Thursday, October 30, 2008

Faking Grace by Tamera Leigh

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

Me: I didn't have time to read this book, just got it 2 days ago. It sounds like a wonderful book though!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Faking Grace

Multnomah Books (August 19, 2008)


Tamara Leigh is the best-selling author of eleven novels, including Perfecting Kate, Splitting Harriet, and Stealing Adda. She began writing romance novels to “get the stories out her head.” Over the course of one providential year, she gave birth to her first child, committed her life to Christ, gave up a career in speech pathology, and released her first novel. Tamara and her husband, David, live with their two sons in Tennessee.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 12.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (August 19, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590529294
ISBN-13: 978-1590529294




Grace [√]

Nice, upstanding Christian name—lucked out on that one. Must remember to answer to it.


Monochrome hair [√]

I flip down the visor mirror and peer at the “Marilyn Monroe” blond hair that waves off of my oval face. I so miss my stripes. But under my present circumstances, it’s not as if I can afford to keep up the multiple-shade “do.” Back to the list.

Minimal make-up [√]

Do I feel naked! Another peek in the mirror confirms the feeling. As I passed on foundation and blush, applying only a light powder to even out my tone, I look pale. The overall effect is that my hazel eyes practically jump off my face from beneath perfectly plucked eyebrows (the stragglers made me do it).

Below-knee skirt [√]
Button-up collar [√]
One-inch heels [√]

Almost wish I were naked.

Cross necklace and earrings [√]
WWJD bracelet [√]

I scrunch up my nose. “WWJD? Where would Jesus...? Why would Jesus...?” I tap the bracelet. “Ah! What would Jesus do?”

“Love Waits” ring [√]

Oh no, it doesn’t. Still, it’s a nice thought, especially considering the guy I left behind. But best not to go there.


Bible [√]
Bible Cover [√]

And, I must say, it’s a nice cover. I look to where it sits on the passenger seat with the “KJV” (whatever that means) Bible tucked inside—intensely spiritual with a tapestry print of a country church. And the faux tortoiseshell handles! Nice touch.

Twist pen with 7 different scriptures [√]

One for every day of the week.

“Footprints in the Sand” bookmark [√]

Touching poem. And a surprise ending too!

Fish emblem [√]

“Oops!” I open the ashtray, dig out the emblem, and drop it in my lap. “Check!”

“Jesus is my pilot” bumper sticker [√]
Crown of thorns air freshener [√]

I glance at the scented disk that hangs from my rearview mirror. Stinks, but nicely visible—practically screams “This is one serious Christian.”


“Jesus is my savior.” [√]
“Jesus died for my sins.” [√]

I close my eyes and run the lingo through my mind. “Got it!”

“I’m praying for you.” [√]

I wonder how many Christians really do.

“I need to pray about that.” [√]

Otherwise known as “No way, Jose'!” Or, in these parts, the “Nashville no.”

“Bless his/her heart.” [√]

Sympathetic aside tacked to a derogatory remark about someone to make it acceptable (possibly exclusive to the South, as I’d never heard it before moving to Nashville four months ago).

“My brother/sister in Christ.” [√]
“God’s timing.” [√]
“Have a blessed day.” [√]
“Yours in Christ.” [√]

Must remember to use that last one for note cards and such.


Church [√]

That one on West End should do—respectable-looking and big enough to allow me to slip in and out undetected should I need to place myself in that setting. Of course, I hope the need does not arise. Not that I’m not a believer. I am. Sort of. I mean, I was “saved” years ago. Even went through the dunking process—the whole water up the nose thing (should not have panicked). But the truth is that, other than occasionally attending church with my grandmother before and after I was saved, my faith is relatively green. Hence, the need for a checklist.

Testimony [ ]

“Uh! Just had to leave that one for last, Maizy. Yes, “Maizy,” as in “Maizy Grace.” Courtesy of one Grandma Maizy, one Grandma Grace, and one mother with a penchant for wordplay. Amazing grace! And Mom is not even a Christian. But Dad’s mom is. According to Grace Stewart, the only thing my parents did right was to name me after her. I beg to differ. I mean…Maizy Grace? Though growing up I did my best to keep it under wraps, my mom blew it during a three-girl sleepover when she trilled upstairs, “Oh, Maizy Grace! How sweet the sound. Won’t you girls come on down?” Fodder for girlhood enemies like Cynthia Sircy who beat me out for student council representative by making an issue of my “goody two shoes” name. And that’s why I never use “Grace.” Of course, it could prove useful today.

I return to my checklist. “Testimony…” I glance at the dashboard clock that reveals I’ve blown ten of my twenty minutes leeway. Guess I’ll have to think up a testimony on my way in to the interview. Not that I don’t have a story of how I came to know Jesus. It’s just boring. Hmm. Maybe I could expand on my Christian summer camp experience—throw in an encounter with a bear or some other woodland creature with big teeth. Speaking of which…

I check my teeth in the mirror. Pale pink lipstick is so boring. Glaringly chaste. Borderline anti-sexual. Of course, that is the effect I’m after. All good.

“All right, Maizy—er, Grr-ace—get in there and get that job.” A job I badly need if I’m to survive starting over in Nashville, as my part-time position as a lifestyle reporter at the paper has yet to translate into the full-time position I was led to believe it would after three months. Funds are getting low.

I fold my checklist and stick it in the book I picked up at Borders the day I surfed the classified ads and hit on “Seeking editorial assistant for Christian company.” Editorial assistant—a far cry from reporter. In fact, beneath me, but what’s a girl to do?

Closing the book, I smile at the title: The Dumb Blonde’s Guide to Christianity. Not that I’m blond—leastwise, not naturally. Another glance in the mirror confirms that although the $7.99 over-the-counter bottle of blond is no $75 salon experience, it lives up to its claim. Not brassy at all. Still, maybe I should have gone back to basic brown so I wouldn’t have to worry about roots. But talk about boring.

I toss the book on the passenger seat, retrieve the fish emblem and my purse, and swing my legs out the car door. After “hipping” the door closed, I hurry to the back. Unfortunately, unlike the bumper sticker, there seems no non-permanent way to apply the emblem. Thus, I have no choice but to pull off the backing and slap the fish on the trunk lid. Not sure what it symbolizes, but I can figure that out later—if I get the job.

I lower my gaze to the “Jesus is my pilot” bumper sticker. Nice statement, especially with the addition of the fish. Honestly, who wouldn’t believe I’m a deeply committed Christian? And if someone should call me on it, I could be forgiven—it is April 1st—as in April Fools’ Day.

As I start to look away, the peeling lower edge of the bumper sticker catches my eye. Should have used more Scotch tape. I reach down.

“It’s crooked.”

The accented matter-of-fact voice makes me freeze. I’m certain it was directed at me, but did he say “It’s crooked” or “She’s crooked”? Surely the latter is merely a Freudian slip of my mind. And even if it isn’t, I’m not crooked. Just desperate.

As the man behind me could be an employee of Steeple Side Christian Resources, I muster a smile and turn. The first thing I notice where he stands six feet back is his fashionably distressed jeans. Meaning he can’t be an employee. And certainly isn’t looking for a hand out—even better (though I sympathize with the plight of the homeless, they make me very uncomfortable). So he’s probably just passing through the parking lot. Perhaps heading for Steeple Side’s retail store that occupies a portion of the lower floor of their corporate offices.

The next item of note is his shirt—a nice cream linen button up that allows a glimpse of tanned collarbone. I like it. What I don’t like is his face—rather, expression. If not for his narrowed eyes and flat-lined mouth, he’d be halfway attractive with that sweep of dark blond hair, matching eyebrows, and decent cheekbones. Maybe even three-quarters, but that would be pushing it, as his two-day shadow can’t hide a lightly scarred jaw. Teenage acne?

I gesture behind. “My bumper sticker seems to be coming off.”

He lowers his green eyes over me, and though I may simply be paranoid, I’m certain he gives my cross earrings and necklace, button-up collar, and below-knee skirt more attention than is warranted. He glances at the bumper sticker before returning his regard to me. “Yes, it is coming off.”

British. I’m certain of it. Nowhere near the Southern drawl one more often encounters in Nashville.

“Of course...” He crosses his arms over his chest. “…that’s because you’re using tape.”

That obvious? “Well, doesn’t everyone?” Ugh! Can’t believe I said that. Maybe there is something to the warning that you are what you read, as I could not have sounded more like the stereotypical dumb blonde if I had tried.

He raises an eyebrow. “Everyone? Not if they want it to adhere permanently. You do, don’t you?”

Guilt flushes me, and is followed by panic even though I have no reason to fear that this stranger with the gorgeously clipped accent might expose me as a fake. “Of course I do!”

Is that a smile? “Splendid, then I’ll let you in on a little secret.”

Delicious accent or not, that doesn’t sound good. It isn’t, as evidenced by his advance. I step aside, and he drops to his haunches and begins peeling away the tape. “You see…” Holding up the sticker, he looks over his shoulder and squints against the sunlight at my back. “…self adhesive.” He peels off the backing, positions the sticker, and presses it onto my bumper—my previously adhesive-free bumper.

He straightens. That is a smile—one that makes him look a bit like that new James Bond actor. What’s his name?

“You’d be surprised at how much technology has advanced over the last few years,” he says.

I nearly miss his sarcasm, genteelly embedded as it is in that accent. “Well, who would have thought?” Be nice, Maizy—er, Grace. My smile feels tight. In fact, my whole face feels as if lathered by Lava soap. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to affix my bumper sticker properly.”

He inclines his head. “If you’d like, I’ll try to straighten your fish.”

