Blog Hop

My friend Jackie Layton asked me to join her a blog hop. She’s an incredibly talented winner and is one of the Genesis contest semi-finalists this year. As the judging for the contest continues, I’m rooting for Jackie’s novel to move through the rounds. I would love to see “Genesis Winner” in her tagline in the near future!

Check out her blog: Jackie’s Back Porch

 

Jackie

Jackie Layton and her sweet husband

Jackie asked me four questions about my writing:

  • What am I working on?

I’m on Blood & Lies a romantic suspense novel set in my hometown of Odessa, Texas.

When a home health nurse discovers two dead bodies in her patient’s home, the killer sets his sights on silencing her – forever.

  • How does my work differ from others?

In several ways. I always have a Border collie or an Aussie in my books, and several people have told me that my storyline is more intense than many other Christian writers. It tends to draw non-Christian readers and Christian readers looking for a high-degree of realism.

While I don’t have extremely vulgar language in my books, you might see a “darn” or “crap” uttered by a character – depending on the character and the situation.

  • Why do I write what I write?

I’ve been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember. Most of the books I read are suspense/thriller. If I can keep my readers turning the page, their hearts hammering, and wondering what happens next, I’ve done my job. I write what I love to read. Once, I tried to write a sweet love story with no murder or mayhem. It was ho-hum, and I kept trying to insert some suspense…so I turned it into a suspense novel and was much happier with it.

  • How does my writing process work?

When I started writing, I just sat down and wrote. I meandered away from the story to the point it was a mess. So I started plotting and over the years, I’ve learned the more I plot, the stronger the story. I may change it as I go, but at least I have a blue print.

I’ve also started using Scrivener so as I write, I have all of my research and notes at hand. Organization is important in my writing, and Scrivener has helped me become more organized.

When I first begin plotting, I start with my characters. I do a complete character interview with all of the main characters, then I do a mini-profile for secondary characters. I include photos of my characters in Scrivener so I have a picture of what I want that person to look like.

Next, I do a setting profile for each of the settings. I have pictures of towns, buildings, cars, etc.

Once I have my characters and settings, I begin plotting the story. Then the fun part starts: I get to write the story! And then I revise it multiple times.

That’s more than you ever wanted to know about me! Let me introduce you to several of my author friends. These talented women have novels out that will keep you turning the pages.

Naomi Musch

Naomi Musch TrevelyanCoverArt72dpi

Naomi writes from the pristine north woods of Wisconsin, where she and husband Jeff live as epically as God allows on a ramshackle farm where they spend quality time with their children and grandchildren. Amidst it, she writes novels about imperfect people who are finding hope and faith to overcome their struggles.

In non-fiction venues, Naomi spent five years as a staff writer for the EPA award-winning Midwestern Christian newspaper, Living Stones News, telling true-life stories of changed lives. She has also written dozens of magazine and internet articles for the purpose of encouraging homeschooling families and young writers.

She invites readers to say hello and find out more about her books, passions, and other writing venues at http://www.naomimusch.com or to look her up on Facebook (Naomi Musch – Author) and Twitter (NMusch).

Kelly Liberto

Kelly

Kelly Liberto is a romantic suspense writer. She is also a Genesis Contest semi-finalist, and as the books continue through the judging process, I hope to see Genesis winner in her tagline!

Her current novel deals with some tough subjects and is a page turner. Visit her website: http://kellyliberto.com/

Nike Chillemi

Harmful Intent Nike Chillemi

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning). She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes monthly book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine.

Nike is a multi-published author. Her Sanctuary Point series will keep the readers turning pages. Most recently, she’s started a new series the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes Series of novels.

BJ Robinson

BJ Robinson

Top 100 Amazon Bestselling Author, B. J. Robinson, is an award-winning, multi-published author with four traditionally published novels as well as independently published short stories, novellas, and novels. River Oaks Plantation, her first full-length indie, has been on Amazon’s bestselling Christian historical novel list as well as the Civil War list. River Oaks Plantation won an Indie Award and was a top three finalist in the Grace Awards for 2013 in the historical romance category. The novel was showcased in Southern Writers Magazine as a Must Read. She won an award through the Florida Writers Association, first prize in fiction-writing competition at Southeastern Louisiana University for a short story that was published in their literary magazine, Gambit, and a novella won an indie award. She has also won numerous editors’ choice awards for poetry, had poems published, articles published, and her short story ran on the front page of a local newspaper three weeks as a serial.

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Then Versus Than

Confused sign

Then Versus Than

When trying to decide whether to use “then” or “than” does it leave you as confused as this sign? I hope we can clear up the differences between “then” and “than” with this quick tip.

THEN: According to the dictionary here is the definition:

As an adverb:

  • A point in time – For example: Back THEN clothing styles were very modest.
  • Immediately or soon after – For example: Sandra stopped screaming, THEN started again.
  • Next in the order of time – For example: Joe went to the store THEN to dinner.
  • At the same time – For example: At first, her eyes looked blue, THEN green.
  • Next in order of place – For example: The winners of the Golden Goose writer competition were: 1st place – Joe, 2nd place Sue, THEN 3rd place Grady.

