A Summer of Surprises – Guest LynDee Walker

Liz here, and I’m so excited to have our friend LynDee Walker back on the blog! I’m even more excited for the new Nichelle book! Not to mention the relaunch of the rest of the series. But I’ll let LynDee tell you all about that. Take it away, LynDee!

Figuring out the theme of a novel can be nail-biting for those of us who don’t plot out our whole story in advance. I’ve written books where I had that part firm from the first glance at the blank page, and books where I wrestled it from a pile of words labeled a first draft—and I honestly couldn’t tell you which book was better.

This time around, the often-elusive theme came from the literal last place I would’ve ever thought to look: my bickering offspring.

I love being a mom, and I love these three little humans (well. Two little humans. The oldest one has about three and a half inches on me these days) with the fire of ten thousand suns. Summer is my favorite time of year, because they’re all home with me: I count remaining school days starting at Mother’s Day, looking forward to long days at the pool and the park and evenings out on the deck.

Five weeks into summer 2018, we’ve had loads of fun and laughs and late nights of family corn hole games on the back porch—but boy, they have tried my patience with petty arguments like never before.

Surprisingly, that’s been good for my writing in ways I expected, and ways I never would’ve. I try to write a lot during the school year so that I can take their summer breaks to be a full-time mom, catch up on my ever-growing reading pile, and relax with friends and family. This year, I signed a new contract in June (my entire Nichelle Clarke series was picked up by Severn River Publishing, with the first six books re-issued last month with beautiful new cover art and new branding, which is all very exciting). It also meant I started summer with a book that hasn’t been written yet due in October—cue slight panic amid the new-book-deal elation.

I am having an absolute blast, back in Nichelle’s world. I missed my old friends in the Richmond Telegraph newsroom, and I think they missed me, too, because this story is flat pouring out. I’m already deeper into the draft than I originally hoped I’d be by Labor Day, and all the usual hard parts haven’t been so hard this time. Which brings me back to the theme.

This summer, the everyday trips to the pool have been broken up by afternoons at the trampoline park. My three basketball players have discovered trampoline dodgeball—but they’re all athletes and all competitive, so that’s led to arguing over who was out and why and whether they hit each other on purpose, and more often than not, someone getting hurt feelings and fuming. As a mom, it’s a frustrating place to be: I love them all, I want them all to be happy, and I want to protect them all. But above all that, I know my job is to stay objective (thank you, journalism career) and take my teachable moments where I get them. But it’s a pretty cool bonus when I can manage all that and figure out that the thing my littles needed to learn is also the big thing Nichelle has to wrestle with and figure out this time around.

As this story opens, Nichelle is finally getting a taste of her dream job, invited to cover a speech the President is giving in Richmond, thanks to a scheduling conflict for the paper’s political desk chief. The White House has received death threats in advance of the appearance, but nobody is too worried—those are everyday wastebasket filler in twenty-first century politics. But when a dead body turns up in a high-profile (and politically volatile) setting days before the speech, the credibility of the threats rises, and a race to see which big story Nichelle can break first becomes a possible mission to save the leader of the free world. If Nichelle can save herself first. And figure out whose truth she can trust.

My working title is DEADLY POLITICS, and the book will be out this winter from Severn River Publishing. In the meantime, you can can catch up on the series for free with your kindle unlimited subscription, or find the first six books on amazon in ebook and print.

Readers, tell us about a fun surprise in your life in the comments to be entered to win a kindle book box set of the first three Nichelle Clarke books!

48 Thoughts

  1. My Gospel Ukulele group (4Stings4Him) gave me a new baritone ukulele for Christmas because they thought my hand-me-down one was too buzzy.

    1. How thoughtful of them! I adore the ukulele, my favorite uncle learned to play it when he was stationed in the south pacific in WWII, and it always makes me think of him. 🙂

  2. Hey, great news on all fronts, LynDee! The new book sounds fabulous, and for the bickering I’m sure you have a version of my own mama-mantra: “I have every confidence you can work it out among yourselves.” (Pulled out at every occasion except those involving bloodshed…)

    1. Indeed I do. Mine goes something like “Are you bleeding? Is anything on fire? Then talk to each other and work it out, because I’m just going to send all of you to your rooms.”

      Thanks for the kind words—exciting times, for sure! 🙂

  3. Congratulations on all the good things happening, LynDee! I spent many summers by the pool but trampoline dodgeball is new to me. I can appreciate your theme. I grew up in a family of four, with two working parents, so we spent summers alone in the country, entertaining ourselves and indulging in endless petty bickering. We grew out of it and are very close siblings now. I’m sure it will be the same for your tribe.

    1. I sure hope so, Ramona! I have fantasy visions of them taking big vacations together with their own families someday. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping in and for the kind words. It’s been an exciting few months! 🙂

  4. Congratulations on your new release and the new covers of your existing books. Thrilling times for you.

  5. The day our daughter was born was my best surprise since we thought she was a boy. So Matthew became Rachel instead. Congratulations on the new release and thank you for the opportunity to enter the giveaway.

