Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Abiding Darkness by John Aubrey Anderson

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

This month's feature author is:

John Aubrey Anderson

and his book:

Abiding Darkness


John was born five miles north of the setting for Abiding Darkness, a cotton country town within a rifle shot of two rivers, a bayou, a double handful of lakes, and endless acres of woods.

After graduating from Mississippi State, he flew six years in the Air Force then twenty-nine years for a major airline. And now he gets to write.

He and his wife have been married for forty some-odd years and live in Texas—about twenty miles south of the Red River. He spends the biggest part of his time writing; she’s immersed in leading a comprehensive, women’s Bible study.

They like greasy hamburgers and Dr. Peppers, most species of warm-blooded creatures (the kind that don’t normally bite), and spending July in the mountains.


Abiding Darkness is the first book in the Black and White Chronicles.

It initially anchors itself in the relationship between two children.

Junior Washington is an eleven-year-old black child. He lives in a small cabin out on Cat Lake; his parents work for the Parker family. He’s loyal, he’s compliant beyond what would normally be expected of an eleven-year-old boy, and he’s a committed Christian.

Missy Parker, who lives on the other side of the lake, is the crown princess of the Parker family. At seven years of age she’s beautiful, wealthy, willful, and tough as a tractor tire. And—in the midst of the most defined segregation in our nation’s recent history—this little white girl and Junior Washington are best friends.

Only one thing stands between these two children and a storybook childhood . . . they are destined to encounter a faithful servant of the Author of Evil.

Abiding Darkness starts almost gently. The first sentence offers doubt, but readers may not see any real trouble surface until a few sentences later, and that’s mostly kid stuff, almost cute. From there through the second chapter readers are given a little more to think about . . . an opportunity to imagine what might happen to the children . . . especially the girl.

By the end of the second chapter intuitive readers will be taking a deep breath . . . they’re going to need the oxygen.


Summers were mostly reliable.

The always followed spring. They always got hot. And they always promised twelve weeks of pleasure to the three children at Cat Lake.

The summer of ’45 lied.

^ ^ ^

The whole thing started right there by the Cat Lake bridge.

They were playing their own version of three-man baseball when Bobby knocked the ball onto the road near the end of the bridge. Junior was taller and faster, but Missy was ahead in the race to get it. Bobby and Junior were older, but Missy was tough enough to almost keep up, and the boys usually held back some so they didn’t outdo her too much.

Missy was still a few yards from the ball when it rolled to a stop near the only car in sight. A boy taller than Junior stepped from behind the far end of the car and picked up the ball; he was followed by two more boys—one younger than Missy and another almost as tall as a man.

Missy slid to a stop in the gravel and yelled, “Hurry! Throw it!” Junior jogged up behind the girl and waited.

A heavyset man in a rumpled suit was standing in the road by the driver’s door; he allowed himself a long look at the girl and whispered something to the boy with the ball.

The boy nodded at what the man said and backed toward the car. The tallest boy moved up to stand by the man.

The fat man eyed Junior, then looked up and down the deserted road before beckoning to Missy. “Why don’t you come closer, and he’ll let you have it?”

Missy ignored the man and advanced on the boy with the ball. “Give it.”

When she walked past the taller boy, he fell to his hands and knees behind her and the one with the ball shoved her over his back. When Missy hit the ground, all three boys laughed. The man grinned.

In the near distance, a foursome of well-armed witnesses—tall, bright, and invisible—stood at a portal between time and eternity and watched Bobby Parker leave home plate and sprint for the bridge.

One of the group said, It begins.

Junior Washington’s guardian answered for the remainder of the small assembly, And so it does.

The three guardians conferred quietly about the events taking place before them; the archangel watched the unfolding drama in silence. The quartet—guarded by the wisdom of the ages against restlessness—waited patiently for a precise instant in time that had been ordained before the earth was formed.

The middle kid was plenty bigger than Missy, but she came off the ground ready to take him on. When she waded in, the tall kid grabbed at her. Junior got a hand on the strap of Missy’s overalls and yanked her out of the boys’ reach. He held her back with one hand and popped the tallest kid in the nose, hard enough to knock him down.

When the boy landed in the gravel, the man started swearing. He reached into the car, jerked a mean-looking billy club from under the front seat, and turned on Junior. “Okay, Black Sambo, let’s see h—”

Bobby was short steps from the trouble, running wide open, when the archangel broke his silence. The long-awaited time is come. He pointed his bright sword at a point between Bobby and the man with the club and said, In the Name of Him who sits on the throne, and for the Lamb—go there and turn the tide of evil.

Bobby—barely slowing when he got to the confrontation—tripped over thin air and rammed the business end of the bat hard into the man’s back. The man lurched forward, stumbled over the boy Junior had knocked to the ground, and sprawled on top of him.

Knocking the man down wasn’t what he’d planned, but Bobby knew better than to back off from a pack of bullies; he was talking before the man rolled over. “You keep your hands to yourself, mister.”

