Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Swiss Courier

The Swiss Courier


Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey

I've mentioned before that Tricia Goyer is one of my all time favorite writers. My family laughs at me because I talk about her as if I know her personally. I'm one of her gazillion friends on facebook and I probably say "Tricia said" or "Tricia did" several times a week! She writes in several genres, but my very favorite are her WWII books, and her latest book is a joint effort with Mike Yorkey. It is the best yet!

I have no idea how two people can collaborate on a work like this and have it end up so seamless, but this book rocks. Don't pick it up if you don't plan to finish it, though -- each chapter ends in such a way that you can't possibly close the book until you read more. From the first chapter you are transported into another time with characters so real you'll find yourself praying for their safety. This book has many surprises, twists, and turns. It will renew your faith in humanity and the courageous people who stood up to evil in another place and time. This is a must read!

It is August 1944 and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich. When Joseph Engel, a German physicist working on the atomic bomb, finds that he is actually a Jew, adopted by Christian parents, he must flee for his life to neutral Switzerland. Gabi Mueller is a young Swiss-American woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) close to Nazi Germany. When she is asked to risk her life to safely "courier" Engel out of Germany, the fate of the world rests in her hands. If she can lead him to safety, she can keep the Germans from developing nuclear capabilities. But in a time of traitors and uncertainty, whom can she trust along the way? This fast-paced, suspenseful novel takes readers along treacherous twists and turns during a fascinating--and deadly--time in history.

Check this out:

Tricia Goyer is the author of several books, including Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights, both past winners of the ACFW's Book of the Year Award for Long Historical Romance. Goyer lives with her family in Montana. To find out more visit her website:

Mike Yorkey is the author or coauthor of dozens of books, including the bestselling Every Man's Battle series. Married to a Swiss native, Yorkey lived in Switzerland for 18 months. He and his family currently reside in California.To find out more visit his website:

Want to listen to an interview with the authors? Go HERE.

Now go buy this book HERE!

Thank you, LitFuse, for providing a copy of The Swiss Courier for me to review!

The Fence My Father Built

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Fence My Father Built

Abingdon Press (October 2009)


Linda S. Clare


Linda S. Clare is an award-winning coauthor of three books, including Lost Boys and the Moms Who Love Them (with Melody Carlson and Heather Kopp), Revealed: Spiritual Reality in a Makeover World, and Making Peace with a Dangerous God (with Kristen Johnson Ingram). She has also published many essays, stories, and poems in publications including The Christian Reader, The Denver Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Linda grew up in a part of Arizona, where the dirt is as red as it is in Central Oregon. She graduated summa cum laude in Art Education from Arizona State University and taught in public and private schools. She has taught college-level creative writing classes for seven years, and edits and mentors writers. She also is a frequent writing conference presenter and church retreat leader. She and her husband of thirty-one years have four grown children, including a set of twins. They live in Eugene, Oregon, with their five wayward cats: Oliver, Xena the Warrior Kitty, Paladine, Melchior, and Mamma Mia!


When legally separated Muri Pond, a librarian, hauls her kids, teenager Nova and eleven year-old Truman, out to the tiny town of Murkee, Oregon, where her father, Joe Pond lived and died, she's confronted by a neighbor's harassment over water rights and Joe's legacy: a fence made from old oven doors.

The fence and accompanying house trailer horrify rebellious Nova, who runs away to the drug-infested streets of Seattle. Muri searches for her daughter and for something to believe in, all the while trying to save her inheritance from the conniving neighbor who calls her dad Chief Joseph.

Along with Joe's sister, Aunt Lutie, and the Red Rock Tabernacle Ladies, Muri must rediscover the faith her alcoholic dad never abandoned in order to reclaim her own spiritual path.

Watch the trailer:

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Fence My Father Built , go HERE

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Last Word

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Last Word (Sophie Trace Trilogy)

David C. Cook (2009)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Best-selling suspense novelist Kathy Herman has written fourteen novels, including CBA bestsellers The Real Enemy, Tested by Fire and All Things Hidden, since retiring from her family’s Christian bookstore business. Kathy and her husband, Paul, have three grown children and five grandchildren and live in Tyler, Texas.

Visit the author's website.

The Last Word, by Kathy Herman from David C. Cook on Vimeo.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 340
Vendor: David C. Cook (2009)
ISBN: 143476785X
ISBN-13: 9781434767851


Police Chief Brill Jessup pored over the department’s budget for the rest of the fiscal year and couldn’t see any way she could afford to hire another patrol officer without going to the city council. She sighed. The last time she asked those tightwads for additional funds she practically had to beg.

