Friday, March 30, 2007

CFBA Tour-Reclaiming Nick by Susan May Warren

This week, the

is introducing

( Tyndale Fiction, 2007)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Award winning author SUSAN MAY WARREN recently returned home to her native Minnesota after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries with SEND International in Far East Russia. She now writes full time from Minnesota's north woods. Visit her Web site at

ABOUT THE BOOK: RECLAIMING NICK is the first of The Noble Legacy series. Book Two, Taming Rafe, will be available January 2008.

A Modern Day Prodigal Comes Home...


But when his father dies and leaves half of Silver Buckle--the Noble family ranch--to Nick’s former best friend, he must return home to face his mistakes, and guarantee that the Silver Buckle stays in the Noble family.

Award-winning journalist Piper Sullivan believes Nick framed her brother for murder, and she’s determined to find justice. But following Nick to the Silver Buckle and posing as a ranch cook proves more challenging than she thinks. So does resisting his charming smile.

As Nick seeks to overturn his father’s will--and Piper digs for answers--family secrets surface that send Nick’s life into a tailspin. But there’s someone who’s out to take the Silver Buckle from the Noble family, and he’ll stop at nothing--even murder--to make it happen.


“Susan May Warren once again delivers that perfect combination of heart-pumping suspense and heart-warming romance.”--Tracey Bateman, author of the Claire Everett series

If you would like to hear more about Nick, he has his own blog. Also, the first chapter is there...

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Root of All Evil by Brandt Dodson

The third Colton Parker mystery is another great read in the crime noir tradition. This is one of those books that pulls you in and you can't believe how long you have been reading when you stop to check the clock. Brandt Dodson is a fascinating storyteller.
At the start of this book, Colton is still struggling with money but his reputation as a private eye is growing. Wealthy businessman Berger Hume is looking for the son he has never met. Berger is dying. Colton is racing the clock to find the son and prove that he really is Hume's son. This leads him into a conflict with Satan's Posse(a notorious biker gang). When Colton's daughter is threatened, it becomes personal.

Along the way, we get the chance to revisit with some of Colton's(and our) favorite hangouts. Old friends appear. Brandt has done a great job of building a history around the characters in this series. You just know that they have a life outside of these stories.

I am eagerly awaiting book four(The Lost Sheep, due on July 1) to see what happens to Colton's daughter. Based on his reaction when Callie has been threatened in the past, this should be the private eye's greatest test.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

It Happens Every Spring by Dr. Gary Chapman and Catherine Palmer


GARY CHAPMAN is the author of the New York Times best seller The Five Love Languages and numerous othe rbooks. He's the director of Marriage & Family Life Consultants, Inc., and host of A Growing Marriage, a syndicated radio program heard on over 100 stations across North America. He and his wife, Karolyn, live in North Carolina.

CATHERINE PALMER is the Christy Award-winning, CBA best-selling author of more than forty novels--including The Bachelor's Bargain--which have more than 2 million copies in print. She lives in Missouri with her husband, Tim, and two sons.


IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING is the first of The Four Seasons fiction series, based on the ever-changing cycles of relationships detailed in Gary Chapman's nonfiction book The Four Seasons of Marriage. The novels will focus on four couples, each moving in and out of a different season.

Word travels fast at the Just As I Am beauty shop.
So when a simple homeless man appears on Steve and Brenda Hansen's doorstep, the entire shop is set abuzz, especially when Brenda lets him sleep on their porch.
That's not all the neighbors are talking about. Spring may be blooming outdoors, but an icy chill has settled over the Hansens' marriage. Steve is keeping late hours with clients, and the usually upbeat Brenda is feeling the absence of her husband and her college-age kids.Add to that the unsavory business moving in next to the beauty shop and the entire community gets turned upside down. Now Brenda's friends must unite to pull her out of her rut and keep the unwanted sotre out of town. But can Steve and Brenda learn to thaw their chilly marriage and enjoy the hope spring offers?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Watchers by Mark Andrew Olsen

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing

( Bethany House, March 1, 2007)

MARK ANDREW OLSEN whose novel The Assignment was a Christy Award finalist, also collaborated on bestsellers Hadassah (now the major motion picture: One Night With the King), The Hadassah Covenant, and Rescued. The son of missionaries to France, Mark is a graduate of Baylor University. He and his wife, Connie, live in Colorado Springs with their three children.
Just below the surface among the family of God lives another family tree--one traced in spirit, invisible and ageless, known as the Watchers. For two thousand years they've seen beyond the veil separating this world from the next, passing on their gift through a lineage mostly overlooked. Throughout history they've scouted the borders of the supernatural frontier, but now their survival hangs by a thread. And their fate lies in the hands of a young woman, her would-be killer, and a mystery they must solve....

