Friday, May 30, 2008

I'm so excited!

I have so many terrific books coming your way in June!! There will be tons more give aways, and just so many different types of books to enjoy!! I hope you are making time for reading this summer, because I plan to have your mind swimming with good reading ideas!! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

F.I.R.S.T. Wildcard presents...Francine Rivers' A Voice in the Wind - GIVE AWAY!

It is an honor and privilege to share with you one of my favorite books, written by one of my favorite authors! A Voice In the Wind is the first in The Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers. This book has been reprinted twice that I know of, but its message remains life-changing and powerful. Francine Rivers is truly a gifted and anointed Christian writer, and the story that is told in A Voice In the Wind is one that shouts God’s redemption and mercy in a way that you will never, ever forget!

This story takes you back to the Roman Empire not long after the resurrection of Christ. Hadassah is a young Jewish girl who lived among one of the early Christian families, and her father died defending his faith. When Rome invades, it seems that Hadassah will also die, but instead she is sold into slavery – a fate often worse than death. The family who buys Hadassah is a wealthy, modern Roman family to whom servitude and selfless living are as foreign as the young Jewish girl who now works their bidding. Hadassah’s work is performed with a quiet, peaceful humility that God uses to slowly bring about change in the lives of this self-serving family.

Marcus, the son, worships wealth and physical pleasure and runs a successful trading business. However, his empty, vulgar relationships with women are beginning to tire him, and he longs for something more. Julia, the daughter, lives only to please herself, and her lack of concern for any other person – whether related by blood or marriage – is cold and disconcerting. Throughout the story, her life spirals into the most hellish depths of human depravity, yet she clings to Hadassah with a sort of desperation that no one seems to understand. All the while, the parents of these two, Phoebe and Decimus Valerian are successful, but they are appalled at the heartless pursuit of pleasure sought by their children. All four of these characters face challenging circumstances of varying degrees, and all of them are somehow touched by the quiet, unassuming life of this young Jewish slave.

There is yet another layer to this incredible tale. Alternating in and among the storyline of the Valerian family is the tale of a Germanic tribesman that is also captured during a Roman invasion. His life in captivity is to be lived out as a gladiator in the Roman coliseum. Atretes’ heart and mind become so violently hardened and so completely focused on winning back his freedom that it becomes difficult to imagine there is any hope left for him at all. The course of his life changes dramatically when he sees Julia paying particular attention to him during one of his fights.

Once again, Francine Rivers weaves a beautiful, powerful story that will keep you riveted to the page and leave your heart longing for a fresh intimacy with Christ like nothing you’ve ever read before. The characters are strong and vibrant and their emotions are raw and very, very real! Don’t miss this incredible trilogy! I’ve read it several times over the years, and I look forward to reliving the journey again in this beautiful re-designed edition.

I have a copy of this beautiful book to give away! Please leave a comment to be entered in the drawing!


Francine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Journalism. From 1976 to 1985, she had a successful writing career in the general market and her books were awarded or nominated for numerous awards and prizes. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, mother of three, and an established romance novelist. Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. First published by Bantam Books, and then re-released by Multnomah Publishers in the mid- 1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush is now considered by many to be a classic work of Christian fiction. Redeeming Love continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association’s top-selling titles and it has held a spot on the Christian bestseller list for nearly a decade.

Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous novels with Christian themes – all bestsellers-- and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous awards including the Rita Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold Medallion, and the Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent. In 1997, after winning her third Rita award for Inspirational Fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers’ of America Hall of Fame. Francine’s novels have been translated into over twenty different languages and she enjoys best-seller status in many foreign countries including Germany, The Netherlands, and South Africa.

Francine and her husband Rick live in Northern California and enjoy the time spent with their three grown children and every opportunity to spoil their four grandchildren. She uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.

Visit her at her website.

Chapter One

The city was silently bloating in the hot sun, rotting like the thou-sands of bodies that lay where they had fallen in street battles. An oppressive, hot wind blew from the southeast, carrying with it the putrefying stench of decay. And outside the city walls, Death itself waited in the persons of Titus, son of Vespasian, and sixty thou-sand legionnaires who were anxious to gut the city of God.

Even before the Romans crossed the Valley of Thorns and camped on the Mount of Olives, warring factions within Jerusa-lem’s city walls had prepared the way for her destruction.

Jewish robbers, who now fled like rats before the Roman legions, had recently fallen upon Jerusalem and murdered her prominent citizens, taking over the holy temple. Casting lots for the priesthood, they turned a house of prayer into a marketplace of tyranny.

Fast behind the robbers came rebels and zealots. Directed by rival leaders—John, Simon, and Eleazar—the warring factions raged within the three walls. Swollen with power and pride, they sliced Jerusalem into bloody pieces.

Breaking the Sabbath and the laws of God, Eleazar stormed Antonia Tower and murdered the Roman soldiers within it. Zealots rampaged, murdering thousands more who attempted to bring order back to a maddened city. Unlawful tribunals were set up and the laws of man and God mocked as hundreds of innocent men and women were murdered. Houses full of corn were burned in the chaos. Famine soon followed.

In their despair, righteous Jews prayed fervently for Rome to come against the great city. For these Jews believed that then, and only then, would the factions within Jerusalem unite in one cause: freedom against Rome.

Rome did come and, their hated ensigns held high, their war cry rang across all of Judea. They took Gadara, Jotapata, Beersheba, Jericho, Caesarea. The mighty legions marched in the very footsteps of devout pilgrims who came from every corner of the Jewish nation to worship and celebrate the high holy days of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread—the Passover. Innocent tens of thousands poured into the city and found themselves in the midst of civil war. Zealots closed the gates, trapping them inside. Rome came on until the sound of destruction echoed across the Valley of Kidron against the walls of Jerusalem itself. Titus laid siege to the ancient, holy city, determined to end Jewish rebellion once and forever.

Josephus, the Jewish general of fallen Jotapata who had been taken captive by the Romans, wept and cried out from atop the first wall defeated by the legionnaires. With Titus’ permission, he pleaded with his people to repent, warning them that God was against them, that the prophecies of destruction were about to be fulfilled. Those few who listened to him and managed to evade the zealots in their escape reached the greedy Syrians—who dis-sected them for the gold pieces they had supposedly swallowed before deserting the city. Those who didn’t heed Josephus suffered the full fury of the Roman war machine. Having cut down every tree within miles, Titus built siege engines that hurled countless javelins, stones, and even captives into the city.

From the Upper Market Place to the lower Acra and the Valley of Cheesemongers between, the city writhed in revolt.

Inside the great temple of God, the rebel leader John melted down the sacred golden vessels for himself. The righteous wept for Jerusalem, the bride of kings, the mother of prophets, the home of the shepherd king David. Torn asunder by her own peo-ple, she lay gutted and helpless, awaiting her death blow from hated Gentile foreigners.

Anarchy destroyed Zion, and Rome stood ready to destroy anarchy... anytime... anywhere.