A strange noise interrupted her thoughts. She peered through the blinds on the glass wall into the bustling detective bureau and listened intently. There it was again.

A burly man appeared in the doorway. He bumped off either side, then staggered into her office. Facedown. Hands dripping with blood, clutching his abdomen.

“What in the world …?” She jumped to her feet, frozen in place.

Detective Sean O’Toole looked up and stretched out his hand toward her, his eyes screaming with pain. He collapsed in front of her desk and hit the floor.

“Officer down!” she shouted. “I need an ambulance—now!”

She hurried around the side of her desk, grabbed the clean hand towel next to the coffeepot, and got down on her knees. She laid the towel over the bloody wound and applied pressure.

“Sean, talk to me. What happened?”

The detective’s face was ashen. “He c-came from behind … put me in a choke hold … stuck a knife in my gut … said he was coming after you—to f-finish the job.”

“You never saw his face?”

“No. Hairy arms. White guy. Navy blue short sleeves. Smelled like c-cigarettes. Deep voice.”

“Where did this happen?”

“Hallway. Watercooler.”

Sean moaned, his face pallid and contorted with pain, his eyes slits of icy blue.

“Come on, Sean, stay with me.”

Detective Captain Trent Norris burst into her office. “I’ll take it from here, Chief.”

“How did he get from the watercooler to my office without someone in the DB seeing he needed help?”

“I guess we were all focused on other things. It’s been crazy.”

Trent got down on the floor and swapped places with her, his palms pressed over the wound. “Hang in there, buddy. The paramedics are just down the block. They’ll be here any second. You’re going to be fine. Stay with me. Talk to me.”

Brill sprang to her feet and hurried over to the officers who crowded outside her door. “O’Toole was just stabbed by some lowlife who snuck up behind him at the water cooler. We’re looking for a white man wearing a short-sleeve, navy blue shirt, possibly bloodstained.”

She locked gazes with Sean’s partner. “Detective Rousseaux, secure the scene and make sure it’s not compromised.

“Captain Dickson, lock down the building and search every corner of every room.

“Sergeant Chavez, set up a containment for two blocks around the building.

“Sergeant Huntman, clear the route to St. Luke’s and make sure we have officers in radio cars ready to escort the ambulance. Come on, people, move it!”

The officers scrambled in all directions, and she ran out to the restroom.

She tore off paper towels until she had a stack, folded them in half and held them under the faucet, then pressed out the excess water and rushed back to her office.

She got on her knees and gently pressed the wet towels onto Sean’s forehead, all too aware he was sweating profusely and still bleeding despite the pressure Trent was keeping on the wound. “We need something to elevate his legs.”

She went over to the bookshelf and grabbed several thick books and put them under Sean’s feet, hoping he wouldn’t die of shock before the paramedics arrived.

Lord, don’t take him now. He’s young. He’s got a wife and three kids.

“Come on, buddy, talk to me.” Trent patted Sean’s cheeks. “What else do you remember about this creep?”

“Tell Jessica I love her. The kids, too. Promise me.”

“You’re not going to die,” Trent said. “The bleeding’s slowing down. Talk to me, Sean. We want whoever did this to you.”

“He’s coming after the chief. Going to kill her.”

“Who’s going to kill her?” Trent’s dark eyes shot Brill a glance. “Give us something else. You’re too sharp of a detective to have missed anything.”

“Had a mark. Top of right hand.”

“What kind of mark?”

“A tattoo. Or b-birthmark. Size of a quarter.”

Brill heard voices and heavy footsteps in the DB, and seconds later two paramedics glided through the door and asked her to stand aside with Trent.

She observed in disbelief as the pair worked to save her detective’s life, heartsick that she might have to tell his wife and children he’d been murdered on her watch—and just feet away from armed police officers.

She started to brush the hair out of her eyes and realized her hands were bloody. She shuddered with the realization that whoever thrust a knife into Sean O’Toole had threatened to finish the job when he got to her.


Five hours later Brill sat at the conference table in her office with Detective Captain Trent Norris, Detective Beau Jack Rousseaux, Patrol Captain Pate Dickson, and Sheriff Sam Parker trying to assess where they were in the case.

“It’s a miracle Sean made it through surgery.” Brill looked from man to man. “We could be sitting here planning his funeral.”

“He’s too stubborn to die,” Beau Jack said.

“Stubborn’s no match for a knife blade, Detective. I want this animal locked up.”

“Don’t forget he threatened to come after you,” Trent said.

“How’d he get in here, anyway?”

