Thursday, April 24, 2008


D.C. Stewart grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, and spent most of her childhood getting into trouble with her younger brother on their ranch. She began writing short stories in high school, and won a writing competition at a nearby college at age 17. After graduating, she attended Northwestern Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in History, and also met her husband, Scott. She worked for a church in Maumelle, Arkansas as the Communications Coordinator for five years. After moving back to Oklahoma, she chose to stay home with their four year old twin boys, and six month old baby girl, and to pursue her dream of being a full-time writer. The Stewart’s live in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Where Would Cows Hide? is her first novel.


The Parker twins, Brad and Charlie, didn't want to join their parents on vacation in Hawaii. A little sister can be annoying, but little sister, Zoey, was over the top. "The three of us aren't going to Hawaii," she told them. Her parents were shocked by her statement even though it was true. This was not the first time Zoey offered surprising knowledge of future events, nor would it be the last. Arriving at their grandparent's cattle ranch in Oklahoma, the twins learn of the disappearance of cattle from the ranch. This knowledge would set of a series of events that would challenge any detective. There were the mysterious neighbors, the strange lady at church, a psychic lazy dog, and a weird little sister to keep the twins totally confused in their efforts to solve this strange mystery.

How did you come up with your characters, Charlie and Brad?

A combination of what my brother and I were like as kids, the stories I heard about my husband and his twin when they were kids, and how I imagined my own twin sons acting when they reached eleven years old.

Do you have experience living or working on a farm? Any funny stories related to that?

Everyone on both sides of my family are farmers, doing a combination of growing wheat and raising cattle. Our house was in town, but we spent most of our time, especially in the summer, on tractors, combines, wheat trucks, in pick-ups, and working cattle.

The only funny story I can think of about me is helping my dad, mom, and brother one morning feeding and counting the cows. The cattle all came into the lots except one, and my dad told me to hurry and open the gate to let her in before the other cows could get out. As I pulled the gate open and trotted backward, I tripped over a concrete block used to hold the gate in place, and got hung up in the chain. I was stuck at such a weird angle I couldn't get myself loose and all the cattle were rushing at me to get out. I was kicking and waving all over the place trying to keep them back, but my family thought I was panicking because I was stuck. They still give me grief over that one.

Brad and Charlie have a quirky younger sister who sometimes drives them crazy. Do you relate?

I have a younger brother who used to drive me nuts all the time, but we were also the best playmates because we are so close in age. I have friends who were the "younger sister" and I remember them getting yelled at by their older siblings all the time.

Brad and Charlie stay at their grandparents for an annual summer vacation. What's your favorite place to vacation and why?

Honestly, I don't really have a "favorite" place to vacation. We didn't have the opportunity to travel much when I was a kid, so ANY vacation is awesome to me. I love to travel, eat different foods, take in the scenery, watch the people. It's all new and exciting to me.

As a writing mom, how do you juggle the demands of your kids and your career?

With great difficulty. I have a wonderful and supportive husband who gives me time in the evenings and on weekends to write. Usually if anything suffers between my writing and taking care of the kids, it's our house. I'm more of a relaxed housekeeper (fancy title for slob), and I only move on the housework if there are no clean clothes, we have to order out because there is no room to cook in the kitchen, and if I walk across the floors and they crunch.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CFBA: Athol Dickson

Athol Dickson's university-level training in painting, sculpture, and architecture was followed by a long career as an architect then his decision several years ago to devote full time to writing.

Athol Dickson’s writing has been favorably compared to the work of Octavia Butler
(Publisher’s Weekly), Daphne du Maurier (Cindy Crosby, and FlanneryO’Connor (The New York Times).

His They Shall See God was a Christy Award finalist and his River Rising was a Christy Award winner, selected as one of the Booklist Top Ten Christian Novels of 2006 and a finalist for Christianity Today's Best Novel of 2006.

He and his wife, Sue, live in Southern California. Visit for more information.


Boys who never age, giants lost in time, mist that never rises, questions never asked...on the most remote of islands off the coast of Maine, history haunts the present and Vera Gamble wrestles with a past that will not yield. Will she find refuge there, or will her ghosts prevail on...Winter Haven

Eleven years ago, Vera Gamble's brother left their house never to be seen again. Until the day Vera gets a phone call that his body has been found...washed ashore in the tiny island town of Winter Haven, Maine. His only surviving kin, Vera travels north to claim the body...and finds herself tumbling into a tangled mystery. Her brother hasn't aged a day since last she saw him.

Determined to uncover what happened in those lost years, Vera soon discovers there are other secrets lurking in this isolated town. But Winter Haven's murky past now seems bound to come to light as one woman seeks the undeniable and flooding light of truth.


It's April 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance!
Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her
latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!

and his book:

Thomas Nelson (January 1, 2008)


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. To see
a complete list of Dekker's work, visit The Works section of

Here are some of his latest titles:


Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle Trilogy Graphic Novels, Book 1)




Our story begins in a world totally like our own, yet completely
different. What once happened here in our own history seems to be repeating
itself thousands of years from now,
some time beyond the year 4000 AD.

