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Real Life. Real Ladies: Short Stories from the Pew

Pekin suicide survivor writes a book to help others | Pekin Daily Times | 30 Nov 2017
Goliath’s Mountain | Made In Peoria IL | 24 Jul 2020

Current Writing Projects:

Porcelain Dolls and Dream Houses – When four elderly widows, friends and church ladies move into their dream house, they realize the final chapter of their lives is no time for playing it safe and that guarding old secrets is exhausting. The story is fiction. The secrets? Made-up or true? I’ll never tell. (Inspired by the life and poems of an actual church lady.)

Fire Starter – When a teenaged boy is accused of arson and a triple murder, his guilt or innocence isn’t the thing that determines his destiny. Most of the facts in Jamie’s story are indisputable, but files and more files of court documents and investigative reports leave a lot of questions unanswered—not for Jamie so much, because he knows the truth, but for the church lady who thinks she’s a detective. The plot involving Jamie, the arson and the twenty-five years he spends in prison is non-fiction. The church lady ( a fictitious character) is the woman most of us would hope to be if and when we meet a guy like Jamie. I’m in the early stages of interviewing and research for this book. Alternative title: Sinfully Innocent.

Murder from the Pew – When her patient doesn’t show for his appointment, Candace is troubled to learn that he’s been arrested and accused of murder, but she loves her work, the waiting room is full and life goes on. Her patient, now the accused, is also the pastor of a local church and an all-around nice guy. Candace must investigate. It’s part of her job as a clinical research coordinator. A few phone conversations provide the information needed to finish her paperwork, but she’s inquisitive. Candace thought she’d never return to the places that caused her pain in childhood- church and jail. But that’s where she needs to be if she want’s to learn the truth and find the love she longs for.

Let’s Talk: Would one of these talk topics benefit your group or event? Talks can be fitted for your group dynamic and need or to fit a specific theme.

Let’s Talk Topic # 1: Take Heart: Among Other Good Things.

When an event planner invites me to speak, they tend to ask me to tell my story, the one told in my book Goliath’s Mountain. That’s asking a lot – of me and the audience. My story is long, complicated and can be downright depressing. Plus, my goal is to leave audiences with a challenge, but encouraged and hopeful. So I created this interactive way to share my story, which includes how God rescued me and has guarded my heart in every circumstance. Audiences get a brief overview of my life and the trauma of suicide, the struggles of a single mom, dating and coming to terms with a new life and purpose.

Let’s Talk Topic # 2: Sleeping Single in a King-sized Bed

No blame. No shame. This session is intended for female audiences. Married, single and cohabitating women will take away some practical tools and biblical resources for living like it matters. With 18 years of experience as a Christian, single mom in a world where the prevailing voice is yelling lies, I have some good news. Single moms can grow-up some very fine men and women.

Single moms aren’t the silent minority they used to be, but that doesn’t mean their struggle is over. Learn to spot the danger signs that a single mom might be in trouble. I’ll cover the tough topics like how to say “no” to your kids and to others, dealing with the past and cohabitation. With transparency and a bit of humor, I’ll share how I managed balancing family, job, and social responsibilities. Making godly choices with confidence is a skill that single moms can learn. I’ll tell you how I did it and how my mistakes set me back. Insights from scripture and up to date instruction from Christian experts support what most of our grandmothers already told us.

Target audience: Women and older teen girls.

Time: Choose between a 15 – 20 minute overview with a couple of story examples or a more in-depth 35 – 40 minutes balancing story with teaching. Handouts available for either session.

Let’s Talk Topic # 3: The Suicide Epidemic: 7 Things the Average Church Lady Can Do

When my husband of nearly ten years took his own life as a result of a mental illness, I became a single mother of three. It was tough enough just to move or leave the house, but I had to deal with other people. Comments and uncomfortable interactions made me want to hide. But with an eight-year-old, a five-year-old and a baby on the way, hiding was not an option. Mine is a God provides a way, recovery story. In this talk, I will give 7 examples of what not to say or do, and then 7 practical tips for loving and supporting a family left behind after a suicide. The suicide epidemic has all of us in a quandary. We can’t bring anyone “back,” but we can always love the ones left behind a little better. This isn’t a “lady’s tea” sort of topic, but if your church or group is looking to minister in a place and at a time when it really matters, let’s talk.

Target audience: Adults and older teens

Time: 20 — 25 minutes

Let’s Talk Topic # 4: Short Story Swap

The power of a personal story is beyond amazing! This talk/event is intended to wake women to the gift they have in their personal and true stories. Do you have a favorite story that brings out emotion or has a strong message? Maybe it brings a laugh, a smile or a tear. Practice telling it. I can help you prepare to use it.

Don’t assume anything about the introverts in your group, and don’t let the extra-extroverted deter you from this powerful and life-changing women’s event. The emphasis is on “short.” No one is pushed beyond her willingness to share, and timing our storytelling contributes to the fun.

I’ll prepare the group to choose a story worth telling, then we’ll have some fun and swap some stories. Most women will go home wanting to follow up and polish their rough draft into a publishable story. They’ll get tips on how to get it done, and it they are so inspired, some direction about delivering their story to a wider audience.

One free follow-up editorial assessment (online) will be offered to every participant. One day events and two day retreats allow more time for fun and polishing the stories. This should not be confused with memoir or lengthy biographical writing. This is sharing one true event meant to encourage, teach, give the rest of us food for thought or cause a healthy chuckle.

Target audience: Adult women

Time: I want to meet the specific needs of your group and your meeting planner. 10 minutes gets you an introduction/invitation to write a story. 50-60 minutes provides time for small group storytelling and maybe a prize. A one day event (typically 6 hours including a lunch and breaks) and 30 women can provide enough story to write a book!  COVID-19 interfered with a scheduled two-day retreat, but I’m looking forward to putting that event back on the calendar. The retreat theme “Where God Leads” includes three keynote speeches, three facilitator led small group sessions and a guide for the three self-directed quiet times. The schedule also allows, depending on the interest of the group and the season of the year, for crafts and outdoor alternatives. Every woman won’t leave having written a short story. No one will be pressured to share, but every woman will have opportunity tell a short personal story, and every woman will leave this retreat having considered where God is leading her.

Return to this page for updates. New topics and ideas will be introduced here!