Friday, February 29, 2008

FIRST: The Restorer's Journey by Sharon Hinck

Song Stuck on the Brain: We Are the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything by Veggie Tales

A coworker walked through the front office and said, "Arrgh, Matey!"
Someone said, "Hey, Matt's a Pirate today!"
And I sang, "He's the Pirate who don't do anything...." Which got laughs and also got it stuck on my brain.

It is March FIRST, 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 his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature is:

Sharon Hinck

and her book:

The Restorer's Journey

Navpress Publishing Group (February 7, 2008)


Sharon Hinck holds a BA in education, and she earned an MA in communication from Regent University in 1986. She spent ten years as the artistic director of a Christian performing arts group, CrossCurrent. That ministry included three short-term mission trips to Hong Kong. She has been a church youth worker, a choreographer and ballet teacher, a homeschool mom, a church organist, and a bookstore clerk. One day she’ll figure out what to be when she grows up, but in the meantime, she’s pouring her imagination into writing. Her stories focus on characters who confront the challenges of a life of faith. She’s published dozens of articles in magazines and book compilations, and released her first novel, The Secret Life of Becky Miller (Bethany House), in 2006. In April 2007, she was named “Writer of the Year” at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. When she isn’t wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking at conferences and retreats. She and her family make their home in Minnesota. She loves to hear from readers, so send a message through the portal into her writing attic on the “Contact Sharon” page of her website, She is also an avid blogger...visit Stories for the Hero in All of Us.

The first and second books in The Sword of Lyric series are The Restorer and The Restorer’s Son. The FIRST chapter shown here is from the third book, The Restorer's Journey. Enjoy!


Chapter One - JAKE

My mom was freaking out.

She stared out the dining room window as if major-league monsters were hiding in the darkness beyond the glass. Give me a break. Our neighborhood was as boring as they came. Ridgeview Drive’s square lawns and generic houses held nothing more menacing than basketball hoops and tire swings. Still, Mom’s back was tight, and in the shadowed reflection on the pane, I could see her biting her lip. I didn’t know what to say to make her feel better.

I ducked back into the kitchen and used a wet rag to wipe off the counters. Clumps of flour turned to paste and smeared in gunky white arcs across the surface. I shook the rag over the garbage can, the mess raining down on the other debris we’d swept up. Broken jars of pasta and rice filled the bag. I stomped it down, twist-tied the bag and jogged it out to the trashcan by the garage. Usually, I hated the chore of taking out the trash. Not tonight. Maybe if I erased the signs of our intruders, Mom would relax a little.

So Cameron and Medea dropped a few things when they were looking for supplies. No biggie. Why did my folks have such a problem with those two anyway? They’d been great to me. I trudged back into the house, rubbing my forehead. Wait. That wasn’t right. A shiver snaked through my spine. Never mind. They were probably long gone by now.

“Kitchen’s done.” I carried the broom into the dining room, hoping Mom had finished in there. But she was still hugging her arms and staring out the window.

She turned and looked at the china cabinet, then squeezed her eyes shut as if they were hurting. “Why?” she whispered.

Glass shards jutted from one cabinet door, and the other hung crooked with wood splinters poking out. Broken china covered the floor. Mom and Dad had been collecting those goofy teacups ever since they got married.

I pushed the broom against the edge of the fragments, but the chinking sound made her wince, so I stopped.

Dad strode past with an empty garbage bag from the hall closet and stopped to give my mom a squeeze. He nodded toward me. “Honey, Jake’s alive. Nothing else matters. We all got back safe.” He leaned his head against hers, and I edged toward the kitchen in case they started kissing. For an old married couple, they were a little too free with their public displays of affection. No guy wants to watch his parents act mushy.

But my mom didn’t look like she was in a kissing mood. She pressed her lips together. I had a sneaking suspicion that she was more freaked out about what had happened to my hand than our house. Like when I had cancer as a kid. She’d gotten really stressed about the details of a church fundraiser and cranky about everything that went wrong—stuff that wasn’t even important. It gave her a place to be angry when she was trying to be brave about a bigger problem.

“It’s only a piece of furniture.” Dad was doing his soothing voice. When would he catch on that only made things worse?

“Only a piece of furniture we bought as a wedding gift to each other.” She swiped at some wet spots on her face. “Only twenty years’ worth of poking around garage sales and thrift stores together. Don’t tell me what it’s only! Okay?”

“Okay.” Dad backed away from her prickles.

I made another ineffectual push with the broom. My folks didn’t argue much, but when they did, it grated like a clutch struggling to find third gear. Typical over-responsible firstborn, I wanted to fix it but didn’t know how.

Mom picked up a Delft saucer, smashed beyond repair, and laid the pieces gently into the garbage bag. Dad folded his arms and leaned against the high back of one of the chairs. “I can fix the cabinet. That splintered door will need to be replaced, but the other one just needs new hinges. I can put in new glass.” His eyes always lit up when he talked about a woodworking project. The man loved his tools.

Mom smiled at him. Her tension faded, and she got all moony-eyed, so I ducked into the kitchen just as the doorbell rang. Thank heaven. “Pizza’s here!” I yelled.

Dad paid the delivery guy, and I carried the cartons into the living room. Flopping onto one end of the couch, I pried open the lid. “Hey, who ordered green peppers? Mom, you’ve gotta quit ruining good pizza with veggies.”

That made her laugh. “We’d better save a few pieces for the other kids.” She cleared the Legos off the coffee table and handed me a napkin.

I gladly surrendered the top pizza box, along with its green pepper, and dove into the pepperoni below. “Where is everyone?”

“Karen’s spending the night at Amanda’s—trying out her new driver’s license. Jon and Anne are at Grandma’s. But if they see the pizza boxes when they get home tomorrow . . . ”

I nodded. “Yep. Pure outrage. I can hear it now. ‘It’s not fair. Jake always gets to have extra fun.’” I did a pretty good impression of the rug rats. What would the kids think if they found out what else they had missed? This had been the strangest Saturday the Mitchell family had ever seen.

I popped open a can of Dr. Pepper. My third. Hey, I’d earned some extra caffeine. “So, what do we tell the kids?”

Mom smiled and looked me up and down, probably thinking I was one of the kids. When would it sink in that I was an adult now? I guzzled a third of my pop and set it down with a thump. “We could tell them there was a burglar, but then they’d want to help the police solve the case, and they’d never stop asking questions.”

“Good point.” Mom licked sauce from her finger. “Jon and Anne would break out the detective kit you gave them for Christmas.”