The red-faced man struggled to get up, cussing and pointing the club at Bobby. “Son, when a boy hits me, he steps over the line to manhood. That means you’ll get the same beatin’ I’ll be givin’ this nigger.”

On the Parker place, Negro folks were called black or colored. For the children, transgression of that rule meant someone was going to get his mouth washed out with soap. Missy and Junior froze when the man said the forbidden word; Bobby didn’t.

When Bobby squared his stance and drew the bat back, the man rethought his position. “You better put that down, boy.”

Bobby was only twelve, but he knew serious trouble when he saw it—and he was the one holding the bat. “I reckon not.” He and Junior and Missy had made a law about standing up for each other, and these strangers had chosen to be their enemies. If the man made a threatening move, Bobby was going to swing for his head and deal with the consequences later. “You’re on Parker land, mister, an’ you best be gettin’ off.”

The baseball bat had the man stymied. Exertion and frustration soaked his collar with the sweat. “This isn’t your land; it’s a public road.”

Bobby said, “That might be, but the land on both sides of the road belongs to the Parkers—an’ that’s us.” He looked the man up and down. “You ain’t from around here, are you?”

The man’s wide mouth and thick lips were not unlike those of a bullfrog; small, widely-spaced teeth and flesh-draped eyelids contributed to a reptilian appearance. “What if I’m not?”

Bobby cracked a hard smile. “’Cause if you was from around here, folks would’ve told you not to mess with the Parker kids—that’s us, ’specially the black ’un an’ the girl.” He pointed the bat at Junior and Missy. “That’s them two.”

From within the car a woman’s voice said, “Let it go, Halbert. Don’t be getting heated up over some white trash.”

When the woman called them white trash, Missy puffed up and started for the car. Junior grabbed the strap of her overalls again. “Stay quiet, Missy.”

The girl jerked loose and glared at Junior, but she stayed where she was.

The tallest boy got in the car, holding a hand to his bloody nose. The other two weren’t ready to leave.

The man looked at the car and back at Bobby; he didn’t want to leave either, but he wasn’t going to argue with the woman. “Git in the car, boys.” His tongue came out and made a circuit over the fat lips; he let his gaze rest too long on the girl, and he spoke to her last. “You’ll get yours, Little Miss Blue Eyes. Just you remember Hal Bainbridge said so.”

The woman in the car leaned across the seat. Facial features that had been cast to portray beauty were twisted into an angry mask. “Halbert!” she snapped, “I told you to shut up and get in the car.”

The two smallest boys were the last ones to climb. The one who had pushed Missy said, “I’ll be back.”

Missy made a face.

When the Bainbridge family withdrew, a creature that had been traveling with them stayed behind.

The being that remained on the Cat Lake bridge had been working his vile mischief in the Bainbridges’ lives for years. His brief observation of Missy Parker, however, ignited a hatred that far exceeded anything he had ever felt toward Estelle Bainbridge. He petitioned his leader, the high-ranking villain who was assigned to the Bainbridges, to let him stay at Cat Lake and work his evil on the girl and those around her. The one to whom he answered hated to grant any request that might strengthen the position of a subordinate, but he hated humans more. So it was that the malevolent being stayed behind while his former superior and dozens of their kind moved away with the Bainbridges.

The spirit-being assayed his intended victim and was encouraged by what he saw. The girl was self-willed, self-centered, and self-confident—all traits that made her more susceptible to his influence. Early pieces of his plan were arranging themselves before the Bainbridges’ car was out of sight. He would recruit his own team of underlings from the demonic realm. When he and his chosen confederates were in place, he would formulate a plan to destroy the girl’s life, maybe in bits and pieces over the coming years, maybe catastrophically in a single day. There might even be a way to use the Bainbridges to help bring her to ruin. And, if the opportunity presented itself, he would do the same to the two meddlesome boys.

When the car was down the road, Bobby turned on Missy. “You can’t be startin’ fights with boys bigger’n you.”

“I didn’t start it. He did.”

Bobby watched the car. “Well, don’t be messin’ with folks like that. That man had somethin’ wrong with him, like he was mean or evil or somethin’.”

“I ain’t scared of the boogeyman.”

“I don’t mean like that. I mean grown men who stare at little girls like that—stay away from ’em.” He watched the car disappear behind a curtain of dust. “An’ if that bunch comes around here again, you head for me or Junior, you hear me?”

The girl directed her wrath at her brother. “You’re not my boss, Mr. Bobby Parker, an’ I’ll have you know I ain’t a little girl.”

Bobby was still learning that he needed to tell Missy to do exactly the opposite of what he wanted done, but he knew who carried the most influence over her. “Tell ’er, Junior.”

Junior picked up the ball and offered it to the girl. “Do like he says, Missy. A growed man that’d speak bad to a lit—to somebody not big as him has got somethin’ wrong inside ’im. That man had the devil in ’im.”

