A Note About Internal Dialogue

A Note About Internal Dialogue

Susan M. Baganz

Author & Acquisitions Editor


As an editor I’ve seen the use of internal dialogue used well, and not so well. So I figured it is time I wrote about this. Mostly for my own sanity so authors don’t make me lose more hair in correcting this issue. I’m not expert on this but bear with me. . .

Internal dialogue is NOT deep point of view. Let’s be clear on this. Just because you put something in italics and change the person and tense doesn’t make it deep point of view. (that’s a different blog post—or book).

Here is an instance from an upcoming historical where I used internal dialogue that should just be thoughts:

Phillip’s eyes narrowed as he considered her words. Was this a manipulation? Surely she wasn’t trying to trap him into marriage herself, was she? From what he understood . . .

He is thinking these things but he’s not really talking to himself.

Here’s another from that same manuscript:

Any chance of keeping Beth out of the papers and her situation hushed up was moot. Beth? Since when did he start thinking of her as Beth? He grinned at his own foolishness . . .

Here again, these are mere thoughts. The first Beth could be an internal dialogue and italicized but ideally, none of it should be. He’s just thinking, not talking to himself.

Internal dialogue IS the way someone talks to themselves in their mind. It is not their thoughts. Those may be prolific. The reality is we don’t often speak directly to ourselves silently. This is entirely different from the unspoken but powerful messages that unconsciously run through our minds as referenced in psychology. When we are aware of them and think them to ourselves—then they become internal dialogue.

Here’s an example from Salsa & Speed Bumps:

After the singing was done, Stephanie jotted notes in her bulletin and doodled as her mind wandered from Pastor Andrew’s message to the possible confrontation with Luis that might be forthcoming. She willed herself to take deep breaths.

It was just a nightmare. 

It was just a nightmare.

 It was just a nightmare.

“Are you okay, Steph?” Renata leaned over to whisper in her ear.

“Terrified, but I’ll be fine.”

Here she really is speaking to herself. It’s not a mere thought. She’s reassuring herself that her nightmare was not reality to calm herself.

Internal dialogue CAN be silent prayers. In essence you are talking to God but it’s written the same way. Italicized font. Here’s an example from my upcomingnovella The Baron’s Blunder:

“He is blessed in his friends.”

“Blessed? Not so sure about that. Lucky, perhaps.”

“Someday you’ll find the Lord worthy of your trust and your heart.” Henri whispered and then remained quiet for the rest of the dance. Lord, show Michael who You are so he could trust in You too.

In first person you won’t have a need for internal dialogue because all your narration is pretty much in the character’s head. It can be somewhat of a stream of consciousness type of thing. This example is from a short story of mine called My Beautiful Nightmare (from a compilation called Little Bits O’ Love):

I can’t believe I did something so stinkin’ stupid. I was out riding my bike as usual. Kind of my way to feel the wind in my face and to move faster than I would if I walked and got the benefit of some exercise. Not that it’s changed my waistline, mind you. If I could only give up the potato chips and M&M’s I’d fare much better. But regardless, I was riding my bike and enjoying the scenery and somehow did not see the car parked right in my way. As in right. In. My. Way.

Third person past tense is where I see the most problems with this concept.  Here are a few examples:

This is an instance where I did it WRONG from the rough draft of a story I’m working on right now:

He grinned and bent down to cover his lips over hers savoring the softness of her body against his and the acceptance and love she poured into that kiss. Everything dormant in him for the past four years roared to life. What are you doing? He stepped back, holding her arms to steady her.

“Wow, Piper. You fight dirty. Didn’t expect guerilla warfare on home turf.”

I’m correcting that to: What am I doing?  Here the issue is that he can say that to himself but it should be in first person, not 3rd.

Here are some correct uses of internal dialogue (other than silent prayers).

From Pesto & Potholes:

Tony started the bike, took off and she held on with her arms around him. Dangerous, her mind cautioned. Unavoidable, she answered back, and I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

Here she’s clearly having a conversation with herself.

From Feta & Freeways(Due in September):

She glanced at him again as he slept. He was muscle and poetry. Grace and strength. Everything she ever desired in a man. Get it through your silly heart, girl. He’s not yours and never will be. She backed out of the room, closed the door softly behind her, and locked it.

If I didn’t want that as internal dialogue it would have read: She needed to get it through her silly heart, he wasn’t hers and he never would be.

Some editors would say you should never use internal dialogue. At Prism Book Group we disagree. We love internal dialogue and use it ourselves as authors, however, it should be used sparingly for maximum impact.



Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits, and is a native of Wisconsin. She is an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group, specializing in bringing great romance novels and novellas to publication. Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view.