Dad tore a piece of crust from his slice of pepperoni. “If we finish cleaning everything, I don’t think they’ll pay much attention. The cabinet is the only obvious damage. If they ask, we’ll just say it got bumped and fell.”

Dad wanted us to lie? So not like him. Then again, when Kieran told me Dad wasn’t originally from our world, I realized there were a lot of things he’d never been honest about. Now I was part of the family secret, too.

He rested his piece of pizza on the cardboard box and looked at Mom. “Do we need to warn them?”

“Warn them?” She mumbled around a mouth full of melted cheese.

“In case Cameron and Medea come back.” His voice was calm, but I suddenly had a hard time swallowing. Something cold twisted in me when he said their names. The same cold that had numbed my bones when I’d woken up in the attic. Why? They’d taken care of me. No, they’d threatened me. Confusing images warred inside my brain.

“You think they’ll come back?” My baritone went up in pitch, and I quickly took another sip of pop.

Dad didn’t answer for a moment. “It depends on why they came. If they plan to stay in our world, we need to find them—stop them. But my guess is that Cameron wants to return to Lyric with something from our world that he can use there. That means they’ll be back to go through the portal.”

Mom sank deeper into the couch and looked out the living room windows. At the curb, our family van shimmered beneath a streetlight.

They might be out there, too. They could be watching us right this second.

“Maybe we should call the police.” Mom’s voice sounded thin. I’d suggested that earlier. After all, someone had broken in—well, broken out.

Dad snorted. “And tell them what?”

He had a point, but it’s not like there was a rulebook for dealing with visitors from other universes. Unless you attended Star Trek conventions. “So what’s your plan?” I asked.

“I’ll get extra locks tomorrow. Maybe look into an alarm system.” Dad believed every problem could be solved with his Home Depot credit card. He turned to me. “Can you remember more about your conversations with Cameron? What did he ask you about? What did he seem interested in?”

A shudder moved through me, and pain began pulsing behind my eyes.

Mom gave Dad a worried glance, then rested a hand on my arm. “It’s okay, honey. We don’t have to talk about it right now.” She smoothed my hair back from my face.

“No problem.” I brushed her hand away, sprawled back on the couch, and studied the ceiling. “It just seems like it was all a dream.”

“What’s the last thing you remember clearly?” Dad pulled his chair closer and watched me.

“Braide Wood.” I closed my eyes and smiled. “It reminded me of summer camp. And I was so tired of running and hiding in caves. I finally felt safe. Tara fussed over me, and I taught Dustin and Aubrey how to play soccer. It felt like home.”

I struggled to remember the rest. For some reason my memories were tangled up, like the time I had a major fever and took too much Nyquil. Mom and Dad waited.

“I went to see Morsal Plains with Tara. Brutal. The grain was all black and it smelled weird. Tara told me about the attack. How Hazor poisoned it on purpose and how Susan the Restorer led the army to protect Braide Wood.” I squinted my eyes open and looked sideways at my mom. They’d told me she had ridden into battle with a sword. “Unbelievable.”

Even though she was watching me with a worried pinch to her eyes, she smiled. “I know. I lived it, and it’s hard for me to believe.”

“Anyway, I hiked back to Tara’s house, and some guys came to take me to Cameron. He made a big fuss over me. Said it was his job to welcome guests to the clans. Said I’d run into bad company but he’d make it up to me. He gave me something to drink, and there was this lady. She was amazing.” No matter how fuzzy my memories were, Medea was easy to remember. The long curly hair, the sparkling eyes, the dress that clung to all the right places. My cheeks heated. “I can’t remember everything we talked about. She made me feel important, like I wasn’t just some teenage kid. It was . . . ” I sat taller and angled away from my parents, my jaw tightening. “She helped me realize that no one else had ever really understood me. I wanted to become a guardian. I had an important job to do.”

“Jake.” Dad’s voice was sharp, and I flinched. “The woman you met was a Rhusican. They poison minds. Don’t trust everything you’re feeling right now.”

A pulsing ache grabbed the base of my neck. I pressed the heels of my hands against my eyes. Mom’s hand settled on my shoulder, and I stiffened. Weird static was messing with my head.

“Jake, they used you to find the portal. She doesn’t really understand you.” Mom’s voice was quiet and sounded far away. I felt like I was falling away inside myself. She squeezed my shoulder. “Remember my favorite psalm?”

I managed a tight smile. “How could I forget? You made us learn the whole thing one summer. ‘O Lord, you have searched me and you know me…’ blah, blah, blah.”

Despite my smart aleck tone, the words took hold and some of the static in my brain quieted.

“What’s the rest?” Dad pressed me.

What was he trying to prove? That I couldn’t think straight? I could have told him that. I struggled to form the words.

“‘You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.’” Once I got started, I rattled off the verses by rote. In some strange way, the words actually stopped the sensation of falling away inside myself.

“Sounds like there’s someone who understands you a lot better than Cameron and Medea. Remember that.” Dad stood up and tousled my hair. Then he yawned. “Let’s get some sleep.”

Mom didn’t move. She was still watching me. “How’s the hand?”

I rubbed my palm. “Still fine. Weird, huh?” I held it out.

A scar, faint as a white thread, marked the skin where broken glass had cut a deep gash an hour earlier. My lungs tightened. What did it mean?

Dad shook his head. “Come on. Bedtime.”

Mom hesitated, but then stood and gave me a quick kiss on the forehead. “Good night, Jake. We’ll talk more tomorrow.”

Oh, great. She sure loved talking. I looked at Dad. His mouth twitched. “I’ll get us signed up for some practice space at the fencing club.”

Good. He hadn’t forgotten his promise. I couldn’t make sense of my trip through the portal, or the sudden-healing thing, but I knew I wanted to learn to use a sword.

My parents gathered up the pizza stuff and carried it to the kitchen, out of sight, but not out of earshot.

“If we hide the portal stones Cameron and Medea won’t be able to go back,” Dad said over the crinkling of a sheet of aluminum foil.

Someone slammed the fridge door shut hard enough to make the salad dressing bottles rattle. “We don’t want them running around our world. They don’t belong here.” Mom sounded tense.

“I know. We have to send them back. But on our terms. Without anything that would hurt the People of the Verses. And what about Jake?”

Silence crackled, and I leaned forward from my spot on the couch.

When Mom refused to answer, Dad spoke again, so quiet I almost couldn’t hear. “We need to keep the portal available in case he’s needed there. But how will we know?”

