Shopping List for Geocachers

Nicole O'Dell, choose NOW MinistriesBy Nicole O’Dell

In “Welcome Home, Love,” a novella in the Rainbow’s End anthology, Hadley Parker is celebrating a new body and a new decade by trying something totally new for her.

After winning her life-long battle to get fit, Hadley Parker thinks it’s time for a reward. The couch potato is gone; now it’s time to say goodbye to the wallflower. Determined, and about to turn thirty, Hadley signs up for the annual Rainbow’s End Treasure Hunt as a gift to herself. Unskilled in handling attention from good-looking men, Hadley nearly makes a huge mistake by falling for Brad, a fellow competitor and confirmed bachelor. Youth pastor and hunt director, Noah Templeton, tries to warn her before things go too far, but Hadley mistakes his sincerity for jealousy. Will she see past the syrupy compliments of the ill-intentioned womanizer? And will Noah manage to remind Hadley that the treasures she truly seeks are already within her . . . and right in front of her?

So, like any girl would, Hadley goes shopping! Here’s what she buys for her new endeavor:

800.00 Full-suspension, Titanium Mountain Bike

400.00 Garmin Edge 800 GPS

80.00 North American Navigator SD CardAsolo Grifter, Nicole O'Dell

40.00 Carrying Case

290.00 Asolo Drifter GV shoes in grape-ade and socks

400.00 REI moisture-wicking apparel

100.00 Hydration Pack

65.00 2 cases Everlast Hyperplex Protein Bars

—————— =

2175.00 (not including travel and expenses)

 

Little too pricey for you? Yeah, me too! Hadley has a fancy job in Chicago, isn’t married and has no kids. Her finances divide by ONE. Not so in my house! So I thought I’d work up a shopping list for Geocaching on a shoestring budget:

00.00 Walk, don’t rideNicole O'Dell, Rainbow's End

50.00 GPS on eBay (or less for a smart phone app)

00.00 Who needs an SD card or a carrying case?

100.00 Shoes. Can’t skimp on shoes.

00.00 You know there’s stuff in your closet you can wear!

1.69 Water bottle

5.00 Jar of peanut butter, pack of gum

—————— =

156.69 (not including travel and expenses)

 

There. Now you have no excuses! Get out there and hunt those caches.

Excerpt: Love’s Prize

Copyright by Cara Putman

Here’s part of the first scene in the third novella in Rainbow’s End.

* ~ * ~ *

Reagan Graham pressed against her brother’s side, trying to avoid the crush of bodies. When Garrett had invited her to spend the summer on this crazy geocaching adventure, she hadn’t considered it because it sounded crowded. She needed time and space to recover from the chaos, stress, and intensity of tax season. Spending an extended vacation with hundreds of strangers did not strike her as a good time. At all.

But when an unwanted admirer showed up at her condo hidden in the shadows, accompanying her brother to Osage Beach seemed like a good idea. No, make that a great idea. If the police hadn’t arrived when they did. . .she shuddered at how close the stalker had gotten.

Her brother tightened his grip on her. She glanced at him, his athletic frame lending her comfort. He would do anything he could to keep her safe. She knew that. Then her glance landed on his roommate.

Colton Ryan was an enigma. Gorgeous, but an enigma. He seemed friendly, yet after a week she knew less about him than the day they met.

He stood apart from them, yet watchful, his gray eyes constantly surveying the crowd. He stood an inch or so shorter than Garrett, but erect and alert. And the way his dark hair curled around his ears made her fingers itch to brush it in place.

Colton was her age, a few years older than Garrett. He planned to start classes at Washington University School of Law in the fall along with Garrett. He called enrolling in law school “seeing the light.” She called it a sign that he still hadn’t decided what he wanted to be when he grew up if he was changing course a few years into a career. He and Garrett had met through the admissions office and decided to room together during the year. But now he’d attached himself to their summer plans. She hadn’t wanted him as a tagalong for her summer away, but there he stood.

She didn’t need the complication.

And his presence in the smaller, neighboring condo couldn’t be called anything but.

All she wanted was a couple months to forget about the fright that crowded her back home. A shiver shook her at the thought. And if she got to do it with a camera in her hand, all the better. She’d leave spreadsheets behind and focus on finding God’s beauty and creativity in the midst of the Ozarks.

