Monday, June 30, 2008

When Did My Life Become a Game of Twister? by Mary Pierce

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and her book:

When Did My Life Become a Game of Twister

Zondervan (November 1, 2007)



Looking for fun and inspiration? Mary Pierce tickles the funny bone as she touches hearts, offering wit and wisdom to corporate and community audiences at women’s health and wellness events, caregiver and senior gatherings, and church retreats since 1996.

She offers an entertaining and positive motivational message, inviting audiences to laugh along and learn with multi-media presentations filled with comic relief, practical teaching, and a powerful message of hope and encouragement.

Mary Pierce is the author of three books of inspirational humor for women, published by Zondervan/HarperCollins:

When Did I Stop Being Barbie and Become Mrs. Potato Head? (2003)

Confessions of a Prayer Wimp (2005)

When Did My Life Become a Game of Twister (2007)

With degrees in education and business (University of Minnesota and University of Redlands), she’s worked as a stockbroker, teacher and corporate trainer, and has co-hosted a radio interview program. She’s met life’s changes and challenges with unfailing optimism, deep faith, and a lively sense of humor. She and her husband Terry share six children and seven grandchildren, and a fox terrorist named Izzy, and they are full-time caregivers for Mary’s 94-year-old mother.

They live in Wisconsin where Mary dreams of getting her act together…someday.

CONTACT MARY to find out how she can help make your upcoming event MOTIVATING, ENCOURAGING AND FUN for all who attend!

Visit her at her website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: Zondervan (November 1, 2007)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0310272378

ISBN-13: 978-0310272373


When the address for a person’s website is, you can pretty much guarantee that the book you are about to read is going to contain some humor! When Did my Life Become a Game of Twister was my first introduction to Mary Pierce, and I have to say it was a terrific experience! Her latest book could actually be used as a daily devotional, because it is set up in short chapters that end in a few brief “points to ponder”. This is not deep, theological discussion-type reading, this is warm, personal vignettes that powerfully display God’s work in the every day events of our lives. When Mary Pierce breaks down the things that often frustrate, confuse, hurt and aggravate us, they don’t seem quite so heavy. You see, she has some great perspective to share that make our twister-type lives much easier to navigate.

Mary Pierce has not lived a life free from trouble. She has “twisted” through some of life’s most challenging circumstances – divorce, single parenting, blending her family with another and making it whole, caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s – Mary has known heartache and pain. However, God has blessed her with the ability to sort of mentally step away from circumstances and write them down so that others can see how God works through our difficult moments to show us a glimpse of our fleeting life from His perspective. In light of His mercy and grace and what will matter eternally, we are able to gather from Him the strength and ability to take another step, make it through another day with a smile, and often with laughter.

I believe anyone can enjoy the spiritual lessons in this book. I think it will be especially meaningful for those who are in a similar place in their lives, dealing with some of the same issues that Mary is facing. The lessons are sweet, poignant and thought-provoking, and you will laugh and cry along the way. This is a precious book, and I would highly recommend it as a daily devotional for any woman!


Chapter One



“Right Foot Red!” Bossy calls.

We laugh and step onto a red circle.

“This is nothing,” we say, “Bring it on!”

Chapter One

Twisted Sister

Whoever said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff,” never got a good look at my thighs.

I did the other day. It was not a pretty sight. I was in the sporting goods store at the mall. I didn’t intend to go in there, but I forgot where I parked my car. (I hate when that happens. It happens a lot. Especially lately.)

There I was, wandering through the sporting goods store, trying to get to an exit. That’s not easy. Have you noticed how stores are laid out these days? I’ve been shopping long enough to remember when you could make a beeline from the front door to the department you wanted and back out again. Now walking through a store is like navigating an obstacle course and requires a degree of agility I don’t possess.

Straight aisles are a thing of the past. The art of merchandising is a diabolical plot to trap consumers in the store, expose them to as many displays of goods as possible, and get them so confused and frustrated that they will hand over their wallets gladly, just to be able to escape.

So, trapped as I was, I had little choice but to wander through the displays of camping, skiing, boating, snowshoeing, hiking, biking, treading, kayaking, swimming, lifting, running, scuba diving, fishing, tennis, baseball, racquetball, basketball, football, soccer, lumberjacking, and whaling equipment. Somewhere between the fishing tackle section and the football tackle department, I found myself trapped behind a rack of tiny—TINY—swimsuits. There wasn’t enough fabric there to cover my left elbow, much less the dimpled tundra of my backside.

Even worse, I was sandwiched between the rack of tiny suits and a huge mirror. These stores have mirrors everywhere. I guess the jock-types who hang out at sporting goods stores don’t mind looking at themselves. I try to avoid my reflection but, like those people who slow way down to gawk at a freeway accident, I can’t resist sneaking a peak anytime I pass a shiny surface. (Oh admit it! You do it too.)

This wasn’t just one full-length mirror, but a three-sider. I gaped. I stared. I gawked. The shorts I’d tossed on for this “quick” run to the mall were rumpled and riding up embarrassingly. And there, hanging out like two giant stuffed sausages, were my thighs, glowing under the fluorescents like two gargantuan, pasty-white slugs under a black light. It was obvious why I no longer buy corduroy pants (Aye, there’s the rub!) or anything made of Spandex.

The tiny swimsuits mocked me from behind while the triple mirror tripled my lumps. Tripled my lard. Tripled my dimples. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Triple mirrors do nothing for a sister’s self esteem.

“Who ARE you?” I whined at the three women in the mirrors. “How did this HAPPEN? You used to be in great shape. You were fit and flexible, tight and toned in high school!”

We used to DANCE in high school, they reminded me.


Standing there before the jiggling blobs of my current reality, I drifted back to those glory days of youth, when the lower half of my body actually had muscle.

It was true. I used to dance. Modern dance was one of the physical education electives in our high school. I elected it. We modern dancers worshipped at the bare feet of our teacher, Miss Jeanne, who had worshipped and studied at the bare feet of modern dance maven Miss Martha Graham, HERSELF! Under Miss Jeanne’s skilled tutelage we learned how to dance like the wind, soar like the eagle, wave like a field of wheat, and rise like the sun. All within the confines of the gym at North High.

Modern dancers, Miss Jeanne showed us, could isolate their rib cages from the rest of their torso, elevate any given body part, and stretch in ways that seemed humanly impossible (to say nothing of painful). Modern dancers had steely thighs and elastic hamstrings that allowed them to float across the floor with power and grace.

And six of the modern dancers in our class were chosen to be the horses in the merry-go-round when the senior class put on a production of the musical, Carousel. Each of us was assigned a position and a color. I was the pink pony.

Upright in pastel leotards and matching tights, we six pranced proudly, each holding in her pony forefeet a length of wide pastel ribbon. The opposite ends of the ribbons were attached to a tall center pole.

The tall pole was a girl named Jane. The least graceful horse in the class, Jane held the ends of the ribbons high as we swifter ponies trotted around her. She raised and lowered the ribbons as we raised and lowered our steely thighs in a graceful canter, moving around and around with us, faster and slower, higher and lower. At times we even reversed direction, in a dazzling feat of merry-go-round marvel.

Opening night came. Around and around we pranced. No one noticed that Jane, who’d performed her part flawlessly during rehearsals, had decided not to wear her glasses in front of the live audience. (Vanity of vanities!)

Jane, blinded and dizzier by the minute, evidently lost track of whether the pastel blur surrounding her was moving clockwise or counter-clockwise. Unable to judge the speed or direction of the herd, Jane did the only thing a pole could do. She stood still.

We ponies cantered on, not noticing until it was too late that the pole was frozen. Soon poor Jane was mummified in pastel ribbons and we horses were falling over each other as we wound ourselves closer and closer to the center. The carousel ground to a halt. So did the play. So did my dancing career.


Snapping back to the reality of the sports store’s three-way mirror, I shuddered to realize how far my body had deteriorated—from the glorious days of fresh, lean youthfulness to the flabby nag, sagging like a feed sack of cellulite, staring back at me. The old gray mare just wasn’t what she used to be; she looked ready to be put out to pasture. Neigh.

I slunk away from the mirror, hoping no other shoppers had seen me there, in triplicate. One of me was bad enough.