"Congratulations. You just reached my own little corner of cyberspace.
Who am I?
Abby Sherman, that's who.
Who are you? And why are you checking me out?
Drop me a few pixels, and let's find out!"
With that innocent invitation, Abby Sherman unwittingly steps in the crosshairs of history, and thus begins her harrowing tale--taking her from ocean-front Malibu to the streets of London, the jungles in West Africa, the Temple Mount, Jerusalem, and to the very gates of heaven itself!
A sneak preview of eternity becomes her one-way ticket to danger--and discovery….
Two lives collide in a globe-circling adventure involving both peril and discovery: Abby, a young woman whose visions of heaven turn her into a Web-celebrity; and Dylan, a troubled young man sent by an ancient foe to silence her. From California beachfronts to Nigerian rain forests to Jerusalem and back again, THE WATCHERS is high-octane blends of action, mystery, and spiritual battle spanning centuries.

A woman's awe-inspiring vision launches her on a quest through distant lands and ancient history, face-to-face with eternity and into the arms of a family line on the brink of annihilation...A man who is hired to exterminate her discovers the folly of blind loyalty, then learns how to wage war in a realm he never believed had existed...An extraordinary saga of the unseen war against evil, the reality of the supernatural, and the transforming power of forgiveness.
"A writer who can take your breath away with a single sentence. A welcome, fresh voice that must be read!"--Ted Dekker

Monday, March 05, 2007

Light at the Edge of Darkness edited by Cynthia MacKinnon

"When forced to the edge of darkness, there’s only one way back: embrace the Light."-from the editor's introduction.

I thought editor Cynthia MacKinnon's quote from the introduction did a good job of summarizing this collection. She(and the Lost Genre Guild) did a great job with this anthology. I enjoy the variety of stories. It is rare to find an anthology containing horror, fantasy, far future fiction, alien worlds and more.

Undeniable by A. P. Fuchs is not for the squeamish. Duncan James and his son are captured and tortured for their faith. The author wanted to explore how much he would be willing to endure for his faith. He does a great job conveying this to the reader. Any parent will get chills reading about Duncan's trials.

Credo features the origin of Stephen L. Rice's character-Martin. He is one of the Heralds(divinely appointed lawmen who deal with demonic attacks). Fans of westerns will be looking for more adventures after reading this story.

With the popularity of Dr. Who, it is the perfect time for Joseph Ficor's The Timeship of Semak. This touching tale of a young boy running away from his foster home and his meeting with 'Ol Bill was a favorite of mine. The writing reminds me of the work of the great science fiction writer Clifford Simak. Look up Simak's Way Station and I think you will see what I mean. I wonder if the name Semak is a tribute to Clifford? I will definitely be looking for more stories by this author.

Fans of speculative fiction will be excited by Light at the Edge of Darkness. Visit the publisher's(The Writer's Cafe) and check out their other publications.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

