Monday, April 30, 2012

To See the Sun

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:

CreateSpace (January 6, 2012)

***Special thanks to 
Peggy Blann Phifer  for sending me a review copy.***


Peggy Blann Phifer is an author and columnist, whose work has appeared on various Web sites and writer periodicals both in print and online. She is also an avid reader and loves to escape between the covers of a good book. A retired executive assistant, Peg now makes her home in southern Nevada with husband Jim.

To See the Sun is Peg’s debut novel, released January 2012

Visit her blog, Whispers in Purple.

Visit the author's website.


Pregnant and widowed hadn’t been part of her “happily ever after” dream. And now, someone was trying to kill her . . .

Erin Macintyre never expected to be a widow and a new mother in the same year, anymore than she expected mysterious notes, threatening phone calls, and a strange homeless man who seems to know all about her. The thought of raising a child without a father is daunting enough—worse when you have no idea who might want to harm you. Put an old flame into the mix, and her life begins a tailspin into a world she never knew existed.

When P.I. Clay Buchanan, stumbles upon Erin at her husband's gravesite, he’s totally unprepared for her advanced pregnancy. Her venomous reaction at seeing him, however, was predictable. But Clay can’t let her distrust, or his guilt, get in the way—not when he has evidence that proves Erin’s life is in danger.

With few options left, Erin begrudgingly accepts Clay’s help . . . and it just might be her undoing.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 356 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (January 6, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1468121081
ISBN-13: 978-1468121087


Friday, March 26, late afternoon

What a fantastic day. A bid won. A contract signed. The job of a lifetime that would put Stuart and Macintyre at the top of the construction heap, not just in Las Vegas, but all of southern Nevada.
Whistling, Justin Macintyre pressed the keyless remote of his Cadillac Escalade, tossed his briefcase across the console to the passenger seat and slid behind the wheel.
To top it all off, after seven long years, he and his wife, Erin, were going to have a baby. A baby! He laughed aloud at the overwhelming joy of it.
"Hey, world, I'm going to be a daddy!"
He shifted the SUV into gear and pulled out of the Mt. Charleston Lodge area onto Kyle Canyon Road and headed down the mountain to the Las Vegas Valley below. Despite the successful day, Justin couldn't banish his worry over a recent discovery of some irregularities in the company's finances. Nothing concrete, and his Uncle Sebastian, S&M's CFO, assured him everything was fine. Nevertheless, Justin's uneasiness had prompted him to send what little proof he had to his long-time friend, Clay Buchanan, a private investigator in Texas.
Preoccupied with his thoughts, he vaguely registered the yellow and black blind curve warning sign. Too late he saw the stalled car across the center line. No time to stop! He spun the  wheel to the right.
I'm going too fast! God, help me . . .!
Seconds passed and silence settled once more over the mountainside. A shadow emerged from behind a Joshua tree and stepped to the edge of the ravine. After a moment, the form walked to the car in the road and drove away.
Erin Macintyre stretched her arms along the balcony's balustrade of her twenty-seventh-floor condo above the streets of Las Vegas. Beyond that, the lower edge of the setting sun kissed the still snowy peaks of the Spring Mountain Range and Mt. Charleston.
Justin would be home soon.
"Erin, where's the zester?"
Erin returned to the kitchen. "In the utility drawer."
"Which is the utility drawer?" Magie Gifford, Erin's dearest friend, pulled out drawer after drawer.
Erin giggled and reached across Magie's arm and slid out the utility drawer.
"You changed it." Magie snatched the zester and bumped the drawer shut with her hip. "That's not where it was last time."
Erin wrapped her arms around her friend and hugged. "No, Mags, I didn't change anything." She waited a beat. "Can I interest you in a memory enhancement program?"
"Very funny." Magie pushed Erin aside and proceeded to rub a lemon across the gadget and then whisked the zest into a frothy mixture of olive oil, Italian herbs, and balsamic vinegar. "Okay, just drizzle this over the salad and stick it in the fridge."
That done, Erin checked on the lasagna in the oven. The garlic toast waited on the foil-lined cookie sheet ready to pop under the broiler. Everything was ready.
Erin glanced at the kitchen clock. "He's late."
"Posh. You should know by now how those meetings can drag on."
"Yeah, I know. It's just—"
"Get over here, Erin. He'll be here when he gets here."
Erin joined her friend in the breakfast nook off the kitchen and adjacent to the balcony. She scooped up a dozing Siamese cat from her chair and sat, settling him back on her lap.
"You spoil that critter." Magie brushed off the chair cushion before sitting.
"Yeah, I do. But you love him, too. I saw you sneaking him some treats earlier." Erin smiled. "Not to mention the romp you had with him in the living room when you got here."
"Busted. But he's so much fun, aren't you, Kazimir?"
At the sound of his name, the cat uncoiled, left Erin's lap and jumped onto Magie's. She snorted. "So much for protecting my black slacks."
"Thanks for coming over to help with this meal. I wanted it to be special and I never know when the nausea will hit." She raised an eyebrow. "But you will leave as soon as Justin gets here."
"You think he'll get that bid?"
Erin tapped her heart and nodded. "I know he will."
The first five descending notes of Welcome to My World sang out in the condo's foyer. Justin! No, he wouldn't ring the doorbell. Puzzled, she stepped across the tiled floor and rose on tiptoes to peer through the peephole. She gasped and jumped back.
The doorbell chimed again.
Fingers trembling, Erin released the security lock and opened the door to two uniformed police officers.
"Mrs. Macintyre?"
Erin nodded as Magie moved to her side.
"What is it, officers?"
"I'm afraid there's been an accident, Mrs. Macintyre. Your husband . . ."


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Friday, April 27, 2012

A Painful Lesson Births a Novel

Today I continue my series of author guest posts with a visit from Lillian Duncan, who shares the story behind her latest novel, Deception.

DECEPTION—The story that wouldn’t go away!
by Lillian Duncan

My latest novel, DECEPTION, was released in December 2011. And I’m soooooo excited about it. This is a book that just wouldn’t go away. I wrote it several years ago, but couldn’t find a publisher. I put it away and started working on something else but....the story nagged at me...pestered me...wouldn’t let me alone.

So, I started working on it again. Got some nibbles on the rewrite. More than nibbles, really—some editors and publishers were very interested. But again, the deal fell through. Uh..sigh...what’s a writer to do?

I put it away and started another project. But....again it wouldn’t let me alone. This story wouldn’t get out of my head and for a good reason.

I wrote it after the death of a dear friend that I was estranged with at the time. I’d always planned to reconnect with her—when the time was right. But I waited too long.

Lesson learned. It was a painful lesson.

What was the lesson?

In life, you aren’t guaranteed second chances.

So when an opportunity presents itself—you better take it. There may not be a second chance. Forgive the people you love and even the ones you don’t. Because again—there may not be a second chance. Go ahead and do those acts of kindness, mercy, and love when you get the opportunity. Because second chances aren’t guaranteed. Sometimes in life there aren’t do-overs.