Pate’s face turned pink. “One of my sergeants, Tiller, reported that a white man dressed in navy blue coveralls with the Miller’s Air Conditioning logo on the pocket was standing outside the door when he arrived this morning. The guy said he was here to fix the AC. He had a toolbox and a big smile. Dark hair and mustache. Big guy. Looked fifty to fifty-five.”

“So the sergeant just keyed in the combination and let him in without checking with maintenance?” Beau Jack said. “Real smart move.”

Pate stroked his chin. “Come on, Miller’s service people are in here all the time. The sergeant let down his guard. We’ve all done it.”

“Yeah, well, my partner nearly died because Sergeant Tiller let down his guard.”

“What’s done is done,” Brill said. “It’s not like we have a precedent for this kind of thing in the Sophie Trace PD.”

Beau Jack stuck a Tootsie Pop in his mouth. “I guess we do now.”

“We definitely need to tighten security,” Trent said. “Since we have no idea who this guy is, everyone we bring into the DB to be interviewed will be suspect.”

“I can’t spend the rest of my life in fear of this nutcase coming after me,” Brill said. “I have a job to do. Trent, you take charge of tightening security. All of us need to heighten our awareness of our surroundings. Anything or anyone that doesn’t feel right, check it out.”

Sam’s white eyebrows came together. “I can’t believe y’all were that trusting. My deputies would never let unauthorized individuals into a secured area. They’re trained to follow protocol.”

“So are my officers.” Brill forced herself not to sound defensive.

“But those of you in the county sheriff’s department deal with a broader range of criminals. Until now, the Sophie Trace PD had no reason to fear an officer being attacked in a secured area.”

“I’ll cover it in each briefing,” Trent said. “From this day forward, no one gets in the secured area until he has clearance. I don’t care how inconvenient it is to check him out.”

Brill looked over at Pate. “Tell me about your search of the building.”

“No evidence was found in the building, ma’am. My officers searched every nook and cranny and checked the sinks for hair and blood. Doesn’t appear the attacker stopped to clean up.”

“How’d Chavez do with the containment?” she said.

“He contained a two-block area around city hall, checked license plates, and talked with pedestrians. That yielded one female witness who passed the suspect on the sidewalk around 10:45—just after O’Toole was stabbed. The suspect was headed down First Street at a pretty good clip. Our witness says he was overweight, average height, dressed in navy blue coveralls and a black windbreaker and carrying a gray toolbox. She said he was wearing sunglasses and did not have a mustache. She’s working with Tiller and our sketch artist. We ought to have something soon.”

“Did she see which way he went?” Trent said.

Pate shook his head. “Once he passed her, she didn’t give him a second thought until Chavez questioned her.”

“Well,” Brill said, “I’m eager to see the sketch. If this man has threatened to come after me, I’d sure like to see if I recognize him.”


A short time later, Brill sat at her desk and studied the artist’s sketch of the man who stabbed Sean O’Toole. Sergeant Tiller was the only one who saw the suspect’s eyes, and the female witness was the

only one who saw his mouth without the mustache. He looked vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t put a name to the face or even explain what it was about him that looked familiar.

Her cell phone vibrated, and she read the display screen.

“There you are,” she said. “I guess you got my message?”

“Honey, I’m so sorry,” Kurt Jessup said. “I’ve been following the news. I’m glad Sean pulled through. Must’ve been horrible for you.”

“I thought we were going to lose him.”

She told Kurt everything that had happened from the time Sean O’Toole staggered into her office until the paramedics took him to St. Luke’s in an ambulance—except that the assailant told O’Toole he was coming after her to “finish the job.” Why get into that over the phone?

“Sounds intense. You must be emotionally drained.”

“I don’t think it’s caught up with me yet. It was surreal washing Sean’s blood off my hands, and I had to throw away my uniform shirt. Beau Jack lent me the extra shirt he had in his locker so Emily wouldn’t have to see the mess. Does she know about the stabbing?”

“Yes, but I made sure she’s not planted in front of the TV, listening to the gory details. It’ll just trigger thoughts of the hostage ordeal, and we both know she’s not over it.”

Are any of us? Brill glanced up at the clock. “I’ll be home in forty-five minutes. Is Vanessa there yet? I can hardly wait to see her.”

“She’ll be here between seven and eight. Said not to plan on her for dinner.”

“By the time I get home, it’ll be too late to cook anything,” Brill said. “And you know what Friday night is like. If we go out, we’ll have to wait forever, and I don’t want Vanessa to come home to an empty house.”

“I’ve got it covered, honey. I bought a baked chicken and a quart of potato salad at the grocery store. We’ve got stuff here for a green salad. That should work.”

“What would I do without you?”

Kurt laughed. “I have no idea.”

