Thursday, February 26, 2015

Read the beginning of Joseph Max Lewis soon to be released novel "Baghdad Burning"!




Ch. 1

Maybe his lawyer could plea bargain the “Treason” and “War Crimes” charges down to one count of “Murder.”
Murder was a charge Sergeant Ralph Jackson thought he could live with. Green Berets, after all, killed people. They did not, however, betray their country, though sometimes their country did betray them. Treason bothered him but War Crime, on the other hand, was preposterous. The real war crime would be following orders.
In any event, what he couldn’t live with was walking away from the kids, about 70 Iraqi children who he knew practically worshiped him. It began as “winning the hearts and minds” of the villagers and it wasn’t hard. Ralph came from a close-knit family with three younger brothers and some of the Iraqis weren’t much younger than he was. So he played soccer with them, joked with them, and taught them English, using the lyrics to American pop songs. Well, kind of using the lyrics. Ralph remembered them all lined up, singing at the top of their lungs:
Fame! I want tooo live toooooo gather!
Um, “forever” guys.
“Tell me one thing that’s funny, Ralph,” Sergeant Ted Kehr said.
“It’s either laugh or cry, Ted.” He must have been smiling.
Ted Kehr was one of Ralph’s team mates on Operational Detachment A716, or 716. In the same way the Jones family called themselves “The Jones,” Green Berets referred to themselves as members of their detachment, so collectively Ralph, Ted Kehr and the others were “716.”
“Yeah,” Ted said.
The last of the sandstorm blew itself out by eight o’clock in the morning. Ralph was the first one out of the bunker.
After all the months of cursing these storms, the one time you wanted one to last and it blew out early. Ralph pulled out a set of binoculars and scanned the horizon for movement. Outside of As Salman, the terrain in this part of Iraq consisted of shifting dunes of yellow sand, stretching wave after wave, as far as the eye could see. Fine sand still swirled up off the dunes as the final wind gusts blew themselves out. From this distance, in what turned out to be an omen, the sand looked like a yellow mist blowing toward land off of an unearthly sea. As Ralph began sweeping in closer to the village, its water supply and palm trees, the ground changed to a darker color of sand mixed with dirt and the occasional sprouts of grass.
Despite a tickling in his throat and a sudden desire for a drink, he didn’t stop. You started close to the village and swept out in a grid pattern, and then you swept back in, whether you saw anything on the way out or not. He did it that way because that was the right way to do it and that was the way Ralph Jackson did things, the right way. That was why the United States Army put him on one of its fabled Green Beret “A teams” at an obscenely young age. Ralph not only always did things right, he had a real knack for combat, for killing. There was just no other way to put it.
He swept his gaze past the chest high mud brick wall surrounding the village and rested upon the first cinder block house on the outskirts. An old man with a red checked kafia walked outside. Ralph put the binoculars down. Captain Mel Harris, Ralph’s team leader, stepped up behind him, his approach masked by the snapping sounds of men removing condoms from the barrels of their M-16 rifles or unwinding Saran wrap from the action receiver area. Particularly in a sandstorm, keeping the weapons clean and clear by any other means was near to impossible.
Ralph knew what he was going to do, but needed help. He had to figure out how to get the rest of the team on board. He un-slung his canteen and took a long pull.
“Sir, there’s no way these people can escape now,” Ralph said, “and if they stay here, they’ll be slaughtered.”

