Christmas (Day 1)

Last year I posted the stories behind 25 Christmas carols. This year I would like to share some of our holiday "treasures" with you. This ornament is from our "family tree" (one of the two in the living room). It represents our miniature dachshund, Poods, who my constant companion. She even sits with me, in my office chair, while I work. (I should thank her in my acknowledgements at the beginning or close of every book.)

We found Poods running down the road one evening at 10:30 at the end of a hot July day. She was starving, dehydrated, and bleeding from a few places on her body. We brought her in, fed and bathed her. She curled up in our daughter's arms and slept for a good long time. We posted a sign in the front yard but eventually took it down, then took her to the doctor for a once-over. He estimated her to be 3 to 4 years old. 

She is the most amazing pup, but fiercely protective of me. (And she's torn between being protective of our grandson and jealous of any time I give to him.) At the time of her joining our family, we had two other dogs and a cat. Now, it's just Poods and the two old folks. She is my "littlest love."

Monday, November 17, 2014

And the winner is ....

Susan Simpson!

Congrats to you ... look for an email with details on your Amazon gift card!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November Writing Contest (Repost)


"When You Find the One"
Original Oil Painting. Used with Permission of the artist.
c 2014 Karen Winters Fine Art

We're excited over here at Pen In Hand about my upcoming novel, Five Brides, which will be released June 2015 by Tyndale Publishers. So excited, we're going to start looking at a few special painting between now and then, talk about your stories, add bits of trivia about weddings, etc.

How to Enter This Month's Contest

1.  Share this on Facebook or Twitter and link  my name to your shares.
2. Write a 250 word (or less) story, poem, or song  based on the painting above  and submit in the comments section below.
3. Be sure to put your name on the bottom of the submission in case your entry comes up "anonymous."
4. Check back November 15, 2014 to read the winning entry. (Jot a note in your calendar! The winner may be you!)


Mama slowed as we approached the storefront bay window showcasing the bridal gowns, like an apparition stood beyond the glass.

Or Daddy.

She neared it, drawing me with her. I looped my arm into hers, feeling the autumn air growing cold as winter around us. Mama let out a long breath, but I couldn't tell if this was a happy sigh or one of her weary ones.

"Mama," I said. "Did you wear a dress like this one when you married my daddy?" I allowed my eyes to scan upward to the red crepe balls hanging motionless but adding a pretty touch nonetheless. To the folds of the pale gold drapes and then back to those that swept the skirt of the dress Mama couldn't seem to take her attention away from. "Mama?" I asked again.

"Yes," she finally said. "Exactly like this dress. Nana and I shopped all one day and half the next until we found the right one."

I pondered a moment. "I guess that's important, huh? Finding the right one?"

"As important as finding the right man to marry," she said, "is finding the right dress to marry him in."

"Where's your dress now, Mama?"

"Had to sell it, little 'un."

This time I sighed too, squeezing her arm with mine. "I sure do miss him," I said. "There won't be another one like my daddy."

"Nope." Mama swiped at a tear. "He was one of a kind."  ~~Eva Marie Everson

Okay! Your turn! Have fun ... winner will receive a gift certificate to Amazon.

A note on the painting: It's for sale, so if you are interested, you can contact the artist at the website above. Karen Winters kindly gave permission to use this once, but not for anyone to copy it, change it in any way, etc. I'm so appreciative of her generosity ... let's all be respectful of this incredibly talented artist.

Monday, October 13, 2014

And The Winner Is ...


Will he ever understand? John’s attentiveness is wonderful but it’s not enough. It’s not about tea and gorgeous views. It’s about opening up. It’s about letting me in. It’s about sharing all of him with me. It’s about true romance. Both of us becoming one flesh. I want—I need more than the smell of exotic spices when he holds me. More than the joy I feel at the sight of him. More than the beautiful words he whispers to me. I must be a part of him, all of him. I long to know the pleasures he derives from his work. My desire is to share what he feels whenever he’s conducting his business. Perhaps to join him in his enterprise as one who helps it thrive. This is what I want. To be his equal, his partner in marriage and business. To be his life-long companion in everything. ~~Bruce Brady

Monday, September 29, 2014

October Writing Contest

"A Passing Storm" by James Tissot


1. Share this on Facebook or Twitter and link my name to your share.
2. Write a 150-word story based on the painting above and submit in the comments section.
3. Be sure to put your name on the bottom of the submission in case your entry comes up "anonymous."
4. Check back on October 15, 2014 to read the winning entry.


The tea had grown cold but, after the storm, the weather remained humid. The heaviness in the air had been born out of more than precipitation, however. My husband’s impatience had sparked another argument; my words in return had done nothing to ease the turmoil. Now, an hour later, the tea could no longer be enjoyed and, while I pretended to sleep on the divan, Harry stood just outside our yacht’s living quarters, looking in. I couldn’t see him, but I could sense him—the smell of his aftershave blending with the scent of sand and seawater. I would, I decided, let him believe that I had fallen to sleep easily, that his words had no effect on me. I would let him believe that, like our final destination, my love remained just over the next horizon. Then, perhaps, he would see things my way. Then, perhaps, my intense ardor for him might lessen. ~~ Eva Marie Everson
Okay! Your turn! Have fun! Winner will receive a gift certificate to Amazon.


Monday, September 1, 2014

14 Days, 37,209 words to go

Don't panic! I'm writing away like a crazy woman!

And enjoying the research more and more every day.