But this time the future belongs to those who see opportunity before it
becomes obvious. To the young, to the warriors, to the lovers. To
those who can follow hidden clues and find a great
treasure that will unlock the mysteries of life and wealth.

Thirteen years have passed since the lush, colored forests were turned
to desert by Teeleh, the enemy of Elyon and the vilest of all
creatures. Evil now rules the land and shows itself as a painful, scaly disease
that covers the flesh of the Horde, a people who live in the desert.

The powerful green waters, once precious to Elyon, have vanished from
the earth except in seven small forests surrounding seven small lakes.
Those few who have chosen to follow the ways of Elyon now live in these
forests, bathing once daily in the powerful waters to cleanse their
skin of the disease.

The number of their sworn enemy, the Horde, has grown in thirteen years
and, fearing the green waters above all else, these desert dwellers
have sworn to wipe all traces of the forests from
the earth.

Only the Forest Guard stands in their way. Ten thousand elite fighters
against an army of nearly four hundred thousand Horde. But the Forest
Guard is starting to crumble.


Day One

Qurong, general of the Horde, stood on the tall dune five miles west of
the green forest, ignoring the fly that buzzed around his left eye.

His flesh was nearly white, covered with a paste that kept his skin
from itching too badly. His long hair was pulled back and woven into
dreadlocks, then tucked beneath the leather body armor
cinched tightly around his massive chest.

“Do you think they know?” the young major beside him asked.

Qurong’s milky white horse, chosen for its ability to blend with the
desert, stamped and snorted.

The general spit to one side. “They know what we want them to know,” he
said. “That we are gathering for war. And that we will march from the
east in four days.”

“It seems risky,” the major said. His right cheek twitched, sending
three flies to flight.
“Their forces are half what they once were. As long as they think we
are coming from the east, we will smother them from the west.”

“The traitor insists that they are building their forces,” the major

“With young pups!” Qurong scoffed.

“The young can be crafty.”

“And I’m not? They know nothing about the traitor. This time we will
kill them all.”

Qurong turned back to the valley behind him. The tents of his third
division, the largest of all Horde armies, which numbered well over three
hundred thousand of the most experienced warriors, stretched out nearly
as far as he could see.

“We march in four days,” Qurong said. “We will slaughter them from the

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


A native of the Texas panhandle and the child of musicians, Melanie Wells attended Southern Methodist University on a music scholarship (she's a fiddle player), and later completed graduate degrees in counseling psychology and Biblical studies at Our Lady of the Lake University and Dallas Theological Seminary.

She has taught at the graduate level at both OLLU and DTS, and has been in private practice as a counselor since 1992. She is the founder and director of LifeWorks counseling associates in Dallas, Texas, a collaborative community of creative therapists.

When the Day of Evil Comes is her first published work of fiction, and the first of a three-book series. The second work, The Soul Hunter was released in May, 2006. Melanie lives and writes in Dallas.

My Soul To Keep

As nasty as I knew Peter Terry to be, I never expected him to start kidnapping kids. Much less a sweet, funny little boy with nothing to protect him but a few knock-kneed women, two rabbits and a staple gun…

It’s psychology professor Dylan Foster’s favorite day of the academic year…graduation day. And her little friend Christine Zocci’s sixth birthday. But the joyful summer afternoon goes south when a little boy is snatched from a neighborhood park, setting off a chain of events that seen to lead nowhere.

The police are baffled, but Christine’s eerie connection with the kidnapped child sends Dylan on a chilling investigation of her own. Is the pasty, elusive stranger Peter Terry to blame? Exploding light bulbs, the deadly buzz of a Texas rattlesnake, and the vivid, disturbing dreams of a little girl are just pieces of a long trail of tantalizing clues leading Dylan in her dogged search for the truth.

“Like water rising to a boil, My soul To Keep’s suspense sneaks up on you…before you know it, you’re in the thick if a frightening drama…Superbly crafted.”
---ROBERT LIPARULO, author of Deadfall, Germ, and Comes A Horseman

“Written with passion, a good dose of humor and, dare I say it, soul, this novel reminds us that we all, with grace and good fortune, bumble our way toward salvation.”
---K. L. COOK, author of Late Call and The Girl From Charmelle

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

NON-FIRST: A Handbook for Discovering God's Will by Gordon S. Jackson

It'a April 15th, but this has nothing to do with taxes! It is time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 15th, we will featuring an author and his/her latest non~fiction book's FIRST chapter!

The feature author is:

and his book:

NavPress Publishing Group (March 26, 2008)


GORDON JACKSON is a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. He has worked at Whitworth as a journalism professor and college administrator since 1983. Originally from South Africa, where he worked as a journalist, he is a frequent speaker for churches and other groups. Dr. Jackson has spoken to scores of church, Sunday school, educational, and civic groups on a wide range of topics. In the past few years, he has also served as a consultant for church groups and Christian educational institutions in Uganda, Lebanon and Egypt.

