Sunday, April 26, 2009

A New Day has Dawned in Christian Fiction for Teen Girls

Author Bio: Brandilyn Collins, is the bestselling author of Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, Web of Lies, Dead of Night, Stain of Guilt, Brink of Death, Eyes of Elisha, and other novels. Her daughter Amberly is a college student in southern California with loads of friends. She and her mom love attending concerts together. Their family divides their time between the California Bay Area and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Visit Brandilyn’s website at

Book Description: This daughter of a rock star has it all—until murder crashes her world. During a concert, sixteen-year-old Shaley O’Connor stumbles upon the body of a friend backstage. Is Tom Hutchens’ death connected to her? Frightening messages arrive. Paparazzi stalk Shaley. Her private nightmare is displayed for all to see. Where is God at a time like this? As the clock runs out, Shaley must find Tom’s killer—before he strikes again.

Note from the Authors:

Dear Reader,

When Zondervan asked if we’d like to collaborate as mother and daughter on a suspense series, we jumped at the chance. Before long our idea for the Rayne series was born. We both love music. And what better way to use our real-life experiences in attending concerts together than to write about a rock group?We have pictures of us attending concerts going way back to when Amberly was in junior high. We always try to buy seats close to the front. We leap to our feet and scream and clap along with everyone else. We know what that crowd experience is like. The excitement, the energy. What would it be like, we wondered, to be backstage? To be a teenage girl with a rock star for a mom? All the money and fame and traveling. Is that kind of life pure fun and adventure—or does it bring challenges the rest of us never even think about?And then—what if you threw a murder into the mix? Our research for this first book in the series took us backstage at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. On that private tour we saw what the crowd doesn’t see—the stage entrance, the dressing rooms, the special building exit for the performers. We heard stories about specific foods and furniture that musicians have requested in their contracts. We learned about security—something Shaley O’Connor is about to need more than ever ...~ Brandilyn and Amberly Collins

A Sneak Peek:


It’s not my fault I have to kill.

He’d been watching since the tour began. Eyes straight ahead, keeping cool, like he wasn’t even paying attention. But he noticed everything. Even got a sense for what was happening behind his back. His past life had taught him how to do that—out of necessity. When it was something bad, he felt a vibration in the air, pulling up the hair on his arms. And he’d know. He’d just know.

Sometimes he acted behind the scenes. Nothing that would be noticed. Just ended up in a certain place at a certain time—a presence that kept the wrong thing from happening. Other times he’d say what needed to be heard. Real casual, not sounding like a threat at all. No, he was just talking, shooting the breeze about some previous experience. But beneath the words there’d be a point: don’t cross me or mine.

Sometimes people were too dumb to get it. He’d give them every chance, trying to be the nice guy. Trying to do it the easy way. But no. Those kind of people had stubborn minds and black hearts. Couldn’t be trusted. They were headed for a fall and about to take some good people with them. His people.

That’s what it had come to now.

“Hey, can I see you a sec before you go?” He motioned, and the one who must die came, humming.


Like a lamb to slaughter.

The Live Like a Rock Star sweepstakes has launched! Open to teens age 13-18 in the U.S. Grand Prize: an $850 night on the town, including dinner for six at restaurant of winner's choice and limo service. The first 200 entrants will receive a free copy of Always Watching. Send teens here to enter:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Introducing Marlayne Giron, Although New to the Christian Fiction Scene Her Writing Is Impressive

I am pleased with the honor of presenting to you, new christian author, Marlayne Giron. Her first work of fiction, The Victor, is a fairytale full of allegory similar to that of the late, great C. S. Lewis.

Please tell us about yourself.

I was raised in a non religious Jewish home. Both of my parents are Jewish as is the rest of my entire family. I was raised with an anti-Christian/anti-Jesus bias and was told it was the height of betrayal to my Jewish heritage to "convert". I was never interested in anything spiritually and at age 13 considered myself an atheist. About that time the movie The Omen came out and I was reading the book which references scriptures in the book of Revelation which I looked up out of curiosity while at a neighbor's babysitting. I read the entire book of Revelation at the age of 13 and it scared the living daylights out of me. One of my friends even took me to one of the first Calvary Chapel concerts in their new building in which I went forward (not understanding what I was doing) and got a Bible only to turn around and ask her if she was trying to convert me. She said yes! And, I told her it was never going to happen. I would even pray with the Jesus freaks that were everywhere in those days just to get rid of them quicker!

