Friday, November 30, 2007

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

This month's feature author is:

and her book:

The Minor Protection Act
Musterion (December 1, 2005)


Jodi Cowles caught the travel bug when her parents took her on her first international flight at six months of age. Since then she’s been in over 30 countries. Along the way she’s gotten locked out of her cabin on an all night train to Kiev, helped deliver a baby in Indonesia, taught English in South Korea, gone spelunking in Guam, hiked the Golan Heights and laid bricks in Zimbabwe. Her interest in politics stems from hunting Easter eggs on the south lawn of the White House as a child. For her 30th birthday she ran the LA Marathon and promised to get serious about publishing. Jodi resides in Boise, Idaho and this is her first novel.


If the politically correct set was searching for a poster couple, they would need to look no further than Erik and Roselyn Jessup. In college they lit up doobies while attending passionate speeches about legalizing marijuana and freeing Tibet. Erik was even arrested once for helping break into an animal research center. Roselyn bailed him out. After five years of dating they decided to tie the knot. Seven years later, after Roselyn had enough time to get established in her career, she gave birth to their pride and joy, Jayla Lynn Jessup.

Both had satisfying full-time jobs that left them only enough time to pour themselves into Jayla. They attended every event at school, even if it meant working overtime and paying the after school program for a few extra hours. When Jayla made the principal's list or won a spelling bee, they were cheering, and filming, from the front row.

Jayla began junior high at a brand new school with a brand new curriculum. It was being called "progressive" in the papers; the first program of its kind implemented in California with plans for a nationwide rollout over the next 10 years. Praise poured in from around the country, applauding the straight talk about sexuality and focus on tolerance.

Erik and Roselyn were thrilled to have their daughter in this groundbreaking program. Granted, it took several phone calls to district authorities to accomplish the transfer and Roselyn had to drive an extra 30 minutes each morning to drop off Jayla, but it was quite a coup to brag about in their circle of friends.

Jayla turned 13 two years into junior high. For her birthday she told her parents she wanted to order pizza and hang around the house – there was something she needed to tell them. Over pepperoni and Coke, Jayla calmly informed them that she'd been discussing it with her friends and teachers and had decided she was gay.

Though she had never had a girlfriend, or a boyfriend for that matter, Erik and Roselyn were quick to affirm her decision and let her know she had their full support. Roselyn applauded her daughter's honest, courageous move and told Jayla how proud she was. Erik was also supportive and went so far as to tease Jayla about her best friend Sara.

There weren't too many lesbians in her junior high and Jayla had a pretty average experience, but she attracted attention when she entered high school wearing the rainbow buttons specially purchased by her mother. Soon she was 15 and seriously involved with Carla, the 17-year-old senior who was President of the Gay Pride Club. When Erik and Roselyn saw the relationship deepening they sat Jayla down and had a heart to heart "sex talk," encouraging her to be responsible and safe, and only to have sex if she was truly in love.

She was. However, when the year ended Carla left for college on the east coast and broke off the relationship in a letter.

Jayla was heartbroken. Erik and Roselyn were quick to comfort, as any loving parents of a shattered teenager, but their answers seemed hollow to Jayla, their comfort cold. At 16 she began dabbling in drugs - a first for her.

By the time her senior year began the family bond that was once so strong had disintegrated to the degree that she seldom spoke to her parents unless it was to strike out in anger. She had not entered into another dating relationship, as much as they encouraged her in that direction. Rather, she seemed withdrawn from the world and spent endless hours either locked in her room or suspiciously absent. Finally, Roselyn had enough and took her to a doctor who prescribed an anti-depressant for teenagers that had just been released on the market.

By Christmas the medication seemed to be working. Jayla was coming around, spending more time at home. She seemed calmer and more at peace. They were even beginning to talk about college. But New Year's morning they found her dead, her anti-depressant bottle and a quart of vodka laying empty in the trash and a mass of journals and letters scattered around her in the bed.

Erik and Roselyn were devastated. Jayla had been their whole life. They dove into the letters and journals, trying to make sense of it all. What they found only served to inflame their anger. Some boy named Nick had been telling their daughter that she was a sinner, quoting Bible verses that said her sexual preference was an abomination before God. Jayla's journal was full of self-loathing, page after page about her relationship with Carla, page after page of rambling, agonizing pain. Why was she made like this if homosexuality was a sin? Why would her parents have supported her if it were an abomination? Why had she listened to the seventh grade teacher who told her experimentation was the best way to determine her sexuality? What was wrong with her?

They could hardly stand to finish it but they read every word. In the end their grief found relief, as it so often does, in bitterness and hatred. The day after Jayla's funeral, attended by hundreds of students from Jayla’s school, Erik and Roselyn met with the District Attorney. A year later, bitterness not yet assuaged, they went to see a lawyer. In the culture of America, where there is rarely tragedy unaccompanied by litigation, they found a willing law firm. Someone would pay.

My Review and Interview with Jodi Cowles : The Minor Protection Act

This past Summer, I had the honor of meeting and spending time with Jodi while she was on tour with her first novel, The Minor Protection Act. Jodi is a warm, creative person who cares deeply about our country and the Christians within it. In her novel, she explores the idea of “tolerance” or rather “intolerance” taken to its logical conclusion. As a parent who has chosen to home educate my own children, this novel was kind of scary! As I stated in another review, the concepts presented in this novel are only an election results night away from becoming reality! Jodi recognizes that our country is at the crossroads, and she is trumpeting her message in a creative, page-turning way!

Jodi graciously took the time to answer a few questions about her novel, and I would like to share her thoughts with you here. I highly recommend her novel, but please know that it will leave you with many eye-opening thoughts and a desire to be more aware about the things going on within the legal workings of this great country! Be ready to act!! If you want to enjoy a really great blog, check out Jodi's! Where is Jodi

1. Was there a particular incident in the news that spawned the idea for this book? Where did this story begin for you?

Not so much anything to do with the news. I began writing in 1999 after having a dream which was sort of the root of the novel. One of my relatives is a missions professor and told me, years ago, that Christians in China were praying for Christians in America to experience persecution, so I think that had rolled around in my mind for a number of years. And finally, I think I wrote it out of my own personal feeling of being squeezed -- particularly where I was living at the time in Southern California -- that I was being called hateful and intolerant and bigoted everywhere I looked, simply for believing the truths of the Bible.

2. As a single young lady you have a tremendous insight into parenting. What do you see as the greatest threat to today's youth?

