Saturday, December 30, 2006

Fun Stuff for a Rainy Day

I was visiting Narnia Web to check on release dates and such for Prince Caspian when I found these quizzes. I thought they were fun and decided to pass on my results and the links so you can take them too.

The Narnia Quiz:

As Prince Rilian, you are brave, noble and intelligent, but easily misguided! Just make sure you don't go after any green women.

Take the quiz yourself here:

The Harry Potter Quiz:

Loyal and brave, as Harry Potter you may be have a hot temper at times, but you have a warm heart and a thirst to help those in need.

Take the quiz yourself here:

The Lord of the Rings Quiz:

You are Gandalf. Known as Gandalf the Grey as a result of his long grey robes and hat, Gandalf was the wise and powerful wizard who initiated the quest to destroy the Ring. After travelling with the Fellowship for much of the way, he fell in battle in the Mines of Moria where he encountered a Balrog... or so it seemed!

Take the quiz yourself here:

Apparently, when it comes to Lord of the Rings, I'm a little Schizophrenic. Different quiz, different results. I was kind of hoping for Arwen, but no such luck...

You are most like Frodo. You're very friendly, and you have a great personality. Although you like to have fun, you can also be pretty serious at times. It's pretty hard to get you mad, but once you're mad...everybody better look out! Keep that temper under control and realize that you're better off than you may think.

Take the quiz yourself here:

Enjoy, and don't forget to tell me your results.


Friday, December 29, 2006

More Weird Dreams

Song Stuck on the Brain: "Dropped my penny, pick it up, pick it up..."

I dropped a penny and no sooner had I heard the 'ching' sound and this song started running through my head.

I had odd dreams again last night. Vague images and ideas are still floating around in my head, but I could only remember two of them clearly.

First I dreamed that Brad Pitt came in to my office to pick up product for a new health food store he was opening here in KC. In the dream I had pictures of Brad Pitt on my computer screen and I was mortified that he might see them so I had to hurry and change pictures to something more benign, like an island in the middle of nowhere. Then, when he tried to pay me, none of my equipment would work and I couldn't run his Credit Card. I'm standing there all a flutter, stuttering and acting like an idiot. He, of course, was completely relaxed and never got ruffled or impatient.

It's a really odd dream for several reasons.

1. Why Brad Pitt? He's cute, but not on my Top 10 List of Dream Guys. Why not Hugh Jackman, Tom Welling or Channing Tatum?

2. I'm not the type to become so flustered by somebody's fame that I can't act normally. I mean they're human beings - just like you and me.

3. I don't have movie stars pictures on my computer at work. Home, yes, but currently it's David Boreanaz from Bones.
4. Brad Pitt running a health food store? The only herb he's likely to stock is Marijuana.

After that dream I don't remember too much until my alarm clock went off. I rolled over, looked at the clock and noticed it was new. Under the red numbers reading 6:45, a little tray was sticking out. As the clock blares annoyingly I watch a basket of Chili Cheese Fries pop out onto the tray. I'm thinking, "Cool! I don't have to fix breakfast. That's a really awesome feature to have on a clock!" But then the longer I stared at the clock and the cheese fries, the more awake I became. The cheese fries evaporated into thin air and all I was left with was the bleating alarm and my dog whining to go out.

Talk about disappointment. That twelve step program is sounding more and more necessary.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Chili Cheese Fries - The Addiction

Song Stuck on the Brain: Harlem Globe Trotters Theme. There you go, can't help but whistle it, can you? It was the last thing I heard on the radio this morning before entering the Bat Cave. I finally quit whistling it around eleven 0'clock, but coming back from lunch they played it again. Darn them.

Do you every get food obsessions? Something sounds good so you eat it, but it's just not as good as you had hoped, so you keep trying the same food at a million different places hoping you'll find the one that will satisfy your craving...

Oookay. Maybe I'm the only one with this little problem.

Anyway, lately it's been chili cheese fries. I saw them advertised at Hardee's, but ended up at Sonic for lunch instead. So I ordered the Super Sonic Extreme Tater tots, which are better than their fries. I hate Sonic fries. Extreme includes the chili and cheese, plus onion, jalapenos and ranch dressing.

They're good, but their just not chili cheese FRIES. So my craving was not satisfied. I did finally end up at Hardee's a few days later, so I gave theirs a try.

Wow. We're talking ambrosia here. Best chili cheese fries I've ever had. Which is saying a lot, because I'm really picky about my chili. Most restaurants have gross chili. But Hardee's? Fantastic.

So did this satisfy my craving for chili cheese fries? Not exactly. Now I'm craving them because they were so fantastic.

We went to Dairy Queen last week and ordered theirs, but much like the rest of their food (except the ice cream) it left a LOT to be desired. The craving continued.

Today we tried the chili cheese fries at Backyard Burger. They've got great food, so we thought it would be safe to try.

Nope. Worst chili cheese fries EVER. The chili is vinegary to the max but smells a little like sweet cloves. Weird.

SO, tomorrow we're going back to Hardee's. One last batch of the ultimate before the New Year's diet kicks in.

After that the addiction must die. If not, I'll be starting a 12 step program.

Step 1. Acknowledge the addiction
Step 2. Step away from the chili cheese fries
Step 3. Love yourself more than the ultimate, fabulous, ambrosia like flavor which is Hardee's Chili Cheese Fries.....

I'm in trouble.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Glory Road vs. Work Load

Song Stuck on the Brain: The Chicken Dance

Actually, this song has been stuck on the brain off and on throughout the entire Holiday weekend. My youngest niece (4) got a Dora the Explorer book and CD set w/ a little player. Of course her favorite song out of the 20 some odd choices was the Chicken Dance. She must have played it a hundred times. We tried to teach her the dance, but she was having a hard time getting it all put together. I have some video, when I get it strung together, I'll post it.

I was supposed to do all kinds of housework last night in preperation for a dinner party on New Year's Day, but that kind of went the way of the lost. I totally couch potatoed out after dinner. I did do laundry, but that was pretty much the extent of it.

Instead, I watched the movie Glory Road starring Josh Lucas. I'd wanted to see it in the theater, but never got around to it. I have to say, as good as it looked, it surprised me by being 3 times better than it even looked in previews. It's a really inspiring story. I found myself cheering during the game scenes, especially the final game for the championships. It's a MOVIE for gosh sakes and I'm sitting on the couch screaming, "Block him!" "Get that Ball!" "Shoot, shoot, shoot!"

I felt like I was back in highschool cheering for the CPRS Eagles and our Starting J's. (All five starters had J names.)

I can't say I'm a huge sports movie fan, but this one really ranks high as a great movie. Like Radio, Rudy, Rocky, A League of Their Own, Remember the Titans & Miracle. (Okay, so there were mores sports movies I loved than I remembered.) I could toss in Mighty Ducks, Karate Kid and Jerry McGuire, but I'm not sure those really count as full on sports movies. Anyway, sports lover or not, you may just find you like this one too.

After the movie, I finished Emilie Richards book Blessed Is the Busybody. Very funny, very clever book. Kind of a Cozy Mystery. I don't typically choose that kind, but this one was really well done. I've got the sequel, Let Their Be Suspects, but I can't start it until I get caught up on my Bookclub and Reviewers books.

I did work a little on the plot for one of my novels, but by 1 am, I realized I should be in bed, so I gave it up for the night. I really need to find a way to add more hours in my day to do all the things I want. I'd give up sleep completely if it wasn't for the fact that I enjoy it so much. Which leaves my other option as cutting my work hours, but I don't think the utilities could handle that. The obvious choice would be to cut back on TV time, but who wants to do that?!?

Maybe tonight I'll get some house work done.

Maybe not.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Recovering from Christmas

Song Stuck on the Brain: Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. Love their new album. I'm rotating between it and Daughtry right now. It's probably driving my office mate crazy, but can you blame me? These CD's are awesome.

Daughtry was one of my Christmas gifts. Chris was the shoo in for Season 5 of Idol until in an unbelievable turn of events, he got dropped. Still can't quite figure that one out. However it may have been the better turn of events for him, because by forming his own band he'll probably do even better. The CD rocks. I can't wait for him to start touring. I'm so there.

Christmas went way to quickly for me. We had so many things going on, it just flew by. It got spread out over Sunday and Monday, so it was like a marathon of food and gifts with various friends and family.