As an adjective:

  • being; being such; existing or being at the time indicated – For example: The THEN president of ACFW.

As a noun:

  • At a certain point of time – For example: Andrew hasn’t been back to Sue’s house since THEN.

 

THAN: According to the dictionary here is the definition:

A conjunction:

  • Introduces a second member of unequal comparison. For example: Judith is a better writer THAN I am.
  • Introduces an alternative or denote a difference in kind, place, style, etc. – For example: Texas has less restrictive gun laws THAN California
  • Introduces the rejected choice in expressions of preference – For example: I would rather write THAN watch television.
  • Except – For example: I had no other choice THAN to withdraw from the writing competition.
  • When –

To drill things down to the quick tip, then is used to show time. Next, after, in a series, etc., and than is used to compare. I hope this not-so-quick tip helps clarify whether to use THEN or THAN.

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Couple Versus Couple Of

I’ve noticed in quite a few books I’ve read, the couple versus couple of conundrum has confounded many excellent writers. In fact, one best-selling author never gets this right. I think the way we speak has much to do with us writing it incorrectly. We often say: couplea and run it together or leave off the “of” in speech, but if we do it incorrectly in writing, it will throw some readers out of the story. I hope these quick tips and rules will help you keep it straight!

The rules below are from Kathy Ide, editor extraordinaire and grammar/punctuation guru.

 

Couple

Use “couple” alone when it’s used as noun. For example: “Allen and Jenna make such a cute couple.” Anytime “couple” is used as a noun, it  stands alone.

Couple of Horses

However, when couple is used as a modifier, you must add “of” . For example: “I saw a couple of horses in the field next to my house.” It is never “a couple horses” and should always be “a couple of horses.”

Next time you plop down in front of your keyboard and begin writing the next NYT Best Seller, keep this quick tip in mind. Couple is a noun or a modifier. If it’s a noun it stands alone, if it’s a modifier, it must have it’s partner “of”.

 

 

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Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Thank you to all who have served.

 

On this holiday, I wanted to pay to tribute to those who’ve served in our military. Without their sacrifices, the freedoms we take for granted could be lost. These young men and women don the uniform of their military branch, leave their families behind, and often go into foreign lands to fight.

Flag

Many men and women have sacrificed for our freedoms over the years. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

I’ve had the unique honor to hear three American Heroes speak. Their stories are inspirational and heart-wrenching at the same time.

Lt. Scott O’Grady, the pilot on whom the movie Behind Enemy Lines was based. I heard Mr. O’Grady speak, then watched the movie, which was nothing like the true story. If he is ever speaking near you, I urge you to attend and hear this unique story of survival.

Chad Williams, he served on Seal Teams one and seven for five years. He has a book out, Seal of God. His story is very inspirational and worth the time to hear.

Keni Thomas, he served as a Ranger in the 3rd Ranger Battalion as part of an elite special operations packages called Task Force Ranger. This unit became engaged in an eighteen hour fire-fight. Nineteen Americans died and 78 were wounded. Keni was awarded the Bronze Star of Valor for his actions that day. The book and movie, Black Hawk Down was based on the battle of Mogadishu.


In addition to speaking engagements, Keni is also an accomplished Country Music artist.

Soldier

 

Wall

Since our country our began, soldiers have fought and died both here and abroad to keep us free. May God bless and protect all who currently serve in our military and comfort the families of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I pray the wounded warriors will find peace and purpose. May we never forget the sacrifices made for our freedom.

Cemetary

 

 

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Disneyland

Disneyland

Earlier this year we went to Disneyland on a family trip. My stepson, Eric, loves anything Disney. His favorite character is Mickey Mouse, and he often tells me he wants to go to work at Disney (it doesn’t matter to him if it’s Disneyland or Disney World) as Mickey Mouse. He can’t think of a job more fun than dressing up like the famous rodent and greeting children all day.

His joy in the parks is contagious. It doesn’t matter which ride we’re on, at that moment, it’s his favorite. He loves the scary rides like Tower of Terror and the scenic rides like It’s a Small World. No matter how long we’re in the park, he never complains about his feet hurting or about being tired.

My goal is to have that contagious joy in my daily life without complaining, yet I often fall way short. I want people to see the hope, joy, and love of Christ when they look at me, but all to often, I’m not lovable or loving. As Paul said in Acts: “18 I know there is nothing good in my sinful nature. I want to do what is good, but I can’t. 19 I don’t do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don’t want to do. 20 I do what I don’t want to do. But I am not really the one who is doing it. It is sin living in me.”

As Christians, we are still human. We’re going to mess up. At times we will do the things we don’t want to do and not do those we want to do. Does that mean we’re hopeless? No, but maybe when we find ourselves being judgmental, unloving, or even downright hateful, we’ll turn from it, ask forgiveness, and forgive ourselves. On the flip side, when others hurt us, maybe we’ll realize we are all sinners and all do hurtful, sinful things, and we’ll be very quick to forgive those who hurt us.

