Friday, February 29, 2008

Symphony of Secrets Review & Giveaway

Ever had moments those around you are convinced you can’t separate fiction from reality? Talented flutist Amy Johnson sees a mystery behind every action that happens around her much to her daughter’s chagrin and amusement. Amy’s dreams seem to come true when she is offered the opportunity to audition for the Minneapolis Symphony. Then strange things begin to happen at the Symphony and her daughter decides to become a cheerleader. When her daughter begins to ask tough questions about who her dad is, Amy’s world begins to implode.

In many ways this book is a departure from the Becky Miller and Restorer series. This book is written with a light touch that often had me laughing out loud as I read it. Amy sees more what ifs in a situation than anybody I know! But at its core, the book stays close to the mom-lit area that Sharon Hinck is well-known for. Humor graces every page with the lightest hint of romance.

There is also a thread of mystery running through the book – very much on the cozy mystery side of the genre. I enjoyed it and found the resolution plausible in a world of crazy musicians. And Sharon made the symphony and those in it come to life in a way that I enjoyed – even though I secretly wondered as I picked it up if I’d care about the characters and their lives after chapter one.

Instead, I found it easy to relate to Amy and her struggles to be a mom in this crazy world. Balancing a job and single-parenting a teenager, Amy has opted for being a lone-ranger parent. Such an easy thing to do as we pull our cars into our garages and close the doors at the end of a day. She often feels that everyone else has this parenting thing down pat and she’s the only one who is clueless. Again, I could relate. But the reality is we each learn how to parent our individual children as we go.

Another new element to this book was Amy’s spiritual journey. Music is her god throughout the book. Yet as the pages turn and we near the end, she is open to the possibility that there is a God and He wants to know her personally. At no time does the plot stop so a message (AKA sermon) can be shoved down the reader’s throat. Instead, her steps toward Christ are realistic and a natural outgrowth of her journey.

If you’re looking for a book that will pull you through its pages, making you laugh with the occasional zinger that penetrates close to home, you will enjoy Sharon Hinck’s latest book Symphony of Secrets.

If you'd like to be entered to win a copy of this book, leave a comment telling me which kind of music is your favorite.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Radio Interview with Robin Caroll

If you're like me, you love books and are fascinated by the process of writing a book. I don't care if you ever dream of writing your own, it's fun to see how people create.

Robin Caroll is in the middle of a series of great suspense set in the Bayou of Louisiana. This week she was interviewed on a radio program. If you've ever thought about writing, but weren't sure how to get started, be sure to check out her interview. It lasts about 15 minutes and is packed with great insight on the craft of writing as well as information on her books.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

CFBA: Stuck in the Middle Review

Stuck in the Middle is the latest offering from author Virginia Smith.
Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement-or romance.

That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to catch his eye and get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut and into the life she's been hiding from.

Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry that is sure to make you smile.

"A gentle story of one young woman's season of growth, deftly blending the tangle of family relationships with gifts of whimsey and revelation. A joy to read."
~SHARON HINCK, author of Renovating Becky Miller and Symphony of Secrets~

"Virginia Smith has created a charming and humerous novel that celebrates small-town life, generations of women caring for each other, and the value of finding a deeper, more active faith."
~SHARON DUNN, author of the Bargain Hunters mysteries~

My Review:

As the oldest sibling in my family, I opened Stuck in the Middle with a little trepidation. Would the older sister get bashed? LOL. Instead, the older sister actually went to bat for the middle sister while pushing her to chase after what she wanted. Wooh. Okay, now I could sit back and enjoy the book.

This book carried the light touch of humor I've come to expect from Virginia's books, while tackling some tough issues, not the least of which was sibling rivalry. Yet it was clear that the family members deeply loved and cared for each other. And as the book continued Joan learns some important truth about her family that eases the isolation she'd felt.

The romance was pretty straight-forward; there weren't many questions about who Joan was interested in. Instead, multiple obstacles stood in the way of Joan finding happiness with the man she thinks she wants. And each obstacle forces her to look into herself and make changes. As she does, her life takes a fresh shape.

In the end, Joan is still stuck in the middle, but her relationships and perspective did change. This book was enjoyable on all fronts. A great read if you're looking for a new book.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New Schedule for the Blog

Now that I've been blogging for a year and a half -- YIKES! -- I decided to try to put some structure to this endeavor. Now don't hold me too tightly to it as I get it worked out, but hopefully this will make it easier for you to know when to come and what to expect when you're here.

Mondays: Writing Life: research, tips, etc.
Tuesdays: Life: parenting, family, anything that strikes my fancy or yours.
Wednesdays: book reviews
Thursdays: Potluck for now but generally with a legal tone
Fridays: book reviews (& giveaways when possible)

I'll try to keep book reviews to those days in the future, though I am signed up for some book tours over the next couple months that will land on other days of the week.

Monday, February 25, 2008

And the winners are....

The winner of Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear is abookblogger.

The winner of Rattled is Bree.

Ladies, please contact me so I can get these books out to you. Thanks to everyone who entered. And please check back often! I should be giving away at least one book a week for the foreseeable future!


Legal Research How Tos: Part One

This is the first in a series I'll run over the next few Mondays on legal research. I often get questions on how to do legal research and hope this will give writers an idea of where to start. Usually, the best advice is to contact an attorney directly...but this should help you start.

The law is a complicated area.

For starters there’s federal law. That consists of laws that Congress passes, the Constitution (that wonderful gift from the founding fathers), and decisions handed down by the Supreme Court. Then there are all the regulations created by federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and IRS to implement the many laws passed by Congress. And don’t forget things like Executive Orders implemented by the President.

The there’s state law. Not just in your state, but in every state. Fifty different versions of the law. And that’s broken into Common Law which has largely been adopted from English law dating back to the 1300 and 1400s. Think torts. It is quite established law that there are four elements to a tort: duty, breach, causation, and damages. All states and federal law recognize these elements. But each state then has different cases interpreting those elements. So Common Law is theoretically standardized, but must be examined in each state.

Then there’s all the statutory law. These are the laws that were created by the state houses (either bicameral or unicameral – again depending on the state).

Don’t forget County laws, City ordinances, planning commissions, zoning boards, and so many other forms of local government. It can get crazy.

So what’s a writer to do? How can a writer make sure they accurately reflect the law? Here are a couple quick tips that I will expand in future posts:

1) Talk to an attorney.
2) Do some basic research on-line.
3) Talk to an attorney.
4) Know the state you are writing in.

Nothing is more distracting to a reader than to find an error in your story that could have been easily fact-checked. My favorite all time example (which is actually from one of my favorite romantic-suspense authors): in this particular book, the heroine works for a state’s governor’s reelection campaign. Only problem, this state doesn’t allow a governor to run for reelection for a consecutive term. The author assumed this state was like 90% of the states. And it isn’t.

So let’s take that extra step to spot-check the research and get it right. Your readers will know if you don’t.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Share My Joy

We break away from the regularly scheduled blog posts to make this announcement...

Author and attorney Cara Putman received word on Wednesday that Heartsong Presents intends to contract her three book historical series set in Ohio. The series will tell the stories of three siblings during the war. Watch for an evacuated girl from England, a top-secret military project, and the All-American Girls Baseball League to play pivotal roles in the plots.

Cara is delighted to step back in time to the early 1940s and explore just a few of the stories that took place on the homefront during the war.

Stay tuned for details, but join with Cara as she celebrates God's goodness in her life!

And if she doesn't respond to emails this summer -- you now know why :-)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Author Photos

Last week we talked about author photos over at ACFW. What do people think when they see them? What do they say? Do you ever see the author as the heroine or hero after seeing their photo, etc.?