Depressed, I wove my way through the rest of the store, avoiding the mirrors and focusing on the merchandise instead. I wondered why they call the stuff “sporting goods.” Most of it seemed neither “sporting” nor “good.”

Think about it. Who in her right mind binds her stiff-booted feet onto flat fiberglass slats and hurls herself down a frozen mountain, protected only by her fluffy pink jacket and matching fluffy pink headband? Wouldn’t a fluffy pink crash helmet be a good idea?

Who in her right mind wedges her oversized bottom into an undersized kayak and paddles alone out into the middle of a lake? Doesn’t she know that when the thing capsizes—and it will. It will!—her smaller top half will never be able to counterbalance the centrifugal force created by the larger ballast of her bottom in motion? She’ll be trapped there under the water, waiting to drown. Upside down!

Sporting? Good? I think not.

“What’s a girl to do?” I asked the handsome mannequin modeling the latest in Spandex exercise wear. He had no answer. He may have been a dummy, but he looked good. Everyone, it seemed, was in better shape, thinner, more fit, doing more, going faster, and running farther than I was. I wanted to scream, “Where is the stuff for girls like me?” Girls who are a little long in the tooth. A little short of breath. A little wide in the angle. A little narrow in motivation.

Just then, as if to answer my question, a peppy girl in a store uniform, bounced up to me. She was young enough to make me wonder if the child labor laws were still in effect.

“Can I, like, help you?” I could tell from her tone she thought I was beyond help. I wanted to ask her to escort me to the nearest exit and maybe help me find my car, but I suddenly felt the need to make her think I had something on the ball.

“I need to start working out. What do you suggest?” She gave me an appraising once-over and led me down a nearby aisle. She plucked a book called Walk Yourself Fit from a rack and handed it to me.

How had she guessed walking was my sport? I had decades—over 20,000 days so far—of walking practice. I was good at walking. A quick glance at the book’s back cover assured me that I could quite literally walk my way to fitness and good health. I didn’t need to do anything but walk. No need to change my diet. Walking would automatically, over the course of time, cause my thighs, indeed all of me, to shrink miraculously and painlessly.

Walking I could handle. The price of the book—$9.95—I could also handle. I was ready to head to the huge sign that said CASHIER—they make sure you can find those—when the nice young lady said, “You’ll need some walking shoes. They’re right over here...”

A hundred-and-eighty-seven dollars later, I left the store with the book and its accompanying CD of walking music. I had new shoes—a dynamically-engineered, air-cushioned, shock-absorbing pair that specialized in walking. (Did they even need me?) I had air-cushioned socks that were guaranteed to absorb the shocks the shoes missed, even if I had trouble absorbing the shock of forking over twelve bucks for a pair of socks.

I had new shorts and a matching shirt that were guaranteed never to shrink, fade or wrinkle, no matter how much abuse I subjected them to. (Oh, for a body with that kind of guarantee!) And the shorts were friendly; they promised not to pinch me, squish me, or ride up and wedge themselves into uncomfortable places. My new sports bra was positively aerodynamic and designed to hold me firmly with no sagging for five years or fifty thousand miles of bounce, whichever came first.

And with it all, le pièce de résistance: new undies that breathed. How could I resist? They BREATHED, for goodness sake! (How had I made it all these years wearing suffocating undies?)

I was set. The cashier pointed me to the exit, I eventually found my car and drove home with the sort of radiance that only a good day’s shopping can bring. I glowed all night. I was still glowing the next morning, when, headphones pumping CD motivation into my brain and clad in my new shorts, shirt, bra, shoes, and socks, and with my undies breathing the fresh morning air, I set out to walk myself fit.

Five minutes out, halfway up the first hill, my formerly-elastic hamstring twisted itself into a knot the size of my fist. I hobbled back down the hill before the first song ended on the CD, limped into the kitchen, where I sat and sipped a double café mocha with extra whipped cream for consolation.

Life is full of twists, isn’t it? It’s hard sometimes to navigate from one spot to another without getting trapped or hurt or lost. Life doesn’t seem to have clear wide aisles that allow us to flow easily from one place to the next. Lots of the things that happen to us are not what we’d call “good” or “sporting.”

And sometimes we just plain forget where we left the car, or our minds, or our hearts.

We can get ourselves all twisted up trying to keep it all together physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Sometimes we’re like the merry-go-round horses; around and around we go, faster and faster, high-stepping and showing off for all we’re worth. Sometimes we don’t notice what’s happening until we’re all twisted up in the ribbons of living and come to a crashing halt. Sometimes we don’t notice the pole standing there nearby, paralyzed and blinded by the chaos we’ve created with all our whirling around.

When we compare our lives and ourselves to what we see around us—and we so often do that—we end up feeling we’re not good enough, fit enough, young enough, smart enough, old enough, thin enough, pretty enough, spiritual enough—whatever enough—to be worth loving. Worth anything.

I’ve struggled with my physical image much of my life. I’ve often felt awkward, clumsy, or just plain ugly. Sitting there in my kitchen I could hear, in my mind, all the names I’d called myself, and all the names I’d imagined or heard others calling me, over the years.

Thunder Thighs. Whale Woman. Blubber Butt. Flat Chested. Slope Shouldered. Squinty Eyed. Flat Nosed.

What have you heard? How have you felt?

God has another perspective.

As I sat there, with my leg propped on the chair next to me to stretch my twisted muscle, I remembered something from the Bible about me being “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Are you serious, Lord? I asked, gazing down at my cheesy thighs. This is fearfully and wonderfully made? This body?

Yes, I heard him whisper to my heart. This.

Is it possible? Can it be? “I created your inmost being…I knit you together in your mother’s womb…You are fearfully and wonderfully made…” he says. Can it be true?

Can God really mean that about me? About you?

Yes. This timeless truth is the beginning of our healing, our deliverance from the worry and doubt that plagues us. This is the beginning of new life, of a powerful sense of self—realizing that it is God—Almighty Creator of the Universe God—who created us—you and me—and God who loves us. That this physical body, whatever its size or shape, whatever “flaws” we think we have, is a work of genius.

If God thinks you’re a work of art, who are you to argue?

Fearfully and wonderfully made, dimply thighs and all—I am a masterpiece of his design, beautiful in the eyes of my Creator. He’s called me by new names. To him, I am Beloved. To him, I am Delightful. To him, I am Wonderful.

And so, dear reader, are you.

For everything God created is good…

1 Timothy 4:4


Powerhouse or Powder Puff? Describe your experience as a “student athlete.” What do you remember about gym or physical education classes?

Have you ever been called a name? What did the experience teach you? Have you forgiven the name caller? If not, when will you let it go?

God loves you and he delights in you, according to Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Which truth from this verse is most meaningful to you today?

CFBA presents Hidden by Shelley Shepard Gray

ABOUT THE BOOK: (from the publisher)
When Anna decides it's time to leave her abusive boyfriend, she doesn't know where to turn. Rob has completely won over her parents, and the entire community, with his good looks and smooth charm. Only Anna has seen his dark side.
Desperate, she runs to the only place she's ever felt completely safe—the Amish Brenneman Bed and Breakfast, where Anna met life-long friend Katie Brenneman. The family welcomes her in, and with few questions asked allows her to stay, dressed in Plain clothing, and help around the inn.
Katie's older brother Henry is the only one who doesn't take too kindly to the intrusion. He tries to ignore Anna, knowing no good would ever come from caring for an Englisher like her. But as he gets to know Anna, he discovers her good heart and is surprised with her readiness to accept their lifestyle.
The more time Anna spends with the Amish, the more she feels she's found a true home. But how can she deny the life she left behind? And will her chance for happiness be stolen away by the man from her past?


Books about the Amish people and their unique culture seem to have taken on great popularity lately. In the book Hidden Shelley Gray’s main character, Anna, uses the Amish culture as a place to hide from her abusive boyfriend as well as her own insecurities about herself and her relationship with her parents. I know enough about the Amish to know that the shelter they provide Anna in this story is probably very realistic, but somehow Anna’s decision to consider their lifestyle as her own seems a little forced.