March FIRST Tour-Scimitar's Edge by Marvin Olasky

Stepping away from his roles as professor, historian, and creator of "compassionate conservatism," Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief of WORLD Magazine has penned an edge-of-your-seat novel that educates as well as it informs.
SCIMITAR'S EDGE is the story of four unique Americans on a journey that takes them to a world of great beauty and great danger. Olasky uses his vast knowledge of the culture to pen a tale about the War on Terror that is so realistic it might have been taken from today's headlines.
1. What's the book about?
At its basic level it's about Americans who go to Turkey for a vacation -- I spent a month there two years ago -- and are kidnapped by Turkish Hezbollah; the question then is how to get away and whether to forget about the whole thing or attempt to fight back. In another sense Scimitar's Edge is about America and the war against terrorism: Now that it's almost five years since 9/11 many of us almost seem to be on vacation again, but the terrorists are not.
2. You're a journalist and professor by trade, with about 18 non-fiction books in your past. What led you to turn to fiction?Largely fun. In one sense I was playing SIM Turkey: Drop four people into a harsh foreign environment, give them action and adventure, build a romance … I grew to like the characters and wanted to see what they would do. I also enjoyed the challenge: I've written lots of nonfiction books and know how to do that, but this was all new.
3. Is your research for fiction different from your nonfiction research?The trunk is common - as I traveled through Turkey I took notes on geography, food, customs, and so forth - but the branches differ. My nonfiction research emphasizes accuracy concerning what has happened; for example, every quotation has to be exactly what a person said. In fiction, though, I'm inventing dialogue, yet everything that happens has to be true to the characters and the situation.
4. What's been the feedback from your fans since your switch to fiction?Oh, are there fans? Actually, I've gotten excellent reactions from many of the folks who like my nonfiction. A few worry about sexual allusions - one of the characters is a serial adulterer and two of the others, as they fall in love, encounter sexual tension. Scimitar's Edge is also an action/adventure novel so there's some shooting, and one of the main characters is a terrorist who relishes lopping off heads. So anyone who wants a sugary book should look elsewhere.
5. You also include some descriptions of what's been called ”the forgotten holocaust” a century ago, and explain some Turkish history.
Turkey was the proving ground for the first sustained governmental attempt at genocide, as Turks killed over one million Armenians and sent many to concentration camps; Hitler admired that effort. But Turkey has often been a central player in world affairs, not a backwater. Nearly two millennia ago Turkey became a Christian stronghold: The seven churches John addresses in the book of Revelation, for example, were in what is now Western Turkey. Going back one millennium, what is now Turkey was the front line for a clash of Christian and Muslim cultures.
6. I know you wrote your doctoral dissertation about film and politics from the 1930s through the 1960s, a time when Westerns were one of the dominant genres, and I see certain Western-like elements in this book.
Westerns came in about seven different varieties, and one of them was called the “revenge Western,” where a bad man has killed a beloved person and the hero heads out to bring him to justice. In nuanced Westerns the hero at various points asks himself whether his end justifies his means and whether it's worth giving up a lot to carry out what he planned. An internal struggle of that sort occurs in this book as well.
7. Scimitar's Edge is an unusual novel that combines action against terrorists with quotations from Walker Percy. In fact, the book ends with an allusion to one of Percy's most enduring characters, Will Barrett. Were you consciously trying to walk a knife-edge between high-brow and low-brow culture?Not consciously; that's just where I am myself. Since evangelicals are sometimes disparaged as dumb, some press to show we're not by tossing around Latin phrases or going to opera rather than popular movies -- not that there's anything wrong with opera, as long as there's a car chase within the first five minutes. To me it comes down to enjoying the pleasures God gives us, including those from both popular culture and literary culture.
8. Are you planning a sequel?
When I talk with students about careers we discuss the importance of both internal calling and external calling - do you feel God's pleasure as you do something, and do other people think you're good at it? I feel the internal call to write more novels; I'm trying to discern the external call from readers.

Author's bio:
Dr. Olasky is editor-in-chief of World Magazine, a senior fellow of the Acton Institute, and a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He and his wife Susan have been married for 30 years and have four sons. He has written 17 non-fiction books and has also started (with several others) a Christian school; he has been a crisis pregnancy center chairman, a foster parent, a Little League assistant coach, a PTA president, and an informal advisor to George W. Bush. He is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Michigan.

Note: All present-day characters are fictional except for the
media and political personalities in chapter sixteen and one
character in chapter twenty-one: There really is a Metropolitan
Ozmen at the Deur-ul Zaferan Monastery near the Turkish-
Syrian border.
Descriptions of historical characters are factual. Suleyman
Mahmudi did build Castle Hosap in southeastern Turkey in
The chess game in chapter fourteen derives from one played
by Gustav Richard Neumann and Adolf Anderssen in Berlin in
1864, but then it was not a matter of life or death.

