Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shadow of Colossus by T.L. Higley

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 the book:

Shadow of Colossus

Broadman & Holman Publishers (August 1, 2008)


T.L. Higley holds a degree in English Literature and has written three previous novels, including Fallen from Babel, and more than fifty drama productions for church ministry. A lifelong interest in history and mythology has led Tracy to extensive research into ancient Greece and other myth systems, and shaped her desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past. She lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and four children.

Visit the author's website.

Please look here for my interview with Tracy Higley!

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Broadman & Holman Publishers (August 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 080544730X
ISBN-13: 978-0805447309


Catastrophe lies in the future. T.L. Higley frames her novel, Shadow of Colossus, around historical events that her characters know nothing about. Thus she has created a unique window into the past – a vantage point from which the reader is aware of the coming tragedy but unable to warn those within the story. The resulting tension builds as each layer of the plot is played out upon the stage of ancient Greece.

T.L. Higley does a masterful job of re-creating early Greek society and the powerful struggles of men to rule one another both physically and spiritually. With the great Colossus of Helios casting its shadow over the island of Rhodes, the story of Tessa’s quest for freedom unfolds. Servanthood in ancient Greece was a treacherous position to live within as powerful leaders of the day struggled to gain a foothold amid the ever-widening world stage. For Tessa, the hetaera of Glaucous, the desire to be free proves to be even more powerful and treacherous than those whom she serves!

All is not what it appears to be, and throughout the story the identities of the characters shift like so many shadows. Nikos, a strong man seeking a position in the house where Tessa and Simeon serve, appears under the most dire and inconvenient circumstance! His presence proves to be both a comfort and a terror to Tessa as she and Simeon try to cloak the household in deceit while making plans to secure Tessa’s road to freedom. Deceit is also rampant in the household of many other leaders of Rhodes, and the plot that unfolds among the leaders’ quest for power becomes an intricate web of lies and trickery that builds to an explosive confrontation!

In the midst of the chaos a Jewish servant, Simeon, and his family emerge as an unlikely beacon of hope and an early foreshadowing of the redemption offered to all by Yahweh and the coming Messiah. Higley handles this message of redemption beautifully as she sets the persecution of the Jewish people in stark contrast to the empty power of the Greek society and their ancient idolatry.

Shadow of Colossus is a powerful beginning for the Seven Wonders series that captures the essence of early Greek society. Tessa becomes a beautiful representation of every soul that struggles to be free of earthly enslavement and longs for the redemption found in God alone. Tessa’s story is both difficult and heartbreaking, but it is one you will remember for a very long time! I anxiously await the second novel in the Seven Wonders series, City of the Dead.


Rhodes, 227 bc

Seven Days Before the Great Quake

In the deceitful calm of the days preceding disaster, while Rhodes still glittered like a white jewel in the Aegean, Tessa of Delos planned to open her wrists.

The death of her body was long overdue. Her soul had died ten years ago.

Ten years this day.

Tessa took in a breath of salty air and shivered. From her lofty position outside Glaucus's hillside home, she watched the populace's torches flicker to life in the dusk. Across the city the day's tumult at the docks slowed. The massive statue of Helios at the harbor's frothy mouth caught the sun's last rays as it slipped into a cobalt sea. The torch he thrust skyward seem to burst aflame, as though lit by the sun god himself.

He had been her only constant these ten years, this giant in the likeness of Helios. A silent sentinel who kept vigil as life ripped freedom and hope from her. Painful as it was, tonight she wanted only to remember. To be alone, to remember, and to mourn.

"Tessa!" A wine-sodden voice erupted from the open door behind her.

The symposium had begun only minutes ago, but Glaucus was already deep into his cups. Bad form in any company, thought Tessa, but Glaucus rarely cared. Tessa inhaled the tang of sea air again and placed a steadying hand against the smooth alabaster column supporting the roof. She did not answer, nor turn, when she heard her fat master shuffle onto the portico.

"Get yourself back into the house!" Glaucus punctuated his command with a substantial belch.

"Soon," she said. "I wish to watch the sun god take his leave."

A household servant crept out and set two torches blazing. An oily smell surged, then dissipated. From the house floated harsh laughter mingled with the tinny sound of a flute.

Glaucus pushed his belly against her back and grabbed her arm. The linen chitôn she'd taken care to arrange perfectly fell away, exposing her shoulder. She reached to replace it, but Glaucus caught her hand. He brought his mouth close to her ear, and she could smell his breath, foul as days-old fish.

"The others are asking for you. `Where is your hetaera?' they say. `The one with more opinions than Carthage has ships.'"