My gifts to everyone this year centered on a theme. I think I mentioned before that I did fantasy photo shoots for all the nieces and nephews. Each of the younger ones chose two things they wanted to be when they grew up, then I found the costumes, sets, props, etc, and did photo shoots. Some I did in my studio, others on location. Anyway, the kids had a lot of fun (so did I), but it was a lot of work. The pictures were then turned into calendars, mugs, playing cards, personalized notebooks and posters for everyone.

I wasn't sure if the kids would be dissapointed that their gift was posters of themselves instead of toys, but thankfully they went over like crazy. Everyone loved it. The only downside is that now I may have to repeat this and as fun as it was, it took months to get it all together.

I'm really happy with how the pictures turned out though. Here are some to give you an idea of what we did.


Race Car Driver:


Rock Star:



Big Game Hunter:

The older two nephews didn't do fantasy shoots, but one is in wrestling, so I got him in his uniform in addition to some studio shots. The other I took down to the Missouri River and shot in the park.



We also shot candids at Thanksgiving, but since I'm in those (and I really don't like pictures of me that well) I'm not posting those. (That's the blog owners perogative.)
So now that Christmas is over, I've got just enough time to clean house all over again for New Years.
Happy Holidays,

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I've Elfed Myself

Merry Christmas Everyone. I know, I've been horribly late posting again. Blame it on the crazy holiday rush. To make up for it, I've got a little holiday gift for you - ME.

I've Elfed myself at It's the only time you'll see me dance (especially in striped tights) and probably the only time I'll see myself in single digit sizes. *sigh*

Click on the link to watch me HoHoHo in the frosty snow.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Before I Wake by Dee Henderson

Song Stuck on the Brain: Except for Mondays by Lorrie Morgan

Except for Monday which was never good anyway/Tuesday I get a little sideways/Wednesday I feel better just for spite/Thursday and Friday take too long/Before I knew it, Saturday's gone/But it's Sunday now and you can bet that I'm alright...

I woke up singing this one. Haven't heard it in years. Kind of fitting though.

I finally got the chance to read Dee Henderson's lateste novel Before I Wake. I've had it from the first day of it's release, just hadn't had the chance to do anything about it, despite my extreme anticipation.

I wasn't disapointed.

Nothing inspires me more to write, then a Dee Henderson book. They're just so well done. I'm always blown away and then I can't wait to get in there and make mine better than it is. I don't want to be a Dee copycat, but if I could just write as well as she does, wow. I would be so psyched.

This latest novel follows ex-FBI agen Rae Gabriella as she moves to small town Justice, IL to start a new life as a P.I. Her first case at initial glance doesn't seem to be that exciting, but the more she digs the more the body count rises and her own life is threatened. Drugs, intrigue, shoot-outs, fast cars and even a little romance are all woven in seemlesly with a solid message of Jesus' love.

My only complaint, and it's a minor one mind you, is that although the main story is wrapped up, there are a few threads left dangling. I have a feeling it's because this is probably the begining of a series, but Holy Cannolie, I don't want to wait another year for the answers!

Oh, I will. With baited breath no less, which is probably the point, but this is the first one of her books where I really felt like I was left hanging on the end. Sure, with the O'Mally series I was on pins and needles until the next book came out, but not in quite the same unfinished business kind of way.

I checked Dee's site today in hopes that she's announced plans for the next book, but no news yet. Which means I'll be reading all my other books in the TBR stack and in the back of my mind I'm going to be wondering, "Who IS IT?"

Still, it's a fantastic read and so worth the time invested. Her books just never fail to thrill. You won't be sorry, go read this one.

And Dee? If you read this? Type faster please, we're dying for the next one. :)


Friday, December 15, 2006

Hair, Hair, Long Beautiful Hair....

Song Stuck on the Brain: Now or Never by Josh Groban. Love, love, love this song.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it before, but if I haven't, then you should know that I have strange dreams. Not your average strange dreams, but STRANGE scifi like dreams. The kind that when you wake up you don't know whether to grab a pen and write them down as your next bestseller or just laugh like crazy.

There have been quite a few that felt like the perfect plot idea, only to lose their luster in the light of morning - and sanity.

There was a full on episode that I dreamed up for an episode of Stargate. I had the science worked out and everything. Somehow though, it just didn't work when I remembered it later. Either I forgot an important plot twist or my brain was just twisted. (probably the latter.)

I tend to dream about suspense or scifi and sometimes both at the same time. My sister Angel gets kidnapped frequently and it's up to me, the secret super-spy to save her. In one particular dream, I learned she'd been shanghaied because the kitchenware told me. Yeah, you heard that correctly. The silverware was whispering about it. They said they hadn't seen the abduction, but the spice rack had. The spices wouldn't talk, but the Vanilla Extract gave me the scoop. Then I was off on my mission. Thankfully I can say that her rescue went off without a hitch.

Then there was the time I dreamed Angel brought home a frozen baby cloned from chicken parts. She'd bought it at the store. You just defrosted and the baby started growing. When the kid reached adulthood he was sent to work with others like himself in a plant where they all laid eggs filled with cheese. They packed them like regular eggs, but when you peeled the egg, it was actually a solid piece of cheddar. I'm not sure where the dairy came in since it was actually chicken parts, but then again why question that when the whole thing is based on a frozen CHICKEN BABY.

I've also dreamed that I was friends with the Justice League and they've helped me rescue her as well. (I wonder what the psychological implications are of constantly saving Angel.)

Then sometimes my dreams aren't so much fantasy as they are just strange. Apparently I have a thing about hair. I've dreamt that I went bald, that I turned compeletly white headed, that I grew a beard... Last night's hair dream was so horrible I woke myself up crying.

One of the girls I work with went to beauty school and has cut hair for one of our other co-workers. I really don't know why it came up in my dream, but last night I dreamed she offerd to cut my hair for me. I said, sure, just trim it up. When she was done, I turned to look at my reflection.

At first glance it looked normal, but when I went to toss my hair to see the back, I realized there was nothing to toss. I reached back to feel my hair and discovered that 80% of the back of my head was nearly bald. All she'd left was about 1/4 of an inch plus some little fringey pieces along the base of my skull. I burst into tears and started yelling that I only wanted 2 inches cut off, not 20! I was so upset I woke myself up crying. I sat up and reached for my hair. What a relief to find my long hair still attached. It disturbed me so much, that for the rest of the night, no matter what I dreamed, I was telling whoever was there, "You have to hear about my dream! She cut off all my hair!"

Silly, I know, but I actually feel a little touchy about it still and I keep feeling to make sure it's there. Thing is I know my co-worker would never do that to me, but good golly molly it sure seemed real!

Maybe tonight I can go back to being a Super Spy. SO much more fun.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Mouse I Can Live With

Song Stuck on the Brain: Here With Us by Joy Williams. This is one of my new favorite Christmas songs, along with Aaron Shust's version of O Come, O Come Emmanuel which you can download for free from his website Go get it, it's awesome.

The Christmas count-down is well under way. Last night I met with my BFF from HS and exchanged gifts and hung out to catch up. I got all my cards mailed and this weekend starts the cookie baking. I've got four kinds in mind for the tray I'm bringing to work. Peppermint Kiss Sugar cookie drops, Brown Sugar Shortbread, S'mores cookie bars, and White Chocolate dipped Pistachio & dried Cranberry Biscotti. Yummm! I think Angel is going to bake with me. It's her S'mores recipe. Plus, I think she plans on making Mexican Wedding cake cookies.

Speaking of Holiday treats, my office mate brought in the cutest treats the other day. He made them with his wife. (I know. They're *cute* too. Sixteen years of marriage and they still act like newlyweds.) Anyway, they made chocolate cherry mice.

Here's the basic recipe. You need Marachino cherries with stems, Chocolate Sandwich cookies, melting chocolate for dipping, chocolate kisses unwrapped, sliced almonds, and a dark colored cake decorating gel in a tube.

1. Half the cookies so that all the cream filling is on one side. Set the cream filled sides out on a sheet of waxed paper. Put the empty halves away for future baking needs (like cookie crusts or ice cream topping.)

2. Melt chocolate according to directions. Dip a cherry into the chocolate and then let excess drip off before setting it sideways atop a cookie half. This becomes the bottom of your mouse and tail.

