Saturday, April 30, 2011

Leigh Bale's The Forest Ranger's Promise

Leigh Bale is a multiple award-winning author of Inspirational Romance, including the prestigious Golden Heart.

She holds a B.A. in History with distinction and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. A member of Romance Writers of America, Leigh also belongs to the American Christian Fiction Writers. She is the mother of two wonderful adult children and lives in Nevada with her professor husband of thirty years.

When she isn’t writing, Leigh loves spoiling her beautiful granddaughter, serving in her church congregation, and researching wildland forest fires for her forest ranger books.

You can find her online at www.LeighBale.com.

The Forest Ranger's Promise

Rancher vs. Ranger
Managing a Wyoming sheep ranch and a feisty little girl isn't easy for widow Melanie MacAllister. The last thing she needs is yet another forest ranger to stir up trouble for the ranchers. But when she meets single dad Scott Ennison and his daughter, she realizes there's something special about this ranger. Scott has vowed to protect the land and the ranchers his predecessors have alienated in the past. Yet no one wants to trust him—except courageous Melanie. Together they'll prove that a rancher and a ranger can become neighbors, friends...and maybe even a family.

Here's an excerpt of The Forest Ranger's Promise


Thirty more minutes in the saddle and he could rest. Scott Ennison tightened his left hand around the reins, his stomach rumbling with hunger. The damp ground muffled the rhythmic beat of his horse’s hooves. He breathed deep of the crisp, July air, catching the sweet scent of sage and rain. You couldn’t get this stunning beauty living in a city.

He looked up at the blue, Wyoming sky and jagged peaks of the Snyder Mountains. Further out, a carpet of green pine led right down to the mouth of Game Creek where his truck awaited him. He’d be there soon and then on his way home. Shelley waited for him back at town, not at all happy her daddy had left her with his office manager in a strange place. If only her mother were here. The divorce hadn’t been easy on Shelley, not with his profession. Living in small, remote towns. Being a single father raising a ten-year old daughter on his own. Working all the time. Both of them lonely for their own separate reasons. No wonder Shelley was angry and missed her mom. She deserved so much more.

He redirected his thoughts, inspecting the hillside to check for erosion. After being in these mountains three days, he’d finished looking over the area. Now he had to decide how to proceed with a watershed study.

The rain that day would have chilled him to the bone if not for the heavy, down-filled coat he wore over his ranger uniform. He shifted his body and fanned his wet slicker over his arms. Even in July, the high mountains could be cold, especially after a storm.

As he pushed the forest ranger’s hat back on his head, he scanned the thin trail ahead. It twined past several large, rotten tree trunks. A mass of pine needles, dried leaves and rotted bark lay in a pile next to the opening of one hollowed out trunk. A large animal must have turned the tree over, grubbing for insects. He rode on, giving it no more thought.

Out of his peripheral vision, he caught a flurry of movement and turned in the saddle. Two bear cubs dashed across the carpet of damp leaves and scurried up a tall aspen. Scott’s gelding jerked its head and jittered to one side.

A furious roar sounded from behind. Scott swiveled his head just as his horse bolted. The reins jerked from his fingers and he grabbed for something, anything to keep from losing his seat. His fingers clasped empty air. He fell backward over the horse’s rump. The ground slammed up to meet him. He landed on his back, the air whooshing from his body. Pain exploded at the back of his head. He lay there for several moments, dazed and hurting, gasping for breath.

Panic pumped through his body and he came to his feet, staggered, and fell again. Pain choked off his breath and his lungs ached. As if in slow motion, he watched his horse race down the hill like a shot from a pistol. No more than fifty feet away, a grizzly bear stood on her hind legs. Using the aspens as a gage, Scott figured she must be at least seven feet tall and weigh five hundred pounds.

Death stared him in the eye and all he could think about was Shelley. If he didn’t make it home, she’d be all alone. No one to love and care for her. No one to keep her safe.
The bear’s angry roar echoed off the surrounding mountains. Afternoon sunlight glimmered off her coarse, silver coat. White tips gave her fur a grizzled appearance. Scott had committed the unpardonable sin of coming between a mother and her cubs.

White hot terror coursed through Scott’s veins. A rush of adrenaline forced him to his feet, but his vision swam like fog. He had to move. Had to run! But his legs wobbled and wouldn’t obey his commands.

A shot rang out. Scott turned his head, trying to ignore the bolts of lightning tearing through his body with each movement. A woman sat her horse, the butt of a rifle braced against her right shoulder. He blinked, thinking he imagined her.

She cocked the rifle again and fired into the air. The bear screamed in fury. Scott flinched, his head pounding. He took a careful step in the woman’s direction, his arms wide as he prepared to run. His head kept spinning and he stumbled, fighting to keep his balance.

The bear growled, her long, sharp teeth and claws extended. Waves of alarm washed over Scott. Another shot rang out. Scott stared in morbid curiosity as the sow lowered to all fours and dashed across the trail to her cubs. Her speed and agility surprised him. She got her cubs down from the tree, then swatted at them, herding them up the hill away from Scott and the loud boom of the rifle. That suited Scott just fine. Being eaten by a bear wasn’t on his agenda today.

The cubs squawked in protest, but the sow growled and batted them, forcing them to continue up the mountain. Thankfully her first priority was the safety of her cubs.

Scott faced the woman, shaking his head, trying to clear his blurry vision.

No, two horses and riders. A woman and girl. Where had they come from?

Scott’s knees buckled and he lay flat on his back, gazing up at the sky. A biting chill blanketed his body. He couldn’t fight it any more. Something was wrong with him. He’d hit his head and couldn’t focus.

Closing his eyes, he let the darkness sweep him away.

“I think he’s dead, Mom.”

Melanie McAllister kicked her mare. The animal zipped forward across the sage-covered field to join her daughter at the slope of the mountain. Lucky for the man, she and Anne had been out looking for stray sheep when they saw the grizzly bear. Reticent to kill a mother with cubs, Melanie had fired into the air, praying the bear didn’t charge the man. Melanie had never destroyed anything more than a bug and she didn’t want to shoot a full-grown grizzly bear. Since the animal was an endangered species, she could just imagine having to explain herself to a ranger.

“We’ll check him, Anne. You stay close in case that bear returns, okay?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

The man’s horse disappeared down the mountain. Melanie caught a glimpse of the roan gelding and didn’t recognize the brand on the animal’s hindquarters. The rain that morning had softened the ground, so it’d be easy to track the horse, if they had time. Right now, she had to think about the man and Anne’s safety.

Anne had already hopped off her horse and knelt on the ground beside him.

“Wait, Anne! I told you to stay behind me.” Melanie slid from the saddle before her horse came to a halt.

The man lay upon the damp grass, his long legs sheathed in green denim. His chest moved slightly, indicating life. Thank goodness.

His felt hat lay several feet away...a ranger’s hat with a wide, flat brim. Melanie tensed, unable to deny her natural aversion to the Forest Service. Ranchers didn’t like rangers. They just didn’t, for lots of reasons. Mainly because the past few rangers stationed in Snyderville had rarely kept their promises and tended to tell the ranchers where and when to graze their livestock. Especially the last ranger, who’d practically been run out of town by an angry mob.

Melanie didn’t recognize this man. He must be new. The rain slicker over his coat kept him dry. With his eyes closed, he looked harmless enough. A lock of sand colored hair covered his high forehead. Thick eyelashes lay closed against sun-bronzed cheeks. Stubble covered his lean jaw and blunt chin. A handsome face in a stubborn, rugged sort of way. Definitely not a man who sat in an office all day. But it wouldn’t matter if he was the best looking man on earth. Not as long as he wore a green forest ranger’s patch on the left shoulder of his shirt. This man meant trouble for Melanie, plain and simple.

“Is he dead?” Anne poked his arm with one finger, winning a soft groan from the fallen man.

“He’s hurt.” Melanie knelt beside her daughter and searched him for injuries. When she touched the back of his head, her fingers came away bloody. “He must have hit his head when he fell from his horse. Help me roll him over.”

Anne grunted as she pushed against the man’s shoulder. A strand of bright red hair came free from her long pony tail. “He’s big and heavy.”

They got the stranger over on his side, so Melanie had better access to the gash in the back of his head. Without being asked, Anne ran to her horse and retrieved two bottles of water from her saddle packs. When she returned, Melanie popped the lid from one bottle, then removed the red-checkered kerchief she wore tied around her neck. She soaked it before cleaning the man’s wound.

“Is he gonna die?” Anne asked. Her eyes filled with sadness. At the age of eleven, she’d already lost her father and Melanie hated that her child had to grow up too soon.

“I don’t think so, but he needs a doctor.” She wouldn’t lie to her daughter, even to protect her tender feelings. As sheep ranchers, they lived a hard life surrounded by death of some of their animals every day and Anne deserved the truth.

“Look, Mom. There’s grizzly track all over this place. You think those bears will come back?” Anne pointed at a perfect indentation of a large animal’s paw, the claws over three inches long.
Melanie sucked in a breath. “I hope not until we’re gone.”

Alarms sounded inside her head and she glanced at her 270-caliber rifle before scanning the trees for movement. In all the years she’d been grazing sheep on this mountain, she’d only seen grizzlies from a distance. She’d seen the damage they did to her sheep close up. As soon as they got down off this mountain, she’d report the sighting to the Wyoming State Game and Fish Department. They’d send in professional trappers to catch and release the bears to a higher elevation.