 

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Review of Table for Two

Table for Two

Book Description:

Mandy Seymour always books a table for one. So the pretty food critic is stunned when she captures the eye of dashing chef Leo Romano. Leo’s good looks and fabulous cooking are swoon-worthy, but it’s his tender care of his ailing father and affection for his warm Italian family that really touch her heart. A broken engagement has made Leo cautious. And as he grapples with his dad’s illness he’s skeptical about starting a new relationship, even with a woman as compelling as Mandy. But as he spends more time with Mandy, Leo starts to realize maybe the last thing he should give up is love.

Review of Table for Two:

In Table for Two, Brandy Bruce weaves a sweet, romantic tale of a food critic and a chef. Mandy Seymour, the food critic, has issues with self-confidence because she’s never felt good enough to please her overly critical mother. Leo Romano, the chef, is skeptical of love after having his heart broken by his fiancé.

Mandy and Leo are drawn to each other, but there are many obstacles in the way. They must learn to depend on others and to trust each other. While the characters were very likable and endearing, Mandy’s mother could’ve been a little more developed since she played such an important role. I felt like the drastic turnaround in her was a little clichéd and didn’t come across as natural. HOWEVER, that slight issue doesn’t detract from the sweet novel in a major way. It’s still a fun, quick read that won’t disappoint.

About the Author:

Brandy Bruce has worked in book publishing for more than nine years–editing, writing, reading, and making good use of online dictionaries. She’s a graduate of Liberty University and works as a part-time book editor for a publishing house. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Colorado with their two children, Ashtyn and Lincoln. When Brandy isn’t editing manuscripts or writing novels, she loves spending time with her family, baking any kind of cheesecake, watching movies based on Jane Austen novels, or curling up with a favorite book. You can contact her through her blog at http://brandybruce.blogspot.com.

Visit the author’s website: http://brandybruce.blogspot.com.

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First Wild Card Tour – Brandy Bruce’s Table for Two

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, nonfiction, 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:

 

Brandy Bruce

 

and the book:

 

Table for Two
Heartsong Presents (April 28, 2014)
***Special thanks to Brandy Bruce for sending me a review copy.***

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
BrandyBruce

Brandy Bruce has worked in book publishing for more than nine years–editing, writing, reading, and making good use of online dictionaries. She’s a graduate of Liberty University and works as a part-time book editor for a publishing house. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Colorado with their two children, Ashtyn and Lincoln. When Brandy isn’t editing manuscripts or writing novels, she loves spending time with her family, baking any kind of cheesecake, watching movies based on Jane Austen novels, or curling up with a favorite book. You can contact her through her blog at http://brandybruce.blogspot.com.

Visit the author’s website: http://brandybruce.blogspot.com.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
cover

Mandy Seymour always books a table for one. So the pretty food critic is stunned when she captures the eye of dashing chef Leo Romano. Leo’s good looks and fabulous cooking are swoon-worthy, but it’s his tender care of his ailing father and affection for his warm Italian family that really touch her heart. A broken engagement has made Leo cautious. And as he grapples with his dad’s illness he’s skeptical about starting a new relationship, even with a woman as compelling as Mandy. But as he spends more time with Mandy, Leo starts to realize maybe the last thing he should give up is love.

Product Details:List Price: $4.99

Publisher: Harlequin/Love Inspired

Language: English

ISBN-13: 978-0-373-48703-5

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Mandy Seymour held up one hand to hold off traffic as she dashed across the crowded
street, wincing as the “Walk” sign changed to “Stop” before she could reach the
other side.

“Sorry,”she muttered as the sound of horns honking followed her. She pushed
through the revolving door of the Hyatt Regency hotel and rushed past the front
desk. Taking a quick moment to look down at the brochure in her hand, Mandy
took the next left and sighed with relief when she saw that the double doors to
the conference room directly ahead of her were still open. She slid into the
last row of seats and turned her attention to the speaker at the front of the
room. Gabriel Romano. The Gabriel Romano. Owner of two four-star restaurants,
one in Denver, the other in Los Angeles.
Mandy’s mouth watered at the very thought of his infamous tiramisu.

She caught the end of Mr. Romano’s introduction as she shuffled through her purse,
looking for a pen and a notepad.
How can I not have a pen? I always have
pens—but of course, when I need one, there are none to be found.

Mandy ignored the disapproving voice in the back of her mind that always sounded just
like her mother. Mandy, why are you so disorganized? Mandy, when are you going to be more responsible? Mandy, isn’t it
time you got yourself together?

“Here, take this.”
Mandy looked up in surprise at the voice whispering next to her. A man in a blue
tailored suit with a silver tie handed her a pen.

“Thanks,” Mandy whispered back, accepting the pen, her gaze lingering just a little too
long on the man. His dark wavy hair, jet-black eyes, and olive skin were a nice
combination.
Don’t even think about it, Mandy. He’s probably married.
Was that her voice or her mother’s in her head? Mandy shook away the question and settled in her seat, eager to be swept into Gabriel Romano’s rise-to-success story, beginning with learning to cook from his grandmother during summers spent in the Italian countryside.

