Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Heroine Interview from Healing Hearts by Margaret Daley


Interview with the heroine from Healing Hearts by Margaret Daley:

1.  Abbey Harris, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
I train dogs in my spare time when not working as a social worker at the hospital.
2.  What do you do for fun?
Train dogs. I love working with them. My father is a vet, and I've been around animals all my life.
3.  What do you put off doing because you dread it?
Balancing my checkbook and getting it to come out right.
4.  What are you afraid of most in life?
Losing someone important in my life again. My daughter's death threw me into a depression and changed my life forever. If it hadn't been for the Lord, my parents and my dog, Gabe, I don't know how I would have gotten past it. She will always be in my heart but now I'm helping others, especially people grieving.
5.  What do you want out of life?
To help others—it takes me away from my own pain and loss.
6.  What is the most important thing to you?
The Lord. He was with me through my daughter's illness and death and my husband walking out on my marriage.
7.  Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?
I love to read but haven't had much time lately. I enjoy uplifting stories of any kind.
8.  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Each thing that has happened to me has shaped me into the person I am today so that's a hard question to answer. If I took one experience or aspect of me away, would that change me for the better or worse? I don't know.
9.  Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
I have several dogs and cats. My father keeps asking me to take care of strays that are left at his animal hospital. But one of my dogs, Gabe, is special because I shared my pain and heartache with him and he was there to listen.
10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I don't want to go back. I am living for the present.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Winners and excerpt of SUSHI FOR ONE

The winners of
Sushi for One?
are
Angela C.
Sandy I.
Susan K.
Lisa
Jackie M.
Dee P.
Julianna R.
Mary Y.R.
Sally S.
Theresa T.

Congratulations! (I've emailed you. Please email me at camy {at] camytang[dot}com if you didn’t get the email message.)

I know that all of you who didn’t win are now crying in your mint mocha frappuccinos. Cheer up and order the book!

Back cover:

Sports-crazy Lex Sakai isn’t too worried about “winning” the unofficial family title “Oldest Single Female Cousin” when her cousin Mariko marries in a few months. Her control-freak grandma is easy to ignore, until Grandma issues an ultimatum—if Lex can’t find a date for Mariko’s wedding, her ruthless Grandma will cut off funding to the girls’ volleyball team that Lex coaches.

Lex isn’t about to look desperate by dating every player in the dugout. She comes up with a stringent list of requirements from her Ephesians Bible study in her search for The Perfect Man. She always wins in volleyball—if she ups her game, she’s sure to succeed.

Then her brother introduces her to non-Christian, non-athletic, no-immediate-physical-appeal Aiden.

Aiden’s on the rebound from a girl named Trish, who dumped him because he wasn't Christian. Then he discovers that Lex is 1) not attracted to him at all, 2) Christian, and 3) Trish's cousin. No way is he hooking up with anyone from that crazy family, much less another hypocritical Christian chick. He's certainly not masochistic.

Time is running out for Lex, and no matter what she does, she can’t find the right guy. Especially when she keeps running into Aiden everywhere. If only the list would stop getting longer and longer...

Chapter 1

Eat and leave. That's all she had to do.

If Grandma didn't kill her first for being late.

Lex Sakai raced through the open doorway to the Chinese restaurant and was immediately immersed in conversation, babies' wails, clashing perfumes, and stale sesame oil. She tripped over the threshold and almost turned her ankle. Stupid pumps. Man, she hated wearing heels.

Her cousin Chester sat behind a small table next to the open doorway.

"Hey Chester."

"Oooh, you're late. Grandma isn't going to be happy. Sign over here." He gestured to the guestbook that was almost drowned in the pink lace glued to the edges.

"What do I do with this?" Lex dropped the Babies R Us box on the table.

Chester grabbed the box and flipped it behind him with the air of a man who'd been doing this for too long and wanted out from behind the frilly welcome table.

Lex understood how he felt. So many of their cousins were having babies, and there were several mixed Chinese-Japanese marriages in the family. Therefore, most cousins opted for these huge--not to mention tiring--traditional Chinese Red Egg and Ginger parties to "present" their newborns, even though the majority of the family was Japanese American.

Lex bent to scrawl her name in the guestbook. Her new sheath dress sliced into her abs, while the fabric strained across her back muscles. Trish had convinced her to buy the dress, and it actually gave her sporty silhouette some curves, but its fitted design prevented movement. She should've worn her old loosefitting dress instead. She finished signing the book and looked back to Chester. "How's the food?" The only thing worthwhile about these noisy events. Lex would rather be at the beach.

"They haven't even started serving."

"Great. That'll put Grandma in a good mood."

Chester grimaced, then gestured toward the far corner where there was a scarlet-draped wall and a huge gold dragon wall-hanging. "Grandma's over there."

"Thanks." Yeah, Chester knew the drill, same as Lex. She had to go over to say hello as soon as she got to the party-- before Grandma saw her, anyway--or Grandma would be peeved and stick Lex on her "Ignore List" until after Christmas.

Lex turned, then stopped. Poor Chester. He looked completely forlorn--not to mention too bulky--behind that silly table. Of all her cousins, he always had a smile and a joke for her. "Do you want to go sit down? I can man the table for you for a while. As long as you don't forget to bring me some food." She winked at him.