Then as I cleaned my desk -- a task that desperately needed doing -- I ran across a recent letter from a friend that I've recently reconnected with, Sandy Dengler. In addition to a very kind review of her thoughts on Canteen Dreams and it's strengths, she made a comment about my photo on my business card.

That photo is me sitting on the railroad tracks. The sun is shining brightly against the snow that blankets either side of the tracks. I will NEVER forget how cold I was during that shoot. Fortunately, you can't see in the photo how bluish/purple my hands were!

But Sandy said something interesting: "The subject is at one point on a long journey to unknown horizons, to infinity, straight and true."

Wow, that really ministers to me.

When I read it the first time several weeks ago, I still thought one contract was more likely than not. Now it isn't. And I'm floundering a bit. Asking, no begging, God to show me where He wants me right now. And it's hard because I don't know what I'm supposed to do.

But what a wonderful reminder from Sandy, that God controls my journey into unknown horizons. And in His hands, from His perspective, it looks straight and true. While from my perspective it can look derailed or side-tracked.


Now to hone the ability to hear what He wants me to do in these moments of rest and unknown.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

ADAM Review

I signed up – reluctantly – to read Ted Dekker. You see, I enjoyed some of his earlier books, then hit a point where they just weren’t my thing. Plenty of other people love them, but I had more than enough other books to invest my time in. Then ADAM arrived. Eight hours later, I had consumed the book after some careful ribbing from my husband. That’s okay, he’ll consume it just as quickly on his next flight.

ADAM: the story of an elusive serial killer whose victims die of unknown causes and the psychologist obsessed with catching him.

Daniel Clark is a FBI behavioral scientist who is famous for his well-reasoned arguments that religion is one of society’s greatest antagonists. He’s killed by a serial killer but resuscitated. He and a fellow FBI agent go to extremes to try to recapture his memories of the moments prior to death.

The book has marvelous pacing – I literally couldn’t put it down. The only good news was I didn’t have anything else I had to get done last night! And the characters have great conflict. The plot is filled with twists that I didn’t anticipate, yet fit the classic Dekker book mold.

Dekker uses magazine articles interspersed between chapters to fill in the gaps and make the serial killer more than a shadow. From page one you are learning the tragedy of his early years. It reminded me of the technique Brandilyn Collins used extremely well in her Kanner Lake series.

The book also deals with the reality of the supernatural realm and the American viewpoint that it doesn’t really exist. The Catholic church is the main religion highlighted, and it is handled in a positive light.

While I wouldn’t recommend this book for young teens, due to content (Near Death Experiences, Demon Possession, Exorcism), if you like a thriller with plenty of supernatural twists thrown in, then you will enjoy this book.


He died once to stop the he's dying again to save his wife.

FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has become famous for his well-articulated arguments that religion is one of society’s greatest antagonists. What Daniel doesn’t know is that his obsessive pursuit of a serial killer known only as “Eve” is about to end abruptly with an unexpected death-his own.

Twenty minutes later Daniel is resuscitated, only to be haunted by the loss of memory of the events immediately preceding his death.

Daniel becomes convinced that the only way to stop Eve is to recover those missing minutes during which he alone saw the killer’s face. And the only way to access them is to trigger his brain’s memory dump that occurs at the time of death by simulating his death again…and again. So begins a carefully researched psychological thriller which delves deep into the haunting realities of near-death experiences, demon possession, and the human psche.
New York Times best-selling author Ted Dekker unleashes his most riveting novel elusive serial killer whose victims die of unknown causes and the psychologist obsessed with catching him.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

So What are You Reading Now?

Today I've been tagged by my friend and ACFW Indiana chapter president Crystal Miller to participate in a game of blog tag. I'm asking you to participate in a reading exercise. Whatever is by your computer (or that you are reading right now) is what I am interested in. I am going to tag a few people who also write blogs, but if you have a blog and want to play, you are welcome to steal it. And if you don't have a blog or don't have a blog where you play memes, play in the comments. I told you I love to know what people are reading!

The Rules:

Here are the rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Book One:
Writing the Christian Romance, by Gail Gaymer Martin.
Christy Award-winning author Kristen Heitzmann uses an original style of POV, mixing first and third person between past and present tense. She does this to show a dramatic difference between the flashback scenes of the heroine's youth to the present day. To show an immediacy of the past, Heitzmann uses first person present tense and third person past tense for the present scenes.

Now for an ABA book I've almost finished:
The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwall
"I found her one morning out in front. This was right after Emily...I just assumed the poor little thing died of a broken heart."

And from my current Bible Study:
Patriarchs, by Beth Moore
Look carefully at the phrase "held a grudge against" in verse 41. The English phrase is a translation of only one Hebrew word: satam. The New International Commentary footnotes the English translation with the following interesting words: (Keep in mind the Hebrew alphabet doesn't include vowels) "stm, apparently a by-form of stn, the root from which Satan derives."

So there you have it. A look at the books I'm reading and studying right now that are on my desk.

I tag: Robin Miller, Ane Mulligan, Pam Meyers, Sabrina Butcher, and Janna Ryan. Have fun!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Review & Giveaway: Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear

Be sure to read to the bottom to see how you can enter to win a copy of this fun book.

The second in the BARGAIN HUNTER MYSTERIES, Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear is a welcome addition to Sharon Dunn’s books.

Ginger and the other members of the BHN (Bargain Hunter’s Network) are headed to Calamity, NV for what’s been dubbed the world’s largest garage sale. Ginger’s husband Earl is coming along to participate in an inventor’s convention to get his dream off the ground.

Within minutes of finally arriving at the hotel, Ginger finds their plans unraveling all around her. Then her husband has become someone she doesn’t recognize, and they both become embroiled in a murder investigation. Chaos reigns supreme with lots of humor and heart inserted.

The book is filled with quirks from the hotel that has a retro children’s toys theme to the characters themselves. Ginger and her cohorts are as lively as ever and surrounded by a full cast of characters. There’s Xabier who’s been doomed to play a walking teddy bear by his father who owns the Wind-Up Hotel. There’s the former child star who now lives at the hotel. Add in two detectives, one with a metabolism that doesn’t stop and the other with a diet fetish, and a host of other characters, and the book would entertain just in the character department.

But while these characters are filled with quirks, they also have a lot of heart and challenges. Ginger doesn’t want to believe the worst of her husband, but why would he lie to the police? Earl doesn’t understand why Ginger isn’t supporting him as he chases his dream. Kindra is surprised to find herself in a possible relationship and wonder if she can cast aside her list of requirements before falling into a relationship. Suzanne missed her children even though she couldn’t wait to get away from them. And Arleta is trying to live even as she fears she’s growing too old.

I could find something to relate with each of these characters about. Their struggles and questions mirrored some I’ve had and I loved the way the author handled the development of those. I’ve felt misunderstood and unsupported by family and friends at times. Wondered if all those requirements I created were really important.

I enjoyed the plot -- even though it moves at the pace of a cozy mystery -- mainly because the characters made me care about what would happen to them.

Bottom-line: this is an enjoyable mystery that borders on cozy-mystery pacing.

Sharon Dunn is the author of Death of a Garage Sale Newbie, book one in the Bargain Hunters Mysteries, and the Ruby Taylor mystery novels including Sassy Cinderella, which was voted Book of the Year by American Christian Fiction Writers. She earned a BA in television production and a master’s in history Sharon lives in Bozeman, Montana, with her husband of twenty years, three children, two cats, and lots of dust bunnies.