“So, why are you here?” the guy leaned over and whispered again.
Mandy barely glanced at him. Okay, I know you’re cute, but I’m here to hear Gabriel Romano so stop talking!
Mandy shrugged. “The same reason everyone else is—Gabriel Romano,” she whispered, hoping her annoyance would register with the guy.

“So you’re another admirer,” he said.
It obviously didn’t register with him.

“I’m a food critic,” Mandy whispered in a rush. “I’m going to the new Romano’s on 15th Street tonight and doing a review, so I thought I’d come hear his story.”

A woman in front of them looked back, holding her finger to her lips. “Shh!”
Mandy’s face burned with embarrassment. The guy next to her seemed unaffected.

“What time will you be there?”

“What?” Mandy asked, forgetting to whisper. The woman in front turned around again, glaring this time.
The guy leaned closer.

“What time will you be at Romano’s tonight?”
Mandy blinked, caught for a moment by those dark eyes of his. Why did he want to know? She looked back down at the notepad on her lap without answering.

“I’m Leo, by the way,” the guy whispered.
Mandy sneaked another look over at him. He had a nice smile. But that didn’t mean anything. There could be a lunatic lurking behind that nice smile.

“I’m Mandy Seymour.”
What happened to the lunatic theory? I’m now having a conversation with a complete stranger—missing out on the speech that I
came to hear!

Leo nodded. “Nice to meet you. What time will you be at Romano’s tonight, Mandy?”

Mandy licked her lips and gripped the borrowed pen in her hand.
“8:00.”

Leo winked at her. “Maybe I’ll see you there,” he whispered with a smile before leaving the conference room. Mandy watched him go, wondering where he went and wishing she had asked him why he was there.

Leo Romano typed the name Mandy Seymour into his phone and waited for the search engine to give him what he needed. Within seconds, the first page of hits came on the screen and Leo scrolled through, clicking on the third link.

 

Mandy Seymour, respected food critic for Denver Lifestyle magazine, recommends the Coffee
and Crepes
delicatessen off 23rd and Mountain View. Mandy was quoted as saying, “The service was impeccable and the breakfast quiche exceeded my expectations . . .”

Leo clicked off his phone and shoved his hands in his pockets. Even from the hallway, he heard his father’s voice booming through the conference room. He could quote verbatim his father’s speech, and while it was usually inspirational for the audience, Leo could only stand to hear it so many times.
He stepped closer to the open door, scanning the back row where Mandy Seymour sat, scribbling on her notepad. She’d rushed into the conference room, late, juggling a purse and shoulder bag; then she’d furiously rummaged through her purse until Leo had given her his pen. He’d been amused by her effort to ignore him and her frustration at his attempt at conversation. Wisps of brown hair had escaped the knot tied at the nape of her neck. Leo doubted that Mandy knew her scarf was haphazardly dragging on the floor when she’d rushed in. Everything
about the woman shouted scatterbrained.
Still, scatterbrained or not, when Mandy dropped her pen and then scrambled to find it under her chair, Leo smiled without warning from where he stood watching.
She’s charming. In a clumsy, disheveled sort of way. Leo watched her sit back up and blow a stray hair from her face while she continued taking notes. Not like Carol Ann. Those are two words that could never describe her.
Leo’s neck stiffened at even the thought of Carol Ann Hunt. It had been more than six months since she’d broken off their engagement and moved back to her parents’ home in Chicago.
Leo leaned against the wall near the doorway and closed his eyes, sending up a quick prayer for just a little more endurance.
Please help me get the new restaurant off the ground, Father. It’s so important to my dad. He can’t do this without me.
And I can’t do this without You.

The sound of laughter coming from the conference room broke the moment of reverie and Leo looked up, glancing at his watch and knowing that the speech would be over soon. His father’s voice echoed through the corridor and Leo couldn’t avoid hearing the highlights of his father’s life story. He listened as Gabriel Romano talked about discovering his passion—and talent—for cooking, marrying the love of his life and raising a family in Los Angeles, struggling financially to get his first restaurant off the ground. But through hard work, determination, and a stellar reputation for good food, that first Romano’s eventually thrived.

Gabriel told the audience that he hired his brother to be the manager and overseer of the restaurant while he concentrated on cooking, and a few years later he decided to move his family to Colorado. With the success of the Los Angeles Romano’s, the opening of a second restaurant proved to be much easier. The restaurant on Franklin Street in Denver turned into an overnight success.
As the speech came to a close, Leo noted that his father hadn’t mentioned that Leo would be the head chef, running the kitchen at the 15th Street location. He knew his father wanted to create more buzz by keeping the new chef’s identity a mystery until the restaurant opened. That suited Leo just fine; he had enough on his plate without enduring the press and questions about his new role as head chef, along with the inevitable comparisons that would be made to his father.
As the crowd filed through the double doors, Leo moved back. From a distance, Leo could see Mandy Seymour make her way back down toward the lobby. Knowing she would be at the grand opening tonight, Leo would make sure everything from the food to the service to the lighting would be perfect.