Chester flashed his toothy grin, and the weary lines around his face expanded into his normal laugh lines. "I appreciate that, but don't worry about me."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah. My sister's going to bring me something--she's got all the kids at her table, so she'll have plenty for me. But thanks, Lex."

"You'd do the same for me."

Lex wiggled in between the round tables and inadvertently jammed her toe into the protruding metal leg of a chair. To accommodate the hefty size of Lex's extended family, the restaurant had loaded the room with tables and chairs so it resembled a game of Tetris. Once bodies sat in the chairs, a chopstick could barely squeeze through. And while Lex prided herself on her athletic 18-percent body fat, she wasn't a chopstick.

The Chinese waiters picked that exact moment to start serving the food.

Clad in black pants and white button-down shirts, they filed from behind the ornate screen covering the doorway to the kitchen, huge round platters held high above their heads. They slid through the crowded room like salmon--how the heck did they do that?--while it took all the effort Lex had to push her way through the five inches between an aunty and uncle's chairs. Like birds of prey, the waiters descended on her as if they knew she couldn't escape.

Lex dodged one skinny waiter with plates of fatty pork and thumb-sized braised octopus. Another waiter almost gouged her eye out with his platter. She ducked and shoved at chairs, earning scathing glances from various uncles and aunties.

Finally, Lex exploded from the sea of tables into the open area by the dragon wall-hanging. She felt like she'd escaped from quicksand. Grandma stood and swayed in front of the horrifying golden dragon, holding her newest great-granddaughter, the star of the party. The baby's face glowed as red as the fabric covering the wall. Probably scared of the dragon's green buggy eyes only twelve inches away. Strange, Grandma seemed to be favoring her right hip.

"Hi, Grandma."

"Lex! Hi sweetie. You're a little late."

Translation: You'd better have a good excuse.

Lex thought about lying, but aside from the fact that she couldn't lie to save her life, Grandma's eyes were keener than a sniper's. "I'm sorry. I was playing grass volleyball and lost track of time."

The carefully lined red lips curved down. "You play sports too much. How are you going to attract a man when you're always sweating?"

Like she was now? Thank goodness for the fruity body spritz she had marinated herself in before she got out of her car.

"That's a pretty dress, Lex. New, isn't it?"

How did she do that? With as many grandchildren as she had, Grandma never failed to notice clothes, whereas Lex barely registered that she wasn't naked. "Thanks. Trish picked it out."

"It's so much nicer than that ugly floppy thing you wore to your cousin's wedding."

Lex gritted her teeth. Respect your grandmother. Do not open your mouth about something like showing up in a polkadotted bikini.

"Actually, Lex, I'm glad you look so ladylike this time. I have a friend's son I want you to meet--"

Oh, no. Not again. "Does he speak English?"

Grandma drew herself to her full height, which looked a little silly because Lex still towered over her. "Of course he does."

"Employed?"

"Yes. Lex, your attitude--"

"Christian?"

"Now why should that make a difference?"

Lex widened innocent eyes. "Religious differences account for a lot of divorces."

"I'm not asking you to marry him, just to meet him."

Liar. "I appreciate how much you care about me, but I'll find my own dates, thanks." Lex smiled like she held a knife blade in her teeth. When Grandma got pushy like this, Lex had more backbone than the other cousins.

"I wouldn't be so concerned, but you don't date at all--"

Not going there. "Is this Chester's niece?" Lex's voice rose an octave as she tickled the baby's Pillsbury-Doughboy stomach. The baby screamed on. "Hey there, cutie, you're so big, betcha having fun, is Grandma showing you off, well, you just look pretty as a picture, are you enjoying your Red Egg and Ginger party? Okay, Grandma, I have to sit down. Bye."

Before Grandma could say another word, Lex whisked away into the throng of milling relatives. Phase one, accomplished. Grandmother engaged. Retreat commencing before more nagging words like "dating" and "marriage" sullied the air.

Next to find her cousins--and best friends--Trish, Venus, and Jenn, who were saving a seat for her. She headed toward the back where all the other unmarried cousins sat as far away from Grandma as physically possible.

Their table was scrunched into the corner against towering stacks of unused chairs--like the restaurant could even hold more chairs. "Lex!" Trish flapped her raised hand so hard, Lex expected it to fly off at any moment. Next to her, Venus lounged, as gorgeous as always and looking bored, while Jennifer sat quietly on her other side, twirling a lock of her long straight hair. On either side of them ...

"Hey, where's my seat?"

Venus's wide almond eyes sent a sincere apology. "We failed you, babe. We had a seat saved next to Jenn, but then . . ." She pointed to where the back of a portly aunty's chair had rammed up against their table. "We had to remove the chair, and by then, the rest were filled."

"Traitors. You should have shoved somebody under the table."

Venus grinned evilly. "You'd fit under there, Lex."

Trish whapped Venus in the arm. "Be nice."

A few of the other cousins looked at them strangely, but they got that a lot. The four of them became close when they shared an apartment during college, but even more so when they all became Christian. No one else understood their flaws, foibles, and faith.

Lex had to find someplace to sit. At the very least, she wanted to snarf some overpriced, high calorie, high cholesterol food at this torturous party.

She scanned the sea of black heads, gray heads, dyed heads, small children's heads with upside-down ricebowl haircuts, and teenager heads with highlighting and funky colors.

There. A table with an empty chair. Her cousin Bobby, his wife, his mother-in-law, and his brood. Six--count 'em, six-- little people under the age of five.

