Saturday, January 31, 2009
It's Saturday, and once again time for Faith 'n Fiction with my friend Amy. Today's question is . . .
You have a good friend who is a devoted Christian and voracious reader. He or she, however, tried to read a Christian fiction book in the past and found it to be too preachy and unrealistic. Your friend wants to try it again and has asked you for a recommendation. Their favorite genre of book is what is considered literary fiction. What book would you recommend to them?
You also have a friend who is not a Christian but wants to read fiction that is considered clean without being too Christian. They have asked you if there are Christian fiction books that might meet their reading needs. They are interested in romance and novels. What book would you recommend to them?
For friend number 1- I would recommend any of Karen Kingsbury's books. They are very realistic and not preachy at all. The first book I would read of hers would be Ocean's Apart. Awesome book!
For friend number 2- Julie Lessman's Boston of Daughter's Series comes to mind as well as Tiffany Amber Miller's Delaware Dawning Series. Both are wonderful!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Revell (January 1, 2009)
The Someday List Blog Tour Giveaway
Tell Us One Item on Your Someday List. Leave your answer in the comment section. Participants will be entered into a drawing for The Someday List Blog Giveaway. View the prize package below:
* $50 American Express Gift Card
*Autographed Copies of all of Stacy’s books: Speak to My Heart, Nothing But the Right Thing, and Watercolored Pearls, and the anthologies The Midnight Clear and This Far By Faith.
*20% Discount Coupon from Tywebbin Creations. (May apply to one service)
Join Us for an Hour Long Chat with Stacy on January 30, 2009. We will announce the GRAND PRIZE WINNER of the THE SOMEDAY LIST BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY during the call.
Phone #: 1-518-825-1400 / Access Code: 15642 / Time: 8:00 pm EST
Stacy Hawkins Adams is a nationally-published, award-winning author and speaker. Her contemporary women’s fiction novels are filled with social themes and spiritual quests that take readers on journeys into their own souls.
She holds a degree in journalism and served as a newspaper reporter for more than a decade before turning her full attention to penning books, speaking professionally and writing freelance articles.
She is currently writing her sixth novel and her first nonfiction book, an inspirational title that will encourage women in their faith.
Stacy lives in a suburb of Richmond, Virginia with her husband and two young children.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Revell (January 1, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Rachelle fumbled with the bouquet of yellow roses and locked eyes with him. Her flowers sagged from thirst.
The simple gold band she clutched stuck to her sweaty palm.
Instead of a flowing white gown, she wore the black pencil skirt and short-sleeved white silk blouse that, until today, had served as her choral ensemble uniform.
Her groom was dressed in his standard singing attire too—white collared shirt, black tie, and black slacks. He had removed the diamond earring from his left earlobe, his goatee was freshly cut, and as far as she was concerned, he had never looked finer.
Between the two of them, the worldly goods they possessed amounted to less than what Rev. Prescott likely paid to have his preaching robe cleaned.
And yet, she knew this was right. The right time, the right place, and the right man, even if she had to marry him in secret.
One day they would look back on this elopement with tenderness and pride, telling their children about their union in an empty church sanctuary, not far from the university they would graduate from in six months.
He smiled at her and arched an eyebrow, questioning the delay in her response.
The minister repeated himself.
“Rachelle Marie Mitchell, do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?”
She smiled. Her beloved didn’t have to worry about her having second thoughts—not when she felt this way.
“I do, Reverend Prescott,” she said. “I do.”
Rachelle Mitchell Covington felt both giddy and guilty.
In twenty-four hours she would be completely alone and she couldn’t wait.
No worries about temporary empty-nest syndrome—she was happy to let her parents deal with two preadolescent know-it-alls for half of the summer. And no need to feign an interest in her husband’s wants, work, or even his world.
For the first time in their eleven-year marriage, she and Gabe would be away from each other for more than a week.
When he informed her that he had agreed to speak at a medical conference the week before he left for a medical mission trip, she knew he expected her to complain. Rachelle had frowned for his benefit, but also bit her lip to keep from cheering.
Though it was already steamy outside this morning, the temperature inside Houston’s Intercontinental Airport left her longing for her cashmere coat. Rachelle shivered and smiled when Tate and Taryn, looking like they had stepped off the pages of a Children’s Wear Digest catalog, turned to wave one last time before passing through the security gate and approaching a waiting airline employee.
The young woman in the crisp navy and white uniform would escort them to their direct flight to Philadelphia.
The fifth and third graders had been trying to whine their way out of their annual summer visit with Rachelle’s parents for two days, because they would miss their friends, feared boredom, and believed Gram would have way too many rules. Rachelle had reminded them again this morning that, despite those perceived hardships, they had no problem enjoying the regular outings, video games, and other treats they enjoyed during their stay.
When Tate and Taryn disappeared around a bend that led to Terminal A, Gabe turned toward Rachelle and motioned with his head that he was ready to go. He and Rachelle walked briskly toward the parking deck without touching or talking.
Gabe walked a stride or two ahead of her, as if he were on a mission. He tempered his gait as they neared his SUV, and he unlocked the doors with his key chain device.
“I’m not going into the office this morning since I’ll be flying out early tomorrow,” he said without looking toward Rachelle.
“Let’s grab breakfast at Olivette.”
Rachelle scrambled for an excuse, but none presented itself.
She hadn’t mentioned that she soon would be leaving too, for a weekend trip to the West Coast. It didn’t matter that he didn’t know. He wasn’t going to be home anyway.
“That’s fine,” she finally said about breakfast, although he had already steered his Mercedes in the direction of the hotel restaurant.
They rode in silence during the half-hour drive and didn’t speak until the waitress asked for their order.
Rachelle sighed and responded by rote. “He’ll have smoked salmon and a bagel with a side of fresh fruit.”
Gabe nodded and looked up at the waitress. “She got it right.”
“Salmon and bagel with a side of fruit,” the waitress repeated, lodging the order in her memory.
Rachelle leveled her eyes at Gabe. “Order for me.”
He peered at her over the rim of his glasses. “How would I know what to order for you?”
Rachelle didn’t feel like playing along with his public politeness today. She sat back and folded her arms.
The waitress shifted from one foot to the other and turned her gaze to a nearby bank of potted plants.
Gabe’s nostrils flared and he clenched his teeth. “Just order something already.”
“If you can’t do it, I guess I’m not hungry,” Rachelle said.
Gabe opened the leather-encased menu and glared at the offerings.
Seconds later, he pushed it into the waitress’s face. Startled, she grabbed it before it landed on the Oriental rug beneath the table.
“Bring her an omelet with ham, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese.”
The waitress nodded and left quickly, her reddish-brown ponytail swaying with each step. Rachelle knew the young lady had to be wondering how a couple could fight over a breakfast order.
If she had asked, Rachelle would have assured her this skirmish was overdue.
Since she had received Jillian’s unsettling invitation three weeks ago, Rachelle’s tolerance for just about everything had plummeted.
With the kids away for the next month, she didn’t have to contain herself. Gabe should be thankful he was leaving for a business trip tomorrow.
He laid his linen napkin across his lap and stared at her.
Rachelle challenged him with her eyes. She wanted him to care enough to question her, to probe why she was being defiant.
But just as she knew what to order for his meal, she knew he wouldn’t take the bait. He was his usual, detached self—enveloped in skin that was a smooth, savory brown and as self-absorbed as a two-year-old whose favorite words were “no” and “mine.”
In that moment, something welled up inside of her. She looked past Gabe’s glasses, past the perfect white teeth, past the pool of nothingness in his eyes. She wanted to see into his soul. She wanted to know that he had an “I would die for you” kind of love inside of him. For her.
