The Monster

The Monster

                I felt the monster the moment the car turned onto my old street.  I could not actually see the house, but I knew the monster was there.  My heart beat faster, my palms began to sweat, my breath came out in rapid gasps.  I shifted in my seat, craning my neck to look in the backseat, nearly convinced that my monster would be physically there, behind me, chasing me.  It was enough to make me want to vomit.

“We don’t have to do this.”  My babysitter and chauffer, my mother had been against this little trip from the moment I suggested it.  She’d been against a lot of decisions in my life, yet that had never stopped me.  Of course, if I had listened, the monster would not be there, following me, taunting me, keeping me from leading a healthy, normal, productive life.

But this time, ignoring her misgivings was the right thing to do.  It was the only way to ever get the monster off my back and out of my life.  It was the only way to get my life back, to be free.

And I needed freedom.  Needed it more than my lungs needed the air they were desperately grasping for.

“Keep driving,” I told Mom, forcing myself to face forward.  I closed my eyes, counted to ten, breathed in as deeply as I could, imagined being in my happy place—used every calming technique I’d learned in years of therapy to chase away the monster and every panicked feeling his presence evoked.  Nothing worked.  I could run—again.  But I was tired of running.  “I have to face this,” I said, as much to assure Mom as to reassure myself.

She still wasn’t sure, but she drove.  The car inched closer to the house; soon I could see the rooftop, then the upstairs windows, the porch, and finally the front door.  It stood there, innocently, as if the pain and anguish that had occurred in its walls had meant nothing.

DSCF5249The closer we came to the house, the less innocence I saw.  Sadness.  The years, I noticed with a small sense of glee, had not been kind to the building.  The siding was cracked and pulling away in places.  Paint had chipped off the wooden support beams of the front porch, some of which were cracked, broken, barely able to stand up to the weight of that porch roof, which itself was falling down.  If the house could feel, I think it would be feeling sadness.  Because it knew the end was coming?  Or because of the horrors that had occurred inside, horrors the building had been unable to stop?

Mom pulled the car to a stop across the street.  A workman wearing a yellow hardhat and orange safety vest approached us.  “Sorry, Ma’am,” he said gruffly.  “You can’t park here.  Demolition will start soon.”

“How soon?” I asked.

“Soon,” he repeated.  “The car is not safe here.”

I opened the door and got out, ignoring the look of frustration on his face.  The monster followed me out of the car, once again breathing down my neck.  The door closed behind me and Mom drove away, to a spot we had agreed on before making the trip.  She’d walk the two blocks back, to stand with me and watch the destruction of the first house I’d ever purchased, the building that should have been a happy home for me, my husband, and our children.  She wouldn’t be gone for long.  I turned to the worker, whose face still carried a great deal of irritation.  “May I go inside?” I asked him.

“Inside?”  The sound of his voice conveyed his true feelings; he wanted to ask if I was insane.  The answer, quite possibly, was yes.  Perhaps I was insane.  This house, that monster at my back, both had led to my questionable state of mind.

“It’s my house,” I said.  “Or it was until I sold it to the city.  All I want is one last chance to walk inside.  Is that possible?”

I didn’t wait for an answer, just walked across the street, marched up the three steps, and pushed open the front door.  It didn’t take long for someone to follow me, shouting at me that I needed to stop, needed to walk back outside.  I ignored the voice.  The monster was still behind me, but I knew I could leave him behind in this building.  All I had to do was see it, I had to see that room.  His life had ended here.  If I was going to finally put the monster to rest, I needed to see the place where he had died.  I just needed my eyes to rest on it one last time.

It was old, falling down from years of neglect.  Just like my heart.  The house had to be torn down.  And with it, his recliner, the chair that he had seen as his throne, the chair he’d not been able to tear himself out of to get help in the last moments of his sad, pathetic little life.  I needed to see it, and I wasn’t disappointed.  It was still there, in its place of honor in what had been the living room, positioned so that the view of the television, had it been there, would have been perfect.

As I looked at it, I began to breathe harder again, could feel my heart beat faster, could feel the monster closing in on me.  DSCF5248Hadn’t felt that level of hatred and anger in years, not since I’d escaped the house, escaped his rule.  But the fear, the fear I had always associated with this chair, with the man that lived and died in it was gone.  I was no longer scared of him.  But I was angry.

I hated him.  He was dead, and yet I hated him.  With every fiber of my being, I hated him.