So to say I was thrilled when DECEPTION was finally contracted was an understatement.

In DECEPTION, Patti is estranged from her twin sister. And with good reason, but as the story proceeds Patti comes to understand being right isn’t a good enough of a reason to be estranged from a loved one.

And I believe that’s why this story wouldn’t go away and leave me alone. There’s a message to be learned and I’m sure each of us have learned it or need to learn it. I’m hoping people will read DECEPTION and decide to reconnect with that friend or family member before it’s too late.

If one person reconnects with an estranged loved one, then I’ve succeeded. And that’s why I write stories of faith....mingled with murder and mayhem.

Lillian Duncan writes stories of faith mingled with murder and mayhem. To learn more about her writing and her books, visit her at website or blog. DECEPTION (published by HarbourLight Books) is her latest release and is available in paperback and as an e-book.

Disclaimer: I have not read Deception and therefore do not have an opinion on it. The views expressed in this guest post are those of the author, Lillian Duncan, and may or may not reflect the views of Mocha with Linda.


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Thursday, April 26, 2012

After All

After All
Deborah Raney
(Howard Books)
ISBN: 978-1416599951
May 2012/368 pages/$14.99

Eighteen months after the tragic Grove Street Fire took the life of her husband, David, and four other heroic firefighters, Susan Marlowe thinks she’s finally beginning to heal.

But then she discovers that David carried a secret to his grave. A secret that changes everything she thought their marriage had been.

For the sake of their sons, can Susan forgive the unforgivable?

Andrea Morley lost her closest friend in the fire. But she has no right to mourn him. Instead, she must forever grieve in silence-—because her dearest friend was someone else’s husband.

Peter Brennan carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. As Hanover Falls’ fire chief, he was responsible for the brave firefighters who lost their lives that awful November night. Can he ever shake the feeling that he should have somehow prevented the tragedy?

As he tries to rebuild the team at Clemens County’s Station 2, it seems he might find comfort in the arms of the woman he least expected.

"Deborah Raney’s After All is a poignant story of betrayal, forgiveness, and love. If you’ve ever felt betrayed by someone you cared about, Raney has created a story that offers hope for your heart. After All portrays the freedom found through forgiveness, and the joy found in the courage to love again."

-- Ginny L. Yttrup, author of Words and Lost And Found

Deborah Raney's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, was awarded a Silver Angel from Excellence in Media and inspired the acclaimed World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Since then her books have won the RITA Award, the HOLT Medallion, and the National Readers' Choice Award; Raney was also a finalist for the Christy Award. She and her husband, artist Ken Raney, make their home in their native Kansas.

I almost did the happy dance when I pulled this book out of my mailbox a couple of days ago! I have been looking forward to its release since last summer when I interviewed Deborah Raney about Forever After, the second Hanover Falls book, and she also gave me a sneak peak into this final novel. (Read that interview and review here. Another interview with Deb and my thoughts on the first book, Almost Forever, can be found here.) After All primarily focuses on Susan Marlowe, the director of the homeless center that burned down, killing her firefighter husband and four of his coworkers as they battled the blaze. Fire Chief Peter Brennan is also a primary figure as he deals with the aftermath of the tragedy. Deborah Raney has crafted a wonderful story that pulsates with emotion - grief, betrayal, anger, and resentment - but she doesn't leave her characters defeated or overcome as hope, faith, forgiveness, and new love rise from the ashes. A hint of danger and suspense and a rather unexpected ending add further depth to this story. I was captivated by After All and read it in almost one sitting! While it can be read as a stand-alone, you will want to read the entire series to fully appreciate and understand the complete story. (As a side note, I particularly love how the titles flow into each other - Always Forever, Forever After, After All!) I wholeheartedly recommend this book and this series!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Howard Books (a division of Simon and Schuster) as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Et tu, Hodgepodge?

1. William Shakespeare's birthday is celebrated on April 23rd...when did you last read Shakespeare? What's your favorite Shakespeare play?

I probably last read Shakespeare in high school, so that was more than 30 years ago. I'm not a big fan, and I can't say I have a favorite of his plays.

2. What food(s) would you recommend a foreign visitor try when they visit your home country?

Tex-Mex, of course!

3. What's a lie you often tell yourself?

I'm going to go to bed early.

4. What's something you're good at that might surprise us? Remember this is a family friendly blog!

I honestly can't think of anything. That is, I can think of things I'm good at, but I don't think you'd be particularly surprised.

5. Who is your favorite animal character from a book?

Winnie the Pooh. This one was easy!

6. April showers bring May you have a green thumb?

Only if I get green ink on it.

7. Speaking of rainy days...which one of the following activities would you most want to spend time doing on a rainy day-

sort photos and create albums
bake cookies
read a good book
hold an all-day movie marathon
organize closets, cupboards, or bookshelves
try a new recipe
fix something that needs fixing

Read a book! (See #4 about the surprise factor!)

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Be sure to scroll down to yesterday's post and enter for a chance to win one of two copies of Christy Award finalist Ginny Yttrup's phenomenal debut novel Words. It's the novel she didn't want to write and I didn't want to read. . . .and it's absolutely incredible!


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I Love Words - Giveaway!

UPDATE 5/1/12 4:30 pm WINNERS!!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2012-05-01 21:28:17 UTC

Congrats to pwnmom and Marti! Please email me your addresses ladies, and the book will be mailed to you! Thanks so much to all of you for your comments and entries.

* * * * *

UPDATE 12:00 noon 4/24: Ginny Yttrup is adding another book to this giveaway, so two commenters will win a copy! Thanks, Ginny!

* * * * *

I am way overdue with sharing this review and telling you about this phenomenal author, but what better time than the week after a Christy nomination? I was delighted to personally meet Ginny Yttrup at last year's ICRS show in Atlanta. While I didn't have the opportunity to interview her, I was able to attend a local book club meeting where she was the guest speaker. She is authentic and genuine and a joy to be around!

Ginny Yttrup
(B&H Books)
ISBN: 978-1433671708
February 2011/352 pages/$14.99

"I collect words. I keep them in a box in my mind. I'd like to keep them in a real box, something pretty, maybe a shoe box covered with flowered wrapping paper. Whenever I wanted, I'd open the box and pick up the papers, reading and feeling the words all at once. Then I could hide the box. But the words are safer in my mind. There, he can't take them."

Ten-year old Kaylee Wren doesn't speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in a remote cabin nestled in the towering redwoods-in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary.

Sierra Dawn is thirty-four, an artist, and alone. She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes and chooses to bury her pain by trying to control her circumstances. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter's death, Sierra's control begins to crumble as the God of her childhood woos her back to Himself.

Brought together by Divine design, Kaylee and Sierra will discover together the healing mercy of the Word--Jesus Christ.

