Friday, December 08, 2006
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sue Dent was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi and currently resides in Ridgeland. When not writing, Sue designs websites and works with digital photograpy.
Sue loves to hear from her fans through her Website in fact, the push from eager readers has already set the ball rolling, and she's hard at work on Forever Richard, the sequel.
In Never Ceese, Sue sets out to prove that faith and fun can live happily in the same story, and that vampire/werewolf fantasy can have a spiritual message too.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Never Ceese takes religious fantasy to a new level, bringing an entirely new Light to a very dark side of fiction, doing a very admirable job to prove that vampire/werewolf fantasy does not have to be evil to be enjoyed.
The story starts with the classic tale of an English manor owned by Richard, the vampire who righteously is the bain of his neighbor's existence, what with the missing goats and all!
Then enters Cecelia, better known as Ceese, the young werewolf maiden who's arrived via invitation by Richard's aging companion, Penelope.
Ceese and Richard would prefer to tear each other apart, literally, but they are drawn together by their mutual love for Penelope. She is dying and has one request...that the two of them love one another.
This is the overall theme throughout Dent's interesting tale of two who were wronged but learn to work together. Meanwhile they are threatened by an evil stem cell researcher who wants the immortality and power that he thinks their blood will bring him!
Dent's characters do differ from the stock one's we're all accustomed to in a very important way. They are not mindless, brutal killers. Bloodthirsty, yes, but they are constantly resisting the urge to kill, and, thus, curse another human. Feeding on rodents, goats, virtually any warm-blooded animal helps to satiate the never ending thirst for blood, but how long will they be able to resist that most delicious morsel man?
There is a chance that their curses can actually be lifted if they can find the strength within to resist their selfish natures and act selflessly toward another. Will they succeed? That same basic choice lies before us all every day...
A vampire and a werewolf, one determined to, once again, be able to acknowledge what will get her to heaven, the other no so sure he can. A spiritual fantasy designed to spark the imagination, to speak to the heart as well as entertain.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Christian parents are finally offered a true Potter alternative...All the adventure of Harry Potter...None of the sorcery!
This week the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is doing a blog tour for Landon Snow and The Island of Arcanum by R.K.Mortenson, published by Barbour Publishing (October 2006).
About the AUTHOR:
R.K.Mortenson is an ordained minister with the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. He has been writing devotional and inspirational articles since 1995. He currently serves as a navy chaplain in Florida and lives with his wife, daughter and son in Jacksonville.
This page at Barbour's site provides a few good links, two as recent as last week: http://www.barbourbooks.com/author/detail/r-k-mortenson/. The top link there goes to a story about Randy's adoption experiences, the second link goes to the Landon Snow short at Clubhouse magazine.
Randy got the idea for this series one late night, when flute music woke him from a sound sleep. As he stood at his window, trying to locate the source of the sound, he spied a library across the lawn. Suddenly, he envisioned an eleven-year-old sneaking out of his bed and stealing to the library in the dead of night...And thus Landon Snow was born.
In the latest adventure of Landon Snow And the Island of Arcanum, Landon, once again visits his grandparents in Button Up, Minnesota. If your familiar with the first two books, Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle, and Landon Snow and The Shadows of Malus Quidam, you'll know that Landon's adventures always start at the Library in Button Up.
This time, Landon's most dangerous journey yet, begins in a rowboat-shaped tombstone that floats. And it's lucky for him that it floats because a few drips from the library ceiling turns into a powerful waterfall.
The stone turns into wood. The stone book propped up in the prow of the boat turns to paper. The left page says "ANCHOR". The right page says "AWEIGH".
"Anchor aweigh?" said Landon.
Holly whispered, "Did you hear that?"
No one has time to respond, however. The next instant saw the water before them dropping away as the water behind them grew into a giant swell, pitching them headlong into the abyss.
Landon will have to protect his two younger sisters, Holly and Bridget, who wind up in the boat with him headed towards The Island of Arcanum. On the Island, the animals of Wonderwood are imprisoned and the evil shadows of Landon's nemesis, Malus Quidam lurk!
With the help of some old friends, a horse named Melech, an odd fellow named Hardy, a girl named Ditty, and the poet/prophet Vates--Landon seeks to unlock the island's dark secrets and escape with the animals intact.
But first, he must navigate his way through unchartered waters and battle the villainous Archans...Can Landon and his friends rescue the animals from deep within the island's stronghold?
It is December 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!
and his latest book:
Bryan Davis is the author of the four book Dragons in Our Midst series, a contemporary/fantasy blend for young people. The first book, Raising Dragons, was released in July of 2004. The second book, The Candlestone, followed in October. Circles of Seven debuted in April of 2005, followed in November by Tears of a Dragon.
Bryan is the author of several other works including The Image of a Father (AMG) and Spit and Polish for Husbands (AMG), and four books in the Arch Books series: The Story of Jesus' Baptism and Temptation, The Day Jesus Died, The Story of the Empty Tomb (over 100,000 sold), and Jacob's Dream. Bryan lives in Winter Park, Florida with his wife, Susie, and their children. Bryan and Susie have homeschooled their four girls and three boys.
To read more about Bryan and his books, visit the Dragons in our Midst Website or visit Bryan's blog.
Eye of the Oracle
by Bryan Davis
Dragons in our Midst - Prequel
Oracles of Fire - Volume 1
The Seeds of Eden
Angling into a plunging dive, the dragon blasted a fireball at Lilith and Naamah. The two women dropped to the ground just as the flaming sphere sizzled over their heads. Naamah swatted her hair, whipping away stinging sparks that rained down from the fireball's tail.
With a flurry of wings and a gust of wind, the dragon swooped low. As razor sharp claws jabbed at the women, Naamah lunged to the side, and Lilith rolled through the grass. A single claw caught Lilith's long black dress, ripping it as the dragon lifted toward the sky.
Naamah jumped to her feet and helped Lilith up. The dragon made a sharp turn in the air, and, with its jagged-toothed maw stretching open, charged back toward them.
Lilith pushed a trembling hand into the pocket of her dress. "Only one hope left," she said, panting. Pulling out a handful of black powder, she tossed it over her head. "Give me darkness!" she cried.
The powder spread out into a cloud and surrounded the women. Naamah coughed and spat. The noxious fumes blinded her and coated her throat with an acrid film. A hand grabbed her wrist and jerked her down to her knees just as another flaming cannon ball passed over their heads.
"Crawl!" Lilith ordered.
Naamah scooted alongside Lilith as she scuffled over the dry tufts of grass. Sparks from the rain of fire ignited tiny blazes that illuminated their hands as they passed through the veil of darkness.
Naamah gagged but refused to cough. With a guardian dragon hovering somewhere overhead, giving any clue to their whereabouts could be fatal.
After several minutes, Lilith whispered, "I think I found the cave."
Her hands, barely visible and clutching a small bundle of sticks, crawled over a bed of gravel and then to a rocky floor. When she finally stopped, Naamah sat up and gazed into the dark cloud behind her. She squeezed fractured words through her tingling throat. "Will the dragon follow?"
"Shachar is persistent," Lilith rasped, "but she is no fool." She coughed quietly, clearing her voice. "She will not risk the possibility that we're a diversion for a more dangerous attack. If she doesn't find us soon, she will go back on patrol."
"What about her dragon sense? Won't that draw her to us?"
"I'm not sure. A dragon's danger alarm is still a mystery to me. I think since our only direct threat is to the ancient garden she patrols, her sense of protection will draw her there."
The black cloud began to dissipate, revealing the mouth of a shallow cave, barely deep enough to keep out the wind. Close to the back wall, the women found a flat stone and built a fire next to it with Lilith's collection of sticks. When the crackling flames began to rise, Lilith and Naamah sat on the stone to rest.
From her pocket, Lilith withdrew a small bundle wrapped in a black cloth. After untying a knot on one end, she produced an earthenware cup filled with herbs. "The way to Eden has yet another obstacle," she said, tossing a pinch of the herbs into the campfire. "Our task will not be easy."
Sparks flew toward the cave's low ceiling, riding on thin strings of silvery-green smoke. Naamah breathed deeply of the aroma-saturated air, a pungent blend of camphor and garlic. She exhaled, tasting the herbs at the back of her tongue. "What could be more difficult than getting past a dragon?"
