Wow! Another jolly season is here! This year has flown by, leaving me dazed in its wake. :-D How did we get here so fast?? I'll be frank--while this year had a lot of wonderful times, and I wouldn't want to have missed it, I am SOOOO GLAD it's over. *sigh* I knew I was in trouble last December when God told me this would be a year of change. And it sure was!! For this next year, I believe it'll be a year of transition. That doesn't sound AS painful, but still quite challenging in and of itself.
I won't be around much for the next couple of weeks. With that in mind, I'm leaving you with some Christmas carol riddles. Enjoy!!!
Please have a wonderful, safe, and happy holiday time. Merry Christmas, my friends!!
Name the Christmas Carol described in each riddle.
1. Wanted in December:Top forward incisors
2. The lad is a diminutive percussionist
3. Oh small Israel urban center
4. We are Kong, Lear and Nat Cole
5. Our fervent joy is that you thoroughly enjoy your yuletide season
6. Listen, the winged heavenly messengers are proclaiming tunefully
7. Jubilation to the entire terrestrial globe
8. Do you perceive the same vibrations which stimulate my auditory senses?
9. May the Deity bestow an absence of fatigue to mild male humans
10. Leave and broadcast from an elevation
First - GREAT news on the homefront. This morning I finished my degree plan for my Bachelor's of Science in Psychology. I can't believe it's FINALLY over. This last course was in Criminal Justice and I might just make a perfect score in the course. I never, ever done that, and I'm thrilled by teh prospect. It all rests on my research paper, which I readily admit was quite difficult. Anyway, I'm asking all my friends to celebrate with me by going out and having a Starbucks drink or something.
Now, on to more serious matters...
Last week I was contacted by a man for a company called m80 noting that they had read my blog about James Bond's Casino Royale movie and asked if I'd consider reviewing a TV series for Showtime. I was thrilled, yet very nervous! So, here's my official review of this show that airs from Dec 10-19 from 9PM ET/PT.
Sleeper Cell: American Terror
This show is quite interesting. It's a look at what I've always believed to be a reality--terrorists on our soil, allied to extremist causes and/or fundamentalist terrorists. I only got to watch one episode since I don't have Showtime, but what I saw kept my interest although at times it seemed to drag. I detected the normal liberal Hollywood bias here and there.
What I liked:
- Oded Fehr who plays Farik, the terrorist - he is practiced, cool, and realistic. Very well executed on Oded's part.
- Farik plays with his interrogator's heads quite well. Gotta admit how much I loved that "hot tea" scene. :-D
- The emotional value of Darwyn (played by Michael Ealy), the deeply embedded FBI agent's journey. I think this was well done. When his "handler" is killed, it sealed his fate and journey to stopping the terrorist cell.
- The sex scene. It was totally unnecessary, but-hey, surprise! It was Showtime.
- the pacing. For an hour-long episode, it semed to drag, which tells me that something was missing either in the plot or the development of the characters. I'd opt for the former.
- The shoddy way the terrorist cell is pulled together. Come on! You CAN'T convince me that Farik would be accepted as the leader after this short amount of time. Give me a break. Groups like this are much more careful and methodical. If the big cheese figured it out, I can't believe he didn't tell anyone else in his group. *sigh*
The dark hull of a ship loomed ahead, lit by two laterns, one on the bowspprit and the other swinging on the hook on the mizzenmast. Dim light shone through a porthole below the quarterdeck. Three masts covered with tangled rigging towered against the moonlit sky like webbed claws ready to snatch Charlisse from the boat. Most likely an ex-merchant vessl, the tree-masted, square-rigged ship couuld hold up to forty guns. Charlisse wouldn't have known or cared about such things three years ago if she hadn't married a privateer and chosen a life at sea.
"Come on, littl' missy, up ye go." One of the pirates grabbed her arm and lifted her. He untied the rope binding her hands, then pusehd her toward the ladder. When she didn't move, he leaned over, showering her with his foul breath, and hesitated, his slobbering lips smacking near her ear.
Charlisse cringed and clutched the rope, desperate for any escape.
The man took a step back and swatted her bottom. "Begone with ye now."
The pirates chuckled.
Charlisse whirled. "How dare you?" She slapped him full force on his right cheek, but his thick beard softened the sharp impact.
Shock claimed the pirate's wicked features. He raised his arm to strike her, but a deep voice from above halted his hand in midair. "What goes on down there? Bring her up, or I'll have you stretched and scaled alive!"
That voice. Charlisse knew that voice. Tremors of dread etched their way down her spin. Gazing upward, she saw nothing but darkness and the eerie outline of an immense storm cloud drifting in over the ship.
A wave hit the longboat, and she nearly toppled overboard. The sea beckoned. Come. Jump in. Anything but go up that ladder! Laying a hand on her stomach, she thought of the growing life within her and glanced back at the rolling indigo water. Although she had only recently learned to paddle--at Merrick's insistence--she might indeed make it to shore. But could she risk it? She had more to consider now than her own life.
The pirate shoved her, and she clambered up the ropes despite the quivering in her knees.
At the top, a strong arm grabbed hers and assisted her on deck. Her silk broaced shoes hit the wood planks with a slap. A salty breeze tossed her wayward curls about her face. She looked up. Dark, sinister eyes bored into hers. A crooked grin spread over his lips.
"Ah, my sweet, we are together again at last." He sauntered toward her. the thud of his tall leather boots ground away at her courage. With one hadn on the hilt of his cutlass, he waved the other through the air, his fingers nearly hidden by a burst of white lace that bulged from the wrist of his black camlet suit. "I have dreamt of thsi moment for quite some time."
"Kent," Charlisse hissed between clenched teeth.
He flashed a stern look. "Captain Carlton, if you please." Doffing a black hat with a sweep of ostrich feather, he bowed. "Welcome to my ship, the Vanquisher, miss."
"Lady Merrick Hyde to you."
"Ah, yes. I heard you married that buffoon, Merrick." He shook his head. "Such a waste of your exquisite beauty."
Charlisse lifted her chin. "And your charm, sir, is wasted on me. You forget, I know you."
The rest of the pirates had climbed over the rail and shuffled off to their posts, casting quick glances her way.
"What do youwant with me?" Charlisse could hear the crack in her own voice despite her efforts to appear calm. She inched her way toward the railing.
Kent leered at her from under heavy lids, following her movments. "What I have always wanted with you."
The effect of his licentious comment crept up her spin like a poisonous snake. Charlisse glanced at the swirling water. Perhaps it was better, after all, to risk her life and her child's rather than endure the lecherous advances of this madman.
Last week, the infinitely fickle weather in TExas delivered a FIFTY DEGREE blow...On Wednesday, I picked up my twins from school in cozy 76 degree weather. The next morning, it was 26 degrees. YOWZA!! Here are some photos of my kiddos in the snow later that afternoon after the drizzle and white stuff (we see it so rarely, I'm not sure I remember what it's called LOL).
My dear friend Michelle visited me after a vacation with her family in Killeen (she's living in Georgia right now). Here are a few from their visit.
Last night, my hubby took me out to a movie and dinner--yes, in that order. We were having dinner at about 10:45. :-D anyway, we bought tickets for the 7:20 showing of CASINO ROYALE, the James Bond/Ian Fleming movie. The guy that checked our ticket (are print-ahead tickets not the best so you don't stand in line for 20 minutes??) and said, Right here in this line. So, we got in line. Guess what? He put us in the 8pm line. *sigh* naerly an hour of theater previews and commercials (is anyone else irked that now you have to view COMMERCIALS at the theater????). Anyway, Casino Royale was great. A typical Ian Fleming book come to life.
