Wednesday, June 30, 2010

DEBORAH RANEY is at work on her 20th novel. Her books have won the RITA Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Her first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Almost Forever, first in her new Hanover Falls Novels series, will release in May from Howard/Simon & Schuster. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in Kansas. They are new empty nesters with four grown children and two precious grandsons, all of whom live much too far away.

When did you decide to be a writer?

I think the dream was born the summer I read all the Little House on the Prairie books. That was the first time I connected that books were created by authors, and that it was a career to which I could aspire!

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

I still don’t trust myself, and never intend to. A writer becomes too close to her own work to see it with objective eyes. It helps if I can let a manuscript sit for a couple of months before I look at it again, but for a working writer on deadline, that’s not always possible. I work with a critique partner and have several readers who give me input before I send my “first draft” off to my editor.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

If I’m on deadline I make myself write. I’ve only been late with a manuscript a couple of times. But it doesn’t come naturally. I’m a little bit lazy and not super organized, so it’s tempting to only write when I feel like it.

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

My husband and I enjoy gardening––flowers and trees only…no veggies. There’s something about getting your hands in the dirt that is totally relaxing and invigorating at the same time. See the link to my garden blogs below. The blogging is another thing I enjoy doing when I’m not writing.

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

I loved Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. I think one thing that made it special for me was that the author wrote it as a way of dealing with her diagnosis of cancer. It made me wonder how it would change my own writing if I knew this book would be my last.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

There’s something about reading good writing that inspires the same. Seeing how another author expresses himself causes me to evaluate the way I string words together, and to see what works and what doesn’t.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Unearthing a lost memory may cause her to lose everything she holds dear. but could it also set her free? Volunteer Bryn Hennesey was there at the Grove Street Homeless Shelter the night five heroic firefighters died at the scene. Among them was her husband, Adam. But a terrifying absence of memory has her wondering if she might, in some way, be responsible. Garrett Edmonds' wife, Molly, was the only female firefighter to perish in the blaze. He was supposed to protect the woman he loved. Now she's the one who's died a hero. How can he go on in the face of such unbearable loss? And what started the fire that destroyed the dreams and futures of so many? Investigators are stumped. But someone knows the answer.

Where did you get your inspiration for Almost Forever?

My husband is always clipping stories out of the newspaper that he thinks I’ll find interesting––that he thinks might hold the seed of an idea for a future novel. One day he placed the story of nine heroic firefighters who were killed in a fire in Charleston, SC. That story and the career of my firefighter nephew, got me thinking about the lives of the survivors and how they find the will to go on after such a tragedy. The Hanover Falls novels explore the questions I encountered that day.

Which character is most like you?

Probably Bryn, the heroine. I could imagine myself responding much as she does to the crisis––and to the truth about her situation. (Can’t say any more without spoilers!)

Who is your favorite character and why?

I really grew to love Charlie Branson, the Vietnam vet who is the ex officio manager of the homeless shelter.

Did you know how Almost Forever would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

Because I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, I’m often surprised by my plot and characters! I wouldn’t have it any other way! That said, I usually do know how my story will ultimately end, and at least a few of the plot points along the way. But I love discovering how my story will unfold much the same way my readers will discover it.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

That sometimes we humans fool ourselves into believing something is true simply because we long so desperately for it to be true. It’s not easy to face the truth, but God’s Word says that the truth will set us free.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

Just this week I got serious about diving into the writing of the third book in the series, After All. (The three books are Almost Forever ~ Forever After ~ After All.) Of course much of the research and character development for this book happened as I wrote the first two books, but since each book features a new hero and heroine, along with familiar characters from the previous book, I still have plenty of research to do. But subsequent books in a series are a little less intensive to research. When this series is complete, I have a stand-alone novel contracted with Howard, and a couple of other book projects, which I’ll be announcing soon.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Thanks for having me, Lisa. I guess the best advice I can offer any fellow writer is to enjoy the journey and to look for the ways God is working along the way. Whether I realize it or not, He seems to use each story, each complete process of finishing a book to challenge me in my life, as well as to challenge my readers. No, they won’t all love every book, but God seems to use each one in unique and amazing ways, and I count it a privilege to still be involved in this amazing business after 16 years.


A few links:
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http://www.deborahraney.com/ (Deborah’s official website.)
http://novelgarden.blogspot.com/ (The garden spots of favorite Christian novelists.)
http://kansasprairiegarden.blogspot.com/ (Ken and Deb’s garden in Kansas)
http://www.clashentertainment.com/ (The entertainment website for Christian teens produced by Deb’s husband.)
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Deb is giving away a copy of her book Almost Forever. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Do You Know What You Need?

Finding Freedom from Wanting Everything Right Here, Right Now

How do you define the difference between wants and needs? How do you determine when life’s excesses have replaced life’s necessities? Too many people spend so much time trying to get what they want that they have no energy left to get what they need. Dr. Gregg Jantz, founder of The Center—A Place of Hope, calls this phenomenon excessity—when excess becomes a “necessity.” In his latest book, Gotta Have It!, Jantz directly addresses the societal tendency to overindulge in a plethora of pleasures and takes a scriptural look at what God has to say about this not-so-new phenomenon.

Written in Jantz’ conversational style, Gotta Have It! takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery that helps identify “never enough” wants and desires that have replaced genuine needs in their lives. Jantz recognizes that today’s world is harsh and demanding, creating a deep need for people to feel reassured in the midst of the anxiousness that surrounds them. He also realizes that there is no activity, relationship, or chemical substance able to satisfy the soul’s true longing for God’s peace and provision. Using God’s Word, Jantz begins to define both needs and desires and then truthfully reveals that a healthy and fulfilling balance can be achieved between the two. True freedom from overpowering wants and desires is not only possible, but it is also necessary in order to understand and thrive within the truth of God’s will for our lives.

Gotta Have It! provides the reader with the knowledge and tools needed to live a life free of the excesses that ensnare them. Rather than looking at the excessive behaviors themselves, Jantz encourages readers to recognize the root cause of unchecked behaviors as the attempt to stuff wants into their hearts instead of satisfying true needs. Once readers are given tools to discern the difference between the two, they can then begin to recognize and change the out-of-control behaviors that imprison them.

In addition to the scriptural truth and professional wisdom offered by Jantz on a variety of topics, Gotta Have It! also includes a section entitled “Planting Seeds” that makes it useful as an individual study or as part of a Bible or accountability group study. Freedom from wanting everything right here, right now will allow readers to live with assurance and eternal purpose amid a demanding and insecure world and to offer hope and light to others along the way.

Gotta Have It! Freedom from Wanting Everything Right Here, Right Now
by Gregg Jantz

David C Cook
July 1, 2010
ISBN 978-1-4347-6624-3
264 pages-softcover/$14.99
http://www.davidccook.com/ ~ http://www.aplaceofhope.com/

Monday, June 28, 2010


Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/writer. When not writing, she runs circles in the care and feeding of her husband Grant, their eight-year-old son, and their church congregation. Home is a central Arkansas zoo with two charcoal gray cats, a chocolate lab, a dragonfish, and three dachshunds in weenie dog heaven. If given the chance to clean house or write, she’d rather write. Her goal is to hire Alice from the Brady Bunch.

Her series with Heartsong Presents launched in May with White Roses. White Doves follows in October, and White Pearls in January. Each book ships to a 10,000 member bookclub, then to stores six months later. All three books are set in Romance and Rose Bud, Arkansas. Brides and lovebirds take advantage of the re-mailing program to have wedding invitations and Valentines cards mailed from Romance with a unique postmark. Romance also hosts several annual weddings with Valentine’s Day the most popular date.

Order White Roses at:
http://www.heartsongpresents.com/book/detail/9781602607552/. Learn more about Shannon and her books at http://shannonvannatter.com/. Her new blog, The Inkslinger, features true love stories, inspirational author’s real-life romances, insight into the love lives of their fictional characters, book excerpts, romantic destinations, and weekly book giveaways at http://www.shannonvannatter.com/blog.

Hi, Shannon. Welcome to The Borrowed Book! When did you decide to be a writer?

In 1995, I decided that the story that had been in my head for at least 15 years could be a book. In September 1999, my father-in-law gave me his old computer and I started writing.

How long did you write before you sold your first book?

Slightly over nine years. In January 2009, I began talking with Heartsong about the series.

Everyone’s journey to publication is different. Now that you’ve walked that road, what tips can you give to authors still hoping for that first contract?

Attend conferences, join writer’s groups, and find a national organization geared toward your genre. For me, American Christian Fiction Writers got me to a publishable level.

Was there something about the experience of getting published that was a surprise to you?

I never got the call. Everything was done by e-mail.

I didn’t realize getting published would make writing a full-time job, or how much editing book one would take away from writing book two, or how time-consuming marketing is.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

I write whether I feel like it or not. During the school year, I write from 9:00 until 2:45. In the summer, I get in two or three hours each night after everyone else is in bed.

