Monday, April 28, 2008

GRPR: Beloved Castaway by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Song Stuck on the Brain: SpongeBob Theme Song

Today's book is brought to you by Glass Roads PR.

About the Book:

Isabelle Gayarre, fleeing a life of servitude, refuses to be owned by anyone, yet soon finds her heart in danger of being possessed by the godless Captain Josiah Carter. Can Isabelle trust him to help her escape without losing her heart? Josiah Carter, running from demons of his own, is stirred by the presence of the beautiful woman seeking refuge on his ship. Realizing that a runaway slave can never be his, legally or otherwise, a storm begins to brew within. Will their love ever reach a safe haven, or is it doomed to wreck upon the jagged reefs of the Fairweather Keys?

My Take:

Isabelle's tale is a compelling one. I was a little confused by the terms of her slave status and her reasons for fleeing in the begining of the book, but those were made clear later. The story is full of action and grace. More specifically, the Grace of God. Josiah's caracter was the most intriguing for me. I enjoyed seeing his character grow and change as he saw himself through God's eyes. The relationship between Isabelle and Josiah is both very proper and yet daring at the same time. It's hard to comprehend in our present day, how being an Octaroon could make marriage or freedom such a frightening legal issue, yet it was. The fact that the couple was willing to honor those laws, even when they didn't agree with them, was moving. It made me wonder if I could do that if I were in their shoes.

Beloved Castaway was a good romantic read and it made me think, which in my opinion is something any good book should do.

About the Author:

Kathleen Y'barbo Miller is a tenth generation Texan and a mother of three grown sons and a teenage daughter. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University and an award winning novelist of Christian fiction whose first published work jumped onto the Christian Booksellers Association bestseller list in its first month of release. Kathleen is a former treasurer for the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, Words for the Journey, and The Writers Guild. In addition, she speaks on the craft of writing to schools and writing groups, and teaches an online creative writing course through Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

CFBA: Winter Haven by Athol Dickson

Song Stuck on the Brain: Music of the Night by Andrew Lloyd Webber

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

(Bethany House April 1, 2008)


Boys who never age, giants lost in time, mist that never rises, questions never asked...on the most remote of islands off the coast of Maine, history haunts the present and Vera Gamble wrestles with a past that will not yield. Will she find refuge there, or will her ghosts prevail on...Winter Haven

Eleven years ago, Vera Gamble's brother left their house never to be seen again. Until the day Vera gets a phone call that his body has been found...washed ashore in the tiny island town of Winter Haven, Maine. His only surviving kin, Vera travels north to claim the body...and finds herself tumbling into a tangled mystery. Her brother hasn't aged a day since last she saw him.

Determined to uncover what happened in those lost years, Vera soon discovers there are other secrets lurking in this isolated town. But Winter Haven's murky past now seems bound to come to light as one woman seeks the undeniable and flooding light of truth.


Athol Dickson's university-level training in painting, sculpture, and architecture was followed by a long career as an architect then his decision several years ago to devote full time to writing.

Athol Dickson’s writing has been favorably compared to the work of Octavia Butler
(Publisher’s Weekly), Daphne du Maurier (Cindy Crosby, and FlanneryO’Connor (The New York Times).

His They Shall See God was a Christy Award finalist and his River Rising was a Christy Award winner, selected as one of the Booklist Top Ten Christian Novels of 2006 and a finalist for Christianity Today's Best Novel of 2006.

He and his wife, Sue, live in Southern California. Visit for more information.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CSFF: The Begotten By Lisa T. Bergren

Song Stuck on the Brain: I Cross My Heart by George Straight

Today the CSFF is touring:

My Take:

The Begotten is the first book The Gifted series and is a well researched, well written novel full of intrigue and suspense. It puts me in mind of books like llluminated by Matt Bronleewe and The Watchers by Mark Andrew Olsen. Both of which I also loved. Take my advice, if you like this style, you'll enjoy The Begotten.

About the Book:

The year is 1339, and a secret a half millennium old is on the brink of being exposed.

Centuries ago, Paul's letters became part of the foundation of the Christian canon. only a few know of another letter, potentially written by Paul. Kept secret for generations, suppressed by the authorities of the Church, it speaks of mn and women who, though begotten of men, possess mysterious spiritual gifts. The letter survived. So has the Church's fear of it.

