Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Road to Publishing

Deborah Malone

“Death in Dahlonega” and "Murder in Marietta"
and "Terror on Tybee Island"

 The Road to Publishing
free road Clipart road icons road graphic
1.      Finish That Novel:  Finish the book. Publishers are not really interested in ideas. They want to see that a would-be author has the skill, the stamina and the discipline to finish the job. After finishing your book set it aside for a couple of weeks then go back to it and start editing. Hire an editor if necessary. Two books I’ve found invaluable for my writing:

“Write in Style” by Bobbie Christmas and “Goal, Motivation and Conflict” by Debra Dixon.

2.      Researching Publishers And Agents:  Study books that are the same genre as your book and see who their agent/publisher is. It is usually listed in the front of their book. Look for publishers on-line and study their guidelines for submissions. Find out what they are looking for. There are also books that are helpful to find publishers such as: “Christian Writer’s Market Guide” by Sally Stuart and “2012 Writer’s Market” by Robert Lee Brewer. Note: It is necessary to have an agent for big name publishers. If you do not want to go this route please do not forget the small presses. Please do your homework and check out small publishers or self-publishing companies. If you go this route a book you will want to read is: “Stress-Free Marketing” by Renea Winchester.

3.      Write A Synopsis And Query Letter: According to Kaye Dacus at  you should first and foremost familiarize yourself with the kind of synopsis your targeted publishing house requests. Most will want a “normal” synopsis (about one doubled-spaced synopsis per 10,000 words of your novel.)  - Your query letter is your introduction to an editor/agent. You do not want to immediately label yourself as a “newbie” or an amateur when they open the envelope. Spend time learning the correct way to write a query.

4.      Prepare Your Proposal: The proposal is where you really brand yourself as a writer. It’s where you show the agent/editor that you’re so much more than just 100,000 words of a story written down on paper. It’s where you show them you understand the industry, you understand what they’re looking for, you know who your competitors are, and you realize that 80% + of the marketing for a published author is done by the author.

5.      Send Out Queries:  Be sure and follow the guidelines of the publishers you’ve researched. Send only what they’ve ask for – do not add anything unless they’ve requested it. It is important to not send any photographs or illustrations. Do not use fancy paper or elaborate fonts. These are the marks of an amateur, and will only hurt your chances. (

6.      Be Prepared For Rejections:  You will receive them. Most of the rejection letters will be in form letter style. Do not let this get you down. Keep sending out the queries. Every author has a story to tell about the rejections letters they accumulated before being published. Consider a rejection letter as a sign you are writing. How many people can say they’ve even received a rejection letter? Keep writing and persevere. The writers who persevered are the ones who are now published.

7.      Continue Writing:  Don’t stop writing. The more you write the more you improve in the craft of writing. It will help you find out if you are able to write more than the “one hit wonder.” It might be that it will be your second or third book that gets published so don’t sit idle while waiting to hear from those publishers.

  Deborah has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, since 2001, for the historical magazine “Georgia Backroads.” She has had many articles and photographs published during this time. Her writing is featured in “Tales of the Rails” edited by Olin Jackson. She has also had a showing of her photographs at Floyd Medical Center Art Gallery as well as winning several awards. Her debut cozy mystery "Death in Dahlonega", a winner in the ACFW Category Five Writer's Contest, is now available. She is a current member of the Georgia Writers Association, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Deborah has been nominated for Georgia Author of the Year 2012. She has an established blog, Butterfly Journey, where she reviews Christian Fiction. You can also catch her at
Sleuths and Suspects, where she reviews mysteries. She also contributes to the Cozy Mystery Magazine every other Tuesday.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Marketing Your Book or Shameless Self-Promotion

I had a book signing this past weekend at Amicalola Falls State Lodge. It was the first time I'd been at a book signing other than my book launches that I was the only author present. I have to tell you that it was a new experience for me. I had my table set up with my big sign of the cover of my book and had a nice display. Not many people were coming to the table so I finally decided to get up and go around introducing myself to tourists in the lobby. I would introduce myself, hand them a card and tell them what I wrote. I was amazed at the difference that made. People began coming over to the table and buying books. Some said they didn't know what I had and others said they thought I was with the lodge selling something.