The opportunity to write is the fulfillment of a life-long dream. Words were my salvation as a child, until I met my true Savior, the Word. - Ginny Yttrup

Ginny Yttrup is an author, freelance writer, and writing coach who also ministers to women wounded by sexual trauma. She has two grown sons and lives near Sacramento, California. Words is her debut novel. Her second novel, Lost and Found is available now. Visit her website or Facebook page.

As a word lover, I was instantly drawn to this book by the cover and the title, but to be honest, I was a bit fearful to read it because I knew it covered a painful subject. In fact, when I had the opportunity to visit a book club last summer in Atlanta where Ginny Yttrup was the guest, not only did every reader express the same reluctance, but Ginny Yttrup said it was the book she didn't want to write! However, without fail, every person was also so glad they did read it, as they were touched by the beauty of the writing and the Truth found within its pages. This would be an outstanding novel by any measure but for a debut offering, it is particularly impressive. Yttrup writes with sensitivity and hope, weaving together the lives and stories of Kaylee and Sierra, and pointing to the Word. Few books have touched me as this one has, and I am excited that it is a finalist for a Christy Award in two categories, First Novel and Contemporary Standalone.

I have an additional copy of this book to give to one of you! To enter, leave a comment on this post by 12:00 noon CDT next Tuesday, 5/1/12, and I will draw a winner. US Residents only, please and you must include an email address if you do not have a blog so I can contact you if you win. Winner will have 24 hours to claim the book by emailing his/her address.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B&H Books as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Monday, April 23, 2012

Her Restless Heart

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Her Restless Heart
Abingdon Press (April 2012)


Barbara Cameron


Barbara Cameron is the author of more than 30 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies (HBO-Cinemax), and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Her two novellas won the 2nd and 3rd place in the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest from the Faith, Love, and Hope chapter of RWA. Both were finalists for the novella category of the Carol Award of the American Christian Writers Award (ACFW).

When a relative took her to visit the Amish community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, she felt led to write about the spiritual values and simple joys she witnessed there. She currently resides in Edgewater, FL.


Mary Katherine is caught between the traditions of her faith and the pull of a different life. When Daniel, an Amish man living in Florida, arrives and shares her restlessness, Mary Katherine feels drawn to him and curious about the life he leads away from Lancaster County.  

But her longtime friend Jacob has been in love with her for years. He’s discouraged that she’s never viewed him as anything but a friend and despairs that he is about to lose Mary Katherine to this outsider.  

Will the conflicted Mary Katherine be lost to the English world, or to Daniel, who might take her away to Florida? Or will she embrace her Amish faith and recognize Jacob as the man she should marry and build a life with?

If you want to read the first chapter of Her Restless Heart, go HERE.


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Throttle the Urge to Kill

I am delighted to host some authors on my blog periodically over the next few weeks. I have some commitments that will keep me from reviewing books at my normal pace, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce you to some newer, as well as some more established, authors that I've come into contact with through ACFW. Some of them will be sharing about their writing journey and the writing process, so if you are feeling the "hankering" to write, as we say in the South, you will find these to be encouraging and instructive. And if you simply enjoy reading, a peek behind the scenes and into the mind of an author will just enhance your experience!

Today I welcome Ada Brownell, who shares about handling the sting of criticism. While her focus is on what she's learned from critiques and rejections of her writing projects, the principles certainly apply to any types of criticism.

Throttle the Urge to Kill
By Ada Brownell

A Sunday or two ago our pastor preached a sermon from an different angle. I’ve heard many sermons on dousing a critical spirit and watching my tongue, but I can’t remember a pastor ever teaching how to accept criticism.

He’s doing a series on Hebrews 11 and the verse of the day was, “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain. By faith he was commended as a righteous man when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.”

Although it’s not written in this passage, our pastor indicated we should pay attention to what appears to be behind the story that first appears in Genesis 4. The young men made a sacrifice, probably because God instructed the first family to do so. Sacrifice meant shedding of blood. We learn God said without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. If our just God rejected Cain’s vegetables, evidence shows the young man didn’t obey the Heavenly Father.

No matter how proud Cain was of his crop, it wasn’t according to the guidelines.

Cain’s reaction to God’s rejection was much worse than any writer who thought he had the perfect novel. The youth took his anger out on his brother and killed him. That’s like one of us killing a successful novelist because our book was rejected.

Many Bible characters experienced rejection and criticism. David had to run for his life from King Saul. Moses had to keep submitting his request to Pharaoh, although he was rejected on his first tries. Joseph was rejected by his brothers and severely criticized. The Apostle Paul was rejected at first by other Christians, and Jesus was not only was badgered with skepticism by the Pharisees, the Jews turned their backs on Him and crucified Him.

How should writers react to rejection? I hope not with the anger of Cain.

We should be gentle giving critiques, but ferocious about keeping our pride in check when we receive a critical review of our work.

In an interview on Faithwriters Blog by Joanne Sher, Philip Yancey said, “If you want to improve your writing 1) read voraciously from writers who can teach about style and content and 2) Hope for friends who will edit with a scowl. Most people want you to feel good so they give you compliments about your writing and that doesn’t help at all (except emotionally). Really, you need some grouches to edit your work.”

Yancey is a best-selling author of many books including, What Good is God? and Prayer: Does it Make a Difference?

I’ve learned much from critiquers and not following guidelines. The first sharp words about my creations always hurts a little, but I won’t allow the wound to my ego to continue to bleed or fester. I let it heal and go on so it won’t kill my desire to fulfill my calling, and I’ve found success.

© Ada Brownell

Ada Brownell, a retired newspaper reporter is author of two books, chapters in five books, and 275 articles and stories in Christian publications. Her latest book is Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal.

Purchase on Amazon: Paperback or for Kindle

Ada's Blog: Ink From An Earthen Vessel

Disclaimer: I have not read Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal and therefore do not have an opinion on it. The views expressed in this guest post are those of the author, Ada Brownell, and may or may not reflect the views of Mocha with Linda.


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Saturday, April 21, 2012

TSMSS - Live Like That!

My heart has been heavy this week over the brokenness of the world, the burdens that so many of us bear, and the brevity of life. This may be my new favorite song and is definitely my deep desire. I love the words!

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

I want to show the world the love You gave for me
I'm longing for the world to know the glory of the King

Join me at Amy's for more songs!


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Thursday, April 19, 2012

An Author Asks "Where Does God Fit In?"

I am delighted to host some authors on my blog periodically over the next few weeks. I have some commitments that will keep me from reviewing books at my normal pace, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce you to some newer, as well as some more established, authors that I've come into contact with through ACFW. Some of them will be sharing about their writing journey and the writing process, so if you are feeling the "hankering" to write, as we say in the South, you will find these to be encouraging and instructive. And if you simply enjoy reading, a peek behind the scenes and into the mind of an author will just enhance your experience!