He is also the author of:

Destination Unknown
Never Scratch a Tiger with a Short Stick and Other Quotes for Leaders



Choosing Well: Living Out God’s Will

Most of the time in our attempt to follow Christ, we already know perfectly well what God’s will is and what He expects of us. It is to continue the work He’s already given us, precisely where we are, according to the guidelines for godly living we know from Scripture.

But there come moments when we face major decisions, crossroads in our journey where the signposts aren’t as legible or well-lit as we would like. We face hard choices. Should I attend this college or that one? Should I switch jobs? Am I truly being called to full-time ministry, or am I just bored with my current vocation? Is this the person God would have me marry? Should I move to a new city or stay put?

Some decisions we’ve anticipated for a long while, for example what to do upon graduating from college. Others are thrust upon us suddenly, perhaps an opportunity that comes out of the blue. Yet others can brew or stew slowly over time, such as a growing sense of disillusionment and frustration with our current job.

Situations like these ultimately demand some kind of decision. Assuming we seek to honor God in all areas of our lives—education, family life, career, ministry—we want to make a godly choice. But how? Clearly, guidance is a difficult area for Christians.

Scores of books on the topic have appeared over the past several decades demonstrating the ongoing quest for counsel on this issue. This book is intended to assist you in thinking through questions about guidance more incisively and, if you heed the shared wisdom handed down from two thousand years of our faith, to help you make wiser, more thoughtful, and more godly choices. The generalizations presented here are distilled from the wisdom of numerous thoughtful writers on this topic. In essence, the thoughts in this book are not new. The hope, however, is that their presentation and format will make these ideas more accessible and easier to understand and apply in your life. (A note on citations: For the most part, I’ve tried to avoid cluttering your reading by limiting the endnotes to some lesser-known authors for whom you may want to know the source.)

It’s plain that those who follow Christ could use ongoing help in this area. “In our quest for God’s guidance,” said J. I. Packer, British theologian and scholar, “we become our own worst enemies, and our mistakes attest to our nuttiness in this area.” This book is an attempt to head off some of those self-defeating tendencies and minimize the nuttiness. In doing so, this book differs from other writings on guidance in two ways. The first is its emphasis. This volume assumes what other authors carefully and painstakingly identify: the ample scriptural evidence that God guides those who genuinely seek His will and that He desires only the best for His children. So the assumption here is that you don’t need to be persuaded that God is both able and eager to guide us.

The second difference lies in this book’s approach. Most other books on this subject offer systematic, chapter-length expositions on the nature of guidance and its relationship to vital living as a Christian. By contrast, the approach here is far more hands-on, identifying practical problem areas, possible stumbling blocks, areas of confusion, and any other aspects of guidance that can lead to confusion and mistakes. What follows is a series of thoughts on topics about guidance. Each topic, summarized as a principle or key concept, serves as a stepping-stone through what often can be a mental and spiritual swamp for Christians seeking God’s will and direction.

All the topics are built around a foundational section called The Big Five—and Beyond. This is the assumption repeated by many writers that guidance is normally the product of five elements:

1. Scriptural guidelines
2. Prayer
3. The advice of other Christians
4. The circumstances we face
5. A sense of inner peace about our decision

It is typically the combination of these five ingredients that helps lead us toward sound, godly decisions.

Something else that holds together the sixty-two principles in this book is the understanding that guidance is a process that involves carefully thinking through and incorporating The Big Five, as well as other issues pertinent to your situation. Following this introduction is A Guidance Road Map—a set of common questions about guidance, along with the topics that are likely to help you most with each question. Please read The Big Five—and Beyond before dipping into other topics. Without the context it provides, the other sections will be less helpful.

The sixty-two topics, and the principles on which they are based, are presented as generalizations. As such, they need to be seen as part of the broader whole. What’s more, these principles don’t have to be read in order. After reading The Big Five, feel free to browse through the book and pick and choose among the issues that most interest you. Or you can scan the alphabetical list of topics at the back of the book and find subjects of particular concern to you.

As you read the pages ahead, please be aware of the following assumptions that are woven through the array of principles:

 You take seriously your commitment to follow Christ and seek to live a God-pleasing life. In other words, you earnestly seek God’s will for your life, not His seal of approval for what you plan to do anyway.

 You take seriously the authority of Scripture and are willing to apply its guidelines to all areas of your life.

 You already are convinced that God is able and willing to guide you in all aspects of your walk with Him, and you accept that He will do so on His terms and with His timing.

 You take seriously your God-given ability to think through whatever guidance issues you face.

It’s important to note a truly astonishing fact: We claim as part of our faith not only that the Lord of the universe sent His Son to die for us and redeem us from our sins but also that His interest and love for us continue day by day. Like the most loving of parents, God Himself seeks to guide and direct every facet of our lives.

Two reality checks also need mentioning. The first is that living our lives in a God-directed manner is never easy. Living as we do with a sinful nature, it is extremely difficult to do what we know we should and to avoid what we know we shouldn’t do. Paul said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). If living the day-by-day dimension of following Christ is difficult, it’s no easier when we face those extraordinary moments when tough choices must be made. Søren Kierkegaard, nineteenth-century Danish philosopher and theologian, said, “It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But . . . it must be lived forwards.”

