Odds and Ends

Well, it’s been forever.  Sorry!  The good news is – I am a (MUCH) less busy individual lately, and will have more time to maintain this blog.

Blog Updates:

1) I’ve had several people recently ask me what my plans are now that Shades of Violet has run its course.  Well – I have something exciting in store!

For the next several weeks I will be posting (forgive me if this doesn’t happen every week) new writing from me on either Wednesdays or Thursdays, whichever one I have more time for.    I will likely be posting short stories, but occasionally poetry.  I’m much more of a fiction writer than a poet. 

ALSO, I am actually (honestly) about to start writing my first novel.  This will be a slow process, however, as this novel is loosely based on a true story that is very, very close to home for me.  In fact, it is home for me.  So it will take a lot of personal research and emotionally digging in order to even map out, let alone write.  But I will keep my blog readers updated 🙂

2) Reason #943 why I love my job: Books, more books, and more books!  All day, every day.  Thus, it makes a LOT of sense for me to start doing some book reviews and book recommendations! 

3) Make a Difference Monday is still important to me, but has been a slow start.  So I will be doing this a couple times per month and not every Monday.  I WILL continue Thankful Tuesday each week.  Why have I been slacking?  Well, I can be lazy (Don’t tell my future husband!)

 

Have a blessed Thursday everyone – it’s almost Friday!

 

Shades of Violet: The Conclusion

Author’s Note:

To all our readers, thank you SO much for taking interest in Shades of Violet.  This has truly been a rewarding project to be a part of, and I am unbelievably thankful to my talented, creative co-authors who helped me write this.  Thank you to Elizabeth Schaap, Lauren Dupuis-Perez, Dawn Schout, and Robin Dykema for all your hard work! 

Let’s be honest folks – this story could have MANY more chapters.  Because of that, this conclusion might feel a bit like a cop out.  But, it is a novella, and the time has come for it to end.  Are there a lot of inconsistencies, underdeveloped side plotlines, and lack of certain story elements?  Sure.  But this story was written for fun, and to disperse the creative juices of people who love to tell stories and love to share them with others.  This story, however flawed, is important to me.  It showcases the love and bond between a brother and sister, and how tightly bound a family truly can be amidst terrifying trials.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed our series, and I hope you enjoy this conclusion to Shades of Violet.

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By Kelsey Book

The morning fog and smell of last night’s fresh rain slipped through the open window in Violet’s kitchen.  She sat on a barstool at the counter and sipped from her tea.  English Breakfast, Charlie’s favorite.

She closed her eyes and swept her hair back from her face with one hand.  She allowed herself to remember what she desperately tried to forget – the morning of Charlie’s fateful interview.  Her mind flashed images of what it may have looked like when the FBI intercepted Diana and Charlie before the press conference began, and the stunned look on Tweedledee and Tweedledum’s faces when FBI agents burst through the hotel room door and interrupted the TV broadcast that had just begun.  She didn’t know what they tapped since the towel lady situation was a disaster, but they must have done something to get the information they needed.

New Hampshire was a quiet place to settle down.  Two states away.  Violet thought of the two marbles she slipped into Charlie’s hand what felt like years ago, but was only a month.

Find me, Charlie, she wished.  Like I found you.

She slid over the paper she prepared to write on.  She remembered the FBI agent’s words to her as the two of them set in a small conference room together later that horrible day.

***

“You won’t be subpoenaed, Violet.”

“Why?”

“It’s part of our agreement with your brother.”  The FBI agent sipped from his coffee mug and wiped excess off part of his goatee.  “Charlie agreed to release all information he knew, everything he saw – most of which are what you mutually saw – and stand as a witness himself if we let you go with no physical connection to the court.”

“You’re allowed to do that?”

“What we’d like, Ms. Gandry, is for you to write down your experiences that we will see and use only if necessary.  We will not require you to appear in the court cases.  In the mean time, your brother is being accommodated somewhere safe until we can secure the situation with the Italian mob.  Diana and her team has been dismantled, but unfortunately the other part of this is more…complicated.”

Violet nodded.