Even if they had been together for what seemed like forever. Even if she didn’t know how she really felt about him. If one of them could summon the emotion, maybe that would make all the difference.
He was leaving tomorrow for New York and would return home for one day before traveling to Uganda. In twenty-four hours, she’d have the entire house to herself. But right now, she realized, she needed to leave to save herself.
Right now, what mattered more than being a good wife was being good to herself. Hearing from Jillian for the first time in a long time was nudging her to stop procrastinating.
Rachelle took a sip of her coffee and rose from her seat. “Stay and enjoy your breakfast. Call a taxi when you’re done. I may or may not be at home by then.”
Before he could protest, Rachelle raised her hand to stop him.
Her voice trembled when she addressed him in a whisper.
“Gabe, I’m tired of playing like the happy couple. Our life is strangling me. I want a real marriage and this isn’t it . . . And by the way, I’ve always hated cheddar cheese.”
She grabbed her purse from the back of her chair and strode toward the door, heart pounding as if it would burst through her sleeveless tangerine top.
Had she really done that? Did she just walk away from her well-to-do, handsome husband and leave him stranded in a restaurant?
What would her parents say? Their friends? For the first time that she could recall, those questions wouldn’t determine her actions.
Rachelle slowed her pace when she reached the restaurant’s entrance and nodded farewell to the hostess. She strode through the lobby of the Houstonian Hotel and thanked the bellhop who held open the door for her. While the valet retrieved Gabe’s Mercedes truck, she stood at his booth, tapping her foot and looking over her shoulder.
In the minutes since she had left the table, Gabe hadn’t pursued her. Despite the fact that she had fueled this drama, she was hurt.
She breathed in the humid summer air and exhaled slowly, trying to keep her composure.
For once, she wished she were sweaty enough to mask the moisture on her face. The last thing she wanted to admit was that once again, she had allowed him to make her cry.
©Stacy Hawkins Adams, The Someday List: A Novel, Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2009. Used by permission
Sunday, January 25, 2009
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
M. L. (MARYLU) TYNDALL grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.
After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.
Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.
One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she'd only give her heart to Him completely.
Her current releases in the Legacy of The Kings Pirates series include:The Restitution, The Reliance, and The Redemption and The Falcon And The Sparrow
ABOUT THE BOOK
Lady Faith Westcott has turned her back on God and on man. Having witnessed the hypocrisy in the Church of England, her older sister's abuse at the hand of her husband, and her own mother's untimely
death in childbirth, Faith has determined never to marry and to gain enough wealth so she and her two sisters will never have to depend on man or God again.
To that end, though a lady by day, she becomes a pirate by night and begins her sordid career off Portsmouth when she attacks and plunders a merchant ship commanded by the young Dajon Waite. Humiliated at being defeated by a pirate and a woman no less, Dajon returns home without cargo and ship, and his father expels him from the family merchant business.
After a brief sojourn into debased society, Dajon rejoins the Royal Navy, where he finds comfort in the strict rules and redemption through his service to others. Three years later, he is sent to the frontier outpost of Charles Town, South Carolina to deal with the pirate problem. There, he connects with his mentor and old friend, Admiral Westcott, who has just arrived with his three daughters.
Much to Dajon's utter dismay, Admiral Westcott, who is being called away to Spain, asks Dajon to be temporary guardian of his three lovely daughters. One of the ladies seems familiar to him, a striking redhead who immediately sends his heart thumping.
Faith recognizes Captain Waite as the buffoon whose ship she plundered off Portsmouth. Yet, he appears no longer the fool, but instead a tall, handsome and commanding naval officer. Despite her immediate attraction to him, she labels him the enemy, but sparks are guaranteed to fly during the next few months when independent, headstrong and rebellious Faith falls in love with God-fearing honorable, rule-following Dajon-especially when Faith continues her pirating off the Carolina coast while her father is away.
Will Dajon catch her? And what will this man of honor and duty do when he does?
If you would like to read the first chapter of The Red Siren, go HERE
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Yes, it is Saturday again and time for a question once again from Amy @ My Friend Amy. The question today is . . .One thing we share in common is a love of books. I know there are participants of Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays that read over 200 books a year!
But while we may read a lot of books, only a few books in our lifetimes are special enough that we would never part with them, always recommend them, and maybe even reread them.
So...what fiction books with faith elements are on your keeper shelf?
My keepers are:
1. Francine River's The Lineage of Grace Series
2. Julie Lessman's Daughter's of Boston Series
3. All of Frank Peretti's work, so that is eight books right there. - This Present Darkness, Piercing The Darkness, The Prophet, The Visitation, The Oath, Monster, House.
I've been doing good about weeding out my keepers. So I think that is really all that I am serious about hanging on to.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Yesterday began a new day in American History. We saw the first African American take the oath as President of the United States of America. And whether you voted for him or not he is our new President. I didn't vote in this Presidential election, the first one that I haven't voted in since I was able to vote in 1984. I didn't vote for many reasons, mainly because there was so much hoopla around this election I just couldn't see clearly to make a correct decision on either candidate so I chose not to vote. However, yesterday while watching the Inauguration ceremonies I was very impressed with President Obama, and his speech to our nation. He is a very humble man, and I believe that God will use him to do mighty things for our country. That doesn't mean that we as Americans just stop and say "Ok, Mr. President it's all in your hands now!" And leave it to him. It means we get down and dirty too. We get on our knees, and pray. We pray for this man! He has a lot on his shoulders. Not only does he have the weight of the free world riding on his shoulders, he is also a husband, and a father. He needs all of us to pray for God to guide his decisions as he chooses his cabinet, with each bill he puts before the Senate and the House, and the balancing act of President, Husband, and Dad
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Davis Bunn is an internationally acclaimed author who has sold more than six million books in fifteen languages. His audiences span reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings.
Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include My Soul To Keep, and Full Circle. A sought-after lecturer in the art of writing, Bunn was named Novelist in Residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University.
He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write.
Her first novel, a prairie love story titled Love Comes Softly, was published by Bethany House in 1979. This book was followed by more than 75 others.
After Love Comes Softly was published, Oke found her readers asking for more. That book led to a series of eight others in her Love Comes Softly series. She has written multiple fiction series, including The Canadian West, Seasons of the Heart and Women of the West. Her most recent releases include a beautiful children's picture book, I Wonder...Did Jesus Have a Pet Lamb and The Song of Acadia series, co-written with T. Davis Bunn.
Janette Oke's warm writing style has won the hearts of millions of readers. She has received numerous awards, including the Gold Medallion Award, The Christy Award of Excellence, the 1992 President's Award for her significant contribution to the category of Christian fiction from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and in 1999 the Life Impact Award from the Christian Booksellers Association International. Beloved worldwide, her books have been translated into fourteen languages.
She and her husband live nearby in Alberta, Canada.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Janette Oke has dreamed for years of retelling a story in a biblical time frame from a female protagonist's perspective, and Davis Bunn is elated to be working with her again on this sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity...and the very personal story of Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage trapped in a vortex of competing political agendas and private trauma.
Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil--facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions.
Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine's governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah's mistress, the governor's wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death--and missing body--is causing such furor.
This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, the story unfolds the testing of loyalties--between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.