She turned her back on the ball because she wouldn’t be bribed. “Well, if a’ evil man shows up again, an’ I can’t whip ’im by myself, y’all can help.”

The boys took that as a concession and followed her back to their baseball field.

^ ^ ^

Amanda Allen Parker was the first girl born into the Parker family since the Surrender. Maybe they had spoiled her or maybe she knew she was special. Whatever the cause, “Missy” Parker was a young lady who didn’t just give orders—she laid down the law for those who drew near.

When they didn’t call her Missy, everybody on the Parker place and most people in town just referred to her as the girl. The petite picture of brown-haired Southern charm endured the company of women when she had to, but she preferred the attention of the males of her domain.

The Old Parkers and the Young Parkers lived out south of town in two nice houses set back from the west side of Cat Lake. They got good shade from a stand of oaks planted by their ancestors and the cool of a lake breeze when the wind was right.

Bobby Lee Parker ran the Parker Gin; young Bobby looked as if he had been spit out of his daddy’s mouth. Young Mrs. Parker played bridge, went to the garden club and Missionary Society, and tended her yard. Old Mr. Parker farmed ten sections of cotton land, played dominoes, drank coffee, and visited with his friends. Old Mrs. Parker, the genetic source of the girl’s spitfire personality, stayed close to home and baked things.

The Washington family—Mose, his wife Pip, Mose Junior, and little Pearl—lived across the lake from the Parkers. Their home was set back in a stand of pecan trees planted by the same hands that put down the Parkers’ oaks. Mose had been born in the cabin and inherited the house and forty acres of good sandy land from Pap, his great-granddaddy. Back behind the cabin, a full section of Old Mr. Parker’s cotton land separated Mose’s place from the trees of Eagle Nest Brake. Pip, her brother Leon, and her momma Evalina “did for” the Parkers during the week. Mose was Mr. Bobby Lee’s overseer at the gin.

When she became old enough to walk, the girl went where Old Mr. Parker went. While he drove, she stood beside him, one arm on his shoulders, the other holding on to the seat back. When he played dominoes at the pool hall, she sat on his lap. It was the men at the pool hall who had named her Missy—she and those same men called her granddaddy R. D. Trips to that establishment dimished in frequency after Pip had to switch her for “cussin’ in my kitchen.”

Once she started to Mrs. Smith’s kindergarten, Missy’s day-to-day activities became even more curtailed. She countered by playing hooky when she’d had her fill of finger painting and stories about animals made of gingham and calico and velveteen.

After the second time she got called away from her Thursday morning bridge game to hunt for the girl, Young Mrs. Parker taught Pip how to drive. For the next two years, Pip was called into town about twice a week to retrieve the girl from the pool hall. When she was captured, Missy’s complaints were drawled in a little-girl bass voice.

On her first day in first grade, the girl and the staff at the elementary school encountered the first in a series of unique obstacles. The magnitude of the initial confrontation was probably connected with the fact that Missy was on a first-name basis with most of the men in Moores Point, including both bankers and both white preachers.

Missy finally came out of her chair when the first-grade teacher persisted in calling her Amanda.

Hoot Johnson, the school’s janitor, attracted by the mounting sounds of battle, abandoned his dust mop and intervened to contribute his unsolicited—and uninhibited—opinion. The girl’s reaction to what Mr. Johnson had to say didn’t help the situation.

The teacher made a strategic blunder when she decided she would enlist the aid of the principal. The principal made the mistake of showing up, and the tension multiplied geometrically.

Someone eventually called the pool hall and let Old Mr. Parker know about the conflict.

When he got to the school, the farmer didn’t have to guess where the girl was; the war in Europe could not have been heard over the commotion coming from the first-grade classroom.

The adults in the room—a scattering of teachers, the principal, and one vocal janitor—were all yelling at the girl or each other. The other first-day first-graders—joined by two brand-new teachers who had made the mistake of coming to see what on earth the noise was all about—were all cringing in the farthest corner of the room. The girl, who seldom found it necessary to yell at anyone, especially an adult, was keeping her voice down. She was, however, employing the teacher’s chair to be at eye level with the other combatants.

There was Missy, standing in the chair, her tiny fists at her waist, leaning into the principal’s face, her Dutch boy-cut brown hair popping back and forth as her miniature bass voice cataloged the things she didn’t like about his institution. She took passing note of her granddaddy’s presence but continued with her business. She reasoned that if R. D. needed to talk to some of these folks, he was gentleman enough to wait his turn; if he needed to see her, he’d wait ’til she was finished. And wait he did. Leaning on the door frame and giving himself a manicure with his favorite Case pocketknife, the cotton farmer stood by for a break in the storm.

When a majority of the folks finally stopped to catch their breath, Old Mr. Parker put away his knife. He got everyone settled down, borrowed the teacher’s chair from the girl, and presided over the formation of a multifaceted truce.