The time has come for the Gifted to gather. Even as they grow in power, so do their enemies. They must race against tie to find the rest of the Gifted , and to decipher the prophecy that foretold of their coming. For only by combining their powers will they vanquish those determined to destroy them and uncover the secret of the letter that will determine the fate of the Church... and the world.

About the Author:

Lisa Tawn Bergren is the best-selling, award-winning author of twenty-eight titles, totalling more than a million copies in print. After a four year hiatus, she is at work on her next historical series, a trilogy called The Gifted. The Gifted is about a group of people in the 14th century who are spiritually gifted and hunted by forces of evil, as well as the Inquisition. Publishers Weekly calls it "a classic battle of good and evil." The Begotten and The Betrayed are out now; The Blessed will release in September.
I'm giving away a copy of The Begotten. Click on the link in the sidebar to email me your entry. The contest is open to US and Canadian residents only and ends at midnight on April 30, 2008. Good Luck!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Teen FIRST: Chosen by Ted Dekker

Song Stuck on the Brain: Song for the Broken by Barlow Girl

It's April 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!

and his book:

(The Lost Books, Book 1) (The Books of History Chronicles)

Thomas Nelson (January 1, 2008)


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. To see a complete list of Dekker's work, visit The Works section of

Here are some of his latest titles:


Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle Trilogy Graphic Novels, Book 1)




Our story begins in a world totally like our own, yet completely different. What once happened here in our own history seems to be repeating itself thousands of years from now,
some time beyond the year 4000 AD.

But this time the future belongs to those who see opportunity before it becomes obvious. To the young, to the warriors, to the lovers. To those who can follow hidden clues and find a great
treasure that will unlock the mysteries of life and wealth.

Thirteen years have passed since the lush, colored forests were turned to desert by Teeleh, the enemy of Elyon and the vilest of all creatures. Evil now rules the land and shows itself as a painful, scaly disease that covers the flesh of the Horde, a people who live in the desert.

The powerful green waters, once precious to Elyon, have vanished from the earth except in seven small forests surrounding seven small lakes. Those few who have chosen to follow the ways of Elyon now live in these forests, bathing once daily in the powerful waters to cleanse their skin of the disease.

The number of their sworn enemy, the Horde, has grown in thirteen years and, fearing the green waters above all else, these desert dwellers have sworn to wipe all traces of the forests from
the earth.

Only the Forest Guard stands in their way. Ten thousand elite fighters against an army of nearly four hundred thousand Horde. But the Forest Guard is starting to crumble.


Day One

Qurong, general of the Horde, stood on the tall dune five miles west of the green forest, ignoring the fly that buzzed around his left eye.

His flesh was nearly white, covered with a paste that kept his skin from itching too badly. His long hair was pulled back and woven into dreadlocks, then tucked beneath the leather body armor
cinched tightly around his massive chest.

“Do you think they know?” the young major beside him asked.

Qurong’s milky white horse, chosen for its ability to blend with the desert, stamped and snorted.

The general spit to one side. “They know what we want them to know,” he said. “That we are gathering for war. And that we will march from the east in four days.”

“It seems risky,” the major said. His right cheek twitched, sending three flies to flight.
“Their forces are half what they once were. As long as they think we are coming from the east, we will smother them from the west.”

“The traitor insists that they are building their forces,” the major said.

“With young pups!” Qurong scoffed.

“The young can be crafty.”

“And I’m not? They know nothing about the traitor. This time we will kill them all.”

Qurong turned back to the valley behind him. The tents of his third division, the largest of all Horde armies, which numbered well over three hundred thousand of the most experienced warriors, stretched out nearly as far as he could see.

“We march in four days,” Qurong said. “We will slaughter them from the west.”

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Win a free copy of The Begotten by Lisa T. Bergren

Win a copy of The Begotten by Lisa T. Bergren

This book is being featured by the CSFF next week, so stay tuned for the review.

To enter, click on the book cover in the sidebar and email me your entry. As always, this contest is open to US and Canadian residents only and will end April 30, 2008 at midnight.


And the Winner Is...

Congratulations, Ginnie S. !

Ginnie is the winner of To Dance in the Desert by Kathleen Popa.


CFBA: My Soul To Keep by Melanie Wells

Song Stuck on the Brain: Forever by Mariah Carey/Kristi Lee Cook

Can you tell I've been watching American Idol? Go David Cook!

