Lori Nelson Spielman Sweet Forgiveness

ISBN 13: 9781504604994

Sweet Forgiveness

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9781504604994: Sweet Forgiveness
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[Read by Tavia Gilbert]

#1 international bestselling author Lori Nelson Spielman follows The Life List with Sweet Forgiveness, in which a woman's receipt of two ''forgiveness stones'' sends her searching for atonement.

The Forgiveness Stones craze is sweeping the nation -- instantly recognizable pouches of stones that come with a chain letter and two simple requests: to forgive, and then to seek forgiveness. But New Orleans' favorite talk show host, Hannah Farr, isn't biting. Intensely private and dating the city's mayor, Hannah has kept her very own pouch of Forgiveness Stones hidden for two years -- and her dark past concealed for nearly two decades. But when Fiona Knowles, creator of the Forgiveness Stones, appears on Hannah's show, Hannah unwittingly reveals on air details of a decades-old falling out with her mother.

Spurned by her fans, doubted by her friends, and accused by her boyfriend of marring his political career, Hannah reluctantly embarks on a public journey of forgiveness. As events from her past become clearer, the truth she's clung to since her teenage years has never felt murkier. Hannah must find the courage to right old wrongs or risk losing her mother, and any glimmer of an authentic life, forever.

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About the Author:

Lori Nelson Spielman is the author of The Life List. A former speech pathologist and guidance counselor, she currently works as a home-bound teacher for inner-city students. Lori enjoys running, traveling, and reading, though writing is her passion. She and her husband live in East Lansing, Michigan.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Matthew Dae Smith

Chapter 1

It went on for one hundred sixty-three days. I looked back at my diary years later and counted. And now she’s written a book. Unbelievable. The woman’s a rising star. An expert on forgiveness, how ironic. I study her picture. She’s still cute, with a pixie haircut and a button nose. But her smile looks genuine now, her eyes no longer mocking. Even so, her very image makes my heart race.

I fling the newspaper onto my coffee table and instantly snatch it up again.


By Brian Moss | The Times-Picayune

NEW ORLEANS—Can an apology heal old wounds, or are some secrets better left unsaid?

According to Fiona Knowles, a 34-year-old attorney from Royal Oak, Michigan, making amends for past grievances is a crucial step toward achieving inner peace.

“It takes courage to claim our shame,” Knowles said. “Most of us aren’t comfortable demonstrating vulnerability. Instead, we stuff our guilt inside, hoping no one will ever see what’s hidden within. Releasing our shame frees us.”

And Ms. Knowles should know. She put her theory to the test in the spring of 2013, when she penned 35 letters of apology. With each letter, she enclosed a pouch containing two stones, which she dubbed the Forgiveness Stones. The recipient was given two simple requests: to forgive and to seek forgiveness.

“I realized people were desperate for an excuse—an obligation—to atone,” Knowles said. “Like the seeds of a dandelion, the Forgiveness Stones caught the wind and migrated.”

Whether the result of the wind or Ms. Knowles’ savvy use of social media, it’s clear the Forgiveness Stones have hit their mark. To date, it’s estimated that nearly 400,000 forgiveness stones are in circulation.

Ms. Knowles will appear at Octavia Books Thursday, April 24, to talk about her new book, appropriately titled THE FORGIVENESS STONES.

I jump when my cell phone buzzes, telling me it’s four forty-five—time to go to work. My hands shake as I tuck the paper into my tote. I grab my keys and to-go mug, and head out the door.

Three hours later, after reviewing last week’s abysmal ratings and being briefed on today’s riveting topic—how to apply self-tanner properly—I sit in my office/dressing room, Velcro curlers in my hair and a plastic cape covering my dress du jour. It’s my least favorite part of the day. After ten years of being on camera, you’d think I’d be used to it. But getting made up requires that I arrive unmade, which for me is akin to trying on bathing suits under fluorescent lights with a spectator present. I used to apologize to Jade for having to witness the potholes, otherwise known as pores, on my nose, or the under-eye circles that make me look like I’m ready to play football. I once tried wrestling the foundation brush from her clutches, hoping to spare her the horrifying and impossible task of trying to camouflage a zit the size of Mauna Loa on my chin. As my father used to say, if God wanted a woman’s face to be naked, he wouldn’t have created mascara.

