Sneak Peak at Reconciliations

The following excerpt is from my second novel Reconciliations, published by Oak Tara in November 2011.  I hope you enjoy it. 

If you would like to read a longer sample, please email me at susan@susaneball.com.   Reconciliations is available on Amazon and Christian Book Distributors.

Josh took a deep breath. “If Christine were in trouble, would you help her?”

Kevin stopped chewing and swallowed hard. “Why would you ask something like that?”

“Just answer the question. Would you help her if she needed you?”

“If you mean financial trouble, no way. Absolutely not. I was more than generous with her in the divorce. If she can’t handle her money, that’s her problem.” Kevin had been blindsided when Christine left him. It had taken him a long time to get over the hurt, and he had no intention of allowing her to hurt him again. And he was certain she would, if he got involved in her life.

Josh shook his head. “No, I mean if she were in real trouble and had no one else to turn to. Suppose she was in a bad relationship with a creep who treated her bad. Would you help her get out of it?”

Josh had Kevin’s full attention now. “You’re not just supposing, are you?” Although Kevin tried desperately to sound nonchalant, he was dismayed by the concern he felt for Christine’s well-being. “You know something. What’s happening with Christine?”

“I saw her the other day.” Josh dropped his voice and scanned the restaurant, as if afraid someone might overhear them. Kevin recognized Josh’s mannerism—he acted like this whenever he was about to tell Kevin something he’d rather not have to say. “Lisa and I were shopping, and we ran into her. She was with a guy—Larry something or other. She said they’re living together.”

Kevin scowled. “Of course she is. Christine has always been able to find a man to take care of her, at least for a little while. Unfortunately she usually picks losers. He’s probably the next guy in a long line of losers.”

“She seemed skittish, like she was in a hurry to get away. And she kept tugging at her sleeve, pulling it down to make sure her forearm was covered. When she raised her hand to wave good-bye, her sleeve fell back, and I saw a large bruise on her arm.”

“Maybe she bumped into something. Christine’s clumsy. She was always banging into the dresser or the bed post and getting bruised.” Kevin didn’t think a little bruise was anything to be concerned about.

“No,” Josh shook his head adamantly. “It looked like someone, I assume Larry, had grabbed her hard. I saw impressions of fingers on her arm.”

Kevin was alarmed, but there was no way he was getting involved in Christine’s domestic problems. “Christine’s a big girl,” he said flatly. “She can take care of herself. If this guy isn’t treating her right, she can move out.”

“Yeah, I guess.” But Josh didn’t seem convinced. “Thought you should know. That’s all.”

“I appreciate your concern, but I’m sure Christine will be fine.”

Despite Kevin’s assertion that Christine was no longer part of his life and none of his concern, he couldn’t stop thinking about her. She’d hurt him deeply when she left him after he caught her with another man. His pain was increased when he learned she’d been involved with two other men during the final months of their eleven-year marriage. Since their breakup, Kevin had one serious girlfriend while Christine had, according to the rumors, gone from one bad relationship to another. She was showing her true colors, and Kevin told himself he was glad to be rid of her. Yet the thought of some guy manhandling her disturbed him more than a little.

Kevin knew Christine Miller was a wild child the moment he laid his eyes on her. That had been part of the attraction.

Sneak Peak at Restorations

 

The following excerpt is from my first novel Restorations, published by Oak Tara in October 2010.  I hope you enjoy it. 

If you would like to read a longer sample, please email me at susan@susaneball.com.   Restorations is available on Amazon and Christian Book Distributors.

 

From her lounge chair strategically placed under the shade of a large oak tree, Karen looked up from the book she was reading and took stock of her family. Her husband, Jeff, frolicked in the lake with their youngest son, Kyle. Their middle son, Austin, had tired of the water and was playing Frisbee with a redheaded boy he had befriended. Trevor, the oldest, was trying to make small talk with a blonde in a tiny pink bikini. At twelve years of age, he had recently discovered girls and was wasting no time in getting to know the opposite sex better.

As Karen surveyed the scene, she felt a deep sense of contentment. It really doesn’t get much better than this, she thought. A lovely spring day at the lake surrounded by those she loved best. Karen picked up the romance novel and continued her reading.