In the future, the school’s staff would call the girl Missy; she was old enough to decide what her name was. In return, Missy would address the Truitt Elementary School’s principal as Mr. Franklin, not Jimbo, for basically the same reason. Missy would address Mr. Johnson, the school’s janitor, as Hoot because he and the girl were good friends and both preferred it that way. And, one of the teachers crouching in the corner would be released from her contract before the girl moved up to her grade level.

The last point of the truce was a little vague and never resolved to the girl’s satisfaction. It had something to do with whether she could stand on the teacher’s chair, balanced against how many adults were “raisin’ sand for no good reason” when the girl needed to make herself heard.

In the pool hall that afternoon Jimbo Franklin said, “You know somethin’? That girl ain’t always pliable, but she’s almost always fair. I musta been about a bubble offa plumb to take that teacher’s side.” The sages in the pool hall, including Hoot and R. D., nodded. They agreed with every word he said.

During the next year, the second grade had tolerated her well enough; the reciprocal wasn’t always true.

She was three feet tall in the summer of ’45, on the slender side of a pound an inch, with what Scooter Hall called “about eight ounces of eyelashes” strategically situated around midnight blue eyes.

When the sun was out, the three older children at the lake—two Parkers and one Washington—were inseparable. Junior usually deferred to white folks of all ages, and both boys required themselves to yield to most adults. The girl’s deference, however, was never offered capriciously; people of all colors and ages were evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and any recipient of her respect had earned it.

For those times when they stepped away from the rest of the world, the children—like a tiny nation—followed an often-argued tangle of laws they had fashioned for themselves.

For three months every summer, and at any other time the children were together, their respective parents—who never knew what might be coming next—waited for the “other shoe to drop.” Or as Old Mr. Parker put it, “for the next shoe to crash through the floor and take most of the house with it.”

^ ^ ^

That spring, the three had used up practically a whole Saturday morning arguing about what to name the boat.

The year before, they had procured the building materials for the vessel by tearing the siding off a dilapidated cotton house. Pip’s brother Leon, who took care of things around the Parkers’ houses, was perfectly content to cater to the girl’s every whim. Missy traded him two of Old Mr. Parker’s cigars for his help with the boat. Leon sawed the boards, helped the children nail them together into something that would almost float, and showed them how to put tar in the cracks “so it don’t leak too bad.” The finished product looked like a pauper’s coffin: roughly seven feet long, two feet wide, with two-foot sides. They swamped it so often the first month that Pip told them, “Y’all could use it for one o’ those summarines.” Missy made a new law that only one person could stand up in it at a time, and they kept slopping on tar until they got so they could stay most of the day on the lake without sinking, unless somebody broke the rule. Pip complained, “When they git outta that confounded piece o’ junk, they’re so black I can’t tell which one’s Mose Junior.” It wasn’t the kind of craft a person would want to venture out in while wearing Sunday clothes.

The argument about the christening surfaced because Bobby wanted to name the boat after his hero. Mose Junior said he thought it might be good to name it something out of the Bible, but he cared more about getting started with the painting. When it came right down to it, Missy didn’t really care what they named the dadgummed boat; she was just tired of Bobby getting his way just because he was twelve and she was seven. Bobby countered her objections by claiming they were a democracy, then bought Mose Junior’s vote with the promise that Junior could do most of the painting.

They “happened across” a can of white house paint on the top shelf of the tool shed and made a paint brush by tying a wad of pine needles together. Unraveling the boat’s actual name called for the reader to do a little traveling. The lettering was white and bold; the spelling was close. Junior’s GENRALROB worked its way down the starboard side; around the corner, the bow showed Bobby’s neatly done ERT. The arrangement of the general’s middle initial and last name on the port side was Missy’s responsibility—they came out EEEL. The craft was one of their greatest accomplishments, and they were rarely near the water without it.

Young Mrs. Parker took some snapshots of the paint-splattered trio standing by their pride and joy and gave one to Pip. The two mothers kept the cherished photographs on their dressers until the day they died and occasionally laughed together at speculations of what kind of grandchildren they would see from the mischievous threesome.

They had no way of knowing that the three little figures in the picture were never going to have children.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

If the Shoe Fits by Marilynn Griffith

No, you aren't seeing double. This month we are reviewing not one, but two books by Marilynn Griffith! This prolific writer has TWO books coming out this month! This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about If the Shoe Fits (Steeple Hill Cafe', 2007) by Marilynn Griffith (fellow CFBA member, blogger, writer, and mother of seven)


Marilynn Griffith is wife to a deacon, mom to a tribe and proof that God gives second chances. Her novels include Made of Honor (Steeple Hill, Jan. 2006), Pink (Revell, Feb. 2006), Jade (Revell, June 2006), and Tangerine (Revell, January 2007). Her other credits include Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman’s Soul, Cup of Comfort Devotionals and her Shades of Style series (Revell, 2006). She lives in Florida with her husband and children. To book speaking engagements or just say hello, email:


Have Glass Slipper, Need Prince...

