Friday, December 26, 2008

CAW! CAW! Chapter a Week


by Veronica Heley, pub Severn House Dec 08.

This is the third in the Abbot Agency series.

Bea Abbot's domestic agency does not, repeat NOT, investigate murder-until she finds herself in the company of a dead man dressed and made up like a pantomime dame. It looks like suicide, but why don't his red-spangled shoes fit?

Matthew Kent was an entertainer known to be a kindly and modest man in private, so why had he staged this grotesque charade in death? And why is his daughter so keen to hustle his mortal remains away without publicity? Bea's own house is in chaos as builders remodel the agency offices. Struggling to run the agency from her bedroom, pounded by heavy metal from the basement, concerned about both her young assistants' emotional problems, Bea tries to discover what the body on the bed was really like in life, why there is so much confusion about his death, and who is destined to die next.
Books available from fine bookstores everywhere.
Do not reproduce without permission.

Havah: The Story of Eve
Tosca Lee

No more myth. No more legend. From paradise to exile, from immortality to the death of Adam. Visit the dawn of mankind through the eyes of Eve-the woman first known as Havah

"Lee surprised the evangelical Christian literary world with her acclaimed Demon: A Memoir. Her fans will be equally pleased with her newest, a passionate and riveting story of the Bible's first woman and her remarkable journey after being cast from paradise. Lee's superior storytelling will have readers weeping for all that Havah forfeited by a single damning choice."
˜Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Once every few years, I come across a book of such scope, such beauty, that it defies description. Havah bridges mankind's beginnings with the restless state of our present age. . . . Tosca Lee has combined the grit and vitality of ancient history with a profound reverence for the Word of God. Havah is a novel with boundless imagination."
˜ Eric Wilson, author of Field of Blood and Fireproof

Tosca Lee is the author of the critically acclaimed Demon: A Memoir (2007), a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Silver Award winner, American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year nominee, and Christy award finalist. Visit Tosca at her site: .

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's the 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour! This is the very last Teen FIRST tour as Teen FIRST has merged with FIRST Wild Card Tours. If you wish to learn more about FIRST Wild Card, please go HERE.

and his book:

Amg Publishers (January 22, 2007)


Mike Hamel is a seasoned storyteller who has honed his skill over theyears by telling tall tales to his four children. He is the author of several non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles.

Mike and his wife, Susan, live in Colorado Springs, CO. Their four children are now grown and their two grand children will soon be old enough for stories of their own.

From His Blog's About Me:

I am a professional writer with sixteen books to my credit, including a trilogy of titles dealing with faith and business: The Entrepreneurís Creed (Broadman, 2001), Executive Influence (NavPress, 2003), and Giving Back (NavPress, 2003). I also edited Serving Two Masters: Reflections on God and Profit, by Bill Pollard (Collins, 2006).

My most enjoyable project to date has been an eight-volume juvenile fiction series called Matterhorn the Brave. Itís based on variegated yarns I used to spin for my four children. They are now grown and my two grandchildren will soon be old enough for stories of their own.

I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado with my bride of 34 years, Susan.

As you read this blog, remember that Iím a professional. Donít try this level of writing at home. You might suffer a dangling participle or accidentally split an infinitive and the grammarians will be all over you like shoe salesmen on a centipede.

BTW ñ I have been diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, an aggressive but treatable form of cancer.

Mike's Blog, Cells Behaving Badly, is an online diary about Wrestling with Lymphoma Cancer.

To order a signed edition of any of the 6 Matterhorn the Brave books, please visit the Matterhorn the Brave Website!

Product Details

List Price: 9.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 181 pages
Publisher: Amg Publishers (January 22, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0899578330
ISBN-13: 978-0899578330


Emerald Isle

Aaron the Baron hit the ground like a paratrooper, bending his knees, keeping his balance.

Matterhorn landed like a 210-pound sack of dirt.

His stomach arrived a few seconds later.

He straightened his six-foot-four frame into a sitting position. In the noonday sun he saw they were near the edge of a sloping meadow. The velvet grass was dotted with purple and yellow flowers. Azaleas bloomed in rainbows around the green expanse. The black-faced sheep mowing the far end of the field paid no attention to the new arrivals.

ìAre you okay?î the Baron asked. He looked as if heíd just stepped out of a Marinesí recruiting poster. ìWeíll have to work on your landing technique.î

ìHow about warning me when weíre going somewhere,î Matterhorn grumbled.

The Baron helped him up and checked his pack to make sure nothing was damaged. He scanned the landscape in all directions from beneath the brim of his red corduroy baseball cap. ìIt makes no difference which way we go,î he said at last. ìThe horses will find us.î

ìWhat horses?î

ìThe horses that will take us to the one we came to see,î the Baron answered.

ìAre you always this vague or do you just not know what youíre doing?î

ìI donít know much, but I suspect this is somebodyís field. We donít want to be caught trespassing. Letís go.î

They left the meadow, walking single file through the tall azaleas up a narrow valley. Thorny bushes with loud yellow blossoms crowded the trail next to a clear brook. Pushing one of the prickly plants away, Matterhorn asked, ìDo you know what these are?î

ìGorse, of course,î the Baron said without turning.

ìNever heard of it.î

ìThen I guess you havenít been to Ireland before.î

ìIreland,î Matterhorn repeated. ìMy great-grandfather came from Ireland.î

ìYour great-grandfather wonít be born for centuries yet.î

Matterhorn stepped over a tangle of exposed roots and said, ìWhat do you mean?î

ìI mean weíre in medieval Ireland, not modern Ireland.î

ìHow can that be!î Matterhorn cried, stopping in his tracks. ìHow can I be alive before my great-grandfather?î

The Baron shrugged. ìThatís one of the paradoxes of time travel. No oneís been able to figure them all out. Youíre welcome to try, but while youíre at it, keep a lookout for the horses.î

Matterhorn soon gave up on paradoxes and became absorbed in the paradise around him. The colors were so alive they hurt his eyes. He wished for a pair of sunglasses. Above the garish gorse he saw broom bushes and pine trees growing to the ridge where spectacular golden oaks crowned the slopes. Birdsongs whistled from their massive branches into the warm air. Small animals whispered in the underbrush while larger game watched the strangers from a distance.

The country flattened out and, at times, they glimpsed stone houses over the tops of hedgerows. They steered clear of these and any other signs of civilization. In a few hours, they reached the spring that fed the brook they had been following. They stopped to rest and wash up.

Thatís where the horses found them.

There were five strikingly handsome animals. The leader of the pack was from ancient and noble stock. He stood a proud seventeen hands highófive-foot-eight-inchesóat the shoulders. He had a classic Roman face with a white star on his wide forehead that matched the white socks on his forelegs. His straight back, sturdy body, and broad hindquarters suggested both power and speed. A rich coppery mane and tail complemented his sleek, chestnut coat.

The Baron held out an apple to the magnificent animal, but the horse showed no interest in the fruit or the man. Neither did the second horse. The third, a dappled stallion, took the apple and let the Baron pet his nose.

ìThese horses are free,î the Baron said as he stroked the stallionís neck. ìThey choose their riders, which is as it should be. Grab an apple and find your mount.î

While Matterhorn searched for some fruit, the leader sauntered over and tried to stick his big nose into Matterhornís pack. When Matterhorn produced an apple, the horse pushed it aside and kept sniffing.

Did he want carrots, Matterhorn wondered? How about the peanut butter sandwich? Not until he produced a pocket-size Snickers bar did the horse whinny and nod his approval.

The Baron chuckled as Matterhorn peeled the bar and watched it disappear in a loud slurp. ìThat oneís got a sweet tooth,î he said.

The three other horses wandered off while the Baron and Matterhorn figured out how to secure their packs to the two that remained. ìI take it weíre riding without saddles or bridles,î Matterhorn said. This made him nervous, as he had been on horseback only once before.

