Thursday, December 20, 2007

Inkygirl Caption!

A nice surprise after a day under the weather - my caption was chosen in Inkygirl's Santa Cartoon Caption Challenge. Go here to see it!

And this week CFBA is featuring Distant Heart by Tracey Bateman. I haven't found time to read it yet, but I've read several of her Claire books and she's an awesome writer!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Exclusive Bits from Ted Dekker Interview

For my recent article on Ted Dekker (go here first to read it if you haven't yet), I had the privilege of chatting with him on the phone and got far more information than I could fit in my article. Here are a few extras for you!

"Writing is a discovery process. I don't write to teach, I write to discover. So every time I tell a story I'm rediscovering the same things over and over again, because as it turns out truth is timeless."

When I first started talking with him, he joked about the questions I'd sent him being so broad. "Narrow is better, like what color are your socks?"

On Adam (Spring 2008): “It's going to become known as, without question, my most gripping psychological thriller.”

About the Circle Trilogy: "Sales aren't going down, it's got tremendous legs. It keeps going and going and going as it spreads and spreads and spreads."

About Color #4: "I can't tell you, I wish I could tell you the device I'm going to use but I can't do that until I've actually figured out exactly how that is [going to work]." I'm really curious about this - the writing device he's going to use. And which color for the title. Any guesses? My initial idea is Green - the one additional color featured on the book covers and on the Circle Pendant. But given Ted's love of surprise, I could be completely wrong.

When I asked about the books he loved growing up, he said that in 9th grade Stephen King's The Stand "set my imagination on fire." He teaches his children (he has four, ages 10-21) to see Moulin Rouge, one of his favorite movies, as a passion play. Other favorite movies include The Matrix, The Abyss, and Amadeus.

When I told him about my reaction to Thr3e (walked around for an hour saying, "Wow" over and over) , he told me I should be sharing that instead of interviewing him - that readers respond to other readers' experiences. So here are my reviews of Ted Dekker's novels:

The Martyr's Song
Obsessed
Showdown

For a list of all of Ted's books, go here.

Hope you enjoy these "deleted" bits! Be sure to stop by and comment on (and rate if you wish) the article itself!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ted Dekker Article on Christian Music Planet!

My article on bestselling novelist Ted Dekker is up on Christian Music Planet! Click over for the scoop on Ted's upcoming books, purpose in writing, and inspiration. Then come back here tomorrow for exclusive info and quotes I didn't have room for in the article!

Be sure to keep visiting Christian Music Planet for my author profiles as well as Q&As, features, contests, and the latest music news.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Minor Protection Act




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



This month's feature author is:






and her book:



The Minor Protection Act
Musterion (December 1, 2005)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

Click the FIRST button to read the first chapter.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Auralia's Colors


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

AURALIA'S COLORS
(WaterBrook Press September 4, 2007)

by

Jeffrey Overstreet


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



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

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

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





ABOUT THE BOOK:
As a baby, she was found in a footprint.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

PRAISE



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


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


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

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead

Stephen Lawhead's Scarlet continues the epic retelling began in Hood. This time, Lawhead hands the narration over to Will Scarlet, a young forester kicked off his thane's land and forced to scramble for a living where he can. After hearing rumors of Rhi Bran y Hud, Will determines to join him. But penetrating the secrets of the Welsh wildness is a task in itself, and once there he'll have to gain the confidence of Bran's entire band of merry thieves - and surly ones, too.

Will spins his tale from prison to a young monk sent to glean information, hoping a long telling will put off the hangman's noose. The blending of past and present works remarkably well, buoyed by Will's rogue humor.

Brother Odo is feisty. He must have got up on the wrong side of his Hail Marys this morning.


Bits like this help make Scarlet less dark than Hood, but the story is no less compelling. Lawhead's rich prose makes this series a joy to read - I can't wait until Tuck releases in 2009. It seems quite a wait, but you may remember my February post about Lawhead's illness (and you'll be glad to know he's doing better now). I'm grateful there will be a book three. Amazon has the first chapter of Scarlet up - be sure to stop by; it's a delightful bit of reading.

So if you're a Lord of the Rings fan, try switching Middle Earth for medieval England. And if you have ever loved the tales of Robin Hood, come experience them in a brand new way.

The blogs below have more about this wonderful book:

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Kait
Karen
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Karen McSpadden
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy food, family, friends, and all of God's blessings!