“Violet, I have no say over where you decide you would like to live.  But until the situation with the Italian mob is secured, and we don’t know how long it may take, we don’t know how many ties they have – how extensive their network is.  At this point it is not necessary for us to put you in the witness protection program.  But I highly suggest you move.  Go somewhere quiet, and don’t live alone.  We can  only help you so much in this situation, and we want you to be as safe as possible.  We need you to drop off their radar.”

I guess there’s more to life than getting Saks, huh?

“Okay,” she whispered.  She felt the sting of tears in her eyes and the shooting pain in her throat as she gulped.  “Okay.”

***

Dear Charlie,

I don’t know how to start this letter.  I don’t know how to start to explain what happened in the last month.  Some days I don’t know if I want to get out of bed at all and face the day.

But I can’t go on without telling you how very thankful I am for you.  It’s easy for me to tell you that you’re the “best big brother anyone could have.”  Charlie, you saved my life.  No matter what difficulties still may be ahead for us, or what issues have been left unresolved, thank you for giving me the life that I have now because of you.  There’s a lot of different shades to me I never discovered until now.  I’m braver, I think.  Smarter, maybe.

Agent Adams told me that if I send this letter to him, he will make sure it gets to you.  But I can’t tell you exactly where I am…just in case.  I will tell you this – I’m not in New York City, and there’s a lot more smells of horse manure J .

If you have any contact with Mom or Dad, tell them I’m safe, I’m…trying…to be happy, and I’m building a new life.  As soon as I can do so safely, I will contact them.  In the mean time I’m working from home with a different marketing company.  It’s not Saks, but it’s something.

Keep drawing, Charlie.  Keep painting.  When I see you next, I want to see them.  You’ll find me, Charlie.  No matter what.

Remember the marbles.

I love you,

Violet

Thankful Tuesday 8/14/12

So it’s been awhile, and I apologize to my readers – but it has been quite busy in my life for the last two weeks!  Between trying to find time with my fiance, adjusting still to the time schedule of my new job, and other commitments in my life – I needed a small break.  But I’m working on several things, and transitioning into easier times.  I have SO much to be thankful for this week.

Side note:  There WILL be an end to Shades of Violet, coming tomorrow!  Of all the things in my life that have been neglected in the past weeks, this and cleaning my house are the 2 that I regret the most.  But I didn’t want to throw together a sloppy end to our exciting story.  So I am very excited to share with you what is coming tomorrow, as well as an announcement coming to my blog on Thursday following the conclusion of Shades of Violet.

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This week I am especially thankful for:

1) God, for reminding me that He comes first before all my problems.  For assuring me that good things come to those who wait and seek His word faithfully, continually.

2) Janessa, for keeping it real as my roommate 🙂

3) My friend Heather, who doesn’t realize what a blessing she is to others

4) The rain.  Anyone who has experienced this scorcher of a summer is thankful for this rain

5) My job.  I love feeling so fulfilled each day, and never empty

6) My friends who spent time with me on my night off last Saturday.  Dawn, Joe, Dan, Kyu, Jamie – you all made that night very special for me, and relaxing, best of all!

7) Weekly paychecks.  My lifesaver.  Truly.

8) Elizabeth, who has been and always will be the best venting partner a girl can ask for

9) My Dad, for assuring me that everything will be OK when I feel it won’t

10) My small group, for providing such a safe haven to release feelings and deep thoughts each week.  I love having such consistent fellowship with you all!

 

What are YOU thankful for this week?  What are you excited for?

Make a Difference/Thankful Tuesday

So I’m a day late…lateness is a story of my life this week!  Woke up 2 hours late due to, oh, not setting my alarm yesterday morning.  The good news is that God has big plans that I don’t even know about yet this week, so things like that can be forgotten easily 🙂

First, Make a Difference:

This week, I intended to make a difference in someone else’s life, and maybe in some way I did.  But I certainly was the one blessed this time, and I’m so happy to share this with you.

In the past few days, and the past few months really, I’ve been feeling that a part of my life is really dragging me down and making me not live my life to its fullest potential.  I feel that I’m not able to catch up with my life, and unfortunately this part of my life is not something I forsee myself being able to stop for another few months financially.  But since I’ve been working at Baker, God has blessed me more than I’ve ever consciously felt him bless me before.  This includes each and every one of my co-workers there.