She sucked in a calming breath and closed her eyes. The crowd noise rolled over her until someone grabbed the microphone and started talking. Even then, she tuned out, the sun warm on her face. Garrett could take notes for both of them.

In fact, she’d let Garrett and Colton plot all kinds of strategies to win the race. She’d focus on her camera. Relax as she saw the world through the narrow focus of her lens. Avoid all the pressures and stresses of a life out of control. For two months she’d pretend she was someone else. Someone without a constant shadow.

The thought brought a smile to her face.

She’d try to relax and return to St. Louis ready to reenter her career. As long as she fixed real food a couple times a week, Garrett would be thrilled. And if he didn’t let the condo disintegrate to a bachelor pad’s level of cleanliness, she’d make do.

She opened her eyes as the speaker stepped away from the microphone.

That’s all she had to do to survive the summer. Slip under her stalker’s radar and return home in August, ready to resume her life. Hopefully, she’d find herself energized from the time in nature, exercising her creative muscles. She touched the camera dangling around her neck. Maybe she should snap some photos of the crowd. She could document the entire hunt. A snicker slipped out at the thought of handing Garrett a photobook at the end of the summer.

“What’s up?” His eyebrows arched over clear blue eyes as he studied her.

“Nothing important. You ready to find your first cache?”

“Only if Colton gets that gizmo figured out. You’d think I could make it work without help from my buddy the engineer. Noooo.” Garrett rolled his eyes. “Should have known.”

Reagan had to laugh. Her brother had the simplest cell phone because he chose to remain “technology adverse,” as he called it. Yet he’d rushed out to buy an iPad the moment Apple released them. She couldn’t make sense of his quirk. Then her gaze landed on Colton. His eyebrows met over his nose as he studied the small GPS unit.

He must have sensed her gaze, because he looked up and smiled, the kind of smile that could stop the heart of a lesser woman, one hunting for romance. With his rugged movie-star looks, it wouldn’t be hard to lose perspective when he flashed the dimple in his chin.

Too bad for him, she didn’t want anything to do with men other than her brother right now. Not if there was the iota of a chance Colton could move into position as the next weirdo who fixated on her. She shivered at the thought of inviting anyone into her life right now.

Nope, it was safer to stay far away. His smile shifted as if he could read her thoughts.
What she wouldn’t do to get that adorable dimple back in place. . .if only.

* ~ * ~ *

Excerpt used by permission of Barbour Publishing. Check out this page for places to buy Rainbow’s End!

Pieces of Real Life

By Annalisa Daughety

There is an old adage that says you should write what you know. I don’t necessarily agree with this, because it’s rather limiting. If I only wrote what I know, my books would probably be quite boring!

But I do think sometimes we can find ways to take pieces of our real lives and real experiences and use them in our novels. Rainbow’s End is a great example. Valerie Comer’s own geocaching experience was the thing that ultimately brought our novella collection to life.

Annalisa, the Park Ranger

As for me, I’ve found ways to incorporate pieces of my real life into my novels—and it’s quite fun! My favorite example of this is getting to use my experience as a National Park Ranger in the Walk in the Park series.

I’ve also found that many times when I’m going through something tough in my life, I find ways to put my characters through something similar. In some ways, it can be almost therapeutic. My beloved grandfather was killed in a car accident two years ago and in A Wedding to Remember in Charleston, Luke deals with the accidental death of his brother. I understood the emotions he had and was able to portray that grief in a real way—because I’d experienced it myself.

In “Beneath the Surface,” my novella for Rainbow’s End, Madison Wallace returns to her tiny hometown after being away for several years. As I was writing the novella, I was in the process of moving back to my own tiny hometown after a nearly seventeen year absence (other than holidays and short visits). For me, it was just a neat way to capture my own experience within a character’s experience.

There is a downside! Sometimes when people find out that I draw on a real life experience, they automatically think that means the book is in some way autobiographical. Not so. It just means that I may have felt some of the same emotions as a character.

Ultimately, an author can’t help but bring some of themselves to a book. I know there are pieces of me in every book I’ve written. Which I think is one of the reasons having some downtime is so important—we need to experience life in order to write about it!