Would you share your testimony with us?

When I was 17 (back in 1977) a new television series came on for that Easter called Jesus of Nazareth by Franco Zefferelli. I wanted to see the Ten Commandments (again) and my mom insisted on Jesus of Nazareth (she won). It was perhaps the first time I saw a realistic and well-acted portrayal of the events surrounding Jesus life, death and resurrection and I recognized the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducee's depicted in the movie in myself and other Jewish people I knew. During the crucifixion scene my eyes were opened and I remember thinking: if He could do that for me, the least I can do is give Him my life and I did so, praying right in front of the television set. The next day I asked a Christian friend to take me to her church so I could officially accept Jesus in front of witnesses and in the days and weeks following, I began to call and write family and friends about how they too needed to be saved.

Tell us about your first release, The Victor.

The Victor is what is classically known as a Eucatastrophe. Everything begins well and then one by one a series of catastrophic events occur throughout the book until the reader thinks it just can't get any worse when suddenly there is a glorious resolution at the end. The Victor is an allegory of the Gospels set in a medieval realm with fictional characters representing God the Father as the benevolent King Eloth; his sword of power (Ephlal – which means judgment in Hebrew and represents the word of God), his foster son, Ardon, who represents Adam, his only begotten son, Joshua who represents Jesus, Baron Lucius who represents Lucifer, who lusts after Eloth's sword so he can use it to conquer and enslave; and Llyonesse, the daughter of Ardon who represents the bride of Christ who is betrothed in childhood to the Prince, Joshua. The Victor retells the fall of Satan, the fall of man, the sacrifice of Christ and the redemption of his people and his bride from captivity and slavery through his sacrificial death at the hands of Lucius who lusts for vengeance against the King who banished him for his rebellion.

Where did you get the idea for your novel? The characters

At the age of 22 (In 1982) I got the inspiration for my book, The Victor, from Amy Grant's song: “Fairytale” from her Father's Eyes album from the song verse: two princes wage the battle for eternity but the victor has been known from the start. It made me think of Satan as an evil knight in black armor and Jesus as a knight in shining armor crossing swords over "the bride of Christ". I began to write the story in my free time at work on an IBM Selectric typewriter 30 years ago. Shortly after I began to write, I asked the Lord for a confirming scripture that the idea was from Him. Psalm 45 popped instantly into my head. I looked it up and this is what the first verse read: My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. It just floored me how perfect it was! I wrote and rewrote the story over the course of 30 years, tried to get it published but after a 4-year bout with ulcerative colitis that resulted in major surgery, then infertility then the adoption of my daughter and having to work full-time to pay the bills, I just gave up on my dream until almost exactly a year ago when Tate Publishing called me to offer me a contract. The Victor is now due for release on April 14th. Also as a result of my former employment with John Styll at CCM Magazine (who is now currently President of the Gospel Music Association), both he and Amy Grant now have a copies of The Victor and Amy Grant personally autographed my copy.

Each of the characters represents significant characters in the Bible either individually or as a group. One of the more interesting characters is Penloth, Captain of the King's guard (which are called Seraphim) and who represents the archangel Michael (the warrior). Penloth is brave, loyal but also imbued with a wicked sense of humor and a quick temper.
What kind of research did you have to do for the book?

I am a big fan of the Lord of the Rings and Stephen Lawhead (who also has a copy of my book) as well as the Chronicles of Narnia. I also really love swashbuckling type of movies and were influenced a bit by some of them. I also got a book about Life in a Castle in Medieval England as my only bit of research. The rest was all of my imagination.

How did you get involved in writing?

I have always written short stories. At age 12 a good friend of mine by the name of Lisa and I would write “Steve Austin” stories (a popular TV show in the early 1970's) and put ourselves into the plot as characters. It was so much fun reading these aloud to one another at our sleepovers that I figure between the two of us we each wrote over 200 short stories and one “feature length” story of several hundred pages (which I still have). Lisa used to red-mark my stories for incorrect grammar and spelling because she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up. It would make me so furious I swore (with gritted teeth) that I would write a story she couldn't find any errors in which ultimately resulted in my becoming a better writer.

