Category Archives: BLOG

THE EPIPHANY

I had an epiphany.

Let’s be real. I’ve had them several times over the course of my life. I doubt this will be the last time the light bulb comes on in the dead of night. That’s the beauty of being alive. Sometimes we take lessons and we learn them over and over, growing slowly as we are ready.

And sometimes it hits us like a frying pan to the noggin.

A few weeks ago—maybe longer—I saw an author friend post a meme about extending your table to those in need or in general. I’m not going to lie. I love her posts. I love being slammed in the face by truth, uplifted by grace, and amused about her family’s antics.

It happened. The words on that meme bowled me over because I believed them. Absolutely believed them.

Don’t hold your breath for flowers and sunshine though. That’s not what happened.

We grew up on WIC (before you could essentially buy lobster with a piece of plastic), back when it was powdered milk, really nasty peanut butter, and a check that specified what should be in your cart.

I’m grateful for that experience. I can’t take it back. Can’t change it. I’m grateful that I lived in a moment where food was available to me. Someone reached out—the system even—and provided that program. I could go on about that type of experience, but that’s not the point here.

Our lives aren’t perfect. Our cars break. Every drain in the house has backed up to the point where you can’t flush the toilet for fear of what’s going to come out the other end. We’ve been up with a crying child. Wrestled with the marital norm for a chance at something better together. Changed jobs. Realized we shouldn’t have changed jobs. Fought about really stupid things. Stressed about money. And loved each other through it all.

Life is an ebb and flow. A give and take.

Extend my table.

The words make sense. They do. They are simple. Perhaps too much.

Extend. My. Table.

At the end of the day, whether life is ebbing or flowing. Giving or taking.

Extend.

When the baby’s up all night and you haven’t gotten a word in with your spouse in days.

Extend.

When the sink is backed up and the repairman gives you a figure that doesn’t jive with your bank account.

Extend.

When the car explodes in your face. When the job wasn’t worth it. When friends come and go.

Extend your table.

It made me mad. It made me want to scream, “My table is extended! What more do you want from me?”

I’ve extended. Extended. Extended. Extended.

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Some people make me feel good about that opportunity. Some people don’t. Sometimes I feel used up, chewed up, and worn down.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not Mother Theresa. I’m not at soup kitchens on holidays. I’m not inviting every homeless person I see in for dinner—or even providing them one as I pass by with my fast food. I’m not handing out oodles of money to charities and various causes. I’m not listening to every problem of those around me and offering a simple hug.

I’m not really doing anything extravagant.

But I believe there’s a reason things happen. I mean, science and religion can agree on that point. I saw that meme for a reason. I felt the intense annoyance and frustration for a reason. For a specific point. About specific events.

For a reason. God was making a point.  To me. For me.

I’m not about to blow smoke up your rear here, I’m still working on it. After thirty-three years I doubt the process will be completed before I die.

Extend your table.

It means so much more than those simple words. It means we should quiet everything inside ourselves. We should look around. We should find blessing in whatever we have, wherever we are. We should find a way to bridge gaps, change lives—if only our own—be the best person we can. And when we fail, we should realize that tomorrow is another day. That we are loved no matter what. And that it has no bearing on anything we achieve or don’t achieve in life.

And when extending the table one more time feels like an insurmountable mountain, we should take the time to ask why.

There’s a reason.

 

SEARCHING FOR CINDERELLA

Chores aren’t much fun. Even my four-year-old knows this and challenges me on it.

While having a conversation about making them more exciting, I expounded upon how I often pretended I was cleaning up after the entire household as a child. Like a servant.

The truth?

The memory I’d conjured was one where I’d been burning paper waste (we lived on a farm). I’d recently learned about indentured servants in school and my imagination took me on a wild story (you’re shocked, right?) where I was paying off my ticket to America doing hard labor for a vile master who had the decency to keep me clothed and fed but made me stand in the cold burning his trash.

I, of course, condensed the story for my toddler who asked, “Like Cinderella?”