If the Shoe Fits is the second book in the Sassy Sistahood Novels. The first in the series was Made of Honor (Steeple Hill, Jan. 2006).

In all my thirty-five years, I, shoe designer Rochelle Gardner, have never had so many men interested in me! My teen son's dad is back in my life after suffering from amnesia (yes, really). The church deacon has had his eye on me for years (and never said a word). And the young waiter (from the restaurant I've visited for singles' events) is trying to steal my heart. I've been struggling with my faith, trying to figure out which man God has chosen for me and wondering if I have the courage to step forward, on my not-so-pretty feet, to accept love. It's almost too much for the Sassy Sistahood to handle, but my girlfriends always have my back!

The book link:

Marilynn's website link:

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Arms of Deliverance by Tricia Goyer

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Arms of Deliverance (Moody Publishers, 2006) by Tricia Goyer (fellow CFBA member, blogger, writer, and homeschooling mom!)


Tricia Goyer is one the members of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance (Tricia's Blog, "It's Real Life" Tricia's Parenting Blog, "Generation NeXt") and we are pleased to be able to review her exciting historical fiction book, Arms of Deliverance. She was named Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference "Writer of the Year" in 2003. Tricia was also a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award and won ACFW's "Book of the Year" for Long Historial Romance in 2005 AND in 2006. She has written hundreds of articles, Bible Study notes, and both fiction (three other WWII novels, From Dust to Ashes, Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights. Night Song, the second title in Tricia’s World War II series, won ACFW's Book of the Year for Best Long Historical Romance.) She's and non-fiction books. married to John, and they have three great kids whom she homeschools: Cory (17), Leslie (14), and Nathan (12). They make their home in Northwest Montana with their dog, Lilly.


The fourth and final novel in this exhilarating series capturing the tales of men and women swept into World War II.

EUROPE, 1944

Katrine, a Czech Jew, is so successful in her attempt to pass as an Aryan that she finds herself dating a Nazi officer. Having convinced him of her genetic purity, the officer sends her to stay at a Lebensborn home--a Nazi breeding program in which children are raised and indoctrinated by the state.

Meanwhile, two friends, Mary and Lee, one a socialite, the other a working class girl, land similar reporting jobs at the New York Tribune on the eve of the war’s outbreak. Now rivals with assignments on the frontlines of war-torn Europe, Lee joins troops sailing for Normandy, while Mary's destiny lies in the cramped quarters of a B-17 bearing down on Berlin. Before the presses roll, their lives will be indelibly marked by a caring American navigator, brave French resistors, and a maniacal Nazi officer. Arms of Deliverance is a story of unexpected redemption.

Read Chapter One on Tricia's Blog.

The link for the book:

Tricia's blog:

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Okay, Jaimie asked for an update on my life...

I'm feeling a lot better. Only using my inhaler about once a week! Wahoo! I still have to sleep in a semi-sitting position so my lungs don't start filling up again. Other than that, I'm good to go.

A large Christian publisher has asked to see part one of my book...about 150 pages. I had to do a major proposal for them too. It was 20 pages just for the proposal! But, it looks great and very professional if I do say so myself. ;-) I sent it last week, so it will probably be a while before I hear anything.

I've been reading a certain book which has a fun story but I am very surprised with some errors that I've come across. The publisher is Steeple Hill so I am incredibly shocked. The mistakes have to do with the use of 'I' and 'me'. Here's an example:
As August eased into Autumn, the vise of tension between my son and I tightenend more and more.
I just don't understand how a person who has written five books can keep making this mistake. It is throughout the entire book! Okay, some people have a hard time with the me and I concept but the editors should have at least picked up on it; don't you think? To me, it is sooooo simple. Just subtract the 'my son' part and say the sentence. Which works better? Me or I?

For example:
Jane and I want ice cream...vs...Jane and me want ice cream. Would you say, I want ice cream...or...Me want ice cream?
The ice cream is for Jane and me...vs...The ice cream is for Jane and I. Would you say, The ice cream is for me...or...The ice cream is for I?
So, now you know. I have a hangup about grammar. My spelling is horrid but my grammar is usually great. I won't tell you the author because I really like the author's work...the author just needs a better editor and a grammar refresher!

I'm about half-way done with painting the kitchen. It had flower wallpaper which was pretty but too busy for my taste. I'm painting it light green and very light yellow. It is looking really nice.

The boys are doing great in homeschool. Their grandparents (Dave's mom and dad) bought us a keyboard for Christmas and the kids are loving learning on it. I'm brushing up on my skills so I can teach them until they surpass me.

Thanks for reading...pray for me and my book proposal! God Bless!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Pagan's Nightmare by Ray Blackston

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducting A Pagan's Nightmare.


Ray Blackston of Greenville, South Carolina, worked as a buyer and a broker for eleven years before cashing in his modest 401k and leaving his corporate cubicle in 2000 to write full time. He is a graduate of the University of south Carolina, with a degree in Finance and Economics.

