Friday, July 31, 2015

Writing Sisters: The Privilege Of Writing

Everyone's Story welcomes authors  and sisters Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers, who are perhaps known more commonly as the Writing Sisters. While Betsy and Laurie have touched my heart with the premise of their debut novel, of whether our lives actually matter and to whom, what I also admire is their love and respect for the power of story. I hope you enjoy the week with Betsy and Laurie. Please check out their BookGiveaway offer (and for an extra bonus point check out the special option at the end of this blog feature**) And, enjoy the gripping opening of THE SHEPHERD'S SONG. Betsy, Laurie, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Betsy and Laurie are offering 1 printed copy of THE SHEPHERD'S SONG to 1 randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, August 7th between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment (you may choose to use the Contact Me form to privately send me your email address--the form is in the right-hand sidebar on the blog's main page, toward the bottom).


From THE SHEPHERD'S SONG by Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers

Kate McConnell opened her eyes. Where was she? There were bright lights above her. Movement. The sound of a siren wailing.
She closed her eyes and opened them again, hoping somehow this all would go away. It didn’t.
An ambulance. She was in an ambulance.
What had happened?
A man’s voice called out behind her. “Female, age about forty-five, multiple injuries. BP: ninety over sixty. Pulse: one-forty. Respirations: twenty-five, short and shallow.”
Each bump and jolt of the ambulance brought pain, crushing pain in her chest and stabs of pain down her right leg. Kate tried to grab her chest, but her arms were strapped down. She shivered uncontrollably. Her blue sweater and pants were covered in something wet—gooey and wet. Blood. He was talking about her.
A brief memory came—her car sliding on the slick road, the sound of breaking glass and crunching metal. A car accident. Panic rose in her chest. She had been in an accident.
The newspaper would later say it was the worst traffic accident ever on that section of I-95 between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore—twenty-five cars, six semis, and one bus. The temperature Thursday had been fifty-five degrees, a beautiful day. Then, Friday, it fell to thirty-one, unusual for October. A sudden snowstorm dropped more than two inches of snow in just ten minutes, creating whiteout conditions that took everyone by surprise, including the drivers on I-95.
The voice behind her continued its calm clinical assessment. “In and out of consciousness. Possible head injuries.”
“Help,” she whispered. Each breath was raw. There wasn’t enough air. Dizziness swept over her. She tried again. “Help.”
“Hold on. Try to stay awake.” A young man leaned over her, making eye contact. His voice was calm, but she saw fear in his eyes.
She tried to nod but couldn’t.
“Be still; we’re on the way to the hospital.”
Everything in her wanted to fight free of the straps and the stretcher, but she couldn’t even move her head. Pain radiated from her chest and leg.
The voice began again. “Bleeding profusely from a gash in right leg—looks like an open fracture. Possible internal injuries.”
For a few seconds there was silence, the only sound the hum of tires on the road.
“Will do. We’ll be there in five to eight minutes, depending on traffic.”
What had happened? Kate remembered her morning, speeding from one activity to the next, pushing her old station wagon to the point where it shook. An early-morning run to the grocery store, then back home, then a twenty-mile drive to deliver dinner to a friend who was recuperating from surgery, then a stop to drop off the dry cleaning, then five more things on her to-do list. Then the snow had started.
The cleaner’s. She had been trying to get back to the dry cleaner’s, but for what?
She felt a hand on her forehead, and she opened her eyes. The young man’s face came into view again. His nervous eyes studied her.
“What’s your name?”
She tried to focus. Her name?
“Kate . . . McConnell.” She gasped out each word.
“Your birthday?”
She tried to come up with the answer, but it was too confusing. Tears welled up.
“It’s all right. Just stay with me.”
“What hap—?” She wanted to finish the sentence but could not.
“You were in a car accident on the interstate.” He held her arm, feeling for a pulse. “There was a pile-up. It’s a mess out there.”
Her mouth opened and closed with a question unasked. She wanted to say the words, but nothing came out.
“Matt,” she finally gasped out the name of her son. “John.” Her husband.
“No one was with you in the car. Just rest and stay calm. We’ve got you.”
She could feel the sway of the ambulance as it passed other cars. The voice faded in and out. She closed her eyes.
A new thought came. She might die. Would it be like this, the end? So fast? With so much undone?
Kate’s mind drifted back and forth, weaving in and out of the events of the past week.
“I don’t think my life matters,” she had told a friend. “I’ve been a Christian for almost twenty-five years, and I haven’t accomplished anything. I can’t point to one single person that I’ve had an impact on, even in my own family.”
“Of course you have. You serve on the church worship committee, you deliver meals every week to people in need, and you’re always writing down scriptures for people.”
“But are those the important things?” Kate had asked. “Do those things matter?”
John. He mattered. And Matt.
“Oh, Mom,” she could hear Matt say. “You don’t believe all that stuff.”
Matt, who had drifted away from faith when he’d started college, now refused to go to church at all.
She couldn’t get through to him.
Was she really dying?
Someone lifted her eyelid. It was the young man. He looked closely into her eye, as if he was examining her soul.
“Stay with me now.”
She felt the ambulance sway, then the jolt of a sharp turn.
“Help,” Kate gasped again as pain stabbed through her side.
“Stay with me.”
A wave of dizziness. Then nothing.

