Sunday, November 30, 2008

FIRST: The Shadow of Colossus

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Shadow of Colossus

Broadman & Holman Publishers (August 1, 2008)


T.L. Higley holds a degree in English Literature and has written three previous novels, including Fallen from Babel, and more than fifty drama productions for church ministry. A lifelong interest in history and mythology has led Tracy to extensive research into ancient Greece and other myth systems, and shaped her desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past. She lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and four children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Broadman & Holman Publishers (August 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 080544730X
ISBN-13: 978-0805447309


Rhodes, 227 bc

Seven Days Before the Great Quake

In the deceitful calm of the days preceding disaster, while Rhodes still glittered like a white jewel in the Aegean, Tessa of Delos planned to open her wrists.

The death of her body was long overdue. Her soul had died ten years ago.

Ten years this day.

Tessa took in a breath of salty air and shivered. From her lofty position outside Glaucus's hillside home, she watched the populace's torches flicker to life in the dusk. Across the city the day's tumult at the docks slowed. The massive statue of Helios at the harbor's frothy mouth caught the sun's last rays as it slipped into a cobalt sea. The torch he thrust skyward seem to burst aflame, as though lit by the sun god himself.

He had been her only constant these ten years, this giant in the likeness of Helios. A silent sentinel who kept vigil as life ripped freedom and hope from her. Painful as it was, tonight she wanted only to remember. To be alone, to remember, and to mourn.

"Tessa!" A wine-sodden voice erupted from the open door behind her.

The symposium had begun only minutes ago, but Glaucus was already deep into his cups. Bad form in any company, thought Tessa, but Glaucus rarely cared. Tessa inhaled the tang of sea air again and placed a steadying hand against the smooth alabaster column supporting the roof. She did not answer, nor turn, when she heard her fat master shuffle onto the portico.

"Get yourself back into the house!" Glaucus punctuated his command with a substantial belch.

"Soon," she said. "I wish to watch the sun god take his leave."

A household servant crept out and set two torches blazing. An oily smell surged, then dissipated. From the house floated harsh laughter mingled with the tinny sound of a flute.

Glaucus pushed his belly against her back and grabbed her arm. The linen chitôn she'd taken care to arrange perfectly fell away, exposing her shoulder. She reached to replace it, but Glaucus caught her hand. He brought his mouth close to her ear, and she could smell his breath, foul as days-old fish.

"The others are asking for you. `Where is your hetaera?' they say. `The one with more opinions than Carthage has ships.'"

Tessa closed her eyes. She had long entertained Glaucus's political friends with her outspoken thoughts on government and power. While his wife remained hidden away in the women's quarters, Glaucus's hetaera was displayed like an expensive pet with sharp teeth. Tessa had once believed she led an enviable life, but the years had stripped her of her illusions.

She stroked the polished filigree of the gold necklace encircling her throat and remembered when Glaucus fastened it there, a gilding for his personal figure of bronze.

"Now, Tessa." Glaucus pulled her toward the door.

Her heart reached for the statue, clinging to her first memory of it, when Delos had been home and innocence had still been hers.

When I open my wrists, I will do it there.


The andrôn, central room of the men’s quarters, smelled of roasted meat and burning olive oil. Glaucus paused in the doorway, awaiting the attention of those who had curried enough of his favor to be invited tonight. When the small crowd lounging on low couches at the room’s perimeter turned his way, he pushed her into the lamp-lit center. “Tessa, everyone,” he shouted. “Making a grand entrance!”

The room laughed and clapped, then returned their attention to the food and wine on the low tables beside them. In the corner, a young girl dressed in gauzy fabric blew thin streams of air into a small flute. Tessa’s eyes locked onto the girl’s for a moment. A private understanding passed between them that they were both objects of entertainment, and the girl looked away, as though ashamed to be seen so clearly. A desire to protect the girl surfaced in Tessa, a maternal feeling that of late seemed only a breath away.

Glaucus pulled her to a couch and forced her down onto the gold-trimmed red cushions. He lowered himself at her right and leaned against her possessively. A black bowl with gold designs waited in the center of their table, and Glaucus ladled wine from it into a goblet for her. To the room he said, “To Tessa—always the center of attention!” He raised his own cup, and his guests did the same.

Tessa’s gaze swept the room, taking in the majority of men and the few women reclining against them. The moment was suspended, with cups raised toward her, drunken and insincere smiles affixed to faces, lamplight flickering across tables piled with grapes and almonds and figs, and the flute’s lament behind it all.

Will I remember this night, even in the afterlife?

“To Tessa!” Shouts went round the room, cups were drained and thumped back to tables, and the party quickened around her.

Glaucus reached for her, but she pushed him away. He laughed. “It would appear my Tessa is a bit high-spirited tonight,” he said to the others. “And what shall be done with a mischievous hetaera?” His thick-lipped smile and raised eyebrow took in the room and elicited another round of laughter. He nodded, then turned his attention to the man on his right, resuming a conversation whose beginning she must have missed.

“Your objections earlier to the naturalization of the Jews are noted, Spiro. But to extend citizenship to the foreigners among us can often be expedient.” Tessa could not see Spiro, his frame completely blocked by the bulk of Glaucus beside her, but his voice poured like warm oil. Yet underneath his smooth tones, Tessa heard the cold iron of anger. He was one of few among the strategoi to contradict Glaucus publicly.

“Like-minded foreigners, perhaps,” Spiro said. “But the Jews make it no secret that they despise our Greek ways. They disdain even our proudest achievement, our Helios of the harbor. They must be expunged, not embraced by weak-willed politicians who—”

Glaucus raised a pudgy hand. “You presume an authority not yours, Spiro.”

“Only a matter of time, Glaucus.”

Glaucus snorted. “Again you presume. The people of this island are too clever to choose seductive charm over solid leadership.”

Spiro laughed quietly. “Why, Glaucus, seductive charm? I didn’t realize you had noticed.”

Glaucus shook his head. “Perhaps the women are affected, but it is the men who vote.”

Tessa sensed Spiro lean forward, his eyes now on her. “And we both know where men find their opinions.”

Glaucus snorted again and swung his legs to the floor. It took several tries to raise his ponderous body from the cushions. “Get drunk, Spiro. Enjoy your delusions for one more night. But next week I sail to Crete, and I expect them to fully support my efforts.”

He nudged Tessa with a sandaled toe. “Don’t go anywhere. I will be back.”

Tessa watched him leave the room, relief at his temporary absence flooding her. She was to travel to Crete with him next week, though she had no intention of ever stepping onto the ship.

The previously unseen Spiro slid to her couch now, an elbow on the cushion Glaucus had just vacated. He was older than she, perhaps thirty, clean-shaven like most of the others but wore his jetblack hair longer, braided away from his face and falling just above his shoulders. His eyes, deep set and darker than the night sea, studied hers. A smile played at his lips. “What are you still doing with that bore, Tessa? You could do better.”