If you would like to read the first chapter of The Centurion's Wife, go HERE
My Review : I have been in love with Janette Oke's writing since my Mom came home with her Love Come Softly series from a Woman's retreat when I was probably 12. Since then I've read everything she's written and she has never disappointed. I just recently became a fan of Davis Bunn, and they've teamed up before. So when I saw this book I was very excited about reading it. The book is set during the time prior to Jesus' death. Leah's family has lost both their wealth and power and so she is sent to live with her Uncle Pilate, Yes! Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor. She is hoping that he will arrange a "prime" marriage for her. The marriage he arranges is with Alban, a Roman Centurion, and it was one of his guard's that Jesus' healed. The book begins during passover, goes through the death, and resurrection of Jesus. While reading this book I felt as if I was actually transported back to that very point in history. It is a beautifully written book, one that keeps you on the edge of your seat, until you turn the last page. I give this book a lighthouse and shine a light on it for lighting your path to God.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Let us pray.
Almighty God, our Father, everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you. It all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory.
History is your story. The Scripture tells us, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God. The Lord is One.” And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.
Now, today, we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time. We celebrate a hingepoint of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the United States. We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.
Give to our new President, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.
Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race, or religion, or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all. When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us. And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.
Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all. May all people of goodwill today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you. We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.
I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus, who taught us to pray:
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."
Monday, January 19, 2009
I am fit to be tied about the way that ADOPTION is being portrayed on this show. I am adopted
and I don't like that instead of it being portrayed as a good thing it's being portrayed as a something that isn't that positive. Like a fifteen year old is ready to be a Mom. They're barely ready to drive let alone do all that is necessary to care for a baby. While I realize that each family has to make their own decisions when it comes to this, I don't agree with adoption being put down in the way that it is. In fact Adoption should be the first thing talked about and not in the sense of a way to just dump the baby, but in the sense that it is the best thing for the baby. The baby should always be the main concern. My birth mother was 13 when she got pregnant and turned 14 a month after she gave birth to me. She loved me enough to think about what was best for me, and what was best for me was a home with two parents who were old enough not just in age, but in maturity to be able to care for me physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, to be there for whatever I needed.
I would much rather like to see adoption be portrayed in a positive light rather than always negative.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kaye Dacus is an author and editor who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. A former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kaye enjoys being an active ACFW member and the fellowship and community of hundreds of other writers from across the country and around the world that she finds there.
She currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, which she co-founded in 2003 with three other writers. Each month, she teaches a two-hour workshop on an aspect of the craft of writing at the MTCW monthly meeting. But her greatest joy comes from mentoring new writers through her website and seeing them experience those “aha” moments when a tricky concept becomes clear.
ABOUT THE BOOK
When wedding planner Anne Hawthorne meets George Laurence, she thinks she's found the man of her dreams. But when he turns out to be a client, her "dream" quickly turns into a nightmare. Will Anne risk her heart and career on this engaging Englishman?
George came to Louisiana to plan his employer's wedding and pose as the groom. But how can he feign affection for a supposed fiancee when he's so achingly attracted to the wedding planner? And what will happen when Anne discovers his role has been Stand-In Groom only? Will she ever trust George again? Can God help these two believers find a happy ending?
If you would like to read the first chapter of Stand-In Groom, go HERE
What they're saying about it:
“Dacus pulls off a delightful story that places readers in the heart of the South with the debut of the Brides of Bonneterre series. Readers will enjoy this look at how lives are transformed through devastating events and how forgiveness is the key to a promising future. Nothing is as it seems in this heartwarming story.”
–Romantic Times, 4-Star Review
“Absolutely delightful! I enjoyed Stand-In Groom from cover to cover! Ms. Dacus’s clever story and wonderful prose will draw you away to a place deep in the heart of Louisiana, surrounding you with the scents, sounds, and sights of the deep south. A story filled with romance and intrigue, betrayal and forgiveness, I found myself laughing, crying and rejoicing right along with the characters.”
–M.L. Tyndall, author of The Falcon and the Sparrow and the award-winning Legacy of the King’s Pirates series
“Stand-In Groom is as sweet, beautiful, and chaotic as a perfectly planned wedding. Anne is a bright and wounded heroine you’re going to care about for a long time. George is a hero to capture your heart. Kaye Dacus will take you along for a fun, poignent ride in Stand-In Groom.”
–Mary Connealy, author of the Lassoed in Texas series and Of Mice...and Murder
My Review: I have just started reading this book. I am sad to say I am behind on my reading. Please look for my review hopefully by the end of the week. ;o)
Thursday, January 15, 2009
This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.
Here are the rules:
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs who are worthy of this acknowledgment. Contact the bloggers and let them know that they have been chosen for this award.
Here are the blogs that I would like to acknowledge are:
Deena @ A Peek At My Bookshelf
Michelle @ Edgy Inspirational Author
Linda @ Mocha With Linda
Kelly @ Enroute to life
Audra @ Audras Insanity
Lizy @ Lizy-Psalms 52
Tami @ Tree Swing Reading
Takiela at Beauty 4 Ashes
Tara at Tara's View Of The World
Peg at Sips 'n Cups Cafeteria
Margaret at Creative Madness
Sunny at That Book Addiction
Amy at My Life
Deborah at books, movies and chinese food
Amy at Signs, Miracles, and Wonders
Please stop by and check them out and say "hi"!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
DRUM ROLL PLEASE:
THE WINNERS IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
JENNIFER / KAIRILILY@FR
BEVERLY / SILLY@FR
LORLYN @ TBD
CONGRATULATIONS! I will get your information to the publisher so they can mail you the book. Enjoy and Happy Reading! ;o)
Monday, January 12, 2009
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.
After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.
Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompassing seven mysteries, three thrillers and ten fantasies includes Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven, Blessed Child, A Man Called Blessed, Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), Obsessed, Renegade, and Chaos.
Erin Healy is an award-winning fiction editor who has worked with talented novelists such as James Scott Bell, Melody Carlson, Colleen Coble, Brandilyn Collins, L. B. Graham, Rene Gutteridge, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Robin Lee Hatcher, Denise Hildreth, Denise Hunter, Randy Ingermanson, Jane Kirkpatrick, Gilbert Morris, Frank Peretti, Lisa Samson, Randy Singer, Robert Whitlow, and many others.
She began working with Ted Dekker in 2002 and edited twelve of his heart-pounding storiesbefore their collaboration on Kiss, the first novel to seat her on "the other side of the desk."
Erin is the owner of WordWright Editorial Services, a Colorado-based consulting firm specializing in fiction book development. She and her husband, Tim, are the proud parents of two children
ABOUT THE BOOK
Let me tell you all I know for sure. My name. Shauna.
I woke up in a hospital bed missing six months of my memory. In the room was my loving boyfriend-how could I have forgotten him?-my uncle and my abusive stepmother. Everyone blames me for the tragic car accident that left me near death and my dear brother brain damaged. But what they say can't be true-can it?
I believe the medicine is doing strange things to my memory. I'm unsure who I can trust and who I should run from. And I'm starting to remember things I've never known. Things not about me. I think I'm going crazy.
And even worse, I think they want to kill me.
But who? And for what? Is dying for the truth really better than living with a lie?
Sometimes dying with the truth is better than living with a lie.
After a car accident puts Shauna McAllister in a coma and wipes out six months of her memory, she returns to her childhood home to recover, but her arrival is fraught with confusion.
Her estranged father, a senator bidding on the White House, and her abusive stepmother blame Shauna for the tragedy, which has left her beloved brother severely brain damaged. Leaning on Wayne Spade, a forgotten but hopeful lover who stays by her side, Shauna tries to sort out what happened that night by jarring her memory to life. Instead, she acquires a mysterious mental ability that will either lead her to truth or get her killed by the people trying to hide it.
In this blind game of cat and mouse that stares even the darkest memories in the face, Shauna is sure of only one thing: if she remembers, she dies.
