Wednesday, July 30, 2008

FIRST - Romancing Hollywood Nobody

It is August FIRST, time for the FIRST Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

Today's feature author is:

and her book:

Romancing Hollywood Nobody

NavPress Publishing Group (July 15, 2008)


Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Apples of Gold was her first novel for teens

These days, she's working on Quaker Summer, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying . . . some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.

Other Novels by Lisa:

Hollywood Nobody, Finding Hollywood Nobody, Straight Up, Club Sandwich, Songbird, Tiger Lillie, The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition: A Novel, Songbird, The Living End

Visit her at her website.

Product Details

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 195 pages
Publisher: NavPress Publishing Group (July 15, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1600062210
ISBN-13: 978-1600062216


Monday, April 30, 6:00 a.m.

My eyes open. Yes, yes, yes. The greatest man in the entire world

is brewing coffee right here in the TrailMama.


“Morning, Scotty. The big day.”


“And this time, you won't have to drive.”

I throw back the covers on my loft bed and slip down to the dinette of our RV. My dad sleeps on the dinette bed. He's usually got it turned back into our kitchen table by 5:00 a.m. What can I say? The guy may be just as much in love with cheese as I am, but honestly? Our body clocks are about as different as Liam Neeson and Seth Green.

You know what I mean?

And we have lots of differences.

For one, he's totally a nonfiction person and I'm fiction all the way. For two, he has no fashion sense whatsoever. And for three, he has way more hope for people at the outset than I do. Man, do I have a lot to learn on that front.

He hands me a mug and I sip the dark liquid. I was roasting coffee beans for a while there, but Dad took the mantle upon himself and he does a better job.

Starbucks Schmarbucks.

He hands me another mug and I head to the back of the TrailMama to wake up Charley. My grandmother looks so sweet in the morning, her frosted, silver-blonde hair fanned out on the pillow. You know, she could pass for an aging mermaid. A really short one, true.

I wave the mug as close as I can to her nose without fear of her rearing up, knocking the mug and burning her face. “Charley . . .” I singsong. “Time to get a move on. Time to get back on the road.”

And boy is this a switch!

All I can say is, your life can be going one way for years and years and then, snap-snap-snap-in-a-Z, it looks like it had major plastic surgery.

Only in reverse. Imagine life just getting more and more real. I like it.

Charley opens her eyes. “Hey, baby. You brought me coffee. You get groovier every day.”

She's a hippie. What can I say?

And she started drinking coffee again when I ran away last fall in Texas. I mean, I didn't really run away. I went somewhere with a perfectly good reason for not telling anyone, and I was planning to return as soon as my mission was done.

She scootches up to a sitting position, hair still in a cloud, takes the mug and, with that dazzling smile still on her face (think Kate Hudson) sips the coffee. She sighs.

“I know,” I say. “How did we make it so long without him?”

“Now that he's with us, I don't know. But somehow we did, didn't we, baby? It may not have always been graceful and smooth, but we made it together.”

I rub her shoulder. “Yeah. I guess you could say we pretty much did.”

The engine hums its movin'-on song. “Dad's ready to pull out. Let's hit it.”

“Scotland, here we come.”

Scotland? Well, sort of.

An hour later

This has been a great school year. In addition to the online courses I'm taking through Indiana University High School, Dad's been teaching me and man, is he smart. I'm sure most sixteen-(almost seventeen)-year-olds think their fathers are the smartest guys in the world, but in my case it happens to be true.

Okay, even I have to admit he probably won't win the Nobel Prize for physics or anything, but he's street smart and there's no replacing that sort of thing. Big plus: he knows high school math. We're both living under the radar. And he's taken our faux last name. Dawn. He's now Ezra Fitzgerald Dawn. After Ezra Pound, one of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Lost Generation friends.

I'm just lovin' that.

“Your mom would have loved the name change, Scotty.”

He told me about his life as an FBI agent, some of the cases he worked on, and well, I'd like to tell you he had a life like Sydney Bristow's in Alias, but he probably spent most of his time on com-puter work and sitting around on his butt waiting for someone to make a move. The FBI, apparently, prefers to trick people more than corner them in showdowns and shootouts. The Robertsman case was his first time undercover in the field and we know how terribly that worked out for him. And me. And Charley. And Babette, my mother.

I pull out my math book and sit in the passenger seat of the TrailMama. “Ready for some 'rithmetic, Dad?”

“You bet.” He turns to me and smiles. His smile still makes my heart warm up like a griddle ready to make smiley-face pan-cakes. I flip on my book light.

It's still dark and we're headed to Asheville, North Carolina for Charley's latest shoot. A film about Bonnie Prince Charlie called Charlie's Lament. How ironic is that? The director, Bartholomew (don't dare call him Bart) Evans, is a real jerk. I'm not going to be hanging around the set much even though Liam Neeson is Lord George Murray, the voice of reason Prince Charlie refused to listen to. But hey, that's my history lesson. We're still on math.

