Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Awaken My Heart by DiAnn Mills

Avon Inspire (February 5, 2008)


DiAnn Mills Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. She is the author of numerous titles including novels, novellas, and a nonfiction. In addition, she's written several short stories, articles, devotions, and has contributed to several nonfiction compilations.

DiAnn believes her readers should "Expect an Adventure." Her desire is to show characters solving real problems of today from a Christian perspective through a compelling story.

Several of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents, and she remains a favorite author by Heartsong Present's readers. Two of her books have won short historical of the year by American Christian Fiction Writers both in 2003 and 2004. She was named Writer of the Year for 2004 at the 35th Annual Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference and is the recipient of Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards for 2005 in the long contemporary and novella categories.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, ChiLibris, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops. DiAnn also belongs to Cy Fair Women's Networking, an exclusive professional women's networking organization.

She lives in sunny Houston, Texas, the home of heat, humidity, and Harleys. In fact she'd own one, but her legs are too short. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.


1803, the colony of Texas

Awaken My Heart is set in 19th century Texas and tells the story of 18 year old Marianne Phillips, the daughter of a wealthy rancher, Weston Phillips. Weston is involved in a hostile struggle with Armando Garcia, the infamous rebel leader of the 'mestizos' who claim to own the land that Phillips has settled.

Marianne Phillips, the daughter of a wealthy rancher, has never agreed with her father's harsh treatment of the poor mestizos who first inhabited the colony of Texas. When rebels kidnap Marianne, in hopes her father will trade back their land for her freedom, she realizes her loyalty lies with her abductors, not her father, who plans to marry her off to the don of a nearby estate.

Armando Garcia is the locals' reluctant leader, but his people revere and depend on him. Knowing that without his leadership they'd be forced from their land, Armando accepts his role, but does not approve of the latest attempt to manipulate their enemy. When he learns that Marianne actually speaks his language, of her loyalty to his people, and of the faith that keeps her strong, Armando is faced with a difficult decision. Will his newfound love keep him from letting her go? Or will he set her free and risk losing their land forever?

Awaken My Heart by DiAnn Mills
ISBN-10: 0061376019
Publisher: Avon Inspire
Release Date: February 5, 2008
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
$9.95 from

Purchase Awaken My Heart by DiAnn Mills HERE!!!

posted by Rachelle
at 1:20 PM


Friday, January 25, 2008

101 Cups of Water: Relief and Refreshment for the Tired, Thirsty Soul by C.D. Baker

COMMENT on this post for a chance to win a hardcover copy of 101 Cups of Water by C.D. Baker. Don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.


C.D. Baker

C.D. Baker founded and operated an
award-winning insurance business before redirecting his career to write. His historical novel Crusade of Tears in The Journey of Souls series earned a Christy Award nomination. He’s completing a master’s degree in
theological studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where he splits his time from home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His website is


C.D. Baker dips into the flowing stream of God’s love and draws out relief, refreshment, mercy, hope and sustenance for a new generation of Christ-followers. Baker’s clean, simple prose is paired with evocative, black and white photographs that will etch each truth into the reader’s memory.



We all need to feed our souls to sustain a healthy spiritual life and this book is just choc-full of writing goodness. If you have to pick a devotional today, make it 101 Cups of Water by C.D. Baker.

101 Cups of Water by C.D. Baker
ISBN-10: 1400073995
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Release Date: January 18, 2008
Genre: Meditation/Devotional
$11.89 from

Purchase 101 Cups of Water: Relief and Refreshment for the Tired, Thirsty Soul by C.D. Baker HERE!!!

posted by Rachelle
at 10:29 PM


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fallen by Matthew Raley

(Kregel Publications - February 29, 2008)


Matthew Raley

Matthew Raley is senior pastor of the Orland Evangelical Free Church in northern California, where he lives with his wife and two young children. For fun, he enjoys playing chamber music with friends, giving occasional solo recitals, and playing first violin in the North State Symphony. This is his first book.


Jim was at work when his eyes drifted to the coffee shop visible from his office window. An attractive woman driving a Mercedes pulled up to the curb . . . and Jim’s married pastor emerged from the car. When Jim delves deeper into his pastor’s world, will he be able to handle what he discovers? Is he right to suspect that Dave is having an affair? In the behind-the-scenes church battle that ensues, Jim is torn between duty to his church and a desire to show grace. A
ripped-from-the-headlines drama of
suspense that keeps you engaged to the last page.

Fallen is the story about Jim’s relationship with Dave—how Jim tries to do the right thing to keep Dave accountable, but finds the situation getting worse and worse. It’s also about Jim’s other relationships. Just as he discovers hypocrisy in Dave, Jim discovers his own sins against his wife and daughter.

Fallen by Matthew Raley
ISBN-10: 0825435757
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Release Date: February 29, 2008
Genre: Mystery Thriller
$9.59 from

Purchase Fallen by Matthew Raley HERE!!!

posted by Rachelle
at 8:15 PM


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet

Thomas Nelson (October 2, 2007)


Jeffrey OverstreetJeffrey Overstreet lives in two worlds. By day, he writes
about movies at and in notable
publications like
Christianity Today,
Paste, and Image.

His adventures in
are chronicled in his
book Through a Screen Darkly. By night, he composes new stories found in fictional worlds of his own. Living in
Shoreline, Washington, with his wife, Anne, a poet, he is a senior staff writer for Response Magazine at Seattle Pacific University.

Auralia’s Colors is his first novel. He is now hard at work on many new stories, including three more strands of The Auralia Thread.


Why did you become a writer? Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
My parents built me a house made of books when I was a kid. And my uncle liked to draw cartoons. So I grew up with a head full of stories and a love of drawing characters.

I have photographs that my mother took when I was only two. I’m pounding away at a typewriter with two fingers, determined to make a book. I learned to write by meticulously copying the text out of my favorite fairy tale storybooks, and then drawing my own illustrations with crayons. (We were on a tight budget, so I dreamed about getting the big box of 64 with the sharpener.)

By the time I was seven, I was typing out twenty page fantasy adventure stories. I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was eight, and from then on all of my stories turned into trilogies. I’m a pack rat, so I still have every single three-hole-punched book, each page single-spaced (to save paper).

So I was fairly committed to following in the footsteps of JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis from an early age. Whether my work will deserve to sit on the same shelf as theirs… well, that’s for readers to decide. I’m just grateful that they opened up such a wide, wide world of imagination, and taught me that what I discover in fairy tales is actually relevant to my life.

What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you dislike?
It’s not an expensive habit, being an author. I can escape into an exciting story anytime, anywhere. And I’m always working. There is no “time off.” I’m taking notes during sermons, during staff meetings at my day job, during movies, while I’m driving. The stories write themselves before my eyes. It’s like being at the movies all day long. Somebody will make a comment, and a whole scene will suddenly start playing in my head.

The Auralia Thread, which will be a four-book series starting with Auralia’s Colors, came about because of something my girlfriend Anne said while we were on a hike near Flathead Lake in Montana. She said, “Isn’t it strange how most people, when they reach a certain age, just fold up their imaginations and put them in a closet?” That got me thinking about how much we need creativity and color and imagination. Then I started imagining a world in which color was illegal. And I was off and running into a new possibility that ended up consuming more than a decade of my life. That little question “What if?” … it’s a dangerous question. (And oh, by the way, I married Anne soon after she asked that question. That’s even more evidence that “What if?” is a dangerous question.)

There is very little I dislike about writing. I dislike finishing stories, because the more I think about them, the more interesting possibilities present themselves to me. If I hadn’t been given a deadline, I’d still be working on Auralia’s Colors.

How do you balance your personal and writing time?
I don’t . When I relax, my imagination kicks into high gear. Vacations are my most productive writing times. It’s my day job, and chores, and errand-running, and the practical demands of life that interrupt writing and tax my creative energy.

When I leave the office at Seattle Pacific University, I feel that I am going to my second job. And the second job is more challenging. I write all evening, and I write all weekend.

How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story?
It starts with a question. During a sermon, I’ll hear my pastor use a metaphor, and I’ll think, “That would be an interesting metaphor to explore in a story.” Or I’ll think about a dilemma, and in order to understand it, I’ll put some characters in the middle of that dilemma.

Auralia’s Colors started because I was interested in the role of art, imagination, and creativity in society. So I imagined a world that was starving for art. I imagined why color and beauty had been taken away from them. And then I discovered a character whose art was so transcendent and otherworldly that she could bring those poor, suffocating people a deep breath of fresh air, a vision of beauty.

What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
A lot of writers write to “deliver a message” or to achieve some practical purpose. John Milton wrote Paradise Lost to “justify the ways of God to man.” Philip Pullman said that he wrote The Golden Compass and its sequels to “undermine Christian belief.”

I write to discover things. I’m interested in a question or a problem, and I trust that a story will show me the truth in a way that a more direct, didactic form of study will not. I learned a lot about art by following the character of Auralia into that colorless world. I learned a lot about fear and my own desire to control things. It was humbling and exhilarating at the same time.

But I also write to try and create the kind of story that I have a hard time finding in bookstores anymore. When I grew up, there were so many wonderful storybooks full of imagination and musical language, stories that felt like an opportunity to imagine, instead of an opportunity to preach some obvious message. So I write to try and craft some of that music, some of those visions. I’m still a beginner, really, but when I write a good line, it’s all worth it.

I write fantasy because it draws me into an elemental world of nature—forests, mountains, rivers, fire, secret tunnels, and amazing creatures. I’ve grown up in the big city, and I longed for those rare vacations to the Oregon Coast where I could see nature with all of its raw power and awe-inspiring beauty. I believe that creation “declares the glory of God,” and that the natural world “pours forth speech” (to borrow some words from the Psalmist). I feel closest to God, and open to learning about him, when I’m close to nature. Fantasy takes me there.

