Friday, April 22, 2011

Digitalis; The Annotated Firebird

By Ronnie Kendig

Love Leads a Former Marine into the Blackest of Nights

"This is one pulse-pounding adventure you don't want to miss!" ~Robert Liparulo, author of Germ, Comes a Horseman, and the Dreamhouse Kings.

Step into the boots of a former Marine in this heart-pounding adventure in life and love. Colton "Cowboy" Neeley is a Marine trying to find his footing as he battles flashbacks now that he's back home. Piper Blum is a woman in hiding—from life and the assassins bent on destroying her family. When their hearts collide, more than their lives is at stake. Will Colton find a way to forgive Piper's lies? Can Piper find a way to rescue her father, trapped in Israel? Is there any way their love, founded on her lies, can survive?

Intro to the scene. The opening scene is set on the hero's ranch during a small 4th of July barbecue with his daughter, parents, and a close friend. His daughter has just asked him for sparklers from his truck so they can celebrate.


"I'll be right back." Colton stepped into the dark night and headed to his truck, where he'd left the small bag of sparklers. Reaching behind the front seat, he groped for the fireworks. As his fingers grazed the bag, which scooted farther out of reach, he spotted his Remington 700.

Regret choked him. He paused and leaned against the seat. God. . .please. I just want a clear mind. With a final grunt, he snatched the bag and slammed the door shut on the truck and on his shaky thoughts. "All right, Mickey, here we go."

Bouncing from the back porch toward him, she squealed. "Dante, look, look! Daddy got sparklers and poppers—my favorite."

A noise screeched through the night. His heart jack-hammered at the familiar sound.

Crack! Boom!

He dove to the side. Hearing hollowed out, he blinked. A dusty road spread before him. Shouts pervaded the Iraqi street. Men darted for cover. Colton scrambled, feeling the weight of his gear on his back.

"Take cover," he shouted to his team as he rushed up against a building. Spine pressed to the wood, he reached for his radio. Gone. Under attack and no backup, no airstrike. He searched the street, his mind pinging.

Movement to the side flared into his awareness. Instincts blazed.

He grabbed his weapon—it wasn't there. Oh God, no! He patted the ground, his hearing still muffled by the IED detonation.

Where's my rifle? Where'd it go?


"What?" he shouted, searching for his weapon.


Kaboom! Pop-pop-pop. Multi-colored flashes lit the bloody day. Colton scrambled for cover beside the Humvee. He scoured the dust and smoke for his team. Where were they? He glanced over his shoulder—then remembered the Remington.

As he rushed to the back door of the Humvee, another blast shoved him against the steel.


Yanking open the door, he noted civilians on the other side of the Humvee and hoped they stayed clear of the violence erupting around them. He didn't need to find another foot—or any other body part—during cleanup. He lifted his weapon and only then realized it was empty.

Sound from behind yanked him around.

A white-haired man rushed toward him.

"Get back!" Without his weapon ready, it'd be hand-to-hand. But he wasn't letting his weapon go. No way would someone find him with his pants down. Not here. He wasn't going to die in Iraq because he didn't have his gun. They did that to the civilian contractors. But not to him, not to a MARSOC sniper.

"What are you doing? Don't do this."

When the haggard man rushed him again, Colton drove a hard right into his face. The old man flew back and slid across the hardpacked earth. Colton quickly eased a slug in and chambered the round.

Crack! Boom! Pop-pop!

He ducked, and when he came up, a girl with wide brown eyes appeared out of the dust. His heart rapid-fired. No. Couldn't be. He'd killed her already. The villagers had used her as a suicide bomber—then captured him and nearly killed him. No way, no how was he going back there so they could drive a thousand volts through his body.

He dropped to a knee and lined up the sights.

The girl drew back and yelped. "I'm scared."

Why was she speaking English? He shrugged. They'd trained the children to gain confidence and intelligence. He'd fallen prey once.

Won't happen again.

"Maa-i-khussni, not my problem," he said, all too familiar with the way the radicals worked the American soldiers. Soldiers who were here trying to help.

"Cowboy, it's"—Boom! Crack-crack-pop!—"girl."

"Don't care, man. I'm not letting them take me again." Sweat slid down his temple into his eye. He blinked—

Wait! Her eyes. How had they changed from brown to blue? He shook his head to dislodge the disparity. The heat. Had to be the heat. Using his upper arm, he swiped away the sweat. Realigned the sights. His heart rate ratcheted when more civilians emerged around the girl.

"Ambush!" He lowered his head and peered through the scope.

Focused on nailing the shot, holding his position. Considered the elements.

"Colton! No!" a familiar voice shouted.

But they didn't know. Hadn't been there.

"Marine, stand down! Stand down! "

His finger slid into the trigger well.

It's a girl. A little girl.

And they'd used her to get to him, to extract information and kill him. Never again.

Target acquired.

Why are her eyes blue? No, not blue. He was seeing things. They were brown, and he wasn't letting this happen again. No remorse.

