A Wounded Heart now available

My fourth book, A Wounded Heart, is now available through Amazon/Kindle:

A Wounded Heart

 

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A Two-Edged Blade

This is an excerpt that a future project that I am doing which will take off from A Wounded Heart.  Rick Sartori is a former street kid who is training to become a preacher/youth leader.

 

Rick kept his gaze on Jerry Cruz.   As Jerry wielded the switchblade against him, Rick recalled many a time he had done the same thing, including against his teacher Sam Treadwell.  He hoped Jerry would get the same rude awakening he had.   Rick’s life on the streets had hardened him, but it took Jesus to put him on his knees.

“Jerry, please put that away.  Man, I know where you’re coming from.  I’ve been there.  But just because you don’t like my words, you’re going to come against me?  I will tell you the same thing someone told me Jerry—you need Jesus in your life.  Now if you don’t like that, do your worst, man.”

Jerry Cruz continued to hold the blade for what seemed to Rick a long time and then he lowered it.    His eyes were clouded by hot tears, the tears of anger and anguish.   Angry because his girl had left him for the church; angry because Rick was stirring up things on the street, angry because the only life he knew was the gang.  They were his brotherhood, not these wimpy Jesus guys.  He had known Rick since they were kids, though because he was an Anglo, they weren’t friends.

Now, as he looked at Rick he wondered what had happened to him.  Oh sure, he knew Rick said he got Jesus.  But he wasn’t ready to believe that.  He went to Mass, he knew all the teachings of the Church and he did them, for his Mama.  But in his inner core, Jesus seemed so far removed from his everyday world, a world of violence and survival, of proving oneself man enough to get through it all.

He turned and walked away and Rick sighed, saying a quick prayer and thanking God for His protection.  He knew many of the Latinos, as well as the other gangs did not like him spreading the Word through the streets.  But they needed it.  They needed to hear the same message of power and love that he had heard within a jail cell.

As he leaned against the graffiti-filled wall, he thanked God for bringing him to a place where he had to face himself, to face what he had done to Connie, but overall, just to face that his anger and his hate were taking him nowhere.    Jesus had seen beyond that to his deep inner need for healing his brokenness and sent him Sam Treadwell.   Sent a man to pick him up, and pull him out of the pit he had made for himself.

As he recovered himself, he walked down the alley and turned back to Figueroa Street, walking toward home and to the woman he loved.  He was so thankful for Connie’s love which had helped to heal his life.  It was because of her that he had been able to accept Jesus.  She was such a sweet lady.   Together they had turned away from their past life and embraced the change God had made in them both four years earlier.  He decided he would stop by the florist on his way home and pick up some roses to give to her.  He couldn’t show her enough how much she meant to him.

Once he reached their apartment, he skipped up the steps until he reached the 2nd floor where they lived.  He opened the door, and Connie was sitting on the couch, knitting.  He looked surprised, as she didn’t do that often, but she looked up and smiled broadly at him.

“Rick, sweetheart.  I’m so glad you are home.”  She went to give him a hug, and then brought him a nice cold pop from the refrigerator.  He took the cap off and sat down on the sofa beside her.
“Dinner is ready, dear.  Would you like to eat?”  She got up to go in the kitchen of their small apartment, and he took her hand.

“I’m not hungry yet, Connie.  I just want to sit with you for awhile.  I brought you something.”  He handed her the box with the roses in it, and she opened it, smiling at him.

“Rick!  They are lovely.  Thank you, sweetheart.”  She gave him a hug.   She couldn’t believe sometimes the changes in him.  If anyone proved you became a new person in Jesus, it was Rick.  He simply was not the same as the young man she had known in high school, a man torn by inner torment.

She smiled, her eyes twinkling as she set the roses aside and took his hands.  “Rick, I went to the doctor today.”

“Yes?”

“Rick, I…we are going to have a baby.”

He looked in her eyes as his heart was overwhelmed with emotion…joy, that must be it.  He knew how happy that would make her, and it did him as well.  He had sensed since their marriage her longing for a child, and he knew her heart still hurt for their baby back east, little Samuel.   Samuel had been born before they were married, because of their past, because of their relationship at the time.  They always held the hope that they would be able to bring him home to live with them.

He reached out and embraced her and held her.  “Are you ok, Connie?”

She laughed.  Why did men always ask that?  “Of course, I’m ok, Rick.  I’ve been waiting all day to tell you, and I thought I would start knitting some things for the baby.  We just need to start saving for the doctor bill, and of course for things for it.”

