Tracey J. Lyons: When Family Is An Author’s Inspiration

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Everyone’s Story welcomes a long-time friend, inspirational romance author, Tracey Lyons. Although Tracey and I used to live “down the road” from each other (and in this part of the NE that means next town over) I got to know Tracey best through local RWA chapter meetings. I remember fondly the lovely party she hosted to honor her first sale–and now Tracey is continuing forward in a very nice publishing career! Yay, Tracey! Tracey shares with us this week an excerpt of A Changed Agent, which she’s also offering as a BookGiveway. And do check out what she says about family–particularly who in her own family–is a source of inspiration. We’re both looking forward to chatting with you. 

 

 

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BookGiveaway:

Tracey is offering 1 Kindle edition  of  A Changed Agent to 1  randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, October 28th between 5-6 PM EST.

** Please note regarding BookGiveaways: email contact information within comments are no longer required. However, if I have a question regarding yours I’ll leave a comment for you to forward it in order for you to chance winning.

 

 

Excerpt from A Changed Agent:

Excerpt from A Changed Agent by Tracey Lyons

 

“Are you going to yell at Uncle Will?”

 

Sighing, Elsie fought to rein in her temper. After all, this was not their fault. It was William Benton’s, and he was about to be told in no uncertain terms how the saloon entryway was not an appropriate place to leave children. Taking Harry and Minnie by the hand, she walked them to the opposite edge of the boardwalk. “You two stay right her until I come back. Don’t move a muscle; don’t speak to anyone. Do you understand me?”

 

Harry’s head bobbed up and down. “Yes, Miss Mitchell.”

Putting a smile on her face, she added, “After this, I’ll take you over to the bakery for a treat. How does that sound?”

 

Minnie hugged her doll to her chest while Harry beamed. “We’ll stay right here, Miss Mitchell. We won’t move one bit. Right, Minnie?”

The little girl nodded.

 

“All right, then. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

 

After straightening her short jacket, she secured her bonnet and

marched right up to the swinging shutter doors that led to what was surely Heartston’s very own version of Sodom and Gomorrah. Taking a stance a mere inch from the doors, she opened her mouth and, heaven help her, yelled, “William Benton, you get out here right this minute!”

Raucous laughter greeted her demand. A swirl of red and black in the form of a scantily clad saloon girl appeared before her.

 

“You looking for your man, lady?” The girl’s brilliant red hair was adorned with a sequined headband, which had a colorful ostrich feather sticking out from it.

 

Her face had seen better days. Pockmarks scarred her heavily rouged cheeks. If she were in a better frame of mind, Elsie might have felt sorry for this creature’s plight and would be praying for her salvation. Right now, though, she could concentrate only on getting William Benton out here. Feeling as though the entire town were staring at her, Elsie bit back a tart remark as she felt a heated blush spreading across her face like wildfire.

 

“He’s not my man.” Forcing herself to remain calm, she said, “I’d be grateful if you could find him and send him out here, please.”

 

The thought of her and Mr. Benton as a couple made her tremble in fury. A man who could abandon children like some animals on the side of a street while he sated his lust would never be the man for her!

The woman disappeared with a rustle of stiff red taffeta. Feeling like she may have gone a bit too far by creating such a scene, Elsie took a step to the side of the door, pulling the wide brim of her bonnet lower. Three men came out the doors before Mr. Benton finally exited.

And then he completely ignored her, walking right past her toward the children.

 

Gathering her skirts, she trudged up right behind him. Her anger was so great that she had to force herself to take a moment to say a silent prayer for calmness. She reminded herself that the children were present. Barely stopping to retrieve his charges, he seemed oblivious to her presence. Lengthening her stride, she matched his pace.

“Mr. Benton! You cannot leave these children on the sidewalk while you do . . .” Sputtering, she searched for the right words. “Whatever it was you were doing back there in that horrible place.”

 

Casting a sidelong glance at him, she saw his back stiffen. He had some nerve being angry at her! Not to be deterred by his silence, Elsie finally caught hold of his arm right above his elbow. Startled by the flexing of firm muscle, she quickly dropped her hand to her side.

 

“Mr. Benton! Stop!”

 

“Follow me to my home, Miss Mitchell. We can talk there.”

“But Uncle Will, Miss Mitchell promised we could get a bakerytreat.” Harry’s plaintive whine sliced through the tension-filled air.

Mr. Benton glanced at her.

 

Daring to speak, she said, “I promised them if they behaved while

I went to find you that they could have a treat.”