Needed there? Did he really think . . .?

I waited for them to head back to their bedroom, then slipped down the steps from the kitchen to the basement. Most of the basement was still unfinished – except for my corner bedroom and Dad’s workbench.

I hurried into my room and shut out the world behind me. Tonight everything looked different. The movie posters, the bookshelves, the soccer team trophy. Smaller, foreign, unfamiliar.

I pulled a thumbtack from my bulletin board and scratched it across my thumb. A line of blood appeared, but in a microsecond the tiny scrape healed completely. I had assumed the healing power was some heebie-jeebie thing that Medea had given me, or that had transferred over from my interactions with Kieran.

But now that my head had stopped throbbing, I could put the pieces together. Excitement stronger than caffeine zipped around my nerve endings. My folks thought this was more than a weird effect left over from my travels through the portal. They thought I might be the next Restorer.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

CFBA: Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith

Song Stuck on the Brain: Stuck in the Middle With You by Steve Miller Band

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

Stuck in the Middle


Virginia Smith
Revell (February 1, 2008)


Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement-or romance.

That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to catch his eye and get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut and into the life she's been hiding from.

Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry that is sure to make you smile.


I enjoyed this book so much. Joan is an easy character to identify with, no matter your background. At least that's how I felt. I'm not an athlete, I don't run for fun. Nor do I have a broken family. But the issues that spoke to her heart, her struggles with faith and finding a closer walk with God, the insecurities about men and dating, all of those things spoke to me. I kept thinking, "Yes! I so get that!" Which, ultimately, says a whole lot about Virginia Smith's literary talents. Because in the long run, if I can't find a connection with the character, the book is worthless to me. I don't care how nice the grammer is, or how big the vocabulary, or if the flow is poetic. Virginia has all of that PLUS a great character. Kudos, Ms. Smith!


"A gentle story of one young woman's season of growth, deftly blending the tangle of family relationships with gifts of whimsey and revelation. A joy to read."
~SHARON HINCK, author of Renovating Becky Miller and Symphony of Secrets~

"Virginia Smith has created a charming and humerous novel that celebrates small-town life, generations of women caring for each other, and the value of finding a deeper, more active faith."
~SHARON DUNN, author of the Bargain Hunters mysteries~


Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am.

Since then she has contracted eight novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007) and her newest release, Stuck in the Middle(Revell, February 2008), book 1 in the Sister-to-Sister Series.

Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines. An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”

Virginia is a speaker, and an avid Scuba diver. She and her husband Ted, divide their times between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Miracles Happen Everyday

Song Stuck on the Brain: Zippity Doo Dah. My office mate was discussing a business letter he wrote and said, and I quote. "It's truth, it's factual." And instantly I sang, "Everything is satisfactual, Zippity Doo Dah, Zippity Ay...."

Wow, have the last few weeks been hairy. I wanted to post this earlier, but haven't really had a chance to until now. But I wanted to tell you all about a Miracle.

I know some people don't believe in miracles, and some might think miracles are only for big things like life and death. I think Miracles happen every day. It reminds me of one of my favorite Albert Einstein qutoes. "There are two ways to live your life - one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle."

I want to share something that happened to my parents and it definitely has God's fingerprints all over it.

It started Saturday, February 2nd. Mom purchased a money order to pay on her Sam's Club credit card. Before she went to bed that night, she made out the money order, sealed it in it's return envelope and laid it on the table next to her chair in the living room. She knew Angel and I would be coming Sunday for lunch and she'd have one of us take it to work on Monday, buy postage and drop it in the mail.

Sunday morning, the kids were up early begging for pancakes before Sunday school and it took Mom a while to realize that the envelope wasn't where she left it. She and the kids begin looking and they took the room apart trying to find it. They even dug through the trash cans in the off chance it had been tossed by accident. No luck, the envelope was gone.

Mom and Dad live on a fixed income, so the loss of this money was especially distressing to all of us. We all prayed about it, and Mom asked God to either help her find it, or get the payment to the store somehow for her. After a week or so of it still being missing, I told mom to look into stopping payment on the check and re-issuing it. She agreed to do that, but she wanted to give it a little longer, just in case they could find it. No sense in paying the stop payment fee until necessary, right?

Friday the 15th, Dad went to the bank to see about reissuing the check. The teller agreed it could be done, but they're required to make sure that the check hasn't actually cleared yet. They called Sam's Club to see if the payment had been received.

Sam's said, "Oh, yes. It's been deposited already."
"When was it deposited?" Dad wanted to know.
"Monday, February 4th."

Now you tell me, how did a check written at 10 pm on a Saturday night with no postage, mail itself to Sam's Club and get deposited on Monday? God answered Mom's prayer. He hand delivered that payment.

Why? Maybe just to remind us that He's in control, He cares about the little stuff and to just trust Him. He could have allowed us to find the payment, and we all would have been thrilled and singing His praises for that blessing. But this. This gets attention. And it's nice to be reminded that miracles happen everyday.


Friday, February 22, 2008

SPECIAL: Taming Rafe by Susan May Warren

Song Stuck on the Brain: I Have Nothing by Whitney Houston

It all started because our entire network, internet included, crashed at work late Weds afternoon. They finally came back online today around noon. The IT guys kept asking me this morning to check and see if I could get my system up, and my consistent response was, "I have nothing." Which then prompted me to serenade them. I think we all were glad when the system finally came on line.

***Special Blog Tour ***

Today I'm hosting a special blog tour for:


book 2 in the Noble Legacy

About the Book:

In less than eight seconds, two-time world champion bull rider Rafe Noble lost his title, his career, his best friend—all on the dirt floor of a noisy rodeo arena. Now he has no choice but to head back to the Silver Buckle, but not before he accidentally destroys philanthropist Katherine Breckenridge’s NY Charity event. Now she’s in town, wanting his money – or his help. And the last thing this broken bull rider is going to do is give her his heart. But Nick’s little brother is going to learn just was it takes to tame the heart of a rebel…

My Take:

I posted a review for the first book, Reclaiming Nick back in March of '07. I really enjoyed Nick's story, so when I had the opportunity to review the next book, I jumped on it. And I'm SOOO glad I did. Rafe's story is even better. Maybe because I was already immersed in the world Susan created, or maybe because Rafe is a little more my type, either way, I loved this book. The plot is strong and the relationships believable. Even compelling. Book three is coming and I can guarantee it's already on my TBR list.