I’ve just completed what will be my eleventh published book and am about to take a small self-imposed writing sabbatical. I’m going to travel, spend time with family, take time to smell the roses. . .that sort of thing. I have no doubt that when I come back to my laptop, I’ll be full of ideas and new experiences that I’m ready to put into future books.

Up first for me during my “break” is a tap and ballet class I’ve just signed up to take! I bought my special shoes and I’m ready to go. . .and I’d be willing to bet that someday soon, you just might see that make its way into one of my books.

Meet Nicole O’Dell

Nicole O’Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk, is a youth culture expert who writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents on preparing for life’s tough choices. The mother of six, including toddler triplets, she’s author of YA fiction, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series, and non-fiction for teens including Girl Talk, 2/1/12, based on the popular advice column she writes with her two daughters. Hot Buttons, O’Dell’s non-fiction series for parents pre-empts peer pressure by tackling tough issues. Visit www.nicoleodell.com.

Congratulations on the release of your novella “Welcome Home, Love” in the collection Rainbow’s End. Please tell us a bit about this novella and how it came to be.

After winning her life-long battle to get fit, Hadley Parker thinks it’s time for a reward. The couch potato is gone; now it’s time to say goodbye to the wallflower. Determined, and about to turn thirty, Hadley signs up for the annual Rainbow’s End Treasure Hunt as a gift to herself. Unskilled in handling attention from good-looking men, Hadley nearly makes a huge mistake by falling for Brad, a fellow competitor and confirmed bachelor. Youth pastor and hunt director, Noah Templeton, tries to warn her before things go too far, but Hadley mistakes his sincerity for jealousy. Will she see past the syrupy compliments of the ill-intentioned womanizer? And will Noah manage to remind Hadley that the treasures she truly seeks are already within her . . . and right in front of her?

Is this your first/only release? If not, what has released recently or about to be released that our readers would like to know about?

No, I actually have nine releases happening this year. The first one was in February with the release of Girl Talk, an advice/Q&A book I wrote with my two daughters based on our Girl Talk blog.

Next came the release of The Embittered Ruby on April 1st. It’s book two in the Diamond Estates series based on my own experiences at Teen Challenge as a teen.

June 1st welcomes the first two Hot Buttons books with the third and fourth to follow in October.

From drugs to bullying, from Internet activity to dating, Hot Button issues have saturated youth culture . . . and may have challenged your teen. This accessible, quick-reference series is a practical guide for discussing these Hot Buttons with your child, before the issues become a problem.

What special something do you try to bring to every story you write?

Whether I’m writing fiction for teens or women, or nonfiction for teens or parents, it’s all about choices. Our pasts, our mistakes, our insecurities. . .they’re all a very real part of who we are, but they’re nothing about who He is. I strive to show readers that the patterns embedded within us because of sin, doubt, or fear, are choices we make. Through the power of Christ, we can rise above every human frailty, and live victorious in Him. We can Choose NOW.

Have you ever been to the setting of your novella?

Yes, I have actually. I traveled there with my grandparents when I was very young. I remember visiting Meramec Caverns very clearly, but that’s about all I remember of the trip. Unfortunately, those were in the dark ages before digital photography.

What does a typical writing day look like for you?

With toddler triplets in the house, there is no such thing as typical. I steal moments when I can and stay up late when necessary. I don’t often get up early because, well, I’ve usually stayed up too late.

What’s the best part about writing for you? The hardest?

The best part is connecting with readers! I love to get notes via email, Facebook, twitter, or to meet someone at an event. As far as the actual writing, I love tweaking sentences and scenes into vivid word pictures—at least that’s always my goal. And I love, love, love crafting strong characters that stick with the reader long after THE END.

The hardest part is just the publishing industry as a whole. The wait–the not yets—those can be difficult sometimes.

What’s one small bit of you that’s in your novella’s main character?

I knew nothing about geocaching when we started this project. But, like my character, Hadley, in “Welcome Home, Love,” I’ve struggled with physical issues over the years. In fact, I once lost well over 100 pounds and reached a fit and trim size four. Then, just as I’d started to get used to my new size and started believing I was actually the new me, I got pregnant with triplets and the doctor told me I needed to gain 100 pounds. No joke.

It’s easy to see why Hadley’s body image and self-esteem issues are near and dear to my heart.

