Wednesday, January 31, 2007

CFBA: Germ by Robert Liparulo

Song Stuck on the Brain: Let It Rise by Big Daddy Weave

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing GERM(WestBow Nov 1, 2006) by Robert Liparulo

If you breathe, it will find you...

The list of 10,000 names was created for maximum devastation. On it are business leaders, housewives, politicians, celebrities, janitors, children. None know what is about to happen...but all will be part of the most frightening brand of warfare the world has ever known.

The GERM...a more advanced form of the Ebola virus...has been genetically engineered to infect only those people whose DNA matches the codes embedded within it. If your DNA is not a match, you simply catch a cold. But if your DNA is a match, within days your internal organs liquefy and you die a most painful death. There is no cure.

The release of the virus would usher in a new era of in which countries are left without any form of defense, where one person or millions could be killed with 100% accuracy yet result in no collateral damage to property or those not targeted.

That time isn't coming...It is now!

GERM is coming. Pray the assassins get you first.

Robert's novel paints a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.

Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly. He has sold or optioned three screenplays.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.He is currently working on his third novel.

I love this book, it's incredibly fast paced, exciting and intriguing. I'd heard of this type of biological warfare, but it had always seemed like something futuristic. Kudos to Robert for scaring the pants off me with the realization that my next cold could be my last.


Reminder: Don't forget to enter the contest to win a copy of my book Missing Pieces and the silver tone puzzle key chains. You have until midnight tonight to click the link at the top of the sidebar and email me your entry. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Song Stuck on the Brain: Smack That by Akon feat. Eminem. Ugh. I really hate this song. My nephew has it as his ring back song so I had to listen to it when I called him. Now it's Stuck in my head. Just the chorus... smack that, all on the floor, smack that, give me some more, smack that, 'till you get sore... Ugh. That's not lyrics, it's garbage.

Speaking of lyrics, my 24 hour mope ended at 11pm last night and in honor of that I wrote lyrics to a new song. No accompaniment yet, just words. I suppose to the lyricist the words have meaning, so Akon or whoever wrote that song probably doesn't think the lyrics are garbage.

My new lyrics have personal meaning to me, but who knows? Maybe the rest of the world would think my lyrics are ridiculous. For that matter, six months from now, I may come back and read my new song and think, "OMG, this is terrible." Funny how time gives you perspective. I have a lot of songs that I look back on and cringe. I keep them in my folder though just to show myself how bad it can get.

This new song kind of stemmed from an old crush from eons ago (at least it seems that long). I know I'm over him, but it seems like whenever something goes wrong in my life and I feel just the least bit emotionally vulnerable, I dream about him. Which totally unnerves me for the rest of the next day. I'm sure there's a psychological reason for it, but I'm beginning to think that trying to untangle my psyche would just be too scary. Better to leave it alone.

Anyway, here are the new lyrics. The song is called Maybe.

©April Erwin

I thought I’d put you away
Like a dark secret no one should see
Hid all my thoughts of love
Told the world I was finally free.
But here you come again
Strolling through my dreams like you belong.
I wake with a heart that’s blue
And I realize I was wrong.

Maybe you’ll change your mind
Maybe you’ll come back to me
Maybe you’re really the one
But maybe’s a long time to see.

It’s usually the lonely days
When my world seems to fall apart,
Days when I hurt the most
That I dig down deep in my heart.
Unconsciously I find the seed
Of hope that I’ve hidden away.
Hope that time was all we lacked
And someday you’ll come home to stay.

Maybe you’ll change your mind
Maybe you’ll come back to me
Maybe you’re really the one
But maybe’s a long time to see.

Hours roll into days
And days into years
And still I’m holding on
But dreams like this can’t live
In the bright light of day
It’s time that hope was gone.

Maybe you’ll change your mind
Maybe you’ll come back to me
Maybe you’re really the one
But maybe’s a long time to see.

This would be the rough draft version. A lot of times the phrasing or rhythm changes when the music comes.
I suppose it doesn't really matter whether the song is caca or not. It did something for me. It allowed me to purge something I was feeling and it prodded my creative center to write something after it's confidence was bruised. In fact, the song will probably never see the recording booth, but it turned my juices back on and now I'm already mulling over a short story I'd like to finish.
Maybe this old crush was worth something after all...
Reminder... Don't forget to enter the contest to win a copy of my first book Missing Pieces and the puzzle key chains. Enter by clicking the link at the top of the sidebar. Winners will be announced February 1, 2007. Good luck!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Dream Agent responds

Song Stuck on the Brain: My Little Pony theme song. I was searching for new movies to add to my rental list on-line and a My Little Pony movie was on the new to DVD list. As soon as I saw it the song started running and it hasn't stopped yet.

Another busy weekend come and gone. I did get the haircut. Love it. It must make me look really different though, becuase everyone's been doing double takes. I'm thinking positive and assuming those are GOOD double takes. Regardless, I'm happy with it and that's the most important thing.

Saturday was the family birthday party which was fun. Alexis told Papa that he had to open his presents first. Imagine that, an 8 year old willing to delay gift opening. She was most excited for him to open the one from her. She'd shopped for him all by herself. The first thing out of the bag was a little stuffed teddy bear holding a red rose. Allie says, 'Isn't he cute, Papa?' Dad agreed he was and pretended to snuggle him, then tucked the bear under his suspenders near his shoulder. The second thing out of the bag was Mardi Gras beads. Which got an even bigger laugh. Dad showed her all the ways he could wear them by hooking them over his ears or around his head or under his nose like oxygen tubes. Of course you have to know that my dad is the biggest ham ever. Plus he's looks like the scottsman that runs in his blood. At one time he had flame red hair, now most of it is white, but he's always worn a full beard and he's stocky. It was just too funny to see him with teddy bears and beads.

The Mardi Gras beads started a whole new conversation of course. Angel and I looked at one another and said, "Wanna see some boobs?" Which of course started us cracking up, because we know an individual that uses the Mardi Gras beads on yearly float trips for just that purpose. I told mom if we saw her wearing the beads, we'd know what they'd been up to. She was like, 'huh?' After explaining what some people used the beads for she laughed and blushed. Which then caused more giggling from the rest of us. Even Dad chuckled.

It was sweet though, Dad made Alexis feel like her present was terrific and she was so happy to have made him happy.

I never did get the opportunity to write. I spent several hours photographing Angel's original jewelry designs so she can create a catalog. Once the catalog's done, I still need to create the store on for her. It was fun though. She's got some really beautiful jewelry.
Sunday the three nieces and I made homeade valentines to send to the children's hospital. They had so much fun with all the glitter and beads and cutting and gluing. It was messy, but they enjoyed it so much. I did too. It was fun to have that time together with them. We ended up with a total of nine cards to send. I hope it makes some little kid really happy to see all the I Love You's.
I did get a response from Dream Agent late Sunday night. She passed on seeing more of the story. She gave me line edits on the first 5 pages which was nice. I have the impression though, that my query letter was better than the actual manuscript. Which is kind of a bummer since I've really worked hard on this book. I didn't cry (amazing, I know. I was surprised myself.) but I think it's because I truly left it in God's hands. I didn't want false hope. If this really wasn't my Dream Agent, then I didn't want to get a request for more of the manuscript.