He serves on the drama team at his church, participates in a weekly men's accountability group, serves on the missions committee of his church, has traveled to rural Ecuador on a summer missions program, and coaches his seven-year-old nephew, Action Jackson, in T-Ball.

When he is not crafting a new novel, is exploring south Carolina beaches with friends and family. He competes in golf tournaments, leads a writers' critique group, and relives his youth through a large collection of eighties music!

His first novel Flabbergasted was one of three finalists for the Christy Award for best first novel, and was chosen as Inspirational Novel of the Year by the Dallas Morning News


A Pagan's Nightmare

Christians can buy gas for twelve cents a gallon, while everyone else (the pagans, that is) have to pay $6.66. The radio stations alter all song lyrics to conform to "Christian" standard--the Beatles belt out "I Wanna Hold Your Tithe"; ABBA's "Dancing Queen" becomes "Dancing's Wrong". Even French fries, newly labeled "McScriptures", are tools for evangelism.

Larry's novel is a big hit with his agent, Ned. But Ned's wife..a committed Southern less than amused. And Larry has yet to show the manuscript to his new girlfriend, even though he's made her the unsuspecting heroine. It will take deft handling from both men to keep their lives and their relationships intact when the world witnesses A Pagan's Nightmare.

Ray's website link is :

The book link is :

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tangerine by Marilynn Griffith

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Tangerine (Revell, January 2007) by Marilynn Griffith (fellow CFBA member, blogger, writer, and mother of *GULP* seven!)


Marilynn Griffith is wife to a deacon, mom to a tribe and proof that God gives second chances. Her novels include Made of Honor (Steeple Hill, Jan. 2006), Pink (Revell, Feb. 2006), Jade (Revell, June 2006), and If the Shoe Fits (Steeple Hill Cafe', 2007). Her other credits include Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman’s Soul, Cup of Comfort Devotionals and her Shades of Style series (Revell, 2006). She lives in Florida with her husband and children. To book speaking engagements or just say hello, email:


Tangerine is the third book in the Shades of Style Novels.

Fans of Pink and Jade will eat up Tangerine, the third book in the cutting-edge Shades of Style series. Jean Guerra, a designer at Garments of Praise design firm, doesn't like surprises. These days though, the unexpected meets her everywhere. Since Jean's return to the church a year ago, her God-encounters occur with increasing frequency, along with thoughts of her husband-the one she vowed to divorce and gave up on long ago. The one nobody at work knows about, not even her best friend, Lily, or her boss, Chenille. But when the designer assigned to work with Jean on a line of men's suits shows up, her heart flips. It's her husband, Nigel Salvador. Jean is finally rendered speechless. Can her bruised heart become whole enough to love again? Or will she remain in the trenches of loneliness forever?

The book link:

Marilynn's website link:

Monday, January 01, 2007

Hell in a Briefcase by Phil Little with Brad Whittington

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

This month's feature author is:
Phil Little with Brad Whittington
and their book:
(A Matt Cooper Novel)

Guess what? The publicists for Phil have agreed to a book contest for each FIRST member's blog post on Hell in a Briefcase! It is up to the member on how they judge which commenter wins the free, comment and you might become a winner!


With violence in the Middle East escalating daily, Americans are glued to their televisions wondering what will happen next. Meanwhile, Matt Cooper, jet-setting star of Phil Little's debut novel Hell in a Briefcase is doing something about it. A private security executive, his adrenaline-junkie days consist of last-minute first-class overseas flights, Hollywood parties with his actress girlfriend, and direct calls from top CIA brass.
A chance meeting with Mr. Roberts, “an old broken-down millionaire” and uncommon Christian, sends Cooper on a trip to Israel that will change his life. Matt goes behind the curtain of Middle East terrorism, witnessing firsthand the untold ravages of holy war. The deeper he goes, the closer he gets to a plot involving eleven stolen briefcase nukes and a plan infinitely more sinister than 9/11.


Phil Little, president of West Coast Detectives and a recognized expert in counter-terrorism, provides bodyguards to the stars and runs a detective agency that has served ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, Paramount, MGM, and hundreds of others ( He draws on this experience in crafting the tightly wound plot of this international thriller. In addition to his duties as a security expert, Phil has also written Hostile Intent, Protecting Yourself from Terrorism and will soon be the subject of a television pilot. In the meantime, you can read more about Matt's adventures in his blog,

In addition, Phil is available for comment on all aspects of international terrorism, both at home and abroad, and he makes for an interesting and colorful guest. His expertise in the area of international issues combined with his personable on-camera style would make for a great interview on this hot topic. From Lebanese terror camps in the 1970’s to American airports in the months before 9/11, Phil Little has witnessed the terror threat up close and can share eye-opening stories and information that all Americans should know.


Marjeyoun, Lebanon.

Thursday, 21 November 2002. 01:30.

