Wednesday, November 08, 2006

CFBA Tour: The Cubicle Next Door

Visit the Christian Fiction Bloggers MySpace page this coming week for reviews of The Cubicle Next Door, and an interview with the author, Siri Mitchell. Visit the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance headquarters for other reviews as well!

http://www.myspace.com/christianfictionbloggers
The Cubicle Next Door can be purchased at Amazon.com.

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

Friday, October 27, 2006

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance: The Election, by Jerome Teel


Christian Fiction Bloggers

Today is Day Three of CFBA's Tour of The Election

Visit their blog for reviews of The Election, and an interview with the author, Jermome Teel. Visit the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance headquarters for other reviews as well!

http://www.myspace.com/christianfictionbloggers

A Little Creative License
Amber Miller
Bonnie Writes
Forensics and Faith
Reviews Plus+
Camy Tang
Unseen Worlds
So Much Stuff I Can't Recall
Chris Well: Learning Curve
Christy's Book Blog
Daniel I. Weaver
Curmudgeon's Rant
On Considering Inconveniences
Soul Reflections
Christian Fiction
Kittens Come From Eggs
Writing: My Adventures In Words
Georgiana D
Refreshment In Refuge
The Well-Dressed Branch
Just a Little Something To Read Before Bills
Spoiled For The Ordinary
Unwritten
Christian Political Fiction
The Bedford Review
Words on a Page
faithfiction
Reading, Writing and What Else is There?
Christian Novels
A Disciple's Steps
Scrambled Dregs
Collected Miscellany
The Bookshelf Review
See Ya On The Net
Wren Reviews
Musings From The Windowsill
Author Intrusion
Writer-lee
Rhythms of Grace
Mimi's Pixie Corner
gritty and bright
Just A Minute
Illuminating Fiction
A Christian Worldview of Fiction
Booktalk & more...
Sean Slagle
Intertextual Me
Susan May Warren
Never Ceese - A Spiritual Fantasy
Scraps of Me
TLHines
It's Real Life
Cookie Mix
In My Little World
The Savvy Christian Writer
Crazy about Coffee
Writes in His Sleep
Sword and Pen
the law, books, and life
books, movies and chinese food
Projecting A
A Frank Review
Straitjacket Chillers
Relz Reviewz
Book Splurge
Fiction Fanatics Only
Christian Mystery Writers
Peek a boo ICU
On The Write Path
Edgy Inspirational Author
Rachel Hauck
Inspire Me
Michelle's Great Blogs
Hijinks From The Heartland
Ask Andrea

The Election can be purchased at Amazon.com.

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

Sunday, October 01, 2006

FIRST Day: Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett


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

This month's feature author: GINGER GARRETT
Ginger Garrett is an acclaimed novelist and expert in ancient women's history. Her first novel, Chosen, was recognized as one of the best five novels of the year by the Christian publishing industry. Ginger enjoys a diverse reader base and creates conversation between cultures.

In addition to her 2006 and 2007 novels about the most evil women in biblical history, she will release Beauty Secrets of the Bible (published by Thomas Nelson) in Summer 2007.

Garrett's Dark Hour delves into the biblical account of Jezebel's daughter and her attempt to end the line of David.

And now, a special Q&A:

1.) First, tell us a bit about Dark Hour.

I was praying about what book to write after Chosen, and accidentally left my open Bible on the kitchen table. (A dangerous thing, since in my house, small children and large dogs routinely scavenge with dirty hands and noses for snacks!) As I walked past it, I saw a caption about someone named Athaliah and a mass murder. I stopped cold. I knew it was my story.

Athaliah was the daughter of Jezebel--a real woman in history--who tried to destroy all the descendents of King David in a massacre. God made a promise that a descendent of King David would always sit on the throne, and one day a Messiah would come from this line. If Athaliah succeeded, she would break the promise between God and the people, and destroy all hope for a Messiah.

One woman, her step-daughter, Jehoshebeth, defied her. She stole a baby during the massacre and hid him. Between them, the two women literally fought for the fate of the world.

2.) What drew you to write biblical fiction?

The similarities between the lives of ancient women and our lives. We get distracted by their "packaging," the way they dressed and lived, but at heart, our stories are parallel.

3.) How much time is spent researching the novel versus writing the novel?

Equal amounts, and I don't stop researching while I write. I have a historical expert, probably the best in the world in his field, review the manuscript and point out errors. The tough part is deciding when to ignore his advice. He pointed out that most everyone rode donkeys if they weren't in the military, but a key scene in the novel involves riding a horse to the rescue. It would have been anti-climatic to charge in on a donkey! :) So I ignored his advice on that one.

4.) Dark Hour takes its reader deep into the heart of palace intrigue and betrayals. Were parts of this book difficult to write?

I left out much of the darkest material I uncovered in research. It was important to show how violent and treacherous these times and this woman (Athaliah) could be, but I tried to be cautious about how to do it. The story was so powerful and hopeful--how one woman's courage in the face of evil saved the world--but the evil was depressing. I tried to move quickly past it. I wanted balance. Our heroine suffers and some wounds are not completely healed in her lifetime. That's true for us, too.

5.) What would modern readers find surprising about ancient women?

They had a powerful sense of the community of women. They also wore make-up: blush, glitter eyeshadow, lipstick, powder, and perfume! They drank beer with straws, and enjoyed "Fritos": ground grains, fried and salted. Many of our foods are the same today, but they loved to serve pate made from dried locusts, finely ground. Ugh!

Without further ado ... here is the FIRST chapter of Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett. Judge for yourself if you'd like to read more!

(There is a prologue before chapter one regarding the birth of Jehoshebeth... Athaliah is not Jehoshebeth's biological mother.)

C h a p t e r O n e

Fifteen Years Later

HER BARU, the priest of divination, opened the goatskin bag and spread the wet liver along the floor, leaving a path of blood as he worked. Retrieving a wooden board and pegs from his other satchel, the satchel that held the knives and charms, he placed pegs in the board according to where the liver was marked by fat and disease. He turned the black liver over, revealing a ragged abscess.

Athaliah covered her mouth and nose with her hands to ward off the smell but would not turn way.

“Worms,” her sorcerer said, not looking up. He placed more pegs in the board before he stopped, and his breath caught.

A freezing wind touched them, though they were in the heart of the palace in the heat of the afternoon. Athaliah cursed this cold thing that had found her again and watched the sorcerer search for the source of the chill before he returned to the divination. There was no source of wind here; in her chamber there was a bed, the table where her servants applied her cosmetics from ornate and lovely jars shaped like animals, a limestone toilet, and in the farthest corner so that no one at the chamber door would see it, her shrine. Statues of Baal, the storm god, and the great goddess Asherah, who called all life into being, stood among the panting lions carved from ivory and the oil lamps that burned at all hours. Here she placed her offerings of incense and oil, and here she whispered to the icy thing as it worshiped alongside her.

The baru watched as the flames in the shrine swayed, the chill moving among the gods. The flames stayed at an angle until one began to burn the face of Asherah. Her painted face began to melt, first her eyes running black and then her mouth flowing red. He gasped and stood.
“I must return to the city.”

Athaliah stood, blocking him from his satchel.

“What does the liver say?”

“It is not good that I have come. We will work another day.”

She did not move. He glanced at the door. Guards with sharp swords were posted outside.
“A dead king still rules here. You set yourself against him and are damned.”

Athaliah sighed. “You speak of David.”

The baru nodded and bent closer so no other thing would hear his whisper. “There is a prophecy about him, that one from the house of David will always reign in Judah. His light will never die.”

“I fear no man, dead or living.”

The baru continued to whisper, fear pushing into his eyes, making them wide. “It is not the man you must fear. It is his God.”

