Monday, December 31, 2012

Ada Brownell's "Joe the Dreamer"

Title: Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult. (A teen novel.)

Cover blurb: Enter an area where people are missing and radicals want to obliterate Christianity from the earth. After Joe Baker’s parents mysteriously disappear, he finds himself with a vicious man after him. Witness what committed teens can do. Joe and an unusual gang team up to find his mom and dad. The gang is dedicated to preventing and solving crimes with ordinary harmless things such as noise, water and a pet skunk instead of blades and bullets. Welcome to Joe’s dream world. Joe reads the Bible hoping to discover whether God will answer prayer and bring his parents home. In his dreams Joe slips into the skin of Bible characters and what happened to them, happens to him—the peril and the victories. Yet, crying out in his sleep causes him to end up in a mental hospital’s juvenile unit, which is terrifying. Will he escape? Will he find his parents? Does God answer prayer?

1) How did this story come to you?
I started it right after I retired when I created an after-school and summers program for upper elementary students as an extension of the daycare at my church. The program was intense Bible memorization, teaching youth how to do puppet ministry (the children’s pastor taught that), doctrine education, combined with fun and field trips. But many students were unchurched (many gave their lives to Christ) and I wanted to create a mystery and allow students to feel the suspense and the miracles of Bible stories to whet their appetites for reading the Word themselves. During the summer, I read a little bit of my story after lunch every day. It was several years before I got back to it.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I tried marketing to three agents and a few traditional publishers, but it seemed to me they were looking for younger authors. One agent even told me she likes working with younger authors. I have another CreateSpace book, Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, written from my personal life, bible teaching; and job experience as a medical journalist that I published with Amazon (I wanted it to be sure to be available online). I’ve been pleased with that book, so thought I’d go ahead with a novel. My first book, Confessions of a Pentecostal, was published by the Assemblies of God and it sold 7,000 copies with almost no marketing before it went out of print. It’s now available for Kindle. I still sell it and there has been renewed interest in it. My husband bought most of the unsold paperbacks when it went out of print. But CreateSpace is a great place to publish, in my estimation. I used their editors and cover designers.
3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
(1) I got married on my 16th birthday. He was 20 and working for the railroad and for some reason chose a spitfire redhead for his wife. He was fortunate the Lord was a huge part of my life, and the Lord worked on my temper.
(2) I started writing ideas for youth services (I was youth president at my church) at age 15, and expanded to articles for Christian publications. My first article was published and made into a tract.
(3) I probably had 50 published articles and had worked three years as a newspaper reporter in a city of 100,000 before I ever took a journalism course and completed my college degree. I completed
 my degree after staying home 15 years with our children and free lancing, and was rehired. I worked 17 years as a reporter, mostly at The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I have a teen self-help book ready to go: Imagine the Future You. I also have a historical romance almost ready for publication, The Lady Fugitive. I still write articles for Christian magazines and occasional op-ed pieces for newspapers
5) Parting comments?
Thanks for inviting me to be your guest.
6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
Blog:  You can find my books on Amazon under my name. Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult  should be listed there be soon. The link to Swallowed by LIFE is  and also is available on at, at , and Good Reads Confessions of a Pentecostal link is
Twitter: @adellerella

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Anita Higman's "A Merry Little Christmas"

What inspired you to incorporate Jim Crow laws and segregation into your book?
Even though A Merry Little Christmas is really a love story, I felt it needed some additional conflict, and some of the racial struggles of the 60s seemed to be the right choice for this particular plot. I grew up in the 60s, and I was always interested in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. In some ways I feel I’ve waited my whole life to write this book. It came easily to me in that it’s been percolating in my imagination for a long time, but it was also hard to write because I had to consider more deeply the injustices of that era. Even though it sounds like a cliché, A Merry Little Christmas truly was the book of my heart.

The farm scenes seem pretty realistic. Did you grow up in the country?
I did. While the small towns in the book are totally fictitious I did grow up on a wheat, cattle, pig, and chicken farm in Western Oklahoma, and it was pretty much identical to the one in the novel. If the farm scenes seem realistic it’s because I got to know farm life quite well before I moved off to college at eighteen.

Franny and Charlie come from very different backgrounds, but are both looking for something very different from the way they've grown up. Do you think as humans, we all just have a "grass is always greener on the other side" mentality?
Yes, that is a human frailty that is easy to succumb to, and I’ve been guilty of it as well. But God is good about reminding me that he’s placed me on my own unique life-road, and it may have little to do with anyone else’s journey. Besides, in many cases when we get a closer look at someone else’s “lush green grass” it usually turns out to be turf.

Do you think that sometimes we don't pray for what we want because we are afraid of getting what we pray for?
Perhaps that’s true, which would explain why Franny is equally nervous and excited about the sudden answer to her prayers.

Was there a reason you added the themes of Christmas and music to the story?
My editor asked me to add those elements, and it was a blessing, since Christmas is my favorite time of year, and I love music. Also, female readers in general love novels that are set during the holidays, and I’m hoping the music adds a cozy feel to the overall Christmas theme.

What is your favorite Christmas song?
“The Holly and the Ivy.” The song has a melancholy feel to it, but it’s also beautifully sweet. I love the “Currier and Ives” style pictures my imagination conjures up when I’m listening to it.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
I love to have my gal friends over for brunch around Christmastime. I have been collecting tea dishes for many years, and so when I do a brunch, I go all out. Women are usually in a service mode most of their lives so when they come to my house I want them to feel wonderfully pampered. And by the time they leave, I hope their hearts are a little merrier and they feel we’ve celebrated Christmas well!

Is Franny's character based on any "real life" person?
Franny is like me in some ways, but she has a lot more courage than I have and more laughter in her heart. So, really, I want to be Franny when I grow up.

Does the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" have a special significance to you?
The song makes me swoon it’s so romantic and lovely. It makes me think of being snowed-in with the man I love. Of course, that scene also needs a mountain cabin with a crackling fire and two mugs of wassail.

You have written everything from romance to suspense/thrillers to nonfiction. What is your favorite genre to write?
I love inspirational romance. There’s just nothing else like it for writing and reading. It naturally makes you want to curl up on an overstuffed couch and read the day away.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

K. Dawn Byrd's "Double Identity"

Seventeen-year old Bree has always wanted a sister. She's shocked when she learns that her father is alive and her identical twin sister, Cassie, is coming to live with her. She can't wait for Cassie to arrive. She just knows they'll be best friends.

Bree soon discovers that even though they look alike, they're totally different. Cassie is wild and impulsive. She hates Bree's little town and everything in it, except Bree's boyfriend, Luke. When Cassie becomes obsessed with Luke, she'll go to any length to have him for herself.