My assessment of the movie: This movie of how James Bond became a double-o-seven. Quite interesting. What I didn't like about this movie:
- The super-duper-ultra long card game. Granted, it's the whole culmination of the movie, but it was WAY long. Totally saw the ending (of the game) coming, so it lost its UMPH.
- The actress who played Vesper Lind (the heroine). She just didn't pull me. Didn't create in me an emotional tug that made me care for her. From the get-go, I was suspicious of her.
- Edgier--and by this I mean it was much more like an action flick than an Ian Fleming/Barbara Broccoli film. Craig's first take down was much more violent than Bond normally is, but again, that was his first kill, so maybe it's explained that way.
- The opening scene. You know what I'm talking about--where usually there are ghosted outlines of naked women. Well, this one was all about cards, but it was Craig's ghosted image constantly fighting, shooting...not the suave, debonair stuff we're used to.
- The Casino Royale theme song. Again, they deviated a bit too much from the norm. The music had a great beat, but just didn't fit the Bond-genre.
- Romantic interludes are classic James Bond - more inuendos than flesh. :-D
- This is the closest I've seen Bond come to death. GREAT scene in my opinion. I'd love to capture something like this in my books.
- The car. LOL It's an Aston Martin (hey, Robin-Neen-Ron--it's the same car I have Everett Douglass driving and I nearly squealed to see that baby in motion!!). LOL
- The opening scene in Uganda (I think that's where it was--or was that the terrorists) where Bond is chasing this dude and they take to the construction site where they end up at the top of a crane. I'm telling y'all, this guy Bond is chasing has super-human powers. He did things that I thought for sure would kill your average joe. LOL
- The ending. Classic James Bond, where he (for the first time in Ian Fleming's books) says, Bond, James Bond. :-D Gotta love that line.
- Daniel Craig. Okay, I wasn't sure I'd like this guy, but he pulled it off brilliantly. Through the movie, I never stopped once to wonder if I liked him, which I'd expected to do.
- Edgier. LOL Laughing? Well, again, I wasn't sure if I liked the edginess, but it definitely added in some scenes.
- Bond gets poisoned. I mentioned this where he nearly dies--and I loved that "human" aspect to this amazing hero, but I loved the whole sequence where he's trying to save himself. Totally loved that.
So, what research have you done that feuled you for writing???
Well, after careful thought, consideration and prayer, I've decided to run for Volunteer Officer with the American Christian Fiction Writers. This certainly was not an easy decision to make, and I'm sure I'm up against some wonderful people--and that's great! As Robin has said before, the more people running, the more options for ACFW membership to have. I agree completely. For me, I've loved ACFW since I joined in 2004 and knew even then, that someday I'd like to serve the organization filled with loving, caring people. At the end of 2005, I agreed to serve as a moderator, and that position began officially in January 2006. This last year taught me a lot about the various duties of the moderators and the List Hostess, as I've carried out the various duties. In December, I will graduate with my B.S. in Psychology (a long haul I am so glad is almost over!!), and my graduation will free up a great majority of my time. I still homeschool my two older daughters while my twins (who have tendencies toward Asperger's) attend public school and receive special education services there. My husband, Brian, is a breath away from being accepted into the FBI (who'd have thought 2.5 seconds could cost us 6 months of training??). LOL He'll most likely take the physical fitness test again in November, possibly early December. We would appreciate your prayers for that.
Well, last night, I did something I haven't done in several months--I stayed up past 1 a.m. writing!! It felt great to be so completely immersed in my story that I lost track of time. It's amazing to me that I've only "known" these characters for roughly 2-3 weeks, but I'm able to write them as though we've spent years together. It's quite an interesting tale of an assassin, a guardian, an old man, a scrawny boy nicknamed Twig, and a girl. So, tell me?
Have you ever been so immersed in a story you've written that you lost track of time and sensibility (to get to bed on time!!)??? :-D Drop me a note--I'd love to hear what you're working on now!
Last week, I stocked groceries in Freedom, Alabama. This week, I live in Nasvhille, Tennessee, about to take the stage at the famous Bluebird Cafe.
Sounds fantastic, doesn't it? Only one problem. I've got stage fright. But after years of being ruled by fear and hiding from my dream, I confronted my limited reality and left home. Forget the hometown hunk who wants to make me queen of his doublewide. Forget Momma's doubt-inspiring tirade. I can make it in Music City...can't I?
So, I took a leap of faith, gathered my old guitar, my notebook full of songs, and packed up in '69 Chevy pickup. Look out NashVegas! With the help of some new friends, especially handsome Lee Rivers, my dream is about to find the light of day. But as I face my first night at the Bluebird Cafe, I realize...I might just do what comes naturally. Look for the nearest exit, and run!
--So reads the backcover copy of Rachel Hauck's fabulous new release, Lost in NashVegas. Right now, there are several sites involved in Rachel's blog tour. I encourage you to check them out and see what the rave is all about. Here are a some fans high-lighting this book:
Deidre Knight (Rachel guest blogs)
Marilyn Griffith (Rachel guest blogs)
Novel Journey (November 1, 2006 entry)
Rush on over to Amazon and buy this book for your next cuddle-up-good-book read!!
is Dona Watson. Congratulations on winning this really kewl book, Dona. If you'll take a moment to send me your address, I'll get this book in the mail!!
Now--for this week's FREE BOOK -- DARK HOUR, book one of the Serpent Moon Trilogy by Ginger Garrett. I confess I have not read this book, but NavPress was so very kind to send two (I won one from Lena Dooley's blog), so I'm spotlighting it briefly to bless someone else. the back of this book reads: "One of the darkest and bloodiest stories of all time comes not from a medieval battelfield but from inside one of the most opulent palaces ever built. The strategies come not from men eager to extend their influence but from women bent on exercising their wit and prowess in a kingdom not their own. Treason and murder are fair game. Marriage is manipulation, a means to an end. Children are the enemy. and the days of the House of David are numbered--unless one woman can find the strength to conquer them all."
WOWZERS~! doesn't that sound wonderful? I know I plan to dig into this book very soon. So, drop a comment if you'd like to be entered into the book for a free drawing. And since I'm not "officially" promoting this book, I'm going to cheat a bit and link here to Neen's online chapter/interview for Dark Hour.
It's been a busy week since I last posted. My revisions on MZ are finished, and I mailed them off to the agent Monday evening. He should have them by week's end. I admit that I'm scared. I mean, he wanted a satisfying ending. Well, I'm not sure about you, but what's satisifying to me may not be satisfying to you or to someone else. Ya know? I like my ending. It's the way **I** wanted it and originally wrote it. But what if the agent doesn't like the rewrite? Where does that leave me? You're probably saying, send it to another agent. Well, I have sent it to all the ones that I've been able to get my foot in the door with. So, if you know someone... LOL
My entire publishing career (can I call it that, yet??) is in God's hands. Come rain or shine, I will praise Him.
