Sunday, November 30, 2008

EXCERPT: Forsaken Canyon

Forsaken Canyon
bY Margaret Daley

ISBN# 0-373-44309-9
Publisher Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense
Genre romantic suspense
Copyright October 2008
Published date same
Where it can be purchased

"I'll arrest you." So threatens the tribal chief of police if Kit
Sinclair dares enter Desolation Canyon alone. Hawke Lonechief insists
it's too dangerous. He lost his wife to the treacherous canyon. He
knows the ancient ruins Kit seeks aren't worth her life. But Kit is
sure all that hiking and searching will help put her traumatic past
behind her. When she risks Hawke's wrath by going alone, he finally
agrees to lead her. On his terms. Impossible. Because someone else is
following their every move. Watching them grow closer to danger with
every step...


The Guardian wished he hadn’t been forced to do this, but someone had to save Kit from her fiancé. She was just too naïve and trusting.

Comfortably hidden in the shut-off balcony of the church, he lined up his sights on the rifle and aimed for the man’s heart. The sounds of the wedding march reverberated through the large nave. With precision and preparation he would succeed, and one day she would thank him.

Her fiancé stood on the steps to the altar, facing the center aisle. The smile the man gave Kit—as though he really loved her--chilled the Guardian. She deserved so much better.

Calmness descended as he adjusted his grip, checking his target. The sight of her nearing her fiancé prompted him into action. Taking a deep breath, he held it while fingering the trigger.

This is for you, Kit. He squeezed off the shot.

Chapter One

Kit Sinclair bolted straight up in bed, darkness pressing in on all sides. Her lungs burned as she dragged air into them. The sound of her heart pounding in her ears like the roar of a powerful storm.

Just another nightmare. I’m safe in my bedroom.

But the thought didn’t assuage the terror that constricted her chest as if she were standing in front of the altar right now. She could still see the red stain fanning outward on her fiancé’s snowy white shirt and Gregory’s hand reaching out to her. The screams in the church resounded through her mind. The scent of her fiancé’s blood filled her nostrils as though she were still holding his body clutched to her.

Will I ever be free of the memories, Lord?

She raked a wavering hand through her sweat damp hair then reached for the lamp on her bedside table. After two failed attempts, she finally managed to pull the chain, and a soft glow flooded the black recesses of her room. But her mind still remained in the clutch of darkness, had since the day her fiancé had been murdered right in front of her two years ago.

Glancing at her clock, she noted the time and realized she’d only gotten a few hours of sleep. She flipped back the sheet and climbed from the bed. She might as well work since she had to get up early anyway to make her meeting in Santa Maria Pueblo this morning.

Thankfully she had something to concentrate on other than her past. She could do nothing about what had happened, but she could prove her theory was right, hopefully with the help of Zach Collier’s cousin. If not she would find another way. Her job at the college depended on it.

* * *

Hawke Lonechief finished the dregs of his coffee and motioned for Anna, the owner of the café and his cousin, to refill it. “I’m gonna need it this morning.”

“Another all-nighter?”

“How can you tell?” Hawke took a tentative sip of the black brew, relishing its strong flavor, just the way he liked it, no sugar, no cream.

“Cousin, we grew up together. I know when you haven’t gotten any sleep. Do you ever see your mother?”

“Sure, we had dinner together two nights ago.” And his mother had basically read him the riot act although in her case it was mainly said with her usual few words. She was worried about him, but his work held the haunting memories at bay.

“You’re the chief of police so why are you doing everything down at the station? What are the other officers for?”

Hawk shrugged. “What’s wrong with working?”

“Nothing, if in moderation. But you don’t know the meaning of the word.”

He grinned. “Sure I do. It means steering clear of any excesses. I don’t have time for excesses.”

“You don’t call practically living at the station an excess?” She fluttered her hand in the air. “Nope. Don’t answer that. I never could change your mind while we were growing up. I don’t know why I even waste my breath trying to now.”

“I’m responsible for the safety and well being of thousands of people. I don’t take that responsibility lightly.”

“And you shouldn’t, but what about your mother? Have you left Aunt Evelyn to fend for herself on the ranch?”

Stung by the rebuke of his well-meaning cousin, Hawke straightened in the booth and cupped the mug between his hands while he drank some more coffee. “Charlie’s wife got sick. Somebody had to take care of his small children. I couldn’t ask him to take his usual shift last night.”

Anna wagged her head. “There’s always something with you. Go home. Get some sleep.” She sent him a quizzical look. “You are going home, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am as soon as I meet with someone. Then home it is.”

“Good because that ranch is too much for Aunt Evelyn alone.”

“That’s why I hired some more help.”


“Lighthorse’s oldest son, John.”

“Good. He’s reliable. She needs someone who is.”

“Ouch.” The persistent reproach in Anna’s voice needled Hawke. “As I told you, I have responsibilities I can’t shirk.”

“I know and we appreciate it. Crime is down at the pueblo since you took over as police chief. But we both know what this is really about.”

The door to the café opened, and a petite woman with long blond hair tied back in a ponytail entered. Hawke zeroed in on her rather than continue the conversation with Anna because there was no way he would get into a discussion with her about that.

The attractive woman scanned the tables and booths until she found him and then immediately headed in his direction. As he watched her move with assurance and economy, alarm bells—bells he usually listened to--went off in his mind. What had possessed him to agree to meet with this woman? He should have told his cousin, Zach, no.

Behind the pleasing features, he glimpsed a woman on a mission. The determined set to her chin and the focused look in her blue eyes alerted him to be wary. He didn’t need trouble. He’d had enough of that to last him two lifetimes.

Exhausted from no sleep in twenty-four hours, Hawke tried to paste a semblance of a smile on his face in greeting. Once he made a commitment he didn’t back out no matter how much he wanted to. The corners of his mouth twitched in protest. He gave up and rose instead.

“Dr. Kit Sinclair?”

“Yes, you must be Zach’s cousin, Hawke Lonechief.” She grinned and took his hand to shake.

The brief, firm exchange didn’t relieve the tension building in his gut. He waved his arm toward the seat across from him. “Please sit.”

After she slipped into the booth, Anna, who had been hovering on the side observing the meeting with more interest than Hawke would like, approached. “What can I get for you?”

“I’ve heard great things about your coffee here at the café from Zach Collier. That’s all I need.” That and the man across from me to agree to be my guide to Desolation Canyon.

“You know Zach?”

“I’m a professor of history at the Albuquerque City College. We have worked together on a few projects.”

“Science and history working together?” The waitress poured a mug full of the wonderfully fragrant coffee.

“Thank you.” Kit lifted the cup to her mouth and drew in a deep breath of the aroma, one of the best smells in the world especially when she had tried to avoid sleeping as much as possible. She could use the whole pot after the night before. “I helped Zach with some of the history behind his Aztec codices, at least the part that involved the Spanish conquistadors. That’s one of my specialties.”

Normally she wouldn’t go into so much detail except that she wanted the man across from her to know the information. Zach had told her Hawke Lonechief was the best person to help her, possibly the only one. He knew every square foot of Santa Maria Pueblo, and he could survive where most people couldn’t. The place she wanted to go to wasn’t called Desolation Canyon without reason. It was a hard, rough, barren land.

Like your life. The thought came unbidden into her mind. She shoved it away.

After the waitress left, Kit lounged back against the cushion, trying to relax her taut muscles. Even running through the mental relaxation technique a friend had taught her did nothing to alleviate the stress mounting in her as she got closer to discovering if her theory was right or not. Nor was imagining herself on top of a mountain, looking out over a beautiful vista right before the sun went down doing the trick—not when dark brown eyes studied her with an intensity that stole her breath, her composure.

She did her own survey of the man. He was dressed in tan slacks and shirt with an emblem indicating he was a tribal police officer. His short black hair surprised her. She had pictured him with long hair on the hour drive from Albuquerque. What else would surprise her?

“Now that we have finished sizing each other up, why do you need a guide? Zach didn’t tell me much. Just that you two worked together and you were a friend.” Hawke finished his coffee and set it on the table.

Direct. She liked that. “I’m looking for evidence of the Lost City of Gold.”

“Who isn’t? But at Santa Maria Pueblo? I don’t think so.”

The territorial tone of his voice warned her this might not be an easy sell. “I think there was a lot of truth to the legend that sent Coronado all over the Southwest looking for it. Working with Zach and what I discovered while in Spain researching the topic for my dissertation has only reinforced my conviction, which has grown the past several years.”

One corner of Hawke’s mouth hitched up. “Sure. Who wouldn’t want to find a place so full of gold that all your worries would be taken care of.”