“Yes,” I replied, trying to keep it simple. Without the fairy godmother, the fancy ball, nor the lost shoe (who really loses one shoe?).

My toddler thought a moment, her beautiful blue eyes—eyes so much like her dad’s—searching my face. Then she cocked her head to the side and asked, “Who was the wicked stepmother?”

I know what you’re thinking. This blog is another cute toddler story.

It’s not.

I wish that I wrote those pieces. Those light, beautiful pieces destined for Chicken Noddle Soup for the Soul. I’ve tried. I promise I have. What starts out as a light project always becomes much deeper for me. Even in my novels.

Plus, I had an answer for my toddler. One I couldn’t share with a four-year-old who sees the world in beautiful brightness, sings almost every word that comes out of her mouth, loves dance, her daddy, and her best friends at school. I pray she never fully understands what a wicked stepmother is because they come in all forms. They develop in situations where no one stood up and dared tell them their actions were wrong. Or maybe someone did, but their voice(s) were too small. They are men and women alike.

Meanwhile, my daughter is waiting for me. Waiting for the answer she expects. And I’m reminded as I sit in the middle of her playroom, drowning in the dolls we were playing with—or supposed to be cleaning up—that it wasn’t all bad.

 

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YMCA 1997

 

Living a strange blended family life—I say strange because I had no technical stepmother. When my parents divorced, my mother moved herself and the six of us kids in with her younger sister, her sister’s husband, and their two children. It had its moments.

Like the time we went camping to endure one nice day amongst terrible weather, tornados, and a bad case of lice that had us ending the trip early and doing laundry for days. The time we moved out of town to a piece of land we referred to as “The Land” and had our separate space with only a walkway connecting my mother’s trailer to her sister’s. I remember chasing my brother down the hallway, losing my footing, and sliding into the wall at the end of it, my left knee suddenly swallowed by the cheap material.

The time my brother Ralph and I choreographed an entire play called The Runaways about two boys who’d escaped from a foster home and decided to disguise themselves as girls to evade the law—kids who were just looking for that forever home.

The times we’d visit my dad and he’d have us all in his fifth-wheel camper jumping around, filled to the gills with Sam’s Club pre-popped popcorn and up late watching A Goofy Movie or Mrs. Doubtfire on his little nine inch TV with a built-in VCR. He’d come stomping out, red-faced and tell us to be quiet while threatening the loss of said TV if we couldn’t follow the rules. But it was the weekend. One of only two that he got with us each month and we knew.

 

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April 2017 Photo Courtesy of CJ’s Photography

 

We knew he’d never take that time from us. We knew the next morning he’d pack us up for church and we’d struggle to be quiet in those creaky pews. The youngest would inevitably need a diaper change, which would leave me in charge for a minute—good and bad all at once. And then before he’d bring us home to my aunt’s house, we’d stop at Dairy Queen. There would be cones or malts or whatever he’d decided we were all getting to make life a little easier, but still very special. He’d stomp his foot to Hank Williams, Bruce Springsteen, or Waylon Jennings and say words I’d chastise him for in my brilliance of being a tween. And he’d just keep on singing and remind me that he was the father and he’d say whatever he pleased and continue being a grumpy old man.

 

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The GRUMPY OLD MAN and myself

 

There were times when we were all together and times when we weren’t. Years punctuated by scheduled drop offs at the YMCA—the only brightness in those moments the climbing walls or swimming pools we didn’t normally have access to.

When my mother let her sister tear our family apart—long after it had already been broken.

When she picked her sister over her children.

When I refused to see my father based on dishonest facts I’d heard about his character. When I, too, clung to something that wasn’t real. That wasn’t whole. That wasn’t good for me because I didn’t know anything else—no one had shown me.

I was a kid. I was a kid struggling to reach the surface.