Athaliah bit her lip and considered his words. She wished he didn’t tremble. It was such a burden to comfort a man.

“Yes, this God. It is this God who troubles us. Perhaps I can make an offering to Him. You must instruct me. Stay, my friend, stay.” She patted him on the arm, detesting his clammy flesh. “I have dreamed,” she confessed. “I have a message from this God, and I must know how to answer Him.”

The baru took a step back, shaking his head. “What is this dream?”

“A man,” Athaliah said.

“Tell me.”

“At night, when I sleep and the moon blankets my chamber, I see a man. He is not as we are: he is coarse and wild. He wears skins hewn from savage beasts, run round his waist with careless thought, and in his mind he is always running, ax in hand, running. I feel his thoughts, his mind churning with unrest, and he knows mine completely. I hear a burning whisper from heaven and shut up my ears, but he turns to the sound. A great hand touches him, sealing him for what lies ahead, and speaks a name I cannot hear, a calling to one yet to be. I try to strike this man, but all goes red, blankets of red washing down.”

She licked her lips and waited, breathing hard. The baru nodded.

“You see the prophet of Yahweh, Elijah, who plagues your mother.”

The baru began to reach for his goatskin sack. He picked up the liver and put it in the sack, keeping an eye on the door as he wiped his bloody hand on his robes. She knew he was measuring his steps in his mind, thinking only of freedom from here, and from her.

Athaliah grabbed his arm. “I let those who worship Yahweh live in peace. They mean nothing to me; what is one God in a land of so many? Why would this God send a man to make war on my mother and then claim me also?”

The baru narrowed his eyes. “This God is not like the others.”

“How can we be free of Him?”

The baru thought for a moment then reached into his satchel. He pulled out a handful of teeth and tossed them on the ground at her feet. She did not move.

He squatted and read them, probing them with a shaking finger. She watched as the hair along his neck rose, and goose bumps popped all along his skin. The cold thing had wrapped itself tightly around him. She could see his breath.

“There is a child,” he said. “The eye of Yahweh is upon this child, always. I must counsel you to find this child and kill it, for when it is gone, Yahweh would trouble you no more.”

Athaliah murmured and ran her teeth over her lips, biting and dragging the skin as her thoughts worked back in time. “It is my daughter you speak of. Only a girl. But even so, I cannot kill her yet. I would lose my rights as the most favored wife. I will not risk my crown for so small a prize. No, I will find another way to get rid of her, and I will deal with this threat from Yahweh as I must.”

Athaliah walked to her shrine and cleaned the face of Asherah. She could hear the baru scooping the teeth back into the bag. She turned with a sly smile, pleased that her mind worked so quickly even with the cold thing so near.

“My mother has already angered this God. We will let her have our problem. She has a talent for these things.”

He had finished putting everything back into his two sacks and edged toward the door. She wondered if he would return. He was the best she had at divining dreams and saw in the liver so many answers. She sighed and tried to think of a word to reassure him.

“A farmer may own the field,” she began, “but much work is done before a harvest is even planted. Stones are removed, weeds are torn free. We must break loose the soil and uproot our enemies so the field will be ready. On that day I will sow richly.”

He managed a weak smile.

“Let your appetite grow, my friend,” she coaxed. “The harvest is coming.”

He fled so quickly she knew her words had been wasted, as all words were on frightened men. He would never return.

***

PRINCE JEHORAM nursed a silver bowl of dark wine and wished the business of inheriting a kingdom did not involve so much listening. He rubbed his beard, its thick clinging brown curls now flecked with gray. His beard was weathering his age better than the hair on his head, he realized, which had already surrendered to the assault of time, great gray streaks overtaking the brown. He knew his face was kind, though, not hardened or roughened by his years, but retaining a boyish appeal in his wry mouth and a small scar just under his left eye. Any woman could look upon him and see the child of mischief he once was. All women looked upon him and still thought to correct him.

He dined in a dim, private room with his advisers. The room was adjacent to the throne room, where he would one day rule, and was bare, save for an oil lamp on a low table. Cedar beams topped the limestone walls, giving the palace a sweet, smoky scent under the afternoon sun. The men sat around the table, scattered with maps, sharing a lunch of grapes, bread, wine, and cheese. Normally they would eat more, and in the dining hall, but the kitchen servants were busy preparing for the great send-off feast and it was easier to be served here.

Tomorrow, his father, King Jehoshaphat, would lead Judah’s army north toward Israel and King Ahab. Together, the two kingdoms would fight their inconstant friend Ben-Hadad to end his trade monopolies. Ben-Hadad fought alongside them against the cruel Assyrians but turned often and claimed the richest of trade cities for himself.

“There are implications, my prince,” Ethan said. Ethan was the tallest, and his skin turned red when he was angry, which was often. His temper had plagued him since he and the prince were boys, but now Jehoram no longer found pleasure in goading his friend. “If the kings succeed at Ramoth-Gilead against Ben-Hadad,” Ethan continued, “and the proposed alliance is accepted, your father will have obligations both to the north and south. In this way, Ahab’s kingdom will be strengthened by this victory, and your own kingdom will be compromised. Judah may weaken and fall at last to a king of Israel.”

“I have married the daughter of Ahab,” Jehoram replied. “I have given their daughter an heir and promised her the crown. I have curried the favor of the north well enough. They will not turn on me, for their own daughter is at my side.” He tried to entertain himself with the food and wine while his advisers prattled on. He wondered what would be served at the feast tonight. If the servants’ exhausted expressions were any indication, the spread would be remarkable.

“That is true, my friend,” Ethan said. “But you are wrong to think this is Ahab’s war. It is a woman who is shaping this new world. Think on this: What does the powerful Jezebel desire more than to bring glory to her own name? She wants the north and south reunited so that she may one day rule them both, a queen equal in power to Solomon.”

Ethan smirked as he continued. “Everyone knows Ahab wears the crown but Jezebel rules. With Ahab and Jehoshaphat together in battle, their voices silenced for a time, Jezebel will be listening for yours. Let her know a lion roars in Judah. We will never be ruled by a woman, especially one who hides behind her husband’s crown.”

Jehoram listened, running his tongue across his lips, catching a spot of wine resting just above his lip. Ethan was his truest friend, if a man about to wear the crown had one, but he was always ready for a fight. Jehoram preferred to suffer a blow and stay with his women and wine. He sighed. “Ethan, you look into darkness and see monsters, but I see only shadows. It has always been this way.”

Ethan frowned. “We are no longer children hunting with our fathers at night. Listen to me, for I am the voice of God in your ear.”

Jehoram turned his face away and crossed his arms. Then he sighed and reached for a bowl of grapes and began to eat. He did not like an empty stomach.

Another adviser bit into some cheese and leaned in. “Mighty Ethan is right. Jezebel wants to see you on the throne because of your union with her daughter Athaliah, but she is no ally. Listen to what I tell you: Something evil here stirs the water and watches.”

“These voices of doom!” Jehoram yelled, slapping his bowl down on the table so that it spilled. “These voices and whispers, will they not cease?” He gripped his head and glared at the men. Each had but one wife and thought to advise him on his many? “You warn me against women, even my own wife, but they are women and nothing more!”

Ethan scooted closer to him. “Do not play the fool. Athaliah practices her strange magic and you slip under her spell little by little. There is still time to save yourself, and the kingdom, if you are indeed a man and king.”

Jehoram rose and adjusted his robe around his shoulders, staring down at Ethan.

“Do even my friends turn against me now?” he asked.

“I have always been like a brother to you. I desire nothing but your good,” Ethan said, rising. Jehoram held his temper and the two men glared at each other, breathing hard.