She stiffened at his mocking tone, but she realized after all this time the tale did sound farfetched. “I think there was a place that prompted the legend, but I’m not saying it exists today as it did five hundred years ago or that it was as grand as the story said. If it did, it probably would have been discovered.”

He folded his arms on the table and leaned forward. “Do you make it a habit to go around telling people you’re looking for the Lost City of Gold?”

“No,” she said with a chuckle. “They would think I was mad.”

“Are you?”

“No, sorry to disappoint you. I’m perfectly sane. But I need a guide, and Zach said you were the best, that you helped him and Maggie last year with the Aztec codices. I trust Zach’s opinion.”

“So you trust me?”

“Yes.” Did she have a choice?

“You shouldn’t.” His almost black gaze drilled into her.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

EXCERPT: Even Sinners Have Souls

Even Sinners Have Souls
Authors: Noire, Chunichi, KaShamba Williams, Blunt, Nikki Turner

ISBN# 978-0-9706726-4-3
Publisher End of the Rainbow Projects
Genre Fiction
Copyright March 2008
Published date May 2008
Where it can be purchased Bookstores and online Bookstores

Even Sinners Have Souls edited by E.N. Joy features NOIRE, CHUNICHI, KASHAMBA WILLIAMS, B.L.U.N.T. and NIKKI TURNER; the literary industry's most dominant and prolific authors in the urban street lit and urban erotica genres. These respected authorities have all come together for the first time ever, taking a break from penning their norm, to pen a piece of work that truly flowed from their spirits. Each gritty and profound story is told in just as raw and real of a voice as any other urban tale, luring the readers in by the poignant storylines and themes and the genuine talents and abilities of each of these prolific authors. The stories have characters who face the same struggles and tragedies that any other person growing up in the hood might endure, but what makes these stories phenomenal is the fact that although these characters might be living a dangerous, immoral and unacceptable lifestyle according to society's standards, they are not so far gone that they can't acknowledge the power of a higher being and a life changing moment that could alter their lives forever. Be prepared to be engaged, moved and compelled as in each tale you will see a side to these authors that you have never seen before. Do not expect what you are used to getting from these authors...expect the unexpected-EXPECT MORE!

Trust No Man

Chapter One

"Whatever!" Tatiana put her hand all up in Tike's
face as she walked by him with her signature strut; legs
stretched strong, behind tooted out.
"Dang, loose booty," Tike replied, uncut by Tatiana's
razor sharp tongue. "I got a G stack on dat, Goldie.
What's up?”
Tike was just some young hood who, for someone his
age that banked lots of money, still lived at home with
mama. But one couldn't tell he had paper by his appearance,
though. He pretty much wore the same dingy
white tee with worn baggy jeans. Unlike some of the
other young hustlers on the block, Tike liked to stack
his loot. He claimed that while all the other young cats
were being stupid by spending all their money on brand
names that made Sean, Jay and Russell millionaires,
instead he would save up his money until he became
one himself.
The rude group of guys that were hanging out on the
block with Tike paused their dice game long enough to
watch the word "Juicy", printed on the backside of
Tatiana's sweat pants, bounce up and down as she
passed by. With bow legs, light eyes, curly, shoulder
length hair and a coke bottle frame that barely hit five
feet, she had the attention of all the fellas in the hood.
They yelled one comment after another as she made her
way into the corner store.
With one hand on the store's door, and the other
hand on her hip, she paused, "It ain't nothing a dude
can do for me but break bread. If you ain't breaking no
bread, this convo is dead," Tatiana spat, as she rolled
her eyes and then stepped into the store.
Tatiana picked up a pack of backwoods, a bottle of
water and a lighter. She was fiendin' for a smoke so bad
that she could practically taste the weed on her tongue
as she headed to the register and placed her items on
the counter.
"That will be five dollars and ninety-seven cents," the
clerk said after ringing up Tatiana's things.
Tatiana went into her purse and pulled out the
"I got that for you, Ma," a male voice said as he
grabbed her hand to prevent her from paying the clerk.
"Wow, thanks. A whole six bucks, and all for little ole
me," Tatiana said sarcastically, as she turned around
and faced the smiling, thugged out looking dude that
stood behind her.
He was a perfect six feet tall. He was rocking cornrows,
Tru Religion jeans and a fresh white tee; looking
like the average thug. All he needed was a blinged out
"Don't get it twisted, lil mama. I woulda done the
same for you if you were an old lady, lil kid, or junkie on
the street. Dat's just me, baby girl."
Tatiana eyeballed the Good Samaritan up and down
as she placed her money back in her purse. The way
this dude talked had really caught her attention. His
tone wasn't smart-alecky, but had enough spice to let
Tatiana know that his act of kindness towards her
didn't make her special.
"Oh, so it's like that? You all generous and things to
just any ol' body, huh?" She asked her first test question.
"I guess. If that's how you want to put it." The guy
grabbed the bag of items that the clerk had packaged up
and then handed them to Tatiana, who just stood there
looking at him. "You gonna say thanks?" he asked as
she accepted the bag.
"Dang! Give me a chance." She rolled her eyes and
then paused for a second before saying, "Thank you."
Tatiana emphasized the words while rolling her neck.
"Anything for you, sweetie." He winked, letting
Tatiana know that he wasn't all hardcore; that he had a
soft side buried somewhere within as well. "Can I do
more?" He proceeded to pay for the soda and bag of
chips that he was purchasing for himself while he waited
on her reply.
Little did he know, that was just what Tatiana
wanted to hear. Like she'd told many men before, there
was nothing a man could do for her but buy her things.
Other than that, no man was any use to her. So when
this gentleman offered to do more, the answer was not
just "yes," it was "Hayellll, yes," with a capitol H.
"It depends on what you are trying to do," Tatiana snapped
back, sure not to seem too eager.
"I'll let you call it, Lil Miss Attitude," the young man
calmly responded, acknowledging Tatiana's feistiness.
"And it's Goldie; Miss Goldie to you." Tatiana licked
her lips. "Miss Goldie can be reached at 328…" She gave
him her nickname and then read off her phone number.
He took out his cell phone and entered and saved it
into his electronic phonebook.
"Aight, Miss Goldie. I'll holla at you. And since you
asked," he said before telling the clerk to keep the
change, his words laced with a dose of his own sarcasm,
"the name is Jo," he winked and then headed out the
door. Jo nearly ran into Tike, who stood right outside
the exit, staring in.
Tatiana exited the store soon after. She hadn't even
gotten out of the store good before the comments from
the boys in the hood began again.
"Oh, a G stack wasn't good enough, huh?" Tike said
after witnessing Tatiana giving up the digits to Jo. "You
be playing games." Tatiana ignored him and kept on
walking. "Forget you. You'd probably rather bump monkeys
with your home girl, Kandi, anyway; homo trick,"
Tike yelled to Tatiana, knowing of one of her best
friends, Kandi's, bisexual orientation. "So what dude
offering? A spot on his trick block picking up where yo'
mommy left off?" Tike said, entertaining all the dudes on
the block like he was the hood comedian.
To Tatiana's ears, his audience's laughter was like the sound
of a microphone nearing a speaker getting too much feedback.
That comment Tike made set it off for Tatiana. She
stopped in her tracks and turned around. She looked up
at the dirty little boy that she stood toe to toe with and
said nothing. Her eyes alone said it all. Her mouth moistened
as all sorts of thoughts ran through her mind. Her
mouth filled with fluid as she prepared to empty her
wetness in Tike's face. She took a deep breath and
cleared her throat to bring up every ounce of sinus
phlegm she had in her body until her mouth was full to
the point she wanted to throw up.
Tatiana heard a voice then felt a shove as Jo
forced his way between her and Tike.
"Chill out, lil man, fo' you be off dis block," Jo said as he
stood between Tatiana and the nothing little peon that had disrespected
her. His towering body was like a shadow over Tike's
five foot, six inch, thin frame.
"It's all good, homie," Tike said, raising his arms in
surrender. "We was just playing around with Miss Lady,
here. It ain't nothin'." It was obvious that Tike didn't
want no drama with Jo. He was all talk and no action.
"Just make sure nothin' never turns into somethin'
and we good." Jo held his hand out to Tike, who hesitantly
shook it and then made his way over to the game
of dice like a wounded pup.
"You alright, baby girl?" Jo asked, sincerely concerned
as he turned his attention to Tatiana.
Tatiana stood silently, trying to calm herself back
down. She then spat on the ground and looked up at Jo.
"I'm good. I can handle my own, though. I don't need a
big brother," Tatiana snapped, as she headed toward
the truck that just that afternoon she had convinced
some naive boat boy to let her hold while he was out to
"Dis you?" Jo asked, following behind her, surprised
to see her driving a 08 Cadillac Escalade.
"Nope. Another dude's whip. That's all y'all good for
anyway; just to use and abuse. All y'all the same; disrespectful,
dead beats, womanizers, and woman beaters. But I know one thing,
you can bet cha last stack this chick here will never fall victim."
Tatiana, got in the truck, shut the door, and then sped off, leaving Jo
Once on the road, and out of sight from anyone on
the block, Tatiana's eyes filled with water. She didn't
know why she had let Tike's words get to her. She
thought she had mastered the art of tuning men out
after breaking it off with Touch, the last dude she had
called herself playing the part of wifey with. All Touch
did was belittle her with his tongue; putting her down in
an attempt to build himself up. That was something
Tatiana took note of that men often did as a twisted way
of making themselves feel like a man.
Tatiana hated all men. Even when she tried to give a
guy a chance, he would always end up being just like
the others. She knew she was bitter when it came to
men, but that's all she'd ever seen or known. Not one
man had ever done anything to even make her think
twice about the way she felt about them. And for that
fact, she always said that if God was a man, then she
hated him too.
"I look way too good to be innocent." Her phone
interrupted her thoughts as it played the lyrics of
Conceited by Remy Ma. The number that showed up on
the caller ID was unfamiliar. "Hola?" Tatiana said with a
fake Spanish accent, disguising her voice just in case
she had to play stupid to the person on the other end of
the phone.
"Miss Goldie?" a male asked from the other end.
Tatiana knew it could be only one person calling her
Miss Goldie, besides, the sound of his voice was still
fresh in her head.
"Yes, Jo?"
"You aight?"
"Yes, I am." Tatiana's tone was as if she was more so
aggravated by his concerns rather than flattered.
"Yo, ma, why you so mean? You got me confused, on
the real. I ain't been nothing but chill since I met you
and you ain't gave me nothing but grief. Why you even
give me your number if it's all like that?" Jo asked, trying
to figure out what was up with Tatiana and all her
"For the dough." Tatiana kept it real. "Like I said,
that's all men are good for."
Jo chuckled at this girl's directness before replying,
"Okay. I'll take that risk. I'm still gonna holla at you
even with dat said. In the end, I'm sure you'll realize you
got a good man on your hands," Jo said confidently.
He could tell by the hurt look in Tatiana's eyes when Tike
was clowning on her, that she had some issues. But he
knew just who could resolve them. Tatiana's hard attitude
didn't scare him off, nor was it a threat. It was a
challenge; one that Jo was willing to take.
"Don't be so sure, boo. I don't know what a good man
looks like, acts like, talks like or walks like. I ain't never
seen one. To keep it real, I ain't know they even existed.
If you're a good man, you better breed fast, 'cause I
think you the only one left on the face of this earth."
"Just give me a chance. That's all I ask."
"You want a chance, Mister Jo? Cool, I'll give you
that. Because guess what? It's real easy to keep me
around." Tatiana began to break it down like it was part
of the Ten Commandments. "Keep the money coming
and you'll keep me. And it goes the same when it comes
to losing me. Money gone; I'm gone. They don't call me
Goldie for nothing! Got it?" Tatiana said with no shame.
This chick is really trying to play me like a sucker, Jo
thought to himself. It seemed as though Tatiana was
becoming more brazen by the minute. Maybe her wall
was too strong to be broken down. Jo contemplated on
whether or not he should just hang up and erase her
number, but he decided to play this thing out. He was
in it to win it.
"Why do they call you Goldie anyway?" he
asked in an attempt to make her believe that he was
ignoring all of her other statements.
"For a few reasons." Tatiana prepared to break it
down. "One, because the opportunity to holla at a chick
like me is golden. Two, I'm straight gold digging and I
don't keep it a secret. And three, the chances of a dude
hitting this is like the chances of him finding a leprechaun
carrying a pot of gold. Now, like I said before,
got it?"
The thought of hanging up on Tatiana popped into
Jo's head again, but something just wouldn't let him do
it. "Yeah, aight." Jo chose to swallow his pride and listen
to the angel whispering in his ear on the right rather
than follow the constant whisper of the devil on his left
telling him that this chick was unsavable; that he could
never get her to change her mind about men. "But just
one thing." Jo paused. "What's your government name?"
She hesitated, preferring that he call her Goldie like
all the other dudes, but then her real name just came
out. "Tatiana."
"Aight, Tatiana. You got my number; it showed up on
your phone, I'm sure. Just give me a shout when you
ready to get with a real man-the man." Jo ended the call
by hanging up in her ear without saying so much as
"later," giving himself a little self esteem boost.
"Whatever!" Tatiana said to herself after Jo hung up
in her ear.
She thought to herself as she continued her route
home that Jo probably had plenty of game; but not
enough to change the thoughts of Tatiana Turner. The
way she felt about guys was set in stone and there was
nothing that anyone could do, or say, to change that.
One thing that Tatiana had promised herself was
that she would never be a man's punching bag, baby
mother, ex-wife or mistress. And the world could give
thanks to her sperm donor, Silk, and that no good
mother of hers, Jan, for blessing her with the foundation
for those thoughts, and for losers like Touch that
she let into her life for confirming it. They had ruined it
for every man that crossed her path and got burned
with the golden torch.
But little did Tatiana know, if Jo was to have his
way, he just might have the water to put out that flame
of the golden torch.