Night was coming on, black and bitter. How was she going to get the stranger back to town? She knew from past experience that her cell phone wouldn’t work here on the mountain, but she tried anyway. Flipping it open, she shook her head, wishing she could afford to invest in a satellite phone.

No reception. She and Anne were on their own.

She wouldn’t take a chance with her daughter. She’d lost Aaron eleven months earlier and she couldn’t lose her little girl, too.

The man moved, lifting a hand to his face. “What happened?”

He rolled to his back, looking up at them, blinking his clear blue eyes in a daze. He tried to rise and she pressed her hand to his shoulder. “Just rest a moment and get your bearings.”

“My horse—?”

“We’ll find him for you,” Anne said.

The man closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. “My head feels like it’s been split in two.”
Melanie didn’t laugh. Aaron had died from a similar accident, leaving her and Anne to fend for themselves with two bands of sheep. If only someone had been there to help Aaron, he might be alive now. That thought alone made her feel responsible for this man. He might have a wife and kids of his own and she was determined to do everything in her power to ensure their father returned to them. “You hit a rock. You may have a concussion.”

The man braced his big hands on the ground and tried to sit up. Melanie and Anne both reached to help him.

He groaned, rubbing his eyes. “My vision’s blurry.”

Melanie eyed him critically. “You sure you feel like sitting up?”

“Yeah.” He closed his eyes again, then opened them. “There, that’s better.”

“You got a name?” she asked.

He swallowed, as if he felt nauseated. “Ennison. Scott Ennison.”

Melanie froze. Her heart felt as though it dropped to her feet. She’d never met this man, but she’d heard plenty about him from the other ranchers in the area. Scott Ennison, the new forest ranger over the Snyder District. The bane of every rancher’s existence.

He wasn’t what she expected. Ranchers had called the last ranger overbellie because he was fat and rarely went out on the range to see what difficulties the ranchers might be dealing with. But this man looked lean and strong, with a full head of hair and startling blue eyes.

“You’re Ennison?” A look of repugnance crinkled Anne’s freckled nose.

“Yeah, who are you?”

The girl stood and backed away, her hands resting on her hips. Dressed in denim and scruffy work boots, she looked every inch like her father. “I’m Anne Marie McAllister and you killed my dad.”

Buy at CBD

You can purchase The Forest Ranger's Promise from Christian Book Distributors.

Leigh is giving away a copy of The Forest Ranger's Promise. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Janet Sketchley's A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider

Attention Canadians: This one is open to you!!

Janet Sketchley is an East Coast writer working to break into print in novel-length Christian women’s suspense. Her unpublished novel Praying for the Enemy was shortlisted for the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2008. She has published more than 100 short articles, columns, stories, and reviews. Janet lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Stop by her blog, God With Us: Finding Joy, for book reviews, inspirational articles, and features. You can also stop by her Hot Apple Cider website, www.hotapplecider.ca.

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider

Inside the pages of this exceptional inspirational anthology, readers will discover more than 50 honest stories written from the heart. The book contains moving true-life experience, thought-provoking drama, light-hearted humour, imaginative fiction, and touching poetry.

The short pieces—each of which contains a complete story—make it easy for readers to pick up the book and read something satisfying and uplifting when taking a break from their busy schedules. While there's lots of variety, all of the pieces are filled with hope and encouragement.

“The Hot Apple Cider books aren't sweet and sentimental. Instead, they're empowering, because they reassure you that you're not alone, that God is at work in your life, that good will come out of the struggles you face, and that every person matters.” ~ N. J. Lindquist, Hot Apple Cider publisher and co-editor.

Buy at CBD.

You can purchase A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider from CBD.

Janet is giving away a copy of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS AVAILABLE TO CANADA ADDRESSES.


Friday, April 29, 2011

with Trish Perry

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Trish!
What started you on your writing journey?

I dabbled for years, but I got the writing bug while I worked on my Psych degree. I found I enjoyed all the required writing for my English classes, and my professors gave me great encouragement. I started attending local writing events, reading every how-to book and magazine I could find, and taking creative writing classes at my college. By the time I was ready for grad school, I decided to take a couple years off and write. I loved it so much, I decided to stay on that path for good.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
These days it’s other things on my computer. My friends and family have learned by now that it’s best not to call me during the day unless it’s an emergency, and I keep music and TV off while I’m working. But I’m easily tempted by that e-mail chime, as well as any activity on my Yahoo home page. I have to keep those two items closed while I work, or my thoughts will stray like those of a goldfish.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I like all genres, really, although I’m not a horror fan. And I read as many ABA novels as I do CBA. I like to mix it up and usually have several books going at once. Right now I’m reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith; One Day, by David Nichols; Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell; and Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride, by Sandra D. Bricker. Not a bad one in the bunch (but I should point out that the Nichols and Mitchell books might offend some readers).

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
Of course I loved both my hero and heroine, but Zack Cooper—the hero—was near and dear to me. He has his heart in the right place, even though it’s been thoroughly stomped on. He has a definite vulnerability about him. But he’s strong in so many ways—all the important ways, in my opinion. He reminds me of the good old-fashioned kind of hero: masculine, hard working, practical, and a gentleman who tries to do the right thing in all circumstances.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Upbeat, fun to dance to. You know how some songs start out rather quietly and keep building in layers and energy? I love that kind of music, and I think that’s a bit like my personality. I can be rather shy in a crowd, but I do enjoy a good time once I feel at home!

What is your strangest habit?
Now that I’m an empty nester, my at-home dinner habits have gotten a bit strange. I like to eat in front of a good show or movie, and I don’t want to have to go back to work after I relax at dinner. So I usually finish work for the day before I cook. TiVo makes it easy to save whatever I want to watch, so sometimes I don’t get around to eating dinner until ten at night. It’s one of the perks of not having to answer to anyone else’s schedule!

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Yes, home repairs! I let them become far bigger than they truly are. I needed to replace a metal strip at the bottom of my shower before I could use that shower. I had two other showers at my disposal, so I just never took the time to do the simple repair. Not for a couple of months. And I’ve had a pretty enamel-on-metal “No Solicitors” sign for three years now that I have yet to mount on the brick outside. It’s getting to the point that I may just start answering the door holding the doggoned thing, just in case someone wants to sell me magazines.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
I was in my twenties the first time I had Ethiopian food. I was floored by how yummy it was, and I loved the fact that you eat it with your hands, rather than with utensils. A few years ago I learned how to make a number of the tasty dishes, as well as injera, the pancake-like bread with which you lift the various vegetables, yogurt, and stews from the plate and shove them into your face. It makes for a fun, messy, delicious meal, and my family has always enjoyed it. The recipes are varied and too complicated to repeat here, but I encourage anyone with an adventurous culinary streak to do a simple web search and try some of the recipes. Fantastic stuff!

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
When I suddenly found myself single several years ago, my initial reaction was actually relief (long story there). But my next reaction was panic. I hadn’t prepared for this eventuality. I had stayed at home with my kids for 16 years. I wasn’t sure how I would provide for myself now that I was unable to earn a living as I had when I was single before. The first time I picked up my Bible after this change in my circumstances, the Lord showed me Isaiah 41:10—I don’t even remember how that happened. I just remember the peace the verse gave me. It’s still what I turn to whenever I start to worry—I have it typed out and posted on my computer monitor. And that “righteous right hand?” I think of that as being Jesus.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
This September Summerside Press will release Love Finds You on Christmas Morning. The book combines two related novels written by my friend, Debby Mayne, and myself. Debby wrote Deck the Halls, a 1920s romance about the wealthy William Tronnier and his efforts to woo Lillian Pickard, a proud, hardworking girl from the poor side of town in Cary, North Carolina. My novel, ‘Tis the Season, is a contemporary romance about William and Lillian Tronnier’s great granddaughter, private chef Nicole Tronnier, and Drew Cornell, the young engineer who buys the Tronnier family home just as Nikki had finally achieved the financial wherewithal to buy it herself. Both stories are a lot of fun.

Buy Tea for Two at CBD


You can purchase Tea for Two from CBD.

Trish is giving away a copy of Tea for Two. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Winners!

The winner of:
  • Fred Warren's The Muse is Sunny
  • Tessa Stockton's The Unforgiveable is Chrissy
  •  Deanna Klingel's Avery's Battlefield is lgm52


Winners, it's your responsibility to contact me (patty at barndoorbookloft dotnet) with your address so the author can send you a book.

Subscribing by email will ensure you don't miss the winners list. ;-)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Trish Perry's Tea for Two

Award-winning novelist Trish Perry has written eight inspirational romances for Harvest House Publishers, Summerside Press, and Barbour Publishing, as well as two devotionals for Summerside Press.

She has served as a columnist and as a newsletter editor over the years, as well as a 1980s stockbroker and a board member of the Capital Christian Writers organization in Washington, D.C.

She holds a degree in Psychology.

Trish’s latest novel, Tea for Two, released in March. She invites you to visit her at www.TrishPerry.com

Tea for Two

Zack Cooper tries his best to raise his children, but he's losing his grip on them in their teen years. They've both had scrapes with the local law.