Rick nodded.  His job as a mechanic was going fairly well.  God had taken care of all their needs.  “Connie”, he said, thinking aloud mostly, “Perhaps this means we should bring our baby home.  Once this one is old enough. Of course, I don’t want it to be too much for you, but if we are going to start having a family, we should include him in it.”  Rick knew what it was like, not having a normal family, and he wanted his son to be a part of theirs.

Connie nodded, surprised.   He was so considerate now, so caring.  It made her so happy that he had not forgotten about little Sam.  Her heart had ached for him so at first when she had to leave him, but at the time, it had been best to leave him with her aunt.  But Rick was right.  Now it did not make sense not to bring him home.

“Yes, sweetheart.  As soon as we can afford it, we’ll bring Sam home.”  She added, “Thank you, Rick.  Thank you for not forgetting him.”

He smiled at her.   Since the day God had given him his Spirit, things had begun to be restored in his life, and though he and Connie had taken their time, he knew she was the woman he wanted to marry.  She had seen him when he was a wretch and had loved him.   He hoped he could do the same with his son and be a real dad to him.    He would put the things of God in his life, teach him about Jesus, just as he would this new child.  Things his father had never taught him.

“Connie, I hope to put into our children the things I never had.  A love for God, a real family.  And I know you will help me to do that.”  He kissed her forehead, and then said, “I think I’m ready for dinner now, dear.  I can share with you some things that happened to me today.”

She nodded and went to the kitchen to retrieve him a plate of the pasta dinner she had prepared for him.  Rick always complemented her and said she made pasta like his Mama used to make.  She always did her best to make things the way he liked them.  She tried to give him the life that neither of them had had as young people, and thanked God that He had given them that.

Wounded Heart near completion

A Wounded Heart and time off

A Wounded Heart is getting very near to completion. I have one more editing to do, and then a quick read through for grammar, punctuation, etc.
 
This has been a very busy month! I will probably take a couple of weeks off before starting my next project, a children’s book on King Josiah for my grandson Josiah.

Liberty’s Promise–editing complete

I completed the final editing on Liberty’s Promise and will be doing one final read-through before submitting it for publishing through Amazon.

Next I will be starting editing on A Wounded Heart and further outlining of Josiah book.  I’m in the process of learning to illustrate, which I will do once the actual text is complete.

My feeling at this point on Across the River is that I may write the prologue and then write remaining chapters as they come to me.

I’m praying about another project which would be a work of non-fiction, a book on Brokenness and Healing within a Christian context, aimed at educating others on the experience of sexual abuse/sexual assault.   With the whole #metoo campaign, and some other connections I’ve made in my church group, I feel the Lord leading me in this direction.

 

Liberty’s Promise and Josiah project

I’m on the 2nd edit of Liberty’s Promise and hope to have the final edit done by weekend or early next week.  This novel went really smoothe and I don’t foresee a lot in the finally editing stages.  Hopefully by month’s end will have it out on Amazon.

Have outlined my next project, Josiah: the Young King Who Served God, and plan to start doing some writing soon as well as learning how to illustrate it.   A couple of things I need to research is: average length of book for 2nd graders (the age of my grandson),  word usage, as well as how to put some biblical language into language that is appropriate to the age.  Josiah cleaned out a lot of filthy things from Israel, and some of these things are so despicable one has to sanitize it a little for little eyes.

I think I’m falling into a pattern of writing my next project while editing the previous, which seems to be working well.

I’m also looking into Audible books.  One person asked me if my books were in an audible format, and I see I can do this.  One thing that holds me back is, my voice tends to be high and childlike.  Would need to think about whether I can train my voice to an appropriate tone to do this.

Future project: Across the River

For a long time, I’ve had a project in the back of my head.  It is an updating of the Book of Ruth with the setting being the Civil War.   Eli and Naomi Armstrong leave their home in Bethlehem, Indiana to go live in Moab, Kentucky with his cousin and now business partner, Lot Bowman.  Eli has failed as a farmer and is enticed by the opulent lifestyle of his merchant cousin, who breeds and sells horses on the side.    Lot also has a black concubine.   Eli dies and then both his sons do as well, leaving Naomi alone with her two daughter-in-law Ruth and Orpah.  Orpah is happy with the Southern lifestyle and unapologetic about the Cause.  However, Ruth sees a new sense of faith in both her husband and Naomi, and when the war ends, both she and Naomi return to Bethlehem.   Well….you know the high points of the story.