Hadassah held her mother, tears blurring her eyes as she stroked the black hair back from her mother’s gaunt, pale face. Her mother had been beautiful once. Hadassah remembered watching her take her hair down until it lay, glistening in thick waves, against her back. Her crowning glory, Papa called it. Now, it was dull and coarse, and her once-ruddy cheeks were white and sunken. Her stomach was swollen with malnutrition, the bones of her legs and arms clearly outlined beneath a gray overdress.

Lifting her mother’s hand, Hadassah kissed it tenderly. It was like a bony claw, limp and cool. “Mama?” No response. Hadas-sah looked across the room at her younger sister, Leah, lying on a dirty pallet in the corner. Thankfully, she was asleep, the agony of slow starvation briefly forgotten.

Hadassah stroked her mother’s hair again. Silence lay upon her like a hot shroud; the pain in her empty belly was almost beyond endurance. Only yesterday she had wept bitterly when her mother had uttered thanks to God for the meal Mark had been able to scavenge for them: shield leather from a dead Roman soldier.

How long before they all died?

Grieving in the silence, she could still hear her father speaking to her in that firm but gentle voice. “It is not possible for men to avoid fate, even when they see it beforehand.”

Hananiah had spoken these words to her scant weeks ago— though now it seemed like an eternity. He had prayed all that morning, and she had been so afraid. She had known what he was going to do, what he had always done before. He would go out before the unbelievers and preach about the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

“Why must you go out again and speak to those people? You were almost killed the last time.”

“Those people, Hadassah? They’re your kinsmen. I’m a Benjaminite.” She could still feel his gentle touch on her cheek. “We must seize every opportunity we can to speak the truth and proclaim peace. Especially now. There’s so little time for so many.”

She had clung to him then. “Please, don’t go. Father, you know what’ll happen. What’ll we do without you? You can’t bring peace. There is no peace in this place!”

“It is not the world’s peace I speak of, Hadassah, but God’s. You know that.” He had held her close. “Hush, child. Do not weep so.”

She wouldn’t release him. She knew they wouldn’t listen—they didn’t want to hear what he had to tell them. Simon’s men would slash him to pieces before the crowd as an example of what became of those who spoke for peace. It had happened to others.

“I must go.” His hands had been firm, his eyes gentle, as he had tipped her chin. “Whatever happens to me, the Lord is always with you.” He’d kissed her, hugged her, then put her away from him so he could embrace and kiss his other two children. “Mark, you will remain here with your mother and sisters.”

Grabbing and shaking her mother, Hadassah had pleaded, “You can’t let him go! Not this time!”

“Be silent, Hadassah. Who are you serving by arguing so against your father?”

Her mother’s reprimand, though spoken gently, had struck hard. She had said many times before that when one did not serve the Lord, they unwittingly served the evil one instead. Fighting tears, Hadassah had obeyed and said no more.

Rebekkah had laid her hand against her husband’s gray-bearded face. She had known Hadassah was right; he might not return, probably wouldn’t. Yet, perhaps, if it was God’s will, one soul might be saved through his sacrifice. One might be enough. Her eyes had been full of tears and she could not—dared not— speak. For if she had, she was afraid she would join Hadassah in pleading that he stay safe in this small house. And Hananiah knew better than she what the Lord willed for him. He had placed his hand over hers and she had tried not to weep.

“Remember the Lord, Rebekkah,” he had said solemnly. “We are together in him.”

He had not returned.

To read the rest of the chapter, go here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ruby Among Us by Tina Ann Forkner

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Ruby Among Us

(WaterBrook Press May 20, 2008)


Tina Ann Forkner


Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary fiction that challenges and inspires. Originally from Oklahoma, she graduated with honors in English from CSU Sacramento before ultimately settling in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming where she now resides with her husband and their three children. Tina serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors and enjoys gardening, spending time outdoors with her family, and works as a full-time writer.


Sometimes, the key that unlocks your future lies in someone else’s past...

In Ruby Among Us, Lucy DiCamillo is safely surrounded by her books, music, and art─but none of these reclusive comforts or even the protective efforts of her grandmother, Kitty can shield her from the memory of the mother she can no longer remember. Lucy senses her grandmother holds the key, but Kitty seems as eager to hide from the past as Lucy is eager to find it.

From the streets of San Francisco and Sacramento, to the lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley, Lucy follows the thread of memory in search for a heritage that seems long-buried with her mother, Ruby.

What she finds is enigmatic and stirring in this redemptive tale about the power of faith and mother-daughter love.


This is a story about family. It is a story about choices and the consequence of misunderstanding both motives and circumstances. It is about the weakness of the human heart and the strength of God’s faith working within our lives to bring us into His presence and to bless us with love and family. Ruby Among Us tells several stories and weaves them together into a single picture of redemption and grace.

This story begins with three generations of women; Kitty, Ruby and Lucy. Ruby is torn from the family prematurely, and the decisions Kitty makes on Lucy’s behalf eventually begin to reveal a lifetime of misunderstandings and secrets that nearly destroys everyone they touch. However, God in His mercy, introduces Matt and his friends into the picture, and both Lucy and Kitty are reintroduced to a vibrant faith that throws wide the door of redemption.

This story is filled with many different relationships, and each one carries its own burden of secrecy or misunderstanding from the past. As each layer of deception is uncovered, the characters learn more about themselves and the effects that their choices have upon each other. Ultimately, they learn that if they turn toward God they will find the strength to seek forgiveness from each other and to find the love of family that they have looked for over many long years.

Ruby Among Us is not what I would consider a light read. It was kind of heavy emotionally. It was also a bit frustrating to me that one of the main characters was so unwilling to accept the love and grace offered to her for so long! I think that is the point of the story though. We are all stiff-necked toward God’s grace, and because of that we make choices that hurt ourselves as well as others. Ruby Among Us is a beautiful picture of God’s long-suffering love and grace that ultimately leads to our redemption. Pick up a copy here today!

“What an incredible story. As both mothers and daughters, Ruby Among Us struck a special cord in each of the four of us. Tina writes in a way that makes us feel like we’re there; from the first line, we were captivated and drawn into an intricate weaving of the precious and fragile relationships that define us.”
~Point of Grace~
“Reading is a passion of mine, and when I find myself identifying with the characters, anxious to get to the next page to find answers to my questions, I know I’m into a good book! The daughter-mother-grandmother theme in Ruby Among Us pulled me in. Wonderful story-telling.”
~Jordin Sparks~, 2007 winner of American Idol
“Highly recommended. If you’re a mother or daughter, you’re going to love Ruby Among Us. Forkner does an extraordinary job…. I look forward to more from this author.”
~Ane Mulligan~, Novel Journey
“Don’t miss this one! Tina Ann Forkner is a strong new voice in fiction and Ruby Among Us is an amazing story of trials, regrets, and, ultimately, redemption. Lucy and her family history in the historic wine country of Sonoma bring to life the Scriptures about the Vine and His branches.”
~Kristin Billerbeck~, author of The Trophy Wives Club

If you would like to read the first chapter go HERE

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gunfight at Grace Gulch Plus and Interview with Darlene Franklin!

Who dunnit? Was it his arch rival in the Oklahoma land run? A business competitor? Jilted lover or angry family member?