After a while, Jeff brought Kyle to Karen and said he was going to swim to the small island in the middle of the lake. Jeff was an excellent swimmer, and the short swim out to the island and back posed no serious challenge. Karen occupied herself with toweling Kyle off and changing him into shorts and a T-shirt. She began gathering up the wet towels and sunscreen. It was almost time to head for home. When she cast her gaze back to the lake, Jeff was about thirty feet from shore and struggling to keep his head above the water.

“Jeff! Hang on, Jeff! I’m coming.” Karen’s heart pounded in her chest as she raced to the dock and grabbed the life ring. She tossed it in Jeff’s direction, but it fell short of his reach. She pulled on the rope until she could reach out and grab the ring and toss it again. Karen threw it over and over, as far as she could, but each time it landed a little short. Jeff was only able to get his fingertips on the ring once before it slipped from his grasp.

“Help us! Someone, please help us!” Karen yelled at the top of her lungs as she continued to throw out the life preserver.

A man and woman had been walking around the lake and heard Karen’s screams. The woman called 911; the man joined Karen on the dock, offering his assistance. By this time, Jeff’s head had disappeared in the murky water. The man dove in but didn’t find Jeff.

The man and woman stayed with Karen and the children, as the rescue divers searched for Jeff’s body. There was no hope now. Karen pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. “You did everything you could,” the woman told her.

“It wasn’t enough.” Karen sobbed and repeated over and over, “It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough.”

*******

“It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough.” Karen Harper’s plaintive cries awakened her from her sleep. Her heart thundered in her chest. Her curly auburn hair was drenched with sweat. What’s happening?

Bolting upright, she opened her eyes and tried to focus. The room was dark. She reached out until her hand found the nightstand. She felt around for the lamp and turned it on.

“A dream. I was only dreaming.” Karen breathed deeply, trying to slow her racing heart. She closed her eyes again and shuddered. It seemed so very real. She could feel the warmth of the sun and the sand beneath her feet. She saw the panic on Jeff’s face as he realized he was going under and the scared faces of her children. Enough. Her heart was racing again. She shook herself and tried to clear her mind of the horrible dream.

If asked, Karen would say she never dreamed. She knew, of course, that everyone dreams, so certainly she must. But she could never recall having dreamed. Nightmares, however, were a different story. She could recall nightmares in vivid detail.

As she sat in her bed, trying to make sense of this nightmare, Karen recalled one from several years earlier. In that nightmare, Karen’s extended family had gathered for a reunion. The children were playing ball and running around, while the adults sat in lawn chairs eating hamburgers and catching up on each other’s lives. Suddenly, her father grabbed his chest and collapsed on the ground in front of her. She had crouched on the ground beside him and sobbed into his chest as he died.

Her sobs had awakened Jeff, who gently took her in his arms and stroked her head, whispering, “It was only a dream.” It had seemed so real that it took several minutes before Jeff could convince Karen that her father had not suffered a heart attack. “Your family has never even had a reunion,” Jeff had reminded her.

Even after all these years, she could visualize her father as he lay on

the ground gasping for breath. Despite the fact her father was still alive and well, Karen’s pulse quickened anytime she thought of that nightmare.

This morning Jeff was not there to comfort and console. This nightmare, while not based on reality, was accurate in its conclusion. Jeff was dead. He had been for nearly two years. Karen had tried to rescue him and had failed miserably. For the first several months after his death, she had been haunted day and night by the horrible series of events surrounding Jeff’s death. She had frequently awakened with a start, as she had this morning, frantic to save him.

Over and over, she had been plagued by questions for which she had no answers. “Could I have saved him if I’d tried harder? Is it my fault he’s dead?” “If I had been a better wife, would Jeff still be alive?” As time passed, she had to set aside her constant thoughts of him. There was nothing she could do for him now, except raise his sons to be the men he wanted them to be. As a single mother to three young boys, Karen had no time for guilt or self-pity. She had to provide for her family.

Review of Reconciliations

Fellow OakTara author Bruce Judisch reviewed my second novel, Reconciliations, in his blog yesterday:  http://www.brucejudisch.blogspot.com/

Bruce has three novels currently in print.  I haven’t read them yet, but they all sound intriguing.  I am particularly looking forward to reading Bruce’s two-volume series, A Prophet’s Tale.  In these books, Bruce examines the world of Ninevah and Jonah’s struggles with obeying God’s command to preach repentance to the Ninevites.  For more information on Bruce Judisch and his writing, please see http://www.oaktara.com/BruceJudisch.

