Tag Archives: Beth Anne

Book Four is Live!

  The Handy Helpers, Not a Happy Camper is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Xlibris. It is not available as an ebook yet.

I hope you will take a few minutes and check it out. According to my young reviewers, it is the best one yet. You’ll find out what happened to the Cole children after they were rescued from the forest fire. Spike deals with another bully. Melissa hopes to strike it rich, panning for gold in Fox Creek. Beth Anne makes a huge sacrifice. And so much more. You won’t want to miss it. I’m hard at work on Book Five. Hopefully, it won’t take me so long to finish this time.

The Handy Helpers, Book Four–The End–At last

I have said so many times that I am almost finished with Book Four, I wanted to wait until that was actually true. Last Friday, the completed manuscript was emailed to my publisher for copy editing. So I think I can safely say that it is finished.

This is the story of Beth Anne’s quest to go to summer camp with her friends. Her parents want her to go to a camp for children with special needs. Thinking it is because they are worried for Beth Anne’s safety, she and her friends plead their case. Finally, Beth Anne’s parents admit that it is because they don’t have the money for the registration fee–the special camp is free.

That’s when the Handy Helpers devise a plan to raise the money. Registration check in hand, everything seems set for Beth Anne to go to camp. But Beth Anne shocks her family and her friends when she suddenly changes her mind and wants to go to the special camp after all. The reason for her change of heart is a story in itself.

Some other surprises in Book Four:

  • The outcome of the forest fire that took place in Book Three is revealed–the fire damage and what happened to the Cole children.
  • Logan’s dad–absent more than ever–shows up with someone he wants Logan to meet.
  • The history of the Clawson sisters is revealed, along with the history of Bluesky.
  • A big change is coming for Beth Anne’s family and she is excited about it.
  • In Book Three, Spike learned a lot about dealing with Bullies. At camp he encounters another bully and has to put his skills to the test.
  • At camp, Laura and Melissa’s friendship is stretched to the limits. Amber, who is put in the middle, must act as peacemaker.
  • Chris faces one of his fears and works to overcome it.

I hope you are excited about reading Book Four. I’m already at work on Book Five. Hopefully it won’t be so long before it is ready.

Check out my author page and order books on Amazon.


“Beth Anne is the hero.”

Beth Anne finished

Beth Anne walked through the tall grass to the edge of the pond. She looked into the pond and saw tiny fishes swimming just under the surface. Dipping her hand into the water, she wiggled her fingers, scaring the fish away. The water felt cold. Continuing on around the pond, she noticed the grass was shorter and there were rocks along the edge. A lizard sat on one of the rocks, sunning itself.  Tiny bugs had landed on the water. Beth Anne wondered if the lizard would try to catch them for food.

After watching the lizard for a few minutes, Beth Anne decided to join her friends on the other side of the pond. She was making her way there, when she noticed a little girl about three years old, splashing her hands in the water. Suddenly, the rock on which the little girl was standing gave way and she fell into the pond. Beth Anne yelled for help. When no one came, she jumped into the pond and pulled the little girl out just as her head was going under water. Amber and Laura finally heard the commotion and came running around the pond. They helped Beth Anne get the little girl out of the water.

“Where is your mom?” Laura asked the little girl when they had her safely away from the pond.

“Over there,” The little girl pointed in the direction of the picnic tables.

As the girls walked toward the picnic tables, the little girl’s mother saw them and came running.

“Why are you all wet?” The mother asked, upset.

“I fell in the pond,” the little girl answered. “She pulled me out.”

“Thank you so much,” the mother said to Laura.

“It wasn’t me,” Laura said. “Beth Anne is the hero.”

“I can’t thank you enough for saving Tiffany. I didn’t even realize she wandered away. If you hadn’t been there, she might have drowned. You really are a hero.”

Since Beth Anne’s clothes were wet, the girls decided it was time to go home. They got on their bikes and rode back to Doris Duncan’s house.

“I’m a hero!” Beth Anne shouted as she ran in the house.

“Why are you wet?” Her Grandmother asked.

“Because I’m a hero,” Beth Anne said again.

“Well, hero or not, you’d better go change your clothes before you catch a cold.”

