And Then There Were Five…


“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

When my last book was in its finishing stages, I sensed a stirring in me to write a sequel. I’ve never been a series writer, and haven’t considered it before, but the wind blew this mysterious woman into the end of When the Wind Blows, and I knew I had to tell her story.

Her name is Tyrina Lousie Duvall, and her story isn’t easy, but it will offer hope and healing to someone.

It’s interesting how book ideas materialize. No sooner had I thought about the mystery woman, than I realized Bailey Crenshaw, a twenty-year-old character in When the Wind Blows would need a book of her own as well. So a third book in the now series will follow Tyrina’s story. The two characters will end up being intertwined so how could they not both have a book? Besides, some who have finished When the Wind Blows want to know more about how Jessica’s character has changed too. She’ll pop in here and there in both books.

But the two new books, Where Blows the Wind – Tyrina’s story and Winds of Change – Bailey’s tale (the current working titles that may end up changing) were added to a list of books I’ve already started. I’m pretty sure the word I sensed from the Lord was prolific writing. Wow. Here we go!

Faith’s Song, based on the best friend of Sara Matley in A Deadly Silence, walks with Faith when she receives devastating news and can’t seem to rally her faith to handle it. How will she deal with the ramifications of this shocking news?

And then there’s The Fisherman’s Wife. Simon Peter is impulsive and brash, spending long hours fishing in often stormy waters. When Jesus calls Peter to follow him, how will Abigail handle another one of Peter’s crazy plans – this time to leave her for an undefined time? A couple of readers mentioned that they hoped I’d write more along the lines of Rachel’s Son. Here you go.

Bed and Breakfast isn’t what it seems. Two activist inventors clash in a contemporary romance when they each believe they have the perfect answer to create housing for the homeless. Can they combine their talents and innovations to alleviate one of the world’s worst problems?

And that’s not all! The list continues…oh, my!

On the back burner is Silk Stalkings, Out of Egypt, a possible yet-to-be-named sequel to Voices of the Past, and a couple of middle school series featuring Perry Trotter and Justin Case.

Not to go crazy or anything about book writing, but Beyond the Miracle: When the Fairy Tale Meets Reality, the continuing saga of my Aussie husband, Brendan, and me is also in process.

That said, let me take a survey. I”m curious. Of the books I’ve mentioned here, what would be your first choice? Anyone who responds will have their name entered in a drawing for a signed print copy of A Deadly Silence. Let my know in the comments below that you submitted your vote.

Thanks for participating! From my desk chair of piled notes, proof copies of books, and computer manuscripts, I thank you. Thank you for reading, commenting, voting, and following! It means so much.

New Release Coming Soon!


Deadly Silence CoverThe benefit of sheltering at home is more time to write. In April, I released A Deadly Silence. Here’s what a few of people have said:

“Sara and Brad’s story gripped me the second I opened the book. Laura Bennet weaves believable storylines and it’s like you are an invisible person witnessing it as it’s taking place. Emotions run high with the characters, but also the reader. Thank you, Laura, for such an outstanding book. Bravo!!!” J.Messmer

“I really couldn’t put this down. I enjoyed reading this, and I was surprised because it’s not usually my reading genre. A definite recommend, especially if you like reading about relationships, family, friendships, overcoming trauma, personal growth, spiritual growth, and learning.” J.N.

“I enjoyed this book as I have all of Laura’s books. Her honest writing style is refreshing in that things don’t always work out the way we think they “should” – just like in real life. This book covers a difficult topic but one that many people face. I’m glad to see an honest take on removing the stigma in talking about issues when they occur. Can’t wait for the next book!” Peggy I.

I’m glad to know readers are anxiously awaiting the next book because it’s almost here! Anticipating an October release, When the Wind Blows, shows how being in community brings hope, healing, and redemption.

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Category 4 Hurricane Harriet slams Southwest Florida, throwing six high rise neighbors together in unexpected ways.

Alec and Jessica Freeman can’t seem to make their five-year marriage work, and Jessica’s secret isn’t helping. Author Dylan Davis loses himself in writing books about missing children as therapy for the daughter he lost. Bailey Crenshaw, a free-spirited young woman who’s been on her own since girlhood, finds family with strangers. Older, retired folks, Ralph and Edith Manning wonder if life is over for them, but experiencing trauma with neighbors offers a new sense of purpose. Within community, each one discovers that weathering a storm together is better than surviving alone.