My…? It’s crooked, he said. Not the bumper sticker—my fish. Meaning he probably saw me stick it on. Were he more than a passerby, I’d be deeply embarrassed. “No, thank you. I like my fish slightly crooked.” I glance at the emblem that appears to have its nose stuck in the air. “It makes him look as if he’s fighting the current. You know, like a good Christian.”

Very good, Ma—Grr-ace! Were he a Steeple Side employee, you would have won him over.

“So you’re a Christian?”

So much for my self-congratulatory pat on the back. Of course, maybe his question is academic. I mean, it’s obvious I’m a Christian. “Of course! A Christian. And proud of it.” Good practice. Unfortunately, if his frown is anything to go by, I’m in need of more. “Er, Jesus is my savior.” Knew Christian speak would come in handy.

His frown deepens.

Or maybe not. Making a show of checking my watch, I gasp. Nothing at all fake about that, as most of my leeway has been gobbled up. Thankfully, I was lucky to—

No, blessed. Must think as well as speak “Christian.” Thankfully, I was blessed to snag a parking space at the front of the building—the only one, as the dozen marked VISITOR spaces were taken, and the remaining spaces on either side of mine are reserved for upper management, as evidenced by personalized signs.

I fix a smile. “Thank you again for your help. If you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment.”


I step forward and, as I pass within two feet of him, take a whiff. Some type of citrus-y cologne. Nice. Not sharp or cloying. Unlike Ben whose cologne of choice made my nasal passages burn. And the Brit is nearly six feet tall to my five foot six. Not so tall I couldn’t wear three-inch heels for fear of shooting up past him. Unlike Ben who’d limited me to one-inch heels—

Go away! Another reason to leave Seattle. With his liberal application of cologne and compact height and build, Ben was nowhere near the man for me. Not that his scent and size was the worst of him. Far from it. And am I glad to be far from him.

As I step to the sidewalk, I’m tempted to glance behind at the nicely-proportioned, bumper-sticker happy Brit. Temptation wins out.

Thumbs hooked in his pockets, he stands alongside my passenger door. Watching me.

Feeling as if caught doing something wrong, I jerk a hand up and scroll through my “Christian speak” for something to reinforce my claim of being a Christian. “Yours in Christ!” I flash a smile that instantly falters.

At the rumpling of his brow, I jerk around and head for the smoked glass doors of Steeple Side Christian Resources. Cannot believe I used a written salutation! Dumb blonde alert! Speaking of which….

The Dumb Blonde’s Guide to Christianity is on the passenger seat. Fortunately, if the man is nosey enough to scope out the interior of my car, it’s not as if I’ll see him again. That scrumptious accent and citrus cologne was a one-time thing. Unless he does work at Steeple Side and I do get the job. Fat chance.

As I pull open one of several sets of glass doors, I glance behind. He’s on the sidewalk now, head back as he peers up the twenty-some floors of the building. Definitely not an employee.

The lobby is bright and sparsely furnished, but what stops me is the backlit thirty-foot cross on the far wall. Fashioned out of what appears to be brushed aluminum, it’s glaringly simple. And yet I can’t imagine it having more presence.

Crossing to the information desk at the center of the lobby, I scope out the men and women who are entering and exiting the elevators. All nicely dressed. All conservative. I’ll fit right in—

I zoom in on a woman who’s stepping into the nearest elevator. Her skirt is above the knee by a couple inches. And that guy who just stepped out of another elevator? His hair brushes his shoulders.

I shift my gaze back to the towering cross. I’m at the right place, meaning those two are probably visitors. Same goes for the young woman who sweeps past and reaches the information desk ahead of me. Not only is she wearing ruched capris, but she has my hair. Rather, the hair I had. Ha! If she’s after my job, I’ve got her beat.

She drops a jingly purse on the desk and points past me where I’ve halted behind. “Jack is so hot!”

“Really?” The chubby-faced receptionist bounds out of her chair, only to falter at the sight of me.

“Yes, hot!” The “ruched” young woman jabs the air again, looks around, and startles. “Er, not ‘hot hot.’ ‘Hot,’ as in under the collar…ticked off.”

That’s my cue to appear relieved that she didn’t mean “hot,” as in “carnal,” as she’s obviously connected to this company—at least, the receptionist. I nod. “That’s a relief.”

She smiles, then puts her forearms on the desk and leans in to whisper in a not too whisper-y voice, “This time they stole his assigned parking sign.”

It would make me “hot” too if someone stole mine. Doubtless, some visitor would snap up my space and I’d have to park—

Oh no. The front parking space I snagged… The only unmarked space in the middle of dozens of marked spaces…

I look around and peer out the bank of glass windows. The Brit whose parking space I took, and who does work here, is striding toward the doors. And he does look hot, though I can’t be sure whether it’s more in the carnal way or the angry way. Regardless, I am not getting this job.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cyndere's Midnight by Jeffrey Overstreet

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

Me: I can only imagine now wonderful this book is! I want to get one, but apparently didn't get on the list. I know it has to be an excellent book though! I have Auralia's Colors.

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Cyndere's Midnight(The Auralia Thread Series #2)

WaterBrook Press (September 16, 2008)


Jeffrey Overstreet lives in two worlds. By day, he writes about movies at and in notable publications like Christianity Today, Paste, and Image. His adventures in cinema are chronicled in his book Through a Screen Darkly. By night, he composes new stories found in fictional worlds of his own. Living in Shoreline, Washington, with his wife, Anne, a poet, he is a senior staff writer for Response Magazine at Seattle Pacific University. Auralia's Colors (The Auralia Thread Series #1)was his first novel. His second, Cyndere's Midnight continues The Auralia Thread Series.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 13.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (September 16, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400072530
ISBN-13: 978-1400072538