Darlene Franklin makes her mystery debut with Heartsong Presents with a wonderful cozy mystery entitled Gunfight at Grace Gulch. In a small Oklahoma town, Cici runs a vintage clothing store. The city tradition of reenacting the 1891 land run has her shop filled with customers and the streets filled with spectators. When one of the re-enactors doesn’t get up after a gun fight, the town is thrown into shock that one of their own would turn a public celebration into a public tragedy.

Local police name one of Cici’s sisters and one of her beau’s as the prime suspects, and it seems they intend to make little effort to look beyond the most obvious. Cici won’t stand for such antics, so she and another suitor, Audie, team up to try and uncover the identity of the real killer. Their conversations over dinner in the local restaurants stir the gossip mill, and romance does indeed begin to bloom for Cici even amid less-than-desirable circumstances. Will her private murder investigation lead to the killer? Will it jeopardize her chance to find the man of her dreams?

Gunfight at Grace Gulch is really a terrific cozy mystery, and it is perfect for a Summer read at the beach! Purchase your copy today! And don’t forget to keep an eye out for more cozy titles from the pen of Darlene Franklin and Heartsong Presents!

About the Author and an interview!

Darlene Franklin lives in the Denver area with her mother and her lynx point Siamese cat Talia. She has sold four novels as well as a novella and has contributed to numerous magazines, anthologies, and devotionals. She has also written curriculum for children’s Sunday school. She is a frequent guest speaker at local writers groups.

And now a view from Darlene Franklin's Window! Welcome, Darlene!!

- Your mystery has its beginnings based around an intriguing period of history, the Oklahoma land- runs. Any particular reason you chose that period, or do you find history in interesting in general? Will any of your books be set in the past or again based on past actions?

The state of Oklahoma celebrated its centennial in 2007. Experts say to tie your books into current events whenever possible, and originally we expected Gunfight at Grace Gulch to be published last year. I lived in Oklahoma long enough to appreciate its rich history, from the Trail of Tears to Jesse James to the land runs to the oil boom and the Dust Bowl and aviation and beyond.

I do find history interesting in general. In the fall, I have a historical novella in Snowbound Colorado Christmas. The stories in the collection take place during Colorado’s worst-ever blizzard in 1913.

The historical thread returns to my Dressed for Death series in the third book, Paint Me a Puzzle. A muralist paints the history of Grace Gulch on the outside of the new arts center; people are convinced it contains clues to buried treasure, and the adventure begins.

- Will there be any more adventures for Cici and Audie?

A String of Murders is scheduled for release in late December. I expect Paint Me a Puzzle to appear in 2009.

- You obviously enjoy a touch of romance in your stories. Will you ever pursue a romance series for Heartsong or do you plan to stay within the mystery genre?

When I first started writing fiction (I started in nonfiction), I discovered that everything I wrote had a touch of romance. Since I’m a single mother, I attribute my flare for writing romance to the greatest love story of all—God’s love for us.

My first book, Romanian Rhapsody, is a Heartsong romance. I do expect to write more romances for Heartsong. Keep current at my website ( or blog (

- How important do you think it is to include an overt Christian message in your work?

It depends on the story. If the story calls for an overt message, yes, include it; but if it doesn’t, don’t force it. Ideally, I’d like to be able to write like John Grisham does. Many of his stories include a clear Christian message; others do not.

- What does your family think about your writing? Any memorable reader responses so far?

My family is really very supportive. It’s easier now that my children are grown. My son, who lives in Oklahoma, has started selling Gunfight at Grace Gulch at the restaurant where he works!

My first book, Romanian Rhapsody, drew a response from a reader who went through an experience very much like my hero and heroine. She traveled to Romania on a music tour; a member of their group died while in Romania. The parallels to my story sent chills up my back.

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

The biggest thing in my life right now is not exciting, but God’s presence amazes me. My daughter committed suicide two months ago. God’s love, expressed through His people, and His comfort through word and song, have carried me through.

The theme of my writing is “Writing at the Crossroads of Love and Grace.” God’s love and grace meet us at the crossroads of our lives. Nothing can happen that will take God by surprise, or be too much for Him to handle. These last two months have reaffirmed that reality in new ways.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Skid by Rene Gutteridge - GIVE AWAY!!!

WaterBrook Press, May 20, 2008

Come Fly The Frenzied Skies!

Blissfully unaware that Atlantica Flight 1945 from Atlanta to Amsterdam is about to make aviation history, First Officer Danny McSweeney focuses his energies on navigating the turbulent personalities of an eccentric female captain, a copilot with a talent for tactless comments and conspiracy theories, and a lead flight attendant with an outsized attitude that definitely exceeds the limits for carry-on baggage.

On the other side of the cockpit door, the unscheduled inflight entertainment includes a potbellied pig, a jittery diamond courier, and the recently jilted Lucy Meredith, whose personal mantra of "What Would Oprah Do?" will be challenged by the sudden appearance of her ex and his new traveling partner. On her left sits Hank Hazard, whose unusually polite but constant requests--prompted by his covert role as a spy for teh airline--test the limits of the crew's customer service.

But as Lucy and the crew discover, Hank's odd behavior is linked to a quiet faith that may play a key role in the fate of everyone on board. Especially when an unexpected traveler sets this already bumpy flight on a course toward the unfriendly skies.


This has got to be the strangest book I have ever read. I just spent eight hours over the Atlantic ocean with a pot-bellied pig who likes eggs, a jewel thief who likes duct tape, a prisoner who is paranoid, a pilot with low blood sugar and a woman dressed in polka dots trying to conjure up energy fields. I’m disoriented to say the least! I’m still trying to figure out how the sister of a former mime turned FAA spy figures into the grand scheme of things!

If you want to read something that will make you laugh out loud one minute and have you scratching your head the next, this is the book for you! I will close with some sage advice from the soon-to-retire pilot who is notorious for successfully completing a water landing in the Bermuda triangle: “The moral of the story is that there may be red flags in your life you don’t see because the flag fell off.” (p. 63)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (from her website)

Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including
Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series and The Occupational Hazards Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers). She released My Life as a Doormat and The Ultimate Gift: the novelization for WestBow Press. She has also been published over forty times as a playwright, best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the "Excellence in Mass Communication" award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writers conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.

I have an extra copy of this book to give away! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post, and your name will be entered into the drawing!

Bringing Home the Prodigals by Rob Parsons

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:

Bringing Home the Prodigals

Authentic (April 1, 2008)


Rob Parsons, a lawyer by profession, has subsequently become a wellknown author and speaker on family issues. Drawing from his own experiences of family life, and often joined by his wife Dianne, he has addressed over 500,000 people in facetoface events. In 1988, Rob launched Care for the Family, a registered charity motivated by Christian compassion. The resources and support offered are available to everyone, of any faith or none.

Visit him at his website.


In a society where drug abuse is rampant, pornography is readily available, and sex pervades every television show, movie and commercial we view, Bringing Home the Prodigals has never brought a timelier message to hurting hearts. In a day when churches are larger, busier, more modern and less structured than ever before, Bringing Home the Prodigals has never trumpeted a timelier lesson for Christians around the globe. Rob Parsons has indeed been obedient to God in writing this book, and I pray that it will be read widely and often.

