A New Chapter Excerpt

I am in the middle of writing book three of my Spencer Valley Chronicles series, A New Chapter. I decided I would share an excerpt from the book for today’s post.

A little bit about the book:

When single mom Liz Cranmer needs support she finds it in Spencer’s 53-year old library director Ginny Jefferies, who also happens to be the mother-in-law of Liz’s sister.

Ginny’s own grandchildren live several states away (for now anyhow) and she needs to distract herself from her mundane, lonely life, made even lonelier by a workaholic husband.

Liz’s life is hectic, especially since she’s just had a baby, is trying to recover from a dark time in her past, including dating an abusive boyfriend and struggling with alcohol addiction, and has decided to go back to college to get a degree in social work.

Can she and Ginny navigate the tough times in their lives together?

And how will Spencer Valley Police Officer fit in to Liz’s chaos? If at all?


A New Chapter, Excerpt. To be released April 2022

Ginny looked at the post office front door through the rain-speckled windshield of her car. She needed to just get out of the car already and go mail this package. Instead, she’d been sitting in the car for ten minutes with no motivation to do anything. Even walking the few feet into the post office seemed too much. She didn’t look forward to possibly running into anyone she knew today, not with the way she felt — depressed, stuck in a deep, boring, frustrating rut.

Unfortunately, she needed to mail a package and she had also promised Liz she’d attend an art class with her. Liz definitely needed cheering up right now. They both needed cheering up, actually. Maybe this class would help do that. They were sketching a live person in this class. Hopefully, it would take her mind off the fact that Stan was at the golf course to celebrate his win with his fellow agents and Liz’s mind off the fact she was out of a job.

It was official. Stan was Real Estate Agent of the Year. Again. Sixth time in the last 15 years. Only this time Ginny hadn’t been there with him to celebrate. Instead, she’d taken off her nice dress, wiped the make-up off her face, changed into a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt, and watched a Hallmark movie while sitting on the couch alone, eating a pint of chocolate ice cream.

Stan had arrived at the end of the movie, presented her his award, kissed her cheek, and announced he was bushed and heading to bed. He’d woke up early the next day, dressed for the course, kissed her cheek again, and marched out to his car for a morning and probably afternoon of golf.

She was left home to answer Olivia’s tearful call at 8 a.m., a call full of doubts about her major, her relationship with Vernon, her relationship with Brent, and how maybe she shouldn’t have ended it simply because “he was an uncultured country boy”, and then, last of all, her sincere doubts if California was really where she belonged after all.

The conversation had ended with Olivia announcing she was late to her philosophy class, and she’d call back later that evening. That call was followed from one by Clint letting her know their arrival date had been moved up by a couple of weeks and they would be there at the end of the month. Well, not there at her home. They’d be at Frank and Marge’s and Clint would commute to his job two hours away each day until they found a home to move into.

She sighed. Time to get over herself.

She was the mother of three wonderful, grown children, the grandmother of four, and the library director of a small-town library with a good board that supported her and sometimes even praised her. Her life really wasn’t so bad.

She took a deep breath and opened the car door. Time to mail this package, go to the art class, and find joy even if she didn’t feel it at the moment.

Walking inside the post office she lost the motivation she’d tried to stir up when she saw Floyd Simpson behind the front counter. Trying to buy a book of stamps from Floyd, especially now that he was almost deaf and refused to wear his hearing aid, would be difficult enough, but shipping a package? She internally groaned. Maybe she’d just come back another —

“Ginny! What can I do for you today?”

Shoulders back. Smile on.

“Floyd! My goodness! Still here, huh? Not ready to retire yet?”

“Fire? Was there a fire?”

She raised her voice. “I said retire. I was surprised you haven’t retired yet.”

Floyd made a face. “Why’d I want to do that? The only people who want to retire are the people who are ready to lay down and die, that’s what I say.” He shuffled closer to the counter. “What can I do you for today?”

Ginny pushed the package onto the counter. “Well, I need to mail this to my sister in New Jersey and then I need a book of stamps.”

Floyd scowled at the package like it was contaminated. “New Jersey, ya’ say? Too bad your lovely sister moved there. That governor of theirs? What a buffoon he is.” He shook his head and looked at the keyboard, pondering it before poking at the keys with his index finger, the tip of his tongue appearing between his lips. He poked at a few more keys, slipped his glasses to the end of his nose, and looked up at the screen. “Yep. Sad thing your sister is there.”

Ginny wasn’t sure if she should guilty for letting her sister move to the offensive state, or not.