  6. I received an email a few weeks ago from my son saying that I can now see my 3 granddaughters any time I want. It’s been almost 4 years since I’ve been banned from seeing them. I now live in FL and they live in NH. We are flying up there in October for my nieces wedding so I’ll be spending lots of time with them then. I was on cloud 9 when I read the new.
    Thank you so much for the giveaway and congrats on the new release. pgenest57(at)aol(dot)com

    1. How wonderful! I hope the wedding and the whole trip is lovely. Best of luck in the drawing!

  7. Lyndee wrote this on my facebook page: “I’m on vacation this week and my phone and WordPress don’t play nicely together, but trying to find a way to comment on the post and thank folks for stopping by.”

    1. You know how much I love you, lady—thanks for having me! Looking so forward to seeing you (and taking loads of photos of your big day) in Florida in just a few weeks! xoxoxo

  8. Congrats on all the good news! I’ve had loads of wonderful surprises in my life, but the first one that came to mind was being told I was Volunteer of the Year for a county-wide organization. Total surprise.

    1. How wonderful! And thank you, both for the kind congratulations and for helping your community by volunteering your time.

  9. Great news! I remember those days of “how much do I get involved, how much do I let them work it out themselves?” I wound up saying, “Unless someone is broken or bleeding, don’t come to me.” They figured it out.

  10. The most recent pleasant surprise was finding out that we are going to Arthur, IL at the end of the month for the Mennonite Relief Sale. We just got back from a BIG vacation and wasn’t planning on going anywhere else this summer. Then all of a sudden things fell in place to go some place I’ve wanted to visit and see something I’ve never seen PLUS the added bonus is we get to see two couples we love spending time with along the way – one meeting us there and another on the way home.

    Thanks for the wonderful chance to win a kindle book box set of the first three Nichelle Clarke books!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. I love it when things work out just right for something wonderful. I hope you have a wonderful trip, and thanks for being here today!

  11. I am super excited for the newest Nichelle Clarke book but don’t need to be entered into the giveaway because I have all of her books with the new covers (They are amazing!), in addition to the originals. 🙂

    1. AW! Thank you so much! I’m catching up on everything I missed last week while I was at the beach, and then getting right back to work. It’s Saturday in Nichelle’s world, and Joey is there. Always makes it fun. 🙂

  12. Hi, LynDee! So great to see you here. 🙂 I’m so excited about your series and how it’s growing and succeeding! Wishing you a fun, productive August and SO much continued success! ❤️

  13. Hi, LynDee so glad to read that book seven is on the way – love the premise. I can totally see Nichelle covering the Prez. She’s earned it. Good thing for your journalism background! A four-month deadline would have most writers on that trampoline themselves! By the way, what is trampoline dodgeball? Sounds like fun.

    1. Thanks so much, Kait! I explained the game in the long post below—wanted to say thanks for coming by and for your kind words.

  14. P.S. No need to enter me in the contest! I am already a longtime fan of LynDee’s work and would love a new reader to win!

  15. Getting an unexpected upgrade at a B&B and having someone leave anniversary surprise for us as well. Random acts of kindness for the win!

    1. I love when that happens! Our hotel in Jamaica did something similar a couple of years ago, and it made a fantastic trip that much more special. 🙂

  16. My team won our ultimate Frisbee game Tuesday night. That’s a surprise because we have lost almost all our games so far this summer. It’s only our second win.

  17. I love Nichelle books. My biggest surprise was finding this wonderful home without even looking to move. That the deal went through in four days was amazing too.

    1. WOW! I’ll say…moving and buying a house is usually super stressful. Sounds like it was meant to be. 🙂

      Thank you for being here, and for the sweet comment about Nichelle.

  18. Thanks so much for stopping in and reading today, everyone, and thanks to Edith for passing along my technical issues. Hoping this one will go through.

    I am loving all the surprise stories—y’all have some great ones! And thanks to the lovely readers who popped in to say kind things about Nichelle. Y’all are the best.

    Kait, trampoline dodgeball is a sight: picture an area the size of a large family room, probably 20×30, the floor and most of the walls made up entirely of trampoline squares (3×3 or so for floor, long panels for walls). Kids divide into two teams. There are 10 palm-sized red rubber balls. The Ref yells “go!” and the balls start flying. It you catch a ball or it bounces before it hits you, you’re safe. If not, you have to leave the game. My oldest is so tall, people like to throw at her feet because they think she won’t be able to catch it. But thanks to basketball, she has quick hands and a good vertical jump even without the trampoline, so she wins a lot of the time. 🙂

    I’ll be on to reply in more detail when I get home to my computer Monday. Wishing all of you a lovely weekend!

  19. The fun surprises that come to mind we’re finding out we were going to have another baby (Oliver, very unexpected), and when a friend reached out to say she’d found a dog for us. Both are more fun and joy than frustration (like Lyndee’s offspring this summer)!

    1. Amen to that! Thanks for being here today, Mark. Hope all is well with you guys!

  20. I have many surprises in my life. The fun surprise was finding I was going to have a granddaughter this month! (She was born on the 2nd!)

  21. I was invited to my friend’s anniversary party.and when I got to her house, it turned out to be a surprise birthday party for me. I was totally surprised!

  22. My estranged son and family called and came for dinner and it went well..That was our suprise.

  23. I’m off on a four-day mini-vacation to visit friends in their summer place on Block Island. The invite came in the middle of last week. A small surprise, but one that will be enjoyed to the fullest!

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