Just as Laura and Amber were leaving, the doorbell rang. When they opened the door, they found a reporter and cameraman standing on the porch.

“Is this the house where the little girl lives who saved Tiffany McDonald from drowning?” The reporter asked.

“You mean Beth Anne,” Laura said. “I’ll get her for you.” Laura left to get Doris and Beth Anne. Amber stayed at the door with the reporters.

“How did you find out so fast?” Amber asked.

“We were at the park doing a story on the improvement plans the town council is working on. Mrs. McDonald, Tiffany’s mother, came over and told us the story. She pointed you out as you were leaving the park, and we followed you.”

Laura returned to the door with Doris and Beth Anne, who was now wearing dry clothing. “What is this all about?” Doris wanted to know.

“Your granddaughter saved a little girl at the park. She would have drowned if Beth Anne hadn’t pulled her out of the pond. “

“She told me she was a hero,” Doris said, amazed. “But I thought it was just one of her adventure stories. She likes to make up adventures.”

“I’m Veronica Lyons, a reporter for Marshallville Area News. I’d love to interview Beth Anne for tonight’s broadcast.”

Beth Anne went with Veronica and sat down on the sofa in the living room.  While the reporter asked questions, the cameraman filmed the interview.

“What were you doing at the park?” Veronica asked.

“I went there with my friends, Amber and Laura to look for fish in the pond,” Beth Anne said. “I didn’t know there was a little girl by the pond.”

“How did you notice her?” the reporter continued.

“Laura and Amber were looking for . . . What was it?” Beth Anne looked at Laura.

“Crayfish,” Laura said.

“Oh, yeah, crayfish,” Beth Anne went on. “I was walking around the pond. That’s when I saw the little girl. I thought she might get hurt in the pond. Then she fell in. I tried to yell for help but nobody came. Then I went into the water and pulled her out.”

“You are a brave girl,” Veronica said. “Our television station has a reward fund. We’re going to give you twenty-five dollars. What do you have to say about that?”

“I don’t know what to say about that,” Beth Anne said, hesitantly. “I’m happy to get twenty-five dollars. I can help my grandma buy groceries.”

“That’s very sweet of you,” Doris said, “but that’s your money. You should use it to buy something you want.”

“Watch the news tonight at six,” Veronica told them all. “You’re going to be on it.”

From The Handy Helpers: Seven is a Perfect Number  available on amazon

Who is Beth Anne Riley . . . Really?

Beth Anne finishedI have been fortunate in my life to know many people with Down syndrome. Any one of them could have been the model for Beth Anne. But as my daughter Kirstin says, “I would like people to remember that even though we look alike, we are all unique.” And so Beth Anne is her own unique person.

When I first began envisioning the plot for the second Handy Helper book, Seven is a Perfect Number, I knew that Melissa would be challenged by a new girl in town who would threaten her friendships with Laura and Amber. But when Beth Anne showed up, I was totally surprised. I hadn’t considered that the new girl would have Down Syndrome. And yet, there she was.

When I think about it now, I can see that Beth Anne is the perfect person to shake Melissa’s self-confidence. Beth Anne is the opposite of Melissa in so many ways. To begin with, Beth Anne is timid and shy while Melissa is bold and outgoing. Melissa is concerned about her appearance, wearing the latest clothing fads and then accessorizing to the hilt.  As Amber says, “She dresses to the nines” (sometimes the eighteens or the twenty-sevens). Beth Anne is happy to be dressed in comfortable clothes. And even though she rarely gets anything new, she is okay with that. When Beth Anne is going to church with her grandmother, Doris buys her a dress–one of the few dresses she has ever owned.

The biggest difference between Melissa and Beth Anne is how they treat others. Melissa is friendly and helpful, but often puts her own needs ahead of the people she is helping. Beth Anne reaches out in a loving way and gives fully of herself. The difference becomes obvious in the way the two girls respond to Mrs. Henry. Melissa sees her as a grouchy old lady who needs help but doesn’t appreciate it. Beth Anne sees a lonely woman who wants someone to care. While Melissa is busy dusting Mrs. Henry’s living room, Beth Anne sits on the sofa and gets Mrs. Henry to talk about her photo albums.  It is Beth Anne who coaxes Mrs. Henry out of her wheelchair so she can walk again.

