Welcome, Florence Osmund!

A big happy welcome to Florence Osmund! After serving in administrative roles for decades at large corporations, Florence is now living her dream writing novels. This week we are featuring Red Clover, about an extraordinary journey into manhood. Enjoy the feature!

–Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess

A Note From Florence

Osmund_PhotoAfter spending several decades working in administrative management positions for large corporations, I retired to write novels. It took two years to publish my first book The Coach House. Since then, I have been able to publish a book every ten to twelve months.

For years, while I was still working and just contemplating writing novels, I jotted down ideas that popped into my brain about story lines, dialogue, scenes, themes, settings, characters, and anything else related to creating an interesting story. When it came time to start writing, I had amassed hundreds of scraps of paper with a wide variety of ideas which I sorted and categorized. When I was done, three distinct stories emerged, one of which was Red Clover.

Red Clover is about the troubled son of a callous father and socialite mother who determines his own meaning of success after learning shocking family secrets that cause him to rethink who he is and where heʼs going. I hope readers leave with two takeaways after reading Red Clover. You can’t judge a person’s character by their outward appearance, upbringing, or the character of other family members. And sometimes even life’s worst circumstances can foster meaningful consequences.

My current project (which I hope has been published by the time this submission goes live) is a novel titled Regarding Anna. After recovering from the shock of her parents perishing in a tragic accident, seventeen-year-old Grace Lindroth discovers clues in their attic that cause her to believe the people she called Mom and Dad may not have been her real parents. The takeaway in this story is things that happen to you in the past can mold you into someone you’re not.

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Red Clover blurb

Red Clover cover 1667X2500Lee Winekoop is born into extreme wealth and given extraordinary opportunities to grow and prosper just like his two older brothers. But when he struggles with even the simplest things, the inadequacy he feels cripples him. The young man finally starts to find his way, but then his world is turned upside-down when he learns shocking family secrets—causing him to rethink who he is and where he is going.

On his journey into manhood, Lee’s reinvention of himself is surprising; the roadblocks he confronts are unnerving; and the cast of characters he befriends along the way is both heartwarming and amusing.

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Excerpt

Lee woke up to the sound of sirens. After he got his bearings, he stood up and looked out the window into the darkness of the side yard. Standing on his tiptoes and craning his neck, he could see through the window to the street. Police cars with their lights blazing were everywhere!

Anxious to see what all the commotion was about, he quickly dug his way out of his hiding place and raced for the door. But when he heard an unfamiliar man’s voice coming from the hallway, he stopped short of opening it.

“I know you said you looked up here, Mrs. Winekoop,” the man yelled, “but a second sweep won’t hurt. Kids have an uncanny way of fitting into the darndest places.”

Lee’s chest tightened, and suddenly his skin felt like it was on fire. When his stomach started lurching, he knew an anxiety attack was about to erupt. Frozen in place, he stood in the middle of Nelson’s room, shaking, until someone opened the door.

Lee didn’t know who was more surprised—he or the policeman. He was big and tall, the biggest man Lee had ever seen, and he didn’t look very friendly.

“What the…” He turned around and shouted, “I found him. He’s in here.”

Within seconds, his mother appeared in the doorway. “Oh, my. Where on earth have you been?”

“I don’t feel so good,” Lee said in a weak voice.

His mother walked over to him and took his hand. “Let’s get you lying down.” She looked at the policeman. “Will you please excuse me? I’ll just be a minute.”

Lee’s mother led him to his bedroom, turned down the comforter on his bed, and told him to crawl in—shoes, clothes, and all. “Just lie here quietly while I take care of…things.”

He lay there, afraid to move, for what seemed like a long time, until both his mother and father came into his room.

His father’s voice was low but his tone harsh. “Where on earth were you—”

“Please, Henry, let me handle this.”

“Just keep in mind, Abigale, that a few minutes ago, we had five police cars in front of our house and the makings of a search party getting ready to—”

“I know. I was there.” She sat on the edge of the bed and looked down at Lee. “Sweetheart, we couldn’t find you anywhere. Where were you all this time?”

“What time is it?”

“It’s almost eight o’clock. Where have you been? Were you in Nelson’s room the whole time?”

Lee nodded.

Lee’s father disappeared.

“We looked in there. Even under the bed, in the closet. Didn’t you hear us?”

Lee shook his head. “I don’t feel very good. I think I’m having an anxiety attack.”