Lex didn't object to kids. She liked them. She enjoyed coaching her girls' volleyball club team. But these were Bobby's kids. The 911 operators knew them by name. The local cops drew straws on who would have to go to their house when they got a call.

However, it might not be so bad to sit with Bobby and family. Kids ate less than adults, meaning more food for Lex.

"Hi, Bobby. This seat taken?"

"No, go ahead and sit." Bobby's moon-face nodded toward the empty chair.

Lex smiled at his nervous wife, who wrestled with an infant making intermittent screeching noises. "Is that ..." Oh great. Boxed yourself in now. Name a name, any name. "Uh ... Kyle?"

The beleaguered mom's smile darted in and out of her grimace as she tried to keep the flailing baby from squirming into a face-plant on the floor. "Yes, this is Kylie. Can you believe she's so big?" One of her sons lifted a fork. "No, sweetheart, put the food down--!"

The deep-fried missile sailed across the table, trailing a tail of vegetables and sticky sauce. Lex had protected her face from volleyballs slammed at eighty miles an hour, but she'd never dodged multi-shots of food. She swatted away a flying net of lemony shredded lettuce, but a bullet of sauce-soaked fried chicken nailed her right in the chest.

Yuck. Well, good thing she could wash--oops, no, she hadn't worn her normal cotton dress. This was the new silk one. The one with the price tag that made her gasp, but also made her look like she actually had a waist instead of a plank for a torso. The dress with the "dry-clean only" tag.

"Oh! I'm sorry, Lex. Bad boy. Look what you did." Bobby's wife leaned across the table with a napkin held out, still clutching her baby whose foot was dragging through the chow mein platter.

The little boy sitting next to Lex shouted in laughter. Which wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't had a mouth full of chewed bok choy in garlic sauce.

Regurgitated cabbage rained on Lex's chest, dampening the sunny lemon chicken. The child pointed at the pattern on her dress and squealed as if he had created a Vermeer. The other children laughed with him.

"Hey boys! That's not nice." Bobby glared at his sons, but otherwise didn't stop shoveling salt-and-pepper shrimp into his mouth.

Lex scrubbed at the mess, but the slimy sauces refused to transfer from her dress onto the polyester napkin, instead clinging to the blue silk like mucus. Oh man, disgustamundo. Lex's stomach gurgled. Why was every other part of her athlete's body strong except for her stomach?

She needed to clean herself up. Lex wrestled herself out of the chair and bumped an older man sitting behind her. "Sorry." The violent motion made the nausea swell, then recede. Don't be silly. Stop being a wimp. But her already sensitive stomach had dropped the call with her head.

Breathe. In. Out. No, not through your nose. Don't look at that boy's drippy nose. Turn away from the drooling baby.

She needed fresh air in her face. She didn't care how rude it was, she was leaving now.

"There you are, Lex."

What in the world was Grandma doing at the far end of the restaurant? This was supposed to be a safe haven. Why would Grandma take a rare venture from the other side where the "more important" family members sat?

"My goodness, Lex! What happened to you?"

"I sat next to Bobby's kids."

Grandma's powdered face scrunched into a grimace. "Here, let me go to the restroom with you." The bright eyes strayed again to the mess on the front of her dress. She gasped.

Oh, no, what else? "What is it?" Lex asked.

"You never wear nice clothes. You always wear that hideous black thing."

"We've already been over this--"

"I never noticed that you have no bosom. No wonder you can't get a guy."

Lex's jaw felt like a loose hinge. The breath stuck in her chest until she forced a painful cough. "Grandma!"

Out of the corner of her eye, Lex could see heads swivel. Grandma's voice carried better than a soccer commentator at the World Cup.

Grandma bent closer to peer at Lex's chest. Lex jumped backward, but the chair behind her wouldn't let her move very far.

Grandma straightened with a frighteningly excited look on her face. "I know what I'll do."

God, now would be a good time for a waiter to brain her with a serving platter.

Grandmother gave a gleeful smile and clapped her hands. "Yes, it's perfect. I'll pay for breast implants for you!"

© Camy Tang
Used by permission of Zondervan

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Friday, August 23, 2013

A Chance to Win a Copy of Lyn Cote's Latest!

Lyn Cote here. Didn't want you to miss a chance to win
a copy of my latest Love Inspired Historical, The Baby Bequest


Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Baby Bequest by Lyn Cote

The Baby Bequest

by Lyn Cote

Giveaway ends August 31, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
Hope this helps--Lyn

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How does your garden grow?

Mine's doing very well, thank you!! 
Jenna Mindel here, very excited about my harvest.  Actually, I've been picking green beans since the middle of July.  They are so yummy.  My corn is ripening too! I was able to pick 5 ears. Sure, they were on the small side, but still.  The jungle of tomato plants are producing some nicely ripening tomatoes.   My only disappointment are the cucumbers.  They're like freaky big and shaped funny. (okay, the ones in this picture are the normal ones.)   I think, THEY think they're supposed to be squash.  Even though we haven't planted any squash - last year we did have pumpkins.  Maybe that's what's throwing my cukes for a loop?

 
 

There's really something about harvest time, and the miracle of growth.  I am amazed at the abundance that comes from a hand full of seeds.  Makes perfect sense why Jesus used harvest as an illustration for spreading His Good News.  We can be His handful of seeds.