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

My Soul To Keep


Melanie Wells
(Multnomah Books - February 5, 2008)


As nasty as I knew Peter Terry to be, I never expected him to start kidnapping kids. Much less a sweet, funny little boy with nothing to protect him but a few knock-kneed women, two rabbits and a staple gun…

It’s psychology professor Dylan Foster’s favorite day of the academic year…graduation day. And her little friend Christine Zocci’s sixth birthday. But the joyful summer afternoon goes south when a little boy is snatched from a neighborhood park, setting off a chain of events that seen to lead nowhere.

The police are baffled, but Christine’s eerie connection with the kidnapped child sends Dylan on a chilling investigation of her own. Is the pasty, elusive stranger Peter Terry to blame? Exploding light bulbs, the deadly buzz of a Texas rattlesnake, and the vivid, disturbing dreams of a little girl are just pieces of a long trail of tantalizing clues leading Dylan in her dogged search for the truth.

“Like water rising to a boil, My soul To Keep’s suspense sneaks up on you…before you know it, you’re in the thick if a frightening drama…Superbly crafted.”
---ROBERT LIPARULO, author of Deadfall, Germ, and Comes A Horseman

“Written with passion, a good dose of humor and, dare I say it, soul, this novel reminds us that we all, with grace and good fortune, bumble our way toward salvation.”
---K. L. COOK, author of Late Call and The Girl From Charmelle


A native of the Texas panhandle and the child of musicians, Melanie Wells attended Southern Methodist University on a music scholarship (she's a fiddle player), and later completed graduate degrees in counseling psychology and Biblical studies at Our Lady of the Lake University and Dallas Theological Seminary.

She has taught at the graduate level at both OLLU and DTS, and has been in private practice as a counselor since 1992. She is the founder and director of LifeWorks counseling associates in Dallas, Texas, a collaborative community of creative therapists.

When the Day of Evil Comes is her first published work of fiction, and the first of a three-book series. The second work, The Soul Hunter was released in May, 2006. Melanie lives and writes in Dallas.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New hobby anyone?

Song Stuck on the Brain: You'll Always be My Baby by Mariah Carey/David Cook (love a hometown boy!)

So what's new with me? Nothing. I'm still reworking my ms Dysfunction Junction to resubmit to The Agent. I'm waiting on pins and needles for my critiques of Burning Justice from the Daphne contest and I'm conducting an interview Thursday for research on my next Work in Progress, Perilous Truth.

I did hear from an old critique partner today. Judith Mamay is published! You go, Girl! Her book, Knowing Joseph, is being released by Blooming Tree Press in hardback and is available for pre-order at and I'm so proud to say I knew her when. I wish you all the success in the world, Judith!

Ah, I wish I had more exciting news than this, but sadly, I don't. I must make more of an effort to be exciting. :) It must be time to learn a new hobby. I'm not sure what it would be or when I would find time to do it, but I'm sure that it's time. I would like to learn to shoot. As in guns? I've always wanted to have Dad take me out to the firing range and teach me, but somehow we never got around to it and now he's not able. I think it would be fun, plus it would be fantastic research for my writing. I think it would be especially helpful in this current WIP. Off the top of my head, I'm drawing a blank on other ideas. I'll have to think about it.

Anyone have any ideas?

P.S. Just for Fun...

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Milady the Most Honourable April the Gnomic of Lower Beanthrop in the Hedge
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Song Stuck on the Brain: The Day the Squirell Went Berserk by Ray Stevens

Now this looks like a compelling film. Opens April 18, 2008 Nationwide. Cant' wait to see it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

CFBA: Trouble the Water by Nicole Seitz

Song Stuck on the Brain: 76 Trombones from Music Man

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

Trouble the Water


Nicole Seitz
Thomas Nelson (March 11, 2008)


In the South Carolina Sea Islands lush setting, Nicole Seitz's second novel Trouble the Water is a poignant novel about two middle-aged sisters' journey to self-discovery.

One is seeking to recreate her life yet again and learns to truly live from a group of Gullah nannies she meets on the island. The other thinks she's got it all together until her sister's imminent death from cancer causes her to re-examine her own life and seek the healing and rebirth her troubled sister managed to find on St. Anne's Island.

Strong female protagonists are forced to deal with suicide, wife abuse, cancer, and grief in a realistic way that will ring true for anyone who has ever suffered great loss.

