Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy stopped by today to talk about one of her favorite teachers. It never ceases to amaze me how much of an impact teachers make on students' lives.
My seventh grade teacher phoned me the other night to talk about my novels and writing in general. She thinks I’ve hit on something with my historical romances but let’s wind back the years for a minute.
Seventh grade is a long time ago for most of us and sometimes we prefer not to remember those awkward adolescent years. But for me, seventh grade presented a pivotal point in my desire to become a writer and I found a teacher whose influence would stretch far beyond a single school year.
At the time, Mrs. Judy Buwalda had returned to her hometown, a small town
in the Missouri Ozarks where I was a recent transplant. She spent some time working on the staff of major magazines but returned home with her daughter after being widowed at a young age. She arrived just in time for a new project the local school district wanted to try– mini courses.
Once a week, seventh and eighth grade students were allowed to choose a
mini-course. Subjects offered ranging from building birdhouses and learning to cook to creating a magazine. I already scribbled and dreamed of writing so I opted for the magazine course. During the first semester of that year our class worked hard to learn how to put a magazine together from a pro. We also wrote our articles and I remember being so proud when mine – an article about Hanukkah –was chosen for the magazine. I still have my copy of our “Mini-Magazine” and I still have a friend and mentor in Judy.
Fast forward a few years and my former teacher returned to my life. After remarriage and spending years “back east”, Judy returned to Neosho with her husband, Bill Smith. By the time she returned, I was established as a weekly columnist for the local newspaper and had a string of bylines. I wrote one week about our little “mini magazine” and how much her guidance helped me.
She phoned me up when she read it and asked me to have lunch with her. So I accepted and we had a blast over some Thai food. Somewhere between the conversation and the memories we became friends, despite our age difference and our former association as teacher/student.
Now Judy and I talk about writing and our lives. I’m delighted she’ll be one of those in attendance at our second annual author fair in the small town where we live and I’ll looking forward to our next lunch out.
I spent a few years in the classroom as a substitute teacher myself and
because of the excellent instructors like Judy, I made every effort to make a
positive difference. Since the kids nicknamed me the “awesome sub”and now, three years after I subbed, I have former students who now call me a friend, I think I must have done something right. I wish I had time to list every teacher who served as a mentor to me and encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing.
I dedicated one of my novels, Witness Protection Program, to another favorite teacher – Gary Sims – last fall because he always believed in me.
Next week my thirteenth novel and my sixth with Rebel Ink Press, will be available on April 3. It’s not a historical novel– something Judy thinks will bring me the most success – but another romantic suspense. Since my
previous romantic suspense with Rebel (Witness Protection Program) has been
one of my top selling books, I think readers will enjoy Miss Good Samaritan. The next two Rebel titles after it will be historical so if Judy is reading this, I’ve got more on the way!
Miss Good Samaritan Blurb:
Robin Cavanaugh's ordinary Saturday goes awry when a wounded man leap into her car at a traffic light and refuses to go to the hospital. Robin's first instinct is to take him to the nearest police station but when he tells her his name, she realizes he's a member of her church. He swears he's one of the good guys and Robin feels inclined to believe him. So she takes him home and tends his wounds.
When his condition worsens, she even uses his cell phone to contact what turns out to be his brother, the local medical doctor. Robin soon learns that Gray is no criminal but an undercover agent whose life may be in danger.
As their relationship develops and Gray heals, Robin becomes part of the
action, too. When she gives him her heart and accepts his marriage
proposal, Robin has no idea if he'll survive his last undercover operation
Excerpt from Miss Good Samaritan/Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
“It's okay, Robin. I don’t mind,”
If he reacted or confessed to being a dangerous fugitive, she might not feel so guilty but remorse hung heavy on her soul. “I do.”
Her two words hung between them, suspended like a spider in a web.
“Why?” Gray questioned. He sounded sincere and without artifice.
“I didn’t like what I found,” Robin said. Her worst suspicions bubbled up with
force and she asked the hard questions she’d harbored. “Why do you have an officer’s badge and a gun? Did you kill the owner?”
His eyes widened, large and luminous but she couldn’t tell if it was with shock or confusion. “Is that what you think?”
Robin attempted to draw a breath and couldn’t breathe. Her heart
continued racing and her nerves jangled as she said, with a calm she lacked,
“Gray, I really don’t know what to think. I don’t. I want to believe
you’re innocent but I don’t understand why you’d have these.
Thank you very much Lee Ann for coming by today. Teachers have a soft spot in my heart. As a teacher myself, I enjoy hearing about teachers who make a difference in a student's life. Check out Lee Ann's upcoming release "Miss Good
Samaritan... a contemporary romantic suspense novel on sale April 3rd!
Musings from Michigan