Gently, he let his finger ease back on the trigger. Forgive me, Father, he prayed, as he did with every kill.

A tremendous weight slammed into him and knocked him sideways. Crack! As the weapon's recoil registered, so did the fact that he'd lost his gun. He went flying. Hit the ground—hard. Thud!

Stars sprinkled through his eyes. The edges of his vision ghosted. His ears popped. He howled at the pain. Blinked.

Night? Why was it night?


A man almost as dark as the sky behind him loomed over him. "Legend?" Aches radiated through Colton's body, leaving him disoriented. "What. . . ?"

Screams and cries suffused the night.

Something ominous clouded Legend's face. He straddled Colton, pinning his arms to the sides. "You with me, Cowboy? You here?"

"What are—get off!"

"Where are we?"

"What do you mean?"

"Where are we? Answer me, Marine!"

Qualms squelched by Legend's drill sergeant voice, Colton paused. "My ranch." A horrible, horrible feeling slithered into his gut. The events crashed in on him. The screaming. The little girl in Fallujah. Blue eyes. "No!" Everything in him went cold. For a split second, he locked gazes with Griffin, then jerked his head to the side. Strained to see.

A half-dozen feet away lay his Remington 700. Beyond, his mother and father huddled over—


I almost killed my daughter.


Ronie Kendig

Digitalis, Discarded Heroes #2

ISBN: 978 1 60260 783 5

Available at , , , libraries, and anywhere fine books are sold!

©Ronie Kendig, 2011 – Do not reproduce without permission

* * *


by Kathy Tyers

Marcher Lord Press, April 2011

"Firebird … is the most original Christian SF series to appear in years." —Library Journal

Because of her birth order in Netaia's royal family, Lady Firebird's life is expendable. When she is chosen to lead an attack on a neighboring planet, her demise is expected. Instead, she is captured and forced into a strange new existence that will sweep her toward a perilous but exhilarating destiny.

First published by Bantam Books and reissued by Bethany House Publishers, the Firebird trilogy now appears in a single volume in both paper and e-book formats, with new maps, charts, and annotations that chronicle the writing process and add depth to Lady Firebird's worlds. Here is an excerpt from the beginning.


Lady Firebird Angelo was trespassing.

Shadowed by her friend Lord Corey Bowman, she squeezed and twisted through a narrow, upright opening between two dusty stone walls. She'd paced off twenty meters in silence. Her eyes had almost adjusted to faint gray light from ahead and behind. Growing up in this palace, she'd explored it thoroughly and cautiously during her childhood. She hadn't tiptoed between these particular walls since she found the gap, four years ago, when she was fifteen. If she remembered right, then in ten meters more—

Something rattled behind her. She froze. If anyone caught her and Corey this deep in the governmental wing, they could be done for. Powers help us! she prayed silently.

Slowly, she turned around. Corey crouched three meters away. He pointed at a loose stone and cringed a silent apology.

Time hung suspended, like a laser satellite passing overhead. They waited motionless, hardly even breathing.

Evidently, the Powers weren't feeling vengeful—if those supernatural guides even existed, which Firebird had started to doubt. The soft voices behind the curved inner wall kept droning on, incomprehensible from this point in the hidden passage.

Firebird crept on.

The rough partition on her left enclosed an elliptical chamber. Inside, the highest council in the Netaian planetary systems held its conferences.

Firebird had heard whispered rumors among other cadets at the NPN Academy: that the Netaian Planetary Navy planned to hold military exercises in Federate space, or that an attack was imminent—Federate or Netaian, depending on who had heard whom—or that secret weapons were under development. None of her instructing officers had acknowledged those rumors. They kept their cadets working in blind, busy ignorance.

But this morning, staring out a classroom window-wall, Firebird had seen a silvery shuttle with Federate markings emblazoned on its underside decelerate into Citangelo spaceport. According to a hasty check at her desk terminal, the queen's Electorate had immediately closed this afternoon's session to observers.

Maybe the Federates were protesting those rumored maneuvers, as she guessed—or trying to head off an open confrontation, Corey's assumption. Someone had to find out, on behalf of the second-year cadets. If a war broke out, they'd be in it. During an afternoon hour reserved for studying, Firebird had sneaked home with Corey.

Ahead, light gleamed into their passage through an inner-wall chink. The palace's builders, three hundred years before, had been more concerned with elegance than security. During her privileged childhood, Firebird had found many odd niches in this historic building where walls didn't exactly meet, or where they came together at peculiar angles to create blind passageways. Palace security should have sealed every breach that gave illegitimate access to the electoral chamber. They'd missed this one.

On her next birthday, Firebird would be confirmed as a short-term elector. That was her right, an honor she would receive as an Angelo. Then, she would tell the House Guard and the electoral police about this passage.

But no sooner.

She reached the chink and peered through. Inside the grand chamber's red walls, lined with portraits and gilt bas-relief false pillars, the Netaian systems' twenty-seven electors sat at a U-shaped table that surrounded a small foreign delegation.