The adviser Ornat spoke. “May I address the future king of Judah?”

Jehoram nodded and sat, returning to his grapes. He glanced at Ethan and shook his head.
Ornat was new to his inner circle, an adviser Athaliah had recommended for his influence among the people who did not worship the God of Judah. She promised his voice would balance the harsh messages the others always gave. He had long, straight gray hair that always hung as if he had just come in from the rain. A magnificent bump crowned his nose, but it was the only remarkable feature about the man, a man who looked as if he were melting before their eyes.

“Good Jehoram,” Ornat began, “the king knows you are a son who is not like the father. King Jehoshaphat has conspired with your brothers to ensure you never take the throne. They plot behind closed doors, taking their meals without you. I have heard the plans from my spies among the servants.”

Jehoram felt his stomach churn at the accusation. He would not allow such ridiculous talk and raised his hand to dismiss the man at once.

The arrival of Athaliah interrupted them, and all bowed as she entered.

“Jehoram, I seek your face with a burden on my heart. Hear me and help me, my lord and husband,” she said.

Jehoram looked at her a moment, his eyes having trouble adjusting to the light that streamed in when the door had opened. She stirred something in him, as she had from her first night in the palace, rain-soaked and announced by thunder, her sheer robes clinging to her tiny frame. She came bearing boxes of shrines and gods, like the dolls of a child, and she clung to them even in their bedchamber. She was the only wife who did not submit to his will, and he had found her exotic. Now she had grown, but his exotic pet was still wild, shaking off the customs and manners he tried to teach her. He knew she hungered, but not for him. His face burned with shame.

“Speak, Athaliah,” he said.

“Your daughter has grown quite pale of late. I have seen this sickness before.”

Jehoram sat up straight. Sickness in the palace would spread rapidly, a threat as swift and fierce as any Assyrian. “What sickness?” he demanded.

Athaliah smiled at him, then at the men reclining. “Of course you do not understand,” she said. “You are men. You have tended your kingdom well but neglected to see that your daughter has come of age.”

Jehoram exhaled and sat back, an indulgent smile on his lips. “And what remedy does this sickness crave?” he asked.

Athaliah bowed before Jehoram. “She must marry, my lord.”

Jehoram waved his hand, a broad gesture. Here he could be master. “I command, then, that she be married. If there is a commander well thought of, it would be an honor to give a daughter in marriage just before a battle.”

Athaliah nodded, just once. He felt his victory slipping away. “I have sent word to the north,” Athaliah said, “to my mother’s house, that a nobleman from my own home who serves in the ivory palace of my mother be given her. King Ahab has sent you his favorite daughter.” She smiled. “Now let us send ours to him. It will be good for Jehoshebeth to hold your name ever before my father, Ahab. And Jezebel would relish a granddaughter so near.”

Jehoram stopped and frowned. “It is Jehoshebeth you speak of? She is a special child to me. I would not have her sent north.”

“But you have given the order that she be married. There is no one else worthy of her,” Athaliah said.

Jehoram rubbed his chin and pretended to study a map. Finally, he shook his head. “I must think on this.”

Athaliah bowed low, her eyes closed. “May the God you serve bless all your decisions, good Jehoram,” she said. She straightened and looked at the advisers. Jehoram could not bear to see their eyes upon his bride, the only territory he owned and could not rule. He detected secrets moving between her and Ornat like a sudden spring bubbling up from a dark source. Only a few found it distasteful and turned away. Ethan was the first to scowl and return his glance to the prince.

“I will see you all at the feast tonight,” Athaliah said as she left. She wagged a finger at Ornat. “Take care of my good husband.”

Jehoram slouched in his seat and returned to his grapes.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance: Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins

Today, the blog tour continues for Brandilyn Collins's latest suspense thriller, Violet Dawn. Find a review here:
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance: Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins

You can follow Brandilyn's daily blog at Forensics and Faith.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Blog tour: VIOLET DAWN

It’s Day One of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance's three day tour of Brandilyn Collins's novel Violet Dawn, the first in her new Kanner Lake Series. Visit the participating blogs, and keep track of the tour at the CFBA myspace blog.

A Little Creative License
Amber Miller
Bonnie Writes
Forensics and Faith
Reviews Plus+
Camy Tang
Unseen Worlds
So Much Stuff I Can't Recall
Chris Well: Learning Curve
Christy's Book Blog
Daniel I. Weaver
Curmudgeon's Rant
On Considering Inconveniences
Soul Reflections
Christian Fiction
Kittens Come From Eggs
Writing: My Adventures In Words
Georgiana D
Refreshment In Refuge
The Well-Dressed Branch
Just a Little Something To Read Before Bills
Spoiled For The Ordinary
Unwritten
Christian Political Fiction
The Bedford Review
Words on a Page
faithfiction
Reading, Writing and What Else is There?
Christian Novels
A Disciple's Steps
Scrambled Dregs
Collected Miscellany
The Bookshelf Review
See Ya On The Net
Wren Reviews
Musings From The Windowsill
Author Intrusion
Writer-lee
Rhythms of Grace
Mimi's Pixie Corner
gritty and bright
Just A Minute
Illuminating Fiction
A Christian Worldview of Fiction
Booktalk & more...
Sean Slagle
Intertextual Me
Susan May Warren
Never Ceese - A Spiritual Fantasy
Scraps of Me
TLHines
It's Real Life
Cookie Mix
In My Little World
The Savvy Christian Writer
Crazy about Coffee
Writes in His Sleep
Sword and Pen
the law, books, and life
books, movies and chinese food

Violet Dawn can be purchased at Amazon.com.

Related links:
Q&A: BRANDILYN COLLINS, PT 1
CHECKING IN WITH KANNER LAKE
Brandilyn Collins keeps you in suspense ...

Friday, September 01, 2006

FIRST Day: Squat by Taylor Field


It is September 1, 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 their latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author: Taylor Field
"We live in a squat. We don’t know squat. We don’t have squat. We don’t do squat. We don’t give a squat. People say we’re not worth squat."

Taylor Field has worked since 1986 in the inner city of New York where he is pastor of East Seventh Baptist Church/Graffiti Community Ministries. He holds a M.Div. from Princeton and Ph.D. from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Among his previous books is the award-winning Mercy Streets. Field and his family live in New York, New York.

If you want to know more, please visit The SQUAT Website!

To order Squat, click HERE.

Author interview contact is Andrea Irwin at Broadman & Holman.
Please Note:

All author proceeds from Squat will go to Graffiti Community Ministries, Inc., a service arm of the East Seventh Street Baptist Church on the Lower East Side of Manhattan where Field preaches.

Back Cover Copy:

In the shadow of Wall Street’s wealth, homeless citizens with names like Squid, Saw, and Bonehead live in abandoned buildings known as "squats" where life is hand to mouth, where fear and violence fester. The light in lovable Squid’s obsessive-compulsive mind’s eye is Rachel, a loving soup kitchen missionary who tells him about faith and unfaith, hypocrisy and justice, the character of God and finding identity in Him.


But among the squats and so many other abandoned lives, will such talk be enough to make Squid believe that his life may actually amount to something?

CHAPTER 1

CALMLY, THE GIRL on the sofa reached out and pulled up a flap of skin on the little boy’s thin arm. It could have been a gesture of affection. But then she pinched the skin and twisted it. Hard.

“Ouch!” He whipped his pencil in front of her face once, like a club, and then cracked it on her forehead. He pulled the pencil back, ready to strike her again, crouching against the back of the couch like a cornered weasel.

The little girl wrinkled up her round freckled face but did not cry out. She looked toward her mom, who was talking to the receptionist. The boy’s mom, seated across the room, didn’t look up. She continued to look through the pages of her magazine, snapping each page like a whip.

