With Good Intentions

This month I’m featuring a new novel by Jo Huddleston on my blog. Jo writes sweet southern romance and the title of her new book is “With Good Intentions.” Jo has generously shared an excerpt of the book with us and you can read it below. Leave a comment on this blog and you’ll be entered to win an ebook copy of “With Good Intentions”.

Jo is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Novels in her West Virginia Mountains series, her Caney Creek series, and her standalone novel, Tidewater JOPKfullSummer, are sweet Southern historical romances. Jo is a member of ACFW and the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN). Learn more at www.johuddleston.com where you can read first chapters of her novels and novellas and also sign up for her mailing list.

 

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

October 1959—Birmingham, Alabama

William Wainworth shifted in his chair, stretched his long legs beneath the massive conference table, and braced for the impending reprimand from the CEO. This regular Monday morning meeting of Wainworth Development sales staff had gone on longer than he’d expected.

He would loosen his necktie but doing so would violate the expectations Wainworth’s CEO held for his male employees: wear a coat and tie when representing Wainworth Development. His daddy being the CEO of Wainworth Development, William had that rule ingrained in him from an early age.

Among other stellar traits, his daddy dressed immaculately, and he expected his workforce to With Good Intentionsfollow his example. His appearance had favorably impressed many clients who sat with him in his Birmingham office. Every weekday, he never ventured outside his home without the requisite coat and necktie. William had never seen him wear wrinkled pants or curled-up shirt collars.

Now, Oscar Wainworth stood tall, slender, and good-looking between the head of the table and an easel, his index finger tapping on a sketch positioned there. William moved his attention from his daddy to the sketch, a street-level drawing of storefronts along a sidewalk in Conroy, Alabama.

Wainworth Development sought to purchase that entire block of businesses, demolish the buildings, and replace them with an apartment complex having a bookstore on the first floor. Sitting across the street from a growing college, the location proved ideal for Wainworth’s purpose.

The building plans had received the city’s approval. Wainworth representatives had successfully gained signatures on real estate contracts to acquire all the properties except one. The smallest business on the block refused to sell, despite repeated overtures from Wainworth Development.

Oscar Wainworth faced the dozen or so men seated around the table in chairs upholstered in rich, brown leather. He put his palms on the gleaming tabletop and leaned forward. “Gentlemen, this one small store is the monkey wrench in this whole deal. We’ve bought up all the properties on the block, yet here’s this little hole-in-the-wall ice cream shop smack-dab in the middle that you’ve not convinced to sell. Why is that? Why this one store?”

Mumbled reasons and comments circulated around the massive table. William and Oscar had heard them all before. Oscar Wainworth stood straight, his six-foot-four height menacing, and met the eyes of each salesman. “Yes, the owners are females, and you’ve all probably tried to be gentlemanly in your contacts with them. That’s commendable and appropriate.

“But, men, you need to work with these ladies just as you would any other client. Wainworth Development is a business, and you must conduct yourselves accordingly—doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a man or a woman. However, it’s time to get tough with these women. Understood?”

The men bobbed their heads in sync as if they followed the directions of an orchestra conductor, and his daddy continued. “Do I have to go down there and show you how it’s done? Must I close this deal myself? I assure you I will not be happy if I do.”

His gaze settled on his son. “William, I want you to go down to Conroy and convince the owners to sell. This has become a special case, and if you’ve learned anything from me in your thirty-two years, you’ll be successful. You drive on down there and stay as long as it takes to get the job done.”

“Yes, sir, I will.”

“Get going. Now.” He waved a hand toward the closed door to spur William into motion. “Ask Gloria for the files on this property and be on your way. Check back with me when you get there.”

William pushed his chair away from the conference table and rose. “Yes, sir.” His daddy was a workaholic, especially since his wife, William’s mama, had died five years ago. Oscar Wainworth put in a sixty-hour work week, never leaving a job undone. He expected similar dedication in his staff.

Finally outside the conference room and waiting at Gloria’s desk for her to collect the files, William exhaled. He didn’t mind that his daddy booted him out of the meeting—anything beat sitting in a stuffy roomful of cigar smoke.

Gloria returned and handed him several file folders. “Here are the files you need. Good luck. I hope your trip goes better than those of the other men Mr. Wainworth has sent down there.”

“Thanks. Where did the other guys stay? You got the name of a hotel?”