Firebird glimpsed the rest of her family. Her oldest sister and confidante, Carradee, sat beside the gilt chair of their mother, Siwann, a strong monarch who was already much more than the traditional electoral figurehead. Beyond Carradee lounged the middle Angelo sister, Phoena, the "beauty of the family" and Siwann's obvious favorite. Though taller and lighter haired than Firebird, Phoena had the same delicate facial features and large, long-lashed dark eyes. They'd often been mistaken for each other, to the disgust of both.

Five strangers stood below the U-shaped table's open foot. The two who'd stepped forward wore dress-white tunics and carried recall pads. One addressed the electors in clipped Old Colonial, the language of most colonized worlds in the Whorl's great half circle of stars. " a surtax only on nonessential goods," he declared, "such as ..."

What was this, a trade delegation?

Phoena exchanged disdainful glances with the trade minister, Muirnen Rogonin. Maintaining an indolent slouch, Rogonin—the jowly Duke of Claighbro—flicked two fingers toward the man who'd spoken. "I would see no reason to levy a military assessment against a well-defended system such as Netaia, Admiral. Your logic is flawed."

Admiral. Maybe their business wasn't entirely trade, then—

Thank you for reading! For more information on The Annotated Firebird, please visit or Do not reproduce this material without permission.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Finally a Bride ; On Hummingbird Wings

Finally a Bride


Vickie McDonough

What a delightful story! Vickie McDonough treats her readers to a remarkable conclusion to the Boardinghouse Brides trilogy. Finally a Bride is a heartwarming story of two couples struggling to overcome their pasts as they build a future filled with faith and love.

--Amanda Cabot, author of Tomorrow's Garden

A feisty female reporter seeks to prove the new minister is harboring secrets.

Jacqueline Davis, a reporter for the Lookout Ledger, is bent on nabbing her story at any cost. When Noah Jeffers comes to Lookout as temporary pastor, Jack suspects there may be something hidden behind his shepherding ways. Soon though, Jack becomes attracted to the new pastor despite her initial hesitation. But as she uncovers the truth, will the story cost her too much? Will she reveal what she's found, or keep it hidden to protect newfound love?


Lookout, Texas


Jacqueline Davis had done a lot of daring things in her life, but this deed had to be the most foolhardy. She held up her skirt with one hand, holding her free arm out for balance, and slid her foot across the roof's wooden shakes. The mayor's chimney was only a dozen more steps away. She peered down at the ground far below then yanked her gaze upward when a wave of dizziness made her sway. She sucked in a steadying breath. If she fell the two stories to the packed dirt below, she'd become tomorrow's news instead of her story about the mayor's latest scheme.

She just had to find out what he had up his sleeve. Weeks had passed since she'd landed an exciting story for Lookout's newspaper. She had to get the scoop—whatever the cost. Maybe then she'd have enough clippings in her portfolio to land a job in Dallas as a reporter and finally leave Lookout.

The sweat trickling down her back had nothing to do with the bright April sun warming her shoulders. A moderate breeze whooshed past, lifting her skirts and almost throwing her off balance. Her petticoat flapped like a white flag, but she was far from surrendering. She swatted down her skirts and glanced around the streets, thankful no one was out and about yet. "Oh, why didn't I don my trousers before attempting this stunt?"

"Because you reacted without thinking again, that's why," she scolded herself just like her mother had done on too many occasions to count. Would she never learn? Sighing, she carefully bent down, reached between her legs, pulled the hem of her skirt through and tucked it in her waistband. Holding her arms out for balance, she righted herself again.

The hour was still early, but with the mayor's house resting right on the busy corner of Bluebonnet Lane and Apple Street, she couldn't exactly listen outside his parlor window to the meeting he was holding inside. If the two well-dressed strangers hadn't ridden right past the boardinghouse while she'd been sweeping the porch, she'd have never known of their arrival.

Her knock on the mayor's door for permission to listen in and to take notes had resulted in a scowl and the door being slammed in her face. Scuttlebutt was running rampant around town that Mayor Burke had some great plan to bring new businesses to Lookout. He was up to something, and she meant to be the first to find out what it was.

She slid her left foot forward. Listening through the chimney opening was her only alternative. She just hoped the men's voices would carry up that far. Sliding her right foot forward, she held her breath. Her task must be completed quickly before anyone saw her.

"Jacqueline Hamilton Davis, you come down from that roof right this minute—or I'm calling off our wedding." Jack jumped at Billy Morgan's roar. She twisted sideways, swung her arms in the air, wobbled, and regained her balance on the peak of the house. Heart galloping, she glared down at the blond man standing in the street beside the mayor's house and swiped her hand in the air.

"Go away!" she hollered in a loud whisper. If she'd told him once, she'd told him a dozen times, she had no intention of marrying him.

Her foot slid toward the chimney. She had to get there right now or Billy's ruckus would surely draw a crowd, and she'd have to climb down without her story. A high-pitched scream rent the air.

"Don't fall, Sissy!"

