Thursday, May 29, 2008


Today's Book is

From the very first page, Skizzer takes you on a whirlwind search for Claire's sister, Becca. Becca has disappeared, leaving only a cryptic note. Claire and Becca's husband, start on a quest that takes them to Claire and Becca's old stomping grounds and across the sea. Along the way, Claire discovers hidden family secrets that could change the way she looks at her life.

This book has a good balance of current time activities and well-remembered adventures that took place many years before. The descriptions place you right at the scene, and the search for the truth pulls together pieces of Claire's life that she didn't even know were missing. While some of the events in the story had me scrambling back to find earlier references, I enjoyed the twists in the story. This is a great beach read!

"There are things only a sister should know - sister secrets," said Becca.

And with that word the two sisters buried a little gold box that would perhaps link them to this secret in their past. But years later will that gold box help bring the missing younger sister back?

In her first suspense novel, A.J. Kiesling, a former journalist with a knack for uncovering the latest beat, leads readers on a journey across the Atlantic with Claire Trowling, the older sister, to discover how far a bond between sisters will go in Skizzer.

This starts Claire on a quest. After receiving news of her sister Becca's sudden disappearance, Claire must piece together the shadowy remnants of a past she's long forgotten in order to find her. A cryptic note scrawled in Becca's handwriting leaves more questions than it answers: "Something both terrible and wonderful has happened. I can't explain now..."

When a stack of mysterious letters bound by a rare necklace is found, Claire heads to England-the source of the heirloom-for answers. With the help of a rectory gardener she remembers from her childhood, Claire races to discover the secrets that hold her family captive. Full of suspense and intrigue, Skizzer takes readers on a transcontinental hunt for answers weaving seamlessly between the distant past of childhood and the urgency of the present.


A.J. (Angie) Kiesling grew up loving trees and words--trees because they formed the natural backdrop and playground for her childhood years in rural North Carolina, and words because they captivated her from as far back as she can remember. When she wasn't romping through the woods with her siblings, she might be found with her nose in a book--or lost among the shelves at the local library.

She has worked in the Christian publishing industry since 1985 as an author and editor. A former religion writer for Publishers Weekly and Religion BookLine e-newsletter, she frequently reported on spirituality trends and religion book publishing. Angie is the author of numerous books, including Skizzer (a novel, Revell), Where Have All the Good Men Gone? (Harvest House), Jaded: Hope for Believers Who Have Given Up on Church but Not on God (Revell), and Soul Deep: Prayers and Promises for Cultivating Inner Beauty (Barbour). She also ghostwrote Live Like a Jesus Freak (Albury), the popular follow-up to D.C. Talk's bestseller Jesus Freaks.

Beginning her career as a staff editor for Charisma magazine, she went on to cover industry news and book trends for the award-winning trade periodical Christian Retailing, followed by an editorial position on the startup website Over the years she has worked as an independent book editor and writer for some of the leading names in book publishing: Baker Publishing Group, Jossey-Bass, Thomas Nelson, Honor Books, Harvest House, Creation House, Barbour Publishing, and Xulon Press, among others. Today she heads up the editorial department at Xulon Press, a print-on-demand publisher based in Orlando.

Q & A with Angie (from
Tell us about Skizzer.

The story centers on two sisters, Claire (the main character) and Becca, her younger sibling. At the outset, Becca has disappeared--up and leaving her husband with just a cursory note offering no real explanation. Claire drives to North Carolina to pursue a hunch that Becca might have fled to the town where they grew up, perhaps taking refuge with their elderly Aunt Jess. She stops at a place where they used to play as children--an old estate the local kids called haunted--and finds a letter addressed to "Skizzer" inside a sister-secret box she and Becca left there more than twenty years earlier. The letter says "something both terrible and wonderful has happened" and that Becca needs time to herself, urging Claire not to look for her. But of course that's exactly what Claire and her distraught brother-in-law do. The story weaves between the present and the past through flashbacks to the girls' growing up years in North Carolina. The search for Becca ultimately takes Claire and her brother-in-law to England, to a town that imprinted the girls heavily in their youth. The theme of the story is that the people we think we know best don't always turn out to be who we thought they were.

How did you come up with the idea and name for Skizzer?
The idea for Skizzer is mostly fiction, but the word "skizzer" itself very much has roots in my life story. I grew up in a large family with five children, and my next nearest sibling in age--my sister--was almost like my twin. My mother tells me that when we were little bitty girls, I would call her my "skizzer," being unable to say "sister" properly as a toddler. So the word and the family story stuck in my mind over the years. About twenty years ago, when I first thought about writing a novel, a germ of an idea took shape. I knew I wanted to write a book about sisters, as that was always such a powerful influence in my life, and the name Skizzer came to me but nothing more. With that inspiration came a renewed invigoration to write the story, but over the years I stopped and started it several times, always dropping it in frustration. I didn't feel ready, as if something inside me needed to season, or that I needed to accumulate more experiences before I could make what I felt inside resonate with readers on the page. Fast-forward several years, and I started writing Skizzer again, but all I had was an opening scene-this vivid scene that I couldn't get out of my head, but I couldn't see anything beyond it. Still, I started writing it, in third person, but for some reason the story felt clunky. I let it rest for a few months and then had another inspired moment: "Maybe I should try writing the story in first-person," I mused. And when I did the story of Skizzer and especially the character of Claire sprang to life.

You captured the adventure of childhood very well between the two sisters Becca and Claire. I wanted to join their adventures! Did you share adventures with your siblings or friends when you were a child?

Oh yes, you nailed it there. Growing up in North Carolina in the '60s, we five kids were given free rein to plunder the woods behind our house, and nobody worried because what harm could possibly come to you in the woods? (Yes, it was a very different time.) Our mother would call us home by the dinner bell, and we would stumble back into the "real world" tired but happy, sometimes scratched up by tree branches and briars, but that just went with the territory. Our neighborhood, like the one Claire and Becca grow up in, was on the very outskirts of town--half civilized, half rural and wild. My siblings and I played at an abandoned estate we called the Haunted House, and down the road was a vacant lot inexplicably filled with boulders. Across the street from the Boulders was a magical place the neighborhood kids dubbed Shady Rest with huge canopy oaks and dirt roads winding through it. I think of how much fun we had back then--the wars and dramas and vine-hanging we experienced--and feel regret that today's children miss out on so much wholesome outdoor play. Those woods, especially, became the breeding ground for my imagination. The glade described in garden behind the Rectory Inn is very much like one my sister and I found in the woods behind our house.

My favorite character is Gretchen because she was the most mysterious and complex. Who is your favorite character and why?
Without a doubt, my favorite character is Colin Lockwood because he is in many ways my idea of the perfect male. Like Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy, he has that irresistible combination of aloofness and genuine goodness once you get to know him. He has a certain mystique about him that draws Claire like crazy, but instead of finding bad character underneath she is surprised to discover that in this case still waters run VERY deep. Colin is what I would call a good guy/bad guy, inherently good but still quite a bit bohemian. I have fallen in love with this character and can't wait to pursue more about him and Claire in a sequel.But how cool to hear that Gretchen was your favorite character! I didn't see that one coming.

Skizzer deals with family secrets. When should family secrets be revealed and when should some stay hidden?
My parents' generation believed in hiding skeletons in the family closet, locking embarrassing (or shocking) secrets away from prying eyes. The trouble is, those secrets always find a way out of the closet sooner or later, and sometimes with disastrous results. We all have secrets, but I believe Jesus really meant what He said when He told us "the truth shall make you free." It's so much better to bring secrets into the light of day, where often they are stripped of their "taboo." Even if the truth hurts, it's so much better than being deceived. Deceit is a form of betrayal to me.

What do you want your readers to take away after reading Skizzer?
Like Claire, I hope they awaken to the reality of God in their lives, whether they have slowly dulled to their once-vibrant faith like she has, or whether they have never considered God as a possibility at all. For all my readers, I would wish for the resurgence of hope in some lost dream--the "fullness of time" moment we all silently long for.

You can purchase this book on Amazon!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ruby Among Us

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Ruby Among Us

(WaterBrook Press May 20, 2008)


Tina Ann Forkner


Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary fiction that challenges and inspires. Originally from Oklahoma, she graduated with honors in English from CSU Sacramento before ultimately settling in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming where she now resides with her husband and their three children. Tina serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors and enjoys gardening, spending time outdoors with her family, and works as a full-time writer.


Sometimes, the key that unlocks your future lies in someone else’s past...

In Ruby Among Us, Lucy DiCamillo is safely surrounded by her books, music, and art─but none of these reclusive comforts or even the protective efforts of her grandmother, Kitty can shield her from the memory of the mother she can no longer remember. Lucy senses her grandmother holds the key, but Kitty seems as eager to hide from the past as Lucy is eager to find it.

From the streets of San Francisco and Sacramento, to the lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley, Lucy follows the thread of memory in search for a heritage that seems long-buried with her mother, Ruby.

What she finds is enigmatic and stirring in this redemptive tale about the power of faith and mother-daughter love.

