Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tyler Perry’s New Cast Announced


Tyler Perry announced the cast for his next film, ”For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.” (One of my fave plays)

Based on Ntozake Shange’s award-winning 1975 play.


Structurally, For Colored Girls is a series of 20 poems, referred collectively as a "choreopoem", performed through a cast of nameless women, each known only by a color: "Lady in Yellow", "Lady in Purple", etc.. The poems deal with love, abandonment, rape, and abortion. The performances of the seven actresses are focused on their specific stories; i.e., Lady in Blue's visceral account of a woman who chooses to have an abortion; and Lady in Red's tale of domestic violence.

The Cast: Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Jurnee Smollett, Kimberly Elise, Kerry Washington, and Macy Gray.

Filming is set to begin in 2010 and will be released on January 14, 2011.

Making a film of ‘For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf’ is a dream come true for me. Ntozake Shange’s play is a magnificent tribute to the strength and dignity of women of color, and I think audiences of all generations will be able to recognize and embrace the experiences these women represent. Creatively, this movie is one of the most exciting undertakings of my career.” state Perry.

TPT: Blood Ransom

This week's Trailer Park is Lisa Harris' Blood Ransom

Blood Ransom (Mission Hope Series)

BLOOD RANSOM: Book one in a captivating new series from Zondervan, April 2010

Romance and adventure drive this powerful thriller about the modern-day slave trade and those who dare to challenge it. Deep in the heart of Africa, two American lives are about to change forever. Natalie Sinclair and Dr. Chad Talcott want to make a difference in underdeveloped African villages …but they didn;t count on risking their lives in the process. Read the prologue and first chapter here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Some 12 percent of all children in Malawi do not survive to celebrate their fifth birthday. Photo: Concern Worldwide
Today is Twesitval and our focus this year is very important.
This year proceeds from Twestival will be donated to Concern. Concern Worldwide has been selected as the TWESTIVAL GLOBAL 2010 recipient for education. Proceeds will benefit their work providing access to quality education for out-of-school children, orphans, child laborers, conflict-affected children, and children affected by HIV and AIDS.
In Atlanta our Atlanta Twestival will help provide clean water in schools. Come out tonight to HUB Atlanta. Chipotle Mexican Grill will host dinner. Yum!

Monday, March 22, 2010

How to Get a Book Deal without an Agent? #MondayMotivation

contagious joy

Part 1: Contagious Joy Writing Series

I believe that there is a plan and a purpose for each person's life and that there are forces working in the universe to bring about good and to create a community of love and brotherhood...those who can attune themselves to these forces--to God's purpose--can become special instruments of His will.

- Coretta Scott King

At noon today my daughter, Selah will become ten-years-old. For those of you who follow me on this blog and throughout the blogoshphere know that today you are witnessing a miracle. I should have been dead ten years ago, seven years ago…shoot: three years ago. And I believe if it were not for your prayers, support, and encouragement I would have been. Moreover, if it were not for your prayers and encouragement I wouldn’t have received a publishing contract this year.

Ten years of working hard to manage and improve my heart condition, to become a better person and parent,to promote great writers, and to not just stay alive, but fight to live a better life… to see this day my cup runs over with joy. In the past ten years—and especially the past few months—I’ve received calls and emails from aspiring writers and published authors on how did I get a deal during a time like this in publishing. The economy is still down, the digitization of publishing has the industry in a quagmire, major authors are losing contracts, bookstores are closing, and agents are more selective than ever before.

How did I get across the gatekeepers and land a deal without an agent? It’s simple. Live with Contagious Joy.

Continue reading "Spring Writing Series Kicks Off with Contagious Joy" »

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reading Now: Chris Cleave's Little Bee #followthereader

[First line] I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl. Everyone would be pleased to see me coming.

Most days I'm consumed with reviewing a book for a magazine, a client, or a friend or writing a magazine article, white paper on publishing and marketing or soon to be published book. Did you like that long sentence? But what I love to do, what this blog is purposed to do is to discover and share brilliant books. Little Bee is a big book I've been wanting to talk about since last year, but never got the chance to. If you're preparing your Spring Must Read Books list, please add it.

A brief about Little Bee in Chris Cleave's own words...

I will be compiling a Spring Must Reads of 2010 within the next two weeks. If you would like to nominate a book, please use disqus below or twitter or facebook(email only, do not post on my wall) you're recommendation. Use hashtag #followthereader. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday Writing Tip: Plotting

Here's a great writing tip from Kay Marshall Strom on plotting...

