Before I get to my blog…
I have big news for readers of my inspirational novels! On December 1, just in time for Christmas, I will be hosting a Launch Party on Facebook for my new series which takes place in the Ozarks! Join me from 4:00-6:00PM Eastern Time for my Facebook Live event. I will have copies of my new book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain, on hand for you to purchase via a special link, and you can watch me sign your book while I answer questions and talk to readers. Leave a comment with a question, and I will answer it live during the launch. Keep checking my website and social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), for more information about the launch and the series.
For today, my blog isn’t quite a blog. Instead, it’s a peek into the world of Andi Nelson…
Andi always heard, You can’t go home again…
Andi Nelson’s dream was to go to the Naval Academy and serve her country. As an intelligence commander with SEAL Team Three, her life is what she always imagined until a lapse in intelligence leads to the death of her team and the man she loves. Plagued with survivor’s guilt, Andi returns to her hometown in the Arkansas Ozarks only to discover that Buffalo Springs is as depressed and broken as she is.
Wade Montgomery, a mover and shaker in New York City’s world of finance, has closed his heart to the possibility of love. When he returns to Buffalo Springs to care for his ailing mother, Wade accepts the position of mayor and the task of helping the town to die gracefully. Succumbing to the pitfalls of pride, he closes his eyes to the illegal dealings within the town’s government, plunging the town and Wade into a pit of lies and deceit that may destroy them both.
Will restoring the town provide the purpose Andi needs to continue living? Will Andi’s determination to save the town open Wade’s eyes and his heart?
A Teaser From Desert Fire, Mountain Rain
“We’ve been hit. We’re going down, I repeat, Seal Team Three is going down.” Jeremy’s words filled the small command center in the Middle East like a thick smoke, blinding and choking Andi. It took only a split second for her to reach for the mic and respond.
Andi pushed down the button and fought to find her voice. Her throat was tight as she struggled to answer the distress call. “This is command. Blue One, Repeat.”
“Blue One to Command. Repeat, we’ve been hit. We’re going—”
The radio went silent.
Empty. Dreary. Sad. Desolate. Broken. Depressing. Unrecognizable. Dying. Those were the words that tumbled through Andi’s mind as she drove past the town’s main square. The thought occurred to her that the words could be used to describe them both—Buffalo Springs and Andrea Nelson.
What happened here? The town was always so vibrant, so alive with community pride. The last time she’d ridden down this street, it had been in a convertible with confetti flying in the air and people cheering for her.
She dismissed the thought of shedding tears as she remembered the way they hailed her as a hero. It was 2011, and Andi was among the last troops withdrawn from Iraq. She had yet to tell her parents that she was only home for a short period of time and would be taking a position with the elite Navy SEALs.
The entire town had turned out to welcome her home. Though she had taken course after course of military history and served time in Afghanistan and Iraq, she was still naïve enough to believe that the good guys always won, and she let herself think that she was special, above the crowd, in the know, and willing to defend her country at all costs. Now she knew the truth—she was a failure, and those costs were a price too high to pay, or repay. From the looks of things in the town, the disease that rotted inside her mind and heart was contagious, and she had brought it home with her.
Andi shook her head as her gaze wandered around. Almost all the storefronts were empty. Windows were smashed, the sidewalk was cracked and broken, and the beautiful fountain in the center of the square that represented the many springs throughout the Buffalo River watershed was dry. The once thriving community was little more than a ghost town of empty buildings with red bricks and paint-peeling siding.
When Andi pulled up in front of the white two-story house on one of the side streets, she realized that the sickness had spread there, too. The house was in desperate need of paint. The front porch railing was falling apart, and the screen door had been patched in several places; but the fall foliage in her mother’s exquisite gardens brought a rainbow of color to the street, and Andi couldn’t help but feel like Dorothy, emerging from the black and white surroundings of Kansas into the technicolor hues of Munchkin land and its yellow-brick road.
As she put her car in park, the door opened, and her mother walked out onto the porch. Andi sat in the car for a moment, looking at her mother through the windshield, and her heart sank even lower. The woman standing on the porch was not the mother she knew. This woman looked old, tired, and worn. Andi could have wrapped her arms around her mother’s waist twice. Her face was aged from years, sun, and worry. Her hair, pulled into a tight bun, was as grey as the fictional Auntie Em’s, and Andi felt a wave of sadness at the comparison between her mother and Dorothy’s aunt, both trying to survive in a place forged by hopes and dreams but reduced to a landscape of despair.
Wade sat at his desk. There was always something that needed his attention, and it was always just as important as the other ninety-nine things that pulled him in every direction, or not. In reality, nothing he did in this job seemed important.
What had he been thinking when he decided to become mayor? It wasn’t anything he was ever interested in doing. He had no political aspirations. He just wanted what was best for his family and their community. That’s what they all wanted, after all, to unload and move on in whatever way was best for everyone.
Before Wade could pick up the first document in front of him, his intercom buzzed.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Montgomery, but there’s someone here to see you. Shall I have her make an appointment?”