About the Author:

Susan May Warren is the author of more than 17 novels. She has a degree in Mass Communications from the University of MN and has spent time in the mission field in Russia. She's happily married and the mother of four children.
Just For Fun:
Susan is in full swing with promotions for this fantastic book, so here is some fun stuff you can do in addition to reading the books.

Read the first chapter of Taming Rafe.

Enter to win a steak dinner with Rafe. (Mmmm, Omaha Steaks!)

View the book trailers for Reclaiming Nick and Taming Rafe.

Visit Rafe's Blog.

I really can't recommend this book enough. I could hardly put it down. I hope you take the chance to check it out yourself. If you do, be sure and let me know what you thought.

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

CFBA: Adam by Ted Dekker

Song Stuck on the Brain: Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

Ted Dekker
(Thomas Nelson April 1, 2008)


He died once to stop the he's dying again to save his wife.

FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has become famous for his well-articulated arguments that religion is one of society’s greatest antagonists. What Daniel doesn’t know is that his obsessive pursuit of a serial killer known only as “Eve” is about to end abruptly with an unexpected death-his own.

Twenty minutes later Daniel is resuscitated, only to be haunted by the loss of memory of the events immediately preceding his death.

Daniel becomes convinced that the only way to stop Eve is to recover those missing minutes during which he alone saw the killer’s face. And the only way to access them is to trigger his brain’s memory dump that occurs at the time of death by simulating his death again…and again. So begins a carefully researched psychological thriller which delves deep into the haunting realities of near-death experiences, demon possession, and the human psche.

"As always with a Ted Dekker thriller, the details of ADAM are stunning, pointing to meticulous research in a raft of areas: police and FBI methods, forensic medicine, psychological profiling-in short, all that accompanies a Federal hunt for a serial killer. But Dekker fully reveals his magic in the latter part of the book, when he subtly introduces his darker and more frightening theme. It's all too creepily convincing. We have to keep telling ourselves that this is fiction. At the same time, we can't help thinking that not only could it happen, but that it will happen if we're not careful."

New York Times best-selling author Ted Dekker unleashes his most riveting novel elusive serial killer whose victims die of unknown causes and the psychologist obsessed with catching him.


Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompassing seven mysteries, three thrillers and ten fantasies includes Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven, Blessed Child, A Man Called Blessed, Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), and Obsessed, with two more...Renegade, and Chaos to be released later this year.

Monday, February 18, 2008

CSFF: The Shadow and Night by Chris Walley

Song Stuck on the Brain: I've Had the Time of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes

Today the CSFF is touring:


About the Book:

In the spirit of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lamb among the Stars series weaves the worlds of science and the spirit, technology and supernatural into something unique and haunting. On the faraway planet of Farholme, humans live in peace under the gentle rule of the Assembly. War and evil are ancient history. But suddenly, almost imperceptibly, things begin to change. Slowly a handful of men and women begin to realize that evil has returned and it must be fought.

My Take:

When I received my reviewers copy, a letter was tucked inside from the author. After introducing himself and the book, he said something that resonated with the Celt in me, and I had to share it.

"We Welsh... are sceptical of empires and suspicious of kings; our sad monuments record the names of too many who left our villages to fight and never returned. When we lift our eyes us from these wet, stony soils our thoughts rarely turn to the practicalities of rule or wealth. Instead, we dream. We dream of the past, preferring Epics that look back to when we were a mighty people - and more rarely- we dream of the future. Above all we dream of things beyond this world: for us - as for all Celts - the boundary between the natural and the supernatural is thin and often breaks. We are well aware of sin and evil and, sometimes, grace. We are emotional, given to laughter, tears and the impulsive gesture but have a weakness for nostalgia. We are a people happiest with twilight rather than dawn. We have a love of tales of many words and a great liking for music, though we are perhaps too fond of slow, mournful tunes. But then, we have much to mourn. Yet for all our frailties, we produce heroes and we endure." - Chris Walley

Well said. Amen. That was my introduction to this astounding novel, and in many ways it made me feel as if the author and I had a connection through our heritage, as well as our love of a good story. Shadow and Night is a compelling work that more than anything, made me examine my beliefs and my motives both as a child of God and as an author. What more could you ask for?

About the Author:

Chris Walley was born in Wales in 1954 but grew up in northern England. He studied geology at university, gaining a B.Sc. from Sheffield University and a Ph.D. from University of Wales, Swansea. He taught at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon from 1980-84, where he met his wife and where their two boys were born. In the late eighties, Chris began writing in his spare time. He had two novels, Heart of Stone and Rock of Refuge, published under the pseudonym of John Haworth.

In September 2004 Chris started teaching again, geology and geography, at Gorseinon College on the edge of Swansea. He now teaches there full-time.

Chris and his wife live in an old cottage on the edge of Swansea and are very much involved in Pantygwydr Baptist church.


Visit the other tour members at:

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
Marcus Goodyear
Rebecca Grabill
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Michael Heald
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Heather R. Hunt
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Pamela Morrisson
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Deena Peterson
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Friday, February 15, 2008

Win a free copy of Sister's Ink by Rebeca Seitz


Want to win a copy of Rebeca Seitz new book, Sisters Ink? Click on the link in the sidebar to email me your entry. Contest ends at midnight February 29, 2008 and is open to US and Canadian residents only.

Congratulations, Lucie!

Lucie won the Missing Pieces gift pack, which includes an autographed copy of my book, plus a cute magnetic puzzle frame.

For those of you that didn't win, you can still get an autographed copy. Just click through the link in the sidebar for Signed Copies.


And the Winner Is...

Congratulations, Lucie!

Lucie won the Missing Pieces gift pack, which includes an autographed copy of my book, plus a cute magnetic puzzle frame.

For those of you that didn't win, you can still get an autographed copy. Just click through the link in the sidebar for Signed Copies.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

CFBA: My Name is Russell Fink by Michael Snyder

Song Stuck on the Brain: See You Again by Miley Cyrus

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing

My Name is Russell Fink


Michael Snyder
Zondervan (March 1, 2008)


Russell Fink is twenty-six years old and determined to salvage a job he hates so he can finally move out of his parents house for good. He's convinced he gave his twin sister cancer when they were nine years old. And his crazy fiancée refuses to accept the fact that their engagement really is over.

Then Sonny, his allegedly clairvoyant basset hound, is found murdered.

The ensuing amateur investigation forces Russell to confront several things at once-the enormity of his family's dysfunction, the guy stalking his family, and his long-buried feelings for a most peculiar love interest.