Knowing my struggle with this, I spoke briefly with a woman I work closely and she looked at me and said “Can I pray for you?  Would that be okay?”  I work at a Christian company, this isn’t so strange.  But that someone is so outspoken about this – it is admirable to me.  However, I didn’t expect her to pray for me right then and there.  “Sure!” I said.  She surprised me when she folded her hands, bowed her head, and spoke one of the sweetest, most selfless prayers for the struggle of someone she’s known for 3 weeks.

What did you do in the last few days to make a difference for someone?  Want me to buy you coffee?  Comment!!

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Thankful Tuesday

Let it be known that this week I am especially thankful for:

  1. God – no matter how tired I am from my busy schedule, he always allows me to have time to rest and experience his glory
  2. A daunting task I had to do at work that involved me learning an invaluable lesson about putting God first every single day, in every single action
  3. My gorgeous, funny, smart, adorable little sister, Emmy.  I wish I could hang out with her every single day.  What an incredible blessing she is to our family 🙂
  4. Kyle.  He doesn’t text me sweet nothings often, but when he does they are often both adorable and hilarious, and uniquely him.  This week we were reminded that each of us doesn’t function too well without the help of the other 🙂
  5. DVR.  I don’t know how else I would catch up on life, sadly
  6. Microsoft Outlook.  I don’t think I would get anything done at work if I didn’t have the helpful task lists on Outlook!
  7. A cool breeze.  In this heat this summer, a breeze has felt like God’s glory.
  8. My dad – wiser than anyone I know.
  9. Elizabeth.  I could sit on the floor and eat pizza with you and talk about life with you 24/7 🙂
  10. My car.  Thank you, car, for not giving out on me yet. (KNOCK ON WOOD)

Shades of Violet: Chapter Ten

By Robin Dykema

Diana stepped out of the adjoining hotel room, her red lips tightly pursed together.

“Who is this? How did she find you two?” She pointed at the woman on her knees, towels flung around her.

Violet lifted her hands up, her palms facing Diana in what she hoped looked like a gesture of innocence.

“We’ve never seen her before, I promise.”

Technically not a lie.

“We really have no idea why she was here,” Charlie added without skipping a beat.

Ok, that one is a bit of a stretch. Luckily, Charlie’s always been a more convincing liar than I am.

Diana looked at the two siblings and paused, as if trying to decide if they were telling the truth.

“We watched the room the entire night, miss.” The first guard, whom Violet nicknamed Tweedledee, said in their defense.

“No one’s been in or out. We tapped the phones too; they haven’t made any suspicious calls,” Tweedledum added.

Diana glared at Tweedledum for admitting in front of Charlie and Violet that the phones were tapped.

It’s not as if we couldn’t have figured that out ourselves.

Diana began scolding the guards in a low, indistinguishable voice for letting slip the information about the tapped phone and for letting the towel woman into the hotel room.

Violet let her shoulders drop down her spine.

She doesn’t suspect us.

Charlie grabbed her hand and gave it a light squeeze.

We’re okay. For now.

One piece of the puzzle was still unclear to Violet. Did the guards not see the woman press the button on her belt?

Violet looked at each of the guards, trying to search for any clue of them having witnessed the action. They were deep in discussion with Diana, but neither mentioned anything about the button. After a few minutes, Diana turned her fury toward the woman who had tried to give Violet the wire.

“Take care of her.” Diana snapped her fingers and Tweedledee pulled the woman into Diana’s room.

Tweedledum ushered Violet and Charlie back into their hotel room. They slumped onto the couch, arms touching. The guard sat erect in the chair adjacent to the couch and stared blankly at the siblings. The room remained silent for what could have been five, ten, or thirty minutes. Violet tried with all her might not to imagine what Diana meant by “taking care of” someone. She heard no sounds escape from Diana’s room; no gun shots, no screams.

Nothing.

The silence finally broke. Charlie and Violet both jumped when the door swung open and Diana walked in looking poised at collected.

“You’re not going to get away with this.” Charlie spat out before Diana could address them.

Diana rolled her eyes. “Look. I’ve told you before. I need your cooperation in something, that’s it. I don’t want to hurt you, either of you. But I will if I have to. And I’ll kill her first, just so you can watch her suffer and know that it was all your fault for not helping me.”