Well thank you! It may have helped that I was living with a family of two small boys for a majority of the time I was writing the novel. ;) That's a hard question though. I think my first reaction would be to say the indoctrination kids are receiving in public schools is one of the greatest threats they face. It's hard for a kid to hear things all day long at school from people they perceive as authoritative, then come home and watch a couple hours of TV and hear the same things...then sit down to dinner with their fuddy-duddy parents who are trying to teach them an ideology that's completely opposite.

3. Your journey across the US to market your novel showed you many facets of American culture. Was there one experience/person/incident that really made an impact on you?

Just one? :p Let me glom a bunch together and say that the reception I received from the family of God absolutely astonished me. I realized I'd grown a little cynical about American Christianity over the years, but being welcomed by total strangers into fellowship after was something I'll never forget. It was phenomenal to visit itsy bitsy churches all across America where brothers and sisters were quietly working out their salvation and trying to love one another well.

4. Briefly describe the "why" behind the marketing journey for your novel. (perhaps this should be #3!)

Briefly, that's the trick! :) In brief, the year that the book was published I'd been praying about leaving my corporate job, when suddenly I lost it out of the clear blue sky in a reorganization. I'd also recently returned from leading a mission project to Guatemala where I was blown away by the joy and faith of our brothers and sisters living in poverty. I decided to try to live a bit of an experiment and do something crazy to promote my book in the process. I cashed out my retirement plan and bought an RV, then set out on the road to live by faith and pray sincerely for my daily bread for the first time in my life.

5. Many who read your book might stumble over your choice of the gay lifestyle being the spark that set off your story. What do you say to someone who might have a child struggling with this issue? Have you been confronted by someone who has read your novel who took issue with you over the treatment of this topic?

What I was looking for, plot-wise, was an issue that best illustrated the tolerance debate. I believed at the time, and do so even more now, that homosexuality is an issue that stands above all others in that arena. What I mean is -- I don't set the sin of homosexuality above divorce, or murder, or gossip, or disobeying your parents. All are sins and all make us deserving of an eternity apart from God without the shed blood of Christ atoning for those sins.

That being said, I'm not aware of another sin where those committing it stand up and shout for others to validate their choice in quite the same way. You don't see Gossip Pride Marches or Murderer Pride Marches. It's one thing to individually make a sinful choice and live with the consequences -- we each do that to some degree every day -- but it's quite another to agitate for legislation that says my choice trumps your right to believe what the Bible says and teach that belief to your children.

As I mentioned above in the "greatest threat" question -- I believe children are being indoctrinated in our public school systems. A parent trying to teach pre-marital abstinence is shouted down by the advocates of any type of sex, at any age, in any context, for any reason.

To anyone who has a child struggling with their sexuality -- my gosh, I would grieve with them and offer prayer and the name of a professional counselor. As I said earlier, a sin is a sin, and I'd offer the same prayer and counseling to a parent whose child was struggling with alcoholism or pornography or any kind of sexual addiction.

6. Are you working on another story? What is the main topic and when can we expect to find it available?

I am! Well, in fits and starts anyway. ;) It's sort of a sequel in that some of the same characters carry over. It'll be about the conflict between religion and politics again. I'm also thinking about writing a memoir of my experiences on the road last year. As to when they'll be available...only God knows! :)

7. There is a lot of debate about whether or not Christian Fiction should have an overt or covert message. You are an avid reader of many types of books, so what are your thoughts on this? Should the CBA be significantly different than its secular counterpart, or is there room in the CBA for "edgy" fiction?

Another tough question -- and tough to keep brief. :) I am a HUGE advocate of Christian fiction, and of breaking Christian fiction out of the historical romance genre . Let's look at music for an example. Christian music has always been a genre all its own, but I'd love to see Christian Country, Christian Rap and Christian Inspiration stations on my radio.

I'd love if we had enough wonderful, clean Christian fiction that you could choose what genre you liked best to read in and you'd be able to find any number of authors. It wasn't like that when I was growing up and I'm tickled to see the industry moving in that direction.

However, I think that same growth is why this big overt/covert discussion exists. I'm not sure where I fall on the issue. I've actually been thinking about it quite a bit, I just haven't come to any real conclusions. My inclination is that, like you mentioned, there SHOULD be a big difference between the CBA and its secular counterparts. You should know, without a doubt, that when you pick up a Christian book you won't be subjected to sex or language or the glorification of witchcraft.

On the other hand, I think I'd rather pick up a book that showed a beautiful, meaningful metaphorical picture of salvation and included a little language or troubling evil than one which is just blah and wishy-washy. I've read several of those lately that I picked up at the International Christian Retail Show last summer, and to be honest, they were so dull and uninspiring that I'd rather not have read them.

8. On a lighter note, I'm going to borrow a question from an interview I recently read.....if you had to describe yourself as an ice cream flavor, what would it be and why?

Oh no! This is as bad as the "what kind of animal are you" question! :) I'll pick rainbow sherbet because when I eat it I can never quite decide which is my favorite flavor. I have a couple big passions in my life and I'm always bouncing between them, unable to settle on one.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Titles that will keep you up at night!!

Want to know what I've been reading the past few days?? All I can say is...WOW!!! Each book is unique, presents a challenging message and will really give you much more than just pure entertainment! I highly recommend all of these books, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to read each one! Amazing! Check them out!!!

Splitting Harriet shows the reality of conflict within the Christian body and its too-often, jump-to-conclusions outcome. You will see first-hand the amazing change that accepting the forgiveness of our salvation will make in our lives! This may be "chick-lit" in appearance, but it contains a lot about human nature and our daily relationship with our heavenly Father.

Crimson Eve may be part of a series, but it is a thrilling stand-alone novel! Unless you want to stay up all night, don't read this one before bedtime! The suspense will get you!

Illuminated ....this book is like living an Indiana Jones movie for a few hours! There are so many twists and turns it will feel like a work-out! Be warned, when you finally make it to the last page, your curiosity will be peaked, and you will be ready to do some research of your own! Fabulous first novel! This is definitely not a book for the Big Honkin' Chicken Club members!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Auralia's Colors by Jeffery Overstreet

As a baby, she was found in a footprint.

As a girl, she was raised by thieves in a wilderness where savages lurk.

As a young woman, she will risk her life to save the world with the only secret she knows.

When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.

Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.

Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.

Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.

Visit the Website especially created for the book, Auralia's Colors. On the site, you can read the first chapter and listen to jeffrey's introduction of the book, plus a lit more!