The rest of the team filed out of the bunker and drifted off.
“Hey Ralph, what can we do?”
“They’ve got weapons, Captain. We can set them up to fight.”
“Most of the weapons they have, we gave them. They’re all Korean War surplus.”
Master Sergeant Dave Grayson, the Team Sergeant, joined them. As Team Sergeant Grayson was the senior enlisted man on the team, but he chose to remain silent.
“They kill people just fine, sir,” Ralph said.
Ralph was the newest member of the team and young for the job. At first that made the dangerous men he worked with nervous. In a twelve man A-Team, any weakness in one member threatens the survival of everyone else. He knew they watched him. Most of the time he was friendly and easy going and he acted his age. He joked around, usually took no offense and especially liked children. To his colleagues, these were not characteristics that inspired confidence. Then the killing started. After that they didn't get nervous about him being young, they got nervous about the red haze that seemed to surround him.
“Look, I know you’ve got a real soft spot for these kids and it’s partly my fault,” Captain Harris said. “I probably should’ve warned you to back off a little, but it helped us with villagers. You can’t let it affect your judgment.”
“Sir, think about all the help these people have given us over the last eight months. They’ve supplied us, hid us a couple times, given us shelter, intel . . . and if they’d been caught . . .“
”You don’t think I know that?”
It was true, Ralph thought. Everyone was upset. Ten hours earlier they’d received word via a secure burst transmission from Kuwait that the United States and Iraq had agreed to end hostilities. “All material support for insurgent groups is to terminate.” “A Teams,” otherwise known as Operational Detachments, including Operational Detachment A716, were to wrap up their involvement with the indigenous people, blow all “externally originated” ordinance in place, and exfiltrate the area.
In other words, they were supposed to disarm the people who’d befriended them and then abandon them to their fate.
After receiving the message, Captain Harris called the Americans together and issued the orders: “Gather up all their weapons and ammunition. Clean up any evidence of our operations in the area. Get ready to exfiltrate.”
Just as they’d begun directing their prior allies and former friends to stack their weapons in central locations, a second radio transmission came in. It was from Special Forces Headquarters and every bit as troubling as the first one.
“Just received at SF Headquarters - satellite intelligence indicates enemy troop elements moving in your direction. Large unit identified as fragment of Republican Guard Mechanized Battalion. Approximately 6 BTR-60 armored personnel carriers and truck transport for 120 infantrymen. Estimated time of arrival, 10:00 hours.”
By the time they received and decrypted the message, the sandstorm began in earnest. Since the storm was blowing east to west across As Salman, the Republican Guard unit approaching from the north was not impeded in until it got near town. The Iraqis who befriended 716, along with their wives and children, however, were snowed in. Then, just as the storm shifted to the north where it might slow down the enemy convoy, it blew out.
“I know you do sir, but-“
”We’ve got our orders, Sergeant Jackson.”
Sergeant Jackson, huh? Two could play that game.
“Remember the police station at Al Khidr, Captain?”
“You little turd.”
Ralph didn’t move, he barely let himself breath. There was no forgetting what 716 found after capturing the Al Khidr police station during the invasion. Images of blood, gore, and horrible metal implements flash before their eyes. They found videotapes, confiscated them and watched enough of one to know what they contained. God only knew what the Bathists would do to their friends given the chance, but 716 had a pretty good idea. Bringing it up was Ralph’s strongest card and playing it might backfire. Harris never talked to anyone like that. After what seemed like forever, he spoke.
“Dave, what do you think,” Harris asked his team sergeant.
“Well . . . it’s not exactly unprecedented, sir.”
Special Forces Detachments engaged in unconventional warfare and “unconventional” meant unconventional. There was a long Special Forces tradition of “improving upon” ambiguities in orders. Refusing to run from an enemy planning to butcher friends of America fell into this “improving upon” category. Morally, there is no reason not to disobey, but the entire team would have to agree. If they were caught, they’d be court-martialed.
“I’m inclined to go with Ralph on this, but first let’s see if it’s doable. We gotta think through the tactics, especially what we’re gonna do with those armored personnel carriers. If it’s doable, I say we lay out the legal consequences and then poll the team,” Grayson said.
Success, Ralph thought.
“Agreed. We review the tactics and if it’s feasible, we put it to a vote,” Harris said. “But before we go that far, let’s check the tactics.”
“Yes!” Ralph blurted out, clenching a fist.
“Shut up, Ralph,” Harris said under his breath. “Not a word out of you until we know it might work.”
“Sorry sir.”
The rest of the team was fanning out into the village, yelling for the villagers. They were already assembling the ordinance, moving it from private homes and hiding places into the village streets.
“We’ve got about 120 infantrymen to deal with, but the old small arms don’t bother me. We’ve got plenty of M-16 ammunition and the villagers will have the element of surprise,” said Harris.
“Keep them moving, Sergeant Penn.” Grayson shouted over Harris’s head. “Stack em up, then stand by.”
The rest of the twelve man detachment glanced over at the three men huddled together, then continued working with the villagers.
“What worries me are those APCs,” Harris said, referring to the Armored Personnel Carriers.
“Me too,” said Grayson. “Maybe we could use some of the C-4, Molotov cocktails . . .”
“Penn says there’s a couple crates of old LAWS in the villagers’ stockpile,” Ralph said.
“When’d those come in?” Grayson said. He’d often been away from the village conducting patrols and didn’t see all the ordinance as it was air dropped in.
“You’ve been working on this, haven’t you?” Harris said to Ralph.
“I’m just saying, sir.”
Ralph was referring to a rocket launcher that replaced the bazooka known as the M-72 light antitank weapon (L.A.W.). The LAW was developed in the 1960s. It was old and most soldiers had never seen one. In Special Forces, however, obsolete and foreign weapons were frequently supplied the allies or even to SF detachments. 716 knew more than a little bit about the LAW, including how to use it.

Coming Soon from Best-Selling author Murray Pura - "The Name Of The Hawk Series II"! Grab a read on "The Beginning"!


