Wednesday, February 28, 2007
This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing A Valley Of Betrayal (Moody Publishers - February 1, 2007) by Tricia Goyer (fellow CFBA member, blogger, writer, and homeschooling mom!)
ABOUT THE BOOK:
We are pleased to be able to review her exciting Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War, A Valley Of Betrayal.
For reasons beyond her control, Sophie finds herself alone in the war-torn Spanish countryside, searching for her beloved Michael. His work as a news photographer has taken him deep into the country wracked by civil war. What was once a thriving paradise has become a battleground for Nazi-backed Franco fascist soldiers and Spanish patriots. She is caught up in the escalating events when the route to safety is blocked and fighting surrounds her.
Secrets abound in the ruined Spain. Michael is loving but elusive, especially about beautiful Maria. The American who helped Sophie sneak into Spain turns up in odd places. Michael's friend Jose knows more than he tells. When reports of Michael's dissappearance reach her, Sophie is devastaed. What are her feelings for Philip, an American soldier who comes to her rescue?
Sophie must sift truth from lies as she becomes more embroiled in the war that threatens her life and breaks her heart. On her darkest night, Sophie takes refuge with a brigade of international compatriots. Among these volunteers, she pledges to make the plight of the Spanish people known around the world through the power of art.
Acclaimed author Tricia Goyer creates a riviting cast of characters against the backdrop of pre-WWII spain. Love, loss, pain, and beauty abound in A Valley Of Betrayal, the first book in her new series, Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tricia is a members of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. She also has a blog, It's Real Life and a parenting blog Generation NeXt.
TRICIA GOYER is the author of five novels, two nonfiction books and one children's book. She also was named Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference Writer of the Year in 2003. In 2005, her novel Night Song, the second title in Tricia’s World War II series, won ACFW's Book of the Year for Best Long Historical Romance. In 2006, her novel Dawn of A Thousand Nights also won book of the Year for Long Historical Romance. Tricia and her husband, John, live with their family in northwestern Montana.
I'm in the middle of this one right now. I'm enjoying it, but I haven't really hit the 'action' yet. For me it started off a little slow, but that's probably because there seems to be a lot of set up for the story. I don't think that's a bad thing, and this is a historical so that's normal. She's done her research and everything feels very authentic. I like the book and I'd definitely recommend it, despite it's slow begining, especially if this is a historical time period you enjoy. Her characters are well drawn and she has an easy voice to read. I'm sure that this book will be a success.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
It's Idol time again, which means Predictions. Lots and lots of Predictions. I've not done too shabby over the last two years, so I'm going to give it to you again this year.
Last night the 12 guys performed. I was really excited too, because the auditions and Hollywood week led me to believe that there was a lot of potential among the men. After last night, I'm wondering. Song choices were mostly a mess and pitchiness was a consistent problem with a lot of them. However, there are some real keepers. So, in order of best performance to least is my list of who should make the final six guys.
Blake Lewis, 25 from Washington. He's the beatboxer. I wasn't sure about his voice, because we saw more of the beatboxing than the vocals previous to last night, but his rendition of Keene's song was fantastic. He has a great voice and his stage presence is smooth and natural. He could easily win this all - But I'm with holding predictions on the winner of it all until I hear the girls sing.
Phil Stacey, 29 from Florida. The baldy who missed his baby's birth. His song started a little rough last night, but when he hit the chorus he blew everyone away. If he can control it, he's got a great chance at the top 3 as well.
Chris Sligh, 28 from South Carolina. The funny one. I love his personality, he has a great sense of humor. His voice is just as surprising, it's not what I expected the first time I heard him, but wow, he's good.
Paul Kim, 25 from California. The barefoot one. Despite his many 'good luck' rituals, he has a really great voice and an easy presence on stage. His song choice wasn't spectacular last night, but he still has a voice worth hearing more of.
Sanjaya Malakar, 17 from Washington. The one that auditioned with his sister. What a sweetie, he was so disapointed that his sister didn't make it too. He's young, but his voice is great and he's got the look and personality. With a little more practice his stage presence will be there too. His song choice last night was not strong, it was rather boring, but he still has a great voice and I think he deserves the chance to prove himself.
Slot #6 was hard to choose. Honestly, the rest of the guys just weren't that strong last night. Sundance Head was so promising in his original audition, but he's bombed every performance since then. Rudy Cardenas was also very promising, but his voice just didn't do much for me last night. Brandon Rogers also has a great voice, and he sounded good last night - I just didn't like his song choice. Boring. So who to choose for slot number 6? I'm flipping a coin and saying Brandon Rogers, 28 from California. We'll see if he can spice things up a little more.