I finish up the last lesson in geometry . . . finally! Honestly, I still don't understand it without a mammoth amount of help, but the workbook's filled and that's a good thing.


I set down my pen. “Finished!”

Dad gives a nod as he continues to look out the windshield. You might guess, despite the tattoos, piercings, and his gleaming bald head, he's a very careful driver. And he won't let me drive like Charley did.

“So . . . driver's license then, right?”

He's been holding that over my head so I'd finish the math course.

“You know it. After the film, we'll request your new birth certificate and go from there.”

“What state are we supposedly from?” The FBI has given us a new identity, official papers and all that.


“Are you kidding me? Wyoming? Why?”

“Think about it, honey. Who's from Wyoming?”

“Lots of people?”

“Know any of them?”

“Uh. No.”


“Okay, Wyoming it is, then.”

“You realize you'll only have my beat-up old black truck to drive around.” The same truck we're towing behind the TrailMama.

“I'll take it.”

So here's the thing. The rest of the entire world thinks my father was shot in the chest and killed when he was outed by a branch of the mob he was after. This mob was financing James Robertsman's campaign for governor of Maryland.

The guy's running for president of the United States now.

I kid you not.

Wish I was kidding.

We thought he was after us for several years because Charley knew too much. But then last fall, we found out the guy chasing me was my father, and Robertsman is most likely cocky enough to think he took care of everything he needed. I say that's quite all right. Although, I have to admit, the fact that a dirtbag like that guy may end up in the Oval Office sickens me to no end.

Thanks to that guy, we had been running in fear from my own father.

The thing is, I could be really mad about all those wasted years, and a portion of me feels that way. But we've been given another chance, and I'll be darned if I throw away these days being angry. There's too much to be thankful for.

Don't get me wrong. I still have my surly days. I don't want Dad and Charley to think they have it as easy as all that!

Okay, time to blog.

Hollywood Nobody: April 30

Let's cut to the chase, Nobodies!

Today's Seth News: It's official. Seth Haas and Karissa Bonano are officially each other's exclusive main squeeze. The two were seen coming out of a popular LA tattoo parlor with each other's names on the inside of their forearms. How cliché. And pass the barf bag.

Today's Violette Dillinger Report: Violette has broken up with Joe Mason of Sweet Margaret. She wanted you all to know that long-distance romances are hard for any couple, but espe-cially for people as young as she is. “Joe needed to live his life. I'm on the road a lot. It wasn't fair to either of us.” Sounds like she's definitely not on the road to Britney. I'm just sayin'.

Today's Rave: Mandy Moore. The girl can really sing! And her latest album is filled with good songs. The bubble gum days of insipid teen heartbreak are over. She's finally come into her own. (Wish some others would follow her example, but I won't hold my breath. And man, are we on the theme of bratty stars today or what? Well, there are just so many of them from which to choose!)

Today's Rant: Crazy expensive celebrity weddings. What? If they spend more, will they be more likely to stay together? I have no idea. Mariah Carey's $25,000 dress pales in comparison to Catherine Zeta-Jones's $100,000 gown. What are those things made of?

Today's Quote: “Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.” James Dean

Saturday, July 26, 2008

II, or Incredible Interview - Sandra Byrd

Let Them Eat Cake
By Sandra Byrd

Chick-lit never tasted so good! LET THEM EAT CAKE is one of those rare chick-lit novels that integrates faith elements without being preachy, and includes plenty of romance without it being the only point of the protagonist's existence. Five star review,

Book Summary :
Lexi Stuart is at a critical crossroads. She's done with college but still living at home, ready to launch a career but unable to find a job, and solidly stalled between boyfriends. When a lighthearted conversation in French with the manager of her favorite bakery turns into a job offer, Lexi accepts. But the actual glamour is minimal: the pay is less than generous, her co-workers are skeptical, her bank account remains vertically-challenged, and her parents are perpetually disappointed. Her only comfort comes from the flirtatious baker she has her eye-but even may not be who he seems to be! So when a handsome young executive dashes into the bakery to pick up his high profile company's special order for an important meeting-an order Lexi has flubbed- she loses her compulsion to please. "What am I going to do?" he shouts. "Let them eat cake!" she fires back with equal passion and a nod to Marie Antoinette. And then, something inside Lexi clicks. Laissez la révolution commencer! Let the revolution begin! Instead of trying to fulfill everyone else's expectations for her life, Lexi embarks on an adventure in trusting God with her future-très bon!

Let Them Eat Cake was a Christy Award finalist for 2008

Welcome to incredible interviews, Sandra.

Tell us, did you marry country boy or city boy?
Country boy.

Now, why did you do that?
He accepted my dare to eat escargot. He also had other endearing qualities which have remained, though he hasn't eaten escargot since.

