Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gospel Dream Audition Reminder

Align Center
If you are planning to audition for Gospel Dream this Saturday, please read the following.

Reminder date: May 2, 2009
Location: Gospel Music Channel Studios 1514 Cleveland Ave., Ste. 240, Atlanta, GA 30344
Time: Doors open at 9AM, check in closes at Noon. You are advised to come early, to insure a spot. Try to visualize what number you need to be in line in order to be seen before noon, then deduce what time you need to line up.
You can bring a musical instrument and tracks to the audition. Make sure you register for your audition at

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Christian Fiction News: Mother's Day Giveaways, CBE & Harper Studios

Christian Fiction News for the week ending May 1, 2009

Fast Company spotlights HarperStudio, "a new imprint of HarperCollins that's trying to rethink both the format of books and the business model. HarperStudio will publish just two books a month and offer authors 50-50 profit sharing, rather than a traditional 7% to 15% royalty.: Click the link above to read more.
And excerpt from Gumbo Writers....
Jeff Rivera: But what do you mean exactly by a share of profits. Is this a "Hollywood Studio Model" where basically no one ever sees any profits?

Robert Miller: No, it is an actual, true profit share without overhead deductive. What you are talking about is what we call fatal subtraction where there actually ends up being supposedly no profit but this is just simply taking all revenues and deducting all direct cost and splitting the difference, but no overhead.

No CBE in 2010

The Christian Book Expo will not return in 2010, because of restructuring and a supposed $250,000 debt, according to Publisher's Lunch. Sad news. I wrote before that I would not attend here and here because I didn't think the CBE was for my demographic, but didn't think the event would not get the patrons it sought. I hope the debt is cleared and they try it in again in 2011.
Further discussions at:
Mother Day Giveaways Online

Looking for some low cost ideas for mom. How about some free gifts for mom on Mother's Day. Check out some of these giveaways:
More to come on Friday. Subscriber of follow us on twitter at @cfblog or

Tweops I Like: Alison Kent

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

searching for my app key

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Trailer Park Tuesday: Talking to the Dead

It is Trailer Park Tuesday at Christian Fiction Blog. I am pleased to introduce what I believe is the best book trailer ever, Bonnie Groves' Talking to the Dead.

And here is an excerpt from the novel...

Talking to the Dead, by Bonnie Grove

Monday, April 27, 2009

Is Christian Fiction Beneficial or Heretical? A Twitter Response

Day 55~ Kandi's Bible by minni64

From Twitter April 8, 2009...

Lately there has been a lot of negative comments on the popular book known as The Shack. Some issues being that it supports Modalism and is theologically heretical... So my question is: Christian fiction, to read or not to read? Heretical or not? @revelife

@revelife brought up a question that I've heard for the past five years blogging: Is Christian Fiction Beneficial or Heretical?

And still this question feels sticky, because it touches on a deeper question. Should Christian fiction be defined as stories that share the same faith, Christian worldview and orthodoxy? And if so, who are we shutting out?

Continue reading "Is Christian Fiction Beneficial or Heretical? " »

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rev. Timothy Wright's Homegoing Services Announced

Christian Fiction Blog

Grammy-nominated gospel singer and composer the Rev. Timothy Wright died yesterday at Bronx Veterans Hospital at the age of 61. He was critically injured in a three-vehicle car accident last summer that claimed the lives of his wife and grandson and put the singer on a respirator. He is best-known for the Hurrican Katrina tribute song "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

Funeral arrangements have been made and are posted below:

Public viewing for Rev. Timothy Wright
Grace Tabernacle Church of God in Christ
Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York
Saturday, May 2nd , 12noon to 8p.m.

Sunday, May 3rd, 1:p.m. to 5p.m.
A Nightly Musical Tribute to Rev. Timothy Wright

Sunday, May 3rd @ 7p.m.
Pleasant Grove Tabernacle
Fulton & Howard Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
Bishop Albert Jamison, pastor

Home going Service for Rev. Timothy Wright
Monday, May 4th @ 10am
Pilgrim Cathedral
Broadway & Gates Avenue
Brooklyn, NY, 11221
Bishop Roy E. Brown, pastor

Thursday, April 23, 2009

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Green Day Belated...

Elang, an Indonesian student, swims in foamy, polluted waters after school, at the Pluit Dam in Jakarta, Indonesia on April 20, 2009. (REUTERS/Beawiharta) #

I had big plans for Green Day yesterday, but had to take care of some things. But this picture that I saw hurt me. So happy belated Earth Day. Let's do better.

Wildcard: God Only Knowss

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

God Only Knows

Grand Central Publishing (March 23, 2009)


Xavier Knight is the Christian fiction pen name for C. Kelly Robinson. He is a native of Dayton, Ohio and magna cum laude graduate of Howard University and Washington University in St. Louis. Robinson is a marketing communications manager by day and has a long record of volunteer experience across organizations including United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Mentor St. Louis, and Student Venture Ministries. Author of five previous novels including the best-selling No More Mr. Nice Guy and the critically acclaimed Between Brothers (Random House), he lives outside Dayton with his wife and daughter. He is hard at work on his next novel and on a nonfiction project.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (March 23, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446582395
ISBN-13: 978-0446582391


Two Decades Later

Chapter One

For the first time she could remember in years, Cassandra Gillette felt like a woman fulfilled. Freshly showered, she sat before the laptop PC in her spacious dressing room, checking email. She had another hour at least before her newly-built luxury home would be overrun by her family; her husband Marcus had gone to pick up their twelve-year-old twins, Heather and Hillary, from a friend’s birthday party out in Middletown. In addition, her seventeen-year-old son, Marcus Jr., was still seven hours away from his midnight curfew.

“There is so much to be thankful for,” Cassie whispered to God, letting her words ring through the quiet of her master suite. This was not the average lazy Saturday afternoon; for the first time in nearly four months, Cassie had made love to her husband.

Their separation had gotten off to a fiery start, but as tempers cooled and nights passed, God had brought Cassie and Marcus back together. Marcus had quickly tired of Veronica, the twenty-something news anchor who had welcomed him into her condo, and Cassie’s eyes had been opened. When her best girlfriend Julia confronted her, she had finally realized how her actions in recent years had starved Marcus of the respect and affirmation that even the strongest man needed.

So it was that after several late-night telephone calls and a Starbucks “date” hidden from their children, Mr. and Mrs. Marcus Gillette had decided to get up off the mat and keep the promises they made before God seventeen years earlier, a few months after M.J.’s arrival. They had agreed to surprise the children with news of their reconciliation tonight, but with the house empty this afternoon, the couple had started a private celebration. The house was new enough that aside from the master bedroom, their frisky activity had “christened” the kitchen’s marble-topped island, the leather couch in the finished basement, and the washing machine in the laundry room.