So, what's happening now? Well, Betty just got a marriage proposal, which she accepted. Ah, romance.
Evelyn didn't get a marriage proposal, which of course nearly broke her heart.
Inga is still in a world of trouble and Magda has enjoyed New Year's Eve 1952 with Barry and his family.

And our Miss Joan? Well, she's headed off on a slow boat to Europe where she will meet the man of her dreams ...

"Love is in the air ... exciting and new ..."

Meanwhile, check out some of the websites I've been to today:

1953 Quick Facts (wait till you see the price of gasoline!)

Car of the Week (1950 Buick Super)

And, can you name the handsome gents in this photograph? This contest is harder than before, but it comes (again) with a free book when Five Brides releases to one lucky winner! The shot is from a movie released in 1952.

Friday, August 29, 2014

17 Days, 45,813 Words to Go

I pretty much spent my birthday writing. That's okay. I'm so into the world of the Five Brides, I find it difficult to live in the present anyway.

Night before last, I deliberately left one of my characters, Inga, at a crossroad so that I could be anxious to get up yesterday morning and write. As I made my breakfast I allowed the conversation she was having with Francis to play out in my head. Thinking I had it pretty much "down," I went into my office to type.

Okay, so I knew that they would have dinner together and I knew that she would give him some important information at the dinner. What I didn't count on was them walking into a Middle Eastern restaurant.

What Inga is wearing on the date.

And that, my friends, changed the story.

Crazy, I know ... but it did.

Let me share a few of the websites that helped me dress Inga and Francis in the pictures to the left and below. Okay, ladies, don't you LOVE the shoes? I mean, this is from a 1952 ad, but wouldn't you love to slip your feet into some of those right now? I know I would ...

When Francis  buttons his suit coat over a plaid vest, this is what it looks like.

Inga is wearing  the black slipper shoes on the bottom left.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

20 Days, 52,000 words to go

Yeah, that's right. The number of days has gone down; the number of words has gone up.

Don't worry, this is the good news!

I met my husband for lunch today at one of our favorite cafes. I arrived before he did so I took out my notebook and wrote down "what has to happen next" along with the number of words I had to accomplish it. By the time the huggy hubby arrived, I had ordered our meals and worked myself into a frenzy. There is no way I can write the rest of this story in 30,000 words.

I took out my iPhone and pecked out an email to my editor (cc'ing my agent).

Then I waited. And ate my fries.

A few seconds later I heard the "bling" of my phone, indicating I had a new email. I opened it. Sure enough, my editor had sent back a reply.


The fries were really good, which meant I was in a pretty happy mood. So I wrote back:


I giggled as I added: (ARE YOU BREATHING??) followed by: 100,000??

O, Happy Day! The reply came back: A lot of historical novels run up to 120,000. Try not to go over.

So now what you see if the new goal. I may or may not get to 120,000, but now the feeling of sheer panic is gone.

Meanwhile, I dressed one of my characters in this dress today. It's called a "dressy suit."

What do you think?

Friday, August 22, 2014

23 Days, 30,890 Words To Go

It's the middle of the day and I'm far from done, but I had to share with you what's happening here in WriterWorld.

First, the last two days have been a struggle in the writing department. I wrote, yes, but I hated nearly every word. I couldn't seem to get away from the fact that I only had between 30- and 40,000 words left to tell my story. I know that for some of you, the notion of writing that number of words is tantamount to getting a root canal. But for the writer of fiction, as he or she dashes toward the end ... the finale ... the denouement ... it's horrifying.

I told my husband this morning that I could hardly sleep for worrying over it. He said, "You have five women and, let's say, 40,000 words. That's 8,000 per character."

I suddenly felt better.

Then I got an email  from fellow author, Sandie Bricker, who penned: YOU CAN DO IT.

I got back into the story with new vigor!

Today I did a little research on what folks listened to on the radio in 1952 on a Sunday night. I came across The Big Show with Tallulah Bankhead as the lovely hostess. I also listened to some of the broadcasts. Check out #29 ... this is the one I "referenced" in Five Brides. It's all of 30 minutes and it'll make you want to go back to a simpler time. Check it out HERE.

More tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

25 Days to Go, 35,962 Words To Go

Inspiration for Inga
Today I edited (down) some of what I'd already written and then charged ahead, writing about 1600 words by the end of the day. It's 8:34 p.m. and I'm calling it a night.

Gosh, I hate writing the "bad stuff," but Inga (Magda's sister) is about to make a big mistake. She's not the first in the world to do so, but it makes me sad when my characters take wrong paths.

She'll learn, though.

I just hope I can see it through within the next 36,000 words! Not to mention what must take place with Magda, Joan, Betty, and Evelyn.

Poor Evelyn ... talk about misguided!

I called my agent today. Rather, he called me after I sent a text that read: Call me. Told him I may have to try to squeeze in at least another 5,000 words. So, really ... this blog should be titled 25 Days to Go, 41,962 words to go. That's 1679 words a day. No slacking off.

I can do it ... as long as life leaves me alone. :)

By the way, that's Inga up there. Can you name the actress I've been inspired by? The first to do so will win a copy of this book when it releases!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

26 Days, 36,827 Words to Go

Now, when I tell you that I only wrote roughly 750 words today, you'll think I failed in my quest to get at least 1,500 penned each day. But the truth is, I took part in an online Word Weavers critique group from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., then had a session with another writer at 11:00 ... then had an editing project to do ... then a private session with one of my coaching clients from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and then I listened in on a Christian Writers Guild webinar offered by Jeff Gerke from 8:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

And, I edited 7,500 words of Five Brides, so really ... it was a banner day.