Zeliha Kuris sat in her living room in Konya, scarcely believing
what she was watching on TRT1, the major government-run
channel in Turkey. The second of the twin towers of New York
was crumpling. She cried, thinking of the horrible way so many
were dying. Then came a knock on her door.
She peered out cautiously. Ever since her last book, threats
from Hezbollah terrorists had come as fast as the sewage ran after
heavy rains. One fatwa against her read, “She has confused and
poisoned Muslims with her Western ideas. She deserves death.”
But it was only a man, Trafik Kurban, whose ailing mother
she had helped. They had met in the room at the hospital where
the old woman was dying of lung cancer. Trafik’s hollow cheeks
and chain-smoking habits made generational continuity likely,
but he had seemed friendly enough as he joked about his favorite
American film, The Wizard of Oz. Zeliha opened the door to
“I have a present for you in my car,” he said, taking her
hand in his own—it was sticky soft—and pointing to a white
Mitsubishi that sat at the curb. “You showed yourself a true
daughter of Turkey during my mother’s duress, and I want to
thank you.”
Zeliha looked up and down the street but saw no danger
signs. She smiled and followed him to the vehicle. Trafik reached
in, pulled out a three-foot-tall scarecrow stuffed with straw, and
handed it to her. She gave it a puzzled look before smiling and
saying, “It’s lovely.”
Then Trafik stuck a needle into her arm and shoved her into
the car.
She came to in a dank basement. At first all she could sense
was the overpowering smell of onions. The odor hung in the air
and left her struggling for breath. Her hands were bound behind
her back, her legs tethered to a pillar. All was quiet, but then she
heard movement and conversation on the floor above.
She strained to catch what was being said. A man with a
booming voice. He sounded joyous. “Passed the initiation . . .
Trafik, one of us . . . member of Hezbollah.”
Hezbollah! So Trafik was not just a petty criminal. Hezbollah!
Instantly she knew what would happen though her tormentors
made her wait. She lost track of the time and must have dozed
because when she awoke her throat was parched and a glass of
water sat just beyond her reach.
She often heard the man with the loud, harsh voice talking
and then laughing outside the door. When the door opened,
the smell of fresh bread wafted into the room. Only when her
mouth was as dry as Saudi sand and her stomach cramped from
hunger did the loud man enter. Even then he was patient, standing
for a time just staring at her.
Finally he leaned close, smelling of garlic, his thick black
mustache tickling her check. Spit from his mouth sprayed her
face. “You wanted to be Turkey’s Salman Rushdie or Taslima
Nasrin, eh? They deserve to die, and you will.”
On the first day he beat her. On the second day he dripped
burning nylon on her, all the time complaining that he had to
use primitive torture devices because her Western allies kept
him from getting modern electroshock devices. He demanded
information about the members of her conspiracy. She explained
that there was no conspiracy, that she had only written
what was true. He became furious.
Upstairs she could hear The Wizard of Oz playing nonstop,
with the Munchkins’ song turned up loud to cover up her
screams. She imagined Trafik was watching, and her one hope
was that he would come to see her so she could ask him how he
felt betraying the woman who had been his dying mother’s only
friend. Trafik did not descend, but she heard him chortle as the
Wicked Witch screamed, “I’m melting, melting.”
Finally he did stand in front of her, but instead of displaying
remorse he held a camera. As the loud man did his work, Trafik
silently recorded the ravages of torture. Summoning her remaining
strength, Zeliha spat at him. “How could you do this?” But
before he answered, if he answered, she lost consciousness and
never returned to life.