What is the biggest misconception about being an author?
I think it’s a misconception that you can just sit down and suddenly become an author. So many people I know keep saying, “I’m going to write a book” or “I just need to get started.” If you’re going to be an author, I think you have to love writing so much that the hard part is making yourself stop writing to do other things. The authors I know who really write and get things done are people who write and write and write, and when they miss a day or two of writing they don’t feel like themselves anymore.

Another misconception: When your book is published, you’ve “arrived” and the money starts rolling in! Nope, that’s not how it works. I’m learning that being a published author is expensive. And that you just get busier and busier and busier. Once in a while, I suddenly feel a flash of joy, a sense of “Hey, the dream is coming true!” But most of the time, I’m so busy, and it’s the people around me who are excited. Still, it’s such a privilege to share a story with the world, that I’m not complaining!

Finally… you have to love what you’re writing about. Because, before it’s published, you’ll probably have to re-write it, throw half of that away, and then re-write it again. Love hurts.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
It’s mix of things. Most of them just emerge from the fog, and I’m startled by them. But occasionally someone makes an impression on me, usually by their passion for something good or bad, and I eventually discover that one of my characters is behaving in a similar fashion. It’s never deliberate. It’s something I realize after the fact.

I happened upon a songwriter and her, um, “supervisor” in Auralia’s Colors. And as I was writing about them, I had to laugh because I realized that both of them were behaving like people I’ve encountered in the real world. But don’t get me wrong—they are characters in their own right. I hope that readers don’t go snooping around asking, “So who might this character represent?” Because they’ll most likely come to the wrong conclusions.

Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?
My favorite? Oh, he’s in a story that hasn’t been published yet. He’s a bird, in a story for children. And I look forward to the day when I can share that story with you.
But I’m very fond of some of the characters who stand on the edges of things. There’s a crankly old soldier in the sequel to Auralia’s Colors who makes me laugh every time I visit him. His name is Wilus Caroon. Maugam, the jailer in Auralia’s Colors, is so creepy and broken that he fascinates me.

The ale boy in Auralia’s Colors reminds me, strangely enough, of R2D2 in Star Wars — he’s this little fellow who just stumbles into these huge, sweeping dramas, plays a pivotal role while hardly anybody notices, and then he slips out the back door.

And of course I love Auralia, who reminds me of so many of the most creative people I’ve ever met, and who suffers the way so many artists suffer—from loneliness, from being misunderstood, from being accused of things she hasn’t done.

But above all, I’m in love with the character of the Expanse: the world in which Auralia lives. It’s all of the wildest, most beautiful, most frightening places I’ve ever been. And when the wind moves through the trees there, it means something.

If you were writing a script for the big screen, who would you want to act in your movie?
Writing Auralia’s Colors, I imagined David Bowie in the role of King Cal-marcus. He’s tall, haunted, authoritative but troubled, and his eyes are two different colors.

Auralia and the ale boy are so young, I don’t know who would play them. Anna Paquin, at a very young age, would have made an interesting Auralia, but it’s far too late for that now. Ivana Baquero from Pan’s Labyrinth would make a good Auralia, I think… if we could cast her soon. Auralia is definitely not Dakota Fanning or Dakota Blue Richards… or any of the Dakotas, north or south.

Paul Dano would make a fine Cal-raven—he’s good at conveying longing, frustration, and deep thought. Or, if I could rewind Johnny Depp to the age he was when he starred in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, that would be perfect. Danny Huston and Sean Bean would both be good candidates for Ark-robin, who is a brusque soldier in Auralia’s Colors, and so would Russell Crowe (if he’d be willing to play a supporting role like that).

What would you want readers to take away from your books?
A desire to go back and read it a second time, to look for things they missed.

Seriously, though, I always go back and read my favorite books more than once. It’s one of my goals… to write something that people will want to read again. That involves more than just the plot. It involves creating an environment they want to live in, composing tasty language they’ll want to savor like fudge, and cultivating mysteries they enjoy pondering.

But I also hope it will encourage people to enjoy the beauty of the world around them even more than they do. Writing Auralia’s Colors certainly did that for me. It made me look closer.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?
When you’ve written your story, share it with people who are brave enough to offer bold criticism, but who are kind enough to criticize compassionately. Auralia’s Colors has been through a lot of drafts. I accepted criticism that showed me how my writing wasn’t working, and I politely dismissed criticism that had to do with a difference in taste or style. Some people don’t like lavish descriptions, but I do. So I kept a lot of description. But I trimmed those pages where my own interest in description started boring most of my readers.

And it was because of my desire to show it to anybody who cared to ask that the book eventually found its way to a publisher. I didn’t pursue publication. I just wrote the story to the best of my ability. Somebody discovered it, got excited about it, and passed it to somebody else… and the rest is history. God works in mysterious ways, and the way Auralia’s Colors found its way to bookstores is a mystery that still thrills me.

Who are your favorite authors?
On my nightstand, you’ll usually find books by Thomas Merton, Annie Dillard, Scott Cairns, Madeleine L’Engle, Mark Helprin, Patricia McKillip, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mervyn Peake, Cormac McCarthy, A.A. Milne, and Philip Yancey. And Watership Down by Richard Adams, is my favorite novel.

What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Annie Dillard’s novel The Maytrees, Scott Cairns’ memoir Short Trip to the Edge, re-reading Mark Helprin’s mind-blowing New York fantasy called Winter’s Tale, and re-reading Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl (a fantastic book for young adults, by a talented young Christian author, and it was a National Book Award finalist this year).


Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey OverstreetAs a baby, she was found in a footprint.

As a girl, she was raised by thieves in a wilderness where savages lurk.

As a young woman, she will risk her life to save the world with the only secret she knows.

When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.

Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.

Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.

Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.

Visit the Website especially created for the book, Auralia's Colors. On the site, you can read the first chapter and listen to Jeffrey's introduction of the book, plus a lot more!


"Film critic and author Overstreet (Through a Screen Darkly) offers a powerful myth for his first foray into fiction. Overstreet’s writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told. Readers will be hungry for the next installment."
-- Publishers Weekly

“Through word, image, and color Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted a work of art. From first to final page this original fantasy is sure to draw readers in. Auralia's Colors sparkles.”
-– Janet Lee Carey, award-winning author of The Beast of Noor and Dragon's Keep

“Jeffrey Overstreet’s first fantasy, Auralia’s Colors, and its heroine’s cloak of wonders take their power from a vision of art that is auroral, looking to the return of beauty, and that intends to restore spirit and and mystery to the world. The book achieves its ends by the creation of a rich, complex universe and a series of dramatic, explosive events.”
-– Marly Youmans, author of Ingledove and The Curse of the Raven Mocker

Purchase Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet HERE!!!

posted by Rachelle
at 3:24 PM


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pantry Prescriptions

Eleven common ailments and foods that can help heal them.

Whether you have an upset stomach, insomnia or a yeast infection, you may want to consider heading for the pantry or fridge instead of the medicine cabinet. A number of everyday edibles have been shown to be just as effective as medication for treating a variety of ailments. Keep in mind that while the studies of such foods are quite promising, many are not totally conclusive. Fortunately, there are few, if any, side effects from reaching for ordinary food as a curative. Still, if you're pregnant or already have a preexisting medical condition, be sure to consult your physician first.

Ailment: Common cold
Pantry Rx: Soup
Mom was partly right: Soup really does relieve cold symptoms. (Where she got it wrong: It needn't be chicken soup.) When you slurp hot broth, you inhale the vapor rising from the bowl, which helps clear stuffed-up nasal passages. Clever researchers figured this out by giving people straws to sip soup — an alteration that led to zero nasal benefits.

Ailment: Constipation
Pantry Rx: Flaxseed
While it's no secret that a high-fiber diet combined with plenty of fluids helps to prevent constipation, flaxseed has some of the fastest-acting effects. Take one to two tablespoons of whole flaxseed with plenty of fluids, or mix a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed to cooked cereal, applesauce or a smoothie, and voilà!

Ailment: Ear infection
Pantry Rx: Garlic
Garlic is a natural antibiotic that contains allicin, a chemical capable of killing the bacteria responsible for ear infections. This is especially good news today, as many bacteria are now antibiotic-resistant due to the over-prescription of a number of standard antibiotics. Garlic is best eaten raw, because heat reduces many of its beneficial compounds. One caveat: You have to eat as much as an entire bulb of garlic daily to achieve the medicinal effects — and at that amount, others may not want to get too close!

Ailment: Insomnia
Pantry Rx: Turkey sandwich
Take a look around the house after a Thanksgiving dinner and you'll know for sure that tryptophan-rich foods such as turkey promote sleepiness. The reason is that tryptophan, an amino acid, helps produce the sleep-inducing neurochemical serotonin. Tryptophan is found in a variety of non-poultry foods, too, including dairy, soy, hazelnuts and peanuts, whole grains, beans and more. For this amino acid to be utilized, you need to eat it in conjunction with carbohydrates, since carbs help transport tryptophan to the brain, where serotonin is made. Some good ready-for-bed combinations include a turkey sandwich, peanut butter on toast, or milk and graham crackers.

Ailment: Burning mouth
Pantry Rx: Milk
Next time that you eat something so spicy your tongue feels on fire, reach for a glass of cold milk instead of water. Researchers believe the casein protein found in dairy products helps remove the sting out of spicy foods by stripping the fiery irritant capsaicin from the mouth's pain receptors.

Ailment: Nausea
Pantry Rx: Ginger
Feeling queasy? Sip some ginger root tea. A variety of studies have shown that ginger in its many forms — fresh, dried, powdered — can prevent nausea, be it from morning sickness, motion sickness or chemotherapy. To make the tea, pour one cup of boiling water over ¼ teaspoon grated fresh ginger. Dilute to taste.