As we grapple with trying to understand God’s guidance in our lives, we often recognize His leading only as we look back. But we must make difficult choices while living life in forward mode. No book on guidance can completely answer anyone’s questions; we each need to answer those ourselves. The ideas outlined in this book are only tools, and they are worthless apart from your commitment to seeking God’s will and your willingness to struggle through issues.

The second reality worth noting concerns our limitations in understanding how God moves in our lives. It is the height of presumption to think that any book can prescribe how God may choose to reveal Himself to us. The only absolute we can be sure of in this regard is that God will not guide us in a way that is contrary to His nature.

A final thought on how God directs our lives: While those who follow Christ agree that God is keenly interested in our lives, they differ on the degree to which He has a “perfect plan” mapped out for each of us. Some contend that God has a carefully worked-out blueprint for our lives: His guidance helps us discover that perfect will, and His Holy Spirit helps us live it out. Other Christians see this approach as artificially narrow. God, they believe, is not boxed into some lockstep, foreordained approach to how our lives unfold. God’s grace, power, and imagination surely transcend whatever mistakes we make or sins we commit, which would presumably otherwise relegate us to a “second best” plan. Rather, God is always able to offer constant, uninhibited love and direction, regardless of how far we might have fallen from His standards in the past.

If the issue of a “perfect plan” is important to you, understand that the bias of this book is clearly toward the latter position. God’s boundless grace in dealing with us makes Him love us no less when we choose something other than His best at any given moment. Yes, God’s discipline may follow our poor choices. But for the Christian who is wholeheartedly seeking God’s will, He presents us with far more of a buffet table of legitimate options than some stiflingly healthy yet tasteless diet. A. W. Tozer, a well-known teacher and writer, said, “The man or woman who is wholly or joyously surrendered to Christ can’t make a wrong choice—any choice will be the right one.”

That remark captures the spirit with which this book is written: that ours is a God of freedom whose guidance we can seek with confidence and enthusiasm. He’s a God of infinite love who enthusiastically champions our case and seeks our best. He is the architect wanting to help us build holy lives, lived to the full (see John 10:10). Yet we sometimes regard Him as the county planning officer who’s looking for every weakness in our plans, smugly catching yet another way we’ve fallen short of the building code. God is not a stickler; rather, He’s the architect who brings our possibilities to reality for our benefit and for His pleasure.

This book is an attempt to assist you as you invite God, the ultimate architect, to help you build your life in keeping with His overall design to make us holy persons. From the foundations to the finishing touches, He is eager to help at each step. The pages that follow are intended to help you build your own house of faith that shall last through eternity.


The Big Five—and Beyond

Every quest for guidance should be shaped by scriptural guidelines, prayer, the advice of other Christians, the circumstances we face, and an overall sense that this course is what God wants.

It’s the big picture that counts. A recurring theme found in books on guidance is that you need to look at the big picture as a whole when making major decisions concerning God’s will. Far from basing our decision entirely on a chance remark made in last Sunday’s sermon or on an obscure verse in 2 Kings, God expects us to use all the vehicles He’s made available for our decision making. That’s why it’s important to consider each of The Big Five factors and see how they mesh together as we consider our decision. Again, these five factors are:

1. Scriptural guidelines
2. Prayer
3. The advice of other Christians
4. The circumstances we face
5. A sense of inner peace about our decision

Until you’ve got a thumbs-up on each of the five, you’re probably not ready to make a decision. If, for example, you’re seriously considering a career change, but your spouse or closest friends are advising you against it, you need to check your thinking. Or if you’ve been invited to go on a short-term mission trip and the first four points check out just fine, yet you’ve still got a nagging feeling that something isn’t right, once again it may be best to hold off on your decision and give it further thought.

If you were leaving later today for a trip abroad, you’d make sure you’d taken care of your passport, airline ticket, health insurance, luggage, and spending money. If you were heading for the airport and realized you’d left your passport at home, it’s unlikely you would keep going and say, “Well, four out of five isn’t bad.”

Similarly, you’re probably asking for trouble by heading into a decision without a check mark against each of The Big Five. Is it possible that the advice from your spouse or friends is wrong, or that you’re confusing a lack of inner peace about a decision with plain old nervousness? Of course. The point here isn’t that missing one of these five checkpoints means you shouldn’t go ahead; it simply means there’s a warning light on the dashboard and you’re well advised to take a second look at what’s happening. Or, to switch metaphors, if these five principles don’t line up neatly like lights on a runway, you need to question seriously whether you’re ready to come in for a landing.

Sometimes those landing lights don’t line up neatly, or one warning light keeps flickering on the dash—and yet a major decision still looms. Remember, guidance is seldom a simple, clear-cut process. The words of C. S. Lewis provide a helpful reminder of the many ways God can speak to us: “I don’t doubt that the Holy Spirit guides your decisions from within when you make them with the intention of pleasing God. The error would be to think that he speaks only within, whereas in reality he speaks also through Scripture, the church, Christian friends, books, etc.”