She has published several of her own novels and novellas with Prism Book Group. In her Orchard Hill Romances series: Pesto & Potholes, Salsa & Speed Bumps and soon Feta & Freeways (Sept. 2016). Her historical novellas include: Fragile Blessings and soon The Baron’s Blunder (Aug. 2016). She has published a compilation of short stories and flash fiction in a book titled Little Bits O’ Love.

Susan speaks, teaches, and encourages others to follow God in being all He has created them to be. With her seminary degree in counseling psychology, a background in the field of mental health, and years serving in church ministry, she understands the complexities and pain of life as well as its craziness. She serves behind-the-scenes in various capacities at her church and also serves as President of the local ACFW WISE chapter (American Christian Fiction Writers – Wisconsin Southeast). Her favorite pastimes are lazy…snuggling with her dog while reading a good book or sitting with a friend chatting over a cup of spiced chai latte. You can learn more by following her blog www.susanbaganz.com, her Twitter feed @susanbaganz or her fan page, www.facebook.com/susanmbaganz.

Never Tomorrow


A compelling mystery with a powerful theme of forgiveness and healing…

Journalist Whitney Barnes investigates the mysterious death of her mother and three women from Cortland City seeking the thread that links them to an enigmatic killer. Why are women being murdered with no apparent motives for their death? Police are mystified at the lack of clues and a growing sense of fear surrounds the community. Who will be the next victim?

Determined to find the killer, Whitney discovers these women were dealing with wounds from their troubling pasts, but what was their connection? She teams up with Dr. Sarah Stevens, an expert on women’s issues, to ferret out information while TV talk show host Rich and real estate broker Jordan vie for Whitney’s affection.

Whitney discovers new strength within her but is it powerful enough to cope with this dark force of evil? Suspense escalates as Whitney becomes the killer’s next target.


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Copyright 2016 © Judith Rolfs


“I don’t believe this. What are the chances of running into you twice in two days?”

“No way. I thought you were going to the Ring of Kerry?”

“The rain made me change my plans. How nice to find you. I’d hoped I would. I’m about to go on the Cliff Walk. It’s a lovely site. Did you read about it in your guidebook?”

“Yes. I saw the cliff when I drove in.”

“Want to join me?”

“Isn’t it terribly steep and rocky?” Kendra was cautious by nature.

“Climbing the trail is perfectly safe. It’s one of the best sites in Ireland.”

“But it’s raining.”

“You have an umbrella and a rain jacket, don’t you? We’ll stay dry. This will be an adventure.”

Kendra tossed her head back. “How often will I have such an opportunity? Let’s.”

They hustled along the two blocks from downtown to the start of the trail. A painted sign at the base read “Caution On Windy Days.”

Kendra appeared to hesitate. “Maybe I shouldn’t after all.”

“Nonsense. There’s only a little wind today. Just mind your step. I’ll go first. You’ll see how easy it is.”

Kendra followed tentatively. “I wish my daughter, Whitney, were here. As a child, she loved playing in the rain.”

Lily smiled. “How nice. We’ll do the walk for her. The view will be incredible.”

The gradual incline seemed to relax Kendra.

Lily pointed toward the sea. “Look at those majestic waves beating against the cliffs.”

Two other tourists who had hiked to the top passed them on their way down.

At the summit the two women stood alone, leaving the other less adventuresome tourists below. Kendra snapped pictures. “Did you ever see anything so gorgeous?”

Lily laughed. “I’m queen of the mountain.” She glanced back at the trail. No one else appeared to be coming up. She waited a few minutes to be sure then pulled her camera from a zippered black case around her waist.

Ignoring the “No Trespassing” sign at the edge of the cliff, Lily climbed over the three-foot high guardrail. “I can get a better picture from here.”

“Be careful,” Kendra murmured, her voice catching.

Lily moved within inches of the cliff’s edge on the pretext of taking pictures.

Kendra looked away. “I can’t bear to watch.”

“I’m fine. This is my new Nikon.” Lily waved the camera.

Kendra turned her back completely.

Lily took advantage of the moment to stomp and thud to the ground about eight feet past the railing. She cried out, “Darn! I’ve twisted my ankle and can’t get up. Help me, please.”

Kendra snapped around, covering her mouth with her hands. “Oh no. I’m sorry, I can’t.”

“Come a little way past the railing so I can lean on you to get up. Ouch.” Lily moaned again. “It hurts terribly.”

Kendra edged closer to the metal railing and gingerly leaned over.
“Grab my arm. I’ll pull you back.”

Lily planted her palms on the ground and feigned pushing herself up. She collapsed and grimaced. “I can’t get up. I need you to help me stand. It’s quite safe. Stay on the level ground.”

Still Kendra resisted climbing over.