 

Turning away from her, he looked down the street to where thebake shop stood. The wonderful scent of its locally famous cinnamon rolls wafted from the open door all the way to where they stood. Elsie thought it one of the most blessed scents of the entire town. Looking at the hopeful expressions on the children’s faces, she hoped Mr. Benton thought so, too.

 

“All right! I’d hate to make a lady go back on her word.”

 

They drew up short in front of the storefront, where Mr. Benton said, “You will wait here while I go buy the cinnamon rolls.” A few minutes later he returned with a full brown paper bag. Handing it to her for safekeeping, he led the way to the opposite end of the town in silence.

She didn’t know what to do with his brooding silence. When they

finally reached the house, Mr. Benton turned to take the bag from her.

The place looked much better than it had in months. The porch had been swept clean of the dried leaves and twigs left over from the previous fall, the windows had been cleaned of grime, and the front door stood ajar. Pausing at the base of the steps, she watched as the trio disappeared into the house. Putting her hand on the rail, she started up the steps, only to be stopped by Mr. Benton as he returned to the porch.

 

“The children are washing up.” Folding his arms across his chest, he stood looming over her on the top step.

 

Despite his intimidating stance, she was determined to make him understand that his actions had been completely inappropriate.

Removing her hand from the railing, she took a moment to gather her thoughts.

 

She looked up at him and said, “Mr. Benton, you can’t leave children that age unattended! Too many things could happen to them.

Strangers come through this town quite frequently on their way to the mountain retreats. There’s no telling who these people are, where they came from, or what their intentions might be.”

 

“Don’t you think I’m aware of the dangers out in the world?”

 

“I’m saying that it has become clear to me, sir, that you have no idea how to raise children. They are in need of a great deal of care, the first part of which is seeing they are safe at all times. The saloon. . . .”

She gulped in a breath before continuing, watching as he narrowed his gaze even further at her. “What were you thinking?”

 

She hadn’t intended to ask the question. It just popped out of her mouth on its own volition.

 

“It’s none of your business what I was thinking, Miss Mitchell.”

Elsie plowed onward, keeping the children’s needs at the forefront of her thoughts. “I was going to take a few days to organize my belongings, but after what I just witnessed, I fear the children might come to harm if I’m not here to ensure their safekeeping.”

 

His face relaxed a fraction, and she thought this might be because he was about to have another person to shoulder some of his parental responsibilities. She soldiered on because there were a few new stipulations to her final acceptance of this job.

 

“There are things you must agree to before I move into the apartment.”

 

“You promised me back at the school yard that you’d be coming here.”

“That was before I found the children, alone, outside the saloon.”

 

They engaged in a silent standoff, until he spoke first. “Go on.”

 

“Dinner will be on the table every night by six o’clock. I will not stay up awaiting your return from your work. Then there is the matter of church services. The children and you will attend them every Sunday.

I cannot tolerate a lack of the Lord’s guidance in their lives.” She noted that with every rule she imparted, his stance had begun to change, until he stood with his feet apart and his arms crossed in front of his chest, squinting at her with an angry glare.

 

Undeterred by his silent intimidation, she ended with the one thing she felt certain would be like poking a stick into a hornet’s nest. “I cannot abide by your visits to the saloon.”

 

Moments passed when the only sound to be heard was the chirping of the spring birds in a nearby budding weeping willow tree.

 

“While I will try to be here for dinner at the appointed time, you must understand that there will be times when my job will not allow for that. Working at the lumber company does not come with specified hours. I may be required to be up at the lumber camp for days at a time.”

 

“The children and I will deal with those times as they come along. But you mustn’t work on the Lord’s Day. This will set a terrible example for the children. And frankly, Mr. Benton, from what I’ve seen today, you are in need of some time with the Lord.”

 

Dropping his arms to his sides, he said, “Miss Mitchell, I’m delighted that you will be helping with Harry and Minnie.”

 

Her mood brightened a bit at his remark. “Thank you.” And then it just as quickly plummeted when he held up a hand.

 

“Let me finish, please.”

 

“Of course. Go on.”

 

“I am a man who has needs.”

 

Her gaze wavered from his as the heat of a blush spread across her face.

“I will go to the saloon when I choose to. And as for my time with the Lord, that is between me and the man up above.”

 

She could learn to tolerate many disagreements, but his choosing not to attend church wasn’t one of them. Elsie immediately wanted to rescind her offer to stay and care for the children. She might have done just that if Harry and Minnie hadn’t chosen to make an appearance.

Harry awarded her a smile. “Is it true, Miss Mitchell? Are you really going to be staying here with us so soon?”