So there you have it the first of my Idol Predictions. What do you think? Do you have predictions of your own? I'd love to hear your opinions.
This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Wedgewood Grey (Faith Words, February 2007) by John Aubrey Anderson.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Wedgewood Grey is the second book in the Black and White Chronicles. The first was Abiding Darkness (August, 2006).
Mississippi cotton country . . . in the spring of 1960.
The War At Cat Lake is fifteen years in the fading past . . . but the demonic beings who launched that first battle, are alive and well at Cat Lake. Waiting.
Late on a Friday night, on a muddy little road a mile east of Cat Lake, a ten-year-old black child is forced to watch while a gang of white men beat his mother to death. Aided by Mose Washington, an old black man, the boy exacts a measure of his own revenge. When the sun comes up on Saturday morning, Mose and the boy are fugitives.
Missy Parker Patterson, who as a child stood at the epicenter of the first war, is married and living in Texas. In the aftermath that follows Mose Washington’s disappearance, she goes back to Cat Lake to discover that the demonic beings have been anticipating her return . . . and so begins the second battle of The War At Cat Lake.
In 1962, an old black man and his grandson move into the country near Pilot Hill, Texas. The people in the local area are told that the old gentleman’s name is Mose Mann—his grandson introduces himself as Bill.
However, the lives of the new arrivals are not as peaceful as they seem. The unassuming old black man and his grandson are being pursued by a triad of formidable and unrelenting adversaries . . . a ruthless political leader, an enduring lie, and an invisible army allied beneath the banner of a hatred for God.
Wedgewood Grey is a story about the impact of choices that real people—people like you and me—are sometimes forced to make.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
John Aubrey Anderson John was born five miles north of the setting for Abiding Darkness, a cotton country town within a rifle shot of two rivers, a bayou, a double handful of lakes, and endless acres of woods.After graduating from Mississippi State, he flew six years in the Air Force then twenty-nine years for a major airline. And now he gets to write. He and his wife have been married for forty some-odd years and live in Texas—about twenty miles south of the Red River. He spends the biggest part of his time writing; she’s immersed in leading a comprehensive, women’s Bible study.They like greasy hamburgers and Dr. Peppers, most species of warm-blooded creatures (the kind that don’t normally bite), and spending July in the mountains.
Enter to win an AUTOGRAPHED, hard back copy of Wedgewood Grey. Click on the link at the top of the sidebar to email your entry.
Want more chances to win? Earn an extra entry in the drawing for every friend who lists you as the one who referred them.
RULES: Postage is making me poor, so I'm limiting entries to the U.S. and Canada only. I appreciate the many friends that visit from all across the globe and hope to find a way to include you in more contests in the future. Contest ends midnight February 28, 2007.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Welcome to day 2 of CSFF's blogtour of WheretheMapEnds.com . If you haven't visited the site yet, jump on over and check it out. Currently they have an interview with editor and agent Jan Dennis. Ever heard of Frank Peretti? Ted Dekker? Stephen Lawhead? These are all authors Jan "discovered" and published. Great interview.
Also, check out the Fantastic Visions section to see speculative fiction and out of this world artwork.
If you loved Kathryn Mackel's book Outriders, you can read the unpublished prologue and an interview with Kathryn.
This site seems to have some really great features that they update regularly, so enjoy!
Be sure to visit the other blogtour members sites at:
CSFF Blog Tour
Kameron M. Franklin
Todd Michael Greene
K. D. Kragen
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Daniel I. Weaver
John W. Otte
Wayne Thomas Batson
Monday, February 19, 2007
This week the CSFF is blog touring the website WheretheMapEnds.com
Be sure to check it out, I'll be posting highlights from the site over the next few days.
Check out the other blog tour members at:
CSFF Blog Tour
Kameron M. Franklin
Todd Michael Greene
K. D. Kragen
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Daniel I. Weaver
John W. Otte
Wayne Thomas Batson
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Carolynn won the autographed hardback copy of Abiding Darkness by John Aubrey Anderson!
Thanks to the rest of you who entered. Be sure to check back regularly, more contests are on the way, including an autographed copy of Wedgewood Grey, the exciting sequel to Abiding Darkness.