ìBridles arenít necessary,î Aaron the Baron explained. ìJust hold on to his mane and stay centered.î He boosted Matterhorn onto his mount. ìThe horses have been sent for us. Theyíll make sure we get where we need to go.î

As they set off, Matterhorn grabbed two handfuls of long mane from the crest of the horseís neck. He relaxed when he realized the horse was carrying him as carefully as if a carton of eggs was balanced on his back. Sitting upright, he patted the animalís neck. ìHey, Baron; check out this birthmark.î He rubbed a dark knot of tufted hair on the chestnutís right shoulder. ìIt looks like a piece of broccoli. Iím going to call him Broc.î

ìCall him what you want,î the Baron said, ìbut you canít name him. The Maker gives the animals their names. A name is like a label; it tells you whatís on the inside. Only the Maker knows that.î

Much later, and miles farther into the gentle hills, they made camp in a lea near a tangle of beech trees. ìYou get some wood,î Aaron the Baron said, ìwhile I make a fire pit.î He loosened a piece of hollow tubing from the side of his pack and gave it a sharp twirl. Two flanges unrolled outward and clicked into place to form the blade of a short spade. Next, he pulled off the top section and stuck it back on at a ninety-degree angle to make a handle.

Matterhorn whistled. ìCool!î

ìCool is what weíll be if you donít get going.î

Matterhorn hurried into the forest. He was thankful to be alone for the first time since becoming an adult, something that happened in an instant earlier that day. Seizing a branch, he did a dozen chin-ups; then dropped and did fifty push-ups and a hundred sit-ups.

Afterward he rested against a tree trunk and encircled his right thigh with both hands. His fingertips didnít touch. Reaching farther down, he squeezed a rock-hard calf muscle.

All this bulk was new to him, yet it didnít feel strange. This was his body, grown up and fully developed. Flesh of his flesh; bone of his bone. Even hair of his hair, he thought, as he combed his fingers through the thick red ponytail.

He took the Sword hilt from his hip. The diamond blade extended and caught the late afternoon sun in a dazzling flash. This mysterious weapon was the reason he was looking for firewood in an Irish forest instead of sitting in the library at David R. Sanford Middle School.

CaW! CAW! Merry Christmas!

To all our faithful Chapter-a-Week readers,

Thank you for a wonderful year of supporting great Christian fiction. May your Christmas be blessed and your New Year filled with good things from Above.

Warmest wishes,
Traci DePree

Moderator of Chapter-a-Week
And author of A State of Grace

Wishing you all God's richest blessings as you gather with family and friends for the holidays. May 2009 be a year of drawing closer to the only One Who matters; and as always, may it be a year filled with good books, warm fires, and pleasant memories.

~Deborah Raney

Merry Christmas to my readers. I treasure the emails and letters I've received from you in 2008 and am delighted that you have found pleasure in my books, especially when you share how God has touched your heart. May you have joy and peace, during the Christmas season and on into the new year.

In the grip of His grace,
Robin Lee Hatcher

May the peace and joy of the holiday season warm you all year through. I appreciate you!

DiAnn Mills

Deepest thanks to all our readers.
Wishing you a most blessed Christmas.

Gail Gaymer Martin

Blessings to you all during this season. May your hope be in our Lord and your eyes on his coming in our lives now and in the future.

Carolyne Aarsen

May you have a blessed Christmas season, and may your New Year be filled with wonderful God-surprises. Thanks for being a CAW reader. You are much appreciated!


Dear Reader,
What a joy to think of you as I delve into my next story, and my next.
May you continue to find enjoyment as you read the written word and join us
in a different world. May my words bring comfort to you, and inspire you,
bring you peace, and help you grow.
God bless you this season,
Hannah Alexander

Merry Christmas to all the CAW readers! Thanks so much for your interest in our books.
Maureen Lang

Dear CAW Readers,

May your Christmas be filled with wonder and your heart overflowing with the breathtaking beauty of God's love for you!
Merry Christmas!

Marlo Schalesky

My wish for you this season is that you experience the joy of family, the warmth of friends, and true Christmas spirit in your heart. And may 2009 bring you exciting new challenges and exceedingly great joy!

Roxanne Henke, author of "After Anne," "Learning to Fly," and soon-to-be-released, "On a Someday."

Merry Christmas, readers! May your season be filled with wonder as you contemplate the Ancient of Days, born into human time. And may you embrace the coming year as your own adventure, your own time in history to live God's exciting purpose for your life!

~T.L. Higley

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for reading my books and the positive comments about how you benefit from the reading. My books being out there and going into the hands of others is an inspiration to me. I love writing, but without a reader it would seem in vain. So I thank you with all my heart. May you be truly and especially blessed during this holiday season.

with love and best wishes

Yvonne Lehman

Dear Readers,
I'm so grateful to have the privilege of sharing my stories with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray the Lord will cover you each one with His perfect provision and care during the holiday season!

In Him,
Beth (Elizabeth) White

Christmas is always a special time of year. I find myself thinking about people who have drifted out of my immediate circle: co-workers from my first days, neighbors from all the different houses we've lived in, parents of children I knew who are now grown and starting families of their own, and of course those children I met as students, Bible club members, and Sunday School regulars. These days I have a unique circle of friends: readers. I may never meet some of you face-to-face, but you hold a wonderful place in my heart. A book has no meaning until it is read. You bring life to my imaginings. Thank you for reading and for choosing my books. May the Lord Bless you and keep you in this season of grace and throughout the New Year

Donita K. Paul

My best wishes for a blessed Christmas to all you wonderful Chapter-A-Week readers. During this holiday season, may you be surrounded by family and friends, and may the love of our Savior touch you in a special way. Thank you for reading with Chapter-A-Week and telling others about Christian fiction. Merry Christmas!

~Judith Miller
Latest Release:
An Uncertain Dream

To anyone who reads this. . .
To anyone who reads anything at all
from the breakfast cereal packs
to magazines and serious papers,
but above all
to anyone who enjoys my books
as much as I enjoy writing them


Veronica Heley

Thank you all for being there, and for loving to read. Your enthusiasm is a big blessing to all of us! I hope your Christmas season is a time of love and blessing for you and your family.

Susan Page Davis

"What would a writer be without faithful readers? A lonely voice. Thanks for being readers, for buying our books, recommending them to friends, writing reviews and posting them, and letting us know if what we have worked hard to create has touched your lives. You are blessings. May God bless your celebration of his birth and may you give many books as gifts. "

Lyn Cote, Author of Blessed Assurance

"Jesus said, "I'm leaving you well and whole. That's my parting gift to you. Peace.
May you experience the true peace of Jesus the Christ in you.

Blessed Christmas to all∑

Patti Hill
women's fiction - winsome & true

Merry Christmas˜I am truly grateful for each of you. Thank you for your readership, notes, and prayers, and for being such a great part of my life.

ˆTosca Lee

Greetings from Kansas! May this Christmas be a celebration of the greatest Gift of all--the gift of our Savior Jesus Christ to a needy world! God's richest blessings on you in 2009.

In His love,

Kim Vogel Sawyer
Gentle stories of hope...

Thanks for sharing your time with us on Chapter A Week this year! May God shower blessing upon blessing on you and everyone you love. Merry Christmas!

Susan Meissner

Jesus came . . . so we could live. May the blessings of this season of joy be yours!

--Angela Hunt

Wishing you a warm, God-filled Christmas! May the miracle of the birth live in the reality of your life all year long! --

Rene Gutteridge

I wish all my readers a Christmastime full of reflection on the
greatest gift ever given to humanity, and a season of joyful giving.
Thank you for reading my books! I couldn't continue doing what I love
without you. Here's to another blessed year!

