Salve for Souls

Monday, October 23, 2017


Elizabeth Bertelli loved springtime in New York State, where she lived among pine-scented hills climbing toward the Adirondack Mountains, as if to the heavens. Wearing a jacket over relaxed jeans and a T-shirt, she stepped off the back porch to head out for her morning walk. Having left her phone and all communication behind, she felt unencumbered by life’s demands. She inhaled the country air, that even in April, caressed her face with remnants of winter’s chill.
Usually, Liz (as everyone called her) walked along the rural road with her friend, Rosa. But this day, the singing birds and golden daffodils drew her toward the meadow and woods beyond her home. She thought of painting the scene. Although her art had sold and won awards, it had been far too long since she had picked up a paintbrush.
Pulling her jacket tighter, Liz wished she could leave her sorrows behind. Steve was gone and there was nothing she could do about it. Even the rugged beauty of the area, where he enjoyed hiking and fishing, could not keep him; nor could the rambling old farmhouse Steve's wealthy parents had given them as a wedding gift.
He and Liz were only in their teens when she became pregnant with their twin sons. She gave birth to the boys at 15 and despite her youth, motherhood came as naturally as breathing. But marriage to Steve always felt like a bad fit, as if she were struggling to walk with tight shoes on the wrong feet.
Still in her thirties, Liz felt unattractive and alone.
She couldn't go home to her parents, since they had recently passed away. Liz recalled their anger when they discovered her pregnancy. They pressured her to have an abortion or give the baby up for adoption, rather than marry Steve.

We don't like him. He's selfish and immature and we don't want to be saddled with his responsibilities.

Liz dismissed their warnings. She was the accident her parents had in their late forties, when they never wanted children. She always felt like an intruder.

Steve and I love each other, she yelled. I'm not going to kill our baby and I won't give it to strangers. If you try to make me, I'll run away and you'll never know your grandchild.
Seeing Liz's determination, her parents relented and grudgingly accepted her pregnancy, but they never liked or accepted Steve.

In those early days, he would run his fingers through Liz's flowing chocolate curls, compliment her golden-brown eyes, accentuated by a hint of makeup and call her his curvaceous cutie. But the chocolate curls had since been shorn and the warmth had faded from eyes that now reflected only sadness. Liz still had her curves; however, they had become a bit more rounded.
Toward the end of their marriage, Steve would not let her forget that. His icy blue eyes would view her with contempt, while his words stabbed at her heart. I wasted my youth on you. You've let yourself go. Look at you! I don't even want you anymore.

Liz's anger simmered. What right does he have to criticize my appearance? Steve's no Adonis.
Though athletic and muscular when they married, he had packed on the pounds over the years.

I should have suspected something when he began exercising again and losing weight.
Even though Steve was generous with money after the divorce, Liz didn’t see how she could ever forgive him for his cheating. Her mind raged at the memory. How could I even think about him after he left me for that slut?
He and twenty-three-year-old Gloria Hamilton had met at a business convention in the Daytona Beach, Florida, hotel where she oversees social events. Steve had moved to Florida and they were now living together in an oceanfront condominium.

It gave Liz some satisfaction to shed her married name of Cavanaugh for her maiden name, recalling her Italian heritage. Even though her twin sons would always be Cavanaughs, to Liz, the namechange was severing her connection to Steve for the way he had severed their marriage vows. The boys also were gone, only they to pursue education, careers and individual lives.

Liz's heart always swelled with pride when she thought of her tall, lean sons. She could see Steve in their faces, but there was not a hint of his deceitful ways.
A recent law school graduate, Steve Jr. (Stevie) had graduated summa cum laude—the youngest in his class. After the prodigy breezed through his bar exam, he was quickly picked up by a law firm. Tony (named after Liz's father, Antonio) followed in his father's footsteps as a chef. He and his wife, Stephanie (Steph) managed a restaurant and had given Liz her only grandchild, Ashley. Each of Liz's sons held an equal place in her heart.
However, the boys lived hundreds of miles away in the Washington D.C. area. That seemed so far, especially after Steve left. To Liz, that is how God seemed too, but also occupied with things far more important than herself, much like her late father, usually out of reach at the office or in front of the television..