This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing the Christian Writer's Market Guide by Sally Stuart. WaterBrook Press; Pap/Cdr edition (January 16, 2007)
ABOUT THE BOOK:
For more than twenty years, the Christian Writers’ Market Guide has offered indispensable help to Christian writers. This year, for the first time, this valuable resource comes with a CD-ROM of the full text, so you can search with ease for topics, publishers, and other specific names.
The 2007 edition also includes up-to-date listings of more than 1,200 markets for books, articles, stories, poetry, and greeting cards, including information on forty new book publishers, eighty-three new periodicals, and thirty-four new literary agents. Perfect for writers in every phase, this is the resource to get noticed–and get published.
It contains listings for: 695 periodicals, 228 poetry markets, 355 book publishers, 133 online publications, 29 print-on-demand publishers, 1185 markets for the written word, 321 photography markets, 31 e-book publishers, 122 foreign markets, 112 literary agents,and 59 newspapers.
It also gives you comprehensive lists of contests, writers groups and conferences, search engines, pay rates and submission guidelines, editorial services and websites.
Christian Writers’ Market Guide is a "must have' for any serious Christian writer that is looking to get published!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sally E. Stuart is the author of thirty-four books and has sold more than one thousand articles and columns. Her long-term involvement with the Christian Writers' Market Guide as well as her marketing columns for the Christian Communicator, Oregon Christian Writers, and The Advanced Christian Writer, make her a sought-after speaker and a leading authority on Christian markets and the business of writing. Stuart is the mother of three and grandmother of eight.
Getting to 'review' this book has been a great opportunity for me as a writer. The guide has so much invaluable information in it, and it's easy to use. The accompanying CD rom is a nice touch as well. Very handy.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
We've been snowed upon again. About five inches over a little ice. Not too bad this go round. I didn't get stuck on my way to work and I only fishtailed a couple of times. That's a good snow fall for us. It's a really pretty snow too. Fluffy, like mounds of potato flakes and powdered sugar. (Hmm, must be hungry - that's a lot of food references.)
I wanted to stay home today, but I couldn't bring myself to play hooky. I've been so not in the mood for work lately. At least not my paying job work. I swear I feel like I've been here a week already and it's only Tuesday. That does not bode well for the rest of the week.
What I'd really like to be doing is reading. I'm in the middle of Randy Ingermanson's Double Vision and I really want to go home and finish it. Then, I want to get to writing some more. I've been working on one project, Burning Justice, for a long time. I had intended to try and enter it in a couple of contests this year, but I just discovered that the first chapter is all wrong as the first chapter. I know what I need to write, but I'm suddenly feeling very burnt out on this story. I'm just too close to it right now. So, I've decided to set it aside for a little while and try to focus on something completely different.
There are several other projects to chose from. A Science Fiction series, a middle grade kids novel, and a Romance just to name a few. I think I'm going to start with the kids book though. It's shorter, I've never done a middle grade before and I really like the story. I have an outline, but nothing else. I've got to get rolling on it, before it drives me nuts. I'm going to add my WIP word counts to the side bar, maybe that will get me motivated. (Yeah, Right.)
Don't forget, today is the last day to enter the drawing to win an autographed copy of Abiding Darkness. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents only and ends tonight at midnight.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
I was really impressed with the fan collaboration at the end. Robyn Troup was a natural on stage. Great voice, great presence. I was impressed with how cool and collected she was on stage. Some of the pro's don't handle Grammy pressure that well. I'll be shocked if she doesn't get a music contract out of this somehow.
Play Justin Timberlake’s “'What Goes Around...Comes Around' Preview”
Carrie Underwood and Rascall Flatts blew me out of the water too. Carrie has got to be one of the best new voices in a long time. I think she can sing anything and make it sound fabulous.
Gnarls Barkley was fun. I like Crazy. He scared me a little when he stumbled, but he covered well. Christina Aguilera wailed like the old soul that she is. I may not always appreciate the choices she makes, but there's no doubt she can sing like nobody's business. Her Back To Basics album is really good.
I was actually pleasantly surprised by this years Grammy's. All the performances were well done and entertaining. I have to take exception with their promoting the Red Hot Chili Peppers performance as being the one every one would talk about Monday. It was not high on my list. But then again, I am mentioning it, even if not for the reasons they'd expect. So I guess they get the last laugh after all.
The contest is still up and running for a free AUTOGRAPHED copy of Abiding Darkness. Please enter ONLY if you live in the US or Canada. Click on the book cover at the top of the side bar to email your entry. And stay tuned for more autographed books coming soon.