As she dashed off an email to the staff at her real estate agency, sharing news of the latest deal she had closed – a four hundred twenty thousand dollar sale, their thirtieth property sold for the quarter – Cassie nearly shuddered with delight as she recalled Marcus’ smooth touch. Although she had lost thirty pounds over the past year, she was still nearly twenty pounds heavier than she’d been on their wedding day, and she had been pregnant then. Nevertheless, Cassie’s Marcus knew and loved her body, in exactly the way that frank scriptures like those in Song of Solomon encouraged. Like most everything else in marriage, the Gillettes’ sexual relationship had experienced ups and downs, but Cassie licked her lips unintentionally as she mentally applauded her man: when he’s good, he’s GOOD.

An instant message popped up on her screen: Julia, her best friend. “I heard a rumor,” she IM’d.

Cassie smiled as she typed back, “No idea what you mean.”

Julia’s IM response popped up. “They say a handsome, bulky brother tipped into your crib this afternoon.”

Cassie smiled as she typed, “Girl, I am too old to be kissin’ and tellin’.”

“And I’m too old to be listening to such filth,” Julia typed. As a PhD and superintendent of schools at their shared alma mater, Christian Light Schools, Julia let her words communicate their humor; Cassie’s friend was above the use of those corny emoticons. Julia sent another missive: “You are coming to my Board of Advisors meeting Monday, right? I need help saving this school system, child.”

Cassie stuck her tongue out playfully as she entered her response. “Still not sure how I fit in with this crew. You said you’re pulling together the ‘best and brightest’ Christian Light alumni? Don’t see how I count, given that the school expelled me when they realized why my belly was swollen.”

“Stop it,” came Julia’s response. “Besides, you have what matters most to a struggling school system: Deep pockets!”

Cassie shook her head, her laughter easing any guilt she might have felt about throwing the painful memory of her expulsion – accompanied by the school principal’s labeling her a “girl of loose morals” – in her friend’s face. Julia alone had led a student protest in Cassie’s defense at the time, marching on the school’s front lawn and even calling local media in a vain attempt to embarrass the school into reversing its decision.

Cassie was typing a light-hearted response when her front doorbell rang, the chime filling the house. Changing up, she shot her friend a quick, “Doorbell – call you later,” before taking a second to tuck her blouse into her jeans. Padding downstairs to the foyer, she chuckled to herself. She would have to help Julia save the world later.

When she peered into her front door’s peephole, Cassie’s heart caught for a second at the sight of a tall, blonde-haired gentleman flashing a police badge.

M.J.’s fine, said the voice in Cassie’s head as the badge stirred anxiety over her teen son’s safety. She wasn’t sure whether it was the Lord or simply her own positive coaching. For years now Cassie had combined her faith in God with affirmative self-talk meant to power her through life’s stresses and adversities. In her youth, she had crumpled one time too many in the face of indifference, prejudice, sexism and just plain evil; by the time she and Marcus walked the aisle of Tabernacle Baptist Church, where each had first truly dedicated their respective lives to Christ, Cassie had vowed to never be caught unaware again. That same spirit of resolve propped her up as she confidently unlocked and swung back her wide oak door.

As strong as she felt, Cassie’s knees still flexed involuntarily when she saw M.J. standing beside the plainclothes policeman. At six foot one, her son was every inch as tall as the policeman and stood with his arms crossed, a sneer teasing the corners of his mouth. Though relieved to see he was fine, Cassie sensed an unusually defiant spirit in her boy, so she locked her gaze onto the officer instead. If her man-child had done something worthy of punishment, she wouldn’t give this stranger the pleasure of witnessing the beat-down. She unlocked her screen door and, opening it, let the officer make the first move.

“Mrs. Gillette?” The man held out his right hand and respectfully shook Cassie’s as he spoke in a deep, hoarse voice. “I’m Detective Whitlock with the Dayton PD. I’m really sorry to bother you, but I was hoping we could help each other this evening, ma’am.”

Cassie opened her screen door all the way, one hand raised against the fading sunlight in her eyes. “Please, come in,” she said, focused on editing the airy lilt out of her tone. She didn’t mind letting her naturally fluttery voice out when among family and friends, but now was no time for it. “Why don’t we have a seat in the living room.”

“Again, I apologize for showing up unannounced. A neighborhood this nice, one of those draws a lot of eyebrows probably,” Whitlock said, nodding toward the sleek police car parked out front. “Marcus Jr. and I had an unfortunate confrontation this afternoon. The more I talk to him, I’m convinced we can handle this without a trip downtown.”

Cassie nodded respectfully. Who can argue with that? She thought as she motioned toward the expansive living room. “May I take your suit jacket?”

“Oh, no thank you,” Whitlock replied. He slowed his gait and allowed M.J. to first follow Cassie into the room. The detective stood just inside the doorway, peering at Cassie’s expensive sculptures and paintings as M.J. reluctantly took a seat beside his mother. Once they were settled, Whitlock strode to the middle of the living room, his hands in the pockets of his dress slacks. “Marcus, why don’t you tell your mother how we crossed paths?”

M.J. stared straight ahead, his line of sight veering nowhere near Cassie and shooting over the top of Whitlock’s head of wavy blond hair. “I was minding my business, Mom. Officer Whitlock here–”

“Detective Whitlock, son,” the policeman replied, a testy edge betraying the professional, placid smile on his tanned, leathery face. Cassie found herself admitting he was a relatively handsome man, one who even reminded her of the male cousins on the white side of her family. The policeman was probably her own age, she figured, somewhere between thirty-five and forty.

Grimacing, M.J. continued. “The good detective here pulled me over on 75. Said he clocked me at seventy-eight in a fifty-five.”

“Oh I see,” Cassie said, a wave of relief cleansing her tensed insides. She placed a hand on her son’s shoulder but kept her eyes on the detective. “If that’s all that’s involved, my son should certainly pay whatever fine is required by the law. You’re not doing him any favors giving him a simple talking-to.” She nearly chastised herself for fearing the worst. This was probably just a case of her super-jock son–a varsity star in Chaminade-Julienne football, basketball and track–getting special treatment for his local celebrity, a celebrity nearly as big as the fame that had first attracted her to Marcus Sr. back in the day.

Holding Cassie’s smile with calm blue eyes, Whitlock reached into his jacket pocket and retrieved a manila envelope. “Asked and answered. The state trooper wrote this ticket up for your son during the traffic stop.” He walked over to the loveseat and slowly extended the envelope to M.J. “I agree that Marcus needs to pay his speeding ticket, Mrs. Gillette. If that’s all that was involved, I would have never been called to the scene.”

Everything is fine. My son has done nothing illegal. Cassie fingered the gold locket around her neck but prayed she was otherwise masking the dread pulsing back into her. “Then get to the point please, Detective.”