However, despite that, I still felt saddened. I don't handle rejection well, and let's face it, writing is 99.9% rejection. I'm giving myself 24 hours to feel blue, bummed, worthless and untalented before I dig back into my writing. I don't know where it will go from here, but God's in charge. I've just got to stick with it.

I'd love to say that I think this agent was an idiot for passing me up, but I can't. It's just not true. Even if she isn't the agent for me, she still seems like a rockin' agent and I know those she works with are lucky to have her.

So, I'm going to pity party a little longer and I'll see you all on the flipside.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Song Stuck on the Brain: Made to Love You by Toby Mac

Yippee!!! It's finally Friday! This week has felt three times longer than normal. But it's Friday and I have a whole weekend ahead of me.

I'm starting it off with a haircut... finally. It's been months and I keep putting it off. My hair is down to my waist now and I'm really wanting to keep as much length as possible, but since I also have super fine hair, I have to layer it to keep it from looking terribly flat. I chose these two pictures to take with me to the stylist. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on the outcome.

Saturday we'll be celebrating both my father's and my niece's birthdays. Dad is turning 64 and Allie is turning 8. They're having a joint birthday party and I don't think Dad will mind a bit. He's such a big kid at heart. An eternal tease. Allie-gator thinks it's very cool to be sharing her party, too. She asked me the other day if I had bought her a birthday present. I said, "What do you think?" She paused, put a finger to her chin and said, "hmmm. Yeah?" I said, "Duh. Of course I bought you one." She just beamed. Such a cutie and growing way too fast. She's the youngest of what I call 'my' kiddos.

The rest of the weekend will be (hopefully) spent working on my novel. I'm only a few chapters shy of finishing it. I have 16 days until I can expect a response from Dream Agent. I'm thinking it's probably going to be a no-go though. Another on-line writing bud sent a partial at the same time I did and Dream Agent has already contacted my friend by phone to discuss the project and request a full. So... I think I'm probably out of the running, but I won't know for sure Until Feb. 12th. So I'm not giving up all hope yet.

I'll probably spend some time reading, I've got a new series by Annette Blair. I read the Kitchen Witch first. Very sassy, very cute. Currently I'm on book two, My Favorite Witch, and I'm having a hard time not ignoring everything just to read. Could be I'm just in the reading mode. Book three is the Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I'm particularly looking forward to that one. Big brawny Scotsmen just can't be beat. I've got a definite weakness for them. Nerds and Scotsmen. Think I can find those two combined? A little Sean Connery meets David Krumholtz meets Braveheart? Hmmm. Probably not, Fantasy will have to do.

Have Fantabulous Weekend, ya'll.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

And the cosmos say... ACE!

Song Stuck on the Brain: What Goes Around Comes Around by Justin Timberlake.

I must be in tune with the universe today.

For some odd reason, Ace Young crossed my mind this morning. He reached the 7th place spot on American Idol last year. I haven't thought or heard about him since last season ended. But this morning the thought crossed my mind, "I wonder what he's doing and if he's putting out an album." Then about a half hour later I got an email from VH1 with an article all about Ace and his upcoming album.

Freaky huh? Okay, maybe not. But it was a really interesting article. You can go here to read it yourself.

It also talks about his charity work and how he's already helped to raise $80,000 for a children's hospital in his home town Denver. I thought that was interesting, because my on-line Bible study group has been talking about finding Joy in your walk with Jesus. One point was that by helping others you bring joy to your own life. The question was aked, 'Can one person really make a difference?' I think the answer is absolutely yes, and we've been discussing ways we can reach out to others in our community. Whether it's through charities or just individuals reaching out to someone they know needs help, we can all impact someone. Seeing how Ace, a relatively unknown artist has managed to make that big of an impact is exciting. It kind of reinforced our discussion.

Plus, I'm just really excited to see he is working on music.

I haven't settled on my outreach project yet, although there is a Valentines card drive in our city. You make the homemade cards and then the radio stations deliver them to the sick kids at Children's Mercy and places like that. I think a lot of us will be doing that. Anything to make a kid smile.

The thing with charity work is that there are so many worthy ones out there to be a part of. Then, if you don't have a lot of money to donate, then you have to find other ways to get involved. Finding where you can be the most help can be a challenge too. And do you choose an organization or adopt a needy family or individual on your own? I've done both in the past. Both make you feel great. I'm just having trouble choosing right now.

I think I will do the Valentine's Day Card drive though. Anyone have any favorite charitable actvities?


Don't forget to enter the new contest to win an autographed copy of my book Missing Pieces and the silver puzzle key chains. Click on the link at the top of the sidbar and email your entry. Refer a friend and earn extra enteries!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Von Smith Makes Good on Career

I just received this from my old vocal coach, Lesa Monet of Music with Monet. Von Smith was working with Lesa at the same time me and my sister were. He was always amazing, but to see him finally get a break is really fantastic. Check out his YouTube page as well for more videos. Go Von!

Here's Von, live on BET in his National debut. Imagine being discovered on YouTube...

CFBA: If The Shoe Fits by Marilynn Griffeth

Song Stuck on the Brain: The new Coke ad - "You give a little love/And it all comes back to you/(La la la la la la la)/ Your gonna be remembered/For the things you say and do/(La la la la la la la)."

No, you aren't seeing double. This month we are reviewing not one, but two books by Marilynn Griffith! This prolific writer has TWO books coming out this month! This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about If the Shoe Fits (Steeple Hill Cafe', 2007) by Marilynn Griffith (fellow CFBA member, blogger, writer, and mother of seven)

Have Glass Slipper, Need Prince...

If the Shoe Fits is the second book in the Sassy Sistahood Novels. The first in the series was Made of Honor (Steeple Hill, Jan. 2006).

In all my thirty-five years, I, shoe designer Rochelle Gardner, have never had so many men interested in me! My teen son's dad is back in my life after suffering from amnesia (yes, really). The church deacon has had his eye on me for years (and never said a word). And the young waiter (from the restaurant I've visited for singles' events) is trying to steal my heart. I've been struggling with my faith, trying to figure out which man God has chosen for me and wondering if I have the courage to step forward, on my not-so-pretty feet, to accept love. It's almost too much for the Sassy Sistahood to handle, but my girlfriends always have my back!

Marilynn Griffith is wife to a deacon, mom to a tribe and proof that God gives second chances. Her novels include Made of Honor (Steeple Hill, Jan. 2006), Pink (Revell, Feb. 2006), Jade (Revell, June 2006), and Tangerine (Revell, January 2007). Her other credits include Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman’s Soul, Cup of Comfort Devotionals and her Shades of Style series (Revell, 2006). She lives in Florida with her husband and children. To book speaking engagements or just say hello, email:

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

CSFF: The Door Within Trilogy Day 2

Song Stuck on the Brain: You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette.