But, let's talk about the 750.

I realized this afternoon that I have five young women in 1952 who have yet to meet the men they are going to marry and only, roughly, 40,000 words to make that happen. I've got some speed writing to do!

Not that we want to rush love and marriage. Oh, no ... but ... don't panic, Eva. Do. Not. Panic. You can do this. You can. All you have to do is get off the roof without jumping and ... write.

Whew. So ... now I'm all about getting these five women to the man of their dreams. And to the altar. In one dress.

We begin with Magda. She's already met Mr. Right ... she just doesn't know it yet. :) Can't wait to tell her!

Ah ... 

27 Days, 37,553 Words to Go!

(For your listening pleasure, as you read the remainder of today's blog, go to: GLENN MILLER, In The Mood)

So, yesterday Magda made a big decision, which will have great impact on her life.

She also made a great argument against Karl Marx's line: Religion is the opium of the people.

In the beginning of my planning and plotting, Magda had such a small, insignificant role and now she's carrying such weight. Her lines of dialogue are incredibly deep. I love her!

Here's another thing that happened ... Magda is having a conversation with her boss that is going to change her life, but she doesn't know it. Not yet, anyway. I do, but she doesn't.

Looking back on your own life, can you think of a time when foundations of the most significance were being laid, but you didn't realize it? Let's talk about it!

Monday, August 18, 2014

39,303 Words. 28 Days

So here's the story.
Back around June 30, I had two and a half months to re-write approximately 95,000 of my upcoming novel, currently titled Five Brides.
Five Brides is based on the true story of five women who met in Chicago after World War II. They became roommates for "a season" and during that short period of time they each put $60 in the "pot" and bought a beautiful wedding dress from the iconic Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company. 

Each woman wore the dress on her wedding day.

I have had the joy and privilege of meeting one of those women. Joan is now in her early 80s and a woman of great influence. As far as we know, she is the only living member of the five. Because most of the women were only roommates and not friends, there is no story on the other four.

Which means, this writer gets to make it all up.

So, where am I right now in this re-write?

I wrote over 4,000 words yesterday, which brought me to over 55,600 words.

My characters are: Joan (from England), Evelyn (from Georgia), Betty (from Illinois), and Magda and Inga (sisters from Minnesota). As of yesterday, Betty is about to right a wrong, Magda is about to make a positive decision, and Inga is heading head-first into a very, very bad decision. And Joan? Well, Joan has a new job which will, in time, impact Betty. Greatly.

For the next couple of weeks or so, I'm going to post my progress. Some of the sites I visit (after all, I wasn't even alive in 1952!) and some of the songs that inspire me.

Let's have some fun at my expense, shall we?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

And the Winner Is...

I've read all the entries ... great job, everyone.

But I've narrowed it down to first, second, and third place. Only First Place wins, but I wanted to acknowledge second and third.

So, drum roll please:

Third Place goes to: Rona Jeanne Evartt!
Second Place goes to: Stacie Salvo!

and First Place goes to: Tina Hunt!
Congrats, Tina! Email me at PenNhnd@aol.com with your preferred email address so I can send your Amazon gift card your way.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Writing Contest for July 2014

I haven't done this in a while, but it's time to do it again!

Here's how the contest works:
1. Look at the painting below.
2. Write a story around the painting (no more than 150 words).
3. Share the story in the comment section below.
4. Be sure to share the contest with others on your social network. Let's make this FUN!
5. On July 14, I'll read over the entries and choose a winner. Winning story wins a gift card from Amazon.

Ready? Let's do it!

Monday, June 16, 2014

When God Jerks My Chain

Years ago--like, many, many years ago--my family and I were in the throes of very active lives. Socially. Within our church family. Within the civic community. We left not too many hours in the day or the week or even the month for just relaxing.

Keeping the kids busy, I'd  been taught, will keep them out of trouble. That much is true, but I failed to factor in that their being busy often meant my being busy.

We had friends, lots of friends. And, I have to tell you, I enjoyed my friendships. Hanging out. Cooking out. Going to the beach together. Sitting next to each other at church. Sometimes my "friend" time (as in, only my friends) meant shopping trips or sitting down with a cup of coffee and a heart filled with things to chat about. Going to see a movie.

Then, one day, mysteriously, the phone stopped ringing. Calls I made were not returned. Hurt and perplexed, I went through my days as always--going to work, taking care of my kids, loving my husband. But my friends were no where to be found.

Then, in a business setting, someone handed me a booklet titled, "How to Make Jesus Your Very Best Friend." As if God jerked my chain, I suddenly knew and understood what was happening to me. I had made godly relationship my focus instead of my relationship with God.

I determined to right the wrong and did so. I placed more of my focus on my friendship with God and less on my friendships with people. Slowly, lesson learned, friends eased back into my life.

I am a people person. I love being around them. Interacting. When we moved to Orlando, the most difficult part, for me, was in not having my friends around. Once I made new friends, I felt like I had finally arrived "home." But, once again, God had to jerk my chain.

More than once.

And, wouldn't you know it. I've made my way back to Square One. God is whispering, "Draw to a quiet place, Eva Marie. Make it more about me."

Okay, Lord. I am listening.
Making God your very best friend is done in the same way as making a best friend in human form. First, you have to make Him your friend friend. 

How do we do that? Well, in the same way as with people. Time. Talking. Listening. More time.