What’s Your Story?


pexels-photo-247314.jpegLast week I shared about the anti-trafficking organization, Children of the Night, that confused; okay let’s be real, infuriated me, with its funding starting and continuing from Hefner’s Playboy empire. I shared the email I sent and the response from Lois Lee explaining briefly Hefner’s role in her business.

And I wrestled all week with it even in the wake of the horrendous violence happening in our country.

Death begetting more death.

Kind of like my impression of a pornography enterprise funding an organization rescuing those trafficked into prostitution.

But what kept coming back to me, in a gently convicting kind of way, in spite of my justified, righteous anger, was that I didn’t know this woman’s story. That I needed to pray for, not persecute, her.

I didn’t know why she chose to battle sex-trafficking to begin with. Was she exploited, abused, molested herself? Had she been a victim of sexual predators? I had no idea why she felt that Hefner and his Playboy enterprise was her only option for funding. Or how that relationship came about in the first place.

Jesus reminded me that I didn’t know her story.

We’ve all made choices, good and bad. I’ve made my fair share of terrible ones. Many of which developed out of my own background. When we’re confused and looking for answers, we’ll try whatever seems like the best option at the time, no matter what it is.

Sometimes the worst option looks really good in light of our experiences.

Just as I knew I needed to address concern for what seemed like a hypocritical use of funds to rescue children being exploited by the very same group funding the exploitation, I became convinced that I needed to reach out to Lois Lee and ask,

“What’s your story?”

Because Jesus cares about our story. He cares about how and why we landed where we did, making the choices we did. And more importantly, he forgives them all because of his love and compassion for us. No wrong can ever make him turn away from us.

She responded immediately.

Her email told me the basics of who she is—a doctor, a lawyer, an academic, a Catholic. I won’t share the email because now it’s a personal matter, no longer a letter to an unknown company. She gave me very little detail of what led her to begin except to say she’d been persecuted for her position in wanting to help young women in prostitution. She spoke highly of Hefner, even sounding as if he had been a dear friend.

I thanked her for sharing. I continue to pray for her to be blessed, healed, and loved by Jesus.

And I want to ask you, “what’s your story?” What led you to this place you are in today? What’s your life all about? Do you know Jesus like he knows you?

He cares about every moment of your story. So do I. Without judgment. His grace is enough for all of us—even the worst parts of our story.

And I know he started our story, has a better plot for it, and will keep writing it into something beautiful if we let him. So…

“What’s your story?”

May Flowers?


 
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The old rhyme says April showers brings May flowers. Here in Florida we had a few rain showers in April and even though our temperatures remain constant for most of the year, and seasons (other than for snowbirds) aren’t exactly delineated, spring is definitely in the air.
 
Nearly every day while walking near our house, I get to watch a mommy duck with her twelve babies scurrying after her in the water as she keeps a watchful eye out–I’m sure for alligators! This morning I watched another mother bird feeding her baby.
 
No wonder Mother’s Day falls in May.
 
With Mother’s Day, six birthdays and our anniversary, May is the month with the most celebrations in it for our family. So I thought I’d give my readers an extra reason to celebrate.
 
Starting this Wednesday. My new release, A Deadly Silence, will be free in e-book form starting WED May 13th through the weekend. Then, to celebrate our anniversary (May 22), on WED May 20 The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater e-book goes on sale through that weekend.
 
WOW! Two weeks of reading for free. Don’t miss it! Come celebrate with us.
 

Is It Too Soon?


I love that everyone is connecting so much on social media, through webinars, and email. We were created for community. After all, when God created us, he said “Let us make man in our image.”  He was God in three persons: God the Father, Jesus God’s Son, and the Holy Spirit so why wouldn’t he/they make us to crave community?

Neighbors I’ve never seen are suddenly hanging out in their driveways or garages, waving and calling out to each other.

Isolation has caused us to be more connected than ever. Go figure.

But I have to say that my inbox has never been so full, and I simply don’t have time to read all the fabulous content out there. While others may be off work and find themselves with time for art projects, puzzle making, and trying new recipes, I work from home, writing, blogging and running a financial education business with my husband. That means we’re still working as we always do.

So if you’re like me, business as usual, I understand if you don’t have time to read another post since I just posted yesterday.