It was a lesson I learned well and the next day I made a poster to announcing "Meet the Author" and taped it to the front of the table. I didn't waste time I started off by going around and introducing myself. It was a much better day. As one of my friends said in a post he wrote that you must shamelessly self-promote. How true that is. At the lodge they gave wildlife talks and one day it was about snakes. Here is a picture of me with one of the snakes. Also, I've posted the article on marketing by my friend Bryan Powell.

Photo: What some people will do to sell a book. Me holding black snake at Amicalola falls book signing.
So, you've written a book. Congratulations!book promo
Putting in the time and effort to write your thoughts is a great accomplishment. Greater still is publication.  Now you can sit back and watch the dollars come rolling in, right?
Besides the hard work of writing and editing, there is, The Business Side of Writing.
If you plan on selling your book there are several important aspects that must be taken into consideration: promotion, compensation and negotiation.
The Art of Shameless Self-Promotion
How do you get to be a New York best seller?
In a word—promotion; shameless, relentless, white-knuckled promotion.
It is a necessary part of the writing process. No matter how much you may hate public speaking, it is a necessary evil.
While much of today's focus is on cyber marketing, good old-fashioned public appearances are another important part of the mix.
Why do some writers succeed at this and some fail? The better question is; why do some of us persevere, and others give up? The answer is simple, there are those of us who will give anything to achieve our dreams, and there are others who will give anything to stay on the couch. Okay, so I’ve convinced you. Where do you begin?
Start With a Smart Strategy
The phone can be your best friend or your worst enemy. When I was in real-estate, my broker challenged me to make 100 calls a day and ask two simple questions: “Do you want to sell your house?” and “Do you know someone who wants to sell a house?”
I was chasing customers I know, but it worked. The last house I sold was a $400,000 home to a woman from Brazil.
I learned to get tough skin and make the calls, but in the book business, who do you call?
Reach Out
1. Start with your niche market. If your book is about gardening – call stores that deal with gardening. If it’s a cookbook  – call restaurants and sandwich shops. Ask if you could set up a display and talk to the customers about your book.
  • Know your market – learn where your book sells best. Christian books sell better in Christian environments.
  • Talk to people – when you are at an event. Don’t just sit behind the table. Stand as much as possible, greet the customers and talk about your books.
  • Link up with a local pregnancy crisis center, or the local chapter of a Cancer Society and have an event together. This will take planning and advertising.
  • Use your social media connections to promote your event. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter,,,,,,, to name a few.
2. Independent bookstores
  • Have a nice display and buy push-cards. Vista Print and are two places where you can get quality promotional material.
  • Have a poster displaying your book cover and hook.
3. Libraries. They love authors. Ask about literary or local author events.
4. Christian book stores and big-box book stores are the last targeted phone calls for retail stores. Invariably, they will charge 40% to sell your books on consignment. We’ll discuss this in greater detail in my next blog.
5. Fairs, Festival and Literary Events.
  • There may be a cost involved in this, but it will be worth it. Try sharing the cost with other authors.
  • Have plenty of cash on hand and learn to make changes.
  • Also, you will need to have a way to process credit card payments. I use Square, but Pay-pal also has a card reader.
6. For the fun of it, call independent living facilities. (Those are the ones where the residents control their own money). Have the activities coordinator to promote you as a local author coming to do a reading.
7. Call schools and ask to speak with the English/Language Arts teacher and see if you could be scheduled to come and speak to their class.
8. Become your own competition.
  • You may even post your book on Ebay and Craig’s List in order to boost your sales on a national scale.
  • When your book is listed with Amazon, they will under-cut your price by a sizable percentage. I went to Amazon and found how much they were selling my book for and under cut them
The take away of this is simple. If you want more than the satisfaction of having your book published, and I hope you do, then you must establish goals and a marketing plan. Work within your time and finances. Step out of your comfort zone and let’s sell some books.
Our contributor, Novelist Bryan M. Powell is also a composer/arranger with over eighty choral works to his credit. He now enjoys pursuing a career as a full-time writer. Some of his fifteen Faith-based “G” rated mystery novels have found their way into publication by Tate Publishing, Kindle Direct and Vabella Publishing. His website is

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Catch the Wave Writer's Conference!