Slowly, He becomes more important than anything or anyone until, one day, you realize ... God is enough.

Everything else is gravy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Whew, dawg! Summertime is here and what is it good for!

I'll tell you ... a good book to read by the pool, at the beach, while the kids play outside under the large old oak ...

I know ... how about in addition to the book, a summer hot sizzlin' new contest to help celebrate the success The Road to Testament is already experiencing?

The weather is hot in Testament, North Carolina when Ashlynne arrives ... but that doesn't keep her from being cool. You'll think this contest is cool, too. Here's how it works:

1. Repost THIS BLOGPOST on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Goodreads with #EvaMarieEverson attached. (That part is important beccause we want lots of folks in on the fun. What's a party without guests?") You can say something like: Hey! Check out this Summer Sizzlin' Hot Contest #EvaMarieEverson is having!

2. Go to your favorite walk-in bookstore or online bookstore and purchase The Road to Testament. If you've already read the book, you are a third of the way there.

3. Write a review (whether you love it or hate it ... gosh I hope you don't hate it!) at Amazon,
Barnes&Noble, Books-a-Million, and Christianbook.com (see below for links). You can cut and paste your review from site to site.

4. On June 21 (the first day of summer), my publicist and I will draw a winner from the reviews (but you have to have the #EvaMarieEverson at social media to show you completed #1).

What do you win, you ask?

Wait till you hear ... you will win a copy of every future novel I write, autographed and mailed to your home.

How does that sound for a summer sizzlin' good time? But you'd best hurry! You only have a few more days to "git-er-done"!

Monday, June 9, 2014

More of the "Real" Testament

As a novelist, I am often driven by reality. What I see. What I touch. What touches me.

What I hear.

To be more specific, what I overhear. Or my eyes catch in passing.

I've been driven to write out of "place" far longer than out of memory, whether mine or someone else's. I find myself somewhere and the stories that linger through the generations come to me. There are times when I "see" them clearly. Other times they come in dreams.

Mostly they are "what if" moments. "What if" moments are something novelists know well.

Such is the case of the part of the story in The Road to Testament that leads Ashlynne to her discovery of who is buried in the unmarked graves. She had to go to another graveyard--the kind you find behind an old church--to begin, however.

From the book:

Will stopped in front of the decorative tombstone of Noah Swann, who had been a Captain in the Civil War. His wife, Emily Todd Swann, lay next to him. “They died thirty years apart,” he said, “and if you note the date, it’s not the war that took him.”             
(Buried among the slaves)
Mary, Consort of Michael R. Freeman
followed by dates of birth/death
"Her children rise up and call her blessed"
            “Do we know what did?”
            “His death certificate—and yes, I’ve seen it—says pneumonia.”
            I nodded at the graves, as though giving the souls of the “dearly departed” some form of approval for having lived and died. “You said something interesting?”
            “Ah,” Will said, stepping farther toward the tree line. “Check these out.”
            Along the line, facing the trees, were small stones with carved first names such as “Sallie” and “Isaac” and “Big John.” Some had only initials. Some held the years of death, others nothing more than the first name of the departed. “Are these … the graves of slaves?”
            “They are. And they go all the way back to the Revolutionary War.” He pointed to a tall tombstone, arched along its topside. “Now check this out.”
            Then along the bottom, in script: Her children rise up and call her blessed.
            “Well, well …” I said.
            “Notice the date of her death?”
            I did. Only a month previous to her lover’s. “He must have loved her very much.”

            “In a day when such things were known but never discussed.” He remained quiet for a moment. “I think,” he then said with a light chuckle, “That Miss Emily over there lived so long out of revenge.”

End of book selection

The South is loaded with cemeteries and graveyards. I give those two separate names and places because, as someone who has researched her family tree to nearly the last branch, I can tell you many of my deceased family members are "buried by the side of Highway 46. Mile Marker 10. Forty feet into the thicket." 

I told the fabulous award-winning author Davis Bunn one afternoon that I enjoy walking through cemeteries. He laughed, his eyes dancing, and said, "Eva Marie, best not to tell too many people that." 

But the truth is, old cemeteries and graveyards hold moss-covered, time-etched tombstones with more than just names and dates. These old relics include epitaphs sharing additions to  "her children rise up and call her blessed." Through them, we often glean clues as to the legacy left behind. 

So it was with the tombstone I found at Brittain Church Cemetery in Rutherfordton, North Carolina (my Testament). One tombstone ... and my imagination was off and running!

If you'd like to read The Road to Testament and haven't yet, check out these easy ways to order from:

Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Church

I stepped into the cool of the church's sanctuary, drawn by the stonework, the over-arching woodwork, the carved oak pews, the ornamental lectern and pulpit, and the stained glass windows, shaped like arched doorways.

If icons could speak, those in this room called me to sit quietly. To kneel in prayer. To become immersed in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

And so I did, right here in St. Francis Episcopal Church in downtown Rutherfordton, North Carolina.

Then, when the time came to write about Ashlynne Rothschild's first steps into the church she would visit while living in "Testament" (The Road to Testament Abingdon Press, 2013), I wrote:

The inside of the church was not what I’d expected. The stonework and arches gave the sanctuary a gothic appearance. Short pews—hard and shiny with age—formed rows of moderate length. The end of each pew had been cut high and carved like rolled scrolls. A center aisle, carpeted in red, led to a prayer altar of dark wood. Beyond it, an ornate lectern, and beyond that a floor-to-ceiling stained glass window. On both sides of the sanctuary, dimly lit by antique brass chandeliers, arched stained glass windows. Some depicted saints such as John, Peter, Paul, Francis. Others shared stories our faith is established upon—Moses and the Hebrew children crossing the Red Sea, Ruth gathering wheat, David slaying Goliath, Jesus raising a child from the dead. Jesus, Himself, ascending into heaven.   