I believe in outlining. I first write up a plot, then I make a chapter-by-chapter outline. Of course it gets changed a lot as I write, but at least I have a map of where I’m going. I write three drafts. The first draft—the composing—takes the most time. (I’m euphoric while I do this! The story seems so, so good!) The second draft is where I do the nuts and bolts, trying to make a work of art out of my lump of clay. (I’m always discouraged here. I think everyone will discover I’m a fraud, that I have no clue what I’m doing!) Then I do a final edit, reading everything out loud. (Middling happy.)

To read more of my interview with Kay, click here.
To receive Christian Fiction via  Facebook , click here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Trailer Park Tuesday: Dekker and Healy's Burn

This week's Trailer Park Tuesday spotlight is Ted Dekker and Erin Healy's Burn.  I enjoyed their collaboration in Kiss and was excited to know that they released another book.

More about Burn:

Janeal feels trapped in her father’s Gypsy culture. But everything changes when a brutal and powerful man named Salazar Sanso promises her the life she longs for if she will help recover a vast sum of money tied to her father. When the plan implodes, Sanso attacks the gypsy settlement and burns it to the ground. During the blaze, Janeal is faced with a staggering choice that changes the course of her life. Years later, the terrible truth of what really happened that night begins to sear Janeal’s soul. As truth rises from the ashes of her past, Janeal finds she must make a new life-or-death choice. But this time, escape is not an option.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Wildcard: Vanessa Miller Yesterday's Promise

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:

Yesterday’s Promise (Book One in the Second Chance at Love Series)

Whitaker House (April 6, 2010)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***


Vanessa Miller of Dayton, Ohio is a best-selling author, playwright, and motivational speaker. She started writing as a child, spending countless hours either reading or writing poetry, short stories, stage plays and novels. Vanessa’s creative endeavors took on new meaning in 1994 when she gave her life to Jesus. Since then, she’s focused on themes of redemption, often using characters caught up in struggles common to contemporary culture. Readers and critics alike have responded with overwhelming affirmation. Vanessa’s novels have topped the Essence Magazine’s Bestseller’s Lists, and received numerous awards, including “Best Christian Fiction Mahogany Award” and the “Red Rose Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction.”. Her work has also been nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Christian Fiction and as the Black Expressions Book Club Alternate Selection for the past three years.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (April 6, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742077
ISBN-13: 978-1603742078



This book is dedicated to all the women who have ever struggled to preach the gospel.

Know that God hasn’t forgotten your labor of love. I salute you.


Standing before the congregation of Omega Christian Church, Melinda Johnson preached a message on God’s precious gift of salvation. Her mission in life was to tell as many people as possible about a Man named Jesus. Preaching the gospel had become her greatest joy. “Don’t wait until it’s too late,” she told the congregation. “The Lord Jesus wants to fellowship with you right now. He loves you and desires only good things for you.”

Melinda continued in that vein until her voice cracked and tears ran down her cocoa-cream face. She never tired of talking about God’s ability to do the impossible, or how He could take nothing and make something miraculous out of it. She usually avoided making public displays of emotion, but this message was more important than her image. As the tears continued to fall, she gave an altar call and watched as dozens of men and women left their seats and rushed toward the front of the sanctuary. Repentant souls stood around the altar weeping as they raised their hands in surrender to God. Melinda prayed to God on behalf of each and every one of them.

After the service, Melinda stood by the sanctuary door and shook hands with most of the people as they left the church. This was something that her father, Bishop Langston Johnson, always did. Since he couldn’t be there today, Melinda wanted to make sure the job was still done.

“Thanks for your wonderful message, Sister Melinda,” Janet Hillman said on her way out. “My son was one of the people who came down to the altar today.”

For the past three years, Janet had spent her lunch hours in noonday prayer on behalf of her son. Having joined her on numerous occasions, Melinda was aware of the addictions and incarcerations that Janet’s son had been through. However, Janet had kept the faith—she’d kept believing that her son would one day serve the Lord.

Melinda beamed. “You prayed him through, Janet. I should give you my prayer list, because I know you’ll stay on the job until it’s done.”

When Janet walked away, Bob Helms, the head elder, came up to Melinda and said, “You brought down the house with that sermon.”

