Friday, July 22, 2011

CAW Chapter A Week

The Gentleman Takes a Bride in The Wedding Season

By Louise M. Gouge

Surely Elizabeth Moberly was born to be a nobleman's bride. She can't possibly be attracted to the untitled stranger who interrupts her cousin's wedding. Yet Elizabeth finds herself drawn to Philip Lindsey's tender heart and strong faith. And if Philip has his way, he'll convince Elizabeth the only title she needs is Mrs. Lindsey, beloved wife.

The Wedding Season reached #8 at for Kindle romance anthologies! It has been in the top 50 for over a month.

Hampshire, England

June 1810

"I will not settle for an untitled husband." Lady Diana Moberly lifted her pretty little nose and sniffed. "I shall find a peer to marry, or I'll not marry at all."

Seated beside her cousin in St. Andrew's Church, Miss Elizabeth Moberly listened with rapt attention. After all, Di had just returned from her first London Season and knew everything about courtship and marriage. And in a few minutes, the wedding ceremony would begin, and Di's older sister would marry a handsome gentleman she met at Almack's only two months ago. An untitled gentleman. Di insisted she would do better.

Before Elizabeth could voice agreement, her other cousin, Miss Prudence Moberly, squeezed Elizabeth's hand and leaned around her to address Di.

"But what if the Lord wills for you to marry a good Christian gentleman without a title?"

Elizabeth swung her attention from Pru back to Di.

Di sniffed again. "La, such a question, Pru, but just what I would expect from you. Haven't I told you? The Almighty and I have an understanding about such things." She gazed down her nose at Pru.

Elizabeth released a quiet sigh. She and her two cousins had been born within months of each other eighteen years ago. The youngest daughters of three brothers, they looked almost like triplets, with blond hair, blue eyes, and ivory complexions. They had enjoyed a merry childhood together, yet these days their views on most everything were different. Di was always ready with an opinion on any topic and brooked no contradiction. Pru was the sweetest soul, but she never backed down from differences with their more influential cousin, especially on spiritual matters. Elizabeth vacillated between the two, but these days she tended to follow Di, who always seemed to have more fun.

Still, Elizabeth could not deny the peace she felt in this small stone church, which her family had attended for over two centuries. Nor could she guess how many relatives had been baptized here or how many lay buried in the ancient graveyard outside. This building was a place of beginnings and endings and all good things in between. Whenever she came here, it seemed to enfold her in sheltering arms, encouraging her always to seek God's will, whatever she might undertake in life.

Perhaps she could take the advice of both cousins. She would ask the Lord to send her a titled Christian husband.

But this was Sophia's day, and Elizabeth wished her great happiness with Mr. Whitson. Today, all things seemed to smile upon the bride. The sun shone brightly, and no one in their vast family had succumbed to illness to spoil the celebration. Flowers from Aunt Bennington's garden and bright green and white ribbons bedecked the altar and the pew ends, filling the air with the heady fragrance of roses.

The rustling of ladies' gowns and the shuffling of leather shoes on the wooden floor caught Elizabeth's attention, and she glanced over her shoulder. Across the aisle, several people had moved down so a tall young man of perhaps three and twenty years could slide into the pew.

Goodness, he was handsome, if a bit untidy. His wavy black hair appeared to have been arranged by the wind, and his black coat, while quite the mode, had a leaf caught under one lapel and perhaps a stray burr or two clinging to the sleeves. His lean, strong jaw was clenched, and his blue eyes gleamed with the look of a man set on accomplishing an important task. The gentleman must have ridden posthaste to arrive in such a condition. At the sight of him, Elizabeth's heart seemed to hiccough.

Or perhaps it was Pru's elbow in her ribs. "Tst," her proper cousin admonished.

"Humph." Di's ever-uplifted nose punctuated her disapproval of the latecomer.

Wishing to please her cousins, Elizabeth stared ahead. Her aunt, Lady Bennington, sat on the front row with her eldest son, the viscount. In the second row, Elizabeth's parents, Captain and Mrs. Moberly, sat with one of her brothers.