“Maybe you should rest then. I’ll get—”

“This is what the little ingrate was up to,” his father shrieked. He waved the magazine in the air. “Looking at smut! Eight goddamn years old, and he’s looking at naked women! What the hell got into you, you sorry excuse for a—”

“Henry! Stop it. I said I’ll handle this. It’s—”

“It’s my house! And the way this should be handled is with a good whooping. Sneaky little bas…”

Before his father could finish his sentence, his mother stood up, right in his face. “I said I will handle this, and I will. And it won’t be by corporal punishment. Now, leave us alone, so I can talk privately with my son.”

His father threw the magazine down and darted out the door.

“Where did you get the magazine, Lee?”

He didn’t want to tattle on Nelson. “I just found it.”

“You have to tell me the truth. You didn’t just find it. Where did you get it?”

He didn’t respond.

“From another boy?”

Lee remained silent.

“You’re making this harder than it has to be.” She paused. “If you don’t tell me, I’m sure your father will get to the bottom of it. Now tell me where you got it.”

“In Nelson’s room.”

“Don’t lie to me. He would never have such a thing in his room.”

“Okay. Don’t believe me. I don’t care. It wasn’t what I was looking for in the first place. I just ran across it in a drawer. It was just there, so I looked at it. I think I must have fallen asleep ‘cause when I woke up, I saw all the police cars out front.”

“But we searched that room.”

“There’s a space in the closet, behind the brown dresser, by the window. I was back there.”

“Good heavens. Do you have any idea how we worried when we couldn’t find you?”

“No.”

“We didn’t know if you had run off, were kidnapped, or what.”

“I’m sorry.”

His mother heaved a sigh and turned toward the door. “Someone will be in to check on you a little later. Try to get some rest.”

“Mother?”

“What is it?”

“Whose turn was it to watch me today?”

“Apparently there was a scheduling misunderstanding with Kate.”

“Is she here now?”

“Kate is no longer with us. Your father took care of that.”

Lee waited for the maid to check in on him before climbing out of bed and tiptoeing down the stairs to the second-floor landing. He positioned himself behind the tall potted plant where he knew he could hear what was going on in the front foyer without being seen. His parents’ voices were low but audible.

“…and I’ll say it again,” his father was saying. “There’s something wrong with that boy, and the sooner you take care of it, the better off we’ll all be.”

“And I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again,” his mother responded. “It’s not that easy. He hasn’t been seeing Dr. Jerry for that long, and I think he’s making headway. I just wish you’d be more—”

“The boy doesn’t need some fancy shrink to see what’s wrong with him. Send him off to Hampshire like I suggested a year ago. They specialize in kids like him. It’s not that far from the New York apartment. You could stay there and be near him.”

“First of all, it’s more than two hundred miles from our apartment, and secondly, I am not sending him off to some boarding school. That’s not the answer.”

“Well, he doesn’t fit in here, and if you’d like me to go into the reasons why, just let me know. And this last incident is just—”

“This may come as a shock to you, but that Playboy magazine came out of Nelson’s room.”

“I suppose he told you that. And, of course, you believed him.”

“I believe him.”

“Don’t be so naive. He’s lying, and that makes the whole situation worse. Now we can’t trust him. Look, you’re ultimately responsible for half of Evanston’s police force on our doorstep looking for that kid. It’s a good thing they don’t charge for their services. Would you like me to calculate just how much that would cost?”

“You’re all about money.”

“You bet I am. And you can also bet our two sons will take after me.”

Lee heard footsteps and got ready to flee.

“Do what you want. I don’t care,” his father said.

A door slammed.

Lee huddled behind the planter, ready to run to his room if he heard his mother coming up the stairs. Instead, he heard her crying.

He couldn’t bear to hear her sobs and wanted to run to her and tell her everything would be all right. He forced back his own tears. He needed to be strong.

On the way back to his bedroom, Lee went to Nelson’s room and slipped the Swiss Army knife into his brother’s desk drawer. Back in his own bed, he replayed his parents’ conversation in his head.

So many of the things his father had said disturbed him, but none had hurt as deeply as, “Do what you want. I don’t care.”

Rave Reviews about Red Clover

“Red Clover is a wonderfully written detailed story about a man overcoming his upbringing and becoming his own man. The finished product, both the man and the story, are exemplary.”

—Ray Paul, Windy City Reviews

“A beautiful, moving story that gently absorbs you into the lives of the characters.”

—Charlotte Foreman, BestChickLit.com

“Florence Osmund is a brilliant wordsmith who paints such a rounded picture of each character that the reader feels he is in the book with them.”

—Charlie Bray, Founder of INDIETRIBE.com