Day 2 of the CSFF Blog tour with Wayne Thomas Batson is here. As promised, here's the whole enlightening interview along with some of Wayne's digital art.

1. What is your favorite part about writing in this genre?

My favorite aspect of traditional fantasy is that within it you have noble heroes. These men and women (or creatures, lol), while not perfect, embody all that is good and right. They are willing to take on the forces of evil, to venture forth when they could stay home, to risk all when they could hoard, to aid the defenseless, to stand for the right thing--even when it is not the popular opinion. This is what captured me about the fantasy genre.

I know that a lot of the more contemporary fantasy titles that have garnered much acclaim have left this aspect behind. It's grittier and more visceral. You have antiheroes, as well as, protagonist villains. Some argue that this is the way fantasy ought to be because it better represents the struggle of mankind. I disagree. You look at the people we revere in real life--they are the noble men and women who overcome adversity, often sacrificing much to achieve something marvelous. I'm planning a fantasy novel right now that I hope will have those noble quests and feats of courage that we all aspire to.

2. Do you have a favorite character in your series and if so who is it and why?

Tough question, like choosing among your children. Captain Valithor is certainly one of my favorites. He is as tough as they come, blustery and cantankerous. He blisters the backside of the knights he trains, using colorful epithets like, "Hold, thou weedy, weatherbeaten wagtail!" And yet, he has a tender heart.

3. If you could chose any world to live in, fantasy or otherwise, what would it be and why?

Middle Earth in Hobbiton, would be my choice. Aside from my height, I think I am a hobbit. LOL I love the fellowship between Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippen. I love that their lives are simple and fulfilling. I could easily get used to that kind of living.

4. Who is your hero?

I know this will sound odd, especially after my first answer, but I don't really have a hero. There are people I look up to and respect greatly: my father, my mom, my pastor, my wife, etc. But to call God my hero falls far short of what He means to me. He's my savior. He's my King. His thought sustains me and keeps my heart beating. He is far more than a hero.

5. What do you want readers to take away from the story?

I want readers to come face to face with the big questions of life. Why am I here? Do I have a purpose? Does anyone really care about me? Do my decisions in this life matter? I set out to tell an adventure tale, one that would entertain, but also make readers wonder if there might just be more to life than what meets the eyes.

Be sure to check out Wayne's The Door Within Trilogy:
The Door Within
Rise of the Wyrm Lord
The Final Storm

And don't forget to enter the New Contest! Just click on the link at the top of the side bar. Refer friends and earn extra enteries in the drawing.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Contest: Win Autographed book Missing Pieces & puzzle keychains

New Contest!

This prize has a retail value of nearly $30.00!

Win a free Autographed copy of my book Missing Pieces and Avon's exclusive silver tone interlocking puzzle keychains. Let a loved one hold the missing pieces to your heart.

How to win:

Just click on the picture at the top of the sidebar. Fill out the form and send me the email.

Tell your friends and increase your chances:

Want to earn more enteries in the drawing? Let your friends know about Projecting A blogspot. When they enter the contest and list your name under referred by, you get another entery in the Februay 28th drawing!

Contest open to anyone.Enter between January 22, 2007 and midnight February 28, 2007. Winner will be announced on March 1, 2007. Good luck!

CSFF: The Door Within Trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson

Song Stuck on the Brain: To Feel That Way by Taylor Hicks

This week the CSFF blogtour is featureing Wayne Thomas Batson's The Door Within Trilogy.

Come back tomorrow for a personal interview with Mr. Batson and a display of his art!

About the Books:
The Door Within
There is an unseen world of good and evil where nightmares are fought and hope is reborn. Enter The Door Within.
Aidan Thomas is miserable. And it's much more than the strange nightmares he's been having. Just when life seemed to be coming together for Aidan, his parents suddenly move the family across the country to take care of his wheelchair-bound grandfather. When strange events begin to occur, Aidan is drawn into his grandfather's basement where he discovers three ancient scrolls and an invitation to another world.

No longer confined to the realm of his own imagination, Aidan embarks on an adventure where he meets knights, warriors, kings and mysterious Glimpses who can travel between worlds. Aidan joins them in the struggle between good and evil. With the fate of two worlds hanging in the balance, Aidan faces Paragory, the eternal enemy. Will Aidan be willing to risk everything and trust the unseen hand of the one true King? The answer comes from The Door Within.
The Rise of the Wyrm Lord
Separated from his friend by a thousand miles and unable to return to The Realm of Glimpses himself, Aidan Thomas needs a way to reach Robby with the message of King Eliam, the one true King.

Enter Antoinette Lynn Reed, a bright but headstrong young lady who believes in the Scrolls of Alleble and has a passion for full-contact Kendo.

When Aidan discovers that Antoinette has been called to enter The Realm, he solicits her help to find Robby's Glimpse before it is too late.

When she arrives in Alleble, however, Antoinette finds the kingdom is in turmoil. Alleble's allies are inexplicably beginning to turn away, renouncing former ties with King Eliam. And there are rumors that the dark Prince of Paragory is seeking an ancient evil to crush Alleble once and for all.

Can Antoinette and a team of Alleble's finest knights learn the secret of Paragory's growing power? And will they be able to stop the rise of the Wyrm Lord?
The Final Storm
Still staggering under Paragor's relentless attacks, Alleble's remaining allies flee from the four corners of The Realm to safety within the Kingdom's walls. Once there they find chaos, the forces of Alleble grieving a fallen hero, and the Kingdom's citizens clinging to an ancient legend about Three Witnesses who can bring victory. But who are they? Where are they?

There is little time for Alleble to mourn before Paragor, the Wyrm Lord, and the deadly Seven Sleepers unite against the followers of King Eliam.

As Alleble begins to lose hope, Paragor unleashes The Final Storm. Will anyone survive to see the dawn?

About the Author:
Wayne Thomas Batson was born in Seabrook, MD in 1968. During the early years he tortured his older brothers and sisters, doing those things that only younger siblings can do to get on your nerves.

He attended Gabriel DuVal Senior High School and wrote this for his Yearbook Senior Goals: To become a professional writer or artist. During the high school and early college years, he played lead guitar for a rock band called "Contagious." They were catchy, but apparently not enough to get a record deal.

Having completed the rigorous Holmes English Literature Curriculum, he graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1991. In 1996, he received his first graduate degree in Counseling. He has continued his studies with 36 credit hours of graduate-level Reading courses.

Wayne Thomas Batson has spent the last fifteen years teaching Reading and English to middle schools students. He pioneered the active instruction of Strategic Reading in Anne Arundel County and has written Reading and English Curricula for Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, and Howard County Public Schools. Most recently, he helped develop the Challenge Reading Curriculum for advanced readers in Howard County, Maryland.