Luke has a secret, which Cassie learns and uses against him. She's off her medication and will stop at nothing. She says he's in love with her. He says he loves Bree. Will their secrets destroy them and their relationships?

K. Dawn Byrd's "Amazing Love"

Amazing Love is a contemporary version of the Hosea and Gomer story from the Bible.

Gabe Knight, a pastor in a small coastal town, finds his life is turned upside down when Dee Dillow arrives and hires him to remodel an estate she's inherited from her aunt. Dee dashes his plans for wedded bless when on a drunken binge, she divulges that she's the highest paid call girl in Nevada and part-owner of the ritziest brothel in the state.

Gabe falls in love with her, but can't believe he's hearing the voice of God when a still, small voice tells him to marry her. After much questioning, they marry and he is deliriously happy. Until, Dee betrays him.

Gabe soon discovers just how hard it is to have the unconditional love God calls him to have for his wife, the kind of love God has for his children. When faced with losing her, Gabe realizes what true love is, how much it hurts, and just how much God loves and is willing to sacrifice for his children.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Jo Huddleston's "That Summer"

Title: That Summer, Book One in the Caney Creek Series
Publisher: Sword of the Spirit Publishing
Cover blurb: The Great Depression brings devastation toThe Southern Appalachians but love’s triangle survives. To escape his poppa’s physical abuse and their dirt-poor farm life, Jim flees to an imagined prosperous city life where he can make his own choices, ignoring God patiently knocking on his heart’s door. Settled in town, Jim strays from God and the way of faith his momma taught him. He meets a girl and loses his heart … and meets another girl and loses his willpower. Jim wrestles with social and moral dilemmas as he makes a choice beside Caney Creek that will alter the lives of five people.

1) How did this story come to you?
The setting of That Summer is the Southern Appalachians of East Tennessee where my ancestors and I were raised. I’ve listened to the older generations tell their stories about time before telephones and automobiles. Their stories fascinated me and caused me to want to write about a time before I was born.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
This book began to percolate in my head in the late 1990s. In 2001, I had health problems that prevented me from writing either by hand or by computer (this was before voice to type). My writing ability vanished for seven years. Then I was “normal” enough to put this book on paper and to begin my search for a publisher.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
1. I chew my ice cream.
2. I fear being in the dark.
3. I played high school varsity basketball.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I’m working on book #2 in the Caney Creek Series, Living Beyond the Past. My publisher has scheduled Book #2 and Book #3 to be released, separately, by the end of 2013. So next for me will be beginning Book #3 and edits on Book #2.

5) Parting comments?
Thank you for having me on your blog. I’ve enjoyed my visit with you and your readers.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
I love to hear from readers. They can find me at http://www, They can connect with me by clicking the Contact tab there.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Molly Noble Bull's "Cinderella Texas"

Cinderella Texas (The Cattlemen Series – Volume 1)
by Molly Noble Bull

My new novel, Cinderella Texas, is the retelling of a famous fairy tale complete with a shoe problem for the heroine, Alyson Spencer. A prince-like cowboy is the hero of this modern western, Robert Lee Greene IV—called Quatro. Quatro is a rancher, an oil baron and one of the richest men in Texas, and he is also a widower with two school age children. How could Alyson have guessed that when she couldn’t find a teaching job in Dallas, she would accept a position home schooling Quatro’s children and be paid a tremendous salary for doing it?

City girl, Alyson, expects life on the huge Greene Ranch in South Texas to be idyllic. She will be living in Quatro’s home along with his children, his parents and his grandfather, and she visualizes a majestic mansion surrounded by well-tended gardens—a swimming pool and servants at her beckon call.

What she finds causes her to want to fly back to Dallas. Quatro and his family believe that modern technology corrupts. The rundown two-hundred-year old dog-run house on the cover of Cinderella Texas is the Greene home. The house is without electricity and all necessities of normal American life.

Alyson tries to get out of her teaching contract, but it is unbreakable. How is she expected to teach modern children without a computer and a working telephone? And why is Quatro so handsome and yet so pig-headed?

As with all my novels, Cinderella Texas has a Christian message that I hope will point others to the Lord. Cinderella Texas is a lighthearted romance that will make you smile. Maybe it will even make you laugh, and it is available as an e-book and will soon be published in paperback.

As the first in The Cattlemen Series, more of my westerns will follow. To find Cinderella Texas and all my novels at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, write Molly Noble Bull in the search slot.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ada Brownell's "Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal"

Title: Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal.
Cover blurb: Do you know you are more than a physical body? An award-winning medical and religion writer, Ada Brownell—through her research after the death of her daughter—shows why we have hope of eternal life, not only from a Christian point of view, but because of physical evidence.

1) How did this story come to you?Through my work as a medical journalist, free lance religion writer, research, picking the brains of medical professionals, and observing the obvious. But it was a direct result of the death of our oldest daughter, Carolyn, a beautiful 31-year-old dedicated Christian and musician who had perfect pitch. She died within two months after the cancer diagnosis and I wanted to know for sure that I believed what I thought I believed about the eternal.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.I had a traditional publisher who already was editing the manuscript when he went bankrupt. At that time, Swallowed by Life was as a four-part book 1) You have hope because God created you so that you’re more than a body 2) How to Deal with losses that come with age and illness 3) Making difficult choices, such as pain control; life-extending treatments; assisted suicide; euthanasia; burial or cremation; and similar issues along with opinions or statements of religious denominations, medical ethics boards, etc. Although my name was widely known because of my articles in Christian publications, other publishers seemed to feel I needed to be a doctor or a minister with a large following to author such a book. So I put it aside and changed it after I retired to what I have now, when I went with CreateSpace.

It was written for support groups, religion classes, people with chronic or terminal illness, individual s who fear death or are curious about it, the grieving, and those who give them counsel.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
A natural redhead, I won Best Actress in a one-act play contest when I was in high school and afterward two judges took me aside and told me I should go to Hollywood because I could be another Lucille Ball. Perhaps that’s why this book has places that will make the reader smile.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
My teen novel, Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult, will be released soon. The summary sentence: “In this teen thriller a 14-year-old youth becomes the target of the radical group that enslaves his parents, and his fate could be worse than death.” After that, I will polish my completed historical romance, The Lady Fugitive, and send it to the publisher.

5) Parting comments?
Thanks for inviting me to be your guest.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
The book link:

Monday, November 19, 2012

David Bond's "Sweet Music"

Title: Sweet Music
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing

Cover blurb:  Keith Weaver (Jessie’s brother from The Attaché), now a construction contractor, is hired by Allison Albright’s parents to remodel their house. Keith faces difficult financial and personal issues, with choices in front of him with no easy solution. Allison is engaged to a wealthy land developer. After postponing their wedding, setting a new date isn’t high on her fiancé’s priority list. Then, a diabetes diagnosis rocks Allison’s world, but so does Keith Weaver.