Where to do you and your two children live?
My husband, teenagers and I live near Seattle, Washington.

How many books do you have under your belt or on your bookshelves? I mean of course, what you have written.
I usually have one under my belt, too, as I'm always reading. I've published three dozen or so books, though.

And what's the latest?
A new series, French Twist, which includes Let Them Eat Cake (2007) and Bon Appétit (September, 2008). It's full of pastry and fun and issues for women of all ages. Not "merely" chick lit.
Ah, those are chick-lit and beyond, huh? I love chick-lit. But you've written other stuff, right?
Most of my other books are for the Young Adult market, and I've published a book for new moms, Heartbeats. I plan to continue to write for both teens and adults.
And pieces besides books?
I've enjoyed writing shorter works that have appeared in periodical markets such as Relevant, Clubhouse Magazine, Pockets, Decision, and Guideposts.

I've heard you've been spreading secrets.
What?! Oh, you mean that for the past seven years I've shared my secrets with the many students I mentor through the Christian Writer's Guild. Very funny, Donita. For a minute, you had me wondering about your sanity. I've also authored a series called Secret Sisters, so there is that...

Two more questions. What did you do before turning to full-time writing?
I was an acquisitions editor in the ABA market.

And tell us about your first submission.
My first submission - and rejection - was at age 12. I hid the postcard under my bed for years.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Grits and Glory
By Ron and Janet Benrey

When Hurricane Gilda visited Glory, North Carolina, her winds tore the steeple off Glory Community Church. Everyone thought the town had narrowly escaped a major disaster until the body of the town's favorite resturant owner was found under the rubble. Was Gilda to blame ... or did someone else take advantage of Gilda to commit the perfect murder?

Chapter 1

"I am the administrator of Glory Community Church, gentlemen."
Ann Trask sat upright in her chair and spoke with determination. She hoped her rigid posture would make her look more formidable. "It is my responsibility to remain in the building in the event of an emergency-especially when Pastor Hartman is out of town."
One of the two big men standing in front of Ann's desk grinned at her. Rafe Neilson, Glory's Deputy Police Chief, was solidly in her corner. The other man scowled and made a disparaging gesture.
"We don't need false bravery today, Miss Trask. There's a major hurricane bearing down on our corner of North Carolina. Gilda is the proverbial `really big one,' a mid-September wind machine strong enough to be a killer. Her outer rain bands are flooding Glory's streets as we speak. You don't want to be here when the main storm arrives." He crossed his arms. "I say that as Glory's Director of Emergency Management."
Ann took a deep breath and prayed that neither man could hear her heart thumping. She knew to the depths of her queasy stomach that Phil Meade-a respected expert in disaster management-had spoken the truth. He even looked the part: late forties, tall, wide, florid-faced, gray at the temples, with a powerful basso voice that commanded respect. But right as Phil was, she couldn't run away. Not again. This time, she would take control of her fears.
"And, what do you think, Rafe?" Ann said, as evenly as she could. She noted that he had stopped grinning.
Please don't let Rafe side with Phil against me.
"Well, we all agree that Glory Community Church is one of the most solidly built structures in town. Moreover, it's located on the highest patch of ground we have. That's why we've designated it as an emergency shelter."
"Exactly..." Ann began, but Rafe kept talking.
"However, I feel uneasy that you'll remain when virtually everyone else has evacuated Glory."
"Dozens of people are staying," she protested.
Phil Meade jumped back in. "Correct! Police officers, firefighters, a few medical professionals, the mayor, me and my staff, and a handful of other essential personnel." He pointed at Ann. "We don't need a 24-year-old civilian making our work more difficult."
"I'm almost twenty-five, Mr. Meade. There are younger police officers patrolling Glory, and some of them have spouses and children to worry about. I'm single-free as the proverbial bird." Ann took a swift breath. "Someone has to be on duty in Glory's emergency shelter-I'm glad for the opportunity to be useful."
Phil turned to Rafe. "What do you think?"
"I'd have to put her in handcuffs to make her leave town."
"Pah! You deal with her. I have sensible people to worry about." Phil strode toward the door to Ann's office, and then spun around. "Miss Trask-make sure you give Rafe a phone number for your next of kin. Just in case."
Ann camouflaged the new jolt of anxiety she felt with a hollow laugh while she listened to Phil's boot-shod feet clomp down the church's hallway. He had said the perfect thing to push her panic button
Please don't make my mother deal with another visit from the police.
"Phil has a point," Rafe said. "This may not be the wisest decision you've made."
"Perhaps not..." Ann swallowed hard to clear the alarm from her voice. "But I have an important job to do."
And this time people are going to see me do it properly.
"Well-if your mind is made up..."
"Good!" Ann said quickly. "Now that that's settled, when will things get bad in Glory?"
Rafe's expression became grim. "Gilda's eye wall-and her strongest winds-will reach Glory at five o'clock this afternoon."
"So the worst of the hurricane should be over before nightfall, right?"
"I'm afraid not. Gilda's a massive storm. Her remnants could be with us until the wee hours of tomorrow morning."
"Do you think the lights will go out?"
Rafe nodded. "Everyone at the emergency command center expects the power to fail a few minutes after Gilda hits. We're prepared to spend Monday night in the dark." He smiled. "Correction! Most of us will. The church has an emergency generator that will switch on automatically. You'll be a beacon of light for the rest of Glory."
"That's part of every church's job description."
Rafe uttered a soft grunt of agreement then asked, "Are any volunteers still working in the church?"
"No," Ann said. "They're all gone. They hung the storm shutters early this morning and finished installing the plywood panels over our stained-glass windows about a half-hour ago." She made a vague gesture toward her own shuttered window. "It's as dark as a tomb inside the sanctuary."
"Tombs survive big hurricanes. Anyway, I'm glad the volunteers are finished."
"Me too," Ann said, although she'd been sorry to see the eight men go. They hadn't even taken time to say goodbye. Seconds after the hammering stopped, Ann heard eight engines rev. She understood completely. The volunteers had to protect their own homes from the approaching storm and then evacuate their families further inland.
"I see you're wearing the miniature tactical police radio I gave you," Rafe said.
Ann tugged at the lanyard around her neck. She felt the small lozenge-shaped gizmo bounce against her chest.
Rafe went on. "Our emergency command center is inside an addition to the back of Police Headquarters-less than three blocks from the church. Contact me if you need any help."
Ann bit her tongue. She wanted to say, You can count on it. Instead, she said, "I won't need any help. The church is fully battened down."
The building became astonishingly silent after Rafe made his goodbyes. "The church is one of the most solidly built structures in Glory," she reminded herself again. Gilda can huff, puff, and tear loose a few roof shingles, but the walls won't fall down.
You don't have anything to worry about... so stop worrying.

