Sunday, March 30, 2008

Allen Arnold on Christian Fiction via Novel Journey

I wanted to share an article with you that I read of a interview/couple of statements from Allen Arnold of Thomas Nelson on just what Christian Fiction is about. Jump on over to Novel Journey and read all about it.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Debating the idea of a book

I'm debating the idea of a book. It would take place in South Carolina in the 1800s. Does anyone have any book recommendations, just to get in the mood and ideas of the times? Be it fiction or real historical, all ideas are desired.


Sense and Sensibility on PBS

Sense and Sensibility

Airing March 30 + April 6, 2008 on PBS check local listings

Sisters Elinor (Hattie Morahan, The Golden Compass) and Marianne Dashwood (Charity Wakefield, Jane Eyre) have opposite approaches when it comes to the pursuit of love. One is tempered and rational, the other impulsive and full of youthful passion. The sisters attract a trio of suitors -- handsome Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens, The Line of Beauty), heroic Colonel Brandon (David Morrissey, State of Play), and effusive John Willoughby (Dominic Cooper, The History Boys). But are the men as genuine as they seem? A romantic odyssey full of seduction and abandonment unfolds in Andrew Davies's bold adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel.

Sense Behind the Scenes Video
The cast, the costumes, the locations and the relentless rain that threatened to ruin it all.

A Life Coach Takes on Austen
Author and coach Cheryl Richardson on the surprising insights Jane Austen has for your 21st century life.

The Men of Austen
Heroic Brandon or passionate Willoughby? Meet Austen's heroic, aloof, and dashing leading men, and pick your favorite.

Longing, Betrayal and Redemption
Screenwriter Andrew Davies on his sultry start and invented scenes in Sense and Sensibility, and why Austen's book deserved another draft.

For the first time on US television, Masterpiece presents adaptations of all the Jane Austen novels and a new biopic of her life.
Northanger Abbey
Mansfield Park
Miss Austen Regrets
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility

Explore Austen's world and her enduring legacy:
Austen Biography
Book and Film Club
Learning Resources
Teacher's Guide

Buy the DVD

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Currently Reading

Currently, I'm reading the following:

When Zeffie Got a Clue by Peggy Darty
Ryann Watters and the King's Sword
DragonSpell by Donita K. Paul
Shadow of Evil by M. C. Pearson

My still reading with a bookmarks, but put on hold:
How to Get Your Husband to Listen to You by Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
Faina (Alias) by Rudy Gaborno and Chris Hollier
Auralia's Colors by Jeffery Overstreet
Sweet Caroline by Rachel Hauck
The Chronicles of Narnia (Harper Collins full chronicles edition) by C. S. Lewis

Out from the library and hope to read before their due:
Daughter of Silk by Linda Lee Chaikin
Just Jane by Nancy Moser
Developing Christian Fiction Collections for Children and Adults by Barbara J. Walker
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
Plan B by Anne Lamott
Kaleidoscope Eyes by Karen Ball
DragonFire by Donita K. Paul (but I have to finish DragonSpell, DQuest, and DKnight first!!)

My soon to read for review pile:
Amber Morn by Brandilynn Collins
Trouble the Water by Nicole Seitz
My Soul to Keep by Melanie Wells
The Begotten by Lisa T. Bergren
Rainbow's End by Irene Hannon
Family Ever After by Linda Goodnight

My TBR (just 'cause) pile:
The Restorer's Son by Sharon Hinck
The Restorer's Journey by Sharon Hinck
DragonQuest by Donita K. Paul
DragonKnight by Donita K. Paul
Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson
The Price of Freedon by mberger
Illuminated by Matt Bronleewe
The Measure of a Lady by Deeanne Gist
When Comes the Spring by Janette Oke
Time Masters by Geralyn Beauchamp
The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka
Where My Heart Belongs by Tracie Peterson
A Tapestry of Hope by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller
A lady of High Regard by Tracie Peterson
The Love of His Brother by Jennifer AlLee
Remember to Forget by Deborah Raney
A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman
The Stonewycke Trilogy by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella

And my move is almost complete. I have been spending the last week unpacking boxes and going back to the apartment several times to get a card load of stuff to bring out to the house. It's almost over!!! Now, if you excuse me, I have some reading to do.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Betrayed by J.M. Windle

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Tyndale House Publishers (February 6, 2008)


Jeanette Windle


As the child of missionary parents, award-winning author and journalist Jeanette Windle grew up in the rural villages, jungles, and mountains of Colombia, now guerrilla hot zones. Her detailed research and writing is so realistic that it has prompted government agencies to question her to determine if she has received classified information. Currently based in Lancaster, PA, Jeanette has lived in six countries and traveled in more than twenty. She has more than a dozen books in print, including political/suspense best-seller CrossFire and the Parker Twins series.


Fires smolder endlessly below the dangerous surface of Guatemala City’s municipal dump.

Deadlier fires seethe beneath the tenuous calm of a nation recovering from brutal civil war. Anthropologist Vicki Andrews is researching Guatemala’s “garbage people” when she stumbles across a human body. Curiosity turns to horror as she uncovers no stranger, but an American environmentalist—Vicki’s only sister, Holly.

With authorities dismissing the death as another street crime, Vicki begins tracing Holly’s last steps, a pilgrimage leading from slum squalor to the breathtaking and endangered cloud forests of the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere. But every unraveled thread raises more questions. What betrayal connects Holly’s murder, the recent massacre of a Mayan village, and the long-ago deaths of Vicki’s own parents?

Nor is Vicki the only one demanding answers. Before her search reaches its startling end, the conflagration has spilled across international borders to threaten an American administration and the current war on terror. With no one turning out to be who they’d seemed, who can Vicki trust and who should she fear?

A politically relevant tale of international intrigue and God’s redemptive beauty and hope.

The things that caught me about this book was first the cover... At first glance I see a bird, but look closer... that's not a bird... I haven't quite finished the book yet (you know me with my head going in so many directions), but just in the prologue I was caught by these words:

They were blissfully unware of the pit viper, green as the fern around which it coiled, just above their heads. Or the jaguar watching curiously from under a fern patch for a moment before it rose silently and wandered off.
Or the difference between rapid weapon fire and thunder.
The illusion of tranquility was so complete that the youngest ventured a low, contended humming as she patted and scooped. It was the same lullaby her sister had been singing.

J.M. Windle draws such a picture that is completely realistic and compelling. Please join me in reading this adventurous mystery of Vicki's life!


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Please pray for Kristy!

I'm asking you to lift up Kristy (Aussietigger), a fellow alliance member of all the FIRST groups, in prayer. Her husband drowned in a boating accident on Easter.

She gave the post link to give to you about the tragedy:

Her regular blog address is

Please go leave her an encouraging comment and pray for her as well as all who also loved her husband, Steve.

Some lyrics that come to mind and help slightly to ease the thought of pain:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide! When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me. Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day; Earth's joy grow dim; its glories pass away; Change and decay in all around I see; O Thou who changest not, abide with me. I need Thy presence every passing hour, What but They grace can foil the tempter's power? Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be? Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me. I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless; Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness. Where is death's sting? Where, grave, they victory? I triumph still, if Thou abide with me. Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes; Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies; Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee; In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me. - Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847)

Monday, March 24, 2008

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness CSFF

CSSF Blog Tour

Our March tour of Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour for Andrew Peterson’s On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, first in the Wingfeather Saga, will start today and run through Wednesday, March 24-26. This title make seem to familiar to you, because on Wednesday, March 19th I ran a little blurb with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance Tour on this book as well!

Andrew Peterson is a man of many talents. I heard from a friend over at Christian Fiction
that the reason I have heard of Andrew's name before was Veggie Tales. Well, I love Veggie Tales!!! So... knowing the silliness there... and then reading the title "On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness" you realize there is going to be something different, a little scary, and slightly or mostly silly about this book.