One thing I was struggling with was how to present Naomi telling Ruth to lie beside Boaz within the framework of a Victorian era.    Then, in reading something the other day, I realized that what she was essentially doing was proposing to him.  So here is that scene, which I will use for this future project.

 

The moon shone across the fields, now shorn of their wheat, as Ruth moved silently toward them.  The men lay near the tall bound bundles, each with his own bedding spread beside them.  She had watched carefully to see where Boaz was settled and made every effort not to awaken anyone.

Her heart beat rapidly within her, though she kept control of her emotions.  She knew that approaching him was risking herself, despite the fact that she had sensed his tenderness toward her on many occasions.  Why he did not propose, she did not know, but it was difficult for him to hide the fact that he had a fondness for her.

She came upon him where he lay, and for a moment watched his face in peaceful repose.  Her heart swelled with the admiration she held for him.  It wasn’t that he had wealth, or that he had status in the community that she admired.  Though a man approaching middle age, he had fine, strong features, though he was not as startlingly handsome as some of the younger men she had met.  Above all, she felt he was a man of integrity and strong faith.   She recalled the faith of Mahlon, and the faith of Naomi, and here was their cousin, a man of like, precious faith that she could trust to guide her life.

She knelt gently beside him, and then placed her hand on his shoulder, hoping to rouse him.  Boaz opened his eyes, and at first could not adjust to the fact that she was there.  He sat up quickly, and looked into her face, trying to search for meaning.

“Ruth…what are you doing here?”  He looked at her, puzzling, trying to fit it together in his mind.

“Boaz, I wanted to speak to you.   I am a poor widow, sir.  These past few months, I have worked diligently to ensure that I and my mother-in-law have been provided for.  I want to thank you for helping me in that.”

“Ruth, you have no need to thank me.  I am your cousin, as I am Naomi’s.  A man is supposed to provide for those in want among his family.  But surely, my dear, you did not stay just to offer me your thanks.”

She hesitated, and her gaze met his.  “No, that is so.  I stayed behind tonight because I wanted to…I wanted to ask you sir if you would take away my burden.  I wanted to ask if you would marry me.”

His face changed as he looked at her.  He smiled, shaking his head that she had been so bold, but also knowing she was surrendering her pride to do so.  He couldn’t believe that this lovely young woman was offering him marriage.  It should’ve been he who had offered it to her.

“Ruth, there are many young men who would be glad to marry you.  Why do you approach me?”  He ran his hands through his hair to comb it.  “I also know that Lucian has had his eyes on your property.  I would want to ensure he has no intentions toward you first.”

Ruth nodded.  “I understand that.  I do understand you don’t want to create trouble with your cousin.”

“My dear”, he began, holding her gaze, “I want you to know I consider it a profound honor that you would ask this of me.  I realize you have risked your reputation in doing so.  Ruth, you must know that I do care for you.  You are not only a lovely young woman, but I’ve seen your character, as you’ve cared for Naomi.  The only reason I did not ask you before now is because I believed myself too old to hold your interest.”

She shook her head.  “Mr. Armstrong, I would be proud to be your wife.  I’m not looking for a young man, someone who can cater to romantic needs.   When I married Mahlon, I saw the strength of faith he had, the faith of his mother.   I wasn’t raised with that, Boaz.    My father lived loosely, and my mother was stiff and proud because of it.  I needed something more.  I saw in my husband a light of hope, of a different life.   I believe God led me here, to find the roots of that faith among his people.  I see that same faith in you, Boaz, that strength of relationship with God that I need in my life.”

Boaz surveyed her for a moment.  He couldn’t believe his good fortune.  Here was this lovely lady asking to marry him.  He hoped in his heart….he prayed he knew Lucian well enough.

“Ruth, I would ask one thing of you.   I want to approach Lucian.   If he has no intention of asking you to marry him so that he can have Eli’s property, then I will certainly, without a doubt marry you myself.”  He brushed back her fine black hair.   “My dear girl, you should leave here though before it turns light.    People might think wrongly of you, and I wouldn’t want that.  Do you trust me to do what is best for you as your cousin?”

She looked into his steady brown eyes and nodded.  “Thank you, sir.”  She stood and began to walk away when he said, “Wait.”

“I know you would not want charity, but I do not want you to return to Naomi without something.”  He picked up a nearby wheat basket and filled it with wheat.  “You can take this to the mill, and they can turn it into flour for you.”

She took the basket and nodded, and then slowly disappeared into the night.

Boaz thought of tomorrow.  He must be convincing.  He must somehow convince Lucian, because he wanted to marry Ruth.  This dear, honorable girl who had sacrificed her pride to come to him.