Whitlock paced quickly to the corner of the adjacent couch. When he plopped down, he was less than a foot away from Cassie. “You see,” he said, his elbows on his knees and his faintly yellowed teeth glinting as he seemed to smile despite himself, “I was called in because Marcus had a convicted criminal riding with him, the sort of character who can make even this fine young man look guilty by association.”

“Please tell me,” Cassie said, pivoting rapidly toward M.J., “that you weren’t riding around with him again.” When M.J. bunched his lips tight and shrugged, Cassie couldn’t stop herself from popping him in the shoulder. “Boy! You promised me! You promised me, M.J.!”

Whitlock had removed his cell phone from his suit jacket. His eyes focused on the phone as he punched its buttons, he asked, “By ‘him,’ are you referring to Dante Wayne?”

“Yes,” Cassie said, her forehead so hot with rage it scared her. She wasn’t sure whether to be more upset at this white stranger lounging on her couch, or her increasingly disobedient son.

Whitlock stared straight into Cassie’s eyes. “And you’re familiar with Mr. Wayne how?”

Cassie sucked her teeth angrily. “He’s my cousin’s oldest son.” Donald, Dante’s father, ran a small taxi service and was the first relative on her father’s side of the family – the Black side – who had reached out to Cassie when they were both struggling teen parents trying to figure life out. Though they didn’t talk often these days, Cassie still counted Donald a personal friend, and her loyalty to him through the years had led her to foster M.J. and Dante’s friendship from the time they were toddlers. That was before she realized that Dante would adopt the morals of his mother’s family, nearly all of whom had died in their twenties or spent significant stretches in prison.

“So M.J. was straight with me, they are cousins.” Whitlock stroked his chin playfully as he observed mother and son. “Marcus insisted that was the only reason he was riding around with Dante in tow. Dante took up for him too, insisted there was no way Marcus was hip to the drugs we found in the car.” He nodded toward M.J. “Why don’t we discuss this one adult to another, ma’am. Marcus, based on your exemplary reputation in the community – as well as your parents’ – I’m willing to assume you had no knowledge of your cousin’s activities. If you’ll just excuse us.”

M.J. looked between his mother and the detective, the first signs of a growing son’s protective emotions on his face as he tapped Cassie’s knee. “You okay with him, Mom?”

“Go down to your room,” Cassie said through clenched tooth, “and shut the basement door after you.” As her son rose, she punctuated her words. “Don’t even think about coming up until your father and I come down for you.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Never Could Have Made it Song & Song Writer of the Year

Donald Lawrence was named Songwriter of the Year, while "Never Would Have Made It"--co-written by Marvin Sapp and Matthew Brownie--was awarded Song of the Year during the 2009 BMI Christian Music Awards at the weekend in Nashville.


CFN: Howard Relocation & Lay Offs

Christian Fiction News Update:

Simon & Schuster's Howards Books will relocate from West Monroe, Lousiana to Nashville, TN and a majority of the imprint's 21 member staff will be laid off.

According to Howard Books senior publicist Melissa Teutsch, a majority of the imprint's employees--including herself--will be laid off, effective April 30.

Nashville is the home of recently appointed publisher Jonathan Merkhand. Carolyn Reidy, Simon & Schuster's president and CEO, told the Howard staff in a memo: "For 40 years, Howard Books has stayed true to its mission to increase faith, inspire holiness and instill hope by publishing books of enduring appeal to the Christian reader. ... Your efforts have left us poised for future success and ready to act as caretakers of Howard's legacy."

Is Nashville the hub for Christian publishing? Is Howard hiring in Nashville? Do you agree with the move?

Announcing the Launch of

Save the Date.

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I am pleased to announce the launchdate for is May 1, 2009. Save the date. Stay tuned. Every day I will post a snippet about my biz site, how it can be helpful to authors, bookclubs, recording artists, and businesses that read Christian Fiction Blog, as well as contests, scholarships for some of our programming and coaching sessions, client case studies, and why our site will not be a secret lead capture page with a mission to hijack your email with client news, newsletters, and other crap you get tired of deleting out of your inbox. I'm too busy to write unnecessary crap anyway.

Also with the launch of DeeGospelPR, Christian Fiction Blog will prepare for Phase II of this blog. We are approaching the five year block this fall. I will began shifting this blog back to more focus on great fiction. So in May prepare for the return of author, publicists, agent interviews, bookclub picks, christian publishing news, church news, plays, all that good stuff I haven't had time to load up because I was building DeeGospelPR. The Summer Reading Club selection will return and I will be going deeper into some of our books with some fun social media sessions. So stay tuned to the blog and subscribe, if you haven't already. Remember I don't send you eblasty things, just the blog in your email.

Thanks so much for supporting CFB and me.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Media Candy: Reshonda Billingsley goes Cover to Cover

ReShonda Tate BillingsleyTonight Media Candy is back with it's Spring Fling. Tonight's guest are: Jacqueline Jones, ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Pat Tucker.

Jacqueline Jones is the author of Covenant Agreement in the Earth.

Cover to Cover Literary FM Radio Show: Two bestselling authors with extensive media experience, ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Pat Tucker have joined creative forces to launch From Cover to Cover Literary talk show. The show, which is designed to help authors promote their work, and explore aspects of the literary industry, will debut on Houston's Radio Station, KPFT 90.1 FM, on April 22, 2009 from noon to 1p.m. Central.

Trailer Park Tuesday: Fatal Illusions

Today is Trailer Park Tuesday is Fatal Illusions(Kregel) by Adam Blumer

Fatal Illusions
Gillian Thayer’s calligraphy business helps to keep her mind off two small headstones in the cemetery. Still healing from the death of her twins during birth, Gillian absorbs another emotional blow when she finds a love letter addressed to her husband Marc, a pastor and counselor. But before Gillian can confront him, a gunshot shatters her already fragile world. Gillian’s family is forced to leave Chicago to escape the eye of the media. Together they seek refuge in Whistler’s Point, a historic lighthouse on Lake Superior near the tiny town of Newberry, Michigan. But they are not the only new arrivals looking for a place to lay low. Haydon Owens, an amateur magician and accomplished killer, has also come to Newberry hoping to start a new life, but he isn’t there long before he spots another potential victim.

Living Single comes to Fort Valley State University
Living Single: The Truth About Relationships
Fort Valley State University
Student Center
April 23, 2009, Thursday
7pm 'til 10 pm

Join us for an interactive discussion with Essence Magazine bestselling authors Shana Burton & Sherri Lewis, Motivational Speaker Myles Miller, Butterfly Ministry Founder Shawneda Marks and Moderated by Minister Edward Long.