1) How did this story come to you?
This is book 2 in a trilogy. All 3 books feature a medical condition I have. Blindness (bk. 1, The Attaché), diabetes (bk. 2, Sweet Music), and epilepsy (bk. 3, Out Of The Desert).

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
Part of a 3-book contract. Actually, I have 2, 3-book contracts with Desert Breeze. The series called, All Things Are Possible, featuring Sweet Music as bk. 2, and the second series, A Time For Everything.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.Perhaps the 3 medical conditions I happen to have! Really, I’m pretty much a no-frills guy. Let’s see… Okay. I bowled a 113 as a blind person, better than my wife’s score! And, not sure if this is what you’re looking for, but I don’t use my cane around the house, or to take the trash can out to the curb. My collapsible cane remains in the car, although, I do have a backup cane available for my use in the garage should I need it.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I’m working on book 3 in the All Things Are Possible series, Out Of The Desert.

5) Parting comments?
I think Sweet Music is my best novel so far. This is a learning experience, and I’m so thankful to be blessed with the creativity and desire to write Christian fiction.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
Visit my web site for the latest information on my books, including direct “Where To Purchase” links:

JoAnn Durgin's "Meet Me Under the Mistletoe"

Title: Meet Me under the Mistletoe
Publisher: Pelican Group Ventures/White Rose Publishing, November 2012

Cover blurb: Captain Jacob Marston, Starlight, Iowa's wounded hometown hero, made a long ago promise to the Lord: he won't kiss a woman until he knows she's "the one" he'll marry. Now, at age twenty-eight, the rugged firefighter questions if it'll ever happen. Then he meets his best friend's sister, Julia Sinclair, and Jake believes he's found the woman of his dreams—but she’s promised to another. When Julia makes an unexpected confession on Christmas Day, Jake shares his secret with her, and it looks as though happily-ever-after will make a holiday appearance. But somehow, everyone in the tiny town learns Jake's secret and he's transformed from town hero to laughingstock. Did Julia reveal his secret? Can Jake and Julia find their way under the mistletoe for a forever kiss?    Theme verse: Psalm 62:1-2

1) How did this story come to you?
It’s based in part on my love story with my husband, Jim, the inspiration for Jake Marston and his vow to the Lord. As I say in the book’s dedication, I’m so thankful Jim kept that special promise. Since the hero is a firefighter, I spent 3-1/2 hours one summer evening with my local firefighters, and the book is also dedicated to them and others around the country. They, and all public servants, are true heroes: selfless, humble and the solid backbone of America.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
Intrigued by the idea of writing a shorter novel and because I adore Christmas stories, I decided to try and pen one. I submitted the proposal in the spring and received the e-mail from my editor, Fay Lamb, on May 1, 2012, that Meet Me under the Mistletoe had been accepted for White Rose’s 2012 Holiday Extravaganza of holiday stories. The first day of May in 2010 was also the day I received my very first publishing contract for my debut novel, Awakening (Torn Veil Books).

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
(1) I work with numbers most of the day in my paralegal position (doing estate tax and inheritance tax returns); I used to question how I ended up doing this work, but I think it fuels my creativity for words during my after-work hours.
(2) I’ve never had writer’s block and hope saying this “out loud” doesn’t bring it on!
(3) I was the one who bought the Saturday Night Fever album and helped teach others the line dances; we’d line up along the long hallway in my freshman dorm (yes, I’m that old, believe it or not) and boogie the night away. Wore that album out, but it was sure fun.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
Daydreams, Book #4 in The Lewis Legacy Series (Torn Veil Books) releases in about three weeks and definitely in time for holiday reading enjoyment.

5) Parting comments?
I hope readers will have the opportunity to pick up some of the Holiday Extravaganza titles from favorite and new (like me) White Rose authors. I’ve read most of them, and I can’t imagine a better way to spend a cold winter’s afternoon—in the midst of holiday shopping, decorating, baking—than cozying up with a blanket, a favorite hot beverage and one of these heartwarming, romantic novellas. They are such wonderful stories of love, faith and family.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
I’d love for readers to visit my website at and I’m on Facebook.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tina Pinson's "Shadowed Dreams"

    Title: Shadowed Dreams
    Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing

Cover blurb: Matthew has braved the war and near death with one thought in mind… Rebekah. He won her hand in marriage, and now he has a few short months to make her see how much he loves her. How much he needs her. Given the wall she's put up between them, he prays he'll have enough time.

After fleeing the war, Rebekah is determined to go west to Oregon, only to be turned down when she tries to join the train. Matthew's proposal of marriage, in name only to help her west, becomes the miracle she needs. Loving him as she does, she dreads the idea of letting him go once they reach Oregon, but how can she ask him to stay with her, to love her? How could he love her once he's found out her secret? She must guard her heart and his.

1) How did this story come to you? 
This is part of series, which was actually from a single story. A saga. But publishers weren't quite interested in having a 900-page book, so I've had to cut it down. I wrote the story because I had read a couple of books on the Oregon Trail and wondered why they always started on the trail and said the characters had arrived at their destination a chapter later. I guess I wanted to know more about the trip. When I started dreaming the story in full color, I figured I should get it down on paper.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published. 
I wrote the Shadow Series over twenty years ago. My first shot at publication came in the form of digital books. That's right. I had an ebook back in the 1990's. Unfortunately, no one had readers. And it was still more convenient to buy or book or get it from the library. So needless to say, I didn't become a success overnight. I tried to get the story out there a couple more times, and put it on the shelf to work on other things. And up until last year and pulling it out to work on it and read it from time to time, the book just set gathering cyber dust. When I pitched the series to Desert Breeze and they accepted I was most pleased.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers. 
I like to sing, have done some back up singing. I have been married for 30+ years and I am a grandmother.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you? 
I am doing edits on three books that will be released in 2013. The third in the Shadow Series, To Catch a Shadow, Then There was Grace, a 9/11 incident leaves Adam alone to raise his twin daughters, Christmas in Shades of Gray, an offbeat Dickens Christmas tale. And I am trying to finish some stories I started awhile ago and set aside to finish something else.

5) Parting comments? 
First, K.Dawn, thank you so much for letting me visit your site. And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?

Purchase my books at:
Desert Breeze Bookstore.
Shadowed Dreams --
When Shadows Fall --
Touched By Mercy –
In the Manor of the Ghost --

Monday, November 5, 2012

Carole Towriss' "In the Shadow of Sinai"

Title: In the Shadow of Sinai
Publisher: DeWard Publishing Company

Cover blurb: Bezalel is a Hebrew slave to Ramses II. An artisan of the highest order, Ramses has kept him in the palace even when all other Israelites have been banned. Bezalel blames El Shaddai for isolating him from his people.

