Friday, November 16, 2018

Interview with Motivational Author Juliet Huck



Juliet Huck is an expert in persuasive communications with 25 years of experience. She was born in Marietta, Ohio, and holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. During her career, she has worked with the US Department of Justice for the Enron litigation, Exxon Mobil, Boeing, and law firms, such as O’Melveny and Myers, Kirkland and Ellis, and King and Spalding, among other high-profile clients. Juliet is the author of 50 Ways to Get Your Way and The Equation of Persuasion: Securing Decisions in Your Favor.
                                                                
Her latest book, 50 Ways to Get Your Way, offers insights for skillfully using persuasion in work and in life by forming meaningful relationships. It is the first book in a series that will teach readers how to get what they want in all facets of their lives.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

AUTHOR WEBSITE | BOOK WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM | YOUTUBE | LINKEDIN



About the Book:

Title: 50 WAYS TO GET YOUR WAY
Author: Juliet Huck
Publisher: The Huck Group
Pages: 120
Genre: Motivational/Nonfiction

BOOK BLURB:
50 Ways to Get Your Way by Juliet Huck Promotes the Art of Persuading Others Using the Simple Power of Commonsense Values
In 50 WAYS TO GET YOUR WAY, Juliet Huck shares the lessons she learned while growing up on her family’s farm in rural Ohio—values such as being grateful, nurturing relationships, and listening intently, which she used to build a successful career as a persuasion strategist working with corporate clients and on high-profile legal cases. Huck teaches readers how to be persuasive in a manner that is honorable and respectful, while making genuine human connections.
The tools Huck shares in 50 WAYS TO GET YOUR WAY are familiar, but the author notes that many of these values are missing in the current social climate. Using beautiful images (many photographed by the author) and conversational prose, Huck encourages readers to commit to a practice of awareness—of self and others—and guides them through the dance of building relationships that will help them achieve their goals. While all of the pearls of wisdom presented in 50 WAYS TO GET YOUR WAY are essential ingredients for developing into a solid human being, several offer the building blocks for becoming an exceptional person who gets what he or she wants. Being empathetic by learning what other people find meaningful, paying attention to the effect that one’s tone can have on others, telling a compelling story, letting go of expectations to minimize disappointment, and understanding the importance of clarity when asking for assistance or sharing plans are just a few of the gems that Huck examines in her book.

Huck acknowledges that the principles outlined in 50 WAYS TO GET YOUR WAY are not “rocket science”; however, she believes they are timely. “Observing the current environment, I could not sit back and be silent about how we are treating each other—especially when we need something from someone else. I felt instead of fighting with others, it is time to remind us of the beautiful things that can connect us,” Huck said.
50 WAYS TO GET YOUR WAY was written with the intention of helping people fulfill their personal and professional needs by mastering the art of making genuine connections.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon


Thanks for this interview, Juliet.  Congratulations on your new book! Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?

This is my second book that have self-published.  The writing and design came easy but promoting and selling books is always the hardest task.

Can you tell us about your journey?

Observing the current environment in our world, I could not sit back and be silent on how we are treating each other – especially when we need something from someone else. I felt instead of fighting with others it is time to remind us of the beautiful things that can connect us. I know this book can help you stop and look at how we ask others for something we need.  Enjoy!

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

My book contains thought provoking photos with each of the 50 ways as we are such a visual society.  Plus retention levels go up to 90% when words and pictures are combined. 

Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?

The Declaration of Persuasion
Persuasion in NOT a call to action – it is a directed action
It is time to break up the myth that persuasion is
a call to action. To “call” is to “invite.” This puts all
the power in someone else’s hands. While to “direct”
is to “control.” This is the ultimate way to give you
the power you need to get what you want. Inviting
someone to do something allows them to say no. You
must lead or direct them to what you want in simple
words, statistics and/or visuals proportional to the
magnitude of your need. Think of a traffic cop. They
are not inviting you to take their direction. You are
clearly persuaded to do what they want you to do
as they are in control. Moving someone to decide
in your favor is not always easy but there are steps
which you can take that will get you what you want.
Carry on!

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

Yes. I have been considering the book become a series for lawyers, sales people, negotiators etc.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

No, I was not a big reader because I was a visual learner.  I never thought I would have author added to my title but once I wrote my first book I find it coming though me without a lot of effort.  But again I am a big believer that audio and visuals must come together. To me putting visuals to the word is my favorite part. 

Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?

Yes, both books were rejected.  I had many people try to talk me into things like size, color and not fitting into the norm.  But I could not give my original ideas so I took a chunk of my retirement and made them happen. 