“One slave master is as another. To have something better is only to be free.” She was not truly Glaucus’s slave in the usual sense, and Spiro knew it, but it made little difference.

Spiro smiled fully now, and his gaze traveled from her eyes, slowly down to her waist. He took liberties, but Tessa had long ago become heedless of offense.

“That is what I like about you, Tessa. One never meets a hetaera who speaks of freedom; they are resolved to their place. But you are a woman like no other in Rhodes.”

“Why should I not be free?”

Spiro chuckled softly and inched closer. “Why, indeed? Ask the gods, who make some women wives and give others as slaves.”

Spiro’s hand skimmed the cushions and came to rest on her thigh. “If you were mine, Tessa, I would treat you as the equal you deserve to be. Glaucus acts as though he owns you, but we all know he pays dearly for your favors. Perhaps it is you who owns him.” Spiro’s fingers dug into her leg, and his eyes roamed her face and body again. Tessa felt neither pleasure nor disgust, a reminder that her heart had been cast from bronze. But a flicker of fear challenged her composure. Spiro, she knew, was like one of the mighty Median horses: raw power held in check, capable of trampling the innocent if unleashed.

A shadow loomed above them, but Spiro did not remove his hand. Instead, he arched a perfect eyebrow at Glaucus and smiled. Tessa expected a flash of anger, but Glaucus laughed. “First, you think to rule the island, Spiro, and now you think to steal Tessa from me, as though she has the free will to choose whom she wants?” Spiro shrugged and moved to the next couch.

Glaucus plopped down between them again. “She will never be yours, Spiro. Even when I am dead, her owner will only hand her to the next man in line to have paid for her.” He waggled a finger at Tessa. “She is worth waiting for, though, I can tell you.” Another coarse laugh.

Something broke loose in Tessa then. Caused perhaps by the vow taken while drinking in the sight of the harbor’s bronze statue, and the assurance that soon nothing she did now would hold consequence for her. Or perhaps it was ten years of bondage, commemorated this night with nothing more than continued abuse.

Whatever the reason, she rose to her feet. The room silenced, as though a goddess had ascended a pedestal. She lifted her voice. “May the gods deal with you as you have mistreated me, Glaucus of Rhodes. I will have no part of you.”

Glaucus grabbed her arm. “Your heart is not in the festivities tonight, my dear. I understand. I will meet you in the inner courtyard later.”

He did this to save face, they both knew. Tessa wrenched her arm free of his clutches, glanced at Spiro, and felt a chill at the look in his eyes. She raised her chin and glided from the room.

In the hall outside the andrôn, she looked both directions. She had no desire to stay, yet the world outside the house was no more pleasant or safe for her. She turned from the front door and moved deeper into the house.

The hallway opened to a courtyard, with rooms branching in many directions. Along the back wall, a colonnaded walkway, its roof covered with terra-cotta tiles, stretched the length of the courtyard. A large cistern gaped in the center. Beside it stood a large birdcage; its lone inhabitant, a black mynah with an orange beak, chirped in greeting.

Glaucus had said he would meet her here later, but from the sounds of the laughter behind her, the party raged without her. She should be safe for a few minutes at least. She crossed to the bird she had adopted as her own and simply named Mynah. Tessa put a finger through the iron bars and let Mynah peck a hello.

Her head throbbed, as it always did when she wore her hair pulled back. She reached above her, found the pin that cinched her dark ringlets together, and yanked it. Hair loosed and fell around her, and she ran her fingers through it in relief.

A sharp intake of breath from across the room startled her. She whirled at the sound. “Who’s there?”

A soft voice in the darkness said, “I am sorry, mistress. I did not mean to startle you.”

Tessa’s heart grasped at the kindness and respect in the voice, the first she had encountered this evening. She put a hand to her unfastened hair. Somehow she still found it within herself to be embarrassed by this small impropriety.

The man took hesitant steps toward her. “Are you ill, mistress? Can I help you in some way?” He was clean-shaven and quite tall, with a lanky build and craggy face, Glaucus’s Jewish head servant, Simeon.

“No, Simeon. No, I am not ill. Thank you.” She sank to a bench.

The older man dipped his head and backed away. Tessa reached out a hand. “Perhaps—perhaps some water?”

He smiled. “I’ll only be a moment.”

She had disgraced Glaucus tonight, in spite of his effort to laugh off her comments. How would he repay the damage she had done him? His position as a strategos of the polis of Rhodes outranked all other concerns in his life, and he would consider her disrespect in the presence of other city leaders as treasonous.

In the three years since Glaucus had paid her owner the hetaera price and she had become his full-time companion, they had developed an unusual relationship. While he would not allow her to forget that she was not free, he had also discovered her aptitude for grasping the intricacies of politics, the maneuvering necessary to keep Rhodes the strong trading nation that it was, and to maintain Glaucus’s hold on leadership within this democratic society. Power was a game played shrewdly in Rhodes, as in all the Greek world, and Glaucus had gained a competitive edge when he gained Tessa.

Rhodian society had declared her to be a rarity: beautiful, brilliant, and enslaved. But the extent to which the decisions of the city-state passed through her slave-bound fingers was unknown to most. And in this she held a measure of power over Glaucus. She recalled Spiro’s astute comment earlier: Perhaps it is you who owns him.

Simeon returned with a stone mug in his hands. He held it out to her and covered her fingers with his own gnarled hand as she reached for it. His eyes returned to her hair. “I—I have never seen you with your hair down,” he said. He lowered his gray head again but did not back away, and his voice was soft. “It is beautiful.”

Tessa tried to smile, but her heart retreated from the small kindness. “Thank you.”

He didn’t look up. “If you are not ill, Tessa, perhaps you should return to the symposium. I should not like to see Glaucus angry with you.”

Tessa exhaled. “Glaucus can wait.”

Another noise at the courtyard’s edge. They both turned at the rustle of fabric. A girl glided into the room, dressed in an elegant yellow chitôn, her dark hair flowing around her shoulders. She stopped suddenly when she saw them.

“Simeon? Tessa? What are you doing here?”

Simeon bent at the waist, his eyes on the floor. “The lady was feeling ill. She requested water.” His eyes flicked up at Tessa, their expression unreadable, and he left the room.

Tessa turned her attention to the girl, inhaling the resolve to survive this encounter. At fourteen, Persephone hovered on the delicate balance between girl and woman. Glowing pale skin framed by dark hair gave her the look of an ivory doll, but it was her startlingly blue eyes that drew one’s attention. In recent months, as she had gained understanding of Tessa’s position in her father’s life, Persephone had grown more hostile toward her.

She raised her chin and studied Tessa. “Does my father know you’re out here?” Her tone contradicted the delicacy of her features.

Tessa nodded.

“So he let his plaything out of her cage?”

Tessa’s eyes closed in pity for the girl, whose mother had abandoned her for the comfort of madness.