See, I found the characters of her parents to be kind of shallow. They disbelieved her when she told them her boyfriend was dangerous, they practically pushed her back in his direction, and they were openly critical of her lack of success in the work world. As soon as they realize she has left home, all of the sudden they are talking about their relationship with God and needing to pray for guidance ect…They came across as situational Christians instead of spiritually mature leaders in their own home. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising to me that Anna was floundering so badly. Her parents were indulgent and spiritually weak, so she was naturally hurt by their disbelief and indifference toward her trouble with the rich boyfriend. I would have run away too.

Maybe Anna was mature enough to consider the Amish lifestyle. However, by the end of the story, she still seemed a little too eager to please everyone in order to avoid conflict. I was left feeling like she was still trying to escape mom and dad even though she had developed close relationships within the Amish community. Basically, the entire story just didn’t ring completely solid to me. I put this book down a lot. I read other books in between the beginning and ending of this one. It was ok, but it didn’t hold my attention. Make up your own mind. Buy a copy here today.
This book is the first in the Sisters of the Heart series. Please read this article to learn more about the author and this story. This is Shelley's first inspirational romance.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Molech Prophecy by Thomas Phillips

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and his book:

The Molech Prophecy

Whitaker House (July 1, 2008)


Thomas Phillips grew up with a reading disability. He did everything possible not to read. It wasn't until he was in seventh grade that he finally read a book from cover to cover. Now a voracious reader and prolific writer, Phillips uses his accomplishments as a motivational backdrop for speaking at school assemblies.

Born and raised in Rochester, New York, Phillips has worked as a freelance journalist and currently works full time as an employment law paralegal. When he isn't writing, Phillips plays his guitar, is active in his church, coaches his children's Little League team, and plots his next story. The Molech Prophecy is his first published Christian novel.

Visit him at his MySpace, ShoutLife, and blog.

MY REVIEW:I love to discover a new author who can tell a good story! Thomas Phillips is just such an author and The Molech Prophecy is a terrific story! I think what I enjoyed the most about this tale was getting to know the two main characters – Tommy and Tay. These two guys were redeemed out of a life of brokenness, gangs, drugs and violence. Now, as Christians, they love and serve Christ with an honesty and believable faith that carried them through a very difficult and increasingly dangerous set of circumstances.

The church secretary stops showing up for work and abruptly moves from her apartment at the same time that the church building is viciously vandalized. Tommy, a converted ex-gang member is asked by the pastor to locate the secretary forcing him to re-connect with some old thought patterns in a new way. He struggles with whether or not to even pursue this request. However, when he hooks up with Tay – his lifetime friend and brother in Christ – to help him discern what to do, events begin to rapidly spiral out of control. The two know immediately that they have stumbled upon something much larger and more sinister than they could ever imagine.

This story is well-paced and builds with believable intensity. The main characters have a bold faith and the message shared as the story unfolds is brutally honest and lovingly open. I think the author takes a realistic look at the difficult challenges Christians face when confronted by situations with no clear or easy solution. I grew to care a great deal about the main characters, and I sincerely hope this is only the first of many adventures we’ll have together! I strongly recommend The Molech Prophecy to everyone who enjoys a good solid mystery! I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more stories by Thomas Phillips!


Chapter One

The first things I noticed when I pulled into the church parking lot were the two police cars. Instinct wanted to kick in, but I stopped myself from turning my car around. The police weren’t there for me—couldn’t be there for me. I’d done nothing wrong. I wasn’t the same man. My days of running from the police had ended when I became a Christian. I reminded myself of this simple fact and felt a grin play across my lips. Thankfully, my days of running from the police ended four years ago.

On any given Sunday, I have come to expect many things from Faith Community Church. And why not? I have been attending weekly services for years. I expect smiles from Faith’s Greet Team—from those helping direct cars in the parking lot to those handing out programs and pencils at the sanctuary doors. I expect powerful worship music, a variety of jokes from Pastor Ross—some funny, some not so funny—and I expect, each week, a message that will impact the way I live the rest of my life.

But what I did not expect this morning was what I saw next: the complete defacing of the church building. Black spray paint covered the pecan-colored bricks in horrific graffiti.

After parking, I sat silently in the car, taking it all in. A large pentagram—an encircled, upside-down, five-pointed star—was displayed at the center of it all. Painted on every other available surface were words like “Death,” “Die,” “Faggots,” “Hypocrites,” and “God Is Dead.”

Seeing all of the graffiti felt like a punch to the gut. Faith Community was like my second home; the people who attended were like my second family. It was impossible not to take this attack personally.

Slowly, I climbed out of the car, ignoring the early November morning chill. The wind blew relentlessly all around me, howling and moaning as if it too was furious and saddened and confused by the desecration.

Other cars pulled into the lot. The people get-ting out of them emerged as slowly as I must have. I could see the stunned expressions on their faces—dropped jaws and wide eyes that surely matched my own.

Who would vandalize a church like this? I wondered as I walked toward the entrance. As I stopped in front of the pentagram and took in the mess that attempted to dirty my church, I realized that who-ever did this was hurting—hurting badly. That thought did not stifle the anger—the righteous anger—I felt boiling deep inside.

I nodded a grim good morning to the greeter who held the front door open as I walked into the church. The atrium is usually packed with people mingling before the start of the service. Free coffee, hot cocoa, and doughnuts set out on a table each and every week encourage people to arrive early for fellowship.

This morning, however, only a few people lin-gered in the atrium. Whispers were all I heard. As I entered the sanctuary I saw that this was where everyone had gathered. I usually sit toward the back, far right, as if there were assigned seating. The things I’d seen outside left me feeling hollow and alone. Today, I sat closer to the front, middle row.

I nodded hello to people here and there. Many sat with heads bowed, deep in prayer. I decided praying would be a good use of the extra time before the service.
I tried to cope with a flood of mixed emo-tions, such as anger, sadness, confusion, disbelief, and then, once again, anger. Instead of praying, questions ended up filling my mind: Who could do such a thing? Why would someone do such a thing? How are we going to get that filth off the bricks? If I ever get my…. I broke off the last thought before it got out of hand. I’m in a church, I reminded myself. There is no place for thoughts like that, but especially not in a church.

The service did not start the way services nor-mally did. The church band usually opened wor-ship with a fast-tempo song, one that got those present up on their feet, clapping and singing along, and one that brought those lingering in the atrium into the sanctuary.

Today, in dead silence, Senior Pastor Ross Lobene walked out and stood center stage, grip-ping the podium. He seemed at a loss for words. I think he knew what he wanted to say but was afraid that if he tried speaking too soon, he might lose his composure. I wouldn’t blame him.

As usual, roughly two thousand people filled most of the available seats. Two large projection screens hung on the wall at either side of the stage. Both showed a close-up of the pastor’s face. He could not hide his red eyes—or stop his quivering lips.

Pastor Ross opened a Bible, and when he finally started to speak, his voice was weak and shaky, as if he were on the verge of crying. “I want to read Matthew, chapter five, verses ten through twelve: ‘God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.’”

He bowed his head.

I felt sorrowful pain in my chest.

“Shock. Pure shock,” Pastor Ross said. “You don’t think stuff like this will happen here. It will happen elsewhere, like in run-down, gang-ridden areas, so we think. But from what I know of human nature, it happens everywhere, because people can be dark-hearted everywhere. God is always in con-trol, and He wants us to learn to deal with prob-lems in God-honoring ways. I have come to realize through this incident, and through other incidents that have occurred in our church family, that our enemy, Satan, attacks those churches that are a threat to him and his evil ways.”

I nodded in agreement, listening intently and watching as Pastor Ross released his white-knuck-led grip on the podium and began to come into his own. He paced back and forth on the stage, addressing the congregation, righteous fire heating this impromptu sermon.

“Jesus tells us in Revelation three, verses four-teen through seventeen, that He will spit out of His mouth the church whose people are lukewarm in their faith, because they are neither hot nor cold. It is my desire for Faith Community Church to be a church that is hot, making a difference for Christ and His kingdom in Rochester and the surround-ing area.”

As Pastor Ross paused, he stroked the sandy-colored goatee that covered his chin and used a handkerchief to wipe away the beads of sweat that formed on his bald head. “This, friends, this is a great opportunity for us to love our enemies as ourselves.” He pointed out at us and then pointed back at himself. “It is my desire to see everyone at Faith truly model this command from Christ and not become bitter by this incident. I pray that we have an opportunity to minister to the needs of the person or people responsible, so we can share the life-changing message of the gospel with them.