3. Take an unwrapped kiss and dip the bottom lightly in chocolate and set at an angle atop the cooled cherries. This forms the head and nose.

4. Take two almond slices and insert them behind the chocolate kiss head for ears.

5. Using your cake decorating gel, pipe on eyes and little feet.

6. Let cool and then arrange on a platter.

Adorable AND easy. Got to love that. It's a mouse even I want in my house. :)

On a quick side note, I finally finished reading Coldwater Revival by Nancy Jo Jenkins. (Note: This is not a reflection on her book, but a sign of how little reading time I've had lately.) I knew when I first started the book that I'd enjoy her writing style. Her use of words is amazing. She really paints pictures with them. But after finishing it last night, I almost feel speechless. How can I possibly convey how much I loved this book? It's one of those emotional rollercoaster rides that takes you from the lowest of life's valleys to the highest peaks of joy. It was romantic, inspiring, funny and even a little suspenseful. I hate to say too much about the plot, because I can't bear to give too much away.

It was just beautifully done. Good Job, Ms. Jenkins! If you want to read an interview done by Kevin Lucia, visit Book Shelf Reviews.



Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Decorations

I thought I'd share some pics of my tree. It's not very tall, only about 4', so I set it up on my bench to add some height.
Plus, Jack keeps all his toys under the bench and I didn't want him knocking it over by accident. Although in reality, lets face it, I'm the klutz in the house. I've already nearly knocked it over twice. I keep forgetting it's there.

I had a dickens of a time getting shots that weren't blurry. I really needed a tripod, but I don't have one for my digital, so I was stuck MacGyvering it. I got a few good ones though.

I didn't plan for the ornaments to really fit any kind of a theme, but when all was said and done, there was one. Kind of a 'My Favorite Things' of sorts.

The apples represent life and good fellowship, the hearts love and family, the bells music and joy, the pearls wisdom gained through life, and the lights of course stand for the Way the Truth and the Life - the light of Jesus. So, intentional or not, I like how it all plays together.

I also have my nativity set up on top of my entertainment center. I really like this set, but I'm afraid it might not be big enough to balance the cabinet. I may get another set in a few years and pass this one on to someone who can use it.

I'm working on Christmas cards now. I've designed and printed my own along with a letter for the last two years, but this year I had a hard time settling on what I wanted. I did finally get the design down and I'm printing now, but I think I'm going to skip the letter this year. I haven't had enough excitement in my life to warrant a letter.

Gee, I guess that doesn't say much for my posts here...


Top Ten Favorite Holiday Films

Song Stuck on the Brain: Lilly of the Valley. An old co-worker sent picture of her new baby, Lilly. It was only a matter of time before someone started singing it.

I finally got all my Christmas decorations up and I'm officially into my holiday movie watching marathon. I love holiday movies. I DVR a gajillion to watch when I have time. Some of them, sadly, have been just too lame to watch all the way through. However, there are a few I have to watch every year. So in an effort to save you some pain and lost TV time, I'm offering you my Top Ten Favorite Holiday Movies.

White Christmas with Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye is my all time favorite. I watch at least once every year. Usually while I'm wrapping gifts, but I don't limit myself to that. I usually end up watching it on non-holiday months as well.
After leaving the Army after W.W.II, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis team up to become a top song-and-dance act. Davis plays matchmaker and introduces Wallace to a pair of beautiful sisters (Betty and Judy) who also have a song-and-dance act. When Betty and Judy travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, Wallace and Davis follow, only to find their former commander, General Waverly, is the lodge owner. A series of romantic mix-ups ensue as the performers try to help the General.

Holiday Inn is an oldie but goodie too. How can you not love a movie that pits Bing's voice against Fred's feet?
Lovely Linda Mason has crooner Jim Hardy head over heels, but suave stepper Ted Hanover wants her for his new dance partner after femme fatale Lila Dixon gives him the brush. Jim's supper club, Holiday Inn, is the setting for the chase by Hanover and manager Danny Reed. The music's the thing.

Fallen Angel is a newbie for me. I saw it for the first time last year and I was hooked. Gary Sinise is one of my favorite actors and he doesn't disappoint in this one.
When his father dies, Terry (Garry Sinese) returns to the house where he grew up, planning to stay only long enough to clean and settle the estate. Yet something indescribable keeps him there longer than expected. Soon, he is reunited with memories and people from his past and his life is changed forever.

The Santa Clause & The Santa Clause 2 are new classics. Tim Allen is hysterical and heartwarming at the same time. It doesn't hurt that the fabulous David Krumholtz.
When a man inadvertantly kills Santa on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to take his place.
Scott Calvin has been a humble Santa Claus for nearly ten years, but it might come to an end if he doesn't find a Mrs. Claus.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey is one of the best versions out there. I was leary at first, but Jim pulled it off beautifully.
Based on the book by the famous Dr. Seuss. Inside a snowflake exists the magical land of Whoville. In Whoville, live the Who's, an almost mutated sort of munchkinlike people. All the Who's love Christmas, yet just outside of their beloved Whoville lives the Grinch. The Grinch is a nasty creature that hates Christmas, and plots to steal it away from the Whos which he equally abhors. Yet a small child, Cindy Lou Who, decides to try befriend the Grinch.

While You Were Sleeping. The best romantic comedy ever in my opinion, plus it's a holiday film. Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman were an inspired choice.
Lucy's life consists of constant lonliness that is until she saves Peter's life. Now she is a part of his family, and with a strong heart and fate on her side, others begin to realize what a terrific person she is, especially Jack, Peter's brother. An extraordinarily true-to-life sequence of events begin to take place as Lucy and Jack become closer and learn more about each other and themselves than one would ever expect from such coincidental, yet believable events.

Once Upon a Christmas & Twice Upon a Christmas starring John Dye and Kathy Ireland are borderline Cheesy but still a couple of my favorites.
A sweet and entertaining film of faith and love. Faith that there is good in people's hearts that sometimes gets lost on the road that we call life. Santa's youngest daughter won't let Christmas be canceled and turned over to her jaded older sister. Peace and love will prevail and kids will learn the meaning of trust--real trust. An excellent film for the whole family to watch. Kathy Ireland is very sincere in her portrayal of Kristin Klaus. John Dye is both vulnerable and hard to reach as Bill Morgan. Mary Donnelley Haskell is incorrigible as Rudolpha and a delight to watch in her wicked machinations. Once again we are reminded of the healing power of love.
Santa's first born daughter, Rudolfa is secretly selling pieces of the North Pole, and eventually take over where she attempts to ruin Christmas, and replace Sanat's workshop with brand new casino. But Santa's lost daughter Kristin returns to the North Pole with her two children who are desperate to save Christmas, and rebuild the shattered villiage.

Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus & it's sequel Meet The Santas stars Steve Guttenberg and Crystal Bernard. I love these. Steve has got to be one of the best casts for a santa yet. He's perfect.
Santa Claus is thinking about retiring but is concerned that he will not be able to turn the reigns over to his son Nick who has not yet settled down and found a wife. Ernest runs the day-to-day operations at the North Pole, and has selected 3 perfect candidates for Nick, one must surely be the next Mrs. Claus. But when Ernest and Nick go to meet the ladies, everything goes haywire as Nick unexpectedly falls in love with Beth, a hard working single mother who lost the Christmas spirit a long time ago.
“Meet the Santas” is the sequel to Hallmark Channel’s highest-rated original movie ever – “Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus” – and follows Nicholas (Nick) Beth and Beth’s nine-year-old son Jake as Nick and Beth prepare their long-awaited Christmas Eve nuptials and become a real family. After the wedding, they plan on taking over the “family business” from Nicholas’ dad, Santa Claus, who has officially retired.
Sounds simple enough, but Beth’s prim and proper society mother, Julia has turned the wedding into her own major production and Nicholas has his work cut out for him trying to win her frosty personality over.