John McConnell hovered over the documents on his desk, every ounce of attention focused on the case before him. Behind him shelves and shelves of legal books reached to the ceiling.
“Mr. McConnell. A phone call, line three.” His secretary spoke from the doorway.
“I said to hold all calls.” He continued scanning the document.
“I know, but . . .”
“I am well aware that we all need to get out of here.”
From his twelfth-floor office he had been watching the snow fall. Two inches piled up on his windowsill, and reports of accidents had begun popping up on the Internet.
“Did you finish those edits on the Johnson case?” he asked.
He tried to refocus his attention on the work before him. It was complicated, and now his concentration was broken.
“It’s the hospital.”
He looked up. Her pale face and wide eyes shattered his calm. A ripple of fear grabbed his stomach. Something terrible had happened. He knew it. He fumbled for a moment with the receiver, then got it to his mouth with shaking hands.
“This is John McConnell.”
“This is Metropolitan Medical Center. We have an emergency vehicle on the way.”
“Is he all right?” John’s voice went up in pitch. His mind was filled with thoughts of Matt. His son was an inexperienced driver, and in this snow . . .
“Mr. McConnell, it’s your wife.”
“My wife?”
“Yes, Kate McConnell. She’s been in an accident. She’s being transported here.”
“How is she? What happened?” A million questions flooded his mind. He could see Kate as he’d left her that morning, loading the old station wagon with the dry cleaning, recycling, and meals for friends.
“Hey, you’re not taking all of those, are you?” he had said when he saw her carry out the chocolate cupcakes.
Kate had smiled, dimples showing. “I saved a few for you.”
He touched the note that he had found this morning in his briefcase. Do not be anxious about anything. Her neat handwriting stood out from the crisp white of the paper.
Kate was a bundle of energy and a bundle of life. How could she be hurt?
“Mr. McConnell? Are you there?”
“We don’t have the details, but please come as soon as you can.”
“I’m on my way.”
Leaving the file on his desk unfinished, John McConnell ran for the elevator.