What dish are you most likely to take to a potluck?

I’d love to say I’d bring my award-winning chili as spotlighted in The Embittered Ruby, but those days are on hold for me. The days of languishing for hours over my kitchen counter with mounds of fresh peppers and jars of spices are a distant but distinct memory that I hope will find its place in my life again.

Right now, though, getting to a potluck with a store-bought tub of potato salad and a few bags of rolls, with three fully dressed and freshly scrubbed toddlers in tow is about the best I can come up with.

If you were a color, what color would you be? Why?

I’d be clear. I’m so bad at these kinds of questions. I think you have to have poetic tendencies to say something poignant to connect color with a persona.

If you could go on an all-expenses-paid month-long vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go? What would you do there?

I’m torn between an Alaskan cruise and a cruise of the Greek islands. I know there’s a ton to do in Alaska and it’s been on my list for a long time, but my husband and I went to see an Imax movie about Greece once and I’ve wanted to do that trip ever since. It’s so beautiful!

Where or how do you like to connect with your readers?

Website
Twitter: Nicole O’Dell
Twitter: Hot Buttons
Twitter: Choose NOW Radio
Facebook

Thanks so much for letting us get to know you a little!

Write about Something I’ve Never Done?

By Cara Putman

Last spring when my writing bud Nicole O’Dell asked me if I wanted to be part of a novella collection with her, my initial reaction was “of course!” Nicole is so prolific and accomplished I couldn’t imagine not writing with her. And if it also meant I could help Valerie Comer, a debut author, get her first contract, then my enthusiasm for the project only went up.

Then they told me the topic.

Geocaching? It sounds fun, but I’ve never tried it. Never been to the Ozarks either.

Still, I wanted to be part, so I put on my research hat. As God would have it work out, my sister and brother-in-law were on their way to Branson. Being the great folks that they are, they took a detour through Osage Beach just to let me know what the town was like. That’s how I learned about the Turtle ice cream shop and the outlet mall that became pieces of my novella.

I also hit the Internet. I know the theory of the geocaching, but haven’t participated yet. I asked folks on Facebook if they’d gone. I talked to a friend who enjoys the hunt with his kids and made plans to participate at some time. Each of those details gave me a better idea what someone participating in a hunt like Rainbow’s End would experience and how to write the scenes.

By the time I finished writing “Love’s Prize,” I wanted to pack my bag and head to the Ozarks for some geocaching. My prayer is that readers will feel the same way…like you’ve managed to sneak a short vacation within the pages of our stories.

Excerpt: Beneath the Surface

Copyright by Annalisa Daughety

Here’s part of the first scene in the second novella in Rainbow’s End.

* ~ * ~ *

Even though she was alone in the car, Madison Wallace groaned loudly as she drove past the Camden County sign. It may as well have been flashing a “Welcome back home, Loser” message. She’d fought hard to keep this day from coming. Except for a couple of brief visits, she’d managed to spend the past twelve years flitting from city to city. First St. Louis, then Chicago, and most recently Atlanta.

And life had been great.

Mostly.

Until two weeks ago when the non-profit she worked for had lost some expected grant money. As luck would have it, Madison’s job as marketing coordinator had been one of the first to go. With no job in sight and the lease up on her apartment, there was only one thing to do. . .head back to her tiny, backwoods Missouri hometown and regroup.

Her older sister, Brook, had been ecstatic. She’d promptly signed the two of them up for some two-month-long treasure hunt her church was sponsoring. Geocaching she’d called it. It sounded hopelessly dull to Madison.

Yet here she was, risking a speeding ticket to get to the opening session. She glanced at the clock on the dashboard of her Nissan Altima. She’d promised Brook she’d be there by now. Although it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that she was late. Their mama used to say that Madison ran on her own time. She’d been born six days late and had been running behind ever since.

She careened into the church parking lot and slowed down as she searched for a place to park. The nearly full lot told her she was definitely late. An empty space beside an ancient green hatchback beckoned. She turned off the engine and checked herself in the mirror. Not bad, considering how many hours she’d been on the road. She dabbed on some lipstick and fluffed her dark brown hair. If she ran into anyone she used to know, she wanted to look her best. No need for them to know that she was coming home a complete failure. Even if she wasn’t the successful advertising executive she’d always aspired to be, she could still look the part.