Today I welcome Staci Stallings. She tells the background of her recent book,Deep in the Heart which is free today on Amazon Kindle (details at the end of the post).
Where Does God Fit In?
Behind the Story: Deep in the Heart

I've been asked in various interviews that I've done over the years where God fits into my stories, to which I answer: "With the majority of my stories, if you take God out, you don't have a story left." Truer words have never been spoken about "Deep in the Heart."

"Deep in the Heart" tells the story of Maggie Montgomery, a down-on-her-luck, clinging-to-faith heroine, and Keith Ayers, the worldly son of a Texas billionaire. In the story, it is Maggie's faith that fascinates Keith so much that he suggests they take the children in Maggie's care at the mansion to church. Now there are many more complications to all of this, but the behind the story glimpse I want to show you today has to do with the actual visits to church that they make.

I am very fortunate in that God in His graciousness has seen fit to weave profound wisdom into my life. Whether that be in the losses and trials I have suffered along the way, the teachers He has put in my path, or the writing I have done about all of it in an attempt to capture just a thimbleful of everything He's shown me. Thus, I do not write just fiction as I started out doing. Now, my writing runs the gamut of fiction, nonfiction, novel-length, short stories, inspirational, religious, young adult, adult, Bible Studies, and blogs.

The church scenes in my books are often pulled from sermons I've witnessed, Sunday School classes I've taught, and life lessons I've learned. Many of these same lessons can be found in my nonfiction works. However, I think they take on a special significance as the center jewels in the fiction stories. Much like the parables of Jesus, when you are walking with the character, you have the insight to not just hear the words but to see how a person would put them into practice--or not--and the consequences of that.

For example, here's a snippet of one of the sermons in "Deep in the Heart":

“My best advice on this subject is to walk through the doors that God opens for you and stop pounding on the doors that are locked. You may think that door number 2 will lead you to everything you’ve ever wanted. So you try it, and when you find it locked—it doesn’t work out or roadblocks seem to drop from the sky, you start pounding on the door. Many people pray, asking for what they want to have happen. . .

“But God…” The preacher pointed upward. “God in His infinite wisdom knows that door will ultimately lead you to heartache and pain, so He chooses to keep it locked for your sake. But if you’re like me, you just know that whatever’s on the other side of that door will lead you to what you want, and so you will pound and kick and bang on that door, sure that it will lead you to what you want.

“And if you’re like me, you might even get mad at God for not opening that door. ‘God, please, if You’ll just let it work out this way…’ No.” He stopped, his face intense. “No. That’s not going for the desires of our hearts, that’s not walking in His ways. That’s walking in our own ways and asking God to bless it. He won’t.

“No. God will never bless what He doesn’t instigate."

In this part of the story, Keith is driving himself crazy trying to get things to work in his life that will ultimately lead to his destruction. This sermon came out of many of my own experiences, trying to convince God that I knew what was best. Of course, God always knows best, and in the story, Keith learns this as well.

The truth is, I just feel incredibly blessed to be able to bring the Good News of Jesus and the Christian life to readers in books that spell it out and in ones that paint in vivid colors what it means to really be a Christian. The bottom line is: God fits in everywhere, and I'm blessed to be called to write that so the whole world can hear, and know, and understand, and then begin to live the life God intended for us all along!

Copyright Staci Stallings, 2012

Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. Staci has a special surprise for you...

April 18 & 19, Staci's novel:

Deep in the Heart

"This is more than a romance. The author cuts straight to the heart of God–love. God is love. Even through unexpected tragedies. And we can overcome evil with good–by His love."
--Betty Anne Bantz

Can Keith defy the most powerful men in Texas to follow his heart?

Available as a free download from Amazon!

Disclaimer: I have not read Deep in the Heart and therefore do not have an opinion on it. The views expressed in this guest post are those of the author, Staci Stallings, and may or may not reflect the views of Mocha with Linda.


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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hodgepodge is in the Air!

1. Spring is in the air (at least in my neck of the woods) and the birds are singing...what's your favorite bird?

I guess bluejays because they are so pretty. I'm not much of a bird watcher or one who can differentiate between all the different varieties of birds.

2. Speaking of you tweet? If so tell us your screen name and we'll come flocking to your Twitter site. Even if you don't let's all pretend here that we do-in 140 characters or less, sum up your week so far.

No, I don't tweet. That's one social media I think is for the birds. (Pun totally intended!!)

A summary of my week? Groceries, appointments, a lunch with friends, a meeting, blogging, laundry -- in other words, normal!

3. Its been reported recently that employers are not only viewing the facebook pages of potential hires but they're also requesting your facebook password to have a look at what you've kept from public view. What say you?

Don't even get me started! I wouldn't give them the key to my house, and this is essentially the same thing. What I do in my private life is just that. Private and none of the employer's business, unless I end up on the news in a manner that's directly connects me to the company and besmirches their reputation.

4. It's April and you know what that means-Major League Baseball is back in action. What's your favorite baseball movie? If that's too hard, what's your favorite sports themed movie?

I'm not a fan of baseball. If I had to choose a sports movie, I'd probably say Facing the Giants because my girl and I have watched it so many times. Soul Surfer is great, too. As far as the old classics go, you can't beat Brian's Song.

5. Something else this season brings-asparagus. Yes please or no thanks? If it's yes please what's your favorite way to have it prepared?

After being traumatized as a child by my mom serving cold canned asparagus, I've finally learned to really like it. I love it either roasted or grilled after simply being seasoned with some olive oil and salt and pepper.

6. What drives you? (Don't you love how I sandwiched that one in between asparagus and jugglers???)

My husband drives me when we go somewhere in his vehicle. My kids occasionally drive me crazy. But mostly, the desire to do the right thing and please God drives me. (And sometimes pleasing others drives me more than it should.)

7. April 18th is International Jugglers Day...can you juggle?

I'm a mom. Of course I can juggle - schedules, responsibilities, to-do lists!

Balls and scarves? Notsomuch.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I reached a milestone yesterday. For the first time ever, I bought a whole pineapple. Usually if I buy a fresh one I get the ones that are already peeled and cored. The prickly ones have always intimidated me and I never knew how to tell if they were good or not. OH. MY. It was amazing. Interestingly enough, the ENT recommended it because it contains something that will help my girl's congestion and her voice. Go figure. I guess that means I have to let her have some. . . .


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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus
Joyce Magnin
ISBN: 978-0310333555
April 2012/320 pages/$14.99

Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she’s getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia … until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they’re right. Four x-rays later, Harriet’s ankle---and her heart---are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She’s doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, helicopter, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it’s time for her to be put out to pasture---God has a different plan.

Joyce Magnin is the author of five novels, including the popular and quirky Bright’s Pond Series and the middle grade novel Carrying Mason. She is a frequent conference speaker and writing instructor. Joyce lives in Pennsylvania with her son, Adam, and their crazy cat, Mango, who likes to eat nachos.