 

She didn’t answer right away. Her mind was busy formulating a way to get their uncle to see the light of day in regard to the proper rearing of children. Finally, she said, “So long as your uncle agrees to accompany us to church services every Sunday, I’ll be here to help take care of you and your sister.”

 

Will was awestruck by the schoolmarm’s audacity. How dare she dictate to him the conditions of her employment? He’d known from the start that Miss Mitchell was going to be a stubborn woman. But he’d no idea just how tenacious she could be. Although she didn’t know it, the matter of his going to the saloon had nothing to do with his needs as a man or for drinking. Alcohol hadn’t passed his lips since he’d started working with the Pinkerton Agency. Truth be told, Will didn’t care for the drink.

However, the telegram that had been delivered to him outside the schoolhouse had indicated that the mark could be on the move.

Furthermore, there was no changing the ways of certain criminals who made it a habit to haunt such establishments. If the mark was to be found in the saloon, then it was Will’s job to follow the lead there. To his way of thinking, the children had been perfectly safe outside the building.

 

Maybe he’d been wrong about his decision to leave them there.

But he’d had to act quickly, and he’d felt sure they’d be all right on the walkway outside the saloon.

 

“I thought they would be fine. I was keeping an eye on them.” Will had seen them through the saloon’s swinging doors not five minutes before Miss Mitchell had come along. They’d been fine.

“The children are not dogs, Mr. Benton. They can’t be left unattended.”

 

He realized that the children couldn’t be taken care of while he worked his cases. And he didn’t see them as animals. He’d just put his job first. Miss Mitchell was right, Will had the twins’ well-being to consider first now.

 

On the other hand, the church issue was stuck in Miss Mitchell’s craw like honey on a bear’s paw. Here she was a professed good Christian woman using the emotions of these innocent children to get her way.

Will didn’t think that was acting Christian-like at all. He didn’t say those words to her, though. He knew she had him over a barrel. He needed her here in order to carry out his current Pinkerton assignment, and as much as he was loath to admit it, he needed her to help keep his cover intact. What better way to keep his mark off track than to look like a lumberjack foreman with a small family?

 

Will watched the corners of her mouth twitch up in a triumphant smile as she realized he was going to accept her conditions. He had to hand it to her, she knew how to bide her time. But darned if her toe didn’t get to a-tapping, giving away her impatience. Leaning against the porch post, he leveled what he knew to be his most intimidating stare—one that had stopped many criminals in their tracks. Her toe stilled.

Satisfied that she knew who was in control here, he said, “If my work allows for it, I will attend your church services.”

 

It was the best he could offer her. It had been a long time since he and the Lord had had much to say to each other. Since it looked like she was going to rebut his counteroffer, he held up his hand to stop her. “That’s all you’re going to get from me, Miss Mitchell. Take it or leave it.”

 

Raising her chin just a notch, she pinned him with a firm gaze. “I suppose it will have to do. For now.”

 

Shaking his head at her last words, he frowned. He was beginning to wonder if he’d finally met his match.

 

Faith Lessons I Learned From My Grandmother by Tracey Lyons

Lina Lockwood Davis departed this earth over two decades ago and yet I feel her presence on a daily basis. My grandmother was not your typical church going woman. As a matter of fact, I never even saw her enter a church. But she had an unshakable faith in the Lord, and in the scripture. My grandmother had a Bible by her side most of the time, and she held weekly Bible studies in her living room.

Some of the things I learned from her are: forgiveness truly is divine, things are not always what they seem and the less fortunate person you’re helping could one day be yourself.

Tracey and her grandmother, Lina.

Tracey and her grandmother, Lina.

My grandmother taught me patience, which for those of you who know me is not my virtue and that most things happen for a reason…translation God has a bigger plan for us, although it might take you a while to figure out exactly what the plan might be. She taught me about kindness. Kindness really does matter. A few of the things I hope I’ve passed along to my own family and one day to my grandchildren: give to the food pantry because you might one day be in need, help those who can’t help themselves because one tiny act can make a huge difference in someone else’s life.

I learned that family matters. We had a large family with over thirty-three of us with aunts, uncles and cousins. That number has now grown to over seventy with the addition of two more generations. For many years the entire family would gather for Easter and Christmas celebrations. As our families grew the Easter dinner was set aside so each family could spend it in their own homes. But we still gather, all five generations of us, for our annual Christmas celebration the Saturday before December 25th.