“Thank you, sir, but I can’t take credit. That message was God-given,” Melinda said. After a short pause, she asked, “Do you know why the elders weren’t at prayer this morning?” The church leaders met for prayer on the first Sunday of every month, but Melinda had noticed that none of the elders had been in attendance that morning.

“Your father had asked that all the elders meet with him this morning,” Elder Helms told her.

“Oh,” was all Melinda said. She had been with her father the night before, and he hadn’t mentioned anything about meeting with the elders in the morning. The situation seemed odd to her because she had always been included in his meetings with the elders. Moreover, it was essentially understood by the entire church leadership that Melinda would assume her father’s position once he retired. Right now, her father was in the hospital, recuperating from what he’d thought had been a heart attack. Now that Melinda thought about it, he had been given strict instructions to rest, which probably explained why he hadn’t told her about the meeting. He knew that she wouldn’t want him worrying about church business right now.

Elder Helms interrupted her thoughts. “The Bishop did tell me to make sure that you left church right after preaching the message, Melinda. He wants to see you immediately.”

It seemed like Elder Helms knew something Melinda didn’t, and it scared her. “Did something happen to Dad this morning?”

Shaking his head, Elder Helms reassured her, “No, no. Nothing like that. The Bishop is doing fine. He just wants to see you.”

“Thanks for letting me know, Elder Helms,” she said. “I’ll head over there now.”


Anxious to see her father and make sure he was all right, Melinda rushed down the hospital corridor that led to his room. He had been admitted to the hospital three days prior, complaining of chest pains. After several tests, the doctor had confirmed that no sign of a heart attack had been detected. Melinda was thankful that her father was recuperating and doing well. She was also excited to tell him about some wonderful, unexpected news she had received that morning.

Her father’s eyes were closed when Melinda walked into his hospital room. As she approached his bed, she noticed for the first time that his hair was no longer salt-and-pepper but completely white. The wrinkles beneath his eyes, which had long made him look distinguished, were now more pronounced and distracting. When did all of this happen? Melinda wondered as she picked up her father’s frail hand and pressed it to her cheek.

Bishop Johnson’s eyes fluttered as he turned toward his daughter. “Hey, baby girl. When’d you get here?”

“Just a few minutes ago. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get here earlier.”

“You had to handle my responsibilities at the church. Don’t worry about it. I had plenty of visitors this morning.”

Melinda sat down in the chair next to her father’s bed and hung her purse on the arm of the chair. “I have some good news, Daddy. I’ve been asked to speak at the Women on the Move for God conference in August!”

“That’s great, baby girl! But I have even better news.”

Melinda raised her eyebrows. “What, the doctor gave you a clean bill of health and said that you’ll live to be a hundred?”

Bishop Johnson shook his head and then blurted out, “I found you a husband.”

“Excuse me?” Melinda said in as even a tone as she could manage. After all, she was a thirty-seven-year-old woman living in the twenty-first century. Fathers didn’t go out and find husbands for their daughters in this day and age. “Please tell me you’re joking, Daddy.”

“No joke to it,” Bishop Johnson said as he hoisted himself into an upright position. “I’m an old man, Melinda. I haven’t got many years left. I’d like to see at least one of my grandchildren before I die, you know?”

Melinda couldn’t deny that her father was showing signs of aging. But that didn’t mean death would sneak into his hospital room and suck out his last breath while she stood there and watched. “You talk as if you’ll die tomorrow.”

“I could. The next heart attack could be my last.”

Melinda rolled her eyes. “It was an anxiety attack, Daddy. Stop being such a baby. The doctor says you’re fine.”

Bishop Johnson shook a shaky finger at Melinda. “Now, you listen to me. I’m eighty-two years old. I know what’s best for you, and that’s why I called Steven Marks.”

Melinda bolted out of her chair and moved away from her father’s bed. She put a hand to her mouth and shut her eyes, trying to block out the same feeling of humiliation she’d experienced when Steven had dumped her ten years ago. This has to be some kind of horrible joke, Melinda thought. But her father was a serious man who rarely joked with anyone.

“Calm down. It’s not as bad as you think,” he said. “I didn’t come right out and tell Steven I wanted him to marry you. He’s a smart young man…he’ll come to that decision on his own.”

“Why are you even talking to me about Steven, Daddy? That man walked out on me and married someone else. Do you really think I’d want him back now, just because his wife is dead?”

“Pride goes before destruction, Melinda.”