The Beginning

I am the man Morah.
I am also the man Morogh.
And the man Mhoireach.
Moray. Muiredach. Muireb. Moreb. Muireadhaigh.
It is all the same name and the same man.
If I were among the Australians it would be Muzza.
If you have been following my tale you know I speak of mysteries and legends and myths that are not myths but truths.
How Lancelot came to have twin sons born to him but that he only knew of the one named Galahad, for the other was spirited away and raised in secret by the midwife, aye, and that is the one we know as Hawk.
I have told you how Galahad and Hawk, having no idea they were brothers, both sought the True Cross and came to blows in Jerusalem over it, clashing as violently and bloodily as two bitter enemies.
If you have sat at my hearth and taken warmth from my fire and from my food, you know how the two came to battle all manner of evil in their pursuit of the Cross, and fought that evil side-by-side, brother alongside brother, until – by the grace of Almighty God – they overcame the wickedness as fellow warriors and friends.
You know that the brothers brought the Cross and its power back into the world of women and men. And then made their way from the Holy Land to Camelot and Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. They traversed many worlds in their journey. And the arrival at Camelot altered Hawk’s life forever. Do you remember? And do you remember the Grail? The Cup of Christ that I prefer to set down in its oldest spelling as Graal? Do you remember Merlin? And the sword they gave Hawk? And his new name?
Or should I refresh your memory before we take you on the road to all heaven and all hell, the road the two brothers had to ride to save the world from death and darkness a second time?
Let me pour you nourishment from my bottomless flagon. Let me slice you bread from my own wheatfields. Let me offer you honey and butter. And let me speak.
For I am the man Morah and Morogh and Mhoireach and it is what heaven has called me to be and to do.

* * * *

From Jerusalem they made their way to Damascus. And from Damascus the brothers, Galahad and Hawk, and Hawk’s lady Skaytha and her three female guardians, and Galahad’s men, made their way to Palmyra, and from Palmyra to Antioch, to Nicaea, to Constantinople. From that great city, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, they crossed into the Balkan province of Thrace, and from Thrace traveled beyond Illyricum, and into the Ostrogoth Kingdom, a land ruled by a German tribe that had conquered Italy and embraced Arianism. This was a faith that taught Christ was not divine but simply a good being created by God, and that there was no such thing as the Trinity. Such conversations as the nine travelers had with soldiers and rulers reflected this faith, and it was the faith of the Burgundian Kingdom in Gaul as well, and the German rulers of Lyons and Geneva. But it was never the faith of the people that the German tribes had conquered – they remained loyal to the Bishop of Rome.
Traversing the Kingdom of the Franks it was a different story. Here the Franks had converted to the faith of Christ centered in Rome so there was no division between themselves and the people they ruled. From Rheims to Paris to Rouen the nine riders found conversation easier for all shared the same faith in a crucified and risen God named Jesus Christ.
“What a difference between the Franks and the Ostrogoths,” said Skaytha as they rode. “A great deal of good broke apart when the Roman Empire in the West fell to the barbarians.”
“Yet the true faith is not utterly lost,” responded Galahad, “and the restoration of the Cross will make a difference to its renewal. One day faith in Christ will triumph in all the lands here and among the German tribes as well.”
“Yet the fight is harder in our own country.” Hawk glanced at both of them. “Is it not? Pictish, Irish, and Anglo-Saxon raiders have plundered the towns and villages and laid waste to the trade routes. Now their tribes are flooding Britannia and the Romans have gone. The Latin is gone too, and the libraries, and the faith in Christ stands diminished. What will the years ahead bring?”
“Resurgence, brother,” Galahad replied. “A fresh vitality. Don’t lose heart. The Cross will bless our land just as it will bless all the kingdoms we have passed through regardless of who rules them now and what they believe.”
“But what about the lands closest to Jerusalem? What about Arabia and the Persian Empire? When I was in Makkah I saw a black stone that the people worship and the stone troubled my spirit.”
Galahad was silent a moment. “Merlin has spoken of this stone. I cannot share everything he said. He may tell you himself now that he knows you exist. I will only say that the battle will be intense and there will be loss and confusion and the shedding of blood. But over the centuries the Cross will always be regained, always restored to the world, and always have the power to make the hearts of men and women new. Christ shall reign forever and ever.”

Who wants to read the beginning of "Preacher Man Series III-Retribution" by Alessandra Dagostino?