Jack lurched the final step to the chimney and hugged the bricks. She peered down at her five-year-old sister and swatted her hand, indicating for Abby to leave, but the stubborn girl just hiked her chin in the air. Abby was so dramatic. She'd even practiced her screams until she could blast the shrillest and loudest screeches of all her friends. Parents no longer came running when the young girls practiced their hollering. Jack shook her head. It would be a shame if one of them ever truly needed help one day and she screamed, because not a soul in Lookout would come to her aid.

She peeked down to see if Billy was still there, and sure enough, the rascal stood in the middle of the dirt road with his hat pushed back off his forehead and his hands on his hips.

Uh oh. Across the street, her ma carefully made her way down the front porch steps of the boardinghouse—the bulge of her pregnant belly obvious even from this distance. She shaded her eyes with her hand as she looked around, probably checking on Abby.

Jack ducked down behind the chimney. With her ma so close to her time of birthing another baby, she didn't want to cause her distress—and finding her twenty-year-old daughter on a rooftop would certainly set her pulse pounding.

Movement on Main Street drew Jack's attention. She peered over the bank's roof to the boardwalk on the far side of the street. Oh, horse feathers! Now her pa was heading out of the marshal's office and hurrying toward her mother. He probably thought she'd drop that baby right there in the street. Their last child, two-and-a-half-year-old Emma, had been born in a wagon on the way back from Denison, almost a month early.

She glanced down at Billy, who stood with his hands on his hips, shaking his head. Her ma was looking down Main Street now. With precious few moments before the jig was up, Jack stood on her tiptoes, concentrating on her task. She listened hard, trying to decipher the muted words drifting up the chimney. The strong scent of soot stung her nose, but all she could hear was the faint rumble of men's voices.

She glanced back at the far edge of the roof, trying to decide whether to return to the tree and shinny back down now or wait until her mother and step-father went back inside. Would Billy give her away?

Jack heaved a frustrated sigh. Even if he didn't, Abby would surely tattle. She peeked at her sister. Abby ran toward their mother, her finger pointing up at the mayor's roof. Oh fiddlesticks.

Why did they have to come outside before she concluded her sleuthing? And now, thanks to Billy's caterwauling, a crowd was gathering on Bluebonnet Lane.

She quickly studied the town from her vantage point. This was the perfect spot to view any events taking place in Lookout and garner the news, but it was also dangerous. How could she manage to take notes and still keep her balance? Perhaps she could talk Jenny into building a platform with a fence around it atop her newspaper office so they could view the city whenever community events were happening.

"Jacqueline! Oh, my heavens. What are you doing up there?" Her ma splayed her hand across her chest. Abby stood beside her, looking proud that she'd gotten her big sister in trouble.

Jack held tight to edge of the chimney and laid her forehead against the bricks. She was as caught as a robber in a bank vault on Monday morning.

Thanks for reading this excerpt from Finally A Bride.

Please visit my website for more information about my books.

To purchase Finally A Bride or any of my books, visit

or your local bookstore.

Please do not reproduce without permission.

* * *

On Hummingbird Wings

By Lauraine Snelling

Published by FaithWords

(April 2011)

"Snelling can certainly charm." – Publishers Weekly

Doctors have no medical explanation why Gillian Ormsby's mother can't eat or get out of bed, but something has caused the once-spirited woman to give up her will to live. Despite their difficult relationship and an equally strained relationship with her sister, who lives in California near their mother, Gillian flies home and attempts to get their mother back on her feet. While home, Gillian restores her mother's neglected garden. There two hummingbirds take up residence and preside over the new relationship forming between Gillian and Adam, a neighbor and the local garden center owner. Although her goal is to return to her job in New York, Gillian begins to wonder if she can find a compromise between career, family and love

"But Mother is always dying." Why had she ever let the call come through? "I'm putting you on speaker." Gillian Ormsby clicked the SPEAKER button without waiting for her sister's reply. At least this way she could continue to flip the screens on the computer. Glancing at the clock, she mentally allowed Allison two more minutes before returning to the report in front of her.

"No, this time it is really serious. I can't make her get out of bed."

Gillian rolled her eyes. Leave it to Miss Perfect Allison to hit the dramatics. "Look, you live twenty miles away and I live across the country. Surely you can find time in your busy schedule to sweet-talk Mother into doing what you want." You always have.

"You don't need to be sarcastic. Just because I'm not a high-powered executive with an office in New York City. It isn't like what I have to do isn't important, with two active teenagers and a busy husband."

"I didn't say that. But, Allie, there is no way I can leave right now. There are rumors of a possible buyout, and everyone is walking around whispering like someone died. Have you talked with her doctor? Surely if she is that bad, she should go to a nursing home to help get her back on her feet."

"That's part of the problem; she doesn't want to get back on her feet. She wants to die. She says life here has no meaning for her any longer and heaven will be a far better place."

"Mother said that?" "And yes, I have talked with the doctor, but you know I don't understand a lot about medical things."

"Google it."

"Gillian, please. She needs you."