So, tell me, what's growing in your garden, and if you do not have one, what do you look forward to most from a garden or farmer's market?

http://www.jennamindel.com

Monday, August 19, 2013

August Love Inspired Suspense Releases

Susan Sleeman here. I have been negligent. Today is my scheduled day to post and I forgot all about writing the blog. I set reminders on my computer to remind me the day before, but yesterday was my birthday and I had a busy day. So, no blog post on a timely basis.  When the reminder went off this morning, I remembered, but honestly before my first cup of coffee I am brain dead.

So since I can't think of a think to write about yet, I thought I'd share the Love Inspired Suspense books that have released this month. If you haven't picked them up yet, be sure to do so as the selection is wonderful!!

August 2013
 
Dangerous Waters (The Cold Case Files)
List Price:
Buy from Amazon.com
Dangerous Waters (The Cold Case Files)
(Kindle Edition)
By Sandra Robbins (Love Inspired Suspense)
Release date: August 01, 2013
SOME SECRETS ARE MEANT TO STAY BURIED Laura Webber is determined to uncover the truth behind her parents’ murders. But after being interviewed about the unsolved case, she’s abducted and dumped in the Mississippi River with a warning to stop digging up the past. With her life in jeopardy, she knows that her former fiancĂ©, Brad Austin, is the only person she can turn to for help. The cold-case detective has spent years trying to forget Laura, yet he can’t turn her away. But before Brad can wrap her in his protection, will their reunion be cut short by a killer threatening to silence Laura forever? The Cold Case Files: Uncovering secrets of the past.
 
Dangerous Waters (Love Inspired Suspense)
List Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $3.43
Buy from Amazon.com
Dangerous Waters (Love Inspired Suspense)
(Mass Market Paperback)
By Sandra Robbins (Love Inspired)
Release date: August 06, 2013
SOME SECRETS ARE MEANT TO STAY BURIED Laura Webber is determined to uncover the truth behind her parents’ murders. But after being interviewed about the unsolved case, she’s abducted and dumped in the Mississippi River with a warning to stop digging up the past. With her life in jeopardy, she knows that her former fiancĂ©, Brad Austin, is the only person she can turn to for help. The cold-case detective has spent years trying to forget Laura, yet he can’t turn her away. But before Brad can wrap her in his protection, will their reunion be cut short by a killer threatening to silence Laura forever? The Cold Case Files: Uncovering secrets of the past.
 
 
Hide and Seek (Family Reunions)
List Price:
Buy from Amazon.com
Hide and Seek (Family Reunions)
(Kindle Edition)
By Lynette Eason (Love Inspired Suspense)
Release date: August 01, 2013
SHE WON’T GIVE UP Erica James has spent the past three years as a skip tracer, hunting down others and hoping one day it will lead to her kidnapped daughter. Now she has a new suspect—Max Powell’s missing sister. Max, a private investigator, has found evidence that connects the two missing girls, and together, he and Erica search for answers. The closer they get to finding answers, the stronger their feelings for each other become. But the kidnapper will stop at nothing—including murder—to keep them from finding Erica’s daughter.
 
Hide and Seek (Love Inspired Suspense)
List Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $3.43
Buy from Amazon.com
Hide and Seek (Love Inspired Suspense)
(Mass Market Paperback)
By Lynette Eason (Love Inspired)
Release date: August 06, 2013
SHE WON’T GIVE UP Erica James has spent the past three years as a skip tracer, hunting down others and hoping one day it will lead to her kidnapped daughter. Now she has a new suspect—Max Powell’s missing sister. Max, a private investigator, has found evidence that connects the two missing girls, and together, he and Erica search for answers. The closer they get to finding answers, the stronger their feelings for each other become. But the kidnapper will stop at nothing—including murder—to keep them from finding Erica’s daughter.
 
Shock Wave (Stormswept)
List Price:
Buy from Amazon.com
Shock Wave (Stormswept)
(Kindle Edition)
By Dana Mentink (Love Inspired Suspense)
Release date: August 01, 2013
TRAPPED…WITH A KILLER? When an earthquake rips through San Francisco, the last person journalist Sage Harrington expects to run into is ex-soldier Trey Black. After what they survived in Afghanistan, she doesn’t know if she can face him again. But now they’re trapped in the bowels of a ramshackle opera house on a mission to find Sage’s missing cousin. And they may not be the only ones. Someone is desperate to keep them from discovering the truth.
 
 
Shock Wave (Love Inspired Suspense)
List Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $3.43
Buy from Amazon.com
Shock Wave (Love Inspired Suspense)
(Mass Market Paperback)
By Dana Mentink (Love Inspired)
Release date: August 06, 2013
TRAPPED…WITH A KILLER? When an earthquake rips through San Francisco, the last person journalist Sage Harrington expects to run into is ex-soldier Trey Black. After what they survived in Afghanistan, she doesn’t know if she can face him again. But now they’re trapped in the bowels of a ramshackle opera house on a mission to find Sage’s missing cousin. And they may not be the only ones. Someone is desperate to keep them from discovering the truth.
 
Fatal Inheritance (Love Inspired Suspense)
List Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $3.43
Buy from Amazon.com
Fatal Inheritance (Love Inspired Suspense)
(Mass Market Paperback)
By Sandra Orchard (Love Inspired)
Release date: August 06, 2013
“YOU DON’T BELONG HERE. “ Someone wants to stop Becki Graw from claiming her inheritance. Police officer Joshua Rayne is just as determined to keep his beautiful neighbor safe. She may not be the tomboy Josh remembers, but she’s just as stubborn. Becki is intent on keeping her grandparents’ remote farmhouse—no matter the danger.
 