At its heart, My Name is Russell Fink is a comedy, with sharp dialogue, characters steeped in authenticity, romance, suspense, and fresh humor. With a postmodern style similar to Nick Hornby and Douglas Coupland, the author explores reconciliation, forgiveness, and faith in the midst of tragedy. No amount of neurosis or dysfunction can derail God's redemptive purposes.


Michael Snyder has spent the bulk of his professional career in sales, has fallen in love, and continues to struggle with the balance between art and vocation. He's never investigated a murder, much less that of an allegedly clairvoyant dog.

Monday, February 11, 2008

CFBA: Healing Stones by Stephen Arterburn & Nancy Rue

Song Stuck on the Brain: If I Ever Fall In Love by Shai

Anyone watch the Grammys last night? Best performance of the whole night... Josh Groban and Andrea Bocceli singing The Prayer. Absolutely stunning. Gave me goosebumps! I could happily drown in Josh Groban's voice.

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

Healing Stones


Stephen Arterburn & Nancy Rue
(Thomas Nelson January 1, 2008)


With one flash of a camera, Demi's private life becomes public news. She doesn't know it yet, but her healing has just begun.

Christian college professor Demitria Costanas had vowed to end her affair with a colleague. But she gives into temptation one last time...and a lurking photographer captures her weakness for all to see. Quite literally, she's the woman caught in adultery. And almost everyone--herself included--has a stone to throw.

Enter Sullivan Crisp, a decidedly unorthodox psychologist with his own baggage. He's well-known for his quirky sense of humor and incorporation of "game show" theology into his counseling sessions. And yet there's something more he offers...hope for a fresh start.

Reluctantly the two of them begin an uplifting, uneven journey filled with healing and grace. By turns funny and touching, this story explores the ways humans hurt each other and deceive themselves. And it shows the endlessly creative means God uses to turn stones of accusation and shame into works of beauty that lead us onto the path of healing.

An auspicious debut for a candid yet tender series about pain, healing, and God's invitation for second chances.


Stephen Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries—the nation’s largest faith-based broadcast, counseling and treatment ministry—and is the host of the nationally syndicated “New Life Live!” daily radio...

By 1996 Nancy was a full-time writer. The Christian Heritage Series made that possible. She was writing those books from the early 1990's until 2000.

And then a new opportunity came along--the Lily series. If she ever doubted that she was going to make it as a writer, man, that little red-head put those fears to rest! And, of course, Sophie followed Lily, with some teen and grown-up books in between -- plus the non-fiction books designed just for you.

Nancy and her husband live in Tennessee now, overlooking a beautiful lake, lots of sycamore trees, and the rocky Tennessee hills. They have a bright yellow power boat named BANANA SPLIT which you can find us on no matter what the weather. Marijean and her husband live nearby with my three grand-dogs and three grand-cats (and two grand-snakes . . .)


Don't forget to enter to win an autographed copy of my book Missing Pieces, along with a very cute and handy puzzle frame. Click on the image at the top of the side bar to email me your entry. Contest ends February 14th.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Prepping for V Day

Song Stuck on the Brain: Put a Little Love in Your Heart by .... I don't know. There are several names listed for this song, and none of them are who I hear in my head. I have no idea who's version I'm singing.

Will you be my Valentine?

I bet you're all wondering why I haven't posted the new contest yet. Or maybe you're not. Either way, wonder no more, cuz here it is. For one week only, enter to win an autographed copy of my book Missing Pieces, along with a very cute and useful magnetic puzzle frame. I'll announce the winner on Valentine's Day. Just click the link at the top of the sidebar to email me your entry. Don't forget to share the love, let your friends and family in on the fun too.

My Valentine's Date

On a more unusual note, I've found the solution to being single. At least one I can live with. I know it's nothing new, so don't expect any earth shattering announcements, but I've decided to take my fantasy life one step further. Rather than just admire the good looking men on tv, I'm going to pick the best character and date him... in my head. Think about it. All the warm fuzzy feelings, no drama.

Just choosing is fun. Tom Welling as Clark Kent? David Krumholtz as Charlie Epps? Patrick Flueger as Shawn Farrell? Dominic Purcell as Lincoln Burrows? or Wentworth Miller as Michael Scoffield?

After a great deal of consideration, I decided the best choice of all my fav's, is Dominic Purcell as John Doe.

That's right. My TV Boyfriend is canceled. Isn't that apropos? I can only see him in reruns on SciFi. I can't even buy his show on DVD. How sad.

But when all is said and done, I believe John Doe is my perfect man. So until one comes along in real life, I'm claiming this one.
That's my fantasy and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

CFBA: Sister's Ink by Rebeca Seitz

Song Stuck on the Brain: Glamorous by Fergie

Anyone see last night's American Idol? They did a montage of hopefuls destroying this song and now it's stuck in my head.

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

Sister's Ink


Rebeca Seitz
Broadman & Holman Books (February 1, 2008)


Sisters, Ink marks the first in a series of novels written by, for, and about scrapbookers. At the center of the creativity and humor are four unlikely young adult sisters, each separately adopted during early childhood into the loving home of Marilyn and Jack Sinclair.

Ten years after their mother Marilyn has died, the multi-racial Sinclair sisters (Meg, Kendra, Tandy, and Joy) still return to her converted attic scrapping studio in the small town of Stars Hill, Tennessee, to encourage each other through life’s highs and lows.

Book one spotlights headstrong Tandy, a successful yet haunted attorney now living back in Orlando where she spent the first eight years of her life on the streets as a junkie’s kid. When a suddenly enforced leave of absence at work leads her to an extended visit with her sisters in Stars Hill, a business oppor­tunity, rekindled romance, and fresh understanding of God’s will soon follow.


"What more can any woman want? Sisters, Ink weaves the love of sisters, the fun of scrapbooking, and a romance as sugary and tingling as Sweet Home Alabama. A must read for those who love southern fiction."--DiAnn Mills, author of Leather and Lace and When the Nile Runs Red

"Fun . . . funny . . . fantastic! Rebeca Seitz has brought together scrapbooking and sisterhood in a lively romp, with a love for going home again."--Eva Marie Everson, coauthor of The Potluck Club series.


Rebeca Seitz is Founder and President of Glass Road Public Relations. An author for several years, PRINTS CHARMING was her first novel.

Rebeca cut her publicity teeth as the first dedicated publicist for the fiction division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In 2005, Rebeca resigned from WestBow and opened the doors of GRPR, the only publicity firm of its kind in the country dedicated solely to representing novelists writing from a Christian worldview.