What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

I don’t see that in my future.

What’s next for you?

My next plan is to speak and pass on the message that we all have commonalities that can bring up together; we just need to use these commonsense tools to give each other a chance.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Interview with Women's Fiction Author Sheila Roberts


USA Today best-selling author Sheila Roberts has seen over fifty books, both fiction and non-fiction in print. Her novels have appeared in many different languages and been made into movies for both the Lifetime and Hallmark Channels. She writes about things near and dear to women’s hearts – love, friendship, family and chocolate.
                                                             
Her latest book is the women’s fiction, Winter at the Beach.





BOOK BLURB:

Jenna Jones, manager of the Driftwood Inn, a vintage motel in the Washington beach town of Moonlight Harbor, is convinced that a winter festival would be a great way to draw visitors (and
tourist business) to town during those off-season months. Everyone in the local chamber of commerce is on board with her Seaside with Santa festival idea except one naysayer, local sour lemon, Susan Frank, who owns a women’s clothing boutique in town. The beach gets hit with storms in the winter, no one will come, too close to Christmas. Blah, blah. What does Susan know?

It turns out that Susan knows a lot. A big storm hits during the weekend of the festival, wreaking havoc with the parade and producing power outages all over town. Including at the Driftwood Inn.

Jenna finds herself with a motel filled with people, all with no power. What to do? Enlist the help of friends, of course. Her friends take in many of the stranded visitors, and Jenna and her Aunt Edie take in the others, stuffing them into Aunt Edie’s house next door to the Driftwood.

All the guests come with their own unique stories. The last thing Taylor Marsh wanted was a getaway with her husband. His refusal to give up on his dying business is taking them down financially and killing their marriage. But her sister Sarah (she who has her financial act together and never lets her sister forget it) insists this will be fun for both their families. It will only be fun for Taylor if her husband gets eaten by a giant squid. Then there’s Darrel Wilson, who planned the perfect anniversary getaway for his wife, who’s been undergoing chemo. So much for the perfect anniversary. And the sisters, Lisa and Karen, who can’t seem to go on a sister outing without it turning into a Lucy and Ethel adventure. Unlikely roommates, all of them. But perhaps each one has a valuable lesson to share with the others. And perhaps, what looked like a disaster will prove to be the best holiday adventure of all. 

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon


Thanks for this interview, Sheila. Congratulations on your new book! Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

I’ve been on this publishing road for so many years that I think I’ve pretty much already tripped over most of the rocks. This particular book was a pleasant journey and I enjoyed the whole process – the writing, the edits, working with my editor on back cover copy and seeing my gorgeous cover. There are a lot of ups and downs in this business (and believe me, I’ve had my share), so it’s good to enjoy the fun when you’re in an up phase.

If you were to pen your own autobiography, what might the title be?

It’s a Wonderful Life (Sorry, Frank Capra, you can’t copyright a title.)


When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

I am big on fun. I line dance, drag my husband out dancing once a week, play tennis, read, have girlfriend parties, play a ton of games (Charades, anyone?), and gorge myself on episodes of House Hunters International.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

That’s a hard question to answer. There are so many wonderful authors putting books on the shelves. So, why should a reader part with her hard earned dollars for one of mine? For the fun of it. I love books that incorporate humor and I try to do that in mine. I’m big on encouragement and happy endings, so even though my characters may struggle, they always find their way to a good place by the end of the book. And recipes. This book has some yummy ones and I spent a lot of time wiping drool off my chin as I typed.

Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?
Life at the beach was good. It was even better when you ran a motel and had people staying in it.
Lately life at the beach hadn’t been quite so good for Jenna Jones, manager of the Driftwood Inn in the beach town of Moonlight Harbor, Washington. Her great-aunt, Edie Patterson, the current owner, had offered Jenna both a home with her and a job after her divorce. Jenna had been grateful for the new start and Aunt Edie had been grateful for the help as the place had fallen into disrepair after the death of her husband, Ralph. Jenna would eventually inherit the motel, which offered her financial security.
It had been a win-win deal, and Jenna had whipped the place into shape, decorating on a shoestring, giving the rooms a different theme, depending on what color bargain carpet and what kind of thrift store décor she’d been able to find. The Driftwood Inn was now, if she did say so herself, a charming beach retreat. But she needed more heads in beds.
After Labor Day, when summer fun ended and families got busy with school and football season, reservations became scarce. Now, in October, well, if you were looking for a cute vintage motel to stay in, the Drift- wood Inn had plenty of vacancies.