So when my daughter asks about the story between the sentences I’m giving her—stories I never thought I’d share in any manner, whether good or bad—I’m flabbergasted. I can’t tell her that, yes, it wasn’t all bad. I had a roof over my head. I had clothes. I had food. I had memories that made the world seem like sunshine and roses.

Because then I’d have to tell her I also had the monsters in the middle of the night. She’ll see between my words. She already does. Ten years ago, that would have scared me. Would’ve put me smack dab in the middle of the past. Barely able to breathe.

Searching for a way to fake normal as I did in my youth.

Today, when I smile and reply to her wicked stepmother question with a, “Nobody.” I can feel the realization in those words and know that nobody means exactly that. The past is in the past. And those funny, silly, and sometimes annoying stories can come to light—come alive for my daughter because grace is right there urging a smile—my daughter highlighting the lack of brokenness. Bringing humor to the forefront of a colorless childhood and relighting all the hidden beauty.

Reminding me I’m free to be the woman God made me. The wife and lover to my husband—the husband He put in my path at just the right moment in time. The mother of our child—the child that drives me crazy with her smiles and stories, and her bedtime antics (no, you can’t have ice cream at bedtime, I don’t care if Sarah and Duck had some!).

I can be me. Sometimes that means I’m Cinderella. Sometimes it means I’m an indentured servant. Sometimes that means I’m a crazy mom and wife whom my family is sure aliens have taken over.

This is who I am.

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Rachel Trautmiller writes irresistible fiction and characters with kick. She lives in sunny California with her military husband and is kept infinitely busy by her too-cute-for-her-own-good toddler who makes sure she never runs out of stories to tell. Once upon a time she dreamed of being a doctor, a counselor, an actor, and a writer. Today, writing takes her wherever her imagination can go.

Haven’t checked out the places she’s been? Find out here.

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https://plus.google.com/114312211972391785843/posts

 

 

SMOKING GUN

I am tired. I’m tired of the fight. I’m tired of the slander. I’m tired of thoughtless words and actions. I’m tired of finger pointing and blame that solves absolutely nothing. I’m tired of negativity. With the way the world is, I wonder why I found beauty enough to bring my child into an absolute mess.

Then I remember. I had hope. I had faith that she might do something amazing one day. That she might find a cure for a horrible disease. Or move millions toward peace. Or just be the kind of PERSON other people looked up to.

I would have had these same thoughts about a boy. I would have caressed the outline of fingers and toes beating against my womb and envisioned something absolutely extraordinary. And I would cheer on what is totally mundane.

I am thankful for a country where we are able to do whatever we want to a degree. That comes with a price. It means you DON’T do whatever you want without great thought. Every action you take means something right down to the way you speak or type it. Someone is watching and learning and judging and changing because of whatever YOU have done.

Sometimes it’s a child.
Sometimes it’s an adult.
Sometimes it’s yourself.canstockphoto28744110That doesn’t sound so bad. So you used bad language, you put down your partner, you made someone feel small so you could be big. You put them in their place. You told him he was worthless in so many ways without even realizing it. You told her she was the same.

We all have a heart. It’s time we started using it regardless of gender, religion or race. It’s time we put away hurt feelings and sat down and got to the bottom of our issues. Time we inspected the fingers curled around the gun.

Our ancestors accomplished a lot of monumental goals for us. It came at a price. They weren’t perfect. There were battles. It’s time to stand up and do the same so that the next five hundred generations can look back at us with pride instead of shame.

It’s time to come together and actually BE the equality we scream about. Words are words. Actions speak louder.

So what are we going to do? What are you going to do?

Think about your son or daughter. Your niece or nephew. Your friend’s children. Think about them. You owe them that much.

Yes. You owe them. We owe them more than a passing thought.

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The Mistress of Mayhem enjoys keeping her readers up well into the morning hours with twists and turns you won’t see coming until the end and characters who are both loveable and hate-inspiring. For more IRRESISTIBLE READS and CHARACTERS WITH KICK, follow her:
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MISSED A NOVEL?

WHAT’S NEXT?