I'm about a third of the way through this book and I haven't quite formed an opinion yet. It is silly at parts, but I can see underlying meanings that are fabulously woven into the plot and characters. Absolutely I can say that this would be a great read for families during an out loud story-time. As soon as I'm through I'll post a review!


Read an excerpt here.

Featured author, Andrew Peterson
Web site -
Author moderated blog -

*Participants’ Links:

Sally Apokedak
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Green
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Michael Heald
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Pamela Morrisson
John W. Otte
Deena Peterson
Steve Rice
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

For Pete's Sake by Linda Windsor

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

For Pete's Sake

Book Two of the Piper Cove Chronicles

(Avon Inspire - April 1, 2008)


Linda Windsor


Maryland author Linda Windsor has written some twenty-nine historical and contemporary novels for both the secular and inspirational markets, but she is most noted for delivering “The Lift of Laughter and Spirit” in her modern inspirational romances.

A Christy finalist and winner of numerous industry awards, Linda has written for Multnomah Publishing (historical fiction and contemporary romances), Barbour Publishing (romcom novella), and Westbow Press (the Moonstruck romantic comedy trilogy). Wedding Bell Blues the first book in her new The Piper Cove Chronicles series, is featured on Avon Inspire's launch list.

In addition to writing and doing fiction-writing workshops at conferences across the country, Linda continues a music and lay speaking ministry started by her and her late husband, and she is a part-time financial analyst. She also works on “as desperately needed” home improvement projects on the 18th-century-plus house that she and her husband began restoring in 1986. Wallpaper and paint are definitely in her near future.


Saturday, April 5th, 2008
Jack's Religious Gift Shop
701 Snow Hill Road
Salisbury, MD 21804

Saturday, April 12, 2008
The Gospel Shop
800 South Salisbury Blvd
Salisbury, MD 21801
11:00 AM


For Pete's Sake is a remarkable story about the unlikely live between a grown-up tomboy and the millionaire next door.

Ellen Brittingham isn’t sure true love exists until she contracts to do the landscaping of the estate of the sophisticated widower next door, Adrian Sinclair. Adrian has it all—at least on the surface, He’s engaged to a beautiful woman who helped him build a successful business and he’ll soon have a mom for his troubled son Pete.

Yet, from the moment Ellen rescues a stranded Adrian on her Harley, his well-ordered world turns upside down, cracking his thin façade of happiness and revealing the void of faith and love behind it. Even more, his son seems to have his own sites set on Ellen – as his new mom.

As Ellen’s friendship grows with Pete, she realizes that his father is about to marry the wrong woman for the right reasons. And despite her resolve to remain “neighbors only” with the dad, the precocious boy works his way into her heart, drawing Ellen and Adrian closer. Close enough for heartbreak, for Pete’s sake!

But how can her heart think that Adrian Sinclair is the one when he’s engaged to a sophisticated beauty who is everything Ellen isn’t. When Ellen’s three best friends see she’s been bitten by the love bug, they jump into action and submit her to a makeover that reveals the woman underneath her rough exterior and puts her in contention for Adrian’s love.

But Ellen must ask herself whether she’s ready to risk the heart that she’s always held close. Will Ellen be able to trust that God brought this family into her life for a reason? Or will her fear of getting hurt cause her to turn away from God’s plan and her one true chance at love?

My thoughts:
I do not know about you, but after reading this blurb I cannot see how someone could not want this book in their TBR pile. I have picked up the first one now, Wedding Bell Blues, and I'm going to read it as well. I'll post a review when they are both ready. Avon Inspire is a fairly new publishing title and all of their works that I have read so far are completely fabulous. Previously, I have reviewed Awaken My Heart by DiAnn Mills and Distant Heart by Tracey Bateman, both great Avon Inspire books.
Other Avon Inspire books that look neat and are being put on my to-read list as soon as this is posted are Blessed Assurance by Lyn Cote, The Trophy Wives Club by Kristin Billerbeck, and of course Wedding Bell Blues and For Pete's Sake by Linda Windsor.

Mission Statement:
Avon Inspire is Avon's line of inspirational women's fiction that features that which matters most: family, community, faith, and love. Encompassing contemporary romance, chick lit, romantic suspense, and historicals, these captivating stories engage the heart and refresh the spirit. In summer 2007, Avon Inspire will debut with two enchanting, uplifting novels. See the official press release here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Short Meditation during Lent repeat

A short meditation during lent…

What is crucifixion?

A medical doctor provides a physical description:

The cross is placed on the ground and the exhausted man is quickly thrown backward with his shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square wrought iron nail through the wrist deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement. The cross is then lifted into place. The left foot is pressed backward against the right food, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees flexed. The victim is now crucified. As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain; the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places the full weight on the nail through his feet. Again he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of his feet. As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through his muscles, knotting them in deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. Hours pass by of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint wrenching cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn form his lacerated back as he moves up and down against rough timber. Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart. It is now almost over-the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level-the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues the tortured lungs are making frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. He can feel the chill of death creeping through his tissues… Finally he can allow his body to die… All this the Bible records with the simple words, "and they crucified Him." (Mark 15:24)

What wondrous love is this?

Many people do not know that pain and suffering our Lord, Jesus Christ went through for us…

Because of the brutality, crucifixion was given a sentence to only its worst offenders of the law. Thieves, murderers, and rapists would be the types of creeps who got crucified. Yet, here Jesus is being crucified between two hardened criminals…

He was slain in between the sinners, for our sins as our savior.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Emma on PBS


Airing March 23, 2008 on PBS check local listings

Emma Woodhouse (Kate Beckinsale, The Aviator) has a penchant for matchmaking, despite her imperfect success rate. Curiously, as Emma is forcing introductions, she seems entirely disinterested in finding a match for herself. �She does feel a twinge of interest in Frank Churchill, (Raymond Coulthard, He Knew He Was Right) and a brotherly regard for Mr. Knightley (Mark Strong, Prime Suspect 6). When Jane Fairfax (Olivia Williams, The Sixth Sense, Miss Austen Regrets) enters the scene with a certain air of mystery, intrigue gets layered into Jane Austen's tale of misconstrued romances.

The Men of Austen
Fancy yourself a better matchmaker than Emma? Meet Austen's heroic, aloof, and dashing leading men, and pick your favorite.

Longing, Betrayal and Redemption
Screenwriter Andrew Davies on the arrogant leading lady of Emma, and why it was his most challenging Austen adaptation.

Between Two Worlds by Mike Timmis

Introducing the new blog alliance devoted to Non~Fiction books, Non~FIRST a component of Fiction in Rather Short Takes (FIRST). (Join our alliance! Click the button!) This is our very first blog tour. Normally we will post every 15th day of every month, featuring an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

The special feature author is:

Mike Timmis

and his book:

NavPress (February 2008)


Mike Timmis had it all.

How does a kid from working-class Detroit become an international ambassador for Christ? And what motivated an evangelical-based ministry to choose this Catholic as its chairman? Mike Timmisís inspiring life as a Catholic and evangelical leader reveals how our unity in Christ transcends the two worldsí differences. From him, we learn how Catholics and evangelicals can go into an alienated world together as ministers of reconciliation and witnesses to Godís salvation and love.

Mike Timmis is a chairman of both Prison Fellowship in America and Prison Fellowship International. He was also a practicing lawyer and businessman. A Roman Catholic, Mike is deeply involved in ministry in his hometown of Detroit as well as projects in Africa and Central and South America. He and his wife, Nancey, are parents of two and grandparents of four.


Chapter One

Taking Life into My Own Hands

On January 18, 1991, I was flying in a small two-engine plane in east-central Africa from Burundi to Kenya. Our party had just come from a wonderful meeting with Burundi’s President Pierre Buyoya where we’d shared the gospel with him and a number of cabinet ministers. Still, we were somewhat anxious because the Persian Gulf War had started the previous day. Right then, American fighters were in the air against Iraqi positions.