“What an incredible story. As both mothers and daughters, Ruby Among Us struck a special cord in each of the four of us. Tina writes in a way that makes us feel like we’re there; from the first line, we were captivated and drawn into an intricate weaving of the precious and fragile relationships that define us.”
~Point of Grace~

“Reading is a passion of mine, and when I find myself identifying with the characters, anxious to get to the next page to find answers to my questions, I know I’m into a good book! The daughter-mother-grandmother theme in Ruby Among Us pulled me in. Wonderful story-telling.”
~Jordin Sparks~, 2007 winner of American Idol

“Highly recommended. If you’re a mother or daughter, you’re going to love Ruby Among Us. Forkner does an extraordinary job…. I look forward to more from this author.”
~Ane Mulligan~, Novel Journey

“Don’t miss this one! Tina Ann Forkner is a strong new voice in fiction and Ruby Among Us is an amazing story of trials, regrets, and, ultimately, redemption. Lucy and her family history in the historic wine country of Sonoma bring to life the Scriptures about the Vine and His branches.”
~Kristin Billerbeck~, author of The Trophy Wives Club

If you would like to read the first chapter go HERE

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Never Say Diet

Today's Book is from WaterBrook Press,
Never Say Diet -- Make Five Decisions and Break the Fat Habit for Good,
Chantel Hobbs

I've never been one to buy diet books, although I am interested in improving the nutrition of my family's meals and I know I could stand to lose about 25 pounds. I understand the simple equation for losing weight -- eat less and move more. But somehow I've not been able to do it consistently so I've just been complaining about how tight my clothes are.

Chantel's process is as simple as the equation above, but she goes a step further to help us understand why we choose not to reduce our caloric intake or get off our behinds. In easy to read and understand chapters, she challenges us to wake up and make a key life decision -- to live in a healthy manner and get to a healthy weight.

This is no 'lose weight quickly' scam -- it is a daily decision we must make each morning before we open our mouths. Despite all the excuses we make, losing weight is a matter of discipline. Chantel takes you through the process step by step to a healthy lifestyle.

If you are really ready to make a change in your life, this is a great book to help you start.

Chantel Hobbs lost two hundred pounds without the help of surgery, pills, point systems, or a trendy diet. And just as important, she kept the weight off.

Her dramatic turnaround began with five decisions–personal, no-excuses commitments that kept her from losing sight of her goals. It worked for Chantel and it will work for you. Once you unconditionally change your mind your body will follow, and your life will never be the same.

In this book you will discover:

·How to move beyond past failures and get over your old excuses
·How changing your eating patterns can break food’s hold over you
·Why winning the weight-loss battle must come from the inside out
·The simple workouts that deliver lasting results and are fun to do
·How to overcome the naysayers, the diet police, and your own nagging doubts
·How to prioritize your health, juggle family and career, and stay motivated when life takes unexpected turns
·Why the diet industry wants you to keep coming back
·And much more!

You will find straight talk on developing the determination, commitment, and personal responsibility it takes to achieve weight loss that lasts. It’s time to stop getting ready for the event and start getting ready for life!

Chantel Hobbs was twenty-nine years old and weighted nearly three hundred fifty pounds when she reached a point of desperation. Her decision to change her life in early 2001 led to her development of a nutrition, exercise, and motivation program that resulted in the loss of two hundred pounds. Her inspiring story has been featured on Oprah, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, the Bravo Network, and as a cover story in People.

Chantel ran her first marathon in 2005 and has run several more since. She is a certified spinning instructor, a personal trainer, and a running coach. A frequent motivational speaker, Chantel's non-nonsense approach to weight loss and fitness has won her a grateful following nationwide, and she keeps her fans committed to healthy living through her newsletters and web advice at Chantel lives in Coral Springs, Florida, with her husband and their four children.

Editorial Reviews:
“More than ninety percent of my patients gain back most of the weight they lose. Why so little success? The simple answer is that the average person can’t stay on a diet permanently. But this program is different. It is not a diet, but a complete lifestyle, thought-process, and physiological transformation. The change comes from within, helping to make you a better person…not just a thinner person.”
–Barry S. Ross, MD, Tamarac, Florida

“Never Say Diet provides a systematic approach to living a healthier, more balanced life. The food list that Chantel Hobbs presents is nutritious and, most important, enjoyable. Never Say Diet proves that fad diets don’t work and cannot substitute for creating a lifestyle that leads to attaining your goals.”
–Lon Ben-Asher, MS, LD/N, registered dietician, North Shore Medical Center, Miami, Florida

“The importance of Chantel’s story can’t be calculated in terms of burned calories or lost pounds, and it’s not her dramatic weight loss that makes her such a special person. It’s her willingness to credit God’s ability to totally transform lives. She reminds us that lasting change has to happen on the inside before it can happen on the outside, and that this change is within reach of anyone who’s willing to seize it.”
–Bob Coy, pastor of Calvary Chapel, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

“You might be able to lose a few pounds with a crash diet, but it’s temporary. That’s why diets don’t work for people who need to lose a lot of weight. Instead of going on a diet, you need to make a lifestyle change. In fact, you must undergo a ‘brain change.’ Never Say Diet delivers just that.”
–Joseph Tedesco, DPT, ATC, CSCS, physical therapist, Elite Physical Therapy, Charlotte, North Carolina

Monday, May 26, 2008

Bringing Home The Prodigals

and his book:

Bringing Home the Prodigals

Authentic (April 1, 2008)


Rob Parsons, a lawyer by profession, has subsequently become a wellknown author and speaker on family issues. Drawing from his own experiences of family life, and often joined by his wife Dianne, he has addressed over 500,000 people in facetoface events. In 1988, Rob launched Care for the Family, a registered charity motivated by Christian compassion. The resources and support offered are available to everyone, of any faith or none.

Visit him at his website.


Chapter One

Always Leave a Light On

Sometimes God ambushes us: it happened to me on March 14, 1998. I had been invited to speak at the National Exhibition Center in the UK to thousands of people who had gathered to pray for the return of their prodigals. I had prepared a message based on the timeless parable of the lost son, and it was folded securely in the inside pocket of my jacket. I believed I was ready to deliver God’s word.

I have been at many Christian events over the years, but I have never experienced the wave of emotion that filled the auditorium that day. The organizers had seated my wife, Dianne, and me on the platform, and as I gazed out at that vast audience, I couldn’t help but wonder what stories lay behind the prayers.

Somewhere, no doubt, was a woman whose husband had once led a church and been a faithful husband and father until the night he told her the four things that so many Christian men tell their wives when they leave them for another woman: “We were so young when we got married we hardly knew what we were doing— I doubt we ever really loved each other”; “In the long run this will be better for you”; “One day you’ll realize this is best for the kids,” and “I’ve prayed about this, and it’s OK with God.”

And somewhere there was a father who had told his tiny daughter Bible stories. She had picked one each night from the huge children’s Bible they kept on the shelf in her bedroom. They had said prayers together, and he had always been touched that, from her youngest days, she had prayed for others more than herself. But as he prayed in the auditorium that day, he thought of her later teenage years and the gradual disinterest in anything to do with God. A great sobbing convulsed his body as he remembered the night he found the drugs in her bedroom and, finally, the day she left, cursing both him and God.

These people had gathered, every one of them with a prodigal on their hearts: friends, brothers, husbands, wives, and sometimes in a strange reversal of the parable, mothers and fathers—but mostly children.

But that great arena did not hold only people praying. In the very front was a huge wooden cross. Its shadow seemed to reach over the whole crowd. During the day, people were invited to write the name of their prodigal on a small card, bring it to the front, and lay it at the foot of the cross. I watched them as they came: young people bringing the names of school friends, married couples holding hands as they laid down the names of children, friends walking together clutching cards, and often the elderly, shuffling forward and bending slowly as they lay the names of those they loved at the cross.

After an hour or so one of the organizers asked me if I would leave the platform and stand by the cross to pray with some of those who were coming forward. Of course I agreed and made my way to the floor of the arena and to the cross. That’s when God ambushed me. What occurred in the next two minutes changed my life forever and was the impetus that was to take the message of “Bringing Home the Prodigals” around the world.

When I reached the cross there were tens of thousands of names there. They were written on cards that were spilling off the little table at the foot of the cross and onto the floor. I picked up and read some of them: “Jack” “Milly” “Bring Charles home, Lord.” It seemed to me that the pain of the world lay at the foot of that cross. I thank God for what he has done in the lives of our two children, but at that time Dianne and I had heavy hearts for them, and I remember laying Katie’s name at the foot of the cross and Lloyd’s name next to hers. And then I started to cry. I could not stop.

As I wept, God laid a message about prodigals on my heart that I first preached later that day. It was not the neat, nicely wrapped-up one with all the answers—that was in my pocket. It was a message forged from brokenness and a sense of utter dependence on God. As I finished speaking that day, I remember thinking that one day I would put it into a book.

But life for all of us is busy and the book was never started. And then one day, as part of some routine tests, the doctors found a possible abnormality with one of my kidneys. They feared it was a tumor. I had about ten days to wait for the results of the tests that would determine what the problem was.

On one of those days I found myself ambling along a London street. It was a wonderful spring morning; on such days, London is at its best. The air was crisp, the sky blue, and behind me the sun shone off Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret’s Chapel as I made my way past Churchill’s War Rooms and into St. James’ Park.