If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday, and almost every year I try to bring out a Christmas tale. This book starts a little before and extends a little beyond, but there’s still plenty of holiday fun in it, including Jenna’s Seaside with Santa festival… which is going to turn out to be something that Santa and anyone with a brain will want to avoid.

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

This is the second book in the Moonlight Harbor series. The first book was Welcome to Moonlight Harbor.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

No. I wrote stories and made “books” when I was a kid (usually about horses since I was horse mad at the time). Took a ton of lit and writing classes in college and sold some articles when I was a newlywed but I never really saw myself as a published author. I wanted to be a songwriter. Funny how, sometimes, what you want isn’t what you’re supposed to be doing.

Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?

My very first book never saw the light of day, but my second, which I wrote on a fluke, did get published. Of course, I had my share of frustration after that. I’ve crashed my writing career twice and had to reinvent myself. But I’ve always kept on going because I love to tell stories.

What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

If you find a good working partnership then I say go for it. I’m about to try and co-write a book with my husband. Hopefully, we’ll still be speaking to each other by the time we’re done.

What’s next for you?

This spring The Beach Retreat will hit the shelves. And little Sheila will hit the beach. Unless, of course, Dancing with the Stars calls. J


Monday, November 12, 2018

Book Feature: Going For Broke: How to Suffer Well by Shannon Medisky




Title: GOING FOR BROKE: HOW TO SUFFER WELL
Author: Shannon Medisky
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 61
Genre: Christian Nonfiction/Devotional

Hardship hurts and suffering sucks.
But there’s very important work—and rewards—we need to be occupied with in the middle of it all.
Suffering has a way of stretching us beyond ourselves. It prompts us to stretch outside of our current comfort zones. But no matter how we feel, we don’t have to be buried by our challenges and circumstances. Instead, we can recognize that God has planted us right where we are for a reason: It’s time to get growing.
Here’s how.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon / B&N