The girl flitted to where Mynah cheeped inside its bars. She picked a leaf from a potted tree and held it out to the bird. “But who am I to speak of cages?” she said. She raised her eyes to Tessa. “We are all trapped here in some way. You. Me. Mother.”

“Cages can be escaped,” Tessa said, surprising herself. She had never dared to offer Persephone wisdom, though her heart ached for the girl.

Persephone turned toward her, studying her. “When you find the key, let me know.”

"Tessa!" Glaucus's voice was thick with wine and demanding.

Tessa turned toward the doorway. The girl beside her took a step backward.

"There you are," he said. "I've sent them all away." He waddled toward them. "I am sick of their company." He seemed to notice the girl for the first time. "Persephone, why are you not in bed? Get yourself to the women's quarters."

Tessa could feel the hate course through the girl as if it were her own body.

"I am not tired. I wished to see the stars." She pointed upward.

Glaucus stood before them now, and he sneered. "Well, the stars have no wish to see you. Remove yourself."

"And will you say goodnight to Mother?" Persephone asked. The words were spoken with sarcasm, tossed to Glaucus like raw bait. Tessa silently cheered the girl's audacity.

Glaucus was not so kind. "Get out!"

"And leave you to your harlot?" Persephone said.

In a quick motion belying his obesity, Glaucus raised the back of his hand to the girl and struck her against the face. She reeled backward a step or two, her hand against her cheek.

Tessa moved between them. "Leave her alone!"

Glaucus turned on Tessa and laughed. "And when did you two become friends?"

Persephone glared into her father's corpulent face. "I despise you both," she said.

Glaucus raised his arm again, his hand a fist this time, but Tessa was faster. She caught the lowering arm by the wrist and pushed it backward. Glaucus rocked back on his heels and turned his hatred on her.

Tessa kept her eyes trained on Glaucus but spoke to the girl, her voice low and commanding. "Go to bed, Persephone." She sensed the girl back away, heard her stomp from the room.

The anger on Glaucus's face melted into something else. A chuckle, sickening in its condescension, rumbled from him.

"High-spirited is one thing, Tessa. But be careful you do not go too far. Remember who keeps you in those fine clothes and wraps your ankles and wrists in jewels. You are not your own."

But I soon will be.

Glaucus reached for her, and she used her forearm to swat him away like a noisome insect. "Don't touch me. Don't touch her. Take your fat, drunken self out of here."

The amusement on Glaucus's face played itself out. The anger returned, but Tessa was ready.

Glaucus's words hissed between clenched teeth. "I don't know what has come over you tonight, Tessa, but I will teach you your place. You belong to me, body and spirit, and I will have you!" His heavy hands clutched her shoulders, and his alcohol-soaked breath blew hot in her face. Every part of Tessa's inner being rose up to defend herself.

It would all end tonight.

Check back a day or two for my review. I was having a discussion on goodreads, but nobody showed up. Better luck with better planning next time. Mimi and Lindsey, I'd be glad to discuss the book with you any time.

In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett

Glass Road Public Relations, LLC ph (615) 986-9516 fax (615) 986-9517


May 8, 2008
Contact: Rebeca Seitz
(615) 986-9516;


(COLORADO SPRINGS, CO) Ginger Garrett is a recognized expert in ancient women’s history, having received much critical acclaim for Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther and Dark Hour. Yet Garrett has now turned her attention from biblical women to that ill-reputed, oft-hated woman of history, Anne Boleyn. And the story Garrett weaves is anything but the story you’d expect.

In the Shadow of Lions

What if Anne was simply a frightened girl sent to make amends for her
family’s soiled name? What if her refusal to succumb to the king’s sexual
advances wasn’t borne of manipulation for the crown but of obedience to
the demands of her faith?

Remember, Anne was an enemy to the religious establishment of her time,
espousing the virtue of reading the scriptures for oneself rather than paying
the priests of the Catholic church for Biblical counsel and absolution. Was
her staunch belief in the personal relationship with God instead of The
Church the reason history has painted her with such a broad, evil stroke?

Garrett believes this is the case. “One worry that did stay with me during
the writing of the novel was that Anne Boleyn’s story has become familiar
to many readers. What encouraged me to push through, however, was all
the research that told me the other versions had her quite wrong. They paint
her as a scheming seductress, a master manipulator...but her crime, as they
put it, was ‘manipulating’ Henry by refusing to sleep with him until she was his wife...It might just prove she took her Christianity more seriously than anyone else in that age.”

At a time when people were scourged, beaten, and burned at the stake for being caught with a personal copy of the Bible, Anne Boleyn brought one into the royal chambers and dared to tell the King to read it as well. This September, readers just might see that Ginger Garrett has finally shown a light on the true Anne Boleyn, a woman of staunch faith and searching soul.

In the Shadow of Lions · by Ginger Garrett · September 2008
978-0-7814-4887-1· $13.99 · David C. Cook
Glass Road Public Relations, LLC ph (615) 986-9516 fax (615) 986-9517

May 8, 2008
Contact: Rebeca Seitz
(615) 986-9516;


Ginger Garrett is an expert in ancient women’s history and the author of several
critically acclaimed books. Ginger’s first novel, Chosen: The Lost Diaries of
Queen Esther, was a finalist for the Christian Book Award, recognizing it as one
of the top five inspirational novels for 2006. Ginger was also nominated for the
Georgia Author of the Year Award for her novel Dark Hour.

Her nonfiction Beauty Secrets of the Bible reveals how biblical women viewed
beauty and the natural foods, perfumes and cosmetics that complemented their
spiritual beauty.

In the fall of 2008, Ginger will release In the Shadow of Lions, the first of a
three-part fiction series fro David C. Cook. In the Shadow of Lions focuses on the
untold story of Anne Boleyn and how guardian angels may help shape human

Ginger is a popular speaker at women’s events, and a frequent radio and television guest. Ginger Garrett has been interviewed by media across the country including Fox News, The New York Times, FamilyNet Television, National Public Radio, Billy Graham’s Hour of Decision, Harvest Television, and more.

In the Shadow of Lions · by Ginger Garrett · September 2008
978-0-7814-4887-1· $13.99 · David C. Cook

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:


David C. Cook; 1st edition (September 2008)


Ginger Garrett is the critically acclaimed author of Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther, which was recognized as one of the top five novels of 2006 by the ECPA, and Dark Hour. An expert in ancient women's history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women.

On September 11, Ginger's non-fiction book, Beauty Secrets of the Bible, based on the historical research that began in her work on Chosen was released. The book explores the connections between beauty and spirituality, offering women both historical insights and scientific proofs that reveal powerful, natural beauty secrets.

A frequent radio guest on stations across the country, including NPR and Billy Graham's The Hour of Decision, Ginger is also a popular television guest. Her appearances include Harvest Television, Friends & Neighbors, and Babbie's House. Ginger frequently serves as a co-host on the inspirational cable program Deeper Living.