"This is another thing I know for a fact: a woman can't be an island, not really. No, it's the touching we do in other people's lives that matters when all is said and done. The silly things we do for ourselves--shiny new cars and jobs and money--they don't mean a hill of beans. Honor taught me that. My soul sisters on this island taught me that. And this is the story of true sisterhood. It's the story of Honor, come and gone, and how one flawed woman worked miracles in this mixed-up world."

"...a special sisterhood of island women whose wisdom and courage linger in the mind long after the book is closed."
-NEW YORK TIMES best-selling author SUSAN WIGGS


Nicole Seitz is a South Carolina Lowcountry native and the author of The Spirit of Sweetgrass as well as a freelance writer/illustrator who has published in numerous low country magazines. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism, she also has a bachelor's degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design. Nicole shows her paintings in the Charleston, South Carolina area, where she owns a web design firm and lives with her husband and two small children. Nicole is also an avid blogger, you can leave her a comment on her blog.

Seitz's writing style recalls that of Southern authors like Kaye Gibbons, Anne Rivers Siddons, and Sue Monk Kidd, and this new novel, which the publisher compares to Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, surely joins the ranks of strong fiction that highlights the complicated relationships between women. Highly recommended, especially for Southern libraries.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Monday, April 07, 2008

CFBA: Amber Morn by Brandilyn Collins

Song Stuck on the Brain: I've Finally Found Someone by Barbara Streisand and Bryan Adams

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

Amber Morn


Brandilyn Collins
(Zondervan Publishing Company - April 2008)


The whole thing couldn’t have taken more than sixty seconds.

Bailey hung on to the counter, dazed. If she let go, she’d collapse—and the twitching fingers of the gunman would pull the trigger. The rest of her group huddled in frozen shock.

Dear God, help us! Tell me this is a dream . . .

The shooter’s teeth clenched. “ Anybody who moves is dead.”

On a beautiful Saturday morning the nationally read “Scenes and Beans” bloggers gather at Java Joint for a special celebration. Chaos erupts when three gunmen burst in and take them all hostage. One person is shot and dumped outside.

Police Chief Vince Edwards must negotiate with the desperate trio. The gunmen insist on communicating through the “comments” section of the blog—so all the world can hear their story. What they demand, Vince can’t possibly provide. But if he doesn’t, over a dozen beloved Kanner Lake citizens will die...

Amber Morn is the climactic finale to Collins’ widely read Kanner Lake series. All first three titles in the series, Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, and Crimson Eve, were bestsellers. Library Journal placed Crimson Eve on its Best Books of 2007 list, and hailed it the “Best Christian suspense of 2007.”


I've been raving about Brandilyn's books for a while now. I've hooked several people on her novels, including my co-worker Nancy. When Nancy heard that I'd be getting an ARC of Brandilyn's latest, she begged me to let her read it. So I thought, why not? On one condition. She agreed to share her thoughts with all of you. So, rather then take my word for it (which is all good, I guarantee), here is Nancy's take.

I had the privilege of reading Amber Moon, and only wanted more. The story line grabs your attention within minutes and keeps you captivated until the last period. This book takes place over a period of less than a day, drawing a prayer from the reader as a fine web is woven between the characters, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. The Kanner Lake series could continue on and on without boredom setting in. Each book is totally different, yet all wonderfully written.....Please, keep them coming. ----- N. Moe


“… essential reading … a harrowing hostage drama.” – Library Journal

“… heart-pounding … breakneck pace … satisfying and meaningful ending.” – RT Bookreviews

“This cataclysmic ending left me breathless … Kanner Lake is the Best Suspense Series of 2007/2008.” –

“Collins has saved the best for a last .. a powerful ensemble performance.” --

“… a staccato tempo … Sometimes you just have to close the book in order to come up for air.” – Dale Lewis

“…a masterpiece of page-turning suspense with a cast of dozens.” – Peg Phifer


Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline

“Don’t forget to b r e a t h e …®”

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 19th book. Her first, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows.

She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences.

Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith. Visit her Website
to read the first chapters of all her books.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Win To Dance in the Desert by Kathleen Popa

Win a copy of To Dance in the Desert by Kathleen Popa

Read an excerpt here. Click here to see my initial blog post.

How To Win:

Click on the book cover in the sidebar to email me your entry. Contest ends April 15, 2008 at midnight, and is open to US and Canadian residents only.

Good luck!

And the Winner Is...

Congratulations, Tammy Kaye W.!

Tammy Kaye won On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson.