While Jade performs her magic, I shuffle through a stack of mail and freeze when I see it. My stomach sinks. It’s buried mid-stack, with just the upper right corner visible. It tortures me, that big round Chicago postmark. C’mon, Jack, enough already! It’s been over a year since he last contacted me. How many times do I have to tell him it’s okay, he’s forgiven, I’ve moved on? I drop the stack on the ledge in front of me, arranging the letters so that the postmark is no longer visible, and flip open my laptop.

Dear Hannah,” I read aloud from my e-mail, trying to push aside all thoughts of Jack Rousseau. “My husband and I watch your show every morning. He thinks you’re terrific, says you’re the next Katie Couric.”

“Look up, Ms. Couric,” Jade orders, and smudges my lower lashes with a chalk pencil.

“Uh-huh. Katie Couric minus the millions of dollars and gazillions of fans.” . . . And the gorgeous daughters and perfect new husband . . .

“You’ll get there,” Jade says with such certainty I almost believe her. She looks especially pretty today, with her dreadlocks pulled into a wild and wiry ponytail, accenting her dark eyes and flawless brown skin. She’s wearing her usual leggings and black smock, each pocket stuffed with brushes and pencils of various widths and angles.

She blends the liner with a flat-tipped brush, and I resume reading. “Personally, I think Katie is overrated. My favorite is Hoda Kotb. Now that girl is funny.

“Ouch!” Jade says. “You just got slammed.”

I laugh and continue reading. “My husband says you’re divorced. I say you’ve never been married. Who’s right?”

I position my fingers on the keyboard.

Dear Ms. Nixon,” I say as I type. “Thank you so much for watching The Hannah Farr Show. I hope you and your husband enjoy the new season. (And by the way, I agree . . . Hoda is hilarious.) Wishing you the best, Hannah.”

“Hey, you didn’t answer her question.”

I shoot Jade a look in the mirror. She shakes her head and grabs a palette of eye shadow. “Of course you didn’t.”

“I was nice.”

“You always are. Too nice, if you ask me.”

“Yeah, right. Like when I’m complaining about that snooty chef on last week’s show—Mason What’s-His-Name—who answered every question with a one-word reply? Nice when I’m obsessing about ratings? And now, oh, God, now Claudia.” I turn to look at Jade. “Did I tell you Stuart’s thinking of making her my cohost? I’m history!”

“Close your eyes,” she tells me, and brushes shadow over my lids.

“The woman’s been in town all of six weeks, and already she’s more popular than I am.”

“Not a chance,” Jade says. “This city has adopted you as one of their own. But that’s not going to stop Claudia Campbell from attempting a takeover. I get a bad vibe from that one.”

“I don’t see it,” I say. “She’s ambitious, all right, but she seems really nice. It’s Stuart I’m worried about. With him it’s all about ratings, and lately mine have been—”

“Shit. I know. But they’ll rise again. I’m just saying, you need to watch your back. Miss Claudia’s used to being top dog. There’s no way the rising star from WNBC New York is going to settle for some rinky-dink spot as the morning anchor.”