Excerpted from:
Grits and Glory by Ron and Janet Benrey
Published by Steeple Hill
Copyright 2008 by Ron and Janet Benrey
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-44300-0

Grits and Glory is available through bookstores everywhere, on,, and

Try Darkness
by James Scott Bell
A Buchanan suspense novel from Center Street

Ty Buchanan is living on the peaceful grounds of St. Monica's, far away from the glamorous life he led as a rising trial lawyer for a big L.A. firm. Recovering from the death of his fiancee and a false accusation of murder, Buchanan has found his previous ambitions unrewarding. Now he prefers offering legal services to the poor and the under-represented, from his "office" at local coffee bar The Ultimate Sip. A mysterious woman with a six year old daughter comes to him for help. She's being illegally evicted from a downtown transient hotel, an interest represented by his old law firm and former best friend, Al Bradshaw. Buchanan won't back down. He's going to fight for the woman's rights.

But then she ends up dead, and the case moves from the courtroom to the streets. Determined to find the killer and protect the little girl, who has no last name and no other family, Buchanan finds he must depend on skills he never needed in the employ of a civil law firm.

Critical Acclaim for the Buchanan series:

Bell is very good at keeping secrets. Fans of thrillers with lawyers as their central characters-Lescroart and Margolin, especially-will welcome this new addition to their must-read lists. -- Booklist

For more information:

Chapter 1

The nun hit me in the mouth and said, "Get out of my house."
Jaw throbbing I said, "I can't believe you just did that."
"This is my house," she said. "You want more? Come on back in."
Sister Mary Veritas is a shade over five and a half feet. She was playing in gray sweats, of course. Most of the time she wears the full habit. Her pixie face is usually a picture of innocence. She has short chestnut hair and blue eyes. I had just discovered those eyes hid an animal ruthlessness.
It was the first Friday in April, and we were playing what I thought was some friendly one-on-one on the basketball court of St. Monica's, a Benedictine community in the Santa Susana mountains. The morning was bright, the sky clear. Should have meant peace like a river.
Not a nun like a mugger.
Backing into the key for a spin hook, I was surprised to find not just the basket, but a holy Catholic elbow waiting for my face. I'm six-three, so it took some effort for her to pop me.
"That's a foul," I said.
"So take it out," she said.
"I thought the Benedictines were known for their hospitality."
"For the hungry pilgrim," Sister Mary said. "Not for a guy looking for an easy bucket."
"What would the pope say to you?"
"Probably Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
"For a smash to the chops?"
"You're a pagan. It probably did you some good."
"A trash talking sister." I shook my head. "So this is organized religion in the twenty-first century."
Okay, she wanted my outside game? She'd get it. True, I hadn't played a whole lot of ball since college. A couple of stints on a lawyer league team. But I could still shoot. I was deadly from twenty feet in.
Not this morning. I clanked one from the free throw line and Sister Mary got the rebound.
Before becoming a nun she played high school ball in Oklahoma. On a championship team, no less. Knew her way around a court.
But I also had the size advantage and gave her a cushion on defense. She took it and shot over me from fifteen feet.
Pride is a sin, so Sister Mary tells me. But it's a good motivator when a little nun is schooling you. I kicked up the aggression factor a notch.
She tried a fadeaway next. I got a little bit of her wrist as she shot.
Air ball.
Sister Mary waited for me to call a foul.
"Nice try," I said.
"Where'd you learn to play," she said. "County jail?"
"You talking or playing?"
She got the animal look again. I hoped that wouldn't interfere with her morning prayers. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour we talk smack.
I took the ball to the top of the key. Did a beautiful cross-over dribble. Sister Mary swiped at the ball. Got my arm instead with a loud thwack. I stopped and threw up a jumper.
It hit the side of the rim and bounced left.
I thought I'd surprise her by hustling for the rebound.
She had the same idea.
We were side-by-side going for the ball. I could feel her body language. There was no way she was going to let me get it.
There was no way I was going to let her get it.
I was going to body a nun into the weeds.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