When I was 19 I was desperate to find a nice Christian boy. I bugged the Lord so much about it on a daily basis that finally He yelled at me through the scriptures with the verse in Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart!!!. I then felt impressed by Him to write a story in which Jesus appears to take my character out on a date and during that date introduces me to the man He has chosen for me. I always used to pray for my future husband by name and that name was always “Michael”. I even had a list of what I wanted: a large family, nice friends, nice-looking, good personality, handy around the house, plays guitar and "pure" (a tall order). I illustrated the story, depicting what "my Michael" looked like to me.

Fast forward five years later at a Calvary Chapel College and Career retreat where I meet a nice Christian boy named Michael. I did not mention the story to him. We began to date and on our first date while I was in the ladies room, one of the girls of the two other couples we had tripled dated with (who had never met me before in her life) asked Michael's sister and husband what they thought of me. They thought I was nice to which this girl responded that I was Michael's future wife. Michael's reaction to this girl (who he really didn't like much) was: NO WAY NOW!!! Five years later we were married and I had my story on display with his name and picture in it at our reception. I haven't seen it since – I think it got raptured.
What do you enjoy most about the writing process?

It's a lot like reading. When I am on a roll I find myself caught up in the story and transported into the world I'm writing about. I can see in my mind's eye what is happening and when it's funny I'll laugh aloud; when it's inspired I know it's the Lord writing through me.

What are you currently writing?

Time permitting, I think I would like to continue writing a fictionalized account of my life I've entitled: An Unremarkable Life. I have had some very obvious and God-orchestrated events in my life (starting with the miracle of my coming to Christ) and thought it would make an interesting read. I have to stress that I am a very atypical author. I don't have a college education or journalism background. In fact, I am a career secretary (currently unemployed for the 3rd time in the last 6 months) who has learned everything on the job. So far this is the only story idea the Lord has ever given me. I am the most unlikely person to have a book published. I have no published short stories to my credit, not even letters to the editor. The most frequent form of writing I do is business correspondence. In fact, a year ago – the same week I got the contract from Tate Publishing, I was told by a Literary Agent at a local Christian Writer's conference that no publisher would want to publish my book. It was too Christian for secular publishers and Christian publishers wouldn't be interested because they don't think allegory makes any money. I left that conference very, very depressed and discouraged. I didn't get any encouragement from my family or friends either until they heard it was going to be published. For the past 30 years I couldn't pay people to read it!

I often wonder why the Lord chose me to write The Victor and He keeps directing me back to that scripture in 1 Corinthians 1:27: "...But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” Sometimes when I reread The Victor I find it hard to believe that I was the one who wrote it!

What are your favorite books to read and why?

I'll read anything by Stephen Lawhead (except for Science Fiction) and I love medieval fantasy/fiction, King Arthur type stories. I also loved Watership Down, the classic Fairy Tales. I'm always looking for good books to read. I finished The Pillars of the Earth a year and a half ago as well as its sequel but my all time favorite book of all time is The Lord of The Rings. I read The Hobbit and The Trilogy all in a single weekend when I was 13 – I couldn't put it down! I think I love these types of books because they reflect so much of Christian theology in the story. The theme of the bible is the most popular structure for good stories today, whether in print or in the movies: Paradise, the fall, the struggle, the ultimate sacrifice, the redemption, and the final resolution/resurrection.

A Sneak Peek at The Victor:

The court heralds blew on their trumpets, signaling the arrival of the King. The room hushed and Eloth entered the hall accompanied by his son, Joshua, the bloodstains of those who had fallen in battle still on his vesture in silent indictment of Lucius' heinous deeds. He ascended his throne and seated himself, laying his sword, Ephlal, across his lap. Lucius regarded the powerful sword fearfully, backing away from it until he stood flattened against Sir Eric and Penloth who held him fast. Eloth turned to stare at him, his gray eyes stern beyond endurance.
The Court Chamberlain stood forth amidst a brief fanfare and read the charges aloud from a scroll.
"Baron Lucius of Northumberland, thou art accused of attempted assassination, high treason, and rebellion against the Crown. For each of these crimes, death by fire is the penalty-" A loud cheer erupted from the crowd in unanimous approval. The Chamberlain held up his hand for silence, scowling.
"Dost thou have anything to say in thy defense before thy judgment is pronounced by the King?”
Lucius’ mouth twisted into an ugly sneer. “I recognize not the authority of this court!” he spat, straining against his bonds. All in the court gasped angrily at his sheer effrontery, hoping Eloth would condemn him to a slow, painful, and torturous death.
The Chamberlain glanced at the King for a brief moment, took a deep breath and with a frown of disapproval, continued.
“Despite the gravity of thy transgressions and unrepentant conduct, the King has waived the penalty of death in the hope you shall find repentance. Instead of death by fire, upon thee and thy fellow outlaws is laid eternal banishment from this Kingdom..."
The roar of the astonished crowd in response immediately cut him off and the Chamberlain was forced to pound his staff again for silence.
Lucius was livid! Eloth's show of mercy was the final humiliation! Better to die cursing him in flames than to accept clemency like a whipped cur!
"I want none of thy stinking mercy!" he shouted, lunging forward. Sir Eric could barely hold onto him and required the aid of four other knights to keep the baron subdued. Lucius’ face was beet red with fury, spit flying as he flailed about.
“I would prefer the dignity of the flames to thy mercy!" He screamed. He rounded on the agitated crowd, his black eyes blazing. "What is Eloth but a benevolent dictator and the kingdom of Ellioth the dwelling of sheep? Twas I who governed this miserable kingdom for years without number! ‘Twas I who labored like a lap dog in his service whilst he sat upon his golden throne!" Lucius whirled back, directing his invectives at Eloth's impassive face.
"Never more shall I bow my knee in mindless submission to Him I do not own as King! I shall be my own master! I will raise mine own throne upon the rubble of Ellioth and it shall be my throne which ascends above the heights of the clouds! Do you hear me, Eloth? Do you hear me?!"
To punctuate his utter contempt for his former lord, Lucius twisted his mouth and spat upon the marble dais before Eloth’s feet.
A deafening hush descended upon the Hall; all eyes fastened fearfully upon Eloth as he rose swiftly to his feet, certain he would now execute Lucius himself. Eloth marched toward him, lifting Ephlal high, its blade glittering white-hot so that all in the hall had to shield their eyes from its brilliance save the King. Lucius blanched, his knees buckling beneath him; his bravado and arrogance gone in the face of the sword’s oncoming terror. Eloth stopped before him, the point of his glittering sword aimed at Lucius like an accusing finger of doom. Lucius’ entire body shook with uncontrollable fear and his bowels were loosed.
"Lucius of Northumberland," Eloth thundered in a terrible voice, heat from Ephlal’s humming blade scorching the hair of his face. "Thou art stripped of thy title, property, citizenship, and lands and art forever banished from Ellioth and My presence. Upon the morrow, thou shalt be put upon The Dark Angel towed out to sea and set adrift. Henceforth, thy name shall be remembered as a curse and byword and thy memory blotted out from the records of Ellioth!"
Lucius’ hands balled into fists of helpless rage, seething with fearful hatred.
"What care I for thy judgments, O King? I swear to thee this oath: Thou shalt rue this day in great bitterness and mourn that Thou didst not destroy me when it lay within Thy power!"
Eloth regarded his former steward and once most trusted servant with an impassive face, but in his gray eyes was an unfathomable pain that only two in the entire court filled with people could behold: Lucius and Eloth’s son, Joshua.
“I know,” was Eloth’s silent reply.

Available at Local Christian Retailers,,,

Please leave a comment to be enetered in a drawing for a FREE copy of The Victor. (Entries will be accepted until Monday, April 27, 2009.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Intrigue and Romance Mix for a Dynamic Plot in Wildcard by Robin Shope

Wildcard, by Robin Shope

Please tell us about yourself. I am the Special Education Coordinator at the Denton County Juvenile Justice System for at risk kids. I am also a writer. Mystery. Romance. Those are my genres and sometimes they intersect. My husband Rick and I are former missionaries and pastored a country church in Illinois for six years. Married for thirty-two years, we have two grown children. I love listening to oral family histories and discovered that we are all story tellers of one kind or another. My daddy told my mother and my older sis terrible stories about the war and how they effected him. I learned at an early age that people had layers to them. I grew up in Chicago, the daughter of a nightclub owner who found God on his death bed. My mother was a Godly woman who passed along to us her faith in Jesus. When we came of age we accepted Him as our Savior. And now I have passed my faith to my children and they have made it their own. This is a big world and there is a story around every corner just waiting to be told. I happen to like telling those stories. I hope you like reading them.