"There are forces in our world that dwarf the power of dragons. I have foreseen much that you don't know."
As cool, damp air chiseled away at the fire's rising warmth, Naamah scooted toward her sister, overlapping the fringes of their silky black dresses on the flat stone. Barefoot and shivering in the draft, she wrapped her arms around herself. "Didn't you know it would be this cold? We should have worn our cloaks."
"It is only temporary. The cold air is a path that leads us to the garden." Lilith pushed her long black hair off her shoulder and huddled close, her voice low. "Naamah, you must have more faith in me. My husband's arts have allowed me to see another world, the world of phantasmal knowledge. It is the realm of future possibilities, where I can see what might happen."
Naamah folded her hands. "What might happen?"
The bushes rustled just outside the entrance. Lilith glanced over her shoulder, her lips pressing into two pale lines as she set the cup of herbs on the cave's floor and drew a dagger from a sheath on her belt.
"Just the wind," Naamah whispered. "If it were the dragon, we would have heard her wings."
"Perhaps." Lilith's knuckles whitened as she wrung the dagger's wooden hilt. "But even the wind carries spirits who might expose our plans."
Naamah waited for the color to return to Lilith's fingers. "So ¡ why are you counting on phantasmal knowledge when it can't tell you for sure what's going to happen?"
"Because our opponent is so predictable." Lilith placed her long, thin hand on Naamah's thigh. "Life is the ultimate game of chance, with millions of possible moves, so I only see what might happen. My choices and our opponent's choices mesh in a tapestry through time, and I can see where some of the threads lead if I follow one or more of the thousands of patterns that fill my eyes. So far, Elohim has reacted to my moves exactly as I expected he would."
Lilith waved the dagger over the fire. A bright, angelic creature swirled inside the rising smoke, its image warping and undulating as the draft swept it around. Inside the flames, a red dragon appeared, jets of fire blasting from its nostrils. The dragon's blaze licked at the angel's bare feet as it whipped around in the smoke's endless circles. "Our plans rest on Samyaza's shoulders, and if he fails, our doom is certain. We must prepare for that possibility."
Naamah rubbed her hands up and down her bare arms. "How can this husband of yours give you the power to see the future? I have never known a man who could see past a bottle ¡ or a brothel."
"You have never known such a man, because you don't know the Watchers." She thrust the dagger back to its sheath. "Your men are all fools."
Naamah pulled the hem of her dress high above her knee. "Fools, yes, but their money spends as well as yours."
Lilith slapped Naamah's hand and yanked the skirt back down. "Your harlotry will be the death of you someday! Sister or not, I cannot protect you from yourself."
Naamah caressed her stinging hand and scowled. "You didn't call it harlotry back when we were collecting wild oats together. You've been no fun at all since you got religion with Samyaza."
Lilith grabbed Naamah's shoulder and pulled her almost nose to nose, hissing. "This religion, as you call it, might just save your life. If you want to survive, you had better listen to me!"
Naamah jerked away and scooted to the far edge of the stone. "I'll listen. Just don't turn me into something unearthly, like that iridescent dog you keep in your dungeon."
"That was from one of my first potions, and you know it." Lilith sighed and reached for Naamah's arm. "If Samyaza wins, then we won't have to turn into anything unearthly. If he loses ¡ well, he need not know our alternate plans."
"Is that why you're so jumpy? Do you think your husband's spying on you?"
"I do feel the presence of a spy, but I doubt that Samyaza sent it."
"So what should we do?" Naamah asked.
"This spy is of no consequence. Shachar is the greater danger, but she will leave the area soon enough, and we will press on. Until then, we have time for an important step in my plan." Lilith lifted a thin cord around her neck and pulled a leather pouch from her bosom. She loosened the drawstring and carefully poured into her palm a dozen or more white crystals the size of cottonseeds, covered with tiny spikes that made each crystal resemble the head of a mace. "These are the seeds of Samyaza's power. With them we will be able to plant his potency wherever we please."
Naamah touched one with her fingertip and rocked it back and forth. "We will?" she asked.
Lilith poured the seeds back into the pouch but kept one in her palm and closed her fingers around it. "Our master will teach you how to use it soon enough, but first we must prepare ourselves as vessels¡ªmyself to wield the power and you to receive the planting." She picked up her cup, dropped the seed inside, and stirred the contents with a slender black root, holding the cup just above the flames as the herbs melted into a thick brew. After seven swirls, she crumpled the stirrer and threw it into the mix. As purple foam rose above the brim and dribbled over the sides, she waved her hand over the top and sang in a low, mournful voice.
O Master of the midnight skies,
The god of darkness, light disguised,
Provide for me the gift of flight
And give me wings to flee my plight.
Now through the waters guide my strife,
And grant the gift of lasting life.
Regenerate my body whole;
For this I give my living soul.
And should my husband learn my plans,
O let his reins come to my hands,
For strength alone cannot compare
To woman's last beguiling snare.
O let us be the farmers' hands
To sow the seeds of fallen man.
The giants planted here must grow
Escaping from these lands below.
In Naamah's womb prepare your soil.
With calloused hands we'll sweat and toil.
O make your seeds become like trees;
To trample Adam's hopeless pleas.
With both hands trembling, Lilith raised the cup to her mouth and took a long, slow drink. She closed her eyes and grimaced, a shudder crawling across her pale cheeks. After licking her lips, she rubbed some of the liquid into each of her palms, then extended the cup to Naamah.
"You must be joking!" Naamah said, squinting at the curling purple fumes. "I'm not drinking that!"
Lilith took Naamah's hand and wrapped her fingers around the handle. "Just smell it! That's all I ask. Then decide if you want to drink or not."
Naamah tightened her grip on the handle and gazed into the cup. Thick gray liquid bubbled inside. Warm vapors and a pleasant aroma bathed her senses. As she took in the delightful smell, her throat dried out, filling her with a sudden desire to drink. Her tongue clamped to the roof of her mouth, parched and swelling. It was more than a desire. She had to drink. Now!
She guzzled the liquid, then slung the cup against the cave wall and glared at Lilith. "You tricked me!"
Lilith wagged her finger. "It was for your own good."
Naamah crossed her arms over her chest and stared at the earthen shards. "I am going to turn into something disgusting, aren't I?"
"The potion does much more than that. Even if our earthly bodies die, we will be able to exist in another form. As our new bodies age, we will be able to use Samyaza's power to regenerate ourselves. But if we can get on the boat, we won't have to worry about unsavory transformations at all."
Naamah swung her head back toward Lilith and rose to her feet. "On the boat, you say?"
"Yes. The most obvious phantasmal thread leads to a terrible flood. Our enemy is building a boat that we could use to save ourselves, but the builders have a strange shield around it. Although normal humans can penetrate it, the Watchers and Nephilim haven't been able to. They want to destroy it and change Elohim's plan to flood the world. I, however, wish to find a way to get us on board in case they fail."
Naamah paced slowly in front of her sister. "I know a man who is working on a boat. He said it is very large and well-supplied."
"That would be the one," Lilith replied. "But the builders are unlikely to give away the secret of the shield."
"When he is at the market, he speaks only of supplying the boat." Naamah stopped, cocked her head upward, and smiled. "But when he visits my room, his lips become quite loose."
Lilith scowled. "Loose being the operative word." She stood and slipped her hand around Naamah's elbow. "Did this man mention the shield?"
Naamah swiveled her hips, twirling her dress slowly back and forth. "No, but if you let me sing a song to him, I can charm him into spilling his secrets."
"Oh, really?" Lilith tipped her head upward and stroked her chin. "What's his name?"
"Ham." A burning pain drilled into Naamah's pelvis. She laid a hand over her stomach but tried not to show how much it hurt. "I don't know his family name."
"I wish you had told me about this before," Lilith said, tapping her foot on the ground. "We have to find this man."
The pain stabbed Naamah again, but deeper than before, as if something had grasped her womb with sharpened claws. Still, she forced herself to keep a calm face. "If you'd let me in on your secrets once in a while, maybe I would have known you were trying to get on board."