Terri Blackstock, Author of the Restoration Series, Cape Refuge
Series, and Newpointe 911 series

Dear Friends,

Another good thing about Christmas time: we connect with people who are a part of our lives. Thank you for reading and enjoying my books. I wish I could give every one of you a hug of gratitude and joy. Joy for the season, for our living and loving Christ, and the pleasure of reading. I LOVE to read, talk about books, share books and yes, write books. Thank you to the many who have emailed me, you have no idea what encouragement it is to hear from readers. So may this Christmas be a blessing to you as we all take time to send love and greetings out and enjoy them coming in. Take a moment and remember how much God loves you.


Lauraine Snelling

What better way to weather the weather (it's c-c-c-cold here in Chicago already!), and weather all the economic bad news than to curl up with a good novel and a cup of hot something (my weakness is hot chocolate with a peppermint soaking in it). So I want to wish all you faithful readers a very merry Christmas indeed. Because even though the world is shaking in its snow boots, we know that our God is faithful! He brought us the greatest gift of all at a very bad time in history . . . the gift of His Son, a gift that keeps on giving JOY and PEACE and HOPE even in the worst of times.


Neta Jackson

Author, the Yada Yada Prayer Group series, and the Yada Yada House of Hope novels (NEW!)

Abundant blessings to each of you during this wondrous season. Praying God cloaks you with His sure and loving presence, and brings a child's joy to your hearts! Know you're greatly appreciated!

Karen Ball
What Lies Within, Multnomah

Warm Christmas greetings from Salt Lake City! And I mean that literally ˆ it's unseasonably warm in Utah this December, and the ski resorts are praying for snow. My family is, too, but for a different reason. We just love white Christmases! I always get books as Christmas gifts, and I love nothing better than to curl up in a comfy chair in front of the fireplace with the Christmas tree light twinkling at me from across the room, and lose myself in the pages of a great novel. I hope you have the opportunity to do the same.

Merry Christmas and Happy Reading
Virginia Smith, author of Stuck in the Middle and A Taste of Murder.

"Praying that Christmas will be for you what it's meant to be for all--a celebration of our savior who came to earth as a helpless baby and allowed himself to be sacrificed for those who are truly helpless without Him."

Tamara Leigh

Celebrating Christ's birth with you this season!

~Melanie Dobson

Friday, December 12, 2008

CAW! CAW! Chapter a Week

Where Do I Go?
A Yada Yada House of Hope novel
By Neta Jackson

From Where Do I Go?, Book 1 in the Yada Yada House of Hope series by Neta Jackson (Thomas Nelson, 2008). Romantic Times says, " . . . exquisite characters coupled with God's mercy and love emanate from each page." Available at your local bookstore, also online sources such as and News Flash! Neta's husband Dave Jackson has written a parallel novel titled, Harry Bentley's Second Chance, picking up a key character from Neta's novel, but developing a whole second/simultaneous storyline. For more information, go to

Her Captain's Heart

By Lyn Cote
Love Inspired Historical, released 12-09-08
ISBN 978 0 373 82801 2

Her Captain's Heart is the first in my "Gabriel Sisters" series, which follows each of three Quaker sisters as she tries to help the US heal after the Civil War. Verity Hardy is a Civil War widow and goes to VA to teach at a Freedman's School. She and Captain Matt Ritter, who is building the school, find that the Civil War hasn't really ended in the hearts of the people. And the birth of the KKK doesn't bode well for them.
RT Review-
"Her Captain's Heart is not just a great love story. It shows how people used their faith and determination to end social ills."
"Lyn Cote has a wonderful feel for place and atmosphere. With a great sense of character and as an observer of life, she offers a lot of life's truths."
Affaire de Coeur Magazine

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

CAW! CAW! Chapter a Week

Dark Pursuit:
the latest thriller from bestselling Seatbelt Suspense® author Brandilyn Collins

Novelist Darell Brooke was once the King of Suspense-until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. When his granddaughter, Kaitlan, stumbles onto the path of a real-life killer, muddle-minded Darell must create the plot of his life to save her.

"Moves from fast to furious." --TitleTrakk

JOHN 3:16
Nancy Moser

Five people looking for a reason to keep living are about to find it in the last place they expected. After the loss of his wife, Roman Paulson's life revolves around his son Billy. As a football hero at the University of Nebraska, Billy has a promising life ahead of him. As Billy's coach begins encroaching on Roman's relationship with his son--especially when he brings God into Billy's life--Roman starts to fear he'll lose Billy forever. Nothing could prepare Roman for what is about to happen. Roman isn't the only one whose life has been turned upside down. He's one of five people whose lives are about to intersect on a bright, fall day, when one of them will hold up a sign at a football game with a short message: John 3:16. This simple act of faith will have the power to change lives forever.

"Nancy Moser has a knack for crafting the most complex novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading. She takes her pen in hand like a weaver, taking the tangled strands of multiple lives and weaving them into a gorgeous tapestry of lives changed, lives encountered, and the ever present message of faith. "John 3:16" is her most gorgeous masterpiece."

"I just finished this book in two days and it is the best Christian fiction I have read. I
loved the fact that the characters were flawed and that there were complexities to each one. The plot was completely plausible and compelling." A reader from Nebraska

Nancy Moser is the author of nineteen novels including Solemnly Swear, Just Jane, Washington's Lady, Christy Award winner Time Lottery, and the Sister Circle series. She gives Said So Sister Seminars around the country. To see more about Nancy Moser's books go to and Purchase the books at , , or at a fine bookstore near you.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Teen FIRST- Leave it to Chance

It is time for the FIRST Blog Tour! On the FIRST day of every month we feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

The feature author is:

and her book:

Leave it to Chance
David C. Cook (May 2008)


Sherri Sand is a wife and mother of four young children who keep her scrambling to stay ahead of the spilled milk. When she needs stress relief from wearing all the hats required to clothe, feed and ferry her rambunctious brood, you may find her sitting in a quiet corner of a bistro reading a book (surrounded by chocolate), or running on one of the many trails near her home. Sherri is a member of The Writerís View and American Christian Fiction Writers. She finds the most joy in writing when the characters take on a life of their own and she becomes the recorder of their stories. She holds a degree in psychology from the University of Oregon where she graduated cum laude. Sherri and her family live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

She's also a blogger! So stop by and say hi to Sherri at Creations in the Sand!

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 353 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (May 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434799883
ISBN-13: 978-1434799883


"A horse? Mom, what am I going to do with a horse?" Just what she and the kids did not need. Sierra Montgomery sagged back against her old kitchen counter, where afternoon sunlight dappled the white metal cabinets across from her. She pressed the phone tight against her ear, hoping sheíd heard wrong, as her four-year-old son, Trevor, ate grapes at the kitchen table.

"Miss Libby wanted you to have it. I'd think you'd be delighted, what with the kids and all. You remember Sally, Miss Libby's daughter? Well, she just called and said it was all laid out in the will. None of their family could figure out who Sierra Lassiter Montgomery was until Sally remembered me from her momís church. So she called and sure enough, you were my daughter.î Sierraís mom tsked into the phone. ìWell, you know how Sally is."

Sierra hadnít the foggiest how Sally was, or even who she was. She barely remembered Miss Libby from her Sunday school class eons ago.

ìShe acted pleased that her mother gave you the horse, but I could tell she was miffed. Though what Sally Owens would do with a horse, Iíd like to know.î Her momís voice was tight and controlled as if they were discussing how to deal with black spot on her Old English roses.

ìBut I donít want a horse. You, of all people, should know that after what happened whenóî How could her mom even suggest she get a horse? Painful pictures of her childhood friend Molly floated through her mind.

ìHoney, accidents like that donít happen more than once in a lifetime. Besides, Miss Libby wouldnít have owned a crazy horse.î

Sierra stared out the window where the school bus would soon release her most precious treasures. Her mom never had understood the resounding impact that summer day had made in her life.