Hard at work at the conference!

One of the first things seasoned writers advise beginning writer's is to attend writer's conferences. I've been doing this for about ten years now. Long before I finished my first novel. This past weekend I believe I attended the best conference I've been to.

Georgia Christian Authors Guild sponsors the Catch The Wave Writer's Conference in Atlanta, GA once a year. This year a fellow author and friend Jennifer Hallmark rode to the conference with me. She was a great navigator. Thursday evening we arrived and settled in our rooms. Then we went to the evening meal and listened to a couple of speakers. After the speakers all of the staff was introduced. Terry Burns an agent from Texas was there along with his wife Sandra. (in picture below)


The next morning we gathered for a devotional and signing. Then the fun began. We had classes taught by some super authors: Fay Lamb, Terry Burns, Tracy Ruckman, and Lin Johnson just to name a few. Some of the topics were on Deep POV, Creating memorable characters, magazine writing and speaking. There were other topics I didn't have time to hear. When evening came I was tired, but in a good way. Several of us got together for a game of Banana Split (something like scrabble). When my eyes got to tired to stay open it was off to bed for me.
We got up Saturday morning and started all over again. What a day! On both days there were agents and publishers available for appointments and they were busy with authors pitching their writing projects. I didn't come prepared to pitch anything but wound up pitching an idea for a magazine article and it was excepted by Lin Johnson. So I've been busy writing a how to article for writing cozy mysteries. I'll be sure and let you know if and when it is published.
If you've never been to a conference and you are interested in writing then get yourself to one. I know some of them are very expensive, but there are many that are not so expensive and some that are only for one day that are affordable. I have gathered much information from these conferences. You don't have to go broke attending. There are also scholarships with some of the conferences. Check into these. Well I guess this week I'll spend coming back down to earth and getting back into the routine. I can't wait to write! Thank you Cynthia Simmons of the Christian Author's Guild for a great conference!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fun and Fellowship at Fox Tales Book Shoppe

I'm thrilled to tell you about the wonderful book signing I was involved in at Fox Tales Book Shoppe located in historic downtown Woodstock, Georgia. There were eleven authors who brought books to sale and the customers could walk around and mingle with the authors. Fox Tales is an independent book store owned by three lovely ladies. I was told six years ago they met at a writer's conference and decided to open the store and it has been going strong ever since

I remember not so long ago when I was the one going to author signings, writer's conferences, anything that had to do with books or authors. It's been ten years since I started writing for the historical magazine "Georgia Backroads." I remember mentioning that someone should write about a historic building in Trion, GA. and my boyfriend said why didn't I write it. So I did! And that was the start of my writing journey. Not long after that I started on my first book "Death in Dahlonega", but life got in the way and the going was slow. I have a beautiful daughter, Niki, that is disabled and I needed to take care of her. When I was able to finally get caregivers to help it freed up some time for me to write and that's when I was able to finish "Death in Dahlonega."

The story of "Death in Dahlonega" is interesting in and of itself. I knew I wanted to write Christian Fiction, but didn't know what it was called at the time. So when I discovered American Christian Fiction Writer's and online group of Christian authors I signed up. It was the best thing I ever did. There is support from other authors, writing classes, critique partners, and much much more. I was able to study the craft of writing as well as writing Christian Fiction. I did have to go back and re-write "Death in Dahlonega" but it was well worth it. I found a floppy disc the other day with "Death in Dahlonega" written on it and it was dated 2002. It was actually published in 2011. So it took ten years from the beginning to the end. Of course, I wasn't writing the whole time. LOL I appreciate all of the people that follow my blog and all of my readers. Why write if there are no readers!

Me at Fox Tales Book Shoppe

Two of my new fans!
I even have little fans!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Interview and Giveaway with Rose Chandler Johnson


Let's welcome Rose Chandler Johnson along with her new devotional "God, Me and Sweet Iced Tea." Rose has graciously offered a free copy of her devotional to someone who leaves a comment. You must leave your email address and comment on the interview to be entered.

1.       Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m from a tiny Georgia town, in Burke County, GA.  I moved away right after high school graduation, first to Augusta, then all across the U.S. for over a decade.  I’ve lived in Martinez, GA (a suburb of Augusta) for the past 28 years.  I have six children—three boys and three girls.  I’ve been a French and English teacher for the last 20 years.  I enjoy baking, gardening, reading and writing, and spending time with my family.