Fatal Inheritance (Love Inspired Suspense)
List Price:
Buy from Amazon.com
Fatal Inheritance (Love Inspired Suspense)
(Kindle Edition)
By Sandra Orchard (Love Inspired Suspense)
Release date: August 01, 2013
“YOU DON’T BELONG HERE. “ Someone wants to stop Becki Graw from claiming her inheritance. Police officer Joshua Rayne is just as determined to keep his beautiful neighbor safe. She may not be the tomboy Josh remembers, but she’s just as stubborn. Becki is intent on keeping her grandparents’ remote farmhouse—no matter the danger.
 
Love Inspired Suspense August 2013 Bundle: Hide and Seek\Shock Wave\Dangerous Waters\Fatal Inheritance (Family Reunions)
List Price:
Buy from Amazon.com
Love Inspired Suspense August 2013 Bundle: Hide and Seek\Shock Wave\Dangerous Waters\Fatal Inheritance (Family Reunions)
(Kindle Edition)
By Lynette Eason, Dana Mentink, Sandra Robbins, Sandra Orchard (Love Inspired Suspense)
Release date: August 01, 2013
Love Inspired Suspense brings you four new titles for one great price, available now for a limited time only from August 1 to August 31! Enjoy these contemporary heart-pounding tales of suspense, romance, hope and faith. This Love Inspired Suspense bundle includes Hide and Seek by Lynette Eason, Shock Wave by Dana Mentink, Dangerous Waters by Sandra Robbins and Fatal Inheritance by Sandra Orchard. Look for four new inspirational suspense stories every month from Love Inspired Suspense!.
 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I can’t think of a blog topic so let’s give away a book!

Camy here. Yes, the title says it all, doesn’t it??? I’ve sat here at my computer for about 15 minutes with my cup of herbal chocolate mint tea (grown in my own garden despite my black thumb) and couldn’t think of a blog topic to write about. But my eye fell on some books in my closet, sooooooo ….

I’M GIVING AWAY TEN COPIES OF SUSHI FOR ONE!

If you have a copy or already read it, but you want a copy to give away to a reader friend, feel free to enter again.

Sports-crazy Lex Sakai isn’t too worried about “winning” the unofficial family title “Oldest Single Female Cousin” when her cousin Mariko marries in a few months. Her control-freak grandma is easy to ignore, until Grandma issues an ultimatum—if Lex can’t find a date for Mariko’s wedding, her ruthless Grandma will cut off funding to the girls’ volleyball team that Lex coaches.

Lex isn’t about to look desperate by dating every player in the dugout. She comes up with a stringent list of requirements from her Ephesians Bible study in her search for The Perfect Man. She always wins in volleyball—if she ups her game, she’s sure to succeed.

Then her brother introduces her to non-Christian, non-athletic, no-immediate-physical-appeal Aiden.

Aiden’s on the rebound from a girl named Trish, who dumped him because he wasn't Christian. Then he discovers that Lex is 1) not attracted to him at all, 2) Christian, and 3) Trish's cousin. No way is he hooking up with anyone from that crazy family, much less another hypocritical Christian chick. He's certainly not masochistic.

Time is running out for Lex, and no matter what she does, she can’t find the right guy. Especially when she keeps running into Aiden everywhere. If only the list would stop getting longer and longer...


Excerpt of chapter one:

Chapter 1

Eat and leave. That’s all she had to do.

If Grandma didn’t kill her first for being late.

Lex Sakai raced through the open doorway to the Chinese restaurant and was immediately immersed in conversation, babies’ wails, clashing perfumes, and stale sesame oil. She tripped over the threshold and almost turned her ankle. Stupid pumps. Man, she hated wearing heels.

Her cousin Chester sat behind a small table next to the open doorway.

“Hey Chester.”

“Oooh, you’re late. Grandma isn’t going to be happy. Sign over here.” He gestured to the guestbook that was almost drowned in the pink lace glued to the edges.

“What do I do with this?” Lex dropped the Babies R Us box on the table.

Chester grabbed the box and flipped it behind him with the air of a man who’d been doing this for too long and wanted out from behind the frilly welcome table.

Lex understood how he felt. So many of their cousins were having babies, and there were several mixed Chinese-Japanese marriages in the family. Therefore, most cousins opted for these huge—not to mention tiring—traditional Chinese Red Egg and Ginger parties to “present” their newborns, even though the majority of the family was Japanese American.

Lex bent to scrawl her name in the guestbook. Her new sheath dress sliced into her abs, while the fabric strained across her back muscles. Trish had convinced her to buy the dress, and it actually gave her sporty silhouette some curves, but its fitted design prevented movement. She should’ve worn her old loosefitting dress instead. She finished signing the book and looked back to Chester. “How’s the food?” The only thing worthwhile about these noisy events. Lex would rather be at the beach.

“They haven’t even started serving.”

“Great. That’ll put Grandma in a good mood.”

Chester grimaced, then gestured toward the far corner where there was a scarlet-draped wall and a huge gold dragon wall-hanging. “Grandma’s over there.”