If you have a minute to spare today, check out this week's CBFA feature, The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out by Neta Jackson.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Try Dying by James Scott Bell



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing



TRY DYING

(Center Street October 24, 2007)


by


James Scott Bell


With all that's been going on this week, I almost forgot to post! Exciting things are happening, one of which will include more about this wonderful author. Keep checking back to this blog (or better yet, subscribe with Bloglines or another RSS feed reader) for details in the future!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

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




ABOUT THE BOOK:

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

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

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

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

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

In Try Dying, this fast-paced thriller, lawyer Ty Buchanan must enter a world of evil to uncover the cause of his fiancee's death--even if hie has to kill for the truth.
"Bell is one of the best writers out there...he creates characters readers care about...a story worth telling."
~Library Review~



Monday, November 12, 2007

French Dawn

My flash fiction story, French Dawn, is up at The Clarity of Night blog for their current contest! Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson



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



This month's feature author is:








and her book:


Hollywood Nobody

Th1nk Books (August 30, 2007)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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

I read this book several weeks back and absolutely loved it! Scotty is such a quirky, lovable character, and the plot twists only added to my enjoyment getting to know her. Lisa Samson's writing has never disappointed me. Be sure to pick up this book for yourself or a teen in your life!


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Hollywood Nobody: April 1


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

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


Underwear showing? Not a good idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later!


Friday, April 2

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

"What, Charley?"

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

"I’m still only fifteen."

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

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

Her boundaries are blurred. What can I say?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Y oh Y must Charley be a vegan?

More on that later.

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

But I wonder the same thing about myself.

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

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

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

Driving without a license.

Driving without a seat belt on the passenger.

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

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

I kid you not.

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


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

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

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

"Great, Mom."

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

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

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

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

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

"Can I at least pull my hair back?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The Outer Banks?"

"Are they in North Carolina?"

Are you kidding me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Groovy!"

"Groovy died with platform shoes and midis."

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

"That phrase should be dead."

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

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

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

Again.



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



Friday, October 19, 2007

Crimson Eve


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


CRIMSON EVE

(Zondervan October 30, 2007)

by



This book holds a special place in my heart. Many months ago, Brandilyn asked her blog readers for title suggestions. Mine was Crimson Dusk, which Brandilyn praised for matching the symbols and syllables of the previous books in the series. It was a bit of a tongue twister, though, so Crimson Eve it became. But I'll always feel that the title is half mine. ;)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e…® ” She’s so well known in the industry there’s actually a club for her non-readers. That’s right. The Big Honkin’ Chickens Club (BHCC) members are proud of the fact that they’re too wimpy to read Brandilyn’s intense fiction. Now and then one of them tries. Bribing works pretty well. (Just ask Deb Raney.) Somehow they live to tell the tale.

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 17th book. Her first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows.

She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences. Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith.

Visit her website to read the first chapters of all her books.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Carla stared at the gun and David Thornby—or whatever his name was. Her mind split in two, one side pleading this was some sick joke, the other screaming it was all too real.

“Please. You must have the wrong person. There’s no reason for someone to want me dead. I don’t have any enemies.”

“Then you’d best rethink your friends.”


Realtor Carla Radling shows an “English gentleman” a lakeside estate—and finds herself facing a gun. Who has hired this assassin to kill her, and why?

Forced on the run, Carla must uncover the scathing secrets of her past. Secrets that could destroy some very powerful people...

Brandilyn Collins fans and reviewers are saying Crimson Eve is her best book yet:

“Collins tops herself by creating a suspenseful nonstop thrill ride … Truly the best Christian Fiction suspense title so far this year.”
Library Journal, starred review


“Crimson Eve is Collins at her very best. It left me feeling as if I’d climbed Mount Everest without oxygen … I didn’t think Brandilyn could outdo herself after reading Coral Moon. She did.”
–TitleTrakk.com

“I’ve never edited a more tightly crafted, deftly woven, compellingly written book.” –a Crimson Eve editor, with 20 years experience

“This is your best book! I could not stop reading!” – one of many readers with similar responses


Read about Violet Dawn and Coral Moon, books one and two in the Kanner Lake series.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturday Ponderings

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Trophy Wives Club


This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


THE TROPHY WIVES CLUB


Avon Inspire (September 4, 2007)

by


Kristin Billerbeck




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and majored in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then,
she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing. She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit. She is a CBA bestselling author and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year. Featured in the New York Times and USA Today, Kristin has appeared on the Today Show for her pioneering role in Christian chick lit.

Her last three books were:

Split Ends: Sometimes the End is Really the Beginning (April 17, 2007)

She's Out of Control (Ashley Stockingdale Series #1) (Nov 13, 2007)

Calm, Cool & Adjusted (Spa Girls Series #3) (Oct 1, 2006)



ABOUT THE BOOK:



Haley Cutler is the consummate trophy wife. Perhaps "was" is the more accurate term. Haley married Prince Charming when she was only twenty years old – back in the day when highlights came from an afternoon at the beach, not three hours in the salon.