Because working toward the decisions God would have us make can be complex and can lead to ambiguous answers, it’s necessary to dig deeper into our understanding of The Big Five. The separate entries of The Big Five are not of equal importance. The simple flowchart that follows shows that scriptural principles are the starting point. But they’re only the starting point. Each of these five principles merits careful attention. The next step is to examine any of the five elements that merits special attention in your situation. (These topics are addressed in the pages that follow.) Alternatively, you may want to turn directly to other individual topics that speak to your needs. The Guidance Road Map on page 17 will help you do that.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Nicole Seitz is a South Carolina Lowcountry native and the author of The Spirit of Sweetgrass as well as a freelance writer/illustrator who has published in numerous low country magazines. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism, she also has a bachelor's degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design. Nicole shows her paintings in the Charleston, South Carolina area, where she owns a web design firm and lives with her husband and two small children. Nicole is also an avid blogger, you can leave her a comment on her blog.

Seitz's writing style recalls that of Southern authors like Kaye Gibbons, Anne Rivers Siddons, and Sue Monk Kidd, and this new novel, which the publisher compares to Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, surely joins the ranks of strong fiction that highlights the complicated relationships between women. Highly recommended, especially for Southern libraries.


In the South Carolina Sea Islands lush setting, Nicole Seitz's second novel Trouble the Water is a poignant novel about two middle-aged sisters' journey to self-discovery.

One is seeking to recreate her life yet again and learns to truly live from a group of Gullah nannies she meets on the island. The other thinks she's got it all together until her sister's imminent death from cancer causes her to re-examine her own life and seek the healing and rebirth her troubled sister managed to find on St. Anne's Island.

Strong female protagonists are forced to deal with suicide, wife abuse, cancer, and grief in a realistic way that will ring true for anyone who has ever suffered great loss.

"This is another thing I know for a fact: a woman can't be an island, not really. No, it's the touching we do in other people's lives that matters when all is said and done. The silly things we do for ourselves--shiny new cars and jobs and money--they don't mean a hill of beans. Honor taught me that. My soul sisters on this island taught me that. And this is the story of true sisterhood. It's the story of Honor, come and gone, and how one flawed woman worked miracles in this mixed-up world."

"...a special sisterhood of island women whose wisdom and courage linger in the mind long after the book is closed." -NEW YORK TIMES best-selling author SUSAN WIGGS

Monday, April 07, 2008

CFBA: Brandilyn Collins

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 …®”

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 19th book. Her first, 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.

The whole thing couldn’t have taken more than sixty seconds.

Bailey hung on to the counter, dazed. If she let go, she’d collapse—and the twitching fingers of the gunman would pull the trigger. The rest of her group huddled in frozen shock.

Dear God, help us! Tell me this is a dream . . .

The shooter’s teeth clenched. “ Anybody who moves is dead.”

On a beautiful Saturday morning the nationally read “Scenes and Beans” bloggers gather at Java Joint for a special celebration. Chaos erupts when three gunmen burst in and take them all hostage. One person is shot and dumped outside.

Police Chief Vince Edwards must negotiate with the desperate trio. The gunmen insist on communicating through the “comments” section of the blog—so all the world can hear their story. What they demand, Vince can’t possibly provide. But if he doesn’t, over a dozen beloved Kanner Lake citizens will die...

Amber Morn is the climactic finale to Collins’ widely read Kanner Lake series. All first three titles in the series, Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, and Crimson Eve, were bestsellers. Library Journal placed Crimson Eve on its Best Books of 2007 list, and hailed it the “Best Christian suspense of 2007.”

A few early reviews of Amber Morn:

“… essential reading … a harrowing hostage drama.” – Library Journal

“… heart-pounding … breakneck pace … satisfying and meaningful ending.” – RT Bookreviews

“This cataclysmic ending left me breathless … Kanner Lake is the Best Suspense Series of 2007/2008.” –

“Collins has saved the best for a last .. a powerful ensemble performance.” --

“… a staccato tempo … Sometimes you just have to close the book in order to come up for air.” – Dale Lewis

“…a masterpiece of page-turning suspense with a cast of dozens.” – Peg Phifer

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Peggy Darty is the award-winning author of twenty-seven books, including two other cozy mysteries set in Summer Breeze, Florida: When the Sandpiper Calls and When Bobbie Sang the Blues. She has worked in film, researched for CBS, and led writing workshops around the country. Darty and her husband call Alabama home but spend a great deal of time in Colorado, Montana, and on Florida’s Emerald Coast.

When Zeffie Got a Clue

It’s an ordinary afternoon in Summer Breeze, Florida, when a young, wide-eyed girl steps into I Saw It First, the trash-to-treasure shop Christy Castleman and her Aunt Bobbie have opened. Clutching a jewelry box, Zeffie Adams tells Christy she needs money to pay her grandmother’s medical bills, prompting Christy to offer this curious visitor more than the jewelry box is worth–or so she thinks.