Have a great Monday everyone,
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
I've also included the link in the side bar under Just For Fun. I just signed up myself, so I'll update you later on how it's going.
This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducting The Longing Season (Bethany House July, 2006) by Christine Schaub.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
All of the books in the MUSIC OF THE HEART series are based on a hymns and their histories. The Longing Season is about one of the greatest redemption stories of all time: John Newton and his song, Amazing Grace.
Nature conspires against him, tossing the ship like a toy. Directionless--just like his life.
It seems his odyssey will end here, in the cold Atlantic. Grief and terror grip his heart, but he will not surrender...not yet.
She reads the sentence again and again. The first day I saw you I began to love you. He'd written the words, sealed and posted them, then vanished.
She has a choice--turn toward the future, or wait, wating and hoping.
And so begins her season of longing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Christine Schaub is the author of the MUSIC OF THE HEART series, including Finding Anna, the “rest of the story” behind the writing of the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” (October 2005) and The Longing Season, the story behind “Amazing Grace” (July 2006) with Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Books.In 2003, Christine won the “On the Page” screenwriting contest at Screenwriting Expo 2 in Los Angeles. Her one-page story, written on-site in 24 hours for Jacqueline Bisset, was selected by the actress as the best Oscar Wilde-type comedy for her persona.
While working in freelance corporate communications, Christine completed three feature-length screenplays, including a drama/comedy, romantic comedy, and sci-fi action/drama; developed four biopic teleplays for the stories behind the hymns; and published an online column for the MethodX website (Upper Room Ministries).
Christine honed her writing skills after more than 15 years in corporate communications for healthcare, pharmaceutical, and entertainment companies. She has also been a featured conference speaker on working with at-risk youth and changed lives in the classrooms with her creative presentation style.
Christine's love for the arts and creativity have taken her from church platforms to civic and professional stages, performing classics and dramas from her own pen.
Christine graduated from Anderson University with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications. She has served on numerous boards and committees, usually as Communications Chair, and has received both regional and national awards in writing and design.
Help Bethany House choose a cover for a new release click Here to take the short survey.
I didn't get to post yesterday, so I'm doing a two-fer today.
Eternal embrace? Couple still hugging 5,000 years on
Tue Feb 6, 1:28 PM ET
ROME (Reuters) - Call Call it the eternal embrace.
Archaeologists in Italy have discovered a couple buried 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, hugging each other.
"It's an extraordinary case," said Elena Menotti, who led the team on their dig near the northern city of Mantova.
"There has not been a double burial found in the Neolithic period, much less two people hugging -- and they really are hugging."
Menotti said she believed the two, almost certainly a man and a woman although that needs to be confirmed, died young because their teeth were mostly intact and not worn down.
"I must say that when we discovered it, we all became very excited. I've been doing this job for 25 years. I've done digs at Pompeii, all the famous sites," she told Reuters.
"But I've never been so moved because this is the discovery of something special."
A laboratory will now try to determine the couple's age at the time of death and how long they had been buried.
I think this is so romantic. I wonder who they were? How did they die? Was it a Romeo and Juliet kind of thing or were they sick? Did one die and the other follow of a broken heart? And how special must they have been for those who buried them to make the effort of placing them in one anothers arms?
It would be so cool to be able to look into the past and see their story.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Congratulations! Michael C.
You're the winner of an autographed copy of my book Missing Pieces and the silver toned puzzle keychains. Email me your address and I'll pop your package in the mail.
Thanks for entering, I hope you enjoy the book. Come back again soon, I'll be posting more contests soon.
It is February 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!
This month's feature author is:
and his book:
After graduating from Mississippi State, he flew six years in the Air Force then twenty-nine years for a major airline. And now he gets to write.
He and his wife have been married for forty some-odd years and live in Texas—about twenty miles south of the Red River. He spends the biggest part of his time writing; she’s immersed in leading a comprehensive, women’s Bible study.
They like greasy hamburgers and Dr. Peppers, most species of warm-blooded creatures (the kind that don’t normally bite), and spending July in the mountains.
Abiding Darkness is the first book in the Black and White Chronicles.
It initially anchors itself in the relationship between two children.
Junior Washington is an eleven-year-old black child. He lives in a small cabin out on Cat Lake; his parents work for the Parker family. He’s loyal, he’s compliant beyond what would normally be expected of an eleven-year-old boy, and he’s a committed Christian.