When Jay first turned his eye to Haley, she was putty in his slender, graceful hands. No one ever treated her like she was important, and on the arm of Jay Cutler, she became someone people listened to and admired. Unfortunately, after seven years of marriage, her Prince Charming seems to belong to the Henry the XIII line of royalty. When Haley loses Jay, she not only loses her husband, she loses her identity.

With her first independent decision, Haley leaves LA and moves home to Northern California. Feeling freedom just within her grasp, Haley learns that her settlement payments must go through one of Jay's financial advisors, Hamilton Lowe. Haley believes he's nothing more than a spy. And the feelings of distrust are mutual. Yet somehow, Hamilton finds himself handing over the monthly checks in person, and Haley can't deny that there's a kind of tenderness and protectiveness in Hamilton that she's never experienced in a man before.

But before Haley can even consider another relationship, she must learn to accept her inherent worth, and what it is to be loved for who she is, not what's on the outside.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Demon: A Memoir





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









This month's feature author is:






and her book:



Demon: A Memoir

(NavPress, 2007)







ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Tosca Lee received her BA in English and International Relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has also studied at Oxford University.



As a Leadership Consultant, Tosca works with managers and leaders of organizations throughout the Pan-Pacific region, Europe, and the U.S.



Tosca is a former Mrs. Nebraska-America 1996, Mrs. Nebraska-United States 1998 and first runner-up to Mrs. United States and has been lauded nationally for her efforts to fight breast cancer.



In her spare time, Tosca enjoys cooking, studying history and theology, and traveling. She currently resides in Nebraska with her Shar Pei, Attila.



Visit her at her website and her blog.

Click on the FIRST button to read the first chapter.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cover Survey

Bethany House is asking YOU about their cover for an upcoming historical novel. Click here to take their survey!

I've been a bit distracted lately with internet problems, allergies, and interviewing for a job I didn't get. The best distraction has been my fantasy novel, which is currently at 14,000+ words and making slow but steady progress. I keep discovering more about my minor characters, and delving deeper into my major characters. I'm also reading Novelist's Boot Camp and picking up new ideas. Click below to find out more about this great book!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sushi for One?



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


This month's feature author is:




and her book:



Sushi for One?

(Zondervan, September 1, 2007)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Camy Tang is a member of FIRST and is a loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick-lit. She grew up in Hawaii, but now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious poi-dog. In a previous life she was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service.

Sushi for One? (Sushi Series, Book One is her first novel. Her second, Only Uni (Sushi Series, Book Two) comes out in February 2008!

Visit her at her website.

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chapter 1

Eat and leave. That’s all she had to do.

If Grandma didn’t kill her first for being late.

Lex Sakai raced through the open doorway to the Chinese restaurant and was immediately immersed in conversation, babies’ wails, clashing perfumes, and stale sesame oil. She tripped over the threshold and almost turned her ankle. Stupid pumps. Man, she hated wearing heels.

Her cousin Chester sat behind a small table next to the open doorway.

“Hey Chester.”

“Oooh, you’re late. Grandma isn’t going to be happy. Sign over here.” He gestured to the guestbook that was almost drowned in the pink lace glued to the edges.

“What do I do with this?” Lex dropped the Babies R Us box on the table.

Chester grabbed the box and flipped it behind him with the air of a man who’d been doing this for too long and wanted out from behind the frilly welcome table.

Lex understood how he felt. So many of their cousins were having babies, and there were several mixed Chinese-Japanese marriages in the family. Therefore, most cousins opted for these huge—not to mention tiring—traditional Chinese Red Egg and Ginger parties to “present” their newborns, even though the majority of the family was Japanese American.

Lex bent to scrawl her name in the guestbook. Her new sheath dress sliced into her abs, while the fabric strained across her back muscles. Trish had convinced her to buy the dress, and it actually gave her sporty silhouette some curves, but its fitted design prevented movement. She should’ve worn her old loosefitting dress instead. She finished signing the book and looked back to Chester. “How’s the food?” The only thing worthwhile about these noisy events. Lex would rather be at the beach.

“They haven’t even started serving.”

“Great. That’ll put Grandma in a good mood.”

Chester grimaced, then gestured toward the far corner where there was a scarlet-draped wall and a huge gold dragon wall-hanging. “Grandma’s over there.”

“Thanks.” Yeah, Chester knew the drill, same as Lex. She had to go over to say hello as soon as she got to the party— before Grandma saw her, anyway—or Grandma would be peeved and stick Lex on her “Ignore List” until after Christmas.