Soon the door beside the altar opened, and the vicar, Mr. Smythe-Wyndham entered, followed by Uncle Bennington, the bride Lady Sophia, and Mr. Whitson.

Elizabeth's resolve about titles wavered when she saw the groom. Tall, with broad shoulders and blond hair that curled around his well-shaped face, Mr. Whitson more than made up in form what he lacked in rank. Elizabeth could not deny cousin Lady Sophia had found a handsome man, even though Elizabeth preferred darker features.

As if summoned by her own thoughts, she turned toward the dark-featured stranger across the aisle. Seeing the stormy expression on his face, she drew in a quiet gasp. His strong, high cheeks were pinched with. . .anger? Dark stubble shaded his clenched, sun-bronzed jaw. His black eyebrows met in a frown over his straight nose, which pointed like an arrow toward the wedding couple, while his blue eyes shot flashing daggers.

Alarm spread through Elizabeth, but she had no time to think or act.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God and in the face of this congregation to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony." Mr. Smythe-Wyndham intoned the opening words of the solemn rite in his rich baritone. He read of God's purpose for marriage, then moved on to charge the couple to confess it now if there existed any impediment to their union.

Suspicion shot through Elizabeth, and her gaze again slid across the aisle to the dark-browed stranger. His face exhibited a controlled rage much like her father's when indignation filled him over some serious matter. The man edged toward the front of his seat, like a lion about to spring upon its prey.

"If any man do allege and declare any impediment," the minister read, "why they may not be coupled together in Matrimony, by God's Law, or the Laws of this Realm—"

The stranger shot to his feet, holding high a folded sheet of vellum. "Indeed, sir, I do declare an impediment."

Copyright 2011© Louise M. Gouge and Deborah Hale. All rights reserved. Do not reprint.

The Wedding Season is available at Walmart,,, and

Read more about Louise M. Gouge at

Hero in Hiding

By Mitchell Bonds

It's Monty Python meets Lord of the Rings. It's an unholy hybridization of Shrek and the Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

It's an Epic of Disastrous Proportions, and it's available on Amazon.

The sequel to the comedic fantasy satire "Hero, Second-Class," Hero in Hiding brings more laughs, more magic, more Monologues, Diabolical Plots, and in-combat narration than its predecessor. Join the young Hero Cyrus Solburg as he attempts to foil the plot of Voshtyr Demonkin and his attempt to rule the world with the P.L.O.T. Device!


"Serimal! Brother dearest! Come out and play!" Voshtyr spun the tube and flicked it out at arm's length. A marble column a few yards away exploded into dust. "I know you're here," he called. "You can hide until I reduce the castle to rubble, the rubble to dust, and the dust to nothing, but you'll just be wasting both our time!"

"Then waste this, Demonkin!" Jolan hurled one of his black lances at Voshtyr's head.

Voshtyr dropped to the ground, and the bolt passed overhead and blasted the single remaining loadbearing column for the only patch of roof left standing on the entire castle. It collapsed into rubble.

Voshtyr pushed himself up, dusting himself off. "Tsk, tsk, Hero," he said, looking at Jolan. "Destroying centuries-old architecture? That should come out of your pay!"

Jolan scowled. "Don't even start with the cute insults. And no, before you start, I don't care what your plans are, what the number of Heroes you've killed today is, or how pathetic you

think I am. You keep your kharestin Monologue to yourself."

The two sized each other up.

Voshtyr flexed his metal arm, snapping his concealed blade in and out of its chassis.

Jolan took a wide stance and allowed all four of his mechanical limbs to vent pressure. "Looks like you've had some work done too," he said. "Who designed yours?"

"Beelsephaz, Chief Demonic Artifactor," Voshtyr said. "Do you like it?"

"It's not bad . . . for cheap trash," Jolan said. "Mine were designed by Dair Kormari Angelis, master wizard and fine father."

"Cheap trash?" Voshtyr said. "Can yours do this?" His fingers folded and split into knives.