I allowed myself to be escorted out of the house, back across the street to where my mother was standing.  I was admonished to stay put.

A man climbed up into a large crane, started the engine.  As the crane’s claw reached toward the roof of the house, I imagined I was in control.  It was my hand tearing through the roof, pulling apart boards and insulation, reducing the dwelling to broken bits of debris.  As the engine roared, I roared as well.  I yelled, I screamed.  I allowed another piece of my anger, of the monster that had followed me from this house to escape my body.  The claw tore through the upper floor, and I saw myself tearing him apart, piece by piece.  The way had done to me.  I watched the lower floor come apart, could see his precious recliner pulverized.

When it was over, when the roar of the engine died, I could only stare at the empty lot.  Other equipment was moved in to clear out the remains of the house, and yet I stared.  It was gone.  The house was gone.  The monster was gone.  I was alone.  I was free.

“Are you alright?” my mother asked.

I turned to her.  Smiled.  “I am,” I said.  “It’s over. I am free.”

Holy eBooks, Batman!

In early May, I thought I would celebrate 5 years of writing full time by giving away three of my novels free for the Kindle. My husband wasn’t sure what he thought about that. He was concerned that by giving them away, I was losing money. The ebooks weren’t selling before, though. It’s not always easy to get your books purchased when you are an “unknown” author. I thought that if I could give away a few copies and then sell copies of the other titles, it would be well worth it. I chose to only do three titles–FORSAKING THE CALL, SUMMERTIME, and MIRACLE PLAY–because they were the only ones I had formatted for Kindle. I put them up for free for 2 days each and worked on formatting the other two books. Yesterday, both SHATTERED and THE LADIES OF FAITH went up on Kindle for a 2-day free promotion.

This morning, I checked on sales numbers and was pleasantly shocked at what I saw.

A total of 300 free copies of FORSAKING THE CALL were downloaded. An additional 20 copies were purchased.

A total of 276 free copies of were downloaded. An additional 6 copies were purchased.

A total of 386 free copies of SUMMERTIME were downloaded. An additional 18 copies were purchased.

So far, 692 free copies of THE LADIES OF FAITH have been downloaded and a staggering 852 copies of SHATTERED have been downloaded. No paying sales on those two yet, as the free promo is still going on.

Did you add up those numbers?? I did. It is over 2500 copies of my books that have gotten into the hands of readers just this month. “Only” 44 of those were paid, so I only get royalties on those 44 books. My husband looks at the 2500 books that I don’t get paid and gets said. I look at the 44 that will earn me some money, and I am excited! Before this month, I had not sold any electronic copies of my books. If I hadn’t taken a chance and offered the giveaway, I likely would not have sold those 44 books.

I am not in the writing business to make money. Sure, I’d love to make a steady income at this. I would love to have a studio purchase movie rights for one or more of my books and earn enough that my husband doesn’t have to go spend his days in a hot factory. But the money isn’t my guiding force. My goal is to get my work into the hands of readers, to find people who have never heard the message of Christ’s love and use my work to plant a little seed in their lives. That is my goal. And the free Kindle promotion seems to be helping me to reach that goal.

D is for Dreams

It is pleasant to see dreams come true, but fools refuse to turn from evil to attain then.  
Proverbs 13:19, New Living Translation

I was 12 when I discovered my love of books.  Anne of Green Gables.  That is the book that first got me hooked.  There was nothing I loved more than getting lost in reading a good story.  Nothing, other than writing my own stories.  At the time, I had a teacher who was very supportive and very demanding, all at once.  She nurtured my dream to write by pushing me to put my thoughts on paper.

There was a time, though, when the dream nearly died.  I knew that I wanted to write, but I was scared.  Scared that I would have to write what the world wanted.  Scared that making a living with words would mean turning my back on everything that my parents had taught me.  That fear, even during the moments when I was not really living for Christ, held me back from writing anything.

I did spend some time writing stories that I am ashamed of now.  I loved the feedback that I was getting, all the kudos about my stories.  But it felt hollow.  The stories were not honoring God in any way.  Even though I wasn’t living for Him, somehow I knew that He didn’t approve of how I was using the talent He had given me.  And though people seemed to like what I was writing, I was unable to really enjoy it.

Ever since I started trusting that my dreams are in His hands and not trying to hold them in my own, things have been different.  I have a new joy in my writing, something I hope that my readers pick up on.  I still get compliments on it.  I still have people tell me how wonderful my stories are.  The difference?  Now I can smile and say, “I just let God write it through me.”