“I’ll see you soon. I love you.”

“Love you, too.”

Brill hung up the phone and looked out the window. Through the leafy trees and beyond the ridges of hazy green foothills, the blue gray silhouette of the Great Smoky Mountains dominated the early evening sky. She sat for a moment and just enjoyed the beauty and the calm.

Lord, thank You for letting Sean pull through.

Her office phone rang, and she picked it up. “Yes, LaTeesha.”

“Captain Donovan from the Memphis PD is on line one for you.”

“Thanks.” She pushed the blinking button. “Hello, John.”

“Hey. It’s great to hear your voice. Saw you on the news last fall. I figured you’d make a name for yourself, but I didn’t think you’d go to such extreme measures.”

She smiled. “Things got pretty crazy, all right. So are you enjoying my old office?”

“Not today. I’ve got bad news … Zack Rogers was stabbed night before last. Happened in his driveway. Some worthless piece of garbage came up behind him and stuck a knife in his gut, and said to tell District Attorney Cromwell he was coming after him. I didn’t call you because the doc said Zack was going to be all right. But his heart gave out …”—John’s voice cracked—“an hour ago. No one saw it coming. His kids are still in high school, and with their mother dead … well, it’s a tragic loss. I knew you’d want to know since you and Zack were partners for so long.”

Brill felt a wave of nausea sweep over her, a decade of memories flashing through her mind in an instant.

“The thing is,” John said, “we knew Zack was being targeted because one of my detectives was stabbed last week, and the perp told him he was coming after Zack. We offered Zack protection, but you know how independent he was—bound and determined he could take care of himself.”

Brill’s heart pounded so hard she was sure he could hear it. “John, one of my detectives was stabbed today just outside the detective bureau. The attacker told him he was coming after me, to finish the job. This can’t be a coincidence.”

There was a long moment of dead air, and she figured John was processing the implications.

“You and Zack helped put away lots of perps, Brill. And Jason Cromwell was district attorney during the time you two were partners. Did anybody ever threaten you?”

“Are you kidding? All the time. We blew it off.”

“Well, looks like one of them was dead serious. Anybody in particular stand out?”

“Sure, Bart and Sampson Rhodes. But they’re lifers and not eligible for parole. Zack and I busted them what, nine or ten years ago? If they had been serious about taking us out, they could’ve snapped their fingers and gotten it done in nine or ten minutes.”

“Maybe they’re patient,”

“Or maybe this is someone else,” Brill said. “Someone who was forced to wait a long time for the chance to get even—someone who served out his sentence. Someone who wouldn’t think of hiring a hit man, but rather delights in the systematic elimination of the people who put him away. Someone who enhances his enjoyment by first stabbing a person who is close to the intended victim and making sure that person lives long enough to tell the intended victim that he or she is next.”

“You’ve worked with the FBI profilers so long you actually sound like one.”

“Unfortunately, John, I think I’m right.”

©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. The Last Word by Kathy Herman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Stretch Marks

David C. Cook; New edition (September 1, 2009)


Kimberly Stuart holds degrees from St. Olaf College and the University of Iowa. After teaching Spanish and English as a second language in Chicago, Minneapolis, Costa Rica, and eastern Iowa, she took a huge increase in pay to be a full-time mom. She makes her home in Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband and three young children. She is also the author of Act Two: A Novel in Perfect Pitch.

Visit the author's website.

Stretch Marks, by Kimberly Stuart from David C. Cook on Vimeo.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781448921
ISBN-13: 978-0781448925


Under the Weather

Mia's nose was stuck in her own armpit. Not a lot of glamour there, but she was working toward a higher purpose.

“Think of how your organs are thanking you for thinking of them, for being considerate enough to stretch them.” Delia's voice floated from the front of the room where, Mia knew without looking, she joined the class in a binding pose that could make most grown men cry like little girls.

Mia breathed an audible breath, collecting a healthy whiff of deodorant-infused sweat. In the nose, out the nose, throat relaxed. She closed her eyes, feeling the ends of her fingers beginning to slip out of the bind. Liver, pancreas, you're welcome, she thought and felt her stomach make an uncharacteristic lurch. The radiator kicked in beside where she stood, infusing heat and a bass hum to the room. Mia focused on an unmoving spot on the floor and not on the spandexed and heaving tush of the woman on the mat in front of her.

“And now using the muscles in your core, slooowly release and come back to mountain pose.” Delia manipulated her voice and cadence to stretch like honey. On any other day, her instructor's voice sounded like a lullaby to Mia, a quiet but persistent reminder to breathe deeply and recycle paper and plastic. Today, though, Mia felt an urge to ask Delia to speak up. She wanted concrete sounds, solid sounds; the feathery intonations landing lightly around the room made her insides itch. She pulled out of the bind and stood at the top of her mat, feet planted, palms outturned.