“Yes, they stayed at the Conroy Hotel. I’ll telephone to reserve you a room. How long will you be staying?”

“Maybe for the remainder of the week.”

~

Same Day—Conroy, Alabama

William carried his luggage up to a second-floor hotel room, then returned downstairs to grab a late lunch in the hotel’s dining room. When he crossed the lobby, the antiquated wooden floors groaned beneath his every step. Inside the dining room, booths lined one wall and tables covered with white linen tablecloths dotted the floor space.

He asked the hostess for a booth, and she seated him at a high-back wooden booth near the entrance. After a light lunch of steaming vegetable soup and a ham sandwich, he found a pay phone in the lobby and stepped into the booth to call Birmingham.

“Good afternoon. Wainworth Development.”

“Gloria, ring my daddy’s office, please.”

Shortly, he heard his daddy’s voice. “That you, William? How does the lay of the land look down there?”

“Just letting you know I’m here. Haven’t seen the owners yet, but plan to go there now.”

“Fine, fine. How about you call me every morning about ten o’clock to bring me up-to-date with what you’re doing? We’ve got to get this deal finalized.”

“Yes, sir, I’ll do that.”

William stepped out of the telephone booth to walk outside the red brick hotel. He stood on the sidewalk, hands shoved into his pants pockets. Without haste, he scanned what he could see of the town—to his left, a bank stood on the corner, and to his right, a drugstore anchored that corner, its front facing away from him.

Not many folks moving around, and from the casual dress of those passing by him, then had to be college students. He glanced at his polished shoes and creased dress pants—shades of Oscar Wainworth. He’d stand out like a palm tree at the North Pole among these young people. Might as well put a sign on his back saying, Here I am from the big city. I want to buy your property.

He returned to his hotel room, tugging off his necktie as he opened his luggage. Later, again on the sidewalk, dressed in blue jeans with his long-sleeved dress shirt now open at the neck, his black leather bomber jacket, and loafers, William breathed in the fresh air. A satisfying change from the pollution that filled the air over Birmingham.

Turning to his right, he sauntered west until he reached the corner and stopped. He faced the street in front of the drugstore and read the signpost: College Street. Some committee must have worked many hours to come up with that original name—the street sliced through downtown Conroy, Alabama, between the college and the town. The next block to his left held the businesses Wainworth Development had bought. Except for the ice cream shop. Might as well head on down there.

He crossed the street when the traffic light changed. Again on the sidewalk, he passed the stores that would soon disappear once Wainworth had acquired all the properties.

Before he reached his destination, the clock tower atop a lofty red brick building across College Street tolled the hour. Three o’clock. A spattering of foot traffic moved across the manicured lawns of nearby campus buildings. Probably class-changing time.

A short distance farther, William stood outside the building whose purchase depended on him. The sign above the door read: Stewart’s Ice Cream Shop.

Inside, William verified that his daddy had been correct when he referred to the business as a hole-in-the-wall place. With about only 400 square feet, the twelve-foot wide, deep room measured about thirty-five feet from the entrance to a closed swinging door in the back. Along the right wall, chairs occupied the length of the room, stopping at a pay phone attached to the wall and a display case that faced the entrance.

The tile floor shone, and on his left stood three ice cream cases, each about eight feet long. Their fronts were white and spotless, and no fingerprints smudged the glass through which sat numerous opened tubs of ice cream. The sweet, pleasant scent of ice cream filled the room and drew William to follow the customers already in the shop.

He fell in line with a few college students awaiting their turn to be served. The kids weren’t impatient, but rather they calmly shuffled toward the cash register. He’d skipped dessert in anticipation of his visit to the ice cream shop, and the various flavors listed on the wall tempted him.

An attractive woman probably in her late forties with dark hair and a pleasant face worked efficiently behind the counter. Another female stood behind the tall display case near the rear of the room. He could only see the back of her head and didn’t have a clue to what she did. Soon William stood first in the line.

“May I help you?” the woman asked.

“Yes, ma’am. I’d like a cone—two scoops, please.”

“What flavor?”

“Vanilla and chocolate. Would you please put the vanilla on the cone first and then the chocolate?”

The woman dipped his ice cream onto a cone while William read the flavors painted on a wooden board hanging above a counter behind her. “You certainly offer a lot of flavors here.”