Everyone knows someone – or several someones – who has chosen to live a destructive, painful life that hurts or destroys themselves and every other person with whom they come in contact. Everyone knows someone – or several someones – who is agonizing over a loved one and whose faith has been stretched to the breaking point as they cry out to God for restoration. In all of these things, in every situation, God the Father is constantly, faithfully and lovingly drawing hearts to Himself and parenting us with the only perfect and grace-filled love able to heal and restore broken hearts and lives.

Rob Parsons’ book speaks to those who are storming heaven’s gates on behalf of the prodigals in their lives. He encourages each person to lay down the guilt they are carrying over their prodigals’ bad choices. He urges us to stop wrongfully judging those around us and instead start sharing our burdens so that together we can heal and draw close to God. The most difficult charge Parsons makes to those longing for their prodigals’ homecoming is to forgive them, and forgive ourselves for things we may have done to push them away or keep them from returning.

This book is not difficult to understand, yet its simple truths are powerfully applicable in the life of every Christian. There are poems, prayers and scripture reflections interspersed between each chapter that are absolutely fabulous places to pause and talk to God. I think there is something here for everyone, and I think all Christians could learn and grow from the lessons in this book. I want to close with a couple of stanzas from one of the prayers. I think you will see clearly the simple power of Parsons’ words. (from page 118):

Lord, only you know where our prodigals are – not just the physical place but in
their hearts, their minds, their spirits. None of us can hide from you, and who is
lost that you cannot find?
We pray for them. Lord, bring them home – not just to us, not even first to us, but
to You. Forgive us if as parents, friends or churches, we have made it easier for
them to leave, or harder to come back.

I prayerfully urge everyone to purchase a copy of this book. Read it. Share it. Your heart will be opened to God’s work, and you will be strengthened and changed.


Chapter One

Always Leave a Light On

Sometimes God ambushes us: it happened to me on March 14, 1998. I had been invited to speak at the National Exhibition Center in the UK to thousands of people who had gathered to pray for the return of their prodigals. I had prepared a message based on the timeless parable of the lost son, and it was folded securely in the inside pocket of my jacket. I believed I was ready to deliver God’s word.

I have been at many Christian events over the years, but I have never experienced the wave of emotion that filled the auditorium that day. The organizers had seated my wife, Dianne, and me on the platform, and as I gazed out at that vast audience, I couldn’t help but wonder what stories lay behind the prayers.

Somewhere, no doubt, was a woman whose husband had once led a church and been a faithful husband and father until the night he told her the four things that so many Christian men tell their wives when they leave them for another woman: “We were so young when we got married we hardly knew what we were doing— I doubt we ever really loved each other”; “In the long run this will be better for you”; “One day you’ll realize this is best for the kids,” and “I’ve prayed about this, and it’s OK with God.”

And somewhere there was a father who had told his tiny daughter Bible stories. She had picked one each night from the huge children’s Bible they kept on the shelf in her bedroom. They had said prayers together, and he had always been touched that, from her youngest days, she had prayed for others more than herself. But as he prayed in the auditorium that day, he thought of her later teenage years and the gradual disinterest in anything to do with God. A great sobbing convulsed his body as he remembered the night he found the drugs in her bedroom and, finally, the day she left, cursing both him and God.

These people had gathered, every one of them with a prodigal on their hearts: friends, brothers, husbands, wives, and sometimes in a strange reversal of the parable, mothers and fathers—but mostly children.

But that great arena did not hold only people praying. In the very front was a huge wooden cross. Its shadow seemed to reach over the whole crowd. During the day, people were invited to write the name of their prodigal on a small card, bring it to the front, and lay it at the foot of the cross. I watched them as they came: young people bringing the names of school friends, married couples holding hands as they laid down the names of children, friends walking together clutching cards, and often the elderly, shuffling forward and bending slowly as they lay the names of those they loved at the cross.

After an hour or so one of the organizers asked me if I would leave the platform and stand by the cross to pray with some of those who were coming forward. Of course I agreed and made my way to the floor of the arena and to the cross. That’s when God ambushed me. What occurred in the next two minutes changed my life forever and was the impetus that was to take the message of “Bringing Home the Prodigals” around the world.

When I reached the cross there were tens of thousands of names there. They were written on cards that were spilling off the little table at the foot of the cross and onto the floor. I picked up and read some of them: “Jack” “Milly” “Bring Charles home, Lord.” It seemed to me that the pain of the world lay at the foot of that cross. I thank God for what he has done in the lives of our two children, but at that time Dianne and I had heavy hearts for them, and I remember laying Katie’s name at the foot of the cross and Lloyd’s name next to hers. And then I started to cry. I could not stop.

As I wept, God laid a message about prodigals on my heart that I first preached later that day. It was not the neat, nicely wrapped-up one with all the answers—that was in my pocket. It was a message forged from brokenness and a sense of utter dependence on God. As I finished speaking that day, I remember thinking that one day I would put it into a book.

But life for all of us is busy and the book was never started. And then one day, as part of some routine tests, the doctors found a possible abnormality with one of my kidneys. They feared it was a tumor. I had about ten days to wait for the results of the tests that would determine what the problem was.

On one of those days I found myself ambling along a London street. It was a wonderful spring morning; on such days, London is at its best. The air was crisp, the sky blue, and behind me the sun shone off Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret’s Chapel as I made my way past Churchill’s War Rooms and into St. James’ Park.

The park was almost deserted, and the pigeons, squirrels, and I looked at each other as if there was little else of interest. Never does life become as precious as when you think it may be suddenly shortened. I began to think about things that really mattered to me. The message of the prodigals came to my mind, and I knew I had to get that book written. I started it that week. A few days later the test results came and were favorable: I did not have a tumor—just an over-sized kidney that I’d probably had all my life. A few months later the book was written. But that was only the beginning.

One day the people who had invited me to preach at their day of prayer in the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham in the UK called to ask me to meet with them. They said God had told them to pass on to me the mantle of the burden for prodigals that they had carried for so many years. We began to visit the denominational leaders to see if the message resonated with them. Without exception—whether it was the Salvation Army, the Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, or even the Archbishop of Canterbury himself—the response was the same: “This is a God-given word for today. We support you in it.”

Over the following few years in auditoriums all across the United Kingdom, more than fifty thousand people have experienced a Bringing Home the Prodigals event. Even now in my mind’s eye, I can picture them listening to the message and bringing the names of their prodigals to the foot of the cross. We began to hear the most remarkable stories of prodigals coming back to God.

Since then we have been taking Bringing Home the Prodigals all over the world. I have watched people stream forward to lay the names of their prodigals at the cross in Costa Rica, Uganda, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and North America. This little book contains the heart of the message of Bringing Home the Prodigals I believe God has laid on my heart. I warn you now; it is a simple message. Most of us feel we know the parable so well that there is hardly anything new we could learn. Maybe this is true, but God wants to remind us of what we knew in our hearts all along—and somehow forgot.