Tea Shop owner Milly Jewel has the perfect woman in mind to help Zack. Counselor Tina Milano meets weekly at the tea shop with her women's group. Milly encourages Zack and Tina to work together to draw the teens back before they get in even hotter water. Milly never thought things might heat up between Zack and Tina. Or did she?

Tina's connections with the Middleburg police department prove a mixed blessing for Zack and his kids. Both her best friend and old boyfriend are officers on the force.

And when Tina's women's group gets wind of her personal pursuits and clashes, they want to help. The group's meetings at the tea shop take on a slightly different flavor. Tina wonders who, exactly, is counseling whom.

Here's an excerpt of Tea for Two:

CHAPTER ONE


Zack Cooper wasn’t your typical male, and he knew it. He couldn’t simplify life by innately compartmentalizing its various issues. If something was wrong at home, that something tried to go with him when he left for work. And this rainy June morning, while he drove a delivery to Millicent’s Tea Shop in downtown Middleburg, that something felt like a passenger sitting right there in the front seat of his truck. Or maybe like two passengers, since his teenagers, Dylan and Sherry, were what was wrong at home.

He pulled his truck up in front of the tea shop and hurried to remove and keep dry two boxes of produce from underneath his truck bed’s tarp. A chatty group of women walked toward the front door and blocked his path toward the shop’s back door, so he waited for them to file into Milly’s. He would have tipped his baseball cap were his hands free, but they didn’t seem to notice him, anyway.

Most of the ladies shared umbrellas, squeezing together to avoid the rain. The lone woman at the end of the group, while the last to enter, somehow seemed in charge. As she neared Zack, she tilted her umbrella back to look at him.

“I’m sorry. Excuse us.”

Zack experienced a momentary ability to compartmentalize. The kids were nowhere in his mind, just for that instant. Neither was work.

This was one great looking woman. Exotic, with that dark hair and those warm brown eyes. Even though he hadn’t said a word, her lips tugged into a subtle smile, and she looked at him as if he had the driest wit imaginable.

On the contrary, he stood in the rain, holding fruit, and struggled to string words together. “Uh, yeah. Sure. I mean, yes. Or, no. No problem.”

Her eyes twinkled at him right before she turned and entered the shop.

He shook his head and spoke aloud. “Real smooth, there, Zack.” He headed around to the rear of the building.

Milly didn’t answer the back door right away. Zack figured she was up front in the dining area, greeting the same ladies he had just passed. She expected his delivery this morning, though, so she probably unlocked the door for him. He shifted the boxes to one arm and was about to reach for the door knob with the other when he heard a sweet young voice from behind.

“Who’s that handsome farmer? Locked out, are you?”

Zack turned to see Jane, Milly’s assistant, dashing across the street toward him. He grinned at her as she tossed back the hood of her slicker and shook her fair, red hair. Like Milly, Jane always managed to sound upbeat. And both of them were from somewhere in England, so Zack always loved listening to them talk.

“Morning, Jane! I’m not sure if it’s locked. Haven’t tried the knob yet, but Milly didn’t answer. I knocked with my elbow, though, so she might not have heard me.”

Jane jangled a set of keys out of her purse, even while she reached for the knob. “Ah, there we go. Not locked.”

Zack lifted his chin at her. “After you.” The moment the door opened, he could smell the irresistible pastries freshly baked or still baking in one of the shop’s ovens. He wondered if Jane could hear his stomach grumble. He’d missed breakfast this morning.

Milly walked back into the kitchen and broke into a warm smile as Jane and Zack entered.

“Sorry I’m late, Milly.” Jane removed her slicker and swiftly exchanged it for an apron. “I’ll never get used to how timid drivers get around here when a single drop of water falls from the sky.”

Milly set a serving tray on the counter and pointed to a mat near the door. “Mind you dry your shoes off so you don’t slip, Jane. You’re just in time for Tina’s group. Would you mind bringing them a pot of English Breakfast? Tina’s asked for a tray of the apple-cranberry scones. To start, anyway.”

Jane prepared the teapot, cups, and saucers. “Is Carmella with her today? I saw her over the weekend, and she said she didn’t care how early in the morning they were meeting or what else they were ordering, she planned to get some of your little berry shortcakes before leaving.”

“We’d better go ahead and whip up some cream, then.” Milly turned her attention to Zack. “Oh, Zack, I’m sorry. Here, here.” She patted the counter near the sink. “Set those right down. Such a wet morning for you! Do you have time for a cup of tea?”

She turned away and poured a cup without waiting for his answer.

“I appreciate it.” Zack set the boxes of berries, cucumbers, and watercress on the spacious counter. He was always impressed with how tidy Milly’s kitchen was, considering how much she produced in it. He removed his hat and tucked it in his back pocket. “Had another one of those mornings with the kids. Didn’t get to enjoy my morning coffee, so I could use the caffeine.” He took the delicate cup and saucer from her as if they were priceless museum pieces.

“Milk?” She stepped to the refrigerator, but he waved her off.

“No, this is great.” He glanced toward the kitchen door, the one that led into the dining area. “You’ve got a good-sized group already, I see.” He wasn’t about to ask outright about that woman he saw earlier, but he wondered if she was Tina. Or Carmella.

“Yes, this is one of my regular groups. We have a few groups that come in on a scheduled basis.”

He watched her prepare a three-tiered tray with lacy paper things and what he assumed were the scones she mentioned. His stomach growled again, and she looked up at him.

He grimaced. “Sorry.”

She smiled and pulled a chair over to the counter. “Have a seat, young man. Something tells me you missed more than your coffee this morning.”

Zack obeyed her, and she placed one of the scones on a fancy, flowered plate and retrieved a bowl of dense cream from the refrigerator.

“Here, now. You start off with that, just as my ladies out front are going to do.” She spooned a generous portion of the cream onto his plate. “We call this clotted cream. Use it like butter, only more generously. I think you’ll like it. And if you want to try the little berry shortcakes Jane was talking about, you’ll have to stick around a few minutes. Interested?”

He shook his head as he bit into the amazingly perfect pastry. “Mmm.” Apple cranberry. His new favorite combination. He quickly swallowed and washed it down with tea. “Can’t stay, no. But wow, that’s something!” He held up what was left of the scone. “I need to make a few more deliveries this morning before heading home. I got off to a late start.”

Milly had resumed her work, spooning the thick cream into a serving bowl. “You said the kids gave you a rough morning. Is everything all right?”

He shrugged his shoulders as he swallowed another warm, savory bite. Without his asking, Milly placed another scone on his plate. “Thanks, Milly. No more after that. I really have to go.” He sighed. “I don’t know. Seems like one day Dylan and Sherry thought I was terrific. Their hero. And then suddenly I’m the enemy. We don’t seem to be able to get through a single conversation without getting into an argument.”

“Typical teenaged issues?” Milly stopped working. “How old are they now?”

“Dylan’s seventeen. Sherry’s fifteen-going-on-get-lost-Dad.”

Milly smiled. “I’m sure they—”

Jane walked back into the kitchen. “You have those scones, Milly? Oh, great. Thanks.” She took the tray and bowl of cream from Milly and grinned. “I was right. Carmella’s already talked several of them into adding the shortcakes to today’s order.”

“I’ll get on it.” Milly turned toward the refrigerator, and Zack stood. He hadn’t finished his scones, but he had taken up enough of her time.

“Let me get out of your way, Milly.”

“No, hold on a minute, Zack. Sit and finish. I want to give you a few goodies to bring home to the kids. We’ll have them calling you a hero again in no time.”

He smiled and sat for awhile longer. “Thanks.” He scratched at the back of his neck. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know how much of the problem is teenaged growing pains and how much of it is the aftermath of their mother’s leaving. I’ve never dealt with teenagers before.”

Milly nodded and placed several pastries in a box. “I wondered about that, too. How long since Maya left?”

“Four years ago. Still not a word from her, but I’ve heard through the grapevine she’s moved on from the guy she left with. Different guy now. I can understand her leaving me. I just don’t know why a mother would leave her kids like that.”

Milly placed the box on the counter. “I imagine Dylan and Sherry wonder the same thing. Poor dears.”

Zack’s cell phone rang, and he pulled it from his shirt pocket. “‘Scuse me, Milly.”
His caller ID made him frown. It was smack in the middle of the school day.

“Dylan? Aren’t you supposed to stay off the phone during school hours?”

“Um, I’m not at school. I, I need you to come get me.”

Zack stood. “Now what? Please tell me you didn’t skip class again.”

“Dad, I’m at the police station. I’ve been arrested.”


Buy Tea for Two at CBD


You can purchase Tea for Two from CBD.

Trish is giving away a copy of Tea for Two. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Literary Agent Les Stobbe Discusses Ways Authors Can Increase Book Sales

The Barn Door Book Loft. Free Books! Book Giveaways.

Guest post by Jennifer Slattery



In today's recovering economy, numerous bookstores and publishing houses are struggling to maintain sales. Because of this, they evaluate each submission with an ever-increasing critical eye, unwilling to waste valuable resources on something that won't deliver. Established authors don't necessarily have a leg-up. In fact, debut authors often land contracts faster than authors with low or diminishing sales. If you are unpublished, this means you need to have an established audience before your first book hits the stores. If you are a published author, this means you need to spend a great deal of time marketing.

Literary agent end Executive Editor of the Christian Writers Guild, Mr. Les Stobbe, suggests three, easy-to-apply ways for authors to generate and increase their sales:

1. Get involved in the social media with exciting content well before your book comes out. Build a following. One client has gained an incredible series of reviews of her book on social media.