"Something that tawdry?" Jolan said. "Of course not. Mine can do this!" A set of glowing claws sprouted from the fingers of one hand, and his other hand transformed into a hammer. "Your little knife fingers are nothing!"

"Oh, really?" Voshtyr twisted his wrist sideways and tapped on the back of his hand. A full projection of the world appeared, hovering above the arm. Little red pinpricks of light floated inside it. "Can you track all your forces around the world with your arm?"

"No, but I can call my lawyer with my foot!" Jolan bent down and removed his left foot, which he held it up to his ear. "Hello, Cornwall and Associates?" he said. "Jolan Foster. No,

I don't need anything, just making a point. Goodbye." He put his foot back on. "Top that, nancy boy!"

"I can and will!" Voshtyr looked peeved. He tapped his shoulder. "Death ray!"

Jolan slapped his thigh. "Explosive launcher!"

Voshtyr pointed to his elbow. "Grappling hook!"

Jolan pulled a silver screen out of his left arm. "Tanning screen!"


"Beverage warmer!"

"Sandwich press!"

"Nail gun!"

"Alarm clock!"

"Hang glider!"


Jolan looked at Voshtyr askance. "You have a spork?"

"Well . . . yes?" Voshtyr said. "You never know when you might need a spork."


"So it looks like there's only one way to settle this," Green said, drawing his knives.

"All right," the Dwarf said, readying his halberd. "What'd that be, then?"

"A dance-off, of course!" Green threw down his knives points first in the dirt on opposite sides. "He who has the smoothest dance moves keeps the stone. Have at ye!"

The Green Falcon leapt into the air and did a backflip, then launched into a series of acrobatic loop-kicks and tumbles.

The Dwarves looked at each other as if stunned. And then, as a squad, they began to dance.

* * *

It is a little known fact that Dwarves, of all the Races in the world, are the best dancers. It stems from the fact that, over the course of the takeover by Axebeard and his ilk, most forms of

political and personal expression were either severely limited or completely banned. No speech was allowed against the government, nor fliers permitted to be printed, and any assembly for any purpose had to have a government monitor present to enforce these laws.

One thing Axebeard overlooked was the art of Dance.

Thorbeard Hammerheart, a master of Break Dancing, an ancient art combining the artistic and graceful movement of dance with the destructive power of berserker rage, began teaching local Dwarves his art as a manner of political protest. Over the next few years, handfuls of Dwarves would show up in front of the Polithaus where Axebeard held his meetings, and they would dance in protest. At one point, five hundred Dwarves danced in unison in the Grand Square of Underhall, and then they attacked the building.

Dancing gave the Dwarves their freedom from a tyrant, and thus they practice it to this day.

* * *

The Dwarves opened up with a set of unison squat kicks, followed by some traditional Polka crossed with some sort of violent stomp.

Green countered with an Electric Slide and the Wyrm.

The Dwarves launched into a spinning Break Dance, and pulverized boulders as they spun on their heads, slammed to the ground, and did flips off one another.

It went on for five minutes. Green's lack of teammates severely limited his available options, and at the end of that time, he ran out of impressive dance moves.

The Dwarves finished by running up the side of the valley and jumping onto one another's shoulders, then striking a dramatic pose all at once. They held the ta-da pose for a moment, all breathing heavily and glistening with sweat. And maybe some glitter.

The two tiny men Cyrus had seen earlier stepped out of the shrubbery and clapped. "Well done, well done!" said the little man in blue. "Very impressive, both sides. But the victory goes

to the Dwarves."

The Dwarves laughed and clapped Green on the back. "Ye may be a Hero, lad, but you just got served."

(C) 2011 Mitchell Bonds and Marcher Lord Press. Do not reproduce without permission.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Treasuring Emma; Diagnosis Death

Treasuring Emma

by Kathleen Fuller

Book One in the Middlefield Family Series

Emma always put the needs of others ahead of her own.

Now her heart is torn between two men. But will either truly treasure her?