“You could have put my eye out!” the freckled girl hissed.

The boy rubbed the two blue marks on his arm. He looked her steadily in the eyes and growled.

His mom called him over. “Come sit by me, honey, and stop making so much noise.” She patted his hair down in the back and smiled at him. She wore lots of eyeliner and widened her eyes to make even sitting in a waiting room seem like an adventure. “You’re such a big man, now,” she had said this morning as she combed his hair and helped him put on his best shirt. She was humming “Getting to Know You” even though her voice quivered just a little. She had put a lot of extra perfume and sprays on this morning. She smelled like the women’s aisle in a drugstore.

Once the little girl’s mom finished with the receptionist and returned to the sofa, the little girl started crying with one soft, unending whine.

The boy rolled his eyes and looked for a book to bury his head in.

“What’s wrong, honey?” the mom asked as she swept her little girl up.

“That boy hit me.”

A stuffy silence reigned in the waiting room except for the sound of the bubbles in the aquarium above the magazine table. The girl’s mother glared at the boy and then at his mother. The boy picked up a children’s book with some torn pages and began studying it seriously. His mom hadn’t been listening to the girl. She was still snapping through the magazine’s pages.

Finally, she threw it down with disgust and looked at her watch again. “I’m going outside to smoke a cigarette, honey,” she said, oblivious to the stares of the mother and daughter across the room. She stood up, adjusted her dress with an efficient tug, and stepped outside the office. They gaped at her departure with their mouths open, like two goldfish.

The aquarium continued to gurgle. In the following silence, the little boy became dramatically interested in the book in front of him. It had been pawed over by a lot of children waiting in this doctor’s office, and the first few pages had been torn out. The pages that remained had rounded corners and smudges along the edges. The little boy squinted his eyes in exaggerated concentration. He preferred the smudged pictures to the astonished fish eyes of the adult across the room.

He studied a picture of a man who wore a robe down to his ankles. He had a beard and a sad look in his eyes. In front of him was a young man with no beard, lying on a stone with his hands tied. The man with a beard had a knife in his hand and had his hand raised high up as if he were going to stab the boy. Out of a cloud an angel was reaching out to grab the hand of the man. The angel hadn’t touched the man yet, but his hand was getting close. The man didn’t yet know that the angel was there.

The boy forgot about the girl and her mother. The color of the man’s robe was so deep and blue. The angel’s wings were more gold than his mother’s best bracelet. The boy on the stone had a robe that was silvery-white like clouds. The sun in the background was redder than any sun he had ever seen. It was as red as a hot dog. The little boy felt he was swimming in this world of rich colors and robes, a sleepy world tempered by the sound of the bubbles in the doctor’s aquarium. The boy put his finger above the picture book, to the right of the book, and then to the left of the book. “One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three,” he whispered to himself, touching each of the three points three times.

His mom opened the door and came back in. The summer heat from outside reached in to bathe him in warmth. She shut the door with exasperation. She sat down beside him, reeking of cigarette smoke and hair spray. She adjusted his collar and gave him a nervous smile. “You’re such a big man now,” she said and patted his hair again.

The boy pointed to the man in the robe in the picture. “Mom, is that boy that man’s son?”

“I don’t know, honey.” She picked up the same magazine again and started ripping through it at lightning speed.

“What’s he doing with the knife, Mom?”

His mom gave a half smile and looked at the picture absentmindedly. “He’s protecting his boy from someone who might hurt him. Stay still, honey. Why is the doctor making us wait so long? If he doesn’t see us by twelve, we’ll have to leave. He ought to pay us for making us wait.”

The boy studied the picture again.

“That’s Abraham, stupid,” the little girl stage-whispered from across the room.

The boy looked at her and scowled. “Yeah, like you know.”

She stuck her tongue out at him and turned it upside down.

His mom backhanded a few more pages, put the magazine down, and looked him in the eyes. She beamed. “Honey, I have a surprise for you. I’ve been waiting to tell you, and I’ve been looking for the right moment. I guess no moment is really the right moment. At 12:15 today we are going to see Sammy again. He’s come back. He’ll be waiting for us at our place. Isn’t that exciting? Everything will be different. You’ll be nice to him, won’t you? Honey, don’t bite your thumbs, you’ll make them bleed again.”

The boy wouldn’t look at his mom. He stared down at the picture of the man with the knife. Then he looked up at the clock above the receptionist. The little hand was close to the twelve and the big hand was on the eight. He turned the page of the book and another page was torn out. The next page after the torn one had a picture of a man sleeping with his head on a rock. He didn’t have a beard and he looked scared. His robe was a dull gray and looked dirty, but in the background, angels were coming up and down out of the sky on a shimmering stairway.

“I want to camp out on my own like this guy does, away from everybody, away from the house,” he told his mom.

“That’s sweet, honey,” she said as she finished the magazine again and looked at her watch.

The little boy’s lips moved as he carefully scrutinized the words beneath the picture of the man camping out. His eyes got wider. He traced a word with his finger. He almost forgot where he was. “I want to be like this guy,” he whispered.

A man in a suit breezed in and talked to the receptionist. Immediately his mom sat up straighter. The man finished with the receptionist and turned around and looked for a seat. His mom widened her eyes and smiled at the man. He smiled back.

The next page of the book was also torn out. On the following page was the best picture of all. A youth was wearing a beautiful robe with many different stripes of colors. He seemed so happy and looked as though nothing bad would ever happen to him. A man with a white beard was smiling next to him in the picture. The boy stared at the colors in the book for a long time. If he focused his eyes beyond the page, the colors blurred together like rainbow ice cream. Somehow looking at it kept his stomach from hurting so badly.

“Mom, I want a coat like this one.”

His mom looked at the picture for a moment. Her tone sounded much more patient with him now that the new man was in the waiting room. “Everybody wants a coat like that, honey. You’ll get yours one day.”

The little girl stretched her freckled face up as high as she could so she could see the picture. “That’s Joseph, you toad,” she said hoarsely from across the room. “Don’t you ever go to church?”

Her mother pulled her back close to her lap and said, “Hush.”

The boy looked at the clock. The big hand was on the nine. “Mom, let’s just stay here. It’s nice and cool and our air conditioner doesn’t work at home. I like looking at the books here. I like the fish. Let’s just stay here and not go back home. It’s too hot there.”

His mom looked at her watch again. “Why are your hands so clammy, sweetie? You’re making the book wet. What’s wrong with you? Stop biting your thumb or you’ll make it bleed right before we see the doctor. Do you want to get me into even more trouble?” She smiled at the man as she got up and walked past him to the receptionist. “Could you tell me how much longer it will be until we can see the doctor? I have another urgent appointment.” She conferred with the receptionist for a few minutes in hushed tones.

The boy found an envelope in the back of the book with all the colorful pictures. It had bright green writing on it and a red border. The envelope said you could send off for more books with other stories. The boy looked up at the little girl across the room. She was yanking on her mother’s sleeve and whispering something in her ear. She was probably talking about the boy’s mom. While making sure the girl was still looking at her own mom, he carefully folded the envelope once and put it in his jean pocket.

The girl was staring insolently at him again. He wanted to do something to the book. He wanted to add a character to protect the boy from the father with the knife. He reached in his other pocket and pulled out half a red crayon. He wanted to draw a picture in the book. He wanted to put someone in there to help that angel keep that boy from getting cut, but he knew that the girl on the opposite couch would never let him get away with drawing in the book. He pulled out his stack of baseball cards as she continued to stare. He carried only Yankees. He pulled his prize Reggie Jackson card from the stack and began to place it in the book but decided against it. He pulled out a relief pitcher, Dick Tidrow. He would be a good enough guard to help the angel. Then he put the card carefully in the page where the sad man was dressed in the long robe and holding the knife. He made sure that the edge of the card was exactly parallel to the edge of the book. He knew the girl was watching him. He closed the book very slowly and with great respect. Very quietly, with just one finger, he touched three sides of the book again, three times. “One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three,” he said under his breath. He put the book down gently on the table and then put both hands on his stomach and doubled over until his head touched his knees. A groan came out of him before he knew it.