Lilith glanced out at the bushes again and slowly turned back. "Very well. I will tell you why we are on this journey. You will soon see how all my plans tie together." She picked up a long stick and stirred the coals in their fire, creating a billowing gray plume. A new vision coalesced in the smoke, an angel standing next to a tree. The fire spewed a finger of flame through the angel's hand, making him appear to have a brilliant sword that flashed as he stood guard.
"That is the tree of life, and I have long coveted its fruit." Lilith pointed at the flame. "Here is our problem. One of the Cherubim protects it with a sword that creates a shield of light."
"I see," Naamah said. "Now that you have one of the Seraphim on your side ¡"
"You're way ahead of me." Lilith glanced outside and checked the brightening morning sky. "Samyaza will be there soon. I want to see him battle the Cherub and win the sword, then we can pluck the fruit at our leisure. Once he has regained his weapon, he will be invincible, perhaps even against the archangels."
Lilith arose and, bending low, sneaked out of the cave. Naamah followed close behind, pressing her hand against her belly again. Whatever that potion was, it seemed to be turning her organs inside out.
Constantly glancing at the sky, they wound their way through a dense forest, padding softly on a wide clover path until it opened into a field. Lilith halted suddenly and stooped next to a leafy bush. Naamah leaned over her, trying to follow her sister's line of sight. In the distance, a white glow arose above a thick, thorny hedge that extended as far as the eye could see.
Lilith's voice softened to a low hiss. "The hedge is Eden's boundary. The thorns are sharper than any sword, and the poison in the tips will shrivel you into a prune in seconds. The only way to enter is through the guarded gate." She skulked to the hedge and followed it toward the glow, Naamah once again trailing her. As they drew closer, a gap appeared in the hedge, and the guarded tree came into view. Stooping again, Lilith pointed at a beautiful, white-robed angel. "His sword shoots out a beam of light that can kill us even this far away. As long as he waves it over his head, it creates an almost impenetrable shield around himself and the tree."
Naamah settled quietly behind her and peered at the darkening sky. Black clouds boiled overhead. Bolts of lightning streaked jagged forks across the heavens. "Something weird is happening," she whispered.
"I didn't expect this." Lilith's brow bent downward. "Samyaza planned to come by stealth, not with a lightning fanfare."
Naamah pointed toward the top of a tall sycamore tree. "I see him."
A winged angel, bright and shining against the stormy backdrop, glided to the ground, his silver hair flowing in the freshening breeze. Dressed in white robes, drawn tight at his waist by a golden sash, he strode to the gate and spoke to the other angel in a booming voice. "Greetings in the name of Elohim."
The Cherub nodded, waving the sword to keep the shield in place. "May our God be glorified forever. What brings a Seraph to Eden's boundary today?"
"I have come to relieve you of your duty. You are to return to the council for a new assignment."
The Cherub glanced up at the troubled sky. "Something is amiss. I sense God's hand moving in the heavens, yet no messenger has alerted me of a change."
"I am the messenger." Samyaza held out his hand. "Give me the sword and go your way."
The Cherub lowered the sword, and the shield blinked off, but he kept the hilt firmly in his grip. "With all due respect, my liege, what is your name?"
"I am Samyaza, prince of the guardian angels." He took a step closer, bringing him within arm's reach of the Cherub. "It would not be wise to continue questioning my authority. Remember Lucifer's folly."
The sword trembled in the Cherub's hand, but his voice remained steady. "Your name is familiar to me, and you have the wings of a Seraph, but I am here by order of the Majesty on High, so I cannot abandon my post on your word alone. Only Michael can countermand the order."
Streaks of darkness shot out from Samyaza's eyes, splashing the Cherub with a sizzling, oily resin that stuck fast to his robes and spread quickly over his hands and face. The sword's light flashed on in the blinded angel's hands, sending a bright beam blazing into the sky. Samyaza lunged forward and shook the Cherub's wrist, slinging the blade under the branches.
Pushing the angel to the side, Samyaza flew toward the trunk, snatched up the sword, and stalked toward the gate. The Cherub threw himself toward the sound of Samyaza's pounding footsteps and wrapped his arms around his neck. The powerful Seraph reached back, grabbed the Cherub's hair, and heaved him toward the tree. The resin-covered angel slammed against the trunk, knocking white fruit to the ground. Samyaza marched toward him, his sword raised.
A loud clap of thunder shook the earth. Another angel, the largest yet, burst from the clouds and zoomed to the ground, landing with a drawn sword raised to strike. "Be gone, Samyaza, you wretched liar. You will not have this tree or its fruit."
Samyaza backed away, visibly trembling. "Michael! I have no quarrel with you. This was my sword before I¡ª"
"Before you left our Lord and Master to satisfy your carnal desires." Michael helped the Cherub to his feet, and with a wave of his hand, the black resin melted away. "Take the sword and crawl back into your hole with your corrupted followers. It will be nothing more than a carving knife to you now."
Samyaza held the sword aloft, but it created no beam. Not even the tiniest spark flashed from the blade. He thrust the tip into a patch of clover and drove the sword into the ground up to the hilt, then shook his fist at Michael. "The people will follow us, not the tyrant in heaven! They want to be free of his authority, and we will teach them to follow the longings of their hearts!"
Michael waved his sword and a new, brighter shield covered the tree. As the dome swirled with radiance, the entire plot of ground ripped away from the earth, uprooting the tree and carrying Michael, the Cherub, and the fallen fruit with it. "If people want true life and freedom," Michael said as they slowly lifted into the sky, "they will look above. Like rain from the heavens, that is the source of their deliverance."
Boiling clouds swallowed the shimmering tree, and, for a moment, all was quiet. Samyaza stared at the ominous ceiling, slowly turning and backing away from the garden. His wings beat the air, and, just as his feet lifted off the ground, a dragon burst out of the clouds shooting twin jets of fire from its nostrils.
Black streams surged from Samyaza's eyes, colliding with the fire. The impact created a sizzling eruption of smoky gas that spewed high into the air. The dragon pulled out of its dive and zoomed by Samyaza, smacking him with its tail before ascending again toward the clouds. Samyaza toppled, but a flurry of his wings kept him from striking the ground.
Lilith leaned over and whispered to Naamah. "Samyaza likely remembers how his master conquered the first female human. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the first female dragon."
Samyaza yanked the sword out of the ground and stabbed it at the sky. "Does the mate of Arramos only fight when she can attack by surprise?" He turned in a slow circle, his eyes darting in all directions. "Come and meet me in single combat, if you dare!"
Shachar burst out of the clouds again, and with a great beating of her wings, she landed in front of Samyaza. "I am not a dog to be baited by a bone," she roared.
The Seraph spread out his arms. "Yet, you are here, panting and drooling for the very bone you disdain."
"Only to lance a demonic abscess." She pawed the ground with her claws. "If you desire a fair fight, drop the sword and let us see who wields the greater power."
"As you wish." Samyaza bowed dramatically and released the sword.
"Step away from it," Shachar ordered. "Far away."
Samyaza marched several paces to one side and gestured toward the sword. "Satisfied?"
Shachar nodded her scaly head. "Trusting you is a fool's game, but I will risk what I must to rid the world of its greatest plague."
The shining angel flashed a wicked smile. "Since you are the aggressor, I invite your first volley."
Shachar lunged at him, her teeth bared and her nostrils flaming. Samyaza dipped under her jets and latched on to her tail as she passed over. With a mighty spin, he slung her in the direction of the sword. The dragon crashed to the ground and slid next to the hilt. As she lifted her wobbly head, her eyes seemed glazed and distant.
Samyaza zoomed to her side and grabbed the sword. With a dramatic thrust, he plunged the blade into the dragon's underbelly. Shachar let out an ear-piercing shriek and writhed in the grass. "Coward!" she screamed. "Deceiver!" She spat out a weak ball of fire, but it rolled past the towering Seraph as he backed away.
When the dragon's throes settled down, Samyaza grasped the hilt of the sword and withdrew it from her body, jumping away from a gush of fluids. He glared at the bloody blade and dropped it to the ground. "Disgusting creatures!" With a flap of his wings, he lifted into the air and disappeared in the blanket of clouds.
Shachar opened her mouth as if trying to speak. She twitched for a moment, then heaved a final sigh as her eyes slowly closed.