Tessa closed her eyes. She had long entertained Glaucus's political friends with her outspoken thoughts on government and power. While his wife remained hidden away in the women's quarters, Glaucus's hetaera was displayed like an expensive pet with sharp teeth. Tessa had once believed she led an enviable life, but the years had stripped her of her illusions.

She stroked the polished filigree of the gold necklace encircling her throat and remembered when Glaucus fastened it there, a gilding for his personal figure of bronze.

"Now, Tessa." Glaucus pulled her toward the door.

Her heart reached for the statue, clinging to her first memory of it, when Delos had been home and innocence had still been hers.

When I open my wrists, I will do it there.


The andrôn, central room of the men’s quarters, smelled of roasted meat and burning olive oil. Glaucus paused in the doorway, awaiting the attention of those who had curried enough of his favor to be invited tonight. When the small crowd lounging on low couches at the room’s perimeter turned his way, he pushed her into the lamp-lit center. “Tessa, everyone,” he shouted. “Making a grand entrance!”

The room laughed and clapped, then returned their attention to the food and wine on the low tables beside them. In the corner, a young girl dressed in gauzy fabric blew thin streams of air into a small flute. Tessa’s eyes locked onto the girl’s for a moment. A private understanding passed between them that they were both objects of entertainment, and the girl looked away, as though ashamed to be seen so clearly. A desire to protect the girl surfaced in Tessa, a maternal feeling that of late seemed only a breath away.

Glaucus pulled her to a couch and forced her down onto the gold-trimmed red cushions. He lowered himself at her right and leaned against her possessively. A black bowl with gold designs waited in the center of their table, and Glaucus ladled wine from it into a goblet for her. To the room he said, “To Tessa—always the center of attention!” He raised his own cup, and his guests did the same.

Tessa’s gaze swept the room, taking in the majority of men and the few women reclining against them. The moment was suspended, with cups raised toward her, drunken and insincere smiles affixed to faces, lamplight flickering across tables piled with grapes and almonds and figs, and the flute’s lament behind it all.

Will I remember this night, even in the afterlife?

“To Tessa!” Shouts went round the room, cups were drained and thumped back to tables, and the party quickened around her.

Glaucus reached for her, but she pushed him away. He laughed. “It would appear my Tessa is a bit high-spirited tonight,” he said to the others. “And what shall be done with a mischievous hetaera?” His thick-lipped smile and raised eyebrow took in the room and elicited another round of laughter. He nodded, then turned his attention to the man on his right, resuming a conversation whose beginning she must have missed.

“Your objections earlier to the naturalization of the Jews are noted, Spiro. But to extend citizenship to the foreigners among us can often be expedient.” Tessa could not see Spiro, his frame completely blocked by the bulk of Glaucus beside her, but his voice poured like warm oil. Yet underneath his smooth tones, Tessa heard the cold iron of anger. He was one of few among the strategoi to contradict Glaucus publicly.

“Like-minded foreigners, perhaps,” Spiro said. “But the Jews make it no secret that they despise our Greek ways. They disdain even our proudest achievement, our Helios of the harbor. They must be expunged, not embraced by weak-willed politicians who—”

Glaucus raised a pudgy hand. “You presume an authority not yours, Spiro.”

“Only a matter of time, Glaucus.”

Glaucus snorted. “Again you presume. The people of this island are too clever to choose seductive charm over solid leadership.”

Spiro laughed quietly. “Why, Glaucus, seductive charm? I didn’t realize you had noticed.”

Glaucus shook his head. “Perhaps the women are affected, but it is the men who vote.”

Tessa sensed Spiro lean forward, his eyes now on her. “And we both know where men find their opinions.”

Glaucus snorted again and swung his legs to the floor. It took several tries to raise his ponderous body from the cushions. “Get drunk, Spiro. Enjoy your delusions for one more night. But next week I sail to Crete, and I expect them to fully support my efforts.”

He nudged Tessa with a sandaled toe. “Don’t go anywhere. I will be back.”

Tessa watched him leave the room, relief at his temporary absence flooding her. She was to travel to Crete with him next week, though she had no intention of ever stepping onto the ship.

The previously unseen Spiro slid to her couch now, an elbow on the cushion Glaucus had just vacated. He was older than she, perhaps thirty, clean-shaven like most of the others but wore his jetblack hair longer, braided away from his face and falling just above his shoulders. His eyes, deep set and darker than the night sea, studied hers. A smile played at his lips. “What are you still doing with that bore, Tessa? You could do better.”

“One slave master is as another. To have something better is only to be free.” She was not truly Glaucus’s slave in the usual sense, and Spiro knew it, but it made little difference.

Spiro smiled fully now, and his gaze traveled from her eyes, slowly down to her waist. He took liberties, but Tessa had long ago become heedless of offense.