Providence Community Church in South Philadelphia
was hosting its end-of-the-school-year rally. Five hundred
members of church youth groups from the Philadelphia and
Wilmington areas came to hear a hot rock band and enjoy a
cookout, with a skit about the danger of growing gang violence
sandwiched in between.
The band was hammering at high decibels in the low-lit
sanctuary. Teens stood on the pews, swaying and clapping to the
music. No one noticed a young man entering through the double
doors at the back. A white and blue bandanna covered his
head and an obscenity-laden T-shirt hung nearly to his knees,
still not far enough to reach the crotch of his baggy blue jeans.
His right arm was tattooed with spiderwebs, “laugh now,
cry later” clown faces, and the name “Luis.” His right hand held
a .38. Before a greeter could offer a welcome, Luis sent a bullet
through one guitar and another clanging into a microphone
As the band members froze in confusion, teens in the audience
laughed and applauded the clever opening to the skit. A third
bullet tore into the bass drum and sent the band members scurrying.
A lone voice yelled, “He’s shooting at us! Duck down!”
The skinny youth pastor, looking not much older than the
kids who packed the dark sanctuary, stood up and waved his
arms wildly. “This is not the gang skit. This is for real.” His voice
cracked, sending the crowd into fits of laughter. Suddenly his
left arm jerked wildly and a red stain spread over the sleeve of
his white shirt. “Get down in the pews!” he screamed.
Kids close to him began to yell and duck under their pews.
Those on the other side still thought they were part of an interactive
skit. “Paintball!” one boy yelled. ”Awesome!”
Luis was outraged. “Shut up! All of you just shut up! Enough
of this Jesus crap!”
One girl whispered, “Can he say that in church?” The boy
next to her shouted, “Wash your mouth out with soap!” His
friends gave him high fives.
The shooter turned and glowered at them, cursing in a combination
of Spanish and English, swinging the gun from side
to side as he sidled away from the doors and snarled, “Where’s
Carlos?” He snapped off two shots, hitting a girl. She screamed,
moved her hand to her shoulder, looked at her red-stained fingers,
and screamed again: “He shot me!”
Her voice reflected shock and betrayal. That’s when panic
set in.
Across the parking lot in the church manse the old air conditioner
rat-a-tatted as Washington Post national security correspondent
Halop Bogikian finished his interview of pastor David
Carrillo, known for his work with gangs. This was an unusual
assignment for Hal, but reports of Al-Qaeda connections with a
Hispanic gang, Mara Salvatrucha—MS-13 for short—were surfacing;
and his editor thought he should learn about the gang
and the possibility that it could smuggle an atomic bomb across
the border.
The journalist and the pastor sat across from each other at a
round oak table in the book-lined study. Carrillo leaned back in
his chair, a smile playing around his lips. Hal thought the pastor
too relaxed, too comfortable in his own skin, so it was time
to pounce. Leaning forward, pen poised above his reporter’s
notebook, thin and wiry Hal searched the pastor’s face. “You’re
saying that hard-core gang members, even members of MS-13,
get religion and turn from their wicked ways?”
“I know you don’t believe it, but that’s what often happens.”
Hal shook his head as though dealing with an imaginative
six-year-old. “Church and state issues aside, why should anyone
believe that gang members will give up power—and what seems
to them an efficient way to get money—for God?”
Carrillo smiled. “I’m not expecting you to take my word for
it. A young man, Carlos, is waiting in the living room. He has a
remarkable story to tell you if you’ve got the time.”
Hal glanced at his watch. He wanted to get back on the road
to Washington. This whole trip to Philly had been a mistake,
proving once again that you couldn’t trust an editor to know
the elements of a decent story. He began to offer an excuse as he
capped his pen, but the pastor looked like a little kid who had
called him chicken. Hal removed the cap from his pen. “OK, I’ll
Carrillo opened the door to the living room. “Hey, Carlos,
come on in.” A heavy-set boy with a bad case of acne shuffled
into the room, his pants dragging on the floor. His black hair
was slicked back from his face, and the beginning of a wispy
black goatee shaded his jaw. Though he was seventeen, his voice
cracked when he spoke: “Me and my friends joined a street gang
last year, La Mara Salvatrucha. Guys call it MS-13.”
Hal nodded, thinking, Here comes one more of those born-again
“A couple of weeks ago, a little after midnight, three of us
were standing near a 7-11, and some chicas cruised by, shouting
insults at us. Our leader, Luis, hurled a bottle at them, but they
kept going. Then a few minutes later we saw this big old Chevy
come by. Three guys from the South Side Locos with baseball
bats. They chased us into the projects.”
Hal thought, Might as well get some more human interest. He
began writing.
“Luis said, ’Let’s get our machetes and show them.’ Those
Locos saw us coming out and ran, man. It was funny. But one of
them tripped. The others kept going, so we caught him. I kicked
him a couple of times. But Luis said, ‘Let’s teach the Locos that
they can’t mess with MS-13.’”
Carlos was silent for a time. He pulled a chain out of his
pocket, which he twisted and twined between his fingers. The
faint roar of noise from the nearby highway continued. A car
The pastor said, “Sounds like the concert is over. I’m not
hearing the bass.” Hal took another look at his watch and tried
not to let the kid see how impatient he was to be off.
Carlos started up again: “OK, I want to get this off my chest.
Luis started to nick that guy with his machete: hands, head, all
over. I tell you, Luis is more loco than the Locos. He covers his
whole body with MS-13 tattoos. But when he started to cut that
guy’s fingers off it was bad, real bad.”
Hal’s pen flew over the page of his notebook. He kicked himself
for not bringing a tape recorder. While he wrote, trying to
capture the cadence of the boy’s speech, he felt the first flutter
of excitement: This could be a good column, maybe even award
Across the table the boy’s voice stopped. Hal looked up from
his notebook and saw Carlos crying. “The guy was screaming.
I was screaming. Luis kept cutting. Left only the thumb. He
laughed and said the guy could hitch a ride home. That’s when