“Thanks.” Yeah, Chester knew the drill, same as Lex. She had to go over to say hello as soon as she got to the party— before Grandma saw her, anyway—or Grandma would be peeved and stick Lex on her “Ignore List” until after Christmas.

Lex turned, then stopped. Poor Chester. He looked completely forlorn—not to mention too bulky—behind that silly table. Of all her cousins, he always had a smile and a joke for her. “Do you want to go sit down? I can man the table for you for a while. As long as you don’t forget to bring me some food.” She winked at him.

Chester flashed his toothy grin, and the weary lines around his face expanded into his normal laugh lines. “I appreciate that, but don’t worry about me.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. My sister’s going to bring me something—she’s got all the kids at her table, so she’ll have plenty for me. But thanks, Lex.”

“You’d do the same for me.”

Lex wiggled in between the round tables and inadvertently jammed her toe into the protruding metal leg of a chair. To accommodate the hefty size of Lex’s extended family, the restaurant had loaded the room with tables and chairs so it resembled a game of Tetris. Once bodies sat in the chairs, a chopstick could barely squeeze through. And while Lex prided herself on her athletic 18-percent body fat, she wasn’t a chopstick.

The Chinese waiters picked that exact moment to start serving the food.

Clad in black pants and white button-down shirts, they filed from behind the ornate screen covering the doorway to the kitchen, huge round platters held high above their heads. They slid through the crowded room like salmon—how the heck did they do that?—while it took all the effort Lex had to push her way through the five inches between an aunty and uncle’s
chairs. Like birds of prey, the waiters descended on her as if they knew she couldn’t escape.

Lex dodged one skinny waiter with plates of fatty pork and thumb-sized braised octopus. Another waiter almost gouged her eye out with his platter. She ducked and shoved at chairs, earning scathing glances from various uncles and aunties.

Finally, Lex exploded from the sea of tables into the open area by the dragon wall-hanging. She felt like she’d escaped from quicksand. Grandma stood and swayed in front of the horrifying golden dragon, holding her newest great-granddaughter, the star of the party. The baby’s face glowed as red as the fabric covering the wall. Probably scared of the dragon’s green buggy eyes only twelve inches away. Strange, Grandma seemed to be favoring her right hip.

“Hi, Grandma.”

“Lex! Hi sweetie. You’re a little late.”

Translation: You’d better have a good excuse.

Lex thought about lying, but aside from the fact that she couldn’t lie to save her life, Grandma’s eyes were keener than a sniper’s. “I’m sorry. I was playing grass volleyball and lost track of time.”

The carefully lined red lips curved down. “You play sports too much. How are you going to attract a man when you’re always sweating?”

Like she was now? Thank goodness for the fruity body spritz she had marinated herself in before she got out of her car.

“That’s a pretty dress, Lex. New, isn’t it?”

How did she do that? With as many grandchildren as she had, Grandma never failed to notice clothes, whereas Lex barely registered that she wasn’t naked. “Thanks. Trish picked it out.”

“It’s so much nicer than that ugly floppy thing you wore to your cousin’s wedding.”

Lex gritted her teeth. Respect your grandmother. Do not open your mouth about something like showing up in a polkadotted bikini.

“Actually, Lex, I’m glad you look so ladylike this time. I have a friend’s son I want you to meet—”

Oh, no. Not again. “Does he speak English?”

Grandma drew herself to her full height, which looked a little silly because Lex still towered over her. “Of course he does.”

“Employed?”

“Yes. Lex, your attitude—”

“Christian?”

“Now why should that make a difference?”

Lex widened innocent eyes. “Religious differences account for a lot of divorces.”

“I’m not asking you to marry him, just to meet him.”

Liar. “I appreciate how much you care about me, but I’ll find my own dates, thanks.” Lex smiled like she held a knife blade in her teeth. When Grandma got pushy like this, Lex had more backbone than the other cousins.

“I wouldn’t be so concerned, but you don’t date at all—”

Not going there. “Is this Chester’s niece?” Lex’s voice rose an octave as she tickled the baby’s Pillsbury-Doughboy stomach. The baby screamed on. “Hey there, cutie, you’re so big, betcha having fun, is Grandma showing you off, well, you just look pretty as a picture, are you enjoying your Red Egg and Ginger party? Okay, Grandma, I have to sit down. Bye.”

Before Grandma could say another word, Lex whisked away into the throng of milling relatives. Phase one, accomplished. Grandmother engaged. Retreat commencing before more nagging words like “dating” and “marriage” sullied the air.

Next to find her cousins—and best friends—Trish, Venus, and Jenn, who were saving a seat for her. She headed toward the back where all the other unmarried cousins sat as far away from Grandma as physically possible.

Their table was scrunched into the corner against towering stacks of unused chairs—like the restaurant could even hold more chairs. “Lex!” Trish flapped her raised hand so hard, Lex expected it to fly off at any moment. Next to her, Venus lounged, as gorgeous as always and looking bored, while Jennifer sat quietly on her other side, twirling a lock of her long straight hair. On either side of them …

“Hey, where’s my seat?”

Venus’s wide almond eyes sent a sincere apology. “We failed you, babe. We had a seat saved next to Jenn, but then . . .” She pointed to where the back of a portly aunty’s chair had rammed up against their table. “We had to remove the chair, and by then, the rest were filled.”

“Traitors. You should have shoved somebody under the table.”

Venus grinned evilly. “You’d fit under there, Lex.”