BUT…

I had to do it. I’m excited that my new book, A Deadly Silence, is already available for pre-order onA Deadly Silence by [Bennet, Laura] Amazon! I know I said yesterday that it would be available soon, but I didn’t expect the next day soon. The print version is still processing, but the digital version can be set to hit your Kindle reader by April 15th! (The paperback might be ready then too.)

I simply had to put the word out for those of you who have been asking me for it.

It’s here! And you can get it HERE.

Here’s the skinny…

Sara Maree Matley didn’t expect the contents of a moving box to blow apart her world. And when did her husband become her worst enemy? Her ideal family life hangs on the edge of destruction, and her silence is a deadly accomplice that could push them over the brink. In order to survive, Sara must find her voice and make the hardest choice she’s ever faced.

So while your connecting in isolation, waiting for this virus to vanish, you have something to look forward to.

The Many Sides of Tragedy


Everyone has their own perspective…

(Sara) Snippets of memories flashed. Bedroom exploits that had left her in tears. Rude comments and innuendos that confused her. And Brad’s many disappearances without explanation over the past six years of their marriage. Too numerous in these last few months to count anymore. They bombarded her with a sudden vengeance. She fought them off, but knew, deep in her soul, things had not ever been as they seemed.

No.

She couldn’t go there. Wouldn’t allow it. This would ruin everything. Her ideal family. Sure, things weren’t as great as she hoped. But she wasn’t going to entertain these intrusions into the life she fought so hard to maintain every day.

What does this say about you?

The whisper caught her off guard. A cry rose in her throat, but she forced it down. She knew the answer. It was her fault. No matter how hard she tried she would never be good enough.

(Brad)Why couldn’t he form the words? Say no. Throw her out? His mind played fantasies with Shaneel as the leading role. Pictures, movie scenes, videos rushed in on him as if in an attack. A luscious, sensuous, surrender-now barrage. Where had they come from? But he knew the answer before the question finished forming in his mind. He’d gorged himself on those images for years. Now they turned against him.

Shaneel’s touch burned his arm with a heat that set him ablaze.

Brad caught a glimpse of the picture he kept on his desk. His family smiled at him. Sara stared. He pushed his chair back. Away from the heat of the moment and the seductress taunting him.

(Lucinda)Pastor Lucinda Bell watched Sara until the kids’ entrance swallowed her up. Something about the young mother tugged at her heart. Appearances deceived, and she didn’t believe what she observed. To her, Sara’s cry for help was written all over her face. And not simply because of the couple of little mascara smudges left over from tears. The fact that her husband was obviously missing today also added to her concern.

She breathed in deeply and exhaled a prayer, hoping and pleading with Jesus that Sara would visit her in the next few days. Something wasn’t right in that family. Perhaps God would use her to help.

(Faith)Faith picked up her phone, started a text and erased it. Again. For the third time.

Ever since being with Sara at the hospital, a niggling sense of dread pushed at her to have a hard conversation with her new friend. But the right words didn’t materialize. Of course she’d taken over a couple of dinners, watched Boyd and Jasmine and sat with Sara chatting about babies and feeding schedules.

How could she put words to the unsettled feeling in the pit of her stomach? She’d glimpsed the awful bruising one day when she had stopped by to bring dinner, and Sara needed some help getting Taren situated on her lap for feeding. But Sara evaded her gentle questions and regaled stories of Brad’s loving helpfulness during her recovery. What if she was wrong? Could she be imagining the worst?

Find out the rest of the story in A Deadly Silence. Coming soon on Amazon.

The Effects of Pornography on Our Children


My latest novel, A Deadly Silence, soon to release, tackles the subject of pornography, sexual addiction and its potential for leading to domestic violence.

This deadly force lurks in darkness and silence. Only by speaking about it, can we find hope, healing and redemption. Families are being destroyed, and while we might focus on the spouse of the addict or the person struggling with the addiction, our children reap dire consequences as well.

This letter reveals how much our children suffer.  First seen and re-posted from Faithit.

I want to let you know first of all that I love you and forgive you for what this has done in my life. I also wanted to let you know exactly what your porn use has done to my life. You may think that this affects only you, or even your and mom’s relationships. But it has had a profound impact on me and all of my siblings as well.

I found your porn on the computer somewhere around the age of 12 or so, just when I was starting to become a young woman. First of all, it seemed very hypocritical to me that you were trying to teach me the value of what to let into my mind in terms of movies, yet here you were entertaining your mind with this junk on a regular basis. Your talks to me about being careful with what I watched meant virtually nothing.