The little girl sneered at him, “You’re nuts!” Her mom held her closer and made a shushing sound.

The boy looked at the clock again as his mom plopped down on the sofa with a snort. The big hand was already past the eleven. “Mom, let’s stay here. We’ve already waited a long time. Let’s stay.”

“Straighten up, sweetie. Why are you bent over? Everything is going to be fine. Soon we will see Sammy and everything will be different. It won’t be like last time. You’ll see. Everything will be fine.” She looked at her watch again then got up to talk to the receptionist. She seemed to be talking faster and faster. Finally she marched back to her son and said firmly, “We’re going now. We’ll have to come back another day. Let’s go, honey. Straighten up and stop frowning.”

She grabbed his hand, but he grabbed the arm of the sofa with his other hand. The arm of the sofa had padding on the top, but a metal support on the side. It was just right for grabbing. She pulled and his knuckles whitened. “Come on, sweetie, don’t be silly.” She smiled at the man and the other mother. She was petite and could not get her son to loosen his grip. He was small for an eleven-year-old, but his grasp was almost as strong as his mother’s. She reached to loosen his grip with her hand, but he simply grabbed the arm of the sofa with his other hand.

She smiled sweetly to the man and said, “Would you mind helping me, please?”

He hesitated, got up awkwardly, and began to loosen the grip of the other hand. The aquarium began to rumble like a volcano, and both the receptionist and the other mother stood up. The boy was stretched out like a cartoon as the mother pulled and the man pried his fingers from the sofa. In the middle of the hubbub, the little girl came up to hold his torso, as if to protect him from falling. Where her mother couldn’t see, she grabbed the sensitive skin next to his ribs and pulled and twisted at the same time as hard as she could.

In the tussle, the book with the men in robes fell to the floor and the little girl slipped on it. The baseball card slid underneath the sofa. The receptionist picked up the phone to call someone. The other mother grabbed for her daughter. The little boy squealed a high squeal; he was a desperate guinea pig grabbed by many hands.

Finally, the man got both hands loose, and his mom dragged him by the torso and opened the door. He clutched at the frame of the door but couldn’t hold on. By that time, some people in white coats came out with the receptionist and shouted as his mom dragged him out to the steaming parking lot. His mother roared back at them with a curse. He cried and whimpered for help as he got one last glimpse of the girl looking out at him from the waiting room window. She stood with her hands on her hips and her tongue sticking out.

Until he ran away from home, a number of years later, the little boy never went back to a doctor.

Friday, August 11, 2006

EVELYN: #1 at Technorati!

With all the buzz surrounding Deliver Us From Evelyn, our rank on Technorati's "Popular Books" has jumped to NUMBER ONE!!!

Technorati is the blog authority, tracking 50.8 million blogs -- and they now say that Deliver Us From Evelyn is the most-discussed book on the entire web! (See it for yourself here.)

Related link: Offer extended!!!: Your ticket to FAME and FREE STUFF

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL NOVELIST!

In today's market -- and as retail shelves come under the control of fewer and fewer people -- it is harder than ever for a novelist to make an impression. But you can do your part to help break emerging authors:

CHRISTIAN FICTION BLOG ALLIANCE
Our friend Bonnie Calhoun is taking the reins for the CFBA, and has some exciting changes planned. For the past year, the readers and writers all over the blogosphere have united to spotlight one novel a month, with reviews, essays and interviews.

Going forward, the CFBA will now focus on multiple tracks, such as Action/Adventure, Romance, Historical, Suspense -- whatever genre you prefer, chances are there is a blog tour just for you. Click on the link to see how you can join!

FICTION IN RATHER SHORT TAKES
Our friend Mimi Pearson is leading the way as readers and writers all over the blogosphere join together the first day of every month to post the first chapter from an exciting new novel. Reviews and interviews are nice -- but this is a chance to read an excerpt of the work itself.

Click on the link to see what comes next!

Related links:
FLEE THE APPEARANCE OF EVEL (Web Banner)
FLEE THE APPEARANCE OF EVEL (New Mini-Posters)
ITW: TL HINES, PT 1
ITW: KATHRYN MACKEL, PT 1
ITW: ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 1
Q&A: CRESTON MAPES, PT 1
Q&A: BRANDILYN COLLINS, PT 1

Interview archive

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bonus hours! Time is running out!


IT IS NOT TOO LATE!!!


We got a nice spike at Amazon yesterday, so we're happy. But we do not want anyone to be left out, so we will keep this offer open through Monday, August 14.
GO HERE!
http://www.studiowell.com/Birthday06

If you bought Deliver Us From Evelyn as part of this special event, you still have to claim your premiums!
GO HERE!
http://www.studiowell.com/Birthday06

:)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Today: Buy EVELYN and get all this cool stuff!

YOU'RE INVITED TO A PARTY!

Forgiving Solomon Long

Today is my 40th birthday, but we're giving YOU the PRESENTS! Every person who buys DELIVER US FROM EVELYN from Amazon *today* will be thanked BY NAME in my third novel, KINGDOM COME (in stores April 2007).

BUT THERE'S MORE! You *also* get the super-limited compendium 40 AND COUNTING, the literary equivalent of a "bootleg box set" in convenient pdf form. This collection offers 40 rarities:


40 AND COUNTING: STORIES

A brand-new collection of 10 short stories, including four that have NEVER been published.



40 AND COUNTING: LISTS
10 pages of crazy lists, like I've done over the years for 7ball and now every month in CCM Magazine. You know, stuff like "Signs Your Neighbor is a Leprechaun" and "Signs You Need to Get A Life." (It makes you laugh AND it makes you think.)


40 AND COUNTING: COMICS

Includes "Que Es Amor?" -- a BRAND-NEW tale written by me and penciled by my wife, Erica. PLUS: An assortment of scripts, pitches to Archie Comics, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and even some rejection letters.


40 AND COUNTING: WHATNOT

"Lost" material from Forgiving Solomon Long and Deliver Us From Evelyn, fanfic from my younger days, a preview of my upcoming best-selling zany crime suspense thriller Kingdom Come, and more!

REMEMBER: Wednesday, August 9

BONUS HOURS:
For your added convenience, the event goes live 6PM Tuesday, August 8

… and ends NOON Thursday, August 10.

Complete Details: http://www.studiowell.com/Birthday06

(Between you and me, this box set is full of a lot of embarrassing stuff. So once this offer passes, it is going to disappear forever.)

Friday, July 28, 2006

FIRST Day, August 1st: FULL TILT by Creston Mapes


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


This month's feature author is:
Creston Mapes

Creston Mapes' first book, Dark Star: Confessions of a Rock Idol, has been selected by the Romance Writers of America (RWA) as a finalist for its 2006 Inspirational Readers Choice awards in the category of long, contemporary novel. Awards will presented this summer in Atlanta at the Marriott Marquis hotel.

Full Tilt, the second book in the Rock Star Chronicles, is racking up a number of fine reviews, many stating that its story/writing has surpassed the quality of that in Dark Star. His third novel, a psychological thriller based in Las Vegas, is due out in 2007.