She really hated it when her father tried to rein her in by quoting Scriptures. “What does being prideful have to do with not wanting to marry a man who rejected me?”

“I have more to tell you. Would you please sit back down?”

Melinda inched back to her seat and slowly settled into it. If this marrying Steven Marks thing was supposed to be a buffer for the rest of her father’s message, then she was truly petrified. She glanced at her father with a look of apprehension.

“This last hospital stay has convinced me that I need to retire.”

Melinda rolled her eyes. “I’ve been telling you for years now to retire. I can pastor Omega, and Pastor Lakes can take over as bishop.”

“Let me finish,” Bishop Johnson said, holding up a hand to silence Melinda. “I know the ministry goals that you have. I also believe that there is a way for you to do God’s will and also have a family. Plus, Steven’s church did not support him during his grieving process. They want him to leave, Melinda. So, after prayerful reflection, I’ve asked him to take over for me as bishop.”

Melinda must not have heard him right. He couldn’t have just said that Steven Marks—the man who’d called off their wedding because she’d refused to give up her dreams of preaching the gospel—was going to be the new bishop of Omega Christian Church. In Melinda’s mind, this could mean only one thing: her sin had finally caught up with her.


Publisher’s note:

This novel is a work of fiction. References to real events, organizations, or places are used in a fictional context. Any resemblances to actual persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version, © 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Yesterday’s Promise
Book One in the Second Chance at Love Series

Vanessa Miller


ISBN: 978-1-60374-207-8

Printed in the United States of America

© 2010 by Vanessa Miller

Whitaker House

1030 Hunt Valley Circle

New Kensington, PA 15068


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Miller, Vanessa.

Yesterday's promise / by Vanessa Miller.

p. cm. — (Second chance at love ; bk. 1)

Summary: “When Melinda Johnson’s father, the bishop of Omega Christian Church, goes back on his word and appoints her ex-fiancĂ©, Steven Marks, as his successor instead of her, Melinda must decide whether to pursue her call to preach elsewhere or to stay at Omega and rekindle a relationship with Steven—even though he opposes female pastors”—Provided by publisher.

ISBN 978-1-60374-207-8 (trade pbk.)

1. African American churches—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3613.I5623Y47 2010



Friday, March 12, 2010

Weekend Chatterbox: SxSWi & The Future of Publishing

SXSW FestivalSXSW begins today. Wish I was there for one major reason: to chatter about the digitization of book publishing. Apple’s iPad launches next month (April 3) and according to Shelf Awareness and Forbes Magazine the iBookstore is more sophisticated and book-buyer friendly than once hoped. Moreover, B & N plans to release a 3rd party iPad application. (Mama say what?)

On top of that SXSW has some great panels that will chop it up about book publishing’s future. Because Apple is just the beginning…So since I have a deadline to turn in my manuscript (April 15,) so I can’t be there. I will be following the festival on Twitter #sxswi and hanging out on facebook when I take breaks. In the meantime, I would like to know your thoughts: What do you foresee about the publishing industry? What are the benefits of digitization?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Trailer Park Tuesday: The Big 5-OH #followthereader

Good Tuesday! This week's Trailer Park Tuesday Spotlight is Sandra D. Bricker's of The Big 5-Oh!

Olivia Wallace has a birthday curse . . . or so she thinks. It was a broken heart on her 16th, a car accident on her 21st, pneumonia on her 30th, and a fall down a flight of stairs on her 35th. There were Ohio blizzards on her 38th, 39th, and 40th; and six days before her 45th, she lost the love of her life to a heart attack. Numbing grief stole that birthday and a couple more to follow and, on the morning of her 48th birthday, she received the call she’d dreaded ever since losing her mom so many years ago…she was diagnosed with stage-3 ovarian cancer. The doctors didn’t hold out a lot of hope, but Liv survived and maintained her faith. Months of surgeries and chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed.

But now, as her 50th birthday creeps up the icy Ohio path toward her, her hair has grown back, her energy level is up, and she is officially cancer free. It makes her nervous. After everything she’s gone through, Liv hates the idea of driving on icy roads and returning to work as an O.R. nurse in a local Cincinnati hospital.
Her best friend Hallie knows just the thing to break Liv out of the winter doldrums, while providing a safe haven of warmth, sunshine, and a time to regroup: a holiday in the Florida sunshine!