I inhaled deeply. The scent of lit candles and polished wood rushed my senses. This was … lovely. Reverent and sacred. 


But this was only the inside of the church ... the outside of the fictitious church, her history and the cemetery beyond ... that came from another location in Rutherford County ...

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Real Road to Testament (Are there really unmarked graves?)

"How much of this book is based on truth?" is a question I get quite often, no matter the book.

In truth, we fiction writers nearly always base some part or parts of our books on truth. Sometimes that truth comes out of a person we meet or only see across the way in an airport. Sometimes life happens, strangely enough, and we think, "That would make a good plot for a book ..." We alter things somewhat, and we use what we can.

I was in Rutherfordton (part of the real Testament, NC) and I heard about these unmarked graves found out in the woods on Decker Ranch. Intrigued, I asked to see them. Sure enough, there they were--about sixty in all--sunken in some places by a foot or so, most of them marked by rough stones.

As soon as I returned to The Cottage, I got to work on how to incorporate the truth behind the graves with the fiction in The Road to Testament. And so, I got to work:

We neared where Garrison stood alongside a man I presumed to be Robert Matthews. He was tall, slender, deeply tanned, and sporting a five o’clock shadow before 10:00 in the morning. Dark hair tussled around his head as though he’d just gotten out of bed. In spite of the heat, he wore a long-sleeved white tee stained by red mud and dirt, jeans, and hiking boots. “Will,” he said. He approached us with his hand out.
Will shook his hand and released it before turning to me. “Rob, Ashlynne Rothschild. She’s from Florida, working here at the paper for a few months.”
Rob Matthews smiled, sending crinkles around almond-colored eyes. His hand shot out as naturally as if we were old friends seeing each other as we always did. Out in the woods. Surrounded by swaying trees. Overgrown shrub. And, somewhere close by—did I mention?—dead people.
I slipped my hand into his and felt the dryness, the calluses along the base of his fingers. A working man’s hands. “Nice to meet you,” I said, pulling back as quickly as I could without seeming rude. I waved away pesky creatures buzzing around my face.
Robert nodded once. His eyes sparkled and his mouth broke apart in a picture-perfect smile. “You, too.” He returned his attention to Will. “Man, you’ve got to see this,” he said, clapping his friend on the shoulder and turning him around. “I’ve been trying to get some of this thinned out back here. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it once I get it all cleared, but it needed to be done.”
Garrison and I followed behind. I flipped open my notebook, clicked my pen, and started taking notes, straining to hear as Rob continued.
“Right here,” he said, pointing to the ground, “is I noticed the first stone.”  
We stopped, gathering in a circle around a lump of granite in the ground.
“I didn’t think a whole lot of it,” Rob continued, “until I took a few more steps …” He pointed to our left. Sure enough, another stone marked the spot. “And then,” he said, drawing us along with his words, “I came up on this.”
A larger flat piece of granite rose out of the ground at the base of a thick pine. “That’s when I realized what all this was.” Rob squatted and we did too. He pointed and we followed the line of vision his finger provided.
“Oh, my goodness,” I said. “You can actually see the outlines of graves.”
“Some have sunk about four to six inches, I’m thinking. Other’s deeper than that.” He looked over at me. “Be careful where you step, now.”

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The "real" Road to Testament (Day 3)

I went to the Mount Herman Christian Writers Conference years ago as a faculty member and, having a break in my schedule, decided to meander over to Karen Ball's class on fiction writing. I don't necessarily remember a lot that she taught, but I do remember her saying that all of her books have animals, such as a pet dog, cat, etc.

Gold fish? I don't remember ...

Since that time, I've noticed when I read books with "pets" that I get a little warm fuzzy, so--whenever I can--I incorporate the pup or kitty or ... gold fish.

After all, didn't Rocky become more lovable after we met Cuff and Link?

How delightful that, years ago during my first trip to Decker Ranch, I met "Buddy" and "Sis" as Sharon calls them (because this is not their real names). During my trip to the ranch and to that little paradise area of God's country called Rutherford County, North Carolina, Buddy and Sis came to see me every morning while I took a walk or when I sat in the Adirondack chairs reading my devotions.

One afternoon, Sharon called me. "I can't find Buddy," she said. I smiled and said, "Hold on." I took the photo you see here and sent it to her. Buddy had taken over "guarding" the writer within.

Here's what happened, exactly as it happened, one morning during devotional time ... and then I wrote it into The Road to Testament as happening to Ashlynne (with some obvious modification).