“Feel better yet?” Frankie whispered to Mia from the mat next to her.

Mia sighed. “Not yet.”

“Let's move into our warrior sequence.” Delia modeled the correct form on her lime-green mat and the class obediently followed suit.

Four poses later Mia hadn't shaken the bug she'd hoped was just an out-of-sorts feeling to be shed with a good workout. She felt elderly, cranky. Not even downward-facing dog had brought any relief. She lay on her back during the last minutes of class, trying to melt into the floor, be the floor. The spandexed woman was snoring. This final pose, savasana, was intended to provide participants final moments to recover, to be still and let their minds quiet before reentering the chaos of the outside world. Most yoga aficionados soaked up the pose. In Mia's class she'd spotted a plump, permed woman wearing a sweatshirt that declared in stark black print “I'm just here for the savasana.”

Today, though, Mia couldn't keep her eyes shut. She curled and flexed her toes, wishing Delia would crank up some Stones or Black Crowes instead of the Tibetan chimes lilting out of the stereo. Her impatience with a woman who freely quoted Mr. Rogers was beginning to worry her. Even in the hush of the room, her thoughts continued in an unruly spin, and when Delia brought everyone back to lotus, Mia glimpsed a scowl on her reflection in the mirror.

“Let's just enjoy the long, strong feeling of our bodies,” Delia said. Her eggplant yoga gear revealed taut muscles. “Our organs are thanking us for a good massage.”

Right. Organs. Mission accomplished, Mia thought, trying to concentrate on the gratitude her body owed her. But her mind crowded with images of bloody, squishy masses, pulsating or writhing in the way organs must do, and she found herself springing from her mat and bolting to the back of the studio. She threw open the door to the ladies' room and gripped the toilet bowl in a new pose, aptly christened “riotous and unexplained retching.” “Mia?” Frankie's voice was subdued, even though a postclass din was making its way through the restroom door.

Mia emerged from the stall. “I guess sun salutations weren't such a good idea.” She washed her face and hands at the sink, trying not to inhale too deeply the scent of eucalyptus rising from the soap. She watched her face in the mirror, noting the pale purple circles under eyes that persisted even with the extra sleep she'd indulged in that week. Mia smoothed her eyebrows with clammy fingers, taking care not to tug the small silver piercing, and glimpsed Frankie's concerned expression in the mirror. “Don't worry,” Mia said. “I feel much better now. Must just be a virus.”

Frankie handed over Mia's coat and a hemp bag proclaiming Save the Seals. “I'll walk you home. Let's stop at Gerry's store for soup and crackers.”

Mia made a face. “Crackers, yes. Soup, definitely not.”

Outside the studio weak February sunshine played hide-andseek with wispy cloud cover. Frankie planted her arm around Mia's waist.

Mia glanced at her friend. “I like the blue.”

Frankie turned her head to showcase the full effect. “Do you? I meant for it to be more baby blue, less sapphire, but I got distracted with this crazy woman on the Home Shopping Network and left the dye on too long.”

In the two years Mia had known her, Frankie had demonstrated a keen affection for adventurous hair coloring. Magenta (advent of spring), emerald green (popular in March), black and white stripes (reflecting doldrums after a breakup), now blue. The rainbow tendency endeared Frankie to Mia, who'd braved an extended though unsuccessful flirtation with dreadlocks during college, but otherwise had settled for a comparatively conformist 'do of patchouli-scented chestnut curls.

“How did this change go over with Frau Leiderhosen?”

Frankie whistled. “She loved it. In fact she wondered if we could have a girls' night out this weekend and take turns trading beauty secrets.”

Mia snorted, which was an unfortunate and unavoidable byproduct of her laughter. The snorts only encouraged Frankie.

“'But, Esteemed Employer,' I said, 'I can't possibly instruct the master! A mere mortal such as I? It'd be like a Chihuahua taking over the dressing room of J-Lo! Or Sophia Loren! Or Gisele Bundchen, a woman who shares with you, dear boss, an impressive German name and an uncanny sense of style!'”

“Stop it.” Mia clutched her stomach and groaned. “Yoga and laughter are off limits until further notification from my digestive tract.”

Frankie sighed. “I do feel sorry for her. I never should have shown up with a mousy blonde bob cut for the initial interview. I was so average librarian.” She shook her head as they slowed near Gerry's Grocery. “Only to turn on her the first week on the job.”