To enter to win a copy of this delightful book, be sure to leave a comment with a bargain-hunting tip. Mine: I try to buy most of my children's clothes on end-of-season clearance. This way I can buy name brands often for the price of clothes at Wal-Mart. I also buy Christmas presents year round when I see something on sale. To keep track of what I've purchased I keep a note-book in my gift closet, and enter all new purchases plus the person it's for in the book. It makes Christmas shopping a snap.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

BLAST OUT Blog Tour for Trish Berg’s Latest Release…The Review

As most of y'all know, I'm in the middle of a pregnancy that's not my first. As a result, I've flipped through more than my share of "what to expect while pregnant" websites and books and even tip-toed into the "what you're baby should do" sections. This isn't my first child, so you'd think I'd be more than prepared for anything that could come my way.

While I may be, I well remember the excitement and angst while expecting Abigail. I was thrilled out of my mind to know I'd soon hold a baby that was mine. At the same time, even though I'm the oldest of four children and an involved aunt, I knew I had no clue about what was coming.

That's where Trish Berg's latest book Rattled: Surviving Your Baby's First Year Without Losing Your Cool comes in. Released by Multnomah, it is a wealth of information for first-time moms and their families. Read to the end to learn how you can win a copy of this book!

The book begins with a quick survey of pregnancy and what to expect at the hospital then saunters into four additional areas:
  1. Changing Seasons: Survival Mode, Blazing New Trails, and Covering New Ground
  2. Living Simply: Setting Up Base Camp, Coordinated Efforts, and Exploring New Territory
  3. Choosing Joy: Reaching the Summit, Camouflaging Your Imperfections, and Discovering Camp Palooza
  4. Nourishing Mom: Renewing Your Faith, Restoring Your Health, and Reviving Your Friendships.
The book has a wonderful layout that makes it very easy to read, and the author's style is very conversational. It made me think of the Girlfriends' Guide in that respect. The author is very honest about the journey into motherhood, but keeps our eyes focused squarely on the truth: we can do this with God's help.

My sister and I have decided that this book will become a routine part of our baby shower gifts. It's a book every new mom should own -- it won't take long before it is dog-eared from use.

Finally, in the Additional Resources section, she has a chapter on Discovering the Footprints of Heaven. This chapter is the book that I searched for as I experienced a miscarriage and in the aftermath of the pain and questions. I cried cleansing tears as I read it and whispered, "she understands. She gets it." It probably didn't help that I received the book the week after the first anniversary of my miscarriage. But I urge you -- as strongly as I can -- to get this book and read that chapter if you've had a miscarriage or if someone you love has and you can't understand the depths of the pain. That chapter is one I would write and probably will write when I get further from the pain.

Bottomline, this book is a keeper. And it makes a great gift for expectant and new moms!

If you would like a chance to win a copy of this book, leave a comment either with a question that's burning in your mom about parenting or leave a tip for someone who's going to be a mom for the first time. Let's see those comments! The contest will close February 23rd.

BLAST OUT Blog Tour for Trish Berg’s Latest Release…The Interview

BLAST OUT Blog Tour for Trish Berg’s Latest Release… Rattled Surviving Your Baby’s First Year without Losing Your Cool!

Can you change a diaper faster than a rodeo cowboy ropes a calf? Need more sleep,
more laughter, and ten minutes in the bathroom – alone?

You must be a mom….Don’t let the clutter, chaos, exhaustion and Cheerio-dust get you Rattled.

With practical advice and scriptural reminders, author Trish Berg can help you not only survive the chaos and clutter of motherhood, but get back to the simple joy of being a mom.

I am excited to welcome Trish Berg, joining us today to talk about her new mom book, Rattled, Surviving Your Baby’s First Year without Losing Your Cool!

Trish is a national speaker for Hearts at Home, author of The Great American Supper Swap and Rattled. She has been published in Today’s Christian Woman, MOMSense,, P31 WOMAN, and numerous regional and national publications.

Trish earned her MBA before leaving the workforce for motherhood, then earned her Doctorate in Diaper Changing in Ohio where she and her husband, Mike, keep busy raising their four children on their family cattle farm.

Trish, welcome. Thanks for taking time to be with us today.

Thanks for having me.

So why is it so easy for moms to get rattled during their baby’s first year?

Motherhood is simply draining and exhausting. Hands down the toughest job I have ever had.

But moms are not alone, and I want moms to know that God walks with them through these exhausting years.

What stresses moms out the most?

I think moms put a lot of pressure on themselves to do it all by themselves, and to do it all the right way. They need to simplify, let go of many details, and ask for help, from their husbands, and from neighbors and friends.

Rattled actually begins by looking at the months of pregnancy. How can moms use this time to prepare to survive baby’s first year?

Nine months is not nearly enough time to fully prepare for motherhood. I am not sure there is enough time to fully prepare.

I remember when our first child, Hannah, was born, I felt that my world had been turned upside down. Hannah did not like to sleep, and so we spent many nights walking the floor, bouncing her up and down, trying desperately to settle her down. My husband, Mike, and I took turns walking laps around the house, like the Indy 500 with a lot more bouncing.

I am not sure I could have prepared for that.

But during your pregnancy, you can prepare in other ways. Like arranging for help. Ask your mom or mother-in-law if they can spend one day with you each week during the first few months. Just knowing someone is coming in the morning to help with the baby can make the being up all night not seem so terrible.

You talk about surviving motherhood. How do you help moms do that?

In Rattled, I talk about a mom’s survival kit. If you were thrown out into the wilderness, you would need FOOD, SHELTER, FIRE and WATER to survive.

Well, moms have been thrown out into the wilderness of motherhood, and to survive, they will need:

Water from the word (2 Samuel 22:3a) –To be in God’s Word.

A fire like desire for prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17) – Moms can pray their way through their day.

Nourishment body, mind and spirit (1 Corinthians 13:13) – Love on all levels nourishes us.

Shelter from life’s storms (Proverbs 17:17)-Friends to lean on, trust, and support us.

In Rattled, I spend some time talking about how moms can use that survival kit to get back to the joy of mothering.

You spent a lot of time listening to what other mothers had to say. Share with us your best advice for new moms.

I would tell moms to relax. No one does it right all the time. Let the laundry pile up. Leave the dishes in the sink, and just enjoy holding your baby today.

Don’t worry about doing “it” right, just enjoy the moments you have.

That is sound advice...

But what aboud dads? Give us a few tips into what dad is going through during the first year.

Dads are just as insecure as moms are about parenthood. Even more so in many cases.

Moms do much of the baby feeding, diaper changing, and baby care. So dads can sometimes feel left out, and incapable of caring for their own baby.

One thing moms can do is encourage dad to be involved. But in doing so, moms must let go of “their way” of doing things, and let dad discover his own way.

For example. When Hannah was a baby, every time Mike would change her diaper, I would criticize the way he changed it. I tried to teach him how to put his fingers under the leg elastic and make sure it wasn’t bunched up, preventing a future leak.

But every time I criticized him, he stepped back and became less involved. And you know what? Even when I did the diapers the “right way” they still sometimes leaked.

So I had to learn to let Mike change her diaper his own way. I let him put her to bed his way, bathe her his way, and be the dad God wanted him to be.

That can be difficult for moms who can tend to be slight control freaks when it comes to baby care.

But let me just encourage you that the help you will get from dad if you can let go of those details will bless you in more ways than you can imagine!

In Rattled you’re very open about the loss of your own pregnancy in 2002. How has that loss changed your outlook on motherhood?

I in the 2nd trimester of my fourth pregnancy when I went in for a regular check up. I was not having any problems at all, and went in alone.

My OB/GYN performed an ultrasound just to check for twins, and suddenly my world turned upside down when he could not find a heart beat.

I was completely devastated. Mike and I had two weeks of further testing before we had assurance that our baby had died. And through it all, I prayed for a miracle, my miracle, that my baby would be alive again.

But in the end, God’s miracle was not that my baby survived. God’s miracle was the reassurance that He used me as a vessel to bring a tiny soul to Heaven.