“I have known many people who have been enslaved in the bondage of satanism and witch-craft, and although the hold these things have on them is strong, it is no match for our all-powerful, all-loving God. It will take time, but if we can be models of Christ’s love to this person, I have full confidence that he will become a child of the light instead of a slave to the darkness.” A second, brief pause followed. Then Pastor Ross added, “Don’t get me wrong. I also hope that the person who did this crime is caught and processed fairly through our justice system.”

I tried to let my own anger subside. If Pastor Ross could move on, so could I. All I needed now was help unclenching my hands, which had been rolled into solid fists since the beginning of service.

Used by permission of the publisher, Whitaker House ( ). All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Welcome Mary Connealy to my Window!

It is my pleasure to welcome Mary Connealy to share the view from her Window! I hope you will enjoy the recent visit I had with her! She is a delightful lady with a heart for God and a desire to honor Him in her work! Welcome Mary!

Where did you come up with the idea of Grace hiding out/running away from an abusive adoptive parent? Was that based on historical evidence? I know there are a lot of horror stories connected to child labors during that period of time.

I remember reading a book about a carpet mill long ago that really left an impression on me, how horrible it was. I was looking for a way to put Grace in an all-male world but it was harder than putting my hero Clay, from Petticoat Ranch, in an all-male world. So I came up with an all girl family and added the aversion to men by making her father a king-sized jerk. The kind of cruel slime ball who adopted little girls because he had a special taste for frightening and abusing women. Then I needed to give her absolutely none of the necessary female skills most women of her era would have. So the carpet mill, working long hard hours there, made a good way to separate her from what would have been household toil in the normal course of growing up, even with a jerk of a father.

I also had the idea for the sequel to Calico Canyon already in my head, which deals with Orphan Trains and I wanted Grace, and her friend Hannah who is the heroine of Bk #3 Gingham Gulch to have a very good reason to distrust single adoptive fathers.

My own family was created “by design” when my dad lost his first wife. What was your inspiration for Daniel Reeves history? Was it difficult to write about his heartache and the struggle he faced in his own mind when he began to have feelings for Grace?

Daniel was especially hard because I wanted him to be an oaf with almost no manners, but a good heart. I tried to strip the poor man of all social graces while at the same time giving him true decency and great father love for his boys. There’s a line in Calico Canyon where he says something about his first wife crying for months a after the babies came. He’s complaining about Grace crying. Grace snips at him, ‘Did you ever think your wives cry because of the way you treat them?”

Daniel just shakes his head and says, “Nope, it weren’t anything I ever done.”

He’s just absolutely and completely insensitive. He doesn’t doubt himself for a minute. He was just ripe for humor. He is completely OUT of touch with his feelings and he’s obsessed with the idea that having babies killed his first wife and he will never risk another child with his new wife. So he sees his growing desire for Grace as temptation straight from the devil.

I’ve read your blog posts a lot, and if memory serves, you have daughters in your household. How on earth did you capture so perfectly the unbridled energy and rambunctiousness of a house full of boys? I mean you NAILED it!!

Do you really think I got it right? I hope so. My husband is from a family of seven sons. His mom, Marybelle, is one of my favorite people on this planet and listening to her talk is both hilarious and terrifying. The woman was lucky to survive raising those boys. And she survived brilliantly. She’s eighty-nine now. My husband is one of the youngest and Marybelle was a newly married woman before electricity came all the way out to the country. I think they go electricity in about 1946, it was after World War II. And she had at least three kids by then. So we’re talking … heating wash water over a coal stove, in the kitchen, in August, to wash clothes for five people, which she was pregnant.

She used to bake bread twice a week, twelve loaves and a batch of cinnamon rolls each time. Using a coal stove, in her kitchen, in August, while she was pregnant.

She’d start with three live chickens at ten o’clock a.m. and have fried chicken for dinner.

She grew everything in the garden, every vegetable and fruit. If she couldn’t grow it, they didn’t have it to eat. Then can enough to last all winter. She did her canning all summer long but the biggest batch of it was tomatoes, which she’d need to can over a hot coal stove, in her kitchen, in August, while she was pregnant. The woman had two babies in October, one in September and one in November. One of them mercifully made his appearance in February. She also had one in July and one in August but they had electricity by then. No air conditioning though.

This woman is tough!

And she tells stories of pure mayhem. I don’t know how all little boys act but she was always breaking up fist fights and rushing to the doctor with broken bones and cuts that need stitches. They lived on a farm and…if she could possibly arrange it they ran wild outside.

I got so much of what’s in Calico Canyon from Marybelle that I dedicated the book to her.

Petticoat Ranch comes from my own family of four girls.

Calico Canyon comes from Marybelle and her seven sons.

Gingham Mountain is going to be from my mom. There were eight of us, boys and girls both. So we’ll see if I can nail that, too.

What draws you to the mid-1800’s in your writing? What planted the seed for this story in Mosqueros , Texas ?

There’s just something about a cowboy, tipping his Stetson back with his thumb, narrowing his eyes, slightly weather from long hours in the sun and saying, “I reckon, Ma’am.” That really is fun for me.

I’ve written everything though. I wrote a long, long time before I got published and I tried everything that appealed to me. I’ve got a three book contemporary series coming from Barbour Heartsong Presents this fall and the first of a three book cozy mystery series, Of Mice and Murder, releases to the Heartsong Presents Mysteries book club in September. I enjoy writing those styles too. Barbour has been so wonderful about letting me try my hand at different things. All these longer books are going to be historical western romantic comedies though. I do love cowboys. I’m married to one.

I originally chose the location because I wanted a train to turn around and go back in Mosqueros, so I shoved it right up against the Mexican border. Then I found out trains turned around all the time and there were short railroads that certainly didn’t go all across the country. So the border became less important, but by then I’d set the location generally and I wanted the town’s name to reflect the Mexican influence.

I appreciate the honesty with which you describe God’s faithfulness even in - and especially during – difficult situations. On page 209 Adam captures this beautifully while talking to Tillie – “Our people have always been too wise in the ways of hardship to believe God exists to make sure the world treats us fair. Instead, He comes to us in the midst of great misery and ministers to our souls. Don’t tell me He waits until we’re free any more than He waits until we’re happy or healthy. God comes all the way to you, wherever you are, and all He asks is for you to accept Him.” Can you tell your readers why it is so important to understand this truth?

Wow. I wrote that? That is nice, isn’t it? I think this comes from the same question, “Why do bad things happen to good people.”

I try to read my Bible with this central idea in mind. God cares about our souls. God’s foundational focus is our immortal souls and that’s the part of us He created in His image. I don’t cling to that to the exclusion of other ideas but I think a lot the verses and stories take on a different meaning when you read it with that focus.

Jesus reacts to people in ways that have to do with what he sees on a soul deep level. He wasn’t saying, for example, to Martha that it was wrong to cook and care for guests. But she did it with her heart in the wrong place. He saw resentment and possibly pridefulness about her hostess skills. That’s the underlying lesson of the Bible, is to be right with God in our souls.

So Tillie turning from God when she felt abandoned by Him is something people do a lot. They ask, ‘What’s the point of believing if He doesn’t help me when times are at their worst?’

Of course, the answer is ‘that’s when we need to believe the most because times are still going to be bad. And now, they’re bad without God.’

What exciting thing is God doing in your life right now? Any words of encouragement you want to leave with your readers?

This business of getting books published is really exciting. I am almost to the point now where I don’t expect a phone call from Barbour saying, “We have come to our senses and now have an entire team of lawyers working around the clock to break this contract with you.”

Encouragement…Well, I’d like to encourage your readers to dive into Christian fiction. Christian fiction used to be a pretty narrow field. Pretty much Janette Oke and Grace Livingston Hill and Francine Rivers. And I love all those authors and read them all. I take nothing away from their work, much of which is very sweet and gentle. But if that’s not what you like to read, if you’re more interested in detective fiction or romantic suspense or sassy chick lit and social issues, give Christian fiction a chance. We are expanding into all areas so fast it’s hard to keep up. Whatever you love to read, find the Christian version of it and enjoy your stories and the foundation of faith underlying them that gives that extra honesty and dimension.