INTRODUCTION
 
Einstein once said, "God doesn't play dice." He also made it very clear that he didn't believe in a personal God, but rather he trusted that there were underlying laws of nature that made perfect sense of some of the science (mainly quantum mechanics) that even he couldn't wrap his brilliant mind around.
Einstein was an incredible man of science, but he also appreciated that he couldn't make sense of everything. Yet, even in the midst of this, Einstein professed that there still had to be a rhyme and reason to it all. Even if he or current science couldn't make sense of it, Einstein held the belief that there was still a structure, an order behind it all.
I believe the same is true for suffering. I believe this because I've seen evidence of it firsthand.
To put it bluntly, I watch my son die a slow, painful death daily. He suffers terribly, and my heart suffers, too. My heart breaks each time he cries out to me for comfort and relief, and there's nothing I can do.
My head is weary of keeping tabs of his daily intake of protein. Too little and he becomes catabolic, metabolizing his own muscle tissue. Too much, and ammonia levels rise in his blood stream causing debilitating headaches and irreversible cognitive loss. There's no cure, and that's just the tip of the medical and genetic iceberg.
There's also the GRIN2B genetic mutation that causes my son debilitating joint pain, short and long-term memory loss and yet more metabolic issues. His specific mutation causes his body to convert the amino acid called arginine to histidine. This poor kid can't seem to eat enough food to ever really feel full because he can't eat more than about 15 grams of protein per day.
Think about that for a moment.
Imagine being underweight with low muscle tone, experiencing constant headaches and joint pain and then never feeling fully satiated…and that's when he actually feels up to eating at all.
It's hard enough to watch Mark suffer, to walk through all of this with him. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to be him.
Mark’s physical suffering alone is staggering to imagine. Prior to joining our family through adoption, Mark was subject to severe abuse and neglect. Deprived of basic nutrition, physical touch and comfort as an infant, it's not surprising that he suffered cognitively, developmentally and behaviorally as a result.
I share all of this because I've heard it said that one should write about what one knows. The last ten years have taught me quite a bit about suffering: how it feels, the toll it takes, and just how unsettling it is when looking ahead holds no promise of relief or respite. I know how it feels to not be able to quite catch your breath, to feel completely and utterly helpless, to vacillate between wondering if you're (really) strong enough to keep going or when exactly you're going to fall apart.
It's from this place that I write about suffering, an open, raw place of complete transparency, because frankly I don't think there's enough out there about it. Everyone experiences hardship at some point. Christ even told us to expect it (John 16:33). Yet most every blog post, podcast and article I’ve come across covers how to get out of it, how to avoid it or—even worse—does a tremendous disservice by quickly trying to sugarcoat it. Suffering is rarely if ever a choice. It’s a natural part of the human experience. So, why isn’t there more help out there on how to do it well?
I believe in the power of prayer. I know God can—and still does—move mountains. I also know that God allows suffering, too. Suffering is a part of His plan. If it weren't, Noah would've never been stuck on that big boat after watching everything he’d ever known be engulfed in water. Joseph never would've been thrown into a pit, sold into slavery and imprisoned. Jesus Himself would never have been ridiculed, tortured and crucified.
During my prayers for Mark's relief and the easing of my own emotional burden, none of this escapes me.
We don't have to relish suffering. We don't have to run after it. It's completely natural to want to avoid it. Even Christ prayed to the Father and asked that suffering be taken from Him if it was within God's will (Mark 14:36). But sometimes suffering is a part of the plan, a piece of the story that God is weaving together in our lives. If we know this is true, that sometimes suffering is a part of the Lord’s greater plan, then doesn't it make sense to prepare for it as best we can?