What I Did For Love is a new Hallmark movie not available on DVD yet. Its got a great cast led by Jeremy London and it's definitely a new fav.
"There is much on which to deliberate for rising star attorney James White and his girlfriend, Dr. Sadie Ryder, as they prepare for a Christmas getaway from Los Angeles to the Ryder family ranch. James wants to marry Sadie, but between her hard-to-please father, her nosy aunt, and her jealous ex-boyfriend, it may just be the toughest case he’s ever faced.
Record setting billings and head-turning courtroom victories have young attorney James White on the brink of moving from associate to full partner. When he follows the good news of his impending partner status by asking his girlfriend Sadie to marry him, she happily agrees, but there’s one small problem: in the small ranch town where she was raised, tradition says it’s appropriate for a beau to get a father’s approval before marrying his only daughter. It is soon clear that this process may not go as smoothly as Sadie planned when the couple arrives in her hometown, only to have James crash his car while avoiding an unexpected horse and rider in the road. Combined with James’ difficulty adjusting to ranch lifestyle, it all adds up to one bad first impression. Things don’t get easier from there, as James must contend not only with Sadie’s hard-to-please father, but also her nosy aunt and jealous ex-boyfriend. “What I Did For Love” stars Jeremy London as James White, Dorie Barton as Dr. Sadie Ryder, James Gammon as Karl Ryder and Emmy® Award-winner Sally Struthers as Aunt Trudy.

Another brand new fav is Lifetime's original movie A Christmas Wedding, starring Eric Mabius, Sarah Paulson and Dean Cain.

Love birds Emily and Ben are just a month away from their Christmas Day wedding, which will also be the second anniversary of the day they met. But when Emily (who's been dreaming of the picture-perfect wedding her whole life) gets called away for work, it's all on Ben to handle the loose ends before the big day. With the bulk of the wedding planned, what could go wrong? Well, with Ben in charge — a lot! Misunderstandings and problems pop up left and right, and procrastinator Ben gets sucked into the world of bridal shows and seating charts. As perfectionist Emily struggles to keep tabs from afar, she sees her perfect day spinning out of control!

Honorable Mention: The Christmas Card
It's cheesy, the dialogue is a little stilted at times, but the story was still heartwarming and I enjoyed the cast a great deal.

A career soldier receives an anonymous handmade holiday greeting card while serving overseas that ultimately results in his finding his soul mate back in the States. Cody Cullen, an Army sergeant serving in Afghanistan, receives a handmade Christmas card from a stranger back in the States and is deeply touched by the warmth of the personalized greeting within. While on leave back home, he travels to Nevada City, California, the picturesque town from which the card was sent. Once there, Cody meets and falls in love with beautiful Faith Spelman, who sent the card, and quickly becomes a cherished member of the Spelman family. Yet romance for Cody and Faith seems out of the question, because she has a boyfriend and is about to become engaged. “The Christmas Card” stars Edward Asner as Luke Spelman, John Newton as Cody Cullen, Alice Evans as Faith Spelman, Lois Nettleton as Rosie Spelman, Peter Jason as Uncle Richard and Ben Weber as Paul. “The Christmas Card” is an RHI Entertainment Presentation of an Alpine Medien Production in association with Larry Levinson Productions. Robert Halmi Jr. and Larry Levinson are executive producers. Stephen Bridgewater directed from a screenplay by Joany Kane.

Most of these will play again before Christmas, so start recording and have a great Christmas!

Monday, December 11, 2006

CSFF: Trackers by Kathryn Mackel

Song Stuck on the Brain: Santa Baby by Madonna. Not that the Eartha Kitt version is much better.

CSFF is touring this week with Trackers by Kathryn Mackel.

About the Book:
Trackers is book 2 in The Birthright Project series.

Far from home in a ravaged world, the Birthrighters struggle for survival.

Raised in a new ark beneath polar ice, delivered by whales to a blighted surface, the young men and women of the Birthright Project have pledged their lives to a risky and redemptive mission--perserving God's original creation from the ravages of the Endless Wars and human depravity.

They've roamed the earth tracking original species. They've successfully battled sorcerers, warlords, and armies of mutants. But now a twisted new enemy is on the march. An explosive old secret lurks beneath the glitter of a decadent city. And the mysterious darkness that swallowed a mountain spreads toward an innocent mill town.

Before they can prevail, the Birthrighters must confront their most difficult challenge: overcoming their individual desires that threaten to betray the group.

The adventure draws to a dramatic close in Book Two of Kathryn Mackel's imaginative and absorbing Birthright Series...a fantasy thriller with a heart of faith.

Be sure to visit the other CSFF Bloggers at:

Jim Black
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Frank Creed
Gene Curtis
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Karen and at Karen¹s myspace
Oliver King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium
Terri Main
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Eve Nielsen
John Otte
Cheryl Russel
Hannah Sandvig
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Chris Walley
Daniel I. Weaver
Mark Goodyear

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

CFBA: Never Ceese by Sue Dent

This week the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is doing a tour for Never Ceese by Sue Dent. It is notable that Sue is one of our CFBA members!

Never Ceese takes religious fantasy to a new level, bringing an entirely new Light to a very dark side of fiction, doing a very admirable job to prove that vampire/werewolf fantasy does not have to be evil to be enjoyed.

The story starts with the classic tale of an English manor owned by Richard, the vampire who righteously is the bain of his neighbor's existence, what with the missing goats and all!

Then enters Cecelia, better known as Ceese, the young werewolf maiden who's arrived via invitation by Richard's aging companion, Penelope.
Ceese and Richard would prefer to tear each other apart, literally, but they are drawn together by their mutual love for Penelope. She is dying and has one request...that the two of them love one another.

This is the overall theme throughout Dent's interesting tale of two who were wronged but learn to work together. Meanwhile they are threatened by an evil stem cell researcher who wants the immortality and power that he thinks their blood will bring him!

Dent's characters do differ from the stock one's we're all accustomed to in a very important way. They are not mindless, brutal killers. Bloodthirsty, yes, but they are constantly resisting the urge to kill, and, thus, curse another human. Feeding on rodents, goats, virtually any warm-blooded animal helps to satiate the never ending thirst for blood, but how long will they be able to resist that most delicious morsel, man?

There is a chance that their curses can actually be lifted if they can find the strength within to resist their selfish natures and act selflessly toward another. Will they succeed? That same basic choice lies before us all every day...

A vampire and a werewolf, one determined to, once again, be able to acknowledge what will get her to heaven, the other not so sure he can. A spiritual fantasy designed to spark the imagination, and to speak to the heart as well as entertain.

Sue Dent was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi and currently resides in Ridgeland. When not writing, Sue designs websites and works with digital photograpy.

Sue loves to hear from her fans through her Website in fact, the push from eager readers has already set the ball rolling, and she's hard at work on Forever Richard, the sequel.

In Never Ceese, Sue sets out to prove that faith and fun can live happily in the same story, and that vampire/werewolf fantasy can have a spiritual message too.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Spoonful of Sugar

Song Stuck on the Brain: Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh, Chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff, he's Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh, Willy, Nilly, Silly ol' bear.

They say that laughter is the best medicine. God says it "doeth the heart good." I always kind of equated Laughter to the Spoonful of Sugar that helps the medicine go down. When life stinks, finding time to laugh always makes the lesson a little easier for me to find.

So in an effort to help us all get through our day, here's a little sugar.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The End of an Era

Song Stuck on the Brain: Frosty the Snowman. Not one of my favorite Christmas tunes, but they're playing it to death on the radio, so I kind of can't help this one.

Well, it's late in the day, but technically still Monday, so I'm going to try to hurry and post this before it's technically Tuesday.

Today's blog is dedicated to Bear. The last of his line (that we know of).

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Bear as a puppy with my nephew.

Bear was brother to my baby Raquel, who died last year, and son of Angel's dog Max (also gone on to doggy heaven). Saturday Angel and I had to take him in to be put to sleep. He was over 15 years old and his health was such that he couldn't go on any more. Poor baby. Angel and I held him until he was gone, just like I did for Rocky last year.

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Raquel & Bear (on left) with the Pile-o-Pups.

It's sad to have him gone. We've certainly shed a lot of tears. I know we'll all miss him, especially Angel. But it's more than missing his goofy antics and eternally puppy-like attitude. He was the last of his family. After being a part of our family for so long, he's gone.

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L to R: Max, Bear and Raquel have family wrestling match.

I know that somewhere in heaven right now, Max, Raquel and Bear are reunited. Chasing each other all over and napping together like they used to.

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Bear and Rocky napping.