The cold, cruel look in her eyes made Violet believe the threat. She gulped and nodded. “We’ll help you do whatever you need, we just want to go home. But we don’t understand how we’re supposed to help you.”

Diana’s blood red heels click-clacked as she walked toward Charlie and Violet. She opened her briefcase and slid a newspaper across the table to them.

“This was the first step. Front page headlines, just like I expected.” She let a cocky smile spread across her face.

 

Violet’s curiosity peaked and she cocked her head to the side to read what made this diabolical woman so pleased with herself.

NY Senator’s Son Found Dead After Botched Political Deal

The two pictures that accompanied the article made Violet shiver. A casual picture of Victor smiling with his father Jacob after a company picnic. Another picture of Victor looking serious in his business suit. The pictures of Victor looking lively haunted Violet. Luckily, the newspaper didn’t include a picture of Victor’s bloody, dead corpse – an image she desperately tried to rid her mind of.

Violet tried to read the article, but her thoughts jumbled together and she simply couldn’t concentrate enough. She caught a few phrases and sentences to get the gist of the article, such as “rampant drug use,” “questionable family values,” and “history of violence”. Violet forced her gaze away from the article. She knew whatever the article reported about Victor, starting with his death being caused by a drug deal gone wrong, had to be false or exaggerated by Diana and her people.

Some of Victor’s last words flashed in Charlie’s head, No matter what happens, no matter what, Charlie, I need you to know that you always knew the real me. Okay?”

 

Charlie silently promised Victor his dying wish. I’ll remember you the way you really were. You deserve better than that.

“Brilliant, isn’t it? Yeah, I had to kill him a bit earlier than planned, but it all worked out. Daddy’s perfect son isn’t quite so perfect anymore, is he?” Diana let out a forced laugh.

“Nope, his reputation is ruined now.” Violet used all her strength to pull her lips upward in what she hoped Diana would take as a look of approval. She knew that her best bet was to play along with Diana until Charlie had satisfied her demands, or whomever the woman with the belt communicated with discovered them, whichever came first. “What’s the next step?” Violet asked.

“That depends on you, Charlie.”

Violet looked over at Charlie, hoping he’d follow her in submitting to Diana’s plan, whatever it may entail. She could feel Charlie clenching and unclenching his fist next to her. He held a piercing gaze focused on Diana’s left hip, where she guessed a weapon was concealed. Violet grinded her elbow into Charlie’s side, and his gaze dropped.

“Whatever you need me to do,” he said through gritted teeth.

“I need an interview. That’s all, then you’re free to leave.”

After all that, she only needs an interview?

“Here’s the deal. I’ve set up an appointment for you at 4 o’clock today with a reporter. You’ll have to tell the reporters exactly what I tell you to say. Meanwhile, your sister will be in my room, being watched by my guards. If you don’t do exactly what I say, or if another towel lady happens to come by, well then…”

Diana pulled the gun out from her jacket.

“Let’s just say, Violet will suffer a similar fate your Victor did.”

The way she pronounced Victor’s name, as if he were some vile rodent who deserved his death, made Violet’s stomach turn.

“Why me?” Charlie asked. “There’s got to be hundreds of people in New York you could bribe to give your brother and father a bad name.”

Half-brother. And you can’t really call someone who shipped you off during your teens a real father.” For a brief moment, Violet saw pain flash in Diana’s eyes. She almost felt sorry for her. Almost.

Diana slipped back into her calm, cold demeanor. “And you don’t think I’ve tried that? The stories just ended up in the tabloids and no one paid any attention. I need something from a credible source if I want to start taking Jacob down. Victor’s dishonorable death was the first step, but now we’ve got to directly spoil Jacob’s name before I start the next stage of my plan. You’re Charlie Gandry, beloved artist, friend of the family. Thousands of people went to your art exhibit last month, your website is filled with adoring fans, why wouldn’t they believe you? With your past relationship with Jacob and Victor, your fame in the art world, and your likeable personality, you’re the perfect candidate. And I know you. I knew if I found something of yours you really loved, I’d have you in the palm of my hand,” Diana motioned at Violet.