2. Learn to write your own press releases, develop a press kit, and be aggressive in sending them out. One newsy press release got a client a major article with photos in the largest daily in her region.

3. Aggressively go after book signings in bookstores in your region. Two clients consistently sell 20 to 30 books per booksigning. A friend circulating in the store can generate traffic to the signing table just by friendly suggestions to check out the book. Another author exhibits every year at an ethnic fair and sells thousands of her books because they have an ethnic flair to them.

This is especially true in regard to ebooks. As more and more readers venture away from bookstores and toward Amazon and other online outlets, shelf placement isn't nearly as important as a strong online presence.

And yet, regardless of the industry changes, story remains king. "E-books are a convenience driven by marketing possibilities," Mr. Stobbe says, "but as writers we know that people will always be looking for a great story to delight, entertain, and inform them. That’s why fiction way outsells non-fiction in E-books. The world will always need thinkers, creative writers, even amusing writers."

Strong stories have strong plots, dynamic characters and vibrant settings. These characteristics are easy to learn through writers' groups, writers' conferences and craft related book. Critique groups can also be an invaluable tool for helping a writer hone their skills, but according to Mr. Stobbe, not all critique groups are valuable.

"As I interviewed authors for the newsletter of Christian Writers Guild they often told me how important a critique group had been to them," Mr. Stobbe says. "But I’ve also been appalled at the bad advice some writers have received in critique groups. Word Weavers, which started in Florida, has developed an effective critique group format that is now being launched nationally by the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild."

If you're looking for some tips on how to write that next best-seller, Mr. Stobbe's not going to give you any. "I prefer not to answer this question because editors vary widely on what they are looking for," Mr. Stobbe says. "Personal taste plays a far more important role in fiction than non-fiction. I just know when I read a good story—and use a reader to weed out those with bad techniques."

Hone your craft, find qualified critique partners, write the best novel you can write, then send it out again and again until you find that agent or editor looking for the story you're selling.

I hope you gleaned a lot of valuable information from Mr. Stobbe's interview. I am very grateful he took the time to answer all these questions. Visit his website, StobbeLiterary.com to find out more about him, his agency and the type of books he's looking for.

And I'd love to hear from you: Do you have a critique group? Has it been a positive or negative experience for you and what advice would you give to writers looking to find a critique partner?

An active Literary Agent for 17 years and Executive Editor of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, Les Stobbe also serves as director of International Christian Writers. He’s taught journalism as Journalist in Residence at Gordon College, Wenham, MA and wrote most of the lessons for the Apprentice Course and Journeyman non-fiction course for the Christian Writers Guild. He has been denominational editor, magazine editor, newsletter editor, book editor, book club vice-president, curriculum managing editor, and president of a book publishing house. He has written 14 books and hundreds of magazine and newsletter articles. He has been married to his musician wife Rita for 54 years and is very proud the five grandchildren of their two children.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Literary Agent, Les Stobbe, Talks About Building a Platform, Article writing and More

The Barn Door Book Loft. Free Books! Book Giveaways.

Guest post by Jennifer Slattery


As the writing industry continues to shift more and more toward ebooks, successful writers must wear numerous hats. Not only must they craft a great story, they also need exceptional marketing skills to sell it. If you've circled through the various writers' loops for any length of time, you've likely heard a great deal about a writer's need to develop a platform. Today, Les Stobbe, literary agent and Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Writers Guild explains why.

"Because of the dramatic shifts in distribution systems and patterns, plus the disappearance of many traditional Christian bookstores, an author’s visibility, name recognition, has moved from being a blessing to being the all-important consideration at publishers, especially in non-fiction," Mr. Stobbe says. "How to develop what publishers call a “national platform” is shifting from being a national speaker in churches, on radio or TV to the author’s presence nationally on social media."

In many ways, this is encouraging because with Blogger, Wordpress, Facebook, Twitter and the numerous other cyber-outlets, establishing a web presence is easier than ever, and it doesn't take a lot of money to do it. However, it will take more than a handful of blog subscribers to make this happen.

"A client with 20,000 blog hits over two months is starting to be recognized as having a viable platform, especially if she or he is creating a buzz," Mr. Stobbe says. "Creating a buzz on social media launched The Shack. Not all writers, of course, have the moxy to create a buzz, so they probably need a professional to help them do it."

Finding help is also easier than ever. Some authors hire PR firms, others join marketing groups like John 3:16 marketing. The extensive membership email loop available through ACFW has helped many debut authors launch best-sellers.

Article writing is another way authors can develop name-recognition and increase their reader-base. It also teaches the writer invaluable skills necessary for a successful career.

"Article writing develops a writer at several levels," Mr. Stobbe says. "You learn to think reader first—what will grab and hold the reader in seconds. You learn to research the market. You learn how to interact with editors. You learn the significance of deadlines. Most important, you are communicating the message of God’s grace and love to tens of thousands more readers, sometimes millions more, than a book. One article can at times have more impact than even a bestselling book. If your passion is to get out God’s message, write articles."

As you walk through doors God's already opened, often He'll open even more, as was the case for Mr. Stobbe. "For ten years I wrote a story-oriented Bible study column for boys. I selected 10, added Bible studies oriented to girls, and Preteen Bible Exploration was picked up by the Billy Graham people as a follow-up for preteens accepting Christ at crusades."

In my short time of writing, I've learned never to turn down an opportunity and never assume a door's shut until your head actually slams against the wood. Most often, the best place to start is with your own blog. You can set up an account with Blogger and Wordpress for free. Try to be consistent with your posts. This will accomplish two things: First, it will help you meet deadlines (even if it is self-imposed). Second, it will encourage consistent readership. If your readers never know when you're going to post, they'll be less likely to stop by.

Next, start guest blogging for others. This is a great confidence booster and an excellent way to increase your search engine ratings and your audience.

Many of your posts can be expanded into articles, and as you write articles and devotionals, often more permanent opportunities will open up. You might even discover a new passion.

Join us tomorrow as Mr. Stobbe discusses ways the importance and draw-backs of critique groups, how ebooks affect the writing industry and what writers can do to generate sales.

An active Literary Agent for 17 years and Executive Editor of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, Les Stobbe also serves as director of International Christian Writers. He’s taught journalism as Journalist in Residence at Gordon College, Wenham, MA and wrote most of the lessons for the Apprentice Course and Journeyman non-fiction course for the Christian Writers Guild. He has been denominational editor, magazine editor, newsletter editor, book editor, book club vice-president, curriculum managing editor, and president of a book publishing house. He has written 14 books and hundreds of magazine and newsletter articles. He has been married to his musician wife Rita for 54 years and is very proud the five grandchildren of their two children.

Find out more about Mr. Stobbe, his literary agency and the type of books he's looking for at StobbeLiterary.com

with Marty Girardier

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Marty!
We would love to get to know you some. Tell us about your family.

My husband John and I have been married thirty five years. We live in Chesapeake, Virginia with our spunky dog Mocha. As retired military, we feel fortunate to have been in the Tidewater area since 1978. Our two sons are grown and married with families of their own. Our oldest son Darrel, lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife Amy-Jo and our youngest son Robert, lives in Moyock, North Carolina with his wife Emily and our two grandsons Jacob and Will.

What prompted you to write this book?
The only answer for this is the Holy Spirit. Once I stepped down as the coordinator of the Cupboards for Christ ministry, I sensed the Holy Spirit prodding me to write down how He had guided and directed me to organize the food pantry. I am so glad that I listened because the information was still very fresh in my mind. Now others can benefit from what God taught me as they too read the book and seek God for direction on organizing a food pantry ministry that can benefit their church body and community.

Was there anything you discovered or learned while working on this book that surprised you?
Yes! Even though I had all the mechanics of the book written by the fall of 2008, the Lord had more to write about the subject. My husband and I felt led to change churches during the summer of 2008, while I was in the process of writing. Little did I know the little church we now attend would be a huge part of the story that God wanted to share. February 2009, our new small church and our former church became partners and now work together to provide food, money and volunteers that are needed for this growing food pantry ministry. In the book I share how God brought our churches together to work as a team and how it has benefited both churches as a result of us working together.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
The biggest writing obstacle for me is staying focused. Looking around my home, I can always find other things to do that allow me to be distracted from sitting down and writing. But when I pray and ask the Lord to help me stay focused and clear blocks of time for me to write, he always comes through.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I enjoy reading Christian autobiographies mostly. I get so inspired by ordinary people who have risen to new heights in living and serving God. To me these books are current day Bible stories that are fresh and new, helping you and me realize that God is at work transforming lives today.

Are there certain foods or snacks that keep the words flowing for you?
A Starbucks tall, café Mocha light does the trick for me.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
Currently I am doing the Bible study, Jonah by Priscilla Shirer. Wow! For me the lesson that has spoken volumes is we all are or have been a Jonah at one time or another. God is so gracious and so merciful that He gives each of us second chances in life. Thank you God!

What are you currently writing?
Currently I am a weekly contributing devotional writer for Our Circle of Friends website in Sugarcreek, Ohio along with writing the blog, Pantry of Praise which I update twice a month. After recently attending the Florida Christian Writers Conference in Leesburg, Florida, I was inspired to begin writing articles and greeting cards as well. I am currently praying and seeking God for direction and know He has a plan for the future of me writing and sharing His goodness with others through these writing projects.