“Owww,” Lily moaned louder.

Kendra blinked rapidly. “Okay, I’m coming.” She lowered her head and inched over the rail.

Kendra edged slowly over to Lily’s side. Lily jumped up like a tigress and whipped her arms against Kendra’s chest. Lily’s advantage of surprise and size prevailed.

Kendra tottered, regained her balance a few seconds, then Lily shoved again, another strong, swift thrust. Kendra gasped and fell backward, her legs folding beneath her. Lily peered over the ledge as Kendra’s arms scrabbled for a root, a branch, anything. No foliage grew along the barren precipice.

Her victim tumbled, thrashing wildly.

Kendra’s scream echoed briefly before being lost in the sound of the crashing waves beating against the rocks.


Family Lies Deadly Ties


Rylee Shepherd’s secret desire is tethered to a thirteen-year-old letter and the promise it holds. Penniless yet hopeful, she keeps that letter close to her heart and takes a nanny position on the lush island of Kauai. She’s soon charmed by her employer’s estranged son who walks her through doors she never intended to open.

Noah Logun has a shameful past, and his wealthy drama-queen mother orders him to stay away from their property and their nanny. Trapped in the crossfire, Rylee must choose between Noah and his generous mother.

Entrenched wickedness is preventing reconciliation and blocking love. Only in surrendering to the Spirit can Rylee overcome the prevailing darkness.


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Copyright 2016 J.A. Marx


Behind her, a hollering child descended the stairs. She closed the French door and turned around.

“Miss Rylee?” Eight-year-old Theodore skipped out of the hallway and across the white-tiled living area. He had his pointer finger cocooned in the opposite hand. “I need a Band-Aid.” He unfolded his digits and blood dripped.

Catching her breath, Rylee guided him toward the kitchen, holding her hand beneath his to net the droplets. The crimson fluid matched the ribbons of red etched into the tile, and she would have to mop the whole area to not miss a spot. “What happened?”

“Jonathan tried to cut a window in the fort with the X-Acto knife.”

Hiding that knife in the cabinet above the fridge should have been sufficient, but Jonathan proved too precocious for his own good. Even so, the combined energy of these sheltered twins couldn’t hold a candle to the kids Rylee had left behind. She lifted Theo onto the counter.

His velvet brown eyes matched those of his twin brother, the only trait they had in common. He smiled. “I like your curls.” His bloodstained hand reached for her blonde hair.

“Heavens to Murgatroyd.” Catching his wrist, she rerouted his mucky paw toward the sink. “And I like your freckles, Theo.”

His nose crinkled. “Who’s Murgatroyd?”

“It’s part of a phrase from an ancient cartoon.” She didn’t bother trying to explain Snagglepuss and Yogi Bear to a boy who only knew Disney characters. Those Hanna Barbera ’toons lived before her time anyway.

“Ancient?” Theo frowned. “How old are you again?”

“Eighteen.” She turned the water on to a gentle stream.

“You’re older than my sisters.” The boy washed off the blood then rubbed his nose with his uninjured wet hand, leaving dribbles. “They’re in England. Have you been there?”

“Nope.” Holding Theo’s cut finger under the water, she handed him a dishtowel with which to dry his face. “I never crossed the Colorado border until I came here.”

Despite the presently nagging doubts, she had no desire to return to her former predictable and dull existence. Before this yearlong commitment to the Loguns ended, she aimed to send out her college applications. Nothing but death could stop her from becoming a schoolteacher.

She finished rinsing the wound and then wrapped a paper towel around the boy’s pointer and squeezed to stop the flow. Her ample experience at dealing with minor emergencies had earned her the status of First Responder back home. She could distinguish the serious injuries, and this cut did not require stitches.

“I bet Noah would like you.” Theo’s bare feet kicked against the egg-yolk yellow cabinets.

Rylee quieted them with her leg before his heels left grime marks. “Who’s Noah?”

“Our big brother.”

Her stomach tightened. They have a brother?

Why had the Loguns never mentioned another son? They bragged about their two teenage daughters who attended a private equestrian school in England. They’d boasted about their show dogs, two Afghan hounds that won blue ribbons six years in a row before someone stole the canines.

 Wondering if the boy was making this up, she narrowed her gaze. “Where is Noah?”

“Don’t know.” Theo snorted and spit in the sink. “He’s tall like you are. He always hits his head in the toy room.”

Rylee giggled. She still had a bruise on her skull from bumping into the angled ceiling above the Lego table. “Why do you think Noah would like me?” Keeping the boy’s mouth moving calmed his bouncy legs.

“’Cuz he’s a sheep.”

Baffled, she stared at Theo’s pretty face, which would never qualify as handsome. If this kid had long hair, he could pass as a girl. “What do you mean?”