Calico Canyon by Mary Connealy

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Calico Canyon

Barbour Publishing, Inc (July 1, 2008)


Mary Connealy


MARY CONNEALY is an award-winning author and playwright, married to Ivan a farmer, and the mother of four beautiful daughters, Joslyn, Wendy, Shelly and Katy. They live in Decatur, Nebraska. Mary is a GED Instructor by day and an author by night. And there is always a cape involved in her transformation.

Mary has also written Petticoat Ranch, Golden Days, and her latest, Alaska Brides that will debut in August.


Let yourself be swept away by this fast-paced romance, featuring Grace Calhoun, an instructor of reading, writing, and arithmetic, who, in an attempt to escape the clutchs of a relentless pursuer, runs smack dab into even more trouble with the 6R's - widower Daniel Reeves, along with his five rowdy sons. When a marriage is forced upon this hapless pair - two people who couldn't dislike each other more - an avalanche isn't the only potential danger lurking amid the shadows of Calico Canyon. Will they make it out alive? Or end up killing each other in the process?

Running from her Abusive foster-father, a man intent on revenge, the prim and perfectly proper Grace Calhoun takes on the job of schoolmarm in Mosqueros, Texas.

As if being a wanted woman isn't bad enough, Grace has her hands full with the five rowdy and rambunctious Reeves boys─tough Texan tormenters who seem intent on making her life miserable. When, in an attempt to escape from the clutches of her pursuer, Grace is forced to marry widower Daniel Reeves, father of the miniature monsters, she thinks things couldn't get any worse. Or could they?

Daniel Reeves, happy in his all-male world, is doing the best he can, raising his five boys─rascals, each and every one. Since his wife's death in childbirth, Daniel has been determined never to risk marriage again.

When God throws Grace and Danielt together─two people who couldn't detest each other more─the trouble is only beginning.

Will this hapless pair find the courage to face life together in the isolated Calico Canyon? Or are their differences too broad a chasm to bridge?

If you would like to read the first chapter go HERE


Wow! Mary Connealy has come into her own with her latest novel, Calico Canyon. This book is the second in the Lassoed in Texas series and features the school teacher, Grace and Daniel Reeves and his out-of-control boys. I must say, Mary has captured the “spirit” of boys dead-on! I am mother to two boys myself, and I absolutely adored her descriptions of the wrestling, aggravating, punching, screaming, yelling full-tilt energy that would exist in a home with five boys! Poor Daniel didn’t have a prayer until Grace showed up in his life! Funny thing is, Grace didn’t have a prayer either until she was forced to marry the very man who got her fired from her teaching job! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

See, Grace simply could not control Daniel Reeves boys in her classroom. She tried to get them expelled, and Daniel in turn got her fired. Suddenly, Grace finds herself threatened by someone from her past, and she hides out in a wagon for protection. Much to her horror, she discovers that she chose Daniel’s wagon to hide in! To make matters even worse, the Parson and his wife happen along just in time to force them into a marriage. Add a blizzard that bars any hope of getting out of the canyon where their home is located and you have a rip-roaring western romance that will keep you glued to the pages until you finally reach the end of the story!

Calico Canyon has something for everyone! There are laugh-out-loud moments, suspenseful, frustrating moments, tender thought-provoking moments, and a lot of just good old-fashioned fun! All along the way, Mary shows her readers that God is good all the time – even when we don’t understand the reason things happen as they do. God is always faithful, and the characters in Calico Canyon will show you His gentle goodness in a way you won’t soon forget. Don’t miss this wonderful story! It really is delightful! I can’t wait for the next book in the series, Gingham Mountain to release next year! In the mean time, purchase your own copy of Calico Canyon here today!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Grand Scheme by Kathy Herman

ABOUT THIS BOOK (From the publisher's website)
Envy is a deadly poison. Faith is the antidote.Things couldn’t be better for Rue Kessler. He just married the mother of his eight-year-old son, Montana, and finally has the family he’s always dreamed of. Not only that, his father-in-law hired him to be the new construction supervisor on a big condo project. He’s been sober for eighteen months. He’s finally plugged in at church. And he’s building his wife Ivy the house she’s always dreamed of. Life is good.Then with no warning, Rue and his wife and son become the target of someone’s cruel and frightening attacks. What reason would anyone have to dash their hopes and dreams? What will it take to stop it? What defense is there against an enemy he can’t see?While Rue’s head is still reeling, a man on his work crew is found half dead in Tanner Canyon. Are the attacks related? Is someone trying to put a stop to the condo project? Or is something more sinister afoot–something that will take all the faith he’s got to confront?


My heart feels so tender after reading Kathy Herman’s final book in the Phantom Hollow series! Wow! The Grand Scheme is a story that takes an up close and personal look at forgiveness in a way that will certainly touch your heart in a very deep way. This book picks up in the lives of the Griffeth and Kessler families at the point where Rue and Ivy are re-entering life as husband and wife. God redeemed them both from lives of addiction and tenderly brought them together in Never Look Back, and as they look to the future they cannot imagine the price that they will have to pay for the bitterness and unforgiving attitudes that have been festering in the hearts of others.

Ivy’s brother Rusty has been unable to accept her back into his life now that she is drug-free and a Christian. In his heart, he wants her to continue paying for her wrongs instead of moving forward in life in the grace and mercy of God’s forgiveness as well as that of her parents. Ivy’s husband, Rue is also facing the consequences of a jealous and bitter heart, but the source of his trouble is masked by the activities of an environmental group that has come to Phantom Hollow to protest the building taking place in the area. Kathy Herman carefully layers several believable and suspenseful storylines in such a way, that even the members of the local law enforcement have a hard time figuring out who is behind an escalating series of crimes in the area!

The Grand Scheme will quickly draw you in and won’t let go until the final page! What I loved most about this book is that Kathy Herman realistically shows readers how ugly and dangerous an unforgiving heart can be when it is given free reign in a person’s life. Whether or not you have ever been directly involved in an addict’s life or been effected by the wrong choices someone has made that caused you pain, you are the only person responsible for whether or not you forgive the person that caused the hurt. Hanging on to the pain and the resentment only brings further pain to you. This story will encourage your heart and show Christ’s mercy and grace in a new and beautiful way. I highly recommend this book to everyone who loves a suspenseful mystery with a powerful Christian message! Visit Kathy Herman's website to learn more about her fabulous books!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (from the publisher's website)
Kathy Herman is the best-selling author of thirteen novels, including the Baxter series, Poor Mrs. Rigsby, and the Seaport Suspense novels. Her thought-provoking stories are ordinary enough to be believable, and extraordinary enough to stick with the reader long after the cover is closed. Kathy and her husband, Paul, live in East Texas and have three grown children and five grandchildren. They enjoy world travel, deep sea fishing, and bird watching–sometimes incorporating all three into one big adventure!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione by Chuck Black

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione

(Multnomah Books - June 17, 2008)


Chuck Black


Chuck Black first wrote Kingdom’s Edge to inspire his children to read the Bible with renewed zeal. This captivating expanded parable led him to write the Old Testament allegories, Kingdom’s Dawn and Kingdom’s Hope. Chuck added three more titles to the series, Kingdom’s Call, Kingdom’s Quest, and Kingdom’s Reign which were released in May of 2007.

Chuck is a former F-16 fighter pilot and currently works as an engineer for a firm designing plastic consumer products. He has a degree in electrical and electronic engineering and served eight years in the United States Air Force. Chuck and his wife Andrea have six children and live in North Dakota.

It is Chuck’s desire to serve the Lord through his work and to inspire people of all ages to study the scriptures in order to discover the hope and love of a truly majestic King and His Son.


A dangerous new order threatens the mission of the Knights of Arrethtrae. Only loyalty to the King can bring victory!

As the Knights of the Prince await His triumphant return, they are steadfast in their mission to take His story into the kingdom and recruit as many as are willing. But when a new and dangerous threat is revealed, their mission is jeopardized.

Sir Kendrick and his young charge, the impetuous Sir Duncan, are sent on a mission to discover the identity and origin of a secretive new order known as the Conquistero Knights. They travel to the city of Bel Lione where Lord Ra has been enticing young people in the kingdom to join his festivals, after which many choose not to return home. Their families keep quiet for fear of repercussion.