Lex turned, then stopped. Poor Chester. He looked completely forlorn—not to mention too bulky—behind that silly table. Of all her cousins, he always had a smile and a joke for her. “Do you want to go sit down? I can man the table for you for a while. As long as you don’t forget to bring me some food.” She winked at him.

Chester flashed his toothy grin, and the weary lines around his face expanded into his normal laugh lines. “I appreciate that, but don’t worry about me.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. My sister’s going to bring me something—she’s got all the kids at her table, so she’ll have plenty for me. But thanks, Lex.”

“You’d do the same for me.”

Lex wiggled in between the round tables and inadvertently jammed her toe into the protruding metal leg of a chair. To accommodate the hefty size of Lex’s extended family, the restaurant had loaded the room with tables and chairs so it resembled a game of Tetris. Once bodies sat in the chairs, a chopstick could barely squeeze through. And while Lex prided herself on her athletic 18-percent body fat, she wasn’t a chopstick.

The Chinese waiters picked that exact moment to start serving the food.

Clad in black pants and white button-down shirts, they filed from behind the ornate screen covering the doorway to the kitchen, huge round platters held high above their heads. They slid through the crowded room like salmon—how the heck did they do that?—while it took all the effort Lex had to push her way through the five inches between an aunty and uncle’s
chairs. Like birds of prey, the waiters descended on her as if they knew she couldn’t escape.

Lex dodged one skinny waiter with plates of fatty pork and thumb-sized braised octopus. Another waiter almost gouged her eye out with his platter. She ducked and shoved at chairs, earning scathing glances from various uncles and aunties.

Finally, Lex exploded from the sea of tables into the open area by the dragon wall-hanging. She felt like she’d escaped from quicksand. Grandma stood and swayed in front of the horrifying golden dragon, holding her newest great-granddaughter, the star of the party. The baby’s face glowed as red as the fabric covering the wall. Probably scared of the dragon’s green buggy eyes only twelve inches away. Strange, Grandma seemed to be favoring her right hip.

“Hi, Grandma.”

“Lex! Hi sweetie. You’re a little late.”

Translation: You’d better have a good excuse.

Lex thought about lying, but aside from the fact that she couldn’t lie to save her life, Grandma’s eyes were keener than a sniper’s. “I’m sorry. I was playing grass volleyball and lost track of time.”

The carefully lined red lips curved down. “You play sports too much. How are you going to attract a man when you’re always sweating?”

Like she was now? Thank goodness for the fruity body spritz she had marinated herself in before she got out of her car.

“That’s a pretty dress, Lex. New, isn’t it?”

How did she do that? With as many grandchildren as she had, Grandma never failed to notice clothes, whereas Lex barely registered that she wasn’t naked. “Thanks. Trish picked it out.”

“It’s so much nicer than that ugly floppy thing you wore to your cousin’s wedding.”

Lex gritted her teeth. Respect your grandmother. Do not open your mouth about something like showing up in a polkadotted bikini.

“Actually, Lex, I’m glad you look so ladylike this time. I have a friend’s son I want you to meet—”

Oh, no. Not again. “Does he speak English?”

Grandma drew herself to her full height, which looked a little silly because Lex still towered over her. “Of course he does.”

“Employed?”

“Yes. Lex, your attitude—”

“Christian?”

“Now why should that make a difference?”

Lex widened innocent eyes. “Religious differences account for a lot of divorces.”

“I’m not asking you to marry him, just to meet him.”

Liar. “I appreciate how much you care about me, but I’ll find my own dates, thanks.” Lex smiled like she held a knife blade in her teeth. When Grandma got pushy like this, Lex had more backbone than the other cousins.

“I wouldn’t be so concerned, but you don’t date at all—”

Not going there. “Is this Chester’s niece?” Lex’s voice rose an octave as she tickled the baby’s Pillsbury-Doughboy stomach. The baby screamed on. “Hey there, cutie, you’re so big, betcha having fun, is Grandma showing you off, well, you just look pretty as a picture, are you enjoying your Red Egg and Ginger party? Okay, Grandma, I have to sit down. Bye.”

Before Grandma could say another word, Lex whisked away into the throng of milling relatives. Phase one, accomplished. Grandmother engaged. Retreat commencing before more nagging words like “dating” and “marriage” sullied the air.

Next to find her cousins—and best friends—Trish, Venus, and Jenn, who were saving a seat for her. She headed toward the back where all the other unmarried cousins sat as far away from Grandma as physically possible.

Their table was scrunched into the corner against towering stacks of unused chairs—like the restaurant could even hold more chairs. “Lex!” Trish flapped her raised hand so hard, Lex expected it to fly off at any moment. Next to her, Venus lounged, as gorgeous as always and looking bored, while Jennifer sat quietly on her other side, twirling a lock of her long straight hair. On either side of them …

“Hey, where’s my seat?”