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There are so many little faith-filled nuances that I still carry from my grandmother. I like to think of them as tiny gifts from heaven. The picture I have on my desk is of the two of us at her ninetieth birthday celebration, and more recently, I’ve come across her collection of little devotional books. Inside each one are hand written notes. Some are prayers for family members, and some are her own reflections. I find great comfort in seeing her familiar handwriting. And now that my career has turned to writing Christian and inspirational fiction I find her words about her faith to be thoughtful and inspiring. I think that every author puts a little bit of themselves in every story they write…for me…I’d like to think that I carry forth a little bit of my grandmother, Lina Davis, in each book.

Tracey’s Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Meet #inspirational author @traceyjlyons, writing small-town romances. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

#Inspirational author @traceyjlyons: Faith Lessons I Learned From My Grandmother (Tweet This)

#Writers: Author @traceyjlyons wants to know who has inspired you the most in your writing? (Tweet This)

Author’s Bio:

An Amazon Top Ten bestselling historical romance author of the Women of Surprise series, Tracey sold her first book on 9/9/99! Her books have been translated into several languages and are available in print, digital and audio formats. Tracey lives with her husband in New York’s Hudson Valley region. She has appeared on the award winning Cox Cable Television show, Page One and on the stage of Lady Jane’s reading salon in New York City. She holds membership in Romance Writers of America, American Fiction Christian Writers and Novelists Inc. A true upstate New Yorker, Tracey believes you should write what you know. Her historical romances are all set in the New York State area. Tracey considers herself a small town gal who writes small town romances.

Places to connect with Tracey:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Pinterest

Goodreads

Amazon

~*~*~*~*~

Exciting News from Elk Lake Publishing

**Just in time for the Holiday Season**

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On Sale on Amazon!

Kindle $.99 

Print Edition $9.99 

Tracey and I look forward to your comments.

 

26 comments to Tracey J. Lyons: When Family Is An Author’s Inspiration

  • Ann Ellison

    Enjoyed reading this post. I was very blessed with two grandmothers who were both wonderful influences in my life.

  • Tracey, I loved the excerpt and can’t wait to read the rest. Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman–I would have loved to have known her. Thanks for sharing about her.

  • Great interview Tracy. I think most of us writers have the hope to have the effect on future generations as your grandmother was for you.

    I’m guessing that every family also has characters that inspire and illustrate for us what NOT to do!

    Your book sounds like a charmer and I am hoping I will win a sneak peek into some of your grandmother’s inspiration.

  • Marilyn R

    Nice post with Tracey and the legacy of her grandmother’s faith to inspire. I cherish the memories and handwritten notes of my maternal grandparents with their lives dedicated to serving the Lord in the ministry.

    A Changed Agent must be added to my never ending list of books to read. : )

  • Andrea Stephens

    Thank you, Tracey, for sharing your grandmother with us, as well as the excerpt from the book.
    Your grandmother sounds like my grandfather. There could not have been a stronger, faith-filled, Christian man. He had prayer meetings, preferably in the woods, always had had his Bible with him and read it multiple times a day. He only went to church for weddings. I know he used to go as a younger man but had a falling out with the leaders and never went back. I remember the minister coming to visit and pray with him often. He died in 1974 and I still miss him. We are a large bunch too, he had 12 children.

  • Cheryl Baranski

    I had the privilege of growing up next to one set of grand parents. My other set lived 30 minutes away. Such a wonderful meaningful time in my life.

    • elaineadmin

      Cheryl, thanks for dropping by Everyone’s Story and visiting with us. My father’s mother lived around the corner from us when I was young and she played a big, wonderful part of my childhood. My mom’s parents lived a bit aways… wished I’d gotten to know them better.

      Hope to see you again!

  • Was going through some boxes of pictures last night. When my son was born, we had five generations alive. When my grandson was born, we had five generations alive. My great grandmother had passed away, but my grandson had been born. So we still equaled five generations! 🙂 Now we have four generations. I miss my Grandmother. Tracey, I will plan to read your book!

  • Hi, Tracey, I enjoyed the excerpt from your book, and the memories of your grandmother. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • elaineadmin

    What a fun and thoughtful week this has been on Everyone’s Story and I thank my guest, Tracey Lyons, for making this possible. Tracey, what fun it was to host you this week. Right before I launch each of my guest I pray that their blog week blesses them, and I hope it has for you.

    Thanks too for your BookGiveaway of A Changed Agent. And the winner is…

    Andrea S. Woo!! Both Tracey and I will contact you shortly, Andrea. Enjoy!

  • Elaine,
    This was such a wonderful experience for me. You do a fantastic job with this blog and with all the promotion. I totally enjoyed meeting your readers! Thank you so much for hosting me.

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