In 2007, Ginger was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award for her novel Dark Hour. When she's not writing, you may spy Ginger hunting for vintage jewelry at thrift stores, running (slowly) in 5k and 10k races, or just trying to chase down one of her errant sheepdogs. A native Texan, she now resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 13.99
Paperback: 311 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 1st edition (September 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781448875
ISBN-13: 978-0781448871


And Job said unto God:

I admit I once lived by rumors of you;

now I have it all firsthand…

I’ll never again live

on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.

Job 42, The Message


Tomorrow, someone else will die in my bed.

Someone died in it last month, which is how it came to be called mine.

The infernal clock moved confidently towards 1 a.m., and I turned my head to look at the window. The window of this room is a miserly gesture from the contractors, producing more fog than visage. I watched the gold orbs—the lamps on the lawn of the hospice sputtering off and on in the darkness—that dotted the fogged glass.

That was the last moment I lived as an iver, one whose eyes are veiled.

One orb did not sputter but moved, gliding between the others, moving closer to the window, growing larger and brighter until the light consumed the entire view. I winced from the searing glare and tried to shield my eyes, but the IV line pulled taut. Wrestling with the line to get some slack, I saw the next movement out of the corner of my eye. I bit down hard on my tongue, my body jerking in reflex, and felt the warm blood run back to my throat.

Outside, a hand wiped the fog away from the glass, and I watched the water beads running down the inside of my window. There was no searing light, only this mammoth hand with deep creases in the palms wiping down the window until we both could see each other. A man’s face was against the glass, but no breath fogged his vision. He was a giant, grim man, with an earring in one ear and dark glasses, and he was staring in at me. Even through the morphine, fear snaked along my arms, biting into my stomach, constricting around my throat. I tried to scream, but I could only gulp air and heave little gasps. His expression did not change as he lifted his hands, curling them into fists. I flinched at the last moment, thinking him to be Death, expecting to receive the blow and die.

Then I grew suddenly warm, like the feeling you get stepping out from an old, dark city library into the busy street and a warm spring sun.

Death didn’t even hurt, I rejoiced. I could slip into it like I slipped onto that street, eyes down, my thoughts my own, and simply turn a corner and be gone. I lifted my fingers to beckon him. Yes, I thought. I saw the beautiful Rolex on my birdlike wrist, and saw that it had stopped. It is time.

When I looked back up, he was beside me, staring down, not speaking. I wasn’t dead. His frame was monstrously large, hitting what must be seven feet tall, with a width of muscle strapped across it that was inhuman. As he watched me, his chest didn’t move, and his nostrils didn’t flare, but heat and warm breath radiated from him. When he laid his hands across my eyes, I was too scared to move my head away. His palms covered most of my face, and a sharp buzzing drilled into every pore. He began to move his hands elsewhere, touching and bringing to life every splintered inch of my body. When he got to the cancer, with one swollen lymph node visible even through my stained blue gown, he rested his hands there until the swelling sighed and he swept it away with his hand.

“Wait!” I screamed.

I didn’t want to live. I hadn’t known that was going to be an option. I deserved to be damned. To return to my life was too much to ask of me. I was finished.

“You’ll still be dead by morning,” he reassured me. His voice was deep and clean, no tell-tale dialect or inflection. Taking off his glasses, I saw he had enormous gold eyes, with a black pinhole in the center that stayed round and cold. There was no white in them at all, and they were rimmed all the way around the outside with black. I stared at them, trying to remember where I had seen eyes like this. It was years ago, this much I remembered.

I had to shake myself back to the moment. Clearly, morphine was not setting well with me tonight. I wanted to die in peace. That’s what I paid these extravagant sums for. My hand moved to the nurses’ call button. Mariskka was just down the hall, waiting for her moment to steal my watch. I knew she’d come running.

He grabbed my hand and the shock seared like a hot iron. Crying out, I shook him off and clutched my hand between my breasts, doing my best to sit up with my atrophied stomach muscles and tangled IV.

He leaned in. “I have something for you.”


He leaned in closer. “A second chance.”

Second chances were not my forte. As the most celebrated editor in New York City, I had made a killing. I loved the words that trembling writers slid across my desk, those little black flecks that could destroy their life’s dream or launch a career. I bled red ink over every page, slashing words, cutting lines. No one understood how beautiful they were to me, why I tormented the best writers, always pushing them to bring me more. The crueler I was to the best of them, the more they loved me, like flagellants worshipping me as the master of their order. Only at the end, lying here facing my own death, did I understand why. They embraced the pain, thinking it birthed something greater than themselves. I saw how pitifully wrong they were. There was only pain. This is why I was ready to die. When you finish the last chapter and close the book, there is nothing but pain. It would have been better never to have written. Words betrayed me. And for that, I betrayed the best writer of them all.

“Burn any manuscripts that arrive for me,” I had ordered my nurse, Marisska. “Tell them I’m already dead. Tell them anything.”

“I’ll let you write the truth,” the man whispered.

“I’m not a writer,” I replied. My fear tumbled down into the dark place of my secrets.

“No, you’re not,” he answered. “But you’ve coveted those bestsellers, didn’t you? You knew you could do better. This is your second chance.”

It caught my attention. “How?”

“I will dictate my story to you,” he said. “Then you’ll die.”

Taking dictation? My mouth fell open. “I’m in hell, aren’t I?”

He tilted his head. “Not yet.”

I pushed away from the pillows and grabbed him. Blisters sprang up on my palms and in between my fingers, but I gritted my teeth and spat out my words. “Who are you?”

“The first writer, the Scribe. My books lie open before the Throne and someday will be the only witness of your people and their time in this world. The stories are forgotten here and the Day draws close. I will tell you one of my stories. You will record it.”

“Why me?”

“I like your work.”

I started laughing, the first time I had laughed since I had been brought to this wing of the hospice, where the dying are readied for death, their papers ordered, and discreet pamphlets on “end of life options” left by quiet-soled salesmen. I laughed until I was winded. He rested his hand on my chest, and I caught my breath as he spoke.

“Let’s go find Marisska.”

I took my copy to have it signed, but I had to leave before Ginger was able to show up, so I left my copy with a friend... I have yet to get back over there to get it...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Shadow of Colossus by T.L. Higley: a review

Shadow of Colossus (Seven Wonders Novel, Book #1) Shadow of Colossus by T. L. Higley

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
After reading this story, while reading a note provided after the story within the book I found that this really explained what I think as a whole about the tale.

Weaving in and out of actual events, brushing lightly against the lives of characters from the pages of history, the Seven Wonders novels take us beyond man's ingenuity and hubris to explore the Supreme Creator's work in the ancient world beyond Israel. From the fall of the mighty Colossus of Rhodes to the destruction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one thing becomes clear: The power of redemption will never be silenced, and the One True God still desires to draw all men unto himself.