I sat in what had become my favorite place to sit and read. Behind me, the sun made its slow ascent, casting shades of gold and ash across the lawn and the river rocks. A sliver of glitter in my flip flops caught one of the rays and shot back a brilliant reflection. Overhead, birds had already begun their morning song. The notion that we were becoming friends fluttered across my mind, and I smiled.
            As I crossed my legs and took a leisurely sip of tea, I caught a glimpse of my two furry friends from between the red-tipped bushes. They sauntered up the path. Over the past few days we’d formed a morning ritual whereby I drank tea and read; they sat and watched. Our actions, when done together, worked out beautifully.
            I’d also learned their names.
            “Good morning Buddy,” I said as the black dog reached me. I placed the mug between my thighs, extended my hand; he eased his head under it. His tail swished back and forth before looking back to see how close his constant companion had come to stealing my attention. “Come on, Sis,” I said, using the nickname Bobbie gave Kelsey. “Come on, old girl.”
            Kelsey easily pushed Buddy out of the way for her love pat. Buddy’s dark eyes stared at me for a moment. Unfazed by my shift in attention, he walked over to sniff a decorative garden stone with “DREAM” carved into it.
            I continued to rub Kelsey’s head, scratching behind her ears. I laid my head back against the glossy slats of the chair and closed my eyes. “Ah, Sis,” I said. “Do you know what I’d be doing right now if I were back in Winter Park?” I opened my eyes. Sis now sat, her long tail wrapped around one hip and leg. Her pink tongue dropped between sharp teeth, and her mouth formed a smile. “I’d be rushing off to work, that’s what.” Buddy rejoined us and I shifted my hand to his head. “You see,” I continued, “back home, when I get up—I get up very early—and I do my reading inside my apartment. I have a settee that once belonged to my grandmother—ah, you probably don’t want to hear about that. But I don’t get to go outside and sit under the trees and feel the breeze on my skin when I do my reading.”
            Both dogs stared at me, looking at me as intently as Gram and Mom when I bare my soul to them. “What I’m trying to say,” I continued, “is how special this is becoming and how much I will miss it when I leave.”
The dogs blinked in unison.
“Well, then.” I raised the book with my free hand. “I guess I’d better get to reading so I can shower and go get my nails done.” Kelsey panted deeply as though, being a girl, she understood.
            I propped my mug on the armrest farthest from the dogs and opened the book to: SING AND DANCE. The artwork on the corresponding mirror tile was of a woman with her mouth open and of a ballet shoe with wide pink ribbons.
            “Sing to him,” I read to Buddy and Kelsey. “Sing praise to him; tell of his wonderful acts.” I looked at the dogs, both curled near my feet. “That’s from First Chronicles, chapter sixteen, verse nine.”
            Buddy groaned as he rested his head on his front paws.
            “I take it you’ve heard me sing,” I said.

            Kelsey followed her companion’s motions. Her eyes rose to meet mine as though to say, “Uh … yeah.”

Don't just read bits and pieces of The Road to Testament! For heaven's sake, call your favorite bookstore and go to your favorite online bookstore right now and purchase it so you can read the whole thing and ... my dog can get a new collar. (insert big cheesy grin here)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The "Real" Road the Testament (Day 2)

The first time I went to the real Decker Ranch, I was taken with what Sharon Decker called "the cottage" out back and up the hill. A converted barn, this now two-bedroom two-bath comfort zone had been Sharon's place of refuge after her mother's passing.
I could easily see why.
Sharon has a good eye when it comes to decorating, and--as The Cottage soon became my own hideout and writing haunt--I didn't want to lose the home-effects she'd created when making it a character in my book, The Road to Testament.

Remembering how I felt the first time I saw her, I wrote the following:

I’d found it. My new home. There’d be no turning back now saying I couldn’t find it.
Heaven help me.
I made a hard left off the asphalt road into the rutted narrow driveway, which disappeared under a canopy of skinny-trunked, green leafy trees. My car rocked back and forth as it tilted upward, upward, past deep ravines on both sides. I crossed a manmade stone bridge built over a lazy stream flowing atop glossy river rocks. Just as I despaired my car would simply topple backward and I’d be found upside down in the little creek, the landscape cleared. A sloping yard led to a white-brick house on one side and a shimmering blue swimming pool and pool house on the other.
I followed the driveway to the back of the U-shaped house, stopping beside a classic Jeep, an Acura, and a rather decrepit looking Dodge truck.
“Wow,” I said. I felt a brow arch. A two-story unpainted cottage stood farther up the hill and at the end of the drive. Sky-blue Adirondack chairs, a settee and footrests had been arranged on one side and oversized planters spilling over with flowers on the other. The entire setting was both grand and primitive. “Wow,” I said again.

Have you ever found a place like "The Cottage"? Somewhere you found comfort, as if the house or place itself were giving you all that you needed to get through? 

Tell me about it! 
And stay tuned ... I'm going to offer a contest soon, and you'll want to be a part of it (I hope).

Monday, April 28, 2014

The "REAL" Road to Testament

In my book, The Road to Testament, the make-believe town of Testament, North Carolina becomes a character in and of itself, full of Southern-style streets, shops, and people.

Spindazzle and The Spinning Bean, Spindale, NC

"Testament" is a composite of Rutherfordton, Spindale, Forest City, and Tryon, North Carolina.

Over the next few days, I'd like to share with you some of the real places that, and people who inspired the book.

Spindazzle is a fun shop full of goodies in Spindale, North Carolina. Right next door is the Spindale Drug Company, and next door to that,  is The Spinning Bean, where you can get great food and the most delicious cup of coffee! During one trip to research and write the book, I became downright addicted to one of their flavored coffees! If you go there, I bet you will too!