Because of pornography, I was aware that mom was not the only woman you were looking at. I became acutely aware of your wandering eye when we were out and about. This taught me that all men have a wandering eye and can’t be trusted. I learned to distrust and even dislike men for the way they perceived women in this way.

As far as modesty goes, you tried to talk with me about how my dress affects those around me and how I should value myself for what I am on the inside. Your actions however told me that I would only ever truly be beautiful and accepted if I looked like the women on magazine covers or in porn. Your talks with me meant nothing and in fact, just made me angry.

As I grew older, I only had this message reinforced by the culture we live in. That beauty is something that can only be achieved if you look like “them”. I also learned to trust you less and less as what you told me didn’t line up with what you did. I wondered more and more if I would ever find a man who would accept me and love me for me and not just a pretty face.

When I had friends over, I wondered how you perceived them. Did you see them as my friends, or did you see them as a pretty face in one of your fantasies? No girl should ever have to wonder that about the man who is supposed to be protecting her and other women in her life.

I did meet a man. One of the first things I asked him about was his struggle with pornography. I’m thankful to God that it is something that hasn’t had a grip on his life. We still have had struggles because of the deep-rooted distrust in my heart for men. Yes, your porn watching has affected my relationship with my husband years later.

If I could tell you one thing, it would be this: Porn didn’t just affect your life; it affected everyone around you in ways I don’t think you can ever realize. It still affects me to this day as I realize the hold that it has on our society. I dread the day when I have to talk with my sweet little boy about pornography and its far-reaching greedy hands. When I tell him about how pornography, like most sins, affects far more than just us.

Like, I said, I have forgiven you. I am so thankful for the work that God has done in my life in this area. It is an area that I still struggle with from time to time, but I am thankful for God’s grace and also my husband’s. I do pray that you are past this and that the many men who struggle with this will have their eyes opened.

*This has been posted anonymously due to the nature of the topic.*

Look for A Deadly Silence coming soon!

When Sara Maree Matley uncovers a box of questionable material while unpacking after their family moves, she’s forced to examine the ideal life she’s fought so hard to portray as perfect. Surely her successful, popular husband, Brad, can’t be the owner of the contents. But when Brad’s behavior continues to digress, and Sara deals with her own past, life unravels, and Sara must make one of the hardest choices she’s ever faced.

 

Dream Big


IMG_3840Big dreams start with small steps.

I believe big things are coming in this new year. God has already done miracles in my marriage, family and business, and I believe he’s calling us to trust him for even more than we can hope for or imagine. (Eph. 3:20)

We have to think bigger.

Recently, in reading the passage in the Bible about Joshua and Caleb being sent with ten other men to scope out the promised land (Numbers 13), I was struck by a few things:

  1. God made a big promise – his plans were far greater than his people imagined.
  2. The land God was giving them was flowing with good things – abundance is God’s plan and promise for us.
  3. There were giants, obstacles and adversaries within the land God promised – it wouldn’t be easy, and they would have to fight for it.
  4. Only 2 of the 12 came back believing God’s promise, the other 10 chose fear instead and spread fear among their people
  5. The people had to step forward to move into the land. Just one step started the movement.

What does that have to do with me?

God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8) God’s promises may look different, but he is the same God able to speak what is relevant to us and make them come to fruition.

So, today, what is God whispering to your heart that he wants to do for you? Something bigger than what you think is possible?

Restoring a relationship? Starting a new business? Writing a book? Adopting a child? Overcoming an addiction?

Let’s ask God what his big dreams are for us. Let’s believe what he says – he’s the God of abundance and greatness. Let’s be willing to fight for what God promises – he will equip us and lead us to fight. Let’s speak  truth and hold onto God rather than giving way to fear. We may feel fear, but we don’t have to live in it and let it control us. Let’s be careful not to spread fear. We CAN dream big and see God deliver.

What are your big dreams? What is your first step towards it?

This is a message I received this past week from a reader. When I started writing books, it was a big dream that has taken years, tears and fighting to attain the promise, but God is faithful!
“Hi Laura,
I wanted to reach out and tell you that I just finished your book Dangerous Ground. I LOVED it so much. I read it in 3 days and never wanted to put it down. I especially loved all of the faith, and trust in God aspects you so wonderfully incorporated. It really helped me see many ways of looking for Christ in every situation. Such an amazing read. The trafficking awareness there is so important and I admire all that you did with this. I look forward to more of your books!” A.H.