What kind of activities do you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

I love swimming in the summer, walking in the woods or riding the fourwheeler with my son in spring and fall, and taking family vacations. Between deadlines, I usually try to read a couple of inspirational romances.

What is your favorite novel (not written by you) and what made it special?

Gone With the Wind. It’s the only classic I’ve ever read. It’s special to me because Scarlet isn’t a likeable character and Rhett is a scoundrel, yet Margaret Mitchell managed to make us root for them.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer? By reading good books, a writer feels the ebb and flow, the rhythm of good story telling.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

White Roses is the story of a widowed pastor and the florist who did his wife’s flowers when she was alive. After her death, he continues his standing order and takes them to the cemetery. He and the florist meet in the first chapter, after his wife has been gone for two years. The re-mailing program and the weddings at Romance are woven into the storyline.

Where did you get your inspiration for White Roses?

Every Valentine’s Day, my dad gets me flowers or balloons. When he hit sixty, it hit me, that I wouldn’t have him forever. That next Valentine’s Day, I wondered how I’d feel the first time the gifts don’t come. Then I wondered what would happen if I die first and decided he’d probably send the flowers to the cemetery. Since my husband is a pastor, the story evolved into the widowed pastor and the florist. Ten years later, Daddy’s still going strong and still buying me gifts.

Which character is most like you?

The heroine, Adrea. Only she’s fiestier than I am. I stew and never say a word when someone does me wrong.

Who is your favorite character and why?

The hero, Grayson. His looks and caring attitude are based on my husband.

Did you know how White Roses would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

I always know the ending of my books before I start writing. When that final piece of the puzzle fell into place, the story came alive. It had to do with Adrea’s ex-fiance. That’s all I can say without a spoiler.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

Turn your fears over to God and let Him handle your future.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

I finally entered the world of Facebook and Twitter. I’ve found a lot of inspirational romance readers on Facebook and garnered some interest. My website and weekly book giveaways on my blog have helped also. I’ve done several interviews on other blogs and given several copies of White Roses away. It seems like if a reader is one of your first readers, then you have a fan for your next books. Once the book hits stores, I plan to connect with book clubs who meet monthly to discuss books.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

I have a rodeo series set in Texas that I plan to polish up and pitch soon. After that, I think it will be another Arkansas setting that I recently had the opportunity to research on a family trip.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Find something unique that will make your book stand out among all the other books out there. For me, it was setting. I rattled off the storyline to s bored-looking editor at ACFW in 2009. When I told her about the setting, her eyes lit up.
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Want more? Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Thursday for an excerpt from White Roses by Shannon Vannatter!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Max can be counted on for one sure thing, he will always be happy to see me.

Our family went home for Christmas this year. Since we decided to fly, I arranged for Max to stay with a sitter. Yes, people will actually babysit your pet.

Anyway, we were gone for ten days. The lady who volunteered to keep Max was wonderful. She bought him toys, made him scrambled eggs for breakfast, even let him sleep in the bed with her. But he missed us. We missed him.

When we got home, I went right over to collect him. The moment he heard my voice, he leapt from the couch, jumped into my arms and licked my face. Repeatedly. All the way home, he kept trying to crawl into my lap so he could lick my fingers and sniff my neck. It was so sweet.

Funny thing is, I got the same reaction last Sunday when we got home from church. I was gone for two hours, yet the moment I walked through the door, Max leapt off the couch, ran to meet me, jumped into my arms, and licked my face. When I get home from work. . .well, you get the picture.

All of this got me thinking. Am I always so overjoyed at the prospect of spending time with the Lord? Do I miss Him when I neglect our time together? Does my heart thrill to hear His voice and do I run to meet with Him?

I must confess, my attitude is not always like Max’s shining example, especially when Sunday rolls around and my pillow beckons. Fortunately, God’s is, and He is always happy to see me.

Luke 15:11-24 (New King James Version)

11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

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17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring[a] out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

It's always so much fun to give away great books!! Congratulations to this week's lucky winners:

MollyBuuklvr81 – A Woman Called Sage by DiAnn Mills
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hspruitt – The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen
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Winners of this week's books, please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your mailing address so I can forward your information to the authors. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive.

Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book and thank you, DiAnn Mills and Marybeth Whalen for your generosity in providing books!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Entering our weekly drawing is easy:

1. Leave a comment on Fridays or...

2. Sign up to follow The Borrowed Book. Followers will automatically be entered for a chance to win that week's drawing!

This week, The Borrowed Book is giving away two great books:

A Woman Called Sage by DiAnn Mills ~ They took away everything she loved ... now, she's out for revenge.
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Sage Morrow had it all: life on a beautiful Colorado ranch, a husband who adored her, and a baby on the way. Until five ruthless gunmen rode up to their ranch and changed her life forever. Now Sage is a bounty hunter bent on retribution. Accompanied only by her majestic hawk, she travels throughout the Rocky Mountains in search of injustice, determined to stamp it out wherever it's found. The stakes are raised when two young boys are kidnapped and Sage is forced to work with Marshall Parker Timmons to rescue them. But Sage may ultimately get more than she bargained for. In this exciting historical romance set in the late 1800s, murder, intrigue, kidnapping, and questions of faith will keep you in suspense until the final pages.

The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen ~ Centered on a real landmark on the coast of North Carolina, The Mailbox blends intriguing folklore and true faith with raw contemporary issues that affect every woman.

When Lindsey Adams first visits the Kindred Spirit mailbox at Sunset Beach, she has no idea that twenty years later she will still be visiting the mailbox--still pouring out her heart in letters that summarize the best and worst parts of her life.

Returning to Sunset for her first vacation since her husband left her, Lindsey struggles to put her sorrow into words. Memories surface of her first love, Campbell--and the rejection that followed. When Campbell reappears in her life, Lindsey must decide whether to trust in love again or guard herself from greater pain. The Mailbox is a rich novel about loss, hope, and the beauty of second chances.

Winners will be announced on Saturday, 06/26/10.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

One
Southeastern Colorado
Summer, 1875

Life didn’t get any better than having the love of a good man and his baby kicking against her ribs. Add a summer breeze to cool the heat of a southern Colorado sun and a bed of soft green grass tickling her feet, and Sage felt a slice of heaven had come to earth.

“Remember the first time I asked if I could come courtin’?”

Charles propped himself on one arm and placed his hand on her mountainous stomach.

“Every minute of it. I was ordering sugar and coffee from the general store while Mama looked at yard goods, and you were asking about a rifle.” She laughed. “You nearly rubbed the finish off that Winchester.”

“But I bought it. You were wearing a blue bonnet and trying to look like you weren’t watching me.”

Just how did he know she had fought to keep from staring at him? Her childhood friend had grown into a handsome man.

“Now, Charles, that’s not true. You were pretending not to look at me.”

He shook his head as though she were a naughty child. “You’re right about me not being able to keep my eyes off you, but — Oh, I feel her kick. She’s a strong one.”

“You should feel him kick after midnight.”

Charles kissed her stomach. “I couldn’t remember when you’d gotten so pretty, and I vowed I wouldn’t leave the store until you let me call on you.” He shooed away a honeybee buzzing over them. “I turned that rifle over and over in my hands until you and your mama were finished with the storekeep. Sage became the most beautiful name I’d ever heard.”

“No one can say my name like you or make me as happy.”

He sat up and stared out at the cottonwoods in the distance; one had seen too many seasons, and its gnarled branches twisted to the sky like a crooked old man. Sage’s pet wolf chased a rabbit, and the animal scampered away. Birds serenaded them as though they were the only two people in the world — well, three.

“We’ll give our baby a fine life, Sage. You’ll be the perfect mama because you’re the perfect wife.” He turned, and his brow etched into deep lines. “Every day I wake up next to you is a gift from God.”

She started to sit up, and he helped her. “I will always remember the things you say to me because my heart says them back to you.” She touched his face. “Here I am the size of a buffalo, and you’re making me feel pretty. Oh — ” Placing a hand on her stomach, she grinned. “He’s kicking like he knows we’re anxious for him to get here.”

“It’s a she.”

She reached up to run her fingers through his thick, nutcolored hair, and envisioned a son with his papa’s green eyes, sparkling like the stars. “He’ll be here in about six weeks.”

“Boy or a girl, it will be a fine baby. Elizabeth Sage.”

“Timothy Charles.” She smiled, admiring his broad shoulders. Oh, what a lucky woman she was.

There was a long pause before he spoke again. “I have something to tell you.”

Her pulse raced faster than a hummingbird’s wings. “Is the news good?” she said, hoping he wasn’t leaving again. Those times were so hard to bear.

He caressed her face, gently, as he always did, so she wouldn’t feel his calluses. “You can tell your father that after two weeks, we won’t need him to help with chores anymore.”