"Film critic and author Overstreet (Through a Screen Darkly) offers a powerful myth for his first foray into fiction. Overstreet’s writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told. Readers will be hungry for the next installment."
--Publishers Weekly

“Through word, image, and color Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted a work of art. From first to final page this original fantasy is sure to draw readers in. Auralia's Colors sparkles.”
-–Janet Lee Carey, award-winning author of The Beast of
Noor and Dragon's Keep

“Jeffrey Overstreet’s first fantasy, Auralia’s Colors, and its heroine’s cloak of wonders take their power from a vision of art that is auroral, looking to the return of beauty, and that intends to restore spirit and and mystery to the world. The book achieves its ends by the creation of a rich, complex universe and a series of dramatic, explosive events.”
-–Marly Youmans, author of Ingledove and The
Curse of the Raven Mocker


Jeffrey Overstreet lives in two worlds. By day, he writes about movies at and in notable publications like Christianity Today, Paste, and Image.

His adventures in cinema are chronicled in his book Through a Screen Darkly. By night, he composes new stories found in fictional worlds of his own. Living in Shoreline, Washington, with his wife, Anne, a poet, he is a senior staff writer for Response Magazine at Seattle Pacific University.

Auralia’s Colors is his first novel. He is now hard at work on many new stories, including three more strands of The Auralia Thread.

My Review

As a new member to CFBA and as a new “blogger”, I felt it only fair to at least attempt a fantasy read. I have learned, without a doubt, that fantasy is NOT my genre. In all fairness, this story is well written. The story line moves along at a satisfying pace, and the scenery and emotions are described vividly. That says a LOT about the talent of the author.

However, it is beyond my mind’s ability to determine what on earth this has to do with anything remotely Christian. I realize the bad guy – one of them anyway – gets what he deserves, but did we have to endure a scene with him making out with someone else’s wife? Come on! I understand that Christians can write fiction that has a covert message, and that’s fine. But truly, this went too far.

While I was earning my BA in English, I had to endure the task of finding “meaning” in some pretty weird stuff, and this book sort of took me back to that lovely exercise. I looked, but I found little content with meaning. I have read an interview with this author since writing this review, and I’m convinced he’s doing something meaningful to him. That’s great. For me, I’m going to leave fantasy to those who understand it better than I do. No offence to the fantasy crowd, but I just don’t get it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

About the Authorsof Parents Only: Feldhahn and Rice

Shaunti Feldhahn is the author of For Women Only and numerous other books, with sales totaling nearly one million copies. A nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and public speaker, Feldhahn earned her master’s degree at Harvard University. She and her husband, Jeff, have two young children. Lisa A. Rice is the associate editor of Christian Living magazine, the mother of two teenage girls, and a screenwriter and producer.

For Parents Only by Shaunti Feldhahn adn Lisa A. Rice and GIVE AWAY!!

Feldhahn is known for unlocking the mysteries of relationships for men and women. Now she turns to a parent’s relationship with a child, particularly a child of the opposite sex. Drawing on the results of a nationwide survey of kids and teenagers, she explores questions such as:

* What do moms need to understand about the “tough and tender” boy who values respect over love?

* What do dads need to understand about their daughter’s need for affirmation?

* What are the six biggest pet peeves teens have about their parents?

Understanding the answers to these and other important questions can help parents make the holidays a time of celebration and unity, not strife and friction.

For Parents Only offers a unique look into a child’s mind and frees readers to communicate in healthier ways as they discover that understanding their kids may not be as complicated as they think.

I've never read anything by this writing duo, but this book is very insightful! The chapters are organized around common sense data collected and interpreted by the authors, and it is easily understood and referenced well throughout the book. I appreciate the fact that the authors recognize that there are exceptions to the norm, and that sometimes in spite of our best efforts, that we must seek professional help for our children. However, the ultimate source of our wisdom and parenting skills comes from our Heavenly Father, and they are not ashamed to make that clear in their writing.

As I said, this is my first read by these two outstanding authors, and I'm sure it won't be my last! As the mother of two teens, I'm sure I will be re-reading this one!

I have two copies of this book to give away, so please leave a comment between now and Friday and I will happily send you a copy!! You don't want to miss this book, especially if you have teens or pre-teens at home. Other tour stops include: God Uses Broken Vessels, Book Splurge , Ashley A Daughter of the King, A Peek at my Bookshelf and Edgy Inspirational Author for additional chances to win a free copy.

Friday, November 23, 2007

For Parents Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa A. Rice

I will be reviewing this book and giving away two free copies next week!! Please stop by and sign up on Monday!!

Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling: A Review

It seems I am destined to read Neta Jackson’s series backwards. I’ve never read any of these books, and now, suddenly, I’ve read the last two in the series in reverse order! But you know what? Somehow watching the faith of the characters struggle in book six – knowing the outcome from book seven –made it much more powerful! Truly, Neta Jackson has captured the essence of our weak, human minds and spirits hanging on tenaciously to the hand of Almighty God.

Gets Rolling deals with the heart of the Christian as it grows and matures into a more complete relationship with Christ. Our prayers, like those in the story, are often answered in such unexpected ways! Yet even when we recognize the answer from God, we still have the tendency to question why He didn’t answer like we wanted or expected Him to answer! Truly, we serve a God that is faithful and long-suffering with His children!

My absolute favorite part of the novel was the play performed at the JDC facility. I was weeping at the end! What an absolutely perfect way to show man’s inhumanity toward truth and light, and to deliver the even greater message of what a change truth and light (once we are able to see it) makes in our lives! That entire passage – from first involvement to final words on stage - was extremely powerful!!

I highly recommend this series to anyone who wants to be encouraged and challenged to live in a close and personal relationship with Christ! These books are excellent! Thank you, Neta Jackson!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

An Interview with Neta Jackson

I hope you enjoy Neta's insightful answers! I know it's brief, but she really is a terrific lady, and her Yada Yada books are simply awesome!!

1.Which Yada Yada sister are you most like? Why?.

I'm most like Jodi . . . and it's amazing how many readers I hear from who say the same thing. It's downright scary! But in one way she's your Average Christian Woman, putting on a good face, but muttering and complaining inside. But I'm encouraged because Jodi grows and matures over the span of the series. Whew!

2. Are the Yada Yada sisters based on real-life relationships or do they represent a combination of personalities from your life?

Some of the characters are inspired by real people. Others represent a combination of personalities. The character and story which comes closest to being a "true story" is Bandana Woman (a.k.a. Becky Wallace)--and the true story is even more amazing!