Adam was Emma's first love, but two years ago he left Middlefield, set on experiencing the freedom of living in the Yankee world. In his wake, he left Emma's shattered heart. Now Adam is back and Emma's heart is breaking for other reasons.

Kathleen Fuller is the best-selling author of over twenty novels. Her latest book, Treasuring Emma, releases in August, 2011.

Chapter 1

"Emma, I'm so sorry."

Emma Shetler lifted her gaze to meet Moriah Miller's eyes. Moriah had been a good friend to her over the past year, and Emma had never noticed until now how blue her eyes were. Blue like the summer sky, and at this moment, full of compassion.

Emma tried to swallow down the thorn of grief that blocked her throat. "I appreciate you and your familye coming by this afternoon."

"Your mammi was a very special fraa." Moriah laid a hand on Emma's shoulder. The warmth of the gentle touch seeped through the thin fabric of Emma's black dress.

The color of mourning. Of death.

Despite Moriah's comfort, that's what Emma felt inside. Dead.

She glanced around the living room. As expected, most members of the church district were here to pay their respects and show their support. Dark dresses and white kapps for the women, black pants and hats for the men—all of them in mourning clothes. They milled around the living room. Conversation and movement blurred into a meaningless cacophony of sound and motion.

Emma tapped her toe against the polished wood floor of the old farmhouse, her nerves strung tight as a barbed wire fence. She should have been in the kitchen, preparing and serving the traditional meal. But her sister Clara had taken over the cooking and banished her to the living room. This was supposed to make her feel better, stuck here, doing nothing?

She spied her grandmother Leona across the room. Clara must have chased her out of the kitchen, too. Several women between the ages of fifty and seventy created a circle of support around Grossmammi. Emma smiled to herself as she noticed the women's ample hips drooping over the seats of creaking, wooden folding chairs. They spoke in low tones, nodding and shaking their heads. The thin ribbons of their white prayer kapps swayed against the stiff white aprons covering their dresses. Emma had no doubt they were offering comforting passages of scripture and words of encouragement to their old friend.

During the seventy-five years God had granted her, Leona Shetler had loved her family deeply. But that love came with a cost. Three years ago, her son--Emma's father, James--had passed away. Now she had to deal with the death of a daughter-in-law she loved as her own.

Emma felt the grief stab at her. First her father, then her mother. It didn't seem fair. She wished she could muster even a small measure of the grace and peace her grandmother demonstrated. But instead she simply felt bereft, abandoned, and confused.


She turned her attention back to Moriah. "Sorry. Did you say something?"

"I asked if you needed anything else."

"Oh, ya. I did hear you say that." The words clanged around in her head, empty noise. "Nee, I'm fine."

"All right." Moriah lifted an eyebrow. Her concern echoed that of her sisters Elisabeth and Ruth, along with everyone else who had passed by Emma's chair. The same question over and over: How are you holding up?

How did they think she was holding up? She had nursed her mother through a painful, deadly cancer. She buried her today.

Emma fought to contain her emotions: Anger. Resentment. Guilt. The community's heartfelt concern didn't deserve such rudeness. But nothing anyone said could penetrate the emotional wall that was growing around her, inch by excruciating inch.

Throughout the rest of the afternoon people paused to talk. Relived special moments they'd shared with Emma's mother and father. Assured Emma of God's will, His plan. Phrase after empty phrase about God's comfort and mercy.

She nodded and smiled and tried to look peaceful, while her foot went on tapping incessantly against the floor she'd scrubbed on her hands and knees. Why wouldn't they just leave her alone? That's what she wanted.

No, that wasn't the truth. There was one person she longed to have by her side. Only one. His words, spoken in a soft, deep voice that never failed to affect her, had the best chance of soothing her broken heart.

But he wouldn't come. He had walked out of her life two years ago, and she had no hope he would walk back into it now.

* * *

Diagnosis Death

Richard L. Mabry, MD

"…Another riveting medical drama, the third in his Prescription for Trouble series. Full of sudden twists and turns, the novel's fast pace makes it hard to put down."