Whoa. Got to rambling, didn't I? :-D Sorry. Which reminds me...I'm starting a new space opera. What's amazing to me is how *easily* I can write the space operas. The spy thrillers, well that takes research, research, research, not to mention how HARD they are to write. But these space operas just ignite me. I love writing them. They come as natural to me as breathing. I'm getting bold (Stuart would be proud of me LOL) this time--using a non-human creature. Tis a bold step for this gal. It has a Protector , a gifted girl, a gangly youth, an old man (think Gandalf), and a secret assassin. One of them is the Lost Heir to a kingdom that is under foreign control. As they make the treacherous journey across enemy territory, can they survive predators, including the secret assassin who must kill the heir once discovered?
Okay--anyone who knows me, KNOWS that I adore Tricia Goyer's writing. I've promoted two of her books here and will continue to do so as long as she lets me. :-D When the offer came along for her non-fic book, Generation NeXt Parenting: A Savvy Parent's Guide to Getting it Right I hesitated for as long as it takes to blink. I mean, come on--she's a brilliant writer, she has three kids, and Hello! What parent of this generation wouldn't want help. :-D
However, what surprised me is how kewl this book is. The back reads: This book is designed like a magazine (not because you miss reading Seventeen, but because no parent has time to read a book cover to cover)... How right they are!! I guess I shouldn't have been. After all, it's Tricia. But man! This book is chocked-full with suggestions, encouragement, quotes, and TONS of practical advice. My eldest daughter is 13, and I'm so relieved to have this book to turn to in helping me rear my children. Look at some of these chapter titles:
- Automatic Man: Making Room for Daddy - can you resist a title like that?? :-D
- I Don't Know Much: Parenting Advice Overload
- Sun Always Shines on TV: Tackling the Media Monster
- Danger Zone: Organized Activities: How Much Is Too Much?
- In My Dreams: To Compare or not compare (rk here: OUCH! LOL)
- I Wanna Break Free: Freeing Your Children from the World's Idols
Blurb from the back: Generation NeXt ParentingIf 70s and 80s bands (Run DMC), fashion (hot pink anything), and technology (music on cassette) bring back vivid memories, is the resource for you. Like secrets exchanged at recess with a trusted freind, this book offers helpful hints for raising your children during this exact time in history. Extensive research, input from hundreds of Gen X moms and adds, and a variety of Scripture references will help you navigate even the thoughest parenting dilemmas.
All I can say--is THANK YOU, Tricia!!
Oh--and guess what? So can you. Now is your chance to win a FREE AUTOGRAPHED COPY of this book by leaving a comment. Winner will be chosen November 1st.
Okay, I *hate* that picutre of me--but this isn't about me. It's about my gorgeous friend there, ROBIN MILLER who has just sold her first book -- BAYOU BURNING. I'm so excited for Robin--no, BEYOND excited. THRILLED! GIDDY!! She's worked so hard and been through so very much. This is just a small reward for her diligence and brilliance. Bayou Burning, a Cajun romantic suspense sold to Steeple Hill and is represented by Kelly Mortimer of the Mortimer Literay Agency. Let me tell you--this is one book you'll have to read! Robin is an amazing suspense writer and a fabulous friend. Please take a moment and send Robin congrats on this splendiferous news!!
How I pondered weak and weary...lol...ah, Edgar Allen Poe had it down pat, didn't he? :-D Well, yesterday was a head-stomping day. Mine got battered, but I kicked back. Then this morning, on the way to the track, a thick haze filtered around us. It was quite creepy, I'll readily admit. :-D I'm a big chicken despite writing thrillers. LOL Anyway, as we pulled up and parked by the track, I could feel the chill of the early morning seeping into the truck. When I climbed out, I shuddered. Not only did thick fog hang around us, the dampness made the early morning frost seem that much heavier. Walking the track, one of my favorite things to do is to look up. On most mornings (we're talking 6am), it's still dark and the stars are brilliant. I was disappointed this morning, thinking with this fog, no way will I see the stars. WRONG. I looked up--straight into a clear-blue/black sky with star glistening back at me. It was astounding, because all around me, I could barely see a few feet in front of me...then above, beautiful blue-streaked dawn. And God seemed to speak into my heart right then saying, "that's just like yesterday. Oppression and assault from every side, but when you looked up, you saw Me." How kewl is that??? I love it when he uses creation to speak to our hearts. And it's so true of our lives--if we look at the circumstances, we might be thinking we're dead meat. But if we look to God, we know we already have the victory in HIM!
So, I did my laps, then it was time to clock my hubby's run times. I stood on one side of the track, he was way around on the other side (doing 200 meters this time). All of a sudden, I hear this screeching in the sky. I sort of freak...okay, no, I REALLY FREAK. :-D I can't see a single thing, but I can HEAR it getting closer and...closer...until I swear whatever it was sailed right over my head. Still couldn't see the blessed thing. Yeah, my heart was pounding, especially when it happened again. but then I saw it--streaking over the football field. Two bats. BATS!! Holy batfield!! :-D (sorry, couldn't resist!).
Anyway, so I'm off to do the last of my rewrites on Midnight Zone. Have less than 60 pages left. Woo-hoo!!! Let's just pray it's read-worthy. :-D So, what're y'all up to?
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Gina Conroy is launching the first edition of her CARNIVAL OF CHRISTIAN WRITERS, and she's looking for submissions. In particular, she's looking for posts by writers about writing. Check out the guidelines here if you're interested--deadline is October 28th.
Wow, what a crazzzeeee two weeks since conference. I've had to write a research paper, read a half-dozen chapters in my physiology book, start an online discussion--and that was just with my college. LOL I've also drove to Arkansas for my hubby's grandmother's funeral (it's just so hard to believe Grandma Robertson is dancing with Grandpa in heaven, now. *sniffle*). In the midst of that, some great news has happened. My twin/clone, Dineen Miller, has an agent!! Neen signed with Mortimer Literary Agency and is busy getting her manuscript completed and edited to send off. I'm elated for Neen--she's worked so very hard and is such a fabulous writer! And this story she's working on--heavens! It's awesome!!!!! The photo to the side is of me and Neen at her house this past summer. (Isn't that quilt behind us gorgeous??)
On top of all that, I've been working like a madman to get my edits and rewrite of the ending of Midnight Zone done. right now, I have the interest of three publishing houses and two agents. I'm so very excited and hopeful--not in my abilities, but in the move of God. since my healing at conference, I've been balanced and focused. Moments of doubt have tried to grip me, but God has ever-so-gently pointed and said, See? See what this is really about? It's been so freeing to get His perspective on things.
My darling hubby rounded up the kids and let me have the day "off." Which meant I was at the library for 3.5 hours writing, and then on to Starbucks/Barnes & Noble (where I bought this really kewl spy book!! LOL). There, I wrote for about an hour, then headed home when hubby called and announced they were going to a movie. :-D At home, I wrote for another two hours and am finally nearing the last 1/4 of the book. It's been amazing doing these rewrites. I've felt so clear-minded. God has showed me where I held my characters back and where a scene needed an overhaul. It's great to be back!! Oh--and thanks to Shannon, Beth, & Jane for your crits. I sooo needed them and appreicate your help. You gals are great. And Robin--thanks for chatting with me on the phone the other day. Talking with you helped spawn a firmer ending.