Lilith and Naamah ran toward the dragon. Lilith snatched up the sword and wiped the blade on the grass. "Samyaza might not be able to use this," she said, turning the blade over to clean the other side, "but if I can find the secret behind its flame, it could be a powerful weapon indeed."
She propped the blade over her shoulder and strode through the gateway, now unattended by angel or dragon. Naamah followed, gazing at the devastated garden. Knotted trees with bent crowns and twisted branches plagued the endless fields of dry grass. On one squared-off plot, leggy bushes hunkered over a tangled mess of tall weeds and thorny vines. Hundreds of thistles raised bristly heads among row after row of dwarfed fruit trees and shriveled vegetables. Naamah let out a low whistle. This was no Paradise, no land of perfection, despite the claims of her childhood songs.
Lilith tramped down to the bottom of the hole where the tree once stood. She stooped, pinching a sample of soil and drawing it close to her eyes. "Not a trace. Not a root or seed anywhere."
Naamah noticed a glinting speck in the dirt. "Here's something!" She plucked out a smooth white pebble, barely as large as her fingertip, and handed it to Lilith. "Could this be a seed?" she asked. "It looks like a pearl."
"It could be." Lilith knelt where Naamah found the pebble and used her finger to stir the soil, a mixture of moist brown dirt and a strange white paste. "Here are two more." She collected them and slid all three into her pocket. "We'll keep them for posterity."
"Future generations. I don't know how long it takes to grow a tree of life, but I intend to find out."
Lilith gazed toward a path that led into a stand of skinny oaks. "The other tree should be in that direction," she said, pointing.
As she headed toward the wood, she swiped Samyaza's sword in front of her as if fending off an invisible enemy or perhaps testing its weight and balance. Naamah had to jog to keep pace with her sister. Lilith's stern expression told her it wasn't a good time to ask questions, so she just stayed at her side, taking in the sights of loss and waste in the massive garden.
After following the path through the trees, they arrived at a glade. In the center of a circle of grass, a tree, heavy with red, oblong fruit, stood tall and lush. Lilith strode right up to the nearest branch and called out, "Lucifer, my lord and master, I bring you vital information."
A fresh breeze flapped Lilith's dress as she stood in stoic silence, the tip of the sword touching the ground in front of her. The wind crawled up Naamah's legs, bringing her a chill. The pain in her stomach had settled, but a new queasiness took over. Something foul drew near, worse than a fetid carcass. Whatever it was seemed to seep through her skin and into her heart, making it slow to a few, sickening thumps.
Soon, a gentle hissing joined the shush of the wind. A long, thick snake slithered out onto the branch and rested its head near a bobbing fruit. Lilith extended her arm and pushed her hand under the serpent's belly. Bearing scales like sun-baked leather, black hexagons meshed with olive-green, the snake crept along Lilith's pale arm. Its tongue darted in and out from its triangular head as it spoke in a slow, threatening cadence. "If you have come to tell me about Naamah's customer, you have come in vain. While I am in this cursed condition, my disciples sneak in through the garden's western gate. One of my agents overheard your conversation and reported the news about this boat builder."
"So that's what we heard in the bushes," Lilith said. "It was a spy."
The snake flicked its tongue, touching her cheek with its forked points. "I send spies on my enemies and my followers, especially followers as ambitious as you."
As the snake wrapped a coil around Lilith's neck, she lifted her chin and swallowed hard. "And how shall we use the information, my lord?"
The snake maneuvered its head in front of Lilith's eyes, wavering back and forth in a hypnotic sway. "I sent my agent to speak to my servant, Lamech, son of Mathushael. I have ordered Lamech to adopt Naamah into his family. Naamah's new brother, Tubalcain, knows Ham and will offer her to be Ham's wife."
"His wife?" Naamah said, crossing her arms over her chest. "Ham is a regular customer, but that doesn't mean I want him for a husband!"
The serpent's head shot toward Naamah, its fangs extended as it bit the empty air just inches in front of her eyes. Naamah staggered backwards, catching one of the tree's branches to keep her balance. Recoiling over Lilith's shoulders, the serpent hissed, "Either marry him or die!"
Naamah shivered in the tree's shadow, holding her stomach again as the fierce pain stabbed her insides.
The serpent turned its flaming red eyes back to Lilith. "Ham's father will recognize your name, so you must change it before you meet him. We cannot allow him to know who and what you are."
"Of course, my lord." Lilith kept her head tited upward. "Do you have a preference?"
"Choose whatever pleases you. I will arrange things to make your new name work."
Lilith smiled. "As you wish, my master."
The serpent's tongue flicked again. "I have news about the sword."
Lilith lifted the blade. "The secret to its flames?"
"Yes. The sword is designed to detect the nature of the hands that grasp it. The flames shoot from the blade only if the hands are innocent and undefiled. Of course, the Cherub who guarded the tree of life was holy, so he was able to use the blade's protective shield over the tree."
Lilith ran a finger along the blade. "And Samyaza's hands have been deemed corrupt." She gazed at the grip, wiggling her fingers around it. "Can the sword be fooled into thinking it is being held by holy hands?"
"Perhaps. It has no thinking process of its own. It merely responds to how it was forged."
Lilith studied the etchings in the blade's silvery metal. "Who are the two dragons doing battle in the design?"
"I am one of them, and I struggle with a dragon who is to come, a warrior who will fight with me to become king of the dragons. Michael etched that symbol when he gave the sword to Samyaza and commissioned him to find and protect the holy dragon who would come to try to conquer me."
"I see," Lilith said, nodding. "So this king must have holy hands in order to defeat you."
"Yes. But since this usurper could be a human representative for the dragons, our goal is to corrupt every family line, whether dragon or human, with the seed of the fallen ones. But, beware. Elohim has already hatched a plan to thwart ours. I know little more than a code phrase one of my disciples overheard¡ª'oracles of fire.'"
"That's it? No context?"
"Only that there are two of them. Perhaps a pair of angels commissioned specifically to infiltrate our ranks and destroy our work from within."
"I will watch for them." Lilith lowered the sword. "And when will you become a dragon again and leave the garden?"
As the serpent slithered along Lilith's arm, she raised her hand to the tree. It coiled around the branch, and its head turned back toward her, its voice echoing like a ghostly whisper. "When I steal the body of a certain dragon, I will be whole once more." It crawled back into the thicker foliage and disappeared.
Naamah ran from the tree and sidled up to Lilith, crossing her arms again. Lilith chuckled and kissed the top of her head. "Don't worry, Sister. Yours will be a marriage of convenience. We can dispose of Ham when he has served his purpose."
Naamah turned her back to Lilith, her arms still crossed. "Then you marry him. You seem ready to betray your husband."
Lilith grabbed Naamah's shoulder and spun her back around, her eyes turning bright scarlet. "I'm doing this for us!"
The pain from Lilith's grip made Naamah shake. As she stared at her sister's fiery eyes, she felt tears forming in her own.
Lilith slowly relaxed her fingers. Stroking Naamah's hair, she leaned close and whispered, "Lucifer has given me the means to carry out the plan that will save our lives. He knows Samyaza is not likely to cooperate, but I don't really want to betray my own husband." She pressed the tip of the sword into the grass. "I won't resort to draining his power unless I have to."
"Draining his power?" Naamah pointed at the sword. "With that?"
"No." Lilith spread out her fingers, showing Naamah her palm. Splotches of purple stained her skin from the heel of her hand to her fingertips. "My seed concoction has many uses, and absorbing potency will come in handy." Reaching up, she caressed one of the red fruits dangling from the tree. "Speaking of seeds" ¡ªshe plucked the fruit¡ª"I think these might also come in handy."
"For posterity again?"
"In a manner of speaking, yes." Lilith dropped the apple-sized fruit on the ground and chopped down with the sword, slicing it cleanly in half. Kneeling, she picked through the flesh, collecting six seeds, then, spreading out her fingers again, she let the sparkling red seeds roll around on her stained palm.
"They look like rubies!" Naamah said.
Lilith dropped them into her pocket along with the others. "Much more valuable than rubies, Sister. They are the seeds of corruption. And those who control the corrupting influence wield the power to rule the corrupted."