Ailment: PMS
Pantry Rx: Cheese and other calcium-rich foods
Studies show that women on high-calcium diets have markedly lower PMS-related cramping, bloating and irritability compared with women who don't get as much calcium. For best results, consume four servings of calcium-rich foods, such as cheese, milk and yogurt, daily. Can't stomach dairy? Research suggests that calcium supplements (1,220 mg/day) can also relieve PMS symptoms.

Ailment: Urinary tract infection
Pantry Rx: Cranberry juice
Certain compounds in cranberries inhibit the bacterial culprit E. coli from sticking to the urinary tract. Since the bacteria are prevented from gathering, no infection can develop. Drink 10 ounces (1¼ cup) per day for best results.

Ailment: Yeast infection
Pantry Rx: Yogurt
Yogurt contains the healthy bacterium lactobacillus acidophilus, which cancels out harmful bacteria in the body and keeps the yeast infection fungus under control. In a recent study, women who ate a cup of yogurt daily for six months saw their rate of yeast infection fall by 75%.

Ailment: Fever
Pantry Rx: Smoothies
Your body requires more energy when it's mounting a full-on assault to fight an infection, because for every degree your temperature is elevated, your metabolism increases by 7%. Try easy-to-ingest foods, such as smoothies, juice and soup, which can provide an energy boost. (Check out a great smoothie recipe here.)

Ailment: Headache
Pantry Rx: Bean burrito
There's one type of headache that can be readily resolved with food — a hunger headache. If it's been longer than five hours since your last meal, your blood sugar is low, and your primal hunger may be kicking in. Reach for something that is both substantial and a good balance of carbs and protein, such as yogurt, a sandwich, a smoothie or a bean burrito.

posted by En-z
at 2:43 PM


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Every Good and Perfect Gift by Sharon K. Souza

COMMENT on this post for a chance to win a copy of Every Good and Perfect Gift by Sharon K. Souza. Don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.


Sharon K. Souza

Sharon and her husband Rick have been married 36 years. They live in northern California, and have three children and 6 grandchildren. Rick travels the world building churches, Bible schools and orphanages. Sharon travels with him on occasion, but while Rick lives the adventure, Sharon is more than happy to create her own through fiction.


Your debut novel Every Good & Perfect Gift is releasing this month from Nav Press. Can you tell us a little about the book?
DeeDee and Gabby have been friends since the sixth grade, when headstrong and courageous DeeDee began mapping out their lives. But after twenty years with her husband DeeDee changes her plan. Nearing forty years old, she wants a baby - now! Two years of infertility, prayers, and outrageous behavior finally results in the birth of DeeDee's demand.

Gabby is present for all of it, noting the increasingly strange behavior of her lifelong friend after the baby's birth. Then comes a diagnosis that threatens to shatter their world. Gabby must find the strength and faith to carry DeeDee and herself through the dark unknown, but is she up for it?

What inspired you to write Every Good & Perfect Gift?
I wanted to write a book about a "Jonathan and David" type friendship between two women, knowing that I was ultimately going to tell the story of a young woman who is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's. I have a close friend who, at the age of 42, began to exhibit many of the symptoms portrayed in the book. Since completing the book I've learned that another close friend has been diagnosed with EOA. What are the odds?

In determining what course the friendship between Gabby and DeeDee would take, I asked myself: What is the greatest way one woman can express friendship to another? The answer: By helping her have a child if she's unable to, which one character is willing to do if it comes to that.

You've incorporated two major issues in Every Good & Perfect Gift: infertility and Early Onset Alzheimer's. Why not focus on one or the other? Why both?
The theme of Gift is extraordinary friendship. The foundation for the friendship is established between the characters in their childhood, tested through the issue of infertility, and exemplified through catastrophic illness. Infertility was the catalyst to get to that level of friendship expressed because of the illness. One character's growth was accomplished because of infertility, while the other character's growth came as a result of the Alzheimer's.

Why did you use humor to tell a story with such serious issues?
It's exactly because the issues are so serious that I chose humor to tell the story. Our life experiences are heavy enough without adding to them as we read for pleasure. That's not to say there aren't serious moments in the book, but hopefully the reader is buoyed by the lighter sections, rather than overloaded with the weightier ones.

What are your feelings about egg donation and other modern solutions that help women overcome infertility?
There are some things I might not personally opt for, but infertility was never an issue with me. If it had been I might have been willing to try anything. As it stands, I'm not opposed to in vitro fertilization or sperm donation, things of that nature. I don't find anything in Scripture that would cause me to be against it.

What are your feelings about a couple's decision to intentionally not have children?
Again, that wasn't my experience. I had three babies in quick succession and would not have done anything differently. But not every adult is cut out to be a parent. If an individual or couple realizes that they aren't equipped for parenthood, or if they feel their lives are full as they are, I don't' believe it's a sin not to have children. In fact, I think it's wise. That's not to say a person's feelings may not change in time, like it did for DeeDee. Then it's up to the couple to make the choice that's right for them.

What do you want your readers to take away from this book?
I spent several years in my early adulthood without a close friend. When the first one came into my life, I realized what I had missed and truly saw her as a gift from the Lord. But beyond that, I've experienced the truth of Proverbs 18:24: ". . . there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." In her darkest moments, Gabby learned that the Lord reaches out to us in compassion, spanning the gap between our need and His provision. That's been the case in my life over and over.

Do you base any of your characters on real people?
The concept of the story was based on a real situation in regards to the Early Onset Alzheimer's. But the characters are not based on real people. I do typically use people I know/have known and then take their personality traits/quirks to extremes--almost like a caricature--in order to make the character as interesting as possible. Almost always my daughters will recognize something of themselves in my make-believe world. It makes for fun conversation.

If the characters are primarily fictional, what about the setting? Is that someplace known to you?
I actually wrote the entire story in a fictional setting, without ever naming it. I just placed the town in the San Joaquin valley. My editor suggested I nail down the location, even a fictitious one. As we talked back and forth, I decided to use my real "home town" of Lodi. I grew up in the Sacramento area, but have lived in or around Lodi since my husband and I got married. There's some debate about whether or not "our" Lodi is the subject of the 1969 Credence Clearwater Revival song, "Stuck in Lodi." Right or wrong, I choose to think it is. But not for a minute do I feel stuck. I love Lodi.

What is your purpose in writing inspirational fiction?
I've had well-meaning friends ask why I write fiction at all. If I want to share the Gospel, why not write "the truth." Two answers come to mind. First, that "burning fire shut up in my bones" (Jer. 20:9) finds its release in fiction. Second, when Jesus wanted to get a heavenly truth across, He didn't deliver a three-point sermon. He told stories. My desire in writing inspirational fiction is that women who read my books will find them easy to share with other women who haven't yet come into relationship with Jesus, and that those women will be directed to the One who loves them with an everlasting love.



After thirty close years, Gabby and DeeDee's lifelong friendship holds no surprises. Except for one: Thirty-eight-year-old DeeDee and her husband have decided to conceive their first child. And despite their concerns and a struggle with infertility, DeeDee finally gives birth to a healthy baby. But while the friends believe they have faced their greatest challenge, an unexpected tragedy will alter their lives and relationship forever.

In the classic tradition of movies such as Beaches and Steel Magnolias, Every Good and Perfect Gift shares a heartwarming story of friendship that overcomes all odds. Filled with laughter, tears, and everything in between, Gabby and DeeDee's journey will strike a chord with female readers of all ages.


"I'm not the strong one. I've never been the strong one."

So believes Gabby Whitaker in her friendship with DeeDee McAllister. They've been best friends since sixth grade, when headstrong and courageous DeeDee began mapping out their lives. But after twenty years with her husband, DeeDee changes the plan. Nearing forty years old, she wants a baby--now! Two years of infertility, prayers, and outrageous behavior finally result in the birth of DeeDee's demand.

Gabby is present for all of it, noting the increasingly strange behavior of her lifelong friend after the baby's birth. Then comes a diagnosis that threatens to shatter their world. Now Gabby must find the strength and faith to carry DeeDee and herself through the dark unknown, but is she up for it?


"Sharon Souza's beautiful novel will sweep you into the embrace of an extraordinary friendship, with all the giddy laughter of new adventure, the sparkle of young love, the joy of motherhood, the anguish of unexpected sorrow, and the hard-won wisdom of faith and gratitude. When you have turned the last page and wiped your tears, the story will enchant you for days and weeks and maybe even years to come."
-- KATHLEEN POPA, author of To Dance in the Desert

"In a crisp, upbeat style, Sharon Souza weaves an emotional tale of friendship and faith. She offers an insightful journey through complex issues. I came away touched."
-- SALLY JOHN, author of The Beach House

"What an absolutely wonderful book, vibrating with rich characters and brimming with life. I loved it! A debut novel of the highest quality. Don't miss this good and perfect gift!"
-- GAYLE ROPER, author of Fatal Deductions

"Sharon Souza's debut is chock-full of motherhood and grace, humor and friendship, wonderfully weaved with the strong cords of faith. Bravo!"
-- RAY BLACKSTON, author of Flabbergasted

"Every Good and Perfect Gift captured my imagination from the first line, causing me to contemplate the bonds of such an extraordinary relationship. What would the world be like if more friendships were like Gabby and DeeDee's? Sharon Souza's debut novel is achingly beautiful and tender, often richly funny, and hauntingly memorable."
-- JULIE CAROBINI, author of Chocolate Beach and Truffles by the Sea

"Every Good and Perfect Gift swept me down memory lane to the joys and trials of starting a family. Sharon Souza uses her skilled hand to wipe away the fine line between friends and family and shows us that God has a loving plan, even when our faith is tested. A touching debut."
-- NICOLE SEITZ, author of Trouble the Water and The Spirit of Sweetgrass

Every Good and Perfect Gift by Sharon K. Souza
ISBN-10: 1600061753
Publisher: Navpress Publishing Group
Release Date: December 22, 2007
Genre: Christian Fiction
$10.39 from

Purchase Every Good and Perfect Gift by Sharon K. Souza HERE!!!

posted by Rachelle
at 4:12 PM


Friday, January 18, 2008

Christian Writers' Market Guide 2008 by Sally Stuart


Sally StuartSally Stuart has been writing for the last 40+ years, and has been putting out the annual "Christian Writers' Market Guide" for the last 23 years. Her other writing includes several Christian education resources books, a children's picture book, a basic writing text, writing resources, and a western novel--plus hundreds of articles and marketing columns. She writes marketing columns for the "Christian Communicator," "Advanced Christian Writer," and the Oregon Christian Writers' Newsletter. She speaks and teaches at Christian Writers' Conferences nationwide. Sally is the mother of 3 and grandmother of 8. She and her husband, Norm, spend their free time vacationing on the Oregon coast.