I decided I had to get out. My mom could tell something was
wrong. She nagged me nonstop and wouldn’t get off my back
until I came to talk to the preacher.”
Just then a young woman ran in. “Pastor, come quick.” Hal
took in bright hazel eyes, slender neck, soft shoulders, and a
name tag reading “Sally.” He had never seen anyone so lovely.
Then her words sank in: “Someone’s shooting in the sanctuary.
I’ve called 911.”
Carrillo jumped up and headed out the door to the church
building. Carlos’s face blanched. “Luis! It’s gotta be. He’s gonna
kill me.” He looked desperately for a place to hide. Sally bit her
upper lip. “Stay here. You’ll be safe.” She looked up at Hal as
though seeing him for the first time: “You stay with him.”
Hal said, “Can’t. I’m a reporter.” He grabbed his pad and
slammed through the front door toward his car. He heard Sally’s
scornful voice at his back: ”That figures. He wants to be first
with the story.” She gave Carlos a reassuring pat on the back
before following the pastor.
Carrillo entered the sanctuary through a side door and
surveyed the scene. Children cowered behind the pews as Luis
stalked back and forth, careful to stay away from doors and windows.
“I want that traitor! Where is Carlos?” he kept yelling.
Carrillo took a step into the sanctuary: “Put the gun down,
son. This is a house of God.”
Luis sneered and swore at him. Carrillo kept his voice even.
“You haven’t killed anyone,” he said, hoping it was true. “The
police will be here soon. It will be better for you if you put the
gun down.”
“Shut up! I don’t want more Jesus junk like the lies you told
Carlos. I should just shoot you and put you out of your misery.
Want to die?”
Carrillo said evenly, “You can shoot me if you want. I’m not
afraid to die. I know where I’m going.”
“Don’t give me any heaven stuff,” Luis screamed. “I can turn
this place into hell. My boys and me are gonna nuke the city.
And I’ll start with you.” He pulled the trigger, and Carrillo felt
a piercing pain on the right side of the chest. As he crumpled
to the floor, the shooter turned his gaze toward the front of the
Suddenly a voice from the back demanded, “Drop your
Sally stood just outside the side door through which the
pastor had entered. With her foot she held the door open about
six inches. She could see Carrillo on the floor. The mystery
speaker was outside her line of vision. She strained to hear police
Luis ran past the side door toward the back. She could hear
his heavy breathing and his heavy footfall on the tile floor. He
raised his gun and fired twice. Then Sally heard an answering
shot and the metallic sound of a gun being kicked across the
floor. She opened the door cautiously and saw Luis on the floor,
and a shadowy figure walking away.
With no time to puzzle over the identity of the second
shooter, Sally pushed open the door completely and crab-walked
to the pastor as he moaned and a rising chorus of cries filled the
sanctuary. Carrillo’s shirt was soaked with blood. Sally looked
vainly for something to use to staunch the bleeding, before
settling on her skirt. She unzipped it and slipped it off, then
bunched it up and pressed it into the wound.
She waited for the sirens. What’s taking so long? she thought.
She hadn’t prayed for a long time, but she did now, although it
was more of a complaint: God, how could you let this happen?
What’s the point?
As the first police cars fishtailed into the church parking lot,
followed by ambulances, Hal started up his Jetta, which he’d
parked on the street across from the manse. The hand that had
held the Colt .45 shook, and he wished that he still smoked. He
didn’t know if he’d killed Luis or not; he hoped not. Not knowing
whether he should stay, he asked himself what the penalty
was for a person with one shooting in his past using an unlicensed
gun to save lives. He decided not to stay and find out.
As Hal headed onto the highway, he called his editor, gave
him the outlines of the story, and said wire service reporters
would be there soon. Brushing off demands that he stay and
do the reporting, he used the sentence he had used many times
before: “If you don’t like it, fire me.” Sometimes editors had
He turned on the radio, scanning the stations until he
found a news-talk station where some caller was blathering
about delays at airport checkpoints. He was about to jab the
button again when he heard a special bulletin giving brief details
about the shooting. Then the soft voice of an eyewitness
identified as Sally Northaway was describing the pastor’s action
and telling a reporter, “I’ve never before seen bravery like
Reverend Carrillo’s.”
Hal scribbled “Sally” in his reporter’s notebook as he tried to
erase the memory of her scornful denunciation when he fled the
room. He flipped to another station: “A pastor is in critical condition,
and four others plus the accused gunman are wounded.
It would have been much worse except for the intervention of
an unidentified bystander.”
Hal honked as a Mercedes cut him off. He let a Ford Focus
get in front of him as they approached a tollbooth. He turned on
the CD player and listened to Patty Griffin’s melancholy voice:
There’s a war and a plague, smoke and disaster
Lions in the coliseum, screams of laughter,
Motherless children, a witness and a Bible,
Nothing but rain ahead, no chance for survival.
Hal let himself be lost in her misery and hellish visions, preferring
them to his own. Only when he reached the outskirts of
D.C. and saw out of the corner of his eye an IKEA store with a
sign proclaiming “Manager’s special. Swedish meat balls $5.68.
Comes with salad,” did he think about eating. He parked in a
huge lot, noting with irritation the SUVs surrounding him.
Hal entered the modern building and immediately felt himself
relax. Something about the white walls, cool wood floors,
and spare furniture always did that to him, though he didn’t
know why. Probably had to do with all the stories of human
abuse and torture he’d been forced to endure at his granddad’s
knee: IKEA represented cool detachment.
The cafeteria was nearly empty except for a couple drinking
coffee by the windows. Hal pointed at the meatballs and said,
“No gravy, please. Vegetables instead of potatoes.” He filled his
salad bowl with lettuce and added two cherry tomatoes. The
cashier rang it up: “$7.10.”
Hal waited a second and said, “Taxes aren’t that much, even
here in Maryland. The sign said $5.68.”
The cashier stared at him and replied, “That don’t include
the toppings on the salad.”
He stalked back to the salad bar and dumped the tomatoes