It had occurred to Mia more than once how much she could have benefited from a green-haired librarian in the small Nebraska town where she'd grown up. Not until she was well into adulthood did she realize that not all librarians were employed to scare children, like the dreaded circulation director at Cedar Ridge Municipal Branch with the spidery braid and hairy mole. Mia had cowered behind the legs of her father when he would stop in to check out an eight-track or the latest release by Louis L'Amour. The moled woman had snapped at Mia once when she'd fingered a book on a stand, announcing down her nose that the book of Mia's interest was for display only and could not be checked out. Never mind that Bird Calls of the Northeast had not exactly beckoned to eight-year-old Mia anyway, but the chastisement was enough to keep books at an arm's length for years. How different Mia's interest in reading could have been had a spitfire like Frankie been the one behind the desk! Frankie's supervisor, Ms. Nachtmusik, with her impossible surname that changed with each conversation, didn't know the gift Frankie was to her patrons.

“Hello, ladies.” Gerry looked over his glasses. He stopped pecking madly at a calculator on the front counter. “How are things with you?”

“Mia's sick, Gerry.” Frankie patted Mia on the head. “We need sick stuff.”

Gerry pushed back on his stool and stood. He clucked like an unusually tall occupant of a henhouse. “Sick, Miss Mia? Headache? Stomach? Fever?”

Mia shook her head. “Stomach, I guess. I think crackers will be enough.”

Gerry looked disgusted. “This is not your duty to decide. Miss Frankie and I will take care of the illness. Sit.” He pointed to his stool and waved at her impatiently when she didn't jump at his command. Gerry shuffled off, muttering about the tragedy of young people living in cities without their parents.

Mia slipped Frankie a rolled-up reusable shopping bag and whispered, “Make sure to steer him away from pesticides.” Frankie winked at Mia and skipped behind the man on his mission.

Mia greeted the next few patrons entering the store. She tried watching the game show on Gerry's small black-and-white, but she couldn't seem to follow the rules. I'll just lay my head here for a moment, she thought, pushing Gerry's calculator aside. “Oh, good heavenly gracious, we need to call an ambulance!” Gerry's words seeped like molasses through Mia's subconscious. She wondered who was injured and if it had anything to do with the impossible rules on that game show.

“Mia, honey, are you okay?” Frankie was tugging on her shoulder.

“Hmm?” Mia pulled her eyelids open into the glare of fluorescent lights. Her head was, indeed, on the front counter, but so was the rest of her body. She turned her head slowly to face Frankie, who had crouched down beside her and was inches from her face. “I'm lying on the conveyer belt.”

“Yes, yes, you are,” Frankie said while guiding Mia to a sitting position. She gauged her tone of voice to fit a three-year-old on Sudafed. “Gerry and I left to get some groceries and when we returned,” she enunciated, “you were lying on the counter.” She nodded up and down, up and down.

Mia shook her head. “I was really tired. I needed to sleep.” Her voice trailed off. She kept her hands on her face for a moment, fingers brushing past a stud in her right nostril and the ring in her eyebrow. Eyes open, she peeked through the cracks in her fingers. Behind Gerry, who was patting his pockets frantically for cigarettes that hadn't been there since he'd quit a decade before, stood his son, Adam. Mia tried running her fingers through her yoga-tangle of hair.

Adam cleared his throat and smiled.

Mia realized she'd dropped her hands and had commenced a creepy stare session. “Hi, Adam,” she said too loudly. “How are you?”

Adam bit his cheek in an attempt to take seriously a question coming from a woman sprawled next to a cash register. “I'm great, Mia. You?”

“Fantastic,” she said and swung her legs to the side of her perch. Gerry rushed forward to offer her his arm, Adam close behind. Mia held up her hands in protest. “I'm fine, really,” she said. “Just a little tired, apparently.” She walked slowly to the front door and turned to wave. “Thanks, Gerry. You're a great host. Adam, good to see you. Frankie, are you ready?” She opened the door without waiting for a response and stepped out onto the sidewalk.

Gerry pushed away Frankie's twenty-dollar bill and handed her the sack of sick stuff as she fell in behind her friend. They walked five minutes in silence. Dusk was long gone, the sun having set early in the February evening. Mia was from the Midwest and didn't much mind Chicago winters; Frankie, however, hailed from Southern California and moaned every few steps as wind from the lake found its way through coats and mittens and headed straight for skin.

“I will never know why we have chosen this misery.” Frankie held Mia at the crook of her arm like a geriatric patient. Mia felt too exhausted to protest. At the foot of the stairs leading to her apartment building, she stopped. She watched a dapper older gentleman with mocha skin descend the steps and allow his eyes to fall on her.