If you would like to read the first chapter of KISS, go HERE
What people are saying about KISS:
“The human brain could actually be the real final frontier—we know so little about it and yet it drives the world as we know it. So when authors like Erin and Ted bravely explore these mysterious regions, going into complex places like memory and soul and relationships, I become hooked. The creativity of this suspenseful story is sure to hook other readers as well. Very memorable!”
~Melody Carlson, author of Finding Alice and The Other Side of Darkness
“Dekker and Healy prove a winning team in this intriguing, imaginative thriller.”
~James Scott Bell, bestselling author of Try Darkness
“Kiss by Erin Healy and Ted Dekker is a superb thriller that hooked me from the first sentence. The original plot kept me guessing, and I may never look at a kiss the same way again. I’ll be watching for the next book!”
~Colleen Coble, author of Cry in the Night
“The writing team of Erin Healy and Ted Dekker has taken me through a page-turner with Kiss. It’s one of those books that you think about when you’re not reading it. I highly recommend it, especially if you don’t mind staying up late because you can’t put the book down!”
~Rene Gutteridge, author of Skid and My Life As a Doormat
My Review: Enter Shauna, a young girl who has been traumatized by her stepmother, Patrice, who clearly did not like or want to be a mother to this girl. She abused her, and all Shauna remembers is not only the abuse but her father calling Patrice, the wife, not Mama like he did her mother. She gets in a car accident and can't remember anything. Yet, when her boyfriend Wayne kisses her she begins to remember things, the memories just aren't hers. So . . . whose are they? You'll have to pick up a copy and find out! This was a wonderful book from beginning to end! Ted's co-author with Erin is exhilarating, suspenseful, and I guarantee you'll be thinking of it when you're not reading it.
I give this book a lighthouse and shine a light on it for being a light to light your path.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Grand Central Publishing (January 9, 2009)
Tiffany L. Warren is a technology manager who lives in suburban Cleveland, Ohio with her husband and four children. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Farther Than I Meant to Go, Longer Than I Meant to Stay.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (January 9, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
I'm snatched from my sleep by voices.
They're coming from the living room. The first voice is Shayna, my lover, although she likes to be called my girlfriend. She is not my girlfriend. Haven't had one of those since high school.
The other voice is coming from the television. It's way too loud, but not unfamiliar. I concentrate for a moment until familiarity becomes recognition. The voice belongs to that preacher Shayna likes to watch every Sunday morning.
Is it Sunday already?
I start a mental rewind in an attempt to recapture my weekend. Friday was standard. Edited a short story for a girl in my writer's group. She's entering a romance writer's contest, and wanted my opinion.
I didn't give it to her, because I'm possibly interested in sleeping with her. I told her that the uninspired farce was poetic prose. She won't win the contest, but she won't blame it on me. She'll accuse the judges of being amateurs and then come cry on my shoulder. I'll have tissues on hand – right along with the strawberries and champagne.
Also had lunch with Priscilla. My mother. The obligatory "good son" lunch that keeps me on the family payroll. I call her Priscilla behind her back, but never to her face. She's petite, cultured and polished but not above going upside a brotha's head.
We had the same conversation we have every week.
"Darrin, when are you coming to work for your father?"
"The day after never."
"You always say that."
"And I always mean it."
I love my mother, but I hate this conversation.
My father, Mathis Bainbridge, wants me to work in an office at Bainbridge Transports, shuffling papers, giving orders, and hiring overqualified people at ridiculously insulting rates of pay. He calls his company the 'family business' but only one person in our three person familia is interested in shuttling elderly people to doctor's appointments and on shopping trips.
It's not Priscilla and it's not me.
"You coming to church with me on Sunday?" Mother had also asked.
I'd let out a frustrated sigh. "I'll see."
My sporadic church attendance is Priscilla's other favorite topic.
"Don't you love Jesus?"
"Yes, Mother. I love Jesus."
That wasn't a lie. I do love Jesus. I just cannot say no to a woman who wants me to take her to bed and I have yet to hear a preacher tell me how.
Priscilla was extra irritated at our lunch date. She got borderline vulgar. "But you're willing to go to hell over some girl's dirty panties?"
I'd laughed then, and I'm still laughing. In Priscilla speak 'dirty panties' was tantamount to cursing me out.
I'd replied, "Mother, please watch your language."
Saturday was worse. I'd spent the entire muggy and rainy afternoon at a 10K marathon to benefit cancer research. Put on a fake smile and interviewed the sweaty first-place winner, asking him questions that no one wanted answers to, all the while thinking to myself, 'Why am I doing this?'
There was a time when I was excited to have comma writer after my name. You know, Darrin Bainbridge, writer. But the glamour that I'd envisioned has not yet materialized, and the less money I make with freelance journalism, the more my father threatens to chain me to a desk.
Then, when I should have been winding down for the weekend I blogged. Blogging is what narcissistic writers do when they don't have a book deal. Yeah, I'm just a bit narcissistic. Besides, people like to read what I think about social injustice, celebrities and whatever else. Ten thousand hits a day on my blogsite can't be wrong.
The thing I love about blogging is that I'm anonymous. Like, last week I wrote a piece on Jesse Jackson and how he's more of a threat to African American progress than the KKK. Then, I chilled with him at a networking function the same night. No harm, no foul.
Since I can no longer drown out the television or Shayna's 'Hallelujahs', I open my eyes and concede to starting the day. I stretch, take a deep breath, and grin at the memory of last night. Shayna's perfume lingers in the air. A fruity Victoria's Secret fragrance purchased by me for my benefit, but disguised as a spur-of-the-moment romantic and thoughtful gift. Yeah…I don't do those. But Shayna was pleased. So pleased that she stayed the night in my den of iniquity and is now watching church on television instead of getting her shout on in a pew.
I jump out of the bed in one motion, landing on the ice cold ceramic tiles. My pedicured toes curl from the drastic temperature change. Yes, a brotha likes his feet smooth. Hands too. What?
My apartment is slamming, and the furniture baller style – especially for someone with such a low income. If it wasn't for the deep pockets of my parents, blogging and freelance writing would pretty much have me living in semi-poverty. But my mother makes sure that I have the best of the best, and a monthly allowance. I keep thinking that at twenty-eight, I might be too old for a $6000 a month allowance. I'd be satisfied with less, but I'm not turning anything down. Priscilla's generosity (behind my father's back, of course) allows me to pursue my dreams, whatever they might be.
I pull on a pair of silk boxer shorts and walk up the hallway to the living room. Silently, I observe Shayna. She is rocking back and forth on the couch, her hands wrapped around her own torso. Embracing herself.
"You better preach, preacher!" she shouts at the face on the screen.
I mimic her movements and hug myself too, but not because I feel the love. It's freezing in here. Shayna likes to turn the thermostat on sixty no matter what the temperature is outside. Freon laced air rushes out of every vent.
"If you got breath in your lungs and strength in your body, you need to shout Hallelujah!" shouts the preacher.
"Hallelujah!Hallelujah!Hallelujah!Hallelujah!" Shayna's four-alarm Hallelujah sounds like one word.
I am amazed. How can Shayna feel so worshipful this morning when she just rolled out of my bed a few hours ago?
I'm curious. "Do you send this guy money? He's in Atlanta, right?"
Shayna looks up from the program and smiles seductively. Can she be any more blasphemous?
"Yes, Freedom of Life is in Atlanta and yes I do send in my tithe and offering on the regular. I'm a partner." She motions for me to come join her on the couch. I don't.
"About how many members do you think he has?" I ask as the television camera pans to what looks like the crowd at a Destiny's Child concert.