A full moon. A glow seemed to rise from the sand, allowing them to drive with their headlights off. The five Jeeps kept to 40 kph on the dark road that wound southward between hills and wadis. In the third Jeep, Major Skaff allowed himself the brief luxury of picking out Pegasus in the sharp winter sky before he compulsively scanned the rocky terrain for signs of Hezbollah fedayeen. He was leading this patrol to check out rumors of increased activity near Shaaba Farms, the disputed area where three Israeli soldiers had been kidnapped two years before.

The ridge road ran from the town of Marjeyoun down to Qlaia’a under the ominous gaze of Shqif Arnoun-the castle called “Beaufort” by the Crusaders-to the west. Christians and Muslims had fought for this ground for centuries, trading possession of the castle as their fortunes rose and fell. In the 1970’s the Palestinian Liberation Organization had used the strategic placement of the castle to shell civilian settlements in northern Israel.

That was when Skaff, then a young recruit of the Southern Lebanese Army, had been a driver in a similar convoy, shortly before the civil war broke out between Christians and Muslims in 1975. Traversing this very ridge on a mission, he had come under fire from the castle. His evasive driving had saved the convoy and drawn the attention of General Lahd.

The intervening thirty years had been a generation of unremitting war. Israel, tiring of mounting civilian casualties and the Lebanese government’s refusal to expel the terrorists, invaded southern Lebanon in 1982 and captured the castle. Eighteen years of occupation followed, during which Skaff had risen through the SLA ranks while working openly with the Israelis to keep the various Muslim factions at bay. When he had started, Hezbollah did not exist. Now the radical Muslim army controlled the south and dealt severely with the Christian resistance.

As the occupation had grown increasingly costly and casualties mounted, the pressure increased for Israel to withdraw. When the SLA collapsed in 2000, Israel destroyed what was left of the castle walls and pulled back behind the Blue Line specified by the UN. The SLA scattered. Thousands fled to Israel or went into hiding. Those who didn’t were imprisoned and tried as enemy collaborators. As Hezbollah gained control of the area, the anticipated slaughter of Christians didn’t materialize. But any SLA militiamen emboldened to return were also imprisoned.

As he scanned the distant ruins of the castle in the moonlight, Major Skaff reflected on change and constancy. Where PLO guns had once rained death on Israel and Lebanese Christians, now tourists snapped pictures and rushed home to post them on the Internet. And the same General Antoine Lahd who had brought him up in the ranks and fought beside him for decades had fled to Paris. Only a week ago he had opened a fancy restaurant in Tel Aviv called Byblos. It had a nice ocean view.

True, Lahd had a death sentence hanging over him for treason and war crimes, but so did Skaff. And so did many of the two thousand SLA in Lebanese prisons.

But some things had not changed. Southern Lebanon was just as dangerous for the men in these Jeeps as it had been when Skaff was driving instead of commanding.

Skaff was drawn from his reflections by a dark shape ahead. At the end of the ridge the road snaked through an outcropping of rock. He had passed through it many times, always with reluctance. This night he felt a peculiar sense of revulsion as he squinted at the misshapen lump of stone looming before him.

He nudged his driver and nodded toward the rocks. Hassan nodded back. He could feel it too. Skaff reached for the radio to signal the lead Jeep. A lifetime of guerrilla fighting had convinced him that such premonitions were not without merit. His transmission was brief, but they were already entering the outcropping when he put the radio down.

Five seconds later a rocket hit the grille of the lead Jeep. The explosion lit the rocks towering over them. He saw the silhouettes of two men blow out on either side of the vehicle, which was tossed onto the nose of the next Jeep. Hassan narrowly missed them, skidding left and stopping next to the driver of the lead Jeep, who was lying half off the road.

The two Jeeps behind slid sideways to a stop in the road as machine gun bursts echoed from beyond the lead Jeep. Skaff was exposed to the attack. He dove from his seat to the rear of the second Jeep, between two men already returning fire with an Uzi and an M-16.

He rolled to his feet and yelled to the two back Jeeps, motioning for them to form a double barricade with their vehicles, keeping the men covered both in the front and the rear in case the attackers attempted to sandwich them in the gap. Skaff turned back, confident that his men needed no further direction. This mission called for battle-hardened veterans, and he had personally selected the nineteen men who were with him now. Every man among them had proved himself in years of combat. Some even owed their life to his cool command in battle. Some had returned the favor multiple times.

Skaff scanned the forward battle to account for the remaining eleven men, his position shielded by the lead Jeep transfixed on the grille of the second. To the left, Hassan was pulling the driver of the first Jeep to safety. The other two men from Skaff’s Jeep were covering him with sporadic fire from their Uzis. Ahead, the driver of the second Jeep was placing a case of grenades handy to his partner, who had fitted his M-16 with a grenade launcher and was set up in the backseat. Skaff was standing beside the other two passengers in the second Jeep. That left the three passengers from the lead Jeep.