As he has for 20 years, Creston resides in the Atlanta metropolitan area with his hometown sweetheart and four marvelous children. He loves reading, painting, morning walks with his dog, family outings, watching hockey, going on dates with his wife, meeting friends for coffee, and spending time in God's Word. Read Creston's Complete Bio



Rock Star Chronicles, Book 2
Full Tilt
a novel
by Creston Mapes

1
Black night. Familiar backstreets. Windows down. Cold air. Cruisin’ free.


Top of the world.


This was what it was about, baby. Lit on meth and movin’ at what seemed like the speed of light.


Lords of the night.


Over to Fender’s Body Shop on autopilot. Hands drumming on the dash and seats to the beat of the night and the pulse of the blood pounding through their veins.


Down the slope.


Whoa.


Past the dimly lit customer entrance and around back of the shop the Yukon swung and jerked to a stop. One, two, three of them exited the SUV and glided through the gate that was cracked open.


Wesley Lester was last to pass through the high chain-link fence. He slowed to peer at the snow-covered wreckage way out back of the shop, much of which had sat unchanged, like an eerie sculpture, for months beneath a haze of dim yellow lights. Dozens of mangled cars and pickups, SUVs, a hearse, vans, and an old school bus sat like jagged headstones in a haunted cemetery, some piled one on top of the other.


Several hundred yards away, in the vicinity of the far lamppost, David Lester’s black Camaro lay still and sinister. Wesley’s little brother and two teenage friends had perished in that car with David at the wheel. Seventeen years old. Too dang young to die.


After having rushed to the surreal scene of the wreck in nearby White Plains a year ago, Wesley had never ventured back to reexamine the remnants of his little brother’s car—or the totaled Chrysler that carried an elderly couple from Scarsdale, also pronounced dead at the scene.


On the way toward the huge body shop, Wesley shivered at the chill of the New York winter—a feeling his little brother would never experience again. Grinding his teeth, Wesley ran several yards, bashing the already dented door of a white Beamer. Spinning away, he welcomed the sense of release, thrust his dead brother out of his jumpy mind, and followed the others.


Brubaker led the way through the employee entrance, slamming open the heavy steel door against the outside of the fabricated beige metal building. "Ah, smell that?" he said, not looking back. "Good ol’ Bondo. Be high all day if you worked in here."


Wesley cruised in last, leaving the door wide open and purposefully taking a giant whiff of the pungent air that reeked of metal and plastic dust.


Like mice, the three figures zigzagged through a maze of half-repaired vehicles toward an area that glowed white, back in the far corner of the building.


As they drew closer to the dancing light and long shadows, hard-driving music mixed with the static sound of a welder. A dark blue ’65 Mustang sat up on a hydraulic lift, and beneath it—behind a welding hood—stood Tony Badino.


Brubaker and Wesley came to a standstill, fascinated by the sparks that rained down on Tony’s dirty, charcoal coveralls and scuffed brown work boots; the kid stopped between them, equally entranced.


Tony must have seen them but went on welding like a macho man, his brawny legs braced apart, tool belt hanging low around his lean waist, broad shoulders and triceps locked in place as he hoisted the blazing welder.


Brubaker was like a four-year-old. Constant motion. Bobbing his head, singing unintelligibly, rubbing his face and arms, and repeatedly peering back toward the door and out the dirty windows. His paranoia was enough to make anybody start seeing things. The kid in the middle watched spellbound as Tony melded metal to metal.


In the scalding flame, Wesley remembered his brother, curly haired and anxious, slapping a twenty-dollar bill into his hand for a teener—one-sixteenth of an ounce of some of the best crank Wesley had ever come across. Then he flashed back to David’s demolished Camaro hours later—what was left of the engine, parts of the car scattered along Post Road, still smoking.


Once again Wesley was slapped in the face by the fact that he was the one who had poisoned his brother’s bloodstream the day he drove to his death.


No. No. No!


It wasn’t the meth that killed his brother. It was the years of Everett Lester’s tainted music that had contaminated David’s mind. It was Everett’s empty promises and repeated letdowns that had sent David longing for the grave and a so-called better life on the Other Side. And Everett would burn for it; uncle or no uncle, he would pay. Because Wesley was hearing the voice again.


Wesley actually jerked when Tony snapped back the flame, lowered the welder in his right hand, and flipped the dark visor up with the other.


"Boys." He eyed the dazed kid in the middle.


"This is the dude we told you about, from Yonkers," Brubaker yelled proudly above the music, rubbing at the insides of his elbows with his wrists. "Needs an ounce."


Tony extinguished the pilot on the welder, lowered it to the concrete floor by its cord, then walked over to the stereo and turned it off.


"Slow down, Brubaker." Tony shook off his big, stiff gloves and removed the hood to reveal a tough face with small, pronounced features and a glistening scalp covered only by what looked like about two weeks’ worth of brown hair.


Reaching inside the front waist pocket of his coveralls, Tony pulled out a silver Zippo and a pack of Marlboros. Tapping one out, he stuffed it in the side of his little mouth and lit it with a grimy hand. As he took a long drag and snatched the cigarette away with his left hand, Wesley noticed a small tattoo of an upside-down cross on the inside of his wrist.


Tony was one creepy dude. Knew what he wanted. Had kind of a fiendish aura about him. People were naturally scared of the guy. Maybe that’s why Wesley liked running with Tony, because it was risky and unpredictable. That gave him a rush. And it didn’t hurt that Tony always had the best jenny crank on the street.


Grabbing a hanger light from the frame of the Mustang, Tony walked beneath his work, inspecting the length of the exhaust system.


"How do you know Lester and Brubaker?" He tapped the muffler, cig in hand.


"Uh…a friend introduced me to Wesley at a party," the middle kid said.


"When?"


"Last week."


"And Brubaker?"


"Met him a couple nights later."


"Been tweekin’?"


"Uh…when do you mean?" The kid’s eyes darted to Bru then Wesley.


"Tonight." Tony stopped and stared at him.


"Earlier today," Wesley interrupted. "Couple teeners."


Tony went back to inspecting his work. "That same stuff from the other day?"


"Yeah. Finished it off." Wesley coughed, feeling somewhat like a raw recruit reporting for duty before some high-ranking officer.


"This new cristy blows that stuff away." Tony glanced at the three visitors, his right eye twitching. "Just in from Pennsylvania. Keep you amped for days. I’ve been workin’ nonstop since yesterday—goin’ on, what? Thirty-five hours?"


Brubaker and the stranger nodded, swayed, and laughed. Wesley simply stared, promising himself he wouldn’t bow down to the grease monkey like everybody else.


"So you need an ounce." Tony held the light up close to the tailpipe.


"Yep," piped up the kid in the middle.


"Good old Wesley Lester. I can always count on him to bring me the finest clientele." Tony nodded toward Wesley. "Do you know who this guy is? Who brought you here tonight?"


The kid stared at Tony with hollowed eyes and shrugged.


"This is the great Everett Lester’s nephew. Bet you didn’t know that."


What the heck?


The kid turned to Wesley. "No way."


"Straight," said Tony. "You’re in the presence of the bloodline of one of rock ’n’ roll’s greatest legends."


"Dude," the kid exclaimed, "I saw one of their very last shows—at The Meadowlands. They played three and a half hours, at least."


"With Aerosmith," Tony chimed in. "I was there. Wesley was supposed to be there backstage, but Uncle Everett stood him up."


"That’s cold," Brubaker mumbled.


Silently, expressionlessly, Wesley agreed.


Tony smirked at Bru, but it went right over the head of the kid in the middle.


"I lived and breathed DeathStroke," the kid said. "Lester was so stoned out of his mind that last show, he could barely stand by the end. But they jammed their hearts out."


"And now he’s a Jesus freak." Tony’s eyes shifted to meet Wesley’s, but his head didn’t move.


