Wednesday, June 21, 2017

{#GIVEAWAY Event} Stubb's Legendary Bar-B-Q Prize Package Giveaway~Ends 7/4


Fireworks, flags, family, friends, and brisket – there isn’t anything more American than smoked meat to celebrate the Fourth of July. 

Whether it’s a holiday feast for just the family or the whole neighborhood, a big barbecued brisket is a perfect way to bring everyone together for a day of celebrating the red, white and blue. Sometimes preparing such a large piece of meat can be scary but cooking a brisket doesn’t have to be intimidating! With a few easy steps and a little time and patience, everyone can make an incredible brisket. 

To help you here's a great guide from Stubb’s BBQ Expert Rocky Stubblefield.


Rocky Stubblefield’s Tips for Preparing Brisket

“My grandfather Stubb was famous for all kinds of barbecue – ribs, chicken, you name it. But brisket – cooked low and slow – was his specialty. He made so many briskets that he used to joke that he didn’t have any fingerprints left because he’d burned them off pulling meat off the pit.”

  Preparing Brisket: My granddad would have made brisket low and slow in his own hand-welded pit. You can do the same on your gas or charcoal grill using hickory wood chips. Just be prepared to man that grill for at least a half day, monitoring the temperature.

  Selecting a Brisket: A brisket is usually about 12-15 pounds. If you need a smaller option, those are available as well. With this size of meat, you’ll need to plan ahead when cooking. It’s better right off the grill but if you don’t have time, you can make it the day before and rewarm it on the grill or in the oven.

Prepare the Brisket: Preparation with a rub is critical for a good flavor crust. Rub the entire brisket generously with Stubb’s Beef or Bar-B-Q rub. Only put the rub on 15-20 minutes before the meat goes on the grill. The longer the rub sits on the meat, the more the salt draws out the moisture of the meat

  Cook the Brisket: Fat side up! Place the meat fat side up on your grill or smoker so that the fat drips down into the meat and it stays moist. Most people at home have a charcoal grill, and you can easily smoke a brisket on it.

Here’s how to do it:
  • First, soak your wood chips in water for 30 minutes.
  • Spread charcoal on one side of the grill, leaving the other side empty. Light your charcoal and allow to heat until a subtle coating of gray ash forms.
  • Sprinkle soaked wood chips directly onto the coals and allow them to start smoking.
  • Place brisket over the side of the grill without charcoal, and cover, so it cooks over indirect heat.
  • Cook at 225-250 degrees until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the brisket reaches 180-185 degrees. This can take 8-10 hours depending on your grill.
  • To maintain the temperature, check every hour to adjust vents and add more charcoal and soaked wood chips as needed.
  • I usually wrap my brisket after about 5 hours to keep the juices inside.
Slicing Brisket: Slice along the ribbon of fat that runs horizontally through the meat. Then, slice the meaty halves of the brisket against or across the grain. Not sure where the grain is? It’s easier to see on the raw meat before it’s rubbed, so cut notch when prepping to help guide once it’s cooked. Add the sauce: As they say in Texas – it’s not done ‘til you add the sauce! We add it after so the sauce doesn’t burn on the grill. You can put in on the side and dip, or drizzle it over the top.


Now that you have the perfect brisket, it's time to kick it up a notch and prepare the ultimate Bar-B-Q Brisket Sliders for your family and guests. Find The Bar-B-Q Brisket Sliders with Barbeque Pickles and Crispy Onion Straws and links to more recipes HERE.

You've got your brisket cooking so it's time for some fun and a giveaway! To help you make your 4th of July celebration extra delicious Stubb's Bar-B-Q is sponsoring a Fourth of July giveaway with coupons, swag, and product valued at $50 for one lucky reader to win. All you have to do for a chance to win is enter on the widget below. Remember the more entries you do the better your chances are to win!


Stubbs BBQ Prize Package Giveaway
Welcome to the

Stubb's Legendary Bar-B-Q Prize Package Giveaway

Dates: June 21, 2017, at 12:01 am EST to July 4, 2017, at 11:59 pm EST

Prize: ONE Lucky WINNER will receive Stubb's Legendary Bar-B-Q coupons, swag, and product valued at $50

Hosted By Sweet Southern Savings

Co-Hosted By IMHO Views, Reviews, and Giveaways and Deliciously Savvy

Sponsored By:


Please Show Our Sponsor Some Love Website ~ Facebook ~ YouTube ~ Twitter

I would like to give a big shout out to all the blogs participating in this giveaway! I couldn’t do it without you. Thank you for bringing this promotion to your readers.