It has been said that misery loves company, so I took the hint. I dove into Scripture and surrounded myself with what felt like old friends, but I visited with them in different ways. While their stories were nothing new, I connected with what their emotional experiences must have been in brand new and very personal ways. I noted what they did and how God responded to their thoughts, words and actions. I found patterns and parallels. In my searching, I discovered evidence time and time again that God truly does meet us in our mess.
Jesus said, "What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops" (Matthew 10:27 ESV).
Jesus will tell us things in the dark when we're unsure and insecure. It is in this darkness where He whispers to us, sharing things that are only accessible when we're willing, able and waiting to hear.
Suffering is often the place of this darkness.
During suffering we're broken enough to stop listening to ourselves, and instead tune in more carefully to His whispers. Ironically enough, it's usually in the middle of hardship where our relationship with Jesus can truly grow the most. Whether we like it or not, hardship often pushes us out of our comfort zones. Suffering enables us to grow through what we go through.
From this perspective, what a tremendous opportunity suffering can be!
Yes, hardship hurts.
Yes, suffering sucks.
But there's very important work—and rewards—we need to be occupied with in the middle of it all. That's exactly how this book is different. In the pages that follow, you won't discover how to pray your way out of challenges and pain. Quite the opposite, actually. You'll be encouraged to go for broke, to face suffering head on in anticipation of meeting God personally in brand new ways. Suffering has a way of stretching us beyond ourselves. It prompts us to reach outside of our current comfort zones.
This book has been designed to help you take full advantage of this, to essentially help you not waste your pain. If God allows us to suffer, then we can rest assured that it isn't and won't be for not (Romans 8:28).
Suffering isn't just an experience or state we're in. It's a skill, too.
We can squander our experiences and energy trying to spin our wheels to get out of suffering as soon as we can (and sometimes futilely so) or we can choose to suffer well. We can be intentional about how we respond to suffering. We can work on ourselves, actively seeking to grow into all that God wants us to be. We can work on our listening skills, discovering how to quiet ourselves and the chaos around us. We can practice and grow in patience as we wait on God, His will, and His timing. In short, we can recognize with our choices and our actions that, yes, suffering is in God's plan for us, too.
If you're suffering now, I hope this book serves as a tool to help you feel less helpless. I hope that it helps you discover new opportunities to grow closer to and experience God in ways you've never known before. I hope that it helps you realize that you are not buried by your current circumstance or hardship even if that's exactly how you feel, but rather God has planted you right where you are for a reason: It's just time to get growing.











 








“Shannon’s writing is infused with an abiding passion, a marked sensitivity to the needs of her readers and a tangible wisdom gleaned from real life experience,” Danielle D.
Shannon Medisky is a leading expert in struggling with stress, screwing up and seeking God in the midst of it all. Sometimes funny but always real, Shannon’s writing is infused with practical ideas designed to help others create positive, real change in their daily lives. In short, Shannon writes about how to intentional move from simply “going on” to growing on—by God’s grace.
Shannon’s articles, insights and ideas have been featured in Exceptional Parents, Adoptive Families, Hybrid Mom, Mothering and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family. For the past nine years, Shannon’s also worked as contributing writer and curriculum designer for OneHope, a global nonprofit ministry devoted to sharing the life-changing message of the Gospel with youth and children worldwide. To learn more, visit GraceToGrowOn.com.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK




 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Pre-Order You Can't Force Love by Marie Drake! @mariedrake72 #amazon


YOU CAN'T FORCE LOVE by Marie Drake, Realistic Fiction, 286 pp., $4.99 (kindle)



Title: YOU CAN’T FORCE LOVE
Author: Marie Drake  
Publisher: RedBird Books
Pages: 286  
Genre: Realistic Fiction

“A battered butterfly, he’d build Kimberly up, nurture her strength and watch her return to flight. He repressed the visions dancing in the back of his mind; her naked body brandished red flags and spurred him to stampede. Bulls and butterflies did not mix.”