But complicated questions form when Christy rips out the box’s lining and uncovers a clue to a cold case murder mystery from eight years ago. Despite warnings from her family and handsome boyfriend Dan Brockman, Christy decides to do a little detective work of her own. After all, the infamous murder happened close to her grandmother’s farm. How risky could it be to take the jewelry box back to the Strickland plantation and ask around about it?

Soon Christy finds there is more to the small box than someone wants her to know. A jewelry theft. A mansion murder. Dangerous family secrets buried in history. Can Christy convince others to let go of the past before it’s too late?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

FIRST DAY: Eric Reinhold

It is April FIRST--no foolin'--, 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!

The special feature author is:

and his book:

Ryan Watters and
the King's Sword

Creation House (May 2008)

Illustrated by: Corey


Eric J. Reinhold is a graduate of the U.S. Naval
Academy. The former Naval officer writes extensively for a variety of
national financial publications in his position as a Certified Financial
Planner® and President of Academy Wealth Management. His passion for
writing a youth fantasy novel was fueled by nightly impromptu storytelling to
his children and actively serving in the middle and high school
programs at First Baptist Sweetwater Church in Longwood, Florida.

Visit him at his website.



It first appeared as a gentle glow, almost like a
child’s night-light. Heavy shadows filled the room as the boy lay face up,
covers tucked neatly under his arms. A slight smile on his face hinted
that he was in the midst of a pleasant dream.

Ryann Watters,
who had just celebrated his twelfth birthday, rolled lazily onto his
side, his blond hair matted into the pillow, unaware of the glow as it
began to intensify. Shadows searched for hiding places throughout the
room as the glow transformed from a pale yellow hue to brilliant

Ryann’s eyelids fluttered briefly and then flickered at the
glare reflecting off his pale blue bedroom walls. Drowsily, he turned
toward the light expecting to see one of his parents coming in to check
on him. “What’s going on?” his voice cracked as he reached up to rub the
crusty sleep from his eyes.


Under a pale half-moon, Drake Dunfellow’s
house looked just like any other. A closer inspection, however, would
reveal its failing condition. Water oaks lining the side of the curved
driveway hunched over haggardly, like old men struggling on canes. The
lawn, which should have been a lively green for early spring, was
withered and sandy. A few patches of grass were sprinkled here and there.
Rust lines streaked down the one jagged peak atop the tin-roof house. The
flimsy clapboard sides were outlined by fading white trim speckled with
dried paint curls. Hanging baskets containing a variety of plants and
weeds all struggling to stay alive shared the crowded front porch with
two mildew-covered rocking chairs. Inside, magazines and newspaper
clippings both old and new were carelessly strewn about. Encrusted dishes
from the previous day’s meals battled each other for space in the
bulging kitchen sink. In the garage, away from the usual living areas, was a
boy’s room. Dull paneling outlined the bedroom, while equally dreary
brown linoleum covered the floor. The bedroom must have been an
afterthought because not much consideration had been given to the details. A
bookcase cut from rough planks sat atop an old garage sale dresser.

Moonlight pressing through the dust-covered metal blinds tried to
provide a sense of peacefulness. Instead it revealed bristly red hair
atop a young boy’s head poking out from beneath a mushy feather pillow.
His heavy breathing provided the only movement in the quiet room. Tiny
droplets of perspiration lined his brow as he began jerking about under
the thin cotton sheets.

Starting at the edge of the window,
the blackness spread downward, transforming all traces of light to an
oily dinginess. Drake was slowly surrounded and remained the only thing
not saturated in the darkness. Bolting upright to a stiff-seated
attention, Drake’s bloodshot eyes darted back and forth. He stared into the
black nothingness shuddering and aware that the only thing visible in
the room was his bed.

“Who . . . who’s there?” Drake cried
out, puzzled by the hollow sound that didn’t seem to travel beyond the
edge of his mattress. Beads of sweat trickled down his neck, connecting
his numerous freckled dots. He strained, slightly tilting his head, ears
perked. There was no reply.


Neatly manicured
streets wandered through the Watters’s sleepy, rolling neighborhood.
If someone had been walking along in the wee morning hours of March 15,
they would have noticed the brilliant white light peeking out from
around Ryann’s shade. Below his second-story window the normally darkened
bed of pink, red, and white impatiens was lit up as in the noonday

Ryann was fully awake now and quite positive that the
dazzling aura facing him from in front of his window was not the hall light
from his parents entering the bedroom. Golden hues flowed out of the
whiteness, showering itself on everything in the room. It reminded Ryann
of sprinkles of pixie dust in some of his favorite childhood books. His
blue eyes grew wide trying to capture the unbelievable event unfolding
before him.

“Fear not, Ryann,” a confident, yet kind, voice
began. “I have come to do the bidding of one much greater than I and
who you have found favor with.”