Thank You

By following us on our social networks and by email we are able to get the best giveaways together on the internet! Please take a minute to follow us! Thanks!

This giveaway is for Stubb's Legendary Bar-B-Q coupons, swag, and product valued at $50 and will run through 7/04/2017 at 11:59 pm Eastern Time. It is open to residents of the US ages 18+. You are not eligible if you have won a prize from the sponsor in the last 90 days. Winners are subject to eligibility verification and will have 24 hours to confirm before a new winner will be drawn. For any questions or concerns please email paula_stewart (at) ymail (dot) com (please consider adding this email to your “Safe List” as the winning email notification will be sent from this email). Chances of winning depend on entries received. Remember the more entries you do the better your chances are to win! If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified. Winning entry will be verified.

GOOD LUCK!!!!

It's Giveaway Time
Summer's Here! Stubb's Legendary Bar-B-Q Prize Package Giveaway
 
Disclaimer: Sweet Southern Savings nor any blog promoting this giveaway, is not responsible for the awarding of the prize. Sponsor is responsible for prize fulfillment. Any Questions about this giveaway? Email Paula At paula_stewart (at) ymail (dot) com.
Disclosure of Material Connection: PaulaMS has received the product mentioned above for free to facilitate the writing of a review. *Some of the links on this blog post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, she only recommends products or services that she uses personally and believes will add value to readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Work With Us

If you have any questions or are a brand/company and would like to work with Paula Stewart please contact us HERE.

As Always…. Thank You For Visiting Today ~ Please Leave Some Comment Love While You Are Here!

{#GIVEAWAY Event} Blueberry Shortcake Coffee Giveaway~Ends 7/4

Blueberry Shortcake Coffee

Breakfast or dessert? We say it’s just as good for either. When the sweet flavors of fresh-picked blueberries mingled with vanilla cream and nutty roasted coffee hit your tongue, you won’t care what time of day it is. You’ll just want to pour up another.

Want to know what I thought of this coffee? See My Complete Review HERE

How would you like a chance to win some of this coffee? If you said YES! You’re in luck! Thanks to this awesome sponsor, ONE lucky reader will get a 40 count box to call their own. Enter on the widget below for your chance to win. Remember the more entries you do the better your chances are to win!

Summer’s Here! Blueberry Shortcake Coffee Giveaway Ends 7/4
Welcome to the

Blueberry Shortcake Coffee Giveaway

Dates: June 20, 2017, at 12:01 am EST to July 4, 2017, at 11:59 pm EST

Prize: ONE Lucky WINNER will receive a 40 Count Box of Java Factory Blueberry Shortcake Coffee.

Hosted By Sweet Southern Savings

Co-Hosted By IMHO Views, Reviews, and Giveaways and Deliciously Savvy

Sponsored By

Java Factory

Please Show Our Sponsor Some Love Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Shop

I would like to give a big shout out to all the blogs participating in this giveaway! I couldn't do it without you. Thank you for bringing this promotion to your readers.

Thank You

By following us on our social networks and by email we are able to get the best giveaways together on the internet! Please take a minute to follow us! Thanks!

This giveaway is for a 40 count box of single serve Blueberry Shortcake Coffee from Java Factory and will run through 7/4/2017 at 11:59 pm Eastern Time. It is open to residents of the US ages 18+. You are not eligible if you have won a prize from the sponsor in the last 90 days. Winners are subject to eligibility verification and will have 24 hours to confirm before a new winner will be drawn. For any questions or concerns please email paula_stewart (at) ymail (dot) com (please consider adding this email to your “Safe List” as the winning email notification will be sent from this email). Chances of winning depend on entries received. Remember the more entries you do the better your chances are to win! If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified. Winning entry will be verified.

GOOD LUCK!!!!

It's Giveaway Time


Disclaimer: Sweet Southern Savings nor any blog promoting this giveaway, is not responsible for the awarding of the prize. Sponsor is responsible for prize fulfillment. Any Questions about this giveaway? Email Paula At paula_stewart (at) ymail (dot) com.
Disclosure of Material Connection: PaulaMS has received the product mentioned above for free to facilitate the writing of a review. *Some of the links on this blog post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, she only recommends products or services that she uses personally and believes will add value to readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Work With Us


If you have any questions or are a brand/company and would like to work with Paula Stewart please contact us HERE.