When Moses and Aaron appear one summer, and El Shaddai shakes Egypt to its core, Bezalel must reexamine his anger. Over the course of the next year, Bezalel’s life becomes intertwined with those of an Egyptian child-slave, the captain of the guard, and especially a beautiful young concubine.

When spring arrives, all of them escape with the young nation of Israel. But that’s only the beginning…

1) How did this story come to you?
I was reading the Bible - I think I was in church - in Exodus 31. "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.' And I thought, 'Now how would a slave know how to do all that?' God could have just poof, given him all that knowledge, but that's no fun, and generally not how God works. So I made up a story.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
A crit partner, the first fiction author for DeWard, told me they were looking for Biblical fiction. I queried them, and an hour later they asked for the full manuscript. Three months later I was offered a contract.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
I love to watch weird movies. I’m short. I love Mexican food and chocolate.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I am almost done with the sequel By the Waters of Kadesh. This is part of a trilogy.

5) Parting comments?
Thanks for the opportunity to be on your blog. And to everyone reading this, I hope you give my book a try!

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?  You can read the first two chapters for free there. Also at

DeWard Publishing Company

Barnes & Noble
Signed By the Author

Staci Stallings' "To Protect & Serve"

Love as a Verb
My newest series is called The Courage Series (To Protect & Serve, White Knight, and For Real, which comes out the end of this week). The Courage Series revolves around a firefighter who becomes kind of the center-pin for a whole group of friends. In the course of the three novels, the characters again and again face situations that call for great courage.

However, many times when we think of courage, we tend to think of dangerous situations--fires, wrecks, etc. There are certainly enough of those portrayed in the three books, but I think by the third one (For Real) we begin to see a different kind of courage called for--the courage to love with your whole heart, to be "all in" with someone and to love no matter what.

That's a tough one because most of us have learned the art of loving when it's convenient, when it's easy. We have friends who seem great until we need something, and then they disappear. "Fair-weather" friends. But this series really points out that real friends aren't just there when things are good. Real friends are there particularly when things get rough.

When life keeps throwing curveballs meant to take you out, that's when you need friends the most--and when you, as a friend, need to be there for others the most. This is really hard, and it requires having a verb kind of love, not just a noun kind of love.

See, the noun kind of love is all hearts and flowers and champagne. It's going out to party together, celebrating, having fun. But the verb kind of love is the part that happens after the end of the movie. The part you have to step into when he loses his job or she loses her health.

It's the part that society doesn't like to focus on--the being there for someone when the chips are down and they have been stomped on by this thing called life. It's showing up when someone close to them has died and being willing to be there, with them, through the trials and the tears, through the heartache and the healing. That's the verb kind of love, and it takes immense courage.

It's the kind of courage that The Courage Series is ultimately about. Having the courage to live love, to be love, to give love--when it's easy, and when doing so might just tear your heart right out.

I think the challenge of this series is first to show the reader what the verb kind of love is, what it looks like with this set of friends, and then it challenges you to live the verb kind of love. The question is: Do you have the courage that will take?

Copyright Staci Stallings, 2012

Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace &a Faith Author Connection. Check out Staci's brand new release...

Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman's fireman. No situation is too dangerous to keep him sidelined if lives are on the line. However, when control freak Lisa Matheson falls for him, she quickly realizes she can't control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have...

To Protect & Serve
The Courage Series, Book 1
To save other's lives, they will risk their own

Buy it on Amazon Kindle:

Buy it on Barnes & Noble Nook:

"To Protect and Serve will hold you prisoner to its pages until the final one is turned. Prepare to cry, laugh, wish, love and maybe even cry again as you become enveloped in the hopes and feelings of Lisa and Jeff."
-Cindy Reiger

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dave Bond's "A Time to Build"

Title: A Time To Build
Publisher: Published by Desert Breeze Publishing.

Cover blurb: Brian Marshall lives a quiet, serious life. At age thirty-three, he’s content and reasonably prosperous. When a new client steps inside his office one July morning, and he recognizes her strikingly beautiful face, his thoughts are thrown back in time thirteen years, to a time when he committed perhaps the greatest mistake of his life.

Hallie Grover has come a long way in thirteen years. When she left central Pennsylvania as a dispirited seventeen-year old to live with her divorced mother in California, she couldn’t have imagined the path her life was to take. Will she be able to handle her new life, owning and managing a small café in McCane, Pennsylvania? And will she be able to rebuild a relationship with her sister, and a thirteen-year old girl she’s never had the chance to know?

Hallie doesn’t appear to recognize Brian. He fears she will one day remember him. He knows he needs to keep his distance, but it’s impossible.

Hallie blossoms, but is she ready to embrace a relationship she wasn’t expecting?

1) How did this story come to you?
Like most stories, it just did! This novel has actually gone through a number of significant “evolutions.” It was originally written in first person, but the publisher rejected it. I wish I could come up with a good answer to this question! Story ideas are always “popping up” in my head, and this is really the only thing I can say!

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I already had a 3-book contract with Desert Breeze Publishing, and when an idea for another series came to me, I put together a proposal and submitted it. My proposal was accepted and I found myself contracted to write 6 full-length novels in a 2-year span. Concerning the journey for A Time To Build, as I just alluded to, this novel went through several iterations. It was actually originally entitled, “The Park,” based on a park where my main character loved to spend time. The last chapter was added after my editor suggested the ending, while good, needed a little more closure. And looking back, it was an excellent bit of advice.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
1st, I am blind. Second, I am a male who loves to read and write romance (there are some qualifiers which I won’t discuss here!). And, third, I am a type I diabetic.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
My next release (after A Time To Build) is the sequel to my debut. It is entitled, “Sweet Music,” and will be available in October (2012). The manuscript for Sweet Music has just been submitted, and as of this date in June, I am now beginning to work on the sequel to A Time To Build, entitled, “A Time To Heal.”

5) Parting comments?
Based on feed-back from male readers of (mostly) my debut (The Attaché), I’ve kicked around the idea of marketing my novels as, “romance men find worth reading.” Or something like this! Not sure though, since women enjoy my novels as well.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Nancy Thelen's "The Color of Light"

Title: The Color of Light

Cover blurb: Can a kindness make up for a crippled body? Or heal a distrustful heart?

Jackie lives alone on the edge of a small lake. The broken stained glass in the abandoned church camp across the way is a good image of her life: beautiful although fractured. When she wins a free house makeover from a TV series, Jackie remembers how others need more than she, and decides to give it to her friend Kat who is paralyzed from MS. The house becomes a new lifeline for Kat. Jackie, though, doesn't realize her soul is as broken as Kat's body... afraid of being abandoned yet again... until she visits the church camp one more time, and finds Doug, one of the show hosts, waiting for her in the wings...