The park was almost deserted, and the pigeons, squirrels, and I looked at each other as if there was little else of interest. Never does life become as precious as when you think it may be suddenly shortened. I began to think about things that really mattered to me. The message of the prodigals came to my mind, and I knew I had to get that book written. I started it that week. A few days later the test results came and were favorable: I did not have a tumor—just an over-sized kidney that I’d probably had all my life. A few months later the book was written. But that was only the beginning.

One day the people who had invited me to preach at their day of prayer in the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham in the UK called to ask me to meet with them. They said God had told them to pass on to me the mantle of the burden for prodigals that they had carried for so many years. We began to visit the denominational leaders to see if the message resonated with them. Without exception—whether it was the Salvation Army, the Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, or even the Archbishop of Canterbury himself—the response was the same: “This is a God-given word for today. We support you in it.”

Over the following few years in auditoriums all across the United Kingdom, more than fifty thousand people have experienced a Bringing Home the Prodigals event. Even now in my mind’s eye, I can picture them listening to the message and bringing the names of their prodigals to the foot of the cross. We began to hear the most remarkable stories of prodigals coming back to God.

Since then we have been taking Bringing Home the Prodigals all over the world. I have watched people stream forward to lay the names of their prodigals at the cross in Costa Rica, Uganda, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and North America. This little book contains the heart of the message of Bringing Home the Prodigals I believe God has laid on my heart. I warn you now; it is a simple message. Most of us feel we know the parable so well that there is hardly anything new we could learn. Maybe this is true, but God wants to remind us of what we knew in our hearts all along—and somehow forgot.

I wrote part of the book in a small conference center on the Gower coast near Swansea, Wales. It is not far from where Dylan Thomas wrote “Under Milk Wood.” The building is set on a hill, and the view from my window was unspeakably beautiful, running across fields, then woods, and finally ending at the sea in the great sweep of the bay. One morning I took a break from writing and stood outside the house gazing into the distance at the breakers hitting the beach. After a few minutes I was joined by a priest. He had on the traditional long black cassock, had a flowing grey beard, and wore what my kids used to call “Jesus sandals.” He had been leading a discussion in one of the seminar rooms and said he had “just come out to get a little air whilst they ponder a couple of theological teasers I’ve set them.”

We began chatting and he asked me what I was doing. When I told him I was writing a book about prodigals, he told me a most moving story. Let me try to capture his words as I remember them:

In a village near here, is a large old house. An elderly lady lives there alone and every night, as darkness falls, she puts a light on in the attic. Her son left home twenty-five years ago, rather like the prodigal in the parable, but she has never given up the hope that one day he will come home. We all know the house well, and although the bulb must occasionally need replacing, none of us have ever seen that house without a light on. It is for her son.

The theme of “leaving a light on” has become a recurring one in the letters and emails I have received from all over the world from those who wait for a prodigal’s return. Shortly after one of the Bringing Home the Prodigals events, a woman wrote to me. She told me that her daughter had walked out of their home when she was eighteen years old. She had turned her back not only on her mother and father, but on the God she had once loved. “My daughter didn’t get in touch, and we didn’t know whether she was alive or dead,” the woman wrote. She went on to tell me that every night, as she and her husband turned off the lights before they went to bed, she would always say to him, “Leave the porch light on.” And every Christmas, she would put a little Christmas tree in the front of the house, its lights shining, just as she used to when her daughter was at home.

After six years, her daughter suddenly came home—and not just to her mother and father, but to God. When she did, she told her mother a remarkable story: “Mom, I so often wanted to come home, but I was too ashamed. Sometimes, in the early hours of the morning, I would drive my car onto your street and just sit there. I used to gaze at the houses and every one of them was dark apart from our house: you always left a light on. And at Christmas I would do the same: just sit there in the darkness and look at the Christmas tree you had put outside—I knew it was for me.”

I have never been able to get that mother out of my mind. She seems to me to symbolize the hopes, fears, and prayers of millions across the world whose hearts are breaking for their prodigals. But this is not just a message for them; in fact Bringing Home the Prodigals is not just about praying for our prodigals to come home. It is about asking us to consider the characters of our local churches. Is it possible that by our attitudes, our concern with rules and regulations that are not on God’s heart, or by our ingrained spirit of the elder brother (or sister!) we have made it easy for some to leave? Perhaps we have kept them out of mind while they are gone and tragically made it harder for them to return. Could it be that inadvertently we have “created” prodigals?

This is a theme that should catch the imagination of all who care about evangelism. The truth is, most of us know ten people who may have never been to church whom we’d like to invite to an evangelistic service—but we all know a hundred prodigals. The numbers are enormous. When the prodigals come home we are going to have to pull down our old church buildings and use aircraft hangers. If you care about church growth, then care about this message. There is nothing as frustrating as seeing people come to Christ through the front door of the church and losing others in almost the same proportion out the door in the back.

All over the world I have cried with parents for their prodigals. There is no more fervent prayer in homes today than, “Father, bring our prodigal home.” I have concentrated in this book on those who have children, of whatever age, who are prodigals, but of course there are many kinds of prodigals—brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and friends. I hope with all my heart that for whomever you are concerned, you will find something here to encourage you and keep the flames of hope alight.

This book is not written principally to give advice, although I will share with you the lessons I have learned from many whose hearts have cried out to God for those they love. My hope is that it will be a book that will release us from false guilt, bring us hope, and above all, lead us to prayer. At the end of every chapter is a prayer and reflection; each one is written by someone who has cried for a prodigal and who has come to believe that, ultimately, God is our only hope. At the very end of the book we will each bring our prodigals to the cross of Christ.

And we should not pray just for our prodigals, but for ourselves as well. We can pray that we will catch the Father’s heart for the prodigals—the outrageous grace of the One who, even as we stumble down the long road home, runs to throw a robe on our back, put a ring on our finger, and put shoes on our feet. And if we do change, if we can catch something of that father-heart of God, then it may be that, in his great mercy, he will touch the lives of thousands of our prodigals—and bring them home.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

With This Ring

Today's book is

With This Ring -- Promises To Keep
Joanna Weaver.

You may recognize her name; Joanna is the author of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World (which will be reviewed here on June 17). The book is published by WaterBrook Press.

This is a beautiful book with high quality, journal-style paper. Joanna has combined the traditional wedding vows with historical information about the vows, quotes about marriage, and insightful pictures into the realities of marriage. She has included thought-provoking questions (with space to journal answers) that allow the reader to revisit the loving relationship that resulted in her marriage covenant. The examples and stories she includes in the book are wonderful glimpses into real-life marriages with their joys and struggles.

This book is perfect for new brides, but is also a wonderful walk down memory lane for those of us who have been married a LONG time!


A beautiful celebration of the promises
that bind two hearts forever.

Centered on the traditional wedding vows, this exquisite keepsake book celebrates the beauty, delight, and mystery of married love.

Soul-stirring quotes and inspiring stories illuminate the history and deeper meaning behind each aspect of the wedding ceremony, from the betrothal pledge of “Will you be mine?” to the declaration of two hearts eternally united as one. The elegant design includes space to record treasured memories, shared dreams, and meaningful reflections.

With unforgettable insights on sacred love, With This Ring creates a personal treasury of romance and devotion, perfect for anyone preparing to exchange vows, celebrating a marital milestone, or simply wanting to recapture the beauty of the promises they share as husband and wife.


Joanna Weaver was voted the Most Promising New Writer of 1997 at the Mount Herman Writer’s Conference. She has authored Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World and written for publications such as Focus on the Family, Home Life, Aspire, and The Evangel. A pastor’s wife for more than eighteen years, she and her husband have counseled many couples, both those approaching their wedding and those struggling in marriage. The Weavers live in Montana and have taught young married classes and spoken on the topic of marriage throughout the northwestern United States.

You can purchase this book at Amazon, and you can learn more about Joanna and her books on her blog.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

TEEN FIRST: House of Dark Shadows

It's May 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 (May 6, 2008)


Robert Liparulo is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly. He has sold or optioned three screenplays.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Here are some of his titles:

Comes a Horseman




“A house of which one knows every room isn't worth living in.”

—Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa


Thirty years ago

The walls of the house absorbed the woman’s screams, until they felt to her as muffled and pointless as yelling underwater. Still, her lungs kept pushing out cries for help. Her attacker carried her over his shoulder. The stench of his sweat filled her nostrils. He paid no heed to her frantic writhing, or the pounding of her fists on his back, or even her fingernails, which dug furrows into his flesh. He simply lumbered, as steadily as a freight train, through the corridors of the big house.

She knew where they were heading, but not where she would end up. In this house, nothing was normal, nothing as it appeared. So while she knew in advance the turns her attacker would take, which hallways and doors he would traverse, their destination was as unknowable as a faraway galaxy. And that meant her taking would be untraceable. She would be unreachable to searchers. To would-be rescuers. To her family— and that realization terrified her more than being grabbed out of her bed. More than the flashes of imagined cruelty she would suffer away from the protection of the people who loved her. More than death.

But then she saw something more terrifying: her children, scrambling to catch up, to help. Their eyes were wide, streaming. They stumbled up the narrow staircase behind her attacker, seeming far below, rising to meet her. The thought of them following her into the chasm of her fate was more than she could stand.