"Mother has made it quite clear through the years that she much prefers your company to mine." So suck it up, baby sister, and live with it. She drummed her nails on the desk pad.

"Look, I have to go. I'll call you back tonight." She checked her calendar. "No, make that tomorrow night, I have a commitment for tonight."

"What if she dies before then?"

Gillian closed her eyes and heaved a sigh. "Look, she's not going to die. She's threatened this for years. Every hangnail is mortal peril, you know that."

"You haven't seen her, in what—five years?"

Leave it to Allison to go for the stiletto. Although Gillian sent expensive gifts at the proper occasions, she'd not graced California with her presence in a long time. Surely, it hadn't been five years, had it? She counted back, using Christmas as the starting point. She'd spent the last one in Saint Croix, actually two of the last five; she'd needed warm weather by then. And while California was usually sunny in December, she'd wanted somewhere really warm and tropical to go along with it. One year she'd gone skiing, the first and last time in Vermont and the first and last time with Pierre. Since that debacle she'd sworn off both skiing and men.

That was three of the five. Where else had she gone? Oh, yes, one year she'd been home in bed—with the flu and her own rotten company.

"Gillian, are you listening to me?" The strident tone jerked her back to the moment.

"Of course I am." What had she missed?

"Well, then?"

"Well, what?"

"When are you coming?" Gillian glanced heavenward as if hoping for deliverance.

"Sorry, I have a call that I have to take. I'll get back to you." She hung up before her sister could respond. Clicking on her intercom, she instructed her assistant to hold any calls from Allison and collapsed against the back of her leather executive chair. Why now? She really didn't dare leave, not if she wanted to be sure of an office to come back to. Glancing around the room, she focused on a painting she'd found at a local art fair and hung opposite her desk to help relieve moments of stress. The painting depicted purple wisteria cascading over a white trellis that had one corner of its arch in need of repair. Much like she did right now. The four-paned cottage windows of the cozy house at the end of a brick walk beckoned her in. She drew in a deep breath, held it to the count of ten, and blew it all out on a gentle stream. Her shoulders relaxed immediately, as did the tension pulling from the back of her head, through her scalp, and to her eyebrows.

Someday she would own a cottage like that, maybe as a summer place; it didn't matter on which coast. What mattered was the garden and the sense of peace that seeped from the picture into her soul. Digging in the dirt did that for her. Gardening was the one thing she had in common with her mother.

Surely Mother wasn't really dying.

Gillian flexed her fingers. Allie had been born exaggerating. No occasion was sufficient in and of itself; she always had to make it bigger and brighter, deeper and wider. Gillian stared at the computer screen where she'd been working on the proposal for a three o'clock meeting. The figures blurred, causing her to blink and blink again.

Her mother could not be dying. She was far too young and had always been robustly healthy. She claimed her gardening did that for her.

So what had happened to cause this, this manifestation of . . . of . . . of what? Granted even fingernail splits were traumatic to her mother, but she'd never taken to her bed before.

You don't have time to think on this now, she ordered herself. Get that proposal done. She knew the figures added up, but could she cut anywhere to reduce the bottom line?

The intercom clicked in. "Gillian, you have one hour."'

This excerpt is printed by permission of FaithWords, a division of Hachette Book Group.

All rights reserved.

Blessings, Lauraine Snelling


Friday, April 08, 2011

The Lightkeepers' Ball; Daddy in the Making

The Lightkeepers' Ball

Colleen Coble

From Publishers Weekly:

In 1910, New York socialite Olivia Stewart resists an arranged, socially advantageous marriage, and the mysterious death of her sister Eleanor in Northern California is an unhappy but convenient excuse to go West to investigate. On the way, she is thrown off a Bay area ship and nearly drowned, so she has a number of reasons to hide her identity when she arrives in Mercy Falls, Calif. Her shipboard rescuer turns out to be her dead sister's fiance' Harrison Bennett, about whom she has suspicions. Harrison in turn has his reasons to distrust the Stewart family. In this atmosphere of deceit and suspicion, attraction between Olivia and Harrison grows. Coble spins a tangled web in this third book in the Mercy Falls series (after The Lightkeeper's Bride), with red herrings and oodles of duplicity.

Olivia leaned on the ship¡p's railing and watched the dark landscape slide past. They were nearly to Mercy Falls, and she wanted nothing more than to see the buildings of New York instead of the towering trees of this thickly forested coastline. The fog curling from the base of the trees and over the whitecaps made her shudder.

She sighed and toyed with the strings of her hat. She already missed home, though there would be much to see and do here. For the first time she would see the manor house her father had built in this town four years ago. It was a way of being closer to him.

"Are you frightened, Miss Olivia?" her maid Goldia asked, joining her at the rail.

She shook her head. "I've an idea though, Goldia. I'm going to be known here as Lady Devonworth."

"I thought you hated using your title."

"I do. But I'd rather not be known as Olivia Stewart. Harrison will be on his guard if he knows I'm in town. With a different name, I can observe him unhindered. I boarded this ship as Lady Devonworth, so please remember not to call me Miss Olivia."