Trish whapped Venus in the arm. “Be nice.”

A few of the other cousins looked at them strangely, but they got that a lot. The four of them became close when they shared an apartment during college, but even more so when they all became Christian. No one else understood their flaws, foibles, and faith.

Lex had to find someplace to sit. At the very least, she wanted to snarf some overpriced, high calorie, high cholesterol food at this torturous party.

She scanned the sea of black heads, gray heads, dyed heads, small children’s heads with upside-down ricebowl haircuts, and teenager heads with highlighting and funky colors.

There. A table with an empty chair. Her cousin Bobby, his wife, his mother-in-law, and his brood. Six—count ’em, six— little people under the age of five.

Lex didn’t object to kids. She liked them. She enjoyed coaching her girls’ volleyball club team. But these were Bobby’s kids. The 911 operators knew them by name. The local cops drew straws on who would have to go to their house when they got a call.

However, it might not be so bad to sit with Bobby and family. Kids ate less than adults, meaning more food for Lex.

“Hi, Bobby. This seat taken?”

“No, go ahead and sit.” Bobby’s moon-face nodded toward the empty chair.

Lex smiled at his nervous wife, who wrestled with an infant making intermittent screeching noises. “Is that …” Oh great. Boxed yourself in now. Name a name, any name. “Uh … Kyle?”

The beleaguered mom’s smile darted in and out of her grimace as she tried to keep the flailing baby from squirming into a face-plant on the floor. “Yes, this is Kylie. Can you believe she’s so big?” One of her sons lifted a fork. “No, sweetheart, put the food down—!”

The deep-fried missile sailed across the table, trailing a tail of vegetables and sticky sauce. Lex had protected her face from volleyballs slammed at eighty miles an hour, but she’d never dodged multi-shots of food. She swatted away a flying net of lemony shredded lettuce, but a bullet of sauce-soaked fried chicken nailed her right in the chest.

Yuck. Well, good thing she could wash—oops, no, she hadn’t worn her normal cotton dress. This was the new silk one. The one with the price tag that made her gasp, but also made her look like she actually had a waist instead of a plank for a torso. The dress with the “dry-clean only” tag.

“Oh! I’m sorry, Lex. Bad boy. Look what you did.” Bobby’s wife leaned across the table with a napkin held out, still clutching her baby whose foot was dragging through the chow mein platter.

The little boy sitting next to Lex shouted in laughter. Which wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t had a mouth full of chewed bok choy in garlic sauce.

Regurgitated cabbage rained on Lex’s chest, dampening the sunny lemon chicken. The child pointed at the pattern on her dress and squealed as if he had created a Vermeer. The other children laughed with him.

“Hey boys! That’s not nice.” Bobby glared at his sons, but otherwise didn’t stop shoveling salt-and-pepper shrimp into his mouth.

Lex scrubbed at the mess, but the slimy sauces refused to transfer from her dress onto the polyester napkin, instead clinging to the blue silk like mucus. Oh man, disgustamundo. Lex’s stomach gurgled. Why was every other part of her athlete’s body strong except for her stomach?

She needed to clean herself up. Lex wrestled herself out of the chair and bumped an older man sitting behind her. “Sorry.” The violent motion made the nausea swell, then recede. Don’t be silly. Stop being a wimp. But her already sensitive stomach had dropped the call with her head.

Breathe. In. Out. No, not through your nose. Don’t look at that boy’s drippy nose. Turn away from the drooling baby.

She needed fresh air in her face. She didn’t care how rude it was, she was leaving now.

“There you are, Lex.”

What in the world was Grandma doing at the far end of the restaurant? This was supposed to be a safe haven. Why would Grandma take a rare venture from the other side where the “more important” family members sat?

“My goodness, Lex! What happened to you?”

“I sat next to Bobby’s kids.”

Grandma’s powdered face scrunched into a grimace. “Here, let me go to the restroom with you.” The bright eyes strayed again to the mess on the front of her dress. She gasped.

Oh, no, what else? “What is it?” Lex asked.

“You never wear nice clothes. You always wear that hideous black thing.”

“We’ve already been over this—”

“I never noticed that you have no bosom. No wonder you can’t get a guy.”

Lex’s jaw felt like a loose hinge. The breath stuck in her chest until she forced a painful cough. “Grandma!

Out of the corner of her eye, Lex could see heads swivel. Grandma’s voice carried better than a soccer commentator at the World Cup.

Grandma bent closer to peer at Lex’s chest. Lex jumped backward, but the chair behind her wouldn’t let her move very far.

Grandma straightened with a frighteningly excited look on her face. “I know what I’ll do.”

God, now would be a good time for a waiter to brain her with a serving platter.

Grandmother gave a gleeful smile and clapped her hands. “Yes, it’s perfect. I’ll pay for breast implants for you!”

© Camy Tang
Used by permission of Zondervan


To enter:

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Goodbye Summer

Terri Reed here, coming up from my writing cave.  Can you believe the summer is almost gone?  School is just around the corner. At least for those of us with kids still going.  For the next two weeks we'll be rushing about, getting supplies, going through the closets and drawers to see what fits and what doesn't, then off to the stores to replenish the school wardrobes and passing on the outgrown outfits to friends with younger kids or donating to a local charity.  We'll be taking a short vacation over labor day weekend then school begins and another year is upon us.  I'm looking forward to the cooler weather of fall and all the activities of the season as well as, the changing color of leaves and fall foliage.
I'm also looking forward to the release of a novella, Rescuing Christmas will be out in November.
Until this you can still buy my May book Scent of Danger.