Miracle Play Preorders

I have so many things that I want to get done today!  Not many that I absolutely need to get done, I suppose.  So that makes me lucky in some ways.  Yet I still have no clue where to begin.  If I don’t do something soon, I will never get anything done.  And I do so want to get something done.

Well, since you sat through that babble, I suppose you deserve a little something special!  As you may know, my fifth novel Miracle Play will be available on April 5.  I can hardly wait for that!  Already I have a book signing lined up for the 14th.  I just need to know how many books I should have on hand.  So, I have a question for you—would you like a copy of Miracle Play?

In case you don’t know what the book is about, here is the trailer for the novel….

The books will sell for $15 each on April 5.  But I am offering a special on preorders!  Anyone who orders a book before March 16 will only need to pay $12 for their copy.  If you are in the Jackson, Michigan area, I will deliver your book to you for free.  If you need me to mail the book to you, the shipping on it will be $2.

To preorder your copy, please leave your email address and the number of copies you would like in the comments section after this blog post.  Or you can email me at  and put MIRACLE PLAY PREORDER in the subject line.  Let me know how many copies of the book you need and how you want them delivered to you.


It’s been a while since I have updated this blog.  If you are a regular reader, you already know that!  At least, I hope you have noticed that I’ve been gone for a while….

Anyway, there are a lot of reasons that I haven’t been here in a while.  One of those reasons is because I have been busy writing a couple of novels.  The first one, MIRACLE PLAY, has been sent off to the publisher!  It will be available for sale on April 5, 2012.  I am real excited about this book.   I recently told a friend that the fifth novel is just as exciting as the first.  ”It’s kind of like the feeling of having a new baby, only without the morning sickness, swelling, and pain.”

This time around, I’ve done something that I never have before–I made a trailer for the book.  I’ve thought about doing it before, just have not actually taken the time to do it.  My trailer is available on YouTube.  I’ve added it here so you can find it easily.  Please let me know what you think of it.  You can can share your feelings on the trailer and book here or right on YouTube.  Either way, I am eager to hear what you have to say.


An early morning call shatters Caryn Becker’s world.  Unable to cope with her brother’s news that he is gay, Caryn rejects him and disappears into her own turbulent like as a young widow and single mom.  But when David is attacked and nearly killed, Caryn is forced to make hard choices about family, faith and her own future; choices that take her to the very edge of grace.

To be totally honest, when I first heard that Christa Allan had a new book out, I didn’t care what the book was about.  She could have written 500 pages about watching paint dry or grass grow, and I would have wanted to read it.  OK, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration.  But I enjoyed her first book so much that I would have read The Edge of Grace no matter what topic it covered or how the plot twisted.  The first book was written in such a fluid, conversational style.  I had great hopes for the second.

And I was not disappointed.

The story really hit home for me (check out what I posted about it yesterday if you want to know why.)  Dealing with a gay family member can be very confusing, to say the least.  Caryn’s reaction to her brother’s was very real—“he’s doing something that I don’t approve of and can’t relate to, so I am just going to ignore him.”  Her attitude didn’t make the “problem” go away or turn back the clock to a time when she didn’t know that David was not happily in love with the woman he was planning to marry, but it did help Caryn to cope with the shock.  At least in the very beginning.  It was interesting to watch Caryn move from denial to acceptance, even though the metamorphosis meant changes in her own life and in her way of thinking.

The Edge of Grace was a very well-written story about a topic many Christians struggle with.  This book earns my highest recommendation.  I can’t say that I agree with all of the opinions expressed in this book, but that is OK.  At least reading it forced me to consider positions other than my own.

I think Caryn said it best herself in this speech to her brother near the end of the book: “And God is reaching me, maybe in very small steps, that He is the final judge, not me.  And that my job, for as long as I am here, is to reach out and love.”

That is something I think we all should keep in mind before we start hurling insults and accusations at one another.

Christa Allan is the author of Walking on Broken Glass and the mother of five.  Christa teaches high school English.  She and her husband, Ken, live in Abita Springs, Louisiana.  Visit Christa on the web at

Much Needed Grace

Have you ever read something that you felt was written just for you?  In the past two years, it has happened to me twice with novels I have read.  I felt like the author was writing my life story.  OK, so there were a few twists and turns and plot points that did not accurately fit my life.  But the books dealt so closely with things that I was dealing with in my life that I felt like God had given both stories to the author with the intent of having me read the books.