Missy Parker, who lives on the other side of the lake, is the crown princess of the Parker family. At seven years of age she’s beautiful, wealthy, willful, and tough as a tractor tire. And—in the midst of the most defined segregation in our nation’s recent history—this little white girl and Junior Washington are best friends.
Only one thing stands between these two children and a storybook childhood . . . they are destined to encounter a faithful servant of the Author of Evil.
Abiding Darkness starts almost gently. The first sentence offers doubt, but readers may not see any real trouble surface until a few sentences later, and that’s mostly kid stuff, almost cute. From there through the second chapter readers are given a little more to think about . . . an opportunity to imagine what might happen to the children . . . especially the girl.
By the end of the second chapter intuitive readers will be taking a deep breath . . . they’re going to need the oxygen.
THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Summers were mostly reliable.
The always followed spring. They always got hot. And they always promised twelve weeks of pleasure to the three children at Cat Lake.
The summer of ’45 lied.
^ ^ ^
The whole thing started right there by the Cat Lake bridge.
They were playing their own version of three-man baseball when Bobby knocked the ball onto the road near the end of the bridge. Junior was taller and faster, but Missy was ahead in the race to get it. Bobby and Junior were older, but Missy was tough enough to almost keep up, and the boys usually held back some so they didn’t outdo her too much.
Missy was still a few yards from the ball when it rolled to a stop near the only car in sight. A boy taller than Junior stepped from behind the far end of the car and picked up the ball; he was followed by two more boys—one younger than Missy and another almost as tall as a man.
Missy slid to a stop in the gravel and yelled, “Hurry! Throw it!” Junior jogged up behind the girl and waited.
A heavyset man in a rumpled suit was standing in the road by the driver’s door; he allowed himself a long look at the girl and whispered something to the boy with the ball.
The boy nodded at what the man said and backed toward the car. The tallest boy moved up to stand by the man.
The fat man eyed Junior, then looked up and down the deserted road before beckoning to Missy. “Why don’t you come closer, and he’ll let you have it?”
Missy ignored the man and advanced on the boy with the ball. “Give it.”
When she walked past the taller boy, he fell to his hands and knees behind her and the one with the ball shoved her over his back. When Missy hit the ground, all three boys laughed. The man grinned.
In the near distance, a foursome of well-armed witnesses—tall, bright, and invisible—stood at a portal between time and eternity and watched Bobby Parker leave home plate and sprint for the bridge.
One of the group said, It begins.
Junior Washington’s guardian answered for the remainder of the small assembly, And so it does.
The three guardians conferred quietly about the events taking place before them; the archangel watched the unfolding drama in silence. The quartet—guarded by the wisdom of the ages against restlessness—waited patiently for a precise instant in time that had been ordained before the earth was formed.
The middle kid was plenty bigger than Missy, but she came off the ground ready to take him on. When she waded in, the tall kid grabbed at her. Junior got a hand on the strap of Missy’s overalls and yanked her out of the boys’ reach. He held her back with one hand and popped the tallest kid in the nose, hard enough to knock him down.
When the boy landed in the gravel, the man started swearing. He reached into the car, jerked a mean-looking billy club from under the front seat, and turned on Junior. “Okay, Black Sambo, let’s see h—”
Bobby was short steps from the trouble, running wide open, when the archangel broke his silence. The long-awaited time is come. He pointed his bright sword at a point between Bobby and the man with the club and said, In the Name of Him who sits on the throne, and for the Lamb—go there and turn the tide of evil.
Bobby—barely slowing when he got to the confrontation—tripped over thin air and rammed the business end of the bat hard into the man’s back. The man lurched forward, stumbled over the boy Junior had knocked to the ground, and sprawled on top of him.
Knocking the man down wasn’t what he’d planned, but Bobby knew better than to back off from a pack of bullies; he was talking before the man rolled over. “You keep your hands to yourself, mister.”
The red-faced man struggled to get up, cussing and pointing the club at Bobby. “Son, when a boy hits me, he steps over the line to manhood. That means you’ll get the same beatin’ I’ll be givin’ this nigger.”
On the Parker place, Negro folks were called black or colored. For the children, transgression of that rule meant someone was going to get his mouth washed out with soap. Missy and Junior froze when the man said the forbidden word; Bobby didn’t.
When Bobby squared his stance and drew the bat back, the man rethought his position. “You better put that down, boy.”