I just love feisty older ladies, and Harriet Beamer definitely falls into that category! This is a fun adventure with much to enjoy while at the same time delivering an important message that God still has a plan for and uses folks in their twilight years. Harriet has quite an experience as she travels the byways and highways on her way from Philadelphia to Grass Valley, California. The secondary plot focuses on Harriet's son and daughter-in-law, Henry and Prudence, as they struggle with the aftermath of two miscarriages, face job issues, and worry over Harriet's safety. Harriet, Henry, and Prudence have much to learn about themselves, each other, and faith before Harriet reaches her new home.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan and Shelton Interactive as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Monday, April 16, 2012

Christy Award Nominees Announced!

The 2012 Christy Award nominees were announced this morning! I have been eagerly awaiting them, and it just about killed me that I was sitting in a waiting room and couldn't pull up the live announcement on my phone! Here is the list of the nominees, with links to my reviews for the ones I've read.

And I am beyond thrilled that I will once again be attending the awards ceremony this summer! The Christy Awards will be presented in Orlando on July 16, 2012.

The 2012 Christy Award nominees are:

My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren (Tyndale House Publishers)
Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
Wolfsbane by Ronie Kendig (Barbour Publishing)

The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould (Harvest House Publishers) - I sure thought I'd read this; I love Mindy Starns Clark's books!
Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen (B&H Publishing Group)
The Touch by Randall Wallace (Tyndale House Publishers) - Read it and enjoyed it; haven't posted a review.

Dry as Rain by Gina Holmes (Tyndale House Publishers) - this has been sitting on my bedside table forever and keeps getting pushed aside by blog tours. Can't wait to read it!
Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
Words by Ginny Yttrup (B&H Publishing Group)- this is a PHENOMENAL book; I need to post my review and tell you about it

An Eye for Glory by Karl Bacon (Zondervan)
Southern Fried Sushi by Jennifer Rogers Spinola (Barbour Publishing)
Words by Ginny Yttrup (B&H Publishing Group) - see comment above. Amazing by any standards, but especially for a debut novel

Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman (Tyndale House Publishers)
Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
To Die For by Sandra Byrd (Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster)

Over the Edge by Brandilyn Collins (B&H Publishing Group)
Pattern of Wounds by Mark Bertrand (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
The Queen by Steven James (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

The Chair by Jim Rubart (B&H Publishing Group)
Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee (Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group USA)
Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

How Huge the Night by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn (Kregel Publications)
Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (Zondervan)
Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren (David C Cook)

If you're looking for a summer reading list, I highly recommend this as a great place to start!


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Susan May Warren
(Summerside Press)
ISBN: 978-1609366315
March 2012/320 pages/$14.99

Coming of age in the turbulent Roaring Twenties, two daughters of fortune can have anything they possibly want—except freedom. Expected to marry well and take the reins of the family empire, Lilly and Rosie have their entire lives planned out for them. But Lilly longs to flee the confines of New York City for the untamed wilds of Montana. Her cousin Rosie dreams of the bright lights of the newly emerging silver screen. But following their dreams—to avant-garde France, to dazzling Broadway, to the skies of the fearless wing walkers—will demand all their courage.

When forced to decide, will Lilly and Rosie truly be able to abandon lives of ease and luxury for the love and adventure that beckons? At what cost will each daughter of fortune find her true love and a happy ending?


Susan May Warren is an award-winning, best-selling novelist of over twenty-four novels, many of which have won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Book of the Year award, the Rita Award, and have been Christy finalists.

After serving as a missionary for eight years in Russia, she returned home to a small town on Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Superior shore where she, her four children, and her husband are active in their local church. You can find her online at her website.

This is the second book in the Daughters of Fortune series, but it can be read as a stand-alone as it focuses on the generation after the first book; cousins Lilly and Rosie are daughters of the main characters (Esme and Jinx) in Heiress (which I reviewed here). Like their mothers before them, they have been raised in opulence but they are finding that fortune doesn't insulate them from heartache, loss, or dashed dreams. Set in the Roaring Twenties, this is a captivating book rich with historic detail that generated all sorts of emotions as I read! While the time period of the book is nearly a century ago, there truly is "nothing new under the sun" as Lilly and Rose experience many of the same issues and angst that folks struggle with today. They are truly looking for love everywhere but its Source. I look forward to the final book in this series!

Find out what the reviewers are saying here!

Celebrate with Susan by entering her Roaring 20's Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Signed copies of Baroness and Heiress by Susan May Warren

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Summerside Press and Litfuse Publicity Group as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Saturday, April 14, 2012

TSMSS - And Can It Be?

I just love this old hymn by Charles Wesley and you rarely hear it sung anymore, even when hymns are sung. It's definitely one that needs all the verses sung to get the full impact, since it contains the entire gospel and testimony of a believer's salvation. This choir and orchestra's rendition is especially beautiful.


And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

He left His Father's throne above
So free, so infinite His grace
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race:
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th'eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

WORDS: Charles Wesley, 1738
MUSIC: Thomas Campbell, 1825

I'm linking up at Amy's - join me there for more songs!


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Friday, April 13, 2012

Echoes of Titanic

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 authors are:


and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)
***Special thanks to Karri James Harvest House Publishers of  for sending me a review copy.***


Mindy Starns Clark is the author of many books (more than 450,000 copies sold), which include A Pocket Guide to Amish Life, Shadows of Lancaster County, Whispers of the Bayou, and The Amish Midwife. In addition, Mindy is a popular inspirational speaker and playwright.

John Campbell Clark is an attorney and CPA who works in the Christian nonprofit field. Married to Mindy Starns Clark, he has served as her brainstorming partner, research facilitator, and first reader for many years. A lifelong Titanic buff, he is pleased to be coauthoring with her now. John and Mindy live with their two daughters near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Visit the authors' website.


Kelsey Tate comes from sturdy stock. Her great-grandmother Adele endured the sinking of Titanic and made it safely to America, where she not only survived but thrived. Generations later, Kelsey works for the firm Adele founded nearly 100 years ago.

Now facing a hostile takeover, the firm’s origins are challenged when new facts emerge about Adele’s actions on the night Titanic sank. Kelsey tries to defend the company and the great-grandmother she has long admired, but the stakes are raised when Kelsey’s boss is murdered and her own life threatened. Forced to seek help from Cole Thornton, a man Kelsey once loved—and lost, thanks to her success-at-all-costs mentality—she pursues mysteries both past and present. Aided by Cole and strengthened by the faith she’d all but forgotten in her climb up the corporate ladder, Kelsey races the clock to defend her family legacy, her livelihood, and ultimately her life.