“And yet you choose our trusty standbys—vanilla and chocolate.”

“Yes, ma’am. Always been my favorites.”

William paid for his treat and took a seat in the last chair against the wall. From there he had an unlimited view of the business except for the area behind the display case to his right. His attention fell to the contents of the case. Behind the glass sat numerous delicious-looking desserts—artfully decorated cakes and pies waiting to be personalized with someone’s name, a tray of individually-wrapped ice cream sandwiches, and two log rolls made of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.

Everyone had been served, and either left with their ice cream or taken seats along the wall to eat their treats. The woman who had served him sauntered toward where William sat. She stopped at the empty counter space across from him, reached underneath it, and brought out a large piece of flat cardboard decorated with balloons of red, blue, green, and yellow and the name of the ice cream shop.

While the woman worked with the cardboard, she spoke to the girl behind the display case near him. “Did any Wainworth people contact you before I came to work?”

William angled his body toward the entrance, pretending lack of interest in what the woman had said. He watched the traffic outside the front window but kept his attention on the conversation before him.

The girl behind the display case joined the woman assembling the cardboard into a cake box. “No, ma’am. No one has come by or called, which is unusual for a Monday. For weeks now they’ve been persistent, showing up here almost every day.” The girl had on a white basic bib apron, as the older woman did, over her skirt and blouse and wore blue Keds on her feet.

“Maybe you’ve finally convinced them you mean it when you say we don’t want to sell.”

“Mama, I hope so, but I doubt that.” The two could be sisters, as attractive as they were, rather than mother and daughter. Probably the owners. The girl reached beneath the counter and pulled out another sheet of cardboard to give the older woman. “I’ve talked with some of the other business owners, and it appears we’re the only holdouts on the block.

“If that’s the case, rather than give up, Wainworth Development will increase their pressure on us to sell. I cringe every time someone dressed in a suit and necktie come through the door. All the Wainworth people think they can make us sell—they’re so arrogant and expect us to roll over and play dead when they wave money in front of us.”

Good thing William had changed clothes before visiting their shop.

“Their money would be nice, Jean. We could pay off the mortgage here and have some left over. I could get used to not working outside the home again.”

“Mama, please don’t go soft on this. We’re not going to sell! Daddy started this business, and we’ll do everything we can to keep it going.”

Jean’s mama put the assembled boxes underneath the counter and started toward the cash register to help new customers. The girl returned to whatever kept her busy behind the dessert case.

William left his chair and stepped nearer the display case, continuing to enjoy his ice cream cone. Bending at the waist and peering inside at the cakes, William didn’t notice the girl behind the case had approached him. A female voice drew his attention. “May I help you with something from the dessert case?”

He straightened and turned toward the voice. When their eyes met, hers were the color of the deepest part of the Gulf of Mexico waters and turned him into a bumbling adolescent. “Ah, well, no, thank you. Just, uh, looking. Did you make all these pretty cakes?”

She smiled, apparently enjoying his discomfort. “Yes, I did. See something you like in there?”

Not in the dessert case, he didn’t. But he wouldn’t mind getting to know the dark-haired woman standing next to him. “No, thanks. Guess I’ll just finish this cone I’ve started.”

“I recognize our regulars, the college kids, but I don’t believe you’ve been in here before. You new in town?”

“Yeah, you could say that. I’m, er, I’m doing some work on the college campus.”

“Oh? What’s that?”

“Uh, helping one of the professors with some research.”

“Then welcome to our town. I’m Jean Stewart.”

“Thanks. I’m Will….” Beyond her shoulder, he saw the wooden board where they listed their ice cream flavors. “…Will Woods.

****

Thanks for sharing with us Jo.  “With Good Intentions” can be purchased through Amazon.com http://amzn.to/2lTR7LF

If you’d like to know more about Jo’s books you can visit her at her website, sign up for her newsletter, and connect with her on social media.

Website and blog (Read novel first chapters here): http://www.johuddleston.com

Sign up for Jo’s mailing list: http://bit.ly/1ZFaZwG

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2cfSroU

Facebook author page: http://bit.ly/2aqFEeT

Facebook personal page: http://on.fb.me/1Ubic69

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1QAPtFv

Inspirational blog: http://bit.ly/2gttKVr

BookBub Profile: http://bit.ly/2liB0G3

 

 

 

The Seven Deadly Sins of Prologues—What Doesn’t Work and What Does #wrtr2wrtr

I’m one of those writers who has used prologues in my books. Whether I did it right or not remains to be seen. But there’s some good info here and I wanted to share it.