You can purchase How Shall We Feed Them? from Amazon.

Marty is giving away a copy of How Shall We Feed Them?. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Meet Literary Agent Les Stobbe

The Barn Door Book Loft. Free Books! Book Giveaways.

Guest post by Jennifer Slattery


I'm honored to have the privilege to introduce one of my favorite literary agents in the Christian fiction industry, Les Stobbe. He always has a friendly word of encouragement or an interesting tidbit of information to offer and never snubs a newbie or unknown author. He's one of those rare agents who actually takes the time to respond to emails--whether he likes your work or not.

Currently, Mr. Stobbe functions as the Executive Editor of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. He was the founding editor of the Mennonite Observer, served as editor at Christian Life Publications, editorial director of Cambridge Publishers (business magazines), Moody Press Books, Christian Herald Books and Book Clubs, and Here's Life Publishers Ltd., as managing editor of curriculum for Scripture Press and as editor of Christian Education Journal.

For seven years he served as president of Here's Life Publishers. From 1996 to 2001 Les served as Vice President of Communications at Vision New England in Acton, MA. He is author or co-author of 14 books and has written more than 700 published articles—and currently keeps his days filled as mentor, article writer, and literary agent.

Since 1963 He has been lecturing at Christian writers’ conferences, including ones in Europe, England, The Philippines, Singapore, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those experiences helped him write 34 of the 50 lessons in Christian Writers’ Guild’s What’s Your Story apprentice course and 20 lessons in the Journeyman Course. The Word Guild in Canada presented Les with the Partnership Award for significant service to Canadian writers who are Christian. The Montrose Christian Writers Conference presented him with the R.A. Torrey Award.

Having worked in the industry for nearly six decades, as a writer, editor and agent, Mr. Stobbe knows the writing industry. "It’s 56 years since I first sat at a typewriter as founding editor of a denominational weekly," he says. "Twelve pages had to be filled every week, including a weekly editorial, devotional, children’s story, news—with no secretary.

"After four years I took off one year to teach at a Christian high school. Before that year was out I was hired by Moody Press to supervise the selling floor of their bookstore, but within six months I was spending half days as manuscript evaluation editor for Kenneth Taylor at Moody Press. Evaluating 250 or more high schoolers’ essays at regular intervals had sensitized me to quality levels in writing."

The skills learned and wisdom gained during each of these varied roles equipped him for his role as literary agent. "Except for managing a staff of 10 proofreaders and editors, my work as sole acquisitions editor at Moody Press was almost identical to being a literary agent," Mr. Stobbe says. "In each situation I have helped mostly beginning writers achieve publishing levels in their book manuscripts.

"At Moody, I did my correspondence on the train going to work—as agent I have the luxury of an up-to-date computer. At Moody I annually had to scrutinize the royalty reports for our authors before they went out—and now I do it as literary agent after I receive them. My joy is working with authors, aiming to help them get published with the life-giving message of Jesus’ death and resurrection."

His experience as a former acquisition editor gave him the experience needed to recognize quality, marketable work. "I felt it took five years as Moody editor to really get a handle on what would sell, regardless of how scholarly the manuscript or how important the preacher," Mr. Stobbe says. "I learned that transparency sells, that considering the reader more important than your great ideas fueled bestsellers, that listening to women talk around meal tables at writers conferences was a superb way of gathering market intelligence. Just one table of women from different states revealed their passions, their concerns, what they wanted their pastors to know and do—and later helped me select books that could meet those felt needs."

That is an excellent marketing strategy. It reminds me of something Dr. Dennis Hensley said in one of the classes he taught at the ACFW conference last September. He said if you want to be a great write, if you want interesting stories, shut up and listen.

An active Literary Agent for 17 years and Executive Editor of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, Les Stobbe also serves as director of International Christian Writers. He’s taught journalism as Journalist in Residence at Gordon College, Wenham, MA and wrote most of the lessons for the Apprentice Course and Journeyman non-fiction course for the Christian Writers Guild. He has been denominational editor, magazine editor, newsletter editor, book editor, book club vice-president, curriculum managing editor, and president of a book publishing house. He has written 14 books and hundreds of magazine and newsletter articles. He has been married to his musician wife Rita for 54 years and is very proud the five grandchildren of their two children.

Come back tomorrow as Mr. Stobbe discusses recent shift in the industry, the importance of developing a platform and why every writer should do a bit of freelance.

In the meantime, visit his website to find more about him, his agency, and the type of books he represents.

Marty Girardier's How Shall We Feed Them


In 2004 Marty answered God’s call and founded the Cupboards for Christ ministry at her church to revitalize its food pantry ministry. The program tripled in size over the next three years. In September 2005, the ripples from Hurricane Katrina were felt in her town of Chesapeake, Virginia, causing the number of food recipients to double in only one month.

In 2008, after God called Marty to step down as the Cupboards for Christ chairperson, she sensed that God wanted her to pass the ministry on to others by writing this book. She currently serves as the food pantry liaison for her new church and former hosting church.

You can find Marty online at www.martygirardier.authorweblog.com and her Pantry of Praise blog - www.pantryofpraise.com
A blog written to encourage Christian food pantry volunteers with inspirational thoughts, food pantry articles, food collection ideas along with ideas of ways to share Christ through it.

How Shall We Feed Them?

“Brother, are you okay? Do you and your family have food?” a neighbor asked. Immediately, the man began to cry. Wiping away his tears, he said it had been days since they had food in the house and they had two boys. Overwhelmed, the neighbor asked if he would receive food from the church. The answer was yes, so they got in the car and went to the church’s food pantry. They were able to load them up!

This is one of many stories of meeting the needs of hungry people you will find in this practical book. It provides everything an individual, church, or organization needs to establish or revitalize a food pantry, including specific, step-by-step instructions for:

• Building a food pantry team
• Choosing a place for the food pantry
• Stocking and replenishing the shelves
• Creating guidelines for food pantry recipients
• Ministering to the food recipients

Also included are tear-out materials to help set up a food pantry, including a detailed action plan, check-off lists, sign-up sheets, food recipient information sheets, and contribution sign-up sheets.

Today more than ever, churches and Christian organizations need to meet the needs of increasing numbers of hungry people. Organizing a food pantry is a tangible way to do that. If you want to serve God by helping people in need, this inspiring book is for you.

Here's an excerpt of How Shall We Feed Them?:



Serving the Food Recipients


Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35


People who come to your church door to ask for food have all kinds of physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Filling their stomachs is a great way for God to prepare their hearts and minds to be lifted up to Him so that He can meet their other needs. Circumstances can change for anyone at a moment’s notice—health problems, unemployment, accidents, cost of living increases, and a host of others happen unexpectedly. Therefore, it is important for the church staff, team members, and church body to refrain from judging those who come to your church door for help. Most food recipients work or want to work and are responsible with their lives and finances.

Once in a while negative comments are made such as, “Oh, they are just coming to receive their free food this month” or “They drive a nicer car than I do.” My response to that is, “If they are coming to receive food for the wrong reason, it is not your or my job to convict their hearts of that—it is the Holy Spirit’s.

It is important to stay true to the calling that God has placed before you, which is to help feed those in need. God’s Word tells us that it is our job as a church body—not the government’s—to feed the needy. Matthew 25:35 tells us, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” When you serve each food recipient with a Christ like heart, then you are serving Christ himself.


How Shall We Feed Them? by Marty Girardier from WinePress Publishing on Vimeo.




You can purchase How Shall We Feed Them? from Amazon.

Marty is giving away a copy of How Shall We Feed Them?. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Winners!

Ay yi yi. What a week that was! Here in southern Illinois we've been dodging storms since Tuesday. Between losing power, Easter rehearsals and 3 nights of the musical, and losing internet (yet another storm took that out), I wasn't able to post on Wednesday, which was slated for these winners and the post about designing. We're scrambling, but that's okay. Compared to so many others, we got off easy. Now, if we can keep from floating away, we'll be doing even better. =] The current joke around here is that the water is deep enough in the fields and roads for pontoon boots or even speed boats. The kids are opting for the speed boats. ;-)

I've rescheduled the two giveaways from Saturday and Sunday, but in the meantime...

The winner of:
  • Darlene Franklin's Love's Raid is Mary/Touch of Heaven
  • Roxanne Rustand's Murder at Granite Falls is karenk
  •  Mary Ellis' Abigail's New Hope is Doreen
  •  Nicole O'Dell's Swept Away is Charity (esterried)
  • Missy Tippen's A Family for Faith is Leanne (leanniegehrke)
  • Susan Davis's Love Finds You in Prince Edward Island is Molly
  •  Shannon Vannatter's White Dove is noiseinanovel

Winners, it's your responsibility to contact me with your address so the author can send you a book. (Patty at BarnDoorBookLoft dotnet)

Subscribing by email will ensure you don't miss the winners list. ;-)

On deck for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday: Spot on P.E.A.s with Jennifer Slatterly and literary agent, Les Strobbe.

The Barn Door Book Loft. Free Books! Book Giveaways.

Friday, April 22, 2011

with G. Edward Snipes

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Eddie!
What started you on your writing journey?