"The sanctuary holds ten thousand," she declares proudly as if it was her own accomplishment, "but there are about twenty thousand members and partners worldwide."
I'm in writer mode now. I can feel the wheels in my mind spinning. Probably something scandalous going on in a church that size. Pastor either skimming money off the top or sleeping with half the choir. Maybe blogging about a dirty Pastor will attract some sponsors. Exposing rich Black men pays well, and if he's truly grimy I won't have a problem spending the money.
Shayna asks suspiciously, "Since when did you get interested in church?"
"Since just now. I could feel the spirit oozing into the bedroom and I had to come investigate."
"I know you better than that. What's the real?"
Shayna doesn't know me at all, but she thinks she does. She assumes that we have a deep bond just because we've shared bodily fluids. There is more to me than my sex drive, but she'll never know that. She's not the wife type.
I humor her and reply, "Well, I just think that there has got to be a story here."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, this guy can't be more than forty five," I'm half-explaining, half-forming the story in my mind. "And he's got twenty thousand offering paying members? I bet he's living large."
Shayna frowns. "What's your point?"
"You don't think there's anything wrong with that?"
"Uh, no. Your daddy lives large."
I chuckle with disbelief. Didn't know she was one of those people. The ones who try to compare pastoring a church to running a business.
Just for the fun of it, I quip, "Jesus preached for free."
"He didn't have a car note," she shoots right back.
"Okay, I see this might be hitting a little close to home, but I bet if I go down there to Atlanta I can dig up a juicy story."
The thought became even more appealing as I put words to it. Atlanta is uncharted territory for me. Fresh stories, different scenery and untapped women. The more I wrap my arms around the notion, the more it turns into a need.
I need to get my butt down to Atlanta and break this story wide open. Blogging on location. Most definitely liking the sound of that.
Shayna leans over the back of the couch pointing her polished fingernail at me for emphasis. "Whatever. Bishop Kumal Prentiss is a man of God and he preaches the Word."
"Kumal Prentiss? That sounds like a hustler's name. And what do you know about the Word?"
"I grew up in church sweetie. I'm not a heathen like you."
"You're not the only one who was raised in church."
I'd had so much church growing up, that if church was food I could feed every one of those starving Ethiopian children who convince me every week to be their sponsor. If church was talent, I'd be singing like R. Kelly and dancing like Usher. If church was candy…let's just say I went to a lot of church.
Every Sunday Priscilla dragged me, unwillingly, into the huge stone building. Me always screaming, "But Daddy doesn't have to go!" Her always replying, "Daddy's going to hell." She'd give me money for my Sunday school offering and send me on my way.
I went through a phase where I enjoyed the services. I was thirteen and my first crush, Alexandra, was fifteen and fully developed. I joined the junior ushers, youth choir and youth department trying to get at that girl.
Then one Sunday morning, old Pastor Davis preached on lust and hell fire. He'd said that if we didn't repent of our lusts and get baptized, then we'd spend an eternity fighting fire. Since I had been drooling over Alexandra and her tight sweater for the entire service, I was terrified. Walked down that center aisle out of fear while Priscilla shouted, stomped and danced. Went down a dry devil, came up a wet devil.
At age sixteen, I just got tired of pretending that I could walk the narrow road. I prayed about it. Told God that I would come to church when I knew I could live right.
Priscilla wasn't having it. I think she literally had a nervous breakdown when I told her I wasn't going back to church. She cried for days; walked around praying out loud, lifting God up and putting the devil under her feet.
I didn't budge. And for the first time ever, my father defended me. He'd stopped Priscilla dead in her tracks.
He'd said, "Priscilla, you will not make my son go to church if he doesn't want to. Church is for women anyway, it's about time he found a more productive way of spending his time."
The memory brings a smile to my face, makes me want to taunt Shayna about her hypocrisy. "And since you know so much about the Word, what does it say about fornication?"
She must be done talking to me, because she turns back to Bishop Prentiss who has worked his congregation into a frenzy. Had to give it to him. The man had skills.
"You want something to eat?" I ask Shayna, ignoring her attitude.
Her face softens. "You know I do."
In minutes I've prepared a small breakfast feast. French toast on fresh French bread and garnished with powdered sugar, strawberries and carmelized bananas and a three cheese omelet, browned to perfection.
I can cook my butt off.
I arrange everything on the china my mother bought me for a housewarming gift. For me, it's not just the taste of the food, it's the look of it. Presentation is everything. I can make a grill cheesed sandwich look like a gourmet entrée.
Shayna's smile returns as she approaches the table. She tosses her red curls out of her honey colored face as she sashays barefoot over to the table. She looks as delicious as the breakfast wearing her baby t-shirt and boy shorts. I feel a hunger starting inside me that has nothing to do with breakfast food.
Shayna's a cute girl, not stunning, but standing there at my kitchen table, with her disheveled sexiness, she's irresistible. But then again, I have the same motto about women that I have about food. Presentation is everything.
"Why can't you be like the average guy and put everything on paper plates? This looks better than at the restaurant."
"For one, I'm not the average guy and two you wouldn't be so sprung if I was."
Shayna sits down and takes a bite before responding. Closes her eyes and chews slowly. I love the way she savors my culinary creations. She sounds just like a baby relishing the first sips of a warm bottle.
"Is that good?" It's real hard to hide the cockiness in my tone.
"You already know it is!" she exclaims, smacking her lips thoughtfully. "What is it that I taste? There's a different flavor in this."
Her observation fills me with pleasure. "Oh, you've been around me much too long if you are noticing flavor nuances. I'm proud."
She licks her fingers, one at a time. "Mmm-hmm. Maybe I have been around you too long, but baby I am not sprung."
This woman is hilarious. Shayna is not only sprung; she's 'in love'. I'm flattered, even if I don't feel the same way. She's been hinting that she wants to move in with me, but that is not going to happen. Rule number one of my cardinal rules is: never turn a bed mate into a roommate.
"Okay, you're not sprung. I believe you. That's actually a good thing, because then you won't miss me when I go to Atlanta."
"So you're serious about this?"
I fold my arms across my chest and nod my head emphatically. "It is my duty as a journalist to expose the charlatans and inform the people."
"You better be careful. The bible says 'touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm'."
"Look at you quoting scriptures. I'm impressed. And don't worry about me. If your precious pastor is everything that he says he is then he has nothing to worry about."
Saturday, January 10, 2009
It is Saturday and time for Faith 'n Fiction with Amy. If you're new to this Amy gives us question to us and we answer it regarding Christian fiction. This weeks question is . . .
There are a lot of great new books being published in 2009! But which ones are you the most excited about? Please pick some Christian fiction books you are excited to read this year and tell us all about them! But just to give this a little twist...be sure to visit everyone else's posts and find some books you might be interested in reading as well that are different from your picks!
I am looking forward to quite a few new releases this year and not all of them are Christian.
Of course the first one is
I know Amy already mentioned this one, but not only am I hooked on the series, Julie and I became friends after I reviewed A Passion Most Pure. I have to say that one of the fun things of being a blogger is getting to know the authors of the best books in Christian fiction.
Someone is watching Kaycee Raye. But who will believe her? In Kaycee’s newspaper column she’s known for writing of her paranoia and fears. Is the new danger real—or is she going crazy? In this story of terror, twists, and desperate faith, the startling questions pile high. But Kaycee’s descent to answers proves even more frightening.
I don't remember how I found out about Brandilyn's work. I somehow stumbled across the Hidden Faces series and have been enjoying her work ever since. In fact I helped do some publicity here in VA for her when she was writing the Hidden Faces series.
