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I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Samples--Hearts Unfold

Meet Emily Haynes 


It seemed to Emily that her father must have known.  He must have read the misery in her eyes and drawing on what little strength remained, he had roused himself to give her the benefit of his wisdom one last time.
 
Three barely discernible words, stammering and slurred, forced from his unwilling lips with such tremendous effort, yet they had spun a web of possibilities in her brain.  She had argued with herself that it was her own directionless longing that magnified those words, transforming them into what sounded like fundamental wisdom.  She was grasping at straws in her need to find some way to put her life back on track.  She had prayed for a sign, for clarity, for a miracle.  What she had received seemed to be a mere suggestion, a few words uttered by a man who might not even realize what he was saying.  But she couldn't accept that.  Her heart urged her to believe otherwise.  In the end, she had followed her heart.
 
Now here she was, at home as she had never expected to be again, and she was certain beyond any shadow of a doubt that her father had sent her.  Pop must have known that the future she was blindly seeking lay in her past, in the dreams and plans that had once appeared shattered but were in fact hers for the rebuilding.  Had he known that once she walked back into the house, saw that it was waiting for her to return, she would understand what she was meant to do?  Perhaps he'd merely been encouraging her to come back, to see what was here and decide what she wanted for herself.  It would be like him to tell her to try something, and if it didn't work out, chalk it up to experience.  Failure was most often in the hesitation, he had always said.
 
It hadn't been quite that easy.  She'd fought a protracted battle with her more practical side.  There were obvious flaws in the logic of just coming here alone in search of answers to questions too painful to put into words.  She would have to try to explain something she couldn't make sense of herself.  She would have to stand firm against the arguments that the house had been closed up for years, that a nineteen-year-old girl had no business alone in such an isolated place, that she would be spending the holidays with friends, not closeting herself away to brood over the past.  In the end, coming here without telling anyone seemed by far the easiest thing to do.  That led to the question of where to tell them she was spending the Christmas break.  They would all want to know, Jack, Angela, the kids at school, especially Penny, even Mike and Sara.  She had handled that with what she knew to be a despicable lack of honesty. 
 
She had never believed herself capable of a convincing lie, but evasion had become second nature since she'd been at college.  Reluctant to expose herself as a lonely girl without a family or a real home, she had trained herself to skillfully evade the issue.  She was sure her classmates considered her a snob, but she dreaded the idea of their pitying looks, or worse still, their thoughtless gossip.  Rather they wonder what she had to hide than suspect her of seeking sympathetic attention.  So when she was asked about her  holiday plans, she glibly alluded to a ski trip with some hypothetical friends.
To those back home, the friends were assumed to be classmates.  To her classmates, and to Penny, they were old chums from her childhood.  She never actually said where she was going, just that she'd been invited, and that wasn't quite a lie.  She had been invited, by a boy who persisted in showing an interest in her, a boy with a huge ego and an overabundance of confidence in his own charms, a boy she wouldn't have considered walking across the street with.  But it had been an invitation.  She hadn't lied about that.
 
She knew that once she armed herself with enough arguments to go to Jack with her plan, she would have to confess her deception.  And she would also eventually have to tell Penny the truth.  But for now, it was enough to know that her dishonesty had been justified.  The idea her father had planted had led her back to her home, her past and back to herself.  This night's epiphany had brought her into her future, and she could only hope the people who loved her would understand why she had chosen to make the journey on her own.
 
The actual miracle had occurred, she believed, when she'd stood beneath the stars and whispered her own name into the darkness. In the cold night wind, the fog that had for so long bound her mind began to clear.  She had looked up to the sky, a broad black bowl over the valley filled with stars she hadn't seen in years.  As the profound silence embraced her, she had sensed that she was embarking on a deeply spiritual journey toward her better self.  The wind rustling in the branches above her seemed to whisper words of calm and comfort, as if to say don't rush, take time to be very certain of each step.
 
Looking up to the sky again, she'd felt the surge of her reviving spirit.  Overhead, familiar constellations winked in place.  A sliver of a moon hung low over the trees, too pale to compete with the brilliance of the stars.  This would have been the perfect cinematic moment for a star to arc from its orbit and trail to the horizon, she mused.  But nothing moved, save the gentle twinkling and one small cloud sailing just below the moon.  That, she believed, had been the sign she had prayed for.  The sky she had gazed up at as a child was unchanged.  The hills had not shifted their positions.  The winter cold had arrived in the proper season.  Some things, the most essential of things, remained constant.  In her short life, so much had changed.  So much that she'd almost been uprooted and lost herself.  In this familiar place was the direction she'd been seeking, the peace and stability she craved.  Had her parents been standing with her there, she would not have felt more confident of the path she saw opening before her. 
 
What remained was accepting that with this decision came a binding commitment.  This was more than merely taking possession of what was already hers.  Any plan to return to this place, to make it her home and build her future here, would not only include the promise to care for the house and the land.  She must also submit herself to be further shaped by what was here.  Just as it belonged to her, she knew she belonged to the farm.  She would not be free to go elsewhere.  It would always need her care, her companionship.  It would be her family, her responsibility.  Maybe that was why Pop had been so sad.  What if she hadn't wanted that?
 