Wesley met his glance without flinching. His nostrils flared and his temper cranked up like the flame on the welder. He searched Tony’s face for the reason he would be trying to push Wesley’s buttons.


The kid in the middle picked up on the friction.


Tony smirked, knelt down, and began banging his tools into the drawers of a tall red metal toolbox on wheels.


"What’s he like, anyway?" the kid barged ahead. "Everett Lester, I mean…"


Brubaker looked uneasy, twisting and bouncing slightly on his toes.


"He’s a loser, okay?" Wesley snapped, walking over to a workbench cluttered with jars of nuts and bolts and old tools. "Dude’s a lyin’ hypocrite. Dang waste of breath!"


"Where does he live?" the kid asked. "Does he still have a place in Manhattan?"


Wesley’s back was to the others. He fingered the tools without a word. I wonder if he’d shut up if I heaved this jar of bolts at his head.


Brubaker ran interference. "He has a farm near Bedford and a place in Kansas—where his wife’s from."


"Oh yeah, that chick who converted him," the kid said.


Tony slammed the middle drawer closed.


"That was some story. I heard she wrote to him ever since she was like a teenager—Jesus this and Jesus that. And finally it stuck…can you believe that? The guy went off the deep end!"


Tony stood, banging another drawer shut. "Some people hit you over the head again and again with that Jesus hype till you’re brainwashed. Seen it happen."


"Well, look at the guy," the kid said. "I mean…he’s changed! I saw him and his wife on Larry King Live and he, I mean, it’s like he’s a different person—"


"Let’s do this deal!" With three long strides and a commanding kick, Wesley booted a large piece of scrap metal twenty feet across the dusty white floor.


The corners of Tony’s mouth curved up into a quick smile as he raised an eyebrow at the kid in the middle, stomped out his cigarette, and walked over to an old white sink. Pushing up his sleeves, he rinsed his hands and squeezed a glob of gray goop into his palm from a bright orange bottle.


"You got the cash?" he asked the kid above the running water.


"Yeah, yeah." The kid dug almost frantically into his front pocket and pulled out a clump of folded bills.


"Count it, Wes," Tony ordered, still washing.


Wesley hesitated before snatching the wad and rifling quickly through the bills. "Fifteen hundred. It’s here."


Tony dried his hands with a dirty towel, wiped his face with it, and looked at himself in the smudged mirror above the sink. Then he found the kid’s reflection in the mirror. "You don’t know where this devil dust came from."


"Oh…d-definitely n-not." He smiled anxiously. "I don’t even know you. We never met, as far as I’m concerned. Nope. Never met."


Tony dropped the towel on the edge of the sink and walked to the tool chest. Lifting the top, he pulled out a Tech .22 assault pistol with his right hand and a good-sized bag of off-white, crystal-like powder with the other. Turning, he tossed the bag to the kid, who fumbled it awkwardly but mangled it at the last second before it escaped his hands. Embarrassing.


"You hear about the body that turned up in Canarsie other day? In the scrap yard?" Tony approached the kid, whose forehead was glistening with sweat.


Here we go. Wesley wished Tony hadn’t picked up the gun but, at the same time, found it strangely exciting.


"Uh…no." The kid eyed the piece. "No, I missed that."


"Well, don’t miss what I’m telling you." Tony’s voice grew vicious as he neared the kid’s face. "That guy had it comin’, okay? I know that for a fact."


The kid’s mouth was wide open, big eyes flashing, cheeks red as radishes.


"He was blabbin’ about where he got his rocket fuel."


"Listen, I…"


But before the kid could eke out another word, Tony lifted the modified Tech .22 sideways, shoulder-high, squinted, and blasted six rounds across the base of the metal wall beneath the workbench with one squeeze of the trigger.


Brubaker floundered back four feet as the smell of gunpowder hung in the air and the rattle of gunfire echoed in their ears.


The kid’s red face went ash white, and he looked as if he might lose his dinner.


Wesley kept a stone face, not wanting to show a trace of the fear that was making his hands shake.


"You know how many twenty-twos this mag carries?" Tony grabbed the fat magazine with his free hand.


The kid jerked his head in one rapid no.


"Twenty. And I got it rigged so I pull the trigger once and the thing can unload. You understand?"


The kid opened his mouth, but nothing came out.


"Word on the street is, the dude in Canarsie was a rat-squealing tell-all." Tony lightly tossed the Tech .22 in his right hand. "He got himself whacked for blabbing."


"Oh…don’t worry—"


"And the same will happen to you if you tell one soul where you got that cristy, you read?"


"Oh, hey, I read, I read. I’m not about to—"


"Now beat it!" Tony hoisted the weapon up to his shoulder and the kid scrambled an about-face, practically sprinting for the door with a blubbering Brubaker right on his heels.


Badino’s dark eyes locked in on Wesley, followed by the cock of his head and a smirk. "He ain’t gonna do no talkin’, now is he, Wes?"


Wesley watched the two figures scurry into the darkness. "No, I don’t believe so."


As Tony banged the Tech .22 back into the toolbox, two things occurred to Wesley: 1) He would love to see the bullets from that weapon rip through Everett Lester’s sickening, superspiritual flesh, and 2) if you ever wanted to commit a murder, Tony Badino was probably a very good person to know.

************************************

Excerpted from Full Tilt © 2006 by Creston Mapes, Inc. Used by permission of Multnomah Publishers, Inc. Excerpt may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of Multnomah Publishers, Inc.


This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


FULL TILT


published by Multnomah Publishers, Inc.


Published in association with the literary agency of Mark Sweeney & Associates, 28540 Altessa Way, Bonita Springs, Florida 34135
© 2006 by Creston Mapes, Inc.


International Standard Book Number: 1-59052-506-X


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from:
New American Standard BibleÒ Ó 1960, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


Other Scripture quotations are from:
The Living Bible (tlb)Ó 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.All rights reserved.


Multnomah is a trademark of Multnomah Publishers, Inc., and is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The colophon is a trademark of Multnomah Publishers, Inc.


Printed in the United States of America


ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without prior written permission.


For information:


MULTNOMAH PUBLISHERS, INC.601 N. LARCH STREETSISTERS, OREGON 97759


06 07 08 09 10—10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

Saturday, July 01, 2006

FIRST DAY: JADE


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

This month's feature author is:
Marilynn Griffith.
Marilynn Griffith is a freelance writer and conference speaker whose online columns reach over 20,000 women each month. Her recent writing credits include Pink(Shades of Style #1), Made of Honor, Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman's Soul, Proverbs for the People, and For Better or for Worse. She is also a blogger! Visit her Rhythms of Grace blog and learn ever so much! Marilynn lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with her husband and children.

Her latest book, Jade (Shades of Style #2), just came out and she has agreed to be our July feature author for the FIRST Day Blog tour.

Having the perfect life isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Designer Lily Chau doesn't know if she's finally got it together or if life is starting to unravel. With a successful boyfriend and a great job at up-and-coming fashion house Garments of Praise, it seems she has the perfect pattern for success. But her mother's health is failing, her boyfriend just won't pop the question, and being a pattern maker is a far cry from having a clothing line of her own. Lily is sure her hands are just too full to draw her deepest dreams.

Raya and Chenille, Lily's pals at Garments of Praise offer plenty of advice and sympathy. Jean, Lily's co-worker and second Mom even goes behind Lily's back to boost her chances of success. When she's chosen for the reality show The Next Design Diva, it seems like the chance of a lifetime for Lily. But the mysterious designer chosen to mentor her sends her spinning. He's fresh, fine—and way off limits. Suddenly Lily's life goes from carefully patterned to nothing but a tangle of threads.