Check out her blog!


The essential reference tool for the Christian writer, Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide is now in its 23rd annual edition!

Check out the section on Blogging on page 69...the CFBA is listed!

Writers’ Conference listings, Book Publishers, Magazine Publishers, and a Bookstore filled with the resources you need to be successful in this business. Get a Book Contract or Manuscript Evaluation, and check out the Writer’s Resource links. This book has all you need to connect to all these valuable helps for the beginning, intermediate, or professional writer.

To keep you up to date with the latest marketing news, visit Sally Stuart’s new marketing blog, Christian Writers’ Marketplace, at

A new, updated version of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide is available about January 15 each year.

Purchase Christian Writers' Market Guide 2008 by Sally Stuart HERE!!!

posted by Rachelle
at 6:27 PM


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Chicken Soup...Medicine?

chicken soupAccording to Dr. Weil, the nation's leading doctor turned alternative doctor; chicken soup is indeed healthy for us.

Just the mention of it conjures up images of steaming broth packed full with carrots, celery, peppers, onions, chunks of chicken, thick, chunky noodles... How could it not be healthy?

Chicken soup is comforting. In its warm fluid, researchers have found, chicken soup indeed has anti-inflammatory properties. They have discovered that it reduces cold symptoms even when extremely diluted. Apparently, the soup inhibits inflammation and allows white blood cells called "neutrophils" to fight infection.

But chicken soup is more than just ingredients ... It is love, affection and comfort captured in a mixture that fills your nose with fragrant, steaming aromas and warms you inside and out.

It is clear scientifically, that soup can be a natural remedy. However, chicken soup can help you access your own natural healing power.

So the next time you're not feeling well, get yourself a bowl of hot, vegetable packed chicken soup, get under the covers and let nature heal you.

Here's some great chicken soup recipes to get you started:

Southwestern Chicken Soup

2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced peeled tomatoes
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies
1 (16 ounce) package frozen corn, partially thawed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves cut into thin strips
1/2 tsp. garlic pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
Seasoned salt

In a 5-quart slow cooker, mix together the broth, tomatoes with their liquid, green chilies, corn, red and green peppers, onion, chicken strips, and garlic pepper.

Cover and cook on high setting 1 hour. Reduce heat to low setting and continue to cook 3 to 4 hours, or until chicken is cooked through and tender. Stir in the cumin and season with seasoned salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Chicken Soup with Tiny Meatballs

In a six-quart pot, bring 8 cups chicken broth and 8 cups water to a boil.

Add 16 ounces tiny row-tie pasta and cook for 5 minutes. Then add one 16-ounce rag frozen cut-leaf spinach. Simmer for 5 minutes more.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix 1 1/2 pound ground beef, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, and 1 tsp. minced garlic until blended.

Form rounded teaspoonfuls of the meat mixture into small meatballs and stir into the soup, or drop by rounded teaspoonfuls directly into the soup.

Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink in center.

Stir in 3 cups aromatic vegetables* and heat through.

*When a recipe calls for a blend of aromatic vegetables, they mean a blend of carrots, celery, and onion.

Note: This recipe can he refrigerated for up to 4 days and can be frozen for 4 months. Thaw in a covered saucepan over low heat. Increase heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

posted by Rachelle
at 10:22 PM


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Unclaimed Prizes (July - Dec 2007)

I was going through my list of winners this morning when I noticed that there are still a couple of people last year who have not claimed their prizes...yet (yes, until now unfortunately). I've been trying to contact these people but to no avail. I think I've tried hard enough and waited long enough. Winners, please email me so I can send you your prizes as soon as possible. You have until the end of January to claim your prize/s...else they will go back to the vault and remain locked up forever. LOL


July 25
Winner: Ava Rose Johnson
Prize: Candy Kisses by Kissa Starling


Winner: bluecat
Prize: Lie to Me by Selah March

Winner: Sinamon
Prize: Lover's Brew by Dana Littlejohn

Winner: Renny
Prize: Opposites Attract by Michelle M. Pillow (pb)

Winner: Theresa N.
Prize: Lily in Bloom by Morgan Ashbury

Winner: Denise
Prize: Lonnie Heats Up by Sloane Taylor


Prize: Temporary Slave by Reese Gabriel

cas2ajs (Cheryl)
Prize: Hidden Passions by Stephanie Burke

Prize: Night Elves 1: Wicked Pleasures by Nelissa Donovan

Lou Gagliardi
Prize: Christmas Cowboy by Allyson James

Prize: Trace's Psychic: Supernatural Bonds by Jory Strong


OCT 22
Winner: Anonymous (mary lou)
Prize: Game, Set..Match? by Kelsey Lewis

OCT 25
Winner: Sarah
Prize: A Whisper of Humanity by Denyse Bridger

OCT 28
Winner: Debi
Prize: Lisa's Gift by Mackenzie Mckade


Winner: Shari C
Prize: Witchy Woman by Karen Erickson


DEC 04 – The Minor Protection Act by Jodi Cowles
Winner: Val
Prize: Book from December's prize vault

posted by Rachelle
at 5:51 PM


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Chill Out, Josey! by Susan May Warren

CONTEST ALERT! Scroll down for details...


Susan May WarrenSusan May Warren is the
award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep's Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader's Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota.

You can learn more about Susan at her website: or visit her blog at


I can't help be amazed at the gifts God has delighted me with - a wonderful husband, four amazing children, and the opportunity to write for Him.

I've been writing as long as I can remember - I won my first book writing contest in first grade! Over the years, writing has become, for me, a way to praise God and see Him at work in my life.

Although I have a degree in Mass Communications from the University of MN , my real writing experience started when I penned the The Warren Report - a bi-monthly newsletter that detailed our ministry highlights.

Living in Russia meant I never lacked for great material - and those experiences naturally spilled out first into devotionals and magazine articles and finally into my first published story, "Measure of a Man," in the Tyndale/HeartQuest, Chance Encounters of the Heart anthology.

I grew up in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis , and became an avid camper from an early age. My favorite fir-lined spot is the north shore of Minnesota - it's where I met my husband, honeymooned and dreamed of living. The north woods easily became the foundation for my first series, The Deep Haven series. Based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior . I have to admit - I'm terribly jealous of Mona, the heroine of my first full-length book, Happily Ever After, a Christy Award Finalist published in 2004 with Tyndale/Heartquest.

Our family moved home from the mission field in June 2004 -- and now we live in the beautiful town I'd always dreamed of! God has amazed me anew with His provision, and blessings -- and allowed me a season when I can write full time for Him.



Josey Anderson will be the perfect wife. She and Chase did have the perfect wedding—if you don't count the matron of honor going into labor. Now all she has to do is find a cute Cape-style house, report for the Gull Lake, Minnesota, paper, bake cookies and learn to sew—is that so difficult?

But when Chase lands a new job—in Moscow—Josey's dreams disintegrate. After all, she's been there, done that as a missionary, and a city without year-round hot water, decent takeout or…maternity clothes—that's not perfection! But what's the perfect wife to do?


Chapter 1: The Main Event

Banff Lake Hotel
Banff, Canada

Dearest H,

As your best friend, let me start by saying that my bridesmaid dress did NOT make you look like an avocado, and, in fact, I noticed Greg McPherson checking you out at least twice while he hid behind a piece of strawberry cake. And don’t tell me you don’t care. I distinctly remember having to drive by his house daily during our junior year, just so you could watch him get off the late bus after football practice. I think Atkins should make a poster child out of him or something. Imagine, losing one hundred and thirty pounds of that post-football pseudo-muscle eating steak. Oh, and I have to say your orange hair looked oddly great with the dress. I’m still, however, not letting you pick my hair color.

Anyway, I’m writing to tell you two things:

1. Banff is gorgeous. Towering blue-green mountains looming over glacial moraine lakes, the smell of fall hinting the air, and lots of time for long strolls through the flower garden or hiking in the hills.
2. Chase deserves the prize for being best groom in history.

I know you had that gig at the Hungry Wolf, and couldn’t stick around, especially after the ambulance arrived, so here’s the rundown.

I guess it’s common for the matron-of-honor to go into labor at a wedding. I’m just grateful that Jasmine waited until the reception, and specifically after we served the three-tiered strawberry and cream cake, (although it might have been nice if her water had burst before Uncle Bert could consume all the Swedish meatballs). At any rate, since mom was locked in combat with the caterers over just how to serve the cake she’d spent two days baking, and since I’d been in training for the event for the past three months, I climbed into the ambulance with the happy couple.

Leaving Chase to entertain the guests. I was hoping not with a pick-up game of football, since his tux was rented.

It’s a good thing I’m the new head editor of the Gull Lake Gazette or Aunt Myrtle would have a field day getting an inside scoop and sharing it with the right-to-know populous of Gull Lake. Jasmine would live in mortification for the next two decades.

We got to the hospital, and right after the bustle of my dress knocked over an IV stand, I changed into a pair of scrubs. My hair still looked really good, however, one of the few perks of spending your wedding reception in a labor room, holding your sister’s hand as the blood supply is being slowly siphoned off.