To date, my literary works include approximately two hundred articles in magazines such as: Guideposts, Live, Lookout, Mennonite, Christian Reader, Decision, Breakthrough and Christianity Today. Other short stories appear in the books: A Match Made in Heaven, Stories from the Heart, The Evolving Woman, and the New York Times bestseller, In The Arms of Angels by Joan Wester-Anderson. Ann Spangler also used one of my stories in her book, Help! I Can’t Stop Laughing. Another two-dozen stories have been published in the Chicken Soup books. One story, Mom’s Last Laugh, was re-enacted for a PAX-TV program: It’s a Miracle. I co-authored a thriller, The Chase, for Revell and sold 14,000 copies. My second book, The Replacement, was released in June 2006. The Candidate was released July, 2007. December 2008 hailed the start of my The Turtle Creek Edition series with The Christmas Edition which is being made into a movie. The Valentine Edition followed a month later. Two more edition books will be out in 2010. My stand alone Wildcard is a May 2009 release. I continue to publish short stories in magazines.

What do you do in your spare time? Unfortunately, I have very little spare time. I work full time at a juvenile facility for troubled teens and I am so exhausted at the end of a day, that it's hard to sit down and do what I love them most and that is writing. So perhaps I could say writing is what I do in my spare time. My daughter just had our first grandchild, so every spare moment I am there marveling over the miracle of Kingston. If I had spare time I would read more, sit on my patio and watch birds, visit friends, do volunteer work at a children's hospital and give more of my time to the missions at church.

Please tell us about your upcoming release, Wildcard. Wildcard is about a diabolical plot to take over the government from the inside out. Sounds far fetched to you? How about, the government is taken over by way of the voting machines? What would happen if someone secured a microchip that could be manipulated to give his or her candidate the edge to win the next presidential election? Not enough votes for a landslide, but just enough to put their candidate over the top in a decisive win. The Wildcards are a group of maverick agents who want to take over the outcome of the next election for President of the United States. During Ivy Dillon's last week as a Washington Intern, she and Ms. Geneen Waters, the secretary to the President of the United States, overhear a conversation about voting machines and missing software. Months later Ms. Waters body is found floating in the Potomac River. FBI Special Agent Ian Serby, who swears he will give his life to protect her, takes Ivy into protective custody. Ian is smart, sexy and seems to have a hidden agenda all his own. Will Ivy follow her heart and believe what Ian tells her about trying to stop the Wildcards or is he actually a member of the Wildcards?

Where did you get the idea for your novel? The characters? Ideas just come to me out of the blue. Sometimes I am writing one novel and ideas for another novel start coming hard and fast. I have to write them down then or I will forget them. At times, I am in bed, thinking of nothing in particular, when inspiration hits so I have learned to have paper and pencil next to me on my bedside table. When I begin writing, I know the basic problem and plot, the setting too. I decide to add characters as I wrote in order to move the plot along. Wildcard has been brewing for years. Some books I write in a few months but this one has been in the making for four years and has undergone radical changes. It's nothing like the book I started writing. Six months before I sent it to my publisher, I rewrote it entirely after input from an agent that doesn’t even represent me. She gave great advice.

How did you get involved in writing? The desire was there from an early age but I first considered it as a real possibility in college and took several creative writing classes. That's when I started my very first novel. Someday I will finish it.

What do you enjoy most about the writing process? Once I know the entire plot and know my characters, I love writing the chapters. It's like building a house. When I edit and add more depth, it's like decorating that house.

What story ideas would you like to explore in the future? I want to write more mysteries…also more romance…and as it says in Wildcard…it's as delicious as strawberries and chocolate; when they meet, its meant to be.

Sneak Peek at Chapter One of Wildcard by Robin Shope:

Chapter One

He stared at her with superb green eyes the color of a calm sea, but it was his slow smile that pierced her heart. Eyes and smile. Together they pulled her into the deep waters of wild imagination. The six-footer awkwardly tugged on his collar and no wonder, he seemed totally out of place at the theater’s cast party. Ivy Dillon was ripe for romance. She had to meet Whatzhisname.

“Here’s your fruit punch.” Jordan nudged. “I snagged you a cup before the alcohol went in.”

“Thanks.” Ivy turned toward her roommate. “By the way, who’s that?”


“The great looking guy near the window.” Ivy tipped her head in that direction.

“You can’t mean Martin?” Jordan snorted.