“You’re a shepherd. And sheeps like shepherds.”

Beginning to make funny sense out of the boy’s statement, she rinsed his finger again and examined it. Her surname was Shepherd. But the other half of his reasoning had her guessing. “Do you mean Noah is a…black sheep?”


Talking Love With Paula Mowery

Photo frame or gift card with valentines heart shaped ribbon

We’re told in Scripture that God is love. He definitely proved His kind of love is an unconditional and undeserved type through sending His Son to die for our sins.

Some love isn’t hard to conjure. God just helps us to enhance it. For example, I am still head-over-heels in love with my husband of twenty-six years. But through God’s Word and leading, I’ve learned to love my husband more like God planned for a wife to love her husband.

When my little girl was born, I was in love, even though it took a lot to get her here. But God has shown me how to love my daughter through example and discipline.

I struggled with infertility issues before finally conceiving my only daughter. My bitterness heightened each time I would hear about a young woman or girl who conceived out of wedlock and by accident. I cried out to God that this wasn’t fair. I wanted a baby and would care for that child and love that child, giving her a mother and a father.

Some years later I was approached by the director of our church association’s Pregnancy Crisis Center to become their devotional leader. I struggled with my answer for a bit but knew God was pushing me to do this.

As I shared about the love of God and then listened to these girls tell their stories, I had to repent of my former bitterness. God taught me to love and care for these girls and their babies. They each had a story with hopes and dreams of their own.

Everyone deserves to know about the unconditional love God offers. This is what I hope readers see in the story, The Crux of Honor.

Since God is love, when we allow Him to teach us His kind of love, we can’t help but be richer and enrich others.



Check out Paula’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…

LoveIs_CruxofHonor arr

The Crux of Honor

“Love does not dishonor…” 1 Corinthians: 13:4

Chelsea Wilson’s life is a constant reminder of what living dishonorably looks like. At every turn she continues to prove her mother’s shunning must be deserved.

Dr. Kevin Alley returns to the old home place to establish his medical practice.

After running into Chelsea, he knows his love for her is still strong.
Chelsea is ousted from her small rented room when her mother bursts in, proclaiming Chelsea’s pregnancy.

Kevin takes Chelsea in, giving her space to live on the upper level of his house.

When Chelsea’s baby displays life-threatening symptoms, Chelsea must face her mother. Secrets unfold about Chelsea’s parents. Can Chelsea and Kevin uncover the secrets linked to Amish heritage in time to save the baby? Can the two find love together despite their history?



Barely Above Water

An illness comes out of nowhere and strikes Suzie Morris. Her boyfriend dumps her. She has no living family, and her physician can’t diagnose the malady.

Suzie relies on her Christian faith as she faces the uncertainty of the disease, and turns to a renowned alternative doctor in Destin, Florida. She takes a job coaching a county-sponsored summer swim team. She’s determined to turn the fun, sometimes comical, rag-tag bunch into winners.

Her handsome boss renews her belief in love, but learns of her mysterious affliction and abruptly cuts romantic ties. Later he has regrets, but can he overcome his fear of losing a loved one and regain Suzie’s trust?

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Copyright 2016 © Gail Pallotta


Suzie shivered at Carson Snotte’s words, not the March air with its hint of lingering winter.

“Under the circumstances, I don’t think we should see each other.” He threw their relationship to the wind whipping around the Bradford pear tree in her small, grassy yard. Everything spun out of control. Suzie struggled to stand upright on the cement drive in front of her brick condo.

An image of her and Carson entering Blue Mountain, North Carolina’s largest charity event as the King and Queen begged her to hold on to her destiny. The grandeur of his black and white tuxedo, the promise of being seen as the ideal couple, hovered over them as she had floated next to him in her long purple gown. “Don’t say that. I promise I’m going to get to the bottom of this. I’ll fix it.”

Carson’s thin lips snarled, ruining his fine features, his blue eyes staring at Suzie like pieces of stone. “You’ve made a mess of our lives. Who introduced you to drugs? Are you seeing some hood on the side?”

“No, I told you the doctor said I have a foreign substance in my system.” She didn’t add that the physician had said he couldn’t treat her because the labs couldn’t identify it. Carson was already upset.

He guffawed. “Right, can’t they figure out cocaine, or is it heroin?”

Suzie’s heart broke in a million pieces. “I’ve never taken illegal drugs in my life. I don’t even take prescription medicine, and no, I haven’t seen anyone but you in three years.”

Carson waved his long, thin hand then blew air from his mouth. “Seriously, our relationship has deteriorated beyond repair. I’m not sure if you’re actually hooked on something, or if you’re a hypochondriac. Let’s say hypochondriac, and we’ll both be lots happier.”