Praise for the Shades of Style series:

"Griffith's ...Shades of Style series features four women in the fashion industry: Raya, Chenille, Lily, and Jean. The women fight to save their struggling business and learn some important lessons about people, life, and faith."— Library Journal


“The …Shades of Style series combines multicultural characters with heartache, drama, humor, and romance.”—Charisma Magazine
Read the FIRST chapter!

PROLOGUE

The envelope held Lily Chau’s future. She held a letter opener, stabbing under her nails for the remnants of her past. Skimming under the nail of her ring finger, she snagged what she’d been going for, a hunk of prunes caught under her nail last week during the chop and puree fest once known as her mother’s breakfast. A breakfast that her mother had returned as quickly as Lily had spooned it all in, leaving Lily standing in a puddle in her best shoes.

“Jump in the shower. Grab the black pants. Your wrap blouse is clean. I saw it the other day,” her neighbor Pinkie had said, arms going in every direction. “You don’t know how to feed her, Lily. You should have waited for me.”

Lily had tried to wait, but her mother wasn’t in a waiting mood today. The guilt over leaving her mother hungry with their neighbor had sent her into a chopping blending frenzy that ended as such things usually did, seeping into her shoes and staining her best skirt. But that was okay. She’d put a barrette in her mother’s hair and fed her breakfast. Where God chose to store that breakfast was up to Him.

Though Lily was known around the office for her eclectic and exciting personal style, the pants she wore now were turning into her work uniform. But her mother was still alive, her boyfriend was still dropping hints about their inevitable wedding and she grew closer to God each day. Things were good, with hopes of getting better. Becoming stable.

So why was she holding the letter opener in both hands? Lily poked the point of it into the envelope, tracing the letters in the return address: The Next Design Diva Show, Nia Network. Lily slipped the blade into the envelope’s back flap then slid her finger against the instrument’s edge. She pulled upward slightly, ripping the corner and . . .

“Are you sleeping in here?” A husky voice laced with laughter echoed in the hall before its speaker reached Lily’s office. Jean believed in giving people warnings of her impending arrival, even her friends. For everyone but Lily, the announcement was usually warranted since people tended to find Jean a little intimidating. Lily saw through Jean’s fast moves and loud talk . . . to her heart. She hoped her friend wouldn’t see her through her just as quickly today.

“Can’t you ever stay in your office during the creative hour? We’ve got thirty more minutes. Take a nap why don’t you? Or color in a coloring book like that guy over in production.” Though Lily chided her loving workaholic friend for coming to visit when they were all supposed to be spending time alone to refuel their creativity, the interruption was a gift. For a moment she’d let herself consider something impossible. Something still forked on her letter opener.

Jean whisked into the office just as Lily swept the letter into her desk drawer, where it would accompany her secret copy of Modern Bride and a cigarette she’d found after quitting and hadn’t thrown away.

Lily squirmed under her friend’s withering glance as Jean pushed Lily’s huge fossil doorstep into place. Jean shook her head. “Oh my. Now she’s cramming things into that drawer again. Don’t tell me. You’re peeking at those silly ten dollar wedding books? Or were you dreaming of that picket fence on Long Island with your doctor friend?”

Warmth rushed to Lily’s face. “Neither. You need to stay out of my desk, you nosy thing.”

Jean approached Lily like a lioness in a good suit. A hearty laugh bubbled up from her throat. “Listen, honey, nobody needs to be nosy to know anything around here, especially when you stuff that drawer so full it can’t shut. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to come in here and pick all that mess off the floor since you ran the custodian away from here.”

“Here you go with that again. I told you. I did not run the custodian away. He can still clean in here . . . when I’m around.”

“Uh huh,” Jean shook her head in pity.

“He was stealing my rocks!” Lily banged the letter opener on her desk, wanting to shove it into the drawer too, but now to afraid at what might come flying out if she did.

“Listen to what you just said. Stealing rocks. Now I admit you’ve got some of the best pebble and bauble collections I’ve ever seen, but you’ve got to let it go.” She reached around Lily and yanked out the drawer. The magazine unfurled as if she’d pulled the string on a parachute. Fabric swatches, neon note squares and office supplies spilled over the sides and onto the floor.

Jean stuck her hand toward the back and came out with a pitiful excuse for a Virginia Slim. “You’ve got to let this go too. You haven’t smoked in almost two years. What are you doing, planning a slow suicide some time in the future?”
“I-I-just give me that, okay?” Lily reached for the cigarette and peeled back its skin, emptied the tobacco guts into the trash while trying not get too much of the smell on her fingers. As she considered what she’d really saved up for later, disobeying the voice of God, Lily became much less concerned with Jean and more concerned with her own heart. Sometimes it seemed like she’d come so far, but there still those little secrets she tried to keep, parts of her life she tried to stuff in a drawer. And God kept having to come and pick up the pieces when it spilled over the side.

She grabbed a wet wipe from her purse and scrubbed her hands, only to realize what dangled from Jean’s fingers.

The envelope.

The rumpled magazine had covered it, but as usual Jean had left no stone, or mangled bridal book unturned. She looked as though she’d caught a tiger by the tail.

“So they did pick you! I knew they would. They had to. I told Raya I was going to call her father myself if they didn’t.”

Lily froze. She’d carried the envelope around in her purse for two days wondering why the show had written her. She considered submitting sketches several times, but each time something happened with her mother’s health to make her forget it. There was also the quiet that had come over her every time she’d prayed about it. She felt as though she was suppose to wait and see the salvation of the Lord, that what God had would come to her through another way. Now it seemed that her other way might be from the office down the hall. “What did you do?”

Beads from Jean’s bracelets jangled as she shook her wrists. “Nothing much. I took a few sketches from your book and scanned them. Sent that robe you designed for that stupid boyfriend of yours—”

Lily clenched her fists. “The kimono? That was Ken’s Christmas present. I’ve been looking everywhere for it. How could you?”

Her friend smiled. “Easy. Now hush and open the letter. At least I don’t try and match you up with men. Not that you couldn’t use some help there too . . . Don’t look at me like that. I care about you.”

If this was caring, Lily didn’t want to think of what not caring might feel like. She pried the letter from Jean’s fingers and placed it into the drawer, now empty except for a star-shaped paper clip in neon pink and a pencil with no eraser. Lily’s sketching pencil. She stared up at the ceiling. “Why couldn’t I have regular friends who don’t care about me so much. Goodness, Jean, how could you? I mean sure I’d love to have my own line, my own show, but I can’t—”

“Here we go again. You really should have been a Catholic you, know. You’re a natural at the guilty martyr thing.” Jean dropped into the chair a few inches away. “We’ve been over this a gazillion times. You can do this. None of your excuses hold water, especially your first one, that you’re not good enough. You’re good enough and you have the sense to still question your talent. Good enough for me. As for your mother, she can go wherever you go.”

It was Lily’s turn to laugh this time, though there was little humor in it. “Like the way your grandkids could go wherever you go, Jean?”

Her stoic friend grabbed the desk with a white-knuckled grip. “Okay, you got me. I still think you should open it. Just to know.”

“No thanks,” Lily said, taking the letter from the drawer and ripping it to shreds. “Some things are best left unknown. The things that count though, that people care about you and want the best for you, those are the prizes of life.”

Jean’s jaw tightened as she swept the torn bits of paper into the trash with her cupped hand. “Oh, please. Friendship is great and everything, but this is it! Your shot. And you ripped it up. How could you?”

Lily covered her friend’s hand with her own. “I don’t know, but I did. If it’s mine, God will bring it back . . . at a time when my hands are free enough to hold it.”

From JADE, by Marilynn Griffith, Revell Books
ISBN
0800730410, June 2006, Copyright © 2006. All rights
reserved.

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