“That is what I like about you, Tessa. One never meets a hetaera who speaks of freedom; they are resolved to their place. But you are a woman like no other in Rhodes.”

“Why should I not be free?”

Spiro chuckled softly and inched closer. “Why, indeed? Ask the gods, who make some women wives and give others as slaves.”

Spiro’s hand skimmed the cushions and came to rest on her thigh. “If you were mine, Tessa, I would treat you as the equal you deserve to be. Glaucus acts as though he owns you, but we all know he pays dearly for your favors. Perhaps it is you who owns him.” Spiro’s fingers dug into her leg, and his eyes roamed her face and body again. Tessa felt neither pleasure nor disgust, a reminder that her heart had been cast from bronze. But a flicker of fear challenged her composure. Spiro, she knew, was like one of the mighty Median horses: raw power held in check, capable of trampling the innocent if unleashed.

A shadow loomed above them, but Spiro did not remove his hand. Instead, he arched a perfect eyebrow at Glaucus and smiled. Tessa expected a flash of anger, but Glaucus laughed. “First, you think to rule the island, Spiro, and now you think to steal Tessa from me, as though she has the free will to choose whom she wants?” Spiro shrugged and moved to the next couch.

Glaucus plopped down between them again. “She will never be yours, Spiro. Even when I am dead, her owner will only hand her to the next man in line to have paid for her.” He waggled a finger at Tessa. “She is worth waiting for, though, I can tell you.” Another coarse laugh.

Something broke loose in Tessa then. Caused perhaps by the vow taken while drinking in the sight of the harbor’s bronze statue, and the assurance that soon nothing she did now would hold consequence for her. Or perhaps it was ten years of bondage, commemorated this night with nothing more than continued abuse.

Whatever the reason, she rose to her feet. The room silenced, as though a goddess had ascended a pedestal. She lifted her voice. “May the gods deal with you as you have mistreated me, Glaucus of Rhodes. I will have no part of you.”

Glaucus grabbed her arm. “Your heart is not in the festivities tonight, my dear. I understand. I will meet you in the inner courtyard later.”

He did this to save face, they both knew. Tessa wrenched her arm free of his clutches, glanced at Spiro, and felt a chill at the look in his eyes. She raised her chin and glided from the room.

In the hall outside the andrôn, she looked both directions. She had no desire to stay, yet the world outside the house was no more pleasant or safe for her. She turned from the front door and moved deeper into the house.

The hallway opened to a courtyard, with rooms branching in many directions. Along the back wall, a colonnaded walkway, its roof covered with terra-cotta tiles, stretched the length of the courtyard. A large cistern gaped in the center. Beside it stood a large birdcage; its lone inhabitant, a black mynah with an orange beak, chirped in greeting.

Glaucus had said he would meet her here later, but from the sounds of the laughter behind her, the party raged without her. She should be safe for a few minutes at least. She crossed to the bird she had adopted as her own and simply named Mynah. Tessa put a finger through the iron bars and let Mynah peck a hello.

Her head throbbed, as it always did when she wore her hair pulled back. She reached above her, found the pin that cinched her dark ringlets together, and yanked it. Hair loosed and fell around her, and she ran her fingers through it in relief.

A sharp intake of breath from across the room startled her. She whirled at the sound. “Who’s there?”

A soft voice in the darkness said, “I am sorry, mistress. I did not mean to startle you.”

Tessa’s heart grasped at the kindness and respect in the voice, the first she had encountered this evening. She put a hand to her unfastened hair. Somehow she still found it within herself to be embarrassed by this small impropriety.

The man took hesitant steps toward her. “Are you ill, mistress? Can I help you in some way?” He was clean-shaven and quite tall, with a lanky build and craggy face, Glaucus’s Jewish head servant, Simeon.

“No, Simeon. No, I am not ill. Thank you.” She sank to a bench.

The older man dipped his head and backed away. Tessa reached out a hand. “Perhaps—perhaps some water?”

He smiled. “I’ll only be a moment.”

She had disgraced Glaucus tonight, in spite of his effort to laugh off her comments. How would he repay the damage she had done him? His position as a strategos of the polis of Rhodes outranked all other concerns in his life, and he would consider her disrespect in the presence of other city leaders as treasonous.

In the three years since Glaucus had paid her owner the hetaera price and she had become his full-time companion, they had developed an unusual relationship. While he would not allow her to forget that she was not free, he had also discovered her aptitude for grasping the intricacies of politics, the maneuvering necessary to keep Rhodes the strong trading nation that it was, and to maintain Glaucus’s hold on leadership within this democratic society. Power was a game played shrewdly in Rhodes, as in all the Greek world, and Glaucus had gained a competitive edge when he gained Tessa.