3. Why do you think so many folks shy away from dealing with groups like the homeless or recovering addicts?

They repulse us. We think it's their fault. We fail to see that "there but for the grace of God go I." But once we truly grasp that God knows that homeless person and that drug addict by name, when we realize that that wreck of a life is a person with a name and a family and a history and a story . . . that they long for love and recognition and value as much as you or I. Often it takes nothing more than the willingness to sit down and talk, really talk, with that homeless person panhandling to suddenly realize that here's a person with wit and intelligence. (Of course, those who are mentally ill present another challenge.)

4. I recently began volunteering with my husband at an in-house drug rehab facility. As heartbreaking as it is at times, based on your experience writing about overcomers, do you have any advise to offer a volunteer like me? Have you had any similar experiences yourself?

I have not worked with drug addicts, though I have known a few and know the insidious power of drugs. I'm sure you know more than I! But I would think, like any challenging relationship, it takes a LOT of prayer, a lot of commitment to hang in there, to express confidence the person can "overcome" even when their own confidence is shaky, a willingness to encourage again and again. BUT also the realization that you can't do it for them. The wisdom when to "let go." They have to want to. Sometimes they have to bottom out before they're willing to do the hard work to change.

5. Why do you think racial and ethnic barriers exist in the church? Any advice on how we can overcome that obstacle?

Most of us white folks are unaware of the "white power" and "white privilege" and subtle "white superiority" that operates in our life without even thinking about it. Most of us aren't raving racists. But prejudices drive us. And there are prejudices among other cultures and groups as well. We ALL love our comfort zones, and other perspectives and ways of doing things make us uncomfortable.
That's why we need to be intentional about stepping outside our comfort zones. Because the sacrifices we think we're making to do so (visiting other churches, inviting a family of another race or culture to dinner, enlarging your circle of friends to include people you don't normally hang with, deliberately moving into a neighborhood that is mixed racially or culturally) will seem small indeed when we discover the RICHNESS and BLESSING that comes with "enlarging our tent."

We also need to take 1 Corinthians 12 seriously, which talks about the different parts of the Body of Christ needing each other. For the most part we may recognize or tolerate or acknowledge that churches or denominations or people or cultures different than our own are, yes, part of the Body of Christ. But do we know how much we NEED them to be whole ourselves? That they have much to teach us? That we have much to mutually share? That we each represent only one part of the Body, and we aren't being effective in our work in the Kingdom of God, because we're each doing our own thing rather than praying, working, worshipping in unity? (Whew, don't get me started! Praise God, there are glimmers of hope . . .)

6. On a lighter note: What's your favorite thing about being a grandparent? Do you get to spend time with your grandchildren?

Favorite thing? We get to love them, spoil them, and then send them home! :-)

Two of our young grandchildren live nearby in Chicago and we get to see them at least once a week (usually to baby-sit--ha!). Another 11-year-old granddaughter lives 3 hours away, and she has spent many weekends and even weeks with us, which we treasure. If we'd known how wonderful and amazing it is to have grandchildren, we'd have done that first!
We also have four foster grandchildren (we raised a foster daughter through her teen years) who live nearby. They have other grandparents, so we don't see them as much, but we do celebrate birthdays and occasionally get together for picnics or celebrations.

7. What's next?

I'm working on a new series, tentatively titled, "The Yada Yada House of Hope" which has a new main character and a new Chicago setting, but with a few of the original Yada Yada characters showing up throughout the story. Not a sequel--maybe a spin off! I'm a third of the way into the first book so far . . .
Neta Jackson Neta Jackson's award-winning Yada books have sold more than 350,000 copies and are spawning prayer groups across the country. She and her husband, Dave, are also an award-winning husband/wife writing team, best known for the Trailblazer Books--a 40-volume series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes with 1.8 million in sales--and Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes (vols 1-4).

Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of the Chicago Tabernacle, a multi-racial congregation that is a daughter church of the well-known Brooklyn Tabernacle.


Turkey dinners, tree trimming, and decking the halls--it's that time of year again! And I Jodi Baxter, can't wait to celebrate. My kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then all of us Yadas are getting decked out for a big New Year's party.

But God's idea of "decked out" might just change the nature of our party plans. A perplexing encounter with a former student, a crime that literally knocks me off my feet, a hurry-up wedding, and a child who will forever change our's times like these that I really need my prayer sisters.

This holiday season, we Yada Yadas are learning that no one can out celebrate God. So let's get this party started!

THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT is a festive novella featuring America's favorite prayer group, the Yada Yadas!

Sometimes dubbed "chick-lit" for their bright covers and catchy titles, this series provides far more depth than witty banter and wacky situations. Inspired by a prayer group of real women, each book will have you laughing, crying, and perhaps praying anew.

In this highly anticipated installment, the Yada Yada sisters-a group of multi-cultural friends-and their families prepare for the event of the season.

But yes, eager readers, this novella—which picks up a year and a half after the end of book #6 The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling concludes the series with some twists and turns that will amaze and encourage you. Plus, it sets the stage for Neta’s new series with new characters and new situations but also occasional roles for the beloved Yada Yada sisters in familiar Chicago neighborhoods with all their cultural richness.

Gets Decked Out – My Review

Initially, when I finished this book, I thought to myself, “this is a good chick-lit read!” I’d never read any of the Yada Yada books, and so to find myself at the end of a seven-book series made me really want to go back and read the other books. Well, I’ve started the second book for me – the sixth in the series – and now I don’t think I can just classify this series as “chick-lit”. Well, it is geared toward women, but these books take a pretty realistic look at our relationships within the body of Christ as well as with those who come to church seeking answers.

The Yada Yada books do deal primarily with a specific group of women who meet together to pray and lift each other up – church family and Christian sisters. However, their lives are as complicated and full as anyone, and they often find themselves confronted with issues that are just plain uncomfortable. Neta Jackson does a terrific job of capturing the one-on-one relationship that believers have with Christ through prayer. She is also able to realistically portray the many colors and dimensions of the relationships we share with others as we make this journey through life. Her books are rich with diversity, layered with many heartfelt issues and portray a beautiful portrait of human relationships at many different levels.

I will also be sharing a brief interview with Neta Jackson so that you can gain a more personal insight into these terrific books! I highly recommend them to anyone who wants to see what the daily Christian walk looks like! Great job Neta!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Fun week ahead!!

Hello fellow fiction lovers! This week we'll be taking a peek into Neta Jackson's world of the Yada Yada Prayer Group! This series is one I've been meaning to read and never have until now...I was blown away!! I was able to complete a brief interview with Neta Jackson that I will be sharing with you as well! So stay tuned! There is a lot of fun in the week ahead!! I'm excited! (betcha can't tell with all of the exclamation marks I'm using, can you?)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fire Dancer by Colleen Coble

I've never read any books by this author, so I truly enjoyed Fire Dancer! Colleen does a great job blending romance and suspense, leaving you tempted to flip to the back of the book and make sure the guy you really like isn't the bad guy! (Yes, I really almost flipped to the back of the book!)