Matt was in class when he felt his phone vibrate. He considered ignoring it. He was really engrossed in this lecture. The only other thing that could possibly interest him would be the weekend’s plans. It was Friday, and he was not yet sure what the next few days looked like. Maybe Joe had gotten tickets for the Rusty Bucket concert. Matt slipped the phone out of his pocket.
Emergency. Call me.
A text from his dad. That was unusual. His dad hardly ever called him, much less texted. Something must have happened. Matt was glad he’d sat in the back. He left his books open on the desk and slipped out into the hall. Did they find the empty beer bottles under the deck? He pressed call. Was he going to have to listen to his father’s lecture about drinking and all the legal ramifications?
Matt steeled himself for the lecture.
“It’s your mother, Matt. She’s been in an accident. She’s on her way to Metropolitan in an ambulance.”
Suddenly everything dissolved away: the hall, the classroom, the lecture that he’d been so into. They were gone, and the words coming from his phone were everything.
“Not Mom.”
He couldn’t take it in.
“Son, it’s true. I don’t know her condition. Come to the hospital as soon as you can. I’m on my way there now.”
Matt couldn’t speak.
“Matt? Are you there?” He heard the concern in his father’s voice.
“You okay to drive?”
“Yeah, Dad.”
The phone went dead.
Matt stood frozen in place. It couldn’t be his mother. She was the strongest person he knew. He had seen her handle difficult situations with ease, and handle several at once. “Mega-Mom,” that’s what his friends called her. One tiny blond woman, totally in control. He couldn’t imagine Mega-Mom in an ambulance. It must be someone else. Someone borrowed her car. Something like that.
He waited for his phone to buzz again, for his dad to call him back and say that it was all a big mistake. What if it wasn’t a mistake? No, he couldn’t think that. He had to keep it together. He had to get to the hospital.

A blast of cold air hit Kate’s face as the ambulance doors opened, jarring her awake. She could hear voices. It came back to her in a rush. The accident. She’d been in an accident. She opened her eyes to movement. People were reaching into the small space around her, all talking at once.
“Kate McConnell, trauma patient.”
“Got it. Ready. Lift.”
She felt a jar as the stretcher was pulled forward, then lights and swirls of snow. The wheels hit the ground, and they were inside within seconds. Masked faces in white and green hovered over her. Gloved hands touched her.
Two blue eyes looked down at her over a white hospital mask.
“I’m Dr. Belding,” a calm voice said. “I’m taking care of you.”
The white lab coat was comforting. His white hair spoke of experience. He was in control. No fear in his eyes.
“We are going to fight together,” he said. “Stay with me.”
The face turned, and the voice changed to business.
“What IV access do we have?”
The paramedic was writing on a clipboard. He answered without looking up. “Eighteen gauge in the right and left arms, both running well.”
Dr. Belding grabbed the end of the stretcher and started pushing. “Let’s get her to the trauma room and get her intubated.”
They moved quickly down a long green hall. They rounded a corner, and the motion stopped for a second like a turning of the tide, then all ahead again, into a spotless room with gleaming metal machines and bins of white sterile packages. Mechanical noises came from all directions, beeping and whirring. The gloved hands moved over her, loosening the straps and cutting away her sweater and pants.
“What’s the blood pressure?”
“Seventy over fifty. And decreased breath sounds on the left.”
“Open up those IVs.”
Kate could not seem to grasp what was happening to her.
“Can you hear me?” Dr. Belding’s voice reached into her confusion.
“Can you hear me?” Louder this time. “Give me a thumbs-up.”
Kate wanted to lift her thumb, but the slightest movement seemed impossible. She concentrated. She fought with all the determination she could muster. Her thumb went up slightly.
“Good. Let’s get some antibiotics on board, and some morphine, too.”
Kate’s body was not her own. She felt someone open her mouth and put a tube down her throat. No. No. I’m here, she wanted to say. I’m still in here. She was helpless as chaos swirled around her. In the midst of it all, one kernel of peace came to her. The Lord is my shepherd.
Of course. The twenty-third psalm. That’s why she had been going back to the dry cleaner’s. The psalm had been left in Matt’s coat pocket.
A memory came—a vivid picture of herself sitting at the kitchen table, carefully copying Psalm 23 onto a clean white piece of paper. She was writing as neatly and clearly as she could, praying over each phrase. Then she was folding the paper into a square and putting it in the pocket of Matt’s wool peacoat. She had imagined him finding it and reading it. How could he not be moved by the promises it held and the clear picture of God as his shepherd?
Instead, anger.
How long would she have to fight with him? And why didn’t John help her with the fight?
Now this.
Dr. Belding’s blue eyes came into view.
“You can rest now,” he said. “We’ll take care of everything.”
Wait. Who was telling her to rest? She was confused. Did God want her to rest? No. No rest. She had so much to do. She had to get up and get out of here. Her work was not done.

