"In my debut novel, The Right Ingredients, there’s a scene with my main character Ann, talking to her friend Susan about something her mother once said to her. It’s pretty identical to an experience I had and never forgot how funny I thought it was.
I was about 15 or so, and pudgy. I was helping Mom close up the school library where she worked. I’ve forgotten how we got on the subject, but something prompted me to ask my mother if I was pretty.
Now, neither of my parents believed in paying much attention to one’s looks, other than making sure you were presentable and tidy. They never said much about whether or not any of their four children (3 girls and a boy) were attractive. Our behavior is what counted. I could see the question made my mother uncomfortable.
After studying me for a few silent moments, as I waited with nervous anticipation, she said, “You have the kind of face people remember.”
After a pause, while I digested her somewhat noncommittal remark, a response popped into my head. One which would let her know she could have been a tad more encouraging, but also letting her know I wasn’t upset at her lukewarm words. I said in a wry voice, “Thanks, Mom. So does Frankenstein.”
We both had a good laugh, and many years later, I found a spot for it in my book!"
author of The Right Ingredients
Ann’s hectic work responsibilities demand all her time and effort, and what was once a useful, satisfactory life has become a burden to carry. Her bakery partner Susan has lost none of her enthusiasm for their business, and Ann can’t understand her exuberance, or her friend’s Christian faith. So she trudges along, hiding her dissatisfaction from Susan, resigned to a life of work, sleep and problems.
Unexpected comments offered by two different people cause a crack in Ann’s armor and her thoughts careen into unexpected directions. Attention from a young widower with a son challenges Ann’s resolve to stay safe and uninvolved. Susan’s example of faith through trial furthers Ann’s curiosity about God. Ann must choose to step toward the unfamiliar freedom of giving and receiving love, or stay in the shadows, stuck in the grip of past hurts.
Copyright 2014 © Nancy Shew Bolton
Ann hoped the bakery stayed empty of customers. She needed every bit of concentration to decorate the cake the way she envisioned it. Her eyes scrutinized the last patch of undecorated surface. Almost done. Shifting on the chair, elbows planted on the low icing table, she pressed her lips together and leaned closer. She calculated the perfect angle to hold the frosting bag.
A stray hair drifted into her line of vision and she blew out a quick upward breath to deflect it. How on earth could any strand escape her coiled braid? She should have worn the hairnet. But hairnets were old-womanish. Still, she preferred them to the flimsy paper hats she and Susan wore the first year they opened the bakery. They never fit well, and exasperated her by sailing off her head when she rushed past the ceiling fans.
The bell on the bakery’s front door tinkled. Ann sighed and wished Susan would return from deliveries. She glanced through the archway and out the picture window. Maybe she’d appear. No such luck. Oh, well.
“Be right there,” she called. Ann set down the icing bag, rose from the chair and angled her hips to slip past the table. As she stepped sideways, two bees zoomed in and flew toward her. She startled, brushed both hands to scare them away and lost her balance.
In helpless shock, her stomach fell as her forearms, palms and chin landed on the cake and sunk in while a groan escaped her. Ann lifted her head and stared in total horror. Loud moans erupted. “No…no, no.”
As though a protest would change anything. Tears gathered. She drew away from the cake, and straightened up. One little wobble, and her handiwork was destroyed.
“Are you okay?”
Ann stared at a tall, sturdy man in jeans and a tee shirt. He stood in the archway between the front and back rooms and surveyed the scene. “I’d have stayed out there, but I heard you cry out and thought I’d better check on you.”
Ann’s lip trembled. She pushed against the tide of emotion. No tears in front of customers. The two bees danced on the frosting, poking around on her ruined cake. “It’s all their fault. I tried to do everything right, and see what happened?”
She pointed a frosted finger at them while her tears overflowed. Through the blur, she glanced from the excited insects over to the man. She blinked to clear her vision. His eyes were sympathetic, and his mouth wore a suppressed grin. He stood in a firm stance, yet appeared poised to offer assistance. Ann searched for a clean part of her arm and brought it up to first brush the tears, then the frosting beard off her chin. She must look like some sort of clown.
The merriment left his face. “I’m sorry. I think maybe they flew in when I opened the door. Can I help?”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nancy Shew Bolton is a wife of 41 years, mother of five grown sons, and grandmother to a boy and girl. Ever since she learned to write, she would jot down her thoughts and impressions in little snippets of inspiration in the form of poetry, song lyrics, or short essays. About six years ago, she decided to try her hand at writing a full-length book. She’s since written five works of fiction, two non-fiction, and is working on an idea for a children’s book, as well as more fiction manuscripts. Writing a full-length work is much more challenging than she thought, and she has received so much valuable assistance from other writers, especially from the ACFW critique groups. Her husband has been supportive of her long hours spent at the keyboard. Many thanks to her beloved Johnny! She thanks God and His Son for her life, her loved ones and the spark of creativity inside every person. She believes each person is a unique creation, with their own special voice and place in this amazing universe. God’s handiwork amazes her every day!