While talking to his friend on the phone, Mark Stone is startled by a cacophony of otherworldly screams. Seconds later, a tragic accident claims his friend's life. When this happens several more times--screams followed by an untimely death--he is compelled to act.
Battling his failure as a husband and struggling with his own damaged faith, Mark embarks on a mission to find the meaning behind the screams and hopefully stop death from calling on its next victim. When his estranged wife is kidnapped and he again hears the screams as she calls from her cell phone, his search becomes much more personal and much more urgent.
One of the most well-known and loved stories of Jesus's ministry is the encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. Now the creative mind of Diana Wallis Taylor imagines how the Samaritan woman got there in the first place. Marah is just a girl of thirteen when her life is set on a path that will eventually lead her to a life-changing encounter with the Messiah. But before that momentous meeting she must traverse through times of love lost and found, cruel and manipulative men, and gossiping women. This creative and accurate portrayal of life in the time of Jesus opens a window into a fascinating world. Taylor's rich descriptions of the landscapes, lifestyles, and rituals mesh easily with the emotional and very personal story of one woman trying to make a life out of what fate seems to throw at her. This exciting and heartwrenching story will fascinate readers and lend new life to a familiar story.
I can't find a picture of the cover. I of course can't wait for It's Not About Him by Michelle Sutton! I know it's going to rock my socks like the first book in the series! ;o)
I have one secular fiction that I can't wait to read and it is
Things break all the time.
Day breaks, waves break, voices break.
Every expectant parent will tell you that they don't want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they'd been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of "luckier" parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it's all worth it because Willow is, well, funny as it seems, perfect. She's smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.
Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte should have known earlier of Willow's illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Handle with Care brings us into the heart of a family bound by an incredible burden, a desperate will to keep their ties from breaking, and, ultimately, a powerful capacity for love. Written with the grace and wisdom she's become famous for, beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult offers us an unforgettable novel about the fragility of life and the lengths we will go to protect it.
From what I can see we have a wonderful year of reading ahead of us.
Friday, January 9, 2009
So last night just before I was going to bed I brushed my teeth and I was laughing so hard I nearly choked! My teeth squeaked! I can say that my teeth are SQUEAKY CLEAN! I do have to say that this tooth brush feels wonderful on your teeth and gums! So if you're in the market for a new toothbrush check this one out. It really does a good job, and your teeth and gums will thank you!
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Susan grew up in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis, and became an avid camper from an early age. Her favorite fir-lined spot is the north shore of Minnesota is where she met her husband, honeymooned and dreamed of living.
The north woods easily became the foundation for her first series, The Deep Haven series, based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior. Her first full-length book, Happily Ever After, became a Christy Award Finalist published in 2004 with Tyndale/Heartquest.
As an award winning author, Susan returned home in 2004, to her native Minnesota after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries with SEND International in Far East Russia. She now writes full time from Minnesota's north woods and the beautiful town that she always dreamed of living in.
You can sample a chapter of each and every one of Susan's novels, on her website, HERE.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Ellie Karlson is new to Deep Haven. As the town’s interim fire chief, she is determined to lead the local macho fire crew in spite of their misconceptions about her. But when someone begins setting deadly fires, Ellie faces the biggest challenge of her life. Especially when sparks fly with one of the volunteers on her crew: Pastor Dan Matthews. As Ellie battles to do her job and win the respect of her crew, she finds that there is one fire she can’t fight—the one Dan has set in her heart.
(This book is the repackaged edition published in 2004)
If you would like to read the first chapter of The Perfect Match, go HERE.
2004 American Christian Fiction Writer's Book of the Year
A Romantic Times Magazine TOP PICK – 4½ stars
Romantic Times Magazine:
Vibrant characters and vivid language zoom this action-packed romance to the top of the charts. This is a one-sitting read –once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down.
It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Tyndale House Publishers (December 8, 2008)
Jennifer Erin Valent is the winner of the Christian Writers Guild’s 2007 Operation First Novel contest for Fireflies in December, her first published novel. When she’s not penning novels, Jennifer works as a nanny and freelance writer in Richmond, VA.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (December 8, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
That’s a heavy burden for a girl to hang on to, but it didn’t surprise me so much to have that trouble come in the summertime. Every bad thing that ever happened to me seemed to happen in those long months.
The summer I turned five, Granny Rose died of a heart attack during the Independence Day fireworks. The summer I turned seven, my dog Skippy ran away with a tramp who jumped the train to Baltimore. And the summer I turned eleven, a drought took the corn crop and we couldn’t have any corn for my birthday, which is what I’d always done because my favorite food was corn from Daddy’s field, boiled in a big pot.
To top it off, here in the South, summers are long and hot and sticky. They drag on and on, making slow things seem slower and bad things seem worse.
The fear and guilt of the summer of 1932 still clings to my memory like the wet heat of southern Virginia. That year we had unbearable temperatures, and we had trouble, just that it was trouble of a different kind. It was the beginning of a time that taught me bad things can turn into good things, even though sometimes it takes a while for the good to come out.
The day I turned thirteen was one of those summer days when the air is so thick, you can see wavy lines above the tar on the rooftops. The kind of day when the sound of cicadas vibrates in your ears and everything smells like grass.
On that day, as Momma got ready for my birthday party, I told her that I wanted nothing to do with watermelon this year.
“We have some fine ones,” she told me. “Just don’t eat any.”
“But the boys will spit the seeds at us like they do all the time,” I said. “And they’ll hit me extra hard today since it’s my birthday.”
“I’ll tell them not to,” she said absentmindedly as she checked her recipe again with that squinched-up look she always got when trying to concentrate.
I knew I was only another argument or two from being scolded, but I tried again. “Those boys won’t listen to you.”
“Those boys will listen to me if they want to eat,” she replied before muttering something about needing a cup of oleo.
“They don’t even listen to Teacher at school, Momma.”
That last reply had done it, and I stepped back a ways as Momma picked up her wooden spoon and peered at me angrily, her free hand on her apron-covered hip. “Jessilyn Lassiter, I won’t have you arguin’ with me. Now get on out of this house before your jabberin’ makes me mess up my biscuits.”
I knew better than to take another chance with her, and I went outside to sit on my tree swing. If God wasn’t going to send us any breeze for my birthday, I was bound and determined to make my own, so I started pumping my legs to work up some speed. The breeze was slight but enough to give me a little relief.
I saw Gemma come out of the house carrying a big watermelon and a long knife, and I knew she had been sent out by her momma to cut it up. Gemma’s momma helped mine with chores, and her daddy worked in the fields. Sometimes Gemma would help her momma with things, and it always made me feel guilty to see her doing chores that I should have been doing. So I dug my feet into the dry dirt below me to slow down and hopped off the swing with a long leap, puffing dust up all around me.
I wandered to the picnic table where Gemma was rolling the green melon around to find just the right spot to cut into. “I guess this is for my party.”
“That’s what your momma says.”
“Are you comin’?”
“My momma never lets me come to your parties.”
“So? Ain’t never a time you can’t start somethin’ new. It’s my party, anyways.”
“It ain’t proper for the help to socialize with the family’s friends, Momma says.”
“Your momma and daddy have been workin’ here for as long as I can remember. You’re as close to family as we got around here, as I see it. I ain’t got no grandparents or nothin’.”
Gemma scoffed at me with a sarcastic laugh. “When was the last time you saw one brown girl and one white girl in the same family?”
I shrugged and watched her slice through the watermelon, both of us backing away to avoid the squirting juices.
“Looks like a good one,” Gemma said as the fragrant smell floated by on the first bit of a breeze we’d seen all day.