If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Big 5-Oh!, go HERE

Monday, March 08, 2010

Fletcher's Fiction Oscar Win

I love it when a Harvard College graduate, Columbia University and NYU/Tisch School of the Arts film professor puts his pedigree where his pen is and wins the first Academy Award for screenwriting buy an African American writer.  I love it when a brilliant writer adapts a haunting yet challenging novel into a classy, universal cinematic triumph, while still honoring the novelist's[Sapphire] voice. Congratulations Professor Geoffrey S. Fletcher.

TMA: What Good is a Book Store when...?

This morning my write-or-die chick author Rhonda McKnight and I were pub chatting, particularly about the future of bookstores. She shared her vision of what she thinks bookstores of the future would look like, which sparked a stimuating discussion that I want to continue here at The Master's Artist today. Because this issue (what good is a book store?) is one Christian bookstores isn't either having enough of or is missing the larger picture of its growing lack of relevance to the community at large.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The #1 Reason Your Book Marketing Efforts Fail on Facebook

dee Me on Twitter

Last month I asked a question on my Facebook profile: If you could give up one social media platform-- Twitter or Facebook-- what would it be? Most respondents chose Facebook, because they didn’t get it. Although the results weren’t shocking, they were problematic. Many of those responders were authors… african-american authors.  But in this “Relationships are Imperative for Survival” age, black authors need to get Twitter. They need to get it like two years ago…

Read the full article today at RAWSISTAZ here.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

WildCard: Beaded Hope

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:

Beaded Hope

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (February 15, 2010)

***Special thanks to Maggie Rowe of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***


Cathy Liggett is the author of several contemporary romances and one nonfiction book. She worked in advertising copywriting and gift product development before turning to her passion for writing fiction. She was inspired to write Beaded Hope after traveling to South Africa on a mission trip like the one described in the story. Cathy and her husband, Mark, have two grown children and live in Loveland, Ohio.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (February 15, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414332122
ISBN-13: 978-1414332123


Suburb of Columbus, Ohio

“Hey, Gabby, what are you doing?”

Even after all their years together, the sound of her husband’s voice could still make Gabrielle Phillips’s heart skip a beat. She pressed the cell phone closer to her ear. It had been such a long week without Tom at home. “I’m running into Hirscham’s to pick up a shirt for Dad’s birthday.”

“Running? You’re running?”

His overly cautious tone brought a smile to her face. “Not running, silly, although I could run, you know. I’m walking briskly. Hurrying. I have to be back at church by 1:30 for a meeting with the other directors.”

“Is everything . . . ?” His hesitancy to finish the sentence told her everything he feared. How many times had he asked the same question only to hear the worst? No wonder Tom could barely ask anymore. Only fools got too close to a fire after getting burned time and again.

But at least today she had good news.

“Everything is fine. Absolutely fine. Wonderful. Really.” Closing her eyes, Gabby whispered her thanks to God. Tom’s audible sigh and then silence made her think he might be doing the same. “Except for . . . I miss you terribly.”


“When does your flight get in? Soon, I hope. It’s supposed to storm today.”

Dressing for work this morning, she’d seen the weather report on the small television sitting on top of the dresser in their bedroom. The meteorologist hadn’t just predicted rain; he’d more like ranted about it, threatening a downpour, pointing to patches of colors ranging from alarming yellow to raging red on his Doppler 10 radar screen.

“My plane gets in around five. But I looked online. I don’t think the rain’s supposed to start till later tonight.”

“Oh? Well, good.” That concern dismissed, she thought ahead. “Pizza for dinner?”

“Should you eat pizza?”

Smiling, she rolled her eyes though no one was nearby to notice. “How about half-veggie, half-pepperoni?”

“Perfect. Just like you. Love you, Gabby.”

“I know.”

Somehow through all the pain and drama and disappointments over the years of their marriage, they had survived, shakily at times, but together just the same. And now they’d been rewarded.

So rewarded! She let out a contented sigh.

As her boots scuffed against the dry parking lot pavement, Gabby had to admit she must’ve heard the weatherman wrong. At the moment, nearly white clouds with only hints of gray streaked a blue-brushed sky, looking far too benevolent for any monstrous storm to crackle through the heavens anytime soon.

But Gabby still felt glad she’d decided not to take any chances before she’d left home this morning. No way she wanted to risk slipping and falling on a rain-slicked floor. Not with their baby growing inside her—the baby she and Tom had waited for for so long. So painfully long.