CFBA: When Zeffie Got a Clue by Peggy Darty

Song Stuck on the Brain: Something to Talk About by Bonnie Raitt. Love this woman's music. Wish I could sing like that.

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

When Zeffie Got a Clue


Peggy Darty
WaterBrook Press (March 18, 2008)


It’s an ordinary afternoon in Summer Breeze, Florida, when a young, wide-eyed girl steps into I Saw It First, the trash-to-treasure shop Christy Castleman and her Aunt Bobbie have opened. Clutching a jewelry box, Zeffie Adams tells Christy she needs money to pay her grandmother’s medical bills, prompting Christy to offer this curious visitor more than the jewelry box is worth–or so she thinks.

But complicated questions form when Christy rips out the box’s lining and uncovers a clue to a cold case murder mystery from eight years ago. Despite warnings from her family and handsome boyfriend Dan Brockman, Christy decides to do a little detective work of her own. After all, the infamous murder happened close to her grandmother’s farm. How risky could it be to take the jewelry box back to the Strickland plantation and ask around about it?

Soon Christy finds there is more to the small box than someone wants her to know. A jewelry theft. A mansion murder. Dangerous family secrets buried in history. Can Christy convince others to let go of the past before it’s too late?


Peggy Darty is the award-winning author of twenty-seven books, including two other cozy mysteries set in Summer Breeze, Florida: When the Sandpiper Calls and When Bobbie Sang the Blues. She has worked in film, researched for CBS, and led writing workshops around the country. Darty and her husband call Alabama home but spend a great deal of time in Colorado, Montana, and on Florida’s Emerald Coast.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What's new

Song Stuck on the Brain: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

I've been so lax in posting my thought lately, but trust me, you haven't missed much. :) Mostly because I've been busy and fighting off a nasty head cold, so the only thing in my brain right now is cotton.

Let's see, so what have I been up to? I've started research on my next book, a suspense set in the jungles of Mexico. I have several interviews to line up for this, as well as a lot of material to read. There's a lot of archaeological info needed, but I've got a strong start. I'm excited about this one though, I really hope it turns out on paper as well as I see it in my head.

I've also started watching Paul McKenna's I Can Make You Thin on TLC. It's been life changing. I can't believe something that makes so much sense, that's so practical and simple, is making such a huge difference where nothing else has. I'm very excited. If you have a chance to check him out, do.

On a lighter note, we had family lunch at my parent's house Sunday. This is a weekly occurrence and there are so many of us, we can't all sit around the table, so usually, Dad and I sit at the table with all the kids and the other adults sit in the living room with TV trays. This arrangement can lead to some really interesting conversations and echoes. I'll start telling Dad a story and Mom can't hear it all so she asks Angel what I'm talking about and suddenly there's an echo conversation in the living room. Sitting at a table full of kids can elicit some unusual stories too. Allie had one this time.

"April, did you know my mom got a new job at the mall?" Allie is sitting next to me poking at her lunch. She's squeezed into a booster seat that's too little for her, but she insists that she loves her seat and she can't sit without it.

"I did. She's cutting hair at a new salon, right?"

"Yep. And she's making really good money too!" She's very emphatic and animated. "She makes like $30 -$40 a day! That's a lot."

"That is good." Dad and I smile at each other.

"Yeah. But she says she has to spend it all on gas though, the kind you put in your car - not the kind you fart." She never wavers in her story as she plows on past this little nugget.

Dad and I lose it. We're trying not to laugh, but we can't help it. Allie doesn't realize for a minute that she's even said anything funny. When she does she blushes a little and laughs too.


FIRST: Ryann Watters and the King's Sword by Eric Reinhold

It is April FIRST--no foolin'--, 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!

The special feature author is:

and his book:

Ryann Watters and the King's Sword
Creation House (May 2008)

Illustrated by: Corey Wolfe


Eric J. Reinhold is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. The former Naval officer writes extensively for a variety of national financial publications in his position as a Certified Financial Planner® and President of Academy Wealth Management. His passion for writing a youth fantasy novel was fueled by nightly impromptu storytelling to his children and actively serving in the middle and high school programs at First Baptist Sweetwater Church in Longwood, Florida.

Visit him at his website.


Angel’s Visitation

It first appeared as a gentle glow, almost like a child’s night-light. Heavy shadows filled the room as the boy lay face up, covers tucked neatly under his arms. A slight smile on his face hinted that he was in the midst of a pleasant dream.