Jordan Fry’s obsession is born in “You Can’t Force Love” by Marie Drake, Book I in the Locked Hearts Series.

From different towns and social backgrounds, Jordan Fry and Kimberly Orvine experience life-altering abuse, lose a parent and land in the same foster home. Angry, and self-deprecating, fiery redheaded Kimberly is deadset on lousy behavior and suffering the consequences, punishing herself for former sins. Scared by his inner darkness, pyromaniac Jordan has vowed to change for the better. He focuses on Kimberly as the key to his success, but she intends to make him break his promises. Unaware of Jordan’s atrocious actions in the past, she’s dangerously close to unleashing the evil he struggles to contain during their epic battle of wills. Can they both survive?

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon


July 1986
Crescent Hollar Trailer Park
Gloucester City, New Jersey

Fresh, black pavement radiated visible heat; scorched grass crunched beneath Jordan’s feet; sweat drenched his shoulder-length, blonde hair, and it clung to his neck. The mobile home park’s road ended at a small store; he paid twenty-five cents for two ring-shaped lollipops, saved a pink candy, unwrapped a blue one and reclined on a canopy shaded bench.
A black and yellow butterfly fluttered toward him; sunlight clarified its translucent wings and turned it magical, otherworldly. Jordan stared at the creature hovering above his leg. It glided to his knee. Tiny feet danced on his bare skin, a slight tickle. Sparkling like gold dust; glowing, powdery residue transferred on his fingers. Airborn again, impulsively, he reached and knocked it to the ground; one wing beat up and down.
Humming distracted him, and he stepped on the butterfly as he crossed the road. Lily skipped across the grass in pink, canvas sneakers. Her long, cinnamon-colored hair billowed; it tapped her thin, white blouse below her shoulder blades and bounced with each step. A faint halo highlighted her lovely features. Enhanced by sapphire-colored stones in her ears, her blue eyes shined brighter than the butterfly. She smiled. Calescent stomach pain folded him in half. With gritted teeth, he straightened, took a step, smiled back at her, and offered the ring-pop from his pocket.
“Strawberry, my favorite.” She tugged the lollipop from its wrapper and slipped it into her mouth. Her eyes crinkled in the sun. She dragged the candy over her lips with a final sucking motion, lifted her hand and let the sunshine filter through the gem-shaped sugar. “Pretty,” she said.
Pain struck Jordan again, stronger. It radiated through his lower body. Lily held his hand and walked along the road’s edge. She stopped at a red and white toolshed at the corner of her backyard. Jordan peeked into her driveway, no car.
“Just one time, right?” Lily asked. She closed her eyes.
Jordan smothered her with his mouth; she panicked and struggled, but he closed in and restrained her. His mind emptied, his eyes went blank; a blinding drive took over, and he pressed her to the ground. Tear-filled eyes didn’t dissuade him.
A horn honked, and a door slammed near the house; he froze. Lily’s dad carried grocery bags. Jordan rolled. She ran toward home; he traced her body’s imprint in the grass and discovered a shimmering deep-blue earring.
A vice clamped his arm, and with a yank, he met angry eyes; he cowered inches below Lily’s father’s face.





 






Award-winning author, Marie Drake lives in a small town near Lake Ontario with her husband, four sons, and three rescue pups. With many years of experience in the Foster Care community and advocating for other victims and survivors, she specializes in realistic and psychological fiction depicting the lives of abuse sufferers; their obstacles, their triumphs, and their downfalls.


http://www.pumpupyourbook.com

Monday, November 5, 2018

Book Feature: Miss Management by Traci Highland






Title: MISS MANAGEMENT
Author: Traci Highland
Publisher: Cheshire Lane Press
Pages: 215
Genre: Romantic Comedy


Mags has gotten herself in a ton of trouble: she’s lost her job, any hope for references, and she’s going to run out of money…. fast.

Yeah, sure, it may be her fault for punching her boss, but the jerk totally had it coming.
Nobody listens to her until she reaches her boiling point, and by then, well, she’ll admit that there’s no stopping Mr. Fist To The Face.

Now her years of hard work as a speech therapist are about to go down the drain unless she can find some way to salvage her career. So when her Aunt Elise calls to say that she has a job for her, it’s not like she can say no, even if the job is up in the wilds of Vermont.