Rebeca makes her home in Kentucky with her husband, Charles, and their son, Anderson.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

And the Winner Is...

Song Stuck on the Brain: Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid

We were talking about how some days you have no words and you end up gesturing wildly and calling it a thingamabob or watchamacallit. It made me think of the song.

It's been slow coming, but we have a winner....

Congratulations, Pam W.!

Pam is the winner of Orchard of Hope.

I'll be posting a new contest soon, so keep those eyes peeled.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Ad Aware

Song Stuck on the Brain: Bad to the Bone... go figure...

The Super Bowl had some great commercials ( I love Justin Timberlake's Pepsi ad), but nobody has better ads then Lost. Check out these promo's for the new season.

And for the true Lost fan, be sure to visit


Friday, February 01, 2008

FIRST: Sisters, Ink by Rebeca Seitz

Song Stuck on the Brain: Big Girls Don't Cry by Fergie

It is February FIRST, 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 his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature is:

Rebeca Seitz

and her book:


B&H Books (February 1, 2008)


Rebeca Seitz is Founder and President of Glass Road Public Relations. An author for several years, PRINTS CHARMING being her first novel.

Rebeca cut her publicity teeth as the first dedicated publicist for the fiction division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In 2005, Rebeca resigned from WestBow and opened the doors of GRPR, the only publicity firm of its kind in the country dedicated solely to representing novelists writing from a Christian worldview.

Rebeca makes her home in Kentucky with her husband, Charles, and their son, Anderson.


Tandy’s purple stiletto heel tapped in perfect rhythm to the pulse that threatened to leap out of her neck. She stared at the phone, willing it to ring and someone on the other end to declare this a joke. Her boss did not just call her into his office. Now.

The smooth tones from her CD player of Ole Blue Eyes crooning I Did it My Way mocked rather than soothed. She had to calm down, but Meg’s idea of music soothing the savage soul was not working. Fingers shaking, Tandy snatched up the receiver and dialed her sister. Calm, stoic Meg always knew what to do in a crisis. From falling off the swing set to supplying Oreos and caffeine the night before Tandy’s bar exam, Meg was a pro at handling crises and keeping her three sisters’ lives humming.

A busy signal sounded, and Tandy slammed the phone back down. Of course Meg would be on the phone right now. Why on earth couldn’t that woman understand the helpfulness of call-waiting? Tandy could hear Meg’s soft, persuasive response now: Why would I stop talking to one person before our conversation ended, T? It’s rude and I just won’t have it in my house.

Grabbing the receiver again, Tandy punched in Kendra’s numbers, jumping when yet another hawk flew into her window. Why did Orlando have to have a courthouse with the perfect nooks and crannies to build a nest? Ever since the completion of this new structure, hawks circled attorneys in the Bellsouth building across the on a daily basis.

Kendra’s melodic voice floated over the line, its harmonious tones the same as in childhood: "You have reached the voicemail of Kendra Sinclair…"

Tandy slammed the receiver down again and glared at the circling hawks. Of course Mr. Beasley was angry. He had every right to be, really. That fat deposit in her checking account every other week meant the continuation of her dedication to keeping their clients out of jail. Certainly it meant she wouldn’t hand the prosecution the very evidence they needed to obtain a conviction. She fiddled with the purple and black silk scarf tied around her neck.

Would Joy be any help at all in this situation? Joy might be the baby sister, but her quiet strength could come in handy right now. Except that Joy loved to talk and Christopher Beasley was waiting. The thought of him in his office high above the hawks, tapping his long fingers on the glass top of a heavy mahogany desk, didn’t allow for long phone conversations.

Tandy’s office phone rang and she jumped. "Tandy Sinclair."

"Tandy, it’s Anna." Tandy smiled, thinking of the gentle lady seated a few floors above her. "Mr. Beasley’s on his third cup of coffee."

Her smile vanished. "Oh, no, Anna. Couldn’t you have dawdled a bit? You know how he gets with caffeine overload."

"And you know how he gets when I dawdle. You’ve got maybe three minutes before he asks me to get cup number four."

"I’m on my way." Tandy pushed back from her desk and stood up. "Thanks, Anna."

"No problem, sweetie."

Tandy dropped the phone in its cradle, her gaze darting around the room for something, anything that would prevent the next ten minutes.

If that idiot Harry Simons had been one iota less smarmy, this predicament could have been avoided. His outright ogling of her figure had been bad enough, but certainly not the first time Tandy had been forced to ignore a man’s unwanted attentions. They all seemed to believe her red, wavy hair was a sign she’d fulfill their wildest dreams. Heck, Mr. Beasley had probably even made that assumption at some point, as evidenced by his swift promotions landing her in a cushy corner office of Meyers, Briggs, and Stratton.

Tandy swigged caffeine and paced the office. It wasn’t even Harry’s condescension. His superiority, rooted in maleness, made no effort to hide the belief that a brain resting between the pierced ears of a thirty-year-old female graduate of Yale School of Law somehow negated its existence. That idiocy didn’t even raise her blood pressure. She fingered her pearl earrings and grimaced as a hawk glided to rest on the ledge outside.

No, she would have been fine, and Christopher Beasley would not at this very moment be preparing to fire her, except for one innocent little lunch with small-minded Harry. Why, oh why, had she agreed to go to lunch with the lizard? (Honestly, his head rivaled the shape of geckos that ran in and out of every flower bed in Central Florida.) Come to think of it, his eyes were shifty like a gecko, too. Was the single life getting to her so much that she’d date a lizard? She stopped and tapped the window ledge. Meg and Kendra were on her case to date more. But who had time to meet people after spending sixty-five hours a week at the office? She sighed. The sisters just didn’t understand life in the city.

"You guys have got it easy," she said to the hawks. "Circle, eat, rest, repeat. With the occasional head bang into a window to keep us lawyers on our toes." She shook her head.

Well, it didn’t matter now. Mr. Beasley awaited her presence and it would only get worse the longer she stood here. Her heels sank into the plush pearl-colored carpet as she crossed the office, ignoring the latest sacrifice to her black thumb—a nearly dead African violet. She opened her office door and cast one last glance at what, in about ten minutes, probably would not be her office. Oh well. Maybe she could take the plant to Anna.

She picked up the violet. At least the charade of defending a slimeball, who made fun of an old homeless man to make himself seem big, would come to an end. And the day was still young; she could hit the beach before the lunch rush hit I-4.

