Shannon here: Paula Peckham shares insight into her real-life romance & her characters’ romance. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a copy of her Historical Romance, Protected. Paula doesn’t have her author copies yet, but as soon as she does, she’ll mail a copy to the winner. Deadline: April 16th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Paula:
Do you ever fail to listen to God’s voice and take off on your own, planning your life based on what you want and think you need? No? Just me?
I met my future husband, John, at work, and I spent the first six months I knew him trying to set him up with someone else. He was so smart and funny. Someone somewhere would be super happy she’d met him and ever grateful to me for getting them together. Every time our company did something, like the annual picnic, I’d chat up the cute girl in accounting or a lady in North Texas sales to see if they’d like to hang out with him. Unfortunately, sparks never flew. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t find him attractive.
Then, the guy I’d been dating for three years broke up with me. I was pretty bummed. John, being the kind and considerate friend that he was, started hanging out with me, asking me on friend dates to cheer me up. He took me sailing in his little boat on the lake (where he intentionally dumped the boat over, dumping me into the water, so I’d know how to right it again should it ever happen for real). He put together a picnic we ate at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. We went to movies. We chatted long into the night at coffee bars. He was so intelligent and had a wonderful sense of humor. The conversations were deep, interesting, and far-ranging in topics. I really enjoyed his company.
One afternoon, as we headed out for one of our afternoon dates, he stopped by his parents’ house to check something on their roof. I sat myself in a lawn chair in the backyard and chatted with his mother while he got a ladder and climbed on top of the house. As he stood, perched on the roof, with his shirtsleeves rolled back halfway up his wrists, and his Levi’s jeans covering his long legs, ending in cowboy boots, I was so suddenly struck by the awareness I was attracted to him, I gasped. Have I fallen in love with him? When did this happen?
Of course, John had no idea this epiphany had visited me, and life went on as normal for a few weeks. Finally, I screwed up the courage to tell him how I felt and asked if he felt the same way. That was twenty-five years ago. Now I’m pretty glad that cute girl in accounting wasn’t interested. She has no idea what she missed.
I wouldn’t have either. I’m grateful God persisted in the path he’d laid before me and was patient enough to wait until I got on board. Since I have such first-hand knowledge of the reluctance to release the illusion of control, I gave that same problem to Abby, my main character in Protected. She also had to struggle with letting God be in charge. I hope you enjoy watching her grow in her faith.
Excerpt from Protected by Paula Peckham:
A buzzing sound caught Abby’s attention. She glanced up, then ducked. A yellow jacket flew past her face.
“Shoo.” She leaned out of its way. The insect buzzed and bobbed over toward Manny, its long legs dangling ridiculously from its yellow-and-black-striped body as the wings buzzed past.
Manny didn’t notice the insect at first. When he finally did, he muttered an exclamation and jerked backward so suddenly he lost his balance, tipping over onto his bottom.
“Tarnation!” He scrambled up and took several steps back.
Abby looked on, astonished. “Don’t tell me you’re afraid of a yellow jacket!”
Manny avoided making eye contact. “I’m not afraid. I just—” Whatever he planned to say next went unsaid as he danced a skip and a jump to his left, avoiding the flying critter’s arbitrary flight plan.
Abby laughed with delight. “You were saying?” She sat back on her heels, watching him, amused.
Manny scowled. “I just don’t like them, OK?” He reached for the mop she’d carried from the barn, brandishing the pole like a club.
“Don’t make him mad.” She jumped to her feet and snatched the mop away. “Ignore him. Maybe yellow jackets like the smell of brains.”
The insect settled on an edge of the deerskin. Manny positioned himself as far away as he could. She laughed again, enjoying the fact she had something to hold over him, something she could tease him with as unmercifully as he teased her with the stupid Abby-girl nickname.
He shot her a dark look.
“Don’t worry.” Abby spoke in a sing-song voice. “I’ll protect you.”
He kept his eyes on the skin, but she saw muscles in his shoulder twitch. Because of the bug or her comment?
They finished rubbing the mixture into the deerskin, all the while in the company of the lurking yellow jacket, picking its way delicately around the edges.
Finally, Manny stood. “I’m gonna roll the hide so the oils can soak for a day.” He eyed the yellow jacket with annoyance. “Don’t you have anywhere else to be?”
Abby gently shooed the bug off the deerskin with a wave from her foot. It buzzed away, then landed on the edge of the bucket. Long, segmented legs tiptoed over the edge, and it disappeared inside.
She helped Manny fold the skin on itself. He finished by folding the roll in fourths.
“I’ll leave this in the barn until tomorrow.” He walked away without a backward glance.
Abby laughed, not caring if he heard her. She abandoned the bucket and walked away, leaving the yellow jacket as guard. Let Manny figure out how to get rid of the unwanted guest. She had a disgusting odor to wash from her hands.
About Paula: A fifth-generation Texan, Paula Peckham graduated from the University of Texas in Arlington and taught math at Burleson High School for 19 years. She and her husband, John, divide their time between their home in Burleson and their casita in Rio Bravo, Mexico. Her debut novel, Protected, was an ACFW Genesis semi-finalist in 2020. She also writes short stories, novellas, and poems.
She has contributions in the 2021 release Christmas Love Through the Ages, and Texas Heirloom Ornament.
She serves as president of ACFW DFW and is a member of Unleashing the Next Chapter.
She has spoken at ACFW, Unleashing the Next Chapter, and the Carrollton League of Writers. Learn more & connect:
About the book – Protected:
Disaster strikes a wagon train en route to Texas, leaving 18-year-old Abby in charge of the survivors, all children younger than her. After an attempted kidnapping, the others convince her to disguise herself as a boy. Initially reluctant, Abby soon realizes life on the trail is much easier without bulky skirts. The disguise allows her to do things as “Abner” she couldn’t do as Abby. It’s intoxicating.
Disfigured by fire as a child, Manny, a young cowboy, is lonely and yearns for companionship. His scars and the judgment of townspeople make it difficult for him to trust others. He intercepts the wagon train and agrees to help the children finish the trip to San Antonio. A new friendship cracks the protective walls built around his heart. Hope blooms when he meets “Abner,” and Manny’s fear of rejection slowly dissolves.
As the weeks on the trail go by, Abby develops romantic feelings for Manny, and he values his first new friendship in years. When Manny discovers her deception, it destroys the fragile bond of friendship growing between them.
Can God help the two young lovers find trust, faith, and forgiveness on the hot Texas plain?
Available online soon!
Question for readers: How important is it for couples to share a sense of humor? In Protected, Abby and Manny take their first steps toward forgiveness, and it all starts in a situation where they can laugh.
Come back April 12th for Dawn Ford!