There beneath the infinite expanse of the winter sky, mindful of all that had gone before, she made her commitment.  She would come home, build on what her parents had already established, dedicate herself to a life they would have wanted for her.  She would work through the practical problems of her decision in the days ahead, holding firm to the belief that things meant to be could be made to happen.  The failure of her plan would have been in the hesitation to take this first step into her future.  Her father had taught her better, and she intended to make him proud.
 
 

Meet Stani Moss

Crawling into the back of the limo, Stani huddled in a corner, closing his eyes behind the lenses of his sunglasses.  If he could only be still for a bit, he told himself firmly, he might yet avoid being sick.  His head was exploding now and waves of nausea threatened to ultimately humiliate him.  Robert, his dark face devoid of expression, gently closed the car door and slid in behind the wheel.  Turning back to his passenger, he offered a bottle of mineral water and hairbrush.  "Young sir," he said softly, "you'll be needing these I think."
 
Stani opened one eye to accept them, pressing the cool bottle against his burning cheek.  "Thank you, Robert.  And thank you for waiting."  He was relieved that it had been Robert, and not one of the car service drivers, who had been asked to wait.  Officially Milo's chauffeur, Robert had been with them since their arrival in New York.  He was by now a member of their already irregular family, although Stani knew that idea would have been resisted by both Milo and Robert.  But just as he relied on Milo and Jana to keep his days and nights from running to chaos, he also depended on Robert, who had gone far beyond his assigned duties on more occasions than Stani like to recall.  Laying the hairbrush aside, he mused that Robert would never permit him to exit his car looking like something picked out of the gutter.  As soon as his head stopped pounding, he would try to bring some order to his still damp hair.
 
The car began to gain speed on the freeway and he tried to relax, hoping to fall asleep.  Five hours to DC should be long enough to see him back on his feet.  If only he could get Milo's voice out of his head.  Never in all their years together had he shouted like that.  Oh, Milo might get very angry with him at times, but his voice tended to be ominously soft on those occasions.
 
When the phone had rung, Stani had been sprawled on the floor, having apparently fallen just short of the bed on his return home.  He had no idea what time that might have been, but he was sure he had only been asleep for a few minutes.  He had stared at the phone, unable to convince his body to respond.  But it had gone on ringing until the pain in his head had prompted him to at least attempt to make it stop.
 
He tried to force a normal greeting; one never knew who might be calling.  But Milo had known, as he always knew, the nature of Stani's condition.  He'd gone off immediately, demanding to know if Stani realized the car was waiting downstairs.  Of course he didn't know!  How was he to know what his day's schedule might be?  That was what Milo saw to every day of his life.  It was then that he remembered.  Milo wasn't there.  He was in Aspen.  He and Jana had taken their first vacation together in ten years, leaving Stani to go to Washington alone.
 
Milo was still shouting over the phone, "Stani, you must pull yourself together!  Do you understand me?"  As always when upset, his accent seemed more pronounced, clipped and authoritative.
 
"All right!  I understand!  Can you call the driver back, ask him to give me ten minutes?  Ask him to wait.  Please!"  Suddenly afraid he might start to cry, he bit his lip, hard.
 
Dropping the receiver, Stani ran his hands through his hair, twisting his fingers into the curls and pulling.  The pain brought tears to his eyes, but it might help him to focus.  He took a deep breath, smelled the stench of cigarette smoke--and maybe vomit?--in his sweater, and bile rose in his throat.
Struggling to his feet, he stripped off his clothes, stumbling toward the bathroom.  Somehow, in the  next few minutes, he managed to shower, brush his teeth and dress.  Grabbing his bag, packed by the ever-thoughtful Jana before her own departure yesterday, he had nearly reached the door when, out of the corner of his eye, he spotted the violin case.  With a muttered oath, he snatched it up, slinging the strap over his shoulder, and jerked open the door, coming face to face with Mamie, her key in hand, a look of supreme disapproval in her knowing brown eyes.
 
With a sputtered apology, he pushed past her.  "So sorry, Mamie.  I'm late, of course!"
 
"You're right about that, Young Stani.  Robert is standing at the curb."  He was aware of the slow shake of the housekeeper's head as she watched him race toward the closing elevator doors.  As he stood impatiently waiting for the next car, he turned back with what he hoped was a winning grin. 
 
"Don't worry about the mess I left.  I'll take care of it when I get back."  The effort of the words and of bending his face into a smile had been too much.  He tasted bile again as he got on the elevator, thankful that it was unoccupied.  Mamie would clean his room, he knew, but at least he had made the gesture.  Like Robert, Mamie could be counted on to cover his tracks, although she rarely let him off without a mild scolding.
 
When the elevator doors opened on the lobby, he was blinded by the blaze of sunlight, and groped for the sunglasses he could only hope were still in his pocket.  They might be considered part of his celebrity disguise, but they were essential protection after the kind of indulgence he'd enjoyed last night.  The banging in his head escalating with every step, he sped past the waiting doorman and dashed gratefully for the car, aware of Robert's solicitous nod.
 
 
 

 



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