It's May 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 (May 6, 2008)


Robert Liparulo is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly. He has sold or optioned three screenplays.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Here are some of his titles:

House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings Book 1)

Comes a Horseman



Product Details

List Price: $14.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595544968
ISBN-13: 978-1595544964



At twelve years old, David King was too young to die. At least he thought so.

But try telling that to the people shooting at him.

He had no idea where he was. When he had stepped through the portal, smoke immediately blinded him. An explosion had thrown rocks and who-knew-what into his face. It shook the floor and knocked him off his feet. Now he was on his hands and knees on a hardwood floor. Glass and splinters dug into his palms. Somewhere, all kinds of guns were firing. Bullets zinged overhead, thunking into walls—bits of flying plaster stung his cheeks.

Okay, so he wasn’t sure the bullets were meant for him. The guns seemed both near and far. But in the end, if he were hit, did it matter whether the shooters meant to get him or he’d had the dumb luck to stumble into the middle of a firefight? He’d be just as dead.

The smoke cleared a bit. Sunlight poured in from a school-bus-sized hole in the ceiling. Not just the ceiling—David could see attic rafters and the jagged and burning edges of the roof. Way above was a blue sky, soft white clouds.

He was in a bedroom. A dresser lay on the floor. In front of him was a bed. He gripped the mattress and pushed himself up.

A wall exploded into a shower of plaster, rocks, and dust. He flew back. Air burst from his lungs, and he crumpled again to the floor. He gulped for breath, but nothing came. The stench of fire—burning wood and rock, something dank and putrid—swirled into his nostrils on the thick, gray smoke. The taste of cement coated his tongue. Finally, oxygen reached his lungs, and he pulled it in with loud gasps, like a swimmer saved from drowning. He coughed out the smoke and dust. He stood, finding his balance, clearing his head, wavering until he reached out to steady himself.

A hole in the floor appeared to be trying to eat the bed. It was listing like a sinking ship, the far corner up in the air, the corner nearest David canted down into the hole. Flames had found the blankets and were spreading fast.

Outside, machine-gun fire erupted.

David jumped.

He stumbled toward an outside wall. It had crumbled, forming a rough V-shaped hole from where the ceiling used to be nearly to the floor. Bent rebar jutted out of the plaster every few feet.

More gunfire, another explosion. The floor shook.

Beyond the walls of the bedroom, the rumble of an engine and a rhythmic, metallic click-click-click-click-click tightened his stomach. He recognized the sound from a dozen war movies: a tank. It was rolling closer, getting louder.

He reached the wall and dropped to his knees. He peered out onto the dirt and cobblestone streets of a small village. Every house and building was at least partially destroyed, ravaged by bombs and bullets. The streets were littered with chunks of wall, roof tiles, even furniture that had spilled out through the ruptured buildings.

David’s eyes fell on an object in the street. His panting breath froze in his throat. He slapped his palm over his mouth, either to stifle a scream or to keep himself from throwing up. It was a body, mutilated almost beyond recognition. It lay on its back, screaming up to heaven. Male or female, adult or child, David didn’t know, and it didn’t matter. That it was human and damaged was enough to crush his heart. His eyes shot away from the sight, only to spot another body. This one was not as broken, but was no less horrible. It was a young woman. She was lying on her stomach, head turned with an expression of surprised disbelief and pointing her lifeless eyes directly at David.

He spun around and sat on the floor. He pushed his knuckles into each eye socket, squeegeeing out the wetness. He swallowed, willing his nausea to pass.

His older brother, Xander, said that he had puked when he first saw a dead body. That had been only two days ago—in the Colosseum. David didn’t know where the portal he had stepped through had taken him. Certainly not to a gladiator fight in Rome.