2.       Tell us about your most recent book/or the book we are focusing on.
My devotional journal, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments released July 10, 2013 from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.  I also write regularly for my devotional blog, Write Moments with God. 
3.       Why did you choose this particular genre?
When I decided to make Jesus the Lord of my life, in 1977, I starting reading a devotional every morning.  It helped me focus and structure my time. I’ve incorporated devotional reading in my quiet times with God for decades.  I think most people could benefit from that format.  I transformed it into a journal because I am a journal keeper and I’ve experienced its benefits. I think the journal component makes it more memorable and allows readers an opportunity to go deeper and apply their faith.
4.       What was your journey to publication like?
I mention that briefly in the “Acknowledgements” for my devotional.  Over a period of two years, the kind advice, encouragement, and practical assistance of other Christian authors led me to the Write to Publish conference in 2012 where I met my publisher Eddie Jones.  I signed the contract for this devotional there.
5.       What is a couple of your favorite books and what are you reading now?
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte might be my all-time favorite.  A Severe Mercy by Shelton Vanauken is also beloved. Right now I’m reading Alice Wisler’s Rain Song.
6.       What are you working on now and can you give us a little peek inside it?
I am writing a novel about a young Southern woman’s journey to rediscover herself and by so doing she finds her place in the world.
7.       What advice would you give authors who are on their own journey to publication?
Build relationships and network with others.  Learn how to use social media and give yourself a year or more to have a real presence on the web.  Help other authors as much as you can, and celebrate one another.  I’ve learned so much from other writers and people in the publishing business, that was basically just friends helping friends.
8.       Do you have any books or websites that have helped you with your writing that you could share with us?
My own blog has helped me with my writing more than any other particular website.  I’ve written for it consistently, usually twice a week, for the last thirteen months.  Because I’ve managed to do this, I’ve gained confidence in myself. I’ve also read lots of other blogs which has helped me as well.
9.       Is there anything you’d like to tell us we haven’t covered?
I invite your readers to take a look at my devotional journal, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea. 
This devotional is uniquely appropriate for working mothers, but it’s also for anyone who wants to put their Christianity into practice in their everyday moments and go deeper into God’s word.  I think they will find it refreshingly relevant and inspiring. God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea:  Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments is available at , as well as Barnes &
10.   Please let us know where we can find you on the web.
Twitter:  @rechanjo




Sunday, June 23, 2013


I'm thrilled to offer a two book giveaway this month. I've read these books and you won't be disappointed.  The first one is "Leaving Lancaster" by Kate Lloyd and the second one is "Pennsylvania Patchwork" by Kate Lloyd. All you need to do is be a follower, leave your email address, and leave a comment about Amish Fiction to be entered into the drawing. 

More than anything else, thirty-something Holly Fisher longs for family. Growing up on Seattle without a dad or grandparents, she wonders what it would be like to have a heritage, a place of belonging. Holly is furious when her mother, Esther, reveals a long-kept secret: Holly's grandmother and uncles are still alive and begging Esther to return. And Holly is shocked when she learns that the family she's never known lives on a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, farm - as part of an Amish community her mother once abandoned.
Guilt-ridden Esther, terrified to see her mother and siblings, begs Holly to accompany her on a visit to Esther's mother before she dies. But can their journey to a conflicting world heal their emotional wounds and finally bring them home?

Pennsylvania Patchwork, sequel to Leaving Lancaster
When Holly Fisher finally meets the Amish family her mother had kept hidden from her, she come face-to-face with her real-life legacy - and it's very different from the life she led in suburban Seattle. She loves it.
And she loves Zach, a handsome Mennonite veterinarian who proposes marriage. He seems to be everything she's ever wanted in a husband. But her mother and Amish grandmother think she's rushing into a commitment with a man she barely knows and who harbors a dubious past. When Holly meets a charming Amish man and an old suitor shows up, so do a myriad of doubts. Will Holly figure out what - and who - truly matters before it's too late?
Kate Lloyd
A native of Baltimore, Kate Lloyd spends time with family and friends in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the inspiration for Leaving Lancaster and Pennsylvania Patchwork. She is a member of the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society and has done extensive research on the Amish. Kate and her husband live in Seattle.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Has Sprung And It's Time For A Bag Of Books Giveaway!