A year later, I lost another child to miscarriage.

Today, I have a greater sense of love and appreciation for my four children here on earth whom I hug with my arms, and a closer tie to Heaven where my two babies are waiting for me, whom I can only hug with my heart for now.

Today you’re the mom of 4 happy and healthy children. What do you see as the greatest blessing about being a mom?

I would say learning patience, but my husband would laugh out loud at that…since I am probably one of the most impatient people there is.

So I guess I would have to say enjoying the journey. I live Psalm 118:24 every day of my life.

“This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Life is messy. Things break. Kids get sick. But moms need to remember to enjoy the journey no matter where the journey leads.

Today at the Berg house, our washing machine is broken. Our mini van needs new tires. We are hanging onto Mike’s 1986 Jeep on a wing and a prayer, hoping it makes it another year or so.

There is mud on my kitchen floor, crumbs on my carpet, and I can honestly say that I love my life. Just as it is.

Now, I certainly have moments where I get stressed and discouraged, and can even lose my temper (just ask my kids), but I am also learning to enjoy each moment of every day as a gift from God.

And thorough it all, my simple hope and prayer is that I can be the mom that God wants me to be.

Where can readers learn more about you,
Rattled, your other books, and your ministry to moms?

My website at offers tons of FREE resources, links and downloads for moms, as well as mor information on my books and ministry.

Moms can also purchase their own copy of
Rattled by clicking here.

And I will be speaking at all 3 Hearts at Home Conferences in 2008, I would LOVE for you to join me there. The National conference is in March in Illinois, and in the fall there is a conference in Michigan and Minnesota. You can get more information and register at

Thanks, Trish, for joining us today. What a joy to meet you and learn more about your new mom book

Thanks for having me. Blessings to you.

You can catch up with Trish all week long on her BLAST OUT BLOG TOUR by going to the following sites. There will be FREE book prizes, and great moms to connect with at each blog.












Friday, February 15, 2008

Writing Book Reviews: Post Two

I'm going to finish the official week of posts with the second on how I write book reviews. However, be sure to check back Saturday for a review of Rattled by Trish Berg and a chance to win a copy of this fantastic book that's targeted at new parents.

Last time, I walked you through my review of ADAM by Ted Dekker. I enjoyed Blessings by Kim Sawyer equally as much, yet the genre is completely different. Rather than suspense with strong supernatural overtones, Blessings is the last book in a trilogy set in Old World sect in Kansas.
Hopefully, you'll see that the tone is different. As is the way I approach the book. Bottomline, I want the reader to tell from the review why I liked the book, what I didn't like. How the book moved me. Did I interact with the book? Did it challenge me? Did I cry? Get mad? Heave it across the room? Want to shake a character? Or am I still thinking about the book and its message days later?
Blessings by Kim Sawyer
When I received a copy of Kim Sawyer’s latest book Blessings in the mail, I couldn’t wait to start reading it. Unlike the first two that I let linger on my to be read pile, this one got consumed within a couple days of entering my house. (My earlier reviews let readers know that I am not a fan of these Amish type tales. In fact, even though I loved Kim's other books, I'd let the first two in this series languish in my TBR pile for months! In contrast, this book got picked up the moment it arrived.) And Kim did not disappoint. I LOVED this book and am sad to see the series end.
Blessings is the third book in the Sommerfeld Trilogy and it was a delight to step back into Sommerfeld, Kansas and rejoin characters from the prior books. At the same time, I loved getting to know Trina Mueller better. She’s been a strong secondary character in the other books, but this time we get to see into her heart and mind. (This paragraph let's readers know how this book fits into the series and which character steps to the forefront. Trina has been a very likable character all along and one readers will root for. Now they know she's the star!)
For as long as she could remember, Trina has loved caring for animals. Now as a young woman of 19 her heart’s desire is to become a vet. The problem? Her order does not allow young people to be educated past the 9th grade. (Tiny character sketch) Trina struggles – in a very real way – with how to reconcile this desire that she firmly believes is God-given with the constraints of the order. (Quick spiritual struggle) What I love about Trina is she doesn’t do everything perfectly, and she bears the consequences for her actions, yet I couldn’t stop rooting for and crying with her throughout the book. (The strength of this books lies in the amazing way Kim handles this struggle. Trina isn't a perfect character, which it would have been easy to let her become. Instead, Kim gives her very real responses that I could relate to -- those in turn made the character more real and believable.)
Graham Ortmann can’t wait to get Trina’s agreement and have their relationship published, one small step away from marriage. Yet, as she chases this dream, she changes, and he’s not sure he can continue the relationship. (quick character sketch on the hero with a quick highlight of his big conflict. I did not give a synopsis per se but a look at the characters' growth and development this time.)
The progression and growth that these characters and the community embark on is real. Not everything works out wonderfully and there’s no miraculous moment where everything suddenly changes. Instead, it’s a gradual and painful process for all involved. (anything less wouldn't ring true.)
The writing is superb as I’ve come to expect from Kim’s books, but it’s the emotional and spiritual journey of the main characters and community that made this a book I could not put down. (Short summary of what makes this book a keeper.)
That's how I do it. I hope this helps!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

CFBA Tour: My Name is Russell Fink

This week's CFBA tour features Michael Snyder's debut release My Name is Russell Fink.

Russell Fink is twenty-six years old and determined to salvage a job he hates so he can finally move out of his parents house for good. He's convinced he gave his twin sister cancer when they were nine years old. And his crazy fiancée refuses to accept the fact that their engagement really is over.

Then Sonny, his allegedly clairvoyant basset hound, is found murdered.

The ensuing amateur investigation forces Russell to confront several things at once-the enormity of his family's dysfunction, the guy stalking his family, and his long-buried feelings for a most peculiar love interest.

At its heart, My Name is Russell Fink is a comedy, with sharp dialogue, characters steeped in authenticity, romance, suspense, and fresh humor. With a postmodern style similar to Nick Hornby and Douglas Coupland, the author explores reconciliation, forgiveness, and faith in the midst of tragedy. No amount of neurosis or dysfunction can derail God's redemptive purposes.

I haven't had a chance to dive into this book yet, but it's near the top of the TBR pile and I can't wait to start it!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Writing Book Reviews: Post One

Earlier this year, my friend Gina Conroy asked me to write a post or two on writing book reviews for her to use over at Writer Interrupted. This seems like a good time to post them here since I have a line up of reviews that I'll start posting later this week. There are some great books coming out this spring! And I'll be giving away many of them, so stay tuned!

I've never taken a course on book reviews, and actually fell into writing them almost by accident. I LOVE spreading the word about books I enjoy. LOVE it. So after I started a blog two years ago, it made sense to have books be a large part of that blog.

About the same time I joined ACFW. Through it's e-loop, I got to know many authors. Often they ask for influencers -- people who will read a book and if they like it tell people about it. I love to connect people. If you've read The Tipping Point, I fall clearly into that category. I am enthusiastic about anything I can do to connect people with a person or product I love.

That's how I started, and now I can't imagine not doing it. So, here's a review I wrote recently and I'm going to insert explanation throughout to explain why I wrote what I did....

ADAM by Ted Dekker

I signed up – reluctantly – to read Ted Dekker. You see, I enjoyed some of his earlier books, then hit a point where they just weren’t my thing. Plenty of other people love them, but I had more than enough other books to invest my time in. (This beginning was important to me -- I wanted to let readers understand that I used to like Dekker and then stopped. His plots became the same in a way that was important to me. I think knowing my frame of mind when I started reading the book lends credibility to what I will say about it next) Then ADAM arrived in yesterday’s mail. 8 hours later, I had consumed the book after some careful ribbing from my husband. That’s okay, he’ll consume it just as quickly on his next flight. (How much does a book grip me? Is it easy to put down? Do I read it almost obsessively? There are many books I enjoy, but can read over a week or more. Then there are others that I HAVE to read. If you read enough of my reviews, you quickly get a sense which category a book falls into)

ADAM: the story of an elusive serial killer whose victims die of unknown causes and the psychologist obsessed with catching him.

