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Friday, July 13, 2012

Guest Post and Giveaway with Kaylin McFarren, author of Severed Threads

Hi, everyone!

I am pleased to participate in Kaylin McFarren's Severed Threads Virtual Book Publicity Tour hosted by Pump Up Your Book.

About Kaylin:

As many people know, Kaylin McFarren wasn’t born with a pen in hand like so many of her talented fellow authors. However, she has been involved with business and personal writing projects for many years. Her careers have taken her in all directions, ranging from fashion modeling and interior design to office manager and art gallery director. Yet her love of reading and interest in creative writing has remained ever present. As a result of her tapping into her imagination and utilizing her own life experiences, she has earned more than a dozen literary awards. Her first novel, Flaherty’s Crossing was a 2008 finalist in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart contest and her second book, Severed Threads, has already garnered two first place awards.

Kaylin is a member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers. She received her AA in Literature at Highline Community College, which originally sparked her passion for writing. In her free time, she also enjoys giving back to the community through participation and support of various educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest, and is currently the president of the Soulful Giving Foundation – a non-profit she and her husband formed to fund expanded research, and the care and treatment of cancer patients and their families.

Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Kaylin!

Kaylin has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to her.

A Lesson Learned
by Kaylin McFarren

Everyone has at least one significant “what if” moment in their life. What if I had driven straight instead of turning right and collided with that truck running the red light? What if I‘d been home when the burglar broke in? What if I hadn’t caught myself falling asleep on that long stretch of highway? What if I’d arrived at the airport in time to catch my plane – the morning it crashed? My own “what if” moment haunts me to this day.

It was a Northwest summer night in 1978 and the muggy air had brought me into my parents' kitchen for a cold glass of lemonade. My mother had just returned from a rueful trip to Hawaii where she’d attended a three-day vigil, awaiting her dear friend’s passing from terminal cancer. Surprisingly, not even my mom knew the severity of Erma McCumsey’s condition until a few weeks before her funeral. I remembered seeing Erma on a handful of occasions – at my parents’ dinner table and relaxing on a lounge chair at the nearby lake. She was a robust woman with a round, pink face and our exchanges were mostly limited to recipes and weather reports.

I did spend a brief period with her in the same real estate office four years earlier.  While rifling through bills at home one evening, trying to determine how my husband and I were going to make ends meet - with my college tuition and a baby on the way - I received a phone call from Erma. She explained that a receptionist position had opened and, likely from my dear mother’s prodding, offered a proposal. If I agreed to take the job, she’d cover the cost of my licensing exam along with my wages. All I had to do was answer the phone in between homework assignments and cramming for the test. Without hesitation, I took the job.

Five days a week, like clockwork, I drove straight from the college parking lot to the one-door office to put in my time from noon until seven in the evening. I would arrive just in time to witness two sales agents flying out the door. The only way I remembered their names was by the engraved metal plates on their desks. Exchanges with Erma were almost as rare. Being the only broker in the office, she was determined to garner as many listings as possible by driving around, following leads, and flip-flopping between phone lines in the office. She often won over clients by telling them she was the only agent in town that could do them justice. I found myself watching her and questioning if I had the fortitude to convince qualified buyers that upgrades were necessary investments, even if their bank accounts were emptied in the process. Prompted by my conscience, I soon closed the real estate exam book for good and focused instead on my college finals and expanding baby bump.

As if reminding me of my priorities, morning sickness became a reoccurring affliction. I managed to control it long enough to get through classes and the second bout would usually subside by the time I arrived at work. Soon after graduation, however, I woke up feeling more drained than usual. Erma graciously agreed to cover for me at work, suggesting I take an extra day off to recover. After accepting her offer, I realized the nursery was yet to be finished and there were dozens of preparations to be made before the baby’s arrival. I returned to the office only long enough to fulfill my two-week obligation and to thank Erma for the opportunity she’d given me.

As often happens to acquaintances in our lives, I never spoke to Erma again. My mother would mention her name from time to time in passing, but never with the intensity she’d assigned it on that summer night in her kitchen in 1978.

“Erma had something important to tell you, but she didn’t want to upset you while you were pregnant.” My mother’s words and the dark glint in her blue eyes pulled my interest. “Then she moved away and got sick. Your life was so full… I guess she just didn’t see the point in saying anything to anyone until she knew her time was running out.”

“While I was pregnant?” I glanced into the next room where my four-year-old daughter was planted on her grandfather’s lap, engrossed in the storybook he was reading. My husband was dozing on the brown, shag carpet below them. I turned back around and asked, “What is this about, mom? What could she have possibly said that would be so upsetting to me?”