Instead, she’d tossed her black ballet flats back into the closet she shared with her husband, opting for ragged but sure-footed snow boots from the garage. Not so attractive, but luckily she worked at a historic stone church and not in some glossy corporate tower. Everyone at work dressed neatly but casually. No one at Graceview cared as much about her fashion statements as they did about her dedication as head of the church’s children’s ministries.

When Gabby reached Hirscham’s entrance, she held open the door for a young mom struggling to push a baby stroller while tugging on the hand of a squirming toddler.

Not exactly an idyllic Norman Rockwell scene, but still Gabby could feel the jealousy. Rearing. Scratching. Trying to catch hold. Wanting to seep in and creep through her like a heart-strangling vine.

But it couldn’t control her anymore. These days she refused to let it. Now hope wasn’t just some fuzzy mirage in the distance. It had become more of a reality. On days when the green monster reared, she could more easily shoo it away with a genuine smile, not a false one. With positive thoughts, not negative ones. And by counting blessings, not subtracting them.

Heading for the men’s department, Gabby already knew exactly what to get her father. Her mother had been explicit about the size, brand, and color of shirt Gabby’s dad would like from her and Tom. Even though Gabby thought a shirt sounded less than exciting, she and Tom couldn’t afford much more than a shirt anyway. Tom’s new job with a national nonprofit organization had been a step up, but they still didn’t have a lot of disposable income, especially not with all the medical bills from the past—or the present.

Besides, next year would be different. By the time her father’s birthday rolled around again, she’d already have given him a special gift. A precious one.

Something money just can’t buy!

The salesperson couldn’t have been more efficient, and package in hand, Gabby glanced at her watch. She could slow down a bit. She still had ten minutes to kill before she had to head back to Graceview.

Strolling through the store, she took in the new spring fashions. It looked as if pink might be a big color again this season. But the women’s clothes held little interest for her, so she meandered over to the baby department and stood at the edge, looking in. Did she really want to venture into that sea of heart-tugging adorability?

Then a sleeper caught her eye. A pale yellow sleeper, almost the color of the underside of a lemon peel, with the cutest fuzzy lamb embroidered on the chest. Even from a distance it tempted her, seeming to promise a high cuddle factor.

Could the sleeper really be as soft as it looked?

Inching her way over, Gabby tried not to notice the endless racks and shelves of pastels, the cotton candy pinks and hushed baby blues of the infant clothes, the girlie lavenders and boy-bold navies of the toddler outfits. Instead, keeping her eyes focused on the sleeper, she made a straight path. She just wanted to touch it and feel its softness. That was all.

She took the foot of the sleeper in her hand and rubbed it between her fingers. Exquisite. Addicting. As soft as a downy feather but not feathery at all, of course. Holding it up to her cheek, she could almost imagine she smelled the unmistakable scent of baby powder. Could almost swear she felt the weight of a tiny foot wrapped in the velvety fabric.

“Soft, isn’t it?” A salesperson appeared out of nowhere and smiled at her knowingly.

Gabby attempted to let the fabric drop from her fingers, but she couldn’t let go. “Unbelievable.”

“And they’re on sale.”

Glancing at the price tag without really seeing it, Gabby tilted her head, pretending to do a mental calculation. But really her decision—or rather indecision—had nothing to do with money. Not this time.

As she clasped the material tighter and tighter in her fingers, she already knew there’d be an aching sadness that would spread to her limbs and then, without a doubt, find her heart if she let the fabric slip from her hand. Oh, how she didn’t want to let go.

But should she? Should she really buy it?

But then . . .

It had been ten weeks. She’d almost made it through the entire first trimester. She had never, ever, carried a baby that long before. Not in all the eight years since she and Tom had tried to conceive.

Even though everything indicated the in vitro fertilization had worked, even though her belly had the slightest protrusion and her breasts felt more tender than usual, still, after so many years, so many tests, failures, and tears, it seemed too hard to believe, too good to be true.

But Gabby couldn’t go on thinking that way. This baby—their baby—was real.

The thought made her tremble with a thrilling excitement that lifted her heart sky-high.

Until the other tremors came too, clutching at her throat, bringing fear and trepidation. Sadness of remembered losses. Feelings so easy to give in to, such a familiar place to be.

Her baby couldn’t thrive in shadows and fear. A protective feeling, stronger than anything she’d ever felt before, surged through her. She needed to shove those feelings away. Her baby needed light and love. Positive thoughts and prayers. Nourishment. Gentleness. And softness.