Paperback: 609 pages
Publisher: AMG Publishers (September 25, 2006)
Friday, November 24, 2006
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kristin Billerbeckwas born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and majored in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then, she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing. She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Calm, Cool & Adjusted
is the third book in the Spa Girls Novels.
Billerbeck did a great job with the characterization of Poppy, a quirky Christian chiropractor who is a health nut. I'm talking real NUT. She is so obsessed with health that she forgets about living. When she finally realizes that she is over the edge obsessed, she doesn't know how to stop herself.
Best friends since Johnny Depp wore scissors for hands, "The Spa Girls" live very separate lives, but stay in touch with routine visits to California's Spa Del Mar.
The third novel in the Spa Girls Series focuses on Silicon Valley chiropractor Poppy Clayton, who is as calm, cool and adjusted as they come. Or is she? Known for her bad fashion sense, a love for all things natural and the inability to get a second date, Poppy is beginning to wonder if she might be misaligned herself. Her route to self discovery will be an unnatural one - a plastic surgeon, a dilapidated house in Santa Cruz, a flirtatious client, and a blind date from the dark side.
It's all enough to send a girl - and her gal pals - running for the comfort zone of their spa.
Friday, November 17, 2006
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers. She will release three novels in 2006: Storm Surge (Tyndale) My Life as a Doormat (WestBow Press, Women of Faith)Occupational Hazards Book #1: Scoop (WaterBrook Press).
She has also been published over thirty times as a playwright, best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the "Excellence in Mass Communication" award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writer's conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
The Occupational Hazards Books are a series of books about seven homeschooled siblings whose last name is Hazard. The parents died in a freak accident leaving the kids ages 16-26 with a lucrative clown business but the kids realize that God has other plans which doesn't include being a family of clowns for the rest of their lives.
Scoop, is the first of the series and centers around Hayden, who was age 20 when her parents died. If you haven't yet guessed by the series title, this book is packed with many laugh out loud moments and great one liners.
Hayden is a strong Christian who, having been homeschooled, lacks some of the politically correct social norms...like not praying in front of everyone during a crisis. She finds herself in an internship at a television news station with a boss that takes stress pills, an aging news anchor that everyone wishes Botox on, a weatherman who wants to predict love for himself and Hayden, and a reporter struggling with his own politically correctness of being a good reporter and being a Christian.
Old School meets New School meets Homeschool. A smart and funny read.
Friday, November 10, 2006
If you like blogging...which you must if you are reading this...you will think this book is blogarific. After each chapter, there is a blog entry. The book is written in first person and contains some hilarious blog antics.
"Imagine that you are an anonymous blogger, one who uses a silly name instead of your own, then imagine blogging about your work. Now imagine blogging about your cubicle mate of the opposite sex and calling him by an anonymous name.
I know some who have done just that.
But now imagine that your cubicle mate has discovered your blog and begins to read it out loud to you. EVERY MORNING. "
The Cubicle Next Door is set in a civilian's view of working on a military post. That in itself is funny enough...then add that the main character is a tree hugging, anti-SUV lover, with a thing for Bollywood movies. (Her favorite it Bride & Prejudice.) Suddenly this civilian hippie is thrown into a cubicle next to an Air Force Pilot/Teacher who drives...yep...an SUV. Can't you feel the love?
Also, The Cubicle Next Door has some wonderful moments of self discovery.
Released Aug 06
Excerpt from Chapter 1:
“So what do you think, Jackie?”
What do I think? Funny Joe should ask me that. He’s just finished reading my blog. He’s just quoted me to myself. Or is it myself to me? Do I sound surreal, as if I’m living in parallel universes?
The blog—my blog—is all about Joe. And other topics that make me want to scream. But the clever thing is, I’m anonymous. When I’m blogging.
I’m Jackie, Joe’s cubicle-mate when I’m not.
And that’s the problem.
Joe is asking Jackie (me) what I think about the Mystery Blogger (also me). And since I don’t want Joe to know the blog is all about me and what I think of him, I can’t tell him what I think about me.
My brain is starting to short circuit.
So if I can’t tell him what I think about me, I certainly can’t tell him what I think about him, so I’m going to have to pretend not to be me. Not me myself and not me The Cubicle Next Door Blogger—TCND to my fans.
I have fans!
If I were clever I’d say something like, “Look!” and point behind him and then duck out of the room when he turned around to look.
But there’s so much computer equipment stacked around my desk and so many cables snaking around the floor that I’d break my neck if I tried to run away. So that option is out.
I could try pretending I didn’t hear him. “What?”“SUVs. So what do you think about them?”
But then we’d basically end up back where we started.
So how did I get myself into this mess?
It was all Joe’s fault.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
It is November 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!
This blog is featuring a contest to win a
copy of Nancy's new book, Coldwater Revival. Just put in a comment and you
may be the winner!
Just three weeks before her wedding, Emma Grace Falin has returned to her hometown of Coldwater, Texas, consumed by a single, burning desire. She must confront the guilt and shame of a devastating event that has haunted her since childhood.
"...What a stunning debut novel."
--Wendy Lawton, Literary Agent, author of Impressions in Clay
"An astonishing debut! Coldwater Revival is a hauntingly beautiful story made doubly so by Nancy Jo Jenkins stunning, lyrical writing. I was mesmerized from cover to cover."
--Deborah Raney, author of A Nest of Sparrows and A Vow to Cherish
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Meet Nancy Jo...
Q. How long did it take you to write Coldwater Revival?
A. I perceived the idea for Coldwater Revival in June, 2003, and completed the manuscript in March, 2005.
Q. Tell us about your journey from writer to published novelist.
A. During my teaching career, I dreamed of the day when I could write the stories that continually swam around in my head. I didn't know at the time that it would take me four or five years of attending workshops, conferences, retreats, lectures, and of studying tapes, books and other materials before I was ready to put my newly-acquired knowledge to use, and begin writing the stories that God had prompted me to write. In March, 2004, at the Mount Hermon Christian Writing Conference, I submitted a book proposal to Steve Laube (Literary agent), and Jeff Dunn, (Acquisitions Editor) for RiverOak. Both gentlemen asked me to send them all I had written on Coldwater Revival, which at the time was 109 pages. During the summer of 2004, both men offered me a contract. My book was published by RiverOak and released in May, 2006.
Q. The agony and healing Emma Grace went through are so real. What personal experiences did you draw from to portray Emma Grace's feelings so well?
A. There was a time in my life when I suffered with depression, though it was not due to a death in the family, as Emma Grace's was. At the time, it seemed that I was in a daily knock-down, drag-out fistfight with sadness. I was truly blessed in that I was never prescribed any kind of medication to treat my depression, which proved to be relatively short-lived. But I did receive counseling, which was just what I needed to win the battle with this debilitating condition. During that time of depression I endured many of the symptoms that Emma Grace suffered through. Excessive sleeping was about the only symptom we did not share. There were times when I couldn't swallow my food, and times when I could almost touch the face of that same blackness that almost overwhelmed Emma Grace. Her sorrow and guilt were difficult scenes for me to write, and I found myself crying each time I wrote about Emma Grace's sadness and the continual ache in her heart.
Q. Emma Grace loses all desire for life when her brother dies - not eating or talking, just living in the blissful cocoon of sleep. Do you have any advice for folks who are in that dark place right now?
A. Communication was the key that unlocked the door of depression for me. Communicate with God, even if the only words you can utter are the words, "Help me." But I also benefited greatly from talking to a certified counselor; one who was trained in helping people express their pain, their needs, their fears. I hope that anyone who feels sad and lonely for an extended length of time, will contact their pastor, or someone who can direct them to a Christian counselor.
Q. Emma Grace's grandmother lives in the city while the rest of the family lives in the country. Why do you think she didn't move out to the country with the rest of the family long ago?
A. Granny Falin immigrated from Ireland to America with her husband and son when Emma Grace's papa was just a lad. This family shared a dream about their new country. It would be a place where they could find work and prosperity, raise their family, and put down roots. Even the Great Hurricane of 1900 couldn't wash those dreams from Granny's heart. Though her only remaining child lived a hundred miles away in the rural township of Coldwater, Texas, Granny could never leave Galveston. The island and the sea that surrounded the island were her home now. It was where the ashes of her husband and three children were buried. It was the home she and her husband had dreamed of during their desperate years together in Ireland. If she left Galveston and moved to Roan's home, she would be giving up the dream she had shared with her husband.
Q. Papa and Elo have a tough time showing their emotions. Elo, especially, is so hard to read in the book. Why do you think some people hole up inside themselves rather than sharing their emotions?
A. I believe we are born with a portion of our personality already deeply embedded within us. Some people are reticent to express their feelings and emotions, while others have no problem whatsoever in expressing what they feel or think. I have known many individuals who are like Elo; people we sometimes refer to as "the strong, silent type". Papa and Elo are powerful protectors and providers who waste little time and effort on words. Both of these men feel that "actions speak louder than words". Added to that is the fact that Elo feels extreme discomfort when his mother and sisters are emotionally distraught, therefore, he maintains a rigid demeanor, in part, to provide a stable link in the chain that makes up his family - The Falins.
Q. Do you have other books coming out soon?
A. Thank you for asking about my upcoming books. I'm about to submit my proposal for a novel entitileld, "Whisper Mountain". This story takes place in the early 1900's in the Great Smoky Mountains. It is the story about lost love, and a desperate woman's journey to fill the void that deprivation and loss have left in her heart. The story has elements of mystery, intrigue, murder, and of course, romance. I'm very excited about this story. I've also begun writing a sequel to "Coldwater Revival" which will parallel both Emma Grace's life after 1933, and the adventurous trek Elo begins when he falls in love.
Three weeks before I was to marry Gavin O'Donnell, I set my feet upon the beaten path leading to Two-Toe Creek. What I had to offer Gavin in marriage—my whole heart, or just a part—depended on the
decision I would make today.
As my feet tracked the dusty pathway they stirred loose soil to the air. My heart stirred as well, for the guilt I had buried in its depths smoldered as though my brother had just died, and not five years earlier. In the shadowed days following the tragedy, my disgrace had glared like a packet of shiny new buttons. I'd not thought to hide it at the time. In truth, I'd thought of little, other than how to survive. But at some point during that time of sorrowful existence, when my days and nights strung together like endless telegraph wires, I dug a trench around my heart and buried my shame.
From that day until this, I deeded myself the actor's role, closing the curtain on my stain of bitter memories, hiding my sorrow behind a veil of pretense. But that old deceiver, Time, had neither softened my guilt nor put it to rest; only allowed it ample pause to fester like deadly gangrene. Now, as the day of my wedding drew near, my heart cried out for healing. It was, you see, far wiser than my head. My heart understood its need for restoration—before I exchanged wedding vows with Gavin. For this reason, I now walked the trail to Two-Toe Creek. To revisit my failures of yesteryear and reclaim the peace that had slipped past the portals of my childhood. Perhaps then I could give Gavin the entirety of my heart.
Friday, October 27, 2006
This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is reviewing Jerome Teel's latest book, The Election.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR :
Jerome Teel is a graduate of Union University, where he received his JD, cum laude, from the Ole Miss School of Law. He is actively involved in his church, local charities, and youth sports.He has always loved legal-suspense novels and is a political junkie. Jerome and his wife, Jennifer, have three children-Brittney, Trey, and Matthew-and reside in Tennessee, where he practices law and is at work on a new novel.
The book: THE ELECTION
They seek ultimate power.
Ed Burke has waited a lifetime to become president of the United States. He's not about to let his nemesis, Mac Foster, stop him now...especially when he's sold his soul for the Oval Office.Claudia Duval has lived a rough life. And finally, things have turned around for her after meeting the wealthy Hudson Kinney. But is all what is seems?When a prominent citizen is murdered in Jackson, Tennessee, attorney Jake Reed doesn't want to know the truth. He just wants to get his client off. But as he investigates, he uncovers a sinister scheme. A scheme that would undermine the very democracy of America...and the freedom of the entire world.
"The Election, by Jerome Teel, is a fast-paced, highly readable mystery filled with suspense, intrigue, and political conspiracy. Teel skillfully weaves together themes of faith, family, suffering, and providence in a way that not only compels, but enlightens."
David S. Dockery-President, Union University
Friday, October 20, 2006
About the Author:
USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America's #1 inspirational novelist. There are nearly 5 million copies of her award-winning books in print, including more than two million copies sold in the past year. Karen has written more than 30 novels, nine of which have hit #1 on national lists, including award-winning Oceans Apart, One Tuesday Morning, Beyond Tuesday Morning, the Redemption Series and Firstborn Series, and several other bestsellers, one of which was the basis for a CBS Movie-of-the-Week and Gideon's Gift, which is currently in production as a major theatrical release for Christmas 2007.
Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Don, and their six children, three of whom are adopted from Haiti.
About the Book:
A PEACEFUL TOWN...
AN IDYLLIC FAMILY...
A PHONE CALL THAT THREATENS THEM ALL.
Jack and Molly Campbell enjoyed an idyllic life (great house in a fancy neighborhood, high-paying job, and a beautiful little boy) in their small hometown outside Atlanta with their adopted 4-year-old, Joey. Then they receive the phone call that shatters their world: a social worker delivers the news that Joey's biological father has been released from prison and is ready to start lifeover with his son. (It's discovered that Joey's birth mother forged the signature of Joey's birth father, making it a fraudulent adoption.) When a judge rules that Joey must be returned to his father (a man who cannot separatee love and violence), the Campbells, in a silent haze of grief and utter disbelief, watch their son pick a dandelion and blow the feathery seeds into the wind.
Struggling with the dilemma of following the law, their hearts, and what they know to be morally right, the Campbells find that desperation leads to dangerous thoughts. What if they can devise a plan? Take Joey and simply disappear....LIKE DANDELION DUST.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
It's that time of the week! Time to do a blog tour! This week's tour is Violette Between.
Between Here and the PAST,
THERE LIES A PLACE...a place of longing for what has been rather than hoping for what could be!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alison Strobel graduated with a degree in elementary education, and in the summer of 2000 she moved from Chicago to southern California where she taught elementary school for three years. It was in Orange County that she met her husband, Daniel Morrow, and the story developed for her first novel, Worlds Collide.
Violette Between is a poinant story of a true artist. When the love of Violette's life, Saul suddenly died, she died too. Then she meets Christian, who also is morning the loss of a loved one.
As Violette and Christian begin to feel something that they both thought was impossible. Tragedy strikes again. Christian finds Violette on the floor of his waiting room, that she had been painting to look like a New York rooftop restaurant.
As Christian holds a vigil at her bedside, begging her to come back to him, Violette is in a coma, traveling to a place where she meets her beloved Saul. And she finds that she may not want to come back!
What would it be like to choose a place between the past and the present?
Violette Between is a powerful character study of a woman finally relinquishing the past to move on, only to be thrust into the quandry of reliving that life and needing to make a choice.For Christians, this will definitely make you think about heaven and the consequences of eternal life.
"Delving into the underside of complicated relationships, Alison Strobel takes readers to unexpected places, but doesn't hesitate to deliver redemptiom when needed."---Melody Carlson, author of Finding Alice
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Dark Hour is steeped in such vivid imagery that you will clearly envision Jehoshebeth walking the dusty streets of Judah or navigating the stone corridors of Solomon’s Palace. Besides the great story this was one of the things I enjoyed most about this book; it was so wonderfully written. Look forward to the second part in this trilogy Midnight Throne to be released in September 2007.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
P.S. I was thinking today about the house situation today and I remembered a few years ago when we were looking for a bigger place to live after I had gotten a promotion at work (believe it or not at the time seven of us were living in a two-bedroom house. We had found this ideal (in our minds) place to live only to be turned down by the owners. I remember crying at the time because I felt the reason she gave was not reasonable and I felt cheated but God worked it out so we got a nicer place for less money! If He did it once He can do it again!
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Guess what? You can win a free copy of Dark
Hour! Just leave a comment on this post and I will pick the winner from a random draw on Saturday 07 October!
About the author:
Ginger Garrett is an acclaimed
novelist and expert in ancient women's history.
Her first novel, Chosen, was
recognized as one of the best five novels of the year by the Christian
publishing industry. Ginger enjoys a diverse reader base and creates
conversation between cultures.