I hated writing in school. In fact, I wrote my first *ahem* fictional story in high school. This might seem a bit off topic, but it will give you an idea of my ‘love’ for writing. I don’t remember the name of the class, but it was a required writing class for graduation. Half the grade was a research paper. I picked to write about the arms race between the US and Russia since the Cold War was still a hot topic in the American culture in the early 80s. Halfway through the class, we had to turn in our research note cards. The class had spent weeks in the library, supposedly researching. When the teacher reviewed them, she handed them back and said, “If you don’t have at least 70 research cards, you will not succeed in this assignment. I began counting my cards, wondering why she was looking at me as she made this statement. I ran out of cards – seven. I had seven notecards to show for weeks of research. Her note written on the top of the stack said something like, “You don’t have a prayer.”

The assignment must have *slipped* my mind, but the teacher jogged my memory a few weeks later when she said, “Don’t forget, your rough drafts are due tomorrow. Minimum 30 pages.”

I assessed the situation and came to the conclusion that now was the time to start getting serious. I studied the seven cards – which didn’t take long since there wasn’t any significant information on them. All combined, it may have equaled a paragraph. That is, providing fragments could serve as sentences. I took my paper and a pen and decided the best first step was to interview an arms race expert – me. Thirty pages later I had a complete analysis of the US / Russian arms race, including expert opinions, statistics, and a game plan for addressing the problem. In other words, I had just written my first fictional story. I should have known then that something in my brain was wired for writing.

BTW, I scored my best grade ever in the subject of English. My teacher was proud that I had finally gotten my act together and took care of business. Let’s just keep this secret between you and I. We don’t want to dash her ego.

Many years later, I became involved in a prison ministry. These guys were hungry for truth, and I realized they needed more than a 30 minute service. I started writing my messages, printing it, and giving it to prisoners for study. About thirty-thousand pages later I finally realized that I kind of enjoy this writing stuff.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
Everything. Actually, once I start writing, I can stay focused for hours. I’ve been known to sit for 12 hours to write without stopping. Except for a few necessary things. Hey, I don’t have a steel bladder.

My problem is getting myself to actually begin writing. Everything demands my focus and I struggle to set aside the time. But once I do, I am in the zone. I just have trouble finding where I left my zone.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I like non-fiction. I like reading a good biography, or real event. True crime is interesting to me and gives me an insight into what goes on behind the scenes. I have never been a fan of fiction. In fact, I probably didn’t read more than 6 fiction books in my life until I started writing fiction. I never thought I would write fiction until I saw a flash fiction contest. On a whim I decided, what the heck? I always said, “I don’t have much of an imagination,” but when I wrote the story, my brain felt supercharged.

I didn’t win that contest, but I wrote a second story that won two awards. After that, I was hooked on writing fiction. It was for this reason that I started reading fiction. I figured that I couldn’t write a story well unless I knew what a good story looked like. In the last two years I’ve read over 150 fiction books. I still prefer non-fiction, but I have also developed a strong appreciation for fiction.

The best fictional book ever written is the classic, Phantom of the Opera. It was a book I hated to see end.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
I felt drawn to a character named Kenyon. He’s a simple man with a genuine faith. He wrestles with God and reluctantly gives in. And then when he sees God move, he is amazed. Hmmm. Sounds familiar. Kenyon is a good contrast to those whose faith is pretentious in the book. No one in the world knows who Kenyon is except those who are touched by his life. I wish he could have had a bigger presence in the story.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Praise-country-pop-classical-celtic-blues. How’s that for a simple answer?

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
A friend of mine got the bright idea to cut eye-holes into empty Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets. We decorated them and drove around town looking like morons. We got some strange looks at traffic lights. Then we backed through a fast food drive-thru. No, we weren’t drunk. Can you imagine what would have happened if we did drink?

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Going to bed. I rarely go to bed before 1 a.m. Then I get up early. Not a good combination. It’s quiet at night, the kids are in bed, and I can write or do anything I want to do. When my paragraphs look like “The man whent thrghou a drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr,” I know it’s time to hang it up.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
Beef vegetable soup. Homemade of course. Add a little cornbread and it’s better than crème brulee of foie gras after an appetizer of caviar. At least I think it is, since I’ve never dined on crème brulee of foie gras after an appetizer of caviar

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  
Since my background is writing about spiritual topics, the answer is yes. The problem is that I can’t think of a specific topic I like best. I love the way truth unfolds to reveal the harmony of scripture. From Genesis to Revelation, the word paints a complete picture. We miss so much when we don’t see the big picture. I like to take a bird’s eye view, dive down to dig out nuggets, and then pull back to see how it fits into the whole of scripture. It never gets old.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
Proverbs 2:1-9. This passage unveils the key to discovering the truth of the Christian life. We receive the word, cherish it, seek for truth and wisdom as if it were a treasure (which it is), and then we have the promise that we’ll find and come to understand every good path. Is there any better promise for the believer in this life?

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
My book is officially launching on April 12, 2011. It’s the story about an emotionally shattered boy who finds refuge in his love for dancing. Because dancing is his life, he invests everything into it and eventually makes it to Broadway. A drug addiction destroys his career and he becomes homeless on the streets of New York. When his high school dance partner comes to New York, she sees him washing windows for tips and reaches out to him. Ashamed, he pushes her away and refuses to let her or anyone else into his life. Her enduring faith and unconditional love drives her to reach out to this man, who has given up on life.




You can purchase I Called Him Dancer from Amazon.

Eddie is giving away a copy of I Called Him Dancer. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'm Designing! & Blog Design Giveaway

Tada!
So, whatcha think? It was time for something a little more cheerful around here, even if we still have weeks of rain ahead and sunshiney spring plaid was just the ticket! What'cha think?

Times and seasons change--in life just as surely as in nature. For over three years I've been helping people with their blogs and websites and I've done everything from making and coding blog buttons to extreme customization of layouts (take a wild guess how many sidebars Clash of The Titles has).

For months, I've toyed with designing blogs and websites for others. It's something that I absolutely love doing and something I've considered part of my ministry. This month it's become part of the answer to a problem and it's so cool to see God's hand in it, preparing and leading me, especially in these last six months. What a great God of detail we have!

I'd like you to celebrate with me as I officially open my design and teaching doors. To help celebrate, I'm giving away the winner's choice of a premade design. Leave a comment here, on this post, to be entered into the drawing and the winner will be posted on my site sometime on May 1st. =]

Want some extra entries in the drawing? Go to my site and leave a comment on this post. Also, each time you share this link on Twitter, Facebook or on your blog, I'll throw your name in the drawing again. (Yes, I'm on Twitter.) Email me when you do. patty at pattywysong.com.

Click here to see some sites I've designed, recommendations and pricing. Not only are there blogs there, but there's a couple of websites, too. These are hosted on Blogger, but I am working on Wordpress now too.

Do you want to learn to work on your own blog? I teach a 4 week class, Clearing the Blog Fog, that's email based (yahoo group). It teaches how to set up and customize your site. If you don't need or want the whole class there's tutoring and all now I'm offering workshops in webinar format so you can see what I'm doing on my screen as I talk through it. So far I have workshops on how to make blog buttons and headers, which have learning how to work on Paint.net, a free option to Photoshop, as a great perk. ;-)

Another thing I've added is a selection of premade layouts, offered reasonably. I'll even install it for you. It's one of these I'm giving away. ;-)

Designing and teaching like this will enable me to work from home—something that has become necessary at this point. God is so good to give me something to do, something I LOVE doing and that I can work on it at home--in the middle of cornfields. 



G. Edward Snipes' I Called Him Dancer

G. Edward Snipes is a freelance writer, president of the Christian Authors Guild, and founder of Exchanged Life Ministries. He has had five award winning short stories, and regularly has articles published on several online ministries. Visit his ministry site at exchangedlife.com or his personal blog at eddiesnipes.com.


I Called Him Dancer

For a moment, Michael danced on top of the world, but one bad choice turns his life upside down. The once promising Broadway star now washes windows for tips and lives among the homeless. When his former dance partner recognizes him behind the fray of whiskers, shame drives him away from her. Angry at God and the world, the Dancer refuses to allow anyone into his life. When everything is stripped away, three things remain: faith, hope, and love. The greatest of these is love.

I Called Him Dancer is a story about how one woman's enduring faith and unconditional love drives her to reach out to a homeless man who has given up on life.

Here's an excerpt of I Called Him Dancer:

Chapter One 


A homeless man pulled his tattered coat closer to his neck, trying to block out the early morning chill while walking toward Central Park. A woman stood before him, looking at a display outside the Majestic Theater. His eyes were drawn to the display and saw an actress in the picture wearing a fancy ballroom dress. A chilling cold ached through his body, and his legs froze in place, but forgotten memories warmed away the chill as he admired the posters outside the Broadway theater.

“It’s a good play, isn’t it?” The man in rags turned to face the woman. By her stylish long gray coat, he could tell she was accustomed to the finer things of New York..

The woman gave an uncomfortable smile and walked away.

With trembling hands, the man ran his fingers across the theater display. Grime smudged onto the clear sheet of acrylic guarding the words, Return of the Phantom. A High-energy sequel to Broadway’s longest running play. He started to leave, but stopped again at the next poster. A gold frame held the lovely picture. With the tip of his finger, he outlined the face of Christine Daaé.

“Alina hasn’t changed.” He tapped his finger on the man wearing the phantom’s mask. “Looks like there’s a new Erik.” Leaning close, he examined the picture. “Yep. That definitely isn’t Antonio.”