She has him there. After what she did so relentlessly to Victor, I know how much Charlie must hate Diana, but he’ll do anything to protect me, even if it means helping her.

“So what’s it going to be?” Diana asked calmly, taking a few steps toward Violet. She grasped both her hands firmly around her gun and pointed it at Violet’s right temple.

Violet sucked in her breath and closed her eyes.

“YES, YES! I’ll do your damned interview! Just put that away!”

Diana smiled and said, “You’ve made the right decision. I’ll just take my collateral now to make sure you hold up your end of the deal.” With just a look from Diana, Tweedledum grabbed Violet roughly by the shoulders and began pushing her out of the room.

Violet didn’t resist the guard, but turned her head to give what could be her last look at her brother. Charlie and Violet locked eyes. They couldn’t exactly exchange any dialogue without Diana or the guard overhearing.

“Marbles” Violet mouthed, as Tweedledum pulled her away.

___

Next week, stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of Shades of Violet!!

Thankful Tuesday 7/17/2012

Happy Tuesday afternoon!

Are you thankful today?  Did you make a difference last week?  Tell me about it!  Comments mean a lot to bloggers and bloggeristas.

Side note:  I’d like to extend a formal apology to all of my past math teachers, of every grade.  I am sorry for complaining to you about why parts of math were irrelevant to my future, and for saying that once I got a job in my field (Writing major) there would be no need for math.

I was wrong.  Very wrong.

I digress.  Here’s what I am especially thankful for this week!

  1. God, for really providing for me when I needed it last weekend at work.  And for giving me a day off.  And for the glorious day off I get this coming Sunday as well 🙂
  2. Kyle.  Some little things he does annoys me and yet makes me fall more in love with him at the same time…that’s a skill!
  3. My supervisor at work.  Her confidence in me boosts my confidence in me for sure!
  4. Air conditioning.  It’s 101 degrees today where I am.  This has to be said.
  5. Joe Conway!  When it comes to my car troubles, he is the man to my rescue.  I would probably consider selling my car at this point if it weren’t for him!
  6. The kind man at the gas station who recently informed me of said car issue that I never would have noticed
  7. Rain!  With all these heat waves we’ve been having, it’s easy to forget how wonderful the rain is
  8. Technology.  We’d all be lost without it.
  9. My glorious, God provided bed and comfortor and pillows.  I miss you so much while I’m away.
  10. Jillian Michaels.  For always being the taunting voice inside my head reminding me how out of shape I feel and how badly I need to motivate myself to exercise.  Good eating is not enough, people!  My flabby body is proof.

What are U thankful for?

Make a Difference Monday 7/16/12

Happy Monday!

It’s another Monday, and another chance to have made a difference in someone else’s life.  It’s also the time when I’m INCREDIBLY thankful to have rid myself of last night’s ferocious migraine that ruined my night.

A reminder – making a difference is something to do in the name of humanity, not necessarily religiosity.  Although I am a Christian and post prayers as a part of my own contributions it does not mean you have to do the same.  Or that you have to be religious at all.  We all have the power to make a difference!!

Comment!  Tell me what you did this weekend, and you’ll be entered for the Starbucks card giveaway!  Nothing better than a free cup of coffee 🙂

This week, I found myself in a unique situation.  Instead of being the one to make a difference, I found myself on the receiving end.  Yesterday at church an elderly lady was so kind to me, telling her how wonderful my mom and I were as we led worship in the service earlier.  Then she asked me about how I got my new job.  I pointed to Heaven and said “that’s how.”  Then she asked me all about it, and I told her my story of pursuit and grace.  After, she told me that I blessed her, and that my telling her this story made her whole day.

I was so boggled by this.

She told me that telling her this story renewed a hope in her, and that she would be thinking about this all day.  How selfless is that?  I still can’t wrap my head around it entirely, but it blessed me in return to think that she cared so much for me, a woman I rarely speak with, and that she would be thinking of my story and praying for me.

It’s little.  But it counts.

God, thank you for the woman whom I blessed, and then was blessed with in return.  I’m so thankful for the selflessness of this person, and how  Your incredible works, in subtle ways, can change someone’s day or life.  Please be with her this week – keep her safe, and fill her with joy.  Amen.