“All I see are seeds for the boys to hit me with.”
“Why do you let them boys pick on you?”
“I don’t let ’em. I always push ’em or somethin’. But they’re all bigger than me. What do you want me to do? Pick a fight?”
“Guess not.” A piece of the melon’s flesh flopped onto the table as Gemma cut it, and she popped it into her mouth thoughtfully. “I’ll never know why boys got to be so mean.”
“It’s part of their recipe, I guess.” I helped by piling the slices on a big platter, and I strategically picked as many seeds as I could find off the pieces before I stacked them. Never mind my dirty hands. “You come by around two o’clock,” I told her adamantly. “I’ll get you some cake and lemonade. You’re my best friend. You should be at my party.”
Gemma shushed me and shoved an elbow into my ribs as her momma went walking by us.
“Gemma Teague,” her momma said, “you girls gettin’ your chores done?”
“Ain’t got no chores of my own, Miss Opal,” I told her. “I figured on helpin’ Gemma instead.”
“Then you two make certain you keep your minds on your work, ya hear?”
“Yes’m,” we both mumbled.
Gemma’s momma walked past, but she looked back at us a couple times with a funny look on her face like she figured we were planning something.
In a way we were, but I didn’t see it as being a big caper or anything, so I continued by saying, “You know, I ain’t seein’ any sense in you not at least askin’ your momma if you can come by for cake. She’s usually understandin’ about things.”
“Every year it’s the same thing from you, Jessie. She won’t let me come, and besides, I’ll bet your momma don’t want me here no more than my momma does. It just ain’t done.”
“‘It just ain’t done’!” I huffed. “Who makes up these rules, anyhow?”
Gemma kept her eyes on her work and said nothing, but I knew her well enough to see that she didn’t understand her words anymore than I did.
Momma called me from the open kitchen window, but I ignored it and kept after Gemma. “Now listen. You just come on by after we’ve cut the cake and pretend to clean up somethin’, and I’ll be sure you get some.”
“Ain’t no way I’m gettin’ in trouble for some cake and lemonade that I’ll get after the party anyhow,” she argued. “You’re just bein’ stubborn.”
I sighed when Momma called me again. “She’s gonna tell me to take a bath, I bet. You’d think at thirteen I’d be old enough to stop havin’ my momma order me to take baths.”
“You’d never take one otherwise,” Gemma said. “Ain’t nobody wants to smell you then.”
“I hate takin’ baths on days this sticky. My hair never dries.”
“Takin’ a bath on a hot day ain’t never bad.”
“It is when the water’s hot as the air is.”
Gemma shook her head at me like she always did when I was being hardheaded. “Water’s water. Cools you off any which way.”
I didn’t believe her, but I headed off to the kitchen, where Momma had filled the big metal tub we’d had to take baths in ever since the bathroom faucets broke. The sheet she’d hung across the doorway into the next room flapped as the breeze I’d prayed for began to pick up.
I hopped out of my dungarees in one quick leap and crawled into the tub. “It’s hot as boiled water,” I complained.
“Well then, we’ll have you for supper,” Momma replied as she measured out flour, obviously undisturbed by my discomfort. “Your guests will start gettin’ here in a half hour, so don’t dawdle unless you want everyone findin’ you in the tub.”
“And don’t forget to clean behind your ears.”
Water splashed as I washed with my usual lack of grace, landing droplets about the kitchen floor. It didn’t really matter since Momma always made a mess when she cooked and the floor would need cleaning after she was done. No doubt the flour and water would mix into a fine paste, though, and she’d have a few words to mutter as she tried to scrub it up. As she measured sugar, I could hear her praying, “Oh, dear Jesus, let me have enough.” Momma prayed about anything anytime, anywhere.
By the time I’d scrubbed and dried, the smell of biscuits was drifting through the house and Momma was putting the oil on for the chicken. She was a good cook, no matter the mess, and she always put on quite a show for these birthday parties.
As I walked up to my room, wrapped in a ragged blue towel, I heard Momma call after me not to forget to put on my dress. Then she added, “Please, Lord, let the girl look presentable.” I think Momma often wondered why, if she was to be blessed with a girl, she had to get one that mostly acted like a boy.
“No dungarees!” she added. “And put on your church shoes.”
I rolled my eyes, knowing she was nowhere near me. I would never have dared to do it in front of her. I hated dressing up, but for every birthday, holiday, church day, and trip into town, I had to wear one of the three dresses that Momma had made me. She was as fine with a needle as she was with a frying pan, but I hated dresses nonetheless. Mostly because when I wore them, I had to sit all proper in my chair, and I couldn’t do cartwheels, at least not without getting yelled at. But I put on the dress because I had to and buckled up my church shoes.
I could hear Daddy’s footsteps coming down the hall, and I turned to smile at him as he stopped at my doorway.
“Lookin’ pretty, dumplin’,” Daddy said.
“That’s too bad.”
“Now, now. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a girl lookin’ like a girl.”
“Who says wearin’ dresses is the only way to look like a girl?”
Coming into the room, his dirty boots leaving marks that Momma would complain about later, Daddy tossed his hat onto a chair and helped me finish tying the bow on the back of the dress. “We don’t make the rules; we just follow ’em.”
“Well, someone had to make the rules in the first place. We should just make new ones.”
“No doubt you will one day, Jessilyn,” he said with a sigh. “But for now, you’d best follow your momma’s instructions. She ain’t one to be disobeyed.”
“Are you gonna be at the party?” I asked hopefully, knowing full well that he’d been in the fields all morning and looked in need of a nap.
“Wouldn’t miss it, you know that. I got the corn on already.” Daddy rubbed his tired eyes, picked up his hat, and walked out, whacking the hat against his leg to loosen the dust.
He worked hard, especially this time of year, and no matter how many men were willing to work the fields, he would always put in his fair share alongside them. I had suspected of late, however, that he was working harder more out of necessity than a sense of duty. We’d had fewer men to help than in years past, and it wasn’t due to lack of interest, I was sure. I’d seen my daddy turn three men away just the day before.
Things were poor, especially in our parts, and for having a working farm and a good truck, we were fortunate. We even had some conveniences that other people envied, like a fancy icebox and a telephone, and Momma was pretty proud of that. We weren’t rich like Mayor Tuttle and his wife, with their big columned house and fancy motor car, but we were thought to be well-off just the same. Momma and Daddy never talked money in front of me, and I decided not to fuss with it. It caused too many problems for adults from what I could see. What did I want to do with it?
I made my way downstairs and stepped out onto the porch, disappointed to see Buddy Pernell was the first to arrive. I didn’t like Buddy very much. But then, I didn’t like many kids very much. I thanked him for coming—mainly because Momma’s glare told me to—and received the plate of cookies his momma handed me. In those days, we didn’t give gifts at parties; it was too extravagant. But every momma felt it only proper to bring some sort of favor along.
By the time we had a full crowd, one side of the food table was filled with jars of jelly, bowls of sugared strawberries, a couple pies, and even one tub of pickled pigs’ feet. I promptly removed those, but Momma stopped me cold.
“We accept all gifts with thanks, Jessilyn,” she hissed in my ear as she replaced the tub on the table.
“Even pigs’ feet?” I argued.
“Yes ma’am! Even pigs’ feet.”
It took only ten minutes before the first watermelon seed landed in my hair. All the other girls started screaming and ran for cover, but I fought back at the boys out of sheer pride. I did a little shoving, Momma did some yelling, but I got pummeled anyhow.
After we finished eating lunch, I spotted Gemma hanging laundry on the line and ran over to get her help brushing all those sticky seeds out of my hair.