Cyndere walked down to the water to make her daily decision—turn and go back into House Bel Amica, or climb Stairway Rock and throw herself into the sea. It had become a habit. Leaving her chamber early, while the mirrorlined corridors were empty of all but servants, she would traverse manybridges, stairs, and passages and emerge on the shores of the Rushtide Inlet, escaping the gravity of distraction. Today in the autumn bluster, she wore her husband’s woolen stormcloak at the water’s edge. She brought her anger. She brought her dead. While the fog erased the wild seascape, waves exploded against the ocean’s scattered stone teeth, washed wide swaths of pebbles, and sighed into the sand. They carried her father’s whispers from many years past, mornings when he had walked with her along the tide’s edge and dreamt aloud. His bristling grey beard smelled of salt, prickling when he rested his chin on her head. He would place one hand on her shoulder and with the other hold a seashell to her ear. “Hear that?” he’d say. “That’s your very own far-off country. You will walk on ground no one has ever seen. And I’m going to find it for you when I venture out to map the Mystery Sea.” He had done just that. While Cyndere’s mother, Queen Thesera, stayed home to govern her people within House Bel Amica’s massive swell of stone, King Helpryn discovered islands, sites for future Bel Amican settlements. A shipwreck took the king when he tried to cross a stormy span between those islands. Within hours of the report, Bel Amica’s cloud-bound cityturned volcanic with theories and superstitions. From one sphere of their Cynderes Midnight_intrfnl 7/18/08 9:26 AM Page 4 society to another, all the way down to the shipyards of the inlet, the people competed to interpret their ambitious king’s demise, their rumors full of words like iceberg, pirates, and oceandragon. The Seers, quarrelsome as gulls, debated whether this might be a portent of judgment by the moon-spirits or whether Helpryn’s celestial guardian had reached down from the sky and carried him away to live in his own peaceful paradise. Meanwhile, Cyndere mourned the loss of her father’s smiling eyes, his confidence in her, his vision for her future. “You will walk on ground no one has ever seen.” From the day he vanished, the young heiress never grew taller, and the sun was burnt out of her sky. She did not weep. Given no chance to mourn in private, she concerned herself with the comfort of her mother and her older brother, Partayn. Partayn slept with his head on the windowsill as though he listened for the king’s counsel in the ocean’s roar. Did those crashing lullabies awaken his father’s wanderlust within him? She wondered. King Helpryn had answered the call of the horizon, but the boy would set sail on a different sea, striving to master all manner of music. Partayn’s quest was tragically brief. When an armored escort carried him
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southward to study the music of House Jenta, an ambush of Cent Regus beastmen silenced his songs. The people, having only just regained their footing, were cast into despair. Even Queen Thesera believed someone had cursed House Bel Amica.The pressure of an impending inheritance fell hard on Cyndere. She was expected now to stand beside her mother and prepare to take her place someday. More urgently, she should find a husband, bring a new generation of royalty to Bel Amica, and ensure that the line of Tammos Raak, father of the four houses, would continue. But Cyndere had already determined that she would not become her mother. She still dreamt of breaking ground all her own. She was capable. She had the respect of her people, and in Bel Amica’s courtrooms she was famous for her temper and tenacity. Her helplessness to save her father and her brother only stoked her passions to help others and prevent further calamity. Such ambitions made her lonely. As her people groped for distractions to numb their fears, the Seers provided potions for reckless indulgences. Those meddling conjurers caught even her mother with their hooks. The thought of inheriting such counselors made Cyndere want to sail for that faroff country of her own, wherever it might be. The sea’s call was more seductive every morning. Her days became rituals of counting the few, feeble cords that bound her to Bel Amica. Hope to become what her father had envisioned quickly dimmed. If it were not for Deuneroi, a young man who often fought with Cyndere in the court, she might have let the ocean carry her to her father. Even in the midst of their famous courtroom collisions, Deuneroi discerned Cyndere’s sadness. He saw her right through and wove subtle threads of sympathy into his eloquence. Sensing this, she conspired that their feud should spread into private debate, and soon their minds and hearts were inseparably entangled, furious in love. Before long, Cyndere realized that while two cords had broken, a new cord had been strung. Deuneroi became her consort, her refuge, strong enough to keep her from the sea. Today she missed hearing the footfalls of Deuneroi’s casual stride. He was off, led by courage she both admired and resented, to search for survivors buried in the rubble of the fallen House Abascar. She had tried to stop him. Tempers flared in their hottest debate. But in the end, she had surrendered, moved by his compassion and by his promise. “Deuneroi, look what you’ve done. This cat was wild once. Now he’s a lazypile of fur.” On their last evening before her husband’s departure, Cyndere sulked through their argument’s aftermath. Gazing into their bedchamber fireplace, she stroked a black viscorcat whose head filled her lap while his furry, muscled body sprawled limp across the braided rug. The viscorcat hummed, kneading the air with his claws. “I don’t think he was ever very wild at all,” said Deuneroi, rolling a woolen tunic and pressing it into his pack. “Once I lured him into my campwith some fish, he warmed up quickly, as if he had known someone who treated him kindly before.” When fireglow lulled the cat into sleep, Cyndere bit her lip and gingerly
Page 3
untangled the snare around the animal’s tail. A prankster had tied a ring of keys there with a thread, then set him loose to run, terrified, with the keysclanging along the corridor behind him. As the knot slipped free, the cat raised his head and growled. “It’s all right now,” Cyndere whispered. “You’re free.” His purr slowly returned, resonating. She pondered the keys, wondered what they fit, and set them on the floor next to her. She touched the scar on the cat’s hind leg where Deuneroi had drawn out an arrow’s poisoned head. “I’m glad you found him. That wound might have killed him.” “I’m surprised he trusted me.” “I’m not. You’re a born healer, Deun.” “And so are you.” Deuneroi sat on the edge of the bed, smiling at her. “Then I should be going with you. If there are survivors in Abascar’sruins, they’ll need special care.” “Your mother will never let you venture into such danger.” “What good is royalty if we just sit in our palace when people are in trouble?” “Your mother’s lost too much already. She won’t risk losing you.” “She’s not the only one who’s grieving, Deun. I’m grieving too. And I can’t bear the risk of this. Don’t go. Don’t put so much distance between us.” “You urged your mother to send rescuers. Remember?” “Months ago…and she refused to send help while it mattered. Now she’s just doing this to separate us, to interrupt our work. You won’t find anything in the ruins of Abascar except scavenging beastmen.”“Then I’ll bring back some beastmen. We’ll have real subjects for our study.” He was trying to make her laugh, but she would have none of it. He shifted to a softer approach. “Won’t you sleep better knowing that there’s nobody clinging to hope in Abascar’s ruins? We’ve both had nightmares, imagining someone trapped there, praying to the moon-spirits for a rescuer.”“The people of Abascar don’t pray to moon-spirits. Didn’t.” “This isn’t the daughter of brave King Helpryn talking. Where is the bold heiress who dares to dream even of curing the beastmen of their curse?” Cyndere pressed her lips together. She was angry with her mother, the Seers, and the court. She needed to strike at something, and Deuneroi was the easiest target. But she knew that he was right. She reached for a poker and began to jab recklessly at the smoldering firewood. “Life was so much easier before Mother got word of our plans for the beastmen.” “It was in the glen near Tilianpurth, wasn’t it? That’s where we first dreamt of taming them.” “No more talk about the Cent Regus, Deun. Not if you insist on running off into their territory. You’re not ready for this road. You’re a court scholar.Will you stab at the beastmen with a scroll?” He sat down beside her. “I’m afraid too. But I lost faith in my fears a long time ago, Cyn. People used to tell me, ‘Deuneroi, you’re a weakling. When the soldiers eat what they catch on a hunt, you’re stuck with broth. While others run along the wall, you can’t climb a flight of stairs without losing your breath. You’re not fit for an heiress.’ But then an heiress proved them wrong.” “This is different, Deun. You’re not a soldier. You’re not a ranger or even
Page 4