Okay, I don't know if it's bad form to talk about all the wonderful things that happened at conference, but I'm going to do it. :-D First, the biggest and most wonderful thing that happened was the healing I received under the guidance of Brandilyn Collins' prayer Thursday night. that completely set the tone for me and my experience during conference. I'll have to admit that I am glad there is no photo of that! Envision red, swollen eyes and a nose to match! :-D
Now...on to the the other really kewl stuff: First, I met up with my crit buddies and that is just the ultimate to be in teh company of such wonderful ladies. I posted the picture with Camy the other day, so this time, I'll do the other photos. LOL
This is from the Early bird session hosted by Colleen Coble and Deb Raney, two absolutely amazing ladies who write some incredible fiction!! I wanna be like them when I grow up! :-D It is so fascinating to listen to them brainstorm stories that belong to other people--and they're just so good at it. I found myself praying that I could be that to others some day.
For me, the next best thing that happened was probably getting to meet Christy award-winning author John Olson. For the conference, I played personal slave to Johnduring the two classes he taught. One was on Thrillers: How to Wirte with Super Glue. The other was on writing CSFF. Both classes were phenomenal. I have never taken so many notes at ANY conference I've ever been to. Seriously. Several of his points hit "home" with me and resonanted so clearly. I bought his book Adrenaline (yeah, I know, I'm a bit behind in my reading list! *sigh*) and got it autographed. In John, I found a new friend and as he said in his autograph, a "kindred spirit." I look forward to seeing more of John's writing on the bookshelves. the guys' just way kewl, very intelligent (hello? Can you say computational biochemist???), and has a passion for writing (gave up his day job to enter ministry of writing and speaking). Thanks, John!! Can't wait to meet up with you again next year!
Ah, good friends, good times! I met Amanda Bostic last year. She was filling in at the time for another editor (she's an editor at WestBow) and I was her first-ever pitch. :-D I think we were both equally nervous--but maybe I was worse. LOL Anyway, we got to hang out last year, and it didnt' take me long to recognize the jewel that she is. I just love her! I felt like a million bucks when she walked down the corridor this year and spotted me, threw her arms wide and hugged me. It was so great--like a homecoming. She is so down to earth and so very sweet. If you haven't met Amanda yet, make sure you put her on your list of "have to" next year.
Wow--have I mentioend that this was an awesome conference? God was soooo good to me, as He always is! Thsi is a picture of me with fabulous author, Lisa Harris. She is a missionary living in South Africa, and it was such a great blessing to get to see her. Of course, time was against us--we didn't get more than an hour together--and that was during breakfast. I miss her so much already. If you haven't read any of Lisa's books, they really are a must. She's such a very good writer!!
My secret is out! You'll find my smiling mug up there with all the other science-fiction/fantasy authors. A get-together was held Thursday night (yes, I was late--that's when Brandilyn was praying for me LOL). As you can see, we're an odd, but very happy bunch. You'll find in there buddy John Olson, dragon WRITER (although RIDER might work) Bryan Davis, and Realms-published T.L Higley.
Well, I cannot post all these fabulous pictures without saying that besides seeing all these great friends, I did have some wonderful experiences with editors and an agent. It's as if...no, it IS the handiwork of God following the miraculous healing Thursday night. I'm so very blessed!!
I've returned from the FABULOUS ACFW CONFERENCE in Dallas. God did some really MIGHTY things that only He could have done. I'll be writing about those next week...but not now. For now, I have to write a research paper, read the next chapter in my psychology book, study for a test, take the test, and go out of town for a funeral--all before Sunday. *sigh*
Camy Tang, Me, Dineen Miller, Heather Tipton, Robin Cynclair Miller
Aye, well, tomorrow is the beautiful day that my friends and Me con'ene in Dallas at a beautiful hotel for the writer's confarnce o' our belo'ed Acfw. Aye, me parrot concurs. Arrr, the weeks up t' now have been fraught with stress, ups, downs, and those times whar you just want t' hide under the co'ers and make the world go away. Gar, Where can I find a bottle o'rum?
-------------------------Arrr, but no more, gar! Tis' time t' party, gar!
Aye, i'm so excited for this confarnce. I'm determined t' rest, enjoy the time with friends God has gracioulsy gi'en me, and make new friends--and pray for those who be pitchin' their stories. Aye. Ahoy, o' course, I'll post pictures when Me come back.
I'd like t' lea'e e'eryone with one thought--God is workin' in your life. He is Act'e, not passi'e. Rejoice in what He's doin'!, shiver me timbers!
(Okay, that was a Pirate translation from:http://www.talklikeapirateday.com/translate/index.php Way kewl...y'all should check it out.) Also, as provided by Glass Road Productions, here are more links:
Here are additional links you can add to your blog for more pirates games:
[Click Here] to learn your Pirate name through a scientific quiz.
[Click Here] to gain a Pirate name the easy way.
[Click Here] for a modern Pirate Song.
[Click Here] for a great site about Pirates.
I've joined the ranks of mothers who are homeschooling and writing and doing a plethora of other things in a blog called Writer...Interrupted. My first post, Special Kids with Special Needs, is up now. Please, stop by and check it out.
No, there is no particular reason that I've posted Audrey's picture here. I just wanted something that reflects me...and well, I'm an Audrey Hepburn lover, so I decided to post that. :-D (BTW: that's from her movie, Roman Holiday.)
Life gets a little tough, doesn't it? I've had a very tough emotional and stress-filled week, making decisions I don't enjoy making. And why is it that each question I must answer is dependent on other things--other questions, which do not have answers yet, either? *sigh* Where is the manual to this thing called life?? How can I access the 4-1-1 on this phase? I have a direct connection to the Ultimate Powersource (for those not caught up on caffeine and such, that's GOD!). But what do you do when He's silent? When it seems the only thing you hear is the air rushing between your ears? For me, this season is challenging, filled with uncertainties--but when I take the time to sit and worship--KAPOW! God is right there. I sense His "sunshine" glimmering over my gloom and haze-consumed world. No, I still don't have answers, but simply knowing He is right there with me...I'm able to go on.
What about you??
Former fiction manager JEFF GERKE, a long-time advocate for those of us with a bent toward the weirder side of fiction, has launched a FANTASTIC website for Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy called WHERE THE MAP ENDS This site has a plethora of information, resources, and services made available. It includes editorial services by the master himself, Mr. Gerke, and links to CSFF websites, artists, authors, and interviews -- first one is FRANK PERETTI!!
This site is a great relief for those of us who love CSSF. I'd set the WHERE THE MAP ENDS site so that you're updated when it's updated. :-D You won't want to miss out on this baby. Oh! And Jeff even makes mention of MARCHER LORD PRESS, a "twinkle in his eye" publishing company for all things CSSF. I'm very excited, since he told me months back that I'd be his poster child. LOL
When the Heart Cries
Hannah Lapp was born and raised in an Old Order Amish home, without electricity, a telephone, or the right to follow her heart. Without her parents' knowledge, she's been in love with Mennonite Paul Waddell for years. When he asks her to marry him, she accepts, even though to do so will cause her family to avoid her for the rest of her life.
Before Hannah and Paul reveal their relationship, tragedy strikes. In one unwelcome encounter, all that Hannah has known and believed is destroyed and she faces losing everything: her family, her fiancé, and even her faith in God.
Cindy Woodsmall is an artisan! The world she creates in When the Heart Cries will tug and pull at you the entire read. Characters with lion-heart courage—that grip you and don’t let go for the entire book—are as relentless and deep as they are vivid. A heart-wrenching story that steals my breath, mists my eyes, and stirs my heart. You won’t be disappointed with this book!!