Springtime is here! Thank goodness. I'm so ready to discard the coats and get out in the sunshine. Every now and then I hold a bag/box of books giveaway. I feel now is a great time. Summer is around the corner and a great time for reading. All you need to do is leave a comment, your address, be a follower and email follower for a chance to win. I'm going to post a few pictures I've taken already this Spring. Hope you enjoy them. Oh, I appreciate all of my followers. As you can see I'm on my way to 400. I remember when I started out with one that that was me. LOL Below you'll see a few of the books.



Monday, March 11, 2013

Released This Saturday - Seventh Dimension - The Door


In this classic coming-of-age story, an estranged 14-year-old girl is befriended by a stray dog that leads her into the Seventh Dimension.
There she learns the secrets of a powerful king as she battles underlings, her past, and forbidden love. 
For every child who struggles with doubt, for every kid who has been bullied, for every teen who comes from a broken home, and for every young adult who longs for the seventh dimension—this book is for you.

Chapter One
Dark Secret of Shale Snyder
I hid in a closet underneath the stairs—my safe house. Nobody would find me in here. It wasn’t used because the ceiling was too low. After the accident, the closet became my friend. I wanted to avoid Judd, who came over to visit Chumana. She was not my sister but we lived together.
Guilt overwhelmed me. The door creaked as I turned the handle. I held my breath and peered through the tiny slit. Moving shadows darkened the room. Judd, Rachel, and Chumana stared into a small brown shoebox.
Chumana burst out crying. “I hate Shale.”
I cringed. She already hated me anyway, ever since we moved in with them a few months earlier.
Rachel stood and recited a Jewish prayer. “Barukh shem k'vod malkhuto l'olam va'ed. Blessed is the name of his glorious kingdom forever and ever.” With her unkempt hair, puffy red eyes, and flushed face, I barely recognized my best friend.
“Why are you praying?” Judd snapped. “We aren’t here to pray.”
“Accidents happen,” Rachel said.
“She should be cursed,” Judd exploded.
“Don’t say that,” Rachel said.
“How do you know it was an accident?” Chumana asked.
I looked away. I couldn’t listen. My whole body quivered—what kind of curse?
Judd’s voice cracked. “I demand she tell us what happened.”
The three twelve-year-olds sat silently for a moment before Rachel responded. “She fell down the stairs with Fifi and she’s afraid.”
I swallowed hard.
Judd pulled his uncle’s Atlanta Braves cap over his eyes and clinched his hand into a fist. “I hope Shale never has any friends—for the rest of her life.” He covered his face and sobbed.
I bit my fingernail holding back tears. I’d never heard a boy cry. Could his curse come true?
Chumana’s red hair matched her fiery temper. “That’s not enough of a curse. She already doesn’t have any friends.”
“I’m her friend,” Rachel said. “Accidents happen.”
Rachel lived two buildings down from us in the Hope Garden Apartments. Would she still be my friend if I told her the truth? I didn’t just fall—it was what I was doing when I fell. I was too afraid. I rubbed my swollen ankle, a reminder of my foolishness. The doctor hoped it would heal, but Fifi lay in the box.
Probably God hated me, too. If I told the truth, everyone would hate me. I couldn’t even tell my mother. My father—he left me long ago.
Two Years Later
I felt a hand reach underneath my blue skirt. I spun around on my toes. Students in the crowded hallway blended into a blur of anonymity. Hurried bodies shoved past. Am I going crazy? Did I imagine it? I scanned faces and froze each one, like a snapshot with a camera.
“Shale, why are you standing there? Come on or you’ll be late to class.” Rachel was waiting at the hall lockers.
I walked towards her as the bell rang.
“Are you okay?” She furrowed her brow.
“I’m fine.” I smiled, pretending nothing had happened. I’d think about it later. “Did you finish your analysis of As You Like It?”
Rachel’s brown eyes bulged. “Is it due today?”
“Here’s mine. You can take a quick look if you need to.”
“Oh, thanks, Shale. I hate Shakespeare anyway. No copying, promise. Just a peek.”
“It’s no different from reading Spark Notes on the web,” I quipped.