There are a lot of unexpected twists in the plot, and the characters have to deal with some pretty ugly issues, but that just makes the story ring a bit truer to me. If you want a good read, try Fire Dancer! Just don't spoil the fun and read the last page first!! Thanks Colleen!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Try Dying by James Scott Bell

On a wet Tuesday morning in December, Ernesto Bonilla, twenty-eight, shot his twenty-three-year-old wife, Alejandra, in the backyard of their West 45th Street home in South Los Angeles. As Alejandra lay bleeding to death, Ernesto drove their Ford Explorer to the westbound Century Freeway connector where it crossed over the Harbor Freeway and pulled to a stop on the shoulder.

Bonilla stepped around the back of the SUV, ignoring the rain and the afternoon drivers on their way to LAX and the west side, placed the barrel of his .38 caliber pistol into his mouth, and fired.

His body fell over the shoulder and plunged one hundred feet, hitting the roof of a Toyota Camry heading northbound on the harbor Freeway. The impact crushed the roof of the Camry. The driver, Jacqueline Dwyer, twenty-seven, an elementary schoolteacher from Reseda, died at the scene.

This would have been simply another dark and strange coincidence, the sort of thing that shows up for a two-minute report on the local news--with live remote from the scene--and maybe gets a follow-up the next day. Eventually the story would go away, fading from the city's collective memory.

But this story did not go away. Not for me. Because Jacqueline Dwyer was the woman I was going to marry.

In Try Dying, this fast-paced thriller, lawyer Ty Buchanan must enter a world of evil to uncover the cause of his fiancee's death--even if hie has to kill for the truth.

"Bell is one of the best writers out there...he creates characters readers care about...a story worth telling."
~Library Review~

James Scott Bell is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He is also the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.

His book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today. The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on his next Buchanan thriller.

Try Dying Reviewed

From the very first page, the suspense begins to build. By the middle of the book, you realize you have to been holding your breath for pages! When you finally read the last page, you release a satisfied sigh…almost. For you know there is more…there must be more…for this is the smoothest, fastest thrill ride in fiction!

The characters are real, raw and gritty. The scenes are described with such clear imagery that you can smell the fear and uncertainty, and taste the salt of the tears on the character’s faces. There are also many scenes buried within the story that include literary humor and allow you a glimpse into the author’s brilliant mind.

Truly, if suspense and unexpected plot twists are what you crave in a book, Try Dying is all of that and more! I anxiously await the next installment. There is more. There must be. For Bell leaves you with so many possibilities and unanswered questions that you are left ready to pick up the next volume and see what happens to our main character. Throughout the book, the reader watches the events of Ty Buchanan’s life take him to levels of raw humanity that even surprise him. He begins to question what is meaningful and whether or not there is more to living….whether the answers lie in dying…if there is anything more beyond the grave…so many questions surface throughout the story!

Realistically, there are not answers to all of the questions. James Scott Bell knows that no matter who is reading his book that in order to deliver a story that rings true, he must not tie all of his scenes up in neat little packages. Hence, as I have said before…there is more to come. There must be more! Bravo, Mr. Bell!!

P.S. Since writing this review, I’ve “heard” from Mr. Bell via email, and there IS more!! This book begins a series! YAHOO!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter

I have read a lot of reviews about this book, and now that I've had an opportunity to read it for myself....I'm blown away. I've never read Denise Hunter's books before, but I know this will certainly be the beginning for me of several wonderful fiction adventures.

Surrender Bay is so much more than a love story. It is a story about the depravity of the human soul, the inability to love unconditionally and to accept unconditional love when it's offered. This book is about the fear of being hurt and the risk we take when we make ourselves vulnerable. Surrender is not the natural state of our heart and soul, and to surrender to anyone is very hard to do for most people.

In this story, Sam has to come back to the place she grew up and face all of the mistakes that have dogged her steps for the last eleven years. She has to face people she has hurt, and she has to face her own fears before she can accept the love and forgiveness offered to her. This book is filled with a lot of tension, a lot of heartache, and an overwhelming sense of grace.

This is an extremely powerful book. It is kind of short in the Christian content category, but it totally captures the meaning of the words love and grace. WOW!!!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Never Look Back by Kathy Herman

Wow. I just finished this book. As in, it is still laying here beside me and I am sort of reeling from impact. This is a very neat book! Not only is it suspenseful, romantic and mysterious, but somehow Kathy Herman also deals with a lot of issues and misconceptions we often make about each other in a very powerful way!

Ivy's new beginning as a recovering addict is honest, painful and real. I've been volunteering at an in-house recovery program for the past 6 months, and I can tell you Kathy Herman has some insight about this subject! I appreciate the honesty and sensitivity with which she handles the subject.

Mainly, I loved the way Ivy discovers what it means to accept the forgiveness Christ offers to us when He saves us. Oh, that each of His children could learn the freedom that comes from truly understanding what that means!

I'm a huge fan of suspense novels, and this one did not disappoint! The temptation to peek at the end of the book to see the outcome was almost unbearable!!! This book has something for everyone!!

Bravo, Kathy! This book was breathtaking!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My Interview with Robert Liparulo

DeadFall has what some would consider minimal Christian content. Was this intentional, or are you purposely trying to reach the general market? If so, what is your message?

I’m not writing to a “market”. I’m trying to write for the type of reader that I am. I like action thriller books, and I had grown frustrated with the lack of well-written thriller books anywhere except in the general market. I previously did book reviews for New Man magazine, and I could not find fiction in the CBA market that entertained. In order to read what I enjoyed, I had to wade through over-the-top language and explicit sex in the general market to get a satisfying read. I wanted something realistic with a lot of good action. I’m trying to write books that anyone can enjoy without having to put up with clearly immoral language/scenes found in the general market.

Before I signed my last book contract, I had bids from both Thomas Nelson and a large mainstream publishing house. Even though I really felt God wanted me to go with Thomas Nelson, I knew that I might be pushing the limit of edgy to a new level for them. When we talked about it, Nelson understood my vision for good, action-thriller novels, and so I chose to go with them. I am very happy with that decision, because even though I want to write for Christians and non-Christians, I don’t want to write for both markets.