(4 ½ stars) ~Romantic Times Book Reviews

The medical career of Dr. Elena Gardner hangs in the balance when she is accused of ending the life of two critically ill patients, one of them her husband. Midnight calls torments her, and she can't decide whether the people around her are friends or enemies. She only knows that one of them is stalking her.

When her comatose husband died in the ICU while on life support, the whispers about Dr. Elena Gardner began. They were stronger after another patient died in ICU. After she took up practice in a small town, the whispers turned to a shout: "mercy killing." What was the dark secret that kept Elena's lips sealed when she should be defending herself?


She stood by his bedside and waited for him to die.

Outside the room, the machines and monitors of the ICU hummed and beeped, doctors and nurses went about their business, and the hospital smell—equal parts antiseptic and despair—hung heavy in the air.

With one decisive move she flipped the switch of the respirator and stilled the machine's rhythmic chuffing. In the silence that followed, she imagined she could hear his heartbeat fade away.

She kissed him and exhaled what passed for a prayer, her lips barely moving as she asked for peace and forgiveness—for him and for her.

She stood for a moment with her head bowed, contemplating the enormity of her action. Then she pocketed the empty syringe from the bedside table and tiptoed out of the room.

* * *

Elena entered her apartment that night to the accompaniment of pounding pulse and jangling nerves. As she crossed the threshold, she asked herself once more, "What's wrong with me?" She was an intelligent woman, a trained physician. There were no demons waiting in the darkness. True, once this apartment had been a home, and now it was only a place to sleep and eat and mourn. But that was no reason to let her grief take over her life.

Then again, it wasn't just the grief. There were the phone calls. If she'd heard heavy breathing or a torrent of obscenities, she'd know what was going on. She could handle that. Any single woman living in the city knew such things occurred. But these calls were more than that. And she thought she finally knew what they represented.

Elena dropped her backpack, slammed the door, and turned on the TV for company. The mail went onto the small table beside her armchair. It could wait. First, a shower and a cup of tea.

Clean, but in no way refreshed, Elena dropped into the easy chair and considered the mail. There was never anything good there anymore. The condolence cards and letters had dried up. She had no family to send her cheery notes. Only her creditors and the people wanting her to spend money she didn't have now accounted for the handful of mail she received.

The envelope was there between her MasterCard bill and an ad for a new textbook. The envelope was a cheap, self-sealing one, addressed by hand in block capitals using blue ballpoint. Two different stamps were affixed to provide the proper postage. The blurred postmark gave no indication of the city of origin.

Elena ran her finger under the flap and pulled out a single sheet of paper from a lined tablet.

The message was printed in the same block capitals. At the end, the writer had pressed down hard enough to penetrate the paper. Elena read the message twice, unable at first to understand and then unwilling to believe it.


She dropped the paper onto the table and pressed both hands to her temples.

Do not reproduce without permission.

Diagnosis Death is available for purchase at fine bookstores, and at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christian

Richard L. Mabry, MD

"Medical Suspense With Heart"

Friday, July 01, 2011

The Muir House

The Muir House

By Mary DeMuth

Zondervan, July 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0310330332

Blurb for The Muir House:

'You'll find home one day. Sure as sweet tea on a hot afternoon.' Words from Willa Muir's sketchy childhood haunt her dreams and color her days with longing, regret, and fear. What do the words mean? Willa is far from sure. When Hale Landon places a ring on her finger, Willa panics, feeling she can't possibly say yes when so much in her past is a mystery. Bent on sorting out her history, Willa returns to Rockwall, Texas, to the Muir House Bed and Breakfast, a former funeral home. But the old place holds her empty memory close to itself. Willa's mother utters unintelligible clues from her deathbed, and the caretaker of the house keeps coveted answers carefully protected. Throw in an old flame, and Willa careens farther away from ever knowing the truth. Set in a growing suburb of Texas, The Muir House explores trauma, healing, love new and old, and the life-changing choices people make to keep their reputations intact.


"Willa Muir is one of the strongest twenty-something characters in modern fiction. Her quest to reconnect with her past before embracing her future will resonate with anyone who has ever left loose ends untied. The Muir House is a fascinating coming-of-age tale with twists and turns that constant leave the reader wanting more. It is Mary DeMuth's finest work yet and it shouldn't be missed. Whether young, or young at heart, you will find yourself enraptured by Willa's determination to finally find home. In fact, this book just might lead you home too." Shannon Primicerio, author of The Divine Dance

"Mary DeMuth has once again captured my soul with a story that resonated long after I closed the back cover. DeMuth is a master at immersing readers in another world—one of hopes and fears and triumphs. She's done it again with The Muir House. Her finest novel yet." James L. Rubart, bestselling author of Rooms


Seattle, March 2009

In that hesitation between sleep and waking, that delicious longing for dawn to overwhelm darkness, Willa Muir twisted herself into the sheets, half aware of their binding, while the unknown man's face said those words again.

You'll find home one day.

She opened her eyelids, forced wakefulness, maligning sleep's lure. Her two legs thrust themselves over the side of the storm-tossed bed. Toes touched hardwoods, chilling her alert, finally. She pulled the journal to herself in the dusky gray of the room, opened its worn pages, then touched pen to paper. She copied the words as she heard them. The same sentences she'd written year after year in hopes of deciphering its message, understanding it fully. But they boasted the same syntax, the same prophecy, the same shaded sentences spoken by a dream man with a broken, warbled voice. A faceless man of the South, words erupting like sparklers from the black hole of Willa's memory.

Why couldn't she remember the man? Understand his cryptic message?

Something stirred then. A flash of recognition. Willa closed the journal, placed her pen diagonally on top, then curled herself into a sleep ball, covers over her head like a percale cocoon. She forced her eyes shut, willing her mind to remember the glinting.

There! Like an Instamatic from her childhood, the flashbulb illuminated a gold ring. The man didn't cherish it on his finger. He held it like a monocle, as if he could see through it clear to eternity. Through that ring, a circular snapshot of the man clarified. Though the rest of his face faded into blue mist, his eye, wrinkle-creased and wise, focused like an eye doctor's chart under the perfect lens. A crocodile-green iris circled a large black pupil, its whites streaked pink with lacy vessels. It winked at Willa, or maybe it merely blinked. Hard to decipher, looking at one eye. The eye held sadness and grace, laughter and grief — ​and an otherworldly hint of promise. Willa memorized that eye behind the gold ring.

But like every other snatch of Willa's memory from that vacant memory of a four-year-old, the eye vaporized.

So familiar.

Yet so unfamiliar.

Nearly the green of Blake's eyes so long ago, those bewitching, enticing eyes she'd made herself turn away from, breaking her heart. Shattering his.

She returned to her journal, sketching the ring, the hazy face. The muddy-green eye she highlighted with an olive pencil. Light played at the window shade. She tugged it down so it would fling ceilingward, which it did in flapping obedience. She opened the sash, ushering in Seattle's evergreen perfume. The crisp air stung her Southern arms with goose bumps as she inhaled its scent. Fifty-five degrees in the morning felt like ice to Willa, even now. But facts were facts: You just couldn't compare the air's pristine cleanness to the South's sometimes thicker-than-mud humidity. And if she could help it, she'd never breathe Texas again.

Mother made it quite clear. Not even Southern hospitality could woo Willa back, not with Mother's hateful words swirling through the heat.

Willa fingered Mrs. Skye's letter atop her pile of books. "Come home," the caretaker wrote, in plainer-than-plain English — ​dark blue letters on crisp white stationery. "I need your help remodeling the Muir House. Need your expertise. Besides, your mother needs you. She's fading as fast as the house's paint peels. It's time."

Willa shook her head in response. "No," she said to her room, her heart, her will. "I can't. Won't."

But something deep inside told her it was time to find home.

Willa folded Mrs. Skye's letter in half. Instead of quartering it and returning it to its envelope, she tore it into confetti. When she left the room, the confetti stuck to her bare feet.

Do not reproduce without permission.

Mary DeMuth