Rhodian society had declared her to be a rarity: beautiful, brilliant, and enslaved. But the extent to which the decisions of the city-state passed through her slave-bound fingers was unknown to most. And in this she held a measure of power over Glaucus. She recalled Spiro’s astute comment earlier: Perhaps it is you who owns him.

Simeon returned with a stone mug in his hands. He held it out to her and covered her fingers with his own gnarled hand as she reached for it. His eyes returned to her hair. “I—I have never seen you with your hair down,” he said. He lowered his gray head again but did not back away, and his voice was soft. “It is beautiful.”

Tessa tried to smile, but her heart retreated from the small kindness. “Thank you.”

He didn’t look up. “If you are not ill, Tessa, perhaps you should return to the symposium. I should not like to see Glaucus angry with you.”

Tessa exhaled. “Glaucus can wait.”

Another noise at the courtyard’s edge. They both turned at the rustle of fabric. A girl glided into the room, dressed in an elegant yellow chitôn, her dark hair flowing around her shoulders. She stopped suddenly when she saw them.

“Simeon? Tessa? What are you doing here?”

Simeon bent at the waist, his eyes on the floor. “The lady was feeling ill. She requested water.” His eyes flicked up at Tessa, their expression unreadable, and he left the room.

Tessa turned her attention to the girl, inhaling the resolve to survive this encounter. At fourteen, Persephone hovered on the delicate balance between girl and woman. Glowing pale skin framed by dark hair gave her the look of an ivory doll, but it was her startlingly blue eyes that drew one’s attention. In recent months, as she had gained understanding of Tessa’s position in her father’s life, Persephone had grown more hostile toward her.

She raised her chin and studied Tessa. “Does my father know you’re out here?” Her tone contradicted the delicacy of her features.

Tessa nodded.

“So he let his plaything out of her cage?”

Tessa’s eyes closed in pity for the girl, whose mother had abandoned her for the comfort of madness.

The girl flitted to where Mynah cheeped inside its bars. She picked a leaf from a potted tree and held it out to the bird. “But who am I to speak of cages?” she said. She raised her eyes to Tessa. “We are all trapped here in some way. You. Me. Mother.”

“Cages can be escaped,” Tessa said, surprising herself. She had never dared to offer Persephone wisdom, though her heart ached for the girl.

Persephone turned toward her, studying her. “When you find the key, let me know.”

"Tessa!" Glaucus's voice was thick with wine and demanding.

Tessa turned toward the doorway. The girl beside her took a step backward.

"There you are," he said. "I've sent them all away." He waddled toward them. "I am sick of their company." He seemed to notice the girl for the first time. "Persephone, why are you not in bed? Get yourself to the women's quarters."

Tessa could feel the hate course through the girl as if it were her own body.

"I am not tired. I wished to see the stars." She pointed upward.

Glaucus stood before them now, and he sneered. "Well, the stars have no wish to see you. Remove yourself."

"And will you say goodnight to Mother?" Persephone asked. The words were spoken with sarcasm, tossed to Glaucus like raw bait. Tessa silently cheered the girl's audacity.

Glaucus was not so kind. "Get out!"

"And leave you to your harlot?" Persephone said.

In a quick motion belying his obesity, Glaucus raised the back of his hand to the girl and struck her against the face. She reeled backward a step or two, her hand against her cheek.

Tessa moved between them. "Leave her alone!"

Glaucus turned on Tessa and laughed. "And when did you two become friends?"

Persephone glared into her father's corpulent face. "I despise you both," she said.

Glaucus raised his arm again, his hand a fist this time, but Tessa was faster. She caught the lowering arm by the wrist and pushed it backward. Glaucus rocked back on his heels and turned his hatred on her.

Tessa kept her eyes trained on Glaucus but spoke to the girl, her voice low and commanding. "Go to bed, Persephone." She sensed the girl back away, heard her stomp from the room.

The anger on Glaucus's face melted into something else. A chuckle, sickening in its condescension, rumbled from him.

"High-spirited is one thing, Tessa. But be careful you do not go too far. Remember who keeps you in those fine clothes and wraps your ankles and wrists in jewels. You are not your own."

But I soon will be.

Glaucus reached for her, and she used her forearm to swat him away like a noisome insect. "Don't touch me. Don't touch her. Take your fat, drunken self out of here."

The amusement on Glaucus's face played itself out. The anger returned, but Tessa was ready.

Glaucus's words hissed between clenched teeth. "I don't know what has come over you tonight, Tessa, but I will teach you your place. You belong to me, body and spirit, and I will have you!" His heavy hands clutched her shoulders, and his alcohol-soaked breath blew hot in her face. Every part of Tessa's inner being rose up to defend herself.