When Sir Duncan disappears while trying to discover the truth of Lord Ra’s castle, Sir Kendrick attempts to find and enlist the help of a mysterious warrior. Time is short for he must save Duncan and call upon the knights of Chessington to join in the battle against the evil Lord Ra.

Journey to Arrethtrae, where these knights of noble heart live and die in loyal service to the King and the Prince. These knights are mighty, for they serve a mighty King. They are...the Knights of Arrethtrae!

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE


Once again, I am going to blend a couple of opinions on this story – my own and that of my 14-year-old son. My son read the book first, and he felt like Chuck Black made a good choice when he used knights to bring his allegorical tale to life. He also said that if you knew very much about the Bible you would easily understand the message within the story. There are some good fight scenes, and overall the book is not difficult to read.

As a mom of two teens, I was excited to hear my son tell me that the knights made a good illustration of the spiritual battle that Christians face each day. I was also pleased to know that there was enough action to hold his interest. But what really intrigued me is the author’s inclusion of some very thought provoking discussion questions for each chapter. Used wisely, this book would open the door to some terrific spiritual discussions between young teens and their parents. Truthfully, if you were a home school family, this would make a great tool for literature and corresponding essay questions.

Chuck Black has crated a unique and entertaining story that could even be used in a young men’s Sunday school class or small group study. The language is kind of “old-world”, so it makes the knightly setting all the more real. I was really drawn into the story, and I think you will be too! This book gets a high recommendation on several levels! This is a very cleverly designed series!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

TEEN F.I.R.S.T. presents Book #1 in the Carter House Girls Series

Synopsis from the Publisher:
When her mom died, DJ had to move in with her grandmother, internationally famous ’60s fashion model Katherine Carter. Now Mrs. Carter’s opened a boarding home for young ladies, and DJ—who would rather wear her basketball team uniform than haute couture—is just sure they’ll all be unbearable fashion snobs. One by one, the girls arrive and begin to figure out how to fit into this new family, getting to know each other and forming friendships. Sure, there’s an aspiring diva or two, but before long, the Carter House girls are dating, fighting, laughing, shopping, sharing clothes, purses, shoes … and their deepest secrets. DJ may not turn into the perfect little lady her grandmother has in mind, but one thing’s for certain—with all these new “sisters,” her life will never be the same!


Teen girls are difficult sometimes. When you put six of them in a boarding house/finishing school environment you can expect conflict and mischief to be close behind. Melody Carlson has created a story in which a retired fashion model decides to open her renovated home to girls whose parents want to give them some advantages – some finishing touches on becoming a young lady.

This story has the basis of being an interesting “proving ground” for teen girls. I know dysfunctional families are the norm these days, and I personally know of many people struggling with their teens. My own teenage years seemed steeped in memories of crying over some little boy who hurt my feelings on a regular basis. Anyway, my point is this…the girls in this book – four out of the six anyway - are filthy rich. The grandmother who runs the boarding house is rich. The one really weird rebel with multiple body piercings is from a Christian home, and the only Christian in the group has a mother who is an addict. This is like a bad television sitcom.

I used to live with girls like this when I attended a women’s college. The four rich girls are cliché; spoiled, self-centered girls who act like the entire world is beneath them. DJ is the only one I could remotely relate to and that’s only because at the beginning she seemed like she had a little common sense. The addict’s daughter, Rhinnon, is a delightful Christian teen, but she is a little too Pollyanna. In short, this got on my nerves. Grandma’s only sage advice was “don’t do anything to embarrass me.” What earthly good will that do? Grandma is more interested in her wardrobe and hairdo than the girls who are boarding with her. How is that a good thing?

If there is any hope for these girls, Melody Carlson has a looong series ahead. I’m going to try one more in the series to give this a fair shake, but so far I’m more irritated than impressed. Moms should read this before passing it on to their teens, because you are dealing with drinking, smoking, sex and intense peer pressure issues. Not light reading. Decide for yourself.


“Desiree,” called Inez as she knocked on the other side of the closed bedroom door. “Mrs. Carter wants to see you downstairs.”

“The name is DJ.”

“I’m sorry, but your grandmother has instructed me to call you Desiree.”

DJ opened the door and looked down on the short and slightly overweight middle-aged housekeeper. “And I have instructed you to call me DJ.”

Inez’s dark eyes twinkled as she gave her a sly grin. “Yes, but it’s your grandmother who pays my salary, Desiree. I take orders from Mrs. Carter. And she wants to see you downstairs in her office, pronto.”

DJ grabbed her favorite Yankees ball cap and shoved it onto her head, pulling her scraggly looking blonde ponytail through the hole in the back of it.

“You’re wearing that?” asked Inez with a frown. “You know what your grandmother says about — -”

“Look,” said DJ. “My grandmother might pay you to take orders from her, but I’m a free agent. Got that?”

Inez chuckled. “I got that. But you’re the one who’ll be getting it before too long, Desiree.”

“DJ,” she growled as she tromped loudly down the curving staircase. Why had she let Dad talk her into living with her grandmother for her last two years of high school? She’d only been here since last spring, late into the school year, but long enough to know that it was nearly unbearable. Boarding school would be better than this. At least she’d have a little privacy there and no one constantly riding her — -telling her how to act, walk, look, and think. She wished there were some way, short of running away (which would be totally stupid), out of this uncomfortable arrangement.

“There you are,” said Grandmother when DJ walked into the office. Her grandmother frowned at her ball cap and then pasted what appeared to be a very forced smile onto her collagen-injected lips. “I want you to meet a new resident.” She made a graceful hand movement, motioning to where an attractive and somewhat familiar-looking Latina woman was sitting next to a fashionably dressed girl who seemed to be about DJ’s age, but could probably pass for older. The girl was beautiful. Even with the scowl creasing her forehead, it was obvious that this girl was stunning. Her skin was darker than her mother’s, latte-colored and creamy. Her long black hair curled softly around her face. She had high cheekbones and dramatic eyes.

DJ noticed her grandmother smiling her approval on this unhappy-looking girl. But the girl looked oblivious as she fiddled with the gold chain of what looked like an expensive designer bag. Not that DJ was an expert when it came to fashion. The woman stood politely, extending her hand to DJ.

“I’d like to present my granddaughter, Desiree Lane.” Grandmother turned back to DJ now, the approval evaporating from her expression. “Desiree, this is Ms. Perez and her daughter Taylor.”

DJ shook the woman’s hand and mumbled, “Nice to meet you.” But the unfriendly daughter just sat in the leather chair, one long leg elegantly crossed over the other, as she totally ignored everyone in the room.

Grandmother continued speaking to DJ, although DJ suspected this little speech was for Taylor’s mother. “Ms. Perez and I first met when my magazine featured her for her illustrious music career. Her face graced our cover numerous times over the years. Perhaps you’ve heard of Eva Perez.”

The woman smiled. “Or perhaps not,” she said in a voice that was as smooth as honey. “According to my daughter, kids in your age group don’t comprise even a minuscule part of my fan base.”

DJ smiled at the woman now. “Actually, I have heard of you, Ms. Perez. My mom used to play your CDs. She was a serious Latin jazz fan.”

“Was?” She frowned. “I hope her taste in music hasn’t changed. I need all the fans I can get these days.”

Grandmother cleared her throat. “Desiree’s mother — -my daughter — -was killed in a car accident about a year ago.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

DJ sort of nodded. She never knew how to react when -people said they were sorry about the loss of her mother. It wasn’t as if it were their fault.

“Desiree,” said Grandmother, “Would you mind giving Taylor a tour of the house while I go over some business details with her mother?”

“No problem.”

Grandmother’s recently Botoxed forehead creased ever so slightly, and DJ knew that, once again, she had either said the wrong thing, used bad grammar, or was slumping like a “bag of potatoes.” Nothing she did ever seemed right when it came to her grandmother. “And after the tour, perhaps you could show Taylor to her room.”

“Which room?” asked DJ, feeling concerned. Sure, Taylor might be a perfectly nice person, even if a little snobbish, but DJ was not ready for a roommate just yet.

“The blue room, please. Inez has already taken some of Taylor’s bags up for her. Thank you, Desiree.”