Bobby was only twelve, but he knew serious trouble when he saw it—and he was the one holding the bat. “I reckon not.” He and Junior and Missy had made a law about standing up for each other, and these strangers had chosen to be their enemies. If the man made a threatening move, Bobby was going to swing for his head and deal with the consequences later. “You’re on Parker land, mister, an’ you best be gettin’ off.”
The baseball bat had the man stymied. Exertion and frustration soaked his collar with the sweat. “This isn’t your land; it’s a public road.”
Bobby said, “That might be, but the land on both sides of the road belongs to the Parkers—an’ that’s us.” He looked the man up and down. “You ain’t from around here, are you?”
The man’s wide mouth and thick lips were not unlike those of a bullfrog; small, widely-spaced teeth and flesh-draped eyelids contributed to a reptilian appearance. “What if I’m not?”
Bobby cracked a hard smile. “’Cause if you was from around here, folks would’ve told you not to mess with the Parker kids—that’s us, ’specially the black ’un an’ the girl.” He pointed the bat at Junior and Missy. “That’s them two.”
From within the car a woman’s voice said, “Let it go, Halbert. Don’t be getting heated up over some white trash.”
When the woman called them white trash, Missy puffed up and started for the car. Junior grabbed the strap of her overalls again. “Stay quiet, Missy.”
The girl jerked loose and glared at Junior, but she stayed where she was.
The tallest boy got in the car, holding a hand to his bloody nose. The other two weren’t ready to leave.
The man looked at the car and back at Bobby; he didn’t want to leave either, but he wasn’t going to argue with the woman. “Git in the car, boys.” His tongue came out and made a circuit over the fat lips; he let his gaze rest too long on the girl, and he spoke to her last. “You’ll get yours, Little Miss Blue Eyes. Just you remember Hal Bainbridge said so.”
The woman in the car leaned across the seat. Facial features that had been cast to portray beauty were twisted into an angry mask. “Halbert!” she snapped, “I told you to shut up and get in the car.”
The two smallest boys were the last ones to climb. The one who had pushed Missy said, “I’ll be back.”
Missy made a face.
When the Bainbridge family withdrew, a creature that had been traveling with them stayed behind.
The being that remained on the Cat Lake bridge had been working his vile mischief in the Bainbridges’ lives for years. His brief observation of Missy Parker, however, ignited a hatred that far exceeded anything he had ever felt toward Estelle Bainbridge. He petitioned his leader, the high-ranking villain who was assigned to the Bainbridges, to let him stay at Cat Lake and work his evil on the girl and those around her. The one to whom he answered hated to grant any request that might strengthen the position of a subordinate, but he hated humans more. So it was that the malevolent being stayed behind while his former superior and dozens of their kind moved away with the Bainbridges.
The spirit-being assayed his intended victim and was encouraged by what he saw. The girl was self-willed, self-centered, and self-confident—all traits that made her more susceptible to his influence. Early pieces of his plan were arranging themselves before the Bainbridges’ car was out of sight. He would recruit his own team of underlings from the demonic realm. When he and his chosen confederates were in place, he would formulate a plan to destroy the girl’s life, maybe in bits and pieces over the coming years, maybe catastrophically in a single day. There might even be a way to use the Bainbridges to help bring her to ruin. And, if the opportunity presented itself, he would do the same to the two meddlesome boys.
When the car was down the road, Bobby turned on Missy. “You can’t be startin’ fights with boys bigger’n you.”
“I didn’t start it. He did.”
Bobby watched the car. “Well, don’t be messin’ with folks like that. That man had somethin’ wrong with him, like he was mean or evil or somethin’.”
“I ain’t scared of the boogeyman.”
“I don’t mean like that. I mean grown men who stare at little girls like that—stay away from ’em.” He watched the car disappear behind a curtain of dust. “An’ if that bunch comes around here again, you head for me or Junior, you hear me?”
The girl directed her wrath at her brother. “You’re not my boss, Mr. Bobby Parker, an’ I’ll have you know I ain’t a little girl.”
Bobby was still learning that he needed to tell Missy to do exactly the opposite of what he wanted done, but he knew who carried the most influence over her. “Tell ’er, Junior.”
Junior picked up the ball and offered it to the girl. “Do like he says, Missy. A growed man that’d speak bad to a lit—to somebody not big as him has got somethin’ wrong inside ’im. That man had the devil in ’im.”
She turned her back on the ball because she wouldn’t be bribed. “Well, if a’ evil man shows up again, an’ I can’t whip ’im by myself, y’all can help.”