“Trudy, how many times do I have to tell you to call me Wade?” He snickered and shook his head. “Who’s here?” Wade had to work at keeping the annoyance out of his voice. It seemed to be his natural inclination to take out his frustrations on Trudy from the minute he stepped into this dreaded office, and he adored Trudy. She was his only cousin, and she’d worked in the mayor’s office longer than he had.
“It’s Andi Nelson. Remember her? Her mama and daddy—”
“Yes, Trudy, I know who Andi is.” He sighed and pushed aside the stack of papers. “Go ahead; send her in.”
Andi opened the heavy mahogany door and stuck her head inside. “Are you sure it’s okay? If it’s a bad time, I can come back later.”
Wade smiled and gestured for her to enter. “No, come on in. No time like the present.”
She wore jeans and a long-sleeved US Navy shirt. He gestured to her footwear. “You can take the girl out of the Arkansas but not the Arkansas out of the girl?”
Andi looked down at her cowboy boots and smiled. “Believe it or not, I found these in the back of my closet at Mama’s. I can’t imagine how old they are, yet they’re still the most comfortable things I can put on my feet other than running shoes. What about you? Did going to school up north take the Arkansas out of the boy?”
Wade stood, walked around the desk, and hiked up his pants leg to reveal his favorite pair of Justin boots. He rarely wore them, to tell the truth, and he wasn’t sure what inspired him to put them on that morning.
Andi laughed, and Wade pointed to one of the cushioned chairs in front of his desk. “Is this official business?” He then turned and gestured toward the seating area in the corner of the office. “Or a social chat?”
Andi hesitated, and Wade got the feeling that she wasn’t here on a social call. “Um, maybe you should sit here.” He pulled out a cushioned chair and offered it to her. Andi took a seat and waited for him to circle the desk and settle in his own chair.
“You didn’t tell me you’d moved up in the world,” she said, waving her arm to indicate to the office.
“Who said it’s moving up?” Wade leaned back and gazed at her. She had something on her mind. What was it?
“Why are you helping your mama sell the theater?”
“Because she’s my mother. Do you want me to hand her off to someone else who won’t have her best interests at heart?”
“Of course not, but why aren’t you helping her keep it? I’m guessing you can afford to help with renovations or whatever it needs.”
“That’s getting a little personal, isn’t it?”
He watched her inhale and clench her teeth.
“I mean,” she said testily. “Why not try to salvage it? Why not try to salvage everything?”
“And by everything, you mean…?”
“Everything. The businesses, the town, everything. You’re the mayor. Shouldn’t you be looking at what’s best for the town?”
Wade felt his irritation grow. He leaned across the desk. “Look, I don’t know who you think you are to leave town for all these years, and then waltz back in one day, out of the blue, and presume you know what’s best for this town. You don’t have a clue what’s going on here.”
Anger flashed in her eyes as she leaned closer to the desk as well and spoke in a clipped, irritated tone. “What I know is that, as mayor, you should be trying to save this town, not destroy it.”
Wade sat up in his chair, trying hard to contain his anger. “I think this meeting is over.”
Andi stood, hands on her hips. “If you can’t take the criticism, you picked the wrong profession.” She turned to go but spun back on him. “By the way, just what is your profession? I mean, your real one. Before you decided to masquerade as the town’s hero and savior.”
He’d had just about enough of her attitude. “Not that it’s any of your concern, but since you’re a citizen of this town, I’ll tell you. I studied both law and finance. I’ve worked for almost fifteen years as a mergers and acquisitions attorney. I have more than enough education to stand up to your privileged, military degree. Just because you went to Annapolis—”
She was around the desk and in his face before he knew what was happening.
“Don’t. You. Ever. Say that my experience at the Academy or the years I served were entitled. I put my life and the life of my team members on the line every day so that people like you could sit in your cozy classrooms, smoking pot, drinking beer, and chasing girls. You think because you have a few more framed pieces of paper on the wall that you’re better than me? Smarter? Maybe you have more schooling, but I learned everything I know in the oppressing heat and humidity of the desert and in the frigid, snowy mountains, in the belly of a relentlessly rocking ship, and in planes and choppers and command centers where you learn lessons nobody should ever have to learn. You think you’re better than the rest of us because you went to a highfalutin school, but you have no idea what the real world is like.”
Her anger was palpable, and Wade found himself taking a step back, but she moved forward.
“The real world is one where people have to fight to survive, where they have no idea where their next meal is coming from, where they don’t know if they will die in the night from an aerial attack or a suicide bomb. The real world is where people like me have to come to the aid of people like you, where your very existence is dependent upon my skills and knowledge. The real world, Mr. Mayor…” She took a step back, inhaled, and tossed back her long, brown hair. “The real world is one where we help each other survive, not cut and run like a pitiful deserter.”
Wade swallowed his rage as he watched her turn and leave the room, slamming the door behind her. She was fierce, formidable, and even frightening, and he was furious. However intrigued he might be by her, she had no right to waltz into town and speak to him that way. Whatever it was she wanted, there was no way on earth she was going to get it.
Don’t forget to tune into Amy’s Facebook Page on December 1 to buy your signed copy of her newest book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain.
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).