She hurried toward the park across the street from the church, her high heels clacking against the pavement.

“Madison!” a voice called.

She whirled to see Brook, and her brother-in-law, Scott, hurrying toward her.

“Hey there, stranger.” Madison embraced her sister, unable to hide her grin. She hated the idea of being back in her hometown, but had to admit she looked forward to spending time with Brook.

“You look like a movie star,” Brook said. “Couldn’t you have cut us country bumpkins some slack?” She gestured from her own running shorts, faded T-shirt, and tennis shoes to Madison’s dark red dress and Jimmy Choos. “Of course, I’d fall flat on my face if I tried to wear those shoes.”

“You look beautiful, hon.” Scott pulled Brook to him and planted a kiss on her cheek. “Just as pretty as the day I married you.”

Madison rolled her eyes. If only spending time with Brook didn’t mean being subjected to a nauseating lovefest all summer. Her brother-in-law had always bordered on cheesy, and it appeared not much had changed over the past few years. “Nice to see you again, Scott. Thanks for letting me stay.”

He smiled warily. “You, too. We’re glad for you to visit. Besides, with Joshua at my parents’ house in Arkansas for most of the summer, we have an extra room.”

Madison barely knew her six-year-old nephew. The plan had been for her to get to Osage Beach a couple of days earlier so she could spend time with him but it hadn’t panned out. “Sorry I missed seeing him. Packing took a lot longer than I expected.” She’d put most of her earthly belongings in storage. There had certainly been no point in hauling them to Osage Beach. It would be a miracle if she lasted there the whole summer. Please, Lord, help me find a job and get me out of here quickly.

“We’d better hurry up.” Brook ushered her toward the crowd. “They’ll be giving out directions soon and we don’t want to miss it.” She held up a box. “This is our GPS. I got it at Communication Location, a new shop in town. It was kind of expensive, but they offered a discount for Rainbow’s End Treasure Hunt participants.” She beamed. “This is going to be so much fun.”

Madison raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything.

Spending time with Brook sounded fun. Traipsing around the Ozarks looking for hidden treasure did not.

* ~ * ~ *

Excerpt used by permission of Barbour Publishing. Check out this page for places to buy Rainbow’s End!

Nicole O’Dell in a Fat Suit

By Nicole O’Dell

Nicole O'Dell, choose NOW MinistriesI was 12 years old and had just returned home from Bible camp where the mosquitoes were as plentiful as the grains of sand on the lakeshore. As I became ill, it never crossed my mind that one of them was to blame. Days later, hospitalized, in and out of consciousness, enduring probes and spinal taps, I heard whispers of words I couldn’t pronounce and saw expressions I’d only seen at the one funeral I’d ever attended.

I had contracted encephalitis, which is an infection and inflammation in the lining of the brain. To make a very long story short, I’ll sum it up to say that in lieu of dying, which had been a distinct possibility, upon recovery I had to face the fact that parts of my brain were ravaged. My thyroid, my hypothalamus, and some other things that regulate the metabolism and other such systems.

That summer, the summer before I started Junior High, I gained 40 pounds. When I walked into that new school for the first time, I felt like Gwyneth Paltrow in Shallow Hal. But, unlike Gwyneth, I couldn’t take my fat suit off when I got home. It was horrible. They called me names and they laughed at me. Kids who had been my friends in years past now ignored me. It was such a rude awakening, and it instantly defined how I saw myself.

Those two years of Junior High created a foundation for a lifetime of self-esteem battles.

Then, entering high school, puberty set in and my systems shocked back into somewhat of a working state. The weight came off, and I got attention for the exact opposite reasons as I had before. Now it was a new school, new attention, new friends–the NEW ME! That only solidified the subconscious realization that looks were the most important thing.

Nicole O'Dell, engagement pictureThe physical battle wasn’t over, though. With each of my first three kids, I packed on the pounds and never lost them. Because of how my body works, it takes a ridiculous diet and hours of daily exercise for me to achieve a fit-and-trim state. But, about six years ago, I did just that. I fought the fight and lost 140 pounds in just over a year. I felt great. Most of the time. But even as you see me in this picture, I still didn’t “get it.” I still saw myself in the fat suit.