Mandy took her time walking down the street back toward Union Station. She planned to headd tried the week before. It was one of the things she loved most about herway place right outside of Denver that served amazing meat loaf or that tiny diner off Mosely Street that had the best cherry pie and homemade ice cream.
Not that Romano’s could ever be described as a little hole-in-the-wall type place; with its marble flooring, an outdoor fountain, stone fireplaces, textured walls, and magnificent murals—it was more than impressive. Mandy had been to the restaurant on Franklin Street a number of times. The Italian restaurant stood as practically a landmark in the area. But this latest Romano’s promised new items on the menu, created by a new chef—someone with Gabriel Romano’s obvious stamp of approval.

Mandy tightened her pea coat around her and picked up her pace as the wind brushed across her face. She wished she’d thought to wear a more substantial coat. It had been a mild January for Denver, but as a lifelong Coloradan, Mandy knew how unpredictable the weather could be. The sounds of downtown Denver competed with the brisk wind as Mandy reached Union Station. She loved the energy of being in
the mile-high city. She thrived on the lights, the noise, the crowds; living in a place bustling with people helped with the loneliness of living on her own.
Within seconds of finding a seat on the train, Mandy’s cell phone rang. Just the sound of the Shirelle’s singing Mama Said told Mandy all she needed to know. Claire Seymour was nothing if not predictable. Mandy held the phone to her ear.
“Hi, Mom.”
“Mandy, are you still downtown?”
“No, Mom. I’m already on my way back home. Why?”
“I thought you said you’d call me on your way back to the Tech Center.”
“I’ve only been on the train for about two minutes. I was going to call you once I’d been on the train for three minutes.”
“There’s no need to be snippy, Mandy.”
Mandy watched the city fly by as the train moved. “Sorry.”
“Good. Now, I’m cooking pot roast tonight, and I want you to come over for dinner. Your brother and his wife are coming, too. Six o’clock.”
“Mom, I already told you that I have plans tonight. I have to visit that new restaurant and then start my review. So I can’t make it. But please tell Brian and Samantha that I said hello.”
“I’m making pot roast!”
“Next time, okay?”
“Sunday dinner. I won’t take no for an answer. I expect you in Evergreen by 4:00.”
“Fine. Sunday. 4:00. I’ll be there.”
“And I certainly hope you’re wearing your good coat! It’s freezing outside!”
“I know it is. See you Sunday.”
Mandy clicked her phone off and leaned her head back against the cold window, ignoring the familiar wave of defeat that came over her whenever she talked to her mother.
As the train rattled to a stop, Mandy jumped up, swung her bag over her shoulder and braced herself for the cold wind. She allowed herself a little time to think about the mysterious Leo.
He’s Italian, obviously. Aren’t Italian men famous for flirting? Or maybe that’s Greek men . . . Anyway, he probably didn’t
mean anything by it. And I’m sure he won’t be at Romano’s tonight. He’s too good-looking to be interested in me.

Without a doubt, that last thought had her mother’s tone.
Don’t think about Mom. I’ve proved her wrong, so far, haven’t I? Here I am, living in the city with a job I love . . .
I haven’t turned out to be the failure she feared I would be. Okay, so I’m not married to a dashing, successful man and I’m not the size-six,
fashion-conscious, top-executive she’d wanted me to be—there are worse things in life.

Mandy’s shoulder bag fell to the ground, its contents scattering. Mandy sighed.
Like being a walking disaster.

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Down & Out Wordle

Down & Out Wordle

Chapter OneWordle

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First Wild Card Tour – Marcy G. Dyer

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: Marcy G. Dyer

 

 

and the book:

 

Desert Breeze Publishing December 2013
***Special thanks to Marcy G. Dyer for sending me a review copy.***

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Marcy G. Dyer is a Registered Nurse and suspense author. Like so many other writers, she began writing at a very young age, but never took herself seriously as a “real” writer until about ten years ago when she began taking courses and learning the craft of writing.
She currently has two novels from the Desert Winds Series available: Down & Out and Out for Blood
In addition to writing, Marcy is a freelance editor. She does editing for individuals, Desert Breeze Publishing, and Prism Book Group.
Marcy is an alumnus of the Christian Writer’s Guild and long-time member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She hosts a small critique group for ACFW and is involved in two other critique groups. For anyone seriously interested in becoming an author, she recommends a strong, diverse critique group to help authors hone crafts.
In addition to maintaining her website,http://www.marcydyer.com, Marcy hosts a blog to help those with autoimmune diseases. While many autoimmune diseases aren’t visible, they still cause chronic pain and disability. If you would like more information, please visit http://ragimp.blogspot.com
As followers of Jesus Christ, Marcy and her family are active members of Crossroads Fellowship in Odessa, Texas. Sermons are carried live via the web at our online campus – http://crossroadsodessa.tv/ at the following times on Sundays – 9:30 & 11:00 and 5:00 & 7:00 central time.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION: Going home again can be deadly.Suddenly jobless, enterprising Candace Downs returns to the parched and dusty oil-town of Odessa, Texas as a trainee for her cousin’s towing company.Rejecting the romantic obsessions of a maniacal stranger intent on capturing her heart throws her life into a terrifying spiral downward.

As the clock ticks, and her hunter ups the ante, the charismatic, handsome security consultant, Josiah Bradley, is determined to keep her alive – at any cost.