Goldia's lips pursed. "I don't like it, miss. If someone really harmed Miss Eleanor, you could be in danger."

To Olivia, the plan seemed straightforward. Her maid's vapors were quite silly. "Not if I'm able to keep my identity a secret. I'll find out what happened and bring the culprit to justice."

"Well, I'm scared," the girl said.

Olivia turned away from the waters to face her. Was that a man in the shadows? Olivia squinted into the darkness.

"Who's there?" she called. No answer came, but a cat strolled into the wash of light, and she relaxed. "It's so damp here. Could you fetch my shawl?" she asked her maid.

Goldia nodded and hurried away. The fog quickly muffled the sound of her footsteps. Olivia stared at the lighthouse twinkling in the distance. Everything would change soon, and she would have to assume a role.

A sound came behind her, and she assumed it was Goldia until she smelled a man's cologne. She half turned at the furtive, sliding noise, but before she could see who was joining her, hard hands seized her from behind. The man's breath smelled of mint. She flailed at the assailant, but her fists struck only air. Her slippers slid along the polished deck, and the next moment, she found herself bent over the railing, facing the turbulent water. The hard rail dug into her stomach and stole her breath. She tried to scream, but panic closed her throat as her balance tipped toward the water and away from the boat. With a last push from her assailant, she was plunging into the waves with her arms pinwheeling.

Cold water closed over her head. She fought the pull of the sea on her soaked skirt. A current took her deeper. Panicked, she kicked toward where she thought the surface was, though there was no light to guide her. Her head broke through, and she drew in the sweetest breath she'd ever known before the waves grabbed her. Before she went under again, she saw a light winking to her right. With her lungs full of air, she groped at her laces. Before she managed to get her boots off, her chest began to burn with the need to breathe. With that weight removed, she was able to rocket back to the surface. Gasping, she dog-paddled in the waves. She gulped in air, gathered her strength, then struck out toward the blinking light.

Her arms and legs ached as she fought the current. A cramp struck her calf, and she cried out.

Her head went under the waves, and she gulped salty water. She was going to drown, just like her sister. She struggled for the surface.

A hand grabbed her arm and yanked her up, pulling her out of the depths. Hands flipped her onto her back, then a rough palm cupped her chin. The next thing she knew she was being towed toward shore.

Her bottom hit sand. She smelled kelp and realized seaweed was wrapped around her waist. Then arms dragged her forward until she lay across hard thighs. She gagged up seawater.

"Are you all right?"a deep voice asked. The man sat her up.

She blinked water out of her eyes and realized she was still sitting on his lap. His hands gripped her forearms, and she realized how scandalous her position was. Water dripped from his dark hair down his face, and his breathing was as ragged as hers.

"Were you trying to kill yourself?" he demanded. "I saw you in the water."

"Someone pushed me," she said. "A man. You were on the ship?"

"I didn't see anyone push you." His tone indicated he doubted her words. "I heard you scream and I ran to the railing."

"You jumped in to save me?" He shrugged.

"I could hardly do anything else. It was clear you were not going to make it to shore by yourself."

Something about him was familiar, but it was too dark to make out much more than the tilt of his head and his dark hair and eyes. She struggled to stand. "Thank you," she said. "You can let me up now."

He dumped her onto the shore, then stood and offered her a hand. She allowed him to help her up.

"Is that the lighthouse?" she asked, pointing toward the beacon on the hill.

"Yes, I'll get help. Stay here." He jogged off into the darkness.

She wasn't about to sit and wait when someone had just tried to kill her, but he didn't answer when she called out after him. He was quick, and her voice was too raw and thin from the salt water to be heard over the waters. She walked on wobbly legs toward the lighthouse.

Copyright Colleen Coble/Thomas Nelson Please do not reproduce without permission.

Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW's Carol Award, RWA's RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best.

She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail.

Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

Visit her website at

The Lightkeeper's Ball is available at bookstores everywhere and may also be purchased at Thomas Nelson, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at your local Christian book store.

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Daddy in the Making

book 2 in "New Friends Street" series for Love Inspired Romance

by Lyn Cote

"I just finished reading your book, Daddy in the Making and I want to say I REALLY enjoyed it tremendously!!! Parts of it made me tear up and other parts had me riveted to my seat." an email from Shirley, a reader.

Brought together by a Matchmaking Dog--

Dr. Jake McClure's basset hound has fallen in love. With a single mom, her adorable twins and the orphaned kittens they rescued. Man's best friend suddenly won't budge from Jeannie Broussard's home, and Jake can understand why. Jeannie's place is full of love, laughter and everything Jake has been missing in his life lately. As Jake spends time with Jeannie and her girls, a bond forges between them, and soon Jake is wondering if he's the perfect fit in this fatherless family....

New Friends Street: Where love and dreams find a home.