When we walked into English class at Garden High School, I sat in the seat closest to the door and stared out into the darkened hallway. Who did it? What would I do if I caught him? Mrs. Wilkes’s voice brought me back to reality as she recited from a Shakespearean play.
“All the world’s a stage.
And all the men and women merely players
They have their exits and their entrances
And one man in his time plays many parts
His acts being seven ages.”
What was my part? At fourteen, did I have one yet?
Later in the afternoon, I tripped while stepping off the school bus. My books scattered over the ground. My bum ankle from the accident two years earlier would catch at the worst possible moments—what I considered my eternal punishment.
Scrambling to pick them up, I wiped the red Georgia clay off my math book. The bus waited long enough to make sure it wouldn’t run me over before pulling away.
“Hey, wait up, ya’ll.” I walked faster to catch up as Rachel stopped, but Chumana and Judd kept going. We still lived in the same apartment complex on the south side of Atlanta—had for years.
“If you used a backpack, you wouldn’t have dropped your books,” Rachel chided me.
“Mine broke.” I scanned Rachel’s back. “Where’s yours?”
“I did my homework at school. This is all I needed.” Rachel waved a thick book with strange-looking letters in the air.
“Can you read that stuff?”
“Sure,” Rachel laughed, “but I don’t know what it means. You could too if I taught you.” Rachel flipped to the first page. “You start on this side.” Her finger pointed to a line of Hebrew and she ran her finger across the page from right to left.
“Yes.” Rachel giggled. “So who reads backwards, the English or the Jews?”
“I’d say the Jews. I can say that since I’m not Jewish, right?”
“Why not?”
“Writing would sure be easier if English was right to left. I wouldn’t smear my words.”
Rachel nodded. “I forget you’re left-handed. It’s crazy, isn’t it—like the Brits drive on the left side and we drive on the right.”
We walked for a while not saying anything. I glanced at my friend with her striking olive skin, almond brown eyes, and brown hair. “Do you like being Jewish?”
“Yeah, I guess. I don’t know any different.”
“I wish I was Jewish.”
“Why?” Rachel asked.
“It would be neat to be able to say I was something.”
“You could go to church,” Rachel suggested.
“Mom and Remi would never go. Every time they talk about God or anything religious, they end up fighting.”
Rachel flinched. “That’s too bad. By the way, thanks for your help with English.”
“You’re welcome.” I switched my books to the left, thinking how much I hated the long walk home, especially since we now lived farther away. The new unit we moved into when Remi and mother married was at the very back by the woods.
Rachel frowned, noticing my musings. “What’s it like having a father now?”
I bit my lip hesitating. “At least I have my own bedroom and don’t have to share with Chumana.”
“That’s good,” Rachel agreed. “How did you ever end up living with her anyway?”
“Mother didn’t have any money when we moved to Atlanta. She found an ad that Chumana’s mother placed in the Atlanta Constitution looking for a roommate. It was a cheap place to live.”
I eyed Judd and Chumana ahead of us. “What are they talking about? They have been spending a lot of time together.”
Rachel lowered her voice. “I know.”
“Maybe they deserve each other.”
Rachel edged up even closer to me and spoke in a whisper, “You never knew your father, right?”
“No.” I clutched my books that now seemed heavier. “Mother couldn’t wait to marry Remi after being divorced for so many years. Then she cried all night when they returned from their honeymoon in the mountains. I couldn’t sleep. I wondered why, but was too afraid to ask.”
“Maybe it was a bad honeymoon,” Rachel chortled.
“Silly you. How can you have a bad honeymoon?”
“I don’t know,” Rachel replied. “I’m sure it’s happened.”
“I hardly knew Remi the day they married.”
“It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to be at your own parent’s wedding. I mean, it might be funny if it could happen,” Rachel said.
“Like Back to the Future?” Then my thoughts darkened. “How would you like having a stepfather you don’t know?”
Rachel shook her head. “I wouldn’t.”
I’d never confided in anyone about my past but now I couldn’t stop. “Presents arrive twice a year from North York. I don’t remember anything about my father. One day he left and never returned.”
“I can’t imagine what that would be like,” Rachel said.
“Sometimes I get angry.”
Rachel’s eyes widened. “About what?”