Daniel Clark is a FBI behavioral scientist who is famous for his well-reasoned arguments that religion is one of society’s greatest antagonists. He’s killed by a serial killer but resuscitated. He and a fellow FBI agent go to extremes to try to recapture his memories of the moments prior to death. (These two short paragraphs give a sneak look at the plot. Especially with suspense, I am EXTREMELY careful not to give away key plots. I try to use the synopsis as a's a bit about the main character and the you want to know more?)

The book has marvelous pacing – I literally couldn’t put it down. The only good news was I didn’t have anything else I had to get done last night! And the characters have great conflict. The plot is filled with twists that I didn’t anticipate, yet fit the classic Dekker book mold. (This sentence lets current Dekker readers know he hasn't changed his stripes, ala John Grisham. But it also lets you know that it kept me, a suspense writer, guessing.)

Dekker uses magazine articles interspersed between chapters to fill in the gaps and make the serial killer more than a shadow. From page one you are learning the tragedy of his early years. It reminded me of the technique Brandilyn Collins used extremely well in her Kanner Lake series. (This is a unique plot device that is showing up more often in books. Some use it very well. Others not so much. This let's readers know that it's there -- so if it really bugs you, this book may not be for you. But it also compares it to another author who uses this technique very effectively.)

The book also deals with the reality of the supernatural realm and the American viewpoint that it doesn’t really exist. The Catholic church is the main religion highlighted, and it is handled in a positive light. (Because it branches into some controversial religious topics I highlight them quickly without giving away the take and twists. I usually highlight the spiritual or some other aspect of growth in the characters.)

While I wouldn’t recommend this book for young teens, due to content, if you like a thriller with plenty of supernatural twists thrown in, then you will enjoy this book. (I included this because I think it is my duty to let others know if there is a reason I wouldn't want someone to unknowingly hand it to a young person. I very rarely put caveats like this on a book, but I want people to trust my reviews. For example, right now I don't think I would let Abigail read this when she's 14. She's 7 now. But that may change. Other young teens may be able to handle the material, but parents need to know it could be an issue.)

So that's how I write book reviews. I'll post one more review with similar analysis. Only this book is from a completely different genre. And it's a book I loved equally only for very different reasons!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Ups and Downs of Life

What a weekend! I got to spend the weekend in Naples, Florida with Eric. He's on a whirlwind fundraising/event tour for his job, and for once it worked out well for me to join him. We had a wonderful time talking with donors and walking the beaches near Naples.

But Friday morning before I headed to Indy, I got two radically different emails. One was from the professor I work under at Purdue letting me know that he has approval for me to teach sections of undergrads in the fall and spring! YEAH! I love to teach and am THRILLED to have the opportunity to work with college students year round. Very excited!

Then the next email I opened was from my agent. A book series that had very serious interest from a large publisher fell through. It was one of those great rejections. Basically, we don't think the timing is quite right, but Cara's talented and we'd like to work with her in the future. Sigh. This is a series that was going to move me into legal suspense, and I was really excited about it. Still am actually, but am definitely bummed at the same time.

But isn't it like God to have both arrive at the same time? Great news tempers the bad news. He also reminded me that when I first started talking to this publisher at the ACFW conference in September that there was a big part of me that wasn't sure I was ready for this step yet. Don't get me wrong, I would have found a way to jump several levels, but maybe God knows I'll be more ready for this step in a couple/few years.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful agent who told me she'll move on to the next publisher with that, but she wants me to slow down and take time to think and really work on the big concept for my next legal proposal. God knew I needed an agent who would encourage me not to rush, rather than push me for more. I do enough of that on my own.

So while I'm still disappointed, I can see His fingerprints in everything. And if I truly believe He is the one directing my path, then I have to trust Him that in the right time and with the right project, I'll get to work with this publisher and move into that area.

Now to get back to dream and ruminating!

Bayou Corruption: run out and buy it today

Robin Caroll’s second book Bayou Corruption is in stores now. I read this one on the plane to Florida. Good thing, too, since I ended up loaning it to a friend who had forgotten to pack any books. Can you imagine!?!?!

From the first page I was pulled into this story. Investigative reporter Jackson Devereaux has driven to Lagniape, Louisiana, at the request of his college buddy, the town sheriff, to help with a police investigation. Alyssa LeBlanc is back in town only because her grandmother had a heart attack. However, on the way to her grandmother’s house from the hospital, she sees men dump a bag of trash on the side of the road. When she reaches the bag, she realizes it’s not trash but the sheriff, who is badly beaten. The book is off to the races from there!

This book is filled with so much conflict between the characters it amazed me. Every time I thought the connections between characters or the skeletons from their pasts couldn’t get more twisted, I was wrong. And the author skillfully pulled the past and present together.

The mystery/suspense thread was strong. Toward the end I suspected/knew that a particular character had to be involved – primarily because of everyone’s belief that he couldn’t be. Yet even that didn’t spoil the fun of the read.

I enjoyed every twist and turn in this book and can’t wait to read book three when it releases in May.

If you want to read it, RUN to your local bookstore or Wal-Mart. Since it’s published by Harlequin’s Christian line: Love Inspired Suspense, it won’t be on shelves long.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Love for a Lifetime

Love Matters. Eric and I just celebrated twelve years of marriage this weekend. Wow! It seems hard to believe, and at the same time many of those years were hard fought for.

But now that we’re 12 years in, each one of those times we fought to make it work is well worth it. Especially now that we have children. I’ve always read that kids need to see their parents acting in love, but man, now I know that those books and pundits are correct.

My children’s security is grounded to some extent in the status of my relationship with Eric. As such, I need to invest the time and prayer in it to make this marriage everything it can be.

I don’t want to settle for good or okay.

Instead, I want a marriage that encourages my kids to look for a spouse. That it’s one they want to emulate rather than an example they run from. My parents had their moments growing up, but I could always rest secure in the fact that they would be together. And next month they’ll celebrate 40 years. Eric’s parents are nearing 50 years. And both sets of my grandparents surpassed 60 years. That’s quite a legacy and a challenge to follow.

I will fight for the rewards of a marriage that lasts the test of time.

So what are some of your strategies for building a secure marriage with kids?

PS For a thought provoking post at the beginning of Lent check out Athol Dickson's post on Lent Among the Folds.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

And the Winners are....

I had to chuckle as I drew names. For each book the first winner was the author. I have a strange feeling that Jill and Julie have plenty of copies of their books. :-) So I drew again...

The winner of Reluctant Smuggler is Lacy Williams.

Carolynn W is the winner of a Passion Most Pure.

Please email me with your contact info, ladies, by Monday so we can get those books out to you.

Thanks to everybody who entered.

CFBA Tour: Sisters, Ink

My thoughts: I am in the middle of this book and enjoying it. Rebeca has a fresh style that carries the book. Tandy's life is spiraling out of control so she heads home to Stars Hill to see her family. What she expects to be a relaxing escape isn't. Instead she's confronted by how much she's changed and how little others have. Throw in her only old boyfriend, and it's chaotic. Add some scrapbooking to tie the sisters together, and this book is a fun read.

Sisters, Ink marks the first in a series of novels written by, for, and about scrapbookers. At the center of the creativity and humor are four unlikely young adult sisters, each separately adopted during early childhood into the loving home of Marilyn and Jack Sinclair.