into their bin. He returned to the register: “How’s that?
The cashier laughed. “Yes, sir.”
Hal took a table away from the windows and as far from the
register as he could get. He ate slowly, relishing the meatballs
and remembering how his grandparents had told him to chew
everything twice and hug every penny. Contemplating how
they had nearly starved as small children during the Armenian
holocaust that was a sidelight of World War I, he wiped his plate
clean, then drove to his apartment in a not-yet-gentrified building
east of Capitol Hill.
Outside his door, Hal took in the odor of urine that never
went away. One of the neighbor kids had left a couple of matchbox
cars in front of his door. He gave them a soft kick that
sent them rolling down the corridor. He unlocked his door and
stepped into the living room, which was largely filled by an
IKEA couch, its once-white cushions turned gray. A round pine
table covered with cigarette burns, stains, and words etched into
the soft surface by Hal’s too enthusiastic scribbling sat in front
of the room’s one window.
One wall was decorated with portraits of Armenian leaders
that he’d inherited from his dad. On the opposite wall an entertainment
center looked forlorn, with a twelve-inch television
in the space allocated for one much larger. A folder containing
photos taken of Hal with important politicians was nearly
buried beneath a stack of papers. He threw his rumpled blazer
onto the couch and flicked on the news. The church shooting
received some play, but his role merited only a brief mention at
the end: “Police are trying to pin down the identity of the hero
who prevented a mass killing today.”
He paced the room, thinking it crazy that he had a good
story but couldn’t write it and even had to hope that no one
would connect him with the shooting. Maybe it would be best
to get out of town for a while. He could use a vacation.
Hal spent the next hour jotting down notes for a presentation
he would make the next morning in response to a speech
from an academic crank—not just any crank but his freshman
roommate from Columbia sixteen years before. Finally, near
midnight, he flopped down on his mattress, which lay on the
floor next to wire baskets filled with clothes. He complimented
himself on his stoicism and lack of concern for material things.
But as he drifted uneasily off to sleep, he was asking himself
what he did care about.
Also at midnight Washington time—seven a.m. in Antakya,
Turkey, the city known in biblical times as Antioch—a man who
knew what he cared about convened a meeting in a terrorist safe
house to discuss his next move.
The man, Suleyman Hasan, had a Middle Eastern marquee
idol’s features—height, thick black mustache, and olive skin. His
lieutenant, Trafik Kurban, sat to the right, sucking furiously on a
cigarette and grimacing frequently, as if pressing salt on an open
wound. Mustafa Cavus, his well-muscled but potbellied special
agent, sat to Suleyman’s left in a molded plastic chair, wiping at his
nose with a gray handkerchief as he waited for the chief to speak.
Sitting in the back were Suleyman’s wife, Fatima, and a
friend of hers, Kazasina, along with four students: Gurcan Aktas
and Zubeyir Uruk from the University of Bosphorus in Istanbul,
Sulhaddin Timur from Dokuz Eylul University in Izmir, and
Fadil Bayancik from Mustafa Kemal University in Antakya.
The students all wore thick mustaches in imitation of
Suleyman as well as school insignia because their leader insisted
that his new insurgents have degrees. He had told them in his
loud, deep voice, “We do not want to be seen as ignorant and
poor people adopting terror out of desperation. We are poets
and chess players, not gunmen.”
Tonight Suleyman was so bored that he was soliciting suggestions:
“It would be wonderful to have a nuclear bomb, but
while we are waiting, what should we do?”
Mustafa and Trafik argued for what they knew how to engineer—
more bombings of synagogues and government buildings—
but Suleyman shot down that suggestion: “I’d like a vacation
from small-scale bombings. They’re the same old same old,
as my classmates at the University of Texas used to say. Interns,
what do you suggest?”
Sulhaddin perked up: “How about using poisonous gas on a
subway train?”
Suleyman shook his head, arguing that it was too random in its
effects: “We want to show the world that terror is not anarchy, that
we can be precise in dealing even with those who resist Allah.”
Gurkan had been weaned on violent videos: “Let’s take a
hostage and film his beheading.”
Suleyman stood up and began pacing: “That’s a good
thought. I haven’t kidnapped anyone for a couple of years. But
how do we rise above run-of-the-mill hostage-taking?”
The room was silent until Suleyman pulled from a bookcase
a small volume with yellowed pages. “I have an idea. I have studied
the work of my ancestor Abu’l-Hasan al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam
as-Sultaniyyah, peace be unto him. A brilliant scholar, he died
in Baghdad in 1058, but first he discoursed on how to treat
captured enemies. He gave four possible actions. The first of the
four is to put them to death by cutting their necks.”
“Yes, neck-cutting is good,” Mustafa said in his high, puffy
voice. “What are the others?”
“The emir also may enslave captives,” Suleyman recited, almost
seeming to go into a trance. “He may show favor to them
and pardon them. He may ransom them in exchange for goods
or prisoners.”
“That would be fun,” Fadil said. “We’d see the captives
squirm, competing for our favor.”
Suleyman stroked his mustache and agreed: “This could be
a pleasant vacation activity while our allies work on finding
nuclear materials. We could show the world that we act thoughtfully,
in accordance with our history.”
He paused in contemplation, and the room was again silent
until Suleyman clapped his hands and said, “Yes, let’s do it.
We may have to wait a while, but I would like to capture four
Americans vacationing in our country and use all four of my
ancestor’s options.”
“An elegant plan,” Mustafa exulted.
Suleyman spelled out the details: “We will cut the neck of
one captive. A second will be a woman to enslave so we can
repay the Americans for the way they treat women. A third
we will pardon, so that person will tell the world our story
along with one important detail: that we are ready to ransom a
“Brilliant,” Trafik coughed.
“Excellent,” Suleyman smiled. “We will do our scouting and
find the right group of four. We will all have a wonderful vacation.”

