Monday, October 7, 2019

Road Trip and an Excerpt ~ Jean C. Gordon

My husband and I are recently back from a bus tour (my first) to Lancaster County--Amish Country--Pennsylvania. Confession #1: I am generally not an Amish fiction fan. But a group of friends invited us to join them, and the tour included the play JESUS at the Sight and Sound Theater. Confession #2: I've been to lots of high school plays, but I'd never been to a professionally produced play before. Also, the tour was stopping on the way at a Chalk Talk, which sounded intriguing.

The Entryway to the Chalk Talk

Chalk Talk is an old-time storytelling form in which the storyteller illustrates his/her story while telling it. It was fabulous. Our tour guide bought the storyteller's pastels drawing and raffled it off on the way home. One of my friends won the picture.

Next up was dinner at an Amish home, followed by checkin at the Eden Resort, where we stayed overnight. The next morning, we stopped at an Amish Bakery and a quilt shop, where I took several pictures for my daughter and another friend who quilt.

Then, on to the theater. We couldn't take any pictures or videos inside, so you'll have to take my word for it that the scenery props were breathtaking, the acting and singing were exquisite, and the story was wonderful.

Afterwards, we stopped in the gift shop in the theater basement. It was about the size of our local Walmart. Our time in Lancaster ended with dinner at an Amish buffet.

Our Travel Group

Have you ever taken a bus tour? Where?

I had another first on the way home. I hosted my segment of the Small-Town Christmas Wishes Series Release Party in the Sweet Romance Reads Cafe from our tour bus. This is a sweet/inspirational series from Sweet Romance Reads authors Cindy Flores Martinez, Jackie Castle, Kimberly Rose Johnson, Josie Riviera, Pat Simons, and me. Each is a standalone story that can be read by itself. If you haven't read my story and need some enticement to, read the except below.

Small-Town Christmas Wishes

BUY for 99¢/FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Welcome to Snowflake, Colorado—a small town where wishes come true! When six old high school friends receive a letter that their fellow friend, Charity Hart, wrote before she passed away, their lives take an unexpected turn. She leaves them each a check for $1,500 and asks them to grant a wish—a secret wish—for someone else by Christmas. It sounds simple but the friends soon discover that it isn’t as easy as it seems! With the clock ticking, will they make it happen in time?

Join Mia, Caro, Nate, Sara, Holly, and Taye on their journey to make a wish come true—and find love along the way.


Caro Price opened the door to the This and That Shop, her mind and heart heavy with her long-time friend Charity’s last request. A request she and five of her high school Bible club friends had just heard about at the Green and Son’s law office. While she had once considered the five others close friends, she’d rarely seen any of them after her first couple of summer breaks from college. A pang of regret pricked her. She’d severed the roots she’d worked so hard to establish as a teen. Things had seemed so simple then. She didn’t know if she’d ever get that feeling of belonging back again.

She scoured the variety store’s displays for the blue and silver tinsel ropes her grandmother was sure they’d have. How on earth could she honor Charity’s request—to secretly make a real difference in someone’s life by Christmas—with the holiday only six weeks away? She hadn’t lived in Snowflake since she’d left for college fifteen years ago. Even with her grandmother’s updates, she didn’t know enough about what was going on here to choose someone to be a secret angel to.

“Mommy,” a red-haired little girl shouted. “Look. It’s our Jesus people. The ones that got lost.”

“Hope, please come over here and try on these boots.” A woman about Caro’s age with slightly darker red hair lifted a pair of pink and white snow boots and motioned the little girl to her.
“But Mommy, you gotta see.” The little girl picked up and waved what looked to Caro to be a ceramic figurine of the Madonna

“Careful. Put that down before you break it.” The woman rushed over and took the piece from the girl’s hand.

“Can we get it, Mommy? Daddy said he was going to find our Jesus people … before he got dead.”

While the mother gathered the little girl to her, a tall boy who looked to be in his early teens walked toward them. Something about him was familiar, but she didn’t know any kids that age in Snowflake, or back in Aurora, for that matter.

“Like that was ever going to happen,” he muttered under his breath as he passed by her.

The woman lifted her head and her teary eyes met Caro’s. Caro busied herself rummaging through the pile of garlands on the display. The shop was an eclectic combination of new, gently used—as she suspected the boots the woman held were—and overstock items with some antiques thrown in.

She finally found what her grandmother wanted, but something made her linger. So she turned her attention to a display of holiday socks, remembering how when she was a child, her grandmother had bought each of them a pair of socks for every holiday. Impulsively, she picked up a pair with reindeer for each of them, one in red and the other in black. When was the last time she’d done something impulsive? Certainly not in the ER, where her work was crisis management on the best days and life and death on the worst. Here in Snowflake, away from the hospital, she could breathe again.
The shop bell rang, and Caro looked up to see the woman and two children leaving. She meandered over to the nativity scene. It was beautiful, the figures glazed in vibrant colors.

“Lovely, isn’t it?” The store clerk startled her, making Caro glad she hadn’t been holding the figure she’d been reaching for.

“Yes, it is. May I ask where you got it?” The little girl’s words bounced around her head.

“From an estate sale.”

Then it probably wasn’t the actual nativity scene the little girl had been talking about. But one like it.

“It was made by a local artist, now deceased, in the early 1900s, one of several.”

Caro nodded and lifted the tag attached to the creche. $299!

“Are you interested?” the clerk asked.

“No just curious. Thank you.” Curious and looking for an easy out for her friend Charity’s request. But, like the secret angel gifts they’d made in high school, Caro believed any gift she made with Charity’s money—if she chose to keep the money and make a gift—should make a real difference to the recipient. She wasn’t sure giving the little girl the nativity scene fit that bill. Caro had a sad feeling that the little girl’s family might need more practical help to brighten their Christmas. Besides, Charity had left $1,500 each for their gifts. Despite the way the little girl—Hope she’d thought the mother had called her—had tugged on Caro’s heartstrings, she had to think bigger.

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  1. I took a horse-drawn trolly tour in Skagway Alaska many years ago. I might have the town name wrong, but I'm sure it's the right one. It was a fun way to see the town and learn about its history.

  2. Jean, What a fun, informative trip. I love any type of theater, and sounds like the one you saw was a fabulous production. And, I love your excerpt. :)

  3. I've never taken a bus trip, but your post reminded me of my husband, a truck driver for a major company, who took calcium chloride to some of the Amish farmers in Lancaster! After the first time, the farmer always ask the manager to send my husband! One winter his truck got stuck in the snow next to a barn! He asked the farmer to suggest a wrecker to pull him out! The farmer got his Clydesdale horses and pulled the truck out! Just wished my husband had a camera then! Also, he has eaten lunch with the Amish family while there! After he died, my son who also worked there took over this duty, which was a pleasure for both of them!