ìYou really need to think of the kids and how much fun theyíd have. Itís not like youíd ever be able to afford to buy them one.î

Sierra wished she were having this conversation with Elise rather than her mother. Her best friend would understand the danger she feared in horses, and in her humorous way come up with a sensible plan that would include not keeping the animal.

Her mom, on the other hand, lived life as if she were on one of those moving conveyors at the airport that people can step on to rest their feet yet keep moving toward their destination. As long as everyone kept traveling forward, she could ignore the emotional baggage dragging behind.

ìI donít understand why Miss Libby would give the horse to me.î

ìYou know how my bingo club visited the Somerset rest home every week? Well, Miss Libbyís been there for years and she always did comment on how horse crazy you were when she taught your Sunday school class.î

ìMom, that was a phase I went through when I was ten and found National Velvet and Black Beauty at the library. I havenít seen Miss Libby since middle school.î

ìObviously you were special to Miss Libby. Iíd think you might be a little more grateful.î

Deep breath, Sierra told herself. ìI am grateful.î An errant grape rolled next to her toe. Trevorís blond head was bent, intent on arranging the fruit like green soldiers around the edge of his plate. Sierra tossed the grape into the sink and considered how to respond to her mom. She was a dear, but sometimes the woman was like dry kindling on a hot day, and one little sparkÖ. ìIím just not sure that owning a horse would be a wise move at this point in our lives.î

The front door slammed and Sierra felt the walls shudder with the thud. The 3:00 p.m. stampede through the house meant it was time to get off the phone and determine how to get rid of a horse before the kids found out about it.

Her mom sighed. ìItís too bad Sally wonít keep the horse at her place for you, but she said her husband wants the horse gone. He wants to fill the pasture with sheep.î

Sheep? A kitchen chair scraped over the linoleum as Trevor scooted back from the table and dashed for the living room. ìMommyís got a horse! Mommyís got a horse!î Wonderful. Little ears, big mouth.

Braden and Emory shot into the kitchen, bright eyes dancing in tandem. Their words tangled together in fevered excitement despite the fact that she was on the phone.

ìWhere is it?î Bradenís eleven-year-old grin split his face, and his dark hair was rumpled and sweat streaked, likely from a fevered game of basketball during last recess.

She held a hand up to still the questions as her mom went on about the sheep that Sallyís husband probably did not need.

ìWe have a horse?î Nine-year-old Emory, her blonde hair still neat in its purple headband, fluttered in front of her mom, delight and hope blooming on her face.

Despite the fear of horses building deep in Sierraís gut, her childrenís excitement was a little contagious. She wished Miss Libby had willed her a cat.

Sierra ran her hand down Emoryís soft cheek and whispered. ìIíll be off the phone in a minute, sweetie.î

ìCan we ride it?î Em looked at her with elated eyes.

Braden tossed his backpack on the table. ìWhere are we going to keep it?î

The kids circled her, jabbering with excited questions. Sierra rubbed her forehead with the tips of her fingers. ìI gotta go, Mom. Iíve got to break some cowboy hearts.î

The kids clamored around her, Braden taking the lead with an arm draped across her shoulder. When had he gotten so big? ìDo we have a horse, Mom?î He asked the question with a lopsided grin, a foreshadow of the adolescence that had been peeking through lately. The preteen in him didnít truly believe they had a horseóhe was old enough to realize the oddsóbut little-boy eagerness clung to his smile.

ìThat would be yes and a no.î

ìWhat? Mom!î he complained.

ìI was given a horse, but weíre not going to keep him.î Bradenís arm slid off her shoulder, a scowl replacing his smile. ìWhy not?î

ìSomeone gave you a horse?î Emory ignored her brotherís attitude and flashed her most persuasive grin. ìCan we keep him? Please!î

Sierra smoothed her hand over the silky hair and leaned close to her daughterís face as Emory went on. ìI think we should get four horses so we each have one. We could go trail riding. Cameronís mom has horses, and they go riding all the time as a family.î

ìWeíre not a family anymore,î Braden cut in. ìWe stopped being a family when mom divorced dad.î

A shard of pain drove into Sierraís gut. She hadnít had time to brace for that one. Bradenís anger at the divorce had been building like an old steam engine lately.

ìThatís not fair!î Outrage darkened Emoryís features. ìItís not Momís fault!î

Sarcasm colored Bradenís voice. ìOh, so itís all Dadís fault?î

Sierra saw the confusion that swept over her daughterís face. She was fiercely loyal to both parents and didnít know how to defend them against each other.

Sierra spoke in a firm tone. ìBraden, thatís enough!î

He scowled at her again. ìWhatever.î

Sierra held his gaze until he glanced away.

ìGuys, weíre not going to play the blame game. We have plenty to be thankful for, and thatís what is important.î

Bradenís attitude kept pouring it on. ìBoy, and we have so much. Spaghetti for dinner every other night.î

ìSo what, Braden-Maden!î Emory made a face and stuck her tongue out at him.

ìNo more fighting or you two can go to your rooms.î Her kids were not perfect, but they used to like each other. Something had changed. Her gut said it was her ex-husband, Michael, but what if she was falling into the whole ìblame the dadî thing herself? What if she was really the problem? Two weeks without a job had added stress and worry. Had she stopped hugging them as often in between scouring the want ads and trying to manage a home and bills?

ìMom?î There was a quaver in Trevorís soft voice.

ìYes, honey?î Sierra gave him a gentle smile.

ìCan we keep the horse?î

Emoryís blue gaze darted to meet hers, a plea in them. Braden sat with his arms crossed over his chest, but his ears had pricked up.

Sierra looked at them, wanting them to understand and knowing they wouldnít. ìNone of us know how to handle or care for a horse, so it wouldnít be safe to keep him.î

Emoryís face lit up. ìCameronís mom could teach us.î

ìHoney, itís not that simple. We canít afford an animal that big. He probably eats as much in groceries as we do, and it would be very expensive to rent a place for him to live.î

ìI could mow yards.î Anger at his sister forgotten, Braden turned a hopeful face to her. ìWe could help out.î

Emory jumped onto the working bandwagon. ìYeah. I could do laundry or something for the neighbors.î

Braden drilled his sister a look that said idiot idea but didnít say anything.

Trevor bounced in his chair, eager to be a part of keeping the horse. ìI could wash cars.î

ìThose are great ideas, but they wonít bring in quite enough, especially since itís getting too cold to mow lawns or wash cars.î

ìYou just donít want to keep the horse, Mom,î Braden said. ìI get it. End of story.î

ìHoney, Iíd love for you to have a horse, but when I was young I had a friendóî

Emory spoke in a helpful tone. ìWe know. Grandma told us about the accident.î

They knew? Wasnít the story hers to share? ìWhen did Grandma tell you?î

Bradenís voice took on a breezy air. ìI donít know. A while ago. Come on, Mom. Weíre not going to do something dumb like your friend did.î

Defensiveness rose inside. ìShe didnít do anything dumb. It was the horse thatóî

ìSo because something bad happened to one person, your kids can never do anything fun for the rest of their lives.î

Sierra gave him a look. ìOr you learn from your mistakes and help your kids to do the same.î

Braden rolled his eyes at her.

Worry drew lines across her daughterís forehead. ìAre you going to sell him?î

ìYes, Em. So weíre not going to discuss this anymore. You and Braden have homework to do.î At the chorus of groans she held her hands up. ìOkay, I guess Iíll have to eat Grandmaís apple pie all by myself.î

Braden grabbed his backpack and slowly dragged it across the floor toward the stairs, annoyance in his voice. ìWeíre going.î Emory trotted past him up the stairs.

Trevor remained behind, one arm wrapped around her thigh. ìI donít have any homework.î

She squatted and pulled him in for a hug. ìNope, you sure donít, bud.î

He leaned back. ìDo I get a horse?î

Sierra distracted him by inching her fingers up his ribs. ìWhat, Trev?î

He tried to talk around his giggles. ìDo I getóMom!î Her fingers found the tickle spots under his arms and he laughed, his eyes squinted shut and mouth opened wide. She found all his giggle spots, then turned on Sesame Street as the second distraction. Good old Bert and Ernie.