Chapter One

Longing for food and then bed, Jake McClure fumed over being forced to delay both. As he jogged through the winter's early darkness toward the church, his basset hound Bummer padded along beside him over the hard-packed snow. Jake slammed the side door behind him, shutting out the below-zero wind-chill. He paused, his glasses fogged from the temperature change. In the pause, he permitted himself to let the burn of irritation build inside.

Earlier after catching up on voice mails, Jake had felt compelled to come here to find Mike, to see if he done harm to himself. Glasses clear, Jake shuffled down the steps, with Bummer trailing behind. The two of them entered the brightly lit church basement where laughter punctuated cheerful voices of those attending the fundraiser potluck. As he scanned faces for Mike's, several people, many from his vet practice, greeted him.

Then the door opened behind him, letting in another rush of arctic wind. Two little girls rushed down the steps. "We found two kittens!" they shouted. "Out in the snow!"

Jake turned. He saw two little girls so bundled up that little of them showed, except their pink noses and tendrils of blond hair. And in the mittened hands of each little girl, a small golden tabby kitten mewed and shivered. He hurried to them and knelt down on the hard, cold linoleum.

"Where did you find these little ones?"

"They were in the snow near where I parked," a tall woman behind the girls replied, her voice low and rich. "Are they okay? It's so cold out and the kittens are so tiny." She dropped to her knees beside him.

"I think their eyes have just opened recently," Jake said. At his elbow, Bummer did something unusual. He licked one kitten and then the other with his big tongue.

"Don't let him bite the kitties!" one of the little girls cried. Jake held up a hand.

"Bummer isn't going to hurt them. Let's see what he does."

Bummer licked the kittens thoroughly. Then with delicate care, he lifted each kitten with his teeth by the scruff of its neck and placed it into Jake's hand, one then the other. The basset hound woofed.

"Do you want me to keep the little ones warm, Bummer?" Jake asked.

Bummer woofed again and licked the top of the kittens' heads. Jake pulled off his gray wool scarf and made it into a tight circle. Then he placed the kittens in the center of the makeshift nest. He cuddled them close, knowing they needed warmth fast.

"Oooh," the little girls sounded their approval. They both petted Bummer, crooning, "Good dog. You're a good dog."

"You're the vet, aren't you?" the young woman kneeling beside him asked.

"Yes." He realized he'd neglected his manners. Sliding the scarf nest to one arm, he offered her his hand. "I'm Jake McClure."

"Jeannie Broussard and these are my girls, Mimi and Cindy."

Jake became aware that Annie, a frequent volunteer at the local animal shelter, had appeared beside him. Middle-aged, Annie wore her usual denim, hiking boots "outdoorsy" attire. He recognized the concern on her face. Would they have to squeeze in two more stray kittens? Another question came to mind.

"Mimi and Cindy, did you see a mama cat outside?" Jake asked.

"No," Jeannie replied for them. "I looked around too. I can't see why kittens so small would be outside in this weather." A man in the crowd that had gathered around them cleared his throat.

"I'm afraid I saw a cat at the side of the street near here. It was a golden tabby too." Jake didn't have to ask. The tone of the man's voice and his use of the past tense said loud and clear that the cat mother no longer needed his help. Annie and he exchanged weary glances. Beside him, Jeannie made a sound of sorrow and regret.

"Poor little orphans." As if understanding the words, Bummer bayed mournfully and licked each kitten again. Jake rose, still cradling them in his scarf.

"I'll take these little ones to the animal shelter before I go home tonight," he said.

The two little girls bounced up and down. "Mom, Mom, can't we keep them? Mom, please."

Jake hesitated, certain that the girls were putting Jeannie on the spot. But Jeannie nodded, a smile lifting her face. "I've been promising you kittens, haven't I? It looks like God has chosen just the ones He wants us to have."

"Thank heaven," Annie breathed.

Again as if understanding, Bummer woofed and grinned.

From around her neck, Jeannie untwined her fuzzy red scarf, followed Jake's example, and soon the two babies were transferred to it. The gathering around them broke up. Jake leaned forward. He wanted to make sure she knew how to take care of the babies.

"From my observation of their teeth, these kittens should be old enough to eat soft warmed food. I suggest a food specially formulated for kittens so it doesn't upset their delicate systems."

"I was thinking warm milk?" Jeannie lifted one eyebrow.

"No, most kittens are lactose intolerant. You can buy special kitten milk, but canned food and water is sufficient. They'll need to be fed every four hours." Jeannie looked worried. "Is that a problem?"

"No," one of the girls piped up. "Our babysitter likes cats. She'll help us when you're at work, Mom."

The woman's pretty face lightened. "Yes. Yes." She beamed at him. "Thank you."

He pulled out his card and handed it to her, slipping into the usual doctor-pet owner relationship. "I'm happy that these two have found a good home. Please bring them by sometime this week and I'll thank you with a free checkup and shots for them."

"Oh, no," she protested.

He held up a hand. "I insist. I volunteer my services at the local shelter. You just bypassed that step. I'm glad these two found a good home."

She took his hand and squeezed it. "Thank you."