Hey, y'all! Jeff Gerke, the former fiction manager for NavPress and once-helm-director of Realms, has gone freelance. This is awesome news for those of you who need an intense, highly-qualified critique of your manuscript. I'm telling you, Jeff gave me *awesome* help on my manuscript that was under consideration at NavPress. He worked with me and was ever so gracious. I highly recommend you consider contacting him for either a synopsis review or manuscript critique. Contact Jeff at email@example.com
Oh--and be on the lookout. This man has a great new website coming. I plan to promote it here!
Well, my twin/clone Dineen tagged me on a meme created by "the secretly wants to be a suspense writer but writes chicklit," Meredith Efken. I'm supposed to answer one these three questions and then tag five people. So, without further ado, here goes.
1. If you could write a novel about any subject, what would it be? (Just the subject–don’t give away your plot idea!)
2. If just the thought of having to write anything gives you hives, what would you like to read about in a novel that you’ve never seen done before?
3. If you hate reading fiction (you can get counseling for that, you know), what subject might make you change your mind or try it anyway?
Okay...lemme see...three doesn't apply to me (come on--there's entirely too much reality in teh world, grant me my one escape!). Two--well, I only get hives when I *don't* write (can we say hypergraphia??). So, like Neen, one it is.
First I was going to say a contemporary about autism, but I'm already doing that. Then, I was going to say a really kewl spy story--but yep, did that too. :-D So, I think for me, I'd want to write something to do with Egypt and archaelogical digs. I'm totally smitten with ancient Egypt for some reason (no, not their paganism...). Anyway, I think that's what it'd be.
Okie day--now the punishment...er, I mean tagging. I have to tag five people. So, I tag...Jen Tiszai, Beth, Shannon, Stuart, and Steve M.
Well, the other day, I was pouting. LOL I got three rejections in the span of four days. Pretty depressing. Part of what is so frustrating, is everyone telling me I'm "such a good writer." BAH! If taht were true...nah, I'd better not. I'll get in trouble. tee-hee. Seriously, though, I went and prayed. I told God that I felt like I was being teased, although I *know* that is not His heart. I had a long period where it felt like nothing was happening in my writing, then this summer, it was like the floodgates opened--requests for fulls!!--then it was like I hit this vacuous pressure...and to me, it felt like the doors had closed again.
So I prayed. And in a flash, I had the image of a funnel, as if God was showing me that all those oepn doors ultimately funnel down to His answer. So, it's not a shut door, as I thought, but a process of thinning and refining. :-D
Someday, my hubby will be in the FBI. And someday...I'll have an agent and a contract.
Until then, I think of Sir Winston Churchill who said, If going through hell, keeping going! :-D
Well, I had someone email me and say, Wow, Ronie. You've been going through a lot. And it hit me that my posts have been about trials and tough times. Since life is about much more than the trials, let's concentrate on good stuff.
So, I thought I'd start a tag list...you know, one of those dastardly things where you tag someone and make them follow suit. Mwuh-hahhahahaahaha. :-D So often we see the trials in our lives, the bad times, but I want to focus on the good things, the blessings. Thus, we're going to count off our blessings like this:
- A friend who has blessed me: (there are so many...) Dineen
- An unexpected gift: an editor recommended my work to another editor
- A kind word shared with me recently: "I EXPECT good things [for your writing]; you've honed your craft." from aforementioned editor
- Something that makes me stop and praise God: my friends
- Something I'm looking forward to: ACFW conference
- A particular part of me I'm pleased with: my determination
- Something in my life that I wanted but never expected: twins
- A place that moved/moves me: Los Alamos Lookout, New Mexico
- One thing/person that always makes me smile: my hubby
- Most recent "love note" from God: I needed to talk to my Clone very badly and she called--and she totally "got me" as soon as I started talking. HOW KEWL IS THAT!?!
So...knowing how much my friends will KILL me for this, I'm tagging: NEEN, HEATHER (who won't do it...), SHANNON, BETH, LISA, JENNIFER T., Ron, and Stuart. :-D
This morning, I woke up with this song on my mind:
Something On My Mind (by Hawk Nelson)
Take the train,
Go separate ways,
And leave it long forgotten.
I'll hang my hat,
and I won't be back.
On my way out,
I'm feeling lame.
Am I to blame?
Or am I just too jaded?
And I won't be back,
what'd ya think of that?
When it feels like life's wastin' away,
I can say: that when
There's something on my mind,
It takes my concentration.
Just wanna lay it on the line,
Avoid all confrontation.
I'm gonna say this one more time
for all my generation,
you'll never, ever pull my lever
not today and not forever (not today and not forever)
I didn't need an explanation. I knew what God was referring to:I was broadsided this last week. No, no, not by a vehicle...by, as my mother used to call him, Old Slewfoot, the devil. He came at me, plaguing me with lies I didn't expect: you messed up; God isn't happy with you; you done, finito, terminaste. :-( And it stopped me like an old steam locomotive chugging to a stop. I pulled back, mournful and grief-stricken that I might have stepped off the track. I prayed and groaned and moaned (don't believe me? Ask Dineen! or Heather! or Shannon! or Beth!--how embarrassing!!!!).
Anyway, I am blessed with amazing friends who were praying hard for me. Those prayers rescued me. I can see now those claims for what they were: LIES. I gave it to God and have pressed on with my writing and the direction God gave me.
And so it is...I pray that my eyes are opened, that the scales are gone, that I can see things once gain with a perspective that is the Lord's.
So, tell me...is the devil yankin' your chain? Telling you that you're a bad mother? A horrible writer? A wash up? As I am fond of saying...KICK HIM TO THE CURB!!! Grip the Truth--You are God's child, completely accepted, totally forgiven, unimaginably loved!!
And the winner of the FREE copy of Tricia Goyer's Arms of Deliverance is Pam Meyers. Congratulations, Pam!! Please email me your snail mail address so I can get this in the mail to you.
For those who didn't get their names drawn, I hope you've enjoyed the sample chapter so much you'll run out and purchase a copy. I promise, you won't be let down!!
Arms of Deliverance
Katrine squared her shoulders and instinctively pressed a hand to her stomach as she stepped through the open doors of the café, past the yellow sign that read NO JEWS ALLOWED. She paused as the strong aroma of coffee and cigarette smoke hit her face. Men and women clustered around tables. Beautiful people in the height of their glory.
Looking around at the room’s flocked wallpaper, ornate light fixtures, and marble flooring, she found it hard to believe that not too far away a war stormed. Not only battles for land and power, but a war against a people—her people . . . or what used to be her people.
Tucked between France, Holland, and Germany, Belgium had fallen to Nazi control in 1940, four years earlier. Yet many acted as if the war were not more than a minor disturbance—especially the Germans who filled and controlled the streets, embracing the country as their own.
Katrine had come here too, to escape, to blend in with the numerous transplants on the Belgium streets. More than a year had passed since she was Rebecca Lodz. With the right connections and right papers, she’d hidden herself well. Perhaps too well.
She had visited this café and sipped coffee with her lover only the day before. Yet today she looked upon the scene differently. Now when she glanced at the other women with their fine clothes, red lips, and fancy hats, she realized what she’d become, and whom she’d betrayed. Heaviness burdened her chest the same way it had when she was hiding in that dark, smelly barn.
Only this time it wasn’t rotten potatoes that pressed upon her, animal fodder that for a time had protected her from death. Her burden now was shame—for she was to birth the child of a man who wouldn’t hesitate to kill her if he only knew the truth.