Just for the record, I don’t buy my brother-in-law’s, “I faint at blood” line for a millisecond. Milton just doesn’t want to confront the pain he inflicted (sorta) on his wife. A note aside: If I ever, ever give birth, Chase is not only going to be in the room, but he’s going to be huffing right along beside me. For better or worse, baby, that’s the deal.

Also, and this should ease your mind, birthing doesn’t look too bad if you don’t actually look at the one doing the birthing. The Gull Lake birthing room is fully stocked – soothing peach wallpaper, a thirty inch flat panel television, a Jacuzzi bath, a bed that comes with its own remote control, flowers, a rocking chair and finally, a plethora of magazines I only wish I had the money to subscribe to -- from Good Housekeeping to Us to Martha Stewart Living. Again, if I ever give birth, I’m doing it right here in the Gull Lake Birthing Center, surrounded by family, friends, and the latest issues of People.

Chase showed up about an hour later, poking his head into the room and asking, ”What’s up,” as if maybe we were watching preseason football on Pay Per View. He had his bow untied, his collar open, and yes, I spied a couple grass stains. And he didn’t in the least act like it was our wedding night and I was dressed to kill in a pair of unisex scrubs.

Of course, you know Chase, he instantly disarmed me with his lazy smile, his tousled golden brown hair, his swagger and laughter. I can’t believe after living next door to him my entire life, it took a trip to Moscow to see that Chase and Gull Lake are everything I ever wanted. I was reminded, when he winked and told me he’d wait in the hall, that although Chase is adventure and sweetness wrapped up in a delicious package of hard muscles and twinkling blue eyes, the best thing about Chase is that he loves me.

But I digress. Jasmine, meanwhile had a white-knuckle grip on the handles of her bed (and my hand, as well). She was making noises similar to yours that time I took off your toenail with the grocery cart. Yeah, those. Then she panted, “I think it’ll be soon!”

I hated to remind her that the last time the doctor checked…about twenty minutes prior, she’d been at four centimeters. I’m no math major, but I knew that wasn’t on the lucky side when you’re rounding to the nearest ten. But what do I know?
Over the next twenty minutes I learned three things:

1. I will not be charmed into Natural Childbirth. Epidural. It’s my new favorite word.
2. Having a baby can make for high drama when said baby emerges without a doctor present. The OBGYN nurses carved deep respect in my heart when they delivered Jasmine’s baby, blue and still, with about a three minute warning.
3. There is nothing on earth so glorious as a baby’s cry. I was bawling right beside her, all that wedding makeup running down my face in colorful pools of joy.

Jas had to remind me to get Milton. But the relief on his face made me forgive him for his coward-of-the-county act in the hallway. In fact, when he braced himself against the wall after walking into the birthing room, I decided his honesty had saved us all from a small crisis.
Jas and Milton’s family moment was so tender, even Chase had tears. He put his hand on my shoulder, and asked “You okay?”

I nodded, but really, I wasn’t sure of my answer. Because, H, suddenly, I knew that this is what I long for. Like Jas, I want to be surrounded by the sweetness and safety of home and family and the man I love.

I turned into Chase’s embrace and he kissed me with his hands cupped around my face, and then leaned his forehead to mine. He smelled like Polo, and just a hint of sweat. “Ready for our honeymoon?” he asked with a smile that just about made me forget my own name.

I looked for you at the reception when we returned, but my mother said you’d left for your gig.

Chase is down at the coffee shop getting me a mocha slushy. I am two-thousand percent sure that I’m the luckiest girl on the planet. And I know you’ll think this is so Stepford Wives, but I want to make him happy. I want to be the best wife and build us a life in Gull Lake.

I just hope, pray even, that I’m not dreaming all this and that Chase doesn’t one day turn to me, give himself a head slap and gasp, what was I thinking?

There’s a chapter in the Bible that talks about the perfect wife. Aside from listing a number of outrageous things like knowing how to sew, it ends with my hope for our marriage. It says something like, “Her children rise and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

That’s what I want. To surpass all expectations, all hopes, all dreams, and to have Chase rise up (maybe from the sofa?) and call me blessed.

Oh, Chase is here! And he’s not only brought me a mocha…but that smile that turns me to melted truffles inside…

We’re going to have a perfect life.

See you soon!



Submit your funniest/craziest/most embarrassing PREGNANCY STORY and be entered to win a Super Fabulous, Ultra Deluxe Chill Out, Mom SPA BASKET! Here is the link to the Contest page on Susan’s website: (**note, this contest is exclusively for her blog tour, chances are there will be another contest going on for her general audience…feel free to enter both contests. By submitting your story, Susan will know which contest you are entering!)

Chill Out, Josey! by Susan May Warren
ISBN-10: 0373785852
Publisher: Steeple Hill
Release Date: December 1, 2007
Genre: Contemporary Romance
$6.99 from

Purchase Chill Out, Josey! by Susan May Warren HERE!!!

posted by Rachelle
at 11:11 PM


Friday, January 11, 2008

Happily Even After (#3 - Sassy Sistahood Series) by Marilynn Griffith


Marilynn GriffithMarilynn Griffith is mom to a tribe, wife to a deacon and proof that God gives second chances. While best known for her colorful novels about friendship, family and faith, Marilynn is also a speaker and nonfiction writer.

Her nonfiction has been included in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE CHRISTIAN WOMAN'S SOUL and several other devotionals and magazines. Currently, Marilynn is editor of the SISTAHFAITH:BELIEVING BEYOND SHAME anthology. She is also the founder of, a blog for faith fiction readers.

Marilynn is the author of six novels dealing with issues such as teen pregnancy, AIDS, abstinence, stress relief, single parenting and marriage. Her recent fiction titles include TANGERINE and IF THE SHOE FITS.

Marilynn has served as Vice President and Publicity Officer of American Christian Fiction Writers. She speaks to youth, women and writers about believing beyond boundaries and daring to reach dreams.

Marilynn lives in Florida with her husband and seven children whom she taught at home for seven years. When not chasing toddlers, helping with homework or trying to find her husband a clean shirt, she can be found scribbling furiously on her next novel.

To book Marilynn for media interviews, speaking engagements, Serious Fun fiction parties or book club call-ins, please contact her thru her WEBSITE.


Superwoman doesn't live here!

I marry a gorgeous executive, have a baby, lose all the weight (most of it), and move to a fine house in the suburbs with a welcoming new church. Wait...did I say welcoming?

One teeny waaah! and new mothers and their crying babies are exiled to a separate room. At least there's some enlightening conversation. Like about my husband and issues I didn't even know about!

And then there's my aptly named mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, who can't stand me.

I'm about to lose my mind! So it's high time for a visit to the Sassy Sistahood for some much-needed advice about men, marriage and motherhood!

The Sassy Sistahood: They get by with a little help from their friends.

Purchase Happily Even After by Marilynn Griffith HERE!!!

posted by Rachelle
at 2:44 AM


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mood Foods

In this age of Prozac, Ritalin and Zoloft, it may surprise you to know that many doctors are now turning to something a lot more basic to help control people's emotional states: food. Julia Ross, a nutritional psychologist and the author of "The Mood Cure," has been researching the relationship between food and mood for years. Ross explains that because what and how you eat affects your energy level, it influences your frame of mind. "For instance, everybody knows that you feel better when you exercise," she explains. "But people don't exercise because they're tired, and they have low energy because of their diet." Likewise, not eating well — consuming too much sugar and caffeine — may cause sleep problems; lack of sleep will in turn exacerbate anxiety and depression.

The next time you're wondering what you can do to make yourself feel better, check out your pantry before checking in with your doctor. According to Ross, a few simple tweaks to your diet may do wonders for your emotional well-being. (Of course, some people may find dietary changes are not enough to improve their mindset — see a doctor if your foul moods last for more than a few weeks.) Here's what to add to and subtract from your pantry:


Protein. "Protein is a must if you're trying to level out mood swings," says Ross. "Many people who've been trying to keep fat intake down have done so by eliminating protein, but we need protein: it helps keep our blood sugar levels balanced." Protein also contains amino acids that aid in the creation of endorphins — mood-regulating neurotransmitters — so it's essential for people suffering from stress, depression or anxiety. Ross recommends getting a full, palm-size serving of protein three times a day. Her top picks: eggs, salmon, tuna, lean beef or lamb, fruit shakes with protein powder, and cottage cheese.

Fruits and veggies. If you've ever walked through a farmer's market and felt calmed by the smells and colors that surround you, you're onto something. "Vegetables are loaded with the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that make good moods possible," says Ross. Dark-green leafy veggies — such as spinach, Swiss chard and kale — blueberries and bananas are loaded with B vitamins such as folic acid, which have been shown to help alleviate depression. "Fruits tend to be rich in vitamin B6, which your brain needs to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter that facilitates happy moods. They're also full of antioxidants, which protect the brain's cell membranes," says Ross. She recommends getting four to five one-cup servings of fruits and veggies daily; the fresher the produce, the more nutrients you get.

Nuts. Cashews and macadamia nuts are great sources of the good-for-you fat Omega 9. Omega 9 supports the brain's mood-generating activity by affecting the way in which cells are constructed, which impacts the flow of serotonin through your brain. Nuts are perfect as a snack, sprinkled on a salad or tossed into a stir-fry. Opt for raw nuts that aren't salted or coated in sugar.