Friday, November 28, 2008


What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

The importance of family as well as friendship, relationships and the willingness to pursue goals regardless of the difficulties

What did you learn while writing this book?

This book was therapeutic. Even during difficult times, this book allowed me to
escape the madness and live vicariously through the characters

What is the hardest part about the writing business?

Obtaining the right agent and publishing company and marketing your work

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

Time constraints; not having the luxury of spending enormous amounts of time talking
about previously discussed issues or issues of no importance

Our theme this month is Time Management. How do you do to manage your writing time?

By being my own best friend and allowing my voice mail to do its job. I’ve got
friends whom I care dearly about but very often I find some of them competing with
my writing time. But, I sometimes write early in the morning, late at night or
whenever I have fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes. Then there are times when I have
hours where I can write. A lot is accomplished that way.

What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

Effectively developing characters and moving the story along without being

All that is necessary in getting my work to the public

And, I wish I had started writing sooner and not deviated from it

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

ABSOLUTELY NOT. Writing is and has always been my passion

Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?

Don’t be intimidated by the words or the entirety of the story. Sometimes it is easier
to do a story in segments. I always try to keep in mind and I learned from my agent to
just write the story which was good advice

What are you thankful for this year?

So many things; the love of God, wonderful family and friends, good health, having
my book published by a mainstream publishing house and the agent who made it

Five questions about books:

One book you’ve read more than once.

Waiting to Exhale—Terry McMillan

One book you couldn’t put down until you finished.

The Ex Files—Victoria Christopher Murray

One book that made you laugh.

Although a serious story, there was a lot about Gone With The Wind that made me

One book that made you cry.

Mommy’s Angel—Miasha came close

One book you wish you'd written.

Purposed Driven Life

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

PO Box 7198, Sumter, SC 29150,
O R,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

FEATURED AUTHOR: Michelle Stimpson

Michelle Stimpson is an author, a speaker, and an educator who received her Bachelor of Science degree from Jarvis Christian College in 1994. She earned a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2002. She has had the pleasure of teaching elementary, middle, and high school as well as training adults.

Michelle Stimpson is an author, a speaker, and an educator who received her Bachelor of Science degree from Jarvis Christian College in 1994. She earned a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2002. She has had the pleasure of teaching elementary, middle, and high school as well as training adults.

Michelle serves in the Creative Tyme Ministry at her home church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, and she is also currently pursing her ministerial license. She ministers to women through her online newsletter: Michelle lives near Dallas with her husband, their two teenage children, and one crazy dog.

Michelle tours annually with the Anointed Authors on Tour. She regularly speaks at special events and writing workshops sponsored churches, schools, book clubs and other positive organizations.

Trouble In My Way

It’s all Karis’s mom’s fault.

If she hadn’t snooped into Karis’s diary, she never would have known about Karis’s unauthorized activies. Now, Karis is grounded indefinitely with no modem, no iPOD…and no cell phone. There’s just no way Karis can survive being cut off from the world. Add a “shiesty” potential stepmother, an dangerous relationship with a self-proclaimed bad boy, and the constant pressure to cover her sneaky tracks – the combination makes a perfect recipe for high drama. Will faith in God help Karis get through, or has she pushed grace, and her mother, too far?