“Hey, Silas,” she said.

“Evening, girls,” Silas said. He dropped his keys in the side pocket of his suit and tipped his hat, a soft brown fedora trimmed in striped black ribbon. He cocked his head slightly and narrowed his gaze at Mia. “Girl, you don't look so hot.” Silas furrowed his brow and looked at Frankie. “What's the story, Francesca?”

“We're not sure,” Frankie said. “But don't worry. I'm taking her straight upstairs before she can toss her cookies again.”

Silas took a nimble step back, sidestepping puddles in his retreat. “Honey, I'm sorry. Ain't no fun getting sick.”

“Thanks,” Mia said. She handed him a box of Lorna Doones from her stash of groceries. “Brought your favorites. Goodness knows I won't be needing a visit with Miss Lorna this evening,” she said, wrinkling her nose at the thought.

Silas clucked and shook his head. “Your mama raised you right, girl. I thank God for you, Mia, and I know my dear Bonnie is happy to look down from glory and see me so well taken care of.” He patted her gloved hand. “I couldn't ask for a better neighbor. You get better now, you hear?”

The girls took the steps slowly. When they reached the front door and waited for Mia to fish keys out of her bag, Frankie cleared her throat.

“So, um, what was that business at Gerry's all about?”

Mia shook her head. She dug deeper in her purse. “This is one bizarre virus. I don't even remember making the decision to go to sleep.”

“Yes, right. I didn't mean the counter episode. I meant the eye-lock with Gerry's son.”

“Found them,” Mia said and pushed her key into the lock. “Sorry, what were you saying?”

“Hair-fixing, googly-eye thing with Fig Leaf.” Mia tried to look disapproving. “You and your nicknames. I like the name Adam. I cringe to think of what you call me behind my back.” “Hmm,” Frankie said. “Today would be a toss-up between Vomitronica and Queen of Feigned Emotional Distancing.”

“I'm not feigning anything, for those of us who've read too much Jane Austen,” Mia said. She led the way into the lobby elevator and pushed the button for the fourth floor. The door closed with a shudder and Mia shrugged. “It's really nothing.”

Frankie crossed her arms and positioned her finger above the emergency stop button.

“All right.” Mia sighed. “When I first moved to my apartment, I was momentarily single and also in need of a neighborhood grocery. I found Gerry's, and Adam was always there with his perfect smile and impeccable Persian manners.” She sighed and watched the numbers light up on their ascent.

“Oh, my gosh. This is so Rear Window.”

“Isn't that the one where the woman is paralyzed?”

“No,” Frankie said with labored patience. “That's An Affair to Remember. I'm hinting less at paralysis, more at love at first sight.”

Mia rolled her eyes as the elevator door opened. “I noticed him, he noticed me, we flirted, and then I was no longer single.” Mia stepped into the hallway. “It was nothing. Seriously. As you might remember, I'm happily in love with another man. End of story.” She led the way to her apartment door. “Sorry to disappoint. I was recovering from an episode, remember.”

“Exactly!” Frankie was triumphant. “Your defenses were down, you were caught off guard and didn't have time to censor what was and wasn't socially appropriate--”

“Shh. He might be home.” Mia paused at her apartment door and ignored Frankie's dramatic jab of her finger down her throat.

“That would be so unusual,” Frankie said, sotto voce. “You can't mean he would be eating your food and smashing organic potato chips under his rear as he watches Baywatch reruns on your couch?”

Mia called into the room, “Anybody here?”

Frankie muttered, “Because we wouldn't expect you to be anywhere else.”

Mia pinched Frankie's arm when she heard rustling in the living room. “Lars?”

He stepped into the entryway, blond hair tousled, mouth opened in a wide yawn. “Hey, babe,” he said around his yawn. “Hey, Frankie.”

“Hi, Lars,” Frankie said sweetly. Mia avoided eye contact with her friend and instead pulled her arms around Lars and gave him her cheek to kiss.

“Don't exchange any of my germs,” she said. “I think I'm sick.”

Lars stepped back, nudging Mia out of the embrace. “Really?” He wrinkled his nose. “Like puking sick?”

Mia unbuttoned her coat. Frankie tugged her friend's arms out of the sleeves and unwrapped her from a bulky crocheted scarf. “Like, totally puking sick,” she said, watching Lars for any recognition of her mocking tone. None detected, she rambled on. “She, like, ralphed after yoga and then at Gerry's she totally fell asleep under the scanner.”

Lars had turned and was heading for the fridge. Mia shot a pleading look at Frankie, who sighed and nodded a momentary truce.