Feeling dismissed as well as disapproved of, DJ led their reluctant new resident out to the foyer. “Well, you’ve probably already seen this.” DJ waved her arm toward the elegant front entrance with its carved double doors and shining marble floor and Persian rug. She motioned toward the ornate oak staircase. “And that’s where the bedrooms are, but we can see that later.” She walked through to the dining room. “This is where we chow down.” She pointed to the swinging doors. “The kitchen’s back there, but the cook, Clara, can be a little witchy about trespassers.” DJ snickered. “Besides, my grandmother does not want her girls to spend much time in the kitchen anyway.”

“Like that’s going to be a problem,” said Taylor, the first words she’d spoken since meeting DJ.

“Huh?” said DJ.

“I don’t imagine anyone is going to be exactly pigging out around here. I mean aren’t we all supposed to become famous models or something?” asked Taylor as she examined a perfectly manicured thumbnail.

DJ frowned. “Well, my grandmother did edit one of the biggest fashion magazines in the world, but I don’t think that means we’re all going to become famous models. I know I’m not.”

Taylor peered curiously at her. “Why not? You’ve got the height, the build, and you’re not half bad looking . . . well, other than the fact that you obviously have absolutely no style.” She sort of laughed, but not with genuine humor. “But then you’ve got your grandmother to straighten that out for you.”

DJ just shook her head. “I think my grandmother will give up on me pretty soon. Especially when the others get here. She’ll have girls with more promise to set her sights on.” At least that was what DJ was hoping.

“Has anyone else arrived?”

“Not yet.” DJ continued the tour. “This is the library.” She paused to allow Taylor to look inside the room and then moved on. “And that’s the sunroom, or observatory, as Grandmother calls it.” She laughed. “Hearing her talk about this house sometimes reminds me of playing Clue.”


“You know, the murder game, like where Colonel Mustard kills Mrs. Peacock with a wrench in the observatory.”

“Oh, I never played that.”

“Right . . .” Then DJ showed Taylor the large living room, the most modern space in the house. Grandmother had put this room together shortly after deciding to take on her crazy venture. Above the fireplace hung a large flat-screen TV, which was connected to a state-of-the-art DVD and sound system. This was encircled by some comfortable pieces of leather furniture, pillows, and throws.

“Not bad,” admitted Taylor.

“Welcome back to the twenty-first century.”

“Do you have wireless here?”

“Yeah. I told Grandmother it was a necessity for school.”


“This house has been in our family for a long time,” said DJ as she led Taylor up the stairs. “But no one has lived here for the past twenty years. My grandmother had it restored after she retired a -couple of years ago.” DJ didn’t add that her grandmother had been forced to retire due to her age (a carefully guarded and mysterious number) or that this new business venture, boarding teen “debutantes,” was to help supplement her retirement income. Those were strict family secrets and, despite DJ’s angst in living here, she did have a sense of family loyalty — -at least for the time being. She wasn’t sure if she could control herself indefinitely.

DJ stopped at the second-floor landing. “The bedrooms are on this floor, and the third floor has a ballroom that would be perfect for volleyball, although Grandmother has made it clear that it’s not that kind of ballroom.” She led Taylor down the hall. “My bedroom is here,” she pointed to the closed door. “And yours is right next door.” She opened the door. “The blue room.”

Taylor looked into the pale blue room and shook her head in a dismal way. “And is it true that I have to share this room with a perfect stranger?”

“Well, I don’t know how perfect she’ll be.”

“Funny.” Taylor rolled her eyes as she opened a door to one of the walk-in closets opposite the beds.

“I try.”

“It’s not as big as I expected.”

“It’s bigger than it looks,” said DJ as she walked into the room and then pointed to a small alcove that led to the bathroom.

“Do I get any say in who becomes my roommate?”

“I guess you can take that up with my grandmother.”

Taylor tossed her purse onto the bed closest to the bathroom and then kicked off her metallic-toned sandals. “These shoes might be Marc Jacobs, but they’re killing me.”

“So, you’re really into this?” asked DJ. “The whole fashion thing?”

Taylor sat down on the bed, rubbing a foot. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good.”

DJ felt the need to bite her tongue. Taylor was her grandmother’s first official paying customer to arrive and participate in this crazy scheme. Far be it from DJ to rock Grandmother’s boat. At least not just yet.

“Well, thanks for the tour,” said Taylor in a bored voice. Then she went over to where a set of expensive-looking luggage was stacked in a corner. “Don’t the servants around here know how to put things away properly?”

“Properly?” DJ shrugged.

Taylor picked up the top bag and laid it down on the bench at the foot of one of the beds and opened it.

“Don’t you want to go down and tell your mom good-bye?” asked DJ as she moved toward the door.

Taylor laughed in a mean way. “And make her think she’s doing me a favor by dumping me here? Not on your life.”

“Here are some more bags for Miss Mitchell,” said Inez as she lugged two large suitcases into the room, setting them by the door.

“Put them over there,” commanded Taylor, pointing to the bench at the foot of the other bed. “And don’t pile them on top of each other. This happens to be Louis Vuitton, you know.”

DJ saw Inez make a face behind Taylor’s back. But the truth was DJ didn’t blame her. Inez might be a housekeeper, but she didn’t deserve to be treated like a slave. Suddenly, DJ felt guilty for snapping at Inez earlier today. She smiled now, and Inez looked surprised and a little suspicious. Then DJ grabbed the largest bag, hoisted it onto the bench with a loud grunt, and Taylor turned around and gave her a dark scowl.

“Thank you,” she snapped.

“Later,” said DJ as she exited the room with Inez on her heels.

“Mrs. Carter wants to see you downstairs, Desiree,” announced Inez when they were out on the landing.

“Again?” complained DJ. “What for?”

“Another girl just arrived. Your grandmother wants you to give her a tour too.”

“What am I now?” asked DJ. “The official tour guide?”

“That sounds about right.” Inez gave her a smirk.

DJ wasn’t sure if she could stomach another fashion diva with an attitude problem, but on the other hand, she didn’t want to risk another etiquette lecture from her grandmother either. Once again, she clomped down the stairs and made her appearance in the office, suppressing the urge to bow and say, “At your ser-vice, Madam.”

“Eliza,” gushed Grandmother, “This is my granddaughter, Desiree Lane. And Desiree, I’d like you to meet Eliza Wilton.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Desiree.”

DJ nodded. She could tell by how formal her grandmother was acting that Eliza Wilton must be someone really important — -meaning extraordinarily wealthy — -even more so than the Mitchells. And that’s when she remembered her grandmother going on about “the Wilton fortune” this morning at breakfast. Of course, that must be Eliza’s family.

“Nice to meet ya, Eliza,” DJ said in a purposely casual tone. This girl was pretty too, but not like Taylor’s dark and dramatic beauty. Eliza was a tall, slender, impeccably dressed, blue-eyed blonde. She wasn’t exactly a Paris Hilton clone — -and she didn’t have a little dog as far as DJ could see — -but there was a similarity, except that Eliza’s face was a little softer looking, a little sweeter, but then looks could be deceiving.

DJ wondered if the Botox was starting to wear off, as her grandmother studied her with a furrowed brow, probably comparing her to Miss Perfect Eliza. Naturally, DJ would not measure up.

“Eliza is from Louisville,” said Grandmother. “Her parents are presently residing in France, where her father just purchased a vineyard. But Eliza’s grandmother and I are old friends. We went to college together. When she heard about what I was doing up here in Connecticut, she encouraged her daughter to send dear Eliza our way.”

“Lucky Eliza,” said DJ in a droll tone.

Eliza actually giggled. Then Grandmother cleared her throat. “Desiree will give you a tour of the house,” she said. “And she’ll show you to your room.”

“Which is . . . ?” asked DJ.

“The rose room.”

Of course, thought DJ as she led Eliza from the office. Next to her grandmother’s suite, the rose room was probably the best room in the house. Naturally, someone as important as Eliza would be entitled to that. Not that DJ had wanted it. And perhaps her grandmother had actually offered it to her last month. DJ couldn’t remember. But she had never been a flowery sort of girl, and she knew the rose wallpaper in there would’ve been giving her a serious migraine by now. Besides she liked her sunny yellow bedroom and, in her opinion, it had the best view in the house. On a clear day, you could actually glimpse a sliver of the Atlantic Ocean from her small bathroom window.