“You ought to not let ’em do this to you,” she said.
“I told you before,” I said with my eyes shut tight to stand the pain of Gemma’s brushing, “they’re all bigger than me.”
“I think they’re too big for their britches. That’s the problem.”
“Maybe so, but that don’t change nothin’. I still can’t whip ’em.”
“Well, I did the best I could.” Gemma peered closely at my sun-streaked hair. “I can’t see no more.”
“Just wait till we go swimmin’,” I told her. “I’ll find some critter to stick down Buddy Pernell’s knickers. He’s the one leadin’ the boys in the spittin’.”
“You best be careful. Them boys might do somethin’ to hurt you back.”
“I ain’t scared of them,” I lied. “Besides, they got it comin’.”
Gemma shook her head and grabbed a pair of Daddy’s socks to hang on the line. “You’re stubborn as a mule, Jessie.”
I figured she was right, but I wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction of hearing me say it. Instead, I rejoined the party, grabbed a piece of cake, and stood by watching the boys scuff about with each other, playing some kind of roughhouse tag. The other girls stood around watching the boys, giggling over how cute this one was and how strong that one was. I couldn’t figure them out.
“All that fussin’ over boys,” I said through a mouthful of frosting. “If you girls had any smarts, you’d be playin’ tag right along with ’em.”
“Why don’t you?” Ginny Lee Kidrey asked.
“I’m eatin’. Ain’t no reason to stuff down cake when I can play tag anytime I want.”
“You’re just a tomboy, Jessie Lassiter,” said Dolly Watson, who always wore dresses and perfume that smelled like dead roses. “What do you know about boys?”
“Enough to know that they ain’t worth wastin’ time on.”
The girls turned their noses up at me—all but Ginny Lee, who was the only real friend I had outside of Gemma, and even she had started to become more like the other girls of late.
The only reason I even had those other children at the party was because Momma insisted on it. She liked entertaining guests, but in our parts we didn’t have much chance to entertain, and she took every chance she got. So every year I had to invite the kids from school to interrupt my summer vacation and celebrate my June birthday with a party. The only thing I ever liked about those parties was the food. I would have been satisfied to spend my birthday having boiled corn with Gemma.
Buddy Pernell stopped in front of me and tugged at my braid. “Still stuffin’ your face?” he asked with a smirk. “Don’t you like to do nothin’ but eat?”
Knowing my short temper, all the boys loved to tease me just to see how much they could rile me. I responded to Buddy in my usual way. “I just like standin’ here watchin’ you boys beat each other up. And besides, ain’t nothin’ wrong with eatin’.”
“There is if it makes you fat.”
“I ain’t fat!”
“You keep eatin’ like that and you’ll be fat as your momma.”
Now, my momma wasn’t fat. I knew that as well as I knew that Buddy Pernell’s momma was. But it didn’t matter. True or not, he’d insulted my momma, and it took me no time at all to react by shoving what was left of my cake right into Buddy’s face, making extra sure to push upward so the frosting would fill his freckled nose.
Buddy wasn’t so brave then. He began clawing at his face like I’d thrown acid on it, crying something fierce about not being able to breathe.
Momma ran over, hysterical, simultaneously scolding me and coddling Buddy. I responded to her by saying I’d never heard of anyone suffocating on cake before, but she didn’t appreciate my rationalizing. I got a whack from her left hand and Buddy got a wipe across his face from her right.
The other boys were laughing, throwing insults at Buddy about how he’d gotten shown up by a girl, but he was too worried about not being able to breathe through his nose to hear them.
I watched with a smile as Buddy’s momma grabbed a cloth and ordered him to blow his nose into it. Buddy blew like his brains needed to come out, and eventually he found that he was able to breathe right again, although his momma insisted on getting a good look up his nose to be certain that it was clear of frosting.
The boys loved the picture of Buddy having his nose inspected by his momma, and they couldn’t get enough of the jokes about it.
I got hauled into the house for a scolding and a whipping. I tried telling Momma that thirteen was too old for whippings, but she said if I was acting like a child, I should be punished like one. Every time I got another whack with that wooden spoon, I thought of a new way to make Buddy pay for the walloping. After all, if he hadn’t made fun of my momma, I wouldn’t have made him snort up that cake.
I took my punishment without explaining because I didn’t want to hurt Momma’s feelings by telling her what Buddy had said, and I made my way slowly and sorely back out to the party with revenge in my mind.
Gemma saw the silent tears that I’d been biting my lip to keep from letting out, and she came over to wipe them with her apron.
I smiled at her halfway. “I’m okay. At least I will be once I get back at Buddy.”
“Get back at him? He’s the one who’ll be wantin’ to get back at you.”
“Just let him try. I wouldn’t have gotten that whippin’ if he hadn’t made fun of my momma in the first place.”
“Don’t you go talkin’ like that. He’s already got it in for you, and if you do anythin’ else, he’ll go and do somethin’ awful.”
“I ain’t afraid of him!”
Gemma shook her braided head at me. “You talk tough, but you won’t be so tough if Buddy Pernell hurts you bad.”
I sniffed at her like she was worrying over nothing, but I knew deep down that I could have been asking for trouble by playing with Buddy. Boys with no sense can be dangerous, my momma had told me a few times, but my stubbornness didn’t leave any room for being cautious. I was determined to hold a grudge against Buddy, and that was that. But I could see that Buddy was keeping his eye out for his first chance to get back at me, and I watched him with a little worry in my heart as he and the other boys stood together in whispers.
I tried to pretend I wasn’t nervous, and when Gemma got called into the house, I joined the other girls, who’d gone back to twirling their hair and talking about the boys.
With the boys standing around making plans and the girls standing around watching them, my mother got irritated and told us to find something active to do. “Go on down to the swimmin’ hole. Get some exercise, for land’s sake.”
All of us girls went to my bedroom to put on our swimming suits, but with a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat, I changed slower than them all. Gemma had been right, I figured. I’d be paying, and good, and the perfect place for Buddy to get me would be at the secluded swimming hole.
After I’d changed, I went downstairs to find my momma. “Maybe we shouldn’t go to the swimmin’ hole,” I told her while she was making up another batch of sweet tea.
“It’s hot as hades out there. It’ll do you all good.”
“It’s not that hot.”
Momma stopped scrubbing and looked at me strangely. “Were you in the same air I’ve been in today? It’s thick as molasses.”
“But swimmin’ ain’t no fun.”
“You love swimmin’.”
“Not today, I don’t.”
By now, Momma was curious, and she wiped her hands on her apron before placing them on her hips. “Why don’t you just up and tell me what’s got you so ornery?”
“I ain’t ornery!”
“Don’t argue with me, girl. If I say you’re ornery, then you’re ornery.”
I looked down at my toes and sighed. I couldn’t tell Momma that Buddy had called her fat, and I didn’t want to show her I was afraid, anyway.
“Tell me one reason why you shouldn’t go to the swimmin’ hole.”
I continued staring at my dusty feet and shrugged.
“You don’t know, I guess you’re sayin’. Well, if you ain’t got a reason, you best be headin’ out to that swimmin’ hole. I’m too busy to wonder what’s goin’ on in that silly head of yours.”
I could feel Momma watching me as I scuffed out of the kitchen without another word, letting the screen door slam behind me. I took several steps before glancing back at Momma through the window, where she stood humming some hymn I remembered hearing in church. I took a deep breath. In my dramatic mind, it was as if I were saying a final good-bye. Who knew if I’d come back from that swimming hole alive? Momma would feel pretty bad if I ended up dying, and she’d have to live the rest of her life knowing she’d sent me to my death.