He spotted Saif on the right. He had been thrown clear onto the sand without apparent injury. He was crouched behind a boulder, occasionally returning fire with his Desert Eagle .50-caliber side arm. Failing to sight the other two, he shouted to the driver, who had acquired an Uzi.

“Rafik? Sayyed?”

He nodded forward. Skaff crawled over the middle of the jeep to the hood. Sayyed was wedged between the lead Jeep and the grille of the second Jeep, most likely dead. Rafik was lying on the hood of the second Jeep. Skaff checked for a pulse. Nothing. He closed Rafik’s eyes and whispered a short prayer. Skaff couldn’t play favorites with his men, but this loss was harder than any other would have been. At nineteen, Rafik had already spent four years with Skaff, rarely more than fifty yards from his side. Four years of relentless, driven hate. Skaff had been Rafik’s ticket for revenge. Perhaps now he had found the peace revenge had not been able to bring him.

Skaff was crawling back to get a weapon when the second rocket hit the bottom of the lead Jeep. The gas tank exploded, sending most of the shrapnel back toward the attackers. The force of the blast threw the second Jeep back five feet, knocking over the two shooters behind. The grenade launcher and the man with it fell into the front seat. The driver was standing to the side. He returned fire with the Uzi.

Skaff helped reposition the grenade launcher and crawled out of the Jeep. The two in back were already firing again. He scanned the area and then dove toward the two Jeeps in the rear. Of the eight men between the jeeps, one had taken a round in the right shoulder but was still firing left-handed, propped against a door. Three were facing the rear but indicated they hadn’t seen any action, yet. Two were covering the walls on either side with M-16s, but also hadn’t seen action. The final two had grenade launchers on their M-16s. They waited until they saw several volleys of tracer bullets originating from a single location. Then they fired three seconds apart at the source. The machine gun fire stopped. Skaff slapped them on the back. Perhaps they would get out of this thing alive.

Then a rocket hit Skaff’s Jeep. Hassan was behind a curtain of stone, firing with an Uzi, having propped the injured driver in a cleft in the rock. But the other two were using the Jeep for cover. One tumbled backward, clear of the Jeep. The other was knocked down as the Jeep rolled over, pinning his leg under it. Skaff ran through a volley of automatic weapons fire and pulled the first man to his feet. They raced to the Jeep, joined by Hassan, and rocked it back over. Then they dragged the injured man to safety next to the injured driver.

Skaff felt a shudder of unease ripple through the adrenaline-laced focus that always came over him in combat. If this kept up, the whole team would be shredded before they had used half their ammo. He grabbed Hassan’s arm and yelled into his ear over the din.

“We have to take out that rocket launcher or we don’t get out of here. Take those three and circle around.” Hassan nodded and stepped away but Skaff grabbed his arm. “Take a radio.”

He let go, and Hassan ran to the rear while the others laid down covering fire. Skaff used the opportunity to race to the front two Jeeps and get the four there away from the vehicles and behind the cover of the rocks. As they ran for cover, another rocket hit the top of the lead Jeep, sending fragments of the grille and fenders flying in all directions. Skaff ran through the explosion back to the rock curtain. When he fell against a boulder the injured man pointed at Skaff’s leg. He looked down and saw that his left trouser leg was slashed in three places. Blood was seeping down to his boots. He looked around to see how the others had fared.

Saif seemed to have been hit in the arm by something. He was now firing the Eagle while holding his upper arm with the other hand. The other four seemed to have escaped unscathed. Skaff’s radio had not survived the rocket. He nodded to the man next to him, who wielded an Uzi while he made it to the two back Jeeps, getting an Uzi and a radio. He turned it up all the way and slung it over his shoulder. Then he began firing at the source of tracers beyond the rubble of the Jeeps.

Looking for some encouragement, Skaff probed his memory. In almost three decades of fighting, he didn’t recall anything quite as dire as the current circumstance. He had two confirmed dead, one unconscious, three wounded but still firing. Almost a third of the force. The numbers were bound to increase as long as that rocket launcher was working. His calculations were interrupted by Hassan’s voice squawking through the pandemonium.

“We got the rocket launcher, but I think they have another on the left. And now we’re pinned down, so we’re going nowhere.”

The last word was drowned out by a rocket blast on the rock curtain above the injured men. Skaff doubted he could get a team around the other side. Even if he did, the enemy would be expecting them. No way around. No way through. He scanned the sheer rock walls on either side. No way over. The fedayeen had chosen their positions well and appeared to have ample men, weapons, and ammo. It seemed likely that most of this team would share the fate of Rafik and Sayyed. Probably all. The thought sickened Skaff, turning the adrenaline in his veins to bile in his throat.

There was one last hope, but it might be too late. He selected another frequency on the radio and shouted over the gunfire, “Lehafil Levanon Sanctzia. Lehafil Levanon Sanctzia. (Activate Lebanon Sanction.)”