“Yes, well, she loves the area she lives in. It’s a rural area similar to ours, but —“

Floyd chuckled and glanced at her, his glasses still on the tip of his nose. “But it’s still New Jersey.” He chuckled again. “You ever hear about how Pennsylvania was looking for new slogans and one of the suggestions was ‘At least we’re not New Jersey.’” The elderly man tipped his head back and laughed loudly. “At least we’re not New Jersey. Gotta love it.”

He continued to chuckle softly as he entered the address into the computer. Ginny tapped her hand gently on her side in rhythm to the faint country music drifting from the speakers overhead. The click of the keys seemed to follow the rhythm as well until finally, after five long minutes, Floyd looked up again.

“Okay, young lady, I can ship that out for you at $14.50 media mail and lovely Lavina will get her package Wednesday. Does that work for you? If you want it to go faster, it will be about $22.50.”

“Media mail is fine.”

Floyd cupped a hand around his wrinkled ear. “What’s that now?”

“Media mail is fine!”

Floyd nodded, pecked some more at the keyboard, and waited for the label to print out from the printer next to the computer. He stared at the printer for several seconds then start drumming his fingers on the counter.

Several more seconds passed as the printer began printing, slowly. Very, very slowly.

Ginny glanced at her watch. She should have left the house earlier and she would have if she’d known Floyd was going to be behind the counter.

“So, business good over at the library?”

She nodded. “It is. The weather is getting colder which often brings us more patrons, of course.”

Floyd smiled and chuckled. “Yeah, those pigeons are always looking for somewhere warm to roost this time of year.”

Ginny furrowed her eyebrows. “Oh. Well, yes, I suppose.”

The printer groaned as the paper slowly inched out. Floyd folded his arms across his chest and glared at it.

Ginny cleared her throat. “So, um, has business been good at the post office?”

Floyd kept his glare focused on the machine. “Yep. The missus is good. Got a touch of arthritis in her right knee but still manages to play the organ down at the Methodist Church.”

“No. I said —” Oh, never mind. She raised her voice again. “That’s good to hear about Martha. I hope she feels better soon.”

“Nope. Can’t eat butter anymore. Doctor says it’s bad for my cholesterol.”

Ginny sighed. “JUST TELL MARTHA I SAID HELLO!”

Floyd aimed his scow at her. “No need to shout, young lady. I’m not deaf!”

He turned back to the printer and pulled the label off, then looked over his shoulder and winked. “But I may not hear as well as I used to.”

Guilt hit Ginny as she watched the man reach for the label.

Here she was annoyed at how he couldn’t hear and how slow he was, yet he’d been a staple of this community for some 60 years. He’d served his neighbors faithfully all that time, coming in no matter how bad the weather was and staying late if another employee couldn’t make in.

Sure, maybe he complained from time to time and grumbled about governors or politics and maybe once or twice he’d mumbled a not-so-nice word, or had less than friendly customer service, but he’d still cared enough to greet each person who came in, chat with them, and help them the best way he knew how.

He might not always be amendable, but he was dependable.

Ripping the label off, he fumbled with the glue on the back for several seconds, unable to peel the backing away. Ginny held her hand out.

“Those things can be a real pain, can’t they? You have to have nails to get them loose sometimes. Let me help.”

She thought he might reject her offer but instead he smiled a partially toothless grin and handed the label over.

She smoothed the label in place and slid the package toward him.

“Not too shabby, Mrs. Jefferies. I mean, it’s not as good as I would have done it, but ya’ know.” He winked at her. “It works.”

“Thank you, Floyd.” A smile tugged at her mouth. “That means a lot coming from you.”

Walking outside the post office a few minutes later she realized she felt less on edge than she had before. On the drive to the community center, she sang along to a song on the Christian radio station and noticed the tension in her muscles had disappeared. She’d needed that distraction from her situation and now she hoped the art class she was attending with Liz would be even more of a distraction.


Author: Lisa R. Howeler

Lisa R. Howeler is a wife and mom from Pennsylvania who also happens to write. She’s been writing for 25 years, fourteen of those for smalltown newspapers in rural Pennsylvania and upstate New York. When she isn’t writing about love, faith, and family life in a small town, she’s taking photographs and homeschooling her two children. She blogs a little bit about a lot of things on her blog Boondock Ramblings at www.lisahoweler.com.

4 thoughts on “A New Chapter Excerpt”

  1. Enjoyed your excerpt. It is well written and engaging. I did notice one missing word in the line, Ginny wasn’t sure if she should guilty for letting her sister move. I think you need to add ‘feel’ before guilty. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

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