As Always…. Thank You For Visiting Today ~ Please Leave Some Comment Love While You Are Here!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Real Life Friends?

This is just a short post on something I've been thinking a lot about lately. How many of you have real life, tangible friends? With my decreasing health, I've found myself isolated. 

I have many virtual friends who would always be there for me, but it isn't the same as a real life friend who can hold my hand or give a hug to. Someone who calls me out of the blue and says, "Let's get a cup of coffee."

I just moved in April hundreds of miles from everything I've ever known. I do think it's the best thing I've done, but I miss my family and friends. Going to dinner or a movie, or just for a drive to talk.

I'm 43 years old, in bad health, with little to no money. I'm still here and trying to thrive, but I want a friend to share it with.

So my question is, how many of you actually have a friend that you can reach out to any time, day or night? How did you meet these people? I've always been afraid to put myself "out there", for fear of rejection. I love to crochet, read, love animals, and love to talk about mental health. Mental health has such a stigma attached to it. I'm very open about my mental health and want people to know that they are not alone.

What kinds of things do you do when you're looking for a new friend?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

{Book Tour w/ #GIVEAWAY} Detecting Magic by A. Jarrell Hayes


Detecting Magic with Dick Hunter:
The Mort des Hommes Files
by A. Jarrell Hayes
Genre: Paranormal Crime Mystery

What begins as a routine missing person case for Seattle's best private investigator, Dick Hunter, turns into a personal vendetta against a cruel murderer. The murderer, Mort des Hommes, happens to be a hell spawn possessing powerful magic.
In order to solve the case and avenge a death, Dick Hunter has to take a crash course in magic from the angelic Amie, and gather magical animal familiars in order to battle and defeat Mort des Hommes.
** free on Kindle during the days of 2/21 – 2/25 !!**
{Excerpt} Detecting Magic with Dick Hunter: The Mort des Hommes Files
By A. Jarrell Hayes


When I recall what I saw that day, I can scarce but wonder why I didn’t go insane. On the ground was the body of Mr. Hollis, bloody and torn but still barely alive and breathing. He was twitching on the grass like a chopped up inchworm. One arm was detached from the rest of his body, the hand clinched into a fist. Dangling freely from his torso was his intestines, pulled out from a huge gash in his lower stomach area. Blood flowed freely from many wounds. Blood splattered Mr. Hollis’ face, too; and by the looks of things, it was his own blood at that.
There was a man looming menacing over his tortured body: a white gentleman about a decade into AARP membership, slim and in good shape, with cold blue eyes and a tuft of white hair sticking out from under his smoke gray derby hat. He’s wearing a black suit with a white shirt and simple black tie, a long gray wool coat over his suit. He held a spear in his right arm, the tip of it pointed at Mr. Hollis’ forehead.
I couldn’t simply stand and watch the murder of a man without attempting to stop it, so I pulled out my sidearm and aimed it at the old man that looked like a reject from The Godfather movies. “Drop the spear!” I ordered.
The old man looked at me as if he hadn’t noticed that I was there beforehand. A sinister and arrogant smile formed across his pale face. He spread open his arms as he faced me—he was daring me to shoot him!
I wasn’t going to shoot him as long as he didn’t threaten me. I was hoping he wouldn’t, because that would be a heck of a lot of paperwork to fill out at the police station. I was hoping that he would let go of the weapon he borrowed from Fred Flintstone and allow me to apprehend him and call the police. But, of course, life’s never that easy, right?
The old fart turns and aims the spear at me, putting me in a tight situation. I have the more deadly weapon, so if I shoot and kill this old man, it might appear to be an act of abusing my gun privileges. If I don’t shoot, I’ll end up with a spear through my neck. I did the only logical thing I could do: I shot the old man in his shoulder.
The first shot seemed to do nothing to the old man. I had excellent aim, and I was close enough to the target that even if my aim sucked balls I still would’ve hit him. But there was nothing on the old man, not even a scratch.
I fired three more times, all with the same results as the first. It was as if the bullets, as they drew closer to him, ceased existing.
That’s when the old man gazed at me with his wicked smile, and, not even looking at his victim on the ground, rammed his spear through Mr. Hollis’ temple. He removed the spear with a jerk. Brain chunks and blood splattering everywhere. He winked at me and slowly turned to walk away. I fired two more rounds, without hitting him, until the old man vanished. That’s right; he vanished, like a specter or hologram.
My mind was having trouble making sense of the nonsense that just transpired. One thing I did know was that Benny-boy wasn’t in such good shape. I had to be quick. I dashed to the body and dropped to my knees. I stared at the corpse.
I shook my head at the dead body and whispered, “Why did you die? What did you die for, man?” I sighed and then walked over to where his arm lay. I lifted it up to rejoin it with his body. As I did so, a pebble and a pack of matches fell from his grasp. I placed the arm across his chest and retrieved the fallen pebble and matches. The matches were from some place called Amie’s House of Spirits; I placed both items in my coat pocket. That’s when I heard the police sirens and decided to disappear from the scene of the crime before I spent the rest of the night answering questions at the precinct.