What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

I hope that reading this book will make the readers think about what it means to live with integrity. Sometimes it is hard to do the right thing, but doing the right thing is always the best thing.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I had to relive some of my teen years in writing this book, so I guess I'd say I had to "re-learn" what it was like to be sixteen and feel like those who love you most (your parents) are trying to make your life miserable. It was a tough time to revisit, but it was also a lot of fun.

What is the hardest part about the writing business?

The hardest part for me is staying focused. Every once in a while, I come across something and thing "Ooh! Wow! I bet it would be fun to do that, too!" But I don't think I'd ever get anything done if I tried a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Right now, I'm learning to do one or two things well and leave the rest to other professionals - graphic designers, media moguls, etc.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

I wish non-writers understood that writing is actually WORK. People sometimes think that because writers are working from home, they're not really "working." But that's not true. It takes discipline to sit down and write!

Our theme this month is Time Management. How do you do to manage your writing time?

I do my best writing at night, and that's somewhat tough because I still have to get up every day and (at least) take my kids to school bright and early in the morning. Many days, I also have workshops and such to conduct. Two things I do to make sure that I don't get too tired are: 1) exercise; 2) take naps.

What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

I wish I had known more about marketing and staying in touch with readers. I had some really great opportunities with my first novel (Boaz Brown) that I didn't fully understand or take advantage of. Nonetheless, God was faithful to bless me with some really great reading fans who continue to spread the word about that book.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

I don't think I think of "quitting" per se, but I frequently think of cutting back of changing my focus a bit - going from adult fiction to strictly young adult fiction or academic writing. I don't think that I'll ever lose the writing bug, however.

Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?

Just write. You don't have to like everything you write, but finish SOMETHING. The first novella I ever wrote is still sitting in a drawer (not even five feet from me right now). It never got published, but it showed me that I could actually write a book.

What are you thankful for this year?

I'm thankful for so much favor. Again, the Lord has blessed me with so many opportunities in writing that I couldn't even have imagined. I'm grateful for His favor.

Five questions about books:

One book you’ve read more than once.

Most of the reading I do is non-fiction, centering around Christian living. Those never get old. But as for fiction, I could read Bernice McFadden's "Sugar," a million times and I've read Norma Jarret's "Sunday Brunch" more than once.

One book you couldn’t put down until you finished.

"Lies Women Believe" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

One book that made you laugh.

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt.

One book that made you cry.

Victoria Christopher Murray's "Temptation"

One book you wish you'd written.

I wish I had written J. California Cooper's "In Search of Satisfaction" because I love historical fiction - I'm just too lazy to write it!

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website) -

EXCERPT: Trouble In My Way

Trouble In My Way
by Michelle Stimpson

chapter one

Dear Me,

Derrick is cute -- NOT! I can't believe I risked my life by having Tamisha take me over to his house instead of the football game. Seriously, if my mom found out, I would be writing my eulogy instead of writing this journal entry. And for what? Some boy who does not have one single real DVD in his famed DVD collection! I swear, every single movie he had was bootleg. I think his whole room was bootleg. His whole game is bootleg, when I think about it! He acts like one thing in the beginning, but when you look closely, you realize it's not exactly as good as the real thing. Okay, here's what happened: Tamisha took me over to his house -- we synchronized our watches -- she was to pick me up in EXACTLY forty-five minutes. There was no one except Derrick at his house, so I knew I didn't want to be over there too long. Anyway, we started watching a movie on the floor in his bedroom. Everything was fine at first. I mean, so long as I didn't stare at him right in the face, it was okay. I just kept trying to think about all the wonderful things we'd talked about on the phone because he was NOT as cute as I remember him. So, there we were watching the movie to the best of my ability since it was a little blurry. I was just getting beyond the fact that I had to ignore the line running through the middle of the screen, and the next thing I know, Derrick is trying to kiss and hug and all that. I was like, "Hold up! Wait a minute!" and he was like, "What's wrong, baby?" like this is some kind of bad music video. I could not believe how he was trying to turn our movie-watching into some kinda romantic rondayvu (spelling??). When we're on the phone, he's an innocent little boy, but when we were together, he was a grown octopus! I'm not saying I wasn't feeling his kisses -- I'm just saying, I wasn't trying to do all that. See, I know how and when to draw the line. I know when enough is enough. Thank God, Tamisha came right on time! I was outta there so quick! I know Derrick is nice and all, but he is not the one for me. Maybe we should just be friends because #1, he is not that cute, and #2 he is having some issues right now that I cannot help him out with. I think I'll leave him alone until his hormones settle down.
-- Karis Laying-Low Reed

I don't know which is more stupid -- me going over to Derrick's house, or me writing about it in my journal knowing how straight-up nosey my mother is. I mean, I know that a momma's gotta do what a momma's gotta do. But does a momma have to read my journal and get all up in my personal business? What about my American rights? My Texas rights? My basic human need for privacy? First my journal -- next thing you know, she'll be following me into the bathroom.
The bathroom; that's a good place to go right about now.
I wait until my mother turns her back and takes a breather between the yelling spells. I'm doing my best to rise from the couch without making a sound. Her head whips around instantly. "Where do you think you're going?"
"To the bathroom," I reply, throwing in a bit of whine for effect.
"Sidown," she hisses.
I bounce on the balls of my feet, faking the biological emergency. "But I've really gotta go."
She throws her hands up in the air and they land on her hips as she half-laughs, "That's what you should have been saying when Tamisha dropped you off at your little man-ish boyfriend's house when you were supposed to be at a football game: 'I've really gotta go.' But noooo, you couldn't say it then, so don't be sayin' it now. You ain't really gotta go nowhere. Okay?"
I've already slipped back onto the couch, and I mumble, "Yes, ma'am."
My mother does a cha-cha slide over to me and pushes hot words onto my face. "I can't hear you!"
I look her in the eyes and answer again, "Yes, ma'am."
Then she takes a few steps back toward the center of our living room and reaches down to the coffee table, picking up my beloved pink-heart journal again. I still cannot believe she read it. "And what is this?" she traces over the entry until her pearl-tipped fingernail lands on what she's looking for. She wags her head as she mocks me, "'When we're on the phone, he's an innocent little boy, but when we were together, he was a grown octopus.' What's that supposed to mean, huh?"
Mrs. Clawson, my pre-Advanced Placement English teacher, would have appreciated my fine use of figurative language. "It's just a metaphor, Mom."
"A meta-four!" She slams my journal shut, and the resulting puff of air makes her soft brown bangs do the wave. "According to this diary, it would have had a meta-five and a meta-six, given a few more minutes. Tell me, Karis, what would you have done if Tamisha hadn't come back to pick you up when she did, huh? What if Tamisha hadn't been on time? What if you had started 'feeling' your little boyfriend's kisses? Then what?"
I want to tell her that, first of all, Derrick is not my boyfriend. But somehow I think that might damage my case, so I keep that bit of information to myself. The second thing I wish I could tell her is that there was no way I would have done anything stupid with Derrick. I want to tell her that I timed things precisely to protect myself from crossing the line. I also want to tell her that Derrick and I talk on the phone for hours at a time and I have intense feelings for him. Next to Tamisha and Sydney, Derrick is my best friend, kind of. Well, I used to trust him until he turned into that eight-legged marine creature. Besides, he is really only a six on the face and body scale. When I saw him on the basketball court, he looked like Bow Wow. But when I saw him up close at his house, he looked like maybe he could be Bow Wow's half brother. Plus one of his front teeth was longer than the other. Believe me, my mother does not ever have to worry about me sneaking off to Derrick's house again.
Nonetheless, my mother would not understand these things. She's a minister. Need I say more? So in response to her question about what I would have done, I default to my standard answer, which turns out to be the stupidest thing I can say. "I don't know."
"You don't know? What you mean, you don't know? I betcha Derrick knows. I betcha Tamisha knows. I know what would have happened, 'cause it happened to me and that's how I ended up pregnant with you when I was your age. You think I don't know what boys and girls your age do when they're together for hours unsupervised? And, really, it don't take hours. It only takes a few minutes to do something that can change your life forever!"
She stands there for a minute, towering over me. I jump a little when, out of the corner of my eye, I see her right hand approaching my face. It's moving too slowly for a slap, so I calm down a bit as she puts her forefinger and thumb on either side of my chin, raises my face, and makes me look at her.
Her light brown almond-shaped eyes are a mirror of mine. We've both got the same eyes, the same light brown skin, the same dark brown hair and roughly the same skinny shape. Right now, my mom is about three inches taller than me. But if it weren't for her pudgy stomach and her wider hips (which she, of course, blames on me), we could probably trade jeans. Everybody says we look more like sisters than mother and daughter. She thinks it's a compliment. I don't. Who wants to look like her mother? But these eyes, they are both mine and hers. And just when I see a pool of tears forming in them, she points me toward the hallway and says, "I can't stand to look at you right now."
I wish she'd make up her mind. Does she want me to look at her or not?
Minutes later, we start with the all-too-familiar routine. She comes into my room to collect my cell phone and my modem. I can keep the computer for the sake of school. I can go on the internet in the den, but only for academic purposes. There goes my social life.
"Where's the iPod?" she asks.
This is a new one. "That, too?" I protest. "Daddy gave it to me!"
She raises her eyebrows. "And?"
I cannot believe my mother is this mean! This is straight boo-dee, but I can't say so without getting into more trouble -- not that that's possible at this point. Slowly, I reach into my Louis Vuitton drawstring bag and pull out the hot pink iPod, a gift my father gave me only two weeks ago to celebrate my sixteenth birthday. Unlike the other items she's taking away, this one hurts. I try real hard, but I can't stop the tears from falling down my cheeks. It feels like she's taking my daddy away from me. Again.
That's all she ever does is take, take, take. She takes my freedom, she takes my friends, my family, everything! I think she wants to take my life because she didn't have hers. She missed the homecoming games because she couldn't find a babysitter, she missed her senior prom because I had pneumonia, and she didn't graduate with her class because she had to sit out a semester. Basically, she lost her teen years when she got pregnant with me at sixteen -- but how is that my problem? Why do I have to pay for her mistakes? I'm not my mom, and she's not me! The more I think about it, the madder I get.
My mother takes the iPod in hand and wraps the headphone cord around the rectangular box as she walks toward my bedroom door. I want to scream something from one of those poor little rich girl movies -- something like "I wish I was never born!" -- but there is always the possibility that my mother will do her best to make my wish come true by killing me now. The safest thing I think I can get away with while she's still in the room is crossing my arms on my chest. I'm pushing it.
Somehow, my mother sees me and says under her breath, "Keep on and you won't be getting a car for Christmas."
I know she did not just threaten me with the car my daddy has already promised me for Christmas when I pass my driver's test! "What's the point? It'll just be one more thing for you to take away from me." Who said that? I hold my breath and wait to see what my momma will bop me with. She's got a cell phone, a modem, and an iPod in hand. Those shouldn't hurt too badly.
She keeps her back to me as she grabs hold of the doorknob. She stops and takes a deep breath. I feel like I'm in a movie theater, waiting for the bad guy to jump out of the closet and attack the innocent victim. But instead, my mother says in a calm, even tone, "For your sake and mine, I'm gonna pretend I didn't hear that because I don't believe that God has called me into the prison ministry."
When my mother shuts the door behind her, I bury my face in my pillow and scream as loud as I can without letting her hear me. That's when the door opens again and my journal comes flying across the room, barely missing my head. I grab the journal and, for a moment, consider ripping each page to shreds. I still don't understand what gives her the right to read my stuff. In that whole forty-five-minute lecture she gave me, she never once mentioned the violation of my privacy. Where is the justice?
Instead of destroying my journal, I grab a pen from my desk and write:

Dear Me,
Mom just read my journal. Here is what I'm thinking:
#1 -- Nothing happened at Derrick's house, so I don't know what the big deal is.
#2 -- I can take care of myself, which was actually proven in the journal!
#3 -- What gives my mother the right to just go in my room and pick up my journal and read it?
#4 -- If my mom keeps me from getting the car that my daddy promised me, I will leave this house!
#5 -- Derrick does not look like Bow Wow. Do not ever fall for a guy that you have only seen from the 9th row up in the stands at a basketball game.
Maybe I should stop writing all of my personal stuff down. But if I do that, who will I tell all my problems? I mean, I have my friends, but they don't understand me like this journal does. No, I can't give up the journal. I will just have to find a good hiding place for it.
-- Karis I've-Been-Wronged Reed

Now I'm searching all over my room for a journal hideout spot. I've got to hide it in a place where it's so out of place no one would ever look there. There again, I have a problem. My mother might have the voice to be a minister, but she's got a nose that could outsniff a hound dog. She can smell trouble all over me. When I was little and I got a bad note from school, I could barely get off the bus before she'd say, "Something's wrong with you. What happened at school today?" And since I've never been a good liar (at least not to my mother, anyway), I'd have to break down and tell her the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
I'm searching through the closet now for a place big enough to hold a journal but small enough to be inconspicuous, and that's when I decide to forget it. Deep down inside, the truth is: I don't want to hide things from my mother. Once again, the tears start to sting my eyes. It bothers me that she read my journal. My mother and I have been living in this house alone for the last five years. When she and my father divorced, she got the house and me. She's always talking about how we only have each other and God. Always talking about how levelheaded I am, what a blessing it is to have a daughter who is so self-reliant. So what made her think that she had to read my journal? What happened to the trust? In a way, I feel like she deserves whatever she got for reading it.
I figure the best thing I can do is stop writing in the journal until I'm eighteen, at which point I can do and write whatever because I will be grown. You hear me -- grown! I cannot wait for that day! Go where I want to go, do what I want to do, answer to nobody but myself. And God, I suppose, but that shouldn't be too hard, since He already knows everything.
I close my journal and put it where I have always put it -- in my top drawer. If I can't have my privacy and if my mother can't trust me, then...whatever. That's on her, except right now it's on me because I'm the one who's grounded. There's something seriously wrong with this picture.

Copyright © 2008 by Michelle Stimpson

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Columnist

One of my goals for SORMAG is to keep your path on the publishing road a smooth one. I try to offer you information that you can use in your writing. Promotion is a major part of your writing, so I found someone who has the knowledge about promotion and is willing to share it with you.

Please meet our newest columnist Tyora Moody. She will be talking about how to use Web 2.0 to promote books. I’ve known Ty for a few years. She knows a lot about the internet and how to use it to promote. Her column is called -
Book Buzz 2.0

You can find her column here every fourth Tuesday of the month.

It’s About That Time - Tyora Moody

In a recent online marketing workshop, I discussed the need to take advantage of online opportunities. Some of these ventures may require costs, while others are free. I will layout both options further down. The most important factor with online promotion is time management. You don’t want to start too early, but you certainly don’t want to wait until the last minute.

I've been working with authors for about ten years on the web and graphic design front. It's amazing to me how many authors seek me for design services right before or after their book has been released. The days of getting by without an online presence have clearly been over for several years now. Whether you are an author or a business person, you can't afford not to be web savvy.

Now I don't know too many authors who have a tremendous amount of free time to devote to marketing. Most of us don't live as hermits. Some may still work nine to five jobs. Even if you do have the opportunity to write full-time, I've noticed many authors supplement their income by providing services like editing, teaching or design work. Plus there are even more important priorities such as taking care of your family. You also may have obligations to church or volunteer work. Managing your time is essential.

Whether you are a published author or an aspiring writer, let's pretend the ink is dry on your contract and you have received word of your book release date. In nine months, your baby is going to be placed on bookshelves nationwide. Should you sit around and daydream about your bestseller? Not! Now is the time to get down to business to increase your odds of selling your book well in the marketplace.

What is this Going to Cost?

DO NOT think for one minute your book will sell itself. Do your research. Research should technically start while you’re writing the book. This will help alleviate some pain and disappointment later.

As you make note of costs, start a notebook or a spreadsheet for your budget. Whether you received an advance from a traditional publisher or you have saved money for self-publishing, you need to set aside money. Money talks and you need to know what you have to work with for marketing.

Some services you need to research as far as costs are:

a. Publicists/PR Service – You many need some help with the marketing. Ask around for references and don’t be afraid to ask hard questions about services provided. Will they write and send press releases for your? Do they offer eblasts services?

b. Website – Without a doubt you need a Website. I urge you to secure the domain name you desire as early as possible. It’s also a smart idea to pay a few years in advance. You will save time by not having to worry about “annoying” renewal notices.
If you want to hire a professional to design your site, you should plan to have your site online at least six months or more before your book is released. This will allow you time to promote the site and generate a mailing list for interested readers.

c. Online Ads – You will want to research the costs of placing banner ads and/or sending eblasts through book promotion companies. Before you plop down your money, make sure to ask if you can get any statistical data like the number of hits or banner clicks. This will help you plan better for your next book campaign.

It’s also probably a good idea to plan to use these services three times. The number three seems to be the charm with people picking up on your advertisement. So, if you choose banner ad placement on a literary site, plan for at least three months.
Don’t be scared to look for ad placement on websites other than literary or book sites. If domestic violence is in your book, remember October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. See if you can get your ad on a specialty site or included as a feature. Think ahead on how to get the most from your online ad campaigns. Don’t just blindly throw your money away.

d. Handouts/Mailings (Postcards, Flyers) – Print promotion is important, so I definitely want to be sure to mention it. Look for unique ways to spend your money. Most readers can always use a bookmark. Be sure your print and web design branding match.