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COMING 2017

Smoke & Mirrors Summer Destination Blog Hop

 

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Hello, my wonderful reader friends. I hope you’ve been enjoying the Smoke And Mirrors blog hop event. Whether this is your first stop on this immersive destination cruise or your last, WELCOME and thanks for stopping by.

For newcomers, the blog event is as follows:

There are seven blogs on which you CAN comment. We understand that not everyone likes to enter their two cents, but doing so on ALL blog posts sometime between May 25, 2016-May 30, 2016 (only ONE comment PER BLOG is needed before 5 PM on the last day)  will ensure your name is entered into our GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY (FREE STUFF, YES!).

What’s in this amazing giveaway?

  • Kindle Fire
  • $25 Amazon gift card
  • Signed softcovers13301262_10209315191774313_6545766320918096311_o
  • Ebooks13301252_10209315189294251_1012493807565333185_o

Who’s teamed up to bring you this suspenseful, romance-laden, the-characters-are-running-for-their-lives collection?

A little bit about me and the characters you  can’t get enough of. First off, I’m a military wife. My husband and I were both born and raised in central Minnesota, we’re die-hard Vikings fans and while all of our family still resides in the state, we’ve called one of the coasts home for nearly ten years.

Enter my passion for the beautiful state of North Carolina. We moved to Yorktown, Virgina as green eighteen-year-olds with the world in our hands and very little else. We met a lot of interesting people and forged friendships that have stood the test of time and distance. We spent quite a bit of time in the Raleigh area and when I needed a locale for my budding series, I didn’t hesitate to pick Charlotte.

The crew from The Bening Files love this city and protect it at all costs. Detective Amanda Nettles-Robinson and FBI Special Agent in Charge Baker Jackson Robinson team up for another edge-of-your-seat, high-octane ride in Obsession.

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A surge in crime has left two homeless women dead and Detective Amanda Nettles’ Alzheimer’s-riddled mother as the prime suspect. As his wife embarks on a dangerous game of hide-and-seek with a remorseless serial killer, FBI Agent Baker Jackson Robinson knows he can’t sit idly while the city of Charlotte destroys Amanda’s career a second time. Is her near decade-long obsession with protecting her hometown bigger than the needs of her family? Or are they one and the same?

While Amanda and Robinson are far too busy to vacation anywhere, my favorite vacation destination is a little closer to my current residence. Avila Beach is one of my favorite getaways. My husband and I like to stay at the Inn At Avila Beach and reserve one of their beachfront rooms. It’s a quaint little bed-and-breakfast type of hotel, with a full library of books (yes!), movies, and games at your arsenal. Forgot something? This place will make sure you have it! Our last trip was in December and even in the cooler weather the atmosphere was amazing. The room came equipped with a fireplace and balcony.

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Can you say cozy by the fire while listening to the waves and enjoying fine wine? What’s better?

What’s better?

 

We grew up in towns with 500 people, but we’ve become big city people. We love having options close by, even if we don’t utilize them as often as we’d like. But Avila Beach… It’s a touch of heaven right on the beach. It’s filled with a perfect mix of tourists (like us) and local inhabitants. The pace is slower, the sunrises are amazing, the waves really call to you, and the food and wine is exquisite.

Tell us about your favorite vacation spot. Comment below for a chance to win that GRAND PRIZE. Winners will be announced after our Facebook Party starting May 30th-June 6th. Join us there for a week-long, casual meet and greet. You’ll get to ask the authors questions, engage in book-related polls, and get a backstage pass into the making of Smoke and Mirrors.

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Thanks again for stopping by. Onward to Alexa Verde’s blog stop.

A small-town cop puts her life and her heart on the line in order to find her missing twin. Will trusting the dashing and eager-to-help senator’s son prove her fatal mistake? Find out.

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Want to become a part of Rachel’s Launch Crew? What’s in it for you? Prizes, advance reader copies (in exchange for an honest review) and much more. Fill out the form below.