“Mother didn’t ask how I felt about her remarrying.”
We walked in silence as my words hung in the air. I kicked a rock on the sidewalk and it skipped into the gutter. Rachel’s warm nature was comforting. She came from such a perfect family, or it seemed. I’d tell her things I wouldn’t tell anyone else.
Voices from the past mocked me. “Do I walk like a chicken?”
Rachel laughed. “No, you don’t walk like a chicken.”
“Do I have big lips?”
“Big lips?” Rachel stopped and stared at me surprised. “No.”
“You don’t think so? Every time I wet them with my tongue, I worry I’m making them fat—so I was told.”
Rachel examined my fair face. I pretended not to notice. “You’re beautiful. Who would say such mean things?”
I didn’t want to tell her. What was the point in making him look bad?
“I love your green eyes and long brown hair.” Rachel reached out and grabbed a couple of strands, flipping them over my shoulder. “I wish mine wasn’t wavy with all the humidity. I use an iron to straighten it but it doesn’t stay that way for long.” Rachel giggled. “Guys love long, straight hair.”
“Remi wants me to call him dad, but that seems weird.”
A few feet in front of us, Chumana knelt on the sidewalk.
Rachel squinted. “What are they looking at?”
An earthworm wiggled on the sidewalk, barely warm from the late afternoon sun. A few weeks after Christmas, it was the wrong time of year for creepy crawlers.
“It’s probably cold,” I said.
Judd lifted his foot to squash it.
“Wait,” I demanded.
Judd glared at me.
“Why kill it?” I asked.
He leaned down and picked it up, dangling the worm a few inches above the sidewalk. “Have you ever dissected one of these?”
I shook my head.
He stiffened. “I should make you squish it between your delicate fingers.”
I stared at the worm. Judd dropped it on the sidewalk. As he started to smash it again, I leaned over and shoved him. “Just leave it alone.”
Judd’s face turned beet red. “Don’t ever push me again. You hear me?”
I nodded. My knees spasmed like a jack-in-the-box.
“You don’t like squishing worms but you killed my puppy.” His icy eyes ripped at my soul.
Rachel said, “Get over it. You sound so hateful.”
Chumana glared through her thick, black-rimmed glasses. “Judd is right, though, Rachel. Don’t you remember?”
“I remember,” Rachel whispered.
My heart raced as I picked up the worm—its slimy body was cold to the touch—and stuck it in my pocket.
Judd shook his head and stomped off.
Ruefully, I urged Rachel and Chumana, “You two go on. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Rachel nodded. They continued walking, leaving me alone.
After wrapping the worm up in some brown leaves, I placed it on a warmer corner of the concrete. When I lifted my eyes, I saw the white dog for the first time. She sat nearby wagging her fluffy tail.
As I approached her, she stood and limped backwards. The scruffy creature was dirty and mangy, with floppy short ears and almond brown eyes. If she belonged to someone or was lost, the owner wasn’t taking very good care of her. A fuzzy feeling warmed my heart. Did she like me? Before I could get too close, the dog turned and ran away.

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Who is the teenage heroine of an adventure that covers two time periods spanning thousands of years, three different worlds, seven different dimensions, and an eternal garden outside of reality? Meet Shale Snyder, a brilliant girl from a broken home--tormented by bullies and a secret from her past, cursed by the one she hurt but who must marry her. Can Shale receive the immortal king who came to save her or has evil already sealed her fate?
Will Shale learn obedience from unfair imprisonment or will the underlings bruise her soul? Will she use her beauty to woo her forbidden lover or sacrifice herself for another? Will her father return or believe the lies of his conniving, demonic wife? What truths lie in golden nuggets and broken eggs and innocent bunnies who die but return to life? What gift does Shale possess that teaches her secrets hidden since time began? Can forgiveness win battles, truth transcend culture, and love conquer a young girl’s heart?
Read Seventh Dimension – the Door and journey where you’ve never been— an eternal world that will leave you turning the pages— a love story embracing thousands of years in multiple dimensions and realities. The Door is only the beginning of this fabulous three-book epic into the present, past, and future.