This novel might have taken place in 227 BC, but there is no doubt in my mind that it falls within a classification of Christian fiction. Through the characters hearts and mind, the "one true God" makes his love and redemption vision known.

The author has used a talent for story telling to educate and to fill the soul with a redemptive tale that is as classic as the story of the woman at the well or the good Samaritan. God loves you, and can use you, and desires you, no matter your past or situation.

View all my reviews.

The Moon Shines Down by Margaret Wise Brown and Linda Beck

The Moon Shines Down

  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140031299X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400312993
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.8 x 0.5 inches
For more information, click here to go to the Thomas Nelson product page.

The Moon Shines Down

by Margaret Wise Brown

Illustrated by Linda Bleck

Forgotten for decades in a dusty, tucked-away trunk, The Moon Shines Down brings to life once more the unmistakable voice of Margaret Wise Brown. This soon-to-be classic allows a whole new generation of children to discover, cherish, and enjoy the artistry of this beloved author.

Never before published, The Moon Shines Down on children all over the world from right next door to across the sea, from where "a Dutch boy dreams" and "cowbells ring" to "across the sea in the Far, Far East", through the familiar prayer:

I see the Moon

And the Moon sees me.

God bless the Moon,

And God bless me.

Margaret Wise Brown (1910-1952) was a pioneer of children's literature, choosing to write the stories that children wanted to hear-rather than those that grown-ups wanted to tell. She is best known for her now classic Good Night Moon and Runaway Bunny, which remain among the world's best-selling children's books.

Margaret was a prolific writer, and, at the peak of her career, she had over 100 books in print. Her untimely death left numerous manuscripts and ideas behind in various stages of completion. After a time, these were tucked away in a cedar trunk and largely forgotten. It is from this forgotten trunk that The Moon Shines Down was rescued.

Illustrator Linda Bleck began her artistic career as a child, drawing on rolls of old blueprint paper supplied by her architect father. Later, she helped her mother, a freelance illustrator for Hallmark, paint in the details of her intricate drawings. Linda's work has appeared in The NewYorker, Time Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal. She is also the writer and illustrator of the "Pepper the Dog" series, which won the National Parenting Publication Award.

Linda and her family now live in southern Wisconsin . . . where the moon shines down on them, one and all.

The Story Behind the Lost Manuscript . . .

The Moon Shines Down


the Author of Goodnight Moon

The Moon Shines Down is being published for the first time 56 years after the death of the beloved children's author Margaret Wise Brown.

Amazingly, this unpublished manuscript lay incomplete and forgotten in a cedar trunk in a Vermont barn. When it was discovered, the onionskin paper had yellowed and the paperclips that held the pages together had rusted. Children's book publisher, Laura Minchew, a longtime fan of Brown, took on the challenge to complete the work.

Based on the New England Sampler prayer, "God Bless the Moon and God Bless Me," this soon-to-be bedtime classic is a prayer for God's blessing on all the world's children.

Honestly, this is probably one of the best children's books I have ever had the privilege to read. It has a wonderful rhythm that is reminiscent of her most well known and loved book "Goodnight Moon". But this book is so much more than that. This story has longer stanzas per page and is perfect for a read-to or a learning-to-read story. It is short enough for nap or bedtime, and long enough to be a one book night and to cause conversations and questions. The moon shines down on all the world, and this book is an educational tool to teach about the people and some animals around all the world.

For me this book is an absolute winner and I am so grateful that it was found and plan that my entire family should have a copy of their own.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Finding Home within the new House

As most of the boxes are unpacked, except for most of our movies, and some books (waiting on shelves to be anchored...) we are really starting to be able to enjoy our house. One of the greatest things (my opinion) is that there is a fireplace.

Ever since I was a child, I loved to sit by the fire and just stare at it. My parents have an iron wood burning stove that sits out in the room a bit (the kitchen) on a large brick hearth. I have always loved that fireplace. In our house, we have a normal fireplace in the corner. And yet, it has never been used ever! There was one family that lived here before us and they never used the fireplace! Yet, they never hooked up Internet or television either... so... oh well.

But so Sunday night was really cold, or was it Saturday? Either way, one night this weekend was really cold and we bought some bunches of wood from Home Depot. Totally rip off, but we do not need a truck load, just a couple bunches... that is until we can figure out where to keep the wood... because our 0.14 acres is not too conducive to wood piles. *grin*

Anyway, we decided to have a fire and what a beauty it was! Here are some picture so you can share in the fun... The bright ones were taken with the lights off, that's how bright the flash is on my new camera!!!

How do you love this? He sits in the recliner, while I have a pallet by the fire. Perfect for reading or watching movie (third Indiana Jones - we are working on a marathon) and perfect to stare at the flames.

Then, there was Monday. What did I do on Monday? I made a quilt block! It's about time I've gotten caught up. I still have one more left over BOM and another one due to arrive in the next week or so...

(Above) Here are the pieces that I started with...

The finished star block, which if you missed it before, click here to go back and see the other pieces for this quilt already made...

And this is what my week looks like... books... and another quilt BOM.

Oh, and of course Patches was helping. She said the camera box needed to be checked for spare plastic wrappers...

And now, I'm off to perhaps finish the quilt BOM, but for now... I have a bowl of cold kettle corn that has waited for my computer addiction to be quenched and Shadow of Colossus is calling for me to finish it. I have about 2/3 to go.

Monday, November 24, 2008

FIRST: The Mission Minded Family

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Mission Minded Family

Authentic (July 1, 2008)


Ann Dunagan lives with a passion for the LORD and the lost. She is a homeschooling mother of seven (ages 7 to 21), an author, and an international minister alongside her husband, Jon Dunagan. In 1986, the Dunagans founded Harvest Ministry, focusing on remote city-wide outreaches, church planting, National Evangelism Team Support (NETS), training orphans, and motivating others for missions. Ann has personally ministered in 29 nations: speaking to women, preaching in villages, training children and youth, and encouraging parents and teachers. She enjoys fervent worship, time with family and friends, and writing. The Dunagan family is based in Hood River, Oregon.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 14.99
Paperback: 188 pages
Publisher: Authentic (July 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934068438
ISBN-13: 978-1934068434


Releasing Your Family to God’s Destiny

God has a destiny for your family. He has an individual plan for each member, as well as a “corporate” purpose for you as a family unit. God will help you, as parents, to train each child toward God’s mission for his or her life, and He will help you to focus your family toward making a strong impact for His kingdom—in your community, in your church, in your children’s schools, and in the world.

The Bible says in Psalm 127:4, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” This verse recently “hit” me in a new way as I was attending a graduation party. During the evening, a group of church leaders, led by the graduate’s father, gathered to pray for this young man. He had been raised to have a fervent heart for God and for world missions, and we prayed for God’s purposes to be fulfilled. As I laid my hands on the graduate’s mom (my dear friend Karen), I could sympathize with her mixed feelings: happiness and pride combined with a sad realization that this season in their family’s life was coming to an end. As we prayed, I “saw” (in my mind’s eye) her eighteen-year-old son as a straight arrow in a bow. Afterward, I leaned over and whispered in my friend’s ear, “You know, Karen, it’s not enough just to aim our arrows; to hit the target we’ve got to release the string!”