The boys took that as a concession and followed her back to their baseball field.
^ ^ ^
Amanda Allen Parker was the first girl born into the Parker family since the Surrender. Maybe they had spoiled her or maybe she knew she was special. Whatever the cause, “Missy” Parker was a young lady who didn’t just give orders—she laid down the law for those who drew near.
When they didn’t call her Missy, everybody on the Parker place and most people in town just referred to her as the girl. The petite picture of brown-haired Southern charm endured the company of women when she had to, but she preferred the attention of the males of her domain.
The Old Parkers and the Young Parkers lived out south of town in two nice houses set back from the west side of Cat Lake. They got good shade from a stand of oaks planted by their ancestors and the cool of a lake breeze when the wind was right.
Bobby Lee Parker ran the Parker Gin; young Bobby looked as if he had been spit out of his daddy’s mouth. Young Mrs. Parker played bridge, went to the garden club and Missionary Society, and tended her yard. Old Mr. Parker farmed ten sections of cotton land, played dominoes, drank coffee, and visited with his friends. Old Mrs. Parker, the genetic source of the girl’s spitfire personality, stayed close to home and baked things.
The Washington family—Mose, his wife Pip, Mose Junior, and little Pearl—lived across the lake from the Parkers. Their home was set back in a stand of pecan trees planted by the same hands that put down the Parkers’ oaks. Mose had been born in the cabin and inherited the house and forty acres of good sandy land from Pap, his great-granddaddy. Back behind the cabin, a full section of Old Mr. Parker’s cotton land separated Mose’s place from the trees of Eagle Nest Brake. Pip, her brother Leon, and her momma Evalina “did for” the Parkers during the week. Mose was Mr. Bobby Lee’s overseer at the gin.
When she became old enough to walk, the girl went where Old Mr. Parker went. While he drove, she stood beside him, one arm on his shoulders, the other holding on to the seat back. When he played dominoes at the pool hall, she sat on his lap. It was the men at the pool hall who had named her Missy—she and those same men called her granddaddy R. D. Trips to that establishment dimished in frequency after Pip had to switch her for “cussin’ in my kitchen.”
Once she started to Mrs. Smith’s kindergarten, Missy’s day-to-day activities became even more curtailed. She countered by playing hooky when she’d had her fill of finger painting and stories about animals made of gingham and calico and velveteen.
After the second time she got called away from her Thursday morning bridge game to hunt for the girl, Young Mrs. Parker taught Pip how to drive. For the next two years, Pip was called into town about twice a week to retrieve the girl from the pool hall. When she was captured, Missy’s complaints were drawled in a little-girl bass voice.
On her first day in first grade, the girl and the staff at the elementary school encountered the first in a series of unique obstacles. The magnitude of the initial confrontation was probably connected with the fact that Missy was on a first-name basis with most of the men in Moores Point, including both bankers and both white preachers.
Missy finally came out of her chair when the first-grade teacher persisted in calling her Amanda.
Hoot Johnson, the school’s janitor, attracted by the mounting sounds of battle, abandoned his dust mop and intervened to contribute his unsolicited—and uninhibited—opinion. The girl’s reaction to what Mr. Johnson had to say didn’t help the situation.
The teacher made a strategic blunder when she decided she would enlist the aid of the principal. The principal made the mistake of showing up, and the tension multiplied geometrically.
Someone eventually called the pool hall and let Old Mr. Parker know about the conflict.
When he got to the school, the farmer didn’t have to guess where the girl was; the war in Europe could not have been heard over the commotion coming from the first-grade classroom.
The adults in the room—a scattering of teachers, the principal, and one vocal janitor—were all yelling at the girl or each other. The other first-day first-graders—joined by two brand-new teachers who had made the mistake of coming to see what on earth the noise was all about—were all cringing in the farthest corner of the room. The girl, who seldom found it necessary to yell at anyone, especially an adult, was keeping her voice down. She was, however, employing the teacher’s chair to be at eye level with the other combatants.
There was Missy, standing in the chair, her tiny fists at her waist, leaning into the principal’s face, her Dutch boy-cut brown hair popping back and forth as her miniature bass voice cataloged the things she didn’t like about his institution. She took passing note of her granddaddy’s presence but continued with her business. She reasoned that if R. D. needed to talk to some of these folks, he was gentleman enough to wait his turn; if he needed to see her, he’d wait ’til she was finished. And wait he did. Leaning on the door frame and giving himself a manicure with his favorite Case pocketknife, the cotton farmer stood by for a break in the storm.