My wife, Nancy, and my son, Michael Jr., were with me, as well as Gene Dewey, the former second-in-command at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Sam Owen, a fellow believer then living in Nairobi. This trip was part of the quiet diplomacy I had undertaken as a member of a group called The Fellowship. We worked on behalf of the poor by raising up Jesus with world leaders, one means of pursuing the ministry of reconciliation that Christ entrusted to His followers.

As we flew over northern Tanzania, the pilot was suddenly issued an order that we were to land immediately. I was sitting close enough to the cockpit to hear the squawking instructions coming over the radio. I quickly assured the pilot that we had the requisite permission to fly over Tanzanian air space. The State Department had issued an order to American citizens to stay clear of Tanzania, an Iraq ally, so I made sure—or thought I had—that we had permission to fly over Tanzania en route to Kenya. The pilot relayed my protest to the Tanzanians.

“No, you do not have permission!” came the reply. “You must land immediately, or we will force you down.”

We landed at the small city airport of Mwanza. As we stepped down onto the tarmac, a military jeep pulled up. A cadre of officials and police officers met us and immediately arrested the pilot and impounded the plane.

Their leader also demanded our passports. I was reluctant to give these up, because no matter what alternative flight arrangements we might be able to make, we would be stranded without passports. Because I had requested—and been granted—permission to fly over Tanzania, our detention was making me angry. (Later I found out that the flight service we were using had previously flouted Tanzanian regulations and had again on this occasion.) Because my family was with me, I restrained my temper. My jaw clenched, I reluctantly handed over my passport.

We were allowed to find our own accommodations in Mwanza, and we found a car that took us to the New Hotel Mwanza. I would hate to have seen the old Hotel Mwanza. We were the hotel’s only guests, and for good reason. The first thing I did was check under the bed for bugs and rats.

As we caught our breath in our hotel room, I asked Nancy if she was afraid. “No, I’m not afraid,” she said. “You are with me, our son is with us, and God is with us.”

Even though we were stranded in an African backwater, I felt the same. I knew I was where God wanted us to be and felt—as I always have in my travels to what are now 114 nations—that God was going before me. In my many years of traveling on various missions, I’ve always felt protected by the special anointing that comes with God’s commission. Lost geographically, I was still at home spiritually, and for that reason at peace.

Our party of five met for dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. My family is Catholic, and Gene Dewey and Sam Owen were evangelicals, but the unity we knew in the Lord sustained us, even when the dinner turned out to be rancid.

After a little while, the hotel manager, having no other guests, joined us at our table. This made way for the night’s entertainment. Four strapping young men in red overalls—the kind gas station attendants used to wear—came out, and with lamplight smiles launched into song:

My baaaaah-dy lies over the ocean,

My baaaaah-dy lies over the sea. . . .

Yes, they said “body” not “bonnie,” and since we all felt an ocean away from home, the song struck us as hilarious. Then the quartet followed with “Home on the Range,” and we nearly wept from laughing. We clapped and cheered, showing our appreciation to the young men. They had done us more good than they could possibly have known.

I spent the next day searching for transportation out of Mwanza. The others paid special attention to BBC radio reports on the progress of the war.

Within thirty-six hours, a plane flew in for us from Nairobi. We went out to the airport to meet it, eager to hightail it out of there. But when we arrived at the airport, no one seemed inclined to return our passports. Thankfully, Gene Dewey was already anticipating this. Because of his time with the United Nations, Gene had the most experience in dealing with government officials. He had also been a colonel in Vietnam and had a knack for being cool and fiercely determined at the same time. I kept asking him when he thought we’d get our passports back—and how. “Mike, don’t worry about it,” he’d say.

As we were walking out to the plane, bags in hand, with a couple of Tanzanian officials to the rear in escort, I looked over at Gene and said as forcefully as I could under my breath, “Gene, our passports!”

“Not now, Mike,” he replied quietly but just as forcefully. “Just don’t worry about it. Keep walking.”

It wasn’t until we were in the air that Gene unbuttoned his shirt and fished out all our passports.

“How did you get those?” I asked.

“I came out to the airport last night,” he said. “I broke into the office and took them. If you had kept talking, they might have found out!”

Gene’s street smarts reminded me of how I’d grown up and made my way. I asked myself, “How did I get here? How did a kid from the rough and gritty streets of Detroit end up on a trip to see international dignitaries? How could a guy born and raised Catholic go on a mission representing a largely evangelical organization?”

I’ve had many amazing, frightening, and heart-rending experiences as I’ve traveled the world in service to the King of kings. And one thing I can say for certain: when you entrust yourself completely to God and make yourself available to Him, you’re in for an adventure.


“Mike, the only way you can be ensured of success,” my father once told me, “is if you take it into your own hands and go into the professions.” I was an Irish Catholic kid from the battling West Side of Detroit, the youngest of five children, keen on finding my own place in the world.

My father remains the strongest man I think I’ve ever known, with enormous hands, a powerful physique, and an energy that stayed with him into his nineties. I saw him lift a car out of a ditch when he was in his sixties, although he did injure his back. As young men, he and his brother Brian went out to western Canada, where they took jobs as real-live cowboys, breaking horses. Brian stayed, became a Mounty in Regina, Saskatchewan, and played professional football there. My dad returned to Ottawa and played wingback for the Ottawa Roughriders.1 There he met an Irish girl who was both passionate and practical, and he had the good sense to ask for her hand.

My parents emigrated from Canada to Detroit in 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression. My mother’s uncle had moved there earlier from Ottawa and convinced my parents that the Motor City was one of the last places in North America where a man could find regular employment. Our relatives soon moved back to Ottawa, but my father and mother stayed, and Dad hired on with the city as a bus driver. He eventually worked his way up through the civil service system and retired as a bus station manager.

Most of his working life turned out to be far different from the spirited and reckless days as a cowboy and pro football player. I was the last of five children, separated in age by twelve years from my eldest sibling, Margaret Claire. My parents were well into their forties when I was born in 1939, and so I never knew my father as a young man. Or a particularly happy man—not at least until much later in his life when, in retirement, he was able to live on a farm and keep horses.

While I was growing up, I remember my dad collapsing into his chair at the end of his long days. He’d take up one of Luke Short’s westerns—he probably read ten times every novel the man had ever written. I can’t say for certain whether he ever graduated from high school. I know he served in the Canadian forces in World War I, beginning in 1914 at seventeen. And since he was born in 1897, so he might have left for the war before graduating.

We were a serious family, always working or studying or going to St. Brigid’s, our local Catholic parish. Our faith was a great comfort to both my father and mother, but it was also a cause of concern as to the children’s futures. My father felt that Irish Catholics were discriminated against, so he insisted that my brothers and I become doctors.

At the time, all of Detroit was divided into ethnic neighborhoods of Poles, Eastern European Jews, Irish, Germans, Italians, and so on. We lived in an Irish Catholic enclave. The houses stood one against the other on forty-foot lots, with bay windows to one side of half porches. The weave of that community was very close-knit. As a ten year-old, I once cursed on a playground a block from home and received a slap for it when I came in ten minutes later for supper. A neighbor had heard what I said and promptly telephoned my mother.

But such strictures helped keep the city a safe and open place where I was free to roam. Not only did we not lock our front door, but I don’t remember there being a key. From the age of eight or nine, I could walk down to the local candy store and then hop busses down to Woodward Avenue, where Hudson’s, the giant department store, mounted huge Christmas window displays.

At the same time, the neighborhood had its own pugnacious code: You stood up to a fight or you simply couldn’t live there. Taking a beating was far better than being constantly harassed, so I did a lot of fighting as a kid. I can remember coming home from school one winter day. My sister had taken the bus home from college, and one of the neighborhood bullies, whom I’ll call Larry, had thrown an “ice ball” that hit her in the face.

My dad said to me, “Take care of him.”

Larry’s reputation as a bully was well earned, and I said, “Dad, this guy is going to kill me!”

“I don’t care,” Dad replied sternly. “You go out and you take care of him—now!”