As I’m working on a project, I have a prayer team that prays for me as I write. My pastor always reads my manuscripts before they are published, and Allen Arnold, publisher at Thomas Nelson, constantly looks at my work and asks if I can say something a different way. I feel like it is important to have these checks and balances in my writing so that I never cross the line and write something that isn’t pleasing to God.

Where did the idea for DeadFall come from? What was the “what-if” question that got the story started?

One of the primary characters in DeadFall is modeled after my best friend of 30 years who works as a game warden in Cheyenne. He is a very grounded, thoughtful Christian, but he is also very rugged. I asked myself what kind of situation would make a person like my friend have to reach really deep to find the strength to face a very difficult situation. DeadFall’s main character, Hutch, finds himself in a situation that makes him reach deep very quickly.

What other projects are you working on?

There will be a continuation – not exactly a sequel - to DeadFall where one of the primary characters explores the behind-the-scenes forces that were at work in the first novel. There are characters in this story that I want to get to know better, and that will be explored in the next book.

I am also working on a Young Adult 6-book series. The first two books in this series are scheduled for release in the Summer of 2008 with a working title of the Dream House Kings.
I am also working on a joint project that is scheduled to be made into a political thriller movie. I’m having to move my schedule all around to try and get it all done in a way that makes sense and that will make my stories timely.

What are you afraid of? Is that fear something we see in your novels?

I’m afraid of things in the dark and the concept that there are invisible forces at work, both good and evil, all around us. I’m not afraid of how that affects my faith, because I know I am secure in my faith, but the thought of those forces at work is kind of scary.

Fear of losing my family is probably the theme you will see in many of my books. I lost my sister when she was 23 years old and I was 28. At the time, I was father to a one-year-old and a four-month-old, and it made me very aware of how truly fragile life can be. I tend to be overprotective sometimes, and no matter when I pray, I always ask God to protect my family. I have been married 23 years, and we now have four children. Family is very important to me.

What is your favorite family activity?

I love the beach! I love burying my children up to their neck in the sand, digging holes on the beach, playing in the surf, getting sand in your picnic food…I love time on the beach with my family! I don’t get a lot of that in Colorado, but any time we go on vacation, I try to go to the beach.

I also love watching movies and discussing them with my wife. In college I was a movie production major before switching to English, and I love to look closely at a movie and try to figure out how it could be better, what was done well ect…It took a while for me to convince my wife that this was fun, but now we enjoy it!

Bob Liparulo is a delightful man to talk to! There is so much more than just questions and answers when you interview him, because he likes to “ramble”. I have learned that he is a man who prayerfully seeks what God would have him to write. When he was writing his first novel, Comes a Horseman, he really struggled and prayed over whether or not to have an overt Christian message in his work. One morning, as he started his day, he looked out his window and viewed the beauty of Pike’s Peak. God placed the question clearly in his mind and heart:
“Do you see me in the Mountain?”
“Yes, Lord, I see you in all nature, just as the Bible teaches,” Bob’s heart responded.
“But do you see My name written on the mountain?”
“No, of course Your Name is not written on the mountain,” came the reply.
“Write like that!”

Through that experience, Bob gained peace and confidence in his heart and mind about the direction God wanted him to go in his work. He has published three novels so far, and they are all edgy, but carefully thought out and prayed over works. While Bob knows he can’t please everyone and that there will be some in the Christian market that find his work to be offensive in one way or the other, he wants to write stories that will be pleasing to God, and he wants to continue to seek God’s direction as he continues to write. He has had people write to him that have seen God’s imprint on his work in ways even he wasn’t aware of! He knows that God is there in the stories. Right now, he’s writing some of the most exciting thrillers in the Christian market!!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

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.

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.

Robert's first novel painted 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.

Bob has sold the film rights to his second book, GERM. And he is writing the screenplay for a yet-to-be-written political thriller, which sold to Phoenix Pictures, for Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) to direct!

He is currently working on his fourth novel.

DeadFall: My Review

Robert Liparulo’s DeadFall is on the very edge of Christian Fiction. As a thriller, this book exceeded my expectations. From the beginning, I was drawn in and rapidly turning pages to find out what happened next. Liparulo has truly mastered the art of suspense, and thrilling is an adjective anyone would use freely when describing this book. This would make an awesome movie! It would be R-rated for violence, but awesome in the seat-of-your-pants thrill ride that it provides!

Bob Liparulo believes every sentence he writes should move the plot and build his characters. He offers a fine example of this skill in DeadFall. Unlike his previous two novels, Comes a Horseman and Germ which offered a more global storyline, DeadFall is a more intimate story set among a smaller group of people in a tightly confined time period. This change offers the reader a chance to get to know the characters better and to explore the thoughts and intents of both the good and evil points of view. Liparulo does not want to undermine the nastiness of evil, yet he wants to write in such a way that his readers will not have to endure over-the-top language (there is NONE in this story) or gratuitous sex scenes. (none of that either!) DeadFall is exactly what the cover advertises – THRILLER!

Bob Liparulo graciously agreed to a phone interview with me, and I am excited to share our conversation here on my blog. God’s hand was evident in all of this, because there was a scene in the novel on page 141 that I thought was inappropriate for a book with Thomas Nelson’s name on the spine. This caused me to contact Thomas Nelson, and I was given a chance to speak with Allen Arnold and better understand their publishing philosophy. I learned a great deal.

Because of my initial contact with the publisher, when I asked Bob for an interview, he agreed! (He’s so nice, he would have agreed anyway, I think!) I learned a GREAT lesson in what it means to follow God’s will in your life, and that sometimes others will not understand. I missed the point initially, and I regret that. However, I think if you’ll read my interview, you will understand, as I do, that Robert Liparulo is doing exactly what God asked him to do. For that, I am deeply grateful! Come back tomorrow for my interview!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

It's coming!!! It's almost here! Don't miss it!!

DEADFALL by Robert Liparulo tours tomorrow! I will be posting my first review for the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance as well as a personal interview with Bob Liparulo!! What an exciting and wonderful journey I was able to enjoy last week! I now look forward to sharing it with you! Please, join me!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

OK. Here is what God is showing me......

I've been wrestling with the "what is Christian fiction" question. I've talked to a lot of folks and read a lot of opinions. However, when asked the question, "What do I think?" I wavered. Part of me wants all Christian fiction to have an overt message, but I personally love the more thriller-type books that are in the market right now. So, where did that leave me?

Philippians 1: 14-17 reveals Paul facing similar reports of vast differences in preaching styles due to his imprisonment. His answer? Look at verse 18!
"What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea and will rejoice."