When Ashlynne first comes to "Testament" she notes the charming look of the small Southern town from the driver's seat of her Jag (This is also the first time she sees William Decker). Here's what she observes: 


Brick storefront facades ran tall and short on both sides of the road, offering old-world appeal. Many of the stores had been renovated, converted to shops and restaurants. Wrought iron and wood benches separated by large pots of multihued flowers stretched between the doorways. The few people who meandered the sidewalks wore walking shorts, tee shirts and colorful flip flops. They tended to stay close to the shade afforded by scalloped awnings. Two children, who walked ahead of adults I assumed to be their parents, wrapped their cherub lips around ice cream stacked high in sugar cones. I ran my tongue over my bottom lip, wondering where they had purchased such delight. I contemplated rolling down the window and asking.
A glance at the traffic signal showed the light had yet to turn green. I lowered my window to see if I might find an ice cream shop. Just as I did, the driver’s door of a parked and battered pickup flew open. I cocked a brow at the cowboy-wannabe who jumped out, scuffed boots landing firmly on the asphalt. In spite of the heat, he wore jeans I’d bet hadn’t seen the inside of a washing machine in weeks, a crisp short-sleeved denim shirt, and—I’m not kidding—a cowboy hat wrapped with a sweat ring. He caught me staring—or perhaps it was the other way around. His eyes pierced through to mine—screaming as if he knew I were some intruder stepping on his hallowed ground.
Or as if he knew me … and we were arch enemies.
I powered my window up. The light turned green. Feeling awkward for reasons I couldn’t understand, I pushed the gas a little too hard. My car jerked but I managed to gain control before I’d caused an accident. A peek at my side mirror confirmed my fear; Mr. Cowboy had taken it all in. He pulled on the rim of his hat and turned away.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Abduction of Becky Potter (Chapter 68, Epilogue)

Copyright Eva Marie Everson 2014
To read Chapters 11-Epilogue, see post below
To read Chapters 1-10, email Eva Marie at PenNhnd@aol.com

Chapter 68

          For Amanda the next few hours were a blur. An ambulance ride, emergency room doctors and nurses, being lifted onto a gurney and raced toward the operating room; Overhead florescent lights…one…two… three…whew…whew…whew….
          “How many fingers am I holding up, Mrs. Rogers?”
          “We’re going to give you something for pain, Mrs. Rogers…”
          “Are you still with us, Mrs. Rogers?”
          Days of pain and unknown, distorted faces looming over her, “Mrs. Rogers?  We’re changing your dressing now.” 
“Mrs. Rogers, I need to take your blood pressure.” 
          “Mrs. Rogers?”

Amanda opened her eyes, blinking through the sleep. She lay in a hospital bed. There were machines around her. Tubes. A television hummed on the opposite wall.
She turned her head. The muscles pulled and she prayed it wouldn’t fall off. Mark slept in a chair next to her.  “Mark?” she whispered. Her throat was parched and her voice barely audible.  “Mark?”
          Mark’s eyes opened. He sprang out of the chair.  “Honey?  Amanda?”
He leaned over the chrome railing of the hospital bed.  “Hold on, baby.  Let me call the nurse.”
          Mark reached for the call button as Amanda whispered, “Thirsty.”
          A nurse walked in and Mark turned to her.  “She’s thirsty,” he exclaimed. Tears welled in his eyes.
          “Well, then, let’s get her some ice chips to start with, shall we?”  The nurse walked over to the bedside table, retrieved the Styrofoam pitcher and then briskly walked out of the room.
          “Don’t try to talk yet, honey,” Mark said as he brushed Amanda’s hair from her face.
          “Becky?” Amanda mouthed.
          “Hold on, honey.”  The nurse returned. After placing the pitcher on the bedside table, she pulled out a piece of ice and rubbed it along Amanda’s mouth, then slipped it between her lips.
          “Mmmm,” Amanda moaned.
          “Take this,” the nurse said to Mark. “Keep doing this while I call your wife’s doctor.” She offered a smile. “Looks like she’s finally back with us.”
          Mark lowered the railing and sat on the bed next to his wife. A few ice chips later, Amanda swallowed and said, “Becky?”
          “She’s fine.”
          “Does she know?”
          “Yes.  Her mother and Matt told her.”
          “The day after…my gosh, Amanda.  I could have lost you.”
          Amanda shook her head.  “How is she?”
           “She’s having a difficult time with all this, but her mother—Patty—is going to get her some counseling.  Patty didn’t know, Amanda. She never had a clue that her daughter had been stolen.”
          “But Bob knew.”
          “Where is he?”
          “He and that woman, Gabrielle Cibrianne, were arrested for attempted murder as well as a host of other charges.  They’ve both posted bail and as far as I know they’re staying at her apartment in Atlanta.”
          Mark smiled.  “Tough as nails.  A few cuts and bruises, but she’ll be fine. She says she’s more damaged from you throwing her on the floor than what Madison did to her.” He winked. “She is worried about you, though.”
          Amanda closed her eyes. “Madison?”
          Mark leaned over and kissed her forehead.  “Madison is dead.”
          Amanda let the fullness of what her husband had just told her settle in. Over. All of it. Over. But that means … “Celeste?”
          “Taking it very hard.  But the church and her friends will be there for her.”
          Amanda began to shake.  Mark pulled the blanket up around Amanda’s chin.  “It’s okay, honey.”
          Amanda shook her head as a tear slipped down her cheek.  “No, you don’t understand…”
          “What is it?”
          She shook her head again.  “I’m so sorry…Will God forgive me?”
          “For what, Amanda?  Tell me.”       
          “I can’t help it….” The tears were coming more rapidly.
          “I’m glad…glad that Harold Madison is dead.” 