Ryann Watters, who had just celebrated his twelfth birthday, rolled lazily onto his side, his blond hair matted into the pillow, unaware of the glow as it began to intensify. Shadows searched for hiding places throughout the room as the glow transformed from a pale yellow hue to brilliant white.

Ryann’s eyelids fluttered briefly and then flickered at the glare reflecting off his pale blue bedroom walls. Drowsily, he turned toward the light expecting to see one of his parents coming in to check on him. “What’s going on?” his voice cracked as he reached up to rub the crusty sleep from his eyes.


Under a pale half-moon, Drake Dunfellow’s house looked just like any other. A closer inspection, however, would reveal its failing condition. Water oaks lining the side of the curved driveway hunched over haggardly, like old men struggling on canes. The lawn, which should have been a lively green for early spring, was withered and sandy. A few patches of grass were sprinkled here and there. Rust lines streaked down the one jagged peak atop the tin-roof house. The flimsy clapboard sides were outlined by fading white trim speckled with dried paint curls. Hanging baskets containing a variety of plants and weeds all struggling to stay alive shared the crowded front porch with two mildew-covered rocking chairs. Inside, magazines and newspaper clippings both old and new were carelessly strewn about. Encrusted dishes from the previous day’s meals battled each other for space in the bulging kitchen sink. In the garage, away from the usual living areas, was a boy’s room. Dull paneling outlined the bedroom, while equally dreary brown linoleum covered the floor. The bedroom must have been an afterthought because not much consideration had been given to the details. A bookcase cut from rough planks sat atop an old garage sale dresser.

Moonlight pressing through the dust-covered metal blinds tried to provide a sense of peacefulness. Instead it revealed bristly red hair atop a young boy’s head poking out from beneath a mushy feather pillow. His heavy breathing provided the only movement in the quiet room. Tiny droplets of perspiration lined his brow as he began jerking about under the thin cotton sheets.

Starting at the edge of the window, the blackness spread downward, transforming all traces of light to an oily dinginess. Drake was slowly surrounded and remained the only thing not saturated in the darkness. Bolting upright to a stiff-seated attention, Drake’s bloodshot eyes darted back and forth. He stared into the black nothingness shuddering and aware that the only thing visible in the room was his bed.

“Who . . . who’s there?” Drake cried out, puzzled by the hollow sound that didn’t seem to travel beyond the edge of his mattress. Beads of sweat trickled down his neck, connecting his numerous freckled dots. He strained, slightly tilting his head, ears perked. There was no reply.


Neatly manicured streets wandered through the Watters’s sleepy, rolling neighborhood. If someone had been walking along in the wee morning hours of March 15, they would have noticed the brilliant white light peeking out from around Ryann’s shade. Below his second-story window the normally darkened bed of pink, red, and white impatiens was lit up as in the noonday sun.

Ryann was fully awake now and quite positive that the dazzling aura facing him from in front of his window was not the hall light from his parents entering the bedroom. Golden hues flowed out of the whiteness, showering itself on everything in the room. It reminded Ryann of sprinkles of pixie dust in some of his favorite childhood books. His blue eyes grew wide trying to capture the unbelievable event unfolding before him.

“Fear not, Ryann,” a confident, yet kind, voice began. “I have come to do the bidding of one much greater than I and who you have found favor with.”

Rapid pulses in his chest gripped Ryann as he struggled to understand what was happening. Instinctively he grasped his navy blue bed sheets and pulled them up so that only his eyes and the top of his head peeked out from his self-made cocoon. Squinting to reduce the brilliance before him, Ryann stared into the light, trying to detect a form while questions scrambled around his mind. What had the voice meant by “finding favor,” and who had sent him? As Ryann struggled to work this out, the center of the whiteness began to take the shape of a man. Human in appearance, he looked powerful, but there was a calmness about his face, like that of an experienced commander before going into battle. Ryann recalled hearing about angels in his Sunday school class at church. He wondered if this could be one.

“Ryann, thou have found favor with the One who sent me. You will be given much and much will be required of you.”

Still shaking, Ryann was fairly certain he was safe. “S-s-s . . . sir, are you an angel?”

“You have perceived correctly.” “And . . . I’ve been chosen by someone . . . for something?” Ryann asked.

“The One who knows you better than you know yourself,” the angel answered.

Ryann knew he must be talking about God, but what could God possibly want with him?

“What am I supposed to do?”