Little by little, the Handy Helpers realize that Mrs. Henry is changing from a grouchy old lady to a sweet, kind friend. All of them know that it is Beth Anne’s influence that is bringing about the change–all of them except Melissa. But even Melissa can’t fight the obvious forever.

It is not until Beth Anne is rescued from the mountain, that her impact on the Handy Helpers becomes apparent to all of them. Beth Anne’s willingness to give of herself so completely, rubs off on each member of the Handy Helpers and is reflected in tiny acts of grace. Chris lets Elizabeth Sawyer win the Sunday school contest even though he has more scripture verses. Spike has been avoiding Connor, the little boy who tries to be like Spike. But in the end, Spike becomes his friend and even brings him to Melissa’s birthday party. Although Melissa had been trying to keep Beth Anne out of the Handy Helpers, it is Melissa who insists that the group won’t be complete until Beth Anne is the seventh member.

Like the Handy Helpers, I’m so glad that Beth Anne came to live in Bluesky. Our lives would not be the same without her.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

The night God erased my manuscript

miracle mileI had been working hard on the second Handy Helpers book all day–first making some important revisions and then focusing on chapter ten. After dinner, I returned to work on it again, eager to finish the chapter. With chapter ten not quite completed, I was forced to quit as my mind was shutting down. Suddenly, the computer screen went blank. I stared at the white screen for a few seconds before deciding that I must have hit a function key and opened a new file. When I clicked the x to close the file, I was asked, as usual, if I wanted to save the changes. Just as I clicked “yes,” I realized I had not opened a new file, but I had actually deleted everything–thirty thousand words gone in an instant!

My initial shock was eased a little as I remembered that every night at eleven o’clock my writing was automatically backed up on a thumb drive. I hadn’t lost everything–only my work from that day. Still feeling the loss and wondering if I would be able to recall all that I had written that day, I went to bed.

The next day I was able to retrieve my backed up work and  easily return to the parts of my manuscript where I made changes. With all the changes completed, I turned my attention to the part of chapter ten I had been working on but my mind went completely blank. Try as I might, I could not remember any of the words I had written. As I struggled to think of something to write, it seemed as if a wall had gone up, blocking my thoughts. Finally, in frustration, I gave up.

Later that night, I was reading my homework for an apologetics class I was taking at church. It was a long reading assignment and not terribly interesting, and I was struggling to stay awake. Determined that I was going to finish, I pushed on through the sleepiness. At last, I completed the assigned reading, but for some unknown reason, I continued to read on. My eyes came to rest on a scripture passage–Ephesians 2:8–“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is a gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.”

It was at that moment I recognized God’s hand on my writing. I had been working on a part of the book where Beth Anne asks her grandmother to tell her what grace is. Apparently, I hadn’t done an adequate job the first time. Now I had a second chance to get it right. Focusing on the scripture I had been given, I wrote the following:

“There’s one part I don’t understand,” Beth Anne said seriously. “Who is Grace?”

“Grace isn’t a person, honey,” Doris explained. “Grace is . . . grace is . . . well, grace is a gift from God.”

“A gift from God? You mean like a present?”

“Yes, kind of like a present, but the very best present you could ever imagine.”

“If I’m really good, do you think God will give me a present?”

“God doesn’t give us his gifts of grace because we’re good. No one could ever be good enough to earn God’s grace.”

“I don’t understand.” Beth Anne shook her head.

“Let me see if I can explain it.” Doris hesitated for a moment, thinking. “You are holding a gift for your mother, right? Why are you giving her a gift?”

“Because it’s Mother’s Day and I love my mother.”

“Exactly.” Doris let out a sigh. “We give each other gifts to show how much we love each other. But no matter how much love we have, we can never equal the love God has for us. That’s why we can never earn his gifts of grace. He gives us those gifts out of love.”

I’ll never know what words I had written originally. Those words are gone forever–erased by the hand of God. But in their place are words he wanted me to write. I’ll be forever grateful for his gift of grace.