Now what? She had roughly forty-five minutes to figure out how she was going to get rid of a horse and not be a complete zero in her kidsí eyes.

She eyed the phone and made her next move. Five minutes later a white Mazda whipped into her driveway. Sierra hurried out the front door waving her arms to stop Elise before she could start her ritual honking for the kids.

Wide eyed, her platinum blonde friend stared, one long plum-colored nail hovering above the ìoogaî horn on the dash. ìWhat?î

ìI donít want the kids to know youíre here.î

Wicked delight spread across her perfectly made-up face. Light plum shadow matched her nails. Tomorrow, both eye shadow and nails could be green. ìLet me guess! Mr. Pellum asked you out!î

ìNooooo!î Mr. Pellum was a teacher Sierra and Elise had had a crush on in seventh grade.

ìUmmm Ö you robbed a bank and need me to watch the kids while you fly to Tahiti?î

Sierra gave her a mock-serious look. ìDone?î

Elise tilted her head. ìCan I get out of the car?î

Sierra glanced toward the house. All was still silent. ìYes, you may.î

Deadpan, Elise nodded and opened the door. ìThen Iím done for now.î Her plump body, swathed in a creamy suit with a purple scarf draped across one shoulder, rose gracefully from the small two-seater.

Sierra closed the door for her, then leaned against it. Elise had a way of removing the extraneous and reducing a problem down to the bare essentials. ìElise, Iím in a predicament.î

ìHon, Iíve been trying to tell you that for years.î

Sierra shook her head. ìI donít think you could have seen this one coming even with your crystal ball.î

Elise gave her the spinster teacher look through narrowed eyes. ìI donít think I like the implications of that.î

Sierra held her hands out. ìYou are the queen of mind-reading, according to my children.î

Elise chuckled. ìItís a good thing I was just headed out for a latte break when you called. Now whatís the big emergency?î She owned a high-end clothing store for plus-sized women in downtown Eugene.

ìA horse.î

Elise glanced around as if one or two might be lurking behind a tree.

ìA herd of them or just one?î

ìOne. Full-sized. Living and breathing.î

ìI believe Iím missing some pieces here. Is it moving in with you? Holding one of the children hostage? What?î

Sierra breathed out a slight chuckle and tucked a stray hair behind her ear. ìYouíre not going to believe this, but I inherited it.î

Her friendís eyes grew wide, emphasizing the lushly mascaraed lashes. ìLike someone died and gave you their horse?î

Sierra nodded, raising her brows. ìAnd the kids want to keep him.î

Furrows emerged across Eliseís forehead. ìWho is the idiot that told them about the horse?î

Sierra tilted her head with a look that only best friends could give each other.

Eliseís perfectly painted lips smirked. ìMoving along, then. Why donít you keep it? The kids would love it. Heaven knows they deserve it.î She clapped her hands together. ìOh, oh! They could get into 4-H, and Braden could learn to barrel race. That kid would think heíd won the jackpot. Emory and Trevor could get a pig or some of those show roosters.î

Sierra let the idea machine wind down. ìI donít think so.î

ìAngora rabbits?î

ìNo farm animals.î

Eliseís mouth perked into humorous pout. ìSierra, youíre such a spoilsport. Those kids need a pet.î

ìA hamster is a pet. A horse is not.î

Diva Elise took the stage, hands on her ample hips. ìDonít tell me you didnít want a horse growing up. Remember, I was the one who had to sit and watch National Velvet with you time ad nauseam. Youíve said yourself that Braden needs something to take his mind off the problems heís having at school and with his dad.î

Guilt, a wheelbarrow load of it, dumped on Sierra. ìYou are supposed to be helping me, Elise, not making it worse. I want to get rid of this horse and Öî her eyes dodged away from her friend, ìÖ you know.î

ìMmm-hmm. And still look like Super Mom in your childrenís eyes.î

Sierra nodded, but couldnít find the nerve to say yes.

ìSierra Montgomery, those children have been to heck and back in the last couple years and youíre willing to deny them the pleasure of owning their own free horse because Ö because of what?î

Sierra stared at the ground for a moment, feeling a tangle of emotions rise within. She let her eyes rest on Eliseís and said quietly, ìFear? Terror? Hysteria?î

A look of puzzlement, then understanding settled on Eliseís face, smoothing away the annoyance. ìMolly.î

Sierra nodded. ìI wonít put my children in that kind of danger.î

Elise leaned forward and grabbed Sierraís hands, holding them tight. ìOh, hon. That was a long time ago. Donít let your life be ruled by the what-ifs. Thereís a lot of living left to do. And your kids need to see you taking life by storm, taking chances, not hiding in the shadows.î

ìThatís easy for you to say. You were voted most likely to parachute off the Empire State Building.î

Elise gave her a cheeky grin, both dimples winking at her. ìWe could do it tandem!î

ìIf you see me jump off the Empire State Building youíll know my lobotomy was successful, because there is no way in this lifetime youíll catch this body leaving good sense behind!î Sierra heard the words come from her own mouth and stared at her friend in wonder. ìOh, my gosh. That was so my mom.î

ìIt was bound to happen, hon.î

Was she serious? ìYou think Iím turning into her?î Sierra brought a hand to her throat and quickly dropped it. How many times had she seen her mom use the same gesture?

Elise laughed. ìYou need to stop fretting and just live. We all turn out like our mothers in some respect.î

ìAll except you. Youíre nothing like Vivian.î

ìOther than the drinking, smoking, and carousing, Iím exactly like her.î

Sierra lifted a brow. Her mom had rarely let her go to Eliseís house when they were growing upóand for good reason. Elise struck a pose like a fashion model. ìOkay, Iím the anti-Vivian.î She gave Sierra a soft smile. ìAll funniní aside, I really think you should keep the horse.î

ìIím not keeping the horse. And even if I wanted to, I couldnít.î Sierra took a settling breath and stared at the tree over Eliseís shoulder.

ìMichael still hasnít paid?î

Elise knew more about her finances than her mom did. ìHe paid, but the check bounced again. So now heís two months behind in child support.î

ìHave you heard if Pollanís is rehiring?î

ìTheyíre not.î Jarrettís, the local grocery store where she worked for the three years since the divorce had been recently bought out by Pollanís. They had laid off the majority of the checkers with the possibility of rehiring some.

Elise cringed as if she was bracing herself for a blow. ìAnd the unemployment fiasco?î

Sierra shut her eyes. ìMr. Jarrett did not pay into our unemployment insurance, so there is no benefit for us to draw from. Yes, it was illegal, and yes he will pay, but it may take months, if not years, for various lawyers and judges to beat it out of him.î She gave Elise a tired smile. ìThatís the version minus all the legalese.î

ìSo the layoffs are final, no unemployment bennies, and youíre out of a job.î

ìMomentarily. The rÈsumÈ has been dusted off and polished.î She gave a wry grin.