#


Find out what happens next in Detecting Magic with Dick Hunter: The Mort des Hommes Files. Claim your copy at: https://www.amazon.com/Detecting-Magic-Dick-Hunter-Hommes-ebook/dp/B004P8JXD8/.


Detecting Magic with Dick Hunter:
The Demonic Dozen 


Detective Dick Hunter is back!
Dick and comrades defeated Wicked Jinn Mort des Hommes in a climatic battle at the Gates of Hades. Though stopped of his ultimate goal of world domination, Mort was able to release twelve demons into the world--and Dick Hunter blames himself.
To put an end to the demonic threat, Dick Hunter and Amie--a former Pleasant Jinn and Dick's current lover--accompany an old friend, Pleasant Jinn Guy, across the country on a demon hunting spree. More action, adventure and wisecracks await in the next installment in the genre-bending, fourth-wall-breaking Detecting Magic with Dick Hunter series.
**Releases March 7th, 2017!**

{Excerpt} Detecting Magic with Dick Hunter: The Demonic Dozen
By A. Jarrell Hayes


The talking pigeon was really an Aura elemental familiar under contract with Guy. There are six types of elementals, and they often times work with Jinn--Pleasant and Wicked--to help them complete missions. They’re needed in order to weaken or seal Jinn. Well, from my experience, they were necessary as distractions, so to speak. Just another body for the enemy to fight while the human of the group attempts to seal or weaken the Jinn.
I could go on about elementals and sealing Jinn and shit, but I already covered that enough in the previous book. You guys should go check that out if you hadn’t already.
But the main thing was that this filthy little pigeon had some valuable information. Apparently, there’s a new designer drug that hit the streets of Baltimore called sublime. It’s a pill people ingest. According to the Aura, sublime alters the body, I think something to do with dumping extra adrenaline into the blood, and the blimer (the person who’s popping sublime--seriously, I couldn’t make this shit up even if I tried) gets the strength of Superman, able to lift cars and shit. And they get hungry. Blimers get a strange craving for human flesh, and they have the strength to bite off large chunks with their teeth. Not pretty.
So yeah, that’s really a fucked up situation in Charm City. NARCs were up to their chests in cases, the police commissioner and mayor were under scrutiny, and folks were dying by the scores--getting eaten alive. Often by their buddy they just popped sublime with. There were hunger houses--basically crack houses for blimers--all over the city, thanks to about 1,500 or so blighted and condemned houses. Once uncovered, they’d be two or three or more half and fully devoured bodies found in them. Disturbing shit.
Before he left for Seattle, Guy had felt the presence of two demons in Baltimore. However, he didn’t have an agitator or a Thanos Stone or even the humans to wield them. Which was why he told his Aura to keep tabs on things in Tubman City while he went to gather Amie and I from the west coast. I wished he had said something earlier. Jinn and their goddamn secrets.
Guy definitely thought it was the Addiction demon that was spreading around sublime. Only a demon could manufacture a drug with an agent that could alter human physiology as drastically as sublime did, or so said Guy. Amie agreed with him. I just kept quiet, looking pretty, because I had no idea what they were talking about.
Anyway, the next day Guy’s Aura returned with more news for us . . .
 