Anger with my father for ordering this confrontation drove me out into the streets. When I caught sight of Larry, I ran after him, yelling at him vehemently. He hardly knew what hit him! I was so angry with Dad that I beat the living daylights out of the kid. I had him down on his back by the curb, where water was running from the snowmelt, and I whaled on him.

My father may have been so concerned about prejudice against Catholics because he’d had to overcome that obstacle when he started courting my mother. My dad’s family was high-church Anglican. He converted when he married my mother, which wasn’t much of a stretch, since high-church Anglicans worship in a liturgical style as close to Catholicism as Protestantism gets. Still, crossing to Rome was always an issue, especially at a time when Help Wanted signs included the postscript “No Irish Need Apply.”

My mother’s family, the O’Reillys, originally from County Clare, were Irish Catholics to the core. My mother was a petite woman, not more than five feet tall. In appearance, she was what they call dark Irish, with mahogany and cherry wood strands in her hair and a flame in her light-blue eyes. The O’Reillys, who owned brickyards, were far more well-to-do than my dad’s family.

The pictures of my mother that I keep close by are candid shots; they show her as a young woman with the new bob of short hair that came in with the 1920s, striking a jaunty attitude. I can imagine this young Irish lass losing her head over my powerful, handsome father.

She was told never to have children because of a weak heart, and then she went and had five. Better educated than my dad, she had been to what was called a “normal school,” or teacher’s college. I would guess that many of our family’s intellectual and creative gifts came through my mother. My brother Gerry, who the family called Sonny, would go on to be a famous cardiologist; Hilary, an outstanding surgeon; and both my sisters, Margaret Claire and Agnes Cecile, went to college and had marriages and careers that took them well up the economic ladder.

Once married, my mother never worked outside the home but gave herself completely and utterly to her husband and children. That didn’t keep her from having a sharp tongue, or so my sisters claim; I never was cut deeply enough to remember her that way. It was not so much that I was the “baby” of the family, but that my mother’s health was in serious decline by the time I reached early adolescence. She was too exhausted to protest against much of anything by then.

Both my father and my mother led our family in practicing our Catholic faith. In fact, when I think of my religious formation, I remember the faith as a distinctly family affair. Our devotions as a family made a great impression on me. We devoted the month of May to praying with Mary—not to Mary—to her son, Jesus.

Every Sunday night, my whole family knelt down at seven o’clock and prayed for the conversion of Russia. My brothers Sonny and Hilary began to protest against the practice when they became busy medical students, but even then my parents insisted that the time be set aside.

On Tuesday evenings, we went to St. Brigid’s for devotions, praying the rosary, making novenas, or listening as a “mission” was preached—what evangelical Protestants know as a revival service. These devotions largely disappeared from the Catholic Church after Vatican II in the early sixties and only now are being reinstated. The piety they encouraged came to be regarded as old-fashioned. Through these devotions, the Catholics of my parents’ generation—and generations before them—experienced the Catholic faith as intensely personal. The devotions also encouraged them to recognize their faith as God’s work in their lives. I experienced enough of this to clearly understand that my salvation was dependent on the completed work of Christ—not on my own righteousness. There was never a time when I was under the misimpression that my “works” would get me into heaven.

I attended the local parish school, St. Brigid’s, where I was prepared for First Communion and Confirmation by the sisters who taught us. My first confession at the age of six saw me truly penitent, if confused. There were no secrets in our Irish Catholic family, and everyone wanted to know to what I had confessed. I told my brothers and sisters that I had admitted to adultery about a hundred times.

“You did?” they asked. “What did you mean?”

“That I picked my nose!”

I’m sure the priest about fell off the chair as he smothered his laughter.

Still, my First Communion was a memorable experience at which I received a child’s prayer book—one that I only recently parted with when I gave it to my granddaughter on the occasion of her First Communion. It meant that much to me. Even as a young child, I took the privilege of being invited into communion with God very seriously. I think most children do, because they understand intuitively what it means to be God’s child.

At St. Brigid’s, we were schooled in the Baltimore Catechism, so when I was confirmed in the Catholic faith in fifth grade, I knew all the right answers to the classic questions. Who made us? Who is God? Why did God make us? In retrospect, I wish I had understood and experienced these rites of passage more in terms of an evolving relationship with Christ rather than as childhood milestones. Confirmation comes later now, when a child is about twelve or thirteen, which I think is good; older children are better equipped to understand Confirmation as a personal commitment. At the same time, I’ve always been glad that the rudiments of the faith were drilled into me. This provided me with certainty and hope at many difficult times in my life, especially in the crises that crouched around the next corner.


My peaceful, happy childhood was disturbed by illness when I was about twelve years old. I returned home from a Boy Scout retreat with pneumonia and what the doctors suspected was rheumatic fever. I was sicker than I probably knew for a number of months and missed virtually all of eighth grade. After I regained my strength the first time, I had a relapse, and our doctor became worried about the condition of my heart. He ordered that I not participate in any sports. When I entered U of D High (University of Detroit High School, now called University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy), I was allowed to climb the stairs to the freshman and sophomore classrooms only once a day.

This was especially frustrating because I’d always had amazing stamina; I really didn’t pay much attention to the doctors’ orders except when under the direct supervision of my parents or the school. Still, the inactivity led to weight gain, and I became a pudgy kid, which I hated. What’s more, the physical isolation my illness brought with it became an emotional isolation. Like my father, I took refuge in books, becoming a voracious reader. I liked history and novels especially, and, as I often had trouble sleeping, I would grab a book and read long into the night.

My mother worried over me because of my health, of course, and that added to my brothers’ and sisters’ complaints that I was being spoiled. One time, Hilary was especially upset with me. We were arguing, and my mother admonished him to lay off me.

“He’s turning into a spoiled jerk,” Hilary insisted.

“Look at me,” she replied. “You’ve had a mother. He’s not going to have a mother. Leave him alone.”

Anyone could see by her pallor that her health was in decline. Indeed, her heart condition was growing rapidly worse. I vividly remember the night she died, April 11, 1955. It was Easter night. Sonny, a senior, and Hilary, a junior in medical school, were attending to her. They were talking on the phone to her doctor, their voices rising and becoming more strained as they followed his instructions with little effect. I came into her room while this was going on and heard Sonny yell into the phone, “I’ve already given her a shot of adrenaline and it’s not working!”

I looked at her, propped up on two pillows. I asked her, “Mama, what’s wrong?”

She was always a very prayerful woman, and she chose to answer in the only way she could. She took out her rosary from between the pillows and with her thumb held up the crucifix to me. That was the last thing she did. I was fifteen years old.

My father had always revered and worshiped my mother. He mourned her loss terribly. It so happened, as well, that her death came as the nest was about to empty. Long before my mother’s final illness, Margaret Claire and Sonny each had been planning their weddings. Both were married and gone within two months of my mother’s death. Hilary left for the University of Pennsylvania to begin his residency in surgery. The following year, Agnes Cecile, married as well.

My father never had many friends. He didn’t go out with the boys, and he drank hardly at all. For many years, he had lived a life of heroic, if quiet, sacrifice as he devoted himself to his wife and children. Our at-home family of seven had quickly dwindled to two.

Within a year after my mother’s death, my father and I fell into a grim Sunday regimen. We would go to Mass at ten o’clock, then drive to the cemetery, where my father would weep so uncontrollably that I would have to drive us home.

I was very lonely, but also very religious. We had Mass every day at U of D High, and that was important to me. I thought long and hard about becoming a priest.

Every day, when school let out at 2:35, I would stop by the chapel once more. I’d sit there and talk to my mother and pray, then hitchhike or take the bus home to an empty house, which was difficult.

I was fortunate to have my sisters and brothers and good friends to lean on. They made up much of what was lacking at home. Margaret Claire became like a second mom; as the eldest she had always nurtured me. When she married two months after my mother died, she and her husband, Russ Hastings, rented a small apartment only two or three miles from where we lived. She was extremely good to me, providing a desperately needed last dose of mothering.