Blog Tour-A Valley of Betrayal by Tricia Goyer

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing

A Valley Of Betrayal
(Moody Publishers - February 1, 2007)
by Tricia Goyer
(fellow CFBA member, blogger, writer, and homeschooling mom!)

Tricia is a members of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. She also has a blog, It's Real Life and a parenting blog Generation NeXt.

TRICIA GOYER is the author of five novels, two nonfiction books and one children's book. She also was named Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference Writer of the Year in 2003. In 2005, her novel Night Song, the second title in Tricia’s World War II series, won ACFW's Book of the Year for Best Long Historical Romance. In 2006, her novel Dawn of A Thousand Nights also won book of the Year for Long Historical Romance. Tricia and her husband, John, live with their family in northwestern Montana.


We are pleased to be able to review her exciting Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War, A Valley Of Betrayal

For reasons beyond her control, Sophie finds herself alone in the war-torn Spanish countryside, searching for her beloved Michael. His work as a news photographer has taken him deep into the country wracked by civil war. What was once a thriving paradise has become a battleground for Nazi-backed Franco fascist soldiers and Spanish patriots. She is caught up in the escalating events when the route to safety is blocked and fighting surrounds her.Secrets abound in the ruined Spain.

Michael is loving but elusive, especially about beautiful maria. The American who helped Sophie sneak into Spain turns up in odd places. Michael's friend Jose knows more than he tells. When reports of Michael's dissappearance reach her, Sophie is devastaed. What are her feelings for Philip, an American soldier who comes to her rescue?

Sophie must sift truth from lies as she becomes more embroiled in the war that threatens her life and breaks her heart. On her darkest night, Sophie takes refuge with a brigade of international compatriots. Among these volunteers, she pledges to make the plight of the Spanish people known around the world through the power of art.

Acclaimed author Tricia Goyer creates a riviting cast of characters against the backdrop of pre-WWII spain. Love, loss, pain, and beauty abound in A Valley Of Betrayal, the first book in her new series, Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War.


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