Mindy Starnes Clark writes great suspense novels and she has teamed up with her Titanic buff husband to write this story just in time for the centennial of the famous voyage. As I stated in a previous review, I generally avoid all things Titanic, but chose to review a couple of books by authors I really respect and in both instances, I am glad I did. Much of this book takes place in the present day, as Kelsey is a descendant of a Titanic survivor. Or is she? Mystery and intrigue are expertly woven together along with chapters that tell the tale of Kelsey's great-grandmother, Adele, and Adele's cousin, Jocelyn, as well as Jocelyn's father, all of whom were on the ill-fated ship. New twists and turns kept me guessing and holding my breath throughout the book until the final resolution. Love and loss, a bit of romance, and renewed faith add further depth to this captivating novel. This is a great book to read this weekend or any weekend!

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736929460

ISBN-13: 978-0736929462


Lower Manhattan, New York
April 3, 2012
Kelsey Tate glanced at the clock and then at the stack of files on her desk. It was three p.m., which meant she had thirty minutes before she’d need to start getting ready for the ceremony. She knew she should use that time to work on risk assessments, but something told her she’d be better off getting some fresh air and clearing her head. The assessments she could do later that evening, once the big event was over. For now, she wanted to run through her speech and somehow find focus. Today had been a busy day at the office, and at the moment all she felt was scattered.
Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, she made the decision. Air. Ceremony. Work. In that order.
She locked the files away, straightened her desk, and grabbed her Bluetooth headset for cover. The only way she’d get out of here without being pulled into half a dozen conversations en route to the elevator was to clip the device over her ear and pretend she was on an important call as she went. She loved her front office and the view it afforded her of the busy Manhattan streets below, but sometimes it was a pain having to run the gauntlet of a conference room, an administrative assistant area, and three other executive offices just to get away.
“Is there something proprietary about this?” she asked aloud as she stepped into the hall and pulled the door shut behind her. “Because otherwise, I’m afraid it’s just a little too early to buy in. At this point, there’s simply not enough data.”
Pausing at the desk of Sharon, her executive assistant—or “EA,” as she liked to be called—Kelsey told the nonexistent person on the other end of the line to hold on and then said in a low voice, “I’m running out for a few, but I’ll be back by three thirty if anybody needs me.”
“Got it, Chief,” Sharon replied with a brisk nod, her auburn, precision-cut bob swinging loosely around her face.
So far, so good. Continuing on toward the elevator, Kelsey spotted one of her more talkative coworkers coming up the hall, so before he could speak, she gave him a quick smile and continued with her faux telephone conversation.
“Look, we can’t justify a buy-in of that size. You know as well as I do that you’re estimating the value too high. A million and a half for ten percent is ridiculous.”
The coworker smiled in return and continued past her in the hall.
She finally made it to the elevator, pushed the down button, and punctuated her wait with several well-timed brief utterances. “Really?…With that price earnings ratio?…I don’t know, I’m not sure about that…How much?”
Finally, the bell dinged and the doors opened to reveal an empty elevator. She stepped inside with relief and removed the device from her ear as soon as the doors whisked shut again. She hated to admit it, but her nerves were more rattled today than she had anticipated, though she wasn’t sure why. The announcement she’d be making at the ceremony was an important one, yes, and something she’d been working toward for a long time. But she was no stranger to the podium. She had no fear of public speaking.
It was a more general, vague apprehension she was feeling, almost a foreboding about today’s impending event, though she couldn’t imagine why. Regardless, Kelsey had these thirty minutes to pull herself together somehow. Then she would return, get ready to go on, do her part, and be done with it.
If only the new public relations consultants hadn’t insisted on combining the two separate announcements into one big celebration, she thought as she reached the lobby and walked briskly toward the front door. Though she usually stopped to chat with her friend Ephraim, the building’s head of security, she moved on past with just a glance and a wave toward the front desk. Once she was outside, she exhaled slowly, grateful for the warm spring sunshine. Weather in April in New York City could go either way, but today was warm and dry, thankfully, with just a hint of a breeze.
Turning right, Kelsey merged into the foot traffic moving down the wide sidewalk toward Battery Park. On the way, she thought about the important part of today’s ceremony, the announcement of a brand-new scholarship program to be funded by her late great-grandmother’s foundation. Adele Tate had survivedTitanic and gone on to become a successful businesswoman in an era when women in business were practically unheard of. In her later years, she had created the foundation with the express purpose of empowering other women in business. This new program Kelsey would be announcing today was a perfect fit and would provide up to ten scholarships per year to outstanding young females majoring in business-related fields of study.
Kelsey had been pushing for this for a long time, but it wasn’t until recently, when her family’s firm, Brennan & Tate, had begun taking steps to improve their public relations, that the board was even willing to consider it. The fact that, in the end, the scholarship decision had come down to a PR move rather than any actual altruism didn’t bother her. She figured as long as the money was given out to deserving recipients, the end result was the same, regardless of motive.
Kelsey ran through her speech as she continued down the sidewalk and was pleased to get through the entire thing without once having to refer to the notes in her pocket that listed her key points. When she finally reached the corner at Number One Broadway, she looked ahead longingly at Battery Park, a fixture of the city for several hundred years and the perfect greenery-filled end cap to the island of Manhattan. More than anything, she wanted to make her way across the street and into the park to seek out one of her favorite spots in all of New York: the old family memorial stone that honored her two relatives who had perished on Titanic. Kelsey loved to visit the memorial, as it always left her feeling connected somehow to her many family members, both living and dead.
But there was no time for that now. Instead, she turned left, and once the light changed she moved with the crowd across Broadway to the triangular-shaped area on the other side known as Bowling Green. At the foot of the triangle was a sprinkling of vendors, and she took a moment to buy a bottle of water from a pretzel cart. Continuing onward, she tried some deep breathing exercises as she angled across the wide base of the triangle to tiny Bowling Green Park, another of her favorite places to go when she needed a quick breather during the workday. She loved the symmetry of the place and convergence of shapes: a circular fountain inside an oval park on a triangular piece of land. This was a little oasis of greenery in a landscape of cement, its current focal point a ring of vivid red tulips surrounding the fountain.
Kelsey wanted to sit for a while on one of the benches that lined the walkway and take it all in, but she knew she needed to keep moving. At the very least, she slowed her pace and sipped her water and forced herself to get down to what was really bothering her: the other purpose of today’s event, the part she wasn’t exactly jumping up and down about.
To be sure, she appreciated the honor that was about to be bestowed upon her, and she was proud of having reached this new level of achievement in her career. The problem wasn’t the award itself but the big public fuss that was being made over it. Others had earned membership in Brennan & Tate’s “Quarter Club” in the past, and the most they had received was a handshake and a little plaque.