He squinted toward the other side of the room, toward the shadowy corner where he had stepped into . . . wherever this was . . . whenever it was. Nothing there now. No portal. No passage home. Just a wall.

He heard rifle shots and a scream.

Click-click-click-click-click . . . the tank was still approaching.

What had he done? He thought he could be a hero, and now he was about to get shot or blown up or . . . something that amounted to the same thing: Dead.

Dad had been right. They weren’t ready. They should have made a plan.


David rose into a crouch and turned toward the crumbled wall.

I’m here now, he thought. I gotta know what I’m dealing with, right? Okay then. I can do this.

He popped up from his hiding place to look out onto the street. Down the road to his right, the tank was coming into town over a bridge. Bullets sparked against its steel skin. Soldiers huddled behind it, keeping close as it moved forward. In turn, they would scurry out to the side, fire a rifle or machine gun, and step back quickly. Their targets were to David’s left, which meant he was smack between them.


At that moment, he’d have given anything to redo the past hour. He closed his eyes. Had it really only been an hour? An hour to go from his front porch to here?

In this house, stranger things had happened. . . .

Friday, July 18, 2008

Caw! Caw! Chapter a Week.

Daring Chloe (Zondervan, June 2008)
By Laura Jensen Walker

Chloe has led a safe, quiet life. Adventure? No thank you! But when her fiancé dumps her the night before their wedding, her book club friends convince her to take the vacation of a lifetime and timid Chloe blossoms into daring Chloe. A Chloe who just might be ready to face her biggest adventure of all.

What could be better than adventures with your reading group based on the books you read? Walker's novel explores the outcome with Chloe, a woman afraid of many things. .Touching and inspirational, and even those who have no interest in France will be entranced by the exquisite descriptions when the book club travels there."

-Romantic Times (4 Star Review)

" . . . Laura has created the most lively and life-like ensemble of women I've ever read. . . Her best novel to date...I'm voting it "Best Chick-Lit of 2008!"

-Deena Peterson, A Peek At My Bookshelf Reviews

By Tom Morrisey

Desperate to forget what happened to him in Iraq, Tyler Perkins flees to the emptiness of Wyoming. He's here to escape and also to fulfill a long-ago promise by accompanying his 86-year-old friend Soren Andeman on a fly-fishing trip-once more for old time's sake.
But their trek to an idyllic trout lake soon becomes something more deeply harrowing-a journey that uncovers long-held lies, deadly crimes, and the buried secrets of the past. Ty barely has time to contemplate the question of what constitutes justice when nature unleashes her own revenge. Trapped in a race back to safety, he must face his own guilt-ridden past or risk being consumed.

To read an excerpt of these new titles go to Chapter-a-Week and 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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Sunday, July 13, 2008

II, or Incredible Interview - Rachael Hauck

Love Starts with Elle

About the book: She's the last of five sisters to find true love. So, when Elle Garvey's wide receiver-turned-pastor boyfriend, Jeremiah Franklin, proposes, she answers an enthusiastic, "Yes." Until...she discovers the engagement comes with unexpected sacrifices.But every relationship requires compromise, and as Jeremiah takes on a large Dallas pastorate, Elle’s life purpose and calling is challenged. As she stays behind in Beaufort, South Carolina to plan the wedding and sell her beloved art gallery, doubt shadows her engagement decision.Meanwhile, New York lawyer Heath McCord needs a change of scenery and moves with his young daughter to the low-country with dreams starting over and writing a novel. As Heath renews his hope and heart, Elle's life begins to unravel. Crushed when Jeremiah ends their engagement, she heals morning by morning, praying in a dilapidated chapel, searching for passion and purpose.In the midst of crisis, God’s love ignites her heart, and as her friendship with Heath blooms into love, Elle understands beauty always rises from the ashes.

About Rachel:Rachel Hauck is the author of ten, going on eleven novels, and has recently become “acclaimed.” (Yeah, funny how that happened. Some dude found her lottery stub stuck to the bottom of his shoe and tried to “acclaimed” her, but her husband refused to pay out.) Living in central Florida with her hubby of sixteen years, two dogs and one ornery cat, Rachel is a graduate of Ohio State University and a huge Buckeye football fan. One day she hopes to stand on the sidelines next to Coach Tressel as a famed, acclaimed OSU alumni, beloved for her work in literature and letters. (She’s written at least a couple hundred letters in her life time.)She is a worship and prayer leader in her city, a lover and disciple of Jesus. Visit her blog and website at

Romantic Times Book Club Review of LSWE Top Pick, 4.5 Stars
"Hauck is quickly making a name for herself as an insightful and thoughtful author. It's great to catch up with characters from previous novels as well as meet new ones. Elle is vulnerable, yet wise, and the romantic angle will leave you sighing with delight."

Interview with Rachel Hauck:

How did Elle come to be?
RH: Elle was a great, funny, beautiful, character in Sweet Caroline. She had a small story line going and I saw that she was strong enough to carry her own novel. So, I proposed her as the next book and my editor loved it.