1) How did this story come to you?
I was an avid fan of Extreme Makeover-Home. As I was watching the show one evening, the idea began to form for my book, which starts out with the fictional TV show On Board.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
This is the first of a series, and is actually my second book. The writing of the book was completed three years ago, but it wasn’t until this summer that I realized there were ways to publish my book that didn’t require the use of a publishing firm. I met Amy Deardon through the ACFW. She offers her services for publishing an ebook. She has walked me through all of the difficult and confusing tasks of ebook publishing; producing the final product.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
My favorite TV channel is National Geographic
The first thing I do every morning is ride ten miles on a stationary bike
I have four books written, and am working on the fifth

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I’m working of the fourth book of the series and I’ve retained the publishing rights of my first book, Lost and Found, and hope to have it published as an ebook for Kindle by the end of the year. I’m also working on a cookbook which will include recipes for one or two servings, and I hope to publish that in the early part of 2013.

5) Parting comments?
I believe that my imagination as well as my ability to write is a gift that I have been blessed with. The world provides a vast amount of information that can be used to create stories, and I hope to be able to utilize just a sprinkling of it in my books.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
My blogspot:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

K. Dawn Byrd's "Amazing Love"

I'm pleased to announce that Amazing Love is now available in eformat and will be available soon in print!

Amazing Love, the modern-day story of Hosea and Gomer from the Bible, speaks of God's unconditional love, mercy, and grace and how much loving someone that much can cost.

Gabe Knight, a pastor in a small coastal town, finds his life is turned upside down when Dee Dillow arrives and hires him to remodel an estate she's inherited from her aunt. Dee dashes his plans for wedded bless when on a drunken binge, she divulges that she's the highest paid call girl in Nevada and part-owner of the ritziest brothel in the state.

Gabe falls in love with her, but can't believe he's hearing the voice of God when a still, small voice tells him to marry her. After much questioning, they marry and he is deliriously happy. Until, Dee betrays him.

Gabe soon discovers just how hard it is to have the unconditional love God calls him to have for his wife, the kind of love God has for his children. When faced with losing her, Gabe realizes what true love is, how much it hurts, and just how much God loves and is willing to sacrifice for his children.

Read the first chapter of Amazing Love...


Excerpt from my prologue:
Dee signed the letter with a flourish and then read it aloud.

For the longest time, I blamed myself. There must be something terribly wrong with me, something so bad that even a mother couldn't love me. After years of therapy, I've learned that it's not me, it's you, Maggie. You're not capable of loving anyone. That's a terrible thing to say about a mother, but it's true.

Even here at Carpe Diem, I've continued therapy via technology. Today was a hard day because it's my birthday. As was expected, I never heard from you. Like my therapist said, it's not my fault you didn't call. It's a choice you made, Maggie, like so many other bad choices.

I used to dwell often on the things you allowed to happen to me. You had to have known that John was visiting my room almost nightly. You chose to ignore it even though he was your husband. And then, he sold me to his wealthy friends and you stood back and allowed it to happen. Whoever had the most money. That wasn't the life I would have chosen if given a choice. Even now, I long for a life of normalcy. A husband, a couple of children, and a picket fence is just a dream.

There are times I hate you, but I realize you have demons of your own. Something has happened to you to cause you to be so selfish and full of anger. That's why I try to overlook your hostility and lack of love toward me. You need a good therapist.

My therapist recommends that I write letters to you when I'm angry. It helps. This is letter 642. I've kept them all. You'll probably never read them, but they're not really for you. They're for me.

Your daughter, Dee

Amazing Love will be available soon at CBD and other outlets.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Deanna Klingel's "Crack in the Ice"

Title: Cracks in the Ice
Publisher: Write Integrity, October 2012

Cover blurb:
Gina, niece of a mafia don, has dreams of Olympic gold as a figure skater. When crisis destroys her dream she is ill-equipped to cope. She spirals into depression and alcoholism. Two people who love her are able to show her God still loves her and help to restore her identity. She returns to the faith of her childhood and discovers a different kind of victory.

1) How did this story come to you?
Truthfully? I have no idea!

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
This book was easy to write once I researched the history and facts I needed to know. Write Integrity had just announced they were open to receiving YA novels, especially those that crossed over to women’s fiction, so I submitted to them. The editor loved the story, offered a contract and quickly took it to press. The proofreaders say it’s their best one yet! I’m honored and excited to begin selling the book.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
I’ve been married for fifty years, for one. For two, I’ve been married for fifty years to the same man, and for three, I’m happy as a clam and yes I would do it all over again.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I’ve got three finished manuscripts I hope to find homes for in the next year, I’ve just started writing another historical fiction for YA, and I’ve got a couple of ideas for the future. I’ve got enough ideas to last for the rest of my life!

5) Parting comments?
I love to read and write and love to share my enthusiasm with young readers at schools. Call me if you’d like a school visit.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
My website is The last page is my schedule, so you can see when I’m in your area and could visit at your school. I blog as a guest a couple times a month, and those can be found by searching my name. I’m also on facebook, linked in, and Pinterest.

Chana Keefer's "The Fall"

We have two giveaways this week. Please scroll down and leave each Title: THE FALL (Rapha Chronicles #1)
Cover blurb: This story has been told—but never like this.

No, Rapha would not strike with physical force this day. But he could not resist goading his enemy just once. Looking up, he fixed the peace of Adonai on Lucifer like a laser, held that malicious gaze for one eternal second—and smiled. A flicker of uncertainty stirred in Lucifer’s eyes.

Rapha opened a single thought to Lucifer as he disappeared with the creature still cradled to his breast:

“You always did hate secrets.”

Rapha, a powerful angel, had seen it all in his countless years of service. At least he thought he had. Then he met Adam.

Lucifer had it all, Adonai’s favor, Rapha’s friendship and unrivalled power throughout creation. But he wanted more.

1) How did this story come to you?
THE FALL was completely spurred on through prayer. I had been praying every morning for at least an hour for three years. It was during a morning prayer time in 2007 that God spoke to my heart, “What do you want?”

After bawling a while and being completely overwhelmed, I realized some of my “beliefs” about God didn’t fit with the fathomless love He was pouring out. I asked a question—and He answered. From there, it was as if I had grasped the tail of a comet. For about 40 days I would wake with a thought, statement or picture in my head. I would take it to prayer then write about that day’s revelation. When my hubby and another author friend saw the 250 pages of notes from that time they both said, “This needs to be a novel.”