Wayne Thomas Batson lives in Eldersburg with his beautiful wife of twelve years and his four wonderful young children. Besides dividing his time between family, teaching, and writing, he likes to read, golf, play PS2, travel to the beach, play electric guitar, and create 3D artwork.
The Door Within, Batson’s first novel length work in publication, has received favorable reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, Aspiring Retail, Armchair Reviews, FaceOut Books,, and popular author/speaker Josh McDowell. The Final Storm is the last book of an epic fantasy trilogy for readers 10 thru adult.

Wayne Thomas Batson gives thanks to God for the abundant life he’s been given.
Be sure to visit the other CSFF blogs on tour:

Jim Black
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Joleen Howell
K. D. Kragen
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium
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
Daniel I. Weaver
Robin Parrish
Tessa Edwards

Happy Reading,


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pardon me... WHAT was that again?

Song Stuck on the Brain: #1 in Heaven by Nemesis

I'm having weirder than normal dreams again. The night before last, I dreamed that an old highschool friend that I haven't seen in years, was back in town. There was going to be a class get together and we were all excited to see him again. When he showed up, he came as Laura.

Yeah. He'd decided he was a transexual and had chosen the name Laura. He'd gone all out. Long blonde wig, makeup, a smart cream colored suit and heels. I about fell over. It shocked me so much that I kept telling myself in the dream that something wasn't right. I'd rewind and try his entrance again, but nope. Still Laura.

I eventually woke up, saw it was around 2:30 am and went back to sleep. This time I dreamed that he walked in as Laura and I said, "Ya know, I always saw you as being a toy maker."

He replies, "You're right. I am. I'm just kidding about Laura." He then proceeded to remove the wig and wipe off all the make-up. Suddenly he's dressed head to toe in black Special Ops gear like G.I.Joe come to life. He puts on black RayBans and says, "Check out our latest action figures." Then out of nowhere he starts pulling out all these military type action figures.

I think my brain finally gave up on that one because at that point I quit dreaming.

Last night was such a jumbled up mess of odds and ends it's hard to piece them all together. But I remember at one point that I had installed a new 20 gallon fish tank in my room. It had dividers in it and each section of the tank had a different size fish in it. The first was filled with teeny tiny tropicals. So small there were probably 200 and I still had trouble finding them all. The second section had middle sized fish that were teal and red. I knew they would eat the other fish, so I was keeping them seperated. The third section had even larger fish. All in different bright colors.

At first it wasn't a problem, but then suddenly I couldn't keep them sepperated. They kept leaping over the barriers and mixing. The bigger ones kept eating the littler ones. I tried to sort them out and stop it, but then the middle sized ones just went bonkers. They were flipping out of the tank and going all over the bedroom. I'd find one, put it back and the tank and two more would fly out. Then another fish would get eaten and a bigger one would fly out. It was horrible!

I really can't imagaine what would have brought on either dream. If anything I should have been dreaming about fire (from writing my book) or fetuses (4 hours of National Geographics In the Womb: Multiples and Animals).

Then again, when have my dreams ever made sense?

CFBA: Arms of Deliverance by Tricia Goyer

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Arms of Deliverance (Moody Publishers, 2006) by Tricia Goyer (fellow CFBA member, blogger, writer, and homeschooling mom!)

The fourth and final novel in this exhilarating series capturing the tales of men and women swept into World War II.

EUROPE, 1944
Katrine, a Czech Jew, is so successful in her attempt to pass as an Aryan that she finds herself dating a Nazi officer. Having convinced him of her genetic purity, the officer sends her to stay at a Lebensborn home--a Nazi breeding program in which children are raised and indoctrinated by the state.

Meanwhile, two friends, Mary and Lee, one a socialite, the other a working class girl, land similar reporting jobs at the New York Tribune on the eve of the war’s outbreak. Now rivals with assignments on the frontlines of war-torn Europe, Lee joins troops sailing for Normandy, while Mary's destiny lies in the cramped quarters of a B-17 bearing down on Berlin. Before the presses roll, their lives will be indelibly marked by a caring American navigator, brave French resistors, and a maniacal Nazi officer. Arms of Deliverance is a story of unexpected redemption.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Tricia Goyer is one of the members of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance (Tricia's Blog, "It's Real Life" Tricia's Parenting Blog, "Generation NeXt") and we are pleased to be able to review her exciting historical fiction book, Arms of Deliverance. She was named Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference "Writer of the Year" in 2003. Tricia was also a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award and won ACFW's "Book of the Year" for Long Historial Romance in 2005 AND in 2006. She has written hundreds of articles, Bible Study notes, and both fiction (three other WWII novels, From Dust to Ashes, Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights. Night Song, the second title in Tricia’s World War II series, won ACFW's Book of the Year for Best Long Historical Romance.) and non-fiction books. She's married to John, and they have three great kids whom she homeschools: Cory (17), Leslie (14), and Nathan (12). They make their home in Northwest Montana with their dog, Lilly.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I see the moon and the moon sees me

Song Stuck on the Brain: When I Fall by Jaci Valasquez

Only 27 more days before I can expect an answer from Dream Agent.

Nature cooperated with me this weekend, sending us three winter storms, one right after another. It was too icy and treacherous to venture from my house, so I spent the entire weekend going over my full manuscript with fine tooth comb in anticipation of 'the call'. I made it about halfway through. Now that I'm back at work all day, the pace will have to slow, but I'm sure it will be ready by end of week three just in case.

In order to help pass the time more quickly, I've been trying to focus on other things. I finally took the Christmas tree down. I cleaned the fish tank. Poor Thor, there were a few times I looked in the tank and couldn't find him for all the algea. :( Bad fish mommy! Thankfully, Jack doesn't have to suffer that way. He's had to be satisfied with tossing duck, cow, dog and hedgehog for himself though. It's hard to play tug-of-war while typing.

I also found some pictures I meant to post before and forgot too. I took some pictures of the moon from my back porch one night when it was especially full and bright. Unfortunately, pictures can just never seem to do it justice. I had fun playing with them though. They looked kind of cool, so I thought I'd share them.

Here's the original. The fun ones are below.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

One Degree to Inspire

Song Stuck on the Brain: Baby of Mine from Dumbo. NO idea where it came from, I haven't seen Dumbo in probably twelve years. At least. I'm not even a big fan of that one. Always did like that song though.

An on-line writer friend passed a link on to our group and I wanted to share it with you. It's one of the most powerful and inspiring videos I've seen. Since I share plenty of stupid and funny movies, I thought it was time I shared one that could change your outlook on life.

It's 2007, a new year full of new possibilities. After watching this, maybe you'll feel like you can finally accomplish that New Year's goal.

I love the music they used for this. I think that made me feel as inspired as the movie. It's like a personal theme song. Who couldn't use one of those?

Friday, January 12, 2007

I Have a Dream

Song Stuck on the Brain: Unforgettable

I have a really good excuse for not blogging yesterday. No, really I do. I had to write. Actually I had to brush up my writing, because I actually got a request for a partial of my current manuscript from an agent. An agent that would be a DREAM AGENT for me.