She sucked in a calming breath, wishing she’d called to cancel their meeting. But it was too late. Hendrick had spotted her and waved her toward the secluded table. Two glasses of red wine sat on the glass surface, one half empty. Katrine could tell from the foggy sheen of his gaze that this glass wasn’t his first.
“Sweetheart, you look beautiful tonight. That new dress brings out the blue in your eyes.” He took her face in his hands and pressed his lips against hers. There was possession in his kiss, and a hunger she had come to know well.
“Sit, we will eat, and then take a walk along the river. It’s beautiful this time of year, don’t you think?” His voice was deep and throaty, and Katrine knew what he wanted.
Although Hendrick Schwartz was an officer in Hitler’s army and a wealthy man with a fine furnished apartment, he was also an outdoor enthusiast like none Katrine had known. No doubt he had in mind finding a secluded corner of the park and laying her down in the soft spring grass to take what they both had come to understand was rightfully his.
Katrine stared across the table at her lover. Though twenty years her senior, Hendrick, with his tall, thin frame and chiseled features, turned the heads of many beautiful women. He’d caught her attention, after all.
They’d met one of the first times she’d dared venture out with her new identification papers. Though Katrine now lived a thousand miles away from the village of her birth, and though she looked as Aryan as the women highlighted on Hitler’s posters promoting racial purity, she wasn’t used to being out in the open.
After a year of hiding, she’d walked out of her home that afternoon still longing for the safety of darkness. “People can hide better in a crowd than in the safest dark hole,” said the resistance worker who’d come up with the plan to “Germanize” any Jews who looked the part.
Katrine was riding the tram to the market in Brussels when the handsome officer sat down beside her. She answered his questions bluntly. Yes, she was new to the city, having recently taken a job as a nanny. No, she hadn’t had time to see much of the Belgian capital. Yes, she did have Sunday afternoons off. Before she realized what was happening, she found herself agreeing to a picnic in Parc de Laeken the next Sunday afternoon.
When Katrine told her protector about the invitation from a German officer, the woman had been pleased. “If you can fool him, you’ll fool them all. No one would dare question the girlfriend of a dedicated SS man.”
Now, mere months later, she not only hated herself for falling in love with the handsome soldier, but for tying herself to him through this child—their child. She picked up her wine glass, swished it, then set it back down, her eyes focusing on the grouted lines of the tiled table.
Hendrick took her hand in his. “What is it, darling? Your favorite song is playing, and you didn’t even comment. Are you ill? We don’t have to go for a stroll tonight, after all. Perhaps we can return to my apartment, and I can rub your feet.” Hendrick winked at her. “I told you, you shouldn’t work so hard. Are the Pfizer children acting up again?”
“Hendrick, I’m pregnant.” The words escaped her lips, and Katrine lowered her head, unwilling to meet his gaze. She’d been meaning to wait. To find the right time, the right words. Although she hated what she was, Hendrick’s mistress, what scared her even more was the thought of being alone, forced to raise a child on the little income she made.
“Pregnant?” Hendrick rose and swept her into his arms. “Yes! A child. My child.” His voice rose and his laughter echoed in the room. He spun her around once and set her down gently in her chair. Then he lowered his face toward hers and placed a dozen soft kisses across her forehead, acting as if they were the only two people there.
“A child. My child!” he repeated, louder.
With trembling fingers, Katrine pushed back the stray curls that had escaped from her pinned-up hair. “You’re happy?” Her eyes searched his.
“Happy? I’m overjoyed. No, jubilant!”
“But what of your . . . wife?” Katrine mouthed the last word rather than speaking it aloud.
Hendrick laughed again and sat back down. “Oh, sweet Katrine, you think she does not know? I am with you nearly every day of the week. Our picnics, the gifts.” He took a long drink of wine. “Oh, my naïve girl, this is a new Germany. A land of innovative ideals. Haven’t you heard Himmler himself: ‘All women might not have the opportunity to become wives, but all should have the chance to become mothers.’ My darling, I’ve given you that chance. And you, my dear, will give me the son I long for.”
* * * *
Mary Kelley sprinted down Sixth. The soles of her black-and-white saddle shoes barely touched the littered sidewalk as she wove through the crowd with the same urgency as when she was ten and Mr. Stein chased her, broom in hand, after she’d stolen a pack of gum from his corner grocery.
Only this time she was running to something, not away. For if she got the scoop today—the true story from the senator concerning the future of veterans’ benefits—then she’d really be going places. Away from her past as the illegitimate, big-dreaming daughter of a cleaning woman. Away from the gangly girl who’d lived her whole life dreaming of escape from the tight-knit German neighborhood in which the home country wasn’t simply missed, but rather revived in the New York streets with an abundance of sausage, beer, and song.
The dense crowd slowed Mary’s steps, and she noted that the entourage of black sedans had nearly made it to the corner. If she didn’t hurry, the senator would slip inside the hotel before Mary could get a chance to speak to her.
“Excuse me, sir. Pardon, ma’am.” Mary straightened her pleated black skirt and white blouse, then reached into her small satchel and pulled out two pink ribbons. She quickly parted her hair and formed two ponytails. Then she stuck a pencil behind her ear, clutched a composition notebook to her chest, and made her way through the mass of journalists already forming a semicircle at the end of the parade route. “Excuse me. May I squeeze in? Thanks so much.”
The crowd parted, body by body, until Mary had made her way to the front of the line.
Two black cars were just pulling up. Shiny Rolls-Royces with tinted windows, looking as if they’d just rolled off the assembly line. They parked in front of the Wall Street hotel where a press conference would be held tomorrow. Yet somehow news of the senator’s early arrival had leaked out, drawing lines of veterans, educators, and others who wanted either to bend the senator’s ear or get an early scoop.
Mary cocked her head to get a view of the occupants, but a wide man with a suit coat that smelled of cigar, sweat, and ink blocked her view. He stepped back and nearly bowled her over.
The tall, lean reporter standing next to Mary spoke up in her defense. “Hey, Mac, stop getting so pushy, will you? You most knocked o’er the girl here.”
Mac, or rather Chester McWilliams, reporter from the Times, hardly gave her a second glance. “That’s no girl. It’s Mary Kelley from the Sentinel. Sorry, Mare, the schoolgirl gag isn’t going to work this time.”
“Wanna bet?” With a duck and a leap, Mary dodged under Chester’s arm and slid her thin form between the two yellow-and-white-striped barricades.
A security guard approached with quickened steps. “Sorry, miss. Can’t let you pass.”
She slunk back as he gently wrapped a hand around her arm.
“But, mister, I promised I’d get this interview. What am I gonna tell my teacher if I don’t? I mean, I only need five minutes.” She twirled one of her ponytails between her fingers and smiled. “Please?”
“Let her through,” called a voice.
Mary turned her head to see a woman climbing from the stretch limo.
“What are you doing manhandling a young woman like that? You’re lucky I don’t take down your name.”
The woman walked over and motioned the security guard out of the way, then cradled Mary’s elbow. “I already promised an interview to the daughter of a friend, but I appreciate your interest and spunk. If you behave yourself, I’ll let you sit in.”
The senator led Mary through the front doors of the lobby, then turned and paused. As if on cue, the door to the second limo opened, and a tall, attractive young woman climbed out. Dressed as impeccably as the senator herself, she slid from the passenger’s seat, smoothing her sky blue suit with manicured fingers.