I would often ride over to their apartment on my bike. Margaret Claire taught me manners, particularly how to behave around young women—a subject of increasing interest. She also taught me how to dance. She would put “Peg of My Heart” and the other romantic ballads of the mid-fifties on her old phonograph and show me how to glide with my partner around the dance floor. She’d let me cadge a cigarette from her pack now and again, but “only one,” she’d say, keeping to a motherly moderation.

Margaret Claire had worked as an executive secretary before marriage and would later raise seven children of her own. Russ was a CPA and became comptroller of Dodge Truck. They were the first among my family members to enter a whole new socioeconomic class.

Within eighteen months of my mother’s death, I underwent a transformation that was partly physical, certainly emotional, and had unexpected spiritual extensions. I began to realize that my brothers and sisters were off making their own lives. I felt that I was completely on my own and that I would rise or fall on my own strength. My father’s admonition that I take my success into my own hands became an implacable necessity. At the deepest level, I decided that I was going to live my life and not be a victim. I wasn’t going to feel sorry for myself. I was going to carve out my own life, whatever it took. I began hardening myself and maturing swiftly.

Between my junior and senior years of high school, I determined not to be fat anymore. I fasted, eating sparingly, all summer while working as a house painter in the sticky Detroit heat. My last growth spurt hit at the same time, taking me over the six-foot mark. I lost thirty pounds and grew about four inches. When I came back to school for my senior year, people hardly recognized me. The following summer, when I was working as a scaffold painter with a crew of older men, they took to calling me “Six O’clock,” because I was as thin and straight as clock hands at six o’clock.

Losing so much weight renewed my confidence and helped me reconnect with the tremendous stamina and energy I’d known as a child. I felt powerful and ready to meet life’s demands—on my own terms.

One day I will have a review up here for this great book, I started it and was enjoying it for a non-fiction. But now I have to focus on my move!!!! Boodrews- I want to read this one especially, because you might like it. I'll let you know!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Reading Thing 2008

see update
Join in on the Spring Reading Thing 2008

The Restorer by Sharon Hinck*
The Restorer's Son by Sharon Hinck
The Restorer's Journey by Sharon Hinck
The Perfect Life by Robin Lee Hatcher*
Sweet Caroline by Rachel Hauck
Firefish by George Bryan Polivka
Pinkerton's Secret by Eric Lerner
Sushi for One by Camy Tang
Only Uni by Camy Tang
The Bible by Karen Armstrong
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Northhanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Lady Susan by Jane Austen
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
Between Two Worlds by Mike Timmis
Wedding Bell Blues by Linda Windsor
For Pete's Sake by Linda Windsor
Deirdre by Linda Windsor
Then Came Faith by Louise Gouge
Then Came Hope by Louise Gouge
DragonSpell by Donita K. Paul*
DragonQuest by Donita K. Paul
Dragon Knight by Donita K. Paul
DragonFire by Donita K. Paul
DragonLight by Donita K. Paul
Betrayed by JM Windle
A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman
When Zeffie Got a Clue by Peggy Darty*
Crimson Eve by Brandilyn Collins
Amber Morn by Brandilyn Collins
Adam by Ted Dekker
Demon by Tosca Lee
Auralia's Colors by Jeffery Overstreet
Trouble the Water by Nicole Seitz
The Measure of a Lady by Deanne Gist
My Soul to Keep by Melanie Wells
The Other Boelyn Girl by Philipa Gregory
Becoming Jane by Anne Newgarden
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
The Begotten by Lisa T. Bergren
A Lady of High Regard by Tracie Peterson
New Mexico Sunset by Tracie Peterson
Where My Heart Belongs by Tracie Peterson
Land of My Heart by Tracie Peterson
Glory by Lori Copeland
Ruth by Lori Copeland
Patience by Lori Copeland
The Love of His Brother by Jennifer Allee
Secrets on the Wind by Stephanie Grace Whitson
Footprints on the Horizon by Stephanie Grace Whitson
When the Morning Comes by Cindy Woodsmall
My Name is Russell Fink by Michael Snyder
Illuminated by Matt Bronleewe
Breaking Free by Lauraine Snelling
Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson
Finding Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson
Embrace Me by Lisa Samson
I'm Not Crazy, but I Might Be a Carrier by Charles Marshall
Winter Haven by Athol Dickson
An Elm Creek Quilts Sampler by Jennifer Chiavernini
An Elm Creek Quilts Album by Jennifer Chiavernini
The Warriors by Mark Andrew Olsen
The Big Picture by Jennie B. Jones
Healing Promises by Amy Wallace
Ruby Among Us by Tina Ann Forkner
From A Distance by Tamera Alexander
I Heart Bloombery by Melody Carlson
Hunted by Mike Dellosso
Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith
A Merry Heart by Wanda Brunstetter
Looking for a Miracle by Wanda Brustetter
Plain and Fancy by Wanda Brustetter
The Hope Chest by Wanda Brustetter
Remember to Forget by Deborah Raney
Promises, Promises by Amber Miller
How to Get Your Husband to Listen to You by Nancy Cobb & Connie Grigsby
Patrick by Stephen Lawhead
The Heart of Thornton Creek by Bonnie Leon
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
The Witness by Dee Henderson
Beyond the Picket Fence by Lori Wick
A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers
Plan B Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
Echoes by Danielle Steel

And of course left overs from 2007:

Amish Crib Quilts by Rachel and Kenneth Pellman*
Remembered by Tamera Alexander*
Try Dying by James Scott Bell
The Return by Austin Boyd
Informed Consent by Sandra Glahn
My Life Unscripted by Tricia Goyer
For Parents Only by Shaunti Feldhahn
The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out by Neta Jackson
Splitting Harriet by Tamara Leigh
After The Leaves Fall by Nicole Baart
To Love Anew by Bonnie Leon
Torrent Falls by Jan Watson
Ransomed Dreams by Amy Wallace
Glastonbury Tor by LeAnne Hardy
A Hilltop in Tuscany by Stephanie Grace Whitson*
Shadows in the Mirror by Linda Hall
Pajo by Karl L. Kruger
Searching for Eternity by Elizabeth Musser
Nefertiti by Michelle Moran*
Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter
An Old Fashioned Christmas by Colleen L. Reece
Song of the Highlands by Sharon Gillenwater
Beloved Leah by Cynthia Davis
Courting Trouble by Deeanna Gist*
An Untamed Land by Lauraine Snelling
Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke
Novel Crimes by Susan May Warren
Bad Ground by Dale W. Cramer
Sutters Cross by Dale W. Cramer
Bygones by Kim Sawyer
Quilting Makes the Quilt by Lee Cleland*
The Veritas Conflict by Shaunti Feldhahn
Simeon's Gift by Julie Andrews Edwards*
Brides O' the Emerald Isle by Pamela Griffin
The Mark of Salvation by Carol Umberger
The Belgarid by David Eddings
Ashes of Remembrance by Brock & Bodie Theone*
Brink of Death by Brandilyn Collins
Steal Away by Linda Hall
When Breaks the Dawn by Janette Oke
The Paradise War by Stephen Lawhead
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Catching Katie by Robin Lee Hatcher
Devil's Island by John Hagee
New Mexico Sunrise by Tracie Peterson
A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick*
A Tendering in the Storm by Jane Kirkpatrick
Angels to Watch Over Me by various authors
Willow Springs by Jan Watson*
Boston Jane: Wilderness by Jennifer Holm
Boston Jane: The Claim by Jennifer Holm
Mark's Story by Tim Lahaye & Jerry B. Jenkins
Chosen by Ginger Garrett
Bluegrass Peril by Virginia Smith*
What Lies Within by Karen Ball
Hope by Lori Copeland
Yellow Rose Bride by Lori Copeland
The Sunroom by Beverly Lewis*
Come Spring by Tim Lahaye
Minor Protection Act by Jodi Cowles
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Queen Margot by Alexandre Dumas
Time to Dance by Karen Kingsbury

* means I've read it...