“Thou must search out and put on the full armor of God so that you can take a stand against the devil’s schemes. For your struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

“The devil? Forces of evil? I’m just a kid,” Ryann said. “What could I possibly have to do with all of this? You’ve got to be making a mistake.”

“There are no mistakes with God. Thou have heard of David?”

“You mean the David from David and Goliath?” Ryann asked.

The angel nodded. “He was also a boy chosen by God to accomplish great things. God chooses to show His power by using the powerless.”

Ryann tried to comprehend the magnitude of what this mighty being was saying to him. Realizing he was still sitting in his bed, covers bunched around him, he pulled them aside and swung his feet out, never taking his eyes off the angel. Landing firmly on the carpet, Ryann’s wobbly knees barely supported him, the bed acting as a wall between him and the angel.

“Who are you?”

“I am Gabriel and have come to give you insight and understanding.”

“Wow!” Ryann couldn’t believe this was the same angel who had appeared to Joseph and Mary in the Christmas story he heard every December. The lines of excitement on his face drooped as he fidgeted, thinking about the angel’s words. “I don’t want to . . . seem . . . ungrateful,” Ryann hesitated, “but . . . is there any way you can . . . ask someone else?”

“Only you have been given this trial, Ryann, yet you shall not be alone.”

“Who will help me?”

“As the young shepherd boy David spoke, ‘The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them. For He commands His angels to guard you in all your ways.’” Gabriel’s twinkling gaze rose as he stretched his arms heavenward, “And these will assist you along the way.”

Beckoning Ryann from behind the bed, the angel glided effortlessly forward to greet him. Walking to within a foot of Gabriel, Ryann bowed humbly, basking in the radiant glow that emanated all around him. Reaching out, the angel grasped Ryann’s left hand firmly and slipped a gold ring, topped by a clear bubble-like stone, onto his finger. Before he could inspect it, the angel took his other hand and placed a long metal pole in it. Ryann’s hand slid easily up and down the smooth metal finish. Its shape and size were similar to a pool cue. Bone-white buttons protruded from just below where he gripped the staff. They were numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Mesmerized by the gifts that begged for more attention and questions, Ryann hardly noticed Gabriel loop a long leather cord through his arm and around his neck. From it a curved ivory horn hung loosely below his waist, resting on his hip.

As Gabriel finished and backed away, Ryann continued marveling at each of the gifts. Reaching down to inspect the horn, he ran his hands along its smooth, yet pitted surface, until he reached the small gold-tipped opening. He wondered how old the horn was and if it had been used before.

“What do I do with these? How do I use them?”

“It is not for me to reveal,” answered the angel calmly. “You shall find out in due time.”

“But what do I do now?”

“Thou must seek the King’s sword.”

“How? What King? Where do I look?” Ryann blurted out, panicking as questions continued to pop into his head.

“The Spirit will lead you, and the ring will open the way,” the angel replied as he began floating backwards, the light peeling away with him.

“Wait, wait! Don’t leave—I don’t know enough—where do I go now?”

“Remember,” Gabriel’s clear voice began to fade, “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that you may be thoroughly equipped for all good works.”

Clutching the mysterious heavenly gifts he had been given, Ryann collapsed in a heap on his bed, body and mind drained from his supernatural encounter. He drifted into a welcomed sleep.


It seemed Drake’s bedroom no longer existed. Only his bed remained, an island floating in a sea of darkness that completely surrounded him. His eyes bulged, darting about for anything that would give him a hint of what was going on. A cool draft drifted down his neck, chilling him despite the safety of his covers. Caught between reality and a nightmare, he let loose a scream that normally would have been heard throughout the house and beyond, but now was absorbed into the heavy darkness enveloping him.

“Who’s there?” he said again. He pinched himself to see if he was dreaming.

With a loud swoooooooosh, huge wings shot out of the darkness surrounding his bed. Drake dove for the safety of his covers.

A thunderous, commanding voice ordered, “Come out from hiding and stand up!”

Drake hesitated, knuckles tense and white as they curled tightly around the edges of his blanket.

“Now!” the voice thundered.

Jerking his covers off, Drake scurried to the edge of the bed, lost his balance, and awkwardly fell face-first onto the cool floor. Petrified at what he might see, yet too scared to disobey, he raised his head slightly. Half expecting some hideous beast, Drake was surprised at what he was facing. The black-winged warrior towering over him was imposing enough to paralyze anyone with fear, but his face was what captivated Drake. Instead of a hideous three-eyed ghoul with fangs, like Drake imagined, he stared into one of the most ruggedly handsome faces he had ever seen. Drake froze, mesmerized.