As our children grow, there will be repeated times of releasing each one to God: letting go of a little hand as a baby takes that first wobbly step . . . letting go of total educational control as a child steps onto that school bus or enrolls in that first college course. Or what about that moment when we let go of the car keys and an eager teenager plops into the driver’s seat of our car and takes control of the steering wheel?

Sometimes it’s very scary.

As I write this chapter, my husband and I have a nearly twenty-year old son climbing a dangerous mountain and then the following week heading to Oxford, England for a summer-long study-abroad program. Our eighteen-year-old son just graduated from high school and will soon be moving to a university two thousand miles from home. Our nearly sixteen-year-old daughter is just about to get her driver’s license.

No matter how many times I have released my children, I continually need to rely on God’s fresh grace for today’s particular moment. Whether it’s dropping off a little one into the arms of a church nursery worker or dropping off a young adult at an international airport, I need to trust God.

Just like Hannah released her little Samuel, I have surrendered each child to the Lord; yet I still have times when God convicts me that I need to rely on Him even more. At a deeper level, I need to continue to trust Him. With faith, I need to trust that God will direct each of my kids to fulfill His purposes (without me pushing them to do what I want). I need to trust that God will bring just the right spouse for each of my sons and daughters (without me trying to make something happen). And I need to trust God that He will protect my children as they begin to step out to fulfill His destiny (without me worrying or trying to figure it out).

As I have thought about this need to totally release each of my children to God’s purposes, I have tried to imagine—in my own finite way—what our heavenly Father must have experienced when He released His Child. God never struggles, but I believe He can relate to my feelings (and yours). He too had to release His Son—His only Son—in order to fulfill His plans for this earth.

Imagine with me:

What if someday God called one of my children . . . let’s just say, for an example, to go on a summer mission trip to Calcutta, India?

Would I be able to send him or her with confidence and joy?

If my husband and I prayed about the particular outreach and God gave us His peace about it, I know I would. My husband and I would uphold our child in prayer, and we would trust God’s direction. And as a mom, I would rely on Him for grace.

But the sacrifice God made was far greater . . .

What if someday a child of ours decided to move to Calcutta, India, for perhaps ten months . . . or ten years . . . or even longer? Could I handle that?

That would be much harder.

Although it would be difficult to live so far apart, I would do my best to support him or her through regular prayer and communication (and I would definitely hope for e-mail access!). If my grown child had a family, I would really miss getting to know my child’s spouse and his or her family; and I can hardly imagine how much I would yearn for time with those future grandchildren. Yet, if God was calling my child, I would let my child go . . . and rely on Him for extra grace.

But God’s sacrifice was still far greater . . .

So, to take the analogy one step further, what if my husband and I, back in time about twenty years ago, were expecting our first child, and God told us that He wanted us to surrender this precious newborn—right from birth? What if God said He had chosen a poor couple in Calcutta, India, to raise our baby? What if He said our little one would grow up in some obscure squatter village . . . would live among filth and poverty . . . would spend his life helping people . . . and, in the end, would be rejected, hated, and brutally killed by the very people he was sent to help?

Would I send my son to do that? How could I?

But (perhaps) that is a glimpse of what God did for us.

If we are going to raise a generation of world changers, it is likely that we will need to surrender our children into areas that may make us uncomfortable. He could call our child to pioneer a megachurch in a crowded inner city or to raise a large, God-fearing family in a quiet rural town. He may want our child to impact a corrupt political system or to redirect a greed-motivated business. He could call our precious son to enlist in the military or our pure daughter to have an effect on the media. He could call our child to Cairo, Egypt . . . or to New York City . . . or maybe even to Calcutta, India.

As mission-minded parents, will we “let go” of those arrows and encourage each child to fulfill the Lord’s plans? Or will we be God’s greatest hindrance?

It’s a heart issue, and it’s big.

Just as God released His Son for us, we need to totally release each of our children—again and again, every day—for His eternal purposes.

Pursuing God’s Purposes

An excerpt from The Missions Addiction, by David Shibley.

We whine, “I just want to know my purpose; I’ve got to reach my destiny.” We race all over the country to attend “destiny conferences,” and we devour tapes and books on “reaching your full potential.” It would be amusing if it were not so appalling. Even cloaking our self-centeredness in Christian garb and jargon cannot cover the nakedness of this cult of self that has infested much of the church. How can we ever hope to discover our purpose in the earth with little or no interest in His purpose? How will we ever know our destiny when we have so little identification with God’s destiny for the nations? It certainly is good to pray, “Lord, what is Your will for my life?” But even this can be a self-absorbed prayer. It is far better to pray, “Lord, what is Your will for my generation? How do You want my life to fit into Your plan for my times?”

Pursuing God’s purposes, not our own, is the path to personal fulfillment.

We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations

A missions hymn, by H. Ernest Nichol (1862–1928)

We’ve a story to tell to the nations,

That shall turn their hearts to the right,

A story of truth and mercy,

A story of peace and light,

A story of peace and light.


For the darkness shall turn to dawning,

And the dawning to noonday bright,

And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,

The kingdom of love and light.

We’ve a song to be sung to the nations,

That shall lift their hearts to the Lord,

A song that shall conquer evil,

And shatter the spear and sword,

And shatter the spear and sword.

We’ve a message to give to the nations,

That the Lord who reigneth above

Hath sent us His Son to save us,

And show us that God is love,

And show us that God is love.

We’ve a Savior to show to the nations,

Who the path of sorrow hath trod,

That all of the world’s great peoples

May come to the truth of God,

May come to the truth of God!


For the darkness shall turn to dawning,

And the dawning to noonday bright,

And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,

The kingdom of love and light.

“I have seen the Vision and for self I cannot live;

Life is less than worthless till my all I give.”

Oswald J. Smith

CFBA: Beloved Captive by Kathleen Y'Barbo with REVIEW

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Beloved Captive

Barbour Publishing, Inc (November 1, 2008)


Kathleen Y’Barbo


There’s never a dull moment in the Y’Barbo household! From hockey and cheer mom to publicist to bestselling author, Kathleen Y’Barbo somehow manages to do it all - and well. While wearing her publicist’s hat, Kathleen has secured interviews with radio, television, and print media for clients at NavPress, Hatchette, Integrity, Barbour Publishing, and Broadman & Holman, to name a few. She also brings her own unique blend of Southern charm and witty prose to the more than 350,000 award-winning novels and novellas currently in print. Her novels have been nominated for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006; and 2007 will see the release of her 25th book.