Bye-Bye, Bear. You were a good friend, ol' man. You are missed. Give Rocky a kiss for me.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Playing Catch Up

Song Stuck on the Brain: It Had To Be You

I don't know why, I don't think I've heard it recently. (Not that I have to hear it to get it stuck.) I've been in kind of a homey/old movie type mood lately. Cooking, watching classics like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Shop Around the Corner.

I love Jimmy Stewart. I would have totally crushed on him if I had been born in his era. Him and Gregory Peck.

I've got the house decked out for the holidays finally and I'm almost done with my holiday gift projects. So, my mood is probably what prompted the song.

On a colder note, we had our first winter storm on Weds and Thurs. It started Weds. with an ice storm. Turned my little dead end street into an ice rink. Cars were stuck all over the place. Stupid me, I decided I had to at least try to get to work on my own. Unfortunately my driveway backs out onto a slight hill, meaning I had to try and climb the icy slope from a standstill.

I backed onto the street with no trouble, but once my tires met icy street they lost all traction. It didn't matter where I turned the wheel or whether I tried to brake or not. I did a few lazy donuts before coming to a stop going the wrong direction, wheels having caught the curb and just barely missing my neighbors mail boxes. I decided to try driving on down to the circle and come back with some momentum. Probably would have worked too, but there were several cars on each side of the road and I didn't want to slide into any of them, so I wasn't going quite fast enough. I made it just past my house when the tires lost purchase and I went sliding backwards again. This time I slid straight back, just past my drive before catching the curb and missing the same mailboxes again. (Thank Goodness!)

I gave up and went back into the house, leaving my car precariously perched on it's icy shelf. I called work and, since they couldn't bear to be without me, they offered to send people to help me. The boss showed up with three of the warehouse guys and we spent the next 45 minutes getting my car back in my garage before piling into the boss' four wheel drive.

Then after a very long day, I came home to a good 6 inches of snow already on the ground. It continued to snow and this morning I have about 10 inches in my yard. Jack thinks it's fun. He's been romping in it, even tasting it. Silly dog.

I was so not ready for snow. We were having great weather just a week ago. I really don't mind the snow, but I hate ice. And the snow is best when it only sticks to the yard and trees. I don't like to shovel either. Lazy aren't I?

I know I promised you all a review of Hugh Jackman's movie The Fountain. (I'm so playing catch up right now.) I saw this movie on my birthday. Really, the best part of the whole film was Hugh. He's a terrific actor and he looked really hot in the scenes where he wasn't bald. Unfortunately, that's about all the good I can say about it.

It was a very artsy film about a researcher trying to find the cure for his wife's cancer before she dies. She on the other hand is writing a book called The Fountain. In it a Spanish conquistador is sent to middle America by the queen of Spain to find the Tree of Life/Fountain of Youth. The movie flashes back and forth between whats happening in the real world and in the book. That's confusing enough, but to top it off there are all these scenes of a bald Hugh in Pajamas floating with a tree in a bubble.

The story was okay, once you got into it you knew what was happening, but I think it could have been told in a less jumbled way. His wife has studied the Mayan religion and in some ways begins to accept it as truth. She has accepted her death as the only way to live forever, quoting a story told to her by a friend who's father was buried with a tree planted over his body. His father lived forever because he grew into the tree and with every seed or fruit that was eaten or grown elsewhere, he continued on as part of the cosmic whole. There was also a belief that the spirit travels to a place called shebulba, the Mayan afterlife world that is actually a dying star.

His wife requests that he write the final chapter of her book, then she dies just as he makes a medical breakthrough that could save her. He's tormented and angry, but in a way, begins to accept what she chose to believe. He plants a tree over her grave. The final scenes are of bald Hugh and the tree that was once his wife, floating in the bubble toward shebulba. He reaches it and enters the light just before it explodes, send their essence out into the universe to create new life.

From a Judeo/Christian viewpoint, there was a whole lot to not agree with here. I find this understanding of the afterlife to be really hopeless. Is that really all we have to hope for? There were parts here and there in the movie that were thought provoking. I may not agree with the conclusions the movie came to, but it certainly made me think harder about why I didn't agree with them. So in that way it was interesting.

It wasn't entertaining though, so unless this movie sounds like it's really perfect for you, don't bother. Go see Hugh in something more entertainment friendly.

And finally, it's time to announce our winners of the ProjectingA 2007 magnetic calendars. They are:

Big Baller Ben
Nancy M.
Karen B.
Purrty Cougie
Amy R.
I'll be emailing you all soon to make arrangements for mailing your calendars. Thanks for entering I hope you all enjoy your calendars!

FIRST: Eye of the Oracle by Bryan Davis

It is December 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:


and his latest book:

Eye of the Oracle

Bryan Davis is the author of the four book Dragons in Our Midst series, a contemporary/fantasy blend for young people. The first book, Raising Dragons, was released in July of 2004. The second book, The Candlestone, followed in October. Circles of Seven debuted in April of 2005, followed in November by Tears of a Dragon.

Bryan is the author of several other works including The Image of a Father (AMG) and Spit and Polish for Husbands (AMG), and four books in the Arch Books series: The Story of Jesus' Baptism and Temptation, The Day Jesus Died, The Story of the Empty Tomb (over 100,000 sold), and Jacob's Dream. Bryan lives in Winter Park, Florida with his wife, Susie, and their children. Bryan and Susie have homeschooled their four girls and three boys.

To read more about Bryan and his books, visit the
Dragons in our Midst Website or visit Bryan's blog.

Eye of the Oracle

by Bryan Davis

Dragons in our Midst - Prequel
Oracles of Fire - Volume 1


The Seeds of Eden

Angling into a plunging dive, the dragon blasted a fireball at Lilith and Naamah. The two women dropped to the ground just as the flaming sphere sizzled over their heads. Naamah swatted her hair, whipping away stinging sparks that rained down from the fireball's tail.

With a flurry of wings and a gust of wind, the dragon swooped low. As razor sharp claws jabbed at the women, Naamah lunged to the side, and Lilith rolled through the grass. A single claw caught Lilith's long black dress, ripping it as the dragon lifted toward the sky.

Naamah jumped to her feet and helped Lilith up. The dragon made a sharp turn in the air, and, with its jagged-toothed maw stretching open, charged back toward them.

Lilith pushed a trembling hand into the pocket of her dress. "Only one hope left," she said, panting. Pulling out a handful of black powder, she tossed it over her head. "Give me darkness!" she cried.

The powder spread out into a cloud and surrounded the women. Naamah coughed and spat. The noxious fumes blinded her and coated her throat with an acrid film. A hand grabbed her wrist and jerked her down to her knees just as another flaming cannon ball passed over their heads.

"Crawl!" Lilith ordered.

Naamah scooted alongside Lilith as she scuffled over the dry tufts of grass. Sparks from the rain of fire ignited tiny blazes that illuminated their hands as they passed through the veil of darkness.

Naamah gagged but refused to cough. With a guardian dragon hovering somewhere overhead, giving any clue to their whereabouts could be fatal.

After several minutes, Lilith whispered, "I think I found the cave."

Her hands, barely visible and clutching a small bundle of sticks, crawled over a bed of gravel and then to a rocky floor. When she finally stopped, Naamah sat up and gazed into the dark cloud behind her. She squeezed fractured words through her tingling throat. "Will the dragon follow?"

"Shachar is persistent," Lilith rasped, "but she is no fool." She coughed quietly, clearing her voice. "She will not risk the possibility that we're a diversion for a more dangerous attack. If she doesn't find us soon, she will go back on patrol."

"What about her dragon sense? Won't that draw her to us?"

"I'm not sure. A dragon's danger alarm is still a mystery to me. I think since our only direct threat is to the ancient garden she patrols, her sense of protection will draw her there."

The black cloud began to dissipate, revealing the mouth of a shallow cave, barely deep enough to keep out the wind. Close to the back wall, the women found a flat stone and built a fire next to it with Lilith's collection of sticks. When the crackling flames began to rise, Lilith and Naamah sat on the stone to rest.

From her pocket, Lilith withdrew a small bundle wrapped in a black cloth. After untying a knot on one end, she produced an earthenware cup filled with herbs. "The way to Eden has yet another obstacle," she said, tossing a pinch of the herbs into the campfire. "Our task will not be easy."