This impulsive gesture embarrassed him. His usual shyness around women rushed back like gangbusters on steroids. He nodded and stepped back.

"No, thank you, Jeannie," Annie said. "We're almost out of room at the shelter. You're a godsend for these two." Still smiling shyly, Jeannie began shepherding the girls toward the coat rack along the wall. Unable to look away however, he followed her with his eyes. Something about her caught and held his attention.

"Well, we dodged another bullet," Annie said in an undertone. "What are we going to do when we reach capacity?"

copyright 2011 Lyn Cote *All rights reserved

To purchase, drop by my website and click on covers

To purchase as an ebook, click here AEF85C0FA7B/10/141/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=8E9FAEEC-88BD-4AD1-8820-C7936A420FA5

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Story Jar


by Robin Lee Hatcher and Deborah Bedford

ABOUT THE BOOK: A lovely novel of three women, their stories threaded together through the concept of The Story Jar…

The jar itself is most unusual—not utilized in the ordinary way for canning or storing food, but as a collection point for memories. Some mementos in the jar—hair ribbons, a ring, a medallion--are sorrowful, others tender, some bittersweet. But all those memories eventually bring their owners to a place of hope and redemption in spite of circumstances that seemingly have no solution.

Fresh, insightful, yet courageous in the face of difficult life issues, this collaboration by two talented writers first profiles a pastor’s wife with two young daughters who faces cancer just as her own mother did before her; and then a remarried mother working through a difficult relationship with a rebellious runaway daughter. The third woman, alone with two teenaged boys who no longer pay much attention to her and seem headed for trouble, discovers the long-lost “story jar” and its significance. She comes to realize she can bring her own sorrows and frustrations to the feet of the Good Shepherd, the Great Physician, the Healer of the brokenhearted. She too will have memories for her own story jar.

“…It captures with surprising sensitivity…communion with God, and some excruciatingly exquisite moments of parental love…” Publishers Weekly Included in the book are heart-warming tributes on motherhood fro novelists such as Jerry Jenkins, Francine, Rivers, Karen Ball, and Debbie Macomber.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. She makes her home in Idaho where she enjoys spending time with her family, her high-maintenance Papillon, Poppet, and Princess Pinky, the kitten who currently terrorizes the household.

When Deborah Bedford isn't writing, she spends her time fly-fishing, cheering at American Legion baseball games, shopping with her daughter, singing praise songs while she walks along the banks of Flat Creek, and taking her dachshund Annie for hikes in the Tetons where they live.



by Robin Lee Hatcher

In September 1998, I received a story jar as a thank you gift after speaking at a writers’ conference in Nebraska. The small mason jar, the lid covered with a pretty handkerchief, was filled with many odds and ends – a Gerber baby spoon, an empty thread spindle, a colorful pen, several buttons, a tiny American flag, an earring, and more.

The idea behind this gift was a simple one. When a writer can’t think of anything to write, she stares at one of the objects in the jar and lets her imagination play. Who did that belong to? How hold was he? What sort of person was he? What does the object represent in his life?

Writers love to play the “what if” game. It’s how most stories come into being. Something piques their interest, they start asking questions, and a book is born.

A week after receiving my story jar, I attended a retreat with several writer friends of mine, Deborah Bedford included. On the flight home, I told Deborah about the jar. The next thing you know (after all, what better thing is there for writers to do on a plane than play “what if”?), we began brainstorming what would ultimately become The Story Jar. We decided very quickly that we wanted this to be a book that celebrates motherhood, that encourages mothers, that recognizes how much they should be loved and honored.

The Story Jar was first published by Multnomah in 2000, but eventually went out of print. Thus Deborah and I are delighted that Hendrickson wanted to bring it out in a new, revised version because we believe these stories can inspire others, just as it did this reader back in 2001:

"I am an avid book reader and have read thousands of books––maybe more––since the age of 5. I can honestly say that [The Story Jar] has touched me more than any other I have read. I cried, I laughed, and I relearned things that I had forgotten long ago as well as realizing things I never knew. Thank you for sharing your stories with your readers. They are truly inspiring. I plan on giving it to all the ‘mothers’ in my life for Mother's Day."

You don’t have to be a writer to want a story jar. It can be a family’s way of preserving memories. Consider having a family get-together where everybody brings an item to go into the jar, and as it drops in, they tell what it means to them, what it symbolizes. We can learn something new about our loved ones when we hear their memories in their own words. Or do what my church did a number of years ago to create a memory for a retiring pastor. Inspired by The Story Jar, members of the congregation brought items to the retirement dinner to put into a story jar or they simply wrote their memories on a piece of paper to go into the jar. It was our way of saying thanks to a man and wife for all of the years they’d given in God’s service.

A story jar can be a tool for remembering all the wonderful things God has done in our own lives. As Mrs. Halley said, not all of God’s miracles are in the Bible. He is still performing them today in countless ways today, changing lives, healing hearts.

In the grip of His grace,

Robin Lee Hatcher

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The Story Jar on ChristianBook:

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