Sage held her breath. “You won’t be traveling?”

“Nope. I head out three days from now, and I’ll be back in less than ten days’ time. Then I’m home for you and our baby and all of our babies to come, every day, for the rest of my life. I’ve sold the ranch up north, and I’m heading there to close the deal. We’ll have enough money to buy more land here and maybe some cattle too.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him long and hard. He smelled like the outdoors, and she loved it. Loved him. At times her feelings frightened her, as though she didn’t deserve Charles and his affections. Tears slipped down her face.

“I think you’re pleased,” he whispered.

“Very pleased.”

“It’s about time I ran this ranch myself and became a respectable husband and papa. Your father’s right. I leave you alone much too often and depend on him to oversee the place.” He laughed. “Who knows? Now he might learn to like me.”

Having Charles and Papa enjoy each other’s company would be next to perfect. Her tears flowed like a rushing stream — a steady occurrence of late, with the baby growing inside her. “You are more than I could ever ask for. We’ll work this land together and raise a fine family.”

His gaze grew intense, as though he had something more he wanted to say but couldn’t bring himself to speak.

Had he and Papa argued again? “What is it?”

He shook his head. “A man has no right to be this happy.”

“Or a woman.” She heard his stomach growl. “I think we need to head back home so I can finish supper. Can’t have my husband starving.”

He kissed her nose, each cheek, and her lips. “There, I just had dessert first.”

Charles whistled for Wolf to join them, then pulled her to her feet. The gray and white female bounded toward them. Sage patted the animal’s head, and Charles laughed. Her pet wolf was the talk of neighboring ranches, but Sage had tamed her. Just like Charles had tamed some of Sage’s wildness but not her spirit.

Hand-in-hand they walked the mile back to their ranch. While Charles fed the livestock, Sage checked on a fork-tender beef roast that had been simmering most of the afternoon, along with potatoes, onions, and green beans. She rolled out biscuits and added another log to the fire before baking them. For a moment, she stole a whimsical glance at the cradle Papa had built and the tiny quilt Mama had stitched. Baby clothes draped over the side. Soon. Very soon.

Grasping the vegetable basket, she hurried outside for fresh tomatoes. From the shade of a juniper, she squinted into the sun and saw men riding near the west pasture and the creek that wound through the ranch.

“We got company,” she said to Charles, who was pumping water into the cattle trough.

He caught a glimpse of the men and snatched up his rifle from where it leaned against the trough. “Sage, get inside the house. Now! Fetch your rifle and be ready to use it.”

As clumsy as she felt with the weight of the baby, Sage raced to the porch, up the three steps, and inside the house. The tone of his voice had shaken her. He’d never used it before.

He knows who they are.

The loaded Winchester rested in the corner nearest the door. The moment she wrapped her fingers around the metal barrel, the gravity of Charles’s warning sent an icy chill up her spine. Who were those men? Or was Charles simply being cautious?

She glanced out the open door toward the riders. Charles had moved into the shadow of the barn, his rifle resting against his shoulder. She closed the door just enough to see outside and shoot.

The four men were a dirty lot, but that wasn’t anything unusual.

“Stop right there,” Charles said. Wolf growled, and Charles didn’t hush her.

“Not until we get what we came for,” one of the men said. “We know it’s here.”

“There’s nothing on this ranch that belongs to you. Consider yourself warned. There’s more than one rifle fixed on you.”

“Liar. Ain’t no one here but you and your Injun woman. We came to get what’s owed to us, and we ain’t leavin’ until we have it. We can tear this place apart with or without your say-so.”

“This is your last chance,” Charles said. “Get off my land.”

“When we have our money and you’re dead.”

“Kill me and you’ll have more trouble than you ever thought.”

Sage held her breath, straining to listen to every word. She wanted to shout at Charles to give them whatever they wanted. And why did they want him dead? All she and Charles had of value was livestock. The men could have driven them off and
been gone.

Before she could further contemplate the situation, a shot rang out, and Charles fell backward. Sage gasped and rushed onto the porch. Another shot, and Wolf sprawled out beside Charles. Something seized her — a mixture of fury and panic. She stumbled down the steps, tripping in her awkwardness.

“Charles!” He didn’t move, no matter how loudly she screamed his name. Blood poured from his chest and spilled onto the ground. The men laughed, and she stared up at them, memorizing each grimy face.

The one who had shot Charles pointed his rifle at her. “Tell us where the money is or you can join him.”

“We don’t have any money. Take the cattle and horses.”

“I won’t ask again.”

She stared into his face, memorizing the dark, curly hair and hollow, wide-set eyes. With Charles’s body at her feet, revenge rose in her spirit. She raised the rifle, but too late. He fired.
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DiAnn is giving away a copy of her book, A Woman Called Sage. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Award-winning author DiAnn Mills launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has fifty books in print and has sold over 1.5 million copies.

DiAnn believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” She is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels.

Six of her titles have appeared on the CBA Bestseller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents. Five of her books have won placements through American Christian Fiction Writer’s Book of the Year Awards 2003 – 2008, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005 and 2007. She was a Christy Awards finalist in 2008 and 2010.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope and Love, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also the Craftsman Mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild.

She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. They have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.

Website: http://www.diannmills.com/

When did you decide to be a writer?

I’m not sure I ever made that decision. It was always a part of me, like breathing.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

Hmm. I have critique partners who offer excellent suggestions, but the bottom line is the writing project is mine, and I have to live with the final story.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

I’m so disciplined that I can be disgusting. :) I have a word count per day, and I stick to it until it’s finished.

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

Gardening, cooking, spending time with family and friends, shopping :)

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

Little Women. The family values and how the characters supported each other encouraged me to be a better person. The characterization in the whole series is outstanding.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

I can appreciate style and voice. If I see something exceptional, I’ll highlight it then dissect it later to figure out the technique.
And I like to be entertained by a good story!

Tell us a little about your latest release:

A Woman Called Sage is set in the Colorado Rockies in the 1880s. The heroine is a bounty hunter who is also part Ute. She witnessed her husband murdered and is out to find the men who ended his life. What I like about Sage is that she’s not afraid to do a man’s job, but she’s also all woman. A little bit about Sage is she loves animals, even has a pet hawk.

Where did you get your inspiration for A Woman Called Sage?

While hiking over the Colorado Rockies, drinking in the beauty of the mountains: the plants, flowers, and wildlife, Sage’s story began to form. The “what-ifs” began to roll before we made it back to our car. Later we stopped at the tourist center at the foot of the Rockies, and I found books about the area.

Which character is most like you?

Not sure. I try to avoid having characters with some of the same traits as mine. That could be scary.

Who is your favorite character and why?

Leah Timmons. She’s spunky and has to make a choice to either be strong or give up.

Did you know how A Woman Called Sage would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

Yes, I knew how it would end, but I was surprised at the characters who showed up!

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

The world needs strong women who aren’t afraid to tackle the odds and give God the glory.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

LOL I’ve done lots of things. Fortunately between my publisher’s publicist and my personal publicist, many exciting things have happened. I will say that a new and big project was to mail book flyers to public libraries in the states where my books sell the best. My best advice for writers seeking to promote their work is to remember that relationships with the readers is vital. It’s about them, not us.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

Pursuit of Justice, 3rd book in the Call of Duty series will be released in October 2010.

The Fire in Ember, a sequel to A Woman Called Sage will be released in January 2011.

And I’m finishing up another historical set in the high desert of New Mexico.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

I mentioned this above, but the writing ministry is not about us. It’s about reaching readers with a message.

1. Write everyday
2. Read in the genre you want to write
3. Pray about your writing
4. Get involved in a good writer’s group - and participate
5. Whatever you learn about the craft, share it with someone else.

I recommend Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild for learning the craft. http://www.christianwritersguild.com/.

And you can find me at http://www.diannmills.com/ and sign up for my newsletter
My facebook fan page is http://www.facebook.com/pages/DiAnn-Mills/43084945210?ref=ts

Thanks so much!

DiAnn
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Want more? Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Thursday for an excerpt from A Woman Called Sage by DiAnn Mills!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Top criminal profiler takes readers into the real world of criminal profiling

Washington, DC, June 15, 2010 – While criminal profilers in the movies look like models, spend days in the lab and hunt down their killer as a finale, real life is anything but that glamorous! The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths (Hyperion Voice Publishing), a memoir by Pat Brown, written with Bob Andelman, is a first-hand look into the bona fide world of one of the most famous criminal profilers in our country today. It is a riveting compilation of her actual case files that takes readers behind the scenes for a chilling look at bizarre sex crimes, domestic murders and mysterious deaths - bringing them face-to-face with rapists, killers and their brutalized victims.