Shoulders thrown back, chin up, Tandy made her way down the hallway and entered an elevator lined in the obligatory mahogany, brass, and mirrors, testimony to Christopher’s desire to never rock a boat even in the decoration of his law firm’s offices. She eyed her reflection and saw steel in the brown eyes staring back. Cutting Harry off at the knees in public wasn’t the best financial move to make. How would she buy food for Cooper? Pay his vet bills? Keeping an old basset hound with arthritic knees and hips in comfort was a pricey endeavor. Still, it had been worth it to see the shock on Harry’s face when she announced in her loud voice the impending completion of his career. From a 9x9 prison cell, that cardboard box would look like heaven.

She checked her chignon, tucking in a stray curl and smoothing the rest down. Picturing Harry’s smug, pudgy face behind bars did way more to calm her pulse rate than Sinatra’s croon. The elevator dinged, announcing her arrival to Christopher Beasley’s penthouse lair.

Tandy took a deep breath, tightened her grip on the sagging violet, sent up a prayer of thanks that she’d picked the Ann Taylor suit today—must look sharp when being fired--and stepped across the threshold.

"He’s waiting for you." Sympathy shimmered in Anna’s blue eyes. The Orlando sun shining through the window made Anna’s hair glow like a fresh pearl.

Tandy set the violet down on Anna’s desk. "Thanks, Anna. It’s been good knowing you. I wonder if you might coax this little guy back to life?"

Anna raised her eyebrows. "Tandy, how many times do I have to tell you? You’re a danger to plants." She smiled and wagged her finger. "You taking them in isn’t an act of kindness. You leave the greenery to us old chicks."

Tandy laughed. "Yes ma’am." She took another breath. "I guess I should go in now."

Anna sobered. "Guess so."

"Still on cup number three?"

"I just took in cup four. I doubt he’s taken a sip yet, though. He’s slowing down."

"Thanks for everything, Anna."

"You’re welcome, honey. Take care of yourself. And you call me if you need anything, hear?"

Tandy nodded, only now realizing that losing her job also meant losing Anna’s kind wisdom. She blinked hard. Crying at work would not do. She stepped to Christopher’s door and knocked.

"Come." His deep voice bellowed through the door and Tandy’s pulse kicked up again. This was it. For the first time ever, Tandy Sinclair was about to be fired from a job. When she’d moved to Orlando to take this job and declare war on the city that took her childhood, Tandy never would have guessed she’d become an actual beach bum.

"Tandy, sit down, sit down." Christopher stood, gesturing to a chair and patting the telltale stripes of his Ben Silver tie. "Seems we have a little situation on our hands." The hawks circled one story below his window, the tops of their feathered backs lit by the sun.

Tandy sat down and nodded.

Christopher’s padded leather chair creaked with his weight. He settled back, propped his elbows on the arms, and templed his fingers. "Harry tells me he’s headed for a prison cell."

She nodded again.

"He also tells me that would be your fault."

Another nod. This must be what bobbleheads felt like.

"And he says he’s ready to sue this firm for inadequate representation unless I do something about it."

She quirked an eyebrow. Score one for Harry.

"I’ve assured Harry that there must be some misunderstanding since you’re one of the most capable attorneys this firm has seen in quite some time. So, please, Tandy, explain to me how one of our biggest clients, someone for whom you serve as lead counsel, suddenly finds himself facing jail."

Tandy tilted her head. He was giving her an out, bless him. Leave it to Christopher Beasley, King of Calm and Proper Appearances, to smooth the choppy waters and restore her professional boat to proper order. An image of Harry’s sneer popped into her mind, though, and the thought of backtracking fled like money from her wallet during a trunk sale.

She smiled and adopted her lawyer voice. "Well, Mr. Beasley, I appreciate your belief in my professional abilities, but it seems Mr. Simons has some rather extreme positions regarding personal values that led me to determine he is, in fact, guilty of the crime for which he has been accused. When I asked him directly, he admitted as much to me."

It was Christopher’s turn to raise a brow. "He told you he embezzled funds from Hope House?"

Tandy nodded. "Yes, sir. I advised him I could not put him on the stand, since I would be suborning perjury, but he refused to listen. It was either let him lie to the court or remove myself from his case. I chose the latter."

Christopher swiveled his chair and stared out at the courthouse. What she wouldn’t give for a hawk to barrel into the glass. Anything to break the tension. Losing this job wouldn’t be the end of the world…just of her bank account, for the time being. She really didn’t want to lose the paycheck, but Harry gave her no choice.

The man wouldn’t listen to reason if someone etched it in a brick and threw it at his head.

She thought about their lunch again, seeing the hump-backed old man picking through a dumpster across the street. His coat had been threadbare, but Tandy knew too well the value of a coat, threadbare or not, on the streets. The priceless nature of every layer between skin and street. How the three bites of cheeseburger he found wrapped in its foil was enough to fill his belly for an entire day.

Harry’s voice had faded into the background of restaurant chatter as Tandy’s mind flew back to the seven years she spent living in a box with her mother. Before she met Marian and Jack Sinclair. Hearing the trains rumble past where they camped. Begging people for money, searching for a dry place when it rained, for a piece of food that hadn’t already been discovered by bugs. Watching her mom bob and weave as she walked, that scary light in her eyes that was both mesmerizing and terrifying because it meant mom wouldn’t make sense.

Tandy knew now her childhood had been stolen the first day her mother lit a match beneath the bowl of a pipe.

"Stupid junkie. Probably lost his job because of some drug habit." Harry’s voice joined a thousand other voices that still kept her awake on too many nights. "Bet he chooses to live like that. Easier than getting a job and working for his money like the rest of us."

Tandy looked at Harry sitting there in his three-thousand-dollar pin-striped suit, black crocodile shoes, and platinum cuff links with the Brooks Brothers insignia. Thought about reminding him his money came from his father’s hard work and planning, but decided against it. Harry was, after all, a huge client.

"Oh, probably not, Harry. You’d be amazed what some of the people living on the streets have been through." She sipped her water and willed her blood not to boil at the stupidity of the man before her.

He sneered and pointed a stubby finger at her. "Don’t be naïve, Tandy. That man could get a job flipping burgers at McDonald’s just as easy as sit out there with a cup in his hand, begging me to part with my cold hard cash that I worked very hard to get."

Silence was about as possible as finding a pair of Ferragamo’s in a size ten. On sale. Never gonna happen.

"Harry, how would he get a job? I doubt he owns any clothing other than what’s on his back. What would he wear to a job interview? Where would he get enough sleep in one sitting to be awake for an entire shift? What address would he even put on his job application?"