It would all end tonight.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Faith -N- Fiction Recommended Gifts

Today's Question: What books should be others be buying for Christmas? Do you need any gift help? You can handle this topic in two ways....either make a list of recommended books to give as gifts this year OR ask a question about what book you should get someone. (for whom you have been unable to think of a book gift for).
Okay, Amy....another interesting and challenging idea for your blogger buddies!
For Men: Robert Liparulo's Deadfall, Tim Down's Bug Man Novels or James Scott Bell's Try Dying and Try Darkness novels. These novels are suspenseful, entertaining and perfect for the reading man on your list!
For Women: Julie Lessman's "Passion" series is a phenomenal romance choice! Cindy Woodsmall's When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes and When the Soul Mends----phenomenal Amish series! The Yada Yada series is a lot of fun, and Brandilyn Collins' latest Dark Pursuit will satisfy the suspense lovers on your list!
For Teens: Lisa Samson's Hollywood Nobody series is a must for the teen girls, and Robert Liparulo's Dreamhouse King series is a must for the boys!
There are so many wonderful books to choose from! And hey, if you're having trouble deciding, read my reviews here and perhaps that will help you decide! He! He!
In the meantime, if you want to join the blogging fun, pop over to My Friend Amy's site and read what others are suggesting!

My Review of Gallimore by Michelle Griep

Be still my heart!! Gallimore is a book that you simply cannot pass by! Part romance, part historical, part fantasy….oh dear readers!! You do NOT want to miss this!!

Can you tell I finished Gallimore’s final pages just this moment?! Just this moment read the last M’lady in its most precious utterance? What can I say? You begin with a heart-wrenching terrifying prologue that lingers in the broken heart of Jessica Neale as she boards a plane for London. On the plane, Jessica meets a stranger who turns out to be a local from the area she is traveling to, a stranger who offers to help keep her safe during her travels. When the stranger’s directions take her into the English countryside in the midst of a horrific thunderstorm in search of the remains of a fourteenth century castle…well the story that unwinds from that moment will steal your breath away!

What is real? What is imagined? Has true love fled Jessica’s life forever? Journey from present to past and back again with such beautiful reality that you will never forget the castle Gallimore! In addition to the adventure, the romance the intrigue that makes this story so memorable, there is a spiritual truth subtly bound within the story that will give you pause to examine your own walk with Christ. Truly, this is an unforgettable story! This was a WONDERFUL book! I cannot wait to read the next novel by Michelle Griep!! I highly recommend Gallimore to everyone!

This book is scheduled to for release on December 15th, 2008 from Black Lyon Publishing! Visit Michelle Griep's website today to get the latest news about Gallimore and purchase your own copy!

Watch the video trailer again!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Christmas Promises by Leann Weiss

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Encouragement for the Christmas Season

For some, the Christmas season is a marathon—a month of parties, decorating, shuffling through crowded malls, and family gatherings. For the last-minute types among us, Christmas is a sprint—a dizzying, fruitcake-fueled race to the finish line. For others, the season dredges up painful memories of lost loved ones or dreams deferred. Amid both the commotion and the emotion, it’s easy for anyone, even the most devoted Christian, to lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas.

In her inspirational new book, Christmas Promises: Heavenly Gifts for the Holiday Season (Regal, 2008), author and speaker LeAnn Weiss encourages readers to embrace the deepest significance of the Christmas season, a time to celebrate the keeping of God’s greatest promise—His Son, Emmanuel…God with us. In a popular culture in which guarantees are nullified by the fine print and marriage vows have lost their durability, it comes as no surprise that so many have lost the wonder they once felt at Christmastime. Weiss believes that God’s enduring faithfulness shines all the brighter during the Christmas season.

“Somewhere over time, the meaning of ‘promise’ has eroded from being a binding pledge (at least bound by honor) to merely a possible expectation or hopeful feeling. No wonder we’re cynical when someone says, ‘I promise.’ And maybe that sense of disillusionment unconsciously spills over into our spiritual life,” says Weiss. “When God says that He’s faithful to all of His promises, we can fully trust Him that all means all. No exceptions. We can take His promises to the bank. Christmas Promises: Heavenly Gifts for the Holiday Season is about these promises of His peace, presence, provision, and rest.”

Weiss is best known for her personalized paraphrased scriptures which are featured in over seven million books in Howard Publishing’s (a division of Simon & Schuster) popular Hugs™ series. She is also coauthor of the successful Heartlifters series. Christmas Promises is a collection of heartwarming true stories of God’s faithfulness. Each story takes place in a Christmas setting and is communicated with Weiss’s characteristic tenderness and insight, concluding with her trademark personalized paraphrases of scripture that have encouraged so many.