She, on the other hand, was about to be trooped out front and center in what the PR firm was practically turning into a circus. Between the handwritten invitations and the catered munchies, they were going all out to promote something that should have happened far more quietly. The best Kelsey could do, she supposed, was to grin and bear it––and try as hard as she could to keep the focus on Adele and the foundation and the new scholarship program. The more publicity for that, the better.
Kelsey let out a deep sigh as she continued through the park. This was the price she paid for being not just an account associate in the company’s corporate finance division but an account associate in the corporate finance division who also just happened to be the great-great-granddaughter of the company’s founder and the daughter of its reigning president. If there was such a thing as reverse nepotism, she thought, she was living it now. She’d never expected her professional path to be made easier because of family connections, but she also hadn’t realized how much harder she’d have to work because of them.
At least she had her mentor and business-savvy friend Gloria to guide her through this current maze of public relations troubleshooting. But she’d be glad when this flurry of promotions was finally over and she could get back to business as usual. She loved what she did—and she was very good at it—but lately she’d spent more time authorizing interviews than she had authorizing investments.
Looking upward, Kelsey watched as a copter lifted off from the heliport at the water’s edge, probably taking some important executive to a business meeting. She picked up the pace, exiting the park at the northern end and making her way around a group of chattering tourists who were taking turns posing for photos beside the bronze bull, a statue that had become synonymous with Wall Street and the stock market. Crossing back to her side of the road, she retraced her steps to the office building, allowing herself to take in the sights and sounds and smells of the city that was always so utterly alive and invigorating: car horns blaring the ever-present soundtrack of New York, the doughy smell of pretzels warming in a vendor’s cart, businesswomen on their way to appointments in thousand-dollar suits and Uggs, their designer heels tucked inside briefcases for when they reached their destinations.
About twenty feet from her building, Kelsey spied a catering truck idling out in front and stopped short. From what she could see, Ephraim was holding open the door as a trio of uniformed workers dashed in carrying trays of food. Feeling a vague stir of nausea at the spectacle to come, she ducked into an alley on her left and made her way around to the back side of the building.
At the rear entrance, a solid metal door with a keypad above the knob, Kelsey typed in her security code, listened for the click, and stepped inside. Coming in this way, she’d have to take the stairs rather than the elevator, but she didn’t care. Right now she just couldn’t face the lobby and the excited chaos of the event that was being pulled together in her honor.
Kelsey’s office was on the fourth floor, but she continued up the back stairs to the fifth without stopping. Once there, she again had to type in her security code, and then that interior door unlocked with a soft click. The fifth floor back entrance opened into the executive conference room, but it didn’t occur to Kelsey until she was swinging the door wide that she might be interrupting some sort of meeting. Fortunately, however, she wasn’t. The room was empty.
Stepping inside as the door to the stairwell fell shut behind her, Kelsey paused, relishing in the peace and quiet of the empty space. The fresh air had done her good, but the busyness of the streets had managed to stir up the busyness in her soul. She still felt disquieted, unsettled.
Ignoring those feelings, Kelsey glanced around, trying to remember if there was a phone in here as there was in the conference room on the fourth floor. Sure enough, she spotted it on the back wall, mounted between the audio/video cabinet and the broad space where the projection screen hung when it was in use. Lifting the receiver, Kelsey dialed the extension for her EA and told her she was back in the building but would be upstairs with Gloria until it was time for the big event. Sharon read off several messages that had come in while she was gone, none of them urgent, and then said there was one more thing.
“Yes?” Kelsey looked around the room for a clock, hoping her assistant wouldn’t take much longer.
“Next time you fake a phone call as you’re leaving,” Sharon said with a chuckle, “make sure you actually bring your cell phone with you.”
Quickly, Kelsey patted her pockets, her face burning with heat when all she came up with was the headset.
“Busted,” was the best she could say, and then they both laughed. “So who else knows?”
“Just me. I was putting some files on your desk when I heard a ringtone coming from a drawer. I found your phone in your purse and put it on mute. Hope that was okay.”
“Of course. I appreciate it,” Kelsey said, grateful for the quick thinking—and discretion—of her faithful assistant. “Would you do me another favor and lock up my office before you head down to the ceremony?”
“No problem, Chief.”
They ended the call, and Kelsey decided that before she went to talk to Gloria she would take a few minutes to fix herself up for the ceremony. Hoping to avoid having to go downstairs to her office, she decided to pay a visit to the executive washroom instead, where she knew all sorts of necessities could be found.
Slipping from the conference room into the main hall, Kelsey walked toward the front of the building. Though she had to go past a reception area and several offices along the way, she made it to the primary executive suite without having to pause and chat with anyone. Fortunately, the door to the CEO’s office on her left was closed, and the EA that worked for the upper echelon, the exotically lovely Yanni, was busy talking on the phone and simply waved Kelsey on through to the right. With a smile and a nod, she turned and continued down the hallway, past the closed door of Gloria’s office, to the executive washroom.
As expected, inside were baskets of toiletries on the wide marble counter. She washed her hands and then helped herself to an individually wrapped toothbrush and a tiny, disposable packet of toothpaste. After brushing her teeth, she unwrapped a fresh comb and ran it through her hair, trying to neaten up the windblown look she’d earned from her walk outside. She followed that with a shot of hairspray, a little dab of face powder, and some lip gloss for the cameras’ sake, and then she stepped back, smoothed out her clothes, and studied the full effect in the mirror.
Whenever Kelsey looked at herself, the word that came to mind was “Irish”—not the red-headed, pale-skinned, green-eyed variety that most folks thought were the norm. Instead, she and her family sported a look far more common among the Irish: dark hair, even-toned skin, blue eyes.
Taking a cue from her mentor Gloria—and from her great-grandmother Adele, for that matter—Kelsey always bought the nicest clothes she could afford, knowing they were a business investment of sorts. Today she was sporting a new Hugo Boss suit in a soft gray pinstripe, accented with a red silk blouse and a pair of red Gaetano Perrone shoes. On her lapel was her favorite piece of jewelry, a hat pin she’d inherited from her great-grandmother and often wore as a stickpin instead. Purchased in London the day before Adele and her cousin and uncle set sail for America on Titanic, the top of the hat pin was in the shape of a tiny Irish harp, a lovely reminder of their homeland.
The overall look Kelsey always strived for was class, competence, and understated elegance. Examining her image in the mirror now, she felt that today’s outfit had really hit the mark. Her layered, shoulder-length brown hair nicely framed her face, and the touch of makeup emphasized her lips and gave a smooth, matte finish to her skin.
Now all she had to do, she decided, was to get through the big event. In the end, though she wasn’t looking forward to it at all, at least the new scholarship program made this trouble worthwhile.