"Why, Tandy, I didn’t know you cared so much about our fair city’s homeless degenerates." His voice, so patronizing and smooth, grated. It fought with the pockmarks on his face to portray a polished image. "I’d think, with such convictions, you would have a hard time taking my case."

"Why is that, Harry? You didn’t embezzle from Hope House. Which means you didn’t take money from the mouths of homeless people. Which means my awareness of the plight of the homeless works in your favor." She took a sip of her water and tried to relax.

He wagged his finger at her. "Tsk, tsk, tsk, Tandy. There goes your naiveté again."

It took her a second to catch on. "Excuse me?"

He grinned and, for the first time, Tandy knew what jowls meant. "I think we both know what I’m saying."

"I certainly hope not. Because if you’re confessing to taking money from a homeless shelter, I can’t put you on the stand. I’d be suborning perjury."

Christopher cleared his throat, snapping Tandy back into the present. He swiveled around to face her. "I’m in a predicament, Tandy. Harry Simons brings a lot of money to this firm, been with us for years. That must count for something. Yet I find myself struggling with the thought of firing you since I understand the ethical dilemma you faced."

A tiny smidgen of hope blossomed in her heart.

Christopher placed his palms down on his glass-topped desk, an act of finality. "And yet, I see no course of action but to terminate your employment with Meyers, Briggs, and Stratton. Anything less would cause serious repercussions in our relationship with Harry Simons."

She fought to breathe normally. Blinked to hold back tears. Her savings account was basically nonexistent, which meant she and Cooper better start looking for a big refrigerator box to call home. Or maybe finding Cooper another family to live with would be a better idea. One of the sisters could take him. Meg, or maybe Joy. Kendra would be a last resort. She was as good with pets as Tandy was with plants. Well, except for Kitty, but cats were self-sufficient.

A hawk slammed into the window, making Christopher jump and spill the coffee sitting on his desk. "Dadgum it! Anna!"

Anna came rushing in, saw the mess, and snagged a roll of paper towels from the cabinet by the door without a word.

"You’ve got to call somebody about these hawks, Anna. They’re ruining my concentration!"

"Yes, Mr. Beasley. I’ll make the call today." Anna shot Tandy a sideways glance. Tandy grinned. Seeing the unflappable Christopher Beasley in a snit was worth getting fired--almost. Anna sopped up the mess and left the room.

"Now, where were we?" He pushed paper around the desk, checking to ensure all the coffee was gone.

Tandy cleared her throat. "I think you were firing me."

Christopher stopped arranging paper and looked up at her. "Right, right. Well, I don’t think we have to be that drastic. How about a leave of absence?"

Thank heaven for hawks.

"A leave of absence, sir?" Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but, hey, it had to be asked.

"Yes. I think that will mollify our good friend Harry." Christopher nodded and patted the desktop, warming to his idea. "I’ll let him know you’ve taken some time to think through your behavior and will come back to the firm when you’ve gotten some perspective. Say, two months?"

Two months? She calculated the amount in her checking account and began deducting bills. With no extracurricular spending at all, it might work. Two months to find something else or learn how to eat crow. Okay, maybe this was a good thing. There was no immediate need to take another boring job in a legal firm. Two months was a ton of time. Figuring out her professional passion should be a snap. She could almost see Meg’s eyes roll at that thought.

"Thank you for that, sir."

Christopher smiled. "It’s the least we can do. You’ve been a good employee. I just wish this mess hadn’t occurred."

Poor Christopher. Conflict between an employee and a major client. He must have been up all night figuring out ways to smooth ruffled feathers.

She shrugged. "These things happen for a reason, I think." She stood up and held out her hand. Christopher took it with his own limp one and made a motion that might optimistically be called a handshake.

"Good luck, Tandy. We’ll see you back here in two months."

"Thank you." She turned on one Ferragamo heel and walked out of Christopher Beasley’s office. Eight weeks of nothingness spread out before her like a gift. There had to be a way to make money off of this.

She tapped her chin and watched the lights over the elevator. Maybe some tourist would want her apartment for a couple of weeks. Tourists would pay just about anything for somewhere to stay during season. A couple thousand bucks, easy.

But if someone were to stay in her apartment, where could she go? The whisper of her heart tickled Tandy’s brain. Stars Hill, Tennessee’s rolling countryside, Daddy’s smile, Momma’s painted roses, the sisters’ scrapbooks…

The ding of the elevator dispelled her mind’s image, but not the idea. Stars Hill. Well, it had been a while since she’d been back. Three years, if memory served. And, with Daddy and the sisters around, there wouldn’t be any need to spend money on restaurants. Though what she’d save might be spent on scrapbook stuff. It was one thing to scrap alone and quite another to sit around Momma’s old scrapping table with the girls.

Tandy exited the elevator and smiled. If she left right now, she’d be home in Stars Hill by morning.

She walked into her office, snagged her briefcase, and whipped out a tiny cell phone on the way back to the elevator.



"Hey, T, what’s up in the big city?"

Tandy laughed. "Well, not me. I’ve got eight weeks of a sudden vacation."

"What? What happened?"

"I’ll tell you all about it when I get there."

Meg’s squeal pierced Tandy’s ears and she jerked the phone away from her head. "You’re coming home? To Stars Hill? Yes!! When will you be here? Wait, what happened? Did you get fired? Did something happen at work?" Tandy could hear Meg’s three kids squealing now in the background. They must have caught on to their mom’s excitement.

"Seriously, I’ll tell you when I get there. Call Kendra and Joy. Breakfast at Joy’s, 9 a.m."

"You’ve got it, sister. James, get down off that table!" Tandy could just picture Meg’s eldest. He must have grown a foot by now. "I’m telling you that child will climb on anything," Meg said.

"Go keep your kids from tearing down the house. I’ve got to get home, get all my scrapping stuff packed, call the rental company to let some crazy tourist in my place for a couple of weeks, and get on the highway."

"On the road again…" Meg’s voice blared through the phone.

"Sheesh, Sis, are you ever going to stop with the songs?"

"Not as long as there’s a breath in me." Tandy heard scuffling. "James, put your sister down! I am not kidding with you, mister!"

Tandy chuckled. "See you in the morning."

"Okay. Be careful and buckle up."

"You’ve got it."

Tandy snapped the phone closed and walked through the parking deck toward her new little silver BMW 323. Man was this car going to stand out in sleepy little Stars Hill.