The Bible is packed with hundreds of promises concerning daily life issues that are closest to our hearts. Through this collection of stories and the scriptural reflections that follow, Weiss encourages readers to discover God’s faithfulness in their own lives. Some of the most moving moments in the book are the accounts from her own life, including a story of heartache and new beginnings for her and her husband (the couple wed on July 4, 2008). Christmas Promises would make an excellent gift for anyone who is overwhelmed by the “to-do’s” of the Christmas season or for anyone who simply enjoys getting into the Christmas spirit. Because the stories are universally engaging, the book would also be an ideal gift for Christians to share with non-believers.

“Unfortunately, we sometimes get so caught up in the routine and rush of life that we forget to seek the illumination of the Bible,” Weiss reflects. “It’s my prayer that Christmas Promises: Heavenly Gifts for the Holiday Season will help personalize the timeless promises of God’s Word to readers’ everyday lives. I pray that they will experience the refreshment of God’s one-on-one love as His Word comes alive in their daily circumstances.”

Christmas Promises by LeAnn Weiss

Regal Books September 2, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0830746972/hardcover/$14.99

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A View from Tracy Higley's Window!

Dear Window readers, I have a treat for you!! I will be touring Tracy Higley's latest novel, Shadow of Colossus, in a few days, but I wanted to introduce you to this author so that you will get a "taste" of things to come! Tracy has begun a series entitled the Seven Wonders Series, and if Shadow of Colossus is any indication, we are all in for a tremendous adventure!!

Please, welcome Tracy to my Window and come back on the 30th for my review of her lastest novel! In the mean time, be sure to visit her website and learn all about her work and her travels! Welcome, Tracy!

Tracy, your love of writing began at an early age, at what point did your love of history merge with your writing?

-- I remember enjoying historical fiction all through my adolescence and into adulthood. Some of my favorites were Bodie Thoene’s Zion series. When I was a senior in high school, I spent many months debating between college majors. History or Literature? I chose English, but my love of history continued, and I still feel that history is nothing more than a tapestry of stories, woven together to form a bigger picture. From the time I started writing for publication, I wanted to merge history into the stories I was writing.

What is your favorite research tool? Internet? Library? Interviews with experts? A combination?

--I’d have to say my favorite research tool has been travel! I’ve been able to spend time in the locations of the first three Seven Wonders books – the island of Rhodes in Greece, the pyramids of Egypt, and the city of Alexandria in Egypt. There is no substitute for being “on location.” After the travel, I’d say I use a combination of combing the internet for answers to specific questions, and devouring great books on my topics.

Your website chronicles your visit to Rhodes, the setting for your first Seven Wonders books. Was this your first visit to this part of the world? Where have your travels taken you and do you have a favorite location?

--Yes, that trip was my first international trip. I visited several Greek islands and spent a day in Turkey visiting the ancient ruins of Ephesus. I’ve also since been to Egypt and the Greek mainland, and am planning a trip to Israel and Jordan in a few months. Thus far, my favorite location has been inside the Great Pyramid of Giza (and it took a lot to get me in there, let me tell you!)

Was Tessa’s life story typical for the women in ancient Greece? Was her role as hetaera unique? Was her role as physical as it was intellectual? Was it common for parents to sell their children into slavery?

--There were many women who were in bondage as hetaera in ancient Greece, and no doubt they all experienced some level of physical enslavement. Only a very few rose to prominence as the companions of their patrons as Tessa did. And there were all forms of slavery in ancient times. Some were much more “free” than the way we picture slavery today, but they were still not considered freemen. Many children were born into slavery or sold into it by parents who could not afford to support them.

I loved your portrayal of the Jewish servant Simeon and his family – especially as they shared and explained the Passover. Realizing this was before Christ, their hope was almost palpable. Can you share your inspiration for these characters and a bit about the reality of living as a Jew in ancient Greece?

--Thank you for the kind words. It is always a challenge to present the truths of redemption in a setting that takes place before Christ. But the Passover is such a beautiful picture of redemption, and I felt it would connect with people today. One of my goals in writing about the ancient world is to connect people’s Old Testament knowledge with their world history knowledge. There were Jewish people living all over the world through ancient times, and they brought to each culture their unique monotheism and influence. But always, I believe, they remained connected to their homeland.

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

--I’m excited about the continuation of The Seven Wonders Novels. City of the Dead will be out in March, and the third will release next fall. I hope to continue bringing the truths of God’s sovereign work in the world throughout history to my readers. And I would challenge readers to remember that life is an adventure! You are living your own piece of exciting history right now. Take time to explore God’s purposes in your life. And please visit me at and share your adventure with me!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More about Gallimore and Michelle Griep! GREAT BOOK!