“Lee O’Donnelly. I should have known,” Mary whispered, hugging her notebook tighter to her chest.
“So you know her?” The senator straightened her collar. “Of course you do. I hear from her father she’s only been away from Vogue for a few months and has already made a splash in city reporting. I just love women with gumption.”
Lee approached, offering a bright smile to the doorman, who opened the glass door wide for her entrance. Her heels clicked on the polished lobby floor, and gold bracelets jingled on her wrist. Lee smiled at the senator, but the look faded when she noticed Mary. One lone eyebrow jutted up as if to say What are you doing here?
Mary stepped forward before Lee could say a word. “Miss O’Donnelly, so nice to see you. I read your column every day and find myself in awe of the extent of your family connections. And here you are again. I was invited to join in. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Mind? Of course not. Any friend of the senator is a friend of mine.” She placed a hand on the senator’s shoulder. “Or should I call you Lovey?” Lee’s lips curled in a coy grin.
“Your mother told you, didn’t she?” The senator laughed. “I made her swear not to breathe a word of my nickname . . . and you look so much like her, dear. Being in your presence takes me back twenty years.” The senator hurried through the lobby and toward the lounge, her arm entwined with Lee’s.
Takes me back too. Mary felt twelve years old again. Find a corner and sit in it. Not a peep, remember?
“You coming, dear?” the senator called back over her shoulder. “No time to dawdle. As Lee here can tell you, reporters must not only keep up, but blaze the trail if necessary.”
“Coming!” Mary quickened her steps to reach the senator’s side, but it didn’t change anything. She was just a tagalong, allowed to come along for the ride. Just as she’d always been.
* * * *
School had been out for two weeks, and the thought of spending another day in their stuffy apartment alone while her mother worked was enough to cause twelve-year-old Mary to resort to begging.
She could hear the stirring in the Heinzes’ kitchen, just on the other side of theirs. The odor of Cousin Velma’s spicy sausage, onion, and eggs nearly caused her stomach to heave. Hadn’t the woman ever heard of pancakes? And if she had to spend one more day listening to the constant playing of German folk songs—
As if on cue, the phonograph started up. Mary pressed her hands to her ears as the familiar voice sang. Jetzt kommt die fröliche. Sommerszeit, die. Stunden voller Lust und Wonne . . .
Her mother hummed from the next room, then joined in. Her mom’s soft voice was much prettier than the German lady’s husky one.
Yes, begging was definitely worth a try.
Mary walked to their bedroom and sat on the rumpled covers, watching as her mother applied her makeup. “Mom, do you have to go to work today? Can’t we go to the park or the zoo? It’s such a nice day outside.”
“You know I have to work. The guys wouldn’t know what to do without me picking up their carbon and sweeping their ashes. And you want to have a new outfit when school starts again,
Though Mary’s father wasn’t around—never had been—her mother had faced every obstacle in their path with rolled-up sleeves, a cocked jaw, and a narrow gaze that Mary was sure even President Roosevelt himself would back down from.
She crossed her arms. “Then let me come with you. I’ll be good. I’ll just sit in a corner and watch the reporters work. They won’t even know I’m there, I promise.”
“You don’t understand. It’s more complicated than that. . . .” Her mother looked out the window, pressing her lower lip between her teeth.
“Ple-ease. If I’m not good, I’ll never ask again.” She held her breath.
Finally her mother nodded, as if coming to some resolution within herself. Then she stood and placed her hands on her hips. “All right then. Get your shoes and run a comb through your hair. But don’t be whining halfway through the day if you’re bored.”
They hurried out of the apartment. Her mother glanced at her watch, then took Mary’s hand, leading her through the busy streets toward the large office buildings downtown.
Mary didn’t say a word. She knew that if the wrong thing escaped her lips, her mother would send her back to the thin walls, smelly cooking, and German music.
Thirty minutes later, they approached the Sentinel building. Her mother stopped and turned to her. “Don’t speak unless you’re spoken to. Just find a corner and sit in it.”
Outside the newsroom she paused once more, straightened Mary’s collar, and stepped back, obviously satisfied. “Remember, not a peep.”
Mary nodded. Even from the other side of the closed door, she could hear the curious rhythm of fingers pounding on typewriter keys. They stepped inside, and she was met by a bustling scene of white-collared men in motion, of words and confusion, black ink and white paper. Some men sat at long wooden desks, pounding their fingers against typewriter keys. Others leaned against the wall near the stand-up telephones, taking notes. And some hunched over semi-circular desks that read COPY in bold letters on the front. These men wore green shades over their eyes and seemed intent on the white papers spread before them. One man was so round, Mary didn’t understand why the wooden chair didn’t break under him. Another tall man sat sideways because he couldn’t fold his long legs under the desk.
Mary didn’t know any of them or their various roles. But her heart pounded as fast as the typewriter keys, with rising excitement and expectation.
* * * *
The young woman’s mouth opened wide, a cry bursting from her lips as Hendrick plunged the lethal injection into the white flesh of her breast, stabbing it into her heart. The needle slid deep, and Hendrick released its contents, then stood back to wait. In a matter of seconds the poison would take effect. He had performed the task a hundred times before. He’d witnessed the way death washed over a body—frantic movements soon stilling—as the feeble soul slipped away.
A group of men circled behind him, chosen officers of purification. They waited in anticipation, prepared to learn from the master, the expressions of their faces a mix of horror and thrill.
Yet still the mouth remained open. The screams continued.
A hand grasped Hendrick’s shoulder. “It’s happening again. You must stop her.”
Hendrick reached for the woman’s mouth, attempting to cover it with his hand, but she would not be silenced. Die, you must die.
It wasn’t a joyous task, but one of necessity. Only valued life deserved the Fatherland’s valuable resources, and this dim-witted female was not worthy. She continued to struggle. Then her face washed out in a stream of bright, white light.
“Hendrick, wake up! The child, she screams in her sleep. You brought her here. You silence her.”
His eyes adjusted to the brightness, and he realized he was in his family home, on the outskirts of Brussels. It was Onna, his wife, lying wide-eyed next to him. And the screams—they filtered in from the room attached to theirs. The ornate door did little to muffle the cries.
They’re the screams of a child, he realized. Yet their intensity was the same.
“Curse you, woman. I thought you found a nanny for her. I’m tired of these late-night episodes.”
“It’s Magie’s day off. What do you expect? You said—”
His look silenced her.
Hendrick jumped from the bed, slid on his satin robe, and strode across the room, still attempting to push the feebleminded woman’s face from his mind’s eye. Was she one of the hundreds he’d disposed of in his duty of carrying out the required ethnic cleansing? Had her face somehow become imprinted on his conscience? Hendrick wasn’t sure, but he refused to allow guilt to accuse his honored work.
Taking a deep breath, he stopped just short of the door and allowed his heartbeat to settle. He closed his eyes and pictured the angelic face, the wide blue eyes, the blonde curls. This was the second child he’d chosen. Aryan blood reclaimed from Polish soil.
“Poor thing, what nightmares she must have from her past life,” Hendrick muttered as he pushed the door open. Soon, he knew, the girl would adjust to her new destiny—just as her sister had. Soon the nightmares would cease.
“Stella,” he whispered, his bare feet sinking into the plush carpet of the room. A shaft of light angled through the doorway onto his new daughter’s face and outstretched arms. With three steps, Hendrick was at her side. He sat upon her bed and pulled her close.