“You should have called and told me you were going to the store. We're almost out of soy milk,” he said, nose in the fridge. “And I ate the last Carob Joy after lunch.”

Mia filled a glass with water. Lars had piled his dishes in the sink, and it occurred to her to thank him, as this was a marked improvement from finding them all over the apartment, crusty, molding, and sometimes neglected until they smelled of rot. Determined not to conjure up any more detail of those images and too tired to explain to Frankie later why dirty dishes piled in the sink was a step upward, she sipped her water and shuffled toward the bedroom.

“Thanks, Frankie, for taking care of me,” she said. “I owe you. But I can't think about it right now, okay?”

Frankie followed her into the bedroom. She turned the covers down as Mia undressed and placed a saucer of crackers on the bedside table. “You take care of yourself, do you hear me?” For a woman with blue hair, Frankie could command the maternal authority of Olivia Walton when summoned. “Call me tomorrow morning. Or before if you need me. Not that Lars isn't the nurturing, restorative type …”

Mia moaned. She lowered herself into bed and curled up into a fetal position.

“All right, all right.” Frankie spoke softly. She turned out the light. “Sleep well, Mimi.” She waited a moment for an answer from under the down comforter but Mia was already drifting toward sleep.

©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. Stretch Marks by Kimberly Stuart. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Great Christmas Bowl

The Great Christmas Bowl
Susan May Warren

Susan May Warren has written a fun book that is guaranteed to get you into the Christmas spirit! If you are overwhelmed by the craziness of the holiday, the busyness of your life, and the sense that your family is moving on with their lives while you are stuck in place, pull up a chair, grab a cup of tea, and take some time to read Susan's newest short book, The Great Christmas Bowl. The story of Marianne Wallace may not be your story, but you will definitely recognize the the emotions and difficulties she encounters as she tries to update longstanding traditions of the women's Christmas Tea, maintain the 'perfect' Christmas at home even though her family is growing up, and find meaning in this new phase of her life. Reading this light-hearted book just may become one of my favorite Christmas traditions!

You can purchase your own copy on Amazon.

The Great Christmas Bowl
Marianne Wallace is focused on two things this holiday season: planning the greatest family Christmas ever and cheering on her youngest son's team in their bid for the state championship.

Disaster strikes when the team loses their mascot-the Trout. Is it going too far to ask her to don the costume? So what if her husband has also volunteered her to organize the church Christmas tea.

When football playoffs start ramping up, the Christmas tea starts falling apart. Then, one by one her children tell her they can't come home for Christmas.

As life starts to unravel, will Marianne remember the true meaning of the holidays?

Meet Susan!
Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep's Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader's Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota.

Learn more about Susan here:

Friday, October 02, 2009


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Zondervan (September 22, 2009)


Terri Blackstock


Terri Blackstock’s books have sold six million copies worldwide. Her suspense novels often debut at number one on the Christian fiction best-seller lists, and True Light, published last year, was number one of all Christian books—fiction and non-fiction. Blackstock has had twenty-five years of success as a novelist.

In 1994 Blackstock was writing for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening drew her into the Christian market. Since that time, she’s written over thirty Christian titles, in addition to the thirty-two she had in the secular market. Her most recent books are the four in her acclaimed Restoration Series, which includes Last Light, Night Light, True Light and Dawn’s Light. She is also known for her popular Newpointe 911 and Cape Refuge Series.

In addition to her suspense novels, she has written a number of novels in the women’s fiction genre, including Covenant Child, which was chosen as one of the first Women of Faith novels, and her Seasons Series written with Beverly LaHaye, wife of Tim LaHaye.

Blackstock has won the Retailer’s Choice Award and has appeared on national television programs such as The 700 Club, Home Life, and At Home Live with Chuck and Jenny. She has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country and the subject of countless articles. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.


Barbara Covington has one more chance to save her daughter from a devastating addiction, by staging an intervention. But when eighteen-year-old Emily disappears on the way to drug treatment—and her interventionist is found dead at the airport—Barbara enters her darkest nightmare of all.

Barbara and her son set out to find Emily before Detective Kent Harlan arrests her for a crime he is sure she committed. Fearing for Emily’s life, Barbara maintains her daughter’s innocence. But does she really know her anymore? Meanwhile, Kent has questions of his own. His gut tells him that this is a case of an addict killing for drugs, but as he gets to know Barbara, he begins to hope he’s wrong about Emily.

The panic level rises as the mysteries intensify: Did Emily’s obsession with drugs lead her to commit murder—or is she another victim of a cold-blooded killer?

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

Watch the book Trailer: