Saturday, December 22, 2007

Distant Heart Blog Tour

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Distant Heart

(Avon Inspire January 2, 2008)


Tracey Bateman


Tracey Bateman is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including Defiant Heart, the First in the Westeard Hearts series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and recently served on the board as President. She loves in Lebanon, Missouri, with her husband and their four children.


In the second book in the Westward Hearts trilogy, will the promise of a new life out west heal the scars of Toni's past?

This series tells the stories of three strong women as they struggle to survive on the rough wagon train and lose their hearts to unlikely heroes along the way/ Thin Little House on the Prairie meets Francine river's Redeeming Love and you begin to get a sense of the riveting historical series that Tracey Bateman has created.

In this second installment, we follow Toni Rodden, a former prostitute who sought to escape her past and build a new life, and a new reputation, when she joined the wagon train. Despite much resentment and distrust from the other women, Toni has finally earned a place on the wagon train and found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time in her life, Toni actually feels free.

But while Toni once harbored dreams that her new life might include a husband and family, she soon realizes the stigma that comes with her past is difficult to see beyond and that she'll never be truly loved or seen as worthy. As the trip out west begins to teach her to survive on her own, she resolves to make her own living as a seamstress when the train finally reaches Oregon.

But despite Toni's conviction that no man will be able to see beyond her marred past, Sam Two-feathers, the wagon scout and acting preacher for the train seems to know of a love that forgives sins and values much more than outward appearances. Will Sam have the confidence to declare his love? Will Toni be able to trust in a God that can forgive even the darkest past? Faith, love, and courage will be put to the test in Distant Heart.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What Lies Within Blog Tour

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

What Lies Within

Multnomah Fiction (November 20, 2007)


Karen Ball


Karen Ball , bestselling novelist, is also the editor behind several of today's bestselling Christian novels. Her love for words was passed down through her father and grandfather - both pastors who shared God's truth through sermons and storytelling. Blending humor, poignancy, and honesty, Karen's writing style is a powerful force for revealing God's truth. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Don, and their "kids," Bodhan, a mischief-making Siberian husky, and Dakota, an Aussie-terrier mix who should have been named "Destructo."


Nothing’s going to stop Kyla…

until the ground crumbles beneath her feet.

Kyla Justice has arrived. Her company, Justice Construction, is one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful companies in the Pacific Northwest. And yet, something is missing. Not until she’s called on to build a center for inner-city kids does she realize what it is: her sense of purpose. Now nothing can stop her, not the low budget, not supply problems, not gang opposition, not her boyfriend’s suggestion that she sell her business and marry him–and most especially not that disagreeable Rafael Murphy.

Rafe Murphy understands battle. Wounded in action, this Force Recon Marine carries the scars–and the nightmares–to prove it. Though he can’t fight overseas any longer, he’s found his place as a warrior in the civilian world. So he soldiers on, trusting that one of these days, God will reveal to him why Rafe survived the ambush in Iraq. That day has arrived.

Kyla and Rafe both discover that determination alone won’t carry them through danger and challenges. When gang violence threatens their very foundations, there’s only one way to survive: rely on each other, be real–and surrender to God. In other words, risk everything…

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Bluegrass Peril Blog Tour

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Bluegrass Peril

(Steeple Hill December 4, 2007)


Virginia Smith

Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker in the summer of 2005. Since then she has contracted eight novels and numerous articles and short stories.

She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including her debut, Just As I Am (Kregel Publications, March 2006) and her new release, Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007). Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines.

An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”



Local police had tagged single mom Becky Dennison as their prime suspect. But she'd only been in the wrong place at the wrong time...admittedly, with her boss's lifeless body. Sure it looked bad, but Becky had no motive for killing...even if she had opportunity.

When the director of the retirement farm for thoroughbred champions is murdered, Becky Dennison teams up with the handsome manager of a neighboring horse farm, Scott Lewis, to find her boss's killer. Soon the amateur detective are hot on the trail of the murderer...even as their feelings for each other deepen.

The amateur sleuths uncover a trail of clues that lead them into the intricate society of Kentucky's elite thoroughbred breeding industry. They soon find themselves surrounded by the mint julep set - jealous southern belles and intensely competitive horse breeders - in a high-stakes game of danger, money, and that famous southern pride.

And for Becky and Scott, this race on the Kentucky tracks has the greatest stakes of all: life or death!

Romantic Times awarded Bluegrass Peril
* * * * FOUR STARS! * * * *

Sunday, December 02, 2007

FIRST Post: The Minor Protection Act

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 his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

and her book:

The Minor Protection

Musterion (December 1, 2005)


Jodi Cowles
caught the travel bug when her parents took her on her first
international flight at six months of age. Since then she’s been in over 30
countries. Along the way she’s gotten locked out of her cabin on an all night
train to Kiev, helped deliver a baby in Indonesia, taught English in
South Korea, gone spelunking in Guam, hiked the Golan Heights and laid
bricks in Zimbabwe. Her interest in politics stems from hunting Easter
eggs on the south lawn of the White House as a child. For her 30th
birthday she ran the LA Marathon and promised to get serious about
publishing. Jodi resides in Boise, Idaho and this is her first novel.


If the politically correct set was searching for a
poster couple, they would need to look no further than Erik and Roselyn
Jessup. In college they lit up doobies while attending passionate
speeches about legalizing marijuana and freeing Tibet. Erik was even arrested
once for helping break into an animal research center. Roselyn bailed
him out. After five years of dating they decided to tie the knot. Seven
years later, after Roselyn had enough time to get established in her
career, she gave birth to their pride and joy, Jayla Lynn Jessup.

Both had satisfying full-time jobs that left them only enough time to
pour themselves into Jayla. They attended every event at school, even if
it meant working overtime and paying the after school program for a
few extra hours. When Jayla made the principal's list or won a spelling
bee, they were cheering, and filming, from the front row.

Jayla began junior high at a brand new school with a brand new
curriculum. It was being called "progressive" in the papers; the first program
of its kind implemented in California with plans for a nationwide
rollout over the next 10 years. Praise poured in from around the country,
applauding the straight talk about sexuality and focus on tolerance.

Erik and Roselyn were thrilled to have their daughter in this
groundbreaking program. Granted, it took several phone calls to district
authorities to accomplish the transfer and Roselyn had to drive an extra 30
minutes each morning to drop off Jayla, but it was quite a coup to brag
about in their circle of friends.

Jayla turned 13 two years into junior high. For her birthday she told
her parents she wanted to order pizza and hang around the house – there
was something she needed to tell them. Over pepperoni and Coke, Jayla
calmly informed them that she'd been discussing it with her friends and
teachers and had decided she was gay.

Though she had never had a girlfriend, or a boyfriend for that matter,
Erik and Roselyn were quick to affirm her decision and let her know she
had their full support. Roselyn applauded her daughter's honest,
courageous move and told Jayla how proud she was. Erik was also supportive
and went so far as to tease Jayla about her best friend Sara.

There weren't too many lesbians in her junior high and Jayla had a
pretty average experience, but she attracted attention when she entered
high school wearing the rainbow buttons specially purchased by her mother.
Soon she was 15 and seriously involved with Carla, the 17-year-old
senior who was President of the Gay Pride Club. When Erik and Roselyn saw
the relationship deepening they sat Jayla down and had a heart to heart
"sex talk," encouraging her to be responsible and safe, and only to
have sex if she was truly in love.

She was. However, when the year ended Carla left for college on the
east coast and broke off the relationship in a letter.

Jayla was heartbroken. Erik and Roselyn were quick to comfort, as any
loving parents of a shattered teenager, but their answers seemed hollow
to Jayla, their comfort cold. At 16 she began dabbling in drugs - a
first for her.

By the time her senior year began the family bond that was once so
strong had disintegrated to the degree that she seldom spoke to her parents
unless it was to strike out in anger. She had not entered into another
dating relationship, as much as they encouraged her in that direction.
Rather, she seemed withdrawn from the world and spent endless hours
either locked in her room or suspiciously absent. Finally, Roselyn had
enough and took her to a doctor who prescribed an anti-depressant for
teenagers that had just been released on the market.

By Christmas the medication seemed to be working. Jayla was coming
around, spending more time at home. She seemed calmer and more at peace.
They were even beginning to talk about college. But New Year's morning
they found her dead, her anti-depressant bottle and a quart of vodka
laying empty in the trash and a mass of journals and letters scattered
around her in the bed.

Erik and Roselyn were devastated. Jayla had been their whole life. They
dove into the letters and journals, trying to make sense of it all.
What they found only served to inflame their anger. Some boy named Nick
had been telling their daughter that she was a sinner, quoting Bible
verses that said her sexual preference was an abomination before God.
Jayla's journal was full of self-loathing, page after page about her
relationship with Carla, page after page of rambling, agonizing pain. Why was
she made like this if homosexuality was a sin? Why would her parents
have supported her if it were an abomination? Why had she listened to
the seventh grade teacher who told her experimentation was the best way
to determine her sexuality? What was wrong with her?

They could hardly stand to finish it but they read every word. In the
end their grief found relief, as it so often does, in bitterness and
hatred. The day after Jayla's funeral, attended by hundreds of students
from Jayla’s school, Erik and Roselyn met with the District Attorney. A
year later, bitterness not yet assuaged, they went to see a lawyer. In
the culture of America, where there is rarely tragedy unaccompanied by
litigation, they found a willing law firm. Someone would pay.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Auralia's Colors Blog Tour

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(WaterBrook Press September 4, 2007)


Jeffrey Overstreet


Jeffrey Overstreet lives in two worlds. By day, he writes about movies at and in notable publications like Christianity Today, Paste, and Image.

His adventures in cinema are chronicled in his book Through a Screen Darkly. By night, he composes new stories found in fictional worlds of his own. Living in Shoreline, Washington, with his wife, Anne, a poet, he is a senior staff writer for Response Magazine at Seattle Pacific University.

Auralia’s Colors is his first novel. He is now hard at work on many new stories, including three more strands of The Auralia Thread.

As a baby, she was found in a footprint.

As a girl, she was raised by thieves in a wilderness where savages lurk.

As a young woman, she will risk her life to save the world with the only secret she knows.

When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.

Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.

Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.

Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.

Visit the Website especially created for the book, Auralia's Colors. On the site, you can read the first chapter and listen to jeffrey's introduction of the book, plus a lit more!


"Film critic and author Overstreet (Through a Screen Darkly) offers a powerful myth for his first foray into fiction. Overstreet’s writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told. Readers will be hungry for the next installment."
--Publishers Weekly

“Through word, image, and color Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted a work of art. From first to final page this original fantasy is sure to draw readers in. Auralia's Colors sparkles.”
-–Janet Lee Carey, award-winning author of The Beast of
and Dragon's Keep

“Jeffrey Overstreet’s first fantasy, Auralia’s Colors, and its heroine’s cloak of wonders take their power from a vision of art that is auroral, looking to the return of beauty, and that intends to restore spirit and and mystery to the world. The book achieves its ends by the creation of a rich, complex universe and a series of dramatic, explosive events.”
-–Marly Youmans, author of Ingledove and The
Curse of the Raven Mocker

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Try Dying Blog Tour

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Center Street October 24, 2007)


James Scott Bell


James Scott Bell is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He is also the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.

His book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today. The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on his next Buchanan thriller.


On a wet Tuesday morning in December, Ernesto Bonilla, twenty-eight, shot his twenty-three-year-old wife, Alejandra, in the backyard of their West 45th Street home in South Los Angeles. As Alejandra lay bleeding to death, Ernesto drove their Ford Explorer to the westbound Century Freeway connector where it crossed over the Harbor Freeway and pulled to a stop on the shoulder.

Bonilla stepped around the back of the SUV, ignoring the rain and the afternoon drivers on their way to LAX and the west side, placed the barrel of his .38 caliber pistol into his mouth, and fired.

His body fell over the shoulder and plunged one hundred feet, hitting the roof of a Toyota Camry heading northbound on the harbor Freeway. The impact crushed the roof of the Camry. The driver, Jacqueline Dwyer, twenty-seven, an elementary schoolteacher from Reseda, died at the scene.

This would have been simply another dark and strange coincidence, the sort of thing that shows up for a two-minute report on the local news--with live remote from the scene--and maybe gets a follow-up the next day. Eventually the story would go away, fading from the city's collective memory.

But this story did not go away. Not for me. Because Jacqueline Dwyer was the woman I was going to marry.

In Try Dying, this fast-paced thriller, lawyer Ty Buchanan must enter a world of evil to uncover the cause of his fiancee's death--even if hie has to kill for the truth.
"Bell is one of the best writers out there...he creates characters readers care about...a story worth telling."
~Library Review~

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Deadfall Blog Tour

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Thomas Nelson November 6, 2007)

Robert 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.

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.

Robert's first novel painted a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.

Bob has sold the film rights to his second book, GERM. And he is writing the screenplay for a yet-to-be-written political thriller, which sold to Phoenix Pictures, for Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) to direct!

He is currently working on his fourth novel.


Deep in the isolated Northwest Territories, four friends are on the trip of a lifetime. Dropped by helicopter into the Canadian wilderness, Hutch, Terry, Phil, and David are looking to escape the events of a tumultuous year for two weeks of hunting, fishing, and camping.

Armes with only a bow and arrow and the basics for survival, they've chosen a place far from civilization, a retreat from their turbulent lives. But they quickly discover that another group has targeted the remote region and the secluded hamlet of Fiddler Falls for a more menacing purpose: to field test the ultimate weapon.

With more than a week before the helicopter rendezvous and no satellite phone, Hutch, a skilled bow-hunter and outdoor-survivalist must help his friend elude their seemingly inescapable foes, as well as decide whether to run for their lives...or risk everything to help the townspeople who are being held hostage and terrorized.

An intense novel of character forged in the midst of struggle, survival, and sacrifice. Deadfall is highly-aclaimed author Robert Liparulo's latest rivetingly smart thriller.

Get Downloads and EXCERPTS at

"DEADFALL is drop-dead great!"
-In The Library Reviews

"What if Mad Max, Rambo, and the Wild Bunch showed up-all packing Star Wars type weapons? You'd have Robert Liparulo's thrilling new adventure Deadfall."
-Katherine Neville, best selling author of The Eight
"A brilliantly crafted thriller with flawless execution. I loved it!"
-Michael Palmer, best selling author of The Fifth Vial

"In Deadfall, Robert Liparulo gives us a fresh fast paced novel that instills a well founded fear of the villians and an admiration for the people who refuse to be victims. It truly deserves the name thriller.
-Thomas Perry, best selling author of The Butcher's Boy and Silence

"Another brilliantly conceived premise from Robert Liparulo. Deadfall will leave you looking over your shoulder and begging for more."
-DAve Dun, best selling author of The Black Silent

A NOTE from Bob: I’d like to give away five signed copies of Deadfall to readers of CFBA blogs during my tour. All you have to do is sign up for my e-mailing list (youwon’t be inundated!) by going to my website ( and going to the “Mailing List” page. Or email me with “CFBA giveaway” in the subject line.

And a second NOTE from Bob: I wanted to let you know that I’m holding a contest on my site:

**one winner a week till the end of the year for a signed Deadfall
**one winner a week till the end of the year for an unabridged audio MP3-CD of Deadfall
***and on Dec. 31, I’m giving away an iPod Nano, pre-loaded with an unabridged audio recording of Deadfall

Winners are selected from my e-mailing list—sign up at my site. If a winner has already purchased what he/she wins, I will reimburse them for the purchase price (or give them another—whichever they choose), so they don’t need to wait to see if they win before buying Deadfall.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Surrender Bay Blog Tour

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
(Thomas Nelson November 6, 2007)
Denise Hunter
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped.

Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

In addition to Surrender Bay, the second Nantucket book releases in April 2008. The title is The Convenient Groom and features Kate Lawrence, a relationship advice columnist, whose groom dumps her on her wedding day. Denise is currently at work on the third Nantucket book (Oct 2008) which is untitled so far.

ABOUT THE BOOK: When Sam's estranged step-father dies, she inherits his ocean-front cottage in Nantucket--not because he kindly bequeathed it to her, but because he neglected to ever create a will. Sam returns to the island she left 11 years ago with her daughter Caden to fix up the house and sell it, but she isn't counting on is the fact that Landon Reed still lives two doors down from her childhood home.

As their long-dormant romance begins to bud again, Sam must face the fact that Landon still doesn't know why she really left the island. Will the secrets she's hidden all these years tear them apart? Or is Landon's love really as unconditional as he claims?

"I've always thought Denise Hunter was an amazing writer but this wonderful story sets her firmly at the forefront of compelling love stories. How Landon breaks down Samantha's determination that she is unworthy of love kept me glued to the pages. An amazing story!"
--Colleen Coble, author of Fire Dancer (Smoke Jumper Series)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

FIRST Post: Hollywood Nobody

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

This month's feature author is:

and her book:


Th1nk Books (August 30, 2007)


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

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.

Novels by Lisa:
, ,
, Songbird,
, The
Church Ladies
, Women's
Intuition: A Novel
, Songbird,
Living End


Hollywood Nobody: April 1

Happy April Fool’s Day! What better day to start a blog about Hollywood
than today?

Okay, I’ve been around film sets my whole life. Indie films, yeah, and
that’s all I’m saying about it here for anonymity’s sake. But trust me,
I’ve had my share of embarrassing moments. Like outgrowing Tom Cruise
by the age of twelve — in more ways than one, with the way he’s gotten
crazier than thong underwear and low-rise jeans. Thankfully that
fashion disaster has run for cover.

Underwear showing? Not a good

Fact: I don’t know of a single girl who doesn’t wish
the show-itall boxer-shorts phenomenon would go away as well. Guys, we
just don’t want to see your underwear. Truthfully, we believe that there
is a direct correlation between how much underwear you show and how
much you’ve got upstairs, if you know what I mean.

I’ve seen the stars at their best and at their worst. And believe me,
the worst is really, really bad. Big clue: you’d look just as pretty as
they do if you went to such lengths. As you might guess, some of them
are really nice and some of them are total jerks, and there’s a lot of
blah in-betweeners. Like real life, pretty much, only the extremes are
more extreme sometimes. I mean honestly, how many people under twenty do
you know who have had more than one plastic surgery?

So you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a little hard on these folks. But
if it was all sunshine and cheerleading, I doubt you’d read this blog
for long, right?

Today’s Rant: Straightening irons. We’ve had enough of
them, Little Stars, okay? It was bad on Helen Hunt at the Oscars,
worse on Demi, yet worse on Madonna, and it’s still ridiculous. Especially
on those women who are trying to hold onto their youth like Gollum
holds onto that ring. Ladies, there’s a reason for keeping your hair at or
above your shoulders once you hit forty, and ever after. Think Annette
Bening. Now she’s got it going on. And can’t you just see why Warren
Beatty settled down for her? Love her! According to The Early
this morning, curls are back, and Little Me ain’t going to tell why
I’m so glad about that!

Today’s Kudo: Aretha Franklin. Big, bold, beautiful,
and the best. Her image is her excellence. Man, that woman can sing! She
has a prayer chain too. I’m not very religious myself, but you got to
respect people who back up what they say they believe. Unless it’s male
Scientologists and "silent birth." Yeah, right. Easy for them to say.

Today’s News: I saw a young actor last summer at a
Shakespeare festival in New England. Seth Haas. Seth Hot is more like it.
I heard a rumor he’s reading scripts for consideration. Yes, he’s that
hot. Check him out here. Tell all your friends about him. And look here
on Hollywood Nobody for the first, the hottest news on this hottie.
Girls, he’s only nineteen! Fair game for at least a decade-and-a-half
span of ages.

I don’t know about you, but following the antics of new teen rock star
Violette Dillinger is something I’m looking forward to. Her first
album, released to much hype, hit Billboard’s no. 12 spot its third week
out. And don’t you love her hit single "Love Comes Knocking on My Door"?
This is going to be fun. A new celeb. Uncharted territory. Will
Violette, who seems grounded and talented, be like her predecessors and fall
into the "great defiling show-business machine" only to be spit out as a
half-naked bimbo? We’ll see, won’t we? Keep your fingers crossed that
the real artist survives.

Today’s Quote: "Being thought of as ‘a beautiful
woman’ has spared me nothing in life. No heartache, no trouble. Beauty is
essentially meaningless." Halle Berry


Friday, April 2

I knew it was coming soon. We’d been camped out in the middle of a
cornfield, mind you, for two weeks. That poke on my shoulder in the middle
of the night means only one thing. Time to move on.

"What, Charley?"

"Let’s head ’em on out, Scotty. We’ve got to be at a shoot in North
Carolina tomorrow afternoon. I’ve got food to prepare, so you have to

"I’m still only fifteen."

"It’s okay. You’re a good driver, baby."

My mom, Charley Dawn, doesn’t understand that laws exist for a reason,
say, keeping large vehicles out of the hands of children. But
as a food stylist, she fakes things all the time.

Her boundaries are blurred. What can I say?

Charley looks like she succumbed to the peer pressure of plastic
surgery, but she hasn’t. I know this because I’m with her almost all the
time. I think it’s the bleached-blond fountain of long hair she’s worn ever
since I can remember. Or maybe the hand-dyed sarongs and shirts from
Africa, India, or Bangladesh add to the overall appearance of youth. I
have no idea. But it really makes me mad when anybody mistakes us as

I mean, come on! She had me when she was forty!

My theory: a lot of people are running around with bad eyesight and
just don’t know it.

I throw the covers to my left. If I sling them to my right, they’d land
on the dinette in our "home," to use the term in a fashion less
meaningful than a Hollywood "I do." I grew up in this old Travco RV I call
the Y.

As in Y do I have to live in this mobile home?

Y do I have to have such an oddball food stylist for a mother?

Y must we travel all year long? Y will we never live anyplace long
enough for me to go to the real Y and take aerobics, yoga, Pilates or —
shoot — run around the track for a while, maybe swim laps in the pool?

And Y oh Y must Charley be a vegan?

More on that later.

And Y do I know more about Hollywood than I should, or even want to?
Everybody’s an actor in Hollywood, and I mean that literally. Sometimes I
wonder if any of them even know who they are deep down in that corner
room nobody else is allowed into.

But I wonder the same thing about myself.

"You’re not asking me to drive while you’re in the kitchen trailer, are
you, Charley?"

"No. I can cook in here. And it’s a pretty flat drive. I’ll be fine."

I’m not actually worried about her. I’m thinking about how many charges
the cops can slap on me.

Driving without a license.

Driving without a seat belt on the passenger.

Speeding, because knowing Charley, we’re late already.

Driving without registration. Charley figured out years ago how to lift
current stickers off of license plates. She loves "sticking it to the
man." Or so she says.

I kid you not.

Oh, the travails of a teenager with an old hippie for a mother. Charley
is oblivious as usual as I continue my recollection of past
infractions thankfully undetected by the state troopers:

Driving while someone’s in the
trailer. It’s a great trailer, don’t get me wrong, a mini industrial
kitchen we rigged up a couple of years ago to make her job easier.
Six-range burner, A/C, and an exhaust fan that sucks up more air than Joan
Rivers schmoozing on the red carpet. But it’s illegal for her to go
cooking while we’re in motion.

"All right. Can I at least get dressed?"

"Why? You’re always in your pj’s anyway."

"Great, Mom."

"It’s Charley, baby. You know how I feel about social hierarchy."

"But didn’t you just give me an order to drive without a license? What
if I say no?"

She reaches into the kitchen cupboard without comment and tips down a
bottle of cooking oil. Charley’s as tall as a twelve-year-old.

"I mean, let’s be real, Charley. You do, in the ultimate end
of things, call the shots."

I reach back for my glasses on the small shelf I installed in the side
of the loft. It holds whatever book I’m reading and my journal. I love
my glasses, horn-rimmed "cat glasses" as Charley calls them. Vintage
1961. Makes me want to do the twist and wear penny loafers.

"Can I at least pull my hair back?"

She huffs. "Oh, all right, Scotty! Why do you have to be so difficult?"

Charley has no clue as to how difficult teenagers can actually be. Here
I am, schooling myself on the road, no wild friends. No friends at
all, actually, because I hate Internet friendships. I mean, how lame,
right? No boyfriend, no drugs. No alcohol either, unless you count cold
syrup, because the Y gets so cold during the winter and Charley’s a huge
conservationist. (Big surprise there.) I should be thankful, though. At
least she stopped wearing leather fringe a couple of years ago.

I slide down from the loft, gather my circus hair into a ponytail, and
slip into the driver’s seat. Charley reupholstered it last year with
rainbow fabric. I asked her where the unicorns were and she just rolled
her eyes. "Okay, let’s go. How long is it going to take?"

"Oh." She looks down, picks up a red pepper and hides behind it.

I turn on her. "You didn’t Google Map it?"

"You’re the computer person, not me." She peers above the stem. "I’m
sorry?" She shrugs. Man, I hate it when she’s so cute. "Really sorry?"

"Charley, we’re in Wilmore, Kentucky. As in Ken-Tuck-EEE . As in the
middle of nowhere." I climb out of my seat. "What part of North Carolina
are we going to? It’s a wide state."

"Toledo Island. Something like that. Near Ocracoke Island. Does that
sound familiar?"

"The Outer Banks?"

"Are they in North Carolina?"

Are you kidding me?

"Let me log on. This is crazy, Charley. I don’t know why you do this to
me all the time."

"Sorry." She says it so Valley Girl-like. I really thought I’d be above
TME: Teenage Mom Embarrassment. But no. Now, most kids don’t have
mothers who dress like Stevie Nicks and took a little too much LSD back in
the DAY. It doesn’t take ESP to realize who the adult in this setup is.
And she had me, PDQ, out of the bonds of holy matrimony I might add,
when she was forty (yes, I already told you that, but it’s still just as
true), and that’s
OLD to be caught in such an inconvenient situation, don’t you think?
The woman had no excuse for such behavior, FYI.

My theory: Charley’s a widow and it’s too painful to talk about my
father. I mean, it’s plausible, right?

The problem is, I can remember back to when I was at least four, and I
definitely do not remember a man in the picture. Except for Jeremy.
More on him later too.

I flip up my laptop. I have a great satellite Internet setup in the Y.
I rigged it myself because I’m a lonely geek with nothing better to do
with her time than figure out this kind of stuff. I type in the info
and wait for the directions. Satellite is slower than DSL, but it’s
better than nothing.

"Charley! It’s seventeen hours away!" I scan the list of twists and
turns between here and there. "We have to take a ferry to Ocracoke, and
then Toledo Island’s off of there."


"Groovy died with platform shoes and midis."

"Whatever, Scotty." Only she says it all sunny. She’s a morning person.

"That phrase should be dead."

Honestly, I’m not big on lingo. I’ve never been good at it, which is
fine by me. Who am I going to impress with cool-speak anyway? Uma
Thurman? Yeah, right. "Okay, let’s go."

"We can go as long as possible and break camp on the way, you know?"

I climb back into the rainbow chair, throw the Y into drive, pull the
brake, and we’re moving on down the road.


Sample from Hollywood Nobody
/ ISBN: 1-60006-091-9
Copyright © 2006 NavPress Publishing. All rights reserved. To order
copies of this resource, come back to

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Return Blog Tour

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Navpress Publishing Group July 13, 2007)


Austin Boyd


Austin Boyd writes from his experience as a decorated Navy pilot, spacecraft engineer and an astronaut candidate finalist. Austin lives with his wife Cindy and four children in America’s “Rocket City”--Huntsville, Alabama, where he directs business development for a large NASA and defense contractor. His creative talents include inspirational fiction and poetry, finely crafted reproduction colonial furniture, archery and long distance cycling. He serves his community as an advocate for a crisis pregnancy center and as a motivational speaker in the area of lifestyle evangelism.

THE RETURN is part of the Mars Hill Classified Series with The Evidence and The Proof



Six years after completing a manned mission to the Red Planet, Admiral John Wells is set to make another journey to Mars. But this time his crew is not alone, as John's team encounters a secret colony comprised of individuals pursuing John Raines' strange religion, the "Father Race."

While John begins to uncover a web of lies on Mars, his wife and daughter are struggling for survival on earth. Now John must survive his dangerous mission and find a way back home, even as a shocking plan begins to unfold millions of miles away on earth.

Austin Boyd is back with his third thrilling novel in the Mars Hill Classified series, full of high-tech intrigue, memorable characters, and adventure that transports readers to another world.

From the Back Cover:

With nothing left for him on Earth, Rear Admiral John Wells didn't hesitate to lead a third NASA team to Mars, but he never dreamed that one day they'd look out their laboratory module into the lights of a slow-moving vehicle not their own. In the third installment of the Mars Hill Classified series, life on Mars becomes increasingly more unpredictable as the past collides with the future and nothing, not even the dead, is as it seems.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the fate of hundreds, including John Wells' family--presumed dead these last six years--rests precariously in the hands of Malcolm Raines, self-proclaimed Guardian of the Mother Seed and Principal Cleric of Saint Michael's Remnant, and his insidious plans for the Father Race.

Wells will find himself in a race against time and all odds to expose the truth: about Mars, about Malcolm Raines, and, if he's very brave, about himself.

"Austin Boyd is one of the brightest new voices in Christian fiction. His long association with the space program lends authenticity as he reveals the turmoil in the minds and hearts of those who are willing to risk everything by making that journey. In The Return, we learn that both human emotions and God's presence reach far beyond the pull of Earth's gravity."
--Richard L Mabry, author of The Tender Scar

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Illuminated Blog Tour

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Thomas Nelson August 7, 2007)


Matt Bronleewe is a recognized producer, songwriter and author. The former member of the band Jars of Clay, has earned numerous awards producing and co-writing albums that have sold a combined total of over 20 million copies. His songs have recently been recorded by Disney pop sensations Aly & AJ, American Idol finalist Kimberley Locke, and more. Bronleewe has worked with Grammy Award-winning artists such as Michael W. Smith, International pop singer Natalie Imbruglia and Heroes star Hayden Panettiere.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Bronleewe was raised on a farm in Kansas, where he lived until he left for college in 1992. At Greenville College in Illinois, Bronleewe formed the band Jars of Clay with his dorm roommate and two neighbors, and the group soon found success. Though Bronleewe opted to leave Jars of Clay early on to pursue an academic career, he soon found himself in Nashville, co-writing, producing, and playing music professionally.

To add to his list of accomplishments, Bronleewe has expanded his love of story telling beyond music into authorship. He is currently penning a 5 book series for Thomas Nelson Fiction. Illuminated, in stores now, begins the adventurous series about rare manuscripts and the mysteries within.

Bronleewe currently resides in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and three children. He continues to write and produce music, and he also volunteers through his church to help disadvantaged youth in the community. Bronleewe enjoys reading, taste-testing good food and watching sports, as well as indulging his interests in art, architecture, design and science.


August Adams has failed his family before. He's sacrificed relationships in pursuit of adventure, fame, and money. Now the very lives of those he loves depend on his ability to decipher a centuries-old puzzle encrypted in the colorful hand-painted illuminations that adorn three rare Gutenberg Bibles.

It's a secret that could yield unimaginable wealth, undermine two major religions, and change the course of Western civilization. Two ruthless, ancient organizations are willing to do anything to get their hands on it. And August has the span of one transatlantic flight to figure it out.

If he fails, those he holds most dear will die. If he succeeds, he'll destroy a national treasure.

The clock ticks, the suspense mounts, and the body count rises as August pits his knowledge and his love for his family against the clock, secret societies, and even Johannes Gutenberg himself.

"...this rare breed of suspense thriller combines mysterious hidden clues, secret societies, buried treasure, double agents, and the Knights Templar...if you turned National Treasure into international treasure, traded DaVinci codes for Gutenberg Bibles, married it to Indiana Jones, and added the pacing of 24 you'd be in the neighborhood of Illuminated...on a scale of one to 10, this one goes to 11."
-Aspiring Retail Magazine

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Crimson Eve Blog Tour

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Zondervan October 30, 2007)


Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e…® ” She’s so well known in the industry there’s actually a club for her non-readers. That’s right. The Big Honkin’ Chickens Club (BHCC) members are proud of the fact that they’re too wimpy to read Brandilyn’s intense fiction. Now and then one of them tries. Bribing works pretty well. (Just ask Deb Raney.) Somehow they live to tell the tale.

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 17th book. Her first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows.

She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences. Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith.

Visit her website to read the first chapters of all her books.


Carla stared at the gun and David Thornby—or whatever his name was. Her mind split in two, one side pleading this was some sick joke, the other screaming it was all too real.

“Please. You must have the wrong person. There’s no reason for someone to want me dead. I don’t have any enemies.”

“Then you’d best rethink your friends.”

Realtor Carla Radling shows an “English gentleman” a lakeside estate—and finds herself facing a gun. Who has hired this assassin to kill her, and why?

Forced on the run, Carla must uncover the scathing secrets of her past. Secrets that could destroy some very powerful people...

Brandilyn Collins fans and reviewers are saying Crimson Eve is her best book yet:

“Collins tops herself by creating a suspenseful nonstop thrill ride … Truly the best Christian Fiction suspense title so far this year.”
Library Journal, starred review

“Crimson Eve is Collins at her very best. It left me feeling as if I’d climbed Mount Everest without oxygen … I didn’t think Brandilyn could outdo herself after reading Coral Moon. She did.”

“I’ve never edited a more tightly crafted, deftly woven, compellingly written book.” –a Crimson Eve editor, with 20 years experience

“This is your best book! I could not stop reading!” – one of many readers with similar responses

Read about Violet Dawn and Coral Moon, books one and two in the Kanner Lake series.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nobody by Creston Mapes Blog Tour

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Multnomah Fiction September 11, 2007)


Creston Mapes


Creston Mapes is a talented storyteller whose first two novels, Dark Star and Full Tilt, made him a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year awards and the Inspirational Readers Choice awards. Creston has written for major corporations, colleges, and ministries, including Coca-Cola, TNT Sports, Oracle, Focus on the Family, and In Touch Ministries. Committed to his craft and his family, Creston makes his home in Georgia with his wife, Patty, and their four children.

He's been married for twenty-one years to the girl he first loved way back in fourth grade. They have three lovely girls and a boy in a very close-knit family, spending a lot of time together - watching old classic movies, going on outings, and taking in various school and community events and activities. Creston loves to go for morning walks with his dog, read, paint watercolors, meet friends for coffee and Bible study, watch hockey, take his wife on dates, and spend time in God's Word.


Not everything that happens in Vegas has to stay in Vegas!

They said, “He’s a nobody.”
They were dead wrong.

When reporter Hudson Ambrose hears an early morning call on his police scanner about an injured person at a bus stop on Las Vegas Boulevard, he rushes to the scene to get the scoop.
His world is blown off its axis when he discovers a murdered homeless man with a bankbook in his pocket showing a balance of almost one million dollars. Should he wait for the police, knowing the case will get lost in reams of red tape, or swipe the bankbook and take the investigation–and perhaps a chunk of the money–into his own hands?

With sirens bearing down on the scene, Hudson makes an impulse decision that whisks him on a frantic search for answers, not only about the mysterious dead man, but about the lost soul lurking within himself.

Uncovering bizarre links between a plane crash, a Las Vegas pit boss, a dirty cop, and a widowed Atlanta business mogul, Hudson is forced to find out: who was Chester Holte, what was he doing on the streets, and why are his homeless friends convinced he was an angel in disguise?

“Nobody was absolutely riveting from the opening scene to the final page. With compelling characters, a plot that surprised me at every turn, and a subtle, yet profound message that moved me to tears, this book goes straight to the top of my highly recommended list.”
- Deborah Raney, author of Remember to Forget and Within This Circle

“A taut, entertaining novel of mystery, intrigue, and spiritual truth. Creston Mapes delivers a winner in Nobody.”
- James Scott Bell, bestselling author of No Legal Grounds and Try Dying

“Nobody had me fascinated from the first paragraph and kept the surprises coming to the very end. Somehow, as the pages flew by, it also managed to convey a beautiful picture of faith the size of a mustard seed. From now on I’ll read anything by Creston Mapes the instant it hits the shelves.”
- Athol Dickson, Christy Award—winning author of River Rising and The Cure

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Trophy Wives Club Book Tour

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Avon Inspire (September 4, 2007)


Kristin Billerbeck


Kristin Billerbeck was 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. She is a CBA bestselling author and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year. Featured in the New York Times and USA Today, Kristin has appeared on the Today Show for her pioneering role in Christian chick lit.

Her last three books were:

Split Ends: Sometimes the End is Really the Beginning (April 17, 2007)

She's Out of Control (Ashley Stockingdale Series #1) (Nov 13, 2007)

Calm, Cool & Adjusted (Spa Girls Series #3) (Oct 1, 2006)


Haley Cutler is the consummate trophy wife. Perhaps "was" is the more accurate term. Haley married Prince Charming when she was only twenty years old – back in the day when highlights came from an afternoon at the beach, not three hours in the salon.

When Jay first turned his eye to Haley, she was putty in his slender, graceful hands. No one ever treated her like she was important, and on the arm of Jay Cutler, she became someone people listened to and admired. Unfortunately, after seven years of marriage, her Prince Charming seems to belong to the Henry the XIII line of royalty. When Haley loses Jay, she not only loses her husband, she loses her identity.

With her first independent decision, Haley leaves LA and moves home to Northern California. Feeling freedom just within her grasp, Haley learns that her settlement payments must go through one of Jay's financial advisors, Hamilton Lowe. Haley believes he's nothing more than a spy. And the feelings of distrust are mutual. Yet somehow, Hamilton finds himself handing over the monthly checks in person, and Haley can't deny that there's a kind of tenderness and protectiveness in Hamilton that she's never experienced in a man before.

But before Haley can even consider another relationship, she must learn to accept her inherent worth, and what it is to be loved for who she is, not what's on the outside.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

FIRST Tour - Demon: A Memoir

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

This month's feature author is:

and her book:

Demon: A

(NavPress, 2007)


Tosca Lee received her BA in English and International
Relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has
also studied at Oxford University.

As a Leadership Consultant, Tosca works with managers and leaders of
organizations throughout the Pan-Pacific region, Europe, and the U.S.

Tosca is a former Mrs. Nebraska-America 1996, Mrs. Nebraska-United States 1998 and
first runner-up to Mrs. United States and has been lauded nationally for her efforts to
fight breast cancer.

In her spare time, Tosca enjoys cooking, studying history and theology,
and traveling. She currently resides in Nebraska with her Shar Pei,

Visit her at her website and
her blog.


Chapter One

It was raining the night he found me. Traffic had slowed on
Massachusetts Avenue, and the wan light of streetlamps reflected off the pavement.
I was hurrying on without an umbrella, distracted by the chirp of a
text message on my phone, trying to shield its illuminated face from rain
and the drizzle off storefront awnings. There had been a mistake in my
schedule, an appointment that I didn’t recognize and that I had stayed
late at the office for — until six forty-five — just in case. Our
office manager was texting me from home now to say she had no idea who it
was with, that the appointment must have belonged on Phil’s calendar,
that she was sorry for the mistake and to have a good night.

I flipped the phone shut, shoved it in my bag. I was worn out by this
week already, and it was only Tuesday. The days were getting shorter,
the sun setting by six o’clock. It put me on edge, gnawed at me, as
though I had better get somewhere warm and cheerful or, barring all else,
home before it got any darker. But I was unwilling to face the empty
apartment, the dirty dishes and unopened mail on the counter. So I lowered
my head against the rain and walked another two blocks past my turnoff
until I came to the Bosnian Café. A strap of bells on the door
announced my entrance with a ringing slap.

I liked the worn appeal of the Bosnian Café with its olfactory embrace
of grilled chicken and gyro meat that enveloped me upon every arrival
and clung to me long after leaving. That night, in the premature
darkness and rain, the café seemed especially homey with its yellowing
countertops, chipped mirrors, and grimy ketchup bottles. Cardboard shamrocks,
remnants of a forgotten Saint Patrick’s Day, draped the passthrough
into the kitchen, faded around their die-cut edges. A string of Christmas
lights lined the front window, every third bulb out. On the wall above
the register, a framed photo of the café’s owner with a local pageant
queen, and another with a retired Red Sox player, had never been dusted.
But no one, including me, seemed to mind.

I stood in the entry waiting for Esad, the owner, to notice me. But it
was not the bald man who welcomed me.

It was the dark-haired stranger.

I was surveying the other tables, looking for inspiration — chicken or
steak, gyro or salad — when he beckoned. I hesitated, wondering if I
should recognize him, this man sitting by himself — but no, I did not
know him. He impatiently waved again, and I glanced over my shoulder, but
there was no one standing in the entryway but me. And then the man at
the table stood up and strode directly to me.

“You’re late,” he said, clasping my shoulder and smiling. He was tall,
tanned, with curling hair and a slightly hooked nose that did nothing
to detract from his enviable Mediterranean looks. His eyes glittered
beneath well-formed brows. His teeth were very white.

“I’m sorry. I think you have the wrong person,” I said. He chuckled.

“Not at all! I’ve been waiting for you for quite some time. An
eternity, you might say. Please, come sit down. I took the liberty of ordering
for you.” His voice reminded me of fine cognac, the Hors d’Age men
drink aboard their yachts as they cut their Cohíbas.

“You have the wrong person. I don’t know you,” I insisted, even as he
steered me toward the table. I didn’t want to embarrass him; he already
seemed elegantly out of place here in what, for all practical purposes,
was a joint. But he would feel like an elegant fool in another minute,
especially if his real appointment — interview, date, whatever —
walked in and saw him sitting here with me.

“But I know you, Clay.”

I started at the sound of my name, spoken by him with a mixture of
familiarity and strange interest, and then I studied him more closely — the
squareness of his jaw, the smoothness of his cheek, his utter
self-possession — wondering if I had indeed met him before. But I hadn’t, I was
certain of it now.

One of Esad’s nephews arrived with a chicken sandwich and two cups of
coffee. “Please,” the stranger said, motioning to a vinyl-covered chair.
Numbly, stupidly, I sat.

“You work down the street at Brooks and Hanover,” he said when the
younger man had gone. He seated himself adjacent to me, his chair angled
toward mine. He crossed his legs, plucked invisible lint off the fine
wool of his trousers. “You’re an editor.”

Several thoughts went through my head in that moment, none of them
savory: first, that this was some finance or insurance rep who — just like
the pile of loan offers on my counter at home — was trying to
capitalize on my recent divorce. Or, that this was some aggressive literary
agent trying to play suave.

Most likely, though, he was a writer.

Every editor has stories to tell: zealous writers pushing manuscripts
on them during their kid’s softball game, passing sheaves of italicized
print across pews at church, or trying to pick them up in bars,
casually mentioning between lubricated flirtations that they write stories on
the side and just happen to have a manuscript in the car. I had lost
count of the dry cleaners, dental hygienists, and plumbers who, upon
hearing what I did for a living, had felt compelled to gift me with their
short stories and children’s books, their novels-in-progress and rhyming

“Look, whoever you are — ”


I meant to tell him that I was sure we didn’t publish whatever it was
he wanted me to read, that there were industryaccepted ways to get his
work to us if we did, that he could visit the website and check out the
guidelines. I also meant to get up and walk away, to look for Esad or
his nephew and put an order in — to go. But I didn’t say or do any of
these things, because what he said next stopped me cold.

“I know you’re searching, Clay. I know you’re wondering what these
late, dark nights are for. You have that seasonal disease, that modern
ailment, don’t you? SAD, they call it. But it isn’t the disorder — you
should know that. It isn’t even your divorce. That’s not what’s bothering
you. Not really.”

I was no longer hungry. I pushed away the chicken sandwich
he had ordered and said with quiet warning, “I don’t know who you are,
but this isn’t funny.”

He went on as though he hadn’t heard me, saying with what seemed great
feeling, “It’s that you don’t know what it’s all for: the hours and
days, working on the weekends, the belief that you’ll eventually get
caught up and on that ultimate day something will happen. That
everything will make sense or you’ll at least have time to figure it out.
You’re a good man, Clay, but what has that won you? You’re alone,
growing no younger, drifting toward some unknown but inevitable end in this
life. And where is the meaning in that?”

I sat very still. I felt exposed, laid open, as though I had emptied my
mind onto the table like the contents of a pocket. I could not meet
his gaze. Nearby, a couple — both of their heads dripping dirty blond
dreadlocks — mulled over menus as the woman dandled an infant on her lap.
Beyond them, a thickset woman paged through People, and a
young man in scrubs plodded in a sleep-deprived daze through an anemic
salad. I wondered if any of them had noticed my uncanny situation, the
strange hijacking taking place here. But they were mired in their menus,
distractions, and stupor. At the back counter, a student tapped at the
keypad of his phone, sending messages into the ether.

“I realize how this feels, and I apologize,” Lucian said, folding long
fingers together on his knee. His nails were smooth and neatly
manicured. He wore an expensivelooking watch, the second hand of which seemed
to hesitate before hiccupping on, as though time had somehow slowed in
the sallow light of the diner. “I could have done this differently, but
I don’t think I would have had your attention.”

“What are you, some kind of Jehovah’s Witness?” I said. It was the only
thing that made sense. His spiel could have hit close to anyone. I
felt conned, angry, but most of all embarrassed by my emotional response.

His laughter was abrupt and, I thought, slightly manic. “Oh my,” he
said, wiping the corners of his eyes. I pushed back my chair.

His merriment died so suddenly that were it not for the sound of it
still echoing in my ears, I might have thought I had imagined it. “I’m
going to tell you everything,” he said, leaning toward me so that I could
see the tiny furrows around the corners of his mouth, the creases
beneath his narrowed eyes. A strange glow emanated from the edge of his
irises like the halo of a solar eclipse. “I’m going to tell you my story.
I’ve great hope for you, in whom I will create the repository of my tale
— my memoir, if you will. I believe it will be of great interest to
you. And you’re going to write it down and publish it.”

Now I barked a stunted laugh. “No, I’m not. I don’t care if you’re J.
D. Salinger.”

Again he went on as though I’d said nothing. “I understand they’re all
the rage these days, memoirs. Publishing houses pay huge sums for the
ghostwritten, self-revelatory accounts of celebrities all the time. But
trust me; they’ve never acquired a story like mine.”

“Look,” I said, a new edge in my voice, “You’re no celebrity I
recognize, and I’m no ghostwriter. So I’m going to get myself some dinner and
be nice enough to forget this ever happened.” But as I started to rise,
he grabbed me by the arm. His fingers, biting through the sleeve of my
coat, were exceedingly strong, unnaturally warm, and far too intimate.

“But you won’t forget,” he said, the strange light of
fanaticism in his eyes. His mouth seemed to work independently of their stare,
as though it came from another face altogether. “You will recall
everything — every word I say. Long after you have forgotten, in fact, the
name of this café, the way I summoned you to this table, the first prick
of your mortal curiosity about me. Long after you have forgotten, in
fact, the most basic details of your life. You will remember, and you
will curse or bless this day.”

I felt ill. Something about the way he said mortal . . . In
that instant, reality, strung out like an elastic band, snapped. This was
no writer.

“Yes. You see,” he said quietly. “You know. We can share now, between
us, the secret of what I am.”

And the words came, unbidden, to my mind: Fallen. Dark


The trembling that began in my stomach threatened to seize up my
diaphragm. But then he released me and sat back. “Now. Here is Mr. Esad,
wondering why you haven’t touched your sandwich.” And indeed, here came the
bald man, coffeepot in hand, smiling at the stranger as though he were
more of a regular than I. I stared between them as they made their
pleasantries, the sound of their banter at sick odds with what my visceral
sense told me was true, what no one else seemed to notice: that I was
sitting here with something incomprehensively evil.

When Esad left, Lucian took a thin napkin from the dispenser and set it
beside my coffee cup. The gesture struck me as aberrantly mundane. He

“I feel your trepidation, that sense that you ought to get up and leave
immediately. And under normal circumstances, I would say that you are
right. But listen to me now when I tell you you’re safe. Be at ease.
Here. I’ll lean forward like this, in your human way. When that couple
over there sees my little smile, this conspiratorial look, they’ll think
we’re sharing a succulent bit of gossip.”

I wasn’t at ease. Not at all. My heart had become a pounding liability
in my chest.

“Why?” I managed, wishing I were even now in the emptiness of my
apartment, staring at the world through the bleak window of my TV.

Lucian leaned even closer, his hand splayed across the top of the table
so that I could see the blue veins along the back of it. His voice
dropped below a whisper, but I had no difficulty hearing him. “Because my
story is very closely connected to yours. We’re not so different after
all, you and I. We both want purpose, meaning, to see the bigger
picture. I can give you that.”

“You don’t even know me!”

“On the contrary,” he said, sliding the napkin dispenser away, as
though it were a barrier between us. “I know everything about you. Your
childhood house on Ridgeview Drive. The tackle box you kept your football
cards in. The night you tried to sneak out after homecoming to meet
Lindsey Bennett. You broke your wrist climbing out of the window.”

I stared.

“I know of your father’s passing — you were fifteen. About the merlot
you miss since giving up drinking, the way you dip your hamburgers in
blue cheese dressing — your friend Piotr taught you that in college. That
you’ve been telling yourself you ought to get away somewhere — Mexico,
perhaps. That you think it’s the seasonal disorder bothering you,
though it’s not — ”

“Stop!” I threw up my hands, wanting him to leave at once, equally
afraid that he might and that I would be stuck knowing that there was this
person — this thing — watching me. Knowing everything.

His voice gentled. “Let me assure you you’re not the only one; I could
list myriad facts about anyone. Name someone. How about Sheila?” He
smirked. “Let’s just say she didn’t return your essage from home, and her
husband thinks she’s working late. Esad? Living in war-torn Bosnia was
no small feat. He — ” He cocked his head, and there came now a faint
buzzing like an invisible swarm of mosquitoes. I instinctively jerked

“What was that?” I demanded, unable to pinpoint where the sound had
come from.

“Ah. A concentration camp!” He looked surprised. “I didn’t know that.
Did you know that? And as for your ex — ” He tilted his head again.

“No! Please, don’t.” I lowered my head into my hand, dug my fingers
into my scalp. Five months after the divorce, the wound still split open
at the mere mention of her.

“You see?” he whispered, his head ducked down so that he stared
intently up into my face. “I can tell you everything.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I’ve made a pastime of studying case histories, of following them
through from beginning to end. You fascinate me in the same way that
beetles with their uncanny instinct for dung rolling used to fascinate you. I
know more about you than your family. Than your ex. Than you know
about yourself, I daresay.”

Something — some by-product of fear — rose up within me as anger at
last. “If you are what you say, aren’t you here to make some kind of deal
for my soul? To tempt me? Why did you order me coffee, then? Why not a
glass of merlot or a Crown and Coke?” My voice had risen, but I didn’t
care; I felt my anger with relief.

Lucian regarded me calmly. “Please. How trite. Besides, they don’t
serve liquor here.” But then his calm fell away, and he was staring — not
at me but past me, toward the clock on the wall. “But there,” he
pointed. His finger seemed exceedingly long. “See how the hour advances
without us!” He leapt to his feet, and I realized with alarm that he meant to

“What — you can’t just go now that you’ve — ”

“I’ve come to you at great risk,” he hissed, the sound sibilant, as
though he had whispered in my ear though he stood three feet away. And
then he strode to the glass door and pushed out into the darkness,
disappearing beyond the reflected interior of the café like a shadow into a
mirror. The strap of bells fell against the door with a flat metal clink,
and my own stunned reflection stared back.

Rain pelted my eyes, slipped in wet tracks through my hair against my
scalp, ran in rivulets down my nape to mingle with the sweat against my
back. It had gotten colder, almost freezing, but I was sweating inside
the sodden collar of my shirt as I hurried down Norfolk, my bag
slapping against my hip, my legs cramped and wooden, nightmare slow.

The abrupt warmth inside my apartment building threatened to suffocate
me as I stumbled up the stairs. My ears pintingled to painful life as I
fumbled with my keys. Inside my apartment at last, I fell back against
the door, head throbbing and lungs heaving in the still air. I stayed
like that, my coat dripping onto the carpet, for several long moments.
Then a mad whim struck me.

With numb fingers, I retrieved the laptop from my bag and set it up on
the kitchen table. With my coat still on, I dropped down onto a wooden
chair, staring at the screen as it yawned to life. I logged into the
company server, opened my calendar.

There — my six-thirty appointment. It was simply noted:

Sample from Demon / ISBN

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