There’s a pecking order in broadcast journalism. Most of us start our careers by doing live shots for the five a.m. news, which means waking at three for an audience of two. After only nine months of that grueling schedule, I was lucky enough to advance to the weekend anchor, and soon after, the noon news, a spot I enjoyed for four years. Of course, anchoring the evening news is the grand prize, and I happened to be with station WNO at just the right time. Robert Jacobs retired, or, as rumor had it, was forced to retire, and Priscille offered me the position. Ratings soared. Soon I was booked day and night, hosting charity events throughout the city, playing the master of ceremonies at fund-raisers and Mardi Gras celebrations. To my surprise, I became a local celebrity, something I still can’t wrap my head around. And my rapid rise didn’t stop with evening anchor. Because the Crescent City “fell in love with Hannah Farr,” or so I was told, two years ago I was offered my own show—an opportunity most journalists would kill for.

“Um, I hate to break it to you, sunshine, but The Hannah Farr Show ain’t exactly the big leagues.”

Jade shrugs. “Best TV in Louisiana, if you ask me. Claudia’s licking her chops, mark my words. If she’s got to be here, there’s only one job she’s going to settle for, and that’s yours.” Jade’s phone chirps and she peers at the caller ID. “Mind if I take this?”

“Go ahead,” I say, welcoming the interruption. I don’t want to talk about Claudia, the striking blonde who, at twenty-four, is a full—and crucial—decade younger than I am. Why does her fiancé have to live in New Orleans, of all places? Looks, talent, youth, and a fiancé! She’s one-upped me in every single category, including relationship status.

Jade’s voice grows louder. “Are you serious?” she says to the caller. “Dad’s got an appointment at West Jefferson Medical. I reminded you yesterday.”

My stomach turns. It’s her soon-to-be ex, Marcus, the father of her twelve-year-old son—or Officer Asshole, as she now calls him.

I close my laptop and grab the stack of mail from the counter, hoping to give Jade the illusion of privacy. I thumb through the pile, searching for the Chicago postmark. I’ll read Jack’s apology, and then I’ll compose a response, reminding him that I’m happy now, that he needs to get on with his life. The thought makes me weary.

I land on the envelope and pull it loose. Instead of Jackson Rousseau’s address in the upper left-hand corner, it reads, WCHI News.

So it’s not from Jack. That’s a relief.

Dear Hannah,

It was a pleasure meeting you last month in Dallas. Your speech at the NAB Conference was both captivating and inspiring.

As I mentioned to you then, WCHI is creating a new morning talk show, Good Morning, Chicago. Like The Hannah Farr Show, GMC’s target audience will be women. Along with the occasional fun and frivolous segments, GMC will tackle some weighty topics, including politics, literature and the arts, and world affairs.

We are searching for a host and would very much like to discuss the position with you. Would you be interested? In addition to the interview process and a demo tape, we ask that you provide a proposal for an original show.

Sincerely yours,

James Peters
Senior Vice President,
WCHI Chicago

Wow. So he was serious when he pulled me aside at the National Association of Broadcasters Conference. He’d seen my show. He knew my ratings were down, but he told me I had great potential, given the right opportunity. Maybe this was the opportunity he was alluding to. And how refreshing that WCHI wants to hear my idea for a rundown. Stuart rarely considers my input. “There are four topics people want to watch on morning television,” Stuart claims. “Celebrities, sex, weight loss, and beauty.” What I wouldn’t give to host a show with some controversy.

My head swells for all of two seconds. Then I come back to reality. I don’t want a job in Chicago, a city nine hundred miles away. I’m too invested in New Orleans. I love this dichotomous city, the gentility mixed with grit, with its jazz and po’boys and crawfish gumbo. And more important, I’m in love with the city’s mayor. Even if I wanted to apply—which I don’t—Michael wouldn’t hear of it. He is third-generation “N’awlins,” now raising the fourth generation—his daughter, Abby. Still, it’s nice to feel wanted.

Jade punches off the phone, the vein in her forehead bulging. “That jackass! My dad cannot miss this appointment. Marcus insisted he’d take him—he’s been sucking up again. ‘No problem,’ he told me last week. ‘I’ll swing by on my way to the station.’ I should have known.” In the mirror’s reflection, her dark eyes glisten. She turns away and punches numbers into her phone. “Maybe Natalie can break away.”