“Martin?” Ivy whipped around and squinted. Sure enough, the man she set her sighs on meeting had disappeared and in his place was Martin, still wearing his stage makeup. He waved at her. Ivy waved back, disappointedly. “No not him.”

Ivy cruised through the stage director’s apartment, trying to catch sigh of the man with the interesting angular features, the hair that curled up along his neckline, and, oh yes, those eyes—those amazing eyes.

On the way by the dessert table, the chocolate covered strawberries distracted her. She bit into one, enjoying the meeting of two rivers of flavors, and just like that Whatzhisname appeared in front of her. A miracle!

“You have a bit of chocolate right there,” he told her pointing at the corner of her mouth.

“Thanks,” Ivy croaked.

“May I?” he asked permission to touch her skin and wipe the chocolate away.

Ivy moved closer and felt the gentle stroke of his touch. Just like strawberries and chocolate, Ivy knew they were meant to be.

“There, you’re perfect again.” He licked his chocolate finger and then glanced around the room scanning faces. “Great opening night for the play. Do you know the cast?”

Ivy nodded. “Yes, in fact, the leading actress is my friend.”

“Jordan Belle is your roommate? Interesting.”

“How did you know she was my roommate?”

Just as Whatzhisname opened his mouth to answer, Martin swayed up and held out a platter of canapés. “Would you help pass these for me, doll?” he asked Ivy.

No, no, definitely no. No way did she want to do anything that would take her away from a promising evening. It was hard to resist the urge to shove the food back toward Martin. Politely, Ivy accepted the canapés and offered them to the guests. The next time she looked up Whatzhisname was heading toward the front door. Running after him would be way too pathetic so she let him go. She had to. He went one way and she went the other way to the balcony where she hoped to catch one last glimpse of him as he left the building. Ivy leaned over the railing and waited. And waited.

An unexpected hand on her shoulder made her jump back, dropping her purse as she did so. The contents flew everywhere. “Oh no!” Ivy chased her belongings, hoping to save them before they rolled over the edge.

“Are you all right?” a male voice asked, as she saw hands scrambling to help pick up the loose items—lipstick, business cards, inhaler, loose change and billfold.

She looked into his face and sighed. “It’s you!”

Whatzhisname was back, with the perfect stormy eyes and that slow smile. It was enough to melt the ice sculpture on the buffet table. She shivered with delight.

“I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“You didn’t frighten me.”

“I hate to contradict you, but you looked quite frightened.”

“Startled may be the more appropriate word choice, but I assure you I ain’t frightened,” Ivy panned.

Ain’t ain’t a word.”

“I know. I used it for effect.” She loved the color of his eyes.

“I guess that makes it all right then.” One at a time, he handed back he items However, he held tightly onto her business card. “Is this your card?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Then I must keep it,” he sweetly added as if he had no other desire than to know her.

Just like that, Ivy let him pull it from between her fingers. “I think I have everything now, thanks to you.” She snapped her purse shut.

“That’s good.” He straightened, slipped the card into his jacket pocket and turned to leave the party.

His abrupt exit made Ivy dizzy. Nonchalantly, she strolled through the party, smiling and nodding at the guests hoping to find Whatzhisname again. She had a dozen things she wanted to know about him, among them his name. However, they all drained from her head when Jordan hooked her by the arm.

“Catch a cab home. I’ll see ya in the morning.” With the toss of her long hair, Jordan skipped out of the party with a man on her arm.

Just then Whatzhisname sailed right by on his way out the front door, without even so much as a goodbye. Her window of opportunity had shut. After a few more chocolate covered strawberries eaten over deep sighs, it was Ivy’s turn to go home.


Ivy sat at the end of the pier with her feet in the water. She stared up at the oversized moon. The reflection of the heavenly constellation floated across the bay toward the shore on a parade of ripples. Suddenly, they turned into hands that leapt toward her, cold wet finger wrapped about her ankles. With a jerk, she was pulled beneath the lake. Frantically, she fought to free herself but she was no match. She lay motionless at the sandy bottom. Something poked her. Slowly, Ivy opened her eyes and inches away lay a body with hair swirling around the head. A skeletal hand reached out to her.

A dog howled outside on Washington Street.

Ivy bolted straight up in bed and pulled at the constricting button on the neck of her nightgown. She couldn’t breath. Mechanically, she swung her arm toward her prescription inhaler and accidentally propelled it across the room. It smacked the wall and ht the floor.