I didn't ever think I'd get a chance to submit to her. Then an open call came around for querys in my genre. Even then, I almost didn't send the query. I could think of all kinds of reasons why I shouldn't.

Thank you, God, that no one else thought those reasons were legit.

So, I sent the query. Within hours I had a request for a synopsis and the first chapter. I screamed so loud I think I woke the neighbors. Wow. Dream Agent was actually interested enough to request a partial. Even if I get no farther than this step, I'll feel like I'm actually on the right track. That this fantasy of writing and publishing might not be a fantasy. Maybe my writing shows promise after all.

So of course, last night I had to polish up my synopsis and chapter 1. I spent all evening and half the night working on it. Which makes me VERY tired since I barely slept the night I got the request and then I barely got to sleep last night. But it was so worth it.

Now I have to wait. Which is never easy for me. I've never been good at waiting for things. Especially things I want REALLY bad.

I've run through all the fantasies. Dream Agent loves it. Wants the full manuscript. Loves it even more. She signs me, we work the book up to a spit polish shine and it SELLS. Not just this one, but the whole planned series. I get an advance, I get out of debt, I spend five years making a name for myself and finally quit my job to write full time.

Oh yeah. It's a great fantasy.

Then of course reality pokes its whiny little head up and says, "GET REAL!"

What are the chances that Dream Agent will sign you? Just because you think your book is sellable, doesn't mean it is. You've got raw talen all right, more raw than talent. You'll be lucky if she doesn't laugh her way through your first chapter. Get signed my a.....

Okay, you get the picture. Kind a of devil and angel thing sitting on my shoulders. And to think I intentionally put myself in this kind of turmoil.

I'm determined to spend my waiting time usefully though. The manuscript is complete, I'm just working on some touch ups and rewrites. I want to have it polished a little more, just in case.

Just in case my dream is about to come true.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

CFBA: A Pagan's Nightmare by Ray Blackston

Song Stuck on the Brain: Something Happened on the Way to Heaven by Phil Collins.

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducting ">A Pagan's Nightmare (Warner Faith 2006) by Ray Blackston

">A Pagan's Nightmare is a delightful tongue-in-cheek look at some of our sacred cows...and he's not afraid to tip them over!

Larry Hutch may have a few loose screws in his head, but he is determined to create a hit with his latest manuscript. While dealing with personal crises, he conceives of a strange new world: on a routine Monday morning in Atlanta, an unwary "pagan" finds himself one of the last remaining unbelievers in a world populated by Christians.

Christians can buy gas for twelve cents a gallon, while everyone else (the pagans, that is) have to pay $6.66. The radio stations alter all song lyrics to conform to "Christian" standard--the Beatles belt out "I Wanna Hold Your Tithe"; ABBA's "Dancing Queen" becomes "Dancing's Wrong". Even French fries, newly labeled "McScriptures", are tools for evangelism.

Larry's novel is a big hit with his agent, Ned. But Ned's wife..a committed Southern less than amused. And Larry has yet to show the manuscript to his new girlfriend, even though he's made her the unsuspecting heroine. It will take deft handling from both men to keep their lives and their relationships intact when the world witnesses ">A Pagan's Nightmare.

Ray Blackston of Greenville, South Carolina, worked as a buyer and a broker for eleven years before cashing in his modest 401k and leaving his corporate cubicle in 2000 to write full time. He is a graduate of the University of south Carolina, with a degree in Finance and Economics.

He serves on the drama team at his church, participates in a weekly men's accountability group, serves on the missions committee of his church, has traveled to rural Ecuador on a summer missions program, and coaches his seven-year-old nephew, Action Jackson, in T-Ball.

When he is not crafting a new novel, he's exploring south Carolina beaches with friends and family. He competes in golf tournaments, leads a writers' critique group, and relives his youth through a large collection of eighties music!

His first novel Flabbergasted was one of three finalists for the Christy Award for best first novel, and was chosen as Inspirational Novel of the Year by the Dallas Morning News.
So far this one has been great. The humor is good and I have to say, really creative story idea. I'll post more of my thoughts a little later.
Have your read this one? Be sure to let me know what you thought.

Borrowers in the Grass

Song Stuck on the Brain: Music Box Dancer

I really don't know where it came from, I could just suddenly hear a music box playing in my head. I recognized it, but couldn't place it, so I played 'name that tune' by whistling it to my co-worker and he got it.
I used to have a musical jewelry box as a kid that played the song. It had a little toy ballerina that popped up and twirled when you opened the lid. I loved that box. I spent hours imginging her living inside when I wasn't looking. I pretended I was small enough to climb inside with her too. It was dark, cozy - full of possibilities in a vague interior.

I had a real fascination with miniturization and with toys that came to life. I pretended a lot about my toy box and what went on inside when the lid was down. I hid inside it with my toys once, hoping I'd see them move or hear them whisper to one another. No such luck. I think they knew I was listening.

I read all of the Borrowers books and The Littles too. I thought it would be so cool to have a family of Borrowers in our house. I never found any, although I did have a collection of miniature doll furniture that I played with. There were a set of red tufted dining room chairs with a table, a bed, and then little dishes and such that I'd cabbaged onto that were the right size. The little three legged plastic inserts that Pizza Hut put in the boxes to keep your cheese from sticking to the cardboard lid made great tables. I used those with my Barbies too.

Mom was always telling me to go outside and play. We lived in the country, I'm the youngest and I didn't usually have any one to play with. I was content inside, but when I did go out, I usually either took a book or my little doll furniture. I would find the tallest grass in the yard, lay on my stomach and create a house in the grass.

I'd flatten round portions, leaving thin rows of standing grass between to make walls around my 'rooms'. Sometimes I would even braid the grass to make rugs. I'd set up the furniture and then pretend I was a little person that lived there. I would have a pet grasshopper or butterfly. I would live on acorns and berries and mushrooms. I loved it. When I was done, I always wondered if anyone else came to live in my grass home.

I would play the same game though, just about anywhere. Back of my closet under the clothes rack, under a desk or the Christmas tree (awesome with the lights). Sometimes I would just lie on my back and pretend the ceiling was the floor and I could make the room over any way I wanted.

I'm not sure why I lived in my head so much as a kid. If I wasn't playing make believe, I was reading someone else's make believe. I never had an imaginary friend. I just made up a million different imaginary people as the game demanded. I carried on conversations too. Long ones.

I can't really say that anything has changed.

I still like to pretend I'm 6 inches tall, I still stare at the ceiling and pretend the world is upside down, and if I could lay under the Christmas tree - I would. The biggest difference now, is that I also write my make believe down.

I love to just get lost in someone elses world - or mine.

Reality bites.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Winner of Hell In A Briefcase

Congratulations, Rachelle!
You're the winner of a free copy of Hell in a Briefcase by Phil Little.

Keep watching more book contests will be coming.


Wedding a Go-Go

Song Stuck on the Brain: Every Morning by Sugar Ray

I had another weird dream.

Okay, so this one wasn't scifi, but strange none the less. I dreamed my sister was getting married.