I posted a bit about his story earlier, but I have decided to return with more information. I'm about half-way through the story, and WOW! Folks, this is one of those books you cannot stop once you get started! Michelle Griep is a very talented writer, and she keeps the pages turning at a frantic pace! If you can imagine being dropped into another time period unaware...and truly fighting for your life...well, this story it amazing! I will post a full review later, but for now I wanted to share an interview that my friend Kelly did with the author. Enjoy getting to know Michelle Griep!

Quirky - Q & A.....

Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?

I always wanted to be Lt. Uhura on Star Trek because her uniform is pretty sweet, she gets to wear a funky ear piece, and she never had a bad hair day in her life.

If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question -- what question would you ask of whom?

I’d ask Mr. Rogers about the whole sweater and sneaker attire…was that really your idea or your mother’s?

Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.

It involves blood letting and small mammals, which I’m pretty sure is illegal in most of the contiguous United States. Good thing I live in the state of confusion (sorry, couldn’t resist).

If you could change something in any novel, what would you change about it and why?

I’ll be stepping on some toes here, but personally I’d cut a dinner party or two out of Sense & Sensibility.

What crayon in the box describes you on a good day? Bad day? Which one do you aspire to be?

I’m a marker girl myself, so I’m not really up on crayon colors.

Pick one…..Pink iguana, purple cow, periwinkle giraffe. Which one and why? Can be negative or positive.

Not touching that with a ten-foot pole.

Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.

Classic: Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries. (from Monte Python and the Holy Grail)

Most Recent: The sun stretched its rays further and stronger, like a thousand lances determined to strike a strong blow and leave a red mark. (from In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett)

If you were assured of writing a best-seller, what genre would it be? Give us a sliver of information, a characteristic or glimpse of a scene.

Time travel – I love to throw myself into history, and of course I’m always the heroine. Naturally there’d be an unbelievably muscular hero who’s a warrior with a big heart that’s completely devoted to the heroine. And sorry, Fabio would NOT be on the cover.

What period of history intrigues you the most?


What would you write if there were no rules or barriers? (epic novels about characters in the Bible, poetry, greeting cards, plays, movies, instruction manuals, etc.)

Whatever I feel like I wanna do! Gosh!

What makes you feel alive?

A cattle prod…don’t ask.

How does something worm its way into your heart? Through tears, truth, humor or other?

Time – I’m a slow learner.

Book, music, person, food you would take with you on a very long trip.

Book: Bible Person: Jesus

Music: Third Day Food: Chocolate

Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from your childhood, somewhere else? – and why.

England. I’m an Anglophile at heart.

Favorite season and why?

Autumn because of the amazing colors and the fact that hot chocolate is once again in season.

Favorite book setting and why?

Jane Eyre when she’s walking the misty moor and Rochester appears on a rearing horse. That’s how God most often works in my life. I’m usually walking around in a daze and bam! He appears.

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?

Actually, I try hard to ignore compliments and criticism (mean-spirited, anyway) because I don’t want to get a big head, nor do I want to have my heart pierced.

What would you do today if you knew you had only a week to live?

Eat lots of chocolate, drink lots of coffee, and tell lots of people about Jesus. Wait a minute…I do that anyway.

What is your favorite word?


What word annoys you more than any other?


Superhero you most admire and why?

Underdog. What’s not to love about a pup in a cape?

Super power you'd love to borrow for awhile?


Favorite chore


Anything you'd do but don't because of fear of pain? What is it? Ex. Bungee jumping, sky diving, running with scissors.

Stiletto Heels

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

Just say no to sentence diagramming.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Young men, pull up your pants or spackle that crack. I’ve seen enough boxers in my laundry basket. I do not need to see yours.

Nuts and Bolts Q & A

What is your current project? Tell us about it.

I’m taking a vacation from time-travel and visiting the land of cozy mysteries…and this time I’m taking along someone to help carry the luggage. A writer buddy of mine—you may have heard of her, Kelly Klepfer—and I are co-conspirators of Out of the Frying Pan. Shameless but brief blurb: Murder in Paradise whips life into a froth. Zula and Fern Hopkins, sisters-in-law, grudging roommates, and sometimes friends reside in Sunset Paradise retirement community. Their escapades land them in hot water when they attempt to sniff out a murderer. The added ingredient of a handsome, young detective who’d make a fine main-dish for their niece spices up the action even more.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head?