When a majority of the folks finally stopped to catch their breath, Old Mr. Parker put away his knife. He got everyone settled down, borrowed the teacher’s chair from the girl, and presided over the formation of a multifaceted truce.
In the future, the school’s staff would call the girl Missy; she was old enough to decide what her name was. In return, Missy would address the Truitt Elementary School’s principal as Mr. Franklin, not Jimbo, for basically the same reason. Missy would address Mr. Johnson, the school’s janitor, as Hoot because he and the girl were good friends and both preferred it that way. And, one of the teachers crouching in the corner would be released from her contract before the girl moved up to her grade level.
The last point of the truce was a little vague and never resolved to the girl’s satisfaction. It had something to do with whether she could stand on the teacher’s chair, balanced against how many adults were “raisin’ sand for no good reason” when the girl needed to make herself heard.
In the pool hall that afternoon Jimbo Franklin said, “You know somethin’? That girl ain’t always pliable, but she’s almost always fair. I musta been about a bubble offa plumb to take that teacher’s side.” The sages in the pool hall, including Hoot and R. D., nodded. They agreed with every word he said.
During the next year, the second grade had tolerated her well enough; the reciprocal wasn’t always true.
She was three feet tall in the summer of ’45, on the slender side of a pound an inch, with what Scooter Hall called “about eight ounces of eyelashes” strategically situated around midnight blue eyes.
When the sun was out, the three older children at the lake—two Parkers and one Washington—were inseparable. Junior usually deferred to white folks of all ages, and both boys required themselves to yield to most adults. The girl’s deference, however, was never offered capriciously; people of all colors and ages were evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and any recipient of her respect had earned it.
For those times when they stepped away from the rest of the world, the children—like a tiny nation—followed an often-argued tangle of laws they had fashioned for themselves.
For three months every summer, and at any other time the children were together, their respective parents—who never knew what might be coming next—waited for the “other shoe to drop.” Or as Old Mr. Parker put it, “for the next shoe to crash through the floor and take most of the house with it.”
^ ^ ^
That spring, the three had used up practically a whole Saturday morning arguing about what to name the boat.
The year before, they had procured the building materials for the vessel by tearing the siding off a dilapidated cotton house. Pip’s brother Leon, who took care of things around the Parkers’ houses, was perfectly content to cater to the girl’s every whim. Missy traded him two of Old Mr. Parker’s cigars for his help with the boat. Leon sawed the boards, helped the children nail them together into something that would almost float, and showed them how to put tar in the cracks “so it don’t leak too bad.” The finished product looked like a pauper’s coffin: roughly seven feet long, two feet wide, with two-foot sides. They swamped it so often the first month that Pip told them, “Y’all could use it for one o’ those summarines.” Missy made a new law that only one person could stand up in it at a time, and they kept slopping on tar until they got so they could stay most of the day on the lake without sinking, unless somebody broke the rule. Pip complained, “When they git outta that confounded piece o’ junk, they’re so black I can’t tell which one’s Mose Junior.” It wasn’t the kind of craft a person would want to venture out in while wearing Sunday clothes.
The argument about the christening surfaced because Bobby wanted to name the boat after his hero. Mose Junior said he thought it might be good to name it something out of the Bible, but he cared more about getting started with the painting. When it came right down to it, Missy didn’t really care what they named the dadgummed boat; she was just tired of Bobby getting his way just because he was twelve and she was seven. Bobby countered her objections by claiming they were a democracy, then bought Mose Junior’s vote with the promise that Junior could do most of the painting.
They “happened across” a can of white house paint on the top shelf of the tool shed and made a paint brush by tying a wad of pine needles together. Unraveling the boat’s actual name called for the reader to do a little traveling. The lettering was white and bold; the spelling was close. Junior’s GENRALROB worked its way down the starboard side; around the corner, the bow showed Bobby’s neatly done ERT. The arrangement of the general’s middle initial and last name on the port side was Missy’s responsibility—they came out EEEL. The craft was one of their greatest accomplishments, and they were rarely near the water without it.
Young Mrs. Parker took some snapshots of the paint-splattered trio standing by their pride and joy and gave one to Pip. The two mothers kept the cherished photographs on their dressers until the day they died and occasionally laughed together at speculations of what kind of grandchildren they would see from the mischievous threesome.
They had no way of knowing that the three little figures in the picture were never going to have children.