Venus’s wide almond eyes sent a sincere apology. “We failed you, babe. We had a seat saved next to Jenn, but then . . .” She pointed to where the back of a portly aunty’s chair had rammed up against their table. “We had to remove the chair, and by then, the rest were filled.”

“Traitors. You should have shoved somebody under the table.”

Venus grinned evilly. “You’d fit under there, Lex.”

Trish whapped Venus in the arm. “Be nice.”

A few of the other cousins looked at them strangely, but they got that a lot. The four of them became close when they shared an apartment during college, but even more so when they all became Christian. No one else understood their flaws, foibles, and faith.

Lex had to find someplace to sit. At the very least, she wanted to snarf some overpriced, high calorie, high cholesterol food at this torturous party.

She scanned the sea of black heads, gray heads, dyed heads, small children’s heads with upside-down ricebowl haircuts, and teenager heads with highlighting and funky colors.

There. A table with an empty chair. Her cousin Bobby, his wife, his mother-in-law, and his brood. Six—count ’em, six— little people under the age of five.

Lex didn’t object to kids. She liked them. She enjoyed coaching her girls’ volleyball club team. But these were Bobby’s kids. The 911 operators knew them by name. The local cops drew straws on who would have to go to their house when they got a call.

However, it might not be so bad to sit with Bobby and family. Kids ate less than adults, meaning more food for Lex.

“Hi, Bobby. This seat taken?”

“No, go ahead and sit.” Bobby’s moon-face nodded toward the empty chair.

Lex smiled at his nervous wife, who wrestled with an infant making intermittent screeching noises. “Is that …” Oh great. Boxed yourself in now. Name a name, any name. “Uh … Kyle?”

The beleaguered mom’s smile darted in and out of her grimace as she tried to keep the flailing baby from squirming into a face-plant on the floor. “Yes, this is Kylie. Can you believe she’s so big?” One of her sons lifted a fork. “No, sweetheart, put the food down—!”

The deep-fried missile sailed across the table, trailing a tail of vegetables and sticky sauce. Lex had protected her face from volleyballs slammed at eighty miles an hour, but she’d never dodged multi-shots of food. She swatted away a flying net of lemony shredded lettuce, but a bullet of sauce-soaked fried chicken nailed her right in the chest.

Yuck. Well, good thing she could wash—oops, no, she hadn’t worn her normal cotton dress. This was the new silk one. The one with the price tag that made her gasp, but also made her look like she actually had a waist instead of a plank for a torso. The dress with the “dry-clean only” tag.

“Oh! I’m sorry, Lex. Bad boy. Look what you did.” Bobby’s wife leaned across the table with a napkin held out, still clutching her baby whose foot was dragging through the chow mein platter.

The little boy sitting next to Lex shouted in laughter. Which wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t had a mouth full of chewed bok choy in garlic sauce.

Regurgitated cabbage rained on Lex’s chest, dampening the sunny lemon chicken. The child pointed at the pattern on her dress and squealed as if he had created a Vermeer. The other children laughed with him.

“Hey boys! That’s not nice.” Bobby glared at his sons, but otherwise didn’t stop shoveling salt-and-pepper shrimp into his mouth.

Lex scrubbed at the mess, but the slimy sauces refused to transfer from her dress onto the polyester napkin, instead clinging to the blue silk like mucus. Oh man, disgustamundo. Lex’s stomach gurgled. Why was every other part of her athlete’s body strong except for her stomach?

She needed to clean herself up. Lex wrestled herself out of the chair and bumped an older man sitting behind her. “Sorry.” The violent motion made the nausea swell, then recede. Don’t be silly. Stop being a wimp. But her already sensitive stomach had dropped the call with her head.

Breathe. In. Out. No, not through your nose. Don’t look at that boy’s drippy nose. Turn away from the drooling baby.

She needed fresh air in her face. She didn’t care how rude it was, she was leaving now.

“There you are, Lex.”

What in the world was Grandma doing at the far end of the restaurant? This was supposed to be a safe haven. Why would Grandma take a rare venture from the other side where the “more important” family members sat?

“My goodness, Lex! What happened to you?”

“I sat next to Bobby’s kids.”

Grandma’s powdered face scrunched into a grimace. “Here, let me go to the restroom with you.” The bright eyes strayed again to the mess on the front of her dress. She gasped.

Oh, no, what else? “What is it?” Lex asked.

“You never wear nice clothes. You always wear that hideous black thing.”

“We’ve already been over this—”

“I never noticed that you have no bosom. No wonder you can’t get a guy.”

Lex’s jaw felt like a loose hinge. The breath stuck in her chest until she forced a painful cough. “Grandma!