Between stuffed moose, sloppy dogs and sexy men, Vermont proves to be a lot more interesting than she expected. But when she uncovers a scheme that would put her new employers’ livelihood in jeopardy, more than just hydrangea bushes are about to get squashed.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon


Aunt Elise’s house, a tidy little Victorian painted white with blue shutters and a red door, looks like a gingerbread house about to collapse.  Sure, it’s clean or whatever.  But it’s old and sinking on one side.  She invited me for lunch after I got back from the bank yesterday, and after a night spent drinking beer and trolling through online job postings, and then spending the morning drinking coffee and trolling through more job listings, the invitation to drive on out into the Berkshires and have an excuse to see the sun is actually kind of nice.  The Berkshires is about as far as I can drive at any given time, given, well, anyway.  It’s nice to get out.
I knock and Elise opens the door. “What the hell is that in the driveway?  I didn’t recognize it.”
“It’s my Prius, Elise.  I’ve been driving it for four years now.”
“What happened to the pick-up truck?  I thought you liked to drive pick-ups.”
“I crashed that pick-up, Aunt Elise.”  She furrows her brow.  “It was on the news, remember?  I sort of accidentally ran over a mailbox.  And some hedges.  And an arbor.”
“Oh yes, the mistress’, right?  Now I remember.”
One of the mistresses.”  My husband of the time had many.  But I had been friends with Shawna. “I hit some black ice.”
She harrumphs.
The police also harrumphed when I told them about the black ice, as I recall.
“I always hoped you were a lesbian, you know.  With that truck.”
“Not all lesbians have trucks.”
“No, but the fun ones do.  Have you met Sharon and Hazel down the block?  Lovely couple.  Hazel drives a truck and—“
“Can I come in?  It’s starting to rain.”
She pulls the door back further and ushers me inside.  The house is a tea-party nightmare.  Shelves filled with teapots and chubby figurines pucker up at the flowered wallpaper in the hallway.  The rug of the adjacent living room is the color of cotton candy and I swear my stomach growls every time I see it.
I brush the plaques of inspirational sayings out of the way as I hang up my coat on the coat rack.
She stomps like a thin Godzilla back to the kitchen, causing the house to shudder and clink in alarm.  “You’re in luck, I just made some chicken salad.”
“Sounds great.”  I follow her into the kitchen and sit at the table with a sigh.
“I have a job for you.”
“Is that door still crooked?  I thought for sure that tightening the hinges would do the trick.”
“No, I mean a real job.”  Elise places a colorful bowl down in the middle of the table and glares.  Sealing her lips with some sort of judgmental superglue, she waits.
Oh, right.  The hands.  I go over to the sink and wash my hands.  She’s got this thing about germs.  Betty and I used to mess with her when we came over, going over to the sink and putting our hands together so that she would wash one of my hands and I would wash one of hers and then we’d wait to see if Elise would notice that we each still had one dirty hand.
She did. 
Always. 
As twins, Betty and I were convinced that we were supposed to be born with some kind of twin-specific super-power, but really the only thing we were consistently good at was making our baby sister Piper laugh so hard that milk would shoot out of her nose.
That was another trick that Aunt Elise didn’t find to be particularly endearing. 
After I dry my hands and grab the loaf of bread out of the breadbox, I say, “All right, so what kind of job are we talking about?  And please don’t mention the one in the woodchuck town.”
“What do you have against woodchucks?”
“Sweet Romany Halls! I don’t have anything against woodchucks, I don’t can’t work in a town that worships vermin, that’s all.”
“Fine. But please don’t take Romany’s name in vain.”
Romany Halls is a professional wrestler that Aunt Elise has a crush on.  One night when I was over doing some repair work for her I heard her swearing at the television set.  And I mean full-on swearing.  Aunt Elise never swears, at least not that I’ve ever heard.  As I walked into the guest bedroom to make sure she was okay, I realized that she not only was watching television in her guest bedroom, which was odd, but that the walls of the bedroom were covered in posters of one very muscled wrestler wearing not-so-many articles of clothing.  It was like an homage to all that was masculine and spandexy.
Whenever it’s just the two of us, I feel obligated to tease her about her crush and her shrine to the glory that is Romany Halls.  Me?  I don’t so much dig the guys with eye makeup thing.  But Elise, well, Elise seemed to like them big, oiled up, and wearing nothing more than colorful underwear.
“So this job?”  I grab a spoon and scoop out the chicken salad.
“It’s for a friend of mine, actually.  Very nice.  Her name is Eve and she needs help with Mansfield.”
“Mansfield?  That’s quite a name.  What happen, did he have a stroke?  Car accident?  Cancer?”
“I don’t know.  But she has put out several ads in the paper and everyone who shows up to check on Mansfield apparently refuses to treat him.”
“Refuses to treat him?  That’s horrible.  Why doesn’t she take him to a clinic?  If he’s rehabbing, a facility is probably better equipped than her house.”
“She says that he can’t travel to a clinic.  He must be in pretty bad shape.”
“Have you ever met him?”
“No, I know Eve from college.  She comes down sometimes, and I’ve met her grandson a few times.  Lovely boy.  But I haven’t met Mansfield.”
“Is she nearby?  Can I pop over there today and see what’s going on?”  I really need a job.
“She’s up in Vermont.  But last time I spoke with her on the phone she mentioned that she has a guest cottage you can stay in when you come.  I guess she has a lot of land.”
“Waityou already told her I would go?”
“Of course you’ll go.”
“You know that time you asked me to tell you when you were overstepping some boundaries? Consider them overstepped.”
She takes a bite of her sandwich, her eyes demanding from over the top of her bread.
I chew my bite of sandwich, taking my time in savoring the flavors of Aunt Elise’s chicken salad, just to make her sweat for a bit.  I close my eyes, exaggerating the chew.
When I open them again her eyes are no less stern as she wipes the side of her mouth with a hot pink napkin.
Damn.  She’s not sweating this at all, is she?  Not even a little bit. “Fine.  I’ll go.  This is a paid job, right?”
“Good.  And yes, of course, provided you don’t walk away like those others.”
“Speech pathologists don’t usually make house-calls.  I’d imagine that the other folks just tried to convince your friend to take Mansfield to a proper rehab facility.”
“Try not to be so judgmental before you even get there.”
“I’m not being judgmental.”  Maybe a little.  “He should be where he can get the best care, and that’s not always at home.”
“Eve and I went to Smith together, Mags.  I’ve known her for years and years. Trust me, if she’s determined that the best place for him to be is at home with her, then she’s right.  Period.”
“When did you tell Eve I’d be there?”
“Tomorrow. It’s going to be a great job for you.  You’ll see.”
Tomorrow.  Of course.


