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A new Church of Go novel

If you enjoyed Bombs Bursting in Air,

                                    I think you'll love the girls in my second Church of Go novel.

I've been dragging my feet, literally and figuratively, missing my self-imposed deadline of May 1 for completing second round revisions of my newest book Praise Petals; therefore I'm taking a little break from blogging until Monday, May 1. 

Please accept this preview of the said novel as an apology:

THE PRAISE PETALS: A Church of Go Novel
                                                                                                     44,068 words
If a word existed to describe Lilly Jenkins, “snarky” would be a top contender. According to Webster, snarky means “crotchety; snappish; sarcastic and irreverent.” In other words, Lilly.
Besides, “snarky” was fun to say. And since there was nothing fun about Lilly, the irony was compelling.
If it weren’t for her obnoxious attitude and disregard for good manners, Lilly “Godzilly” Jenkins would be beautiful. Platinum blond hair, crystal blue eyes, flawless complexion—she should be the envy of every girl at Ellison High School and the subject of desire for every male in town.
Unfortunately, Lilly was mean. Downright out-and-out mean, especially to me and my best friend, Jay Allen.
And Lilly Jenkins was in rare form today.
She had jumped in front of me in the lunch line to grab the last chocolate pudding. And then, between the last two classes, Lilly “accidentally” bumped into me, knocking my books all over the hallway floor. Immediately after that, she “accidentally” locked the classroom door behind her, making me tardy for class.
Yes, Lilly was acting suspicious. How do I know? Because Lilly was sneaky.  I quickly jotted  “sneaky”  and “suspicious” on my list. I was on letter S in my daily evaluation of Lilly Jenkins. It was a good way to turn a negative into a positive when faced with the predictably unpredictable actions of the Godzilly. When Lilly felt disgruntled (part of my letter “D” collection), I knew a target was on my back. That’s how it always was and has been since third grade—when Lilly’s family moved to Ellison.
A well-aimed spitball slammed into the area above my eyes. What most individuals refer to as the forehead, unfortunately, was actually my eyebrow. My one big, black, hairy eyebrow. There was no hiding it. Bangs only blended in enough to make the mess even hairier. The same with eyeglasses.
Plucking, trimming, shaving—nothing helped for more than a few minutes.
 I was a freak, especially for a girl. No doubt about it.
I tried to turn my attention to class—the last class on the last day of the week. I actually enjoyed French class, and I adored Mademoiselle Bouffant, so, as always, it passed quickly. The dismissal bell rang, and all my classmates hurried to escape.
“Freak,” Lilly hissed as she passed me.
Yes, Lilly is definitely snarky. And suspicious. And sneaky and sadistic and sarcastic and sinister. The spitball wouldn’t satisfy her need to torment. Today being Friday, her pain quotient was not filled.  There was still the walk home, which wasn’t that long—but enough time for Lilly to ice her cake of torturous intent. I needed to avoid that, if at all possible.
I took my time gathering class supplies, hoping that Mademoiselle Bouffant was in no hurry to escape her duties for the weekend.
Mademoiselle always seemed to find time for her students, but Friday might be a different story. Especially since today was Valentine’s Day. The exotic French-born teacher surely had a love interest waiting to treat her to a romantic evening. Right?
When Mademoiselle made no move to hurry me from the room, I took full advantage of this unplanned reprieve. The longer I lingered at school, the lesser the possibility of a Godzilly attack. But the more time spent here also prolonged my much anticipated Friday visit to my private sanctuary.
As a volunteer at the Church of Go, I treasured every Friday afternoon and Saturday morning tinkering around the church. Pastor Larry probably didn’t need my help, but I chose to believe I was actually being helpful. I answered the office phone, organized the pastor’s notes, made sure the coffee pot was full, and sometimes even pecked around on the sanctuary piano.  
At the church I was safe, and…wanted. Maybe even a little needed. And no one looked at my unibrow.
At The Church of Go I was exempt from gossip, from social anguish, and left at peace with Jay Allen, my one true friend.
 Jay Allen and I were cut from the same cloth. While I suffered the injustices of a weird facial growth, Jay Allen lived in an upside-down world that only he could understand. His eyes were permanently crossed. He stared all day long at the bridge of his nose.
I was particularly anxious to see Jay Allen today. His absence from school had been planned for a couple of weeks, but I still missed him. Today was the day he would find out about the possibility of corrective surgery.
“Mademoiselle Rose, when you are ready, let me transport you from here. It is pouring the rain!”
My teacher’s totally random offer should have come as a surprise, but it actually solidified the belief that she had some kind of second sight. She was aware of the Godzilly among us but elected to guard my integrity by pointedly ignoring the issue with her kind act.
I played along with this impromptu offer and gratefully followed Mademoiselle to her sporty, cream-colored  Mini Cooper. When we passed a sodden Lilly hunkered under an inadequate hoody, I fought an urge to flutter my fingers in her direction. But snarky, suspicious, sadistic, sneaky, sarcastic, sinister Lilly Jenkins was paying no attention to her surroundings. Not to me, to the rain, nor to the passing car that covered her head to toe in an icy puddle splash.
I did my best to stifle a giggle, feeling slightly guilty when I heard a French apology from the driver’s side of the vehicle.

Jay Allen met me in the church vestibule, bouncing with excitement.
 “He called, Rose. The doctor called! He can do it. He can fix my eyes!” Jay Allen gulped some air. “Next week! We leave for Cleveland Clinic tomorrow!”
I tried my best to digest the news Jay Allen had waited for all of his life. Research had been underway for several years on an experimental procedure to correct situations like Jay’s, but he and his family rarely talked about the possibilities, not wishing to encourage senseless hope; but the trials are evidently “in” and Jay’s dream is coming true.
“Oh, Jay…” I struggled with my words. My closest friend just received the best news of his life, and I had no idea what to say. “That’s great! This calls for a celebration. Want to ditch our Friday ritual and go to my house? Mom can order pizza.”
“Gee, Rose, that sounds great, but I have to get packed. And I promised Pastor Larry that I would let him know immediately. So, as soon as I talk to him, I need to head home. I just wanted you to be the first to know. Well, besides me, of course.”
 “Okay. Maybe I will see you tomorrow? I can come over or we can meet here?”
“Gee, I don’t know, Rose. Let’s play it by ear, okay?” The bouncing was really getting out of control, and I wondered if maybe Jay Allen needed to make a dash to the men’s room. His excitement was rather contagious, even though the sting of unshed tears threatened to spill from my eyes.
“I. AM. SO. EXCITED!” Jay Allen grabbed my hands, urging me to join him in his bouncy dance.
So, we bounced.
And we bounced.
And we bounced some more.
And then he was gone.
With promises to keep me updated.
And the reality of me being alone.
Happy Valentine’s Day.

If you're looking for me I'll be under the manuscript.
Stay safe,
Lisa, the lady with the cane




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