She knew it would be impossible to find her inhaler in a room draped in shadows so she staggered to the window and yanked open the shade. With daylight now sparkling on the floor, she found her inhaler on its side beneath the green cushioned chair alongside her bed. She dropped to her knees and snatched it. Ivy rocked back on her heels and opened her mouth. Several blasts of medicine sprayed her throat, allowing air to rush into her lungs. Slowly she counted her breaths as her eyes settled on a single rosebud in the pattern of her curtains. Bit by bit, she recovered.

Now all she wanted to do was fall back into bed, drag the blanket over her head and sleep for ten hours. Instead, she mustered her strength and latched onto the arm of the chair to pull up. It didn’t matter how sick she felt, she had to go to work.

She took off her nightgown and tuned the radio to a news talk station. Two political analysts from opposing parties were doing what they did best—arguing.

“Slow down, men,” she told them on the way into the bathroom. “The next presidential election is still two years away.”

Ivy stepped into the shower. The whoosh of the water in her face resurfaced the nightmare of the moonlight, the fingers, and the feeling of not being able to breath. Ten years later and she was still haunted by finding her best friend dead in the lake shallows. She felt thankful that during the day she was able to skate above the thoughts, but sometimes at night, when her defenses were down, they returned. Ivy shut her eyes tighter but the memory of Karin’s pale skin and dead eyes was all she could see. It weighed her down making her weak with terror. Ivy leaned against the tiles until she regained her balance.

The phone rang. Ivy didn’t move. On the third ring, she reached turned off the stream of water. After she slipped into her robe, she made her way to the phone. The caller ID read anonymous. She shouldn’t answer, she knew this, but she couldn’t stop herself. Her hands shook as she picked up the receiver. “Hello?”

“Erin, thank goodness I finally found you.” As usual the ‘Voice’ was calm, so in control.

“No one by that name lives here,” Ivy pushed out the words in a whisper and then slammed down the phone. She waited for it to ring again since it always did. The sound of his creepy tenor seemed to drip from the bathroom walls. Ivy kept staring at the phone, trembling. This time, there was no second call.

Now all Ivy wanted to do was to get out of the apartment and on the street where she felt safer and not so isolated. In her hurry, she nearly broke the zipper on her skirt as she struggled to get dressed.

Then, just as she reached the door, she heard someone fiddling with the doorknob. Ivy set her briefcase and purse down and peered through the peephole. In the hallway was the unmistakable form of her roommate who was now digging through her bag. Ivy turned the lock on the door and Jordan sailed into the apartment.

“Thank goodness you’re still here. I can’t find my key again.”

“Its lucky you caught me. Another minute and I’d be gone.” Jordan hugged several copies of the theater critic’s section to her chest. “Do you have time to read my reviews before you leave?”

“I always have time for you.” Ivy took a paper and read the metro section. “Jordan Belle Stands Out Among a Talented Cast. The only way it could get better is if people knew who you really were, Erin Lowe.”

“My theater name is Jordan Belle. Never, ever refer to me using my given name again.”

“What’s the harm” There’s only the two of us here.”

“Because you might slip up when it really matters,” Jordan said dramatically with a lift of an eyebrow.

“I can’t shake the feeling that there is something more you are not telling me.” Frustrated, Ivy needed to know. “What is it?”

Jordan bit her lip.

“Jordan, we’ve been though a lot since your sister Karin’s death. You owe it to me to let me know what it is you’re hiding from. Help me to understand.”

Jordan dropped into a chair, crossing one leg over the other. “All you need to know is that it involved the ‘Voice’. As long as he can’t find me, I’ll be happy.”

“Well, Jordan Bell, prepare to be sad. The ‘Voice’ called this morning asking for Erin.”

You can purchase Wildcard at: and Christian retailers.

Don't forget to post a comment to be entered in the drawing for a FREE copy of Robin's book! (Winner will be decided in 1 week from post date.)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

God's Grace is Greater Than Murder: A Look at My Son John with author Kathi Macias

Christian author, Kathi Macias, is an Angel-award winning writer who has authored or co-authored nearly thirty books. In 2008, Kathi won the prestigous member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding their Harley.

Please tell us about My Son John.