Sparks flew toward the cave's low ceiling, riding on thin strings of silvery-green smoke. Naamah breathed deeply of the aroma-saturated air, a pungent blend of camphor and garlic. She exhaled, tasting the herbs at the back of her tongue. "What could be more difficult than getting past a dragon?"

"There are forces in our world that dwarf the power of dragons. I have foreseen much that you don't know."

As cool, damp air chiseled away at the fire's rising warmth, Naamah scooted toward her sister, overlapping the fringes of their silky black dresses on the flat stone. Barefoot and shivering in the draft, she wrapped her arms around herself. "Didn't you know it would be this cold? We should have worn our cloaks."

"It is only temporary. The cold air is a path that leads us to the garden." Lilith pushed her long black hair off her shoulder and huddled close, her voice low. "Naamah, you must have more faith in me. My husband's arts have allowed me to see another world, the world of phantasmal knowledge. It is the realm of future possibilities, where I can see what might happen."

Naamah folded her hands. "What might happen?"

The bushes rustled just outside the entrance. Lilith glanced over her shoulder, her lips pressing into two pale lines as she set the cup of herbs on the cave's floor and drew a dagger from a sheath on her belt.

"Just the wind," Naamah whispered. "If it were the dragon, we would have heard her wings."

"Perhaps." Lilith's knuckles whitened as she wrung the dagger's wooden hilt. "But even the wind carries spirits who might expose our plans."

Naamah waited for the color to return to Lilith's fingers. "So … why are you counting on phantasmal knowledge when it can't tell you for sure what's going to happen?"

"Because our opponent is so predictable." Lilith placed her long, thin hand on Naamah's thigh. "Life is the ultimate game of chance, with millions of possible moves, so I only see what might happen. My choices and our opponent's choices mesh in a tapestry through time, and I can see where some of the threads lead if I follow one or more of the thousands of patterns that fill my eyes. So far, Elohim has reacted to my moves exactly as I expected he would."

Lilith waved the dagger over the fire. A bright, angelic creature swirled inside the rising smoke, its image warping and undulating as the draft swept it around. Inside the flames, a red dragon appeared, jets of fire blasting from its nostrils. The dragon's blaze licked at the angel's bare feet as it whipped around in the smoke's endless circles. "Our plans rest on Samyaza's shoulders, and if he fails, our doom is certain. We must prepare for that possibility."

Naamah rubbed her hands up and down her bare arms. "How can this husband of yours give you the power to see the future? I have never known a man who could see past a bottle … or a brothel."

"You have never known such a man, because you don't know the Watchers." She thrust the dagger back to its sheath. "Your men are all fools."

Naamah pulled the hem of her dress high above her knee. "Fools, yes, but their money spends as well as yours."

Lilith slapped Naamah's hand and yanked the skirt back down. "Your harlotry will be the death of you someday! Sister or not, I cannot protect you from yourself."

Naamah caressed her stinging hand and scowled. "You didn't call it harlotry back when we were collecting wild oats together. You've been no fun at all since you got religion with Samyaza."

Lilith grabbed Naamah's shoulder and pulled her almost nose to nose, hissing. "This religion, as you call it, might just save your life. If you want to survive, you had better listen to me!"

Naamah jerked away and scooted to the far edge of the stone. "I'll listen. Just don't turn me into something unearthly, like that iridescent dog you keep in your dungeon."

"That was from one of my first potions, and you know it." Lilith sighed and reached for Naamah's arm. "If Samyaza wins, then we won't have to turn into anything unearthly. If he loses … well, he need not know our alternate plans."

"Is that why you're so jumpy? Do you think your husband's spying on you?"

"I do feel the presence of a spy, but I doubt that Samyaza sent it."

"So what should we do?" Naamah asked.

"This spy is of no consequence. Shachar is the greater danger, but she will leave the area soon enough, and we will press on. Until then, we have time for an important step in my plan." Lilith lifted a thin cord around her neck and pulled a leather pouch from her bosom. She loosened the drawstring and carefully poured into her palm a dozen or more white crystals the size of cottonseeds, covered with tiny spikes that made each crystal resemble the head of a mace. "These are the seeds of Samyaza's power. With them we will be able to plant his potency wherever we please."

Naamah touched one with her fingertip and rocked it back and forth. "We will?" she asked.

Lilith poured the seeds back into the pouch but kept one in her palm and closed her fingers around it. "Our master will teach you how to use it soon enough, but first we must prepare ourselves as vessels―myself to wield the power and you to receive the planting." She picked up her cup, dropped the seed inside, and stirred the contents with a slender black root, holding the cup just above the flames as the herbs melted into a thick brew. After seven swirls, she crumpled the stirrer and threw it into the mix. As purple foam rose above the brim and dribbled over the sides, she waved her hand over the top and sang in a low, mournful voice.

O Master of the midnight skies,
The god of darkness, light disguised,
Provide for me the gift of flight
And give me wings to flee my plight.

Now through the waters guide my strife,
And grant the gift of lasting life.
Regenerate my body whole;
For this I give my living soul.

And should my husband learn my plans,
O let his reins come to my hands,
For strength alone cannot compare
To woman's last beguiling snare.

O let us be the farmers' hands
To sow the seeds of fallen man.
The giants planted here must grow
Escaping from these lands below.

In Naamah's womb prepare your soil.
With calloused hands we'll sweat and toil.
O make your seeds become like trees;
To trample Adam's hopeless pleas.

With both hands trembling, Lilith raised the cup to her mouth and took a long, slow drink. She closed her eyes and grimaced, a shudder crawling across her pale cheeks. After licking her lips, she rubbed some of the liquid into each of her palms, then extended the cup to Naamah.

"You must be joking!" Naamah said, squinting at the curling purple fumes. "I'm not drinking that!"

Lilith took Naamah's hand and wrapped her fingers around the handle. "Just smell it! That's all I ask. Then decide if you want to drink or not."

Naamah tightened her grip on the handle and gazed into the cup. Thick gray liquid bubbled inside. Warm vapors and a pleasant aroma bathed her senses. As she took in the delightful smell, her throat dried out, filling her with a sudden desire to drink. Her tongue clamped to the roof of her mouth, parched and swelling. It was more than a desire. She had to drink. Now!

She guzzled the liquid, then slung the cup against the cave wall and glared at Lilith. "You tricked me!"

Lilith wagged her finger. "It was for your own good."

Naamah crossed her arms over her chest and stared at the earthen shards. "I am going to turn into something disgusting, aren't I?"

"The potion does much more than that. Even if our earthly bodies die, we will be able to exist in another form. As our new bodies age, we will be able to use Samyaza's power to regenerate ourselves. But if we can get on the boat, we won't have to worry about unsavory transformations at all."

Naamah swung her head back toward Lilith and rose to her feet. "On the boat, you say?"

"Yes. The most obvious phantasmal thread leads to a terrible flood. Our enemy is building a boat that we could use to save ourselves, but the builders have a strange shield around it. Although normal humans can penetrate it, the Watchers and Nephilim haven't been able to. They want to destroy it and change Elohim's plan to flood the world. I, however, wish to find a way to get us on board in case they fail."

Naamah paced slowly in front of her sister. "I know a man who is working on a boat. He said it is very large and well-supplied."

"That would be the one," Lilith replied. "But the builders are unlikely to give away the secret of the shield."

"When he is at the market, he speaks only of supplying the boat." Naamah stopped, cocked her head upward, and smiled. "But when he visits my room, his lips become quite loose."

Lilith scowled. "Loose being the operative word." She stood and slipped her hand around Naamah's elbow. "Did this man mention the shield?"

Naamah swiveled her hips, twirling her dress slowly back and forth. "No, but if you let me sing a song to him, I can charm him into spilling his secrets."

"Oh, really?" Lilith tipped her head upward and stroked her chin. "What's his name?"

"Ham." A burning pain drilled into Naamah's pelvis. She laid a hand over her stomach but tried not to show how much it hurt. "I don't know his family name."

"I wish you had told me about this before," Lilith said, tapping her foot on the ground. "We have to find this man."

The pain stabbed Naamah again, but deeper than before, as if something had grasped her womb with sharpened claws. Still, she forced herself to keep a calm face. "If you'd let me in on your secrets once in a while, maybe I would have known you were trying to get on board."