Gloria’s door was still closed, so Kelsey knocked first and then cracked it open, peeking through to see if her friend was in there by herself or if she had company. Fortunately, she was alone, and though she looked quite startled for a moment, she invited Kelsey in.
“Well, if it isn’t the woman of the hour,” Gloria said. Papers were spread across her desk, but she quickly shoved them into a single file folder and slipped it in a drawer. “You look gorgeous. Is that a new suit?”
Grinning, Kelsey slowly turned in a full circle. “Gotta look good in the photos. It’s all about playing the game, right?”
“I’ve taught you well, my dear.”
Kelsey took her usual seat in one of the two leather chairs facing the desk—a move she’d done countless times before. Yet as she settled in, she detected an odd expression on the older woman’s face, as if she were more nervous and apprehensive than Kelsey herself. Worse, in fact. Though Gloria could usually be found looking perfectly polished, at the moment she was anything but, with dark circles under her eyes, rumpled clothing, and not a speck of makeup on.
“Are you okay?” Kelsey asked. She didn’t want to be rude, but clearly something was wrong. “You’re not sick, are you?”
“Just tired. I worked later than I should have last night. You know how it is.”
Gloria obviously didn’t want to talk about it, so Kelsey simply nodded and changed the subject, asking about the order of events for the ceremony. Gloria spelled things out, describing what sounded like a two-person show featuring Kelsey and the company’s CEO, Walter Hallerman.
Kelsey scrunched up her face in dismay. “What about a board member or two? And don’t we want to include somebody from the foundation?”
“Stop trying to deflect, Kels. You know as well as I do that this is all about you. That’s the whole point.”
Miserably, Kelsey slumped in her chair. “This is getting so old.”
Gloria pulled off her glasses and nervously cleaned them with the corner of her blouse. “Hopefully, it won’t be for much longer.”
Both women knew Kelsey really had no choice—both for her family’s sake and for the sake of the corporation. According to management, after Nolan Tate, Kelsey’s father and the firm’s leader, suffered a stroke last year, the company’s value had taken a serious nosedive and now they needed to show that someone else would be carrying on the Tate name, someone who possessed the same sharp gut instincts and business acumen for which the Tates had long been known. As Kelsey was the only other family member who currently worked here, she’d become the logical choice by default.
It was a heavy weight to bear, one that was feeling heavier all the time. She was happy to carry on the family legacy and didn’t mind doing her part to bolster the company’s image, but she was getting awfully tired of being the center of attention. Last week had been a feature article in the New York Times magazine section about the “up-and-comer with the Midas touch.” Prior to that, her name and face had been splashed across countless other newspapers and magazines, and she’d even appeared on a few local television and radio interview shows. Now she was about to go through this ridiculous ceremony, all for the sake of reassuring the public that even though Nolan Tate might be sidelined for now, another, just-as-capable Tate was ready to step up and prove that the family gift for investing was alive and well.
“I hope you’re right,” she said tiredly. “I don’t think I can stand much more.”
An odd look appeared on Gloria’s face, and Kelsey thought she was about to say something important. But then, after a moment, she simply cleared her throat and asked if Kelsey needed any last-minute help polishing her speech.
“No, thanks. It’s fine. But what were you thinking, just now? I can tell there’s something on your mind today.”
The older woman’s cheeks flushed. “It’s not important. I was…I was going to tell you not to worry, that the end is in sight. Maybe sooner than you think.”
“What do you mean?”
Gloria shrugged and looked away, her fingers nervously taking off her glasses, cleaning them again, and putting them back on. Before she replied, the phone on the desk buzzed, startling her so much she practically fell out of her chair.
Face flushing, Gloria resettled herself in her seat and pushed the button for the speaker. Out came the voice of Walter, their CEO.
“I just got downstairs and don’t see Kelsey. Have you talked to her?”
“She’s here with me now.”
“Good. Tell her to hurry up and get down here. We’ll be starting in ten minutes.”
“No problem.”
“Have her take the stairs and use the side door to go backstage. She can wait there until I finish my introduction.”
“Will do.”
With a click he was gone.
“You heard the man,” Gloria said, suddenly using her brightest pep talk voice, though it sounded strained and on edge. She rose, walked to the door, and stood there holding it open. “It’s showtime, kid. You’d better get downstairs. Break a leg, or whatever it is they say.”
Kelsey stood, feeling oddly dismissed. “Aren’t you coming with me?”
“I…uh…I’ll slip in the back later.”
“But I thought we could go down together.”
“I don’t think so,” Gloria responded without further explanation.
“Listen, are you sure you’re all right?” Kelsey pressed, moving closer.
The woman wouldn’t meet her gaze, though after a moment, much to Kelsey’s surprise, her eyes filled with tears. Cooing sympathetically, Kelsey pulled a clean tissue from her pocket and handed it over, asking again what was wrong, if Gloria wanted to talk about it.
“Is it something with work?”
Gloria didn’t reply.
“Maybe something personal? A problem with you and Vern, perhaps?”
Even though Gloria’s marriage wasn’t exactly known to be warm and fuzzy, she seemed surprised at the thought. Shaking her head, she blew her nose and said, “It’s…I…” Her voice trailed off as she dabbed at her tears. Then she took a deep breath and slowly let it out.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, looking down at the floor and speaking in a soft voice. “Have you ever done something bad out of good intentions?”
Kelsey was surprised. What an odd question for an ethical, no-nonsense woman like Gloria to ask.
“You mean, the ‘end justifies the means’?”
Gloria nodded. “Exactly.”
“Probably,” Kelsey replied, studying her friend’s face. “One time when I was a kid, my mother wouldn’t buy me the mini marshmallows I wanted from the grocery store, so while she was busy at the checkout, I went back and got a bag off the shelf, tore it open, and started eating them anyway. I figured that once they were open she’d have no choice but to buy them. Of course, I didn’t count on her making me pay her back out of my allowance—and then she didn’t even let me have the rest of the marshmallows.”
Both women smiled, but fresh tears filled Gloria’s eyes. “If only this were that simple.” She blinked, sending twin tracks of wetness down her cheeks.
Kelsey felt terrible for the poor thing, but she still didn’t have a clue as to what any of this was about. Of all the people in this office, Gloria was the very last person she’d ever expect to talk this way, much less to stand in an open doorway and cry.
Suddenly, before Kelsey could even think of how to reply, Gloria gripped her by both arms and spoke in an urgent whisper.
“You don’t have to go down there, you know,” she hissed. “You don’t have to do this at all. You could walk right out the back door and go home, and I could tell Walter you weren’t feeling well and had to leave.”
Kelsey was dumbfounded. What on earth was Gloria talking about?
“Why would I do that? It’s just a stupid ceremony. I’ll get through it, no big deal.”
Just as suddenly, Gloria let go of her arms, stepped back, and placed both hands over her eyes. “What am I saying? Don’t listen to me. I’m not myself today at all.”
Kelsey stood there amidst her friend’s meltdown, thinking, You can say that again. She wondered if perhaps Gloria had been drinking or something. She didn’t smell alcohol on her breath, but she certainly was acting strange—stranger than Kelsey could ever have imagined.
“Enough of this,” Gloria said finally, taking her hands from her face and giving Kelsey a broad, forced smile. “Are you ready to go? Because your time’s up. Come on, Tater Tot. Forget what I said earlier. I’ll walk you down myself.”


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