Kathleen is a tenth-generation Texan and a mother of three grown sons and a teenage daughter. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University. Kathleen is a former treasurer for the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a member of the Author’s Guild, Inspirational Writers Alive, Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, and the Fellowship of Christian Authors. In addition, she is a sought-after speaker, and her kids think she’s a pretty cool mom, too…most of the time, anyway.

The first book in this series is Beloved Castaway.


In this sequel to Beloved Castaway, Emilie Gayarre is learning to accept her mixed race heritage while finding fulfillment in teaching children of the key. There is no denying the attraction between Emilie and the handsome young naval commander, Caleb Spencer, who is shadowed by his own flock of secrets. But if her heritage is found out, even greater things than his career are at risk. Enjoy this historical romance full of risk and redemption.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Beloved Captive, go HERE.

Click here, to go back and read my review.

Beloved Captive by Kathleen Y'Barbo: a review

Beloved Captive: Fairweather Keys Series #2 (Truly Yours Romance Club #28) Beloved Captive: Fairweather Keys Series #2 by Kathleen Y'Barbo

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
As my first book that I have read by Kathleen Y'Barbo I am quite the fan. From several author buddies, Kathleen's books have been recommended and she has been called a great friend so I was excited when I was given the chance to review "Beloved Captive," the second book in the Fairweather Keys series, even though I have not read the first. But after reading this one, I do believe I will go back to find the first as this was quite enjoyable.

The title is absolutely perfect and captures the entire story. Characters are individually fabulous and entertaining. At first what I deemed to be a predictable story was actually full of unforeseeable twists and turns. Action and adventure with romance and pirates! What could be better?!

A perfect vacation or weekend read that I would recommend to anyone who wants a little pirate romance adventure.

View all my reviews.

Mailbox Monday - November 24th

Whew! It is so good to be back online and I'm attempting to get back on my routine of things, especially special posts like this one, Mailbox Monday hosted by the PrintedPage. Of course, I'm missing a few things here and there, with the books that have arrived in the last couple weeks or so... A couple that I know of the top of my head are:

From - Stephen Lawhead's The Song of Albion Book #1 The Paradise War and Tracie Peterson's Kansas, a Barbour novella omnibus.

Also, the first book I received at home was Christmas Promises by LeAnn Weiss curtesy of Tracy McCarter of

Other than that... let me think... Oh, there was The Jesus Who Never Lived, that one is for a FWC (First Wild Card) tour coming up soon... Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow, for a tour... A Taste of Murder by Virginia Smith that Ginny sent me herself when I won it from a contest. There was also a few others that are here somewhere that I know I'm missing... *sigh* Oh, I bought Alaska Brides from Wal-Mart by Mary Connealy, Kathleen Y'Barbo, and Cathy Marie Hake, I was astonished it was a better price than for once!

I also bought My Heart is in the Lowlands by Liz Curtis Higgs when I was at the Lifeway at the Mall of Georgia at the book signing for Chris Coppernoll's A Beautiful Fall and Ginger Garrett's In The Shadow of Lions. Ginger did not get there until after I had to leave (I waited two hours!!! - until DH couldn't take any more, too much book talk he said... lol). There are probably others, but I'll stop there.

And now, specifically last week...

Oklahoma Brides: Sooner or Later/The Bounty Hunter and the Bride/A Wealth Beyond Riches (Heartsong Novella Collection)From Vickie McDonough herself, I received an autographed copy of Oklahoma Brides that I won from author Trish Perry's blog. It is a Barbour omnibus of three previously Heartsong Presents published romance novellas. I love Barbour books!

Zondervan sent a copy of Brandilyn Collins' Dark Pursuit, I love the cover of this one, simple, green, and dark.

And then, lastly for Monday, I received a copy of Assaulted by Joy by Stephen Simpson from Danielle Douglas, for a FWC tour.

Tuesday (my birthday):
For a FWC tour, I received Marketplace Memos, written by a father and son team David & Jonathan Shibley. This is definitely not a normal type book for me, but it looks useful to those which it applies. This one comes to me thanks to Robert Parrish of New Leaf Publishing Group.

Overdue, but none the less excited to receive via forwarded mail Enoch by Alton Gansky. I cannot help it, this one just looks cool. This comes to me thanks to LeAnn Hamby of Strang Communications. This is for a FWC tour taking place next Monday, November 24th, although I cannot promise to have read it in it's entirety by then.

From Whitaker House for two FWC tours, I received ARCs for Hannah Grace
(Daughters of Jacob Kane, book #1) by Sharlene MacLaren and Cursebreaker (The Order of the Scrolls Series) by Nancy Wentz. These both look fabulous! I first heard of Hannah Grace from Deena's A Peek at My Bookshelf and have been craving it ever since.

I also received a book that is very exciting to me! The Gates of Trevalyan by Jacquelyn Cook from BelleBooks. This is book two in a series, but I do not care, it looks fabulous, plus I am really exicted that I have found BelleBooks, a local Georgia publisher with mystery, urban fantasy, and romantic women's fiction. It is also my understanding that Jacquelyn has some titles published through Barbour Books.

Hah! If I was not happy enough, Miriam Parker from Hatchette Book Group USA decided to make my day with a box of goodies containing the following:
Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Conner by Brad Gooch, coming February 2009 from Little, Brown & Co.
Drood [about Charles Dickens life] by Dan Simmons, coming February 2009 from Little, Brown & Co. This book is huge!! A good 773 pages.
The Cradle by Patrick Somerville, coming March 2009 from Little, Brown & Co.
Be Strong & Curvaceous (All About Us #3) by Shelley Adina, coming January 2009 from FaithWorks
Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly, coming February 2009 from Grand Central Publishing
The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano, coming March 2009 from Grand Central Publishing
The Alexander Cipher by Will Adams, coming March 2009 from Grand Central Publishing
YAY for ARCs!!!!!

This morning I was surprised early, by UPS at noon. I had a package from a new friend over at Hatchette Book Group USA, a Jillian Jossem and did she have some treats for me!

The Beginner's Guide to Bears by Gillian Shields and Sebastien Braun, from Little, Brown & Co. Kids. Click here, to go back to Friday and read my review.
Toot & Puddle: I'll Be Home for Christmas by Holly Hobbie
, from Little, Brown & Co.
Night's Nice by Barbara and Ed Emberley from Little, Brown & Co. Click here, to go back to Friday and read my review of this FABULOUS Bedtime Book.
The Dangerous Days of Daniel X: The Greatest Superpower... Is the Power to Create by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge from Little, Brown & Co.
The Devouring by Simon Holt, from Little, Brown & Co.
These all look intriguing and the kids' books cute! I have already read the Bear book and love it. I'm eager to read the rest.