“I-I want it,” Gabby stammered. “I want it,” she repeated, taking the sleeper, handing it to the salesperson. “I’m going to get it.”

But as she watched the salesperson wrap her precious purchase in white tissue paper, horrible thoughts struck again. What was she doing? Something wrong? Something that might possibly jinx their baby?

No, she wouldn’t let herself believe it. After all, she’d bought baby clothes ahead of time for friends before. And had anything awful ever happened to their babies?

Besides, if she’d learned anything through the trials she and Tom had endured together, it had been that there were no signs. No spells. No talismans. No right words to chant. No fairy godmother’s wand. Nothing that could create a baby.

Nothing beyond the ability of her body . . . and God’s gracious will. Every minute of every day, Gabby prayed they were one and the same.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Just Reviewed: Mary Monroe's God Ain't Through Yet

Just completed my review of Mary Monroe's God Ain't Through Yet (Dafina, June 2010) for Romantic Times Magazine's May Issue.  Here's a snippet of the review. Please be sure to get your copy of RT before the issue drops.


Annette Goode Davis almost lost her husband, Pee Wee in God Ain't Blind when she had an affair with young Louis Baines a few months ago. Yet, he stayed and wanted to work things out for the sake of their daughter, Charlotte. But what if he changes his mind?

CFOM: Women's History Month & Modern Day Slavery Spotlight

What Does the Lord Require of Me?

An Interview with Kay Marshall Strom

March is one of my favorite months because my daughter, Selah, was born this month, and March is National Women’s History Month. I am a huge history buff, so I read tons of historical fiction, particularly history that discusses the transatlantic slave trade. Imagine my surprise when I found a book about a female abolitionist that was written with a Christian POV by a female author who is a twenty-first-century abolitionist! I enjoyed this book so much I listed it as one of the best Christian fiction historicals written in 2010.

Therefore, this month I am honored to introduce you to Kay Marshall Strom and her Grace in Africa trilogy (Abingdon Press) at Christian Fiction Online Magazine. We will discuss the new type of slavery that is stealing young girls globally, human trafficking, and the taboo topic of transatlantic slavery and Christianity. Click here to read this great interview.

Trailer Park Tuesday: Walking on Broken Glass

Happy Tuesday! Christian Fiction Blog is proud to announce our trailer park tuesday pick is our very own Christa Allan's Walking on Broken Glass. Christa, I'm so proud!


Leah Thornton, already sloshed from one-too-many at a faculty party, is cruising the supermarket aisles in search of something tasty to enhance her Star-bucks—Kahlua, for example. Two confrontations later—one at the grocery and the other with her friend Molly—Leah is sitting in the office of the local rehab center facing an admissions counselor who fails to understand the most basic things, like the fact that apple juice is not a suitable cocktail mixer. Rehab is no picnic, and being forced to experience and deal with the reality of her life isn’t Leah’s idea of fun. But through the battle she finds a reservoir of courage she never knew she had and the loving arms of a God she never quite believed existed

Monday, March 01, 2010

Christian Fiction's March 2010 Top Ten Announced

Good Monday. Today we are happy to announce the top ten book picks for March 2010 from Christian Fiction Blog. Enjoy! You will learn more about these books through the month.
1. Single Mom's Guide to Keeping It All Together, The Elsa Colopy (Mass Market Paperback - Mar 1, 2010)

2. The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, Heidi W. Durrow (Hardcover - Jan 11, 2010)

3. A Taste of Honey: Stories. Jabari Asim (Paperback - Mar 2, 2010)

4. The Bride Collector, Ted Dekker (Hardcover - Apr 13, 2010)

5. A Million Blessings, Angela Benson, Marilynn Griffith, Tia McCollors (Paperback - Mar 1, 2010)

6. Beguiled, Deeanne Gist, J. Mark Bertrand (Paperback - Feb 1, 2010)

7. Cool Like That: A So For Real Novel, Nikki Carter (Paperback - Mar 1, 2010)

8. Beaded Hope, Cathy Liggett (Paperback - Feb 15, 2010)

9. The Little Black Book of Success: Laws of Leadership for Black Women, Elaine Meryl Brown, Marsha Haygood, Rhonda Joy McLean (Hardcover - Mar 2, 2010)

10. My Holy Bible for African-American Children, KJV, (Hardcover - Feb 1, 2010)


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