Caffeine. We all know about the yo-yo affect caffeine can have on your mood — sleepy one minute, giddy the next — but many of us don't realize the role it has in affecting our overall mental health. "The mood seesaw that caffeine sets up is part of what gets you hooked," says Ross. "When you crash, you pick up more caffeine and, in the process, your own natural 'uppers' are getting depleted — just as they do when any stimulant drug is used — making you more and more dependent on caffeine." Studies have shown that caffeine inhibits the brain's levels of serotonin and melatonin, a hormone that affects our sleep cycles, as well as depleting B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, calcium and zinc. "These depletions impact sleep quality and duration as well as your tolerance to stress. As serotonin levels are suppressed, any tendency to be depressed, irritable, obsessive, worried or fearful increases." Ross understands that it's not easy to cut caffeine out of your diet, but she suggests cutting back. "You'll get a headache, but that's nothing compared to the negative ways in which caffeine is affecting your mood cycle," she says.

Sweets. If you're looking for a radical change in your moods pronto, Ross suggests dropping processed sugar, which she dubs, along with processed flour, one of the "gruesome twosome." "Several of my clients have eliminated their moodiness by giving up sugar and white flour," she says. A recent study from Baylor College of Medicine corroborates her findings. Researchers compared the annual rate of severe depression and the annual per-capita intake of refined sugar in six countries. The countries with the highest intake of sugar — New Zealand, Canada, Germany, France, the United States and Korea — also had the highest rates of depression. While the study doesn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship, it does seem to point to the power sugar has in darkening people's moods.

posted by Rachelle
at 10:15 AM


Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Have you ever, at any one time, had the feeling that life is bad,
real bad, and you wish you were in another situation?

You find life make things difficult for you, work sucks, life sucks,
everything seems to go wrong...

Read the following story... it may change your views about life:
After a conversation with one of my friends, he told me despite taking 2
jobs, he brings back barely above 1K per month, he is happy as he is.

I wonder how he can be as happy as he is considering he has to skimp his
life with the low pay to support a pair of old parents, in-laws, a wife, 2
daughters and the many bills of a household.

He explained that it was through one incident that he saw in India...
that happened a few years ago when he was really feeling low and touring
India after a major setback.

He said that right in front of his very eyes he saw an Indian mother
chop off her child's right hand with a chopper. The helplessness in the
mother's eyes, the scream of pain from the innocent 4-year-old child
haunted him until today.

You may ask why did the mother do so; had the child been naughty,
had the child's hand been infected?? No, it was done for two simple words-
- -TO BEG!

The desperate mother deliberately caused the child to be handicapped so
that the child could go out to the streets to beg.

Taken aback by the scene, he dropped a piece of bread he was eating
half-way. And almost instantly, a flock 5 or 6 children swamped towards
this small piece of bread which was covered with sand, robbing bits from
one another. The natural reaction of hunger.

Stricken by the happenings, he instructed his guide to drive him to the
nearest bakery. He arrived at two bakeries and bought every single loaf of
bread he found in the bakeries. The owner was dumbfounded but willingly
sold everything. He spent less than $100 to obtain about 400 loaves of
bread (this is less than $0.25 per loaf) and spent another $100 to get
daily necessities.

Off he went in the truck full of bread into the streets. As he
distributed the bread and necessities to the children (mostly
handicapped) and a few adults, he received cheers and bows from these
unfortunate. For the first time in his life he wondered how people can give
up their dignity for a loaf of bread which cost less than $0.25.

He began to tell himself how fortunate he is. How fortunate he is to be
able to have a complete body, have a job, have a family, have the chance to
complain what food is nice and what isn't nice, have the chance to be
clothed, have the many things that these people in front of him are
deprived of...

Now I begin to think and feel it, too! Was my life really that bad?
Perhaps... no, I should not feel bad at all... What about you? Maybe the
next time you think you are, think about the child who lost one hand to beg
on the streets.

"Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, it is the
realization of how much you already have."

When the door of happiness closes, another opens, but often times
we look so long at the closed door that we don't see the one which has been
opened for us.

It's true that we don't know what we've got until we lose it, but
it's also true that! we don't know what we've been missing until it

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything;
they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.

The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past,you
can't go on well in life until you let go of your past failures and

posted by En-z
at 9:24 AM


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

About Love and Loving

This is for those who are waiting for the person they love to love them back openly, to those who are looking for love and those who know that their love is not meant to be.

Sometimes, in our relentless efforts to find the person we love, we fail to recognize and appreciate the people who love us. We miss out on so many beautiful things, simply because we allow ourselves to be enslaved by our own selfish concerns. Go for the man of deeds and not for the man of words, for you will find rewarding happiness not with the man you love but the man whom loves you more.

The best lovers are those who are capable of loving from a distance, far enough to allow the other person to grow, but never too far to feel the love deep within your being. Letting go does not mean that you love the person less and holding on does not mean you love the person more. To let go doesn't mean you have to stop loving, it only means that you allow that person to find his own happiness without expecting him to come back. Letting go is not just setting the other person free but it is also setting yourself free from all bitterness, hatred, and anger that you keep in
your heart.

Do not let the bitterness rare away your strength and weaken your faith, and never allow pain to dishearten you, but rather let you grow with wisdom in bearing it. You may find peace in just loving someone from a distance not expecting anything in return. We can all survive with just beautiful memories of the past but real peace and happiness come only with open acceptance of what really is today.

There comes a time in our lives when we chance upon someone so nice and beautiful and we just find ourselves getting so intensely attracted to that person. This feeling soon becomes a part of our everyday lives and eventually consumes our thoughts and actions.

The sad part of it is when we begin to realize that this person feels nothing more for us than just friendship... don't be so bitter about it! For it is a kind of FRIENDSHIP that will last a LIFETIME!!! We start our desperate attempt to get
noticed and be closer but in the end our efforts are still unrewarded and we end up being sorry for ourselves.

You don't have to forget someone you love. What you need to learn is how to accept the verdict of reality without being bitter or sorry for yourself. You would be better off giving that dedication and love to someone more deserving. Don't let
your heart run your life, be sensible, and let your mind speak for itself. Listen not only to your feelings but to reason as well.

Always remember that if you lose someone today, it means that someone better is coming tomorrow: If you lose love, that doesn't mean that you failed in love. Cry, if you have to, but make sure that the tears wash away the hurt and the bitterness
that the past has left with you. Let go of yesterday and love will find its way back to you.

And when it does, pray that it may be the love that will stay and last a lifetime.

posted by En-z
at 4:05 PM


Monday, January 07, 2008


When you think of your past love, you may view it as a failure. But when you find a new love, you view the past as a teacher. In the game of love, it doesn't really matter who won or who lost.
What is important is you know when to hold on and when to let go! You know you really love someone when you want him or her to be happy, even if their happpines means that you're not part of it. Everything happens for the best. If the person you love doesn't love you back, don't be afraid to love someone else again, for you'll never know unless you give it a try. You'll never love a person you love unless you risk for love.

Love strives in hurting. If you don't get hurt, you don't learn how to love. Love doesn't hurt all the time. Though the hurting is still there to test you, to help you grow. Don't find love, let love find you. That's why it's called falling in love because you don't force yourself to ! fall. You just fall. You cannot finish a book without closing it's chapters. If you want to go on, then you have to leave the past as you turn the pages. Love is not destroyed by a single failure or won by a single caress. It is a lifetime venture in which we are always learning, discovering and growing.

The greatest irony of love is letting go when you need to hold on and holding on when you need to let go. We lose someone we love only when we are destined to find someone else who can love us even more than we can love ourselves. On falling out of love, take some time to heal and then get back on the horse. But don't ever make the same mistake of riding the same one that threw you the first time.

To love is to risk rejections, to live is to risk dying, to hope is to risk failure. But risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is risk nothing! To reach for another is to risk involvement, to expose your feelings is to expose true self, to love is to risk not ! to be loved in return. How to define love: fall but do not stumble, be constant but not too persistent, share and ever be unfair, understand and try not to demand, hurt but never keep the pain.

Love is like a knife. It can stab the heart or it can carve wonderful images into the soul that always last for a lifetime. Love is supposed to be the most wonderful feeling. It should inspire you and give you joy and strength. But sometimes the things that give you joy can also hurt you in the end. Loving people means giving them the freedom who they choose to be and where they choose to be. For all the heartaches and the tears, for gloomy days and fruitless years, you should give thanks, for you know, that there were the things that helped you grow. Loving someone means giving him the freedom to find his way, whether it leads towards you or away from you.

Love is a painful risk to take but the risk must be taken no matter how scary or painful, for only then you'll experienc! e the fullness of humanity and that is love. Only love can hurt your heart, fill you with desire and tear you apart. Only love can make you cry and only love knows why.

If you're not ready to cry, if you're not ready to take the risk, if you're not ready to feel the pain, then you're not ready to fall in love. There was a time in our lives when we became afraid to fall in love coz every time we do, we get hurt, then I figured that's why it's called falling in love.

When you decide to love, allow it to grow. When you promise to love, refuse to let it die!

posted by En-z
at 11:31 PM


Sunday, January 06, 2008

January 2008 Christian Fiction Releases

1. A Passion Most Pure (Daughters of Boston, Book 1) by Julie Lessman from Fleming H. Revell, Baker Publishing Group. As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister.

2. A Soldier's Promise (Wings of Refuge, Book 1) (Love Inspired #430) by Cheryl Wyatt from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A USAF Pararescue jumper and a special needs teacher teaming to make life matter to a dying child freefall into love and an unexpected family.

3. Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear (A Bargain Hunters Mystery) by Sharon Dunn from Multnomah Books. Ginger and the ladies of the Bargain Hunters Network head down to Calamity, Nevada to outlet shop and help Earl get his invention off the ground at the Inventors’ Expo. When a man in a teddy bear costume (it was a publicity stunt) is found dead, suspicion falls on ex-wives, an angry son and Ginger and Earl.

4. Elvis Takes a Back Seat by Leanna Ellis from B&H Publishing Group. A young widow heads on a road trip with her eccentric aunt, a temperamental teenager, and a plaster bust of the King of Rock and Roll, changing the course of their lives forever.

5. Every Good And Perfect Gift by Sharon K. Souza, from NavPress. A story about the kind of friendship we all wish for, the quest for motherhood in the 21st century, and a catastrophic illness that changes everything.