Wait - that's not the strange part.

It started out like a normal wedding. A large crowd at an outdoor wedding, the bridal party dressed in red satin on stage. The minister gave the opening statements, then it was time for the special music. Suddenly, a chorus line of bridesmaids and groomsmen came dancing on stage in cream tuxes and dresses, singing and prancing like something out of A Chorus Line. They sang, danced, and twirled in and out of formation. They waved their bouquets and top hats. Then with a dramatic bow, they passed it on to the pianist in the corner.

There sat our mom along with the grooms mother. Mom was banging out the accompaniment and the two were singing with gusto, they hit their high note and tossed it over to another set of relatives. The solo parts flitted around line by line while the bridal party shimmied and shook.

A troop of fanfare trumpeters joined in, standing in a line behind the dancers and waving their trumpets back and forth in unison. An old family friend popped up to sing her part, but forgot the words, so she ended up scatting a trippy little chorus of "ba bap a de whap sheelley sho do do..." She was actually pretty good. About that time one of the flags hanging from a trumpet flipped into the candelabra and caught fire. The trumpeter began frantically shaking and waving it to douse the flames.

Unfortunately that's about when I woke up, so I don't know how the rest of the number went, but let me tell you, other than the flaming trumpet, they could have done broadway.

I told Angel about the dream and (after she was done snorting) she asked where I was since I'm supposed to be maid of honor in the event this wedding takes place.

Well, I can say without a doubt I wasn't part of the performance. I have two left feet and can't twirl or shimmy without gasp or jiggle. I do remember thinking in the dream, "Wow, when did she plan this? This wasn't part of the wedding plans!"

I liked the bridesmaid dresses though.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Book Contest

Last chance to enter to win a copy of Hell in a Briefcase. Just click on the link to the right. Contest ends January 8th.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Flame On

Song Stuck on the Brain: Crazy in Love by Beyonce. I'm not even a big fan of her recent music. I think she has an amazing voice, and I loved a lot of Destiny's Child's music, but her new stuff isn't really my style. However, it was the last song I heard on the radio, so....

It feels like the universe is conspiring to keep me from my blog. I've tried to blog numerous times and things keep coming up. But, today, I conquered and you get to read all the stuff I've been saving up.

Let's see, I saw Eragon, the movie based on Christopher Paolini's book. Loved it. Haven't read the book though, so I can't compare them.

Oh, and I caught my stove on fire Wednesday evening.

Seriously. I put the skillet on the stove, turned on the burner and turned back to the sink to wash the vegetables. I'm scrubbing away, when I notice orange lights flickering in the window over the sink. I look up and there's nothing outside. Then I hear a WHOOSH. I turned back to the stove in time to see 12 inch flames shooting out from under the skillet. I grabbed the pan, dumped it in the sink and turned the burner off. I tried to just blow it out, but, obviously, that didn't work. Thankfully, I kept my cool. (Mostly.) I grabbed the baking soda out of the cabinet overhead and doused it.

The smoke detector is now wailing in this high pitched, shrill screech and saying, "Alert! Alert! Fire! Fire!"

There's baking soda and smoke everywhere. I held it together, getting the house aired out and the alarm silenced. I even finished cooking dinner. An hour later however, my nerves were shot and my hands were shaking.


Thankfully nothing was damaged. No burns to the cabinets or anything. Just the drip tray was scorched beyond help. (I know this because I've scoured it three times and it still looks burnt. )

This isn't my first run in with fire. It all started when I was five. My older brother was playing with matches and caught the basement on fire. We got out safely, but it was pretty intense to me.

Then, when I was nine, Mom was driving me to school when her steering column caught fire. Lucky for us the RV behind us had a fire extinguisher in the back. He put out the fire and drove us to a nearby friends. Best part of that was missing a day of school and having an adventure to tell the next day.

During my middle school years, Mom ran her own health food store and I came home to an empty house. I started dinner a lot of nights. During prep one night, oil from my skillet sloshed over the side and caught fire on the burner. I moved the pan but then freaked. I tried dialing 911, but every time I'd hit the last number I'd click the disconnect on the phone. NO idea why. I tried three times, but by then, the fire had burned itself out on the burner and there was no damage to the stove. So I finished dinner.

A few years back, when I still lived at home and we still had the kids full time, I caught myself on fire. But that one really wasn't my fault. Dad had left the gas burner on low to keep his coffee pot warm. He moved the pot, but forgot to turn off the burner. I came in to fix the kids breakfast, reached across the stove for the toaster and caught the sleeve of my terry cloth robe on fire.

I've never seen fire spread that fast. I felt like Andre the Giant in Princess Bride when he has to where the monk's robe and set fire to himself to create a diversion for Wesley. Anyway, it raced up the sleeve, across my shoulders and down my back. I tried the get the robe off, but I had tied the belt in a knot and in my frantic tugging had tightened it. Mom was beating at the flames with her bare hands. Dad pulled out his handy dandy pocket knife (Thank you God for a Mr. Gadget father that carries 10 pounds of survival gear in his pockets at all times.) and began cutting at the belt. Aaron is standing at the sink with the sprayer trying to spray me. Dad got the belt cut and we got the fire out. Thankfully, no one was burned and I had my hair up so I didn't get more than a few singed tips.

More thankfully, I was wearing something under the robe!

I've also seen two computers near by me burst into flame. Grant it they were older than Methuselah and deserved to go out in a blaze of glory. Plus, let me make it clear that these weren't MY computers, nor was I using them at the time.

However, now that I reflect on my fiery past, I'm beginning to wonder if maybe Stephen King was on to something. Maybe I have undiscovered wells of telepathic ability that bubble forth when I least expect it.

Maybe Carrie and I have something in common after all.

Hmm. They do say you should write what you know. Is it any wonder my first suspense novel revolves around a serial arsonist? I wonder how this list would look on my Writer's Resume. I could list it under Research and Experience.

"So, Ms. Erwin, are you qualified to get into the head of an arsonist? Can you really show the reader what fire is?"

"Well, Mr. Super Dream Agent, I think I've had a little experience. Does being a human torch count?"

"Absolutely! Sign here!"

I wish.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Buckys Back

Yay Bucky! Our favorite Idol underdog has a record deal and an album soon to be released. The following was posted on CMT.

Bucky Covington, a finalist on the 2006 season of American Idol, has signed to Lyric Street Records. A label representative confirmed it expects to release Covington's first single, "Different World," later this month. Nashville Business Journal reported the signing over the holidays in an interview with the label president, Randy Goodman. Other artists on the label include Rascal Flatts, SHeDAISY and Josh Gracin (also an Idol finalist). Covington announced in September that Sawyer Brown's Mark Miller would be producing the sessions for his debut album. His American Idol competition included winner Taylor Hicks and fellow North Carolina natives Chris Daughtry and Kellie Pickler.

I'm so excited to hear the final product. Go Bucky!!!


CFBA: Tangerine by Marilynn Griffith

Song Stuck on the Brain: Gavroche's song "Little People" from Les Miserables.