Brown embarked on her career following a personal experience nearly twenty years ago while a stay-at-home mom who had a boarder to help pay the bills. After a young woman is found strangled in her neighborhood – the first homicide her small town had ever known – Brown approached local police with what she believed to be compelling evidence against the boarder, but her allegations were rejected. Six years later, when her former boarder was finally brought in for questioning and became the number one suspect, her life’s work began and the rest, as they say, is history….

Not one to mince words, Brown tells it as she sees it, believing that her role is to inform people and help them understand how criminals operate – and how they get away with their crimes when no one connects the dots. While she doesn’t sugar-coat the details of a crime, she still remains sensitive to the victim’s loved ones.

By outlining the deficiencies in the criminal justice system, Brown hopes her book will inspire readers from all walks of life to step up, get informed, and fight to change the things that need changing. In this country’s overworked system, many homicide cases remain unsolved or unprosecuted – leaving violent killers free to kill again! If profilers are brought in at the beginning of the investigative process, this injustice can hopefully be changed. It is the author’s goal, by taking readers through the step-by-step process with her, that they will gain a better understanding of deductive criminal profiling and how this scientific analysis, based on physical and behavioral evidence, can be one of the most beneficial tools available to law enforcement officers today.

Pat Brown has a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University, and is the Founder and CEO of The Pat Brown Criminal Profiling Agency and the Sexual Homicide Exchange (SHE) which provides pro bono criminal profiling to law enforcement agencies and training in criminal profiling and investigative analysis. Possessing a dogged determination to uncover the true motives and perpetrators of crimes that have confounded others, Brown has earned her recognition as one of the top criminal profilers in the nation.

Brown’s expertise has made her a frequent guest on Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell, and for four seasons she profiled crimes on the weekly Court TV crime show I, Detective, as well as interviewing a child murderer inside one of Florida’s maximum-security prisons for the Discovery Channel series, Evil Minds. To learn more about this top profiler, please visit her informative website at: http://www.patbrownprofiling.com/.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Marybeth Whalen is the wife of Curt and mom of six children. The family lives outside Charlotte, NC. Marybeth is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker team and a regular contributor to their daily devotions which reach over 350,000 people each day. She served as general editor of For The Write Reason and The Reason We Speak.
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She and her husband Curt co-authored Learning To Live Financially Free and her first novel, The Mailbox will be released in June 2010. Additionally, she serves as director of She Reads, Proverbs 31 Ministries' fiction division. Marybeth speaks regularly to women's groups and enjoys sharing stories from her daily adventures as a wife, mom, writer, and, most importantly, a follower of God. You can find her online at http://www.marybethwhalen.com/.

When did you decide to be a writer?

I have always wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

Ummm, I will let you know when that happens! Right now my publisher, agent, editor and I are all discussing what my next move should be… I am finding I am still easily swayed by the opinions of others! As a first-time novelist it’s hard to trust your instincts.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

I am very disciplined when I am under deadline. I write 1000 words per day without fail. I find that much past that I lose my excitement and it shows in the writing. So 1000 words per day times 80 days (about 3 months, give or take) will result in a novel the length of The Mailbox.

What kind of activities do you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

It’s summer as I write this so I would say spending time at the pool relaxing with my family, going on vacation, and spending time with friends.

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

I would probably have to say The Prince Of Tides. I read that when I was a senior in high school and it only cemented the fact that I wanted to be a writer. That book totally captivated me.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

You learn how they do things by example. What works, what doesn’t. I am very influenced by the writers I read. Reading works by great writers helps my writing more than anything. Their writing inspires me to write.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

The Mailbox is a perfect summer beach read; throw it in your bag for the pool or the beach and lose yourself in a story about Lindsey and Campbell, two people who once loved each other, lost touch, went on with their lives but then found each other again. Both hurting and a bit jaded by past experience, they have choices to make about taking risks and being vulnerable. How does the real mailbox on Sunset Beach NC fit into the story? You’ll have to read to find out!

Where did you get your inspiration for The Mailbox?

From visiting the real mailbox. It’s such a special, magical place. I wanted to share it with others and realized that wrapping a love story around it was the perfect way to do that.

Which character is most like you?

There are pieces of me in each of the characters. There’s not one that is most like me. I like spreading my sense of humor, my perspective, my interests, etc. amongst all the characters.

Who is your favorite character and why?

Probably Holly, the best friend of the main character. She doesn’t have a ton of scenes but I love the way she talks to Lindsey and the relationship they share. Holly tells the truth whether Lindsey wants to hear it or not. I think that’s what the best friendships are based on: the truth.

Did you know how The Mailbox would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

Yes, I knew how it would turn out from the beginning. In fact the twist was the first thing I thought of and I had to structure the rest of the story so that the twist would make sense.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

That God never gives up on us and that He pursues us even when we want nothing to do with Him. He is a gentleman, never forcing Himself into our lives, yet patiently waiting for the moment we choose Him. That’s what He did for Lindsey and that’s what He’ll do for you.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

Lots of social media—Facebook, Twitter, blogging. The book was selected for She Reads www.shereads.org and featured on Christian MomLogic as a book club pick. I’ve had lots of good response also from readers who’ve read my devotions for years on the Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today devotions. It all seems to work together—I can’t say one thing has worked better than the other.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

I have a book coming out in June of 11 with Cook. Beyond that, I am not under contract but am going to begin writing another book soon. I don’t want to lose the momentum I’ve gained!

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Reading is wonderful and will bring much benefit to your life. Whether it challenges you, informs you, or just offers you a great escape through the power of a story, reading is never wasted time.
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Marybeth is giving away a copy of her book The Mailbox. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Max is territorial. Living objects, with the exception of me, my husband, my kids, and occasionally the cat, are not allowed on his turf, and he is serious about his responsibilities. Which is why the appearance of a stray kitten in our yard one day, was seen as a personal challenge.

I walked into the kitchen and found Max staring with rapt attention out the window. When I looked out, I saw nothing, but he whimpered and whined until I finally let him out. Shot like an arrow from a bow, Max took off across the yard. And that’s when I saw it. Frightened by his barking, the poor kitten scrambled up onto the lawn mower seat. I called Max, but he refused to allow the trespasser out of his sight. That’s when the kitten decided to bolt for the woods, Max close on his tail. Again and again, I called, but Max was focused on the prize to the exclusion of all else, including my voice. And that’s when it occurred to me.

What am I chasing? For seven years, my goal was becoming published. I chased it with fervor. Every book I purchased, every conference I attended, every workshop I traveled to. . .all were done with the intent of coming one step closer to my goal. But then, last year, God’s voice broke through the clamor.

“Focus on the journey,” He said, “for there is much to be learned and enjoyed along the way.”

Those words broke my heart. I was in such a hurry to get published that I missed the important lessons He had for me as I got there—things like patience, perseverance, humility, and trust.

I have repented of the time I spent not listening to Him with regard to my writing, but what about other things? Have I become so focused on earning a living, owning a house, and raising my kids, that I’ve tuned out God’s voice? I hope not. God has a lot to say, and I want to be sure I can hear it.
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Deuteronomy 4:33-39 (New King James Version)

33 Did any people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live? 34 Or did God ever try to go and take for Himself a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35 To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him. 36 Out of heaven He let you hear His voice, that He might instruct you; on earth He showed you His great fire, and you heard His words out of the midst of the fire. 37 And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power, 38 driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land as an inheritance, as it is this day. 39 Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's always so much fun to give away great books!! Congratulations to this week's lucky winner:

Lori Benton – Anna Finch and the Hired Gun by Kathleen Y’Barbo
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Lori, please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your mailing address so I can forward your information to the author. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive.

Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book and thank you, Kathleen Y’Barbo for your generosity in providing books!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Entering our weekly drawing is easy:

1. Leave a comment on Fridays or...

2. Sign up to follow The Borrowed Book. Followers will automatically be entered for a chance to win that week's drawing!

This week, The Borrowed Book is giving away:


Anna Finch and the Hired Gun by Kathleen Y'Barbo ~ When an aspiring reporter and a Pinkerton detective get tangled in Doc Holliday’s story— and each other—sparks can’t help but fly.

Despite her father’s attempts to marry her off, Anna Finch dreams of becoming a reporter. A chance encounter with legendary gunslinger Doc Holliday gives her the opportunity of a lifetime, but Pinkerton agent Jeb Sanders is about to ruin everything.

Though her father hired Jeb to keep her out of mischief, Anna’s inconvenient attraction to her hired gun only multiplies her troubles. She doesn’t realize Jeb has a score to settle with Doc Holliday, or that her association with the famous outlaw will affect more than just her marriage prospects. Between her father’s desperation to see her wed and Jeb shadowing her every move, getting the story and fulfilling her journalistic ambition just got far more complicated than she ever imagined.