a merchant.” “And I have no skill with horses or vawns. I couldn’t hunt a stag if you turned one loose in this very chamber.” He turned and looked her in the eye. “But I must do this. If we run into the Cent Regus, so be it. What good is this dream of helping beastmen if we’re too afraid to face them?”Cyndere picked up a scrap of burnt firewood and began to sketch the outline of the viscorcat on one of the stone tiles. “You know what they did to my brother.” “Your brother headed south with inexperienced guards. Your mother’ssending Ryllion with us. He can shoot the eye out of a rabbit running. He can chase down a fox in his bare feet. He can hear a flea on a fangbear. He’ll protect me. And don’t forget.” Deuneroi’s warm palm slid across Cyndere’s belly. “Your mother has a compelling reason to keep me safe.” “She only wants a grandchild to extend the line of Tammos Raak.”“But I want a child, Cyn, because you and I perform wonders whenever we work together.” He took the brittle charcoal from her hand and entangled his fingers in hers. “Don’t despair.” She pulled her hands away, reached to massage the nape of the viscorcat’sneck. A ripple of white moved under her fingers as she stroked the black-tipped fur. The cat stiffened at her touch, murmured in delight, and then eased back into sleep. Deuneroi stood. “Remember the tigerfly?” She laughed, although she tried to avoid it. Deuneroi had rescued the bright orange insect during a walk in the woods around the faraway bastion of Tilianpurth. It had been trapped inside a curled leaf floating in the bucket beside the old well. “It sat in your hand for an hour.” “And then it flew.When I go to Abascar, I’ll bring something out of those ruins. Something worth saving. I promise.” “Right.” She dabbed at her eyes. “You promise.” “I promise. And then we’ll go to the well at Tilianpurth. And celebrate.” “Will we?” He knelt behind her, ran his fingers through her strawgold hair, andtipped her head back so he could look into her eyes. “Yes. Or you could just close your eyes and dream a little, and we could be there right now.”When she reached up to pull his dark hair down around her face, the cat grumbled, unhappy to have been forgotten. “Be brave, little bird,” Deuneroi whispered between their kisses. “Be brave.” Without her husband beside her, Cyndere felt exposed. The only remaining child of Queen Thesera, she lived with constant surveillance. Cyndere was the last link in the chain—and it felt so much like a chain—leading back to Tammos Raak. She would never be allowed to walk unguarded. She would never walk on ground that had not been secured. The fog unveiled the long, winding stair down the rugged cliffs to the sandy strand. The chorus of waves grew louder. The cold grew mean. Cyndere would have her meditation, nevertheless. She would wear out those forerunners who scanned the path ahead and tax the strength of those who crept behind. The cold did not dissuade her. She was always cold. Buffeted by wind, she clasped Deuneroi’s black stormcloak at her throat. When she reached the beach at last, she left her silver slippers on the final stair. Her feet were numb with cold by the time she reached the line where
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the surf slid frothy beneath the fog. A tree trunk nudged the shore, rolling and waving its sprawl of roots. Above her, two great lights gleamed like eyes—the rising sun, a coin of gold, and the setting moon, a pool of shifting shapes believed by the Seers to be powerful spirits. Every so often the fog strained at its seams and tore, and Cyndere peered through to the ocean. Once she saw a dark, departing ship, sails pregnant with wind, carrying dreamers her father had inspired. She scooped up wet sand and cast it into the rippling shallows, tempted again. Come out into the water, the waves seemed to say. Come out to me, my daughter. You have suffered so much loss. You can escape here in the deep, where I am waiting for you. You’ll never again have to worry about losing what you love. As the rippling tide washed over her feet, a commotion ahead of her broke the silence. Screams. And curses too dark for the morning. She stepped into the water and hid behind the tree stump as it rocked in the surf. Her forerunners ran, wailing, back toward Bel Amica. “Wyrm! Oceandragon!” She braced herself as the freezing currents swirled about her anklesand her feet turned to ice. Water tugged at Deuneroi’s cloak. She felt a faint spark, the flare of her father’s courage. “Row,” he would have said. “Row against the current.” “Cyndere!” they were calling into the mist. “Heiress! Where is she?” The sound of their panic blew past. Cyndere splashed out of the tide. There it was. A jagged line of darkness ahead, like a mountain range. As it took on detail, she heard its hollow groaning. The oceandragon’s gargantuan form loomed, its snout resting on the sand, head large enough to swallow a herd of wild tidehorses. The fog withdrew, and she could see the spiked tip of its tail curling about and resting on the sand beside her, ten times the size of the harpoons her father had hurled at seawraiths and horned whales. She stood still, waited for the dragon to writhe and twist and thrash down upon her. “Is this what took you down into the sea?” she whispered to her father. “Is this what you saw as the ship came apart?” The fog thinned. The oceandragon’s eyes were hollow, the head but a skull. Its sides did not heave; they were no more than rows of towering ribs. Its tail, a chain with links of bone. Perhaps it had been dead an age. The sea had carried it into the inlet by night and cast it onto the shore, having taken every scrap of its flesh, offering up its unbreakable skeleton. That reverberating moan—it was only the wind moving through the skull’s cavities. “Beautiful,” she said. She stepped through the gap of a missing tooth. The lower jaw was gone, probably resting at the bottom of the sea. Within the hollow thrumming of its head, she stood tall enough to see out through the gaping windows of its eyes. She reached out, touched the edge of a socket. What was it like to be an oceandragon? What was its purpose? Had it enjoyed the open sea, redirecting currents with the twitch of a tail or the fling of a fin? Did oceandragons sing, as some drunken sailors insisted? Or did the creatures think only of eating? She found a small, exquisitely detailed stone on the edge of the opposite
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eye. She set it on her palm, amazed, for it was an exact replica of the oceandragon’swhite skull, sculpted as only a stonemaster could shape it. She held it up to the light and looked through its vacant eyes. And then she laughed. “Scharr ben Fray.” She put it to her lips and blew softly. The whistle’s tone struck a haunting counterpoint to the low hum of the dragon’s skull. He had been here. That eccentric old mage, so famously exiled from House Abascar when Cyndere was a child, had walked among these bones. Scharr ben Fray was known across the Expanse as a man obsessed with mysteries. And he had studied these bones already. His sculptures were his signatures, and this whistle in Cyndere’s hand was unmistakable. She would have given the whistle to Partayn for his collection, were he still alive. Scharr ben Fray had shown both her and her brother a grandfatherly affection during his occasional visits to House Bel Amica. King Helpryn had coveted the old man’s advice and respected his knowledge of the Expanse. Partayn had pestered him for verses from songs he heard in his travels. The queen had only tolerated him, jealous of hisstonemastery and his gift of speaking with animals. But Scharr ben Fraywas a solitary wanderer, appearing when least expected, slipping awaywhenever they tried to hold him. Cyndere stepped through the skull’s oceanward ear. The tide’s tentative shallows moved around her feet again, alive with wavering seaweed and scuttling crabs. She traced her fingers along the edge of the ribs, then stepped into their vast cage. These bones were gashed as if by claws or teeth. Either the dragon had died violently, or vigorous scavengers had carved up the carcass. When she pulled her hand away, her skin was smudged with black fromthe decomposing dragon bone. Not stopping to wonder why, she followed an impulse and traced the ashes around her eyes and across her forehead, thinking of her father. Another rush of water. The tide was turning in earnest now. Cyndere tucked the whistle into her pocket. “You’ll regret missing this, Deun.” She felt a strong tug of the tether, longing to share all wonders with Deuneroi. That desire would bring her home again. Something moved. She turned, half expecting the mage. But this figure was taller and robed in something colorless. Light passed through it, and it cast no shadow. Her father’s courage flickered again. She stepped from between the oceandragon’s ribs to get a better look. But swift currents of fog moved in, erasing the phantom. She thought to call out, but distant voices approaching from Bel Amica distracted her. Walking back, clutching the whistle in her pocketed fist, Cyndere guessed that her guardians meant to rescue her. She hastened toward them, smug with her discovery. How Deuneroi would laugh. But then she slowed. Figures emerged from the mist. Their silhouettes became robes, wringing hands, fretful faces. Some were Seers, stalking forward like white mantises. Some, her attendants—sisterlies—in their heavy brown stormcloaks, with her lifelong friend Emeriene limping along ahead of them, one leg bound in a cast. “Cyndere.” Emeriene opened her arms and stumbled forward in her haste as a mother lunges to save her child from a fall.
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“Em.” Cyndere’s voice seized in her throat. Her body knew, somehow, before any tidings reached her ears. “No. Not Deuneroi…” Cyndere’s tether broke. Like a kite cut loose in a storm, she surrendered, turning and splashing out into the tide. Half in ocean, half in fog, she felt wet sand give way beneath her feet. Water closed over her head. When Emeriene’s hands seized Cyndere’s robes, the heiress of House Bel Amica fought to break free and dive into her father’s embrace.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Auralia's Colors (The Auralia Thread Series #1)