A deep sigh escaped from the pit of his stomach. “Things should have been different.” He tried to imagine his face in the picture, half hidden behind the mask. Patting the display like the shoulder of an old friend, he turned and lumbered down the street toward his favorite tipping spot just off Broadway.

 * * *

The vagrant stood at the corner of 54th Street, looking at a marquis with a longing stare. The picture of the Return of the Phantom still lingered in his mind. The glamour of the Big Apple and the names in lights proclaim the success of those who have reached stardom. In this place, dreams still come true. The entertainment industry may have changed, but here, the golden age of theater spills into the modern day.

Pedestrians covered the sidewalks, peeking into windows and hoping to glimpse one of the celebrities that bring the theater district to life. The vagrant stood on the corner of 54th and Broadway, watching as people hurried past, and hoped someone would show a little charity. Each person hurried their pace when they neared the bearded man in rank clothing.

The homeless man shrugged off their indifference. He would earn his keep without them. Hunger pangs stabbed at his stomach, but the agonizing craving in his body always took priority over meals. His body screamed for relief and he felt as though his chest would implode from the weight pressing on him. Trembling fingers ran through his matted brown hair, and the man shifted from one foot to the other while watching cars creep by. He leaned against the building and again ran both hands through his hair. He rolled the snags through his fingertips. Jumpy legs wouldn’t give him a moment of rest, so he walked a few paces and waited for the light to turn red.

When the light changed, he walked to the first car and raised his spray bottle. He ignored the woman shaking her head and dodged her angry stare. He sprayed the window, cleaned it with a squeegee, and repeated the process on the other side of the windshield before walking up to the driver. The woman refused to roll down her window.

Heartless wench.

He reached across the windshield and pretended to flick off a piece of dirt, dragging his muddy sleeve through the driver’s line of vision. Looking at the smudge, he said, “Oops.” He smiled and raised his hands in an innocent gesture. “Maybe you’ll be homeless one day and see how it feels,” he grumbled under his breath, and walked toward the next car.

* * *

Raquel neared the end of her drive from Tennessee to New York. Traffic stopped, and she took the opportunity to review her directions. The next turn is the Lincoln Tunnel. Her heart beat faster, and she wondered if it was excitement over her new opportunity, or the hope of finding Michael, who had been missing for more than two years. He’d been the inspiration behind Raquel’s dream to perform on Broadway. 

I actually made it! The thought of being on stage in New York caused a bright smile to sweep across her face, but the cheer receded into heartache. She needed to find Michael. Only then could she fill the hole in her lonely heart.

After exiting the Jersey turnpike, Raquel followed the signs toward the Lincoln Tunnel. Traffic slowed as a flood of cars trickled through the tollbooths blocking the entrance to the tunnel. While she inched along, her thoughts raced back to her hometown of Bristol. Her stomach knotted at the thought of Robert. A shiver crawled down her spine and she had the urge to glance over her shoulder. He couldn’t be following her, but she still couldn’t resist the urge to check.

What’s the stalker doing now?

She could envision him dialing her old cell phone number, and shrieking in rage when he found it disconnected. She had played Robert’s game, letting him believe he controlled her while she planned her escape. How long did he sit at the cafe before realizing she’d given him the slip?

Is Robert calling her parents, demanding to know where she had gone? Hopefully, her mom wouldn’t slip up and tell him she'd moved to New York.

“Man! Traffic is rushing like molasses on a cold morning,” she complained as she thumped the steering wheel.

Raquel pulled into the tollbooth, paid, and sped into the tunnel. Another clog of taillights and exhaust stopped her. She glanced at her watch. 

Good thing I gave myself an extra hour. Can’t take a chance on being late for my first meeting with my new producer.

Her attention returned to Tennessee, but she forced Robert out of her thoughts. It would do no good to escape his iron grip if she left her mind in his grasp. She pushed her long brown hair behind her ear and thought about Michael. How her heart skipped the first time they danced together. When the quiet and shy boy took the stage, an awe-struck class watched him become a different person. A horn honked from behind, startling Raquel out of her musings. She pulled ahead.

I need to keep my focus on the road.

“I always knew he would make it big.”  Raquel’s own voice almost surprised her. Her heart lifted at the idea of finding him in one of the Broadway theaters. Does he still love me? Did he ever truly love me? She couldn’t keep the doubts from digging at her heart.

Accustomed to the fresh air of rural Tennessee, Raquel almost gagged at the smell of exhaust in the tunnel.  She tried to focus on something positive, hoping to distract herself from the suffocating smell.

Michael’s talent had placed him on the fast track to stardom, and Raquel had spent four years trying to catch up. Their goal was to dance together again. Excitement had filled his voice when he called to announce his new leading role in the Return of the Phantom, but soon after his calls quit coming.

Why? Did he have a new life and love? Her heart ached at the thought, so she pushed it away. There must be another explanation.

* * *

The scruffy man approached another car waiting at the red light, cleaned the windshield, and garnered a tip. He gave a dissatisfied stare at the money. A dollar? The guy is wearing a suit. I know he can afford more than a buck.

At this rate, the day would end before he could make enough money to survive. He felt his rage growing, fueled by his desperate cravings. An almost overwhelming urge to smash through the window and strip drivers of their valuables came over him, but he wrestled down the feeling. When would he get a break? There were few friendly faces to greet a man down on his luck on Broadway. 

* * *

Traffic continued at its agonizing pace, but Broadway crawled into view. Raquel’s shoulders grew tense at the passing of each minute. With her extra hour gone, she now feared being late for her meeting.

A man near the intersection ahead distracted Raquel from her frustrations. She watched the vagrant in rags as he bounced from car to car with a squeegee and a spray bottle, cleaning windshields, and gathering tips.

A friend had warned her to always tip street washers. Though cleaning wasn’t invited, they expected payment. Raquel grabbed her purse and fished for cash. She pulled out a bill.

I doubt he has change for a twenty.

Other than the money she needed for parking, Raquel could only produce a dollar and some change. She poured the change into her palm and wrapped it in the dollar as the vagrant drew near. With the precision of an experienced windshield technician, the man rushed to the passenger side, sprayed the window, and drew the squeegee across it.

When the man reached for the center of the windshield, Raquel's heart stopped, frozen in a moment of shock. The window washer's crystal blue eyes looked familiar. Excitement and confusion gripped her heart, causing her pulse to quicken. Filth and a burst of whiskers obscured his face, but did she know him? Her mind rebelled at the thought, but her heart trumpeted with recognition. She tried to get a good look as the vagrant hurried to the driver's side to finish the job. In a moment, he stood at the car window with an extended palm.

Raquel brushed her hair aside and looked up, examining the man’s face, searching for Michael’s features behind the grime. The man refused to look at her, but glanced back and forth as though scanning for unknown threats. She started to hand him the money, but held it for a moment and tried to get another look at his eyes.

“Dancer?”

The man’s eyes widened for an instant, then narrowed. The whiskers around the corners of his mouth raised slightly. “There ain’t no dancers here, lady.”

Raquel stared for a moment. “You just look like someone I know as Dancer. Aren’t you Michael? Michael Camp?” Suddenly, she felt embarrassed by her question. How could Dancer be a vagrant? He is certainly a Broadway star by now.

“I’d do the Tennessee two-step, but it will cost you extra.”

The voice and the eyes seem like Michael’s, but that’s impossible. Raquel refused to accept the thought and began to deny her heart’s realization. Her thoughts warred against reason, trying to decide whether to accept the reality standing before her, or the image of Michael she’d expected to find in New York. She opened her mouth to speak again, but a blowing horn interrupted her. The car ahead had moved thirty feet.

The driver behind her rolled down his window to voice his complaint, but the sounds of car horns obscured his words as more drivers joined the protest. Words fled. Raquel handed over the money and pulled forward, followed by the line of impatient drivers. The man walked toward the traffic light, preparing for a new line of cars and reluctant tippers. When Raquel turned the corner, she adjusted her mirror to keep the man in sight until a building obscured her view. 

* * *

Raquel parked her car and took a final glance at her watch. “Ten minutes late,” she moaned, then slammed the car door. Racing to the production office, she fought to push down her emotions, but she couldn’t get her mind off the windshield washer. Raquel wanted to reject the idea that he could be the man she loved, but couldn’t mistake those blue eyes. Could this be why she lost contact with him two years ago?

Her mind raced through the possibilities—and the impossibilities. Is it possible that one of the nation's top dancers is now homeless? If it is Michael, how could he have ended up cleaning windshields off Broadway?

Chapter Two


The biting New York wind stung Raquel’s face, sending chills through her body. People strolling down the sidewalk didn’t act cold, but to her the temperature felt ten or fifteen degrees colder than Tennessee. She pushed through the office doors, and a young lady directed her to her meeting room.

Raquel regained her composure. She understood the need to have stage presence, even in a meeting. Willing the homeless man and the stress of being late out of her thoughts, she focused on showing herself to be a professional caliber dancer. A deep breath helped her conjure up a face of confidence, and she headed down the hall to meet her agent and producer.

Clacking heels announced her approach to everyone within earshot. As if being late weren’t enough, now I sound like a wounded horse. The office door stood half opened, and she peeked into the room. “I’m looking for Joseph Rodney.”