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
As C.S. Lewis points out in The Chronicles of Narnia, God is not a tame lion. THE FALL was edgy, a bit shocking and didn’t fit into the careful parameters of most Christian publishers. On the other hand, there was way too much Bible in it for the taste of most secular publishers. I had kind of written myself into no-man’s land, especially as a debut author. I found a self-publishing company whose books reflected keen attention to detail since the person over the publishing process had worked for Simon & Schuster. We decided to work with this company since half of what they offered involved marketing and distribution. THE FALL ended up being excellent in quality and beautiful to boot—but much of what happened after publishing with that company has been a fiasco. Another huge growth curve.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
When I was eighteen, I went to an Engelbert Humperdinck concert with my parents. When I asked if we would get to meet the singer, a guy took me backstage. They thought I was some kind of groupie. Uh. No.

In my early twenties, I helped to smuggle Christian literature into a Communist country.

Also in my early twenties, I was a guest star on “Dallas.” J.R, Sue Ellen, South Fork—the whole nine yards. My twenty seconds of fame.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I’m working to bring my firstborn novel, “One Night With a Rock Star,” to Kindle very soon. Rock Star was the novel I cut my teeth on, so to speak, and I’ve worked on it off-and-on for the past seven years so it’s kinda hard to allow it to leave the nest. After that, I can’t wait to immerse myself in the sequel to THE FALL. At this point, I project three more titles in the Rapha Chronicles series. This next title will deal with Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah.

5) Parting comments?
I can’t recommend highly enough the practice of spending the first hour of every day on your knees before God. You don’t need a PhD and you don’t have to “be good enough” or receive special training to pray. We go to our Heavenly Father, climb up into His lap, and listen to His heartbeat. We simply come to Him as a little child.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
FB: The Rapha Chronicles
Twitter: @chanakeefer

Monday, October 15, 2012

Beth Vogt's "Wish You Were Here"

Title: Wish You Were Here
Publisher: Howard Books (May 2012)

Cover blurb: Kissing the wrong guy days before her scheduled wedding leads Allison to become a runaway bride. But can it also lead to happily ever after?

Allison Denman is supposed to get married in five days, but everything is all wrong. The huge wedding. The frothy dress. And the groom.

Still, kissing the groom’s brother, Daniel, in an unguarded moment is decidedly not the right thing to do. How could she have made such a mistake? It seems Allison’s life is nothing but mistakes at this point.

Daniel’s adventures—chronicled through a collection of postcards—have always appealed to Allison’s well-hidden desire for something more. But how can betraying her fiancé’s trust lead to a true happily ever after?

Can Allison find her way out of this mess? Recognizing she doesn’t have all the answers won’t be easy because she’s used to being in control. To find her way again, she will have to believe that God has a plan for her—one outside her carefully defined comfort zone—and find the strength to let Him lead.

1) How did this story come to you?
At first, all I had was one scene: an unknown woman standing at the back of a church, waiting to walk down the aisle to be married. Then I realized she was saying, “I do. I can’t. I must.” And that her attention was focused not on the groom, but on the best man. I had to figure out how she got here – to the brink of marrying the wrong man – and if she was going to go through with it. Of course, if she went through with the wedding, all I had was a short story.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
Wish You Were Here was written because God took a season of burnout in my life and turned it into a bend in the writing road. He moved me from the nonfiction side of the writing road over to the “Dark Side” of writing fiction. I had a lot to learn – and I learned all about writing a novel during the three years I wrote and rewrote Wish You Were Here.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
1.) I said I would never write fiction. It’s one of the many things I’ve said I’d never do that God clearly showed me was part of my life journey. I now believe God’s best is often behind the door marked “Never.” 2.) I’m a gluten-free gal.
3.) I met my husband in a karate studio when he knocked me down … I mean, when he swept me off my feet.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I am in the final editing stage for my second novel, Catch a Falling Star. It’s also a contemporary romance set in Colorado and tackles the question: What do you do when life doesn’t go according to plan? Do you keep pushing Plan A? Do you pull Plan B out of your back pocket? Or do you settle? Next? More novels.

5) Parting comments?
Take a closer look at the doors you’ve marked “Never.” That just may be where you’re headed next.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
Website: (
My blog, In Others’ Words, is embedded in my website. It’s all about quotes.
Twitter: bethvogt

Diane Craver's "A Joyful Break"

Title: A Joyful Break (Dreams of Plain Daughters, Book One)

Cover blurb: After her mother’s untimely death, a twenty-year-old Amish
woman has a difficult decision to make: Choose to break from the Plain community and her boyfriend...or live in the English world permanently.

Rachel Hershberger wants to get away from her Amish home in Fields Corner, Ohio. For a year she’s been trying to fill her mother’s shoes by taking care of her father and siblings. She quit her job at the bakery so she could have more time to clean and cook at home. Before her mother died, Rachel was positive she wanted to marry Samuel Weaver, but now she can’t think about wedding plans. She blames her father for her mother’s death. If they had installed a phone in their barn or a shanty, her mother might have received medical help in time to save her life. Her mother’s death has made Rachel question if she should be baptized and join the church. She wonders if non-Amish women live longer and have less stress. Maybe her forty-four-year old mother would still be alive had she left the Amish lifestyle like her sister Carrie did.

When her Aunt Carrie invites her to go to the beach, Rachel decides the time away will help her to decide whether to join the Amish church or to live in the English world instead. She is conflicted because she loves Samuel and her family. Instead of a relaxing time away, disturbing events happen while Rachel’s in Florida. A photographer snaps troublesome pictures of Rachel because of her famous senator uncle, and a handsome and charming college student falls in love with her.

1) How did this story come to you?
My inspiration for this story came from my mother. Her grandfather was a Mennonite minister, and she shared stories about his faith. Even though, she wasn’t raised in the Mennonite or Amish faith, some of her values were similar to a simpler way of life.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I did extensive research to portray this wonderful faith as accurately as possible. I didn’t start writing A Joyful Break until I visited an Amish community and felt like I had absorbed enough information about this faith.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
I’d love to learn how to play the drums and be in a band. (I don’t see this happening but girl can dream. LOL) My husband and I have lived in three different houses on the same street. I have six children with four delivered without any medication. No, I didn’t have short labors. The fourth and sixth babies were born by C-sections.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I’m working on the next story in my Amish series. It’s mainly about Rachel’s friend,vKatie Weaver. Also Rachel’s father becomes interested in Sarah, the co-owner of the yarn shop in Fields Corner.

5) Parting comments?
Thank you for having me on your fantastic blog. Readers, if you haven’t read any of my books, I hope you do! I’m published through a variety of houses, including Whimsical Publications, Samhain Publishing, Victory Tales Press, and Publishing by Rebecca. I’m looking forward to meeting your blog visitors. A JOYFUL BREAK is available in paperback and electronic formats.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
I belong to this wonderful group of talented authors, Jewels of the Quill. Here is their link:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cathy Bryant's "The Way of Grace"

The Vastness and Costliness of Grace

By Cathy Bryant, ©2012

Grace. Can you wrap your brain around such a simple, yet amazingly vast, subject? And even more importantly, can you fathom the motive behind it, which is pure, unadulterated love?