6. Family In His Heart (final book in the Michigan Island Series) by Gail Gaymer Martin from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. On a Les Cheneaux Island, a young woman escapes her past in Michigan's upper peninsula and meets a man hiding his own secrets and struggling to raise a rebellious teenage son.

7. Just Cause (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense #86) by Susan Page Davis from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Laurel Hatcher must face trial for her husband’s murder, not once but twice.

8. Learning to Fly by Roxanne Henke from Harvest House. Learning to Fly is about parenting. Learning to love, live, and let go.

9. Next Door Daddy (Mule Hollow Matchmakers #7) (Love Inspired #428) by Debra Clopton from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A widow and a widower find themselves living too close for comfort, and discover God’s plan for them seems to include a little romance.

10. Reluctant Smuggler (To Catch a Thief Series #3) byJill Elizabeth Nelson from Multnomah Publishers. When artifact recovery turns into archaeological espionage, the woman who finds all the answers must now ask questions. Who's looting priceless antiquities underneath the nose of the baffled Mexican government? And what does a violent gang of drug and human traffickers have to do with missing artifacts?

11. Seven Archangels: Annihilation by Jane Lebak. Satan has figured out how to destroy an angel...and he begins with the archangel Gabriel.

12. Shadow of Danger by Jeanne Marie Leach from Mountain View Publishing. Rachel faces jealousy, false accusations, an unknown danger, and a jail cell before being liberated by the man she loves but who could never love her.

13. The Restorers Journey (Sword of Lyric Series Book 3) by Sharon Hinck from NavPress. A new, young Restorer confronts his destiny while Lyric, and the life of his mother, hang in the balance.

posted by Rachelle
at 2:41 PM


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Abandoned Identity by Tamara Tilley

It is January, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

Tamara Tilley

and her book:

Abandoned Identity

Evergreen Press (AL) (August 1, 2007)

Hooray! Tamara is one of our very own FIRST

She resides with her husband, Walter, and their children, John, Christopher, and Jennifer, at Hume Lake Christian Camps in the Sequoia National Forest. They have served on full-time staff and ministered at Hume for 13 years.

Tamara manages one of the retail stores at Hume Lake, which serves thousands of kids visiting the conference center on a daily basis.

Not only does she write, she is also an avid reader and enjoys other hobbies such as scrapbooking, designing greeting cards and invitations, and enjoying God's creation from her from porch.


Chapter 1

The young, blond woman stepped off the elevator, rushed past the receptionist, and quickly headed down the hallway.

“Jennifer, Mr. Lynch is looking for you,” Doris called after her.

Jennifer didn’t stop to acknowledge the message. She didn’t have time. She could hear the warning in Doris’ tone. Mr. Lynch was looking for her, knowing she was late returning from lunch. This could very well be her last day at Weissler and Schuler.

She glanced at her watch as she threaded her way through the multitude of workstations. She moved as quickly as she could, even though she knew her efforts were probably for nothing—after all, late was late. He would assume she had done it on purpose and would make good on his threat from the previous week. Lynch had given her two weeks to change her attitude or she would be fired.

She hurried past his office door, hoping against hope that she would be able to slip by without being noticed. A sideways glance told her otherwise. She continued towards her own office, knowing he would be quick on her heels. She had struggled all morning, trying to do her work, trying to keep it together, but with the way she was feeling, her resolve was beginning to crumble. She’d only had enough time to slip off her jacket before she heard his booming voice in the hallway.

“Ms. Patterson, you of all people should not be abusing time restrictions. A one-hour lunch is a one-hour lunch, not an hour and 25 minutes,” he scolded her loud enough so everyone could hear him as he made his way down the hall toward her office.

Jennifer hung up her coat and purse on the rack behind her door and slumped in the overstuffed sofa that filled her office. She braced herself for the inevitable.

“You knew we needed to get started on the Yomahama account first thing after lunch,” he said as he entered her office and firmly shut the door. “Obviously you don’t care about this account as much as you say you do.” He was poised for her counterattack but was surprised instead to hear her soft apology.

“I’m sorry. I thought I could make it home and back again. But with the snow, and the traffic, and the way I’m . . .”

What’s the use explaining, she thought to herself. He doesn’t care. She had just given him the excuse he was looking for. She figured she would be packing up her personal items in less than an hour. She took a deep breath, her eyes focused downward. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t intentional.”

Harrison was taken aback. In the short time he’d known Jennifer, she had never apologized for her actions. Everything she did was intentionally antagonistic toward him. But somehow he sensed a difference in her mood.

“What’s wrong?” he bristled, not really wanting to hear her excuse.

She glanced up at his imposing figure but lowered her eyes to the floor as she spoke. “I tried to kick something all weekend. I guess I’m just not feeling up to par.”

He said nothing, waiting for her to make eye contact with him. She stiffened her back, sighed and said, “It won’t happen again.”

Had she brushed a tear from her cheek? Not possible, he thought to himself. Jennifer Patterson was tough as nails. She would never lower herself to tears in the workplace . . . that was unless she really was ill.

He waited again for her to look up at him, and when she did, he was met with vacant eyes, pallid skin, and beads of sweat that were starting to form on her brow. Just then, the intercom system went off. “Mr. Lynch, Mr. Yomahama is on the line. Shall I put him through to Miss Patterson’s office or your own?”

Obviously Doris knew where to find him because of the scene he had just made. He walked around to the front of Jennifer’s desk and cleared his voice before pushing the intercom button. “I’ll take it in my office, Doris. Give me a minute to get there.”

Lynch gave Jennifer one last stern look and then marched from her office, shutting her door with a little more force than necessary.

She collapsed against the cushions, her strong exterior completely dissolving. She had done everything she could to hold back her tears in his presence, but his quick exit allowed her to unleash the torrent she had been suppressing.

She had never felt this horrible before in her life. She would’ve called in sick if it weren’t for the fact that she knew her job was in jeopardy. It isn’t fair, she thought to herself. I should have Lynch’s job. For the hundredth time Jennifer went over in her mind the scenario that had taken her completely by surprise.

She had been groomed for the director’s position by Meg, long before Meg left to start a family. Jennifer had put in countless hours on different accounts to make sure her and Meg’s statistics had been well researched and presented in a polished manner. She had done the bulk of Meg’s work, along with her own, as Meg progressed into her third trimester. It simply wasn’t fair!

The day corporate brought in Harrison Lynch and announced he would be the new director, instead of her, she was livid. She felt demeaned and unappreciated. Everyone in the office knew she had worked hard for the job and had deserved it. But corporate behaved in their typical chauvinistic manner and took the opportunity to replace Meg with a man instead of another woman. Testosterone was the only asset that Harrison Lynch had that she did not.

While the other women in the office were quick to overlook the injustice of the situation because of Harrison’s availability, good looks, and charismatic personality, she only saw him as a thorn in her side.

She would only be fooling herself if she said she didn’t see his appeal. He was older than she was—the classic tall, dark, and handsome type. His sparkling brown eyes and wavy brown hair gave him a boyish charm, but his stature and muscular body proved him to be anything but boyish. His enigmatic character made him the kind of man that breezed through life with ease, putting the Midas touch on everything he encountered. But the way he clashed with her, rubbing her the wrong way and always trying to put her in her place, made his good looks less appealing.

Jennifer had butt heads with Harrison ever since he had shown up. She was not afraid to speak out against his proposals or the way in which he supplied information to a client. She had caused him more than one embarrassing moment in important meetings with prospective accounts. She upstaged him with what she called “a more efficient way to gather and record information.” She didn’t think it beneath her to use her feminine mystique with a client in order to work on a case that Lynch would’ve preferred to handle by himself. Lynch had put her on the spot on more than one occasion, but somehow she always came out looking professional in front of the clients.

When she had worked with Meg, Jennifer’s desk was out front with everyone else’s. She liked it that way. She enjoyed working in an environment that buzzed with activity. But Lynch changed all that. He made it very clear that Jennifer was his assistant, and he needed her at his personal disposal. And so he had her move her things into the smaller of the two conference rooms.

Giving Jennifer her own office was not a reward but a sentence. She felt he had isolated her on purpose to break her spirit. It had taken the wind out of her sails for a short period, but she decided two could play at that game. She promptly ordered custom office furniture and personalized the space. What he had intended on being a lonely, sterile environment, she had turned into a showplace of warmth and femininity.

She had one-upped him again and gloated in the fact that he could do nothing about it. After all, he was the one that gave her her own office and the freedom to decorate it the way she wanted. The fact that she did it with pastels in a style she knew he disliked (even though she disliked it too) was icing on the cake. Harrison had declared that an office should reflect professionalism not personality and initially insisted she get rid of everything. His request was denied when Mrs. Weissler came in and admired what she had done with the old conference room. With Mrs. Weissler on her side, Jennifer had once again thwarted Lynch’s authority.

Lynch had finally had enough. He called her into his office a week earlier and lowered the boom. “I’m giving you two weeks notice.”

“You’re firing me?” Jennifer was floored. Though she knew that he disliked her as much as she disliked him, he would have to explain to corporate why he was letting such a valuable employee go.

“No, I’m not firing you . . . yet.” He was cool and calm as he sat behind his solid oak desk. “I’m giving you two weeks to change your attitude. I’m tired of the mind games, the flirting with clients, and the way you insist on making proposals before discussing them with me. Weissler and Schuler should present a united front to all our clients, not a sense of division and indecisiveness. You have two weeks to get on board, assume your position as my assistant, and change your ‘I can top that’ attitude. If you choose not to, you will give me no alternative than to let you go.”

Now, it was just a week later, and Jennifer had given Lynch the perfect opportunity to show corporate that she was not the team player that they had assumed her to be. Corporate was breathing down everyone’s neck about the Yomahama account. It meant millions to them if they could seal the deal. If they felt she hadn’t given it her all, they would allow Lynch to have his way, no questions asked.