And check out verse 27 of the same chapter!
"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ,...(that) I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel."

If Christ is the focus and we seek Him in our work...then HE will bless it no matter what others think.

I made some pretty harsh judgements about a book - I was offended. I complained. And I asked questions. You know what God did? He made me look deeper.

We are not all called to read or write the same thing. For some, anything that is not overt in its Christian message is falling short. For others, an overt message simply disallows them to write what God has laid upon their heart. If a person is saved, and belongs to Christ, and seeks the message HE wants, then writes and shares that message, they do so in obedience. I think that is the point.

There is nothing new under the sun when it comes to human conflict. We live in a world that goes a little crazier with each passing day. The Bible has a lot to say about that too. But if we stay in the Word and ask God for understanding, He is FAITHFUL to answer!

I am rejoicing in the journey I have had this week. I am very excited for next week to get here so I can share what I've learned with you!!

Have a terrific weekend!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

PS to my Gathering Information Post

God answers prayer in the most unusual ways!! I had the honor and privilege of interviewing one of Thomas Nelson's authors yesterday. (the source of my complaint) I am humbled at the testimony of this man, and I am very sorry I ever made such a hasty judgment! God is working in a mighty way in so many lives, and I will have a LOT to tell you next week that is exciting and just plain AWESOME!! Stay tuned! Things are about to crank up here on Window To My World!!

My Review Hollywood Nobody

One thing I’m beginning to learn as I do these book reviews is that publishing houses have personalities. Navpress is edgy, and so is Lisa Samson’s new book Hollywood Nobody. I’ve not read much in the current teen fiction genre, so this book was a stretch for me. However, once I got used to the non-stop chatter of the main character, Scotty, I couldn’t put it down! I had to keep reading to find the answers!

I mean, this girl has got it going on! I’m just sayin’! It’s like having a 15-year-old computer nerd take over your brain for a few hours. She’s smart, very insightful, and trying to make sense out of her very unusual lifestyle! Lisa Samson realistically inserts her search for Jesus and spirituality and leaves you, realistically, with no real answers at the end of the book. However, the first chapter of the next book in the series is also at the end, so you are left hungry for more and wondering what’s next for our endearing Scotty!

So, even if you normally read adult fiction – and I’m telling you, Hollywood Nobody qualifies as adult in some areas – but I guess modern teens know more about a lot of things these days…Anyway, if you want a radical change of pace and you want to explore a chatty teenager’s mind, pick up a copy of Hollywood Nobody…it’s pretty cool! I’m just sayin’! (Mercy! This book has made me ramble!)

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

This month's feature author is:

and her book:

Hollywood Nobody

Th1nk Books (August 30, 2007)


Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Apples of Gold was her first novel for teens. Visit Lisa at

These days, she's working on Quaker Summer, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying . . . some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.

Other Novels by Lisa:
Straight Up, , Club Sandwich, Songbird, Tiger Lillie, The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition: A Novel, Songbird, The Living End


Hollywood Nobody: April 1

Happy April Fool’s Day! What better day to start a blog about Hollywood than today?

Okay, I’ve been around film sets my whole life. Indie films, yeah, and that’s all I’m saying about it here for anonymity’s sake. But trust me, I’ve had my share of embarrassing moments. Like outgrowing Tom Cruise by the age of twelve — in more ways than one, with the way he’s gotten crazier than thong underwear and low-rise jeans. Thankfully that fashion disaster has run for cover.

Underwear showing? Not a good idea.

Fact: I don’t know of a single girl who doesn’t wish the show-itall boxer-shorts phenomenon would go away as well. Guys, we just don’t want to see your underwear. Truthfully, we believe that there is a direct correlation between how much underwear you show and how much you’ve got upstairs, if you know what I mean.

I’ve seen the stars at their best and at their worst. And believe me, the worst is really, really bad. Big clue: you’d look just as pretty as they do if you went to such lengths. As you might guess, some of them are really nice and some of them are total jerks, and there’s a lot of blah in-betweeners. Like real life, pretty much, only the extremes are more extreme sometimes. I mean honestly, how many people under twenty do you know who have had more than one plastic surgery?

So you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a little hard on these folks. But if it was all sunshine and cheerleading, I doubt you’d read this blog for long, right?

Today’s Rant: Straightening irons. We’ve had enough of them, Little Stars, okay? It was bad on Helen Hunt at the Oscars, worse on Demi, yet worse on Madonna, and it’s still ridiculous. Especially on those women who are trying to hold onto their youth like Gollum holds onto that ring. Ladies, there’s a reason for keeping your hair at or above your shoulders once you hit forty, and ever after. Think Annette Bening. Now she’s got it going on. And can’t you just see why Warren Beatty settled down for her? Love her! According to The Early Show this morning, curls are back, and Little Me ain’t going to tell why I’m so glad about that!

Today’s Kudo: Aretha Franklin. Big, bold, beautiful, and the best. Her image is her excellence. Man, that woman can sing! She has a prayer chain too. I’m not very religious myself, but you got to respect people who back up what they say they believe. Unless it’s male Scientologists and "silent birth." Yeah, right. Easy for them to say.

Today’s News: I saw a young actor last summer at a Shakespeare festival in New England. Seth Haas. Seth Hot is more like it. I heard a rumor he’s reading scripts for consideration. Yes, he’s that hot. Check him out here. Tell all your friends about him. And look here on Hollywood Nobody for the first, the hottest news on this hottie. Girls, he’s only nineteen! Fair game for at least a decade-and-a-half span of ages.

I don’t know about you, but following the antics of new teen rock star Violette Dillinger is something I’m looking forward to. Her first album, released to much hype, hit Billboard’s no. 12 spot its third week out. And don’t you love her hit single "Love Comes Knocking on My Door"? This is going to be fun. A new celeb. Uncharted territory. Will Violette, who seems grounded and talented, be like her predecessors and fall into the "great defiling show-business machine" only to be spit out as a half-naked bimbo? We’ll see, won’t we? Keep your fingers crossed that the real artist survives.

Today’s Quote: "Being thought of as ‘a beautiful woman’ has spared me nothing in life. No heartache, no trouble. Beauty is essentially meaningless." Halle Berry


Friday, April 2

I knew it was coming soon. We’d been camped out in the middle of a cornfield, mind you, for two weeks. That poke on my shoulder in the middle of the night means only one thing. Time to move on.

"What, Charley?"

"Let’s head ’em on out, Scotty. We’ve got to be at a shoot in North Carolina tomorrow afternoon. I’ve got food to prepare, so you have to drive."

"I’m still only fifteen."