A week later Amanda sat in the padded recliner of her hospital room, gazing around.  Floral arrangements filled every table, shelf, and the top of the air-conditioning unit.  Several of the arrangements sent to her had been “donated” to other patients and to the nurse’s section of each ward.  Get Well cards—some store bought and others hand-made--made a train around the wall of the room.  A poster made by Brittany and Ryan dominated the back of the door.

 Get Well Soon, Mom!!
We love you and are so proud of you!
Brittany and Ryan.

          Amanda read it for the umpteenth time and smiled as a faint knock came to the door.
          “Come in,” Amanda called out, much stronger than she had been a week earlier.
          The door opened slowly.  Amanda saw the arrangement of two-dozen pink roses before she saw the gift-bearer.
          “How beautiful,” she whispered.
          “Where should I put them?” her guest asked.
          Amanda pointed to a small table with a potted plant on it.  “Move the plant to the floor and place them there.”  
          “How are you?” the woman asked, turning from the table.
          “Better.  Much better. I…I don’t know what to call you.”
          “I’m most comfortable with Dori.  I hope that’s okay.”
          Amanda smiled back and nodded.  “Of course it is.”
          Dori walked to the bed and sat on its edge.  “They should have more chairs in these rooms.”
          Amanda laughed.  “Especially mine.  I’ve had so many visitors.”
          Dori looked down, but only briefly.  “I can imagine…being the pastor’s wife and all.  You’re something of a celebrity in this town right now.”
          Amanda took a deep breath.  “I’m sorry. Dori.”
          Dori stood again, walked over to the window and looked out.  She waved to someone, then turned back to Amanda. “Matt,” she said.  “He’s out there. In the parking lot. I asked him if I could come up alone.  I wanted to see you…to ask you a question…or two.  To talk.”
          Amanda braced herself.  “You want to know how I could have let all this happen.”
          “All what?”
          “The kidnapping…Harold Madison’s death…”
          Dori grimaced. “No, of course not.  We were only children.”
          “Do you remember? Any of it?”
          “Not really.  Just little things.”
          Dori began to pace as she wrapped her arms around herself.  “An oak tree—”
          “Where you were counting.”
          “We were playing Hide and Seek.”
          “Oh, yes.  I heard all about that, but I don’t remember it.”
          Amanda nodded.  “What else?”
          Dori stopped and tilted her head as she shook it.  “A locket?”
          Amanda brought her hands together. “Yes. I still have it.”
          “Was it mine?”
          Dori nodded.  “That’s really all I remember.  My doctor says I’m not ready to remember the actual kidnapping. Matt has sent away for copies of the police reports and, when I’m ready, my doctor and I will read over them.”
          Amanda was silent for a minute.  “Do you remember your mother and father?”
          “I see.”
          “They know about me, though.  The police notified them and they’re flying in tomorrow.”
          “They haven’t come yet?”
          Dori shook her head.  “I’ve asked them to wait.  I need time to…to process all this. I’m a little nervous,” she added. 
          “You’ll do all right,” Amanda said.
          Dori walked over to the chair, knelt down before Amanda and gathered her hands in her own.  “Be with me?” she asked, her voice trembling.
          Amanda squeezed Dori’s hands. “Was that the question you wanted to ask?”
“Oh, Becky,” she began to weep. “I’ll never let you go again.  Never.”
Dori reached up, wiped the tears from Amanda’s face, and then those that cascaded down her own.  “There’s something else I wanted to tell you.”
Amanda nodded in answer.  She was ready to hear anything.
“It’s kind of a funny thing—“
“Will it make me laugh?”
Dori grinned.  “Maybe.  It will definitely make you smile.”
“I’m ready.”
“I found out the day of…the day you were shot and … all that …”
“Found out what?”
“Isn’t life funny?  Guess what. I’m going to be a mother.”



          Celeste Madison answered the phone in the library on the third ring.  Before lifting the receiver she glanced at the caller ID; the call came from Hillside Hospital in Nashville.
          "Hello, Teresa," she answered matter-of-factly.
          "Kaci had a little boy about a half hour ago.  Seven pounds, fourteen ounces."
          Celeste smiled.  "Perfect. Everything all right?"
          "Oh, yes.  Ten fingers.  Ten toes.  A perfect baby boy.  There were no complications."
          Celeste sat in the chair that had belonged to her husband.  He had conducted all the business here and now it was her turn. She ran the slender fingers of her right hand along the shiny patina of his desk. "I'll notify his new parents and call you soon with an update as to the meeting with them."
          There was a break of silence.  Then: "I haven't told Kaci…about Mr. Madison."
          Celeste's mouth formed a thin line.  "Why don't you take Kaci on a special vacation…say to Jamaica?  If she should catch the news on cable or in the papers…"
          "I'll take care of it."
          "Very good.  Just send me the receipts."  Celeste stood, smoothed the faint wrinkles from her linen slacks.
          "Mrs. Madison, may I ask---"
          "Don't worry, Teresa," Celeste interrupted, knowing full well where the question was heading.  "As far as anyone's concerned, I'm the grieving and shocked widow.  Not only is my husband dead, he was running a black market adoption agency that I was completely oblivious to.  I've supplied the FBI with the old files that were kept in the office and a few from the house.  Everything else is as it always has been.  Mr. Green's clients are safe and so are you.  Understood?"
          "Yes, ma'am."
          "Good.  No looking back, then.  Business as usual."
          "Yes, ma'am.  Business as usual."

Did you enjoy The Abduction of Becky Potter? You can read more of Eva Marie's work by clicking on the photo of her book's covers to the right.