It’s as much a mental battle as it is a physical one. I wore a nice comfy size four at that time, but I never reached for a four on the rack. I’d go for the 10 or 12, assuming that was my size. Invariably, I’d be shocked when the clothes fell off, and I had to go down sizes until they fit.

Over time it got easier as I got more and more comfortable in my own skin and began to shed some of the hang-ups I’d been carrying with me my entire life.

But it didn’t last long.

I remember the day very clearly. My husband and I watched the ultrasound screen as three babies wiggled around inside me. Pregnant. With triplets. What were my first thoughts? Joy? Gratitude? Excitement? Nope. My first thoughts were, “I’m going to get fat.” Immediately all of the mental anguish and self-esteem struggles I’d released flooded right back in and grabbed on tight. Then the doctor said, “I need to you to gain about 100 pounds.”

NO!

He explained why. The babies would be preemies. They needed lots of help. I understood that, and I’d do whatever it took to have healthy babies, but I agonized over what I knew would happen. The doctor promised I’d lose the weight. I knew it wouldn’t be that easy. Guess who was right?

Okay. . .this all sounds so self-centered. I realize that. But I imagine there are many, many of you who struggle with body image and self-esteem. I know the stronghold it can have on a woman. I’ve lived it my entire life and am in the throes of the battle yet again. That’s why I wrote about Hadley Parker.

In “Welcome Home, Love,” a novella in the Rainbow’s End anthology, Hadley is also the product of a weight battle. She fought the same image problems and relationship struggles as a result of her own hang-ups. But she vowed to get herself in shape before she turned thirty–and she did it!

After winning her life-long battle to get fit, Hadley Parker thinks it’s time for a reward. The couch potato is gone; now it’s time to say goodbye to the wallflower. Determined, and about to turn thirty, Hadley signs up for the annual Rainbow’s End Treasure Hunt as a gift to herself. Unskilled in handling attention from good-looking men, Hadley nearly makes a huge mistake by falling for Brad, a fellow competitor and confirmed bachelor. Youth pastor and hunt director, Noah Templeton, tries to warn her before things go too far, but Hadley mistakes his sincerity for jealousy. Will she see past the syrupy compliments of the ill-intentioned womanizer? And will Noah manage to remind Hadley that the treasures she truly seeks are already within her. . .and right in front of her?

What about that treasure? What is it we want out of life? A perfect body? A great wardrobe? Attention or approval from others? Matthew 6:19-21 says:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

It’s a conscious choice to cling to the treasures of the world and seek them more than the eternal riches found only in Christ. As Christians, we know this, but we have to reset our thinking on a regular basis. Am I there yet? No way! This will be something I battle forever unless Jesus takes it from me, or until i stand before Him in a new body. Trust me, just like Hadley Parker, if you see me at an event and I’m a size four again, know that I might have won the physical fight again, but believe me, the mental and spiritual battle still rages on.

Meet Cara Putman (Take 2)

Cara C Putman lives in Indiana with her husband and four children. She’s an attorney and a teacher at her church as well as lecturer at Purdue. She has loved reading and writing from a young age and now realizes it was all training for writing books. She loves bringing history and romance to life.

An honors graduate of the University of Nebraska and George Mason University School of Law, Cara left small town Nebraska and headed to Washington, D.C., to launch her career in public policy.

Cara is an author chasing hard after God as she lives a crazy life. She invites you to join her on that journey.

Congratulations on the release of your novella “Love’s Prize” in the collection Rainbow’s End. Please tell us a bit about this novella and how it came to be.

I was contacted a year ago by Nicole O’Dell, a writing friend, about being in a collection set in the Ozarks. The concept was intriguing, so I jumped on it. I’m so glad I did! It was really fun to be part of this. . .adding my twist of mystery and suspense to the collection.

Is this your first/only release? If not, what has released recently or about to be released that our readers would like to know about?

This is actually my 14th work of fiction. In April a full length novel, A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island, released. And earlier this spring, I had a novella in the Cherry Blossom Capers collection. It’s a busy spring!

What special something do you try to bring to every story you write?

In all of my stories, whether set during World War II or contemporary times, contain women who are in unique roles. . .but thrust into situations where they have to lean on God in ways they never have before. At the same time they learn they have an inner strength they weren’t aware of. They also come to see that God never leaves them no matter what they find themselves confronting.