The fair-haired, athletic guy with broad shoulders pivoted and walked away. Suzie stood with tears rolling down her cheeks. Maybe he was right. There was nothing wrong with her. The ailment was all in her head. Why look even more foolish trying to find someone to cure a disease that didn’t exist? She plunked down on her front stoop and wiped her eyes. The azalea bush beside her blurred with her tears and morphed into an Impressionist painting.

See Dr. Granger. Was she losing it? See Dr. Granger. Who was Dr. Granger? She’d heard the name but couldn’t recall him. See Dr. Granger. You need to see Dr. Granger. The words persisted as though they resounded from a stuck CD player.

Day and night, the message repeated in her head for a week. She sat in the rocking chair with the gold flowered cushion in her bedroom when the revelation hit her like a bullet. She shot straight up. Dr. Granger was the chiropractor who treated Madelyn Demms, Mom’s friend, ten years ago. “What do I want with a chiropractor?” Oh, Madelyn saw him for an internal health issue, not a back problem, and he cured her. Madelyn had raved about him. She slapped her forehead then stood and called Madelyn.




A Taste of Tragedy

Morgan Hunter sacrificed everything for her career. She had yet to encounter anything she wasn’t willing to do to succeed…until now. When she uncovers evidence that the healthy foods she’s been hired to promote may be dangerous, she must reevaluate her priorities. As questions mount and the body count rises, she finds herself caught in the cross-hairs of an organization that will stop at nothing to hide its secrets and protect its profits. With no one else to trust, Morgan is forced to seek help from the man she drove away, but whom she never stopped loving…

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Copyright 2016 © Kim McMahill

 “I really appreciate the thorough cleaning job you did prior to my arrival, but I was wondering what happened to Mr. Jacobson’s files. It would really help to familiarize me with the position, and I always hate reinventing the wheel, so to speak. If he implemented a strategy that wasn’t successful, I most certainly don’t want to attempt the same failed practice or program.”

“Mr. Hoyle ordered me to shred everything, get you a new computer, and make sure you had a clean slate to work with. He wanted you to feel free to run operations your way and not be concerned about the way things used to be handled. As you know, the Healthy and Delicious Foods division hasn’t been performing to Mr. Hoyle’s high expectation for the past quarter, so Mr. Hoyle wants a fresh approach.”

Morgan studied Aaron for a moment. He seemed so certain of his rationale, and he clearly followed directions without question. Despite never having walked into a new office without a single scrap of paper from the previous occupant, she decided to drop the subject for now.

“Very well, then. Enjoy your weekend.”

“You too,” Aaron replied as he turned and strode out of the office.

Morgan sank into her chair. She was exhausted. Getting her feet on the ground had proven to be a daunting task. Every night, she poured over spreadsheets until nearly midnight, preventing her from unpacking all the moving boxes stacked in her new duplex apartment.

She spent a good portion of each morning in the factory, watching the production process and picking the brain of her production manager, Wiley Hartman. She enjoyed the manufacturing process, but unfortunately, afternoons were consumed with various staff and board meetings.

Wiley seemed competent and very knowledgeable about the company, having worked his way up through canned, frozen, and snack foods before taking over as the production manager for the Healthy and Delicious Foods division processing facility three years ago. She had taken an instant liking to the man, and decided that if anyone might turn out to be an ally here, it would be him.

Jiggling the mouse, Morgan brought her sleeping computer screen to life. A quick check of her e-mail verified there was nothing new that couldn’t wait until Monday. She opened her calendar for the next week and nearly groaned. Her second week on the job, and she had the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) coming in for routine inspections, and a meeting with the sales and marketing team. On top of that, her new boss and president of the company, Preston Hoyle, wanted a report by week’s end on her observations and initial plan of attack for increasing profits and returning the line to its highest level of sales.

“You’re here late.”

Speak of the devil. Morgan looked up at Preston and smiled. “I’m just wrapping up a few things and wanted to take one last peek at next week’s schedule to make sure Aaron didn’t add anything new since the last time I checked.”

“He’ll definitely keep you organized, and don’t hesitate to utilize his skills. He’s a sharp young man.”

Morgan stood, feeling small and somewhat intimidated by the tall, handsome man towering over her. Even with heels on, she couldn’t quite look him in his pale blue eyes and had to tilt her chin up. He was closer than she had realized, invading her personal space. His gaze seemed fixed on her lips, so she took a quick step back and reached for Aaron’s resume to insert some distance without seeming too obvious.

“I gathered that from his resume, and I can’t help but wonder how long I’ll have him with his education and experience. He seems a bit overqualified for the job.”