Ten years after their mother Marilyn has died, the multi-racial Sinclair sisters (Meg, Kendra, Tandy, and Joy) still return to her converted attic scrapping studio in the small town of Stars Hill, Tennessee, to encourage each other through life’s highs and lows.

Book one spotlights headstrong Tandy, a successful yet haunted attorney now living back in Orlando where she spent the first eight years of her life on the streets as a junkie’s kid. When a suddenly enforced leave of absence at work leads her to an extended visit with her sisters in Stars Hill, a business oppor­tunity, rekindled romance, and fresh understanding of God’s will soon follow.

"What more can any woman want? Sisters, Ink weaves the love of sisters, the fun of scrapbooking, and a romance as sugary and tingling as Sweet Home Alabama. A must read for those who love southern fiction."--DiAnn Mills, author of Leather and Lace and When the Nile Runs Red
"Fun . . . funny . . . fantastic! Rebeca Seitz has brought together scrapbooking and sisterhood in a lively romp, with a love for going home again."--Eva Marie Everson, coauthor of The Potluck Club series.


Rebeca Seitz is Founder and President of Glass Road Public Relations. An author for several years, PRINTS CHARMING was her first novel.

Rebeca cut her publicity teeth as the first dedicated publicist for the fiction division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In 2005, Rebeca resigned from WestBow and opened the doors of GRPR, the only publicity firm of its kind in the country dedicated solely to representing novelists writing from a Christian worldview.

Rebeca makes her home in Kentucky with her husband, Charles, and their son, Anderson.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Book of the Year and Genesis Contests Open for Entries



ACFW announces entry dates

American Christian Fiction Writers [ACFW] is pleased to announce the opening of its two annual contests, Book of the Year and Genesis.

Book of the Year is open to published members of ACFW. Categories include Contemporary Novella, Debut Author, General Fiction, Historical Novella, Lits (chick-lit, mom-lit, lady-lit, lad-lit, etc.), Long Contemporary, Long Contemporary Romance, Long Historical, Mystery, Short Contemporary, Short Contemporary Suspense, Short Historical, Speculative, Suspense, Women's Fiction, and Young Adult. Entries must be received by March 31, 2008.

Genesis is open to members of ACFW who are unpublished in adult or young adult fiction in the last seven years. The contest has a multitude of categories/genres to enter, the opportunity for unbiased feedback on writers' work by published authors and experienced judges, and the chance for the Category Finalists to have their work read by Christian publishing house editors and literary agents. ACFW has been pleased to see previous winners and finalists move further in their writing careers to become published authors. Entries must be received by March 1, 2008.


Living in a Fog

We had six or seven inches of snow on Friday -- and this morning it's all gone. Yesterday the temperature was well into the 40s, and the area was blanketed in a think fog. All day. We live far from San Francisco...yet, yesterday it felt like we'd somehow slipped across the Rockies and over to that part of California. This morning it's still foggy.

Sometimes life is like that. Everything is beautiful and pristine, washed white by a blanket of virgin snow. Then, wham, you find yourself squinting through a fog...trying to find your way to the road and then stay on it.

What do you tell yourself when lost in a fog? Sometimes it's a fog of self-doubt. Or impatience. Or a fog of depression and sadness.

I've done enough Bible studies to know that I shouldn't let my emotions control me. There's nothing productive or God-honoring in wallowing in emotions. While God created us with emotions, I am to master them. Because the heart is deceitful above all things. Yet walking through a blanket of fog makes it difficult to raise your eyes to the One who never changes. Who never fails. Who is always with us.

Instead, we so often lower our gaze and squint to see a foot or two in front of us. Yet how our perspective changes when we lift our eyes and focus on God.

So as I walk and drive through one more day of fog, I'm going to chose to focus on Him as many times as it takes until the fog clears.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Giveaway: Last Chance to Enter for Reluctant Smuggler

Just a reminder that I'll be announcing the winner of Reluctant Smuggler on Wednesday. So far there are only two entries for this great book so you have a great shot at winning! Go to this post to enter.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Interview with Leslie Ludy and Giveaway

My sister has a great interview up with Leslie Ludy over at her blog. Leslie and her husband Eric have written an incredible book for parents, Teaching True Love to a Sex-at-13-Generation. This book was on Janna's Top 7 Life-Changing Books of 2007. I was sure it was good, but couldn't understand how it was that great. Mom gave me a copy when I was home at Christmas.

I thought it looked good, but my daughter's 7, my son's 4. I really don't need this book now.

Trust me, I couldn't have been more wrong. It is a phenomenal book meant to open the eyes of parents to what's really going on. So head over to Janna's blog to read the interview and get a chance to win one of the Ludys' books.

Friday, February 01, 2008

First Chapter: Sisters, Ink

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

This month's feature is:

and her book:

B&H Books (February 1, 2008)

I've just started reading this book and am really enjoying it. Keep going to read the first chapter...


Rebeca Seitz is Founder and President of Glass Road Public Relations. An author for several years, PRINTS CHARMING being her first novel.

Rebeca cut her publicity teeth as the first dedicated publicist for the fiction division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In 2005, Rebeca resigned from WestBow and opened the doors of GRPR, the only publicity firm of its kind in the country dedicated solely to representing novelists writing from a Christian worldview.

Rebeca makes her home in Kentucky with her husband, Charles, and their son, Anderson.


Tandy’s purple stiletto heel tapped in perfect rhythm to the pulse that threatened to leap out of her neck. She stared at the phone, willing it to ring and someone on the other end to declare this a joke. Her boss did not just call her into his office. Now.

The smooth tones from her CD player of Ole Blue Eyes crooning I Did it My Way mocked rather than soothed. She had to calm down, but Meg’s idea of music soothing the savage soul was not working. Fingers shaking, Tandy snatched up the receiver and dialed her sister. Calm, stoic Meg always knew what to do in a crisis. From falling off the swing set to supplying Oreos and caffeine the night before Tandy’s bar exam, Meg was a pro at handling crises and keeping her three sisters’ lives humming.

A busy signal sounded, and Tandy slammed the phone back down. Of course Meg would be on the phone right now. Why on earth couldn’t that woman understand the helpfulness of call-waiting? Tandy could hear Meg’s soft, persuasive response now: Why would I stop talking to one person before our conversation ended, T? It’s rude and I just won’t have it in my house.

Grabbing the receiver again, Tandy punched in Kendra’s numbers, jumping when yet another hawk flew into her window. Why did Orlando have to have a courthouse with the perfect nooks and crannies to build a nest? Ever since the completion of this new structure, hawks circled attorneys in the Bellsouth building across the on a daily basis.

Kendra’s melodic voice floated over the line, its harmonious tones the same as in childhood: "You have reached the voicemail of Kendra Sinclair…"

Tandy slammed the receiver down again and glared at the circling hawks. Of course Mr. Beasley was angry. He had every right to be, really. That fat deposit in her checking account every other week meant the continuation of her dedication to keeping their clients out of jail. Certainly it meant she wouldn’t hand the prosecution the very evidence they needed to obtain a conviction. She fiddled with the purple and black silk scarf tied around her neck.

Would Joy be any help at all in this situation? Joy might be the baby sister, but her quiet strength could come in handy right now. Except that Joy loved to talk and Christopher Beasley was waiting. The thought of him in his office high above the hawks, tapping his long fingers on the glass top of a heavy mahogany desk, didn’t allow for long phone conversations.

Tandy’s office phone rang and she jumped. "Tandy Sinclair."

"Tandy, it’s Anna." Tandy smiled, thinking of the gentle lady seated a few floors above her. "Mr. Beasley’s on his third cup of coffee."

Her smile vanished. "Oh, no, Anna. Couldn’t you have dawdled a bit? You know how he gets with caffeine overload."