 

We writers have a vast array of tools at our disposal to craft stories readers will love. But like any tool, it helps if we know how to use it properly. Theme is wonderful. It can keep us plunging …

Source: The Seven Deadly Sins of Prologues—What Doesn’t Work and What Does #wrtr2wrtr

Tidewater Summer

Author Jo Huddleston has just released a new book, and I’m excited to introduce you to JOPKfullboth Jo and her new novel, Tidewater Summer.

Jo is an Amazon bestselling author of books, articles, and short stories. Her novels are sweet Southern historical romances. The redeeming story of God’s pursuing love is the foundation of her novels, and in them you will find inspiration, hope, and gentle stories that are intriguing and entertaining. You can learn more about Jo on her website at www.johuddleston.com.

Tidewater Summer is the compelling story of Rose Marie Henley’s pursuit of restoration tidewaterfrom physical abuse at the hands of her fiancé. Her Great-Aunt Clara convinces Rose to spend the summer at her South Carolina beach house. Aunt Clara’s handyman sends his nephew to repair Rose’s water heater. Last Year Rose would have been excited to see his over-the-top handsome nephew, Frank. But now she doesn’t want any man in her life again.

Vickie: Jo, where did you get the idea for Tidewater Summer?

Jo: I’ve loved being at the beach-any beach-since the first time my parents took me when I was preschool age. Time at the beach always makes my troubles lighten while there. I wanted to set a story on a beach and thought about a heroine who might go to the beach for restoration from whatever problem she had. I write novels set in the 1950s, so I came up with my heroine’s problem of physical abuse at the hands of her fiancé. In the 1950s, the attitude toward abuse was often to ignore it or to blame the victim. I started with the above and my characters grabbed the story and ran with it. I don’t plot plan, or outline my stories on paper. I’m what is called a panster-I write by the seat of my pants.

Vickie: What do you want readers to take away from this story?

Jo: While I wrote Tidewater Summer, and my heroine, Rose, confronted her abuse and fears, I drew strength from two scripture verses. Then, in turn, Rose brought one of these verses into her pursuit of restoration and it helped her to draw closer to God. I would hope readers of this novel will identify with Rose and also see the need to draw closer to God and friends when struggling with any problems. (The two verses are: Ecclesiastes 4:12 and Galatians 6:2).

Vickie: Jo has graciously shared a brief excerpt of the book.

Excerpt from Tidewater Summer:

Rose pulled the door open. Walter stood there, his hair messy, and a scowl on his face. “Did you forget something?” she asked.

He pushed her aside as he staggered inside, stood in the middle of the living room, and snarled at her. “Did you enjoy the movie?”

She close the door. “Yes, Amy and I-”

He stepped closer to Rose and grabbed her upper arm, his grip like a vise. “Amy and you. It’s always you and Amy. Is she taking my place with you?”

“Walter, that’s nonsense. You like Amy, she’s my best friend in the world.”

“That ring on your finger means you belong with me. You shouldn’t have replaced me with Amy tonight.”

The stench of alcohol on his breath shocked her.

Walter let out a string of swear words and slung her across the room. He approached her, stopped just inches away, and breathed hard. She cringed and recoiled from him. What did he expect her to do? With both hands, he shoved her backward. When she slammed against the wall, her entire body underwent a jolting sensation of dismemberment like a puppet with broken strings.

He snatched her upper arm again and whirled her around. When he let her go, she landed on her backside and slid across the tile floor into the coffee table, which slammed against the front of the sofa. The edge of the coffee table ground into her ribs. She had to get out of his reach, but he towered above her, standing between her and the door.

  • * * *

Vickie: You can purchase Tidewater Summer at Amazon. Leave a comment below and one winner will be chosen to receive an ebook of Tidewater Summer.

Jo, thank you for sharing Tidewater Summer with us. You can sign up for Jo’s mailing list at http://bit.ly/1ZFaZwG and connect with her on social media at the following links:

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2cfSroU

Facebook Author page: http://bit.ly/2aqFEeT

Facebook personal page: http://on.fb.me/lUbic69

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1QAPtFv

Inspirational blog: http://bit.ly/1QAPRnr