Will they win this harrowing cat-and-mouse game? Or will the unrelenting stalker bury them both deep in the desert?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sqO8LewZ1Q

Product Details:

List Price: $8.99/$3.99

Paperback:

Publisher: Desert Breeze

Language:English

ISBN-13:9781612522708

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter OneCandace climbed out of the rattletrap old VW Bug. The car had faded to a pinkish orange, the floorboards had rust holes peeking up at her, and the seat covers had long ago cracked, but the engine ran. Thanks to Ric. What would she do without him?
Her life had gotten so far off track. Would she ever find her way back? She didn’t have time to dwell on that right now. Her new illustrious career waited. Oh, brother.
Sucking in a breath, she strode through the side door at Tow Masters. The round black clock on the dingy white wall indicated it was ten till seven. Now if she could find her cousin. Carl had to still be here. He couldn’t expect her to just jump in feet-first with towing and repos.
She started into Carl’s office and stopped in her tracks. The most beautiful man she’d ever seen sat behind the old gray metal desk. “Uh…” she murmured. “You aren’t my cousin.”
The guy behind the desk grinned, revealing straight, white teeth. “No, ma’am.” He stood and extended his hand. “I’m Josiah Bradley. You must be Carl’s little cousin.”
Candace just stared at the man. She had to look up to see him, not something she often did even when she wasn’t wearing heels. Blond hair peeked out from his white cowboy hat, and his ice-blue eyes twinkled. She’d missed seeing cowboys when she lived in New York. Something about a handsome man in a western hat and tight Wranglers.
After a few seconds, she glanced down at his hand still in hers. Great, the guy would think Carl’s cousin was a loon. She let go.
“Sorry,” she stammered. “I… I expected Carl to be here.”
“Carl contracts with my company, Viper Security, to provide security, and when he hires a newbie, he usually has one of us spend a couple of weeks working with ‘em. Safer than having his staff work doubles.”
“Oh.” Boy, did she sound intelligent.
His eyes roved over her from top to bottom, making her thankful she’d worn the black Donna Karan skirt and Steve Madden heels. Then, after a few seconds, he shook his head. “Excuse me, ma’am, but you’ve never worked in this business, have you?”
“No. Why?”
“Well….” Josiah said with a chuckle. “I don’t think you want to wear that outfit.”
Her cheeks burned. “What should I wear?”
“Jeans, T-shirt, and tennis shoes would be good.”
“Ahem. Excuse me.”
Candace turned to find a short, chubby, red-headed woman standing behind her. The woman shoved her hands on her ample hips and shook her head. “Great. I’ve gotta call Carl. He can’t stick me with the dark-haired Barbie here and expect this to work out.”
Josiah rounded the desk and placed a hand on the woman’s shoulder. “Beth Anne, give her a chance. She’s never worked for a towing company before.”
“Humph.”
In his Wranglers, boots, and oxford shirt, he looked like he’d be more at home on the rodeo circuit than anywhere else. Either that, or onstage, crooning out an old country song.
Nausea rolled through Candace’s gut. Why did she think she could do this job? She didn’t even have a clue how to dress. When she got home in the morning, Carl would get a piece of her mind. He should have warned her. Of course he did tell her she’d be going out on repos, but what did she really expect? Working the night shift dressed like a banker?
“Why don’t you run home and change into some jeans.” Josiah shuffled through some papers on the desk. “Then come back, and we’ll get started.”
Candace’s cheeks flamed. “I — I don’t have any jeans.”
Beth Anne rolled her eyes. “So, Barbie, just what kind of clothes do you have?”
“Please stop calling me that. I have dresses and heels.” No way was she telling this leprechaun she’d had to reduce her entire life to one suitcase, so she’d kept what she thought of as work clothes and a couple of tattered sweats.
Josiah stifled a laugh. “What do you wear in your leisure time?”
“I haven’t had leisure time in over two years. I was a publicist. When I wasn’t working, I was sleeping.”
“It’s okay.” He smiled. “Beth Anne, I’m taking her to get some appropriate clothes, and we’ll return soon.”
“Fine. Just don’t take too long. I don’t want to get stuck working by myself tonight.”
“You’ve got my cell number. If you get a job, call me.”
Beth Anne threw her hands in the air and spun on her heel. “Whatever.”
Candace’s spirit dropped to the soles of her inappropriate shoes. Josiah thought she was too dumb to buy her own clothes, and Beth Anne… Beth Anne already hated her.
She would not cry.
Swallowing back embarrassment, she walked with Josiah to his black Ford dually. He opened the door and helped her inside, and she settled into the leather seats. How would she pay for the clothes? If she charged them, would the bill come in before she got paid? All of the money she had in savings went to pay for her rattlebug and her minuscule apartment.
When they arrived at a small western store, Candace’s heart plummeted. She would never be able to afford clothes in a place like this. How could she tell Josiah she needed to go to Wal-Mart without sounding like a whiny girl?
Josiah took her by the hand and grinned. “Hope you don’t mind, but since you’re back in Texas, you need to look the part.”
“That’s fine, but…Wal-Mart is more my price range.”
“Don’t worry about the money. Can’t have my best friend’s cousin looking so outta place, now, can I?” He winked. “Besides, Carl didn’t tell you how to dress, and since he hired me to train you, I’ll add the cost to his bill.”
She’d pay Carl back. Someday. Buying clothes with a strange man felt wrong, but evidently she couldn’t work in the ones she had.
Fine. She’d make the best of a bad situation and head for the sale racks. No sooner were they inside than a teeny, perky blonde flashed a big smile at Josiah. “Jojo. How can I help you?”
He put a hand on Candace’s shoulder. “My friend here just moved back from New York City. We need to get her some real clothes, boots, hat, and tennis shoes.”
“Sure thing.” She took a quick look up and down Candace. “What size?”
“I’m not sure. It’s been a long time since I’ve worn jeans.” No way would she tell this munchkin how big her behind was. Not in front of Josiah.
“No worries. Come with me, and we’ll see what we can find.”
By the time they left the store, Candace had several bags of clothes — not that she knew what she’d do with half of them. Where in the world would she ever wear a cowboy hat? And did she really need all of these clothes? Had she stepped into the Twilight Zone?
They arrived back at the shop to Beth Anne’s glare. It did soften a bit when she saw their shopping bags.
“Well at least now you can run if you have to,” she muttered. Then she turned to Josiah. “You and Barbie come on, we’ve got a tip on that repo from the gang-banger.” The woman pulled a gun out of her purse and stuck it into the back of her jeans as she sauntered down the hall toward the exit.
A gang-banger and guns? What had she gotten herself into?*****