WaterBrook Press (September 4, 2007)


Jeffrey Overstreet lives in two worlds. By day, he writes about movies at and in notable publications like Christianity Today, Paste, and Image. His adventures in cinema are chronicled in his book Through a Screen Darkly. By night, he composes new stories found in fictional worlds of his own. Living in Shoreline, Washington, with his wife, Anne, a poet, he is a senior staff writer for Response Magazine at Seattle Pacific University. Auralia's Colors (The Auralia Thread Series #1)is his first novel. His second, Cyndere's Midnight continues The Auralia Thread Series.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (September 4, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400072522
ISBN-13: 978-1400072521


Old Thieves Make a Discovery

Auralia lay still as death, like a discarded doll, in a burgundy tangle of rushes and spineweed on the bank of a bend in the River Throanscall, when she was discovered by an old man who did not know her name. She bore no scars, no broken bones, just the stain of inkblack soil. Contentedly, she cooed, whispered, and babbled, learning the river’s language, and focused her gaze on the stormy dance of evening sky—roiling purple clouds edged with blood red. The old man surmised she was waiting and listening for whoever, or whatever, had forsaken her there. Those fevered moments of his discovery burnt into the old man’s memory. In the years that followed, he would hold and turn them in his mind the way an explorer ponders relics he has found in the midst of ruin. But the mysteryremained stubbornly opaque. No matter how often he exaggerated the story to impress his fireside listeners—“I dove into that ragin’ river and caught her by the toe!” “I fought off that hungry river wyrm with my picker-staff just in time!”—he found no clue to her origins, no answers to questions of whyor how. The Gatherers, House Abascar, the Expanse—the whole world might have been different had he left her there with riverwater running from her hair. “The River Girl”—that was what the Gatherers came to call her until she grew old enough to set them straight. Without the River Girl, the four houses of the Expanse might have perished in their troubles. But then again, some say that without the River Girl those troubles might never have come at all. This is how the spark was struck. A ruckus of crows caught Krawg’s attention as he groped for berries deep in a bramble. He and Warney, the conspirator with whom he had been caught thieving so many years ago, were laboring to pay their societal debts to House Abascar. The day had been long, but Krawg’s spirits were high. No officers had come to reckon their work and berate them. Not yet. Tired of straining for latesummer apples high in the boughs of ancient trees, they had put down their picker-staffs and turned to plucking sourjuice and jewelweed bushes an applecore’s throw from the Throanscall. Warney was preoccupied, trying to free his thorn-snagged sleeves and leggings. So Krawg smiled, dropped his harvesting sack, and crept away to investigate the cause of the birds’ cacophony. He hoped to find them eying an injured animal, maybe a broad-antlered buck he could finish off and present to the duty officers. That would be a prize grand enough to deserve preparation in King Cal-marcus’s kitchens. Such a discovery might bring Krawg closer to the king’s grace and a pardon. “Aw, will you look at that?” Krawg flexed his bony fingers. The feathered curmudgeons flapped at the air over the riverbank, their gaze fixed on a disturbance in the grass. “Now, hold on!” called his even bonier friend. “Whatcha got there? Wait for me!” Twigs snapped and fabric ripped, but Warney made no progress.
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“Speak up now, what’re them flappers squawkin’ over? Are beastmen coming to kill us?” “Stop spookin’, fraidy-brain,” Krawg growled, and then he gusted air throughhis nostrils. “There won’t be no beastman savages out here in the afternoon.” “What is it then? Merchants?” “No merchants.” “Is it a swarm of stingers?” “Nope.” “A fangbear? River wyrms? Bramblepigs?” “Don’t think so.” “Some young buster sneakin’ up behind us? Come on now. What’s got them birds so bothered?”According to his nature, Krawg tossed back a lie. “They’re just fightin’ over a mess of reekin’ twister fish they snatched out of the shallows.” Groundwater closed over his feet as he made his way through the reeds on the riverbank. Increasinglyperturbed by the way Krawg was stalking their target, the crows descended to the branch of a stooping cottonbeard tree and pelted him with insults. As Krawg combed the grasses for an answer, Warney at last emerged fromthe trees with worry in his one good eye, gripping as if it were a hunting spear the long, clawed picker-staff he had used all day to drag down the higher appleboughs. Warney seemed barely more than a skeleton wrapped in loose flesh and a rough burlap cloak. “What are they fussin’ about now if they’ve gone and eaten their fill?”Krawg’s vulturebeak nose twitched in the middle of the few undisciplined whiskers that grew where a mustache did not. He leaned forward, apprehensive, and saw not a pile of fish bones but two tiny pink hands reaching into the air. “One of the fish has got hands!” gasped Warney. “Shush now! It isn’t a pile of fish.” Krawg took hold of the appleknife in his pocket. “Whatever it is, it’s harmless, I’m sure.”Warney glanced back at the woods. “Don’t forget to watch for you-knowwho. Duty officers’ll haul us in, bottom ’n’ blockhead, if they catch us messin’with anything other than them berries. They’ll ride their stinkin’ lizards right through here soon. Come on now…there’s a nice bramble just back here. Youdon’t want the duty to string us up in the hangers, do ya?” “Good creepin’ Cragavar forest, of all the bloody wonders I ever seen… Looky!” The braver Gatherer flipped his black hood back from his hairless head and bent to examine the child. Warney remained where he was. “Krawg, you’re givin’ me the shut-mouth again. What is it, old boy?” “Just a creepin’, crawlin’ baby, it is.” Krawg massaged the flab beneath his chin. “Mercy, Warney, look at her.” “It’s a her? How do you know?” “Well, howdaya think I know?” Krawg reached for the child, then thought better of it. “Warney, this must mean somethin’. You and me…findin’ this.”He scanned the spaces between trees on both sides of the mist-shrouded river and confirmed that the only witnesses were crows and a tailtwitcher that clung upside down to the trunk of a birch. Warney splashed into the river shallows and prodded the submerged ground with his picker-staff before each step. The weeds around his ankles
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whispered hushhh…hushhh…hushhh.The child convulsed twice. She coughed up droplets of water. And then she made a sound that might have been a laugh. “Now that’s odd.” Krawg gestured to the child’s tiny head. “She got brown and silver hairs. She’s seen at least two seasons, I’d say. Probably born before that hard freeze we had awhile back.”“Yeah, gotta ’gree with ya there.”Warney’s eye was white as a sparrow’s egg in the shadows of his hood. “And she’s not the spawn of those beastmen. Everything about her seems like a good baby girl, not some accursed cross between person and critter. Looks like she’s been fed and looked after too…well, until she got tossed intothe river, I suppose.” “Gotta ’gree with ya there.”Warney now leaned over the child, swaying like a scarecrow in the wind. “She’s better fed than any of us Gatherers…or crows, for that matter.” The crows were quiet, watching, picking at their sharp toes. Krawg knelt and took to picking at his toes as well, poking at yellow places, which meant he was thinking hard. “We’re too far east of House Bel Amica for her to belong to them proud and greedy folk. But how could she be from our good House Abascar? Folk from Abascar only step out of the house walls if King Cal-marcus tells ’em to. Too scared of beastmen, they are…these days.” “Gotta ’gree with ya there.” “Do you always gotta ’gree with me there?!” Krawg snatched the pickerstaff from Warney’s hands and clubbed his hooded head. Warney jumped away, growled, and bared his teeth. Krawg tossed the staff aside and rose up like a bear answering the challenge of a rat. Warney, like a rat realizing he has awakened a bear, fled back toward the quiet woods. “Now don’t you get it in your head to leave me here with this orphan,” Krawg called, “or I’ll rip that patch off your dead eye!” “Have ya thought…”Warney paused, turned, and clasped his head with both hands, as if trying to stretch his mind to accommodate a significant thought. “Has it occurred to ya that… Do ya think…” “Speak, you rangy crook!” “Oh ballyworms, Krawg! What if she’s a Northchild?” Krawg stumbled back a step and narrowed his eyes at the infant. The tailtwitcher, the crows, and even the river seemed to quiet at Warney’s question. But Krawg at last shook off worry. “Don’t shovel that vawn pile my way, Warney.You been eatin’ too much of Yawny’s stew, and your dreams are gettin’to you. Only crazies think Northchildren are actual. There’s no such thing.” They watched the baby’s hands sculpt shapes in the air. “And anyway,” Krawg continued, glancing northward at the sky purpling over the jagged mountains of the Forbidding Wall, “everybody knows Northchildren are taller, and they drape blankets over themselves.” Nearby, branches broke with sharp echoes as something moved in the woods.“Grab for a weapon,” hissed Warney, “because I smell prowling beastmen!” “Doubtful,” said Krawg, but he bent his knees and sank into the grass. “Duty officers then!” In case their overseers were, in fact, looking for them, Krawg shouted, “We
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better get back to the patches, Warney! I sure don’t see any berries out here.” He lifted Warney’s picker-staff and marched to join his friend in the trees. But Warney seemed stuck, as though the girl had tossed a rope and snared his ankle. “You know what they say. If a man leaves a good deed undone, Northchildren will come creepin’ at night and drag him off into the curse of the—” “I’m not scared of you, butt-guster,” Krawg whispered. “Now hush before anybody hears you!” The girl, aware that she was alone again, began to murmur as if talking with someone they could not see. The Gatherers watched her clap her tiny hands.A crow took wing from the cottonbeard tree and made a wide circle over the child’s bed. “They want that fresh meat,” Krawg observed. Warney nodded. “Gotta ’gree with ya…” His mouth snapped shut, and he winced. Krawg loosed a weary sigh, waved a scornful gesture at the birds, and returned to kneel beside the baby. Warney hopped back to peer over Krawg’s shoulder. “What’s that she’s lyin’ in? That isn’t a sinkhole.” “No, somebody carved out this hole with their hands.” “Not with their hands, no. Look, Krawg…toes. This Northchild’s lyin’ in a footprint!”Warney’s grin signified a victory. “Gotta disagree with ya there!” The child had gone quiet and still. And that was what Krawg would remember for the rest of his troubled life—the moment when her eyes gatheredsunset’s burning hues and flickered with some element he had never seen; the way she rested, as though commanded to surrender by some voice only she could hear; the way he clenched his jaw, made his decision. A wave of wind carried a few slow leaves, a shower of twirling seedpods from the violet trees, spiders on newly flung strands, and a hint of distant music—the Early Evening Verse sung by the watchman of House Abascar to mark the dusk of the day.“Oh, our backs are strapped now. They’ll string us upside down for certain. It’s late, and we’re bound to be found missin’.”Warney’s eye rolled to fix on the sun’s fading beacons. “Let’s turn the baby over to the first officer we see, and maybe—” “What do you think a duty officer sees when he looks at us, Warney? I’mthe Midnight Swindler, and you’re the One-Eyed Bandit! They’ll say we swiped this baby from somewhere. We already been punished for our thievin’. They made us live outside the walls as Gatherers, and there’s only one shelf in the pantry lower than that: the dungeons.” Krawg threw the picker-staff down— splack!—against the wet ground. “I can’t hand her over, but I can’t leave her either. If I do, some officer’ll ride through here and stomp her into the ground. We’ve got to take her. And hide her.” “Ballyworms!”Warney shuddered. “You ’n’ me ’n a Northchild ’n’ all!” A commotion erupted just south of the marsh. First came a three-toned bellow, which the Gatherers recognized as the complaint of a vawn, one ofthe duty officers’ reptilian steeds. Then came the din of crushed bracken and shaken trees. It was certainly an officer come to measure their progress. Krawg bent low and lifted the naked child by the arms. “She’s harmless. Didn’t cast no spell on me. Didn’t drag me off into darkness. She isn’t a
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Northchild! There’s no such thing.” “Well, let’s hurry it up then,” said Warney, grinning in spite of his fear. A few minutes later Krawg and Warney reached the shelter of thatched grass roofs and crooked mud walls in the woods just outside House Abascar’s boundary.There, the kinder sort among the Gatherers would tend to the River Girl’s needs and protect her from the dangerous sort. Warney clapped a hand over his mouth, muffling a laugh. “Don’t it bring back memories, Krawg? Sneakin’ off with treasure like this?” “Warney,” Krawg replied, “we’ve never, never lifted treasure like this.” Krawg and Warney weren’t punished for carrying back the child. But they were “strung up in the hangers” and dangled from their ankles there a full day, scraping the filthy gutters of their vocabulary, when it was discovered they had returned without their designated picker-staffs. Meanwhile, at the river’s edge, water seeped from the soil into the footprint, turned to mud, and solidified. A mist rose, hovered over the place, then wisped away without wind to carry it. It would remain a mystery and a memoryto the three men who had found it there—the two troubled Gatherers and one other. Just after Krawg and Warney had absconded with the child, a solitary rider emerged from the trees and sighted that damp impression in the grass. The young rider, small and eager, dismounted and studied the outline even as it began to fade. He pulled from the earth a riverstone and touched the face of it with his fingertips, where a dull magic blurred. The stone’s color warmed, and it softened to clay under his touch. Sensing the magic, the crows on the cottonbeard branch shrieked and scattered. The boy etched a mark in the stone as similar to the contours of the footprint as he could—a sculpture, an equivalent. Then he walked up and down the banks awhile, surveying the soil. When the vawn snorted impatiently, he returned and climbed back into his ornate saddle. The two-legged steed stomped off, happy to head away from the water and into the trees. No one knew of the rider’s visit to the river. No one saw the record of his discovery, which he kept like a clue to a riddle. And he locked his questions up tight for fear of troubling the volatile storms within the heart of his father, the king.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Less Than Dead by Tim Downs

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Less Than Dead

Thomas Nelson (September 9, 2008)


Tim Downs


Tim Downs is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Indiana University. After graduation in 1976 he created a comic strip, Downstown, which was syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate until 1986. His cartooning has appeared in more than a hundred major newspapers worldwide.

His first book, a work of non-fiction, was awarded the Gold Medallion Award in 2000. His first novel, Shoofly Pie, was awarded the Angel Award in 2004, and his third novel, PlagueMaker, was awarded the Christy Award for best suspense novel of 2007. First The Dead, the third book in this Bug Man series came out earlier this year.

Tim lives in Cary, North Carolina, with his wife Joy.


Some secrets just won't stay buried.
When strange bones surface on a U.S. senator's property, the FBI enlists forensic entomologist Nick Polchak to investigate the forgotten graveyard. Polchak's orders are simple: figure out the mess.

But Polchak, known as the "Bug Man" because of his knowledge of insects and their interaction with the dead, senses darker secrets buried beneath the soil.

Secrets that could derail the senator's presidential bid.

Secrets buried in the history of a quaint Virginia town.

Secrets someone is willing to kill to protect.

With the help of a mysterious local woman named Alena and her uncanny cadaver dogs, Polchak sets out to dig up the truth.

But with a desperate killer hot on his trail, he'll be lucky to wind up anything less than dead.