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Nothing says Happy Friday like having Mr. Roth dribble crackers and sing La Cucaracha.  Nothing.
“Great job!  But let’s make sure to give those crackers an exaggerated swallow before the next stanza.  All right?”  I grab the paper cloth from the box and give his chin a wipe. 
He stares at me with rheumatic eyes, pushing his whole damn heart into his smile.
“Your smile always makes my day, Mr. Roth.”  I pick the last remnant of saltine out of his gray stubble and throw the paper towel into the garbage.  When Mr. Roth first came to see me, the stroke had paralyzed the left side of his face.  The paralysis had diminished somewhat and now he can do things like smile.  And sing.  Sort of.
At least we fixed the swallowing.  That’s a biggie.  He exhales a barely audible bar of his favorite song and I join him.  “Make it louder for me!  La cucaracha!  La cucaracha!  Ya no puede caminar…”
His smile widens and his voice rises, like a phoenix, dammit.  That asshat Dr. Robbins said he’d never speak again.  And here Mr. Roth is, six months later, singing. 
Days like this, I love my job.  Just as we’re about to finish up our session, Dolly pokes her head in the door. “I’m sorry, Mags, but Dr. Robbins says you’re going to have to keep it down.”
“Tell him to shut his damn door.”  That man exists to be the pain in my neck.  You know the pain, the one you wake up with every morning and no amount of Advil can kill?  That one.
“Was I too loud?”  Mr. Roth asks, worry crossing his cherubic, drooly face. 
“No, angel.  Not a bit.  You’re a rock star and I’m damn proud of you.” One day I am going to open my own clinic, so naysayers like Dr. Robbins can learn to shut the hell up.
Dr. Robbins, the asshat, runs the clinic. So naturally, he feels that everything in the office is his, too, like, you know, the pretty nurses and speech pathologists that he employs.
Grabbing Mr. Roth’s arm, I help him with his jacket.  Dolly clicks the pen in her hand like it’s a hand grenade.  On off, on off, on off.
“Stop it,” I hiss to her as I grab Mr. Roth’s gloves.  “Now keep practicing those scales we talked about and I’ll see you next week.”
He squeezes my hand and then says to Dolly, “She’s a saint, this one.  A regular saint.”
His r’s don’t come out quite right but hey, it’s a work in progress.
The second he’s out the door, I walk over to the nurses’ station and pull up the electronic records on my next patient. I haul on down to room number six, where Mr. Earle is waiting for me to re-adjust his tracheal tube.
I reach for the handle and I’m blindsided by Susie, the intern.  She’s the best kind of intern, hard-working and wicked smart, and rather pretty in a cute, slightly disheveled kind of way.  She’s shaking as she bumps into me, wiping tears from her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” There can be lots of things wrong when you’re twenty-one.  Hormones and boozing and all that, but this looks… different.
“Nothing, I’m fine. Tracheal tube, right?”  She straightens her Hello Kitty scrubs and adjusts the chunky black-rimmed glasses, making sure the floating strands of pinkish hair stay behind her ears.
I open my mouth but the words just sort of dry up.  Sometimes, it’s best just to leave it.  She knows I’m here—prodding would be rude, right?  Let her tell me when she’s ready, or not, her choice.  Besides, I’m running behind.
Susie and I wrestle Mr. Earle’s tube back where it belongs and the second we finish and leave the room, Susie’s face pales.
Dr. Robbins is standing in the hall, blocking the path between where we stand and the nurses’ station. 
He looks up at Susie and gives her a grin that turns my stomach into a rolling pool of bile and fire. His yellowish, crooked teeth and greasy hair make him look more like a Goodfellas reject than a doctor.  But hey, it could just be that I’m biased because he told me once that he hired me for my boobs.
Not my stellar resume.  Not my incredible grades that I worked by butt off to earn, but because he liked my boobs.
I wanted to quit right then and there.  To stand up and shout and sue and do all those noble things I would tell my sisters to do if they were in the same situation.
But yeah, I had just gotten divorced and needed the job.  Nothing like having to buy your cheating ex out of half of your own damn house.
So the words disappeared and I sort of just resorted to sending politely worded emails, like “Please remember to interact with the staff in a professional manner.” And “I believe we are due for the state-mandated sexual harassment prevention course.  Can I sign us up?”
Susie freezes beside me.  Her cheeks turn to scrambled eggs and she grabs my hand.  “Don’t let him touch me again.”  She whispers.
Again?  Touch her?  My vision blurs.  Like actually blurs as he walks towards us.  That creep. That stupid, sexist creep.  He touched her?  She’s just a child.  Mostly.  Practically.  Hell, it doesn’t matter how old she is!  He’s a monster.
Dr. Robbins sidles over and his snakelike tongue pokes in and out of his mouth as his eyes roam over Susie.  “Susan, do you know where the canned peaches are?  I need to use them for a videofluoroscopy this afternoon.”  He leans in closer to her and she clenches my hand as his chili taco breath assaults us. “Maybe you can show me in the supply closet?”
She shakes like a shake weight in those cheesy late-night infomercials.  “No.” Her voice is barely above a whisper, but I can hear her just fine.
He, however, moves closer.  “Stop,” I say.  As usual, my words do nothing. No one listens, dammit.  Again and again and again I’ve asked him to stop doing this. 
“Stop,” I say again, louder. 
He just moves on in closer, like I’m nothing more than a lamp.
That’s when I see it.  He reaches down and grabs her ass.  She jumps and he smiles.  “Get off.”  She hisses but he doesn’t listen, he never listens.  He cups her whole cheek now, grinning.
I punch him in the face.
His head slams back, blinking like, well, like I just punched him in the face.
Oh crap.
Did I really just punch my boss in the face? 
My fingertips chill and my hand aches.
I didn’ttell me I didn’t.
Susie gasps, her hands covering her mouth and a look of unadulterated panic in her eyes. My throat tightens.
Oh my God, I totally did.
“She asked you to stop.” It’s the only thing that leaves my mouth in a somewhat coherent fashion. 
He narrows his eyes, a large red bump creeping across his smarmy face. “You hit me!” 
Susie, her jaw now on the ground, looks at me. Her eyes are wide and frightened like a deer’s.  Her voice is flat when she says, “You punched him.”
I kind of hate deer.
“Yes!  Yes, I see that.  You’re fine, right, Dr. Robbins?  You should have stopped.  We all know you can’t go around grabbing asses like they’re doorknobs. But you just kept grabbing and squishing it around so I had to, had to—“
“You’re fired.”  He growls.
“You can’t!”
“Get out, Miss Anderson.  Get out now before I call the police.”
Well, damn.










Traci Highland writes funny books for sassy ladies.  She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and has a Master’s from Quinnipiac University.  She uses this education to write books, bake cakes, garden and make homemade jams.  Her children say she’s bossy, her husband says she’s high-maintenance, but the dog thinks she’s perfect.

Her latest book is the romantic comedy, Miss Management.

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