During this event, there will be inspiring musical selections by Edward Long and spoken word/poem interpreted by male and female tilted, "Do You Qualify?"; a student interpretive dance from the remix of Jill Scott, He Loves Me, by Karen Clark Sheard. There will also be an art exhibition on hand showcasing FVSU art students.

Click here to learn more.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

weekend chatterbox: Will Oprah Fail Twitter?

Now that Oprah is @Oprah on Twitter will social media change for readers and authors? I've been on Twitter for two years now. In the beginning it was many techies and probloggers hibernating and connecting there. When journbloggers, mombloggers, journalists and pr pros began to use it, we knew that eventually this thing would become a pop culture phenomena. Boy were we right! President Obama's team used it last year to galvanize masses of people. Today Oprah finally signed up and did half her show focusing on Twitter. Really. Although this news is exciting, but it also is a double edged sword. With masses of people coming on and Twitter's bandwidth limitations, how can we continue to support this product, while at the same time making sure it remains a pure ad free microblogging service? If we don't want to see the Oprah Fail Whale, we need to come up with something, else Twitter become monitized soon. Your thoughts. What can Twitter do to pay for the bandwidth and its staff without becoming an adnetwork?

The Oprah Fail Whale pic is courtesy of @TechCrunch

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

3 Days Until: A Free Report if you answer this simple Question

In three days I will share with you some of my tools to host a successful book event at the Virtual Writer's Conference. 406764608_7e85359a75_mI hope you have registered. If you haven't you have only three days until you miss this chance. I will not be able to share this information again this year, because I am practicing what I preach...building and promoting great book events, and this summer and fall will be releasing some other educational products for authors and publicists. But until then, wouldn't you like a snippet of what I'll be discussing? If yes, just answer the question below via my email vidae at writing dot com, and I will send you a special report. I will not share your email with others. I will not secretly opt you in to any newsletter, because frankly I don't use one, so outside of you choosing to subscribe to this blog or my twitter feed, you want receive boilerplate white paper from me. only personal emails. Isn't that what you like, to have a personal connection with someone who can help you achieve your goals without selling your soul to the devil? lol. ok. i'm sleepy obviously. So here's the question:

What is the single most important question you have about launching your book to the marketplace?

Publishing House Beta: 3 Reasons Why Book Widgets Work

Harper Collins' Browse Inside Widget

I have fallen in strong like with a new widget for Christian Fiction Blog- Harper Collins Browse Inside

The Browse Inside widget enables book enthusiasts to embed sample pages of their favorite books directly into their blog posts, Web sites, and MySpace pages.

I really like this feature for CFB, because most of the books I showcase are books with Christian themes or books written by Christian people. From time to time I receive and email, DM or comment questioning the orthodoxy of these titles. Although the face that it's featured on my blog should suffice, I am reminded that sometimes I put up a disclaimer that the book isn't a Christian Fiction title, and I also give a reason why I think it deserves a read. With the Browse Inside Widget you guys don't have to buy the book or goto the store and read you can click on the widget and check it out yourself.

There are other browse inside features on Amazon and Barnes, but this widget is small enough for your blog and does the trick. Once you click on it you are directed to a page devoted to sharing the book, mainly first chapter, cover flap, reviews, and a newsletter request that you opt in to keep up with the author and the current title. It is similar to how Amazon's look Inside feaute is, but the pages are more dynamic and fluid, easy to get through and see. It also has a search engine for the book like Google Book Search. So it seems to be the best of both worlds exclusively for Harper Collins books.

I searched to see if other publishers had hopped on the bandwagon: Simon & Schuster did not have one.

Random House Insight

Love this widget, too!

The widget is a lightweight internet application that can be easily embedded into a Web page. In its small version, at 195 x 335 pixels, it fits snugly into any website and delivers interactive book previews by allowing a user to page forward and back through the book or search for keywords in the actual text content of the book - without ever leaving the Web page.

It also has audio capability where you can listen through an embedded player audio versions of the book.

So what does all this mean?

Some publishing houses have not just embraced the New Age of Digital Paper, but are using it competitively and smartly.

What it means for you are three things:
  1. If you're a writer, you must understand your best marketing tool by far is to write a well-written, relevant, compelling story that meets the readership of your day. More readers will be able to view your words and choose quicker than before.
  2. These widgets can be embedded in email campaigns, to social networks and will be great tools to help your favorite book or your book become more viral. Although both widgets aren't Facebook friendl yet, and Facebook's buying of Shelfari still hasn't taken off, I'm sure some group is tinkering around with a way to have the beauty and fluidity of these two widgets easily transferred. Now I wish I didn't drop my Math major to a minor. I could be the Widgetmaster for the Dream book widget. LOL.
  3. For publishing houses that haven't embraced these new appis to began conversations with their readers, you may feel a sting of the Fail Whale.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Trailer Park Tuesday: Deadly Charm

It's TRailer Park Tuesday. Today we are featuring my buddy and write or die chick, Claudia Mair Burney's Deadly Charm(Simon & Schuster.)

What AmazonFail Can Teach Bookstores Not just Christian Fiction Blog

This past weekend while most of us were participating in Easter/Resurrection Day events was having an event of its own. removed sales rankings and listing on the main search page for 57 000 of its registered titles, many of which were books with gay/lesbian themes. When some of these authors realized what happened and more importantly that still had not responded to their challenge, they organized a social media campaign via Twitter, coined the term AmazonFail, and got media attention. later told Publishers Weekly...

that a "glitch" had occurred in its sales ranking feature that was in the process of being fixed. The spokesperson added that there was no new policy regarding "adult" titles. As of Monday morning, a number of titles affected by the glitch were still without sales rankings. No one at Amazon was available this morning to discuss when the problem might be fixed or what caused the glitch.

An interesting article here that suggests culprits behind AmazonFail.

Last night during #journchat we discussed #AmazonFail as a teaching tool for other pr firms. Long after the discussion I wondered how this event could serve as a teaching tool for online bookstores, authors, and brick and mortar stores.

Whether we want to believe it or not Twitter is more than a microblogging service. It can be used for many things, one of which is a tool for rapid response CS. If book stores whether mobile, online or in a store want to build value with their customers, they are going to have to devise a way to respond in real time to their base, especially when "glitches" and stuff happens. Because if they don't then they will experience a bit of the venom that was spewn onto Amazon this past weekend. I've been tempted at times myself to tweet a few crappers I've experienced dealing with publishing houses, bookstore chains, churches, you name it. But I didn't, haven't yet. However, as more and more Twittercotts tweet up, you'd be more than the wiser to have a contingency plan designed.

One tip I will throw at you: Use Twitter to monitor your brand. There are various twitter tools you can use to do that. Search through my blog I've shared some on here already.

Also this Saturday I will be hosting a workshop on The Virtual Fiction Writer's Conference about book events and I will be talking about the power of Twitter, of course, and designing your own instore event contingency plans. ;)

Monday, April 13, 2009

What your Novel Beginning Must Hide

B52:18 Now WHERE did I put my pen? by SewPixie.