When their sons were growing up, Liz and Steve brought them to church whenever they could, especially on Christmas and Easter. When her boys asked if she believed in God, Liz said "yes," but her mind was filled with doubt.

These days it was just Liz and King, the young Rottweiler she had gotten for protection at the house, now too lonely and creaky. Thinking of her affectionate pet, she had to smile. Despite his menacing appearance and bark, Liz had often said if a burglar broke into the house, King would probably lick rather than bite. Liz guessed he was less aggressive because she had him neutered.
She looked toward the house, wondering if she should go back for him. But he was sleeping after recent surgery to correct elbow dysplasia, thankfully discovered early in his life. Deciding to let him rest, she continued on her way, occasionally pausing to admire the emerging grass and wildflowers, such as the dandelion-like coltsfoot and clusters of bluets.

As the house grew distant and the shadows of the woods began to creep over her, it struck Liz that in the twenty years she’d lived there, she had never ventured into the forest alone. An uneasy feeling invaded her thoughts—unseen eyes seemed to be watching.
Trying to put aside her fears, she continued toward the forest, where tall trees swayed against an azure sky. Birds fluttered among the branches, filling the air with their song.
At the edge of the woods, a cold breeze swept in. Liz hesitated, thinking she heard rustling in the brush. In spite of her misgivings, she pressed on.
I can do this. I don't need any man to protect me, she thought, stepping onto the path Steve had kept clear.

Despite him being gone over a year, the path was still free of overgrowth. It followed one of the many old and often crumbling stone walls, winding through the woods of upstate New York. Most, like the wall on Liz's property, stood about waist high.
The walls used to mark properties, she recalled Steve telling her in happier times. The stones that have withstood centuries of harsh winters and neglect, show the handiwork of old-time farmers.
Liz's anger with Steve was never far away.
He's probably cooking for his bimbo like he did for the boys and me, she fumed, wishing she could bash him over the head—or somewhere else—with one of those stones. This would also be for the wandering eye he had throughout their marriage, as well as his affinity for material Liz considered pornographic. She had confronted him about it, but he dismissed her concerns.
Photography and videos are just art forms. As an artist, you of all people should know that.

I hope your pornography's enough for you, because that's all you're gonna get, Liz snarled, stomping out of the room.Things were never the same for her after that. Good riddance to him!

Liz forced her thoughts back to the sights and sounds of the forest. She realized something had changed. The forest was quiet … too quiet. The wind had stilled. Birds were no longer singing. Liz paused, her eyes darting one way then another. As a cloud moved over the sun, a sense of danger crept over the landscape.
Suddenly, a loud snap shattered the stillness and a flock of birds launched into the sky, their chirping and flapping wings fading away. Fear tingled up and down Liz's spine as her eyes drifted to a clearing, where a black bear was sniffing the air. Liz thought she saw two cubs in the nearby brush. Her heart pounded in her chest.
Steve's warnings screamed across her mind. Bears have a keen sense of smell. If you see one, don't try to run away. Back away slowly. Yell at the bear. Firmly tell it to leave. Get out of here! Especially beware of a mother bear with cubs.
Then, in one horrible moment, the bear spotted Liz and charged in her direction. In a blind panic Liz also ran, forgetting everything Steve had told her. Though the episode lasted scarcely a minute, time seemed to move in slow motion.
Zigzagging between the trees, she hoped to lose or confuse the bear. However, she could hear it closing in, snapping branches, crunching on the forest floor.
Without thinking, Liz glanced briefly over her shoulder, taking her eyes from the path. In that instant, she tripped on an exposed root and fell, striking her head against the stone wall.
Immediately, the bear was over her. Liz could hear it sniffing and feel its breath, which despite her racing heart and an engulfing dizziness, overwhelmed her with the stench of rotting garbage.
While drifting into unconsciousness she remembered the Lord's Prayer from childhood. "Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name." (Matthew 6:9, NIV).