Winners will be announced on Saturday, 06/19/10.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chapter One

We had a little misunderstanding, but it didn’t
amount to
much. —Doc Holliday

April 30, 1885, Denver, Colorado

Daybreak found Anna Finch astride her horse, Maisie, heading for the foothills west of Denver. Her father had given her the mare before he decided riding horses across the high plains was not for well-bred women of marriageable age.

As the youngest of five daughters, Anna had always been able to tug on her father’s heartstrings and get whatever she wanted from him, and what she’d wanted was a proper saddle. Not one of those sidesaddle contraptions where a lady had to balance herself and her bustles to avoid falling and injuring more than just her pride. Despite her mother’s vocal protests, Anna soon had exactly what she wished for. That old saddle still served her well, though Papa long ago believed she’d retired it, along with her habit of watching the sun rise out on the prairie, astride a trusty horse.

As an observer of people, Anna had learned by watching her sisters, who’d been forced to give up all but the most docile pursuits, that there would come a day when this would be asked of her too. And once that day came, she’d no longer have the freedom to ride like the wind. Instead, she’d be left knitting in some parlor, praying for a breeze.

Shrugging off the thought, Anna urged her horse to a trot and let the mare find her own pace across the plain. Wild streaks of orange and gold teased a sky painted deepest purple as she loosened her hairpins and tossed them behind her.

If the maids wondered why they had to fetch so many hairpins from the mercantile, they never said. Nor did anyone question why Anna’s skirts were often coated in trail dust or why the occasional set of youth-sized trousers found their way into the carpetbag she carried on her rides. Those who resided under the Finch roof, be they servant or family, preferred a sort of self-induced blindness that relegated all but the most obvious to the edges of their vision. And sometimes even the obvious was missed.

Anna, on the other hand, prided herself in seeing details. As a girl, she’d begun the custom of writing in a journal. Once the risk of Mama or Papa coming across a written record of her life became a concern, Anna had turned to poetry and, on occasion, fiction. Writing poems and stories couldn’t be counted against her, she reasoned, so she’d created characters and events that gave her staid life in Denver a sparkle it might not otherwise have.

Her dream, however, was to use her love of writing to make a difference. Wouldn’t Mama and Papa be shocked to know their youngest daughter’s fondest wish was to become a journalist? She smiled at the idea of someday seeing her byline beneath a headline on the front page of the Rocky Mountain News or the Denver Times.

Maisie sidestepped a rift in the ground, jolting Anna back to a more careful observation of the trail ahead.

It did not escape her that tomorrow was May Day. How odd to think that the girls at Wellesley College would don their best gowns tomorrow morning and make merry at the May Day celebration, just as Anna had each year while there. Odder still that she’d gone from that to this, from a woman longing to be a wife to a woman bent on escaping the title by writing about it.

But that was another story, one she’d told time and again through the now-retired character Mae Winslow—named for the May Day celebration that spawned the first story.

Even her best friend Eugenia Cooper Beck, ironically one of Mae’s biggest fans, had no idea the real author of those embarrassing dime novels was Anna Finch herself.

Or had been, Anna corrected as another hairpin went flying. She’d negotiated for a dozen of those silly books, falling into the career backwards when a story she wrote as a joke for her literature class at Wellesley was mailed to an editor at Beadle & Adams on a dare.

Still, Mae’s stories had given Anna a venue for expressing how she felt about the confining institution of marriage as embodied by the arranged alliances her sisters had made. The fact that the only way she could get out of her contract was to marry the character off still galled Anna. At least she had escaped with a nice sum, now gathering interest at the National Bank of Boston.

An amount she would have gladly traded for the opportunity to garner a different type of interest from Daniel Beck, the only man who’d made her reconsider her feelings about donning the shackles of a wedding gown. However, her handsome neighbor, now Gennie’s husband, had never seen her as anything more than the girl next door.

Another hairpin fell, and a strand of hair blocked her vision. She swiped at it and shook her hair free to blow in the fresh breeze. The last day of April looked to dawn kind and gentle rather than with the harsh chill of last week. It was still cold enough, however, for Anna to wish she’d chosen clothes for greater warmth rather than greater anonymity.

The mare slowed, which meant she’d caught the scent of water. To the south lay a creek that had proved not only reliable but also safe from prying eyes. After a quick check of the sky, Anna decided to allow Maisie her favorite treat, a cold drink of spring water and the carrot Anna had in her pocket.

Beyond the scrub that lined the stream, the bank tilted at an angle just steep enough to allow a horse to traverse it without sliding in. At the water’s edge, the shadows were still long, showing little of the daylight that crept across the plain. The weather was glorious. The last of the April snow remained only in sparkling patches. Soon the upstream melting would begin and, if combined with a decent thundershower, turn this peaceful stream into a raging river.

Anna guided Maisie to her favorite spot and slipped off the horse. Stretching the kinks left in her back from a night of too much reading and not enough sleep, she debated whether to reach for the Smith & Wesson pistol in her saddlebag and see if she could still match her record of five straight hits on the old log on the other side of the stream. It had been some time since she’d made the attempt.

To keep her hair from hindering her vision, Anna fashioned a hasty braid and retrieved the hat from her saddlebag. She lifted the Smith & Wesson from the bag as well and made short work of filling its chambers with six bullets. After all these years of performing the same rote action, loading the weapon still gave her the tiniest of thrills. Probably because shooting was another in a long line of pastimes she’d been required to give up. At least as far as her father knew.

But then, there was so much he didn’t know.

Anna set the pistol on a rock, then hobbled the horse in case the sound frightened her. Maisie was a high-strung mare under the best of conditions, though she always returned when she bolted. Still, this might be the time she did not, leaving Anna to find her way back to Denver on foot.

Anna raised the pistol and took aim on the log. The fallen tree was slightly larger than a man and of sufficient age to have been used for target practice for two winters. In summer the faded green of the grass made for easy shooting, but in winter the long shadows, occasional covering of snow, and brown earth upped the ante. Here in the golden glow of early morning, the sun danced across the log’s imperfections, invitingly highlighting several places at which to aim. Anna chose a knothole and closed one eye, bringing the makeshift target squarely in her sights.

A squeeze of the trigger, and she saw the first bullet zing off the end of the log. A good shot, but barely, and certainly not close enough to the knothole. Easing her aim a bit to the right, she fired two more rounds directly into the center of the log. Then she heard the bear. At least she thought it was a bear from the volume of its howl.

Maisie heard it too and began to spook. Wherever the bear was, he’d either been hit by one of her bullets or awakened before his winter nap ended.

In either case, Anna didn’t want to meet him.

She tucked the gun into her waistband and ran for her horse. The faster she tried to remove Maisie’s hobbles, the longer it took. Finally she kicked the last one free, pulled out the gun, put one foot in the stirrup, and swung her leg over the saddle.

Only somehow, Maisie slipped from beneath her.

Anna was vaguely aware of the horse’s hindquarters as they trotted over the rise to disappear into the prairie grass. Most of her attention focused on whatever yanked her from the saddle and now held her by the middle in a grip so tight her breath came in short gasps.

Her flailing boots struck something solid, and her attacker dropped her. Anna skittered backwards out of the bear’s reach. The sun blinded her, but she could see the grizzly’s proportions. When her boots refused to find solid ground, she rolled to her belly and began to crawl.

Only then did she realize she still held the Smith & Wesson in her hand.

Panicked math told her three bullets remained in the chamber. Three chances to save her skin. Three shots between her and meeting Jesus well before she expected to. Taking aim wasn’t possible, so she turned and fired off two quick shots. The second one felled the bear, and he went down with a mighty roar and a string of blistering words.

Words?

Anna sat bolt upright.

The bear had transformed into a crumpled mass of buckskin and boots, but appeared to be human. And from the sound of his growl, decidedly male. Leaning out of the sun’s glare, Anna eyed her writhing attacker, definitely man and not grizzly, though shaggy and trail-worn.

A few yards ahead, Maisie appeared over the rise, her desire for spring water obviously overruling any fear or good horse sense she might have. Even with an aching backside, Anna thought she could reach the horse faster than this stranger could find his feet and give chase.

But with a howl, he surprised her as she scrambled to her feet by lurching forward and hauling her up by the back of her pants.

“I ought to tan your backside, boy,” he shouted, “but I’ll let your pa do that. Where is he? I doubt he’ll appreciate his son shooting at an innocent man. And the law’s not going to like that you probably chased Doc Holliday himself away. You’re not with Holliday, are you?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Her arms swinging wildly, Anna tried to free herself. “Release me this instant, you brute, or I’ll see that my father has you shot. Again.”

It was a stupid comment made in panic, but the bluster did its trick. The man let her go. Anna scrambled for Maisie.

“You won’t get anywhere running off like that,” the stranger shouted. “I’m bigger and faster, and my aim’s a whole lot better than yours. Now stop, or you won’t have to wonder if I’m telling the truth.”