Jade’s sister is a high school principal. There’s no way she can break away. “What time is the appointment?”

“Nine o’clock. Marcus claims he’s tied up. Yeah, he’s tied up, all right. Tied to his ho’s bedpost, doing his morning cardio.”

I check my watch: 8:20. “Go,” I say. “Doctors are never on schedule. If you hurry, you can still make it.”

She scowls at me. “I can’t leave. I haven’t finished your makeup.”

I hop from my chair. “What? You think I’ve forgotten how to apply makeup?” I shoo her away. “Go. Now.”

“But Stuart. If he finds out . . .”

“Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Just be back in time to get Sheri ready for the evening news or we’ll both catch hell.” I point her petite frame toward the hallway. “Now get going.”

Her eyes dart to the clock above the door. She stands silent, biting her lip. Suddenly it occurs to me: Jade took the streetcar to work. I grab my tote from the locker and fish out my keys. “Take my car,” I say, extending the keys.

“What? No. I can’t do that! What if I—”

“It’s a car, Jade. It’s replaceable.” Unlike your father, but I don’t say this. I tuck the keys into her palm. “Now get out of here before Stuart comes along and finds out you skipped out on me.”

Her face floods with relief and she captures me in a hug. “Oh, thank you. Don’t you worry, I’ll take good care of your ride.” She turns to the door. “Stay in trouble,” she says, her favorite parting line. She’s halfway to the elevator when I hear her call, “I owe you one, Hannabelle.”

“And don’t think I’m going to forget it. Give Pop a hug for me.”

I close the door, alone in my dressing room with thirty minutes to spare until preshow. I find a compact of bronzer and brush it over my forehead and across the bridge of my nose.

I free the snaps of my plastic cape and pick up the letter, rereading Mr. Peters’s words as I meander past the sofa and over to my desk. There’s no question the job’s a fantastic opportunity, especially given my current slump here. I’d be moving from the fifty-third to the third largest television market in the country. Within a few years, I’d be a competitor for nationally syndicated programs like GMA or the Today show. No doubt my salary would quadruple.

I sit down behind my desk. Obviously, Mr. Peters sees the same Hannah Farr everyone else sees: a happily single career woman with no roots, an opportunist who’d gladly pack up and move across the country for a better salary and bigger assignment.

My gaze lands on a photo of my father and me, taken at the Critics’ Choice Awards in 2012. I bite my cheek, remembering the swanky event. My dad’s glassy eyes and ruddy nose tell me he’s already had too much to drink. I’m wearing a silver ball gown and a huge grin. But my eyes look vacant and hollow, the same way I felt that night, sitting alone with my father. It wasn’t because I’d lost the award. It was because I felt lost. Spouses and children and parents who weren’t drunk surrounded the other recipients. They laughed and cheered, and later danced together in big circles. I wanted what they had.

I lift another picture, this one of Michael and me, sailing on Lake Pontchartrain last summer. A shock of Abby’s blond hair is visible at the frame’s edge. She’s perched on the bow to my right, her back to me.

I set the photo back on my desk. In a of couple years I hope to have a different picture on my desk, this one of Michael and me standing in front of a pretty home, along with a smiling Abby, and maybe even a child of our own.

I tuck Mr. Peters’s letter into a private file marked INTEREST, where I’ve stashed the dozen or so similar letters I’ve received over the years. Tonight I’ll send the usual thanks-but-no-thanks note. Michael doesn’t need to know. For, as cliché and terribly outdated as it sounds, a high-profile job in Chicago is nothing compared to being part of a family.

But when will I get that family? Early on, Michael and I seemed completely i...

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780147516763: Sweet Forgiveness: A Novel

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ISBN 10:  0147516765 ISBN 13:  9780147516763
Publisher: Plume, 2015

9781410483621: Sweet Forgiveness (Thorndike Press Large Print Women's Fiction)

Thornd..., 2015

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