“Go back,” she said, but by this time her throat was raw, her voice weak.

The man reached the landing and turned into another corridor.

Temporarily out of sight, her son yelled, “Mom!” His seven-year-old voice was almost lost in the shrillness of his panic. He appeared on the landing. His socked feet slipped on the hardwood floor and he went down. Behind him, his little sister stopped. She was frightened and confused, too young to do anything more than follow her brother. He clambered up and started to run again.

A hand gripped his shoulder, jarring him back.

The boy’s father had something in his fist: the lamp from his nightstand! He past the boy in the hallway. His bare feet gave him traction.

Thank God, she thought.

He reached her in seconds. With the lamp raised over his head, he grabbed her wrist. He pulled, tried to anchor himself to the floor, to the carpeted runner now covering the wood planks. But the brute under her walked on, tugging him with them. The man yanked on her arm. Pain flared in her shoulder. He might as well have tried pulling her from a car as it sped passed.

She caught a glimpse of the bizarrely shaped light fixtures on the corridor walls—mostly carved faces with glowing eyes. The bulbs flickered in time with her racing heart. She could not remember any of the lights doing that before. It was as though the electrical current running through the wires was responding to a disruption in the way things were supposed to be, a glitch in reality.

“Henry,” she said, pleading, hopeful.

His grip tightened as he stumbled along behind them. He brought the lamp’s heavy base down on her assailant. If the man carrying her flinched, she did not feel it. If he grunted or yelled out, she did not hear it.

What he did was stop. He spun around so quickly, the woman’s husband lost his grip on her. And now facing the other direction, she lost sight of him. Being suddenly denied her husband’s visage felt like getting the wind knocked out of her. She realized he was face to face with the man who’d taken her, and that felt like watching him step off a cliff.

“Nooo!” she screamed, her voice finding some volume. “Henry!”

His hand gripped her ankle, then broke free. The man under her moved in a violent dance, jostling her wildly. He spun again and her head struck the wall.

The lights went out completely . . . . but no, not the lights . . . her consciousness. It came back to her slowly, like the warmth of fire on a blistery day.

She tasted blood. She’d bitten her tongue. She opened her eyes. Henry was crumpled on the floor, receding as she was carried away. The children stood over him, touching him, calling him. Her son’s eyes found hers again. Determination hardened his jaw, pushed away the fear . . . at least a measure of it. He stepped over his father’s legs, coming to her rescue. Henry raised his head, weary, stunned. He reached for the boy, but missed.

Over the huffing breath of the man, the soft patter of her son’s feet reached her ears. How she’d loved that sound, knowing it was bringing him to her. Now she wanted it to carry him away, away from this danger. Her husband called to him in a croaking, strained voice. The boy kept coming.

She spread her arms. Her left hand clutched at open air, but the right one touched a wall. She clawed at it. Her nails snagged the wallpaper. One nail peeled back from her finger and snapped off.

Her assailant turned again, into a room—one of the small antechambers, like a mud room before the real room. He strode straight toward the next threshold.

Her son reached the first door, catching it as it was closing.

“Mom!” Panic etched old-man lines into his young face. His eyes appeared as wide as his mouth. He banged his shoulder on the jamb, trying to hurry in.

“Stay!” she said. She showed him her palms in a “stop” gesture, hoping he would understand, hoping he would obey. She took in his face, as a diver takes in a deep breath before plunging into the depths. He was fully in the antechamber now, reaching for her with both arms, but her captor had already opened the second door and was stepping through. The door was swinging shut behind him.

The light they were stepping into was bright. It swept around her, through the opening, and made pinpoints of the boy’s irises. His blue eyes dazzled. His cheeks glistened with tears. He wore his favorite pajamas—little R2D2s and C3P0s all over them, becoming threadbare and too small for him.

“I—“ she started, meaning to say she loved him, but the brute bounded downward, driving his shoulder into her stomach. Air rushed from her, unformed by vocal chords, tongue, lips. Just air.

“Moooom!” her son screamed. Full of despair. Reaching. Almost to the door.

The door closed, separating her from her family forever.



Saturday, 4:55 P.M.

“Nothing but trees,” the bear said in Xander’s voice. It repeated itself: “Nothing but trees.”

Xander King turned away from the car window and stared into the smiling furry face, with its shiny half-bead eyes and stitched-on nose. He said, “I mean it, Toria. Get that thing out of my face. And turn it off.”

His sister’s hands moved quickly over the teddy bear’s paws, all the while keeping it suspended three inches in front of Xander. The bear said, “I mean it, Toria. Get that—”

At fifteen years old, Xander was too old to be messing around with little-kid toys. He seized the bear, squeezing the paw that silenced it.

“Mom!” Toria yelled. ”Make him give Wuzzy back!” She grabbed for it.

Xander turned away from her, tucking Wuzzy between his body and the car door. Outside his window, nothing but trees—as he had said and Wuzzy had agreed. It reminded him of a movie, as almost everything did. This time, it was The Edge, about a bear intent on eating Anthony Hopkins. An opening shot of the wilderness where it was filmed showed miles and miles of lush forest. Nothing but trees.

A month ago, his dad had announced that he had accepted a position as principal of a school six hundred miles away, and the whole King family had to move from the only home Xander had ever known. It was a place he had never even heard of: Pinedale, almost straight north from their home in Pasadena. Still in California, but barely. Pinedale. The name itself said “hick,” “small,” and “If you don’t die here, you’ll wish you had.” Of course, he had screamed, begged, sulked, and threatened to run away. But in the end here he was, wedged in the back seat with his nine-year-old sister and twelve-year-old brother.

The longer they drove, the thicker the woods grew and the more miserable he became. It was bad enough, leaving his friends, his school—everything!—but to be leaving them for hicksville, in the middle of nowhere, was a stake through his heart.

“Mom!” Toria yelled again, reaching for the bear.

Xander squeezed closer to the door, away from her. He must have put pressure on the bear in the wrong place: It began chanting in Toria’s whiny voice: “Mom! Mom! Mom!”

He frantically squeezed Wuzzy’s paws, but could not make it stop.

“Mom! Mom! Mom!”

The controls in the bear’s arms weren’t working. Frustrated by its continuous one-word poking at his brain—and a little concerned he had broken it and would have to buy her a new one—he looked to his sister for help.

She wasn’t grabbing for it anymore. Just grinning. One of those see-what-happens-when-you-mess-with-me smiles.

“Mom! Mom! Mom!”

Xander was about to show her what happened when you messed with him—the possibilities ranged from a display of his superior vocal volume to ripping Mr. Wuzzy’s arms right off—when the absurdity of it struck him. He cracked up.

“I mean it,” he laughed. “This thing is driving me crazy.” He shook the bear at her. It continued yelling for their mother.

His brother David, who was sitting on the other side of Toria and who had been doing a good job of staying out of the fight, started laughing too. He mimicked the bear, who was mimicking their sister: “Mom! Mom! Mom!”

Mrs. King shifted around in the front passenger seat. She was smiling, but her eyes were curious.

“Xander broke Wuzzy!” Toria whined. “He won’t turn off.” She pulled the bear out of Xander’s hands.

The furry beast stopped talking: “Mo—” Then, blessed silence.

Toria looked from brother to brother and they laugh again.

Xander shrugged. “I guess he just doesn’t like me.”

“He only likes me,” Toria said, hugging it.

“Oh, brother,” David said. He went back to the PSP game that had kept him occupied most of the drive.

Mom raised her eyebrows at Xander and said, “Be nice.”

Xander rolled his eyes. He adjusted his shoulders and wiggled his behind, nudging Toria. “It’s too cramped back here. It may be an SUV, but it isn’t big enough for us anymore.”

“Don’t start that,” his father warned from behind the wheel. He angled the rearview mirror to see his son.

“What?” Xander said, acting innocent.

“I did the same thing with my father,” Dad said. “The car’s too small . . . it uses too much gas . . . it’s too run down . . . ”

Xander smiled. “Well, it is.”

“And if we get a new car, what should we do with this one?”

“Well . . . .” Xander said. “You know. It’d be a safe car for me.” A ten-year-old Toyota 4Runner wasn’t his idea of cool wheels, but it was transportation.

Dad nodded. “Getting you a car is something we can talk about, okay? Let’s see how you do.”

“I have my driver’s permit. You know I’m a good driver.”

“He is,” Toria chimed in.

David added, “And then he can drive us to school.”

“I didn’t mean just the driving,” Dad said. He paused, catching Xander’s eyes in the mirror. “I mean with all of this, the move and everything.”

Xander stared out the window again. He mumbled, “Guess I’ll never get a car, then.”

“Xander?” Dad said. “I didn’t hear that.”


“He said he’ll never get a car,” Toria said.

Silence. David’s thumbs clicked furiously over the PSP buttons. Xander was aware of his mom watching him. If he looked, her eyes would be all sad-like, and she would be frowning in sympathy for him. He thought maybe his dad was looking too, but only for an opportunity to explain himself again. Xander didn’t want to hear it. Nothing his old man said would make this okay, would make ripping him out of his world less awful than it was.