Not yet, God, she prayed. Please, not yet.

Sharing Your Story by Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers

We love the name of Elaine’s blog, Everyone’s Story. It reminded us of the Frederick Buechner quote "The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all."

That’s our favorite thing about writing – telling stories that inspire people to understand their own story and their place in the bigger story of God’s love for us. We wrote The Shepherd’s Song about the 23rd Psalm. It’s an overarching story of one woman’s struggle for significance but also contains twelve stories of individuals touched and changed by Psalm 23.

The best part of writing the book – better than the amazing way we found our agent and publisher – better than writing together as sisters - has been hearing stories from our readers. It seems that the 23rd Psalm written so long ago by David is still relevant and still connecting people to their Shepherd. Now that’s good writing!

After the book was released we waited. Would anyone read it? Then emails began to come in. We heard from an atheist in India who discovered that God was real and could be trusted. We heard from women in a prison in South Carolina who found hope in the stories of second chances. We heard stories from women overcoming cancer, struggling with marriages, wondering if their lives mattered. We were blessed by our readers and their stories.

What a great privilege it is to write.  Stories connect us and are universal. In the spring The Shepherd’s Song was published in Bulgarian. Next month it will be published in German. In the beginning of the book is a verse from Isaiah 55:11so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

What an amazing promise from God to writers.

Thanks, Elaine for having us on the blog today. We would love to hear stories from your readers. Does anyone have a story to share?

Betsy and Laurie's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Everyone’s Story hosts @WritingSisters, Betsy Duffey & Laurie Myers. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

What’s the best part about writing? It’s not what you think! See what @WritingSisters say. (Tweet This) 

Authors: Do you hope & expect to hear from readers? @WritingSisters want to hear from you! (Tweet This)

Authors' Bio:
The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers were born into a writing family, and began critiquing manuscripts at an early age for their mother, Newbery winner Betsy Byars. They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults, THE SHEPHERD’S SONG, was being released in paperback  April 2015.
You can connect with Laurie and Betsy on their monthly newsletter where they send out updates and their popular free devotional books.

Places to connect with Betsy and Laurie:

**It's summer and time to have a bit of fun. Please take this month's new Poll on the right-hand sidebar on your summer reading pleasure. You'll earn an extra BookGiveaway point for the Writing Sister's offer if you take the poll and comment about it within your blog comment (and yes, I'm going on the honor-system). Thanks!


  1. Oh, Wow! You had me with the first paragraph on! Not sure if I can wait to see if I win. lol And the Twenty-third Psalm is one of my favorites. A few years ago, I put it in my own words and now I put my paraphrase on every card or note of encouragement I send.
    Thanks, Elaine for introducing me to The Writing Sisters!

  2. Oh, I forgot--I did the survey. :-)

    1. Pat, I too was pulled right into the Writing Sisters' story!

      And thanks for taking the survey.

    2. Hi Pat, Thanks for your comment and you kind words. Psalm 23 has always been a favorite for me too. I love that you put it in your own words and are sharing it with others. Beautiful!

  3. I have read The Shepherd's Song and it is beautiful story. I read in e-book form and would love to have a print copy for my library to share with some friends at church. I enjoyed the interview with Betsy and Laurie. I did take take the survey Elaine.

    1. Ann, thanks for visiting. You know how much I enjoy it when you swing by!

      How lovely that you'd love to share Betsy and Laurie's novel.

      Thanks for taking the survey.

    2. Thanks, Ann. I'm so glad that you liked The Shepherd's Song. It is especially meaningful to me when someone reads it and want to share it with others. Reminds me of Kate in the book! Thanks for your encouragement!

  4. Hi I loved this story and was captivated, especially when it got to the part about the! This is fantastic! I took the poll too. I'd love to win this book! Good idea! I think you have my email, but it's

    1. Myrna, thanks for visiting! I'm glad you appreciated Betsy and Laurie's feature--I especially love hearing the enthusiasm in your comment.