Jennifer sobbed into the arm of the floral couch that she despised. She thought about all the ways she had tried to make work uncomfortable for Harrison Lynch but knew she had failed. On occasion, he had tried joking with her and having innocuous conversations, but she would have none of it. She wouldn’t accept the olive branch that he tried to extend to her. Now he would have the last laugh, and it would be her own fault.

The door swung open once again. Harrison was poised and ready to battle with her, only to find her hunched over, her head in her hands and tears falling onto her charcoal colored slacks.

He felt uncomfortable finding her in such a vulnerable position. The all-business exterior he had resolved to use with her now took a back seat to the compassionate Harrison that others had seen. He stood for a moment before taking a seat on the couch alongside her and waited for her to gather her composure. It took several minutes before she could speak.

“I know what you’re going to say, so I’ll save you the energy.” She rubbed at her aching brows and sniffled. “You’ll have the files for the Yomahama account on your desk by the end of the day, and I’ll clean out my things. You can do what you want with the furniture. I don’t want it.” She held her head like she was afraid it was going to snap off her neck.

Harrison just sat there, not saying a thing. Jennifer wished he would just leave. She felt defeated and humiliated. He’d gotten his way; he’d won. With the experience she’d gained at Weissler and Schuler, she’d have no problem getting a job elsewhere, so she resolved to give up without a fight. Her only desire right then was to get home before her head exploded.

It seemed like an eternity before he spoke again. “What have you taken for it?”

“What?” She was confused. There was no smugness to his tone. In fact, if she wasn’t mistaken, he actually sounded concerned. She didn’t dare look at him. Just lifting her head would hurt too much.

“Is it a cold or the flu?”

“A cold,” she answered, wondering why he was being so nice. It was a trait she didn’t think he was capable of, at least not with her. He got up and left the room without saying another word.

She glanced at his receding steps, totally confused. She grabbed a tissue from her purse and tried to wipe away the salty tears and runny nose that was moistening her lips. She gently rolled her head back against the couch and sighed heavily, thankful for the solitude. It didn’t last long; within minutes, Harrison was back.

He sat down alongside her, causing her head to sway and a small moan to escape her lips. He handed her a glass that was fizzing, along with several pills. “Here’s something for your headache, a decongestant, and a bi-carbonate. They should do the trick.”

“No thanks,” she said through closed eyes. “I can’t take pills. They knock me out and make my head swim. Besides, I still have too much work to do. I don’t have time to pass out.”

“The way I see it, you’re already wasted. You’re no good to me like this. Take these, and in an hour you’ll feel a lot better. I guarantee it. We’ll work on the Yomahama account then.”

“I should have known you wouldn’t let me die quietly,” Jennifer retorted, looking at the pills he was still holding. “And if I don’t take your concoction?”

“Then I’ll have to assume the Yomahama account isn’t as important to you as I gave you credit for, and I’ll get Jerry to work on it with me instead.”

“Jerry!” She sat up, her head throbbing with disapproval. She slowly lowered herself back to the comfort of the couch, covering her eyes with the palms of her hands. “There’s no way I’m going to let Jerry take all my research and screw it up.”

“Okay, then. I guess you’ll have to do it my way,” he said. “Take these, dim the lights, and allow yourself some sleep. Don’t worry about watching the clock. I’ll come and get you in about an hour.”

Jennifer realized it was no longer a suggestion. Harrison put the pills in her hand and waited for her to drink them down with the bi-carbonate.

She tossed them to the back of her throat and held her breath as she drank the fizzy water. She knew she had to do it in one swig, or it would never stay down. Her shoulders shuddered in protest, and she thought she saw the hint of a smile form on Harrison’s lips. He pressed the button for the automatic shades to cover her office windows and dimmed the lights. “I’ll check on you in an hour.” With that, he closed the door and left her with her thoughts.

What just happened? she thought to herself. He had the perfect opportunity to fire me, and instead he helped me. Jennifer couldn’t concentrate on figuring out the answer to that one. Her head was throbbing so hard, it was making it impossible for her to reason.

She pulled her feet up under her and allowed her head to rest on the padded arm of the couch. An hour’s sleep, then I’ll be able to push through the rest of the day. She drifted off quickly. She was a lightweight when it came to tolerating medicine, and with the mixture she had just taken, she knew that she would finally get some rest.

Harrison walked back to his office and closed the door. He stood before the expansive window and watched the falling snow blanket the Chicago streets. Jumbled emotions crowded his mind. He was afraid that he’d allowed Jennifer’s weakened state to play on his sympathy, but it wasn’t unlike him. He really was a nice guy. It’s just that since he’d arrived at Weissler and Schuler, he and Jennifer had clashed . . . no, more like collided.

He found out soon enough that she had thought she was a lock for his job because of the work she had done with the previous director. He tried to talk to her about it and let her know he understood her disappointment. When he told her he was excited to be working with such a talented analyst, she only stiffened at his attempt at civility. Her spitefulness and malice made her look so unattractive—nothing like the vulnerable woman he had just left in the darkened office. He finally saw in her what some of the men in the office already had seen. She was a lot more appealing when she wasn’t being conniving or manipulative. With her defenses down, he actually found himself drawn to her, but he was wary that would change as soon as she had her strength back.

HARRISON HAD BEEN WORKING TIRELESSLY at his computer when he glanced at his watch. He realized it had been more than an hour since he had left Jennifer in her office. He quietly opened her door and leaned in to see how she was doing. She was curled up on the couch, her face flushed and moist. He moved to her side, leaned down, and carefully placed the back of his hand to her forehead. She was feverish. She stirred under his touch, but her eyes had a difficult time focusing. She looked at Harrison and tried to figure out why she was lying down and why he was hovering over her. She closed her eyes and vaguely remembered being late to work and taking a handful of medicine.

“What time is it?” Her voice was barely above a whisper.

“Almost 3:00 p.m.”

“Oh, my gosh.” She tried sitting up as her head spun out of control. “I’ve got to get working. We have the Yomahama meeting tomorrow. We can’t waste any more time.”

Harrison pressed his hands against her shoulders and gently pushed her back against the couch cushions. “You need to rest. Your body is obviously trying to fight something. You have a fever.”

“We don’t have time for this, Mr. Lynch.”

She again moved to a sitting position. She wiped at the perspiration on her forehead and scooped her long blonde hair up into a handful on top of her head. She started pulling at the pink cashmere sweater she was wearing, bellowing it to get some cool air up against her skin. “I feel like I’m suffocating.”

“That’s the fever.”

Before Harrison realized what she was doing, Jennifer reached for the hem of her sweater and began to pull it over her head.

He turned away and sputtered, “What are you doing?”

“If you have a fever, you’re supposed to keep at least one foot and one shoulder exposed to cool air.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“I’m not sure, but it’s worked before.”

She continued to remove her sweater. Harrison was relieved to see that she was wearing a silky, pink shell underneath the soft sweater. She pulled her black, high heeled boots from her feet and curled up into a fetal position once again.

“You look miserable; you need to go home. This is ridiculous. There’s no way you’re going to be able to get any work done under these conditions,” Harrison added as she tried to get comfortable.

“I’d be fine if my head would just stop pounding, and I wasn’t so hot.”

“Let me call you a cab. You need to go home.”

“No! I can beat this. Let me just rest a little bit longer. If I could just get rid of this headache, I know I could finish our proposal. Please give me another hour.” She was determined to finish what she had started, especially since it could quite possibly be her last account. Harrison was being uncharacteristically nice to her at the moment, but if the Yomahama meeting didn’t go well, she knew she would be the proverbial scapegoat.

Harrison stood with his arms firmly crossed against his chest and doubt in his eyes. He knew from past experience there was no sense arguing with her. Of course, there was nothing that said he was obligated to wake her up either.

“Fine, I’ll see you in about an hour.” He left her office with no intention of disturbing her again. If she had the strength to wake up, she would have to do it on her own.

Although Harrison knew he needed to spend every minute on the Yomahama proposal, he found himself thinking about Jennifer. Why hadn’t he noticed her crystal blue eyes or the delicate curve of her jaw before? Maybe because whenever he talked to her, her eyes were glaring and her jaw was set.

He wandered back into Jennifer’s office around 4:30 p.m. He watched her as she slept. Her breathing was even and her complexion no longer looked flush. His eyes followed the tip of her chin to where it rested near her exposed shoulder. He felt his thoughts wandering in a direction that was far from work related. He had always been cautious to keep his professional life separate from his personal life, but somehow seeing Jennifer in such a vulnerable state also exposed a side of her that was quite beautiful.

He left her office and drifted down the hall. People were beginning to shut down their computers and straighten up their workstations. The talk was all about the snow that had continued to fall throughout the day. The weather report was predicting another foot before morning. Harrison waved goodnight to them as they left and headed back to his office.

Doris followed him down the hall, worry etched on her kind face.

“Mr. Lynch, I’m concerned about Miss Patterson. I know she was awfully sick this morning when she came in, and she didn’t look any better when she returned from lunch. I haven’t seen her since you . . . well, since you spoke with her this afternoon.”

Harrison knew what Doris was alluding to. The way he had barked at Jennifer when she returned from lunch had obviously been heard throughout the office.

“I gave her some medicine earlier today, and it made her pretty sleepy. That’s why you haven’t seen her.”

“Will she be okay to drive herself home? The road conditions have gotten pretty bad.”

“Don’t worry, Doris, I’ll make sure she’s okay before she leaves.”

“Okay, I was just concerned. She really is a sweet girl; she just comes off a bit harsh sometimes.”

“Harsh? That’s an understatement!”

Doris just smiled. “Well, good night, Mr. Lynch.”

“Good night, Doris, and thank you for your concern.”

posted by Rachelle
at 5:47 PM