“Dad, is the school’s soccer team good? Did they place?” David asked. Xander knew his brother wasn’t happy about the move either, but jumping right into the sport he was so obsessed about went a long way toward making the change something he could handle. Maybe Xander was like that three years ago, just rolling with the punches. He couldn’t remember. But now he had things in his life David didn’t: friends who truly mattered, ones he thought he’d spend the rest of his life with. Kids didn’t think that way. Friends could come and go and they adjusted. True, Xander had known his current friends for years, but they hadn’t become like blood until the last year or so.

That got him thinking about Danielle. He pulled his mobile phone from his shirt pocket and checked it. No text messages from her. No calls. She hadn’t replied to the last text he’d sent. He keyed in another: “Forget me already? JK.” But he wasn’t Just Kidding. He knew the score: Out of sight, out of mind. She had said all the right things, like We’ll talk on the phone all the time; You come down and see me and I’ll come up to see you, okay? and I’ll wait for you.

Yeah, sure you will, he thought. Even during the past week, he’d sensed a coldness in her, an emotional distancing. When he’d told his best friend, Dean had shrugged. Trying to sound world-wise, he’d said, “Forget her, dude. She’s a hot young babe. She’s gotta move on. You too. Not like you’re married, right?” Dean had never liked Danielle.

Xander tried to convince himself she was just another friend he was forced to leave behind. But there was a different kind of ache in his chest when he thought about her. A heavy weight in his stomach.

Stop it! he told himself. He flipped his phone closed.

On his mental list of the reasons to hate the move to Pinedale, he moved on to the one titled “career.” He had just started making short films with his buddies, and was pretty sure it was something he would eventually do for a living. They weren’t much, just short skits he and his friends acted out. He and Dean wrote the scripts, did the filming, used computer software to edit an hour of video into five-minute films, and laid music over them. They had six already on YouTube—with an average rating of four-and-a-half stars and a boatload of praise. Xander had dreams of getting a short film into the festival circuit, which of course would lead to offers to do music videos and commercials, probably an Oscar and onto feature movies starring Russell Crowe and Jim Carrey. Pasadena was right next to Hollywood, a twenty-minute drive. You couldn’t ask for a better place to live if you were the next Steven Spielberg. What in God’s creation would he find to film in Pinedale? Trees, he thought glumly, watching them fly past his window.

Dad, addressing David’s soccer concern, said, “We’ll talk about it later.”

Mom reached through the seatbacks to shake Xander’s knee. “It’ll work out,” she whispered.

“Wait a minute,” David said, understanding Dad-talk as well as Xander did. “Are you saying they suck—or that they don’t have a soccer team? You told me they did!”

“I said later, Dae.” His nickname came from Toria’s inability as a toddler to say David. She had also called Xander Xan, but it hadn’t stuck.

David slumped down in his seat.

Xander let the full extent of his misery show on his face for his mother.

She gave his knee a shake, sharing his misery. She was good that way. “Give it some time,” she whispered. “You’ll make new friends and find new things to do. Wait and see.”

Broken Angel

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Broken Angel

(WaterBrook Press (May 20, 2008)


Sigmund Brouwer


Sigmund Brouwer is the author of eighteen best-selling novels for children and adults. His newest book is Fuse of Armageddon and his novel The Last Disciple was featured in Time magazine and on ABC’s Good Morning America. A champion of literacy, he teaches writing workshops for students in schools from the Arctic Circle to inner city Los Angeles. Sigmund is married to Christian recording artist Cindy Morgan, and they and their two daughters divide their time between homes in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and Nashville, Tennessee.


Her birth was shrouded in mystery and tragedy.
Her destiny is beyond comprehension.
Her pursuers long to see her broken.
She fights to soar.

A father's love for his daughter…a decision that would change both their lives forever. But who is she really─and why must she now run for her life?

Caitlin's body has made her an outcast, a freak, and the target of vicious bounty hunters. As she begins a perilous journey, she is forced to seek answers for her father's betrayal in the only things she can carry with her─a letter he passes her before forcing her to run, and their shared memories together.

Being hunted forces Caitlyn to partner with two equally lonely companions, one longing to escape the horror of factory life in Appalachia and the others, an unexpected fugitive. Together the three will fight to reach a mysterious group that might be friend or foe, where Caitlyn hopes to uncover the secrets of her past...and the destiny she must fulfill.

In the rough, shadowy hills of Appalachia, a nation carved from the United States following years of government infighting, Caitlyn and her companions are the prey in a terrifying hunt. They must outwit the relentless bounty hunters, skirt an oppressive, ever-watchful society, and find passage over the walls of Appalachia to reveal the dark secrets behind Caitlyn’s existence–and understand her father’s betrayal.

Prepare yourself to experience a chilling America of the very near future, as you discover the unforgettable secret of the Broken Angel.

In this engrossing, lightning-paced story with a post-apocalyptic edge, best-selling author Sigmund Brouwer weaves a heroic, harrowing journey through the path of a treacherous culture only one or two steps removed from our own.

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

Monday, May 19, 2008

Embrace Me!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Embrace Me

(Thomas Nelson March 4, 2008)


Lisa Samson


Lisa Samson is a Christy Award-winning author of 19 books, including the Women of the Faith Novel of the Year, Quaker Summer. Lisa has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a talented novelist who isn't afraid to take risks."

In Embrace Me, the latest novel by acclaimed author Lisa Samson, readers are privy to the realization that regardless of outward appearances…hideous, attractive, or even ordinary…persons are all looking for the same things: love, forgiveness, and redemption.

This story explores a world that is neither comfortable nor safe, a world that people like Valentine know all too well. Masterfully crafted by Samson and populated by her most compelling cast of characters yet. It is a tale of forgiveness that extends into all spheres of life: forgiving others, forgiving oneself, forgiving the past.

She lives in Lexinton, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids.


Biting and gentle, hard-edged and hopeful...a beautiful fable of love and power, hiding and seeking, woundedness and redemption.

When a "lizard woman," a self-mutilating preacher, a tattooed monk, and a sleazy lobbyist find themselves in the same North Carolina town one winter, their lives are edging precariously close to disaster...and improbably close to grace.

Valentine, due to her own drastic self-disfigurement, ahs very few friends in this world and, it appears as if she may be destined to spend the rest of her life practically alone. But life gives her one good friend, Lella, whose own handicap puts her in the same freakish category as Valentine. As part of Roland's Wayfaring Marvel and Oddities Show, a traveling band of misfits, they seem to have found their niches in an often curiously cruel world.

Residing in a world where masks are mandatory, Valentine has a hard time removing hers, because of her disfigured face but more so because of her damaged soul. It is much easier for her to listen endlessly to different versions of a favorite song, Embraceable You, and escape reality. Yet, life has more in store for her when she meets Augustine, replete with the tattoos, dreadlocks, and his own secrets. With his arrival, Valentine's soul takes a turn.

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

Friday, May 16, 2008

Flame From Within -- Interview

Check out the interview below, conducted by a special 'guest' reporter!
Before the reader begins reading Flame from Within, she may think it is simply a Civil War Romance but what is really happening is a war going on in Aimée’s heart. Readers may at first think Aimée appears rather callous, self-centered, perhaps even too spoiled. There is a reason for that.

Many people who have come from dysfunctional or troubled homes, where there has been abuse, whether spoken or unspoken will later vent out in various ways that are not pleasing to others. Sometimes, in fact, a person will grow up trying to mask the trait of her true character. Eventually she will no longer know who she is, or she won’t know how to respond to others. Sometimes she will seem harsh, especially if she doesn’t have a relationship with the Lord.

This is the case with Aimée. The pain and suffering she feels inside has grown deep and it shows right from the beginning of the story. It is because she has no God to call upon.

Perhaps you know someone like that. This is my story Flame from Within.

Although you might not read the exact specifics of what happened in her life, it will show between the pages. Aimée’s emotional sufferings of her abusive past, deepens and builds into bitterness when she loses her home and family. By the time her papa who she adores is gone she blames her feelings of hate and bitterness on the war. Life is so often like that where a person will look for anything they can to blame their convictions on the wrong reason.

People, like Amethyst Rose, in my story, who have lived in darkness, quickly become filled with hidden emotions just waiting to come alive. Maybe you can think of some you have known with an abusive past or perhaps it hits close to home--abused many ways just by being neglected. Coming from a dysfunctional families--so much more common than we realize.

Will Aimée Lebrún, my heroine find her way to healing and discover a way out of her difficult life of bitterness? You will have to read the story to find out.

Perhaps, like Amethyst Rose or her sister, there will be someone who needs to someday read the book who can learn to find her way out of her own inner darkness. My prayer is that every reader can sit still and hear the voice of God maybe some, for the first time.

God wants to speak to all our hearts between the lines. God wants to spark that Flame From Within every heart that reads the book. That’s my greatest desire.

Are you ready to do a little reading? You can purchase the book here.


Shirley presently lives in Brookings, Oregon with her husband Tom. The two of them have served in the ministry
in some capacity for over 25 years and have three grown children. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Shirley
states she began attempting her writing career early. Although her creative imagination and love for make-believe keep her
active as an historical fiction writer, she also wears other hats penning devotionals, teaching, and speaking at women's retreats.
Also a lover of research, Shirley keeps her books as true to life as possible, lacing them gently with inspiration to draw both
the believer and seeker to her pages. She focuses her light-hearted devotionals on simple everyday living as books of encouragement
for women of all ages. Check out her website here.