I wrote part of the book in a small conference center on the Gower coast near Swansea, Wales. It is not far from where Dylan Thomas wrote “Under Milk Wood.” The building is set on a hill, and the view from my window was unspeakably beautiful, running across fields, then woods, and finally ending at the sea in the great sweep of the bay. One morning I took a break from writing and stood outside the house gazing into the distance at the breakers hitting the beach. After a few minutes I was joined by a priest. He had on the traditional long black cassock, had a flowing grey beard, and wore what my kids used to call “Jesus sandals.” He had been leading a discussion in one of the seminar rooms and said he had “just come out to get a little air whilst they ponder a couple of theological teasers I’ve set them.”

We began chatting and he asked me what I was doing. When I told him I was writing a book about prodigals, he told me a most moving story. Let me try to capture his words as I remember them:

In a village near here, is a large old house. An elderly lady lives there alone and every night, as darkness falls, she puts a light on in the attic. Her son left home twenty-five years ago, rather like the prodigal in the parable, but she has never given up the hope that one day he will come home. We all know the house well, and although the bulb must occasionally need replacing, none of us have ever seen that house without a light on. It is for her son.

The theme of “leaving a light on” has become a recurring one in the letters and emails I have received from all over the world from those who wait for a prodigal’s return. Shortly after one of the Bringing Home the Prodigals events, a woman wrote to me. She told me that her daughter had walked out of their home when she was eighteen years old. She had turned her back not only on her mother and father, but on the God she had once loved. “My daughter didn’t get in touch, and we didn’t know whether she was alive or dead,” the woman wrote. She went on to tell me that every night, as she and her husband turned off the lights before they went to bed, she would always say to him, “Leave the porch light on.” And every Christmas, she would put a little Christmas tree in the front of the house, its lights shining, just as she used to when her daughter was at home.

After six years, her daughter suddenly came home—and not just to her mother and father, but to God. When she did, she told her mother a remarkable story: “Mom, I so often wanted to come home, but I was too ashamed. Sometimes, in the early hours of the morning, I would drive my car onto your street and just sit there. I used to gaze at the houses and every one of them was dark apart from our house: you always left a light on. And at Christmas I would do the same: just sit there in the darkness and look at the Christmas tree you had put outside—I knew it was for me.”

I have never been able to get that mother out of my mind. She seems to me to symbolize the hopes, fears, and prayers of millions across the world whose hearts are breaking for their prodigals. But this is not just a message for them; in fact Bringing Home the Prodigals is not just about praying for our prodigals to come home. It is about asking us to consider the characters of our local churches. Is it possible that by our attitudes, our concern with rules and regulations that are not on God’s heart, or by our ingrained spirit of the elder brother (or sister!) we have made it easy for some to leave? Perhaps we have kept them out of mind while they are gone and tragically made it harder for them to return. Could it be that inadvertently we have “created” prodigals?

This is a theme that should catch the imagination of all who care about evangelism. The truth is, most of us know ten people who may have never been to church whom we’d like to invite to an evangelistic service—but we all know a hundred prodigals. The numbers are enormous. When the prodigals come home we are going to have to pull down our old church buildings and use aircraft hangers. If you care about church growth, then care about this message. There is nothing as frustrating as seeing people come to Christ through the front door of the church and losing others in almost the same proportion out the door in the back.

All over the world I have cried with parents for their prodigals. There is no more fervent prayer in homes today than, “Father, bring our prodigal home.” I have concentrated in this book on those who have children, of whatever age, who are prodigals, but of course there are many kinds of prodigals—brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and friends. I hope with all my heart that for whomever you are concerned, you will find something here to encourage you and keep the flames of hope alight.

This book is not written principally to give advice, although I will share with you the lessons I have learned from many whose hearts have cried out to God for those they love. My hope is that it will be a book that will release us from false guilt, bring us hope, and above all, lead us to prayer. At the end of every chapter is a prayer and reflection; each one is written by someone who has cried for a prodigal and who has come to believe that, ultimately, God is our only hope. At the very end of the book we will each bring our prodigals to the cross of Christ.

And we should not pray just for our prodigals, but for ourselves as well. We can pray that we will catch the Father’s heart for the prodigals—the outrageous grace of the One who, even as we stumble down the long road home, runs to throw a robe on our back, put a ring on our finger, and put shoes on our feet. And if we do change, if we can catch something of that father-heart of God, then it may be that, in his great mercy, he will touch the lives of thousands of our prodigals—and bring them home.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Another winner!! Congratulations!

Congratulations, Rachel!! You are the winner in the drawing for Healing Promises!

I hope the rest of you will drop by next week! There will be three new drawings for free books! You don't want to miss them!! LOTS of fun planned here in the Window To My World!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Broken Angel
(WaterBrook Press (May 20, 2008)
Sigmund Brouwer


Sigmund Brouwer is the author of eighteen best-selling novels for children and adults. His newest book is Fuse of Armageddon and his novel The Last Disciple was featured in Time magazine and on ABC’s Good Morning America. A champion of literacy, he teaches writing workshops for students in schools from the Arctic Circle to inner city Los Angeles. Sigmund is married to Christian recording artist Cindy Morgan, and they and their two daughters divide their time between homes in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and Nashville, Tennessee.


Her birth was shrouded in mystery and tragedy.
Her destiny is beyond comprehension.
Her pursuers long to see her broken.
She fights to soar.

A father's love for his daughter…a decision that would change both their lives forever. But who is she really─and why must she now run for her life?

Caitlin's body has made her an outcast, a freak, and the target of vicious bounty hunters. As she begins a perilous journey, she is forced to seek answers for her father's betrayal in the only things she can carry with her─a letter he passes her before forcing her to run, and their shared memories together.

Being hunted forces Caitlyn to partner with two equally lonely companions, one longing to escape the horror of factory life in Appalachia and the others, an unexpected fugitive. Together the three will fight to reach a mysterious group that might be friend or foe, where Caitlyn hopes to uncover the secrets of her past...and the destiny she must fulfill.

In the rough, shadowy hills of Appalachia, a nation carved from the United States following years of government infighting, Caitlyn and her companions are the prey in a terrifying hunt. They must outwit the relentless bounty hunters, skirt an oppressive, ever-watchful society, and find passage over the walls of Appalachia to reveal the dark secrets behind Caitlyn’s existence–and understand her father’s betrayal.

Prepare yourself to experience a chilling America of the very near future, as you discover the unforgettable secret of the Broken Angel.

In this engrossing, lightning-paced story with a post-apocalyptic edge, best-selling author Sigmund Brouwer weaves a heroic, harrowing journey through the path of a treacherous culture only one or two steps removed from our own.

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


Broken Angel is unlike any book I have ever read. It falls somewhere between fantasy, thriller and suspense. The premise of the book was difficult to grasp initially, but once I understood that the people were living in a closed community dominated by crazy fanatics, I then began to understand who the good guys were and who the bad guys were…I thought. See, no one is who they appear to be in this story. Just about the time you think a bad guy is going to take out a good guy….ooops! He’s not bad he’s good. It’s kind of confusing, but it really keeps you on your toes and moves the story forward.

The main character in the story is a young woman named Caitlyn who suffers from a strange physical malformation that you don’t understand until the very end. Once you understand her problem, it clarifies a lot of things. In the meantime, you are taken on a wild ride through one closed community and into another, more mystical group whose intent for either good or evil depends on who you talk to.