My mother slid her weathered hands under her thighs. She leaned forward and the crease between her brows deepened. “The day you were sick and Erma was working at your desk a car drove up.” Her words flowed with rehearsed precession. “It was a yellow Volkswagen Beetle and a man with a cast on his arm got out. He started looking in the window. Then he moved away and came back again. She said from the look on his face, he was surprised to see her instead of you sitting behind that desk. And something about him made her real nervous.”

My mind raced, pondering who he could have been, where the story was leading.

“She used to work for the post office, you know,” my mother continued. “So she was licensed to carry a gun. With the uneasy feeling he was giving her, Erma pulled her weapon out of her purse and set it on her lap. She told me that if he walked through that door, she was prepared to use it.”

Anticipation added to the sweat collecting on my scalp. “What happened next?”

“Well, as it turned out, he eventually got back into his car and sat there for a while. Erma locked the door, edged over to the window and called the police. She wrote down his license plate number and repeated it to them. Then the guy drove off and the police told her as long as he wasn’t threatening her, there wasn’t much they could do. She wadded up the paper she’d written on and threw it away. First thing the next morning, the FBI showed up and asked her to recount her story over and over again. She retrieved the license plate number she’d written down from the trash and after making a few calls, they said she was real lucky to be alive.”

“Why?” I asked.“Who was he?”

She paused a moment before answering. “Ted Bundy.”

The name sank in slowly.  She was talking about the convicted serial killer known for bludgeoning, raping and strangling countless victims. Photographs of long dark-haired girls had been plastered on the front page of virtually every newspaper across the country. Any one of them could have easily passed as my sister. My heart pounded wildly in my chest. A murderer had been watching me – following me. He knew when I would be alone. The real estate office was a short distance from the college, from the places where girls had gone missing…and were later found dead.

What if I hadn’t been sick that day? What if I’d gone to work? Would my face be printed on those newspapers too?

Thirty-four years have passed since my mom relayed Erma’s account. Yet, the story still leaves me contemplating the difference a single, seemingly trite choice can make. If fate hadn’t been in my favor, three talented, grown women would not exist today. I wouldn’t have the opportunity every week to look into the innocent, sparkling eyes of my grandchildren and realize how truly blessed I am.

Perhaps each one of us has a purpose in this world. Strangely enough, Ted Bundy served a purpose in mine. My near miss with this maniacal murderer opened my eyes to the fact that life is fragile and needs to be valued, not ignored or taken for granted. I find myself hoping that my existence has meaning and worth - that I leave this earth knowing I  contributed something significant and made a difference for being here.

To this day, I know very little about Erma McCumsey except that we crossed paths for a reason. For me, she was a guardian angel that changed the course of my life. I will never have an opportunity to thank her personally, but the desire never diminishes. Perhaps living every day to the fullest is all she would have wished for me. Perhaps my ability to share with others the amazing impact one person can make in our lives is the reason I’m living today. This is the message I strive to convey…the truth you’ll find in all my stories.

Wow, Kaylin! That story gave me chills!! I have my own "what if" incidents, and they do serve to remind us to count our blessings.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Kaylin!

One lucky winner will win a paperback copy of romantic suspense novel, Severed Threads.

Believing herself responsible for her father’s fatal diving accident, Rachel Lyons has withdrawn from the world and assumed a safe position at a foundation office. When called upon by a museum director to assist her former love interest with the recovery of a cursed relic from a sunken Chinese merchant ship, she has no intention of cooperating – until her brother is kidnapped by a drug-dealing gangster. In order to save him and gain control over her own life, Rachel must not only overcome her greatest fears, but also relive the circumstances that lead to her father’s death.

To enter the giveaway, please fill out the Rafflecopter entry form below. 

This giveaway is open to Canada/US addresses only until 12:01 AM EST on July 20, 2012.
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Tour Participants

Monday, July 2
Book Feature at Review From Here

Monday, July 9
Interview at Examiner

Tuesday, July 10

Wednesday, July 11

Thursday, July 12

Friday, July 13
Guest Blogging  & Book Giveaway at Darlene’s Book Nook

Monday, July 16
Interview at Between the Covers

Tuesday, July 17

Wednesday, July 18
Guest Blogging at Beyond the Books

Thursday, July 19
Interview at The Writer’s Life

Friday, July 20

Monday, July 23
Guest Blogging at The Book Boost

Tuesday, July 24
Book Feature at Reviews by Molly

Wednesday, July 25
Book Review and Guest Blogging at Reviews by Martha’s Bookshelf

Thursday, July 26
Book Review at Bless Their Hearts Mom

Friday, July 27
Book Review at Celtic Lady’s Reviews

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this incredibly moving post. We never truly know how many Ermas we pass in our lives or how often we are Erma. Definitely time to pause about how precious our short time here is :)


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