:-) MJ <><

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Masterpiece on PBS

  • March 23, 2008
    Kate Beckinsale stars in the title role as the tireless matchmaker who professes no interest in matrimony for herself, only for her orphaned protégée, Harriet Smith (Samantha Morton).

  • March 30 and April 6, 2008
    Though poor, levelheaded Elinor Dashwood (Hattie Morahan) and her impulsive sister Marianne (Charity Wakefield) attract a trio of promising gentlemen.

  • April 13, 2008
    Elaine Cassidy is Lucy Honeychurch, who arrives at an Italian guest house and is offered a room with a view by Mr. Emerson and his eccentric son George. Adapted by Andrew Davies.

  • April 20, 2008
    Daniel Radcliffe, in his first TV role since finding fame as Harry Potter, plays Jack, the son of Rudyard Kipling, in this moving family drama set during World War I. Also stars Kim Cattrall.

  • May 4, 11 and 18, 2008
    In 1842, Cranford is a village on the brink of change, where some find romance and opportunity, and others fear the breakdown of social order. Cast includes Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, Imelda Staunton.

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson CFBA

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

WaterBrook Press (March 18, 2008)


Andrew Peterson

Author/Singer/Songwriter Andrew Peterson, a 2005 Audie Award finalist for his readings of Ray Blackston’s Flabbergasted trilogy, wrote and produced the popular Christmas play and musical Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tale of the Coming of the Christ, and the album by the same name, which received the 2004 Best Album of the Year, World Christian Music’s Editors Choice Award. Andrew’s received critical acclaim for his seven albums and is at work on an eighth. He lives with his wife Jamie and their three young children near Nashville, Tennessee, where he reads storybooks aloud to his family each evening.

Artist Justin Gerard has illustrated several children’s books, including The Lightlings storybooks for young readers by R.C. Sproul. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina, and works as the chief creative officer for Portland Studios.

Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

Andrew Peterson spins a quirky and riveting tale of the Igibys’ extraordinary journey from Glipwood’s Dragon Day Festival and a secret hidden in the Books and Crannies Bookstore, past the terrifying Black Carriage, clutches of the horned hounds and loathsome toothy cows surrounding AnkleJelly Manor, through the Glipwood Forest and mysterious treehouse of Peet the Sock Man (known for a little softshoe and wearing tattered socks on his hands and arms), to the very edge of the Ice Prairies.

Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness presents a world of wonder and a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to discuss for its layers of meaning about life’s true treasure and tangle of the beautiful and horrible, temporal and eternal, and good and bad.

“So good–smart, funny, as full of ideas as action.”
Jonathan Rogers, author of The Wilderking Trilogy

“A wildly imaginative, wonderfully irreverent epic that shines with wit and wisdom–and features excellent instructions on how to cope with Thwaps, Fangs, and the occasional Toothy Cow.”

Allan Heinberg, writer/co-executive producer of ABC’s Grey's Anatomy, and co-creator of Marvel Comics Young Avengers

“Totally fun! Andrew Peterson, a natural storyteller in the oral tradition, has nailed the voice needed to translate a rip-roaring fantasy tale to the written page.”

Donita K. Paul, author of DragonSpell, DragonKnight, DragonQuest, and DragonFire

Friday, March 14, 2008

Jael - My Daily Sanctuary

Something I felt should be shared from My Daily Sanctuary...

Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. May she be blessed above all women who live in tents. --
Judges 5:24, page 278

Sometimes all it takes is a simple act of courage to bring about a big change. After the Israelites had lived twenty years under the oppression of Jabin and Sisera, God decided it was time to set them free. When Israel's leader, Barak, attacked Sisera with thousands of Israelite warriors, Sisera escaped and hid among the tents of the Kenite tribe. Though the Kenites had been longtime allies of Israel, the family of Heber had sided with Jabin, the Canaanite king. So Sisera felt safe hiding among them.
When Sisera, exhausted from the battle, came looking for a hiding place, Jael invited him into her tent. She lulled him to sleep and then killed him by driving a tent peg through his temple. She wasn't a warrior. She didn't even know how to use a sword. But as a member of a seminomadic tribe, she did know how to drive a tent peg. Given the opportunity, she used what she had to act on behalf of God's people.
The prophet Deborah remembered Jael as "blessed among women" because she helped to deliver the Israelites from a terrible enemy. She acted along with God to bring about God's result. It doesn't matter who you are--with God, anything is possible.

The courage of a woman can change the course of an entire nation.
God uses ordinary people with ordinary skills to carry out seemingly impossible purposes.

Jael's story is told in Judges 4:17-22. She is also mentioned in Deborah's son of praise (Judges 5:6. 24-31).

Taken from: Sanctuary, a devotional Bible for women, NLT, TYNDALE. 2004.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Only Uni by Camy Tang

It is March 15th, but no need to worry about the Ides of March when we have a special blog tour for one of our FIRST members! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) Normally, on the FIRST day of every month we feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter! As this is a special tour, we are featuring it on a special day!

The special feature author is:

and her book:

Only Uni

Zondervan (March 2008)


Camy Tang is a member of FIRST and is a loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick-lit. She grew up in Hawaii, but now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious poi-dog. In a previous life she was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service.

Sushi for One? (Sushi Series, Book One) was her first novel. Her second, Only Uni (Sushi Series, Book Two) is now available. The next book in the series, Single Sashimi (Sushi Series, Book Three) will be coming out in September 2008!

Visit her at her website.


Chapter One

Trish Sakai walked through the door and the entire room hushed.

Well, not exactly pin-drop hushed. More like a handful of the several dozen people in her aunty’s enormous living room paused their conversations to glance her way. Maybe Trish had simply expected them to laugh and point.

She shouldn’t have worn white. She’d chosen the Bebe dress from her closet in a rebellious mood, which abandoned her at her aunt’s doorstep. Maybe because the explosion of red, orange, or gold outfits made her head swim.

At least the expert cut of her dress made her rather average figure curvier and more slender at the same time. She loved how well-tailored clothes ensured she didn’t have to work as hard to look good.

Trish kicked off her sandals, and they promptly disappeared in the sea of shoes filling the foyer. She swatted away a flimsy paper dragon drooping from the doorframe and smoothed down her skirt. She snatched her hand back and wrung her fingers behind her.

No, that’ll make your hips look huge.

She clenched her hands in front.

Sure, show all the relatives that you’re nervous.

She clasped them loosely at her waist and tried to adopt a regal expression.

“Trish, you okay? You look constipated.”

Her cousin Bobby snickered while she sneered at him. “Oh, you’re so funny I could puke.”

“May as well do it now before Grandma gets here.”

“She’s not here yet?” Oops, that came out sounding a little too relieved. She cleared her throat and modulated her voice to less-than-ecstatic levels. “When’s she coming?”

“Uncle picked her up, but he called Aunty and said Grandma forgot something, so he had to go back.”

Thank goodness for little favors. “Is Lex here?”

“By the food.”

Where else would she be? Last week, her cousin Lex had mentioned that her knee surgeon let her go back to playing volleyball three nights a week and coaching the other two nights, so her metabolism had revved up again. She would be eating like a horse.

Sometimes Trish could just kill her.

She tugged at her skirt—a little tight tonight. She should’ve had more self-control than to eat that birthday cake at work. She’d have to run an extra day this week … maybe.

She bounced like a pinball between relatives. The sharp scent of ginger grew more pungent as she headed toward the large airy kitchen. Aunty Sue must have made cold ginger chicken again. Mmmm. The smell mixed with the tang of black bean sauce (Aunty Rachel’s shrimp?), stir-fried garlic (any dish Uncle Barry made contained at least two bulbs), and fishy scallions (probably her cousin Linda’s Chinese-style sea bass).

A three-foot-tall red streak slammed into her and squashed her big toe.