In short, I’m not sure I fully grasped the entire story as I should have. All I know for sure is that the story drew me in, and I didn’t stop reading until I finally reached the end. There are a lot of rather violent scenes in the story, so if you don’t deal well with very twisted thinking, you might not enjoy this book. However, the suspense builds and builds until you grow almost frustrated with the desire to find out how things are going to end.

This is a difficult book for me to talk about, because even though I liked it….when I got to the end, I’m not sure I understood what exactly the author intended. It’s a good read, but it works best for those whose mind goes easily outside the box of common thought. If you like a suspenseful, very different kind of thrill, then this is the book for you! Purchase a copy here today!

House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo

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

and his book:

Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)


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

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

Here are some of his titles:

Comes a Horseman




Ahhhhhhhhgh!!! You can’t do this to me! You drag me into woods so dark they absorb light only to introduce me to a house that shifts sounds around like so many shadows! Then you introduce a family with secrets and move them into this creepy house, and from the moment they arrive it is evident that NOTHING is right! Then you leave me hanging….in the House of Dark Shadows.

Xander and David King find themselves living in a house where nothing is as it seems! Nothing! In your wildest dreams you can’t imagine where these two wind up! There are portals throughout the house that lead everywhere from the local schoolhouse to events in the past that will raise the hair on the back of your neck!! The time they spend “through the portal” will leave you gasping for breath, because you will be holding it every moment until they get back to the creepy house! At first I could have strangled the kids’ dad because he seemed a little too eager to keep secrets about all of the weirdness from his wife and daughter. However, by the time I finally understood his motive…I still wanted to strangle him! But I didn’t feel so bad about that, because his kids wanted to strangle him too!!

If you want to read a good old-fashioned scary tale that will wrap your imagination in new directions, go buy this book today!! Robert Liparulo is the KING of suspenseful thrillers! Teens will eat this up and beg for more! My two teens LOVED IT!! Hey, so did I!! Talk about a cliff-hanger at the end!! You better be thankful that Robert Liparulo released the first two books in the Dreamhouse King series all at once! Buy them both or you’ll be sorry!!

Now, I’ve got to go read the next volume!! Watcher in the Woods here I come!


“A house of which one knows every room isn't worth living in.”

—Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa


Thirty years ago

The walls of the house absorbed the woman’s screams, until they felt to her as muffled and pointless as yelling underwater. Still, her lungs kept pushing out cries for help. Her attacker carried her over his shoulder. The stench of his sweat filled her nostrils. He paid no heed to her frantic writhing, or the pounding of her fists on his back, or even her fingernails, which dug furrows into his flesh. He simply lumbered, as steadily as a freight train, through the corridors of the big house.

She knew where they were heading, but not where she would end up. In this house, nothing was normal, nothing as it appeared. So while she knew in advance the turns her attacker would take, which hallways and doors he would traverse, their destination was as unknowable as a faraway galaxy. And that meant her taking would be untraceable. She would be unreachable to searchers. To would-be rescuers. To her family— and that realization terrified her more than being grabbed out of her bed. More than the flashes of imagined cruelty she would suffer away from the protection of the people who loved her. More than death.

But then she saw something more terrifying: her children, scrambling to catch up, to help. Their eyes were wide, streaming. They stumbled up the narrow staircase behind her attacker, seeming far below, rising to meet her. The thought of them following her into the chasm of her fate was more than she could stand.

“Go back,” she said, but by this time her throat was raw, her voice weak.

The man reached the landing and turned into another corridor.

Temporarily out of sight, her son yelled, “Mom!” His seven-year-old voice was almost lost in the shrillness of his panic. He appeared on the landing. His socked feet slipped on the hardwood floor and he went down. Behind him, his little sister stopped. She was frightened and confused, too young to do anything more than follow her brother. He clambered up and started to run again.

A hand gripped his shoulder, jarring him back.

The boy’s father had something in his fist: the lamp from his nightstand! He past the boy in the hallway. His bare feet gave him traction.

Thank God, she thought.

He reached her in seconds. With the lamp raised over his head, he grabbed her wrist. He pulled, tried to anchor himself to the floor, to the carpeted runner now covering the wood planks. But the brute under her walked on, tugging him with them. The man yanked on her arm. Pain flared in her shoulder. He might as well have tried pulling her from a car as it sped passed.

She caught a glimpse of the bizarrely shaped light fixtures on the corridor walls—mostly carved faces with glowing eyes. The bulbs flickered in time with her racing heart. She could not remember any of the lights doing that before. It was as though the electrical current running through the wires was responding to a disruption in the way things were supposed to be, a glitch in reality.

“Henry,” she said, pleading, hopeful.

His grip tightened as he stumbled along behind them. He brought the lamp’s heavy base down on her assailant. If the man carrying her flinched, she did not feel it. If he grunted or yelled out, she did not hear it.

What he did was stop. He spun around so quickly, the woman’s husband lost his grip on her. And now facing the other direction, she lost sight of him. Being suddenly denied her husband’s visage felt like getting the wind knocked out of her. She realized he was face to face with the man who’d taken her, and that felt like watching him step off a cliff.

“Nooo!” she screamed, her voice finding some volume. “Henry!”

His hand gripped her ankle, then broke free. The man under her moved in a violent dance, jostling her wildly. He spun again and her head struck the wall.

The lights went out completely . . . . but no, not the lights . . . her consciousness. It came back to her slowly, like the warmth of fire on a blistery day.

She tasted blood. She’d bitten her tongue. She opened her eyes. Henry was crumpled on the floor, receding as she was carried away. The children stood over him, touching him, calling him. Her son’s eyes found hers again. Determination hardened his jaw, pushed away the fear . . . at least a measure of it. He stepped over his father’s legs, coming to her rescue. Henry raised his head, weary, stunned. He reached for the boy, but missed.

Over the huffing breath of the man, the soft patter of her son’s feet reached her ears. How she’d loved that sound, knowing it was bringing him to her. Now she wanted it to carry him away, away from this danger. Her husband called to him in a croaking, strained voice. The boy kept coming.

She spread her arms. Her left hand clutched at open air, but the right one touched a wall. She clawed at it. Her nails snagged the wallpaper. One nail peeled back from her finger and snapped off.

Her assailant turned again, into a room—one of the small antechambers, like a mud room before the real room. He strode straight toward the next threshold.

Her son reached the first door, catching it as it was closing.

“Mom!” Panic etched old-man lines into his young face. His eyes appeared as wide as his mouth. He banged his shoulder on the jamb, trying to hurry in.

“Stay!” she said. She showed him her palms in a “stop” gesture, hoping he would understand, hoping he would obey. She took in his face, as a diver takes in a deep breath before plunging into the depths. He was fully in the antechamber now, reaching for her with both arms, but her captor had already opened the second door and was stepping through. The door was swinging shut behind him.

The light they were stepping into was bright. It swept around her, through the opening, and made pinpoints of the boy’s irises. His blue eyes dazzled. His cheeks glistened with tears. He wore his favorite pajamas—little R2D2s and C3P0s all over them, becoming threadbare and too small for him.