What are you looking forward to this fall?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Allie Pleiter on Happy Endings

I don’t know about you, but life sure seems messy lately.  Dear friends are sick, families close to us are in pain, jobs are stressful, and the world seems to be serving up a heaping helping of giant-sized problems.  I don’t have to look very far to find bad news.

That’s why I am on the hunt for good news.  For good things, happy stories, light, and love to balance out all that stuff that’s weighing my soul down.  

Back when my son was sick, I began the practice of listing four blessings every morning.  I would think and think (and some days think some more) until I could come up with four things to be thankful for at the start of every day.  I still do this every morning.  It helps my brain be on the lookout for the blessings God sends even on the worst of days.

Love Inspired does the same thing.  I get many letters from readers who say they choose Love Inspired books as the light spot in their dreary world, whatever it is they may be facing.  Happy endings have power.  We all need reminding of love’s conquering power and faith’s ability to sustain us.

Even though my Gordon Falls series (THE FIREMAN’S HOMECOMING which came out in June and THE FIREFIGHTER’S MATCH coming in November) deal with some serious issues, they tell of the light and love that still exists in the world.  It’s why I write romance--I don’t want to spend my time and energy adding to the world’s angst, I want to send the antidote!


So before you dive into your daily dose of Love Inspired, join in my daily habit:  tell me four good things about today.  I trust it will start you on the lookout for more.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Way to Give Back

Debby Giusti here!

Everyone has a story they want to tell.

So many folks at church talked to me about stories they wanted to write but didn't know how to get started. During that same time frame, the Lord was nudging me to start a writing group at church. Really? I wasn't sure I was hearing correctly and hesitated, thinking there wouldn't be enough interest. Was I wrong.

As you know, when the Lord wants something he keeps planting seeds. Eventually, I decided to host an information meeting. Twelve people showed up, all eager to learn more about the craft of writing. They had questions about agents and how to query editors and a myriad of other topics.

After almost two years, many of those original folks are still part of the group, and lots of other writers have joined as well. We meet every other month, and the topic always varies. Recently we've been doing hands-on writing exercises that drive home whatever point is being taught that night. I'm always impressed with the quality of the work produced and the enthusiasm of the people who attend.

Since our classes started, two women have worked together to write liturgical music. Two ladies are writing children's books. Another author is published in mystery, and a gentleman has a book he wrote with his father.

Want to give back to your church or community? Start a writers' group.

The Holy Trinity Writers are meeting tonight. We'll be doing exercises from Donald Maass' WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK, which should be fun and informative.  Wish you all could attend.

Happy writing!


Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti
www.DebbyGiusti.com
www.seekerville.blogspot.com
www.craftieladiesofromance.blogspot.com
                                               
THE GENERAL'S SECRETARY
By Debby Giusti
Trusting the Wrong Person Can Be Deadly...
Lillie Beaumont's dark past has just turned up on her porch--fatally wounded. The dying words of the man imprisoned for killing Lillie's mother suggest hidden secrets. Criminal Investigations Division special agent Dawson Timmons agrees. He has his own motive for seeking the truth, and it gives Lillie every reason to doubt him. But even as they reluctantly begin to face painful secrets together, Dawson fears that a murderer is waiting to strike again. And this time, Lillie is right in the line of fire...

Watch for THE SOLDIER'S SISTER, Sept 2013!
Click here to find Debby's books on Amazon.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Glynna Kaye: "A Canyon Springs Courtship"

Welcome to Canyon Springs!
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Councilman Jake Talford is determined to protect his small Arizona town--even if that means keeping a close eye on former sweetheart Macy Colston. Macy has come to Canyon Springs to get the scoop for her popular blog Hometowns With Heart. The rest of the town council hopes it will bring in tourists, but Jake’s worried she’ll turn local gossip into public scandal. He and Macy once more share dreams of a future together. Now it’s up to Jake to make her see what’s most important in life—love, faith and truth.
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There’s just something special about small towns, isn’t there? I was fortunate to experience them growing up in the Midwest and spending vacations in a rural area of Texas where family has lived for generations. A slower pace. Walking to the grocery store, library, school or church--or maybe just a short drive to a neighboring town that boasts a few more amenities. Knowing your neighbors.  A different perspective. I’ve enjoyed incorporating those memories as I create the world of Canyon Springs.
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I also love history, family history and romance reunion stories where the hero and heroine get a second chance to make things right between them. Where God stretches, grows and matures them. That’s what “A Canyon Springs Courtship” is all about!
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This is my fifth Love Inspired set in this little Arizona mountain community. (A sixth releases in April 2014 and a seventh later that autumn!) I love writing about the lives and loves of this beautiful, rugged area of the Southwest. In the summer it caters to fishermen, hikers, bikers, trail riders and those who just want to sit on the porch of their rental cabin and relax. Winters bring in abundant snow, luring in the downhill and cross-country skiers and those who enjoy cozying up to a crackling fire with a cup of hot chocolate. Those contrasts make writing about Canyon Springs especially fun!
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Thank you for encouraging me to continue sharing the stories of this charming little town. I hope you enjoy my September 2013 release, “A Canyon Springs Courtship” -- which will probably hit the store shelves by late August!
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Glynna