"It’s okay. You’re a good driver, baby."

My mom, Charley Dawn, doesn’t understand that laws exist for a reason, say, keeping large vehicles out of the hands of children. But as a food stylist, she fakes things all the time.

Her boundaries are blurred. What can I say?

Charley looks like she succumbed to the peer pressure of plastic surgery, but she hasn’t. I know this because I’m with her almost all the time. I think it’s the bleached-blond fountain of long hair she’s worn ever since I can remember. Or maybe the hand-dyed sarongs and shirts from Africa, India, or Bangladesh add to the overall appearance of youth. I have no idea. But it really makes me mad when anybody mistakes us as sisters.

I mean, come on! She had me when she was forty!

My theory: a lot of people are running around with bad eyesight and just don’t know it.

I throw the covers to my left. If I sling them to my right, they’d land on the dinette in our "home," to use the term in a fashion less meaningful than a Hollywood "I do." I grew up in this old Travco RV I call the Y.

As in Y do I have to live in this mobile home?

Y do I have to have such an oddball food stylist for a mother?

Y must we travel all year long? Y will we never live anyplace long enough for me to go to the real Y and take aerobics, yoga, Pilates or — shoot — run around the track for a while, maybe swim laps in the pool?

And Y oh Y must Charley be a vegan?

More on that later.

And Y do I know more about Hollywood than I should, or even want to? Everybody’s an actor in Hollywood, and I mean that literally. Sometimes I wonder if any of them even know who they are deep down in that corner room nobody else is allowed into.

But I wonder the same thing about myself.

"You’re not asking me to drive while you’re in the kitchen trailer, are you, Charley?"

"No. I can cook in here. And it’s a pretty flat drive. I’ll be fine."

I’m not actually worried about her. I’m thinking about how many charges the cops can slap on me.

Driving without a license.

Driving without a seat belt on the passenger.

Speeding, because knowing Charley, we’re late already.

Driving without registration. Charley figured out years ago how to lift current stickers off of license plates. She loves "sticking it to the man." Or so she says.

I kid you not.

Oh, the travails of a teenager with an old hippie for a mother. Charley is oblivious as usual as I continue my recollection of past infractions thankfully undetected by the state troopers:

Driving while someone’s in the trailer. It’s a great trailer, don’t get me wrong, a mini industrial kitchen we rigged up a couple of years ago to make her job easier. Six-range burner, A/C, and an exhaust fan that sucks up more air than Joan Rivers schmoozing on the red carpet. But it’s illegal for her to go cooking while we’re in motion.

"All right. Can I at least get dressed?"

"Why? You’re always in your pj’s anyway."

"Great, Mom."

"It’s Charley, baby. You know how I feel about social hierarchy."

"But didn’t you just give me an order to drive without a license? What if I say no?"

She reaches into the kitchen cupboard without comment and tips down a bottle of cooking oil. Charley’s as tall as a twelve-year-old.

"I mean, let’s be real, Charley. You do, in the ultimate end of things, call the shots."

I reach back for my glasses on the small shelf I installed in the side of the loft. It holds whatever book I’m reading and my journal. I love my glasses, horn-rimmed "cat glasses" as Charley calls them. Vintage 1961. Makes me want to do the twist and wear penny loafers.

"Can I at least pull my hair back?"

She huffs. "Oh, all right, Scotty! Why do you have to be so difficult?"

Charley has no clue as to how difficult teenagers can actually be. Here I am, schooling myself on the road, no wild friends. No friends at all, actually, because I hate Internet friendships. I mean, how lame, right? No boyfriend, no drugs. No alcohol either, unless you count cold syrup, because the Y gets so cold during the winter and Charley’s a huge conservationist. (Big surprise there.) I should be thankful, though. At least she stopped wearing leather fringe a couple of years ago.

I slide down from the loft, gather my circus hair into a ponytail, and slip into the driver’s seat. Charley reupholstered it last year with rainbow fabric. I asked her where the unicorns were and she just rolled her eyes. "Okay, let’s go. How long is it going to take?"

"Oh." She looks down, picks up a red pepper and hides behind it.

I turn on her. "You didn’t Google Map it?"

"You’re the computer person, not me." She peers above the stem. "I’m sorry?" She shrugs. Man, I hate it when she’s so cute. "Really sorry?"

"Charley, we’re in Wilmore, Kentucky. As in Ken-Tuck-EEE . As in the middle of nowhere." I climb out of my seat. "What part of North Carolina are we going to? It’s a wide state."

"Toledo Island. Something like that. Near Ocracoke Island. Does that sound familiar?"

"The Outer Banks?"

"Are they in North Carolina?"

Are you kidding me?

"Let me log on. This is crazy, Charley. I don’t know why you do this to me all the time."

"Sorry." She says it so Valley Girl-like. I really thought I’d be above TME: Teenage Mom Embarrassment. But no. Now, most kids don’t have mothers who dress like Stevie Nicks and took a little too much LSD back in the DAY. It doesn’t take ESP to realize who the adult in this setup is. And she had me, PDQ, out of the bonds of holy matrimony I might add, when she was forty (yes, I already told you that, but it’s still just as true), and that’s
OLD to be caught in such an inconvenient situation, don’t you think? The woman had no excuse for such behavior, FYI.

My theory: Charley’s a widow and it’s too painful to talk about my father. I mean, it’s plausible, right?

The problem is, I can remember back to when I was at least four, and I definitely do not remember a man in the picture. Except for Jeremy. More on him later too.

I flip up my laptop. I have a great satellite Internet setup in the Y. I rigged it myself because I’m a lonely geek with nothing better to do with her time than figure out this kind of stuff. I type in the info and wait for the directions. Satellite is slower than DSL, but it’s better than nothing.

"Charley! It’s seventeen hours away!" I scan the list of twists and turns between here and there. "We have to take a ferry to Ocracoke, and then Toledo Island’s off of there."


"Groovy died with platform shoes and midis."

"Whatever, Scotty." Only she says it all sunny. She’s a morning person.

"That phrase should be dead."

Honestly, I’m not big on lingo. I’ve never been good at it, which is fine by me. Who am I going to impress with cool-speak anyway? Uma Thurman? Yeah, right. "Okay, let’s go."

"We can go as long as possible and break camp on the way, you know?" Charley.

I climb back into the rainbow chair, throw the Y into drive, pull the brake, and we’re moving on down the road.


Sample from Hollywood Nobody / ISBN: 1-60006-091-9
Copyright © 2006 NavPress Publishing. All rights reserved. To order copies of this resource, come back to