“I—“ she started, meaning to say she loved him, but the brute bounded downward, driving his shoulder into her stomach. Air rushed from her, unformed by vocal chords, tongue, lips. Just air.

“Moooom!” her son screamed. Full of despair. Reaching. Almost to the door.

The door closed, separating her from her family forever.



Saturday, 4:55 P.M.

“Nothing but trees,” the bear said in Xander’s voice. It repeated itself: “Nothing but trees.”

Xander King turned away from the car window and stared into the smiling furry face, with its shiny half-bead eyes and stitched-on nose. He said, “I mean it, Toria. Get that thing out of my face. And turn it off.”

His sister’s hands moved quickly over the teddy bear’s paws, all the while keeping it suspended three inches in front of Xander. The bear said, “I mean it, Toria. Get that—”

At fifteen years old, Xander was too old to be messing around with little-kid toys. He seized the bear, squeezing the paw that silenced it.

“Mom!” Toria yelled. ”Make him give Wuzzy back!” She grabbed for it.

Xander turned away from her, tucking Wuzzy between his body and the car door. Outside his window, nothing but trees—as he had said and Wuzzy had agreed. It reminded him of a movie, as almost everything did. This time, it was The Edge, about a bear intent on eating Anthony Hopkins. An opening shot of the wilderness where it was filmed showed miles and miles of lush forest. Nothing but trees.

A month ago, his dad had announced that he had accepted a position as principal of a school six hundred miles away, and the whole King family had to move from the only home Xander had ever known. It was a place he had never even heard of: Pinedale, almost straight north from their home in Pasadena. Still in California, but barely. Pinedale. The name itself said “hick,” “small,” and “If you don’t die here, you’ll wish you had.” Of course, he had screamed, begged, sulked, and threatened to run away. But in the end here he was, wedged in the back seat with his nine-year-old sister and twelve-year-old brother.

The longer they drove, the thicker the woods grew and the more miserable he became. It was bad enough, leaving his friends, his school—everything!—but to be leaving them for hicksville, in the middle of nowhere, was a stake through his heart.

“Mom!” Toria yelled again, reaching for the bear.

Xander squeezed closer to the door, away from her. He must have put pressure on the bear in the wrong place: It began chanting in Toria’s whiny voice: “Mom! Mom! Mom!”

He frantically squeezed Wuzzy’s paws, but could not make it stop.

“Mom! Mom! Mom!”

The controls in the bear’s arms weren’t working. Frustrated by its continuous one-word poking at his brain—and a little concerned he had broken it and would have to buy her a new one—he looked to his sister for help.

She wasn’t grabbing for it anymore. Just grinning. One of those see-what-happens-when-you-mess-with-me smiles.

“Mom! Mom! Mom!”

Xander was about to show her what happened when you messed with him—the possibilities ranged from a display of his superior vocal volume to ripping Mr. Wuzzy’s arms right off—when the absurdity of it struck him. He cracked up.

“I mean it,” he laughed. “This thing is driving me crazy.” He shook the bear at her. It continued yelling for their mother.

His brother David, who was sitting on the other side of Toria and who had been doing a good job of staying out of the fight, started laughing too. He mimicked the bear, who was mimicking their sister: “Mom! Mom! Mom!”

Mrs. King shifted around in the front passenger seat. She was smiling, but her eyes were curious.

“Xander broke Wuzzy!” Toria whined. “He won’t turn off.” She pulled the bear out of Xander’s hands.

The furry beast stopped talking: “Mo—” Then, blessed silence.

Toria looked from brother to brother and they laugh again.

Xander shrugged. “I guess he just doesn’t like me.”

“He only likes me,” Toria said, hugging it.

“Oh, brother,” David said. He went back to the PSP game that had kept him occupied most of the drive.

Mom raised her eyebrows at Xander and said, “Be nice.”

Xander rolled his eyes. He adjusted his shoulders and wiggled his behind, nudging Toria. “It’s too cramped back here. It may be an SUV, but it isn’t big enough for us anymore.”

“Don’t start that,” his father warned from behind the wheel. He angled the rearview mirror to see his son.

“What?” Xander said, acting innocent.

“I did the same thing with my father,” Dad said. “The car’s too small . . . it uses too much gas . . . it’s too run down . . . ”

Xander smiled. “Well, it is.”

“And if we get a new car, what should we do with this one?”

“Well . . . .” Xander said. “You know. It’d be a safe car for me.” A ten-year-old Toyota 4Runner wasn’t his idea of cool wheels, but it was transportation.

Dad nodded. “Getting you a car is something we can talk about, okay? Let’s see how you do.”

“I have my driver’s permit. You know I’m a good driver.”

“He is,” Toria chimed in.

David added, “And then he can drive us to school.”

“I didn’t mean just the driving,” Dad said. He paused, catching Xander’s eyes in the mirror. “I mean with all of this, the move and everything.”

Xander stared out the window again. He mumbled, “Guess I’ll never get a car, then.”

“Xander?” Dad said. “I didn’t hear that.”


“He said he’ll never get a car,” Toria said.

Silence. David’s thumbs clicked furiously over the PSP buttons. Xander was aware of his mom watching him. If he looked, her eyes would be all sad-like, and she would be frowning in sympathy for him. He thought maybe his dad was looking too, but only for an opportunity to explain himself again. Xander didn’t want to hear it. Nothing his old man said would make this okay, would make ripping him out of his world less awful than it was.

“Dad, is the school’s soccer team good? Did they place?” David asked. Xander knew his brother wasn’t happy about the move either, but jumping right into the sport he was so obsessed about went a long way toward making the change something he could handle. Maybe Xander was like that three years ago, just rolling with the punches. He couldn’t remember. But now he had things in his life David didn’t: friends who truly mattered, ones he thought he’d spend the rest of his life with. Kids didn’t think that way. Friends could come and go and they adjusted. True, Xander had known his current friends for years, but they hadn’t become like blood until the last year or so.

That got him thinking about Danielle. He pulled his mobile phone from his shirt pocket and checked it. No text messages from her. No calls. She hadn’t replied to the last text he’d sent. He keyed in another: “Forget me already? JK.” But he wasn’t Just Kidding. He knew the score: Out of sight, out of mind. She had said all the right things, like We’ll talk on the phone all the time; You come down and see me and I’ll come up to see you, okay? and I’ll wait for you.

Yeah, sure you will, he thought. Even during the past week, he’d sensed a coldness in her, an emotional distancing. When he’d told his best friend, Dean had shrugged. Trying to sound world-wise, he’d said, “Forget her, dude. She’s a hot young babe. She’s gotta move on. You too. Not like you’re married, right?” Dean had never liked Danielle.

Xander tried to convince himself she was just another friend he was forced to leave behind. But there was a different kind of ache in his chest when he thought about her. A heavy weight in his stomach.

Stop it! he told himself. He flipped his phone closed.