Will You Join Me?


cropped-laura-half-moon-bay-008Just a quick post to give some news and invite you to join me for my first radio interview which will air at www.savvybusinessradio.com on Thursday December 6th. You can also listen at any of these other places:

We’ll be talking about my latest book, Dangerous Ground, and the sad truth about human trafficking. While Dangerous Ground is a novel, the story discloses the horrors about sex trafficking, a problem that is prolific here in the States as well as the rest of the world.

Half the proceeds of this book are being donated to three organizations which fight trafficking and rescue those in captivity or at risk.

A21 is an Australian based organization. (No, I didn’t choose it because of my Aussie husband. But how cool is it that our church supports them?) An interesting fact about the book is that the founder of A-21 first became attracted to this crime when she saw some photos in public of missing children. One young girl in particular, named Sophie, caught her attention and wouldn’t let her rest.

When writing Dangerous Ground, I named one of the abducted girls Sophia. It wasn’t until after the book was written, and I decided to learn more about A-21 that I found out the story. Those are the “coincidences” that I believe God orchestrates.

Another group is San Francisco based Not for Sale.

I knew nothing about human trafficking in the US until my husband and I stumbled on their store in Half Moon Bay, CA while on an anniversary trip. A store front boasting Not for Sale intrigued us. I read their book which shared horrendous stories of trafficked individuals four years before I wrote Dangerous Ground, but I believe it planted the seed.

Bridging Freedom locally (Sarasota, FL) offers a place of refuge for children trafficked to live while they heal and transition back into life. They opened their doors after a number of years and many prayers this past May.

Each group targets some different areas of trafficking. All of which are crucial.

Please join me in finding out more on Thursday’s interview and purchase Dangerous Ground to help fight this atrocity.

Everything is a Journey


Coastland Center Mall Book Signing

I had my first book selling event this week.

It came about unexpectedly and plunged me into the next step on my writing journey. A step I’ve longed for, thought about and feared for years. Now, in hindsight, it seems foolish to have dreaded (with excited anticipation) my first book event.

I’m not one of those people who hate talking in front of others. Book selling and signing goes with the territory. I want more people to know about me as an author. So what was I (a little) freaked out about?

The logistics.

I’m not even sure why. I’m asking for divine help in answering that question. But I realize it happens almost every time I find myself in a new, unfamiliar setting or situation. I’m far better now, but it still unsettles me.

Can anyone relate?

Spending hours preparing  by packing up, checking directions (a few times), re-reading instructions, listing needed items and imagining the trip or event several different ways. When I’m supposed to be getting much needed before-the-event sleep. Naturally.

Here’s the deal…

Even though I woke up with a migraine starting that morning, I quieted my heart in prayer and set about getting ready and to my destination. As I drove, I remembered that I had worked at a tuxedo shop a couple of decades ago so I attended numerous and regular wedding events. I also worked book tables for other authors.

I had experience after all. Go figure.

A nice man held the door for me as I lugged my box of books and such into the mall. Then it all came back to me once I started setting up. Arranging my books, cards and flyers was fun. I didn’t know what to expect, so I expected to wait and see what would transpire during the day.

Being at a mall, most of the sparse crowd came for specific purposes. Few stopped to browse. But both of my vendor neighbors were lovely ladies selling beautiful jewelry and handmade tote bags respectively.

We enjoyed some interesting and engaging conversation.

Later on, a couple of friends showed up to support me. I love connecting my friends who don’t know each other, but love me. Overall, I sold a few books, met some very nice people and ended up having a great experience.

All part of the journey.

It was a good day. Even the part when I drove out of the mall the wrong way and ended up circling a number of very long blocks to end up back where I started fifteen minutes later. Making mistakes is a part of learning.

I learned that everything is a journey.

We can keep moving ahead in spite of our fears or questions, or we can hold back and never start. Every new experience is just that–new. Which means we won’t know what to expect or what it will hold for us until we are participating in it.

But if we never take that first step into the unknown, we’ll never know. I’m so grateful for the experience. Every part of it (except that headache) ended up blessing me. And now I’ll be more confident the next time. I also want to keep pressing into what’s next.

Like a radio interview coming up this week.

I’m pretty excited in a nervous am-I-ready-for-this kind of way. I don’t feel ready, but I believe God opens doors at the right time. And sometimes he gives us a little nudge to walk through.

What step do you need to take today?