Now, as promised, the interview! In this case the heroine of the book, Amethyst (aka Aimee) interviews her creator, Shirley.
1. Why did you select this particular era for my life? Why couldn't I have at least had indoor plumbing?

Ever since my husband, Tom and I lived and worked on the east coast at the United States Military Academy (West Point) and had an opportunity to learn more about the history of the Deep South I fell in love with this era, Aimee. You, where you lived, and your character became very real to my mind. Besides, I knew about you years ago because I worked with young girls so much like you. It was easy to flesh you out in my story. The plumbing would have been difficult in the 1860s dear, since they didn't have it in underground tunnels during the war!

2. If you could travel back in time, where and in which era would you like to go?
Hmm. I think it would be Victorian era but only for a little know just after the era of Jane Austen? And where I could sit down and write my poetry. I have a parlor and bath that are decorated Victorian and I love to read my classics and have my afternoon tea with my lady friends. I love to research that era. I love when gentlemen were gentlemen and ladies were still ladies. Gone are those days in so many places. But, again, I repeat, I could only do it for a little while. I would have to come back to earth pretty quickly. I have to admit--I do love my laptop. What I would do without it? Know what I mean?

3. Why in the world do I have to be stubborn? What were you thinking?
Well, I don't have to tell you that, now, do I, really, Amethyst Rose, honey. You know the secrets of your past life, even though they aren't brought out that openly in the book. I hint at them all the way through. The reader gets a pretty good inkling at why you act the way you act, and why you respond the way you respond to your sister, to men and to so many others just by reading between the lines. You had an unfortunate past. But to tell you the truth, Aimee, your life is not unlike many others who have come from dysfunctional families. There are many reasons why God needs to reach your heart and your soul, darlin'. The reader will have to pick up the book to discover why. So, I'd best not answer that, okay?

4. What was your favorite book as a child and why? For that matter, what was MY favorite book?
My favorite book as a child was The Bobsee Twins books, The Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drews' books also all Beverly Cleary's books. You loved Jane Eyre and The Scarlet Letter Aimee

5. If we had the opportunity to spend a day together, what would we do?
If we didn't work on our samplers I would be teaching you harmony on the pianoforte or you would be off with Lulu. You seem to enjoy being with her more than me. You are a private person, Aimee, but that's okay. So am I.

Intrigued? Find out more about Shirley at her website, and buy the book on Amazon!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Healing Promises

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Allianceis introducing
Healing Promises
(Multnomah Publishers - April 15, 2008)
Amy Wallace

Facing a new threat.
When FBI Agent Clint Rollins takes a bullet during a standoff, it might just save his life. But not even the ugly things he’s seen during his years working in the Crimes Against Children Unit could prepare him for the overwhelming powerlessness of hospital tests revealing an unexpected diagnosis. If only Sara weren’t retreating into doctor mode…he needs his wife now more than ever.

Frozen in fear.
Sara Rollins is an oncologist with a mission–beating cancer when she can, easing her patients’ suffering at the very least. Now the life of her tall Texan husband is at stake. She never let the odds steal her hope before, but in this case, the question of God’s healing promises is personal. Can she hold on to the truth she claimed to believe?

Faith under fire.
As Clint continues to track down a serial kidnapper despite his illness, former investigations haunt his nightmares, pushing him beyond solving the case into risking his life and career. Clint struggles to believe God is still the God of miracles. Especially when he needs not one, but two. Everything in his life is reduced to one all-important question: Can God be trusted?

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

This book was really intriguing. While I hate the thought of children being kidnapped by serial killers, Amy does a good job of providing a portrait of those who are actively protecting and doing everything possible to save our children. There were many story lines occuring in the book, but it was pretty easy to keep track of them. I have to admit I got a little confused in the beginning because she alternately refers to people by their first or last names. It took me about a chapter and a few back tracks to get it straight. You might not have this problem if you read the first book in the series.

While I hadn't read the first book, I quickly got a feel for that story and how Healing Promises takes it forward, so I didn't feel too lost. The book causes you to think about the impact of illness on our life roles and how God is always good -- regardless of the circumstances of our lives. I'm definitely going to go back and read the first book, Ransomed Dreams, and I'm looking forward to the release of the next one in the series!

Amy Wallace is the author of Ransomed Dreams, a homeschool mom, and a self-confessed chocoholic. She is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and a contributing author of several books, including God Answers Moms’ Prayers and Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.

To purchase this book, go to Amazon.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Whisper of Freedom - Contest!

Tricia Goyer has a fun tour for her new book, A Whisper of Freedom. This is the third book in her Chronicles of the Spanish War series. As I've mentioned before, Tricia has become one of my favorite authors. She has a knack for creating such intriguing stories and characters that you forget where you are! She brings Spain to life in a vivid, realistic way in this series. If you like historical novels, this series is a must read, and this is one series that you need to read in order, so be sure to read A Valley of Betrayal and A Shadow of Treason first.

Each person posting a review of the book has been asked to answer several MEME questions (below). Check out the answers others gave on their blogs. The tour schedule and links can be found here.

1. List three things you would do with a chest full of gold (assuming you got to keep it!) Gosh, it depends on what form the gold was in! If it was ancient jewelry, I might keep one or two special pieces and then give the rest to a museum. If it was in the form of coins or bars, I would cash it in. First I would tithe, then I would want to pay off my parents' homes and maybe do a little remodeling or take a vacation. I'm not exactly sure where I would donate the rest (presuming it's a LOT!), but I would want to try to set up a foundation that would be able to invest it and create a long term stream of income for organizations that help foster children, job training and life skills for adults, and maybe someplace like Homes for Humanity.

2. List three charities/missions/organizations you support (and why). We support a local organization, TEAM, that provides food and supplies to families in crisis; Christ in Youth missions trips/conferences for teens in our church, and a couple of special Christian colleges. Why? Each of these organizations touch peoples lives and help them make it in the world while they share the love of Christ.

3. List three ways you have volunteered your time/services.
- help out in classroom at our local school
- provide financial and job search counseling for people in our church
- work at our church by supporting MOPS, Women's Ministry, and our Sunday school class.

4. List three things you keep "hidden" when company comes over.
- Does the upstairs count (since I try not to let people go upstairs when they visit)???? How about dirty clothes, our laundry room, and often our children's rooms

5. List the last three things you've lost.
Oh, goodness! I have a horrible tendancy to carry things with me as I walk around the house and leave them somewhere along the way. The last three things were scissors, my watch, and a book I was reading.

6. List the last three things you've found.
the three things in #5!

During the tour, you can enter to win one of FIVE signed copies of A Whisper of Freedom by signing up for Tricia's newsletter here!

Three brave "players" will be selected at random to win their own lost gold (Gourmet chocolate coins and all three books in the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series). To enter all you have to do is answer the MEME on your blog and then leave a comment on Tricia’s blog tour post here that you’ve posted your MEME. Easy.

About the book:

Battles heat up…not only those being waged by the soldiers on both sides fighting for Spain, but in the hearts and minds of the men and women who must sacrifice more than their dreams to save the lives of their loved ones.

In this meticulously researched novel, brave and idealistic Sophie, Philip, Jose, and Deion realize their only hope for freedom is escaping Spain 's borders.

By continuing the story of this band of volunteers during the Spanish Civil War, A Whisper of Freedom proves that there are whispers of hope and liberty that resonate through even the darkest night.

About Tricia:

Tricia Goyer is the author of twelve books including From Dust and Ashes, My Life UnScripted, and the children's book, 10 Minutes to Showtime. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like Today's Christian Woman and Focus on the Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in the mountains of Montana .

Book excerpt:

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Warriors

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Warriors

(Bethany House April 1, 2008)


Mark Andrew Olsen


MARK ANDREW OLSEN whose novel The Assignment was a Christy Award finalist, also collaborated on bestsellers Hadassah (now the major motion picture: One Night With the King), The Hadassah Covenant, and Rescued. His last novel was the supernatural thriller The Watchers.

The son of missionaries to France, Mark is a Professional Writing graduate of Baylor University. He and his wife, Connie, live in Colorado Springs with their three children.


A failed recon mission deep in the tunnels of Afghanistan has provoked a demonic onslaught that had been brewing for centuries. The mission's sole survivor is reformed black ops assassin Dylan Hatfield, and he once again teams up with Abby Sherman, now at the helm of the Watchers, an ancient spiritual force. Uncovering and preventing a secret wave of death whispered across cyberspace and threatening to be unleash against civilization will require another level of spiritual power and expertise--the Warriors.

Journeying across the Alps of Europe through the multilayered history of warfare in the unseen world, Dylan and Abby uncover an age-old stone engraving that rouses the church's Warriors to action, placing them dead center in one of the fiercest spiritual battles of their time!

And once again they are reminded: This is all part of a vast and perpetual war, a war beyond all human conflicts, one that has engulfed heaven and earth since before the dawn of history....

Abby Sherman is headed back to Israel, where a Watcher, the Sentinel of Jerusalem, lies dying. In her last breaths the old woman tells Abby of an ancient document prophesying humanity's full-scale entry into the ongoing conflict between armies of heaven and fallen angels.