For the past month I've participated in #writechat. It is a live chat between writers on Twitter that happens between 1-3pm PST. Since I have hung out there I've learned from some of my writechat tweeps that the newbie writers aren't using a basic plot structure to guide them through writing the novel and they need one. For the summer --I'm here every 2nd and 4th Monday I believe--I will be sharing the 8 point plot structure skeleton I use with you. Let me confess I got it from J. Mark. Mine has been tweaked to fit me. You will more than likely do the same. In any case, let's begin...

Continue reading "What your Novel Beginning Must Hide" »

Friday, April 10, 2009

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Condolences: David Pop Winans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — David (Pop) Winans Sr., the Grammy-nominated patriarch of the award-winning gospel music family, died Wednesday. He was 76.

A statement from a Los Angeles public relations company representing the family said he died at a Nashville hospice, where he had been since January after suffering a heart attack and stroke last October.

"The Winans family wishes to thank everyone for their prayers and continued support, but would appreciate privacy at this time," the statement said.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Is the Economy Keeping you From a Writer's Workshop?

Taking It To The Next Level In 2009

"Coming to a computer and telephone near you!"

Virtual Workshops to Help You Take Your Skills to the Next Level

Thursday, April 16 -- 18, 2009 - $50 Registration Fee Includes All Sessions!

Faith Based Fiction Writers of Atlanta, formerly Visions in Print Writers Group is raising money to award a college scholarship to a Class of 2009 high school graduate. We invite you to attend an online writer's conference. We're offering seven workshops and teleconference sessions with national bestselling authors and top industry professionals that will help you improve your writing and/or market your current project.

Workhop Sessions

Writing and Selling the Bestselling Novel -- ReShonda Tate Billingsley

Independent Publishing: The Whys and more importantly How to Get it Done -- Vanessa Miller

Pacing - How to Keep Readers Turning the Page - Pamela Samuels Young

Sentence CPR: Resucitating Your Writing -- Tia McCollors

Description: Adding Texture to Your Prose-- Linda Leigh Hargrove

Writing for the Young Adult Market -- Tiffany Warren (Nikki Carter)

The Business of Book Events: Booking Promotional, Sales & Speaking Events -- Dee Stewart

Conference Host - Dana Pittman/

How a Virtual Conference Works: A virtual conference is a conference hosted on the Internet or by telephone or through technology that does not require a particiapte to come to brick and mortor location. Participants can attend without leaving the comfort of their home.

Who it is for: This conference is for anyone who is writing fiction, particularly those who have an understanding of basic writing and want to take their craft and marketing/promotion to the next level.

How You Will Participate: You register for the conference at

A few days before the conference you'll receive instructions on how to enter the main site for the conference. On the day of the conference, the workshops are presented in the forms of articles that are posted on the conference site by the presenter. Participants will review the material and post questions or comments in a threaded discussion format. At some point in the afternoon or perhaps several times during the day, the presenter will come into the forum and answer all the questions. Additionally, each workshop presenter will hold a live teleconference.

Door prize: Book giveaways and all registered participants who are interested will be entered in a raffle to win a 5 page critique from Legacy Editing Service. Or a copy of my ebook. The Book Marketing Plan Workbook

Don't miss out on the learning or the fun!

Contact us at or visit for more information.

Monday, April 06, 2009

God Only Knows. Christian Fiction Blog Reviewed

Part mystery/part class reunion novel, Knight weaves an interesting story.

School Superintendent, Julia Turner returns home to Dayton, Ohio to take charge of a private Christian and pay some kind of penance for a tragedy she caused when she was thirteen-years-old. But when she learns that a detective is still investigating the matter, will her faith lead her to a confession?

Cassandra Gilette was excited and tense about her friend, Julia Turners return to Dayton. For the past twenty years she's been the target of an unsolved mystery. Julia's return resurfaces the events that happened that night and add more clues to the puzzle. Will the ladies remember what happened that night before they lose their mates, their professional lives and their souls? (Grand Central, 273pp, $13.995)

Three Things Book Store Chains Must Do Right Now

Plastic culture by Suedehead
Many friends and clients of mine are gearing up for book events season. That is the time of year usually from spring to fall where authors are on book tours, at festivals, participating in in-store events, and cooling out on cruises.

For those of you who will be visiting your local bookstore for an In Store event here are three pieces of advice for you to consider. For those of you who manage or work for a bookstore here are three pieces of advice for you to consider as well.

1. Bring your own books.

It's customary for bookstores to stock a small supply of books for instore events. Unless you are a NYT bestseller with the full weight and pocketbook of your publishing house behind you, prepare yourself now that the store may have for purchase anywhere from 15 to one case of books(about 25-30) to sell.

Don't exhale, because you think that's a small amount of books to sale and that it should be a piece of cake. Bookstores bring in that amount of books for a reason:
  1. You haven't proven to them you can sell books yet. Don't take it personal. It's just business.
  2. They don't know you well enough to know if you're worth the investment to order more books. Look these stores make money selling books not storing them.
  3. Your pre-order sales for your book in that store is low, which could be an indicator that those fifteen books maybe harder to sell than you realize.
  4. There may be a more popular book in the store releasing that week or pushing far more books than expected and they fear most of their patrons will be coming for that book. (i.e. Steve Harvey's Act like a Lady Think Like a Man.)
So what should you do? Bring your own books. When you sell out inside the store and you have readers prepared to buy let them know you have more books available for purchase. Most store chains have independent seller agreements for books that they don't have stocked, but will allow you to sell in the store. It may be wise to come early and ask to complete to complete that agreement just in case the store runs out of books. In some cases you may not have to sign agreement that may allow you to sale after you sell out, but if you want to have a great relationship with the bookstore communicate with them your plans to continue selling past their stock. Else you can alsways host a tweetup immediately after your instore event at a nearby coffee house to keep the sales conversation going.

2. Arrive early.

I'm not talking a few minutes before. I'm talking a few days before, particularly when the store manager or community events manager is present. Have a face to face conversation with the person hosting your instore event. You need to learn two things from this person before your short meeting is over:
  1. Where will your author's table be located in the store?
  2. Who that is present on staff in the store while you're there will be present on the day and during your instore event?
  3. Can the store provide an extra register at the author's table or an open register at the cashier's station just for the event? I've witnessed patrons leave the store after they expressed they wanted to buy the book, because they didn't have time to wait in the long line.
  4. Can you leave bookmarks for the cashier's station to include in every patron's bag the day of the event?
  5. Does your staff know that I'm coming? Is your staff prepared to deal with phone queries regarding my coming? Will there be a staff member there who can assist me?
3. Introduce yourself to the staff.