Lilith glanced out at the bushes again and slowly turned back. "Very well. I will tell you why we are on this journey. You will soon see how all my plans tie together." She picked up a long stick and stirred the coals in their fire, creating a billowing gray plume. A new vision coalesced in the smoke, an angel standing next to a tree. The fire spewed a finger of flame through the angel's hand, making him appear to have a brilliant sword that flashed as he stood guard.

"That is the tree of life, and I have long coveted its fruit." Lilith pointed at the flame. "Here is our problem. One of the Cherubim protects it with a sword that creates a shield of light."

"I see," Naamah said. "Now that you have one of the Seraphim on your side …"

"You're way ahead of me." Lilith glanced outside and checked the brightening morning sky. "Samyaza will be there soon. I want to see him battle the Cherub and win the sword, then we can pluck the fruit at our leisure. Once he has regained his weapon, he will be invincible, perhaps even against the archangels."

Lilith arose and, bending low, sneaked out of the cave. Naamah followed close behind, pressing her hand against her belly again. Whatever that potion was, it seemed to be turning her organs inside out.

Constantly glancing at the sky, they wound their way through a dense forest, padding softly on a wide clover path until it opened into a field. Lilith halted suddenly and stooped next to a leafy bush. Naamah leaned over her, trying to follow her sister's line of sight. In the distance, a white glow arose above a thick, thorny hedge that extended as far as the eye could see.

Lilith's voice softened to a low hiss. "The hedge is Eden's boundary. The thorns are sharper than any sword, and the poison in the tips will shrivel you into a prune in seconds. The only way to enter is through the guarded gate." She skulked to the hedge and followed it toward the glow, Naamah once again trailing her. As they drew closer, a gap appeared in the hedge, and the guarded tree came into view. Stooping again, Lilith pointed at a beautiful, white-robed angel. "His sword shoots out a beam of light that can kill us even this far away. As long as he waves it over his head, it creates an almost impenetrable shield around himself and the tree."

Naamah settled quietly behind her and peered at the darkening sky. Black clouds boiled overhead. Bolts of lightning streaked jagged forks across the heavens. "Something weird is happening," she whispered.

"I didn't expect this." Lilith's brow bent downward. "Samyaza planned to come by stealth, not with a lightning fanfare."

Naamah pointed toward the top of a tall sycamore tree. "I see him."

A winged angel, bright and shining against the stormy backdrop, glided to the ground, his silver hair flowing in the freshening breeze. Dressed in white robes, drawn tight at his waist by a golden sash, he strode to the gate and spoke to the other angel in a booming voice. "Greetings in the name of Elohim."

The Cherub nodded, waving the sword to keep the shield in place. "May our God be glorified forever. What brings a Seraph to Eden's boundary today?"

"I have come to relieve you of your duty. You are to return to the council for a new assignment."

The Cherub glanced up at the troubled sky. "Something is amiss. I sense God's hand moving in the heavens, yet no messenger has alerted me of a change."

"I am the messenger." Samyaza held out his hand. "Give me the sword and go your way."

The Cherub lowered the sword, and the shield blinked off, but he kept the hilt firmly in his grip. "With all due respect, my liege, what is your name?"

"I am Samyaza, prince of the guardian angels." He took a step closer, bringing him within arm's reach of the Cherub. "It would not be wise to continue questioning my authority. Remember Lucifer's folly."

The sword trembled in the Cherub's hand, but his voice remained steady. "Your name is familiar to me, and you have the wings of a Seraph, but I am here by order of the Majesty on High, so I cannot abandon my post on your word alone. Only Michael can countermand the order."

Streaks of darkness shot out from Samyaza's eyes, splashing the Cherub with a sizzling, oily resin that stuck fast to his robes and spread quickly over his hands and face. The sword's light flashed on in the blinded angel's hands, sending a bright beam blazing into the sky. Samyaza lunged forward and shook the Cherub's wrist, slinging the blade under the branches.

Pushing the angel to the side, Samyaza flew toward the trunk, snatched up the sword, and stalked toward the gate. The Cherub threw himself toward the sound of Samyaza's pounding footsteps and wrapped his arms around his neck. The powerful Seraph reached back, grabbed the Cherub's hair, and heaved him toward the tree. The resin-covered angel slammed against the trunk, knocking white fruit to the ground. Samyaza marched toward him, his sword raised.

A loud clap of thunder shook the earth. Another angel, the largest yet, burst from the clouds and zoomed to the ground, landing with a drawn sword raised to strike. "Be gone, Samyaza, you wretched liar. You will not have this tree or its fruit."

Samyaza backed away, visibly trembling. "Michael! I have no quarrel with you. This was my sword before I―"

"Before you left our Lord and Master to satisfy your carnal desires." Michael helped the Cherub to his feet, and with a wave of his hand, the black resin melted away. "Take the sword and crawl back into your hole with your corrupted followers. It will be nothing more than a carving knife to you now."

Samyaza held the sword aloft, but it created no beam. Not even the tiniest spark flashed from the blade. He thrust the tip into a patch of clover and drove the sword into the ground up to the hilt, then shook his fist at Michael. "The people will follow us, not the tyrant in heaven! They want to be free of his authority, and we will teach them to follow the longings of their hearts!"

Michael waved his sword and a new, brighter shield covered the tree. As the dome swirled with radiance, the entire plot of ground ripped away from the earth, uprooting the tree and carrying Michael, the Cherub, and the fallen fruit with it. "If people want true life and freedom," Michael said as they slowly lifted into the sky, "they will look above. Like rain from the heavens, that is the source of their deliverance."

Boiling clouds swallowed the shimmering tree, and, for a moment, all was quiet. Samyaza stared at the ominous ceiling, slowly turning and backing away from the garden. His wings beat the air, and, just as his feet lifted off the ground, a dragon burst out of the clouds shooting twin jets of fire from its nostrils.

Black streams surged from Samyaza's eyes, colliding with the fire. The impact created a sizzling eruption of smoky gas that spewed high into the air. The dragon pulled out of its dive and zoomed by Samyaza, smacking him with its tail before ascending again toward the clouds. Samyaza toppled, but a flurry of his wings kept him from striking the ground.

Lilith leaned over and whispered to Naamah. "Samyaza likely remembers how his master conquered the first female human. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the first female dragon."

Samyaza yanked the sword out of the ground and stabbed it at the sky. "Does the mate of Arramos only fight when she can attack by surprise?" He turned in a slow circle, his eyes darting in all directions. "Come and meet me in single combat, if you dare!"

Shachar burst out of the clouds again, and with a great beating of her wings, she landed in front of Samyaza. "I am not a dog to be baited by a bone," she roared.

The Seraph spread out his arms. "Yet, you are here, panting and drooling for the very bone you disdain."

"Only to lance a demonic abscess." She pawed the ground with her claws. "If you desire a fair fight, drop the sword and let us see who wields the greater power."

"As you wish." Samyaza bowed dramatically and released the sword.

"Step away from it," Shachar ordered. "Far away."

Samyaza marched several paces to one side and gestured toward the sword. "Satisfied?"

Shachar nodded her scaly head. "Trusting you is a fool's game, but I will risk what I must to rid the world of its greatest plague."

The shining angel flashed a wicked smile. "Since you are the aggressor, I invite your first volley."

Shachar lunged at him, her teeth bared and her nostrils flaming. Samyaza dipped under her jets and latched on to her tail as she passed over. With a mighty spin, he slung her in the direction of the sword. The dragon crashed to the ground and slid next to the hilt. As she lifted her wobbly head, her eyes seemed glazed and distant.

Samyaza zoomed to her side and grabbed the sword. With a dramatic thrust, he plunged the blade into the dragon's underbelly. Shachar let out an ear-piercing shriek and writhed in the grass. "Coward!" she screamed. "Deceiver!" She spat out a weak ball of fire, but it rolled past the towering Seraph as he backed away.

When the dragon's throes settled down, Samyaza grasped the hilt of the sword and withdrew it from her body, jumping away from a gush of fluids. He glared at the bloody blade and dropped it to the ground. "Disgusting creatures!" With a flap of his wings, he lifted into the air and disappeared in the blanket of clouds.

Shachar opened her mouth as if trying to speak. She twitched for a moment, then heaved a final sigh as her eyes slowly closed.