Good evening, dear inspector/Lovely evening, my dear./I know this man, my friends/His name's Inspector Javert/So don't believe a word he says/'Cause none of it's true/This only goes to show What little people can do!/And little people know/When little people fight/We may look easy pickings/But we've got some bite/So never kick a dog/Because he's just a pup/We'll fight like twenty armies/And we won't give up/So you'd better run for cover/When the pup grows up!

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Tangerine (Revell, January 2007) by Marilynn Griffith (fellow CFBA member, blogger, writer, and mother of *GULP* seven!)

Tangerine is the third book in the Shades of Style Novels.

Fans of Pink and Jade will eat up Tangerine, the third book in the cutting-edge Shades of Style series. Jean Guerra, a designer at Garments of Praise design firm, doesn't like surprises. These days though, the unexpected meets her everywhere. Since Jean's return to the church a year ago, her God-encounters occur with increasing frequency, along with thoughts of her husband-the one she vowed to divorce and gave up on long ago. The one nobody at work knows about, not even her best friend, Lily, or her boss, Chenille. But when the designer assigned to work with Jean on a line of men's suits shows up, her heart flips. It's her husband, Nigel Salvador. Jean is finally rendered speechless. Can her bruised heart become whole enough to love again? Or will she remain in the trenches of loneliness forever?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Marilynn Griffith is wife to a deacon, mom to a tribe and proof that God gives second chances. Her novels include Made of Honor (Steeple Hill, Jan. 2006), Pink (Revell, Feb. 2006), Jade (Revell, June 2006), and If the Shoe Fits (Revell, 2007). Her other credits include Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman’s Soul, Cup of Comfort Devotionals and her Shades of Style series (Revell, 2006). She lives in Florida with her husband and children. To book speaking engagements or just say hello, email:

My Take:
I loved this book. It was my first Marilynn Griffith, and I was impressed with her characters and the emotional depth that was woven into their lives. It was a nice balance of humor, culture, inspiration and drama. Now I have to go back and read Pink and Jade. I'm sure after reading this one, that I'll enjoy the first two equally.

Have you read any of Marilynn's books? Let me know what you thought.

Monday, January 01, 2007

FIRST: Hell In A Briefcase by Phil Little w/Brad Whittington

Song Stuck on the Brain: Crazy by Gnarls Barkley

FIRST Day Blog Alliance

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! It is January 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:
Phil Little with Brad Whittington
and their book:
(A Matt Cooper Novel)


With violence in the Middle East escalating daily, Americans are glued to their televisions wondering what will happen next. Meanwhile, Matt Cooper, jet-setting star of Phil Little's debut novel Hell in a Briefcase is doing something about it. A private security executive, his adrenaline-junkie days consist of last-minute first-class overseas flights, Hollywood parties with his actress girlfriend, and direct calls from top CIA brass.
A chance meeting with Mr. Roberts, “an old broken-down millionaire” and uncommon Christian, sends Cooper on a trip to Israel that will change his life. Matt goes behind the curtain of Middle East terrorism, witnessing firsthand the untold ravages of holy war. The deeper he goes, the closer he gets to a plot involving eleven stolen briefcase nukes and a plan infinitely more sinister than 9/11.


Phil Little, president of West Coast Detectives and a recognized expert in counter-terrorism, provides bodyguards to the stars and runs a detective agency that has served ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, Paramount, MGM, and hundreds of others ( He draws on this experience in crafting the tightly wound plot of this international thriller. In addition to his duties as a security expert, Phil has also written Hostile Intent, Protecting Yourself from Terrorism and will soon be the subject of a television pilot. In the meantime, you can read more about Matt's adventures in his blog,

In addition, Phil is available for comment on all aspects of international terrorism, both at home and abroad, and he makes for an interesting and colorful guest. His expertise in the area of international issues combined with his personable on-camera style would make for a great interview on this hot topic. From Lebanese terror camps in the 1970’s to American airports in the months before 9/11, Phil Little has witnessed the terror threat up close and can share eye-opening stories and information that all Americans should know.


Marjeyoun, Lebanon.

Thursday, 21 November 2002. 01:30.

A full moon. A glow seemed to rise from the sand, allowing them to drive with their headlights off. The five Jeeps kept to 40 kph on the dark road that wound southward between hills and wadis. In the third Jeep, Major Skaff allowed himself the brief luxury of picking out Pegasus in the sharp winter sky before he compulsively scanned the rocky terrain for signs of Hezbollah fedayeen. He was leading this patrol to check out rumors of increased activity near Shaaba Farms, the disputed area where three Israeli soldiers had been kidnapped two years before.

The ridge road ran from the town of Marjeyoun down to Qlaia’a under the ominous gaze of Shqif Arnoun-the castle called “Beaufort” by the Crusaders-to the west. Christians and Muslims had fought for this ground for centuries, trading possession of the castle as their fortunes rose and fell. In the 1970’s the Palestinian Liberation Organization had used the strategic placement of the castle to shell civilian settlements in northern Israel.

That was when Skaff, then a young recruit of the Southern Lebanese Army, had been a driver in a similar convoy, shortly before the civil war broke out between Christians and Muslims in 1975. Traversing this very ridge on a mission, he had come under fire from the castle. His evasive driving had saved the convoy and drawn the attention of General Lahd.

The intervening thirty years had been a generation of unremitting war. Israel, tiring of mounting civilian casualties and the Lebanese government’s refusal to expel the terrorists, invaded southern Lebanon in 1982 and captured the castle. Eighteen years of occupation followed, during which Skaff had risen through the SLA ranks while working openly with the Israelis to keep the various Muslim factions at bay. When he had started, Hezbollah did not exist. Now the radical Muslim army controlled the south and dealt severely with the Christian resistance.

As the occupation had grown increasingly costly and casualties mounted, the pressure increased for Israel to withdraw. When the SLA collapsed in 2000, Israel destroyed what was left of the castle walls and pulled back behind the Blue Line specified by the UN. The SLA scattered. Thousands fled to Israel or went into hiding. Those who didn’t were imprisoned and tried as enemy collaborators. As Hezbollah gained control of the area, the anticipated slaughter of Christians didn’t materialize. But any SLA militiamen emboldened to return were also imprisoned.

As he scanned the distant ruins of the castle in the moonlight, Major Skaff reflected on change and constancy. Where PLO guns had once rained death on Israel and Lebanese Christians, now tourists snapped pictures and rushed home to post them on the Internet. And the same General Antoine Lahd who had brought him up in the ranks and fought beside him for decades had fled to Paris. Only a week ago he had opened a fancy restaurant in Tel Aviv called Byblos. It had a nice ocean view.

True, Lahd had a death sentence hanging over him for treason and war crimes, but so did Skaff. And so did many of the two thousand SLA in Lebanese prisons.

But some things had not changed. Southern Lebanon was just as dangerous for the men in these Jeeps as it had been when Skaff was driving instead of commanding.