I've lost count of the amount of times I've called a bookstore the day before or the morning of and have been told from a customer service person that my client didn't have an instore scheduled. I don't know why there is such miscommunication between the events person and the store staff, but there is. No need to argue about it, let's just work our way around it. The best technique that has worked for me is to simply arrive early locate the sales manager and introduce yourself to the staff. Sure they may look at you like you're crazy, but we know you're not. You just need to make sure that when one of your bookclub fans call to the store to ask whether you will be there at noon or two pm, they want respond with a "Who? We don't have her scheduled to be here. Meanwhile you're over in a corner behind the Twilight rack wondering where your book fans are. Let them know you're here and get at least one staff member's name, so that you can call on when you need help.

Hope this helps. If you have more questions about book marketing, there are many ways to contact me. The best way is to drop a question in my Facebook help desk. Or you can register for any of my upcoming teleseminars and workshops. This month I will be sharing more book events series at the Virtual Writers' Workshop. Learn more here.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Christian Fiction News: Bishop Jakes DVD & Oprah's Condition

Bishop T. Jakes Not Easily Broken based on the bestselling novel and movie hits DVD Store shelves on Tuesday, April, 2, 2009.

Cover Image

Oprah Summer Picks The Condition

Received my summer picks list from O magazine this month and to my surprise noticed a book on the list I've been wanting to read this book, so I'm inviting you to read it with me as well. It is called The Condition. It is the story of family responsibility, adult freedom & acceptance. This is not a Christian Fiction title. There are themes in here (homosexuality, chronic childhood illnesses, unhappy marriages) that are sort of glossed over in Christian publishing for valid reasons. I think this story is important to read, because it cuts a slice of the moral dilemmas that plague American society today, or at least my family.

Read an Excerpt of The Condition...


The Captain's House

Summer comes late to Massachusetts. The gray spring is frosty, unhurried: wet snow on the early plantings, a cold lesson for optimistic gardeners, for those who have not learned. Chimneys smoke until Memorial Day. Then, all at once, the ceiling lifts. The sun fires, scorching the muddy ground.

At Cape Cod the rhythm is eternal, unchanging. Icy tides smash the beaches. Then cold ones. Then cool. The bay lies warming in the long days. Blue-lipped children brave the surf. They opened the house the third week in June, the summer of the bicentennial, and of Paulette's thirty-fifth birthday. She drove from Concord to the train station in Boston, where her sister was waiting, then happily surrendered the wheel. Martine was better in traffic. She'd been better in school, on the tennis court; for two years straight she'd been the top-ranked singles player at Wellesley. Now, at thirty-eight, Martine was a career girl, still a curiosity in those days, at least in her family. She worked for an advertising agency on Madison Avenue—doing what, precisely, Paulette was not certain. Her sister lived alone in New York City, a prospect she found terrifying. But Martine had always been fearless.

Click here for more info... (note this is not a Christian fiction title.)

Sibella Giorello Interview by C.J. Darlington
Sibella Giorello
"I prefer for those [spiritual] themes to come organically. Otherwise it's a sermon. I love sermons, just not in novels."

Award-winning author Sibella Giorello, a former newspaper reporter and Pulitzer Prize nominee, talks about her latest novel The Rivers Run Dry (featuring an FBI agent specializing in forensic geology), the challenges of writing a series character, how she beats stress, and much more.

Read Interview here.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday's BMP Tip #2: Don't Forget.

Click on the arrows below to listen.

Mobile post sent by deegospel using Utterli. reply-count Replies. mp3

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Excerpt: Claudia Burney's Deadly Charm

Rocky showed up at my apartment door with an offer that, in his words, I “no coulda refuse.” Or maybe those were Marlon Brando’s words. I couldn’t be sure. My blond, dreadlocked former pastor slash ex-boyfriend locked me into a stare with those big, brown puppy eyes. He’d puffed out his jowls to utter the Godfather’s most famous line, while grazing his cheek with the back of his fingers—an excruciatingly amiss imitation. I’ve seen newborn babies’ smiles more intimidating.

“You look more like a hamster than a mobster, Rock.”

“Hamsters are cool.”

“But less compelling, you must admit.”

Rocky grinned and wagged his finger at me, “Never underestimate the power of a furry little creature.” He twitched his nose and started making hamster noises.

“Amen!” I said.

I thought of my vicious, former pet sugar glider, Amos. Although he’d become my friend and hero, I had to give him away to another nocturnal creature—otherwise, I’d never sleep again. My husband’s best friend, Souldier, had taken the murderous marsupial. Now Amos happily shreds his drapes.

“Come on in, my not-so-furry friend,” I told Rocky, mostly so he would stop making weird rodent sounds.

I moved aside so he could enter my little slice of paradise: shabby chic meets Africa is what Jazz, my husband called it. Rocky loved my funky, eclectically furnished place, too. He just didn’t describe it as aptly as Jazz did.

Who was I kidding? Rocky didn’t do anything as aptly as Jazz did. I had lost them both six weeks ago, and now here was Rocky, surprising me by showing up at my door like unexpected grace.

“Welcome back, Rocky,” I said. I know how lame I sounded, but I wanted him to know I was glad he’d come no matter what the reason.

He muttered a shy, “Thanks.”

We stood in my foyer exchanging reticent glances until I got bold enough to take a long look at him. I’d missed him so. He wore a typical Rockyesque uniform underneath his white down jacket—khaki pants and a long-sleeved Batman T-shirt. A cupid earring dangled in his right ear. Every year about this time he wore it to remind me to come to the Saint Valentine’s Day feast.

Without thinking I blurted out. “I see you and Cupid are still advertising our—” I bit my tongue. There’d be no “our” Saint Valentine’s Day feast this year for prodigal Bell. “Sorry,” I muttered.

“No problem,” he rushed to say, and then an awful silence descended on us like a cold, grey fog.

When I was still a member of his church, aptly named the Rock House, I never missed the event. Rocky would tell stories of the historical Saint Valentine; we’d eat candy conversation hearts, listen to live music, and share abundant amounts of food and laughter. It was Rocky’s way of making sure the lonely hearts wouldn’t spend the evening alone. There with my church family, not only did I get heaps of love, I could give out some from my meager supply.

That and we always had a chocolate fountain.

What was I going to do now?

I tried not to think about the sting of Rocky kicking me out of his church. I didn’t want to think about anything that had happened six weeks ago. Still, I figured whatever brought him to my door had an olive branch attached to it, and whatever he asked, short of sin, I’d be willing to do to reconcile with him.

Rocky hung up his jacket, kicked out of his Birkenstocks, and headed over to my rose-colored velvet sofa and sat. I followed, plopping down beside him.

“So, what’s the offer, Godfather?”

He stared at me. “Did you gain weight?”