As they climbed into the flatbed truck, Josiah grinned. The girls would give him a laugh or two over the next couple of weeks. Just seeing the look in Candace’s brown eyes when she had to put on the jeans was worth every penny he spent. He would eat the cost of the clothes for the entertainment factor. Why had Carl hired such a girly-girl?
Carl mentioned she hated leaving the City. Her thick black hair and curvaceous figure sure made her nice to look at, but he pitied any guy who got mixed up with a chick like her, who liked the bright lights of the big city. Of course, maybe some men liked that. Not him. He loved his little ranch and calm life.
They pulled up in front of a dilapidated house with peeling paint. An old sofa with stuffing peeking out of multiple holes sat on the porch. A mangy mutt lounged on it.
A crack house? Josiah maneuvered the truck in front of the SUV up for repo. Beth Anne hopped out and checked the VIN. “Lower it, and I’ll start the hook-up. We gotta grab it and run.” Candace followed Beth Anne.
After he had the flatbed tilted, Josiah helped the girls get the Escalade hooked up and pulled onto the flatbed. As he lowered the bed back down, a young Hispanic man came running toward them.
A stream of colorful names for Josiah flowed out of his mouth. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He screamed another stream of curse words. “That’s my ride.”
Josiah pulled a clipboard out of the truck. “Who are you?”
“Dude, I’m Roach. El Jefe.” The man had a blue bandana tied around his head. He wore a white “wife-beater” tank top, and his pants sagged so low his entire silk-boxer-clad butt hung out. Talk about a stereotype.
“El Jefe, is your name Ramon Gabaldon?”
“Si, this is my ride, man. If you want to live, you’ll put her back.” Gabaldon’s eyes narrowed to slits. “One word, and my posse will take you down.”
“I have a repossession order from your lien holder.” Josiah pulled a copy of the order off the clipboard and handed it to the man. “If you settle things up with them, then once they notify us, you can pick up your vehicle at the yard.”
“No. I don’t think you understand.” Roach pulled out a switchblade and flicked it open. “You’re going to leave my ride alone.”
Josiah pulled out his Glock and leveled it at the man’s head. “No, Jefe, you don’t understand. I’m taking the Escalade, and you’re going to back off.”
Roach laughed, but put the blade up and took a step back. Josiah jumped into the truck, and as he put it in gear, Roach yelled for his gang. What was Carl thinking having two women work the night shift? Beth Anne could pretty well hold her own but from the look on Candace’s face, she was about to pee her panties.
“I’m afraid we have trouble.” Josiah glanced into the rearview mirror. “They’re following us.” If they got out of this alive, he was going to have a long talk with Carl. This was no job for his debutante cousin. Maybe she could push papers or something in the office.
One of the guys roared up to the passenger side on a custom Harley and pointed a pistol at the window. Josiah stuck out his hand and pushed on Candace’s shoulder as he swerved toward the man. “Get down.”
She slid into the floorboard, and Josiah gunned the engine. The big truck would be no match for men on bikes.
“Just keep driving, I’ll call 911.” Beth Anne yelled from the back.
Josiah moved lane to lane as quickly as he could without wrecking the truck and ran a couple of the guys off the road. As they pulled into the tow yard, several gang members roared up and surrounded the truck.
Candace hunkered down in the floorboard of the truck. Why had she taken this job? She really didn’t need to eat. Maybe if she had to do without food for a while she could fit into smaller jeans, like the munchkin at the western store wore.
A gunshot rang out, and Candace vomited.
“Great. Barbie just tossed her cookies.” Beth Anne sighed.
Enough was enough. She wouldn’t put up with the leprechaun’s taunts any longer.
“I’m sorry if I don’t live up to your standards, Dumpling,” she snapped. “I’ve never had anyone shoot at me.”
“Dumpling? You little–”
“Enough, you two. Quit acting like spoiled junior-high girls. If you haven’t realized it, we’re in a little bit of a mess here.”
And if she ever got out of it, Candace would tell Carl he could shove his job. Everyone told her how dangerous New York would be. Right. She never got shot at there.
More shots rang out, and her hands shook. “Thank goodness we’re in the truck. If they don’t shoot the windows, we should be okay. Right?”
Josiah barked out a short laugh. “Don’t know much ‘bout guns, do ya, doll?”
“Not really. I know gun safety, and I’m a good shot, but that’s it.”
“A bullet can go through the metal of the door.” Beth Ann’s tone grew snarkier with each word. “It may or may not have enough force to come all the way inside depending upon the caliber. There’s your education for today, Barbie.”
“Thanks for nothing, Dumpling.”
Sirens sounded in the distance, and Candace prayed the police would arrive in time to save them. She couldn’t die like this, hunkered down in the floor of a flatbed truck with a puke-covered seat. At least she hadn’t peed her pants. Yet.