Dylan Hatfield has decided to answer a summons from his old boss and join a secret operation, its mission to reconnoiter the Afghani tunnel complex from which Osama bin Laden escaped in 2001. What he discovers sears his very soul and likely will end his life.

Abby learns of the peril facing Dylan, and she sends out a call for intercession on his behalf. Her frantic email message sets in motion a series of harrowing events, propelling the two on a new mission and quest--one where the stakes are the lives of millions!

The Warriors is packed with high-octane action, featuring exotic international locales, with characters in a clash against spiritual "principalities and powers" with eternal consequences, The Warriors is a story that will enthrall, enlighten, and engage its readers.

If that piques your interest, you can read the first chapter HERE

"Olsen, one of the better writers in this subgenre, delivers powerful, action-packed plots that delve into mystical paranormal worlds."
~Library Journal, Feb. 2008

"Olsen delivers an entertaining thriller likely to be enjoyed especially by fans of the spiritual warfare genre."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

FIRST: Finding Hollywood Nobody

It is May FIRST, time for the FIRST 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!

Today's feature author is:

and her book:

Finding Hollywood Nobody

Navpress Publishing Group (February 15, 2008)


Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Apples of Gold was her first novel for teens

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

Other Novels by Lisa:

Hollywood Nobody, Straight Up, Club Sandwich, Songbird, Tiger Lillie, The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition: A Novel, Songbird, The Living End

Visit her at her website.


Chapter One

Hollywood Nobody: Sunday, June 4

Well, Nobodies, it's a wrap! Jeremy's latest film, yet another remake of The Great Gatsby, now titled Green Light, has shipped out from location and will be going into postproduction. Look for it next spring in theaters. It may just be his most widely distributed film yet with Annette Bening on board. Toledo Island will never be the same after that wacky bunch filled in their shores.

Today's Hottie Watch: Seth Haas has moved to Hollywood. An obscure film he did in college, Catching Regina's Heels (a five-star film in my opinion), was mentioned on the Today show last week. He was interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air. Hmm. Could it be he'll receive the widespread acclaim he deserves before the release of Green Light? For his sake and the film's, I hope so.

Rehab Alert: I've never hidden the fact that I don't care for bratty actress Karissa Bonano, but she just checked into rehab for a cocaine addiction. Her maternal grandfather, Doug Fairmore, famous in the forties for swashbuckling and digging up clues, made a public statement declaring the Royal Family of Hollywood was "indeed throwing all of our love, support, and prayers behind Karissa." The man must be a thousand years old by now. This isn't Ms. Bonano's first stint in rehab, but let's hope it's her last. Even I'm not too catty to wish her well in this battle. But I'm as skeptical as the next person. In Hollywood, rehab is mostly just a fad.

Today's Quote: "It's a scientific fact. For every year a person lives in Hollywood, they lose two points of their IQ." Truman Capote

Today's Rant: SWAG, or Party Favors. Folks, do you ever wonder what's inside those SWAG bags the stars get? Items which, if sold, could feed a third-world country for a week! And have you noticed how the people who can afford to buy this stuff seem to get it for free? I'm just sayin'. So here's my idea, stars: Refuse to take these high-priced bags o' stuff and gently suggest the advertisers give to a charitable organization on behalf of the movie, the stars, the whoever. Like you need another cell phone.

Today's Kudo: Violette Dillinger will be appearing on the MTV Video Music Awards in August. She told Hollywood Nobody she's going to prove to this crowd you can be young, elegant, decent, and still rock out. Go Violette!

Summer calls. Later!

Monday, September 15, 4:00 a.m.

Maybe I'm looking for the wrong thing in a parent.

I turn over in bed at the insistence of Charley's forefinger poking me in the shoulder. "Please tell me you've MapQuested this jaunt, Charley."

She shakes her tousled head, silhouetted by the yellow light emanating from the RV's bathroom. "You're kidding me right?" She slides off the dinette seat. Charley's been overflowing with relief since she told me the truth about our life: that she's not really my mother, but my grandmother, that somebody's chasing us for way too good of a reason, that my life isn't as boring as I thought. We're still being chased, but Charley can at least breathe more freely in her home on the road now that I know the truth.

Home in this case happens to be a brand-spanking-new Trailmaster RV, a huge step forward from the ancient Travco we used to have, the ancient Travco with a rainbow Charley spread in bright colors over its nose.

"Where to?" Having set my vintage cat glasses, love 'em, on my nose, I scramble my hair into its signature ponytail: messy, curly, and frightening. I can so picture myself in the Thriller video.

"Marshall, Texas."

"East Texas?"

"I guess."

"It is." I shake my head. Charley. I love her, I really do, but when it comes to geography, despite the fact that we've traveled all over the country going to her gigs ever since I can remember, she's about as intelligent as a bottle of mustard. And boy do I know a lot about bottles of mustard. But that was my last adventure.

"If you knew, then why did you ask?" She flips the left side of her long, blonde hair, straighter than Russell Crowe, over her shoulder. Charley's beautiful. Silvery blonde (she uses a cheap rinse to cover up the gray), thin (she's vegan), and a little airy (she's frightened of a lot and tries not to think about anything else that may scare her), she wears all sorts of embroidered vests and large skirts and painted blue jeans. And they're all the real deal, because Charley's an environmentalist and wouldn't dream of buying something she didn't need when what she's got is wearing perfectly well. She calls my penchant for vintage clothing "recycling," and I don't disagree.

"Is this really a gig, Charley, or are we escaping again?"

She shakes her head. "No phone call. I really do have a job."

I feel the thrill of fear inside me, though there's no need right now. Biker Guy almost got me back on Toledo Island. (Yeah, he looks like a grizzled old biker.) To call the guy rough around the edges would be like saying Pam Anderson has had "a little work done."

I've been looking over my shoulder ever since.

But more on that later. We need to get on the road. And I need to get on with my life. I'm so sick of thinking about how things aren't nearly what I'd like them to be.

I mean, do you ever get tired of hearing yourself complain?

I flip up my laptop, log on to the satellite Internet I installed (yes, I am that geeky) and Google directions to Marshall, Texas, from where we are in Theta, Tennessee—actually, on the farm of one of Charley's old art-school friends who gave her some work in advertising for the summer. Charley's a food stylist, which means she makes food look good for the camera. Still cameras, motion picture cameras, video, it doesn't matter. Charley can do it all.

"Oh, we've got plenty of time, Charley. Five hundred and fifty miles and . . . we have to go through Memphis . . ."

My verbal drop-off is a dead giveaway.

"Oh, no, Scotty, we're not going to Graceland again."

The kitsch that is Graceland speaks to me. What can I say?

And you've got to admit, it's starting to look vintage. Now ten years ago . . .

I cross my arms. "Do you have cooking to do on the way?"

Yes, highly illegal to cook in a rolling camper.

"Yeah, I do."

"And do you expect me, an unlicensed sixteen-year-old, to drive?" Again, highly illegal, but Charley's a free spirit. However, she refuses to copy CDs and DVDs, so in that regard, she's more moral than most people. I guess it evens up in the end.


"Then I think I deserve a trip through the Jungle Room."

She rolls her eyes, reaches down to the floor, and throws me my robe. "Oh, all right. Just don't take too long."

"I'll try. So." I look at the screen. "65 to route 40 west. Let's hit it. And we'll have time to stop for breakfast."

Charley shakes her head and plops down on the tan dinette bench. The interior of this whole RV is a nice sandy tan with botanical accents. Tasteful and so much better than the old Travco that looked like a cross between a genie's bottle and the Unabomber cabin. "You're going to eat cheese. Aren't you?"

"I sure am."

And Charley can't say anything, because months ago she told me this was a decision I could make on my own.


"I've rethought the cheese moratorium, baby. I know you're not going to like this, but three months of cheese is enough. I can't imagine what your arteries look like. I think it's time to stop."

"What?" Cheese is my life. "Charley! You can't do this to me."

"It's for your own good."

"Are you serious?"

"Yeah, I am."


"Because summer's over, baby, and we've got to get back to a better way of life."

I could continue to argue, but it won't do any good. Charley acts all hippie and egalitarian, but when push comes to shove, she's the boss. However, I'm great at hiding my cheese . . . and . . . I'm going to convince her eventually.

But still.

"This isn't right, Charley, and you know it. But it's too early to argue. And might I add, you have no idea what it's like to have a teen with real teen issues. You ought to be on your knees thanking God I'm not drinking, smoking, pregnant, or"—I was going to say sneaking out at night, but I've done that, just to get some space—"or writing suicidal poetry on the Internet!"

We stare at each other, then burst into laughter.

"Just humor me this time, baby," she says. "We'll come back to it soon, I promise."

I don't believe her, but I hop into the driver's seat, pull up the brake, throw the TrailMama into drive, and we are off.

Six hours later

I pull through Graceland's gatehouse at ten a.m., park near the back of the compound's cracked, tired parking lot, and change into some crazy seventies striped bell-bottoms, a poet shirt, and Charley's old crocheted, granny-square vest. Normally I go further back in my vintage-wear, but I'm trying to go with the groove that is Graceland.

I kiss Charley's cheek. "I'll be back by noon."

"When will that put us in Marshall?"