My review: While a Senator is trying to build a new property, graves are discovered. Graves that hold secrets. Secrets of a killer; someone that buried the victims on top of other graves. How long as this been going on, how are they going to find the murderer who may be still around there, or may be long gone. Nick Polchak can help determine how long the bodies have been there from the bugs that are in the grave. Some bugs start eating the body first, then others and others. Also the police call in help from the woman Alena, the woman of Endor...yes Endor. Yes, a medium like in the bible, who Saul went to seek. At first a mother is looking for her son, and is frantic that this woman is called because she "only finds the dead." But this is not just one missing child, it is a serial killer. And secrets buried that can destroy the Senator's quest to build there and his race for President. Less Than Dead provides the reader with a suspense filled mystery and thriller! Will they stop the killer before Nick is killed too? You read this and find out!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Less Than Dead, go HERE

The book link is:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Angelic Candle Scentsations

Introducing my business
Angelic Candle Scentsations
Michelle Kralicek
I am selling candles, votives, PIE candles, bath and body products, and car air fresheners. These are Gourmet Cleaner Burning candles. If you are looking for candles that smell heavenly amazing, keep their scentsational aroma until the whole candle is burned and are soot free; these are the candles for you! These candles wipe up with just hot water and soap if spilled. They have 2 wicks, and the pie candles have 3 wicks so they do not just burn a hole down the center of the candle, it will burn the whole candle! Try one, you'll love it! They smell so good you won't want any old candle again!
To look at and purchase candles or other items please visit my website. And/or contact me for more information!
Michelle Kralicek
2200 Douglas Ave Lot 62
Yankton, SD 57078

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Murder On The Ol' Bunions by S. Dionne Moore

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Murder on The Ol' Bunions

Barbour Publishing, Inc (2008)


S. Dionne Moore


SAndra has been writing for years with historicals being her main focus. By the time she had a polished manuscript in hand, historicals were unpopular. She didn't give up though and decided to try her hand at writing a mystery. A cozy mystery.

Her first book, Murder on The Ol' Bunions , released in April of 2008. Book two of the LaTisha Barnhart Mystery series, Polly Dent Loses Grip, and book three, Eat, Drink and Be Buried will follow in April 2009 and 2010, respectively.

She's almost always running a contest, so drop by her Website, you just might win a free gift!


LaTisha Barnhart’s bunions tell her something’s afoot as she delves deeper into the murder of her former employee, Marion Peters. When LaTisha becomes a suspect, the ante is upped, and she is determined to clear her name and find the culprit.

She’s burping Mark Hamm’s bad cooking to investigate his beef with Marion. . .getting her hair styled at a high falutin’ beauty parlor to see what has Regina Rogane in a snarl. . .playing self-appointed matchmaker between the local chief and a prime suspect. . .and thinking Payton O’Mahney’s music store lease might be the reason he’s singing out of tune when discussion of Marion’s murder arises. LaTisha’s thinking she just might use the reward money to get her bunions surgically removed. But she’s got to catch the crook first.

Small town intrigue, a delightful, vivid cast, and a well-crafted mystery make S. Dionne Moore’s debut novel a must-read! I loved it!~Susan May Warren~Award-winning author of Reclaiming Nick

“S. Dionne Moore has the rare quality of pulling together great characters and compelling plots.”
~Kelly Klepfer~

If you would like to HEAR the first chapter, go HERE and click on the bookcover trailer box!

If you would like to READ, the first chapter of Murder on The Ol' Bunions , go HERE.

The book link is:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ripple Effect (Time Thriller Trilogy, Book 1)

It's the 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!

My review: Wonderful book, can't wait to read more in the series! A girl that's wants to run away from her parents, gets caught up in the ripple's of time. The town is full of strange occurences, and then she ends up in another world, one that's even stranger. Can she solve the mystery and get home again, or be trapped in another time and place forever? Paul McCusker is another great author I have found! Can't wait for more.

and his book:

Zondervan (October 1, 2008)


Paul McCusker is the author of The Mill House, Epiphany, The Faded Flower and several Adventures in Odyssey programs. Winner of the Peabody Award for his radio drama on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for Focus on the Family, he lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and two children.

Product Details

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714362
ISBN-13: 978-0310714361


“I’m running away,” Elizabeth announced defiantly. She chomped a french fry in half.

Jeff looked up at her. He’d been absentmindedly swirling his straw in his malted milkshake while she complained about her parents, which she had been doing for the past half hour. “You’re what?”

“You weren’t listening, were you?”

“I was too.”

“Then what did I say?” Elizabeth tucked a loose strand of her long brown hair behind her ear so it wouldn’t fall into the puddle of ketchup next to her fries.

“You were complaining about how your mom and dad drive you crazy because your dad embarrassed you last night while you and Melissa Morgan were doing your history homework. And your dad lectured you for twenty minutes about . . . about . . .” He was stumped.

“Chris-tian symbolism in the King Arthur legends,” Elizabeth said.

“Yeah, except that you and Melissa were supposed to be studying the . . . um — ”

“French Revolution.”

“Right, and Melissa finally made up an excuse to go home, and you were embarrassed and mad at your dad — ”

“As usual,” she said and savaged another french fry.

Jeff gave a sigh of relief. Elizabeth’s pop quizzes were a lot tougher than anything they gave him at school. But it was hard for him to listen when she griped about her parents. Not having any parents of his own, Jeff didn’t connect when Elizabeth went on and on about hers.

“Then what did I say?” she asked.

He was mid-suck on his straw and nearly blew the contents back into the glass. “Huh?”

“What did I say after that?”

“You said . . . uh . . .” He coughed, then glanced around the Fawlt Line Diner, hoping for inspiration or a way to change the subject. His eye was dazzled by the endless chrome, beveled mirrors, worn red upholstery, and checkered floor tiles. And it boasted Alice Dempsey, the world’s oldest living waitress, dressed in her paper cap and red-striped uniform with white apron.

She had seen Jeff look up and now hustled over to their booth. She arrived smelling like burnt hamburgers and chewed her gum loudly. “You kids want anything else?”

Rescued, Jeff thought. “No, thank you,” he said.

She cracked an internal bubble on her gum and dropped the check on the edge of the table. “See you tomorrow,” Alice said.

“No, you won’t,” Elizabeth said under her breath. “I won’t be here.”

As she walked off, Alice shot a curious look back at Elizabeth. She was old, but she wasn’t deaf.

“Take it easy,” Jeff said to Elizabeth.

“I’m going to run away,” she said, heavy rebuke in her tone. “If you’d been listening — ”

“Aw, c’mon, Bits — ” Jeff began. He’d called her “Bits” for as long as either of them could remember, all the way back to first grade. “It’s not that bad.”

“You try living with my mom and dad, and tell me it’s not that bad.”

“I know your folks,” Jeff said. “They’re a little quirky, that’s all.”

“Quirky! They’re just plain weird. They’re clueless about life in the real world. Did you know that my dad went to church last Sunday with his shirt on inside out?”

“It happens.”

“And wearing his bedroom slippers?”

Jeff smiled. Yeah, that’s Alan Forde, all right, he thought.

“Don’t you dare smile,” Elizabeth threatened, pointing a french fry at him. “It’s not funny. His slippers are grass stained. Do you know why?”

“Because he does his gardening in his bedroom slippers.”

Elizabeth threw up her hands. “That’s right! He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care how he looks, what -people think of him, or anything! And my mom doesn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed for him. She thinks he’s adorable! They’re weird.”

“They’re just . . . themselves. They’re — ”

Elizabeth threw herself against the back of the red vinyl bench and groaned. “You don’t understand.”

“Sure I do!” Jeff said. “Your parents are no worse than Malcolm.” Malcolm Dubbs was Jeff’s father’s cousin, on the English side of the family, and had been Jeff’s guardian since his parents had died five years ago in a plane crash. As the last adult of the Dubbs family line, he came from England to take over the family fortune and estate. “He’s quirky.”

“But that’s different. Malcolm is nice and sensitive and has that wonderful English accent,” Elizabeth said, nearly swooning. Jeff’s cousin was a heartthrob among some of the girls.

“Don’t get yourself all worked up,” Jeff said.

“My parents just go on and on about things I don’t care about,” she continued. “And if I hear the life-can’t-be-taken-too-seriously-because-it’s-just-a-small-part-of-a-bigger-picture lecture one more time, I’ll go out of my mind.”

Again Jeff restrained his smile. He knew that lecture well. Except his cousin Malcolm summarized the same idea in the phrase “the eternal perspective.” All it meant was that there was a lot more to life than what we can see or experience with our senses. This world is a temporary stop on a journey to a truer, more real reality, he’d say — an eternal reality. “Look, your parents see things differently from most -people. That’s all,” Jeff said, determined not to turn this gripe session into an Olympic event.

“They’re from another planet,” Elizabeth said. “Sometimes I think this whole town is. Haven’t you figured it out yet?”

“I like Fawlt Line,” Jeff said softly, afraid Elizabeth’s complaints might offend some of the other regulars at the diner.

“Everybody’s so . . . so oblivious! Nobody even seems to notice how strange this place is.”

Jeff shrugged. “It’s just a town, Bits. Every town has its quirks.”

“Is that your word of the day?” Elizabeth snapped. “These aren’t just quirks, Jeffrey.”

Jeff rolled his eyes. When she resorted to calling him Jeffrey, there was no reasoning with her. He rubbed the side of his face and absentmindedly pushed his fingers through his wavy black hair.

“What about Helen?” Elizabeth challenged him.

“Which Helen? You mean the volunteer at the information booth in the mall? That Helen?”

“I mean Helen the volunteer at the information booth in the mall who thinks she’s psychic. That’s who I mean.” Elizabeth leaned over the Formica tabletop. Jeff moved her plate of fries and ketchup to one side. “She won’t let you speak until she guesses what you’re going to ask. And she’s never right!”

Jeff shrugged.

“Our only life insurance agent has been dead for six years.”

“Yeah, but — ”

“And there’s Walter Keenan. He’s a professional proofreader for park bench ads! He wanders around, making -people move out of the way so he can do his job.” Her voice was a shrill whisper.

“Ben Hearn only pays him to do that because he feels sorry for him. You know old Walter hasn’t been the same since that shaving accident.”

“But I heard he just got a job doing the same thing at a tattoo parlor!”

“I’m sure tattooists want to make sure their spelling is correct.”

Elizabeth groaned and shook her head. “It’s like Mayberry trapped in the Twilight Zone. I thought you’d understand. I thought you knew how nuts this town is.” Elizabeth locked her gaze onto Jeff’s.