The boy froze. Or rather, the girl froze. This was definitely a girl. Jeb Sanders had become painfully aware of the fact as soon as she spoke. If he were a man given to embarrassment, this would have been the point where he’d have felt it.

Instead, he felt the sting of the shot that winged past him, the one that woke him from the first good night of sleep he’d had in a month of Sundays. It was the second shot, however, that wounded his pride, because he’d stood right there and let her do it.

At least the first time around she’d snuck up on him.

Come to think of it, that was nothing to brag about either.

In an effort to ignore his wounds, Jeb focused on his attacker. That he’d assumed the shooter to be anything but female proved he’d been sound asleep when he made the determination. Though the oversized shirt and trousers she wore looked stolen right off a miner’s clothesline, what lay beneath was pure female and hard to hide. Her expression begged him to believe she’d shoot him again, but her wide eyes told him she’d likely swoon before she could pull the trigger.

That alone disqualified her as an associate of Holliday. Anyone who traveled with him had seen blood and plenty of it.

Jeb followed her gaze to his torso, the apparent cause of her discomfort. Lifting the hem of his shirt, he showed her the slash just above his hip bone where the bullet had grazed him. Cold air hit his bare skin and stung the wound, which was only a few inches long and just deep enough to bleed.

She swayed but caught herself. “That’s a lot of blood,” she said, all her bluster gone.

“It’s only a scratch.”

Wide eyes looked up at him through a tangled curtain of dark hair. He couldn’t see much of her face, but what he did see, an upturned nose and a dimple in her right cheek, he liked.

She still stared at his midsection, so he looked down to see what she found so interesting. He was bleeding like a stuck pig, but it was nothing a few hours and a bandage wouldn’t cure. The woman, however, looked as if she might keel over at any minute. The last thing he needed was a frantic female on his hands.

“This is nothing.” He let go of his shirt and gestured to the place above his heart where a scar served as a souvenir of his run-in with a would-be train robber back in ’82. “You should see this one. It was right after they got Johnny Ringo. Took a bullet that nearly did me in. A man has no idea how much blood he’s got until he’s shot in the chest. Train didn’t get robbed that day after all.” Jeb chuckled then noticed the woman hadn’t caught the humor in it. “Oh, now, come on,” he said, taking a step toward her.

She flinched and backed away. “You mean you were…”

She didn’t seem able to finish the question, so he did it for her. “Shot?” He nodded. “It happens in my line of work, but most bullets that come my way I manage to dodge. Guess that makes you among the few who actually hit what you were aiming for.”

“But I don’t shoot people.” Her lower lip trembled. “N-not in real life.”

“Well, darlin’,” he said slowly, “you did today.”When she swayed again, he reached out to grab her elbow. She allowed it, but only for a second. Feisty, this one, though she appeared to be losing her spunk faster than he was losing blood.

“I didn’t kill you,” she whispered so softly he wasn’t sure he’d heard it.

“Well, not yet,” he said with humor he shouldn’t have felt. His gaze fell to the gun still in her hand. “You don’t plan to, do you?”

She stared at the revolver in horror. “Oh,” she gasped. “Oh no, oh no, oh…”

“You all right?” he asked.

She staggered backward and made a run for the horse. “Hey,” he called. “Come back. You just winged me.”

Why he wanted her to return, he couldn’t exactly figure. She’d shot him fair and square and likely hadn’t known she’d done it until afterward. After all, who expected a man to be taking a nap behind a log in the middle of nowhere? Certainly not a city girl dressed in country clothes.Though the way she slid into the saddle and spurred her horse into a full gallop was too impressive to believe she’d spent all her days in town.

Jeb might have whistled for his horse and tried to catch her, but that seemed foolish. After all, if she was carrying a six-shooter, she still had one shot left.

Excerpted from Anna Finch and the Hired Gun by Kathleen Y'Barbo Copyright © 2010 by Kathleen Y'Barbo. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Kathleen is giving away a copy of her book Anna Finch and the Hired Gun. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A writing exercise and a chance to win a book. Check it out over in Writing/Craft. Ready? Set? Type!
Kathleen is a best-selling author of more than thirty books. In all, over 850,000 copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad. She has been named as a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest every year since its inception in 2003, often for more than one book.

In addition to her prolific writing career, Kathleen is also a publicist at Books & Such Literary Agency. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, the Public Relations Society of America, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Authors Guild and is also a degreed paralegal specializing in criminal and family law. A native Texan, Kathleen has three grown sons and a teenage daughter.

Hi, Kathleen! Welcome to The Borrowed Book. Let's start with something basic. When did you decide to be a writer?

April 21, 1996. Seriously. That’s the day I went to Office Depot and bought a Canon Starwriter typewriter/printer. It showed four lines of work at a time, which is probably why I learned to write first and edit later. After writing two 100,000+word books, I decided I’d better find a writing group and see if maybe there were other strange people like me. Turns out there were!

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

That’s an interesting question. I think that trust of my work has always been there. What’s been a learning curve for me is how to combine what I feel works with advice I get from others. Ultimately, my editor gets the final say, which has been quite freeing. For authors who are not yet unpublished, I cannot stress enough that each of you need to find the balance between being completely unteachable and allowing others to change your voice. That balance is tough to find and takes time and practice to achieve.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

Yes. :-)

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

I love to walk, which is good considering I have a small dog and live in a third floor condo with no yard. I also love to drive. There’s something wonderful about plugging in my Ipod and putting the top down on my Mini then heading out to the Hill Country for the afternoon. I always return in a better frame of mind.

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

That’s a hard one. I could name three dozen favorites and not come close to a complete list. Growing up, I loved the Pollyanna books. My grandmother was orphaned by the Spanish flu epidemic and grew up in the Buckner Home in Dallas, so reading about this little girl made me think of what Mimi must have been like at that age.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

I love the variety that voice can bring to a topic, so reading others is essential to a writer. A great book ups the bar for me and makes me try harder to craft just the right words and form just the right plot. Even a not so great book can challenge a writer to do better.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

I had so much fun writing ANNA FINCH AND THE HIRED GUN (Waterbrook)! In this continuation of the story that began with THE CONFIDENTIAL LIFE OF EUGENIA COOPER, Gennie’s best friend Anna Finch gets her own story. And what a story! In the course of trying to land a front page scoop, Anna tangles with Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and two Pinkertons who are determined to stand in her way. The fun thing about this book is I got to write this sentence: “A girl never forgot the first man she shot.”

That just about says it all!

Where did you get your inspiration for ANNA FINCH AND THE HIRED GUN?

That was a joint effort between me, Shannon Marchese, and Jessica Barnes. I love it!

Which character is most like you?

Anna is a writer, so in that she is like me. However, any resemblance ends there!

Who is your favorite character and why?

I had so much fun torturing – um, writing – Jeb Sanders, the Pinkerton charged with keeping Anna Finch out of trouble. Second favorite would be Charlotte Beck, daughter of Daniel (hero from book 1), who is almost 16 in this story and still quite a handful. I’ll be telling Charlotte’s story in book 3.

Did you know how ANNA FINCH AND THE HIRED GUN would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

Happily ever after is a given in any of my stories. Once I let them, however, each character dictates how that point is reached. The biggest surprise was not that Anna and Jeb marry but rather, well…you will just have to see!

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

That God has a sense of humor! He must to bring such unlikely people together.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

Social media seems to be getting the most response on this book. I’ve posted quotes from the characters randomly throughout the process of writing and editing the novel, and it’s been so much fun to see what people think.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

The next novel is Charlotte’s story. It will be a bit different than the other two in the Women of the West series in that Charlotte’s going to do some traveling. That’s all I’ll say at this point.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Thank you for allowing me to talk about writing and reading and the fun part of both!
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Want more? Stop by The Borrowed Book tomorrow for an excerpt from ANNA FINCH AND THE HIRED GUN by Kathleen Y'Barbo!

Monday, June 14, 2010

...for a brief commercial interruption. :-)

Actually, we're hoping for YOUR input. We here at The Borrowed Book want to make sure you are getting the most out of our blog. With that in mind, we've created a brief poll, just so that you, our readers, can give us your feedback. What do you like about The Borrowed Book? What would you like to see more of? Do you like the format, or would you prefer more of a variety?

C'mon...share! Give us your opinion and help us make The Borrowed Book exactly what you'd like to see in a reader/writer blog. Vote using the poll below. If you don't see your favorite answer, or if there is something else you'd like to see us doing, add your own! You have all week to vote, but we'll resume our author interviews on Wednesday when our guest will be Kathleen Y'Barbo.

Thanks for your input!

The Borrowed Book Team



Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dachshunds are bred hunters. Their shape and temperament makes them ideal for searching out small animals and rodents. In fact, when Max sets his mind to something, it’s nearly impossible to distract him.