I have to confess that they both stymie me.

Grace sees the foolish, the weak, the unlovely, and reaches out to help, to deliver, and to save. Grace doesn’t turn away when confronted with betrayal, hatred, and opposition. Instead it prays: “Forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” Grace isn’t a drop or two here and a cupful there. It’s an ocean, so wide and so deep the finite human mind can’t fully comprehend its reach. It has no boundaries.

God’s grace is enough to wade in, to splash around in. Every second of every minute of every hour we’re immersed in it. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. ~Romans 5:1-2a (NIV, emphasis added)

Since grace and mercy are often used in the same phrase, for a long time I believed they were the same. Only as an adult (and a…ahem, “mature” adult) did I truly come to understand the difference. Mercy is not getting what I deserve—that traffic ticket when I sped through a stop sign, that death sentence for my sin. On the other hand, grace is receiving more than I can ever deserve and more than I’ll ever be able to repay—forgiveness, communion with the Almighty Creator of all that is, the assurance of heaven and home in spite of…well, me.

See what I mean? The more you try to plumb its depths and measure its width, the bigger grace grows. Even in the midst of the most heinous sin known to mankind, grace bursts forth, all-encompassing. As usual, God’s Word says it best: The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ~Romans 5:20-21 (NIV, emphasis added)

I can only speak for myself, but the sheer vastness of God’s amazing grace moves me. It makes my heart swell with joy and gratitude. It removes barriers between me and those unlike me. It compels me to share God’s goodness with a world that could often care less.

And that thought brings me to another point I never fully considered until recently: grace is costly. As followers of Christ and ambassadors of His grace, we should be aware that our attempts to exhibit grace will often be met with the same suffering and opposition Jesus faced. Not everyone will appreciate our efforts. Some will betray us. Others will loudly denounce us. But still we must prevail in our efforts to make Him and His grace known. Following the leader calls for endurance, even to the point of costly grace—the same grace Jesus showed us on the cross.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. ~Ephesians 2:4-9

Cathy is the author of the Miller’s Creek Novels—Texas Roads, A Path Less Traveled, and The Way of Grace. Her desire is to write heart-stirring stories about God’s life-changing grace. Though Texas-born, she currently resides in the beautiful Ozark mountains of northwest Arkansas with her husband of thirty years and near the world’s cutest grandson. You can learn more about her and her books at  and

Click on the book cover for more info!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

James Rubart's "Soul's Gate"

Title: SOUL’S GATE: A Well Spring Novel
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Cover blurb: Reece stood and faced the group. “Every now and then we get a break from reality. A glimpse into the other world that is more real than the reality we live in 99 percent of our days. The Bible is about a world of demons and angels and great evil and even greater glory. A world the prophets saw; the world Enoch, and Elijah, and Paul, and John the apostle all saw. A world that is all around us in every moment if we would have eyes to see and ears to hear.”

What if you could travel inside another person’s soul? To battle for them. To be part of Jesus healing their deepest wounds.

Thirty years ago that’s exactly what Reece Roth did. Until tragedy shattered his life and ripped away his destiny.

Now God has drawn Reece out of the shadows to fulfill a prophecy spoken over him three decades ago. A prophecy about four warriors with the potential to change the world . . . if Reece will face his deepest regret and train them.

They gather at a secluded and mysterious ranch deep in the mountains of Colorado, where they will learn to see the spiritual world around them with stunning clarity. And how to step into the supernatural as powerfully as anyone in the Bible did.

The four have a destiny to battle for a freedom even Reece doesn’t fully fathom. But they have an enemy hell-bent on destroying them as well and he'll stop at nothing to keep them from their quest for true freedom and the coming battle of souls.

1) How did this story come to you?
When I was writing my first novel, ROOMS, I thought about what would be the next step after someone went into the rooms of their own soul and came up with the idea of someone going into other people’s souls. So while Soul’s Gate isn’t a sequel to ROOMS (which I plan to write someday) it did inspire the concept of Soul’s Gate

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
This is my first novel with Thomas Nelson. I had a wonderful experience with B&H, who published my first three novels, ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, and THE CHAIR, but when Allen Arnold (former Publisher at Thomas Nelson) and I developed a friendship, it was natural that he would approach me at some point with the idea of publishing with him. He did and in early summer 2011 I signed a five-book contract with them.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
• I used to do voiceover work in radio commercials (which helped me tremendously in voicing my novels in audio form.)
• I can juggle
• When I was 1 ½ three fingers on my right hand were smashed when a table saw fell over on me. The growth plates were destroyed and the doctors said although they wouldn’t have to amputate, the fingers would never grow. Thankfully God intervened.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
SOUL’S GATE is the first book of a trilogy, so I just turned in the first draft of the second book, tentatively called MEMORY’S DOOR (June 2013) and edits on it will start soon.

5) Parting comments?
It’s so cliché to say it, but true regardless, I love my readers. They make this all possible. You’re great and your support means so much to me.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
Web site:
Twitter: @jimrubart

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ann Miller's "The Art of My Life"

The Art of My Life Excerpt
Chapter 1
July 15

Ever have a painting you’ve stared at for years—and loved? Then, one day, you see something which alters the way you view the piece forever. And you have to decide whether the art has been irreparably marred or merely deepened.

Aly at

Cal walked through the tinted glass jail doors into the loamy scent of Bermuda grass, pine bark, and freedom. The surf shorts and T-shirt he’d worn three months ago when the cop clamped metal on his wrists hung loosely, misshapen, like a life that no longer fit.

He scanned the weather-bleached asphalt, the smattering of cars roasting in the Daytona Beach summer. Sun glinted off the windshield of a silver Honda—Aly’s?—blinding his eyes, yanking her last words to him into the whiteness. I love you, John Calvin Koomer. Usually he blocked out Aly’s admission, but in jail the video had played over and over—the certainty in her eyes, the tremor in her voice.

He squinted at the Honda. Sweat slicked his armpits and tickled the side of his face.

Maybe he should have slept with Aly when she offered. He shook his head, dissolving the idea. No. It didn’t matter that protecting her from another guy taking what he wanted had earned him two and a half years of looking at the back of her head. It had been the right thing to do.

He’d smoked weed to forget her, crammed Evie into Aly’s place inside him, but going to jail had ripped away everything but the truth.

He loved Aly. Always had. Always would.

And it was time to do something about it.

The rumble of an engine pulling into the lot jerked his head around. His mother’s minivan puttered toward him, mowing down the stubble of his hope.

He glanced back at the Honda. No college graduation tassel dangled from the mirror. No silhouette of the Virgin Mary was rusted into the right front bumper.