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Human Trafficking and Street Children

Human Trafficking and Street Children

DancerMy husband and I have been to the beautiful country of Ukraine twice. The first time, I won a trip with International Cooperating Ministries, and the second time, we went with Doxa Kids Street Children’s Ministry. Doxa Kids helps at-risk children in Ukraine and Kenya, with plans to expand to other countries. The goal of this organization is to provide these children and teens with a shelter—a safe place to stay. If they children aren’t living on the streets—in sewer tunnels and dumps, they won’t be as lucrative of a target for traffickers.

Ukraine, along with Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Albania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, China, Thailand, and Nigeria, is one of the high-risk source nations for trafficking. High-risk destination countries include Belgium, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey and the United States.

After learning a little about street kids and human trafficking, I decided to write a novel based on human trafficking. I’m currently in the plotting stage and have been doing extensive research into this modern-day slave trade.

Victims are often recruited by other victims or even someone they trust in their own communities. The trafficker lures with promises of a better life, a modeling career, job opportunities, and in some cases, the victim is kidnapped. When the trafficker recruits slaves for other countries, they often use forged passports for the victim. If a real passport is used, the trafficker then keeps the victim’s passport and identification.

The trafficker holds victims hostage by physical and emotional abuse. Often he tells the victim they entered the country illegally and will go to prison if they leave him. Most, whether sold into the sex trade or not, are raped, gang-raped, starved, and beaten as part of the conditioning process.

Approximately 80% of trafficking is for the sex industry which contributes to the spread of HIV. Eighty percent of sexual slavery victims are under twenty-four with some as young as six. Often they are working in the streets or in places of business that offer commercial sex acts –massage parlors, escort services, adult bookstores, modeling studios, bars/strip clubs.

Often times the traffickers advertise via the internet. One teenage US victim indicated her captor held her in an apartment and men came to her by the droves. They moved often in order to not capture the attention of law enforcement.

There are currently more slaves in the world today than ever before in history. These slaves are men, women, and children around the world. Most are branded with tattoos representing their owners. Many have bar-code tattoos that can be scanned with a smart phone so the person may be returned to their “owners”. While sex trafficking, prostitution, exotic dancing, is the by far the most common, humans are trafficked for forced labor – street peddling, housekeeping, child care, construction, restaurants, factories and landscaping, etc.

Our most vulnerable population around the world, children, are trafficked into the sex industry and as child soldiers. According UNICEF estimates there are 300,000 child victims forced to serve in armed conflicts world-wide. Also, UNICEF estimates over the past thirty years there have been over thirty million children sexually exploited through trafficking.

While modern-day slavery is a pervasive, it largely remains a hidden crime. However there are many groups and organizations dedicated to helping victims and ending slavery. The first step in ending this horrendous crime begins with education and awareness.

 

Works Cited

11 Facts About Human Trafficking; ND http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-human-trafficking

55 Little Known Facts About Human Trafficking; January 2, 2011; http://facts.randomhistory.com/human-trafficking-facts.html

Human Trafficking: An Intelligence Report; June 2006 http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2006/june/humantrafficking_061206

Human Trafficking: The Facts; ND; UNICEF; http://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/issues_doc/labour/Forced_labour/HUMAN_TRAFFICKING_-_THE_FACTS_-_final.pdf

What Is Modern Slavery?; ND; http://www.state.gov/j/tip/what/index.htm

What is Human Trafficking?; August 16, 2012; http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/about-human-trafficking#overview

INK 180; ND; http://ink180.com/the-ink180-story/

http://www.humantrafficking.org/combat_trafficking

http://www.unicef.org/protection/57929_58022.html#CT

http://www.unodc.org/toc/en/crimes/human-trafficking.html

Human Sex Trafficking; ND; By Amanda Walker-Rodriguez and Rodney Hill; http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/march_2011/human_sex_trafficking

http://www.freeforlifeintl.org/

 

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