Then in the mail, I got The Mark of Salvation (The Scottish Crown Series, book #3) by Carol Umberger from Click the link on the right to go there...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

FIRST: Enoch by Alton Gansky

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:


Realms (October 2, 2008)


Alton Gansky is the author of twenty-one published novels and six nonfiction works. He has been a Christie Award finalist (A Ship Possessed) and an Angel Award winner (Terminal Justice). He holds a BA and MA in biblical studies and has served as senior pastor for three Baptist churches in California, with a total of over twenty years in pulpit ministry. He and his wife live in the High Desert area of Southern California.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 307 pages
Publisher: Realms (October 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 159979344X
ISBN-13: 978-1599793443


He first thought of his feet.

It seemed an odd first thought, but there it was. His gaze drifted to a pair of soft-topped shoes, each with a symbol stitched to the side.

"N." He wondered why anyone would stitch a letter on footwear.

He raised a foot, then wiggled it. The shoe felt good. He dug a toe in the sandy dirt, then raised his head. A field surrounded him. No crops, no buildings, no people. Just a wide expanse of rugged scrub that shivered in the cold wind.

A full-circle turn revealed nothing but the same: miles of empty land. He blinked against the wind and the bits of dirt and dust it carried. To the west the sun lowered itself to the horizon. In the opposite direction, darkness crawled up the sky, keeping pace as if the descending orb pulled a curtain of night behind it.

Turning to face the sun again, he saw a break in the expanse of near-barren ground. At its edge ran a thin fence. He moved toward it, amused at the soft crunch the earth made with each step of his N-shoes.

Something scampered to his right. A covey of quail sprinted away and then took to the air, flying a short distance before making contact with the earth again. The sight made him smile.

Henick wrapped his arms around himself to ward off the chilling breeze. The material of his multicolored shirt felt soft against his arms and palms. He kept his gaze down, protecting his eyes from the sun's glare and looking up only long enough to get his bearings and check for holes or rocks that might cause him to stumble.

The fence was a simple series of metal stakes supporting four strands of metal wire punctuated with evenly spaced barbs. He extended a finger, touched one of the points, and frowned. The knife-sharp tip drew a drop of blood. He stuck the offended finger in his mouth. A quick scan of the fence's length revealed no gate.

A short distance from the fence ran a wide, smooth, black surface with a series of white dashes down the middle. He marveled at its unerring straightness.

He returned his attention to the fence. He wanted to be on the other side but preferred to arrive there with skin and clothing intact. Placing a hand on the top strand, he pushed down. The metal wire moved, but not enough to make straddling the thing acceptable. He tried again, this time using both hands. The wire fence gave more but still too little.

Henick decided on a different approach. He stepped to the nearest metal upright and tested it. It looked old, as if it had spent a lifetime stuck in that one spot. Seizing it with both hands and careful to avoid the stinging wire, he shook the thin metal pole. It wiggled. He leaned into it and then pulled back, repeating the motion twenty or thirty times. The metal felt cold against his bare hands, and gritty rust tinted his flesh.

When he had worked the pole loose, he lifted its base from the ground, then moved to the next upright and reenacted the procedure. With two posts loose, Henick could step across the barrier without injury.

Once on the other side, he replaced the posts, stomping the surrounding dirt with his foot until the soil was as compact as he could make it. In time, weather would reseal the posts to their original strength.

The exertion had warmed him enough to raise a film of perspiration on his brow and beneath the black hair that hung to his shoulders. The breeze found each moist area and chilled it. He could expect a cold night.

Stepping to the middle of the black path, he bent and touched the surface. It appeared smooth but felt coarse beneath his fingers. The black material radiated gentle warmth. He straightened and looked up and down the long road. It seemed to have no end in either direction. Deciding that one direction was as good as the other, Henick began to walk, choosing his course so the wind would be at his back and not in his face.

When the last of the sun's disk fell beneath the horizon, Henick had made two or three miles. He passed the time by counting the white dashes in the middle of the strange path or wondering about the letter N on his shoes. He liked the shoes; they made walking easier.

A quarter moon replaced the sun in the sky but offered little light. Soon the final light would follow its source below the distant horizon. If he had remained in the open field, he would have had to stop his journey. Walking over uncertain and irregular terrain with no light would be foolish, but the hard path with its white lines made it possible for him to continue.

Just before the sun said its final good-bye, Henick saw a black and white sign with a puzzling, irregular shape and the words Ranch Road 1232. Sometime later he saw a sign that read Don't Mess with Texas.

The air moved from chilly to cold, but the breeze had settled.

Henick kept moving.

Lights and a rumble approached from behind. The light split the darkness and gave Henick a shadow that stretched impossibly long before him. He stopped and turned, raising a hand to shield his eyes against the glare.

The roar grew louder. The lights neared.

A sudden blaring assaulted his ears, but Henick stood his ground.

"What are you? Nuts?"

The voice came from behind the glare. A large metal device pulled alongside. The words pickup truck entered Henick's mind.

The vehicle stopped. "Have you plumb lost your mind, boy? I coulda run you down and not even known I hit ya. What are you thinking?"

In the dim light, Henick could see two people seated in the truck: a man in his sixties and a woman of the same age.

"Go easy on him, Jake. He looks confused. Maybe he's lost." The woman's voice rode on tones of kindness.

"That it, boy? You lost?"

"I am just walking," Henick said.

"In the dark? Where you headed?"

Henick thought for a moment. "That way." He pointed down the long stretch of road.

"Ain't nuthin' that way but Blink, and there ain't much reason for going there unless that's your home. I'm guessin' it ain't. Pretty small town; I think I'd have seen you before."

"I don't live there."

The man the woman called Jake exited the truck and eyed Henick. "It's a bit cold to be out in nuthin' but blue jeans and a flannel shirt. It's supposed to drop into the forties tonight."

"It is true. I am cold."

"Give him a ride, Jake." The woman had slid closer to the driver side door. "We can't leave him out here. He's liable to step in some pothole and break a leg."

"More likely he'd step on a rattler. They like the warm asphalt."

"Either way, Jake, we can't leave the man out here."

"All right, all right, just keep your shoes on." Jake looked at Henick. "Turn around."

Henick raised an eyebrow.

"Turn around, boy. I jus' wanna make sure you ain't packin'."


"Totin' a gun. You sure you haven't wandered off from some kinda home for the slow?"


"All right, Eleanor, I don't mean no disrespect." He motioned for Henick to turn in place. Henick did. "OK, here's the deal. I'll give you a ride, but that's all. Me and the wife were going into town for a meal. Friday night is our evening out. Been doing that for thirty-five years."

"I would like a ride."

"Yeah, well, don't have no room for you up front, so you'll have to ride in the back. I got some blankets to keep the wind off you. It's the best I can offer."

"Thank you." Henick climbed into the bed of the truck and leaned against the cab.

"Blankets are behind my seat. I'll get 'em."

A few moments later, Henick, snug in two wool blankets, turned his face heavenward, gazed at the stars, and wondered what a "Texas" was.

This book got to play in the mail forwarding system, but has finally arrived and I look forward to sharing a review with you sooner rather than later...

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