Take for example, our walks. Once Max has the leash on, he turns neither to the right nor to the left. He knows exactly which route we will take, and he does not deter one step from it. Not even the cows roaming free in the pasture are enough to divert his attention when he’s wearing the collar. My husband and I laughed about the determination he displayed as he trotted along, straight as an arrow, his ears perked and nose pointed straight ahead.

But then it occurred to me. Was this what God meant when He commanded us to choose the narrow path, turning neither to the right nor the left? Does following God require extraordinary faith, is it more. . .extraordinary determination?

I’m learning that it is a combination of both. God told me without faith, it is impossible to please Him. He also said that faith without works is dead. Perhaps if I learned how to feed my faith, and exercise determination, I would finally be the child God is raising me to be.

Proverbs 4:18-27 (New International Version)

18 The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. 19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. 20 My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body. 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. 24 Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. 26 Make level [a] paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. 27 Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

It's always so much fun to give away great books!! Congratulations to this week's lucky winners:

L. E. Neighbour ~ Never Let You Go by Erin Healy
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Cheryl Barker ~ Chasing Lilacs by Carla Stewart
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Winners of this week's books, please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your mailing address so I can forward your information to the authors. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive.

Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book and thank you, Erin Healy and Carla Stewart for your generosity in providing books!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Entering our weekly drawing is easy:

1. Leave a comment on Fridays or...

2. Sign up to follow The Borrowed Book. Followers will automatically be entered for a chance to win that week's drawing!

This week, The Borrowed Book is giving away three great books:

Never Let You Go by Erin Healy ~ Losing everything has Lexi clinging to her daughter. Hell is determined to loosen her grip.

It's been seven years since disaster struck her family. Lexi Solomon has held it all together since then--just barely.

But now Lexi is losing it. The husband who deserted her is back in town, wanting to see their daughter Molly. Her sister's shameless murderer is up for parole. An unsavory old friend is demanding payment for debts that Lexi knows nothing about and can't begin to meet.

And something else is going on--something Lexi feels but can't explain. A dangerous shift is taking place between this reality and the next. Forces beyond her imagination are vying for control.

A rare novel that will satisfy a wide range of readers, Never Let You Go explores the high-stakes decisions played out in the thin spaces between heaven and earth. As the enemy's grip tightens around Lexi, she will have to decide what's truly worth holding on to.
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Chasing Lilacs by Carla Stewart ~ Life should be carefree in Graham Camp, Texas---it's anything but for Sammie Tucker. She wonders about her mother's "nerve" problems and wants answers. Who should she confide in---her best friend, a troubled boy, a gentle neighbor, or an elderly widower? She soon learns that trusting is one thing, but accepting the truth is quite another.
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Winners will be announced on Saturday, 06/12/10.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

{ chapter 1 }
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For seven years, Lexi Solomon had been as cold as the wind that raced down the mountain above her home. She was not ice-in-her-veins cold, or I’llfreeze-you-with-a-glance cold, but numb with the chill that came from being uncovered and abandoned.

Only the love of her daughter, a warm and innocent love that was so easy to return, had prevented her from dying of exposure.

At the back of the Red Rocks Bar and Grill, Lexi checked to make sure the rear stoop wasn’t icy, then exited and pulled the kitchen door closed. The blustery elements had spent decades huffing and puffing on the backside of the local haunt with nothing to show for the effort but a tattered awning and a battered screen door. The stalwart cinder block, painted to match the russet clay dirt that coated Crag’s Nest, was as stubborn as the snow that refused to melt before midsummer at this altitude. And it was only March.

At her throat Lexi clutched her ratty down jacket, the same one she had worn since high school, while she fumbled with the restaurant keys in her other gloveless hand. She’d forced her only pair of gloves into her daughter’s coat pockets that morning because Molly had lost hers coming home from school.

Which could only mean she hadn’t been wearing them. Chances were, Molly hadn’t worn the gloves today either. Well, she was only nine. Lexi smiled at that and thought she might get them back. If only she could be a kid again, oblivious to weather and wet.

Lexi shoved the key into the cheap lock and turned it easily. That hamburger grease coated everything. Above her head a yellow bug light shone over a cracked concrete slab. Her tired breath formed a cloud in the night air and then a fog on the wire-threaded glass of the door.

It was 2:13 a.m. Thirteen minutes later than Lexi usually locked up, thanks to the frozen computer that she had to reboot twice before she could close out the cash drawer and lock the day’s receipts in the safe. Thirteen minutes gone from the precious few she got to spend with Molly, curled up next to her in their one flimsy bed. Between Lexi’s two jobs and Molly’s school days, she figured they had an average of ninety-four minutes together, awake, per day. It wasn’t enough.

Lexi closed the restaurant every Monday, Thursday, and Friday night. Restaurant was too generous a word for the greasy spoon a half mile off the main tourist drag, too far off to draw many out-of-towners. But the staff was familylike enough, and the locals were loyal and tipped fair, and the extra fifty dollars she got for being the last to leave three times a week didn’t hurt.Every little bit put her and Molly that much closer to a better situation. A better home in a better part of town. A more reliable car. Warmer clothes.

Molly needed new shoes, and once Lexi got caught up on that past-due utility bill, she thought she’d have enough to buy the pair with sequins stitched onto the sides. Maybe for Molly’s birthday. She’d seen her daughter bent over a picture of the shoes in the Sunday circulars left out by their roommate, Gina.

After jiggling the locked kitchen door for good measure, Lexi turned her back on the glare of the naked bulb and headed toward her Volvo. The sturdy old thing was parked on the far side of the sprawling blacktop, fender nosing a swaying field of tall grasses, because that was where the only operating lamppost stood, and Lexi was no idiot when it came to vacant lots and late-night lockups.

The wind cut through her thin khaki pants, numbing her thighs.

She fingered the can of pepper spray on her key chain as she passed the shadowy Dumpster behind the kitchen. A large man could squeeze between it and the trash can’s cinder block cove easily enough. The dishwasher Jacob did this on his breaks to catch a smoke, because the manager wouldn’t tolerate cigarettes, not even outside.

A dark form darted out, leaping over the long shadow of her body cast by the gold light behind. She flinched, then scolded.

“Scat, Felix.” The resident alley cat carried something in his mouth. Lexi guessed a chicken bone, but it might have been a mouse. He jumped the wobbly wood-slat fence between the restaurant and the dry cleaner next door.

The grasses in the field, as tall as her shoulders, whispered secrets.

She stepped from the slab onto the asphalt lot. The spotlight over her dull silver Volvo, which tilted to the left due to a weak strut, went out for a second, then hiccupped back to life. It was only a matter of time before the lamp finally died, then weeks or months would probably pass before the property manager got around to resurrecting it. Each time she locked up, she found herself hoping the light would last one more night. She weighed whether she ought to start parking closer to the kitchen. Just in case.

Just in case what? Tara had been murdered in a bright shopping mall, in a bustling crowd. Maybe where a woman parked in the darkness of night didn’t matter as much as she hoped.

Lexi’s soft-soled shoes made an audible, squishy noise on the cold blacktop as she quickened her step, eyes sweeping the lot like some state-of-the-art scanner. Her keys sang a metallic song as they swung against the can of pepper spray. There was an extra can in the book bag slung over her shoulder. Another one in her glove box. A fourth buried in the planter outside her kitchen window at home, right by the front door. Lexi wondered for the millionth time how old Molly should be before starting to carry some in her backpack.

Glimpsing the dark glass of the car’s rear doors, she wished again that she had one of those key fobs that could turn on the interior lights from a cautious distance.

The parking lot light gasped again and this time faded to black. The steady yellow light behind her also flickered once and died, stranding Lexi in black air exactly halfway between the restaurant and car. She stopped. A second later, two at most, the light over the Volvo staggered back to relative brilliance.

She gasped. The thin air knifed her throat. The grasses had fallen silent, and the winds were as still as if God had stepped between them and the earth.

All four doors of her car were flung wide. Two seconds earlier they had been sealed shut, but now they gaped open like Lexi’s disbelieving mouth, popped open with the speed of a switchblade, with the flip of an invisible lever, the flick of an illusionist’s light.

A heavy hand came down on her shoulder from behind. Lexi yelped and whirled out from under the palm.

“Sexy Lexi.”

Her hand was at her throat, her pulse pounding through the layers of the thin jacket, her breathing too shallow for her to speak.

A slim white envelope fluttered between the restless fingers of the man’s left hand. A tattoo peeked out from under his T-shirt sleeve on the left, filling most of his upper arm. It was a set of keys, skeleton keys, hanging from a wide round ring.

He was middle-aged, sallow skinned, and his dark hair needed a trim. Oily strands flipped up in little curls that stuck out the bottom of a knit cap. The scrappy T-shirt looked thin across his narrow chest and sinewy arms, but he did not shiver in the low temperatures.

He said, “I half expected you’d be out of town after all these years.”