“Guy, Guy,” squawks the Aura. “I overheard this from one of the dealers. There is a big shipment of sublime coming tonight at the docks. Taj, the biggest sublime supplier in the city, is always there during a shipment.”
Guy nods and throws a handful of bread crumbs at it. “Merci. You have done well. Time for rest, non?”
The pigeon mumbles, “Thank you,” as it eagerly pecks at the crumbs.
Guy joins Amie and me at the kitchen table. “You suspect this Taj guy is really Addiction?” I say.
“Oui. And if he is not, the real demon will most likely be the one dropping off the large shipment.”
“I wonder why all the subterfuge,” I say. “If the demon is manufacturing sublime, why go through all the trouble of having it shipped in?”
Guy shrugs. Amie says, “That’s a good question. Maybe the shipment is only the materials needed to manufacture sublime.”
Eh, that’s a sickening thought. I remember the ingredients Mort used to make his hellhound canines. I’m sure what the demon uses to make sublime is nasty, and possibly human.
“Well, there’s only one way to find out.”
Guy laughs and shakes his head at me. Then he gets up from the table. “I am going to pray and cleanse myself for tonight.”
Amie gets up too. “I’m going to mediate.”
They both walk out of the kitchen, leaving me alone with a damn pigeon.
 
I had a couple of hours to kill, so I decided to go out for a walk. The city seemed, I don’t know, nicer since the last time I visited. The area was relatively clean for a city with over half a million people. I didn’t know where I was going, so I just kept walking. Somehow my feet led me to a bar.
I went in, sat at the counter, and ordered a whiskey on the rocks. An Orioles game played on a big flat screen TV behind the bar. I sipped my drink and got lost in the strikes and balls.
I admit, I was a bit put off how Amie just left me right after Guy got up. Was I jealous? Slightly. But those two knew things I didn’t. They both have lived hundreds of years. One was a Jinn possessing unbelievable magic, the other was formerly a Jinn. I was the odd man out in this threesome; I was the third wheel.
Into my fourth drink I realized alcohol wasn’t going to change any of that. Wasn’t going to help it any, either. I paid my tab and then shuffled on back to Guy’s apartment.


#


Follow Dick Hunter’s adventure in Detecting Magic with Dick Hunter: The Demonic Dozen. Available March 7, 2017. Claim your copy at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MZ6X983.


Person. Storyteller. Work-in-progress. A. Jarrell Hayes began writing at a young age; his first books being handwritten and illustrated stories similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure titles he loved. In 2004 he published his first two "official" books, Heart and Soul of a Thinker (poetry) and Crowning of the Good King (fantasy). Since then, he has written seven poetry collections, four fantasy novels, three short story collections and a handful of chapbooks. His work has appeared in over 20 publications, online and in print. His visual art has been on display at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) and the Eubie Blake Jazz and Cultural Center in Baltimore. He began publishing poetry under the name A. J. Hayes in 2013. A list of his published works is available here.
In 2013 he founded a small publishing press called Hidden Clearing Books, LLC (now closed). He has judged contests for the aforementioned press and for the Maryland Writer's Association. He is a freelance editor and book consultant (hire him here).

He currently lives in Maryland. He invites you to subscribe to his free eNewsletter and contribute to his Patreon.












Tuesday, March 7, 2017

{Release Tour w/ #GIVEAWAY} Inheritance of Love by Carol Cadoo



Inheritance of Love
il était une foi (Once upon a time)- Book 1
By Carol Cadoo
Genre: Chick Lit, Romance

Bennett Montgomery was the bachelor at large of his generation in San Francisco with no problems and no responsibility except to show up and look pretty on the red carpet. But overnight he was forced into a situation where he had to grow up and take the reins of the family business or risk losing it.
His assistant gave him the devastating news that he had the responsibility but none of the money or control until and unless he was married by thirty three. That started a series of events in his life that put him on a collision course with his past, the future and his present.
Chevon Bouche grew up fast after she lost her parents in a horrible car accident. She was left on her own to run the family business. Scheduled to marry her longtime boyfriend and settle into a life of boredom and babies. When in her heart she wanted to sing like a bird on the stages of the best Opera’s houses in in the world.
After an unexpected meeting with Bennett, Chevon’s life was thrown pell mell into a new life of glamour and prestige she never dreamed possible. But because of Bennett’s past there were complications that threatened their contracted union and other women were the least of the problem. Chevon and Bennett were forced to make a decision but would they decide on the money or an inheritance of love.