Out of the corner of her eye, Lex could see heads swivel. Grandma’s voice carried better than a soccer commentator at the World Cup.

Grandma bent closer to peer at Lex’s chest. Lex jumped backward, but the chair behind her wouldn’t let her move very far.

Grandma straightened with a frighteningly excited look on her face. “I know what I’ll do.”

God, now would be a good time for a waiter to brain her with a serving platter.

Grandmother gave a gleeful smile and clapped her hands. “Yes, it’s perfect. I’ll pay for breast implants for you!”

© Camy Tang
Used by permission of Zondervan

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Legend of the Firefish

My internet connection's been giving me trouble lately, so I hope this post goes through! I'd never heard of George Bryan Polivka until a few fellow writers began recommending his book, The Legend of the Firefish. I was instantly pulled into a world of swashbuckling adventure. I couldn't put the book down. Trust me - if you like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Princess Bride, you'll want to read this book.

I hope to add more as time and internet allows, but for now, stop by these blogs to see what they have to say about The Legend of the Firefish.


Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
Lisa Cromwell
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Merrie Destefano
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Russell Griffith
Jill Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Kait
Karen
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Terri Main
Rachel Marks
Karen McSpadden
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Robin Parrish
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Cheryl Russel
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver

Sunday, August 12, 2007

New Book by One of My Favorite Authors

Brenda Coulter is coming out with a new book, A Season of Forgiveness, on September 25th. Order it now from Amazon!

To find out more about the book, click the "play" button on the video below.



I can't wait to read the book!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Read Two Chapters of My Novel!

Nicole of Into the Fire has posted the second chapter of my novel, Evergreen Secrets! Go here to read chapter one, then stop by Nicole's blog to read chapter two!

Also, Camy Tang pointed me to a blog that's giving away a 37" HDTV.

If you're wondering about that sound you're hearing . . . scroll down for a peek at the upcoming Narnia movie, Prince Caspian!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Evergreen Secrets Featured

. . . as a Saturday Sample! Nicole Petrino Salter of Into the Fire will be posting a chapter of my novel this Saturday (tomorrow!) on her blog. Spread the word and stop by tomorrow!

A brief summary of the novel:

How do you reach someone whose pain seems to increase with your presence? How can you forget the past when you feel guilty for not remembering?

The last things Winter Randolph wants are reminders of her sister’s death - whether it’s the smell of Christmas trees, interaction with eight-year-olds, or a certain perceptive, annoying man at her new church. Rob Anderson knows Winter’s hurting, and his own past has taught him that keeping pain locked inside never helps. A Christmas gift program brings the two together to find the perfect job for a single mom, but explosive secrets threaten to ruin their tenuous friendship. Add a handsome guy who seems interested in Winter but hates Rob, a pair of mischievous twins, and a convicted kidnapper looking for work to this small Pennsylvanian town, and you can be sure this will be a holiday to remember.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

FIRST - Bad Idea: A Novel (with coyotes)



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



This month's feature author(s) are:






and their book:



BAD IDEA a novel (with coyotes)

(NavPress TH1NK Books, August 22, 2006)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(s):


Todd and Jedd Hafer previously teamed up to write Snickers from the Front Pew: Confessions of Two Preacher's Kids, which has now sold more than fifty thousand units.

Todd is editorial director for the inspirational book division at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, Missouri.

Jedd is director at The Children's Ark in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a home for troubled teens, and travels the country as a standup comedian.

Visit them at their website.

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chapter 1

“We should totally drive!” Rhonda said, wagging a limp french fry for emphasis.

I clenched my teeth. I hate it when adults try to talk like teenagers. Rhonda does it all the time. Her efforts are particularly grating to me because she does, in fact, employ the teen vernacular, but always, always at least one season too late.

Thus, my father’s 28-year-old fiancée didn’t say “Congratulations!” when I was inducted into Quill & Scroll (the National Honor Society for high school journalists) early in my senior year. She said, “Big ups to you, G!” And when I was named Honorable Mention All-Area in track and field (small-school division), she didn’t say “Way to go!” She said, “Big respect, G-Man! You got the mad wheels, homey!”

If she says, “I’m feelin’ you, dawg,” during one more of our Dad-initiated dinnertime theological discussions, I’m going to puke on her shoes.

Fortunately for Rhonda, and all of the people at the Big Bear Diner on the night the road trip was conceived, I didn’t barf when she said, “We should totally drive!” I raised my eyes to the ceiling and said, “I don’t think we should totally drive. I don’t even think we should partially drive.”