I didn’t actually get a call. It was an e-mail. I’d been a closet-writer since 2000. The first manuscript I wrote is so incredibly horrible, I use it as an example of what-not-to-do in a Creative Writing class I teach. I finished my second manuscript, Gallimore, in 2005. I shopped it around a bit, then edited and re-edited until there was no more red ink in my pen. I sold it to Black Lyon, Spring ’08. I’m pretty sure the stunned disbelief that charged through me fried a few thousand brain cells, but with a little counseling, I’ll be fine.

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication? Or to narrow it down further what’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

I’ve recently had an incredible epiphany—agents and editors are…drum roll please… human. All the palpitations, sweaty palms, and acid reflux I endured when even thinking of talking to an agent or editor was a complete waste of time and Pepto Bismol. Do yourself a favor and take them off the pedestal. They don’t belong there.

What’s the best or worst advice (or both) you’ve heard on writing/publication?

BEST: Get yourself a copy of “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Browne & King

WORST: When you get a rejection, slap on some red lipstick and kiss it good-bye, which is a bad idea

unless you use lipliner first…makes the edges much more defined.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

One day I’d love to be able to have the time to write more than one night a week. Currently, that’s my allotment. I’m happy to have it, but I wouldn’t mind more.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

FAVORITE: Working out my own theological questions and dilemmas in the lives of my characters.

LEAST FAVORITE: Writing a synopsis—I’d rather cough up a hairball.

Parting words? Anything you wish we would’ve asked because you’ve got the perfect answer?

Write for the enjoyment of playing with one of God’s great blessings to us—words. If you’re writing from your heart, and it’s a heart centered on God (not publication), you will glorify your creator. That’s what writing is all about.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Beloved Captive by Kathleen Y'Barbo

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Beloved Captive

Barbour Publishing, Inc (November 1, 2008)


Kathleen Y’Barbo


There’s never a dull moment in the Y’Barbo household! From hockey and cheer mom to publicist to bestselling author, Kathleen Y’Barbo somehow manages to do it all - and well. While wearing her publicist’s hat, Kathleen has secured interviews with radio, television, and print media for clients at NavPress, Hatchette, Integrity, Barbour Publishing, and Broadman & Holman, to name a few. She also brings her own unique blend of Southern charm and witty prose to the more than 350,000 award-winning novels and novellas currently in print. Her novels have been nominated for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006; and 2007 will see the release of her 25th book.

Kathleen is a tenth-generation Texan and a mother of three grown sons and a teenage daughter. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University. Kathleen is a former treasurer for the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a member of the Author’s Guild, Inspirational Writers Alive, Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, and the Fellowship of Christian Authors. In addition, she is a sought-after speaker, and her kids think she’s a pretty cool mom, too…most of the time, anyway.

The first book in this series is Beloved Castaway.


In this sequel to Beloved Castaway, Emilie Gayarre is learning to accept her mixed race heritage while finding fulfillment in teaching children of the key. There is no denying the attraction between Emilie and the handsome young naval commander, Caleb Spencer, who is shadowed by his own flock of secrets. But if her heritage is found out, even greater things than his career are at risk. Enjoy this historical romance full of risk and redemption.

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


Pirates, pistols, preachers and teachers! Ships, cannons, remote islands and secrets!

Oh, dear reader, if you want to be transported into the tropical world of the Atlantic during the early 1800’s, then Kathleen Y’Barbo is an author you need to become acquainted with immediately! Beloved Captive actually continues a story that began in Beloved Castaway, but there is sufficient back-story to allow you to enjoy every moment of this story! You will be swept up into the world of Emilie Gayarre and a life filled with well-kept secrets, misguided intentions and a longing to make sense of it all!

Emilie’s journey from her teaching post on the island of Fairweather Key to see her dying father sets off a series of events that will leave her life forever changed. During her journey, Emilie learns the truth about events from her childhood and the high price that many paid in order to keep those facts hidden. Emilie also learns the liberty found only in forgiveness and faithfulness to God, and she is able to leave her father’s home with renewed hope of promises yet to be fulfilled.

What Emilie never could have imagined was that her return journey would be treacherously interrupted by pirates! As she fights for survival, her actions result in the death of two men. By the time she finally returns home to Fairweather Key, she is plagued by nightmares and is begging God for mercy and forgiveness.

The Lord not only hears Emilie’s prayers, but the prayers of those with whom she shares her island home, and He answers them in the most unusual and amazing ways! When the new judge is appointed to Fairweather Key, life once again takes a few unexpected and exciting turns and Emilie is forced to rise up and defend herself. However, this time it is her heart that is in danger!

Oh, you do not want to miss these books! Beloved Castaway and Beloved Captive would make a terrific gift for the reader on your list this year! I know I will be looking forward to enjoying more of Kathleen Y’Barbo’s work! What’s not to love? Her last name even sounds like a pirate! I love it!!