"By six thirty."

"Because I'm not sure where the shoot is."

"Please. Marshall's small. Jeremy and company will make a big splash no matter where they set up. Besides, growing up around this, I have a nose for it."

She awards me one of her big smiles. "You're somethin', baby. I forget that sometimes." She puts her arms around me, squeezes, pulls back, then smacks me lightly on my behind. "Tell Elvis I said hello."

"Oh, I will. He's one of the groundskeepers now, you know."

I've seen computer-generated pictures of what he would look like now, in his seventies. Scary.

I jump down from the RV, head across the parking lot, over the small bridge leading into the ticketing complex and walk by Elvis's jets, including the Lisa Marie. Gotta love anything with that name. Don't know why. Just has a nice ring to it.

Banners proclaim, "Elvis Is."

Is what? Dead? A legend? What? Because he isn't "izzing" as far as I'm concerned. Present tense, people! If the person's not alive, "is" can only be followed by a few options: Buried up in the memorial garden. Rotting in his casket. Missed by his family and friends. Not exactly banner copy, mind you.

Still, you've got to admit the name Elvis wreaks of cool. Perhaps the sign should read, "Elvis Is . . . A Really Cool Name."

But it's not nearly as cool as my name. You see, my real mother loved the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. And that's my name: Francis Scott Fitzgerald Dawn. Only Dawn's not my actual last name. I don't know what my real last name is. My real first name is Ariana. Being on the run, Charley renamed us to protect our identity. So she honored my mother by naming me after Mom's favorite novelist. More on that later too.

It sounds fun, traveling on the road from film shoot to film shoot, never settling down in one place for too long, but honestly, it's very sad.

I always knew Charley lived with a sadness down deep, and when I found out why this spring, her sadness became mine. See, my dad is dead and my mother, Charley's daughter Babette, is too. Or we think she must be, because she disappeared under questionable circumstances and never came back. Learn that when you're fifteen and see where you land.

When I thought Charley was my mother, I had such high hopes for who my father might be. Al Pacino was number one in the ranking. Don't ask.

Okay, Elvis, here we go. Let's you and me be "taking care of business."

I hand over my money to the lady behind the reservations counter. I called thirty minutes ago on my cell phone, compliments of my mother's friend Jeremy, and reserved a spot.

"You'll be on the first tour."

Yes! More time amid the shag carpeting and the gold records. And the jumpsuits. Can't forget the jumpsuits. I want a cape too.

The gift shop calls to me. Confession: I love gift shops. They even smell sparkly. Key chains dangling, saying, "You can take me with you wherever you go!" Mugs with the Saint Louis Gateway Arch or the Grand Ole Opry promising an even better cup of coffee. Earrings that advertise you've been somewhere. That's exactly what I choose while I wait for the tour, a little pair of dangly red guitars with the words Elvis Presley in gold script on the bodies, and how in the world they put that on so small is beyond me. See, gift shops can even be miraculous if you take your time and look.

A voice over the loudspeaker announces my tour number, so I stand in line. By myself. Just me in a group of twenty or so.

Okay, here is where it gets hard to be me. I know I should be thankful for my free-spirited life. But especially now that I know my parents are dead, it feels empty all of a sudden. I shouldn't be standing in line at Graceland alone. My mother and I should be giggling behind our hands at the man nearby who's actually grown a glorious pair o' mutton-chop sideburns, slicked back his salt-and-pepper curls, and shrugged his broad shoulders into a leather jacket. Really, right? My father, who was an FBI agent the mob shot right in a warehouse in Baltimore, would shake his head like a dad in a sixties TV show and laugh at his girls.

We'd get on the bus like I'm doing now, each of us putting on our tour headphones and hanging the little blue recorders around our necks in anticipation of the glory that is Elvis.

The driver welcomes us as he shuts the hydraulic doors of the little tour bus with its clean blue upholstery, a bus in which an assisted-living home might haul its residents to the mall.

It smells new in here, and my gross-out antennae aren't vibrating in the least like they do when I go into an old burger joint and the orange melamine booth hasn't been scrubbed since the place opened in 1987.

In my fantasy, my dad would sit beside me. And Mom, just across the aisle, holding onto the seatback in front of her, would look at me as we pass through those famed musical gates, because she would have introduced me to Elvis music. According to Charley, my vintage sentimentalism comes from my mom. I've learned a little about her this summer.

Charley said, "She'd wear my cousin's old poodle skirt and listen to Love Me Tender over and over again while writing in her diary." She became a respected journalist, loved books as much as I do. I pat my book in my backpack, looking forward to tonight when I can cuddle into my loft and get into one of Fitzgerald's glittering worlds. "She was different from me, Scotty. I tried to change the world through protest. Your mother wanted to build something completely different and much better." She sighed. "All my generation could do, I guess, was tear apart. It's going to take our children to put the pieces back together. Babette was a very careful person. Very purposeful."

If it drove my freewheeling grandmother crazy, she doesn't let on.

"I could try to describe how much she loved you, baby. But I don't think I could begin to do her devotion to you justice. I was so proud of her, for how much she loved and gave away. She was amazing."

So in May I found out she existed, the same day I found out she is dead, or most likely dead. And now I'm going into Graceland alone, truly an orphan. Who wants to be an orphan?

We disembark from the bus—me, Elvis Lite, some folks from a Spanish-speaking country, and a lot of older people. I miss Grammie and Grampie right now. More later on them, too. And you'll get to meet them. Like the waters of the Gulf Stream, we seem to travel in the same general direction. I spent a week with them this summer in Tennessee. Yeah, we did Nashville right. They're loaded.

Standing beneath the front porch, my gaze skates up and down the soaring white pillars and comes to rest on the stone lions that guard the steps. My father was a lion. That's why he ended up with a bullet in his chest. Speaking in very broad terms, the story goes as follows:

Dad, undercover, worked his way into a portion of the mob, or mafia if you prefer, that was heavily financing the campaign of a Maryland gubernatorial candidate. When they discovered him, they shot him on site, in a warehouse in the Canton neighborhood of downtown Baltimore. My mother watched, gasped, and a chase ensued. She hid in a friend's gallery, called Charley and told her to keep watching me. (Charley had kept me the night before because my mom and dad had some glamorous function to attend.) And then she disappeared.

The Graceland tour recorder tells me to look to my right into the beautiful white living room with peacock stained-glass windows leading into the music room. This room really isn't so bad, I've got to admit. A picture of Elvis's dad hangs on the wall. He really loved his parents.

I've toured this house at least seven times before, and I'll tell you this, Elvis's love for his family soaked into the walls. A girl that lives in a camper, has dead parents, and is being chased by someone from the mob who knows my grandmother knows what went down, well, she can feel these things.

Charley thinks someone's trying to kill us. This guy is always trying to find us, but Charley's really great at evasion. She said the politician who won the governor's seat all those years ago just announced his candidacy for president and—oh, GREAT!—he's probably trying to make sure nothing comes back to haunt him and sent Biker Guy to finish off the entire matter.

The thing is, he seems to be after me too. And what in the world would I have to do with all of that?

I'll bet Charley's back in that camper shaking in her shoes because I'm over here by myself; I'll bet she's figuring out more ways to be utterly and overly protective of me. I wouldn't be surprised if she's wondering whether locking a kid in an RV is child abuse.

But I love Charley. I really do. I know she's scared back there, and despite the fact that I would be no real help if Biker Guy caught us, I can't leave her there so frightened and alone for long.

Elvis dear, I can only stay a little while. So love me tender, love me sweet, and for the sake of all that's decent, don't step on my blue suede shoes.

I hurry past the bedroom of Elvis's parents, decorated in shades of ivory and purple, very nice, and through the dining room—a little seventies tackiness I'll admit—into the kitchen with dark brown cabinetry and the ghosts of a million grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches, then on down into the basement. Okay, I admit, I've got to just stand for a second in the TV room and admire the man's ability to watch three TVs at once on that huge yellow couch with the sparkly pillows.

I shoot through the billiard room, which is, honestly, truly beautiful with its fabric-lined walls and ceiling, up the back steps and into the Jungle Room, probably Graceland's most famous room. Green shag carpet overlays the floor and the ceiling, and heavily carved, Polynesian-style furniture is arranged around a rock-wall waterfall at the end of the room. It really defies the imagination, folks. Google Jungle Room Graceland and see what I mean.

The second floor of Graceland is closed off to the public because Elvis died up there. On the toilet. Wise decision on the part of Priscilla I'd say.

Out the door, into the office building, down to the trophy hall, I whiz through all the gold and platinum records, the costumes, the awards, and even a wall full of checks he'd written for charity. According to my recorder, Elvis was an active community member in Memphis. And he obviously didn't care what race or religion people were. He supported Jewish organizations, Catholic, Baptist. Pretty cool.

Of course, this recorder isn't going to tell of the dark side of the man. But Elvis Isn't, despite what the banners say. So why drag a dead man through the mud?

I hurry through the racquetball court, more gold records, the infamous jumpsuits, back outside to the pool and memorial garden where Elvis has been laid to rest.

An older lady cries into a handkerchief. I don't ask why.

Good-bye Elvis. Thanks for the tour. Maybe one day I'll do something great too.

A few minutes later . . .