ìI wish I could hire you at Deluxe Couture, but I promised Nora fulltime work. And besides, your cute little buns would drive my clientele away.î

Sierra waved a hand over her jeans and sweatshirt. ìYour clientele would outshine me any day.î

ìYou sell yourself far too short.î Elise glanced at the hefty rhinestone encrusted watch on her wrist. ìAnything else I can do for you? Help the kids with their homework? Babysit while you sweep some tall, dark, handsome man off his feet?î

Sierra laughed. ìAnd where is this dream man going to come from?î

Elise gave a breezy wave of her hand and opened the car door. ìOh, heíll turn up. Youíre too cute to stay single. I actually have someone in mind. Pavo Marcello. Heís a new sales rep from one of my favorite lines. Iíll see if heís free Friday night. You arenít doing anything, are you?î

ìHold on!î Sierra stepped in front of the car door to keep her friend from leaving. ìFirst, Iím not looking. Second, given my history, Iím not the best judge of character. Iíve already struck out once in the man department.î She pointed to her face with both index fingers. ìNot anxious to try again. Third, you just told me Iím turning into my mom, which makes me definitely not dating material.î

A twist of Eliseís lips signaled a thought. ìYou know, now that I think about it, I believe he has a boyfriend.î She shook her head and lowered herself into the car. ìWeíll keep looking. Iím sure Sir Knight will turn up.î

Sierra shut the car door and grinned down at her friend. ìAnd what about finding your knight?î

Elise gave her a bright smile. ìMr. Pellum is already taken. You really need to find a way to keep that horse; itíll be your first noble sacrifice.î


The little car backed up, and Elise spoke over the windshield. ìThe others donít count.î

Sierra stared at the retreating car. There was no way she was keeping that horse.

After dinner, Sierra crept into Bradenís room. He sat on the bed intent on the Game Boy in his lap, the tinny sound of hard rock bleeding out of his earphones. She waved a hand and he glanced up. She waited and with a look of preteen exasperation he finally pulled the headphones to his shoulders.

ìWhat, Mom?î

ìI just wanted to say good night.î

ìGood night.î His hands started to readjust the music back into position.

ìI looked at your homework.î

ìYou got into my backpack? Isnít that like against the law or something? Youíre always telling us not to get into your stuff.î

She crossed her arms. Frustration and worry gnawed at her. ìYou lied to me about doing your assignment. Why, honey?î

He ignored her and started playing his Game Boy.

She took one step and snatched the game from his hands.


ìI want some respect when I talk to you, Braden.î

His chin sank toward his chest, his gaze fixed on his bed, his voice low. ìI didnít want to do it.î

She sat next to him, her voice soft. ìIs it too hard?î

He shrugged. ìIt gives me a headache when I work on it.î

ìBraden, if you need help, Iíd be happy to work with you after school.î

He stared at his knees and picked at a loose string of cotton on his pajama bottoms.

ìI got a phone call from Mrs. Hamison today.î

His body came alert, though he didnít look at her.

ìShe said youíre flunking most of your subjects, and she hasnít seen any homework from you since school started a month ago.î

He glanced up, his jaw belligerent, but with fear in his eyes.

ìWhatís going on? I know school isnít easy, but youíve never given up before.î

ìMiddle schoolís harder.î

She wanted to touch him, to brush the hair off his forehead and snuggle him close the way she used to when he was small. Back when a hug and a treat shared over the kitchen table was enough to bring the sparkle back to her son. ìShe thinks we should have your vision tested.î


ìSheís noticed some things in class and thinks it might be helpful.î

He shrugged again. ìCan I have my game back?î

ìYou lied to me, son. Again.î


ìYou break trust every time you choose to be dishonest. Is that what you want?î

His voice was sullen and he stared at his comforter. ìNo.î

She touched his leg. ìWhatís bothering you, honey?î

ìI dunno. Can I have my game back?î

She stood up. There was a time for talking and this obviously wasnít it. ìYou can have it tomorrow.î

But would tomorrow be any different?

Friday, November 28, 2008

CAW! CAW! Chapter a Week

First, our latest winner: The winner of our Christmas book giveaway is Lacy Williams of Oklahoma!
Thanks to everyone who participated. We'll have more in the future so keep watching!

Death at a Discount
by Sharon Dunn

In this third installment of the Bargain Hunters mysteries, Ginger and her Bargain Hunter buddies head down to Denver to be guests on the Discount and Value Network, a shopping channel for the coupon clipping crowd. A snowstorm traps Ginger in the studio, with a dead body, suspects and a killer. With the electricity out and a spy on the loose stealing industry secrets, can Ginger figure out whodunit before it is too late?
"Death at a Discount has everything a mystery lover craves. Dunn masterfully lays out all the clues, while giving readers a good dose of suspense and humor in the process."
Christy Barritt, author of the Squeaky Clean mystery series, including Suspicious Minds.

Death at a Discount, book three in the Bargain Hunters mysteries, releases January 2009. In the meantime enjoy the award winning book one Death of a Garage Sale Newbie and book two, Death of a Six Foot Teddy Bear. To read more about Sharon's humorous who-dun-its and get some money saving tips, go to
To purchase any of Sharon's books go to

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Caw! Caw!

Elvis Takes a Backseat
Leanna Ellis

Strap on your seatbelt for a most unusual ride!
"Leanna Ellis takes a back seat to no one. So put on your blue suede shoes and come along for a most entertaining ride to Memphis˜and to the healing place closest to the heart."
Debbie Macomber, New York Times #1 bestselling author

"Brilliant! Charming! I laughed, I cried, I sighed in contentment. Leanna Ellis is a gifted writer and a must-read."
Lorraine Heath, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author

"Elvis Takes a Back Seat is no different from its muse˜full of surprises, drama, and humor, just like the King of Rock 'n' Roll. Welcome to a talented storyteller and a fun, deep, unexpected book."
 Kristin Billerbeck, author of What a Girl Wants and The Trophy Wives Club

A young widow, determined to fulfill her husband's last request, hauls a three foot bust of Elvis strapped in the back seat of a vintage Cadillac from Texas to Memphis to return it to its rightful owner. The road trip with her eccentric aunt, who knew the King of Rock n' Roll, and a temperamental teen, hits roadblocks and detours as the three women uncover pieces of their own past along with the bust's mysterious history. The discoveries change the course of their lives forever.

Winner of the National Readers' Choice Award, Leanna Ellis wrote romance novels before moving into women's inspirational fiction. Elvis Takes a Back Seat was the launch title for B&H Publishing Group's new fiction line. Visit her website at

Elvis Takes a Back is available at a bookstore near you or online. Please Do Not Reproduce without permission.

Until We Reach Home
By Lynn Austin
Life in Sweden seems like an endless winter for Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia Carlson after their parents' deaths. When circumstances become unbearable, Elin writes to her relatives in America, pleading for help. As the sisters begin the long, difficult journey, they have nothing to rely on except courage, faith and each other. And in a journey fraught with hardships, each woman will come to understand the meaning of home.

Publisher's Weekly says:
"this rich tale will not disappoint historical romance fans. Austin, a four-time Christy Award winner, scores again with an engrossing tale of loss, determination and hope."

Bethany House Publishers c.2008
Lynn Austin's website:
This book is available now at;;; or fine bookstores everywhere

Friday, November 21, 2008


It's the 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!

and his book:

Thomas Nelson (November 11, 2008)


Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. To see a complete list of Dekker's work, visit The Works section of

Here are some of his latest titles:

Chosen (The Lost Books, Book 1) (The Books of History Chronicles)


Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle Trilogy Graphic Novels, Book 1)


Product Details

List Price:$15.99  
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 11, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595546049
ISBN-13: 978-1595546043


(Click Pictures to Zoom!)

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Sister Dilly
by Maureen Lang

Hannah Williams couldn't get out of her small hometown fast enough, preferring the faster pace, trendy lifestyle and beauty of California's Pacific Ocean coast. But when her sister makes a desperate choice that lands her in prison, Hannah knows she never should have left her younger sister behind. She learns she can never really go back, only to accept the forgiveness God has already extended to both her and her sister. She only hopes she hasn't learned it too late to keep the love of the man she risked leaving behind.

Tyndale House Publishing

A sample of reviews for My Sister Dilly:

"sure to appeal to readers who enjoy compelling women's fiction."
˜Library Journal

"emotionally engrossing."
˜Romantic Times, 4 stars

My Sister Dilly packs a full serving of introspection, love, hope, and faith within the pages of this well-written, smooth reading contemporary novel.
˜BC Books


RAINDROPS SPATTERED the windshield of my car, leaving see-through polka dots. Then they came down harder, each thwack pummeling any remnant of symmetrical design. Instinctively I reached for the wiper. But my hand stopped midway, almost as if it knew before my brain told me movement would be the wrong thing to do. A parked car, across from a schoolyard, with someone inside . . . lurking . . .