Even more amazing is that both books were written by the same author.

Order at

The author I am talking about is Christa Allan.  I am not sure when I first met Christa online.  But when I read her novel Walking on Broken Glass in early 2010, I felt like she must have known me forever.  Though we had not (and still have not) met face-to-face, she captured my feelings of lose, hopelessness, and addiction so accurately in Leah Thornton, the main character of her debut novel.  Through that book, I was forced to face a truth about my life that I had been running from for years.  Facing that truth has led me to a healthier life today.  I won’t repeat my review of this book, but if you want to revisit it, you can find it here.

That first book affected my so deeply that I was more than anxious to read her second novel, the recently released The Edge of Grace.  I didn’t know what the book was about.  I didn’t really need to know—Christa had written it, and that was enough for me!  I requested a review copy of the book and waited for it to be delivered.  When it came, I immediately read the back of the book—and the book very nearly fell from my hands.

An early morning call shatters Caryn Becker’s world.  Unable to cope with her brother’s news that he is gay, Caryn rejects him and disappears into her own turbulent like as a young widow and single mom.  But when David is attacked and nearly killed, Caryn is forced to make hard choices about family, faith and her own future; choices that take her to the very edge of grace.

In all honesty, I couldn’t decide if I should laugh or cry.  One thought kept running through my head: “She did it again!”  One again, without knowing it at all, Christa Allan had written a book similar to what I was experiencing in my life.  In that moment I knew that this book was going to change my life.

Just a few days before the book arrived in the mail, my husband received a phone call from his brother.  Not a big surprise.  My husband receives calls almost weekly from his brother.  The surprise was in the reason for the call.

It had been over ten years since we’d been shocked at the news that he was gay.  For the past four or five years, we had accepted his partner as a part of our family.  He came to birthday parties for our sons, and the two men hosted holiday dinners in their home.  Our sons even accepted the relationship between Uncle Mike and Dr. Erik—though at 4, 7, and 10, I am not sure they fully understood just what “gay” meant.  The news that Mike was gay had been so shocking, especially as it followed so closely the heels of the first in a series of strokes for their mother, that I didn’t think anything would shock me about him.

I found out how wrong I was about that when my husband said, “We’ve been invited to a wedding in New York.  Mike and Erik, later this fall.  Mike wants me to be his best man.”

OK, so the news really wasn’t all that shocking.  I already knew that Mike and Erik were very committed to each other.  My husband and I had talked in the past about how relieved we were that same sex marriage is not legal in Michigan, where we all live.  But Erik was raised in New York and still has family there.  Now that same sex marriage is legal there, he proposed to my brother-in-law.  Good for them.  Not so good for us.

My husband and I share very strong faith in Christ.  We both believe that the Bible is very clear on homosexuality as a sin.  We have never pushed Mike away or attempted to make him feel like his “gayness” makes him a bad person.  (Perhaps never is too strong.  I know that Mike and I had some blow-ups over it in the beginning.  I clearly remember Mike yelling at me, “Just once I’d like to find someone claiming to be a Christian show tolerance for a gay lifestyle!”  My response was to scream just as loudly, “Just once I’d like to find someone living a gay lifestyle show tolerance for the Christian faith!”)  It’s just part of who he is, and he is family.  We love him no matter what—even if we don’t agree with how he chooses to live his life.  That is what Christ wants from us, right?  That whole, “Love the sinner, hate the sin” thing.

But now we were faced with a  dilemma—would it be possible to love Mike and not disappoint God at the same time?

In many ways, attending their wedding (let alone being a part of it, as my husband had been asked to do), felt like it was condoning their lifestyle.  And if we are condoning that lifestyle, are we dishonoring God?  Is it all possible to show our love of Christ, to provide action to our faith, and still show love and support to a beloved member of our family?

These are the questions that I was dealing with when I began reading Christa Allan’s latest book.  I didn’t expect that her book would answer all of my questions.  Honestly, I didn’t know if it would answer any of them.  But I was hoping that reading the book would help me to at least find some perspective.  Another Christian woman, dealing with the same sort of issues that I was?  At the very least, I hoped that reading the book would help me to feel less alone.

Was I disappointed in the book?  Did the fictional experiences of these characters help me to deal with my own reality?  If you want to know, come back tomorrow to read my review of Christa Allan’s book The Edge of Grace.