"And you know how he gets when I dawdle. You’ve got maybe three minutes before he asks me to get cup number four."

"I’m on my way." Tandy pushed back from her desk and stood up. "Thanks, Anna."

"No problem, sweetie."

Tandy dropped the phone in its cradle, her gaze darting around the room for something, anything that would prevent the next ten minutes.

If that idiot Harry Simons had been one iota less smarmy, this predicament could have been avoided. His outright ogling of her figure had been bad enough, but certainly not the first time Tandy had been forced to ignore a man’s unwanted attentions. They all seemed to believe her red, wavy hair was a sign she’d fulfill their wildest dreams. Heck, Mr. Beasley had probably even made that assumption at some point, as evidenced by his swift promotions landing her in a cushy corner office of Meyers, Briggs, and Stratton.

Tandy swigged caffeine and paced the office. It wasn’t even Harry’s condescension. His superiority, rooted in maleness, made no effort to hide the belief that a brain resting between the pierced ears of a thirty-year-old female graduate of Yale School of Law somehow negated its existence. That idiocy didn’t even raise her blood pressure. She fingered her pearl earrings and grimaced as a hawk glided to rest on the ledge outside.

No, she would have been fine, and Christopher Beasley would not at this very moment be preparing to fire her, except for one innocent little lunch with small-minded Harry. Why, oh why, had she agreed to go to lunch with the lizard? (Honestly, his head rivaled the shape of geckos that ran in and out of every flower bed in Central Florida.) Come to think of it, his eyes were shifty like a gecko, too. Was the single life getting to her so much that she’d date a lizard? She stopped and tapped the window ledge. Meg and Kendra were on her case to date more. But who had time to meet people after spending sixty-five hours a week at the office? She sighed. The sisters just didn’t understand life in the city.

"You guys have got it easy," she said to the hawks. "Circle, eat, rest, repeat. With the occasional head bang into a window to keep us lawyers on our toes." She shook her head.

Well, it didn’t matter now. Mr. Beasley awaited her presence and it would only get worse the longer she stood here. Her heels sank into the plush pearl-colored carpet as she crossed the office, ignoring the latest sacrifice to her black thumb—a nearly dead African violet. She opened her office door and cast one last glance at what, in about ten minutes, probably would not be her office. Oh well. Maybe she could take the plant to Anna.

She picked up the violet. At least the charade of defending a slimeball, who made fun of an old homeless man to make himself seem big, would come to an end. And the day was still young; she could hit the beach before the lunch rush hit I-4.

Shoulders thrown back, chin up, Tandy made her way down the hallway and entered an elevator lined in the obligatory mahogany, brass, and mirrors, testimony to Christopher’s desire to never rock a boat even in the decoration of his law firm’s offices. She eyed her reflection and saw steel in the brown eyes staring back. Cutting Harry off at the knees in public wasn’t the best financial move to make. How would she buy food for Cooper? Pay his vet bills? Keeping an old basset hound with arthritic knees and hips in comfort was a pricey endeavor. Still, it had been worth it to see the shock on Harry’s face when she announced in her loud voice the impending completion of his career. From a 9x9 prison cell, that cardboard box would look like heaven.

She checked her chignon, tucking in a stray curl and smoothing the rest down. Picturing Harry’s smug, pudgy face behind bars did way more to calm her pulse rate than Sinatra’s croon. The elevator dinged, announcing her arrival to Christopher Beasley’s penthouse lair.

Tandy took a deep breath, tightened her grip on the sagging violet, sent up a prayer of thanks that she’d picked the Ann Taylor suit today—must look sharp when being fired--and stepped across the threshold.

"He’s waiting for you." Sympathy shimmered in Anna’s blue eyes. The Orlando sun shining through the window made Anna’s hair glow like a fresh pearl.

Tandy set the violet down on Anna’s desk. "Thanks, Anna. It’s been good knowing you. I wonder if you might coax this little guy back to life?"

Anna raised her eyebrows. "Tandy, how many times do I have to tell you? You’re a danger to plants." She smiled and wagged her finger. "You taking them in isn’t an act of kindness. You leave the greenery to us old chicks."

Tandy laughed. "Yes ma’am." She took another breath. "I guess I should go in now."

Anna sobered. "Guess so."

"Still on cup number three?"

"I just took in cup four. I doubt he’s taken a sip yet, though. He’s slowing down."

"Thanks for everything, Anna."

"You’re welcome, honey. Take care of yourself. And you call me if you need anything, hear?"

Tandy nodded, only now realizing that losing her job also meant losing Anna’s kind wisdom. She blinked hard. Crying at work would not do. She stepped to Christopher’s door and knocked.

"Come." His deep voice bellowed through the door and Tandy’s pulse kicked up again. This was it. For the first time ever, Tandy Sinclair was about to be fired from a job. When she’d moved to Orlando to take this job and declare war on the city that took her childhood, Tandy never would have guessed she’d become an actual beach bum.

"Tandy, sit down, sit down." Christopher stood, gesturing to a chair and patting the telltale stripes of his Ben Silver tie. "Seems we have a little situation on our hands." The hawks circled one story below his window, the tops of their feathered backs lit by the sun.

Tandy sat down and nodded.

Christopher’s padded leather chair creaked with his weight. He settled back, propped his elbows on the arms, and templed his fingers. "Harry tells me he’s headed for a prison cell."

She nodded again.

"He also tells me that would be your fault."

Another nod. This must be what bobbleheads felt like.

"And he says he’s ready to sue this firm for inadequate representation unless I do something about it."

She quirked an eyebrow. Score one for Harry.

"I’ve assured Harry that there must be some misunderstanding since you’re one of the most capable attorneys this firm has seen in quite some time. So, please, Tandy, explain to me how one of our biggest clients, someone for whom you serve as lead counsel, suddenly finds himself facing jail."

Tandy tilted her head. He was giving her an out, bless him. Leave it to Christopher Beasley, King of Calm and Proper Appearances, to smooth the choppy waters and restore her professional boat to proper order. An image of Harry’s sneer popped into her mind, though, and the thought of backtracking fled like money from her wallet during a trunk sale.

She smiled and adopted her lawyer voice. "Well, Mr. Beasley, I appreciate your belief in my professional abilities, but it seems Mr. Simons has some rather extreme positions regarding personal values that led me to determine he is, in fact, guilty of the crime for which he has been accused. When I asked him directly, he admitted as much to me."

It was Christopher’s turn to raise a brow. "He told you he embezzled funds from Hope House?"

Tandy nodded. "Yes, sir. I advised him I could not put him on the stand, since I would be suborning perjury, but he refused to listen. It was either let him lie to the court or remove myself from his case. I chose the latter."

Christopher swiveled his chair and stared out at the courthouse. What she wouldn’t give for a hawk to barrel into the glass. Anything to break the tension. Losing this job wouldn’t be the end of the world…just of her bank account, for the time being. She really didn’t want to lose the paycheck, but Harry gave her no choice.

The man wouldn’t listen to reason if someone etched it in a brick and threw it at his head.

She thought about their lunch again, seeing the hump-backed old man picking through a dumpster across the street. His coat had been threadbare, but Tandy knew too well the value of a coat, threadbare or not, on the streets. The priceless nature of every layer between skin and street. How the three bites of cheeseburger he found wrapped in its foil was enough to fill his belly for an entire day.

Harry’s voice had faded into the background of restaurant chatter as Tandy’s mind flew back to the seven years she spent living in a box with her mother. Before she met Marian and Jack Sinclair. Hearing the trains rumble past where they camped. Begging people for money, searching for a dry place when it rained, for a piece of food that hadn’t already been discovered by bugs. Watching her mom bob and weave as she walked, that scary light in her eyes that was both mesmerizing and terrifying because it meant mom wouldn’t make sense.