Even I, childless at thirty-five, knew such a scenario would attract the interest of school staff or a parent, if not outright suspicion. So what if I was a woman with no record. It wasn't as if we carried that information on our foreheads. Even a momentary misunderstanding would be embarrassing and, considering what I'd come here to do, probably make a news story or two. Hannah Williams was questioned by police today . . .

So I sat. I would have welcomed the cover of rain if it hadn't sent the kids back inside as they waited for the parade of squat little yellow buses lining up to collect them all. Most of the children, the ones who were mobile anyway, were herded inside, but several of those in wheelchairs were given shelter under a wide red awning attached to the play yard. Umbrellas appeared; hoods went up. Children were wheeled out to the ramps attached to the bus, where they were locked in, chair and all. Then the first little bus zoomed off, making room for another just like it to take its place.

I had no idea there would be so many students in wheelchairs. Rubbing my forehead, feeling the start of an ache, I acknowledged my own ignorance. But what else was I supposed to do? I had to try spotting her because I knew without a doubt that was the first thing my sister Dilly would ask. "Have you seen her?" Followed quickly by, "How did she look?"

But there were dozens of kids who each looked around ten years old, strapped to a wheelchair with a headrest. From this distance and through the rain, I guessed the ones with pink or yellow raincoats were girls, but who knew if others in green or light blue might be girls too? I sat there anyway until the last little bus rolled away, never sure of my target. I'd failed Dilly again.

Chapter One

THE PRISON was in the middle of nowhere; at least that was how it seemed to me. Not many property owners must want a facility like that in their backyard, even one for women. So there were no crops of housing developments taking up farmland around here the way they seemed to everywhere else. Not that I thought much about farmland, even having grown up in the middle of it. The only green cornfields I'd seen since I'd left for college were from an airplane as I jetted from one end of the country to the other.

"Are you here for the Catherine Carlson release?"

I looked up in surprise as not one but a half dozen people seemed to have appeared from nowhere. I'd noticed a couple of vans and cars farther down the parking lot but hadn't seen any people until now. My gaze had been taken up by the prison, a forlorn place if ever I saw one. Even the entire blue sky wasn't enough to offset the building's ugliness. Block construction, painted beige like old oatmeal. If the cinder walls didn't give it away, the lack of windows made it clear it was an institution. The electric barbed wire fencing told what kind.

Two men in my path balanced cameras on their shoulders, and in front of them a pair of pretty blonde journalists shoved microphones in my face while another thrust forth a palm-sized recorder. One on the fringe held an innocuous notepad.

My first impulse was to run back to my car and speed away. But Dilly was waiting. I clamped my mouth shut, gripped the strap of my Betsey Johnson purse, and walked along the concrete strip leading to the doors of the prison. There was an invisible line at the gate that not a single reporter could penetrate. But I knew they'd wait.

At the front door, a woman greeted me through a glass window. Dilly was being "processed," she told me, then said to have a seat. I turned, noticing the smell of inhospitable antiseptic for the first time. Hard wooden benches were the only place to sit. Evidently they thought the families of those in such a place needed to be punished too. I'd have brought a book if I'd known the wait was going to be so long; there wasn't even a magazine handy to help me pass the time.

Only thoughts. Of how I would make up for my failures. I'd told Mac, my best friend and somehow it seemed he'd become my only friend that this was the first step in fixing things. Keeping a broken past in the past. Dilly's . . . and mine.

I hope this little peek into the book will stir your interest! My Sister Dilly is available online or in stores everywhere, including Christian Book Distributors at:

Maureen Lang

The Other Side of Darkness
By Melody Carlson
Multnomah Books


"That's not good enough."
I scratch the mosquito bite on the back of my arm and adjust my thick-lens glasses to look up at my mom. Her eyes feel like two sharp prongs probing right into my forehead as if she can read my thoughts. And maybe she can.
"Why not?" I say quietly, then glance away, wishing I'd kept quiet.
"Look at that carpet." Her index finger points down like an arrow at the new orange shag carpeting that goes wall to wall in our small wood-paneled family room.
I look but see nothing other than carpet. Still, I know better than to state this as fact.
"Pull the vacuum back and forth in straight lines. Back and forth, back and forth, like this." She uses her hands to show me, as if I don't fully understand the concept of `back and forth.'
I stand with my shoulders hunched forward, staring dumbly down at the sea of orange at my feet.
"If you did it right, Ruth, I would see neat, even rows about six inches wide. Now, start in the corner by the fireplace and do it again."
I frown and, although I know it's not only futile but stupid, say, "But it's clean, Mom. I vacuumed everything in here. The carpet is already clean."
The family room becomes very quiet now. With the Hoover off, I can hear the sounds of kids playing outside enjoying their Saturday freedom like normal ten-year-olds, not that I mistake myself for normal. And then I hear the familiar hissing sound of my mother as she blows air like a jet stream through her nostrils.
"Ruth Anne!" She bends down and peers at me, those flaming blue eyes just inches from my own. "Are you talking back to me?"
I glance down at my faded blue Keds and mutely shake my head. I do not want to be slapped. Without looking at her, I turn the vacuum cleaner on again and drag its bulky cavernous body over to the wall by the fireplace next to the big picture window, although I don't look out—I don't want to see my friends playing. Even worse, I don't want them to see me.
As I vacuum the rug all over again, I try not to think about my older sister, Lynette, the pretty one. I try not to imagine her at her ballet lesson just now, looking sleek and lovely in her black leotard and tights, doing a graceful arabesque with one hand on the bar, glimpsing her long straight back in the gleaming mirror behind her.
"You are not made for ballet," my mother had told me two years ago when I pleaded with her for lessons. "You're much too stout, and your arms and legs are too short and stubby. You take after your father's side of the family."
And I can't disagree with her when I examine myself in the bathroom mirror. With my dark hair of untamable curls and these muddy brown eyes, I definitely do not look like I belong in this particular family of blue-eyed, long-limbed blondes. Well, my mother isn't a true blonde. She helps it out with her monthly bottle of Lady Clairol, although no one is allowed to mention this fact, ever, and she takes care to purchase her "contraband" in a drugstore in the neighboring town where no one knows her. But she lets it be known that Lynette and my little brother, Jonathan, both get their silky blond locks from her side of the family—a respectable mix of English and Scandinavian.
Jonathan is four years younger than me, but unlike me, he is not an accident. Plus he is a much-wanted boy, named after my father, Jonathan Francis Reynolds. Once while playing Hide `n' Seek at church, I was hiding behind the drapes in the fellowship room when I overheard my mother talking to a lady friend. The other woman commented on how Lynette and I look nothing alike. "Oh, Ruth wasn't planned, you know," my mother spoke in a hushed tone, causing my ears to perk up and actually listen for a change. "Good grief. My little Lynette was still in diapers and suddenly I was pregnant again! Can you imagine? Well, I was completely devastated by the˜"
Just then Jonathan raced over and threw himself around my mother's knees, complaining that he'd been left out of the childish game.
"Now, this one," my mother spoke with pride as she ruffled his pale hair. "He was no mistake."