What Can I Do for Free?

Okay, by now your head may be spinning with how much you are going to have to budget for marketing. Remember I’m just discussing online costs – so don’t forget your offline costs.

What can I do for free? Well, there’s a ton of stuff you can do online, but I’m going to recommend the easiest and that’s social networking. The key word is TIME.
I can try to explain Social Networking, but this video is more fun to watch.

You are probably already familiar with several types of social networks.

· (micro-blogging or status update)
· (There are a ton of specialty Ning sites)

· (Video-based)
· (Audio-based)
· (Audio-based)

I could go on, but the point of this article was not to overwhelm you. You can easily sign-up for a ton of social networks and never really use them effectively. My recommendation. Choose five (I already bolded them above) and spend quality time within each social network. This may mean spending one hour five days a week or spending a Sunday afternoon. However you can fit it into your schedule, make time.

That means don’t just drop into say, “Hey, I have a book coming out. Buy it now!” Most people might call that spam. Find at least two networks you are most comfortable with and spent time developing relationships. Share your experiences with people you may never meet in person, but who may read your book. These are your potential INFUENCERS. Remember the number one form of advertisement of all time (and it’s free) is word of mouth.

I hope I have given you some food for thought as you put together your book marketing plan. Take advantage of the huge opportunities online, but be sure to do it efficiently and most of all have fun.


Tyora Moody is a writer and web developer. The owner of Tywebbin Creations is also a social network enthusiast. You can find her online at two of her favorite networks, Facebook and Twitter. For more marketing tips and ideas, be sure to stop by the NEXT LEVEL Marketing blog at

Monday, November 24, 2008

FEATURED AUTHOR: Shannon Ethridge

Shannon Ethridge is a million-copy best-selling author, and speaker with a master’s degree in counseling/human relations from Liberty University . Ethridge has been interviewed on national radio and television shows such as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, The 700 Club, Life Today with James and Betty Robison, FamilyLife Today with Dennis Rainey, and New Life Live! with Stephen Arterburn. Ethridge was also featured on the cover of Today’s Christian Woman magazine and is the winner of a Gold Medallion Award for Excellence in Publishing.

The Sexually Confident Wife

Shannon Ethridge has guided many people through the hidden sexual issues that women have been afraid to talk about. In her new book, The Sexually Confident Wife: Connecting with Your Husband Mind Body Heart Spirit, Ethridge suggests that the wife who wants her marriage to last forever should learn to love her body, share it freely with her husband, and really enjoy SEX.

Women deserve to enjoy a passionate sexual relationship with their husbands without inhibition, awkwardness, guilt, or shame. The Sexually Confident Wife addresses many needed issues:

overcome sexual inhibitions, distractions
embrace sexuality
celebrate sensuality, regardless of age, size, shape
maximize mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy

What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

We can learn to be Sexually Confident Wives no matter our age, size, shape, history, etc.

Sexual confidence is the birthright of every woman, and the deepest desire of every husband for his wife! There’s not one single hurdle that holds women back in bed that can’t be overcome. Poor body image, low self-esteem, sexual abuse, guilt over past promiscuity, ignorance about male & female sexuality – all of these rob us if we let them, but we can learn to control these issues rather than letting them control us.

What did you learn while writing this book?

There’s a biological reason why women often become “frigid.” Our bodies produce a feel-good hormone called “oxytocin” whenever we are touched by someone we love. The more we’re touched, the more oxytocin we produce, and the more we want to be touched. But the less we touch, the less we want to be touched because our oxytocin levels are experiencing a downward spiral. So the answer to frigidity is to touch even when we don’t necessarily “feel like it.” Our feelings do eventually catch up. As I say in the book, “I’d never be cold enough to say to a woman, “Get over it and get naked,” but I’ll let you do the math. One naked, oxytocin-producing man plus one naked, oxytocin-producing woman equals one intimately connected couple!”

What is the hardest part about the writing business?

It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to make yourself sit down for long periods of time and focus. Whether it’s doing research, writing original material, or editing manuscripts, it requires a lot of concentration and alone time. For an extrovert who’d much rather be out schmoozing with people and interacting face to face, keeping company with no one but your laptop for hours and days at a time is a huge challenge.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

Being an author is not all that glamorous all the time. There are lots of emotional highs and lows – like a roller coaster ride. One reader adores what you wrote and says it changed her life forever, and you start to think you’re something special. But then another reader may respond to that very same thing with anger or resentment. It’s frustrating and exhausting, and you have to develop a thick skin. I just have to remember that I can’t please all of the people all of the time, and to just write out of my own conviction and experience trusting that it will help many people, even if it doesn’t help every individual

Our theme this month is Time Management. How do you do to manage your writing time?

My motto is, “You don’t find time to write. You make time to write.” I carve out big chunks of time in my calendar and have to be as faithful to keeping them as I would any other important meeting or social engagement. I know if I get behind on a manuscript deadline, the pressure kills my creativity, so managing my time and working on a book a little at a time over a several-month period is key to producing my best work.

What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

1) That success isn’t measured by how well a book sells, but by the impact it makes on a person’s life (and that’s something I’ll never know this side of Heaven, so I can’t stress about success).

2) That I don’t have to feel bad about taking time off when I’m simply not able to concentrate, because the diversion is like hitting the “refresh” button on your computer – it gets rid of the junk and helps you think more clearly when you return to your writing.

3) People will always want more and more from you, so personal boundaries are vital. You are the only one who is going to guard your free time, your family time, and your sanity. If someone robs you of those things, it’s no one’s fault but your own.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Never. Although it’s a difficult lifestyle, there’s always been new ideas swirling around in my head that are screaming to be birthed. I believe as long as my fingers will function, I’ll write, and as long as I have breath, I’ll speak to encourage others in their journey through life. It’s simply too rewarding of an endeavor to abandon completely.

Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?

Writing best-selling books requires equal amounts of inspiration and perspiration. Discover what sparks your interest and energizes you, then relentlessly pour that energy out onto paper until there’s nothing left in you. Repeat that process the next day and the next, and over time you may find yourself as hooked as I am. In fact, I’m going to be starting a new online mentorship program in September 2009 called B.L.A.S.T. (Building Leaders, Authors, Speakers & Teachers). I know there’s so many people who have so many great things to say, but don’t know how to create a speaking platform or get those ideas published. After my experiences over the past decade, I’m hoping to be a “mid-wife” and help other people bring their writing and speaking dreams to life.

What are you thankful for this year?

The continuous encouraging support of my husband (married 18 years) and my children (a 16-year old daughter and 13-year old son). They are my biggest cheerleaders, and I could never juggle a writer & speaker’s lifestyle if it wasn’t for them holding me up and helping me out at every turn. We make a great team!

Five questions about books:

One book you’ve read more than once.

Daily Meditations for Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood

One book you couldn’t put down until you finished.

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

One book that made you laugh.

The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands by Laura Schlessinger

One book that made you cry.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

One book you wish you'd written.

SexGod by Rob Bell

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Shannon Ethridge, P.O. Box 1018, Lindale, TX 75771 or

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Order in the House

God’s Heart Concerning the Marriage Covenant is the remedy for strong healthy marriages. It is an easy read spiritual/ self-help book. It addresses the perplexing issues of today’s couples. This book deals with the purpose and intention of the marriage covenant. Difficult questions are answered such as, why your spouse, with all of his or her faults, is perfect for you. God removes all the guesswork by making it very practical and clear in understanding your roles as husband and wife. He walks you step-by-step through the process of how to fulfill those roles and how to connect with each other for purpose. Additionally, He reveals poor choices that couples often make providing the enemy an entryway into their marriages. By using the author’s vulnerability and weaknesses, couples are able to locate themselves so God can lead them to a place of dominating their domain in marriage. Areas where the enemy once had a stronghold, causing the author’s marriage to suffer and nearly end in divorce, are revealed in detail. “Order in the House,” reveals how men and women communicate differently. It explains the importance of meeting the needs of your spouse and not focusing on your own needs. At the same time, how to get your needs met (by God) until your spouse’s change comes. It teaches how to take on a new mind-set and fight God’s way, not the world’s way. It dispels the lies of the enemy, using the Word of God. Most importantly, it reveals how one individual can change the dynamics of his or her marriage. It explores various issues such as using sex as a weapon, couples meeting the needs of their spouse, allowing family and friends to be involved in your daily affairs, selfishness and much more.