I looked across the booth to my dad to accept the disapproving glare I knew he would be offering. I smiled at him. It was my infuriating, smug smile. I practice it in the bathroom mirror. It’s so irritating that when I see my reflection doing it, I want to punch myself in the face.

My dad didn’t hit me. That wasn’t his style. He just nibbled his bottom lip for a while before saying calmly, “I think we should give the idea due consideration rather than reject it out of hand.”

“Okay,” I said, sipping my bitter iced tea, “let’s hear why we should cram ourselves into a car and drive for, what, three or four days to Southern California, stomping on each other’s raw nerves all along the way and probably breaking down somewhere near the Kansas-Colorado border. Or maybe getting in a wreck.”

Rhonda looked at my dad, giving him her Wounded Face, all droopy eyes and puckered chin and poofed-out lower lip. You know the look.

He looked at her, then at me. “Griffin, please . . .”

“Okay, okay, okay—you’re right, you guys. Yeah, you know, now that I consider The Rhonda Eccles-Someday-To-Be-Smith Plan carefully, it’s sounding better. I mean, why would I want to enjoy a quick, economical, and stress-free flight when we could all cram into a tired old vehicle and drive? Let’s go with the option that means more time, more money, more risks, more headaches.”

Rhonda tried to smile, but she couldn’t get the corners of her tiny heart-shaped mouth to curl upward. “Well,” she said quietly, “I just thought it would be bomb to make a road trip of it. See the country. Stop at mom-and-pop diners, like the Big Bear here. Maybe spend a day in Denver—hit an amusement park or catch a Rockies game. Griff, please be more open-minded. Think of the time it would give us to kick it.”

“We talk now,” I observed.

“Yessss,” she said, drawing the word out as though it had sprung a slow leak. She wrapped her long, slender fingers around her coffee mug and took a sip. “But in the car, you wouldn’t be able to run away from the convo whenever it got too intense for you.”

I pushed my chair back from the table and popped up like a piece of toast. I was ready to wad my napkin and spike it like a football on the table before marching out of the Big Bear. Then, only a half second before the Great Napkin Spike, I realized that would be proving her point.

Rhonda was studying me. I scrolled my mind for options on saving face, because since she had unofficially joined our family, I had lost more face than Michael Jackson. But I scrolled in vain. My brain was nothing but blank screen.

Now other patrons were watching me too. I could feel their stares. An idea began to emerge. It wasn’t a good idea, but it was all I had, so I went with it. I said, with an air of dignified indignation, “Well, I’m going back to the buffet for another muffin. Would anybody else care for one?”

This is why I’ll never be a politician, a courtroom litigator, a public speaker—or a success in anything that requires more than a modicum of human interaction. I have my moments, but rarely can I think on my feet when I’m around people. Half the time, I can’t think off of ’em either. Maybe this is why track is the only sport I’m good at. All you must do is keep alternating left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, and turn left every once in a while. I found football and basketball too taxing mentally. They say Larry Bird was a hoops legend because he could foresee plays unfolding before they actually happened. So he always executed the perfect pass, put himself in position for nearly every rebound, stole inbounds passes at will. The game didn’t take him by surprise. Not the case with me. I played organized basketball in junior high and the first two years of high school. And every time I got a jump shot swatted back in my face or ran into a hard pick, it was like a new, albeit unpleasant, experience. So I became a track man. I run the 1600 and 3200 meters—that’s the mile and two-mile for those of you still holding strong in the anti-metric resistance.

I should note that I’m also adequate in cross-country. I often panic before races, though, because many of the courses are complicated. Even after reading the maps posted near the starting line, I don’t understand where I’ll be going. And you know those diagrams at big malls, the ones that assure that YOU ARE HERE? I study them, stare at them. Then I look around the actual mall and become convinced that the diagram has no concept of where I am. The diagram is mighty presumptuous, if not outright cruel and dishonest. How can it purport to know where I am? Half the time, I don’t know that myself.

Luckily, at a mall I can always find some low-rise-jeans-wearing Mall Girls to lead me to the Food Court, and in cross-country I can follow the other runners. If I’d ever lead a race, I’d be in trouble, but this was never a problem in four years of high school, so there’s no chance it will be a problem in college. Assuming I can even make the team. Sure, I did receive one of Lewis College’s supposedly prestigious Scholar/Athlete scholarships, but I suspect it was part of some Be Kind to Kansas White Boys quota system. I’m not convinced I won’t fold like a beach chair during my first college race—or first final exam.

Anyway, I give Rhonda credit (or in Rhonda-speak, “mad props”) for not snort-laughing at my pathetic muffin excuse. She said she could “totally go for another blueberry” and smiled at me as I left the table.

When I returned, she waited as I carefully peeled the pale yellow corrugated paper away from my muffin, then hers, being careful not to break off the stumps. I hate when that happens. Destroys the integrity of the muffin.