“Ow!” Good thing the kid hadn’t been wearing shoes or she might have broken her foot. Trish hopped backward and her hand fumbled with a low side table. Waxed paper and cornstarch slid under her fingers before the little table fell, dropping the kagami mochi decoration. The sheet of printed paper, the tangerine, and rubbery-hard mochi dumplings dropped to the cream-colored carpet. Well, at least the cornstarch covering the mochi blended in.

The other relatives continued milling around her, oblivious to the minor desecration to the New Year’s decoration. Thank goodness for small—

A childish gasp made her turn. The human bullet who caused the whole mess, her little cousin Allison, stood with a hand up to her round lips that were stained cherry-red, probably from the sherbet punch. Allison lifted wide brown eyes up to Trish—hanaokolele-you’re-in-trouble—while the other hand pointed to the mochi on the floor.

Trish didn’t buy it for a second. “Want to help?” She tried to infuse some leftover Christmas cheer into her voice.

Allison’s disdainful look could have come from a teenager rather than a seven-year-old. “You made the mess.”

Trish sighed as she bent to pick up the mochi rice dumplings—one large like a hockey puck, the other slightly smaller—and the shihobeni paper they’d been sitting on. She wondered if the shihobeni wouldn’t protect the house from fires this next year since she’d dropped it.

“Aunty spent so long putting those together.”

Yeah, right. “Is that so?” She laid the paper on the table so it draped off the edge, then stuck the waxed paper on top. She anchored them with the larger mochi.

“Since you busted it, does it mean that Aunty won’t have any good luck this year?”

“It’s just a tradition. The mochi doesn’t really bring prosperity, and the tangerine only symbolizes the family generations.” Trish tried to artfully stack the smaller mochi on top of the bottom one, but it wouldn’t balance and kept dropping back onto the table.

“That’s not what Aunty said.”

“She’s trying to pass on a New Year’s tradition.” The smaller mochi dropped to the floor again. “One day you’ll have one of these in your own house.” Trish picked up the mochi. Stupid Japanese New Year tradition. Last year, she’d glued hers together until Mom found out and brought a new set to her apartment, sans-glue. Trish wasn’t even Shinto. Neither was anyone else in her family—most of them were Buddhists—but it was something they did because their family had always done it.

“No, I’m going to live at home and take care of Mommy.”

Thank goodness, the kid finally switched topics. “That’s wonderful.” Trish tried to smash the tangerine on top of the teetering stack of mochi. Nope, not going to fly. “You’re such a good daughter.”

Allison sighed happily. “I am.”

Your ego’s going to be too big for this living room, toots. “Um … let’s go to the kitchen.” She crammed the tangerine on the mochi stack, then turned to hustle Allison away before she saw them fall back down onto the floor.

“Uh, Triiiish?”

She almost ran over the kid, who had whirled around and halted in her path like a guardian lion. Preventing Trish’s entry into the kitchen. And blocking the way to the food. She tried to sidestep, but the other relatives in their conversational clusters, oblivious to her, hemmed her in on each side.

Allison sidled closer. “Happy New Year!”

“Uh … Happy New Year.” What was she up to? Trish wouldn’t put anything past her devious little brain.

“We get red envelopes at New Year’s.” Her smile took on a predatory gleam.

“Yes, we do.” One tradition she totally didn’t mind. Even the older cousins like Trish and Lex got some money from the older relatives, because they weren’t married yet.

Allison beamed. “So did you bring me a red envelope?”

What? Wait a minute. Was she supposed to bring red envelopes for the younger kids? No, that couldn’t be. “No, only the married people do that.” And only for the great-cousins, not their first cousins, right? Or was that great-cousins, too? She couldn’t remember.

Allison’s face darkened to purple. “That’s not true. Aunty gives me a red envelope and she’s not married.”

“She used to be married. Uncle died.”

“She’s not married now. So you’re supposed to give me a red envelope, too.”

Yeah, right. “If I gave out a red envelope to every cousin and great-cousin, I’d go bankrupt.”

“You’re lying. I’m going to tell Mommy.” Allison pouted, but her sly eyes gave her away.

A slow, steady burn crept through her body. This little extortionist wasn’t going to threaten her, not tonight of all nights.

She crouched down to meet Allison at eye level and forced a smile. “That’s not very nice. That’s spreading lies.”

Allison bared her teeth in something faintly like a grin.

“It’s not good to be a liar.” Trish smoothed the girl’s red velvet dress, trimmed in white lace.

“You’re the liar. You said you’re not supposed to give me a red envelope, and that’s a lie.”

The brat had a one-track mind. “It’s not a lie.”

“Then I’ll ask Mommy.” The grin turned sickeningly sweet.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Trish tweaked one of Allison’s curling-iron-manufactured corkscrews, standing out amongst the rest of her straight hair.

“I can do whatever I want.” An ugly streak marred the angelic mask.

“Of course you can.”

Allison blinked.

“But if you do, I’ll tell Grandma that I found her missing jade bracelet in your bedroom.” Gotcha.

“What were you doing in my bedroom?” Allison’s face matched her dress.

Trish widened her eyes. “Well, you left it open when your mom hosted the family Christmas party …”

Allison’s lips disappeared in her face, and her nostrils flared. “You’re lying—”

“And you know Grandma will ask your mommy to search your room.”

Her face whitened.

“So why don’t we forget about this little red envelope thing, hmm?” Trish straightened the gold heart pendant on Allison’s necklace and gave her a bland smile.

A long, loud inhale filled Allison’s lungs. For a second, Trish panicked, worried that she’d scream or something, but the air left her noiselessly.

Trish stood. “See ya.” She muscled her way past the human traffic cone.

She zeroed in on the kitchen counters like a heat-seeking missile. “Hey, guys.”

Her cousins Venus, Lex, and Jenn turned to greet her.

“You’re even later than Lex.” Venus leaned her sexy-enough-to-make-Trish-sick curves against a countertop as she crunched on a celery stick.

“Hey!” Lex nudged her with a bony elbow, then spoke to Trish. “Grandma’s not here yet, but your mom—”

“Trish, there you are.” Mom flittered up. “Did you eat yet? Let me fill you a plate. Make sure you eat the kuromame for good luck. I know you don’t like chestnuts and black beans, but just eat one. Did you want any konbu? Seaweed is very good for you.”

“No, Mom—”

“How about Aunty Eileen’s soup? I’m not sure what’s in it this year, but it doesn’t look like tripe this time—”

“Mom, I can get my own food.”

“Of course you can, dear.” Mom handed her a mondo-sized plate.

Trish grabbed it, then eyed Venus’s miniscule plate filled sparingly with meat, fish, and veggies. Aw, phooey. Why did Venus have to always be watching her hourglass figure—with inhuman self-control over her calorie intake—making Trish feel dumpy just for eating a potsticker? She replaced her plate with a smaller one.

Lex had a platter loaded with chicken and lo mein, which she shoveled into her mouth. “The noodles are good.”

“Why are you eating so much today?”

“Aiden’s got me in intensive training for the volleyball tournament coming up.”

Trish turned toward the groaning sideboard to hide the pang in her gut at mention of Lex’s boyfriend. Who had been Trish’s physical therapist. Aiden hadn’t met Lex yet when Trish had hit on him, but he’d rebuffed her—rather harshly, she thought—then became Christian and now was living a happily-ever-after with Lex.

Trish wasn’t jealous at all.

Why did she always seem to chase away the good ones and keep the bad ones? Story of her life. Her taste in men matched Lex’s horrendous taste in clothes—Lex wore nothing but ugly, loose workout clothes, while Trish dated nothing but ugly (well, in character, at least) losers.

Next to her, Jennifer inhaled as if she were in pain. “Grandma’s here.”

“No, not now. This is so not fair. I haven’t eaten yet.”

“It’ll still be here.” Venus’s caustic tone cut through the air at the same time her hand grabbed Trish’s plate. “Besides, you’re eating too much fat.”