F.M. Meredith’s ANGEL LOST

Synopsis of ANGEL LOST


ANGEL LOST by F. M. Meredith

As plans for her perfect wedding fill her mind, Officer Stacey Wilbur is sent out to trap a flasher, the new hire realizes Rocky Bluff P.D. is not the answer to his problems, Abel Navarro’s can’t concentrate on the job because of worry about his mother, Officer Gordon Butler has his usual upsets, the sudden appearance of an angel in the window of a furniture store captures everyone’s imagination and causes problems for RBPD, and then the worst possible happens—will Stacey and Doug’s wedding take place?


Biography of F.M. Meredith

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of nearly thirty published novels. Her latest in the

Author F.M. Meredith

Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, from Oak Tree Press, is Angel Lost. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Internet chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at and her blog at




Angel Lost Missed the Mark

Police Interceptor of the Los Angeles Police D...

Image via Wikipedia

Angel Lost is the story of the police department of Rocky Bluff, California. The story focuses on Detective Doug Milligan and his fiancée Officer Stacey Wilbur and takes place in the weeks leading up to their wedding. They are by far the only members of the police department who have interesting happenings in their lives. The troubles range from facing a long-term illness of a mother to dealing with the aftermath of shooting a young suspect to tracking an exhibitionist appearing on the beach.

The author of this book, F. M. Meredith, shows thorough knowledge of what can happen between members of a police department. Her characters are very well connected to one another.

The problem with the book , at least for me, is that there are just too many characters involved in this book. It was not easy to keep them all straight. Some of the subplots didn’t seem to flow well, didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the story. Perhaps if these subplots had been more well-developed, the story would have been easier to follow.

There are other places in the book—two in particular—where the storyline seemed to be dropped too soon. They left far too many questions in the mind of the reader. One involves the exhibitionist on the beach—when he is finally found, comments about his past are made and then he is forgotten. In another section, a crime that is very important to the rest of the story just falls flat. The possibility that this criminal could have been connected to other similar crime is mentioned, but never really explored. The identity of the criminal isn’t even revealed.

Perhaps it is just me, but I think the title of a book should have something to do with the story. I still am not sure what Angel Lost has to do with the story. I suppose it could have to do with a kidnapping that occurs in the book or to an angel that appears in the lit window of a furniture store. It’s just something that didn’t make much sense to me.

Though this was not one of my favorite books to read, it did have potential. If the subplots had been developed more, it would have been easier to keep track of the characters and to care about what was happening with them.

Book Club Report

I had a new experience last week. A book club here in Jackson chose to read Shattered. They invited me to be there when they discussed the book.

That was quite a thrilling thing. I’ve never been a part of a book club before, though it’s something I‘ve wanted to do. But to sit back and listen to a group of strange women talk about my work…. I was a little nervous and on edge about it all day.

 The hostess for that evening was someone I had gone to high school with. She was the only one in the group of seven that I had met before. All of the women were so kind and welcoming. I don’t know why I was so nervous.

 I came home that night with kind of a big head, though. I told my husband I didn’t know if my head would even fit through the door! These women all loved the book. There were a couple of things that they were unsure about. It was fun to discuss that with them, though, and to give them a little insight into the writing of the book.

 Two things about the discussion really stayed with me. One was how excited these ladies were to have read a book set right here in Jackson. They asked if there was a special reason I’d set the book here or if I had done it just because this is where I live. The truth is, it was a little of both. Because I live here, I didn’t have to do a lot of research into the location. That sure made writing it easier. The big reason, though, was something I’d read shortly before writing it. There is this sculpture in downtown Jackson that many people, myself included, find rather unattractive. Someone had written to the editors of our local newspaper to say the sculpture “is ugly and useless, just like the rest of Jackson.” I wanted to set a book here to show that my hometown—while far from perfect—is anything but ugly and useless.

The other thing that stayed with me was the comment that Janessa should have been more forgiving because she is a Christian woman. Now, in case you’ve not read the book, I don’t want to give too much away. But something very serious happens to Janessa, something that causes her to be angry at some very important people in her life. In the same situation, I would have been honest, too. I don’t know how forgiving I could have been.

What I told this woman was, “Christians aren’t perfect, either.” And we are not. Oh, some might try to make others believe they are. God knows better. Honestly, I think it is a better witness to others when we admit to our imperfections and show a willingness to work on them. The question made me think that I am doing the right thing with my books, though. I want to show that Christians are real, flawed people, too. If we weren’t, Christ wouldn’t have died for us. That right there makes me grateful that I have some flaws!!