“Sit up and listen closely, human,” the dark angel began, closing his wings in an effortless swish. Lowering his voice, he spoke in a precise, but less threatening tone. “I have chosen you to carry out my wishes.”

Drake raised himself to a clumsy crouch. The face he looked intently into was perfect in almost every way, except for a long thin scar that traveled from his left ear to his jaw. He was convinced now that this wasn’t a monster trying to devour him.

“Why me?”

The angel’s scar became more noticeable when he smiled at Drake. “I have been here before with great success and have reason to believe you will serve me well.”

“What do you want me to do?” Drake blurted.

“The one who seeks to bind me must be stopped!”

Drake stumbled backwards, putting a hand on the floor to keep from falling. Swallowing hard, he could feel the black, penetrating eyes staring deep into his.

“You are the one,” the creature said confidently.

No one had ever chosen Drake for anything, yet this powerful being wanted him. He didn’t know if he could trust the dark angel or not, but the chance for power excited Drake. “How do I do it?”

The dark angel continued to smile, sensing the blackness in Drake’s heart spreading murkily throughout his body.

“I will be your eyes and ears, a guide to lead you in the right direction, and,” he hesitated, “I will give you these.”

The dark-winged angel stretched out his hand, his index finger pointing toward the empty floor in front of him. Immediately three items appeared before Drake’s eyes. He blinked again. They were still there. Drake’s hand shot out in a blur to grab the closest item.


Drake froze, and then cowered, his eyes shifting back to the booming voice as he slowly retracted his hand. His eyes darted back and forth between the three items and the dark angel in the awkward silence.

“You move when I tell you to move. Now . . . kneel before me, child of the earth, while I make you ready for your task.”

Still hunched-over, Drake pitched forward onto his knees with his head bowed, eyes glancing upward in anticipation.

“My first gift to you is a cloak of darkness. It will provide you with cover at night. You and the night shall become one.”

Drake reached out his hands to receive the cloak. It felt smooth and slippery. Looking intently at it, the cloak seemed several feet thick, as if it was projecting darkness.

“My second gift to you is a ring of suggestion. With it you will have the ability to project persuasive thoughts to those who are weak-willed or in the midst of indecision.” Powerful hands with long curled fingers took hold of Drake’s hand, spreading an icy chill from the tip of his fingers to his wrist. As the creature slipped the black band onto his finger, Drake briefly noticed a red blotch on the top. His hand felt stiff, then the numbness traveled up his arm and throughout his body. Chattering clicks from his own teeth broke the silence as he awaited the angel’s next words. “Lastly, I provide you with a bow and arrows of fire. These arrows were formed in the lake of fire and will deliver physical and mental anguish to those they touch.”

“Thank you . . . uhh . . . what should I call you?” Drake asked.

“I am one of the stars that fell from heaven. My master is Shandago and I am his chief messenger. You may call me Lord Ekron.”

“Thank you, Lord Ekron, for these gifts. I may be young, but I’ll do as you ask to the best of my ability.”

“It is expected. Also, these items I have given to you are not for use in this world. When the time is right, you will find a passage into another land. There you will put these gifts to work.”

The darkness in the room began to rush toward Lord Ekron, as if he were absorbing it, except he wasn’t getting bigger—only darker. Drake kept staring at him, trying not to blink, so he wouldn’t miss anything. Despite his efforts, the dark angel began to fade, and Drake found himself peering into the darkness at the blank wall. When he was sure his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him and enough time passed so that he felt safe to move, he stood up.

Drake would have thought this was all a bad dream, but the items he held in his hand were proof that it was real. He ran his hands through the dense blackness of the slick cloak, wondering how he might use it. Drake was anxious to try the bow and arrows as well. He didn’t dare pull the arrows out of their quiver right now, but decided that he would have to buy a regular bow and quiver of arrows as soon as possible so that he could begin practicing. Looking down at his hand, he examined the unusual ring he now wore. The entire band was a glossy black, except for the unusual red marking on the top, which resembled a flying dragon.

Not much had gone right for Drake during the first thirteen years of his life. “Now things are going to be different,” he thought. The smile inching across his face looked evil. He knew with Lord Ekron at his side no one would be able to tell him what to do.


I'm reading this one now, so far, very entertaining.