It seemed like only a minute or two later, Liz opened her eyes to see the stone wall beside her.
Her head throbbing, she realized she must have been facedown in the dirt, because she could taste the grit in her mouth. At first she lay still, fearing the bear was nearby.

Maybe it's best to play dead.
After a while, she gathered the courage to look around, relieved the bear was nowhere in sight. As the world came into focus, Liz saw the sun was bright in the sky, as if it were approaching the middle of the day.

I wonder how long I've been here.
Clutching her head, she felt blood in her hair. Then, balancing herself against the wall, she struggled to her feet, spitting out the dirt. As she stood, intermittently taking deep breaths and spewing more dirt, she caught a glimpse of a shiny object wedged between two stones in the wall.
Despite her heart pounding in her temples, she reached for the object and discovering it stuck, pulled it free. A tarnished silver locket and chain was soon in her hand. But consumed with pain and terrified the bear might still be near, she shoved the find into her pocket and stumbled home.

What will happen to Liz and what life-changing secrets are waiting inside the locket? Find out more:

Ebook ONLY $2.99

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017


I see an elephant!
That's what a woman in my church said when she looked at me!
Would you be insulted if someone said that to you?
I was not, because this was done within the context of symbolism, when I was receiving ministry during an "encouragement time."
The woman explained and perhaps what she said to me, will "speak" to you.
"It's been said that an elephant never forgets, but that is really true of God. He will never forget the promises He has made, or how committed He is to keeping them. That is because He can never forget you. His thoughts of you "outnumber the grains of sand."
Hearing that, reminded me anew of God's faithfulness. We (you) are always in His thoughts.
That is just one small example of affirming words contained within Flora Reigada's devotional book, "Where Your Heart Meets God's."
Like brightly wrapped gifts beneath a Christmas tree, might some of these be waiting for you, or even a friend who needs encouragement?
Ebook ONLY $1.99

Friday, September 22, 2017


AVAILABLE NOW - "Love's Sweetest Revenge"
Book 1 of the "Castle in the Sun" series by Flora Reigada tells the story of Liz's escape from an abusive marriage to an adventure in St. Augustine, Florida where she gains a new understanding of God and love.
Sometimes, the best revenge is starting over.
Get it on your favorite eReader today!
ONLY $2.99
Amazon Kindle -
iTunes -
Kobo -
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As if things couldn’t get any worse, Liz was about to be dinner for a hungry bear. She thought she needed that lonely walk in the woods, if for nothing else, to clear her head of her ex’s betrayal. Liz vowed never to trust another man after…

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


That's what I thought, paralyzed with fear on the stairs of a run-down New York City walk-up, where I was on my way to visit a relative.
A menacing-looking man had suddenly emerged from the darkness beneath the staircase. He appeared poised to attack. I was ready to scream when . . .
Find out what happened in "The Jewel of the Father's Open Arms," one of 51 devotions in "Where Your Heart Meets God's," a devotional book published by MillerWords.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Win an eBook of Flora Reigada's “how-to” devotional “Where Your Heart Meets God’s”. Answer this question: “In the Old Testament, when did the nail prevail?”

To enter, send your answer by email to You will automatically be entered to win one eBook in the format of your choice (Kindle, Nook, PDF, etc) and you will be subscribed to the MillerWords quarterly newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any time after the contest ends on August 31, 2017. Five (5) winners will be chosen on or around September 1, 2017. No purchase necessary.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Cover Reveal - Love's Sweetest Revenge by Flora Reigada

Flora Reigada is back and this time, she is introducing her series Castle in the Sun. The lives of the characters in this universe are centered around a well known "castillo" in Saint Augustine, FL.
Today's cover reveal is for the first book in series titled Love's Sweetest Revenge.

Before taking off with a plaything in her twenties, Liz's husband ripped her apart with his words. "I wasted my youth on you. You've let yourself go. Look at you! I don't even want you anymore."

Could Liz's best revenge be starting over?