I love writing Chick Lit/ Romance. I recently re-edited and reapplied the lipstick of my Chic Lit Serial, Deja Vu of Love. The series starts off with Deja Vu Packing for the Journey the first book of the story in the Deja Vu Series. As a writer, I am partial to using a third person multiple POV style of writing. Although not well known it is frequently used in Romance and other genres where multiple points of views add to the depth and value of the story line and character interactions.
I prefer moving the story along through the use of dialogue versus narrative. I think it's because I can give a distinct voice to all my characters. As a writer, I believe that dialogue helps define the characters as breathing, warm blooded people. I write about real women with flaws who are strong and confident and ready to live life. Women like all of us who don’t always have dinner ready on the table. The one who acts inappropriately at PTA meetings once in a blue moon you know the girl I’m talking about, it’s you.
I enjoy watching my characters grow and change as the story of their lives unfolds. I try not to be a control freak and let the characters write the story after all, it’s their life.
So if you’re a reader who likes to hear the voice of your characters and share their POV I’m your next favorite writer LOL
Just a little something about me I’m a retired Actress, Director, Choreographer, who discovered her real passion in life, was writing. I have two sons Zachary and Garette I also have two doggie kids Hazel and Harry. My free time is spent in the garden enjoying nature, decorating, and writing. I would love to have feedback from readers I think we are always curious about what people think of our work.
So, here is my suggestion get a great glass of red wine, start the bubble bath grab a couple of chocolate covered caramels with sea salt and enjoy a good book. I hope you love and enjoy reading the characters with minimally twice the enjoyment I had writing them to life.
May you enjoy all the bad boys of romance with none of the pain.


Deja Vu of Love- Packing For the Journey (Book 1)
Deja Vu of Love- San Francisco (Book 2)
Deja Vu of Love- Zurich (Book 3)
Deja Vu of Love- New York (Book 4)
Deja Vu of Love- Coming Home (Book 5)









{Book Tour w/ #GIVEAWAY} Sweet Southern Hearts by Susan Schild





Sweet Southern Hearts
Author: Susan Schild
Publisher: Lyrical Press

Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction



Susan Schild welcomes you back to the offbeat Southern town of Willow Hill, North Carolina, for a humorous, heartwarming story of new beginnings, do-overs, and self-discovery…



When it comes to marriage, third time’s the charm for Linny Taylor. She’s thrilled to be on her honeymoon with Jack Avery, Willow Hill’s handsome veterinarian. But just like the hair-raising white water rafting trip Jack persuades her to take, newlywed life has plenty of dips and bumps.

Jack’s twelve-year-old son is resisting all Linny’s efforts to be the perfect stepmother, while her own mother, Dottie, begs her to tag along on the first week of a free-wheeling RV adventure. Who knew women “of a certain age” could drum up so much trouble? No sooner is Linny sighing with relief at being back home than she’s helping her frazzled sister with a new baby…and dealing with an unexpected legacy from her late ex. Life is fuller—and richer—than she ever imagined, but if there’s one thing Linny’s learned by now, it’s that there’s always room for another sweet surprise…