Rapid pulses in his chest
gripped Ryann as he struggled to understand what was happening.
Instinctively he grasped his navy blue bed sheets and pulled them up so that only
his eyes and the top of his head peeked out from his self-made cocoon.
Squinting to reduce the brilliance before him, Ryann stared into the
light, trying to detect a form while questions scrambled around his mind.
What had the voice meant by “finding favor,” and who had sent him? As
Ryann struggled to work this out, the center of the whiteness began to
take the shape of a man. Human in appearance, he looked powerful, but
there was a calmness about his face, like that of an experienced
commander before going into battle. Ryann recalled hearing about angels in his
Sunday school class at church. He wondered if this could be one.

“Ryann, thou have found favor with the One who sent me. You will
be given much and much will be required of you.”

shaking, Ryann was fairly certain he was safe. “S-s-s . . . sir, are you an

“You have perceived correctly.” “And . . . I’ve been
chosen by someone . . . for something?” Ryann asked.

One who knows you better than you know yourself,” the angel answered.

Ryann knew he must be talking about God, but what could God
possibly want with him?

“What am I supposed to do?”

“Thou must search out and put on the full armor of God so that you can
take a stand against the devil’s schemes. For your struggle is not
against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and
against the forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

“The devil?
Forces of evil? I’m just a kid,” Ryann said. “What could I possibly
have to do with all of this? You’ve got to be making a mistake.”

“There are no mistakes with God. Thou have heard of David?”

“You mean the David from David and Goliath?” Ryann asked.

The angel nodded. “He was also a boy chosen by God to accomplish great
things. God chooses to show His power by using the powerless.”

Ryann tried to comprehend the magnitude of what this mighty being
was saying to him. Realizing he was still sitting in his bed, covers
bunched around him, he pulled them aside and swung his feet out, never
taking his eyes off the angel. Landing firmly on the carpet, Ryann’s
wobbly knees barely supported him, the bed acting as a wall between him and
the angel.

“Who are you?”

“I am Gabriel and have
come to give you insight and understanding.”

“Wow!” Ryann
couldn’t believe this was the same angel who had appeared to Joseph and
Mary in the Christmas story he heard every December. The lines of
excitement on his face drooped as he fidgeted, thinking about the angel’s
words. “I don’t want to . . . seem . . . ungrateful,” Ryann hesitated,
“but . . . is there any way you can . . . ask someone else?”

“Only you have been given this trial, Ryann, yet you shall not be

“Who will help me?”

“As the young shepherd boy
David spoke, ‘The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
and He delivers them. For He commands His angels to guard you in all
your ways.’” Gabriel’s twinkling gaze rose as he stretched his arms
heavenward, “And these will assist you along the way.”

Beckoning Ryann from behind the bed, the angel glided
effortlessly forward to greet him. Walking to within a foot of Gabriel,
Ryann bowed humbly, basking in the radiant glow that emanated all
around him. Reaching out, the angel grasped Ryann’s left hand firmly and
slipped a gold ring, topped by a clear bubble-like stone, onto his
finger. Before he could inspect it, the angel took his other hand and placed
a long metal pole in it. Ryann’s hand slid easily up and down the
smooth metal finish. Its shape and size were similar to a pool cue.
Bone-white buttons protruded from just below where he gripped the staff. They
were numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Mesmerized by the gifts that
begged for more attention and questions, Ryann hardly noticed Gabriel loop
a long leather cord through his arm and around his neck. From it a
curved ivory horn hung loosely below his waist, resting on his hip.

As Gabriel finished and backed away, Ryann continued marveling at
each of the gifts. Reaching down to inspect the horn, he ran his hands
along its smooth, yet pitted surface, until he reached the small
gold-tipped opening. He wondered how old the horn was and if it had been used

“What do I do with these? How do I use them?”

“It is not for me to reveal,” answered the angel calmly. “You
shall find out in due time.”

“But what do I do now?”

“Thou must seek the King’s sword.”

“How? What King? Where do
I look?” Ryann blurted out, panicking as questions continued to pop
into his head.

“The Spirit will lead you, and the ring will
open the way,” the angel replied as he began floating backwards, the
light peeling away with him.

“Wait, wait! Don’t leave—I don’t
know enough—where do I go now?”

“Remember,” Gabriel’s clear
voice began to fade, “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for
teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that you
may be thoroughly equipped for all good works.”

the mysterious heavenly gifts he had been given, Ryann collapsed in a
heap on his bed, body and mind drained from his supernatural encounter.
He drifted into a welcomed sleep.


It seemed
Drake’s bedroom no longer existed. Only his bed remained, an island
floating in a sea of darkness that completely surrounded him. His eyes
bulged, darting about for anything that would give him a hint of what was
going on. A cool draft drifted down his neck, chilling him despite the
safety of his covers. Caught between reality and a nightmare, he let
loose a scream that normally would have been heard throughout the house and
beyond, but now was absorbed into the heavy darkness enveloping

“Who’s there?” he said again. He pinched himself to see if he
was dreaming.

With a loud swoooooooosh, huge wings shot out
of the darkness surrounding his bed. Drake dove for the safety of his

A thunderous, commanding voice ordered, “Come out
from hiding and stand up!”