“Don’t worry about Aaron. He isn’t going anywhere, but you should. It’s Friday night. You’re new on the job and new in town, and you’ve put in more hours than I expect, especially during your first week. I feel a little guilty about the lack of assistance with your transition, but hopefully, Aaron has ensured you have everything you need. If my in-laws weren’t in town, I’d love to take you to dinner and show you what our fine city has to offer.”

The only way Morgan could describe the smile that followed his last statement was “lecherous,” and warning bells resounded in her head.

“I appreciate the sentiment, Mr. Hoyle, but it has been a long week, and as soon as I can close up here, I’m heading up to Sedona to our family vacation home. I plan to relax with a glass of wine and one of the Healthy and Delicious Foods entrees I haven’t tried yet before I tackle a year’s worth of dust and cobwebs tomorrow.”

“Now that’s dedication, but don’t get too carried away with these products. Your figure is just fine the way it is,” he said, letting his eyes linger too long on her breasts. “And please, call me Preston. I’m sure we’ll be working very closely together, including plenty of late nights, so no need to be so formal.”

Morgan didn’t know how to respond to his last comment so returned her focus to an innocuous topic. “According to the promotional material supplied by the advertising team, the Healthy and Delicious Foods line isn’t just for weight loss. I must admit, I’m very impressed with the data on GCF’s revolutionary natural sweetener, MFHG3, derived primarily from the monk fruit and hoodia gordonii. Not only does it sweeten foods, but the steroidal glycosides found in the Hoodia plant are reported to curb the appetite. It sounds almost too good to be true.”

“Yes, MFHG3 took this company from a small local manufacturer to a national powerhouse, catering to the thin-obsessed and health-crazed society. MFHG3 has changed the playing field and has all the other companies scrambling to catch up, but enough shoptalk. You need to get out of here, and if I miss my dinner reservation, my mother-in-law will yap about it all weekend. I would like to hear more about this place in Sedona soon. Sounds like a perfect weekend getaway from the heat, the city, and the stress of the job. Maybe you’ll even give me a tour one of these days.”

Not in this lifetime. She bit her lip and didn’t respond.

The smile he flashed at Morgan as he departed her office made her shudder. He seemed perfectly professional during the interview process. She hadn’t been alone with him in the same room all week, but this brief exchange warned her to avoid one-on-one time with her boss as much as possible, especially after hours in an empty and dark building.

Morgan dropped into her desk chair, powered down her computer, and stowed the lightweight laptop in her briefcase along with several files she had procured from accounting. Grasping the knob on the lower side drawer of her desk to retrieve her purse, she was reminded of one more thing she had forgotten to do this week.

She had intended to have Aaron submit a work order to have someone fix the drawer. Since it didn’t completely close, she wasn’t able to lock up her purse when she was down in the ground floor factory—not that anyone could get into her office with the tenacious Aaron sitting just outside her door. Mostly, it was simply annoying. The drawer shut enough that she didn’t catch a shin, so she forgot about it until she was stowing or retrieving her purse.

“I can’t believe this little gap is bugging me so much. I must be turning into my ex,” Morgan huffed as she sat down on the floor and scooted under her desk with the small flashlight from her key chain, hoping her boss didn’t return and catch her with her skirt hiked up.

She ran her fingers along the track and felt something at the very back. Wriggling even further under the desk, she shined the small light in the area where she detected the obstruction. The item was affixed with tape, but it took little effort to pry it free.

Crawling back out into the light, Morgan examined the small item. No larger than a paperclip, its identity was clear. She held a tiny flash drive between her fingers.

Hmm, curious place to keep data. She pondered the matter while looking closely at her find. “Wish I wouldn’t have already powered down my computer,” Morgan muttered as she dropped the small device into her purse, flipped off the lights, and headed for the elevator.



Everything About You

She needs a movie set miracle, he needs cash…can a farmer morph into a movie star in five days?

If Shelly has her way, Danny will become America’s next heartthrob and she’ll get her own promotions company. He’s already gorgeous, a little naive, and needs to work on that accent. To Danny, Shelly is on the pompous side, but holds the key to his real dreams…if he can figure out all the rules, say the right things for the daily vlog session, keep his heart strings in place, dodge Shelly’s vicious former boyfriend and the movie star diva.

Shelly’s about to lose a lot more than her heart if she can’t get a handle on her wounded pride and learn who to trust.