What’s the most off-the-wall piece of research you’ve ever done?

Cara and her children at Mackinac

When I was writing my Mackinac Island book, I spent time at the jail with the police chief asking how he’d handle a murder. And then at the end of the book, I called the clinic and talked to the doctor about how she’d handle a gunshot victim. I’m so glad I did because even though I’d visited the island twice, I got some of the details wrong.

How do you deal with the stress of being an author?

Most of the time it’s a joy, but there are times when deadlines overlap or marketing collides with other duties. Then I try to focus on the way God has given me a platform to share His truth that is broader than I would have but for the writing. And I also try to look at breaks as a time to rejuvenate. . .read more books, relax, and recharge.

What’s the best part about writing for you? The hardest?

The best part about writing is getting to create new characters, setting and situations. I know I will never get bored. How could I when there’s something new with each book.

If you could go on an all-expenses-paid month-long vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go? What would you do there?

I would go to Europe and explore sites like Normandy as research for my World War II novels. I imagine I could spend more than a month and never see everything I’ve read about, but I’d sure love to try.

Where or how do you like to connect with your readers?

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter

Thanks so much for letting us get to know you a little!

What is Geocaching, Anyway?

By Valerie Comer

The four novellas in Rainbow’s End center around a fictional geocaching event we called (of course) Rainbow’s End Treasure Hunt. We designed it as a summer-long church outreach event all of our characters could participate in, thus providing the unifying foundation for the stories. In this event, participants earned points in various ways: finding caches, setting up caches, participating in gatherings, etc. Certain caches were worth more points than others.

But what is geocaching? It’s a is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online.

Who can play?

Seekers. This is how most geocachers start playing. You log onto your computer, locate a geocache or two you’d like to find, enter the coordinates into your GPS unit, then head on out the door. As with any outdoor adventure, make sure you’re carrying water and wearing appropriate shoes and clothing. Once you’ve located the cache, you sign in, swap out pieces of treasure, if you desire, and hide it right back where you found it. When you get back home, you sign back in on your computer and log your find.

Hiders. Once you’ve found a few geocaches, you begin to speculate good places to hide a few new ones. You need a weatherproof container (ammunition boxes or Tupperware containers are good), a small notebook, a pencil (unlike a pen, you can use a pencil in any weather), and a few starter treasures. Hide it well and note the coordinates. Make up a clue to help out the seekers, then upload the information to the geocaching.com website. Keep an eye on it; you may be surprised by how many people enjoy locating YOUR cache!

What’s the Treasure? Part of the fun is seeing what people put in a cache. The basic rule is no food, or anything else with a smell that might entice wildlife to dig it up. Most treasures are small and inexpensive, such as matchbox cars, whistles, and other trinkets. Sometimes they’re themed to the cache’s location. You can leave business cards or bookmarks in them.

Sometimes people will put in special tracking coins that they then can ‘follow’ as people move the coin from cache to cache. I saw one once with a note taped to it: Please help this coin move east.

Of course, the biggest treasure geocaching provides is an excuse for the whole family to head outside on an adventure. When was the last time an electronic device did that for you?

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

~Matthew 6:19-21

Excerpt: Topaz Treasure

Copyright by Valerie Comer

Here’s part of the first scene in the first novella in Rainbow’s End.

* ~ * ~ *

Lyssa Quinn clutched a bright-pink folder stuffed with advertising forms against her chest and squeezed her eyes shut. Please God. Help me be brave. She squared her shoulders and released each cramped finger individually. She could do this.

Frigid air conditioning laced with the odor of new carpet blasted into the Missouri humidity as Lyssa shouldered open the glass door of Osage Beach’s newest shop. This looked like the kind of corporate sponsor the Rainbow’s End Treasure Hunt needed, with a name like Communication Location: Home of Gizmos, Gadgets, and More—gadgets that included cell phones and GPS handhelds, if the posters plastering the windows were to be believed. Along with a smaller sign that announced Opening Soon. Well, she didn’t have time to wait, not if she was to have all the advertising and sponsorship in place before the middle of June. Only a month to go.

At least the door was unlocked and the fluorescents blazed down. Stacks of cardboard boxes lined the aisles next to partially filled shelves. Somebody must be around. If she was lucky, somebody sympathetic.