“Come in,” Joseph said as he rose to meet her. The talent agent had first introduced himself after her performance at the Knoxville Theater. He wore a blue long sleeve shirt and black slacks. With his sleeves rolled halfway up his forearm, he had a rugged look. To her, his look seemed out of place in New York. But she liked it. If he’d been wearing jeans, Joseph would have looked like someone from her hometown of Bristol.

“I’m sorry I’m late. This is my first time driving in New York and finding parking was harder than expected.”

Joseph gave a warm smile. “So what do you think about New York traffic?” Raquel gave a wry look and shrugged. “The first taste of traffic is a big culture shock for most people,” Joseph said. He ushered her toward the table.  “Raquel, you remember Marcus Davenport? He was on the panel when you flew in for your audition. He’s the producer you will be working for.”

Marcus had a wiry frame, a thick black mustache, and curly black hair. His light brown eyes were focused with intensity, but when he smiled, it gave Raquel a sense of reassurance. Before speaking a word, the producer’s kind eyes and intense expression communicated assurance, confidence, and control.

The producer stood and offered Raquel his hand, “Good to have you on board with us, Raquel. I don’t like a lot of social distractions when I am evaluating new dancers, so I don’t say much during auditions. Some call it a quirk.” He motioned for her to have a seat before sitting back down. “Let me start by making it clear that in this business, promptness cannot be over stated. I know this is your first day in New York, so I will give you a bye, but from this point on, if you are scheduled for a meeting at four, be prepared at four,” he looked at his watch and said, “not fifteen after four—not even two after four. Be early and you’ll be safe. If I can’t trust performers to be on time, I can’t rely on them in the production.”

Raquel opened her mouth to speak. She wanted to explain how she planned to give herself more than an hour to spare, and could not have known it would take so long to get from the Lincoln Tunnel to Broadway, but the man’s intense gaze disarmed her. Words fled, so she just gave a quick nod.

She listened as he reviewed her portfolio, and explained her starting role as a secondary dancer. He explained his fair approach, and that many opportunities existed to move up for those who worked hard and performed well. She had thought a single theater made up Broadway, but Marcus surprised her by explaining it consisted of about forty theaters, each producing their own musical at any given time..

Marcus wasted no words. The producer gave Raquel a quick information dump, said for her to be at the Belasco Theater at seven in the morning, then excused her from the office. A sense of awkwardness filled the air, and she looked at Joseph. The shrug of his shoulders said what she needed to know. It had only been five minutes, but the meeting had concluded.

Mixed emotions flooded her mind. The feeling of letting Marcus down needled at her after she arrived late for the meeting. Sorrow shoved her earlier excitement aside. She would have to make up for her disappointing first impression. The earlier encounter with the street washer also came to mind. Leaving home, horrible traffic, the street washer—she’d had enough for one day. And she still had to find her apartment in this confusing city. A sudden longing for home came over her, and Raquel felt her lip begin to quiver.

Was this a big mistake?

Raquel blinked back a tear trying to escape, and allowed herself to be distracted by the photographs adorning the hallway walls. A faint odor indicated the place had recently been painted. She touched one of the gold trimmed pictures, then worked down the hall, looking at the plaques, awards, and history decorating these walls. For a moment, she stood there, soaking it all in. Raquel wondered if she was standing where many great stars once walked, and where many dreamers desired to stand.

How did a girl from Bristol end up in the theaters of Broadway? She wondered if Michael had stood in this hallway. What would she give to stand here with him? She let the thought soak in. Her heart felt weighed down by the thought of the window washer being Michael. Maybe it wasn’t him, but just someone who looked like him.

“It’s a special place, isn’t it?” Raquel jumped and turned to see her agent, Joseph, standing nearby, and studying the displays. She hadn’t seen him come out of the office. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you.”

“It’s okay. I was just lost in thought.”

Joseph gave a pleasant smile and turned to the wall again. He ran his hand along the edge of a plaque. “I remember the first time I walked down these halls. It is inspiring, isn’t it?”

Raquel looked at a picture of a beautiful woman she didn’t recognize. In the photo, a line of dancers adorned the stage behind the woman. They were out of focus, but she could tell they were soldiers from The Nutcracker. “Yes, it’s magical.” She pointed to the photo and said, “I’ll be dancing The Nutcracker. It must be special to be on center stage like that.” She ran her fingertips along the carved gilded picture frame.

Joseph nodded while he moved to examine the photo with her. “It’s still a work in progress, but Marcus is turning this new office into quite a museum.”

“Oh? This is new? I thought I was walking the hall where these dancers once walked.”

“You’ll do that when you step into the Belasco. But then again, I don’t know what this space was used for in the past. It might have been a star studded walkway years ago.”

Raquel stepped down to the next picture and her eyes returned to the wall. “It still feels magical. Seeing the stars framed in gold. I can almost see them dancing.”

Joseph stepped forward to join her. “Every performer wants to see their legacy displayed on these walls.” He looked at her and asked, “How do you feel about your new opportunity?”

“Excited. Maybe a little scared.” She shifted her eyes from the wall to Joseph. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure.”

“Have you ever heard of a dancer named Michael Camp?”

Joseph’s eyes looked upward as he searched for any memory of the name. “It doesn’t ring a bell. Has he been on Broadway?”

“Yes. He came here a couple of years ago. He was once a Grand Prix winner and was recruited out of Pahl School of Dance. He’s from my hometown in Tennessee.”

Joseph stroked his chin and said, “The name doesn’t ring a bell. But then Broadway is a big place.” He turned to face Raquel. “Is he a friend of yours?”

Raquel nodded. “Yes, and I thought I saw him.” She looked down at the polished floor. It was like glass. Hardly a scuff in sight. “He was washing windows. I lost contact with him about two years ago and thought the man cleaning my windshield looked like him.” She lifted her eyes from the floor and looked at Joseph. “It doesn’t seem possible, so it’s probably someone who looks like him. Is there a way to find out if he’s performing in any of the theaters?”

“It is. I know some people in the other theaters. I can ask around.”

“Could you do that? I really would like to find him.”

“When I get a chance, I’ll ask if anyone knows him. Michael Camp, right?” Raquel nodded. “I’ve got a dinner engagement. Would you like to join me?”

Raquel gave a kind smile, but shook her head. “I truly appreciate the offer, but no, thanks. I’ve got to get moved in to my apartment.”

Joseph flashed another smile and touched her shoulder. “No problem. I’d better run, then. Maybe I could show you around New York some time. It can be a bit overwhelming when you’re new.”

“I might take you up on that.” Joseph’s eyes sparkled above his smile. She could tell he wanted to be helpful.

“Great! I’ll get with you sometime next week. Good luck on your new opportunity, and call me if you have a need.” Joseph gave a final wave and disappeared down the hall.

“I think he likes you.”

Raquel’s eyes darted to a man wearing a full-length black leather coat, also touring the hall of memories. When Joseph left, he stepped toward Raquel. “What?” she asked.

“I’m a pretty good observer and I think he likes you,” the man said.

Raquel felt herself blush. “No, he’s my agent. He’s just being helpful.”

“I see,” he said. His knowing smile said he didn’t see things the same way as Raquel. The man stepped closer and extended his hand. “Hi, my name is Richard Barnhouse.” She instinctively reached out and he gave a firm handshake. “I’m a reporter doing a behind the scenes story on Broadway and have a few minutes before a meeting. Do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?”

The man’s face had chiseled features, and his shining smile made her feel more at ease. A warming fragrance caught her attention. I’ve got to give him credit. He has good taste in cologne. She inhaled deeply. “Okay, I guess. But I’m about to leave, and need to take care of some things.”

“Great! I won’t take up much of your time,” he said while pulling a voice recorder out of his pocket. “You don’t mind if I take voice notes do you?” When she hesitated, he followed her eyes to his recorder. “I can write things the old fashioned way if you wish.”

After looking back up, she shook her head. “No. That’s okay.”

“Great! I couldn’t help overhearing you talking about a former Broadway dancer who’s homeless. Can you tell me a little about him?”

Something tightened in the pit of her stomach. The idea of humiliating Michael caused bile to rise in the back of her throat, and her thoughts rose onto her tongue like a bad taste. Bitter words spit from her mouth. “No. I don’t want to talk about it. Sorry.”

Unfazed, he continued probing. “Did I hear you say he was a former Grand Prix winner? What type of competition is that?”

The decision to speak with this man had been a mistake. Time to make a polite exit. “I’m sorry. I have to go take care of some things.” Noise from her heels clacked as she hurried down the hallway.

“His name was Michael Camp, right?”

Regret pounded her while hurrying away. Caught up in her own world, Raquel hadn’t thought to look for anyone else when talking to Joseph. Now she had to get as far from the reporter as possible—and hope the damage hadn’t already been done.

If I had only known he was nearby. In this city, I need to learn to keep my mouth shut.

Outside the office, traffic packed the streets. The thought of weaving through the tangle of cars unnerved her, but the new apartment awaited. This was turning out to be a long day.

After a good rest, I’ll be able to think clearer. Maybe I’ll run across Michael again.

In vain, she tried to put herself at ease, but in her heart she knew rest wouldn’t come until she found the truth, and discovered what happened to send the dancer’s life into disarray.




You can purchase I Called Him Dancer from Amazon.

Eddie is giving away a copy of I Called Him Dancer. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

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