Because I know it’s rude to kill your loved ones, I let that one slide and gave him a polite smile, but I did grab a mudcloth throw pillow and cover my expanding waistline.

“So, what’s the offer, Rocky?”

He gushed in a most un-Godfatherly like way. “I want you to go to a meeting with me. It’s only going to be the way-coolest event you’ve been to in forever.”

I cuddled the pillow and eyed him cautiously. He didn’t mean the Valentine’s Day feast. I braced myself. Rocky’s idea of way cool could get scary. “Can you be a little more specific?”

He didn’t answer. Just reached out and touched my hand, rubbing his thumb across my knuckles. “I really missed you.”

Oh, man. That small gesture—him touching the hand nobody held anymore—that tiny movement had the effect of a pebble in a pond, creating ripples of unexpected sadness that circled out of my soul. Lord, have mercy. I didn’t fling myself at him, begging like a rhythm-and-blues singer for him to keep loving me, to not give up on me, but something in me wished I could.

I didn’t want to marry Rocky, or even date him. He had never been the love of my life. In that moment I simply wanted to banish the nearly incarnate loneliness that had been dogging my heels as a solemn, maddening companion, shuffling me through all those days with no best-friend Rocky.

And with no husband Jazz.

I gazed up at him with my own version of puppy eyes. “I missed you too, Rocky.”

We let a bit of silence sit between us on the sofa like a third and very quiet presence. Our heads hung low. Apparently we both still smarted over our mutual pain of separation.

Minutes passed, our hands still clasped together, but Rocky’s merciful presence soothed my dry soul patches like olive oil.

Thank God. Thank God for every kind soul I don’t deserve in my life who loves me anyway.

“Rocky.” I made my voice as soft and small as a baby’s blankie.

He turned to me, his face as open and vulnerable as that blankie’s little owner.

I squeezed his hand. “I’m so sorry I hurt you.”

Those puppy eyes shone with the compassion I knew like the backs of my freckled hands.

“I’m sorry for the things I did, too, babe. For the things I said that night.”

“Don’t call me babe.”

He chuckled. “Some things never change.” Again, those gentle peepers bore into me. “Why didn’t you tell me you married Jazz?”

“At the time I didn’t seem too clear on it myself. Things happened pretty fast, and the next thing I knew, I was a wife.” I paused, the weight of that statement shifting just a bit since Rocky had shown up to help bear my burden. “He’s mad at me.”

“Duh-uh. You were kissing your blond boy toy.” He nudged me with his tattooed arm. “What’s going on with the two of you now?”

“I’ve seen corpses on Carly’s autopsy tables more involved than our marriage.”

I wondered if I’d ever get over what I’d lost with Jazz.

“I can only imagine what his parents think of me. I guess they’d say I’m the nightmare that took his ex Kate’s place.”

He regarded me with the care and concern I’ve seen him lavish on the fortunate souls he counseled as a pastor. Rocky may be only twenty-seven years old, but he’d been a pastor for two years. Two good years. He didn’t have the life experience an older pastor would, but God had given him an extraordinary shepherd’s heart.

“You’re not a nightmare,” he said. “You jumped into a marriage with no spiritual or emotional preparation.”

Like I, the clinician, needed him to tell me that.

I sighed. “Yet another psychologist heal thyself thing.” I looked away from him, guilt gnawing at me. “Maybe Jazz and I just aren’t meant to be, Rocky.”

“Have you talked to him?”

I shrugged. “Just once. He came over for a few minutes on Christmas Eve. I let him know I wanted him in a way I knew he’d understand. And then I waited. He never came back.”

“Why didn’t you go to him?”

“The same reason I didn’t come to you. I wanted to give him some space to feel whatever he felt and then to decide on his own.”

“But, maybe he’s not like me, babe.”

“Ya, think? And don’t call me babe.”

“Maybe he needs you to help him decide. Like, some extra reassurance or something.”

“That’s crazy, Rock.”

“It’s not so crazy, babe.”

I took back every nice thing I’d just thought about him. What did he know? Yes, he pastors a church of more than two-hundred members. He did missions work. He had a shepherd’s heart. He took pastoral counseling classes in seminary, but, honestly! His voice sounded just like Patrick’s on Sponge Bob.

Rocky glared at me. “Babe. . . .”

“Don’t call me babe.”

“Babe! You gotta go to him.”

“But he yells. Sometimes he cusses like a fish wife.”

“What’s a fish wife?”

“I don’t know, but my great-grandmother used to say that and it stuck with me. Maybe only females cuss like fish wives. Maybe he cusses like the fish.” Now I sounded like Patrick!

“Fish don’t cuss.”

“Okay, I know I should have reassured him.”

He sighed. Looked at me with those eyes. Squeezed my hand. “Will you ever let anyone love you?”

“People love me, Rocky. My sister. My secretary. Sasha.”

“I have doubts about Sasha.”

I thought about that and chuckled with him. “You may be right. My mother has done a few things that make me wonder. Now I’m really depressed.”

“I want to see you happy.”

“I want to see you happy, too. Speaking of which, how are you and Elisa?”

He grinned, reddened, looked away.

“What? Did you marry her in six weeks? My goodness!” For the first time, I didn’t feel jealous that someone was interested in Rocky. Well, not much.

“No. I’m not married. I’m . . . .”

“You’re what?”

“She’s really special, but it hasn’t been that long since she left creepy cult dude. I’m not sure I should be involved.”

“How involved are you?”

“I’m involved, babe.”

“You’re in love?”

He wouldn’t say anything, but his goofy grin spoke for him.


He nudged me, “Cut it out, babe.”

So, Rocky was really in love. Wow. I always knew it would happen, but I didn’t realize I’d still have the teensiest bit of pain knowing he’d moved on from me for good. I could see a flower of astonishing beauty blossoming between them when I saw them together, even though it nearly killed me at the moment. But God knows Rocky deserved the biggest, juiciest love he could find. He needed to look beyond the non-existent us. And he still calls me babe.

“Just take it slow, Rock. Trust me. The cost of moving too fast is astronomical, even if you are in love.”

I could tell he didn’t feel comfortable talking to me about Elisa. I decided to let their love blossom without my tending, pruning, or pulling up weeds. I got back to the business at hand. “Are you ever going to tell me what your offer is?” I eased into the lush upholstery of my sofa.

Rocky’s face lit up. Honestly, if that guy had a tail to go with those puppy eyes, it’d be thumping my sofa with joy.

“It’s gonna be awesome, ba— I mean, Bell.”

Apparently our little chat about Elisa made him correct himself.

“You think everything is awesome, Rocky.”

“I don’t think everything is awesome.”