Lilith and Naamah ran toward the dragon. Lilith snatched up the sword and wiped the blade on the grass. "Samyaza might not be able to use this," she said, turning the blade over to clean the other side, "but if I can find the secret behind its flame, it could be a powerful weapon indeed."

She propped the blade over her shoulder and strode through the gateway, now unattended by angel or dragon. Naamah followed, gazing at the devastated garden. Knotted trees with bent crowns and twisted branches plagued the endless fields of dry grass. On one squared-off plot, leggy bushes hunkered over a tangled mess of tall weeds and thorny vines. Hundreds of thistles raised bristly heads among row after row of dwarfed fruit trees and shriveled vegetables. Naamah let out a low whistle. This was no Paradise, no land of perfection, despite the claims of her childhood songs.

Lilith tramped down to the bottom of the hole where the tree once stood. She stooped, pinching a sample of soil and drawing it close to her eyes. "Not a trace. Not a root or seed anywhere."

Naamah noticed a glinting speck in the dirt. "Here's something!" She plucked out a smooth white pebble, barely as large as her fingertip, and handed it to Lilith. "Could this be a seed?" she asked. "It looks like a pearl."

"It could be." Lilith knelt where Naamah found the pebble and used her finger to stir the soil, a mixture of moist brown dirt and a strange white paste. "Here are two more." She collected them and slid all three into her pocket. "We'll keep them for posterity."


"Future generations. I don't know how long it takes to grow a tree of life, but I intend to find out."

Lilith gazed toward a path that led into a stand of skinny oaks. "The other tree should be in that direction," she said, pointing.

As she headed toward the wood, she swiped Samyaza's sword in front of her as if fending off an invisible enemy or perhaps testing its weight and balance. Naamah had to jog to keep pace with her sister. Lilith's stern expression told her it wasn't a good time to ask questions, so she just stayed at her side, taking in the sights of loss and waste in the massive garden.

After following the path through the trees, they arrived at a glade. In the center of a circle of grass, a tree, heavy with red, oblong fruit, stood tall and lush. Lilith strode right up to the nearest branch and called out, "Lucifer, my lord and master, I bring you vital information."

A fresh breeze flapped Lilith's dress as she stood in stoic silence, the tip of the sword touching the ground in front of her. The wind crawled up Naamah's legs, bringing her a chill. The pain in her stomach had settled, but a new queasiness took over. Something foul drew near, worse than a fetid carcass. Whatever it was seemed to seep through her skin and into her heart, making it slow to a few, sickening thumps.

Soon, a gentle hissing joined the shush of the wind. A long, thick snake slithered out onto the branch and rested its head near a bobbing fruit. Lilith extended her arm and pushed her hand under the serpent's belly. Bearing scales like sun-baked leather, black hexagons meshed with olive-green, the snake crept along Lilith's pale arm. Its tongue darted in and out from its triangular head as it spoke in a slow, threatening cadence. "If you have come to tell me about Naamah's customer, you have come in vain. While I am in this cursed condition, my disciples sneak in through the garden's western gate. One of my agents overheard your conversation and reported the news about this boat builder."

"So that's what we heard in the bushes," Lilith said. "It was a spy."

The snake flicked its tongue, touching her cheek with its forked points. "I send spies on my enemies and my followers, especially followers as ambitious as you."

As the snake wrapped a coil around Lilith's neck, she lifted her chin and swallowed hard. "And how shall we use the information, my lord?"

The snake maneuvered its head in front of Lilith's eyes, wavering back and forth in a hypnotic sway. "I sent my agent to speak to my servant, Lamech, son of Mathushael. I have ordered Lamech to adopt Naamah into his family. Naamah's new brother, Tubalcain, knows Ham and will offer her to be Ham's wife."

"His wife?" Naamah said, crossing her arms over her chest. "Ham is a regular customer, but that doesn't mean I want him for a husband!"

The serpent's head shot toward Naamah, its fangs extended as it bit the empty air just inches in front of her eyes. Naamah staggered backwards, catching one of the tree's branches to keep her balance. Recoiling over Lilith's shoulders, the serpent hissed, "Either marry him or die!"

Naamah shivered in the tree's shadow, holding her stomach again as the fierce pain stabbed her insides.

The serpent turned its flaming red eyes back to Lilith. "Ham's father will recognize your name, so you must change it before you meet him. We cannot allow him to know who and what you are."

"Of course, my lord." Lilith kept her head tited upward. "Do you have a preference?"

"Choose whatever pleases you. I will arrange things to make your new name work."

Lilith smiled. "As you wish, my master."

The serpent's tongue flicked again. "I have news about the sword."

Lilith lifted the blade. "The secret to its flames?"

"Yes. The sword is designed to detect the nature of the hands that grasp it. The flames shoot from the blade only if the hands are innocent and undefiled. Of course, the Cherub who guarded the tree of life was holy, so he was able to use the blade's protective shield over the tree."

Lilith ran a finger along the blade. "And Samyaza's hands have been deemed corrupt." She gazed at the grip, wiggling her fingers around it. "Can the sword be fooled into thinking it is being held by holy hands?"

"Perhaps. It has no thinking process of its own. It merely responds to how it was forged."

Lilith studied the etchings in the blade's silvery metal. "Who are the two dragons doing battle in the design?"

"I am one of them, and I struggle with a dragon who is to come, a warrior who will fight with me to become king of the dragons. Michael etched that symbol when he gave the sword to Samyaza and commissioned him to find and protect the holy dragon who would come to try to conquer me."

"I see," Lilith said, nodding. "So this king must have holy hands in order to defeat you."

"Yes. But since this usurper could be a human representative for the dragons, our goal is to corrupt every family line, whether dragon or human, with the seed of the fallen ones. But, beware. Elohim has already hatched a plan to thwart ours. I know little more than a code phrase one of my disciples overheard―'oracles of fire.'"

"That's it? No context?"

"Only that there are two of them. Perhaps a pair of angels commissioned specifically to infiltrate our ranks and destroy our work from within."

"I will watch for them." Lilith lowered the sword. "And when will you become a dragon again and leave the garden?"

As the serpent slithered along Lilith's arm, she raised her hand to the tree. It coiled around the branch, and its head turned back toward her, its voice echoing like a ghostly whisper. "When I steal the body of a certain dragon, I will be whole once more." It crawled back into the thicker foliage and disappeared.

Naamah ran from the tree and sidled up to Lilith, crossing her arms again. Lilith chuckled and kissed the top of her head. "Don't worry, Sister. Yours will be a marriage of convenience. We can dispose of Ham when he has served his purpose."

Naamah turned her back to Lilith, her arms still crossed. "Then you marry him. You seem ready to betray your husband."

Lilith grabbed Naamah's shoulder and spun her back around, her eyes turning bright scarlet. "I'm doing this for us!"

The pain from Lilith's grip made Naamah shake. As she stared at her sister's fiery eyes, she felt tears forming in her own.

Lilith slowly relaxed her fingers. Stroking Naamah's hair, she leaned close and whispered, "Lucifer has given me the means to carry out the plan that will save our lives. He knows Samyaza is not likely to cooperate, but I don't really want to betray my own husband." She pressed the tip of the sword into the grass. "I won't resort to draining his power unless I have to."

"Draining his power?" Naamah pointed at the sword. "With that?"

"No." Lilith spread out her fingers, showing Naamah her palm. Splotches of purple stained her skin from the heel of her hand to her fingertips. "My seed concoction has many uses, and absorbing potency will come in handy." Reaching up, she caressed one of the red fruits dangling from the tree. "Speaking of seeds" ―she plucked the fruit―"I think these might also come in handy."

"For posterity again?"

"In a manner of speaking, yes." Lilith dropped the apple-sized fruit on the ground and chopped down with the sword, slicing it cleanly in half. Kneeling, she picked through the flesh, collecting six seeds, then, spreading out her fingers again, she let the sparkling red seeds roll around on her stained palm.

"They look like rubies!" Naamah said.

Lilith dropped them into her pocket along with the others. "Much more valuable than rubies, Sister. They are the seeds of corruption. And those who control the corrupting influence wield the power to rule the corrupted."

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 609 pages
Publisher: AMG Publishers (September 25, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN: 0899578705