Skaff was drawn from his reflections by a dark shape ahead. At the end of the ridge the road snaked through an outcropping of rock. He had passed through it many times, always with reluctance. This night he felt a peculiar sense of revulsion as he squinted at the misshapen lump of stone looming before him.

He nudged his driver and nodded toward the rocks. Hassan nodded back. He could feel it too. Skaff reached for the radio to signal the lead Jeep. A lifetime of guerrilla fighting had convinced him that such premonitions were not without merit. His transmission was brief, but they were already entering the outcropping when he put the radio down.

Five seconds later a rocket hit the grille of the lead Jeep. The explosion lit the rocks towering over them. He saw the silhouettes of two men blow out on either side of the vehicle, which was tossed onto the nose of the next Jeep. Hassan narrowly missed them, skidding left and stopping next to the driver of the lead Jeep, who was lying half off the road.

The two Jeeps behind slid sideways to a stop in the road as machine gun bursts echoed from beyond the lead Jeep. Skaff was exposed to the attack. He dove from his seat to the rear of the second Jeep, between two men already returning fire with an Uzi and an M-16.

He rolled to his feet and yelled to the two back Jeeps, motioning for them to form a double barricade with their vehicles, keeping the men covered both in the front and the rear in case the attackers attempted to sandwich them in the gap. Skaff turned back, confident that his men needed no further direction. This mission called for battle-hardened veterans, and he had personally selected the nineteen men who were with him now. Every man among them had proved himself in years of combat. Some even owed their life to his cool command in battle. Some had returned the favor multiple times.

Skaff scanned the forward battle to account for the remaining eleven men, his position shielded by the lead Jeep transfixed on the grille of the second. To the left, Hassan was pulling the driver of the first Jeep to safety. The other two men from Skaff’s Jeep were covering him with sporadic fire from their Uzis. Ahead, the driver of the second Jeep was placing a case of grenades handy to his partner, who had fitted his M-16 with a grenade launcher and was set up in the backseat. Skaff was standing beside the other two passengers in the second Jeep. That left the three passengers from the lead Jeep.

He spotted Saif on the right. He had been thrown clear onto the sand without apparent injury. He was crouched behind a boulder, occasionally returning fire with his Desert Eagle .50-caliber side arm. Failing to sight the other two, he shouted to the driver, who had acquired an Uzi.

“Rafik? Sayyed?”

He nodded forward. Skaff crawled over the middle of the jeep to the hood. Sayyed was wedged between the lead Jeep and the grille of the second Jeep, most likely dead. Rafik was lying on the hood of the second Jeep. Skaff checked for a pulse. Nothing. He closed Rafik’s eyes and whispered a short prayer. Skaff couldn’t play favorites with his men, but this loss was harder than any other would have been. At nineteen, Rafik had already spent four years with Skaff, rarely more than fifty yards from his side. Four years of relentless, driven hate. Skaff had been Rafik’s ticket for revenge. Perhaps now he had found the peace revenge had not been able to bring him.

Skaff was crawling back to get a weapon when the second rocket hit the bottom of the lead Jeep. The gas tank exploded, sending most of the shrapnel back toward the attackers. The force of the blast threw the second Jeep back five feet, knocking over the two shooters behind. The grenade launcher and the man with it fell into the front seat. The driver was standing to the side. He returned fire with the Uzi.

Skaff helped reposition the grenade launcher and crawled out of the Jeep. The two in back were already firing again. He scanned the area and then dove toward the two Jeeps in the rear. Of the eight men between the jeeps, one had taken a round in the right shoulder but was still firing left-handed, propped against a door. Three were facing the rear but indicated they hadn’t seen any action, yet. Two were covering the walls on either side with M-16s, but also hadn’t seen action. The final two had grenade launchers on their M-16s. They waited until they saw several volleys of tracer bullets originating from a single location. Then they fired three seconds apart at the source. The machine gun fire stopped. Skaff slapped them on the back. Perhaps they would get out of this thing alive.

Then a rocket hit Skaff’s Jeep. Hassan was behind a curtain of stone, firing with an Uzi, having propped the injured driver in a cleft in the rock. But the other two were using the Jeep for cover. One tumbled backward, clear of the Jeep. The other was knocked down as the Jeep rolled over, pinning his leg under it. Skaff ran through a volley of automatic weapons fire and pulled the first man to his feet. They raced to the Jeep, joined by Hassan, and rocked it back over. Then they dragged the injured man to safety next to the injured driver.

Skaff felt a shudder of unease ripple through the adrenaline-laced focus that always came over him in combat. If this kept up, the whole team would be shredded before they had used half their ammo. He grabbed Hassan’s arm and yelled into his ear over the din.

“We have to take out that rocket launcher or we don’t get out of here. Take those three and circle around.” Hassan nodded and stepped away but Skaff grabbed his arm. “Take a radio.”

He let go, and Hassan ran to the rear while the others laid down covering fire. Skaff used the opportunity to race to the front two Jeeps and get the four there away from the vehicles and behind the cover of the rocks. As they ran for cover, another rocket hit the top of the lead Jeep, sending fragments of the grille and fenders flying in all directions. Skaff ran through the explosion back to the rock curtain. When he fell against a boulder the injured man pointed at Skaff’s leg. He looked down and saw that his left trouser leg was slashed in three places. Blood was seeping down to his boots. He looked around to see how the others had fared.

Saif seemed to have been hit in the arm by something. He was now firing the Eagle while holding his upper arm with the other hand. The other four seemed to have escaped unscathed. Skaff’s radio had not survived the rocket. He nodded to the man next to him, who wielded an Uzi while he made it to the two back Jeeps, getting an Uzi and a radio. He turned it up all the way and slung it over his shoulder. Then he began firing at the source of tracers beyond the rubble of the Jeeps.

Looking for some encouragement, Skaff probed his memory. In almost three decades of fighting, he didn’t recall anything quite as dire as the current circumstance. He had two confirmed dead, one unconscious, three wounded but still firing. Almost a third of the force. The numbers were bound to increase as long as that rocket launcher was working. His calculations were interrupted by Hassan’s voice squawking through the pandemonium.

“We got the rocket launcher, but I think they have another on the left. And now we’re pinned down, so we’re going nowhere.”

The last word was drowned out by a rocket blast on the rock curtain above the injured men. Skaff doubted he could get a team around the other side. Even if he did, the enemy would be expecting them. No way around. No way through. He scanned the sheer rock walls on either side. No way over. The fedayeen had chosen their positions well and appeared to have ample men, weapons, and ammo. It seemed likely that most of this team would share the fate of Rafik and Sayyed. Probably all. The thought sickened Skaff, turning the adrenaline in his veins to bile in his throat.

There was one last hope, but it might be too late. He selected another frequency on the radio and shouted over the gunfire, “Lehafil Levanon Sanctzia. Lehafil Levanon Sanctzia. (Activate Lebanon Sanction.)”


Still reading this one, looks like a really interesting political thriller. I'll post a complete review when I've finished it.

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