He gazed back at her and, suddenly, the image of her large brown eyes, the faint freckles on her upturned nose, her full lips, made him want to kiss her. He wasn’t sure why — they’d been friends for so long that she’d probably laugh at him if he ever actually did it — but the urge was still there.

“It’s not such a bad place,” he managed to say.

“I’ve had enough of this town,” she said. “Of my parents. Of all the weirdness. I’m fifteen years old and I wanna be a normal kid with normal problems. Are you coming with me or not?”

Jeff cocked an eyebrow. “To where?”

“To wherever I run away to,” she replied. “I’m serious about this, Jeff. I’m getting all my money together and going somewhere normal. We can take your Volkswagen and — ”

“Listen, Bits,” Jeff interrupted, “I know how you feel. But we can’t just run away. Where would we go? What would we do?”

“And who are you all of a sudden: Mr. Responsibility? You never know where you’re going or what you’re doing. You’re our very own Huck Finn.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Not according to Mr. Vidler.”

“Mr. Vidler said that?” Jeff asked defensively, wondering why their English teacher would be talking about him to Elizabeth.

“He says it’s because you don’t have parents, and Malcolm doesn’t care what you do.”

Jeff grunted. He didn’t like the idea of Mr. Vidler discussing him like that. And Malcolm certainly cared a great deal about what he did.

Elizabeth continued. “So why should you care where we go or what we do? Let’s just get out of here.”

“But, Bits, it’s stupid and — ”

“No! I’m not listening to you,” Elizabeth shouted and hit the tabletop with the palms of her hands. Silence washed over the diner like a wave as everyone turned to look.

“Keep it down, will you?” Jeff whispered fiercely.

“Either you go with me, or stay here and rot in this town. It’s up to you.”

Jeff looked away. It was unusual for them to argue. And when they did, it was usually Jeff who gave in. Like now. “I don’t know,” he said quietly.

Elizabeth also softened her tone. “If you’re going, then meet me at the Old Saw Mill by the edge of the river tonight at ten.” She paused, then added, “I’m going whether you come with me or not.”

Monday, October 20, 2008

Eternity's Edge by Bryan Davis

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

My review: Wonderful second book in this series! Excellent job, Bryan Davis! As the traveling through mirrors to 3 Earths transforms into also going to different dimensions, the book gets better and better. Mictar is still alive and trying to kill Nathan, Kelly and the others. The mirrors are malfunctioning and could either send them straight to death, or into the dimension of spirits. This book satisfies, it never lets up on the action!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Eternity's Edge

Zondervan (October 1, 2008)


Bryan Davis and his wife, Susie, have seven children and live in western Tennessee, where he continues to cook up his imaginative blend of fantasy and inspiration.

Besides the Echoes from the Edge Series that begins with Beyond the Reflection's Edge, Bryan Davis is the author of the Dragons in Our Midst and Oracles of Fire series, contemporary/fantasy books for young adults. The first book, Raising Dragons , was released in July of 2004, followed by Candlestone , The Circles of Seven, and Tears of a Dragon . Eye of the Oraclelaunched the Oracles of Fire series and hit number one on the CBA Young Adult best-seller list in January of 2007. Book number two, Enoch's Ghost , came out in July and will be followed by Last of the Nephilim in the spring of 2008.

Visit him at his website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 12.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310715555
ISBN-13: 978-0310715559


A Stalker

Nathan strode down the hospital hallway, his brain focused on a single thought—finding his parents. Once mutilated and dead in matching coffins, now they were alive. He had touched his father’s chain-bound arms through the dimensional mirror and felt his loving strength. He had heard his mother’s voice and once again bathed in the majesty of her matchless violin.

Yet, the beautiful duet they had played at the funeral had once again become a solo. He had failed. The dimensional portal collapsed, and there was no word from Earth Blue as to whether or not his parents might still be in the bedroom where they had sought rescue from their captivity.

He sat down on a coffee-stained sofa in the waiting area and clenched his fist. His parents were real. They were alive. And now he had to move heaven and earth, maybe even three earths, to find them.

Staring into the hall, he mentally reentered Kelly’s room and saw her lying on the bed, beaten and bruised from their ordeal, her shoulder lacerated and her eyes half blind. The words he spoke to her just moments ago came back to him. We’ll search for them together. But how could she help? With all the dangers ahead, how could a blinded, wounded girl help him find his parents?

A sharp, matronly voice shook him from his meditative trance. “Ah! There you are!”

Nathan shot to his feet. Clara marched toward him, her heels clacking on the tile floor as she pushed back her windblown gray hair. Walking stride for stride next to the tall lady, Dr. Gordon stared at a cell phone, his face as grim as ever.

As they entered the waiting area, Nathan nodded toward the hallway. “Tony’s with Kelly. Thought I’d let them have some daddy-daughter time.”

While Dr. Gordon punched his cell phone keys, apparently typing out a text message, Clara lowered her voice. “Dr. Gordon received a cryptic email from Simon Blue. Solomon and Francesca aren’t there in your Earth Blue bedroom, but apparently something very unusual is going on, and we’re trying to get details.”

“So that’s our next destination,” Nathan said.

“Yes. We have already alerted my counterpart on Earth Blue. She and Daryl will be ready to pick you up at the observatory and take you to Kelly Blue’s house.”

“Good. Even if Mom and Dad aren’t there, it’s the logical place to start looking for them.”

“Are you going to break the news to Kelly?”

“I guess I’ll have to. She’s in no shape to come with me, but convincing her of that won’t be easy.”

Dr. Gordon closed his phone and slid it into his pocket. Turning toward Nathan, he spoke in his usual formal manner. “There are no further details available. We should proceed to the observatory at once. With Mictar’s associates gone, there should be no trouble gaining access. I have dismissed the guards, with the exception of one whom I trust, so we should not run into any unexpected company.”

“Okay,” Nathan said. “Let me talk to Kelly. I’ll be right back.”

As he walked down the hall, he wondered about Dr. Gordon’s words. It was true that Mictar’s goons were gone, giving him free access to the dimensional transport mirror on the observatory ceiling, but what about Mictar himself? He had disappeared into the mirror with Jack riding on top of him, but where could he have gone? And what could have become of Jack? Even if he escaped, he would be lost, especially after his recent brush with death in the Earth Yellow airline disaster and his subsequent discovery of his own burial site. Since Jack’s dimension lagged Earth Red’s by about thirty years, he would feel like a time-traveling visitor from the past.

A man in scrubs caught up and passed Nathan, pushing a lab tray stuffed with glass bottles and tubes. With lanky pale arms protruding from his short green sleeves, he kept his head low as he hurried. He slowed down in front of Kelly’s door, but when it opened, he resumed his pace and turned into a side corridor, his head still low.

Nathan could barely breathe. Could that have been Mictar? Would he be bold enough to come into the hospital? And why would he be so persistent in trying to get to Kelly? What value was she to him?

As Nathan neared the room, Tony came out. Bending his tall frame, he released the latch gently and walked away on tiptoes. When he spied Nathan, he jerked up and smiled, his booming voice contradicting his earlier attempts to be quiet. “Hey! What brings you back so soon?”

Nathan kept his eyes on the side hallway. No sign of the technician. “Some news for Kelly. I have to head back to the scene of the crime.”

Tony shook his finger. “Better not. She was so tired, she fell asleep in mid-bite. And if she’s too tired for pizza, she’s too tired for company.”

“You let her eat it? She’s only supposed to have—”

“Hey,” Tony said, pointing at himself, “I didn’t know about her diet until after I brought the pizza. But if you want to tell her what she should and shouldn’t eat, be my guest.”

“I know what you mean.” Nathan glanced between the door and the other hallway. “Okay if I sneak in and leave her a note?”

He grinned, his eyes bugging out even more than usual. “Just don’t get any ideas, Romeo.”

Nathan returned the smile, though he chaffed at the comment. Tony was joking, of course, but sometimes he blurted out the dumbest things. He wouldn’t dream of touching her inappropriately, not in a million years. His father had drilled that into his head a long time ago—never intimately touch a woman who is not your wife.

“I’ll behave myself.” He reached for the knob and nodded toward the other hallway. “Mind checking something out for me? I saw someone suspicious, a guy in scrubs, head that way. It looked like he was going into Kelly’s room, but when you came out, he took off.”

“You got it.” Tony crept toward the other hall, pointing. “That way?”

“Yeah. Just a few seconds ago.”

“I’m on it.” When he reached the corridor, he looked back, his muscular arms flexing. “Time to take out the trash.”

Nathan opened the door a crack, eased in, and closed it behind him. Walking slowly as his eyes adjusted, he quietly drew the partitioning curtain to the side and focused on Kelly’s head resting on a pillow, her shoulder-length brown hair splashed across the white linen. He stopped at her bedside, unable to draw his stare away from her lovely face.

Black scorch marks on her brow and cheeks and a thick bandage on her shoulder bore witness to her recent battle with Mictar. Her closed lids concealed wounded eyes, maybe the worst of all her injuries, the result of Mictar’s efforts to burn through to her brain and steal her life. So far, no corrective lenses seemed to help at all. If anything, they made her vision worse. Still, even in such a battle-torn condition, she was beautiful to behold, a true warrior wrapped in the sleeping shell of a petite, yet athletic, young lady.

He searched her side table for a pen and paper. A portable radio next to a flower vase played soft music, a piano concerto—elegant, but unfamiliar. He spotted a pen and pad and pushed the radio out of the way, but it knocked against the vase, making a clinking noise. He cringed and swiveled toward Kelly.

Her chest heaved. Her hands clenched the side rails. She scanned the room with glassy eyes, panting as she cried out. “Who’s there?”