“Papa, Papa, Papa,” she cried in his ear. He pulled her tighter, allowing her four-year-old frame to fold into his.
“Shhh, Papa is here. All is well, my Stella. All is well.” Hendrick patted her back, but at his words the girl’s body stiffened. Her cries stopped, and with a small gasp she pulled back from his arms.
“Papa is here,” he repeated.
Stella pushed against his chest and shook her head. “No,” she whispered. Her blue eyes darted, glancing around the pink and lace room with the same horror as the woman in his dreams.
“Papa is here.” Hendrick’s voice rose, growing in strength. He laid Stella back on her white cotton sheets. “I will not let them take you back, child. Close your eyes and rest now.”
She shivered, and he tucked the blankets tight under her chin.
“Sleep now. Sweet dreams, Stella.”
Even in the dim light, he could see her squeeze her lids tighter.
“Good girl. Good, obedient child.” He patted the top of her blonde head, yet still her shoulders trembled. He leaned over to the lamp on the nightstand and flipped it on. Golden light cascaded over the bed and her small frame. “It is the darkness that scares you,” he whispered, wondering if she understood his German words. “It will be better in the morning.”
Hendrick returned to bed to find Onna curled to her side—her back to him—pretending to sleep. He slid into the sheets beside her and curved his body next to hers. Though arousal stirred within his flesh, he refused to let himself give in. It was Onna’s fault, after all, that the child in the next room was not of his blood. It was her body that refused to provide children—the pride of every officer of the Reich.
Sweet Katrine, he thought, wishing it were her within his sheets tonight. Katrine is giving me the child I so desire. Even now my blood pumps through the heir of the Reich growing in her womb.
“Sweet Katrine,” he whispered. Onna’s body stiffened in his arms, but Hendrick didn’t care. “It is she who will give us our child,” he said louder, tightening his grasp. “It’s a name you should love as much as I, my dear. For through her my strength will live on.”
* * * *
Though the quartet in the foyer was practicing one of her favorite melodies, Lee O’Donnelly wasn’t in any hurry to go downstairs and greet guests. She had thoughts of deadlines and finding the next big story on her mind.
She sighed as her pink satin robe slid off her shoulders, folding into a puddle on the marble floor. With quick movements, she pinned her shoulder-length hair to the top of her head and stepped into the water, drawn and awaiting her arrival. It was the perfect temperature and scented with lavender. Jane always prepared it right.
Thank goodness for good help.
Lee sank deeper into the warmth, leaned against the cushioned headrest, and closed her eyes.
Thank goodness for middle-of-the-day baths to melt away the tension.
She had barely been at the newsroom two hours when her mother called the office, reminding her of the afternoon tea and charity event with two dozen of their family’s closest friends. The Queen of the Known World, as Lee referred to her mother behind her back, had demanded her daughters attend. Demanded, not asked. As if they were still children who must obey her every whim.
The music’s volume rose, and Lee visualized the upbeat notes climbing the polished, winding staircase and sliding under her door, seeking her out in the deep recesses of her private bath and urging her to put on a happy face.
Music meant parties. And parties meant people. Rich people. Arrogant people. People who lived as if this worldwide war didn’t affect them in the least. People who instead expected one to smile and entertain with witty and complimentary conversation.
Yesterday, before heading to the tailor’s for a fitting of a new Dior dress, Lee had scanned the guest list. More money would be assembled on their patio this afternoon than was held in the Bank of New York. Close friends indeed.
She allowed her arms to float to the top of the water, determined to relax and take her time. After thirty minutes, her fingertips began to shrivel, and she expected Jane—in black uniform and white cap—to arrive with a summons.
Sure enough, not five minutes later a soft knock sounded.
“Jane, tell Mother to go ahead and start without me. It’s been a hard day at the office.”
“I’m not the help,” a husky female voice said through the door, “but I was sent up to urge you to hurry.”
The door swung open, and a leggy brunette entered. A flattering fuchsia dress clung to her sister’s frame. Though two years older, Rondi looked enough like Lee that people often thought they were twins.
Lee continued to soak as her sister perched herself on the marble countertop and lit a cigarette. She flicked a red-painted toe at her sister, splashing a spray of water but carefully missing. “Dad will kill you if he discovers those hideous things in the house. He just paid a fortune to have the drapes cleaned, remember?”
Rondi let a thin trail of smoke curl from her lips and grinned. “I’m sorry, Lenora, but I’m not the one in the hot seat today. I’m afraid it’s your rear firmly planted on Daddy’s bad side. But at least you’re giving Roger a break.”
“Yes, well, next time I see him, I’ll encourage our dear brother to write a thank-you note.” Lee rose from the water, stepping over the satin robe and reaching for the white cotton one hanging on the wall hook. “I don’t understand why Daddy isn’t over it. I thought after seeing my byline on the front page a few times, he’d be willing to give me some slack.”
“Could it be, one, he hates reporters? Two, his shining hope for the future, our brother, turned his back on the family business to work as one. Or three, his darling daughter left a reputable establishment to do the same.”
Lee sighed. “It was either a new career or death from mo-notony. What was I supposed to do?”
“He’s not going to back down on this one, Lee. Where do you think you got your strong will from? At least we know you’re not the child of the milkman.” Rondi laughed. “And I actually think he’s even more upset today than he was three weeks ago. After all, the whole city now knows it’s Marvin O’Donnelly’s daughter bucking the system, attempting to do a man’s job.”
“Attempting? More like succeeding.” Lee cinched the cotton belt around her waist, patted her neck with a plush hand towel, and then released the clip holding up her hair. Dark, thick strands fell on her shoulders. “My reputation precedes me, and my editors are coming to understand that I indeed have all the right connections.”
Rondi took one more puff, then turned on the sink faucet and ran her cigarette underneath.
Lee smirked as her sibling walked to the bathroom window and opened it wide, waving her hand to dissipate the smoke.
Rondi sighed. “So you have your name on the front page. But is it really worth it? It’s not like you didn’t have a good job at Vogue. And just think of all the fringe benefits you gave up—lavish parties, fascinating interviews, generous gifts . . . a smile on Daddy’s face.”
Lee strode out of the bathroom and to her wardrobe, opening it wide to discover her chiffon rose-hued dress pressed and waiting. To most women such a garment would be a luxury beyond imagining; to her it was just another evidence of being trapped in an archaic system dictated by her parents.
“I’ve had it with his hardheadedness.” Lee dressed hastily. “I want to do more with my life than give socialites tips on the best places to look for designer labels in patriotic shades of red, white, and blue. There’s a war going on, for goodness’ sake, with men fighting and dying. What about reporting that?”
Rondi glanced in the vanity mirror and then pinched her cheeks to give them more color. From the look on her sister’s face, Lee was sure Rondi would rather be pinching her.
With a final sigh and shake of her pretty head, Rondi stalked toward the door. She paused at the threshold. “Well, there’s no war in New York, but your family is here. Think about that. Because sometimes harmony in the home is more important than one person’s crazy dreams. Sometimes striking out solo just isn’t worth it, sister.”
From the book Arms of Deliverance by Tricia Goyer. Copyright (c) 2006 Tricia Goyer. Contact her at http://www.triciagoyer.com. Reprinted by permission of Moody Publishing, Chicago, IL. All rights reserved.