What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

I want readers to understand that marriage is not easy and for those who are struggling in marriage, you are not alone. It is a process and because the dynamics of marriage can be so complicated, we need to return to the Creator of the covenant. God has set aside tools, principles, and biblical truths inside this self-help read that will help every marriage experience victory. The success of your marriage has very little to do with your spouse, but everything to do with how you connect with your Father in heaven. I find that many of us are spinning our wheels trying to be successful, trying to fix our marriages, and trying to take care of our problems when the real solution is bringing God back into the equation. We do not have all the answers as seen in the astronomical divorce rate. He is the answer to all of our dilemmas.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned that PURPOSE must remain at the forefront of my mind. Many times God shows us the end and our job is to trust Him and go…I found that there are many u-turns, dead ends, one-way streets, road closed construction zones on the path to birthing the finished project. The only way I was able to finish it was to remember that God gave the assignment and it was much bigger than I was. My purpose of meeting the needs of married couples was wrapped inside the assignment so how dare I say no. There were times when I wanted to quit, times when I wanted to cry and complain to God that the assignment was too hard, times when I felt the enemy had won and I would never see my book published, but God would always remind that His strength was made perfect in my weakness. He would always remind me that it was not about me. It was much bigger than I was and because He gave the assignment, the enemy could not stop me. God’s purpose caused me to triumph!

What is the hardest part about the writing business?

The most difficult part about the writing business is just like any other job. It’s all about whom you know when it comes to getting your foot in the door. As I look back over the entire process, writing the book was the easy part. Promoting my work was more challenging because I’m the new kid on the block. If you do not have an established name the industry, big publishers are not banging down your door offering a contract deal. Top book reviewers may look over a new writer’s work for a more familiar author. One of the lessons I learned from going through this process as a new author is that it takes creativity, dedication, and patience.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

The one thing about the writing business I wish non-writers would understand is that it truly is a job just like any other job. I think family members especially have the misconception that authors are not “really” working because they spend most of there time at home. Writing is not a traditional assignment but it definitely is a job and it takes a lot of mental work, quiet time, and meditation, especially for those writing spiritual self-help books.

Our theme this month is Time Management. How do you do to manage your writing time?

Well, because I am a wife, mother, and I also work a traditional job, time management is crucial. During my time spent writing the book, thankfully I was a stay-at-home mom. I would do all of my writing while my family was asleep. Although I returned to work during the home stretch of the project, I still try to maintain a writing/ promotion schedule of working around my family’s schedule in order to keep some type of normalcy within the family unit. It is important that I remember God has given the assignment of meeting the needs of couples. He always reminds me that my first priority is to minister to my family.

What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

I wish I’d known that giving birth to this assignment and raising this “baby” was just as challenging and even more difficult than raising my own children. At least with my own children, I’m in control, I make all the decisions and in their early, tender stages, I provide care that aims them in the direction of success. With my own children, each of my actions precipitated an (almost immediate) reaction with them. I’ve found that it doesn’t quite work that way with promotion. I’m not as in control as I’d like to be. Doors do not fly open just because I’m their knocking and it doesn’t matter that I have all my “ducks in a row” there remains a waiting game that causes even the strong at heart to sometimes grow faint. Perseverance is a virtue I’ve adopted and believe all novice writers must possess.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Absolutely, I believe every writer at one point in their career has had second thoughts. Writing is in the creative arts category and we all have heard about the “starving artist.” Success doesn’t just happen for writers, actors, musicians or artists. We have to plow the field until we’ve made a name for ourselves. It is definitely a work in progress and we learn survival skills, like working other jobs, as we wait for the door of opportunity to open. The only reason I believe we keep going is that we believe in the good we have to offer. I personally cannot stop because of the blessing God wants to give the people.

Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?

The advice I have for the aspiring writer is to never take no for an answer. I have a pastor who I sincerely look up to who once said no is the acronym for not over. Believe in yourself. Believe in what your gut is telling you. Do not be afraid to step outside the box or go beyond your circle. Fear is a definite part of the growing equation. If you do not have a hint of anxiety causing your heart to flutter then you are not living, you’re simply surviving and let me assure you that if you are suppose to be doing something greater than what you are putting your hands to right now, you will become very frustrated. Go for it!

What are you thankful for this year?

I am thankful for many things and one of them being the ability to finish the assignment God gave me. It is an awesome blessing to see my first book in print and more importantly to receive feedback of how the lives of married couples are changing because of this work.

Five questions about books:

One book you’ve read more than once.

The Lady, Her Lover, Her Lord by one of my favorite authors, Pastor TD Jakes. I absolutely love this book and recommend it to every woman because God has given Jakes the gift of ministering to the deep issues of a woman’s heart. I also recommend it to every man because it will give him a better understanding of women.

One book you couldn’t put down until you finished.

The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson was one book I just couldn’t put down. It truly empowers one to break through to the blessed life. Sometimes God astounds me as He places a hint of His greatness into vessels to be used as tools to bless His people.

One book that made you laugh.

I’m sure I’ve read at least one but I can’t think of a book that has made me laugh lately. I’m more of a “serious” reader. Pleasurable books for me are those that inform, educate, and challenges readers to move into action. I love a self- help book that challenge me to take a long hard look at myself and provides me with the tools to move past that place.

One book that made you cry.

I Hope You Dance by Mark D. Sanders & Tia Sillers. This awesome read makes you think, inquire, and ponder. It motivates, keeps one hopeful and has a tender way of moving you into action. I simply love it.

One book you wish you'd written.

The one book I wish I had written is without a doubt The Secret. I have to be honest and say that I did not really care for the way the book was written. I thought it was a difficult read and it didn’t keep my attention. However, The Secret DVD was phenomenal. I wholeheartedly believe that what we put out there is going to come back. We will reap what we have sown.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

I have an online marriage ministry, Passionately Pursuing Purpose Ministries, and I would love all your readers to visit us at It ministers to the needs of married couples and singles who want to marry. I would also encourage readers to contribute to our ministry by e-mailing links/ resources they feel would help strengthen families. Readers can contact us by e-mail at: My new release, Order in the House-God’s Heart Concerning the Marriage Covenant, can be purchased through my website, various online distributors, and national bookstores.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

EXCERPT: Rhapsody in Red

Rhapsody in Red
by Donn Taylor

ISBN-13: 978-0-8024-5116-3
ISBN-10: 0-8024-5116-0
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Copyright: 2008, Donn Taylor
Published date: 1 September 2008

Where purchased: Bookstores, on-line sources linked on my Web site,

Web site:

"That Wednesday, two weeks before Thanksgiving, was a bad day to find a corpse on campus." Preston Barclay is a self-made recluse (and he likes it that way). Teaching college history allows him time to grieve the loss of his pianist wife and find relief from the musical hallucinations that have been playing in his head since her death. But when he and a headstrong colleague, Mara Thorn, discover the body of another instructor on campus, Press's monotonous solitude is destroyed.

When the preliminary evidence singles out Press and Mara, they must take some chances (including trusting each other) to build their own defense--by bending the rules just a bit.

They form an unlikely alliance to stay ahead of the police, the college's wary and incompetent administration, and whoever is trying to get away with murder. Otherwise, they both might end up unemployed, behind bars, or worse....