How much of you is there in Elle? Your husband in Heath?
RH: I think there’s some of us in each of the characters. Tony’s strength and confidence in Heath, my love of prayer in Elle. She is more controlled and goal oriented than I am, but I am one who looks a head like Elle.

What was your favourite scene to write?
RH: I had a few favorite scenes. I think the scene with Julianne and Elle in prayer chapel is one of my favs. And almost all the scenes with Elle and Heath. And oh, I love, love the first scene with Heath after he’s moved to Beaufort!

What do you hope readers take away from this story?
RH: There’s something you discover about yourself in meditative, concentrative prayer you cannot discover any other way or place.

Why did you pick the setting of Beaufort, South Carolina?
RH: A worship leader friend of mine wrote a song called Praise House. The slide back ground for the song lyrics was of an old, white, clap board shack with the words Praise House painted across the front.When I asked him about the shack and the song, he showed me a home video of his trip to Beaufort, looking for this elusive praise house he'd seen on the internet.I loved the scenery and the setting, loved seeing the lowcountry, and thought I needed to set a book in South Caroline. Since it's not far from my home, the research was easy.
Elle's an artist. Is this reflective of you? Perhaps a secret passion or hobby?
RH: No, I only can dream of being an artist. Seriously, I can't draw stick people. I love art and when Elle came to live in Sweet Caroline, she came as an artist. Didn't really even have to think much about it. Elle is a reflection of society today - very artsy and romantic, feeling oriented, living by intuition more than "thought and reason." If you study the Romantic Era of the 1800's, the landscape of society today is very much the same. We're in a Renaissance of that time. So, having her go on a journey of prayer really fit her emotional palette.

What is the number one challenge facing most Christians in the realm of prayer?
RH: Of course, this is my opinion based on observation and experience, but it's time management. We just have so many voices and sounds in our lives today. So many choices. It's hard to carve out time to get alone with God. I'm not talking "Quiet Time," setting aside fifteen minutes to read a devotional and pray - which is a component of getting to know the Father - more about stealing away to be with Him.Contemplative, soaking prayer takes time, discipline and concentration. I still struggle, but those days I sit at His feet for an hour or more - either alone or in a corporate prayer setting - is when I feel the most connected with Him. We need all kinds of prayer - on the run, emergency, pleading, hopeful, thankful prayers. But we also need to find time to sit and soak. Song of Solomon 2:14 says, "O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret place of the steep pathway, let Me see your form, let Me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your form is lovely." Jesus is talking to the individual believer here about stealing away with Him. He longs for those alone times. In the clefts of the rock, in the steep pathway speaks of the difficulty of getting to the secret place with Him. There are a lot of things I do in my life that will account for nothing in eternity. I remind myself that setting aside time for Him is one thing that will endure, and prosper both now and always. There's a great line in the book from a wise friend of Elle's, and it's one I adopted for myself, "Pray is not inactivity." It's a very active, and pro active verb!

So, What is in your writing pipeline? A sneak peek?
RH: Ah, look for something fun and interesting in the spring! ;) How’s that for a sneak peek.

Friday, July 11, 2008

CAW! CAW! Chapter A Week

FALSE PICTURE by Veronica Heley
Severn House June 08.

The Abbot agency doesn't do murder, but finds itself involved in it, just the same.

Velma is charm itself, especially when she's being inexact with the truth. She sets Bea on the track of a missing picture, not realising someone else is also after it. Can Bea rescue the picture and the two innocent girls who've been persuaded to carry smuggled art treasures to Bruges, without falling foul of someone who already has several murders to his credit?

By Kristen Heitzmann

Tessa Young is a landscape architecte who specializes in the design and creation of labyrinths. For years she has immersed herself in the healing aspects of these elaborate structures, searching for God and hoping to make sense of the nightmares that have plagued her since childhood.

When Smith Chandler, a colleague who once betrayed her, offers an opportunity to reconstruct a remarkable Colonial-era labyrinth, she can't resist this project of a lifetime. But one evening, as dusks falls, an assailant ambushes Tess and Smith and the real nightmare begins.

To read an excerpt of these new titles go to Chapter-a-Week and 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.
If you enjoy Chapter-a-Week take the time to tell a friend how to sign up. It's easy and free and a great way to find great books that fit each person's particular taste.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

ACFW Conference

I've paid my registration fee. I've booked my hotel room. I've arranged for transportation. And I still have 82 days to wait.

I'm going to the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota September 18 - 21, 2008.

This is only my second ACFW Conference. I can't wait.

Going to a writers conference is a big boost to a writer.