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Copyright 2016 © Lisa J Lickel


The man grasped her gold pen and studied it like he’d never seen a writing instrument before. Shelly Colter hoped Pettibone’s quirk choice for a replacement in the romantic lead knew how to use it. If only he wasn’t so rugged, so handsome. Or could be… Waving her hand in front of her face to dispel the disagreeable farm odor wafting from his dusty navy blue t-shirt and jeans, she pointed again at the line on the contract. Springtime in the country. Wisconsin. At least it was a nice day, plenty warm enough outside for short sleeves and pure sunshine. “Right here, Winston. Sign your name. Mr. Pettibone, the company owner, has already signed, and I’ll be your witness. Filming is behind schedule, and we have a lot of work to do.” She wanted to add the tired cliché “time is money,” but she doubted he’d hear.

Sounds from the contemporary western movie set around them, the best boy calling for more extension cords, a pow-wow among the writers and Jordan the director, created a familiar, exciting cacophony. Harry from costuming waited anxiously in her shadow, fiddling with the measuring tape around his neck and shifting from foot to foot. Winston was a different build from the recently fired celebrity. Harry had spent weeks creating and fitting a wardrobe on that loser, Seth Taylor. Shelly’s publicity campaign now needed to be redrawn too, so Harry was by far not the only person to lose work.

Food service set up a coffee buffet under a spreading oak in young leaf on this June day. Shelly was hungry, but nerves made her choke at the thought of anything but coffee. Winston Daniels, the man she was supposed to turn into a heartthrob in less than a week, seemed distracted by everything and kept looking up at every clash of equipment or prop placement.

So much pressure—could Shelly do it? She was good at her work. Pettibone trusted her.

“C’mon, Danny.” Jen, Winston’s sister, stood next to him, trying to encourage him.

“Time is of the essence, Winston,” Shelly said in her steel-coated tone. Pettibone had given her five days, including this one, to whip a country hick into the next mega-movie-star sensation, and she couldn’t afford to waste a second.

“You sure?” Winston whispered to his sister, a small thing who’d struggled to get baby fat off in time for her role as the best friend of the female lead. It was quite a coup for Jen, since she’d only had walk-ons and a couple of commercials under her belt.

Jen whispered, “It’ll pay for the…”

Shelly tapped her foot. “Are you in? Because there are plenty of other actors who would jump at this role.” There weren’t really. Pettibone had run Seth Taylor off the set early this morning when he’d shown up too high—again—to even remember what role he was playing. Filming was in disarray, and costs were rising. Pettibone was determined to make the Academy Award cut-offs this year, and if Shelly couldn’t bootjack this new guy to fit the bill of a swoon-worthy romantic rancher, it would be a long, lonely path to owning her own publicity company. Or getting another job in public relations. Anywhere. She wanted to hurry—if only Winston would cooperate. A little faster.

As soon as Winston dotted the “i,” she snatched the paper contract and shouted at Pettibone’s assistant. She waved for Harry to start taking measurements for size and fit. Winston was bigger than Seth. The new wardrobe meant more costs, but that wasn’t her concern.

“We can talk while you’re being fitted,” she said. “Fred, get that camera out of here. Not now. I’ll tell you when we’re ready. You’ll just make him nervous.”

“Pettibone says I’m to film it all. We’ll use the footage for publicity later.”

“That’s my job as publicity director to decide what to use for promotion. Everyone understands that.”

“We do. Don’t get twisted up about it.”

Before she could get into a really good rant, Winston tucked his elbows against his side and turned pale. “E-everything? But I don’t know what to say. I haven’t even read any lines.”

Harry frowned and lifted Winston’s arms straight out from his sides again.

“And you are all supposed to do the vlogs. At least once a day,” Fred muttered. “Even you, Shell. Probably all the time for him.”

“What’s that?” Winston.

“Video logs, like a spoken diary.” Shelly set her hands on her hips and walked around Fred, circling Winston, thinking about what she’d say in her vlog and what she’d have to tell Winston to say. “I’ll explain it later—no time now. Harry, how much more?”

“Getting there.” He clicked a few keys on his tablet. “Nice shoulders. Good hips. Long legs will help with the action shots. Six-one? You work out?”

“Uh, sorta.”

Shelly winced at Winston’s pronunciation. “First thing…well, second…no, third thing we must do is work on your voice. I think we’ll call in Roma. Jen, what are you doing here? Don’t you have to be somewhere else? As if there aren’t enough distractions. Winston, listen up! Harry, line up wardrobe from the third date scene, you got it? The one where they’re at the—”

“I’m on it!” Harry trotted away.

Shelly reached up an uncomfortable distance—he was taller than she’d thought—to take Winston’s jaw and turn his face left and right. “Face straight ahead, please.” What angle would capture those delicious grooves alongside his mouth? Thank goodness his ears were normal. “Smile. Wider. Show me teeth. Are you listening?”

The future megastar took a step back, stuck his thumbs in his belt loops, and looked down at her five-foot-two height. “First of all, I didn’t quite catch your name. Secondly, I don’t know what’s going on, and third, don’t I need a script to study, or something?”