Tandy knew now her childhood had been stolen the first day her mother lit a match beneath the bowl of a pipe.

"Stupid junkie. Probably lost his job because of some drug habit." Harry’s voice joined a thousand other voices that still kept her awake on too many nights. "Bet he chooses to live like that. Easier than getting a job and working for his money like the rest of us."

Tandy looked at Harry sitting there in his three-thousand-dollar pin-striped suit, black crocodile shoes, and platinum cuff links with the Brooks Brothers insignia. Thought about reminding him his money came from his father’s hard work and planning, but decided against it. Harry was, after all, a huge client.

"Oh, probably not, Harry. You’d be amazed what some of the people living on the streets have been through." She sipped her water and willed her blood not to boil at the stupidity of the man before her.

He sneered and pointed a stubby finger at her. "Don’t be naïve, Tandy. That man could get a job flipping burgers at McDonald’s just as easy as sit out there with a cup in his hand, begging me to part with my cold hard cash that I worked very hard to get."

Silence was about as possible as finding a pair of Ferragamo’s in a size ten. On sale. Never gonna happen.

"Harry, how would he get a job? I doubt he owns any clothing other than what’s on his back. What would he wear to a job interview? Where would he get enough sleep in one sitting to be awake for an entire shift? What address would he even put on his job application?"

"Why, Tandy, I didn’t know you cared so much about our fair city’s homeless degenerates." His voice, so patronizing and smooth, grated. It fought with the pockmarks on his face to portray a polished image. "I’d think, with such convictions, you would have a hard time taking my case."

"Why is that, Harry? You didn’t embezzle from Hope House. Which means you didn’t take money from the mouths of homeless people. Which means my awareness of the plight of the homeless works in your favor." She took a sip of her water and tried to relax.

He wagged his finger at her. "Tsk, tsk, tsk, Tandy. There goes your naiveté again."

It took her a second to catch on. "Excuse me?"

He grinned and, for the first time, Tandy knew what jowls meant. "I think we both know what I’m saying."

"I certainly hope not. Because if you’re confessing to taking money from a homeless shelter, I can’t put you on the stand. I’d be suborning perjury."

Christopher cleared his throat, snapping Tandy back into the present. He swiveled around to face her. "I’m in a predicament, Tandy. Harry Simons brings a lot of money to this firm, been with us for years. That must count for something. Yet I find myself struggling with the thought of firing you since I understand the ethical dilemma you faced."

A tiny smidgen of hope blossomed in her heart.

Christopher placed his palms down on his glass-topped desk, an act of finality. "And yet, I see no course of action but to terminate your employment with Meyers, Briggs, and Stratton. Anything less would cause serious repercussions in our relationship with Harry Simons."

She fought to breathe normally. Blinked to hold back tears. Her savings account was basically nonexistent, which meant she and Cooper better start looking for a big refrigerator box to call home. Or maybe finding Cooper another family to live with would be a better idea. One of the sisters could take him. Meg, or maybe Joy. Kendra would be a last resort. She was as good with pets as Tandy was with plants. Well, except for Kitty, but cats were self-sufficient.

A hawk slammed into the window, making Christopher jump and spill the coffee sitting on his desk. "Dadgum it! Anna!"

Anna came rushing in, saw the mess, and snagged a roll of paper towels from the cabinet by the door without a word.

"You’ve got to call somebody about these hawks, Anna. They’re ruining my concentration!"

"Yes, Mr. Beasley. I’ll make the call today." Anna shot Tandy a sideways glance. Tandy grinned. Seeing the unflappable Christopher Beasley in a snit was worth getting fired--almost. Anna sopped up the mess and left the room.

"Now, where were we?" He pushed paper around the desk, checking to ensure all the coffee was gone.

Tandy cleared her throat. "I think you were firing me."

Christopher stopped arranging paper and looked up at her. "Right, right. Well, I don’t think we have to be that drastic. How about a leave of absence?"

Thank heaven for hawks.

"A leave of absence, sir?" Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but, hey, it had to be asked.

"Yes. I think that will mollify our good friend Harry." Christopher nodded and patted the desktop, warming to his idea. "I’ll let him know you’ve taken some time to think through your behavior and will come back to the firm when you’ve gotten some perspective. Say, two months?"

Two months? She calculated the amount in her checking account and began deducting bills. With no extracurricular spending at all, it might work. Two months to find something else or learn how to eat crow. Okay, maybe this was a good thing. There was no immediate need to take another boring job in a legal firm. Two months was a ton of time. Figuring out her professional passion should be a snap. She could almost see Meg’s eyes roll at that thought.

"Thank you for that, sir."

Christopher smiled. "It’s the least we can do. You’ve been a good employee. I just wish this mess hadn’t occurred."

Poor Christopher. Conflict between an employee and a major client. He must have been up all night figuring out ways to smooth ruffled feathers.

She shrugged. "These things happen for a reason, I think." She stood up and held out her hand. Christopher took it with his own limp one and made a motion that might optimistically be called a handshake.

"Good luck, Tandy. We’ll see you back here in two months."

"Thank you." She turned on one Ferragamo heel and walked out of Christopher Beasley’s office. Eight weeks of nothingness spread out before her like a gift. There had to be a way to make money off of this.

She tapped her chin and watched the lights over the elevator. Maybe some tourist would want her apartment for a couple of weeks. Tourists would pay just about anything for somewhere to stay during season. A couple thousand bucks, easy.

But if someone were to stay in her apartment, where could she go? The whisper of her heart tickled Tandy’s brain. Stars Hill, Tennessee’s rolling countryside, Daddy’s smile, Momma’s painted roses, the sisters’ scrapbooks…

The ding of the elevator dispelled her mind’s image, but not the idea. Stars Hill. Well, it had been a while since she’d been back. Three years, if memory served. And, with Daddy and the sisters around, there wouldn’t be any need to spend money on restaurants. Though what she’d save might be spent on scrapbook stuff. It was one thing to scrap alone and quite another to sit around Momma’s old scrapping table with the girls.

Tandy exited the elevator and smiled. If she left right now, she’d be home in Stars Hill by morning.

She walked into her office, snagged her briefcase, and whipped out a tiny cell phone on the way back to the elevator.



"Hey, T, what’s up in the big city?"

Tandy laughed. "Well, not me. I’ve got eight weeks of a sudden vacation."

"What? What happened?"

"I’ll tell you all about it when I get there."

Meg’s squeal pierced Tandy’s ears and she jerked the phone away from her head. "You’re coming home? To Stars Hill? Yes!! When will you be here? Wait, what happened? Did you get fired? Did something happen at work?" Tandy could hear Meg’s three kids squealing now in the background. They must have caught on to their mom’s excitement.

"Seriously, I’ll tell you when I get there. Call Kendra and Joy. Breakfast at Joy’s, 9 a.m."

"You’ve got it, sister. James, get down off that table!" Tandy could just picture Meg’s eldest. He must have grown a foot by now. "I’m telling you that child will climb on anything," Meg said.

"Go keep your kids from tearing down the house. I’ve got to get home, get all my scrapping stuff packed, call the rental company to let some crazy tourist in my place for a couple of weeks, and get on the highway."

"On the road again…" Meg’s voice blared through the phone.

"Sheesh, Sis, are you ever going to stop with the songs?"

"Not as long as there’s a breath in me." Tandy heard scuffling. "James, put your sister down! I am not kidding with you, mister!"

Tandy chuckled. "See you in the morning."

"Okay. Be careful and buckle up."

"You’ve got it."

Tandy snapped the phone closed and walked through the parking deck toward her new little silver BMW 323. Man was this car going to stand out in sleepy little Stars Hill.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...