  1. You meet a whole lot of other people who are crazy enough to pursue writing as a career.

  2. You take workshops that actually help you become a better writer.

  3. You meet a whole lot of other people who have rejection letter stories.

  4. You network with editors and agents and get valuable clues as to what to do right in order to get published.

  5. You meet a whole lot of people you know only by name on the e-loop.

  6. You get inspired by speakers who know God and know what your life is like as a writer.

  7. You meet a whole lot of people who are willing to cry with you when your heroine loses her chance to win Mr. Right.

  8. You get recharged to tackle that manuscript one more time with the back-up of all the new things you have learned.

I'm a believer in going to conferences to learn and to network, but God has always been busier connecting me with fellow writers rather than a contract.

I know for a fact that most non-writers don't have a clue as to the strange state writers call normal. I'm looking forward to talking to people about how my WIP has lost its snap. I'll discuss arc, both character and plot, and get nods of approval. Then I'll comehome and settle into speaking humanese and plunge into my next writing project with more confidence.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

II, or Incredible Interview - Tamara Alexander

I met Tammy when she still lived in Colorado. Her charm is in her attention to the one she's speaking to. Her lively expressions and concentration make you feel important. And I believe she treats her characters with the same courtesy, getting to know them well and offering kindness and compassion. Her stories ring true.

Here is the official blurb:

Tamera Alexander is a bestselling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots and poignant prose resonate with readers. Tamera is a finalist for the 2008 Christy Award (Remembered), and has been awarded the coveted RITA® from Romance Writers of America (Revealed), along with Library Journal's Top Christian Fiction of 2006 (Rekindled). Having lived in Colorado for seventeen years, she and her husband now make their home in the quaint town of historic Franklin, Tennessee, where they enjoy life with their two college-age children and a precious-and precocious-silky terrier named Jack.

From A Distance :
What happens when dreams aren't what you imagined, and secrets you've spent a lifetime guarding are finally laid bare?
Determined to become one of the country's premier newspaper photographers, Elizabeth Westbrook travels to the Colorado Territory to capture the grandeur of the mountains surrounding the remote town of Timber Ridge. She hopes, too, that the cool, dry air of Colorado, and its renowned hot springs, will cure the mysterious illness that threatens her career, and her life.
Daniel Ranslett, a former Confederate sharpshooter, is a man shackled by his past, and he'll do anything to protect his land and his solitude. When an outspoken Yankee photographer captures an image that appears key to solving a murder, putting herself in danger, Daniel is called upon to repay a debt. He's a man of his word, but repaying that debt will bring secrets from his past to light.
Forced on a perilous journey together, Daniel and Elizabeth's lives intertwine in ways neither could have imagined when first they met . . . from a distance.
".a rich historical romance by possibly the best new writer in this subgenre."--Library Journal
".a most amazing story. The characters are more than words on the page; they become real people."--Romantic Times

Tammy, tell us how a story gets started for you.

Stories are journeys, and each story I write is a journey for me.
Rekindled began with a dream-the image of a man returning home on horseback. He came upon a freshly dug grave and when he knelt to read the name carved into the roughhewn wooden cross, he discovered the name was.his own. The inspiration for Revealed grew from two characters in Rekindled whose stories needed to be told. But even more, whose stories I needed to tell. Writing Revealed was a very personal journey for me, and a healing one. For Remembered, I met that story's heroine (figuratively, of course) while strolling the ancient cobblestoned pathways of a three hundred-year-old cemetery in northern Paris, France. And From a Distance came from a question I was struggling with in my own life at the time, "What happens when the dream you asked God for isn't what you thought it would be?"

Is it satisfying to finish a book and see it out on the shelves?

For me, the greatest thrill of these writing journeys is when Christ reveals Himself in some new way, and I take a step closer to Him. And my deepest desire is that readers of my books will do that as well-take steps closer to Him as they read. After all, it's all about Him.

Friday, July 04, 2008

CAW! CAW! Chapter A Week

Linda Hall
Shadows at the Window
Steeple Hill/Love Inspired, July `08

Shadows at the Window is the second in the `Shadows' trilogy which features women who must make peace with their past before moving on - and finding love in the present. Lilly Johnson, the heroine writes:

I wasn't always the law-abiding, churchgoing young woman I am today. Not too long ago I did shameful things and then ran far away. Not even my beloved fiancé, youth minister Greg Whitten, knows the truth about my past. But now my worst nightmare has come true. Someone has pictures of the old me and is sending them to me, to Greg, to the church. And if I want to live happily ever after-if I want to live at all-I'll need my newfound faith and Greg's love more than ever.


Linda Hall is the award winning author of fifteen suspense novels and many articles and short stories. She has worked as a newspaper reporter and feature writer and now writes fiction full time. Currently she is writing romantic suspense for Harlequin's Steeple Hill/Love Inspired line.

She has been short listed twice for the Christy Award and her books have won many other awards. Hall is known real characters facing real life challenges.

Maybe you will see yourself in one of the characters in Shadows at the Window.

Linda invites you to visit her website: Http://