“You said my Love Bug is awesome. You said Switchfoot’s new CD is awesome. You said my new zillions braids are awesome, and you said the ice-cream at Cold Stone Creamery is awesome.” Okay, the ice-cream at Cold Stone happened to be awesome for real. Lately I’d craved it like the blind crave sight.

“But, babe . . . ”

There he goes again. Honestly! A holy war couldn’t make that man stop calling me babe.

He went on. “Those things are awesome.”

“God is awesome, Rock. Awesome meaning the subject inspires awe, as in reverence, respect, dread.”

“You reverence your tricked-out VW Beetle,” he said, “And I respect Switchfoot, especially Jon Foreman, and your way-cool, African-goddess hair inspired me to get dreads.”

I stared at him. Comments like these coming from Rocky tended to render me temporarily speechless.

He filled the silence with his proposal. “I want you to go see Ezekiel Thunder with me.”

My eyes widened. Electroshock therapy wouldn’t have given me such a jolt. “Ezekiel Thunder?” I screeched. I jerked up from my slouch. I’d heard the un-right reverend wanted to hit the comeback trail, taking his miracle crusade with him.

Rocky gave me a wicked grin and settled himself smugly into the soft folds of my sofa. He knew I’d left Thunder’s particular brand of Pentecostal fire many years ago and had no desire to go back.

Rocky bobble-head nodded, as if his physical movement would affect a change in my attitude.

“Stop all that nodding!”

“I’m just trying to encourage you.”

I did not feel encouraged.

“It’ll be fun,” he said, blasting me with the full puppy-eyes arsenal. Oh, those eyes. Powerful! Mesmerizing! Like a basket full of cocker spaniel puppies wearing red ribbons. I could feel myself weakening.

“Rocky, that meeting will torture me. It will torture you!”

“No, it won’t. Ezekiel is my friend.”

“Your friend?”

“He led me to Christ.”

“Ezekiel Thunder led you to Christ?”

“I told you I came to Christ at a Bible camp.”

“Yes? And?”

“It was a Sons of Thunder Bible camp. I’m a Thunder Kid!” He beamed with what I hoped wasn’t pride.

“You never told me that!”

Honestly! You think you know somebody! He was my ex-boyfriend for goodness’ sake. We’d talked about marriage. I couldn’t believe I had no idea he was close friends with the infamous Ezekiel Thunder!

“You can be kinda judgmental about guys like Ezekiel.” He went on. “I didn’t mean to upset you or trigger bad memories of your tongues-talking days.”

“Then don’t ask me to go see him.”

“He’s a different man. He and his family want to buy a house in Ann Arbor. He’s living at the Rock House house until one comes through for him. ”

“God forbid!”

“He needs support. People to show up and cheer him on.”

“Cheer him on? We should stop him!” Had Rocky forgotten that Ezekiel Thunder had fallen as hard as many of his televangelist contemporaries in the eighties—and for a tawdry little tryst with a young intern? May it never be!

“How hard would it be for you to sit there and listen? Maybe say a few prayers for him.”

“God bless you as you do that for him.”

“I was there for you, supporting Great Lakes Seminary when they were struggling and going to lose their building. I did it because of how much you love Mason May.”

“Rocky! That’s not even comparable. Mason is a fine theologian training good men and women for powerful, effective ministries. He’s not a snake-oil peddler.”

“It’s not snake oil. It’s miracle prosperity oil.”

I stared at him. He’d stunned me to silence once again. I waited for Rocky to fill the silence with testimonies about the healing properties of miracle prosperity oil. Thankfully, he refrained. But he didn’t look like he’d let me off the hook.

I tried to reason with him. “You shouldn’t ask me to do this. You’re Emergent, Rocky, not a dyed-in-the-wool charismatic.”

“You don’t like post-modern, post-denominational, Emergent folks either.”

“I like them more than Ezekiel Thunders.”

“What’s that thing you say about the Emergent Church?”

“This is not about the Emergent Church. I’d go to an Emergent meeting with you anytime. You name the place: Mars Hill, Ann Arbor Vineyard. How ‘bout Frontline Church? ”

He didn’t budge. “Come on, babe. He’s like a dad to me.”

“A dad?”

“You always say Mason is like a dad to you.”

“But Mason has a PhD. He doesn’t sell ‘miracle prosperity oil’.”

“Ezekiel doesn’t sell it, either. He gives it away for a love offering.”

“A considerable love offering, if I remember! It’s plain olive oil he’s pushing to gullible babes in the faith who don’t know any better. How can I support his money-lusting schemes?”

“Ummm. By going with me?” Hope burgeoned in his voice as if I hadn’t just accused his mentor of being a hustler.

“Did you hear what I said, Rock? Ezekiel Thunder is everything I walked away from.”

“You walked away from a lot more than that, babe. And you’ve been known to hang out with people with worse theology than his. People way more dangerous.”

He had a point.

“Rocky . . . .” I didn’t want to go. Please, God, don’t make me go.

“He’s changed, babe. Give him a chance. For me.”

The eyes again, and a smile with an invisible tail wag.

I grumbled.

He grinned.

I gave him a dramatic sigh. “What time are we leaving?”

“If you’re not busy, and you’re not, we can leave in a few hours. I’ll pick you up at six.”

“How do you know I don’t have plans?”

“Because you have antisocial tendencies.”

“Don’t hold back, Rock. What do you really think about me?”

“Don’t worry,” he said, ignoring my insolence. “You’re gonna fall in love with Ezekiel.”

I rolled my eyes. “Not likely.”

He put his face right in front of mine until we were eye to eye. “You are feeling veeeeeery tired. You’re getting sleepy. You’re going to enjoy yourself at the crusade.”

“No fair,” I said, “Those eyes of yours are potent hypnotizers.”

“You are going to love Ezekiel Thunder.”

“I am going to love Ezekiel Thunder.”

Rocky got out of my face. “You’ve gotta admit, babe. This will be safer than sleuthing.”

No, it won’t, a disembodied voice--also known as the still, small voice of God--informed me.

I tried to ignore it. Maybe this Spirit prompting was speaking figuratively.

Couldn’t ignore it.

What, Lord, am I some kind of trouble magnet?

Don’t answer that, God.

I started rationalizing immediately to take the edge off what I truly hoped was not a prophetic warning. Maybe I could fall in love with the guy and respect him. Maybe he could even heal the egg-sized growth on my lower abdomen that scared me to death each time I ran my index finger across it. Maybe I could even find the keys to unlock the little room inside my heart where all the Ezekiel Thunders I’ve ever known were locked. I’d stored them there to keep me safe from the particular brand of harm only they could inflict.

I could feel my defenses shoot up as if a rocket propelled them.

Fall in love with Ezekiel Thunder?

I wished.

I shouldn’t have wished. My great-grandmother and namesake Amanda Bell Brown use to say, “Be careful what you wish for, baby. You just might get it.”

She ain’t never lied.


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