DJ started to do a repeat of her earlier tour, even using the same lines, until she realized that Eliza was actually interested.

“How old is this house?”

“Just over a hundred years,” DJ told her. “It was built in 1891.”

“It has a nice feel to it.”

DJ considered this. “Yeah, I kinda thought that too, after I got used to it. To be honest, it seemed pretty big to me at first. But then you’re probably used to big houses.”

“I suppose. Not that I’m particularly fond of mansions.”

“Why aren’t you with your parents?” asked DJ. “In France?”

“They’re concerned about things like politics and security,” said Eliza as they exited the library. “In fact, they almost refused to let me come here.”


“Oh, I think they felt I was safer in boarding school. If our grandmothers hadn’t been such good friends, I’m sure they never would’ve agreed.”

“So, you’re happy to be here?” DJ studied Eliza’s expression.

“Sure, aren’t you?”

DJ frowned. “I don’t know . . . I guess.”

“I think it’ll be fun to go to a real high school, to just live like a normal girl, with other normal girls.”

DJ tried not to look too shocked. “You think this is normal?”

Eliza laughed. “I guess I don’t really know what normal is, but it’s more normal that what I’m used to.”

“But what about the whole fashion thing?” asked DJ. “I mean you must know about my grandmother’s plans to turn us all into little debutantes. Are you into all that?”

“That’s nothing new. Remember, I’m from the south. My family is obsessed with turning me into a lady. That was one of the other reasons my parents agreed to this. I think they see the Carter House as some sort of finishing school.”

Or some sort of reformatory school, thought DJ. Although she didn’t say it out loud. Not yet, anyway.


In sixth grade, Melody Carlson helped start a school newspaper called The BuccaNews (her school’s mascot was a Buccaneer...arrr!). As editor of this paper, she wrote most of the material herself, creating goofy phony bylines to hide the fact that the school newspaper was mostly a "one man" show.

Visit the Melody's website to see all of her wonderful and various book titles.

Don't miss the second book in this series: Stealing Bradford (Carter House Girls, Book 2)

And one of her latest, A Mile in My Flip-Flops will be featured on FIRST Blog Alliance on July 1st!

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (May 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714885
ISBN-13: 978-0310714880

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mustard Seeds by Lynn Coulter - a terrific book!


“I am still here – not the same person I once was, perhaps, but that’s okay. I’d rather be tried and tested and know Jesus than to have sailed through life and never reached out to find Him.” (p. 173)

The cover of the book itself was soothing…a small bird perched upon the handle of a shovel. The title intrigued me…Mustard Seeds Thoughts on the Nature of God and Faith. As I picked up this volume, I had a general idea of what I was about to read, but I had no idea how timely the message was going to be in my own life. You see, God designs even the details of our lives, and He knew that I needed the message shared in Lynn Coulter’s newest book. I am so very thankful to God and encouraged that He has allowed this opportunity in my life, and it is my great privilege to share this with you!

The quote I chose to open this review is a succinct summation of the awesome message found upon the pages of this book. Each chapter is arranged in a 6-10 page format, and within that brief passage Lynn Coulter shares an experience in her life that showed her a glimpse of God’s hand in the midst of her circumstances. Sometimes her experiences are difficult and hard to understand, sometimes her faith is challenged to the point of giving up on God’s presence in her life altogether, but always God is faithful to draw her to Himself. Lynn shares her spiritual journey with us in vignettes that everyone can easily relate to. Each chapter closes with a “Seeds of Faith” prayer and a passage of scripture. The book is not meant to “preach” but to encourage Christians to daily and continuously seek God’s presence in their lives no matter what circumstances come our way.

For you see, we all must learn the truth that the Gospel teaches and that Lynn Coulter shares with us so humbly in her book – that God’s strength and direction is always present in our lives and that He is working all things for our good and His glory even when we don’t understand. “That’s why people who have Jesus can go forward even when their x-rays come back marked with shadows, or when they struggle with loneliness or disability. Their faith has flowered into a peace that transforms hearts and spirits. The joy of knowing Jesus grows into the hope of heaven.” (p. 125)

This book releases from B&H publishing Group September 1, 2008. ISBN: 978-0-8054-4678-4. Reserve a copy here today! You will be so glad you did!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (From the publisher's website)

Lynn Coulter has written about spirituality, travel, books, nature, and gardening for Sky, Family Circle, and Southern Living magazines as well as The Weather Channel, Lionel Trains, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She has also received literature grants from the Georgia Council for the Arts and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Lynn graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Journalism from Georgia State University and now lives with her family near Atlanta.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Hunted by Mike Dellosso

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Hunted

(Realms - June 3, 2008)


Mike Dellosso


Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Mike now lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Jen, and their three daughters. He writes a monthly column for Writer . . .Interrupted. He was a newspaper correspondent/columnist for over three years and has published several articles for The Candle of Prayer inspirational booklets. Mike also has edited and contributed to numerous Christian-themed Web sites and e-newsletters.

Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, the Relief Writer's Network, and International Thriller Writers. He received his BA degree in sports exercise and medicine from Messiah College and his MBS degree in theology from Master's Graduate School of Divinity.

You can read a great interview with Mike, over here on TitleTrakk


A town's deadly secret will drive one man to the edge of his faith...

After learning of the disappearance of his nephew, Joe Saunders returns to his childhood home of Dark Hills to aid in the search effort. When Caleb is found, badly mauled and clinging to life, Joe embarks on a mission to find the beast responsible. But the more Joe delves into the fabric of his old hometown, the more he realizes Dark Hills has a dark secret, shrouded for three generations in a deadly code of silence.

As Joe unravels the truth behind a series of unexplained animal attacks, murder, and corruption at the highest level of law enforcement, he is led to a final showdown where he must entrust his very life into God's hands. Will his young faith be strong ehough to battle the demonic forces of The Hunted.

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE.


This story scared me. I would get so engrossed in reading the story that anytime someone walked in the room, I’d startle and scream. (ask my husband and sons if you don’t believe me!) If you want to read a story that will have you holding your breath one minute – well, maybe for a few pages – then relaxing in the local diner over a cup of coffee the next, then you MUST read this story! I cannot believe this is Mike Dellosso’s first novel! Move over Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti, there is a new star on the horizon!

I love suspense thrillers. But I especially love suspense thrillers with a good, believable element of true faith. Mike Dellosso blends these elements in a beautiful way that allows him to fictionally portray the spiritual battle taking place all around us for the souls of men. This book may be fiction, but the battle is real, and Mike captures both the darkness of human depravity (very scary character!!) and the awesome grace and forgiveness offered to all from the loving hand of God. (The struggle Joe and Rosa face as God works through them to help uncover the town’s long held secret is very realistic!)

Fair warning – this is not a book for the big honkin’ chicken club members! This is a very suspenseful and sometimes scary story. But you will devour its pages from front cover to back so fast that you will feel the breeze!! This well-written, fast-paced novel is a GREAT STORY! I highly recommend it and anxiously await another book from Mike Dellosso!!

P.S. Please take time to read Mike’s blog. He was recently diagnosed with colon cancer, and the testimony he shares as God walks with him through this trial is extremely powerful! Also, if you go to his website and sign up for his newsletter, you will receive a FREE short story entitled The Last Hunt (not related to The Hunted)! Check it out!!

Mike Dellosso could very well be the next Frank Peretti-if you liked The Oath and Monster, you are going to love The Hunted.
--C.J. Darlington, Cofounder and book editor,

A spine-tingling tale of hidden secrets, buried hopes, and second chances. A story best read with all the lights on and an extra flashlight--just in case!
--Amy Wallace, author of Ransomed Dreams

Mike Dellosso's pins-and-needles thriller hurtles the reader down a dark and twisted path. I dare you to take this one home!
--Jill Elizabeth Nelson, author of the To Catch a Thief suspense series

With hints of Frank Peretti and Stephen King, The Hunted is a chilling debut."
--Creston Mapes, author of Nobody

A vicious enemy, a family secret, a thirst for revenge, and a need for reconciliation all drive The Hunted from intriguing beginning to thrilling conclusion."
--Kathryn Mackel, author of Vanished

Read this someplace safe as you experience the incredibly descriptive world of The Hunted. And sleep with the lights on.
--Austin Boyd, author of Mars Hill Classified trilogy