“Before you dis the driving idea,” Rhonda said after buttering her muffin, “there’s something you should know.”

I looked at her and arched my eyebrows.

“I talked to Cole yesterday. He’s totally down with the plan. We can drop him off at Boulder on the way to So-Cal. Think of the time you guys will have together. You’ll really be able to kick it, ya know.”

I nodded toward my little brother. “What about Colby?”

“Yeah,” he said, wiping chocolate milk from his upper lip with his shirtsleeve. “What about me?”

“You’ll stay at Aunt Nicole’s crib in Topeka, my little dude,” Rhonda said cheerfully.

Colby crinkled his nose. “Crib? I’m not a stinkin’ baby! I’m five. I won’t sleep in a crib!”

“Her house,” I clarified for Colby. “‘Crib’ is what they call houses back in da ’hood where Rhonda is from. Rural Wisconsin.”

“Oh,” Colby said.

I looked to Dad for a scowl again, but he was busy patting Rhonda’s hand and whispering reassurance to her.

“I’m just kidding, Rhonda,” I said without looking at her. “Don’t get all sentimental. Hey, it was a good idea to call Cole. And if he’s ‘down widdit,’ so am I.”

Rhonda’s eyes were moist, but now they were shining-hopeful moist, not somber-moist. “So it’s a road trip then?” she said.

I sighed. It sounded like one of my dad’s sighs. Too long and too loud. Heaven help me. “Sure,” I said, “why not.”

I was quiet on the drive home. All I could think of was how I was going to talk Cole out of the trip. First, of course, I’d need to find something to calm myself down so I wouldn’t go Rant City on him. He tends to shut down when I do that. I hoped I hadn’t exhausted my supply of vodka, that I still had a bottle or two tucked away in my sock drawer. Otherwise I’d have to resort to NyQuil and Peppermint Artificial Flavoring again. And let me tell you, that’s a rough way to get yourself mellow. (Of course, it does provide the side benefits of the clearest nasal passages and freshest breath in town.)

***

“What kind of Midwest mojo did Rhonda use on you?” I asked Cole as soon as I heard his flat “Hullo?” on the other end of the phone line. “A road trip with my dad and his cliché? I mean, this is a joke, right?”

I watched the seconds morph by on my LCD watch. After eighteen of them passed, Cole said, “You need to relax, dude. The trip will be cool. It’s more time together before we have to go our separate ways. And it’s a real road trip—not just some one-day, there-and-back thing. We’ve always talked about doing something like this, remember? To be honest, I thought you’d be all over this thing.”

“But this isn’t a normal thing, Sharp. This isn’t going to St. Louis to see the Cardinals at Busch, before they tore it down, with a bunch of guys from school. There is a bona fide adult in the equation—one-point-five if you count Rhonda. So it’s no longer a road trip; it’s a chaperoned ordeal. You understand that there will be no hard music on the CD player? No Hatebreed. No Gwar. Dad listens to only classical and old-school rock. And Rhonda likes those guys who are like twenty years old but sing like sixty-year-old opera stars. That crap freaks me out, man. And there will be no mooning busloads of girls’ volleyball teams along the way.”

“It’s not volleyball season yet,” Cole said. This was no attempt at a snappy retort on his part. The way he said it, he was just pointing out a fact, such as, “Augusta is the capital of Maine.”

I sensed I was losing the argument. “You won’t be able belch in the car, or swear. My dad ‘abhors profanity.’ You know that.” I wondered if I sounded as shrill and desperate as I felt.

“His ride, his rules. Besides, you like old-school rock, and it’s kinda starting to grow on me.”

“Okay, but consider this: Before we go, my dad will make us circle up and hold hands while he blesses the stupid SUV before the trip. And since we’ll probably have to rent one of those small trailers to haul all our stuff, he’ll probably get on a roll and bless that, too: ‘Father God, please bless this little U-Haul and all of its contents.’ Those words probably have never been uttered in the history of the English language. And he’ll make a plea for ‘traveling mercies.’ Traveling mercies! That sounds like the name of a really bad folk-rock group. Are you understanding how all of this is going to go down?”

“Praying for our trip—I’m cool with that.”

“Did you hear me say we’ll have to hold hands?”

“Dude, I would hold hands with Rhonda any day. She’s a fly honey.”

“What about me? Or my dad?”

“The team held hands in football huddles all the time. It’s only a problem if you’re insecure in your masculinity.”

I did my involuntary Dad-sigh again. “Okay, man. I guess it’s on, then.”

It’s on, then? I wagged my head in disbelief. That was something Rhonda would say. I don’t talk like that.