“Shelly Colter, company promotions manager. My job is to make sure you are turned into the public face of this film. You are a complete unknown, and why Pettibone insisted on stuffing not only an unknown but a completely untried actor on his film I have no idea, but I will make it work. Fortunately for you, stepping into a Seth Taylor role will jumpstart the publicity, but I must insist it stay positive. Are you a drug or alcohol user? Involved in a messy divorce or break-up?”

He shook his head.

“Anything else I should know about that could negatively affect this publicity campaign?”

“Just what you see. I’ve never acted before. Except in a play once, uh, in school.”

Shelly smiled. “Well, this movie is a lot of action, so I think you’ll be all right. You already do…farm work, I believe?”

At his nod, she let her smile slide into a smirk. “Since you’ll be portraying a rancher, you’re partway there.” She studied him up and down again. “Hair next. Then a preliminary photo shoot. Margo, the production assistant, can explain how we do things on set, what’s expected of you in your role, and the AD…” At his blank look, she amended, “Assistant director can teach you blocking. When Roma gets here, she can help you with proper pronunciation. We’ll have your teeth bleached.” Shelly narrowed her eyes. “Winston Daniels will become the next new Hollywood buzz boy and a household name by Thanksgiving. The picture is expected to release at Christmas. Come.”

By the time she’d taken five steps, she realized Winston was not behind her. “Winston?”

He stood there, brooding, feet shoulder-width. Shelly might have been interested in him, tried to flirt with this handsome hunk of guy, if she wasn’t in such a rush and he wasn’t so…aromatic. “What?”

“You seem to have some mighty case of pride, there, Miss? Missus? Colter. You might find people a mite more willin’ to work with ya if you didn’t treat them worse than I treat my cows.”


Talking Love With Lisa J. Lickel

Photo frame or gift card with valentines heart shaped ribbon

From the time boys became more than “tag” targets I was never without someone of the opposite sex to hang out with, call on the phone, escort me to dances or movies, even when Mom was the chauffeur. I was a drama queen flirt, histrionic friend, and disingenuous church group groupie. I’d love to say it changed in an instant when as a middle teen the Holy Spirit provided the answer to that infinite question of whether Christ was for real. Decades later, I am still working out who I am on many levels. That story won’t get the final edit until it’s over.


In between, I went to college and joined not one, but two Christian groups, fell in love with the music, studying anything and everything, and the boy with the wispy blond mustache and highwater pants from one of the faith groups who prayed with me for John Denver’s soul. Seriously. We won’t know for a while if poor John received the benefit of our intervention. When the mustached boy didn’t run screaming after meeting my family for the first time when we got snowed in and ate turkey three days in a row, and his dad laughed in good humor when I dropped and broke dishes on the way from the table to the sink the first time I met his folks, I knew things would work out fine.


Two grown up children and an odd assortment of grands—girls, boys, and kitties—later, life is full circle as our oldest son heeded the call to seminary and now serves as area director for the many branches of the campus faith organization his dad and I attended. Son number two followed in his father’s footsteps, attempting to encourage a better world through public education. “Love is not proud” is not an easy description to avoid when it comes to introducing family.


Love has shown me all the attention I need has always surrounded me, filled me, poured out of me in ways I don’t have to control or manipulate, or understand. The Lord of life is in charge. My job is to leave behind a story that boasts only of God’s great mercy and grace exemplified in what He has done for me.


Check out Lisa’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…


Everything About You

“Love is not proud…” 1 Corinthians: 13:4

She needs a movie set miracle, he needs cash…can a farmer morph into a movie star in five days?

If Shelly has her way, Danny will become America’s next heartthrob and she’ll get her own promotions company. He’s already gorgeous, a little naive, and needs to work on that accent. To Danny, Shelly is on the pompous side, but holds the key to his real dreams…if he can figure out all the rules, say the right things for the daily vlog session, keep his heart strings in place, dodge Shelly’s vicious former boyfriend and the movie star diva.

Shelly’s about to lose a lot more than her heart if she can’t get a handle on her wounded pride and learn who to trust.




Free Today! Greener Grasses by Julie B Cosgrove

Download the 3rd book in Prism’s Love Is series FREE today!
Twin sisters, Erin and Ellen, covet each other’s lives and husbands. Their festered envy has not only kept them at arm’s length for almost two decades, it has placed both on a precipice of divorce— something they’d never admit to each other.
Yet after two weeks together with their spouses, as they sort through their mother’s belongings following her funeral, they discover the flaws in their sibling’s “grass-greener” lives. But will that revelation help each sister appreciate her own husband and lifestyle as truly according to God’s plan? Or is it too late for a change of heart?
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