Drake hesitated, knuckles tense and
white as they curled tightly around the edges of his blanket.

“Now!” the voice thundered.

Jerking his covers off, Drake
scurried to the edge of the bed, lost his balance, and awkwardly fell
face-first onto the cool floor. Petrified at what he might see, yet too
scared to disobey, he raised his head slightly. Half expecting some
hideous beast, Drake was surprised at what he was facing. The
black-winged warrior towering over him was imposing enough to paralyze anyone with
fear, but his face was what captivated Drake. Instead of a hideous
three-eyed ghoul with fangs, like Drake imagined, he stared into one of
the most ruggedly handsome faces he had ever seen. Drake froze,

“Sit up and listen closely, human,” the dark angel began,
closing his wings in an effortless swish. Lowering his voice, he spoke
in a precise, but less threatening tone. “I have chosen you to carry
out my wishes.”

Drake raised himself to a clumsy crouch. The
face he looked intently into was perfect in almost every way, except
for a long thin scar that traveled from his left ear to his jaw. He was
convinced now that this wasn’t a monster trying to devour him.

“Why me?”

The angel’s scar became more noticeable when he
smiled at Drake. “I have been here before with great success and have
reason to believe you will serve me well.”

“What do you want
me to do?” Drake blurted.

“The one who seeks to bind me must
be stopped!”

Drake stumbled backwards, putting a hand on
the floor to keep from falling. Swallowing hard, he could feel the black,
penetrating eyes staring deep into his.

“You are the one,”
the creature said confidently.

No one had ever chosen Drake
for anything, yet this powerful being wanted him. He didn’t know if he
could trust the dark angel or not, but the chance for power excited
Drake. “How do I do it?”

The dark angel continued to smile,
sensing the blackness in Drake’s heart spreading murkily throughout his

“I will be your eyes and ears, a guide to lead you in
the right direction, and,” he hesitated, “I will give you these.”

The dark-winged angel stretched out his hand, his index finger
pointing toward the empty floor in front of him. Immediately three items
appeared before Drake’s eyes. He blinked again. They were still there.
Drake’s hand shot out in a blur to grab the closest item.


Drake froze, and then cowered, his eyes shifting back to
the booming voice as he slowly retracted his hand. His eyes darted
back and forth between the three items and the dark angel in the awkward

“You move when I tell you to move. Now . . . kneel
before me, child of the earth, while I make you ready for your task.”

Still hunched-over, Drake pitched forward onto his knees with
his head bowed, eyes glancing upward in anticipation.

first gift to you is a cloak of darkness. It will provide you with cover
at night. You and the night shall become one.”

Drake reached
out his hands to receive the cloak. It felt smooth and slippery.
Looking intently at it, the cloak seemed several feet thick, as if it was
projecting darkness.

“My second gift to you is a ring of
suggestion. With it you will have the ability to project persuasive thoughts
to those who are weak-willed or in the midst of indecision.” Powerful
hands with long curled fingers took hold of Drake’s hand, spreading an
icy chill from the tip of his fingers to his wrist. As the creature
slipped the black band onto his finger, Drake briefly noticed a red blotch
on the top. His hand felt stiff, then the numbness traveled up his arm
and throughout his body. Chattering clicks from his own teeth broke
the silence as he awaited the angel’s next words. “Lastly, I provide you
with a bow and arrows of fire. These arrows were formed in the lake of
fire and will deliver physical and mental anguish to those they

“Thank you . . . uhh . . . what should I call you?” Drake

“I am one of the stars that fell from heaven. My
master is Shandago and I am his chief messenger. You may call me Lord

“Thank you, Lord Ekron, for these gifts. I may be young,
but I’ll do as you ask to the best of my ability.”

“It is
expected. Also, these items I have given to you are not for use in this
world. When the time is right, you will find a passage into another land.
There you will put these gifts to work.”

The darkness in
the room began to rush toward Lord Ekron, as if he were absorbing it,
except he wasn’t getting bigger—only darker. Drake kept staring at him,
trying not to blink, so he wouldn’t miss anything. Despite his efforts,
the dark angel began to fade, and Drake found himself peering into the
darkness at the blank wall. When he was sure his eyes weren’t playing
tricks on him and enough time passed so that he felt safe to move, he
stood up.

Drake would have thought this was all a bad dream,
but the items he held in his hand were proof that it was real. He ran his
hands through the dense blackness of the slick cloak, wondering how he
might use it. Drake was anxious to try the bow and arrows as well. He
didn’t dare pull the arrows out of their quiver right now, but decided
that he would have to buy a regular bow and quiver of arrows as soon as
possible so that he could begin practicing. Looking down at his hand,
he examined the unusual ring he now wore. The entire band was a glossy
black, except for the unusual red marking on the top, which resembled a
flying dragon.

Not much had gone right for Drake during the
first thirteen years of his life. “Now things are going to be different,”
he thought. The smile inching across his face looked evil. He knew with
Lord Ekron at his side no one would be able to tell him what to