Trish glared. “I am not fat—”

Venus gave a long-suffering sigh. “I didn’t say you were fat. I said you’re eating unhealthily.”

“You wouldn’t say that to Lex.” She stabbed a finger at her athletic cousin, who was shoveling chicken long rice into her mouth.

Lex paused. “She already did.” She slurped up a rice noodle.

Venus rolled her eyes toward the ceiling. “All of you eat terribly. You need to stop putting so much junk into your bodies.”

“I will when Jenn stops giving us to-die-for homemade chocolate truffles.” Trish traded a high-five with Jenn, their resident culinary genius.

“Besides, chocolate’s good for you.” Lex spoke through a mouthful of black bean shrimp.

Venus, who seemed to know she was losing the battle, brandished a celery stick. “You all should eat more fiber—”

Trish snatched at a deep-fried chicken wing and made a face at her. “It’s low carb.” Although she’d love to indulge in just a little of those Chinese noodles later when Venus wasn’t looking …

She only had time to take a couple bites before she had to drop the chicken in a napkin and wipe her fingers. She skirted the edge of the crowd of relatives who collected around Grandma, wishing her Happy New Year.

Grandma picked up one of Trish’s cousin’s babies and somehow managed to keep the sticky red film coating his hands from her expensive Chanel suit. How did Grandma do that? It must be a gift. The same way her elegant salt-and-pepper ’do never had a hair out of place.

Then Grandma grabbed someone who had been hovering at her shoulder and thrust him forward.

No. Way.

What was Kazuo doing here?

With Grandma?

Her breath caught as the familiar fluttering started in her ribcage. No, no, no, no, no. She couldn’t react this way to him again. That’s what got her in trouble the last time.

Trish grabbed Jenn’s arm and pulled her back toward the kitchen. “I have to hide.”

Jenn’s brow wrinkled. “Why?”

“That’s Kazuo.”

Jenn’s eyes popped bigger than the moon cakes on the sideboard. “Really? I never met him.” She twisted her head.

“Don’t look. Hide me.”

Jenn sighed. “Isn’t that a little silly? He’s here for the New Year’s party.”

Trish darted her gaze around the kitchen, through the doorway to the smaller TV room. “There are over a hundred people here. There’s a good chance I can avoid him.”

“He probably came to see you.” A dreamy smile lit Jenn’s lips. “How romantic …”

A mochi-pounding mallet thumped in the pit of Trish’s stomach. Romantic this was not.

“What’s wrong?” Venus and Lex separated from the crowd to circle around her.

“That’s Kazuo.”

“Really?” Lex whirled around and started to peer through the doorway into the front room. “We never met him—”

“Don’t look now! Hide me!”

Venus lifted a sculpted eyebrow. “Oh, come on.”

“How does Grandma know him?” Jennifer’s soothing voice fizzled Venus’s sarcasm.

“She met him when we were dating.”

“Grandma loves Kazuo.” Lex tossed the comment over her shoulder as she stood at the doorway and strained to see Kazuo past the milling relatives.

Venus’s brow wrinkled. “Loves him? Why?”

Trish threw her hands up in the air. “He’s a Japanese national. He spoke Japanese to her. Of course she’d love him.”

Jennifer chewed her lip. “Grandma’s not racist—”

Venus snorted. “Of course she’s not racist, but she’s certainly biased.”

“That’s not a good enough reason. Don’t you think there’s something fishy about why she wants Trish to get back together with him?”

Venus opened her mouth, but nothing came out. After a moment, she closed it. “Maybe you’re right.”

Trish flung her arms out. “But I have no idea what that reason is.”

“So is she matchmaking? Now?”

“What better place?” Trish pointed to the piles of food. “Fatten me up and serve me back to him on a platter.”

Venus rolled her eyes. “Trish—”

“I’m serious. No way am I going to let her do that. Not with him.” The last man on earth she wanted to see. Well, that wasn’t exactly true. Her carnal body certainly wanted to see him, even though her brain and spirit screamed, Run away! Run away!

“Was it that bad a breakup?” Lex looked over her shoulder at them.

Trish squirmed. “I, uh … I don’t think he thinks we’re broken up.”

“What do you mean? It happened six months ago.” Venus’s gaze seemed to slice right through her.

“Well … I saw him a couple days ago.”

Venus’s eyes flattened. “And …?”

Trish blinked rapidly. “We … got along really well.”

Venus crossed her arms and glared.

How did Venus do that? Trish barely had to open her mouth and Venus knew when she was lying. “We, um … got along really well.”

Jennifer figured it out first. She gasped so hard, Trish worried she’d pass out from lack of oxygen.

Venus cast a sharp look at her, then back at Trish. Her mouth sprang open. “You didn’t.”

“Didn’t what?” Lex rejoined the circle and the drama unfolding. She peered at Jenn and Venus—one frozen in shock, the other white with anger.

Trish’s heart shrank in her chest. She bit her lip and tasted blood. She couldn’t look at her cousins. She couldn’t even say it.

Venus said it for her. “You slept with him again.”

Lex’s jaw dropped. “Tell me you didn’t.” The hurt in her eyes stabbed at Trish’s heart like Norman Bates in Psycho.
Well, it was true that Trish’s obsessive relationship with Kazuo had made her sort of completely and utterly abandon Lex last year when she tore her ACL. Lex probably felt like Trish was priming to betray her again. “It was only once. I couldn’t help myself—”

“After everything you told me last year about how you never asked God about your relationship with Kazuo and now you were free.” Lex’s eyes grew dark and heavy, and Trish remembered the night Lex had first torn her ACL. Trish had been too selfish, wanting to spend time with Kazuo instead of helping Lex home from one of the most devastating things that had ever happened to her.

“I just couldn’t help myself—” Trish couldn’t seem to say anything else.

“So is Kazuo more important to you than me, after all?” Lex’s face had turned into cold, pale marble, making her eyes stand out in their intensity.

A sickening ache gnawed in Trish’s stomach. She hunched her shoulders, feeling the muscles tighten and knot.

Her cousins had always been compassionate whenever she hurt them, betrayed them, or caused them hassle and stress by the things she did. She knew she had a tendency to be thoughtless, but she had always counted on their instant hugs and “That’s okay, Trish, we’ll fix it for you.” But now she realized—although they forgave her, they were still hurt each and every time. Maybe this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“Where’s Trish?” Grandma’s refined voice managed to carry above the conversations. “I’m sure she wants to see you.” She was coming closer to the kitchen.

“I can’t face him.” Trish barely recognized her own voice, as thready as old cobwebs. “I can’t face Grandma, either.” A tremor rippled through her body.

Venus’s eyes softened in understanding. “I’ll stall them for you.”

Trish bolted.

Out the other doorway into the living room. She dodged around a few relatives who were watching sports highlights on the big-screen TV. She spied the short hallway to Aunty’s bedroom. She could hide. Recoup. Or panic.

She slipped down the hallway and saw the closed door at the end. A narrow beam of faint light from under it cast a glow over the carpet. Her heart started to slow.

Maybe she could lie down, pretend she was sick? No, Grandma might suggest Kazuo take her home.

She could pretend she got a phone call, an emergency at work. Would Grandma know there weren’t many emergencies with cell biology research on New Year’s Eve?

The worst part was, Trish hadn’t even gotten to eat yet.

She turned the doorknob, but it stuck. Must be the damp weather. She applied her shoulder and nudged. The door clicked open. She slipped into the bedroom.

A couple stood in the dim lamplight, locked in a passionate embrace straight out of Star magazine. Trish’s heart lodged in her throat. Doh! Leave now! She whirled.

Wait a minute.

She turned.

The man had dark wavy hair, full and thick. His back was turned to her, but something about his stance …

The couple sprang apart. Looked at her.


Kissing a woman who wasn’t her mother.

Taken from Only Uni, Copyright © 2008 by Camy Tang. Used by permission of Zondervan.

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