But what if they weren’t? Maybe she should come back another day. Or never. How had Noah talked her into this? She glanced at the folder in her hands, covered with decals from her third-grade class. Cute stickers with chalkboards and apples. #1 Teacher. If she could face twenty-nine kids five days a week, surely she could face one manager.

A guy in jeans strode out of the back room, his face and upper body obscured by the box in his arms. “Good morning, and welcome to Communication Location. How can I help you?”

That voice. Lyssa froze. Even muffled by cardboard, it shot her straight back to her college days. But it couldn’t be. There was no reason her humanities professor would be here in Osage Beach, stocking shelves.

He slid the box across the countertop and appeared from behind it. Dark curly hair and deep blue eyes, just like Lyssa remembered. A dimple appeared as he grinned.

No way. Lyssa sucked in a ragged breath as she white-knuckled the folder. When her good friends, who just happened to be the youth pastor and her roommate, had bullied her into seeking patrons for the church outreach event, this scenario had not remotely elbowed its way into her nightmares. She pivoted and forced herself to take even steps toward the door. No bolting like a frightened deer.

“Hey, I’m sorry. I was practicing my welcome line. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Scare her? Yep, shaking. Lyssa halted in her tracks. This was ridiculous. She was a grown woman of twenty-six, for heaven’s sake. And just the sight of one of her professors made her flee?

But not just any college professor.

Muffled footsteps approached on the carpet. “We’re not open for business yet, but I might be able to help you anyway. Is there anything in particular you’re looking for? If it isn’t unpacked yet, I should at least know when it’s coming.”

Lyssa forced herself to face him. The temptation to ask for comparisons of various GPS units rolled over her. But no, she had a reason for being here, and that wasn’t it. She braced herself and looked up.

His intense blue eyes crinkled around the edges as he smiled encouragingly. And waited.

“My name is Lyssa Quinn, and I’m here on behalf of Osage Beach Community Church.” She paused for a split second, but his grin didn’t waver—to her shock—so she plunged on. “We’re hosting our first ever geocaching event this summer, and we’re looking for donations and corporate sponsors. Being as you sell global positioning systems and cell phones, both useful in geocaching, we thought you might be interested in sponsoring our event.”

There. She’d gotten all the words out and publicly aligned herself with the church.

He didn’t laugh, though his eyebrows angled down.

Lyssa pulled a sheet of paper from the folder and shoved it at him with trembling fingers. “If you want any further information, please call the number listed.” She started to turn away. Why didn’t it have the church number on it instead of her cell?

“Just a moment.”

The floor gripped Lyssa’s sandals like Velcro. He glanced over the paper then met her gaze.

She tried to wrench her eyes free but couldn’t. In humanities, four years ago, she’d found him mesmerizing. Even after he derided her roommate in front of the entire class.

He held out his hand.

Lyssa reached out and clutched it like a drowning woman, sweaty palm notwithstanding.

“I’m Kirk Kennedy, just in town to help my brother get his new business off the ground. Your name is Lyssa?”

She nodded and tugged her hand free. Also her gaze. The arrogant professor she’d once known didn’t seem the kind to help out a sibling. Had she judged him too hastily back then? Not likely.

“Why don’t you come sit down and tell me more about this event? I could use a break. I’ll grab us each a cola, if you’d like.”

Lyssa found her voice. “No, thanks. To the cola, I mean.”

Kirk—no longer her professor—grinned and ushered her toward the door he’d come out of a few minutes before. “We’ve got ginger ale and root beer, too. Just name your addiction.”

Her wooden legs propelled her to the back of the small shop. “I stay away from the stuff. I’ve seen kids in the classroom who drink soda for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, whose baby brothers and sisters get it in their bottles. So unhealthy, with all the sugar and chemicals.” To say nothing of making a teacher’s job more difficult.

He chuckled behind her. “Well then. Water?”

Lyssa hesitated. Probably all he had was bottled, and then she’d feel obligated to get into issues like plastic in landfills and how recycling didn’t work as well as everyone had been led to believe. “I’m good, thanks.”

* ~ * ~ *

Excerpt used by permission of Barbour Publishing. Check out this page for places to buy Rainbow’s End!