Amazon * Apple * Google * Kobo * Nook

Jack stepped inside and gave her a wry grin. “I just texted Vera and told her the fighting was upsetting Neal and that we were coming home early to take him for a few days. I didn’t ask her, I told her. That should set off a firestorm.” He grimaced and held up his phone. “The furious calls should start in four, three, two, one…”
Linny stood with a hand on her hip, sent him a crooked smile, and waited. The phone rang, its tone sounding more shrill and urgent than it usually did.
Jack rolled his eyes, turned it off, and slipped it in his pocket.
Despite knowing that going home was the best thing to do, as they wound down the mountain in the truck, Linny fantasized about what it would be like to deal less with Vera, if just for a little while. Maybe she and Chaz would get a sudden burning desire to live off the grid for a year to fix their marriage. They'd move to a cabin with no plumbing in Talkeetna, Alaska. Normal-looking couples did it all the time on all those Alaska shows Jack and Neal watched. Vera and Chaz could re-bond while chopping firewood and fixing their broken snowmobile, which they urgently needed to go into town to get much-needed supplies because a blizzard was fast approaching. For one long moment Linny imagined how serene life would be with Vera in Talkeetna. She and Jack could walk together through a field of wildflowers, each holding one of Neal’s hands—something the boy would never allow them to do. Bluebirds and hummingbirds would fly around them.
Flushing guiltily, she glanced at Jack as though he could read her mind, but he was flipping down the sun visor. Linny blew out a sigh. Glumly, she stared out the window. She didn’t really wish for that Alaskan adventure for Vera. Neal really needed his mother and he’d grown to love his stepfather, Chaz, too.
Linny and Jack were quiet for much of the long drive home from the mountains to Willow Hill. Even her Technicolor daydream of Vera battling icy winds as she trudged to the outhouse in fifty below weather didn't cheer her up. Linny was just too disappointed to make conversation. Jack looked pensive, the muscles in his jaw working.
Her phone rang and she glanced at the screen. It was Ruby, one of her mother, Dottie’s, two best friends. Had something happened to Mama? Her stomach tightened as she pictured her mother lying on the floor like that woman on the TV commercial who lived alone and didn’t have the emergency clicker necklace.
But Ruby sounded cheery. “Hi, sweetheart. Hope you’re just walking on air now that you’re freshly married. You tell that handsome hunk of a husband of yours that I said hey.” Ruby had been a looker in her heyday and still had a flirty streak.
Linny breathed out. This wasn’t a meet-me-at-the-emergency-room call. She called to
Jack, “Ruby says hey, you handsome hunk of a husband.”
Jack shook his head, but his mouth crooked up.
“We’re at your mama’s house and you need to talk to her,” Ruby said. “For weeks now we girls have been planning to go to the RV show at the Civic Center to make a final decision about what kind of camper or RV we want to rent for our trip. We’re fixing to get in the car to go and now she’s making all kinds of excuses for staying home. This is the last day of the show,” Ruby said, sounding exasperated.
Since coming to terms with learning that her late husband had had a longtime mistress, her mother had shaken off her dour, church lady demeanor and blossomed. She’d given up the yard sale habit that bordered on hoarding, taken a two-week Caribbean cruise with her girlfriends, and was now seeing a charming older man named Mack whom she’d met on the ship. Oh, and Dottie—a card-carrying Baptist and member of the Sisters of Dorcas ladies’ prayer circle—had won $250,000 on the nickel slots on the ship. So, emboldened with her first big vacation, Mama and her two friends had cooked up this RV adventure they called their “trip to see the US of A.” It was all the three of them had talked about for months.
“Let me talk to her,” a woman’s voice said insistently. Linny heard a fumbling as the phone changed hands. “Dessie here,” said her mother’s other best friend, in her usual brisk tone. “This is the second time she’s backed out of the RV show. Yesterday she said her feet were hurting her and today she’s claiming her sugar’s high.”
Linny paused a beat, baffled. “She doesn’t have bad feet or sugar problems.”
“We know,” Dessie said drily.
“Can you put her on the phone?” Linny asked, rubbing the spot on her temple that had begun to throb. What was going on?
More fumbling sounds, and the phone clattered as it dropped to the floor. Dessie picked back up. “Your mama doesn’t feel like talking right now. She and Curtis are going in to take a little lie down.”
Linny wondered again how her mother could get any sleep at all sharing her bed with Curtis, her 170-pound Great Dane. But maybe Dottie really wasn’t well. “Dessie, does she seem sick? Should you run her by the urgent care?”
Dessie said, “We ate lunch at Captain Finn’s Seafood and she had the First Mate’s Special with an extra order of shrimp and lemon chess pie for dessert.”  She chuckled. “So her appetite’s fine and her color is good, too. You ask me, I think she’s just got a case of nerves.”
“Nerves about what?” Linny asked, coming up empty when she tried to think of any stressors in her mother’s peaceful life and remembered all the unexpected happiness that had been showered upon her over the last year.
Dessie’s voice was back at a normal decibel level and extra bright. “Well, we’re real glad you had a good visit to the mountains and we can’t wait to hear all about it.”
Her mother must have come back within earshot. Scanning the highway for signs, she saw they were almost to Greensboro. “Dessie, you and Ruby go on to the RV show yourselves and do reconnaissance for your trip. Jack and I are coming back early from the mountains and we’ll be home in two hours. Tell Mama I’ll stop by to see her this evening.”
“I will, honey, and you two drive safe.” Dessie ended the call.
“What’s wrong with your mama?” Jack asked, his eyes lit with concern.
“Not sure. The girls don’t think it’s anything serious, but I’ll run by and check on her. Dessie said it could be nerves.” She turned her hands palms up. “About what I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”




Susan has an undergraduate degree from James Madison University and a master’s degree (MSW) from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has used her professional background as a psychotherapist and corporate trainer to add authenticity to her characters.

Susan is a wife, a stepmother, and a dog lover. She and her family live near Raleigh, North Carolina where she is busy finishing up the third novel in the Willow Hill Series.