If you would like to read a sample of Reconciliations, please email me at susan@susaneball.com.  I would be happy to email you the first few chapters, so you can decide if you want to read the book.

Restorations and Reconciliations: Stories of Finding God’s Love and Forgiveness

Everyone messes up from time to time, probably more often than we care to admit.  I try to make a joke at lunch and end up hurting someone’s feeling.  The prank you play on your friend goes awry and she winds up needing stitches.  I fail to give my full attention to driving and cause a fender bender. 

Mistakes make us feel foolish, and they cost us something.  We may have to humble ourselves and apologize or make restitution.  We may be assaulted with thoughts such as “I’m the world’s biggest idiot” and “How could I have been so stupid?”  However, we typically forgive ourselves for our blunders quickly and move on.  Unless…

Unless the mistake has larger consequences.  Unless the mistake results not in embarrassment or damage that is easily repaired, but rather in broken lives and broken relationships.  Such as the mistake Karen Harper made. 

Restorations is the story of Karen Harper’s journey to find forgiveness and a second chance at love after turning her back on God and damaging her most important relationships.  It’s been two years since her husband’s death. Karen knows that he would still be alive if she hadn’t…well it’s just too painful to think about.  Karen knew her actions were wrong but she never imagined the pain they would cause.  Hoping to escape her past, Karen moves to Fredericksburg with her three sons.

She has a new job that she loves and she’s dating Kevin, a man she met on the Internet.  Although Karen thinks Kevin may be “the one,” her oldest son, Trevor, hates him.  Of course, Trevor hates everything these days and he barely speaks to Karen.  He blames her for everything that’s wrong in his life.

When the nightmares start, she realizes she will have to deal with her past and forgive herself for her mistakes before she can hope to move forward with her life.  As Karen allows God back into her life, she finds the forgiveness she desperately needs.  Then God begins the work of restoring the broken relationships in her life.

In contrast to Karen Harper, Kevin Peterson hasn’t made any big mistakes in his life.  He knows he’s not perfect, but by almost anyone’s standards, he’s a pretty good guy. He’s an honest car salesman, a loving son, and a loyal friend.  Kevin is doing just fine without religion or God in his life.

In Reconciliations, God shakes up Kevin’s life to show him his need for a Savior.  Kevin has to learn that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” and that no one can ever be “good enough” on their own.

Kevin’s life is going along pretty well except that he’s been unlucky in love.  Christine, his ex-wife, left him three years ago after he caught her with another man in his bed.  He dated Karen Harper for a while until she got religious.  Religion might have helped Karen deal with her past, but Kevin wanted no part of it.  He’s glad to have both women out of his life.

With a single phone call, God brings both women back into Kevin’s life.  This is more than Kevin can handle.  He needs help. It arrives in the form of Pastor Mark Vinson.  As Kevin spends time with Mark, and members of his congregation, he begins to see himself in a new light.  And he doesn’t like what he sees. 

When Kevin admits that he, too, is a sinner, he is finally ready to be reconciled with God.

Karen and Kevin acknowledged their errors and confessed them to God, and they accepted His forgiveness of their sins.  When they did, they found peace and hope.

You’ve made mistakes, too.  We all have.  Perhaps, like Kevin, you’ve been able to brush your mistakes aside and convince yourself that you are one of the good guys, but you know deep inside that you can never be good enough.  Or maybe, like Karen, you cannot escape your mistakes; they haunt you day by day and make you feel worthless.

It doesn’t have to be like this. You don’t have to ignore your mistakes or be troubled by them. Remember there is hope.  You have another option.  You can confess your sins to God and accept His forgiveness.  Then you, too, can have true peace and the hope that God has great plans for your life.

Cover of New Book: Reconciliations

My new novel has just been published.  I haven’t received a copy yet, but my publisher sent me the cover files and a media kit.  I’m so excited.  The graphic designer did a wonderful job on the cover.

 

 

 

It won’t be available for sale on Amazon for a few days.  However, if the story sounds interesting to you, you can email me at susan@susaneball.com and I will be happy to email you a “sneak peak.”