Thirty Years Later

"It's all a mistake." I wash my hands again, perhaps for the seventeenth time in the last hour. Never mind that they are already red and chapped, or that the skin on my knuckles cracks when I make a fist. "I will call Pastor Glenn first thing in the morning and tell him it's all just a stupid mistake."
But even as I speak these words aloud for no one to hear but myself, I know that's one phone call I will never make. Me, stand up to man in his position? Accuse him of error? Why that would be like taking a stand against the Lord.
Or my mother.
I suck in a deep breath. Everything will be okay. Somehow I will make everything right again. Instead of two, I will pray for three hours tonight. That should help.
I turn to see my younger daughter standing in the hallway, her pale pink nightgown backlit by the hallway light so I can see her spindly legs trembling. "What's wrong, sweetie?"
"That dream," Sarah says in a shaky voice. "I had that dream again."
I gather her into my arms, carry her over to the sofa, and pull a woolly afghan around both of us. "Dear Jesus, please drive away the demons—take them from us and throw them into Your fiery pit. Send Your angels to protect Sarah now. Take away those evil thoughts and replace them with Your good thoughts, O Lord" I ramble on and on, just as I've been taught, until I finally hear Sarah's even breathing and I am assured that she is asleep. I sigh. Once again, I have kept the demons at bay.
This is all my fault, I think as I tuck her back into bed. I glance over to make sure Mary is still asleep in the twin bed across from her little sister. Hopefully the demonic nightmares won't attack her as well.
Satisfied that both my daughters are safe, I tiptoe down the hallway where I pause by Matthew's bedroom. I shake my head as I push open his partially shut door and see his floor strewn with castoff pieces of clothing—jeans in a heap right where he took them off, dirty socks in tight little wads next to his bed. How many times must I tell him to put his things away—that cleanliness truly is next to godliness? When will he get it? I consider going in there right now, doing it myself, but that would risk waking him. And right now, Matthew is going through a difficult period.
Barely eighteen and out of high school, he threatens on a regular basis to leave home. I can't believe he'd really go through with it though. His job at the bookstore would never support him, and besides, wouldn't he be scared out there—all on his own with so much evil lurking about? If he's not careful, if he continues this careless living, the demons will come into his life and take over. And then what will I do?
I must pray harder than ever tonight. It seems the spiritual safety of my entire household is at stake. Maybe it has something to do with the full moon. Or the fact that it's autumn, with Halloween only a few weeks away. Pastor Glenn says the demons are more active now. Especially up here in the Oregon—where nighttime and darkness come quickly this time of year.
I bite my lip as I glance at the clock. Rick will be home from work in less than two hours. At first I hated his promotion because of the new nighttime hours at the shipping company, but sometimes like now, I'm thankful for his absence. And I cringe to think what he will say when he gets home and hears what I've done.
Perhaps I should keep this from him since it will only upset him. There must be some way to make up for this mistake. If it really is a mistake. Maybe it was meant to be, just a blessing in disguise that will unfold later. Whatever it is, I think I can keep this secret between the Lord and me—and, of course, Pastor Glenn.
I slowly kneel in front of the worn plaid sofa, my elbows digging into the familiar grooves in the center of the middle cushion. I bow my head and prepare myself for spiritual battle. I know I will be drained before this is over.

The Other Side of Darkness Published by Multnomah Books
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80921
A division of Random House Inc.

Copyright © 2008 by Carlson Management Co., Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7081-7
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Friday, November 07, 2008

Caw! Caw!

The Christmas Kite
by Gail Gaymer Martin
Women's fiction

After her in-laws paid her to disappear, single mom Meara Hayden moved to Mackinaw Island to start over. With her faith and her disabled son's enthusiasm, she knew she could do it. But she never thought one simple kite would lead her to love again.
Jordan Baird felt as aimless as the kites he made. After losing his family, he led a reclusive life. Then, unexpectedly, a mother and her special son made him see new possibilities, the happiness of love and faith. Did Jordan dare dream of the riches life had to offer?

From Steeple Hill single title mass market ISBN 978-0-373-78629-9

The Christmas Kite is a tender romance, the story of two-wounded people learning to live and love again. And I guarantee that little Mac will steal your heart. Settle into your favorite chair and enjoy --- Robin Lee Hatcher, Best-selling Author

Available at and other fine bookstores everywhere.
Don't forget to visit Gail's website at

Look for her Barbour books set in the Monterey Peninsula available now: And Baby Makes Five, Garlic and Roses, and Butterfly Trees

Havah: The Story of Eve
by Tosca Lee

No more myth. No more legend. From paradise to exile, from immortality to the death of Adam. Visit the dawn of mankind through the eyes of Eve˜the woman first known as Havah

"Lee surprised the evangelical Christian literary world with her acclaimed Demon: A Memoir. Her fans will be equally pleased with her newest, a passionate and riveting story of the Bible's first woman and her remarkable journey after being cast from paradise. Lee's superior storytelling will have readers weeping for all that Havah forfeited by a single damning choice."
˜Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Once every few years, I come across a book of such scope, such beauty, that it defies description. Havah bridges mankind's beginnings with the restless state of our present age. . . . Tosca Lee has combined the grit and vitality of ancient history with a profound reverence for the Word of God. Havah is a novel with boundless imagination."
~Eric Wilson, author of Field of Blood and Fireproof

Tosca Lee is the author of the critically acclaimed Demon: A Memoir (2007), a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Silver Award winner, American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year nominee, and Christy award finalist. Visit Tosca at her site: .

to join our deeper discussion of these and other titles go to Chapter-a-Week Chat at where authors and readers discuss new titles together.
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Monday, November 03, 2008

Congratulations to Nancy Rue

Lucy Doesn’t Wear Pink by Nancy Rue is a 2008 Silver Medal Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Winner in the Pre-Teen Category. 
In this first Lucy Novel by bestselling author Nancy Rue, readers meet Lucy Rooney-a feisty, precocious tomboy from the Southwest who loves soccer and questions everything—even God. A horrible accident killed her mother and blinded her father while they were in Iraq, tur
ning Lucy’s life upside down. Her bossy, career-minded Aunt Karen thinks eleven-year-old Lucy needs a woman’s influence. It will take a strong but gentle housekeeper named Inez —who insists on Bible study along with homework—to show Lucy that there are many ways to become the woman God intends her to be. 

Lucy Doesn’t Wear Pink (October 2008, 978-0-310-71450-8, $7.99) inspir
es young women ages 8 to 12 to live a life of faith, even under the most difficult circumstances.

Bestselling author Nancy Rue centers her ministry on young women and their need to be the authentic selves God created them to be. She has 
written more than 100 books for tweens, teens, and women; speaks and teaches extensively, and has raised her own authentic person - daughter Marijean.
Some of her most-loved fiction includes the bestselling Lily Series and bestselling Sophie Series with Zonderkidz. Rue spends much of her time teaching workshops, conducting seminars and speaking at conferences. Versed in the issues facing today’s young women, Rue is a voice for the Faithgirlz™ line from Zonderkidz. She has authored non-fiction titles in the Faithgirlz series to help girls “get real” on things like overcoming insecurities of puberty, mean girls and boy troubles, while maintaining a meaningful relationship with God. Rue is also the editor of the Faithgirlz Bible for Zonderkidz. She is hitting the road in 2008 and 2009 with the “Faithgirlz Beauty of Believing Tour” and will travel to Dallas, Nashville, and Atlanta in 2009. Visit for details. When she is not on the road, Rue lives on a lake in Lebanon, TN with her husband, Jim and two labs, Captain Sam and Sullivan Crisp.

“Zonderkidz™ is honored to publish award-winning books and Bibles by partnering with wonderful authors like Sally Lloyd-Jones and Nancy Rue. It is our goal to inspire young people to live a life of faith and our authors and illustrators share in that vision,” said Annette Bourland, Senior Vice President and Publisher for Zonderkidz. “With powerful storytelling and heartfelt illustrations, Tiny Bear’s Bible and Lucy Doesn’t Wear Pink are deserving of these awards and will inspire so many young people with the message of God’s never-ending love.”

About the Moonbeam Awards
Presented by Jenkins Group and Independent Publisher Online, the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards are designed to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading. Awards are given in 30 categories covering the full range of subjects, styles and age groups that children’s books are written and published in today. For more information, visit