In addition to her 2006 and 2007
novels about the most evil women in biblical history, she will release
Beauty Secrets of the Bible (published by Thomas Nelson) in Summer
Ginger Garrett's Dark Hour
delves into the biblical account of Jezebel's daughter and her attempt to
end the line of David.
And now, a
special Q&A with Ginger Garrett:
1.) First, tell us a bit about Dark Hour.
I was praying about what book to write after Chosen, and accidentally
left my open Bible on the kitchen table. (A dangerous thing, since in my
house, small children and large dogs routinely scavenge with dirty
hands and noses for snacks!) As I walked past it, I saw a caption about
someone named Athaliah and a mass murder. I stopped cold. I knew it was my
history--who tried to destroy all the descendents of King David in a
massacre. God made a promise that a descendent of King David would always sit
on the throne, and one day a Messiah would come from this line. If
Athaliah succeeded, she would break the promise between God and the people,
and destroy all hope for a Messiah.
One woman, her step-daughter, Jehoshebeth, defied her. She stole a baby
during the massacre and hid him. Between them, the two women literally
fought for the fate of the world.
2.) What drew you to write biblical fiction?
The similarities between the lives of ancient women and our lives. We
get distracted by their "packaging," the way they dressed and lived, but
at heart, our stories are parallel.
3.) How much time is spent researching the novel versus writing the
Equal amounts, and I don't stop researching while I write. I have a
historical expert, probably the best in the world in his field, review the
manuscript and point out errors. The tough part is deciding when to
ignore his advice. He pointed out that most everyone rode donkeys if they
weren't in the military, but a key scene in the novel involves riding a
horse to the rescue. It would have been anti-climatic to charge in on a
donkey! :) So I ignored his advice on that one.
4.) Dark Hour takes its reader deep into the heart of palace
intrigue and betrayals. Were parts of this book difficult to write?
I left out much of the darkest material I uncovered in research. It was
important to show how violent and treacherous these times and this
woman (Athaliah) could be, but I tried to be cautious about how to do it.
The story was so powerful and hopeful--how one woman's courage in the
face of evil saved the world--but the evil was depressing. I tried to
move quickly past it. I wanted balance. Our heroine suffers and some
wounds are not completely healed in her lifetime. That's true for us, too.
5.) What would modern readers find surprising about ancient
They had a powerful sense of the community of women. They also wore
make-up: blush, glitter eyeshadow, lipstick, powder, and perfume! They
drank beer with straws, and enjoyed "Fritos": ground grains, fried and
salted. Many of our foods are the same today, but they loved to serve pate
made from dried locusts, finely ground. Ugh! Without further
ado...here is the FIRST chapter of Dark Hour by
Ginger Garrett. Judge for yourself if you'd like to read more!
(There is a prologue before chapter one regarding the birth of
Jehoshebeth... Athaliah is not Jehoshebeth's biological mother.)
c h a p t e r O n e
Fifteen Years Later
HER BARU, the priest of divination, opened the goatskin bag and
spread the wet liver along the floor, leaving a path of blood as he
worked. Retrieving a wooden board and pegs from his other satchel, the
satchel that held the knives and charms, he placed pegs in the board
according to where the liver was marked by fat and disease. He turned the
black liver over, revealing a ragged abscess.
Athaliah covered her mouth and nose with her hands to ward off
the smell but would not turn way.
“Worms,” her sorcerer said, not looking up. He placed more pegs
in the board before he stopped, and his breath caught.
A freezing wind touched them, though they were in the heart of
the palace in the heat of the afternoon. Athaliah cursed this cold thing
that had found her again and watched the sorcerer search for the source
of the chill before he returned to the divination. There was no source
of wind here; in her chamber there was a bed, the table where her
servants applied her cosmetics from ornate and lovely jars shaped like
animals, a limestone toilet, and in the farthest corner so that no one at
the chamber door would see it, her shrine. Statues of Baal, the storm
god, and the great goddess Asherah, who called all life into being, stood
among the panting lions carved from ivory and the oil lamps that burned
at all hours. Here she placed her offerings of incense and oil, and
here she whispered to the icy thing as it worshiped alongside her.
The baru watched as the flames in the shrine swayed, the chill
moving among the gods. The flames stayed at an angle until one began to
burn the face of Asherah. Her painted face began to melt, first her
eyes running black and then her mouth flowing red. He gasped and stood.
“I must return to the city.”
Athaliah stood, blocking him from his satchel.
“What does the liver say?”
“It is not good that I have come. We will work another day.”
She did not move. He glanced at the door. Guards with sharp
swords were posted outside.
“A dead king still rules here. You set yourself against him
and are damned.”
Athaliah sighed. “You speak of David.”
The baru nodded and bent closer so no other thing would hear his
whisper. “There is a prophecy about him, that one from the house of
David will always reign in Judah. His light will never die.”
“I fear no man, dead or living.”
The baru continued to whisper, fear pushing into his eyes,
making them wide. “It is not the man you must fear. It is his God.”
Athaliah bit her lip and considered his words. She wished he
didn’t tremble. It was such a burden to comfort a man.
“Yes, this God. It is this God who troubles us. Perhaps I can
make an offering to Him. You must instruct me. Stay, my friend, stay.”
She patted him on the arm, detesting his clammy flesh. “I have dreamed,”
she confessed. “I have a message from this God, and I must know how to
The baru took a step back, shaking his head. “What is this
“A man,” Athaliah said.
“At night, when I sleep and the moon blankets my chamber, I see
a man. He is not as we are: he is coarse and wild. He wears skins hewn
from savage beasts, run round his waist with careless thought, and in
his mind he is always running, ax in hand, running. I feel his thoughts,
his mind churning with unrest, and he knows mine completely. I hear a
burning whisper from heaven and shut up my ears, but he turns to the
sound. A great hand touches him, sealing him for what lies ahead, and
speaks a name I cannot hear, a calling to one yet to be. I try to strike
this man, but all goes red, blankets of red washing down.”
She licked her lips and waited, breathing hard. The baru nodded.
“You see the prophet of Yahweh, Elijah, who plagues your
The baru began to reach for his goatskin sack. He picked up the
liver and put it in the sack, keeping an eye on the door as he wiped
his bloody hand on his robes. She knew he was measuring his steps in his
mind, thinking only of freedom from here, and from her.
Athaliah grabbed his arm. “I let those who worship Yahweh
live in peace. They mean nothing to me; what is one God in a
land of so many? Why would this God send a man to make war
on my mother and then claim me also?”
The baru narrowed his eyes. “This God is not like the others.”
“How can we be free of Him?”
The baru thought for a moment then reached into his satchel. He
pulled out a handful of teeth and tossed them on the ground at her
feet. She did not move.
He squatted and read them, probing them with a shaking finger.
She watched as the hair along his neck rose, and goose bumps popped all
along his skin. The cold thing had wrapped itself tightly around him.
She could see his breath.
“There is a child,” he said. “The eye of Yahweh is upon this
child, always. I must counsel you to find this child and kill it, for when
it is gone, Yahweh would trouble you no more.”
Athaliah murmured and ran her teeth over her lips, biting and
dragging the skin as her thoughts worked back in time. “It is my daughter
you speak of. Only a girl. But even so, I cannot kill her yet. I would
lose my rights as the most favored wife. I will not risk my crown for
so small a prize. No, I will find another way to get rid of her, and I
will deal with this threat from Yahweh as I must.”
Athaliah walked to her shrine and cleaned the face of Asherah.
She could hear the baru scooping the teeth back into the bag. She turned
with a sly smile, pleased that her mind worked so quickly even with the
cold thing so near.
“My mother has already angered this God. We will let her have
our problem. She has a talent for these things.”
He had finished putting everything back into his two sacks and
edged toward the door. She wondered if he would return. He was the best
she had at divining dreams and saw in the liver so many answers. She
sighed and tried to think of a word to reassure him.
“A farmer may own the field,” she began, “but much work is done
before a harvest is even planted. Stones are removed, weeds are torn
free. We must break loose the soil and uproot our enemies so the field
will be ready. On that day I will sow richly.”
He managed a weak smile.