Chapter 1

That Wednesday two weeks before Thanksgiving was a bad day to find a corpse on campus. It was already bad when Professor Mara Thorn came to ask my help.
She did not know, but she found me battling the incessant music in my head and grieving for past Wednesdays when Faith was alive. That had become my Wednesday ritual: close the door of my office in the history department at five o’clock, return to my desk, and linger alone in memories of my wife while darkness brought in the chill of Midwestern evening. I would put off as long as I could my return to the home where Faith and I had raised our daughter, for that house with its silent piano now formed the center of the world’s vast emptiness.
That afternoon, the orchestra in my head was augmenting my grief with Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings when someone knocked at my door. The office was dark, but through the door’s frosted glass I saw a shadowy form against the dim lights of the hallway.
“Come in,” I called.
The door opened and the dark form paused on the threshold.
“Professor Barclay?” The voice was feminine, hesitant.
“I’m Preston Barclay,” I said. “The light switch is beside the door to your right.”
The shadow’s arm moved. Light flooded the office and revealed Professor Mara Thorn. I had never spoken with her, but I remembered her introduction last August at the year’s first faculty meeting. She was perhaps thirty-five years old, slender, with a pleasing face and shoulder-length blond hair. She wore no makeup, and her blue eyes held the faculty in a gaze that some described as earnest and others as defiant. I held with the latter view. It’s said that eyes are the windows of the soul, but hers were the embrasures of a fortress.
Her expertise was comparative religions. And that raised the question why a nominally Christian institution like Overton University—the school we knew before The Crisis as Overton Grace College—would hire a Wiccan in its department of religious studies. Most faculty assumed she was part of the new administration’s diversity program.
“Come in,” I said again. My internal musicians shifted suddenly from the solemn Adagio into a series of hideous discords. Harmonious or dissonant, though, that music is all I have left now of Faith. It’s not just a tune here and there, but constant, uncontrollable torrents of music inside my head. The clinical term is “musical hallucinations.” Psychiatrists and neurologists don’t know what causes them, but they say these hallucinations duplicate the ordinary function of listening to music—except that the hallucinated “sounds” don’t come from outside, but are generated internally through a weird malfunction of the brain. The experts have their theories, but I live with the reality. This internal music makes my life like living in a movie that some insane editor has mismatched with the music score from another.
Professor Thorn began to close the door. “I’ve come to ask your help.”
“Leave the door open,” I said. “Come have a chair.” I gestured toward a hardwood straight chair to the left of my desk.
She removed her winter jacket and hung it on the rack next to my overcoat. She wore a long-sleeved violet blouse, and her blue jeans showed none of the currently fashionable fading or fraying. Still hesitant, she kept her eyes on me as she settled into the chair. To ease her mind, I circled the right side of my desk and took a chair opposite her. I hoped my coat and tie wouldn’t make her self-conscious about her jeans.
The open door and the width of the room between us were minimum precautions in these days when a careless word can get a male faculty member accused of sexual harassment. Music may bounce around in my head, but I don’t have any loose screws.
Professor Thorn let the silence linger, broken only by a few clicks from the computer under my desk as it ran one of those automatic programs I’ve never understood. I thought she might have changed her mind, but then she spoke in a rush.
“Professor Barclay, I’ve come to you because everyone on campus respects you.”
I adjusted my trifocals and tried not to look self-conscious. “A lot of people would disagree with that.”
“They also say you’re not afraid to take an unpopular stand.”
. . . but that was in another country; / And besides, the wench is dead.
The quotation flitted across my mind, but I must have spoken aloud because she answered: “I’ve read Christopher Marlowe, too. Though that line may have been added later by Thomas Heywood.”
Score one for her unexpected erudition.
She moistened her lips and turned that blue-steel gaze on me. “Do you know Laila Sloan?”
“I’ve talked with her a few times in groups over lunch.”
I knew more than I was telling. Six years ago our administration added a nursing program to the school’s offerings. Too many of its students failed the required chemistry course, so the nursing faculty and administration tried to drop it from the curriculum. It made no sense to me to graduate nurses ignorant of chemistry, and I led a faculty movement that defeated the curriculum change. So the administration took the course away from the chemistry department and brought in Laila Sloan from a high school across the state, inserting her in the nursing department to teach it. Suddenly, all the nursing students passed chemistry. That made the administration happy.
Except with me.
That’s why I denied being courageous. We work on annual contracts here, with no provision for tenure. Teaching history is all the life I have left to me now, and I’d make a lousy used-car salesman. So ever since then I’ve been quiet as a church mouse with laryngitis.
“I have a problem with Laila.” Professor Thorn looked down at the floor. “She has been friendly with me, more so than the rest of the faculty has.” Her eyes lifted and speared me again with that blue gaze. “But lately she hasn’t kept her hands to herself.”
“She’s an . . . outgoing person,” I said. “Maybe she doesn’t mean any harm.”
Laila was a large woman of about forty, strong and robust. Rumor said she’d been cautioned about “inappropriate touching” of female students, but apparently no one had accused her of an overt advance. And her value to the nursing department ensured that the administration would overlook quite a lot of questionable behavior on her part. They apparently see no contradiction between their laxity in her case and their Draconian approach toward even the appearance of impropriety among less-favored faculty.
Score one for institutional hypocrisy.
I confess I didn’t want to get involved. For all I knew, this Wiccan professor might have invited the situation and then changed her mind.
Professor Thorn’s lips tightened. “Laila still makes me uncomfortable.”
“Then tell her positively to keep hands off,” I said. “The campus gossip mill says you’re into weight training and karate. You ought to be able to make it stick.”
Her chin rose a fraction of an inch. “I’ve told her twice, and I’ve told her why.” Professor Thorn looked like she didn’t know whether to curse or cry. “In my teens I made a bad marriage to an older man. It took me three years to work up nerve enough to break out of it. By then I was sick of being touched in ways I didn’t like. I swore I’d never let it happen again.”
She glared at me as if daring me to come across the room and touch her. I noticed for the first time that she held a cell phone in her hand. This seemed like a good time to study one sleeve of my coat. The cuff had frayed, showing a pinhead-sized patch of white thread. A few strokes with a Sharpie would hide it, and I wouldn’t have to buy a new suit.
“This afternoon,” Professor Thorn continued, “Laila asked me to drive her to the post office to mail a package. I did, and we went through the same problem again. I told her again, and she threatened to complain about me to the administration. I’m new on faculty, and I can’t afford complaints. I need this job.”
“What does this have to do with me?” I asked.
I made a mistake then. I have a habit of walking back and forth while I’m thinking. A professor’s folly, Faith used to call it. When I stood, Professor Thorn tensed and flicked the cell phone open. Her fingers lingered over its buttons while her gaze searched mine.
What was she going to do? Dial 911? I sat back down and made a show of adjusting my necktie. “I’m sorry if I startled you. Pacing is a bad habit.”
“It’s . . . it’s all right.” She flushed slightly and closed the phone. “Will you go with me to talk to her? I can’t go to the administration, and the women faculty members haven’t exactly made me welcome.”
I didn’t want to go because it would mean a nasty scene with Laila Sloan. For obvious reasons, I’d always been persona non grata to her. Still, Professor Thorn’s position as a new faculty member was precarious, and she did need a disinterested witness. I admit my conscience was bugging me because I had doubted her. She didn’t act like the kind of person who would invite an advance. Indeed, she seemed the pathological opposite.
“All right,” I said. “Will we find her at home or on campus?”
“At her office.” Professor Thorn’s tension eased a bit. “I dropped her there about an hour ago. She said she had papers to grade.”
We stood, and I waited while she retrieved her coat. I didn’t help her into it because that might involve touching. When she had it on and moved out into the hall, I sauntered over and collected my overcoat and hat.
Outside, trees and hedges bent before a gusty November wind off the plains. The beige globes on campus light posts sent nervous shadows skittering along the concrete walkways. Without warning, my mental music shifted from a Chopin nocturne into the frenetic finale of Beethoven’s Appassionata.
We crossed the campus circle to what used to be called the chemistry building until the new administration renamed it the Center for the Natural Sciences. (Everything now is either a Center or a Service.) Without speaking, we climbed to the second floor, where the scent of floor wax surrendered to pungent odors from a chemistry lab down the hall. Professor Thorn stopped at the closed door of the only lighted office. We could see nothing through its frosted glass window. No one answered our knock.
We knocked again and received no answer.
Professor Thorn called, “Laila?”
Still no answer.
I called, “Professor Sloan?” She was an instructor, not a professor, but in the present situation I would not quibble over niceties of protocol.
Again no answer. I twisted the knob and eased the door open a crack. “Professor Sloan?”
Only silence. Even the music in my head shut down. I opened the door and stepped inside, with Professor Thorn close behind. I looked to my left and saw nothing. Then Professor Thorn gasped. Her gloved hands fastened on my arm like those of a giant blacksmith trying to crush an anvil. She buried her head on my shoulder.
Quite a performance for a woman who didn’t want to be touched.
Then I saw her reason.
Laila Sloan lay on her side on the floor near the right wall. On a table above her, a desktop computer clicked a few times, then fell silent. Her head had received several hard blows—apparently not long ago, for her temple still oozed blood that darkened the floor nearby. A large bruise disfigured her neck below the ear. But the lividity of her face suggested death by strangulation. And a silk scarf lay open-ended beneath her neck.
I shook off Professor Thorn’s grip and pushed her back into the hallway.
“It’s time to use that cell phone,” I said.
Weeping, she gave it to me. Somewhere in the building a window banged open, and a blast of cold swept through the hall. With it came a premonition of some unseen force taking control of my life, boxing me in, making me remember things long forgotten.
I dialed 911 and made the report, then stood in the doorway, brooding and staring down at the battered remains of Laila Sloan.
Incongruously, the musicians in my head launched into the piccolo obligato to a John Philip Sousa march.

Welcome To SORMAG's Blog

About Me

My photo
I believe in promoting authors and their books. Let me introduce you and your books to online readers.

I'm also a happily married mother of three who's trying to break into the Christian writing field. The writing road can be rocky.

I’m available for:

Online promotion coaching
Contact me

Serving Our Community 365 Days a Year!