Lexi’s fright came off its startled high and settled into unease. She took a step back, glancing involuntarily at her car. Years ago, Warden Pavo had taken adolescent delight in pranks. She wondered how many people would have to be involved to pull off one like this.

“Why would I leave Crag’s Nest if I thought you’d never set foot here again, Ward?”

“Warden.”

“Yeah. I forgot.”

He smirked. “How’s the family?”

“Fine.”

“Your mom’s still globe-trotting?”

Lexi stared at him, finding his interest in her family new and strange, and perhaps offensive.

“Any improvement in dear old dad?” he asked.

“What do you want, Ward?”

“Warden.”

Lexi crossed her arms to hide their quivering.

“What?” he said. “I heard that your old man fell off the deep end, and I’ve been worried about you.”

“You’ve never worried about anyone but yourself. Besides, that happened years ago.”

“After that whole thing with your sister. What a tragedy. Man, I’m really sorry about that, you know.”

Ward removed a nylon lanyard from the pocket of his jeans. A small key chain weighted the end of it. Twirling the cord like a propeller blade, he wound it around his wrist, wrapping and unwrapping it.

Lexi looked away. “It’s behind us now,” she said.

“Is it? Von Ruden’s up for parole. I assume you heard.”

She hadn’t. A shiver shook her shoulders though the wind had not picked up again. Up for parole after only seven years. Norman Von Ruden had killed Tara, Lexi’s older sister. He knifed her in a food court at lunchtime during the Christmas rush, when there were so many people that no one noticed she’d been attacked until someone accidentally whacked her crumpled form with a shopping bag. After Tara’s funeral,
Lexi’s father raised the drawbridge of his mind and left her with her mother on the wrong side of the moat.

“Why is it that whenever you show up, I can expect bad news?”

“Aw, that’s not fair, Lexi. I’m only here to help you, as always.”

“One finger is too many to count the ways you’ve helped me.”

“Be nice.”

“I am. You could have helped me years ago by refusing to sell to Norm.”

“C’mon now. You know that’s not what happened.”

Lexi turned away and moved quickly toward her gaping Volvo.

Ward’s voice chased her. “Norm was Grant’s client, not mine.”

Lexi kept walking. Ward followed.

“If you blame anyone, gotta blame Grant.” Ward’s keys clanked together as they hit the inside of his wrist. “You can blame Grant for a whole lotta your problems.”

“I’d appreciate you not bringing Grant up,” she said.

It was true that Lexi’s husband had not paved the streets of her life with gold. The same year Tara was killed, Grant drove their only car out of town and never came back. Lexi, having no money to pay for a divorce, never received divorce papers from Grant either and sometimes wondered whether abandonment laws alone made their separation official.

Beyond that, she ’d managed to prevent her thoughts from chasing Grant too often. Only Molly was worth Lexi’s wholehearted concentration. For Molly’s sake, Lexi had made a vow to be more clearheaded than Grant ever was.

Lexi reached out and slammed the door behind the driver’s seat. The metal frame was warm to the touch, sun-baked without the sun. The unexpected sensation caused her to hesitate before she walked around the back to the other side and slammed the other rear door. It, too, was unnaturally heated. She wiped her palm on the seat of her pants.

“If that’s all you came to tell me, good night.”

“But it’s not.”

Ward stopped twirling the lanyard and stood at the driver’s door. She glanced at him across the roof of the Volvo and took new notice of the envelope he held and extended toward her.

“Picked up your mail for you.”

“How?”

“Intercepted the mailman.”

“Why?”

“Save you the trouble.”

“Seeing as it’s no trouble, please don’t do it again.”

“You really could be more grateful.”

She leaned against the car and lay her arm across the roof, gesturing that he give the envelope to her. He dangled it above her open palm. She snatched it out of his fingers.

“Thank you,” she said, hoping he would leave. She lifted the flap of her book bag, intending to cram the letter into the side.

“Open it.”

“I will, when I get home.”

“Now.” Ward’s keys cut the air on that whirling cord again. Rather than irritate her, the motion threatened. Those keys were weapons that could inflict serious pain if they hit her between the eyes with any momentum. She thought she saw them striking out at her and jerked back, then felt embarrassed.

“I read my mail without an audience.”

“Add a little excitement to your life. Do it differently tonight.”

“No.”

“It’s not a suggestion.”

Lexi closed the third door and made her way back around the rear of the car to where Ward was waiting. She focused on maintaining a confident voice. “Ward, it’s late. I’m going home. My daughter—”

“Molly. She’s all grown-up and fresh to be picked by now, isn’t she?” Heat rose up Lexi’s neck. “I saw her at the school today. They’re a bit lax over there about security, in my humble opinion.”

The tears that rushed to Lexi’s eyes were as hot and blinding as her anger. That level of offensiveness didn’t deserve a response. In two long strides she reached the open driver’s side door and, still holding the mystery letter, placed her left hand on the frame to balance her entry.

Ward’s lanyard snaked out and struck her wrist, knocking her hand off the door, which slammed shut. The paper fluttered to the ground. She stared at it stupidly, not comprehending what was happening.

He stooped to pick it up. “Read the letter, Lexi, then I’ll let you go home.”

Her wrist bone ached where the keys had struck it. She took a step away from Ward, then turned the letter over to read the return address. The envelope was from the office of a neighboring county’s district attorney. It quivered in her fingers. She held it under the light of the lamppost for several seconds. The beam flickered.

“The postmark on this is more than a month old,” she said.

“Yeah, well, I didn’t say I picked up your mail today.”

Her perspiring fingers were tacky and warped the linen stationery slightly. Lexi tapped the short side of the envelope on the roof of the Volvo, then tore a narrow strip off the opposite side and let the scrap fall to the ground. She withdrew a piece of heavy folded paper, then spread it flat on the hood.

She thought it was a notice of Norman Von Ruden’s parole hearing. She saw, at a glance, phrases like your right to participate and verbal or written testimony. But a red scrawl like a kindergartener gone crazy with a Sharpie obscured much of the text. A balloon poked by half a dozen arrows surrounded the date and time. Stick figures at the bottom of the page depicted a man coming out of an open jail cell, and a happy woman waiting for him.

Ward was breathing across Lexi’s ear. She felt his body too close behind
her.

“Isn’t that nice?” he said, pointing. “That’s Norm, and that’s you!”

Lexi looked at the backside of the envelope to see if he’d tampered with the letter but it was still securely sealed. He knew. How could he know? She pushed off the car and shoved him away from her, leaving the letter behind. She snapped at him so that he wouldn’t hear the fear she felt.

“You’re sick, Ward. I’m going home.”

“I’m entirely well, though I appreciate your concern. Aren’t you going to ask me what it means?”

“It means you haven’t changed one bit since the last time I saw you. I don’t have time for your pranks.”

She pulled the door open and dropped onto the seat without taking the book bag off her shoulder.

Ward picked up the letter and turned it over, holding it out to her. He propped his forearms on the open door and lowered the sheet, scrawled with another juvenile drawing, to her eye level. A red figure that looked like a child with x’s for eyes was visible through the glass door of an oven.

“No prank, Sexy Lexi.”

Lexi felt blood rush out of her head. She took a shallow breath and lowered her voice.

“Okay. What does it mean, Ward?”

“War-den. Warden. Get it right.”

There was no sarcasm in her voice now. “Warden. What does it mean?”

“That’s my girl. It means—if you love your daughter like I think you do—that you are going to show up at Norm’s hearing next Friday and testify on his behalf.”

“What? Why?”

“Because you love your daughter.”

“I can’t do that.”

“You can’t love her?”

“No! I can’t . . . Norman Von Ruden? He’s insane.”

“Not clinically.”

“Don’t do that. They diagnosed him with something.”

“Nothing a fine shrink and a few bottles of pills couldn’t handle.”

“No.” She shook her head. “No. I hate him.”

“You loved him once. I’ll wager there ’s still whore in you.”

Lexi lashed out, clawing the letter out of his hands and scratching the skin of his knuckles. His keys fell onto the blacktop.

“How dare you!”

Ward seized both her wrists easily and shoved her back down onto the seat of the car.

“He killed my sister! He wrecked my family! My parents—”

“Will be mourning the loss of little miss Molly as well if you don’t come to the party. So be wise about it, or I’ll tell your secrets to everyone you love—and plenty of people you don’t.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“Because you should have chosen me, Lexi. All those years ago, you chose Von Ruden. But you should have chosen me.” He crumpled the letter into a ball and tossed it across Lexi onto the passenger seat.

The light over the car died again. In the blackness, Lexi reached out and slammed the car door, punched down the manual lock, then contorted her body to hit the three remaining knobs in sequence.

“Save the date,” he said through the glass.

She willed the wind to carry his words away, but the air was as still as her dead sister, bleeding on the sticky tiles of the mall floor.
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Erin is giving away a copy of her book Never Let You Go. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book tomorrow for your chance to win!

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