The car was empty. Like he felt inside.

Mom angled into a parking space, her maneuvering as precise as everything she did.

His flip flops scraped the blacktop as he shuffled toward her. As his hand closed around the chrome door handle, heat branded his palm. He climbed into the stream of the air conditioning blowing from the dash, and the door clunked shut behind him.

Mom reached for him, and his breath stuttered.

When was the last time they’d touched?

She wrapped awkward arms around him. “I—I’ve wanted to hug you ever since the first day I visited you at jail.”

His hand lit on the fabric stretched across her dancer’s back. He sucked in gulps of human affection and the talcum scent of childhood while his mind tried to solve the puzzle of his mother. He coughed, searched for words to fill the silence, and found none. For a heartbeat he was ten with tears pricking the backs of his eyes.

She released him.

Relief, then the desire to cling to her, flushed through him making him feel lightheaded.

His mother’s slim fingers shifted the car into reverse. Her dark hair, slicked back from her face in her customary ballerina bun, exposed the scar running from her temple into her hairline. It whitened now, the only hint of emotion on her face.

According to Grandpa Leaf, Mom had been dropped on her head as a child—causing her to rebel into conservatism from her hippie upbringing. Leaf always cackled after he told the story.

Why couldn’t Henna—his lumpy grandma—have picked him up? He pictured her, in one of her bird of paradise muumuus, beaming at him—someone he didn’t have to measure up for.

“Your grandmother is giving you her boat.”

His jaw swerved toward Mom. She might as well have said Cape Canaveral would launch another Discovery with Henna as pilot. The forty-one foot Catalina he’d sailed a thousand times materialized in his mind.

“Your father and I thought it might give you a fresh start. You could run charters like you and Fish used to talk about when you were kids.”

That was before Fish fell in love with politics in tenth grade. He could almost see Fish’s perennially sunburned face. God, it had been a long three months without Fish.

His mind swerved back to Henna, the dots connecting. Henna held herself responsible for his going to jail. He’d tell her she didn’t owe him anything. But he knew she’d make him keep the Escape.

So what if he’d been caught with Henna and Leaf’s weed? He’d rather do the time in the Volusia County Correctional Facility than watch his grandparents go to jail. They were more like leftover flower children than drug dealers. And he loved them. His favorite childhood daydream had been imagining Mom sitting him down and saying, all serious, that she was sorry, but Henna and Leaf were his true parents. He’d sniffle, plow a hug into Henna’s soft middle, then race free and wild into the rest of his boyhood—the way he was meant to be raised.

As they passed the New Smyrna Beach City Limits sign, Mom glanced at him. “I don’t have to tell you that whatever you do in this town sticks to you for the rest of your life. Promise me you’ll never smoke pot again. Salvage what’s left of your reputation.”

He’d always been The Scream to Mom’s American Gothic. “Your reputation. I don’t care about mine.”

“How can you go to jail, have to report a record every time you apply for a job—”

“Leave it, Mom.”

“Is pot why you never got through college?”

“I never got through college because I hated everything but art classes.”

“Maybe you’re self-medicating for ADHD—”

“I can paint a canvas for six hours straight.”

“Or bi-polar. You’ve always been mercurial.”

“Yeah, I get it from you.”

“Funny.” She didn’t crack a smile as she wheeled the van into a marina parking space.

He could sure use a good smoke about now. Maybe it was time to quit weed. But it wouldn’t be because his mother extracted a promise. It was his own damn life.

Mom killed the engine.

The car popped and crackled in the silence.


He gripped the armrest, poised to escape.

“We want to give you a shot at making something of your life.”

His failures throbbed in the car, the ones she’d spoken and the ones left unsaid—his part-time job at Stoney’s Ink Slab that fell short of Mom’s idea of a career, his want of religion. Did the list ever end?

“We moved your stuff from Henna’s place to the boat. She kept your studio set up, so you can still paint there whenever you want.”

He heard the but in her tone, the word that always followed her praise.

She dug the boat keys out of her purse and handed them to him. “Your father and I are on the title for now because you need us to cosign for a startup loan. But if you default, you’ll have to sell the boat to pay off the loan.”

The whiskey shot that he was twenty-five and couldn’t sign for his own loan burned all the way down. “Fair enough.” He swallowed. “How much is the loan?”

“We figured forty thousand would cover repairs and get your business off the ground.”

His head knocked against the headrest. He’d never had more than two hundred dollars in the bank at one time. And now he was getting a ninety-thousand-dollar boat and more money than his brain could compute. Henna had always been wacky generous, but his folks cosigning a loan—mammoth. Was it a last ditch effort to shove him into the sausage casing of society? Well, maybe he was willing this time.

“I drew up a business plan—not so different from the one I did for my dance studio. We meet with Aly tomorrow at three to find out if the loan has been approved and sign the papers.”

He sucked in a breath. “Aly?”

“Who else would we go to? Aly’s practically family. She’s a loan officer—”

He wrenched the door open. “Right.” He stepped out and turned back to face Mom. “Thanks for the lift. The offer of the loan.” He stared at her, gratitude and shame stopping up his words, dampening his eyes. “I’ll think about it.”

She opened her mouth to argue.

He held up a hand. “I said I’ll think about it.”

Her brows arched into triangles and her lips pressed into a flat line, but she turned the key in the ignition.

The minivan eased out of the parking space, his mother sitting ramrod straight.

He released the air crowding his chest.

He swung open the pier gate and breathed in the familiar fishy, gasoline scent of the marina. The shock of freedom left him feeling exposed.

Afternoon sun baked his shoulders as he walked, dissolving the weirdness, leaving only a buoy of hope. A charter business could give him a life. In the next heartbeat the physical craving to paint washed over him. He inhaled, imagining he could smell the Vaseline scent of his oils.

Selling his work, someday seeing his face on the cover of People magazine throbbed in his gut. But it was time to kill that dream. He’d always paint, but Aly needed a guy who owned yard tools, tires worth rotating; who carried AAA, Visa, and voter’s registration cards. His stinking driver’s license wouldn’t even be back in his wallet for another three months.

If he worked the Plan B his family had dealt him and succeeded at running a charter sailing business, he’d gain a shot at Aly.

The only shot he’d ever get.

Back Cover:
Cal walked out of jail and into a second chance at winning Aly with his grandma’s beater sailboat and a reclaimed dream of sailing charters.

Aly has the business smarts, strings to a startup loan, and heart he never should have broken. He’s got squat. Unless you count enough original art to stock a monster rummage sale and an affection for weed.

But he’d only ever loved Aly. That had to count for something. Aly needed a guy who owned yard tools, tires worth rotating, and a voter’s registration card. He’d be that guy or die trying.

Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives.
Twitter: @AnnLeeMiller

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