On his mental list of the reasons to hate the move to Pinedale, he moved on to the one titled “career.” He had just started making short films with his buddies, and was pretty sure it was something he would eventually do for a living. They weren’t much, just short skits he and his friends acted out. He and Dean wrote the scripts, did the filming, used computer software to edit an hour of video into five-minute films, and laid music over them. They had six already on YouTube—with an average rating of four-and-a-half stars and a boatload of praise. Xander had dreams of getting a short film into the festival circuit, which of course would lead to offers to do music videos and commercials, probably an Oscar and onto feature movies starring Russell Crowe and Jim Carrey. Pasadena was right next to Hollywood, a twenty-minute drive. You couldn’t ask for a better place to live if you were the next Steven Spielberg. What in God’s creation would he find to film in Pinedale? Trees, he thought glumly, watching them fly past his window.

Dad, addressing David’s soccer concern, said, “We’ll talk about it later.”

Mom reached through the seatbacks to shake Xander’s knee. “It’ll work out,” she whispered.

“Wait a minute,” David said, understanding Dad-talk as well as Xander did. “Are you saying they suck—or that they don’t have a soccer team? You told me they did!”

“I said later, Dae.” His nickname came from Toria’s inability as a toddler to say David. She had also called Xander Xan, but it hadn’t stuck.

David slumped down in his seat.

Xander let the full extent of his misery show on his face for his mother.

She gave his knee a shake, sharing his misery. She was good that way. “Give it some time,” she whispered. “You’ll make new friends and find new things to do. Wait and see.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sincerely Mayla Winner!! Congratulations!

Kelly was my winner for the Sincerely Mayla drawing! She has already responded with her snail mail address, so she will soon be enjoying this fabulous book!

Please check out my other give away here, and don't forget to stop back in soon, because there are several other give aways starting next week!

Don't miss the excitement!

Congratulations, Kelly!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

A View From Lisa Samson's Window! Welcome, Lisa!

It was such a joy to interview Lisa about her latest book, Embrace Me! I hope you will enjoy our brief chat and that you will get to know her many works! Lisa is a terrific lady, and her books really are terrific! Welcome, Lisa!

A burn victim in a freak show and a pastor of a mega-church…where on earth did you find that idea? Was there ever a point in the writing process that you wondered how you would ever get the stories to weave together so seamlessly?

It actually started out with the mega-church pastor because I wanted to explore why we're so enchanted with power: political power, ministerial power, even power within our family structures. The Jesus I read about, while having all the power of Divinity, laid it down and allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross. If this is the God we claim to follow, what in the world happened? Why are we more concerned about growth than discipleship? Politics than purity? Money than mercy? When did it stop being a good thing to lay down our lives for others? And to take it a step further, as Jesus said, (to paraphrase) "Who cares if you love those who love you? Big deal. Anyone can do that. I tell you, love your enemies." I think, when we forget about our Lord's call for love and service, the call to imitate Him, we begin to compromise the nature of the gospel. But our faith is not just in our head, is it? It's in our hands and our feet and our hearts. And it's pricey. We must lay it all down. What does that even look like? That's what I wanted to explore.

The sideshow performer, Valentine, came into being when I saw a lady here in Lexington with a terribly disfigured face. She lives near a friend of mine. I asked what had happened to her and she said the woman had Drano thrown onto her face. Actually, in the book itself, I give this lady a little scene as a sort-of thanks. Additionally, I'd taken an interest in sideshows a few years previously. I was fascinated by how normal some of their lives were off season. A lot had spouses and children. Marrying one another and buying houses in Florida to retire! Sideshow performers will call themselves "freaks" but I never felt comfortable referring to them as that other than on their own lips and in the mind of Valentine. It was a precarious tightrope to balance on, how to give a haunting picture without being offensive or going over the edge and making people too uncomfortable.

And yes, there was most definitely a point in the process that I wondered if I could pull off weaving the two stories together. It's such a matter of timing and honestly, sometimes I wondered if it was going to take the same amount of time for each story, because Drew's was getting a little too long! But I always find there are challenges like this when I get into a book. I actually make it that way because I'm always fiddling with point-of-view, structure and voice, trying something new with each book.

A freak show…the word freak speaks of the boldness in your story-telling. Why are people still drawn to what is ugly or frightening with no intent to reach out?

I have no idea, but we are, aren't we? We're glued to our TVs during tragedies. A lot of us watched the second tower fall on September 11; we were glued to the coverage of Shock and Awe knowing full well people were dying as those bomb were exploding; Katrina gave us round the clock coverage. I know this because I was one of those glued to the television set. We seem to be drawn to tragedy in the same way we're drawn to beauty. We are as equally compelled to stare at a deformed person as we are someone who is beautiful. Perhaps moreso because we wonder what the story is behind the pain. It's strange, isn't it?

On page 95 Valentine describes her burns as a filter that screen out everyone false in her life. She describes herself as “an acquired taste for a select few.” Do you think we should – through God’s mercy and grace – acquire a filter of our own so that we live in more real and meaningful relationships with God and man? Can the “filter” be found only amid trial or suffering?

That's such a hard question to answer because we all have our reasons for being who we are. Some of us have no filter, some have one with a grid so tiny and tight nothing can get through. It would be glib of me to say we have to be thoroughly open and transparent and vulnerable, but who can really be that way? I guess, for me, what I hope for is the grace to be who I need to be today with the people God sends my way. If I think too much about being wide open for the rest of my life, it scares me. But today, well, maybe I can handle just today. And yes, I think suffering goes a long way in allowing us to have full, meaningful relationships with both God and man. I've seen too many people who have been through trials or are going through them who have such a way of shining God's love. Maybe suffering is indeed a filter that helps us keeps the truly unimportant from getting inside and agitating us.

On page 289 Augustine speaks rather brutally of the emotions that often accompany our quest for forgiveness; “My heart is crushed – just as it should be. I deserve no less. This is a tired and confusing world, and sometimes doing the right thing makes us feel worse.” Why is it so hard to repent and ask for forgiveness? Is it because it often hurts or is it just totally anathema to the human heart?

I think it's hard to ask forgiveness because we don't want to be turned down. That suggests you'll always be unforgiven. But maybe closer to the top of our emotional chain is just pure old-fashioned pride. To ask someone's forgiveness is to admit we're wrong, or that we've committed a sin against someone, and in a day and age where being right is more important than being loving, asking forgiveness becomes that much more difficult.

What exciting things is God doing in your life right now? Any words of encouragement you would like to share with your readers?

Well, our family is at a fun stage. Ty, my oldest is a senior in high school. She's preparing to do missions work in Appalachia next year before beginning her Freshman year at University of Kentucky. My middle child, Jake, almost 14, just shot up a good five inches and his voice is changing. Talk about shock and awe. And my youngest, Gwynnie, 11, has a role in the school play. We're planning a two week trip around the country with Jake before he turns 14. It's our rite-of-passage trip. Just Will and I will accompany him. We took Ty on a trip to England when she was 13 and it was such a wonderful parent/child experience. We run a house of hospitality here in our city so we have people coming to stay with us as they travel through quite frequently and it's always fun to gather around the table with a good meal. Will's our cook and he does a great job. There's always something going on around here.

To my readers I'd just like to say that God loves you. I often think if we realized how much God loves us, our lives would never be the same. Thanks so much for having me Kim!