“Let your appetite grow, my friend,” she coaxed. “The harvest is
He fled so quickly she knew her words had been wasted, as all
words were on frightened men. He would never return.
silver bowl of dark wine and wished the business of inheriting a kingdom
did not involve so much listening. He rubbed his beard, its thick
clinging brown curls now flecked with gray. His beard was weathering his age
better than the hair on his head, he realized, which had already
surrendered to the assault of time, great gray streaks overtaking the brown.
He knew his face was kind, though, not hardened or roughened by his
years, but retaining a boyish appeal in his wry mouth and a small scar
just under his left eye. Any woman could look upon him and see the child
of mischief he once was. All women looked upon him and still thought to
He dined in a dim, private room with his advisers. The room was
adjacent to the throne room, where he would one day rule, and was bare,
save for an oil lamp on a low table. Cedar beams topped the limestone
walls, giving the palace a sweet, smoky scent under the afternoon sun.
The men sat around the table, scattered with maps, sharing a lunch of
grapes, bread, wine, and cheese. Normally they would eat more, and in the
dining hall, but the kitchen servants were busy preparing for the great
send-off feast and it was easier to be served here.
Tomorrow, his father, King Jehoshaphat, would lead Judah’s army
north toward Israel and King Ahab. Together, the two kingdoms would
fight their inconstant friend Ben-Hadad to end his trade monopolies.
Ben-Hadad fought alongside them against the cruel Assyrians but turned often
and claimed the richest of trade cities for himself.
“There are implications, my prince,” Ethan said. Ethan was the
tallest, and his skin turned red when he was angry, which was often. His
temper had plagued him since he and the prince were boys, but now
Jehoram no longer found pleasure in goading his friend. “If the kings
succeed at Ramoth-Gilead against Ben-Hadad,” Ethan continued, “and the
proposed alliance is
accepted, your father will have obligations both to the north and
south. In this way, Ahab’s kingdom will be strengthened by this victory, and
your own kingdom will be compromised. Judah may weaken and fall at last
to a king of Israel.”
“I have married the daughter of Ahab,” Jehoram replied. “I have
given their daughter an heir and promised her the crown. I have curried
the favor of the north well enough. They will not turn on me, for their
own daughter is at my side.” He tried to entertain himself with the
food and wine while his advisers prattled on. He wondered what would be
served at the feast tonight. If the servants’ exhausted expressions were
any indication, the spread would be remarkable.
“That is true, my friend,” Ethan said. “But you are wrong to
think this is Ahab’s war. It is a woman who is shaping this new world.
Think on this: What does the powerful Jezebel desire more than to bring
glory to her own name? She wants the north and south reunited so that she
may one day rule them both, a queen equal in power to Solomon.”
Ethan smirked as he continued. “Everyone knows Ahab wears the
crown but Jezebel rules. With Ahab and Jehoshaphat together in battle,
their voices silenced for a time, Jezebel will be listening for yours.
Let her know a lion roars in Judah. We will never be ruled by a woman,
especially one who hides behind her husband’s crown.”
Jehoram listened, running his tongue across his lips, catching a
spot of wine resting just above his lip. Ethan was his truest friend,
if a man about to wear the crown had one, but he was always ready for a
fight. Jehoram preferred to suffer a blow and stay with his women and
wine. He sighed. “Ethan, you look into darkness and see monsters, but I
see only shadows. It has always been this way.”
Ethan frowned. “We are no longer children hunting with our
fathers at night. Listen to me, for I am the voice of God in your ear.”
Jehoram turned his face away and crossed his arms. Then he
sighed and reached for a bowl of grapes and began to eat. He did not like an
Another adviser bit into some cheese and leaned in. “Mighty
Ethan is right. Jezebel wants to see you on the throne because of your
union with her daughter Athaliah, but she is no ally. Listen to what I tell
you: Something evil here stirs the water and watches.”
“These voices of doom!” Jehoram yelled, slapping his bowl down
on the table so that it spilled. “These voices and whispers, will they
not cease?” He gripped his head and glared at the men. Each had but one
wife and thought to advise him on his many? “You warn me against women,
even my own wife, but they are women and nothing more!”
Ethan scooted closer to him. “Do not play the fool. Athaliah
practices her strange magic and you slip under her spell little by little.
There is still time to save yourself, and the kingdom, if you are
indeed a man and king.”
Jehoram rose and adjusted his robe around his shoulders, staring
down at Ethan.
“Do even my friends turn against me now?” he asked.
“I have always been like a brother to you. I desire nothing but
your good,” Ethan said, rising. Jehoram held his temper and the two men
glared at each other, breathing hard.
The adviser Ornat spoke. “May I address the future king of
Jehoram nodded and sat, returning to his grapes. He glanced at
Ethan and shook his head.
Ornat was new to his inner circle, an adviser Athaliah had
recommended for his influence among the people who did not worship the God
of Judah. She promised his voice would balance the harsh messages the
others always gave. He had long, straight gray hair that always hung as
if he had just come in from the rain. A magnificent bump crowned his
nose, but it was the only remarkable feature about the man, a man who
looked as if he were melting before their eyes.
“Good Jehoram,” Ornat began, “the king knows you are a son who
is not like the father. King Jehoshaphat has conspired with your
brothers to ensure you never take the throne. They plot behind closed doors,
taking their meals without you. I have heard the plans from my spies
among the servants.”
Jehoram felt his stomach churn at the accusation. He would not
allow such ridiculous talk and raised his hand to dismiss the man at
The arrival of Athaliah interrupted them, and all bowed as she
“Jehoram, I seek your face with a burden on my heart. Hear me
and help me, my lord and husband,” she said.
Jehoram looked at her a moment, his eyes having trouble
adjusting to the light that streamed in when the door had opened. She stirred
something in him, as she had from her first night in the palace,
rain-soaked and announced by thunder, her sheer robes clinging to her tiny
frame. She came bearing boxes of shrines and gods, like the dolls of a
child, and she clung to them even in their bedchamber. She was the only
wife who did not submit to his will, and he had found her exotic. Now she
had grown, but his exotic pet was still wild, shaking off the customs
and manners he tried to teach her. He knew she hungered, but not for
him. His face burned with shame.
“Speak, Athaliah,” he said.
“Your daughter has grown quite pale of late. I have seen this
Jehoram sat up straight. Sickness in the palace would spread
rapidly, a threat as swift and fierce as any Assyrian.
“What sickness?” he demanded.
Athaliah smiled at him, then at the men reclining.
“Of course you do not understand,” she said. “You are men. You
have tended your kingdom well but neglected to see that your daughter
has come of age.”
Jehoram exhaled and sat back, an indulgent smile on his lips.
“And what remedy does this sickness crave?” he asked.
Athaliah bowed before Jehoram. “She must marry, my lord.”
Jehoram waved his hand, a broad gesture. Here he could be
“I command, then, that she be married. If there is a commander
well thought of, it would be an honor to give a daughter in marriage
just before a battle.”
Athaliah nodded, just once. He felt his victory slipping away.
“I have sent word to the north,” Athaliah said, “to my mother’s
house, that a nobleman from my own home who serves in the ivory palace
of my mother be given her. King Ahab has sent you his favorite
daughter.” She smiled. “Now let us send ours to him. It will be good for
Jehoshebeth to hold your name ever before my father, Ahab. And Jezebel would
relish a granddaughter so near.”
Jehoram stopped and frowned. “It is Jehoshebeth you speak of?
She is a special child to me. I would not have her sent north.”
“But you have given the order that she be married. There is no
one else worthy of her,” Athaliah said.
Jehoram rubbed his chin and pretended to study a map. Finally,
he shook his head. “I must think on this.”
Athaliah bowed low, her eyes closed. “May the God you serve
bless all your decisions, good Jehoram,” she said. She straightened and
looked at the advisers. Jehoram could not bear to see their eyes upon his
bride, the only territory he owned and could not rule. He detected
secrets moving between her and Ornat like a sudden spring bubbling up from
a dark source. Only a few found it distasteful and turned away. Ethan
was the first to scowl and return his glance to the prince.
“I will see you all at the feast tonight,” Athaliah said as she
She wagged a finger at Ornat. “Take care of my good husband.”
Jehoram slouched in his seat and returned to his grapes.