My Son, John was twenty years in the research/writing/publishing stage. I first thought of it in a slightly different context, when AIDS was just beginning to be talked about here in this country. The original story was to be about a young man who gets AIDS, and it would be his family’s first revelation of his homosexual lifestyle. The message was the same then as it is now, with the need for unconditional love and forgiveness running throughout the story. However, I was unable to find a publisher then. Christian publishers thought it was too edgy, while secular publishers thought it was too religious. So when I got it out and dusted it off a couple of years ago, my publisher and I agreed it needed a “facelift.” We maintained the thread/theme of unconditional love and forgiveness, but the story changed to a woman whose mother is murdered—and then her son is arrested for the crime. My many years of serving in jail and prison ministries had a great impact on the telling of the story.

Where do you get the ideas for your novels?

I always say that I have tons of ideas; the problem is sorting through them and deciding which are worth pursuing. Some stand the test of time and prayer; others don’t, and that’s all right. In the case of My Son, John, the desire to tell the basic story never left me, but the details of the story got tweaked over the years. I’ve had that happen with other novels as well. I have a starting point and a desired ending place, but sometimes the “in between” gets changed around a bit. As for the origination of the ideas, I believe everything creative comes from the Creator; it’s what we choose to do with what He gives us that decides the outcome.

Tell us how you come up with characters for your books.

All my stories are character-driven, meaning that the storyline unfolds through their lives. Some authors write plot-driven stories, meaning that they add characters to the story to make the plot happen. Characters are paramount to my stories, as I want my readers to identify with them, to care what happens to them, to feel what they feel and think what they think, to the point that they nearly experience what they experience. That’s the type of story I enjoy reading, so I want to write that way for my readers. My experience in drama classes helps me develop three-dimensional characters that breathe; I spend a lot of time on that aspect of my books. If the characters aren’t believable to me, they won’t be to others either.

How did you get involved in writing?

I’ve always been a dyed-in-the-wool bookworm. Put words in front of me—whether on a book page, a newspaper, or a cereal box—and I start reading them. I wrote a story in the third grade, and the teacher and principal liked it so well they turned it into a play for the PTA. I was hooked! Then I won lots of awards for my writing during junior/senior high, and when we were teenagers, I told my then boyfriend (now husband) that I was going to be a writer some day. It took several years to break into print, but it finally happened, and he still reminds me of that to this day.

What do you enjoy most about the writing process?

I like the days when I actually get to write—meaning, not edit or do phone interviews or answer email or… Well, you get the picture. I really get lost in the writing process, and so love it as I see scenes and stories come to life.

Of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite and why?

This is tough, because my favorite is usually whichever book I’m working on at the time. Seriously, though, of my books released to date, My Son John is my favorite fiction work, and Beyond Me is my favorite nonfiction, though there are others that run close seconds in both categories. And the novel I’ve just completed for early 2010 release, No Greater Love, is dangerously close to displacing My Son John as my favorite fiction accomplishment. Why? My Son John and No Greater Love have such a deep, underlying message of self-sacrificing love; as a result, you can’t help but see Jesus in the midst of them. As for Beyond Me, the subtitle says it all: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World. Beyond Me living is at the heart of everything I write/speak/teach/preach. It is, I believe, the life God has called us all as believers to model every day.

With which of you characters do you identify with the most and why?

Though thankfully I’ve never had to go through what Liz experiences in My Son, John, I relate most to her, as I know what it’s like to pray for a prodigal and, at times, to despair that he/she will ever return to the fold. A mother’s heart is fertile fodder for all sorts of writing!

What are you currently writing?

I am currently working on book two of the Extreme Devotion fiction series for New Hope Publishers (their first-ever venture into fiction). It is called More Than Conquerors and is set in Mexico. It will follow right on the heels of No Greater Love, set in South Africa, just prior to the release of Nelson Mandela and the fall of Apartheid. Book three, Red Ink, will be set in China, and book four, People of the Book, in Saudi Arabia. I am also working with my co-author, Susan Wales, on a stand-alone historical novel called First Allegiance for Abingdon Press. All will release between early 2010 and early 2011.

My Son John
Sheaf House Publishers
ISBN – 0979748542
Paperback, 176 pp,, $12.99

Available at CBD,, Barnes & Noble, and local Christian retailers

***Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered into the drawing for a FREE copy of My Son John!!!! (one winner will be chosen from all of the entries)***