Nathan grasped her wrist. “It’s just me,” he said softly.

Her eyes locked on his, wide and terrified. “Mictar is here!”

Making a shushing sound, he lowered the bed rail and pried her fingers loose. “You were just dreaming.”

“No!” She wagged her head hard. “I saw him! In the hospital!”

“Do you know where?”

She turned her head slowly toward the door. As a shaft of light split the darkness, her voice lowered to a whisper. “He’s here.”

A shadowy form stretched an arm into the room, then a body, movement so painstakingly deliberate, the intruder obviously didn’t want anyone to hear him.

Nathan grabbed the vase and dumped the flowers into a basin. Wielding it like a club, he crept toward the door, glancing between Kelly and the emerging figure. She yanked out her IV tube, swung her bare legs to the side, and dropped to the floor, blood dripping behind her.

The shadow, now fully in the room, halted. Nathan clenched his teeth. Kelly scooted to his side, tying her hospital gown closed in the back.

As the door swung shut, darkening the room, a low voice emanated from the black figure. “If it is a fight you seek, son of Solomon, I am more than capable of delivering it. In my current form, a glass vase will be a pitifully inadequate weapon. I suggest you give me what I want, and I will leave you in peace.”

Nathan tightened his grip on the vase. Should he ask what he wanted? Even replying to a simple remark seemed like giving in. Mictar was baiting him, and he didn’t want to bite. “Just get out, Mictar. It’s two against one. It only took a violin upside your head to beat you before, and you couldn’t even take on Jack by yourself at the funeral.”

Mictar’s voice rose in a mock lament. “Alas! Poor Jack. He was a formidable foe … may he rest in peace.” His tone lowered to a growl. “You can’t take me by surprise this time, you fool. Your base use of that instrument proves that you have no respect for its true power. And now you have neither a violin nor a Quattro mirror to provide a coward’s escape.”

Nathan peered at Mictar’s glowing eyes. The scarlet beacons seemed powerful and filled with malice. Yet, if he had as much power as he boasted, why hadn’t he attacked? Nathan set his feet and lifted the vase higher. Maybe it would be okay to find out what this demon wanted. “Why are you here?”

“To finish my meal. I have enough energy left to fight for what I want, but I would prefer not to expend it. If you will turn the girl over to me freely, I will consume what I merely tasted at the funeral and be on my way. In exchange, I will leave you with two precious gifts. I will tell you how to find your parents, and I will relieve you of that handicapped little harlot.”

Nathan flinched. Kelly gasped and backed away a step.

“Ah, yes,” Mictar continued, his dark shape slowly expanding. “That word is profane in your ears, yet I wager that it rings true in your mind. Kelly Clark is not the paragon of virtue your father would want for your bride. She clings to you like a leech, because she is soiled by—”

“Just shut up!” Nathan shouted. “I don’t want to hear it!”

The humanlike shadow swelled to twice its original size. “Oh, yes, you do. You want to know every lurid detail. She is your dark shadow, and you will never find your parents while you entertain a harlot at your side.”

“No!” Nathan slung the vase at Mictar. When it came within inches of his dark head, it stopped in midair. Nathan tried to reach for Kelly, but his arm locked in place. His head wouldn’t even swivel. Everything in the room had frozen … except for Mictar.

The shadow continued to grow. His dark hands drew closer and closer. “I saved the last bit of my energy,” Mictar said, “to perform one of my brother’s favorite tricks, motor suspension of everything within my sight. Now I will take yours and the harlot’s eyes, and I will need no more to fill Lucifer’s engine.”

A knock sounded at the door. “Nathan? Is everything okay?”

Tony’s voice! Nathan tried to answer, but his jaw wouldn’t move. His tongue cleaved to the roof of his mouth. A dark hand wrapped around his neck and clamped down, throttling his windpipe.

Another knock sounded, louder this time. “Nathan, the nurse says it’s time for vitals.”

Another hand draped his face. Sparks of electricity shot out, stinging his eyes.

“I’m coming in!” Light flashed around Mictar’s hand, but Nathan still couldn’t budge. Pain jolted his senses. His legs shook wildly as if he had been lifted off the floor and rattled like a baby’s toy.

Suddenly, the darkness flew away. Mictar’s body, a black human form with no face or clothes, zoomed past the nurse and crashed against the back wall. “Stay right there,” Tony shouted, “or I’ll introduce your face to the other wall.”

Like a streaking shadow, Mictar pounced on Tony, wrenched his arm behind him until it snapped, and slung him against the wall. Tony staggered for a moment, then slumped to the floor, dazed.

Mictar grabbed the nurse from behind. As she kicked and screamed, he laid a fingerless hand over her eyes and pressed down. Sparks flew, and Mictar’s body lightened to a dark gray, details tracing across his gaunt pale face and bony hands. His white hair materialized, slick and tied back in a ponytail. The lines of a silk shirt and denim trousers etched across the edges of his frame, completing the full-body portrait of the evil stalker.

Nathan tried to help, but his feet seemed stuck in clay. He slid one ahead, but the other stayed planted. Kelly hobbled toward the melee and helped her father to his feet. While she cradled his broken arm, Mictar’s body continued to clarify. The nurse sagged in his clutches, but he held on, light still pouring into his body from hers.

His legs finally loosening, Nathan stumbled ahead and thrust his arms forward. He rammed into Mictar, but, as if repelled by a force field, he bounced back and slammed against the floor. New jolts sizzled across his skin, painful, but short-lived. He looked up at the stalker’s pulsing form, now complete and radiant.

Mictar dropped the nurse into a heap of limp arms and legs and kicked her body to the side. Tony crouched as if ready to pounce again, but his movements had slowed. Wincing, he picked up an IV stand and drew it back, ready to strike.

Mictar tilted his head up and opened his mouth, but instead of speaking, he began to sing. His voice, a brilliant tenor, grew in volume, crooning a single note that seemed to thicken the air.

Dropping the IV stand, Tony fell to his knees. Kelly stumbled back and pressed her body against the wall. A vase exploded, sending sharp bits of glass flying, and a long crack etched its way from one corner of the outer window to the other.

Fighting the piercing agony, Nathan rolled up to his knees and climbed to his feet, but the latest shock had stiffened his legs, and the noise seemed to be cracking his bones in half. He could barely move at all.

Mictar took a breath and sang again. This time, he belted out what seemed to be a tune, but it carried no real melody, just a hodgepodge of unrelated notes that further thickened the air. Red mist formed along the floor, an inch deep and swirling. As Mictar sang on, the fog rose to Nathan’s shins, churning like a cauldron of blood. With the door partially open, the dense mist poured out, but it wasn’t enough to keep the flood from rising.

A security guard yanked the door wide open. With a pistol drawn, he waded into the knee-high wall of red. Dr. Gordon and Clara followed, but when the sonic waves blasted across their bodies, the guard dropped his gun, and all three covered their ears, their faces wrinkling in pain.

The window shattered. Mist crawled up the wall and streamed through the jagged opening. The floor trembled. Cracking sounds popped all around. The entire room seemed to spin in a slow rotation, like the beginning of a carousel ride.

“Nathan!” Dr. Gordon shouted. “He’s creating a dimensional hole! He’ll take us all to his domain!”

“How can he? There’s no mirror!”

“He can stretch one of the wounds that already exists.”

The spin accelerated, drawing Nathan toward the window. “How do we stop him? He’s electrified!”

Dr. Gordon staggered toward Nathan, fighting the centrifugal force, but he managed only two steps. “Neutralize his song!”

Nathan leaned toward the center of the room but kept sliding away. “I don’t have my violin!”

The outer wall collapsed. Fog rolled out and tumbled into the expanse, six stories above the ground. The floor buckled and pitched, knocking everyone to their seats. While Nathan pushed to keep from being spun out of the room, the nurse’s body slid across the tile and plunged over the edge with the river of red mist.

Too weak to fight, Nathan slipped toward the precipice. He latched on to the partitioning curtain and hung on with all his strength.

Mictar took a quick breath and sang on.

The bed’s side table bumped against Nathan’s body. The pen fell, bounced off his shoulder, and disappeared in the fog. Still hanging on to the curtain with one hand, he looked up at the wobbling table. The radio! With his free hand, he shook the supporting leg and caught the radio as it fell. With a quick twist, he turned the volume to maximum.

Now playing a Dvořák symphony, the radio blasted measure after measure of deep cellos and kettle drums. Trumpets blared. Cymbals crashed. Violins joined in and created a tsunami of music that swept through the room.

As if squeezed toward him, the mist swirled around Mictar’s body. His song weakened. He coughed and gasped, but he managed to spew a string of obscenities before finally shouting, “You haven’t seen the last of me, son of Solomon!”

The mist covered his head and continued to coil around him until he looked like a tightly wound scarlet cocoon. The room’s spin slowed, and the cocoon seemed to absorb the momentum. Mictar transformed into a red tornado and shrank as if slurped into an invisible void.

Seconds later, he vanished. Everything stopped shaking. Nathan turned off the radio and crawled up the sloping floor to where everyone else crouched. Dr. Gordon latched on to Nathan’s wrist and heaved him up the rest of the way. His voice stayed calm and low. “Well done, Nathan.”

Kelly threw her arms around Nathan from one side and Clara did the same from the other. “Don’t ever leave me alone again,” Kelly said, “not for a single minute.”

Sirens wailed. An amplified voice barked from somewhere below, but Nathan paid no attention to the words. He just pulled his friends closer and enjoyed their embraces.

Tony, sitting on his haunches in front of Nathan, clenched his fist. “Now that’s what I call taking out the trash!”