      Thanks for taking the poll.

    2. Myrna, I love your comment! Anyone who uses the words Wow and Fantastic in connection with the book wins my heart! Thank you for your words.

  5. This sounds like a beautiful story, would love a copy.
    I need to call Ann and find out more of the nice blogs, she follows.

    1. Linda, welcome to Everyone's Story. I'm glad you're interested in winning this awesome BookGiveaway. To do so, I need your contact information. Please leave another comment with the info, or use the Contact Me form on the bottom of the right-hand sidebar to send it to me confidentially. Thanks.

    2. Thanks, Linda,
      Glad that you stopped by to read the post and check out The Shepherd's Song.

  6. We have this book in the Church Library. I love this book! I did not put it down until I finished it. Looking forward to reading more books by "the sister duo".
    Janet E.

    1. Janet, I'm happy you stopped by for a visit today. Those Writing Sisters have a great fan in you!

    2. Hi Janet,
      We have always loved libraries so we are excited to think of having our book in your Church library! Really love your kind words about the book. Thanks so much, Betsy

  7. I'd love to read The Shepherd's Song. Please enter me in drawing to win a copy. Thank you, my friend.

    1. AnnaLee, thanks for visiting. I received your contact info via the Contact Me form--thank you!--and you're definitely entered in the Giveaway drawing.

      Always nice to see you!

    2. Hi AnnaLee, Thanks for stopping by. Good luck with the give away!

  8. Hi Elaine and The Writing Sisters -

    I read the excerpt, and I'd love to read the whole book. susanjreinhardt AT gmail DOT com

    1. Wow, Susan. That says a lot! I believe I see Betsy and Laurie smiling.

      Always a pleasure to see you.

    2. Hi Susan,
      We are smiling! How great that you enjoyed the excerpt. Thanks for stopping by and sharing that with us.

  9. I think it's beautiful that you wrote a story about the significance of
    each person's story as part of God's bigger picture. And Psalm 23
    is so universal. No wonder your story has touched so many lives!
    And it is so special that sisters would write together this way.

    Thank you for sharing this on your blog, Elaine.

    (I also took the poll.) ;)

    1. Good words, Kathy! And thanks for taking the poll. I'm learning a lot about others' reading habits--and seeing a few surprises.

    2. Hi Kathleen,
      Our dream was to combine our love of scripture with our writing and we could't think of a better way to begin than with our favorite passage, Psalm 23. It's also been a blessing for us to write together. Thanks for your comment! Good luck with the the give away. Betsy

  10. How neat for sisters to be able to write/publish book together! Thanks for sharing the excerpt.

    I answered the pole question!


    1. Patty, I appreciate your visit today, as well as your poll taking! Good luck on the Giveaway drawing.

    2. Thanks, Patty,
      It was neat to write this book together. Ever since we were little we loved a project, sewing, knitting, painting, anything creative. It is fun to have our writing to share now. Thanks again for your comment.

  11. Blogging has taught me many life lessons in the 4 years I've been chatting away online and lovin' it. One of the things learned is to never assume: you'd think mid summer folks would be away on vacation and not paying attention to a blog but nope, a record breaking amount of viewers have visited and I have my special guests, Betsy and Laurie, to thank. Bravo, ladies! I hope this week will prove to be a blessing for you two as much as your appearance--with its very tender words--has blessed me.

    Thanks much for the BookGiveaway! And the winner is…

    Myrna. Yay, Myrna. Both Betsy, Laurie, and I will contact you in direct emails.

    Blessings to all.


Your visit to Everyone's Story is greatly appreciated. Although Comment Moderation is set, I will do my best to post your comments as promptly as possible.

If you have any trouble leaving a comment, first make sure you are logged onto Google if you have an account. If not, either try posting the comment under the options of Name or "Anonymously" (you can always include your name within the comment) or send me your comment via the "Contact Me" form in the right-hand column of this blog's main page and I will post the comment for you. Thanks for visiting.

Add This