By Alessandra Dagostino
VOL. 1 – All the Powers of Hell

Angelika had never felt better since the day she’d been born.
She ran along a beach white as coconut meat, smiling, a stalk of ripe bananas in one hand, her white cotton dress fluttering like wings over her perfect figure and aquamarine bikini, bare feet splashing through blue and green saltwater, men and women she rushed past staring as they admired her beauty and youth and sheer exuberance.
She was running to the man of her life, the love of her life, the hero everyone else knew as Preacher Man but who she knew as a man strong, tender, and compassionate, the most beautiful man she had ever held in her arms.
Her lover.
Her husband.
Her absolute gift from God.
How happy he made her feel.
How perfect he made her feel.
How free.
How cherished.
How alive.
She slid open the glass door that was the beach entrance to their condo.
“Hey, Honeymoon Man!” she called, waving the bananas over her head. “It’s banana split time! And yes, you can make yours on top of my tummy like I promised, cold ice cream and all! That’s how much this girl loves her hunk!”
She stopped walking and calling halfway across the room.
Furniture was overturned and charred black.
Floor tiles had been torn up and shattered.
The walls were sprayed with blood.
Her face went to stone and the bananas fell on the broken floor.
She ran into each room in the condo.
All the furniture and flooring was ruined.
Windows were smashed.
Claw marks raked the walls.
There was more blood.
And a stench as if a sewer had been opened up in the condo.
She returned to the front room and knelt, head down, hands in her lap.
What has happened?
Images of her husband fighting hordes of dark creatures filled her mind.
Eventually they overwhelmed him and bound him and tortured him.
The images stopped.
She looked up and her eyes were drawn to a corner of the room.
In small letters there were words scrawled in Latin at the bottom of the wall.
She translated quickly.
We will turn him into one of us.
“So,” she said out loud, “Hell has invaded my life again. Unbidden, unwelcome, unloved.”
Steel seemed to suddenly make her body rigid.
Her blue eyes flickered with an eerie light.
She bowed her head again.
“Almighty God, grant me vengeance,” she prayed. “As you granted vengeance to Samson for his two eyes I ask you to grant me vengeance for my husband.”
She looked up and glanced back at the corner of the room where the Latin was written in blood and gore.
“I do not know what people mean when they speak of helpless rage,” she said. “I will not spare.”
Angelika got up and went to a closet. It was locked. The key was around her neck. She opened the door, went in, ripped up carpet with her bare hands, unlocked a trap door that was flush with the floor, and brought out a long black box painted with white cherry blossoms.
She took it outside the closet, knelt again, prayed again, and opened it.
Inside was a black scabbard with the same white cherry blossoms.
A hilt wrapped in cloth protruded from it.
She grasped the hilt and slowly drew out a sword.
It gleamed.
And it curved.
A Japanese sword.
A samurai’s sword.
A katana.
She lifted it in her hands.
A light that was not sunlight shimmered along the length of the blade.
She raised it over her head.
“Almighty God, Prince of Peace, Warrior, bless this sword with your blood.”
She laid it on the smashed tiles of the floor in front of her knees.
Then she removed her white cotton dress and swimsuit.
“Almighty God, put your strength in me, your fire in me, in the name of the Killed and Living One, let the wrath of God consume me. Oh my Lord, let me be fury and red blood and judgment in one woman’s body. Let me be archangel upon archangel upon archangel. Let me be the power of the highest heavens.”
Angelika took up the sword and glared at the corner of the room.
Her eyes were sapphire fire.
Her teeth were clenched.
Veins popped into view along her arms and legs and neck as her whole body tensed.
“There’s no way you could have taken him unless you emptied hell of your worst and ugliest and most powerful demons,” she seethed. “So you must have pulled out all the stops and endured all kinds of risks to take my husband down. And you think you have been successful. But there are a few things you have forgotten.” She drew the edge of the sword across her heart and a line of bright red blood jumped onto her skin. “He is my husband. He is my soulmate. I adore him. I love him like I’ve loved no human being in my life. Did you think I wouldn’t fight? Did you honestly think that?”
She pointed the blade at her heart.
Stabbed her breast.
And made a cut from top to bottom.
Creating a perfect Christ Cross in the reddest of blood.
Her eyes continued to focus on the one corner of the room.
“You forgot the powers I had when I dwelt in your dark halls, Lucifer. And you forget the powers I have acquired now that I walk freely in the Kingdom of Light. And not any kind of light either. A burning, scalding, blistering hell-killing like that will make you scream forever. Don’t you remember the line? Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? And you have scorned me. Do you believe I am so impotent that I would let you take my man and do nothing? Do you really have so much contempt for me? I will make you regret the day you ever chose to fall from grace. Trust me, I will make you weep bitter tears. Yes, even you, who never weeps.”
She suddenly struck with her sword and a black creature with frantically flapping wings burst into view and was impaled.
With her free hand she reached out and a second creature appeared when she clutched it by the throat. It writhed and twisted and shrieked. Her eyes blazed an unearthly blue. She squeezed harder. The creature cried out as its windpipe was crushed. It drooped lifeless in her grip and its wings sagged.
Blue eyes still bright and scorching as a desert sky, she stared at the corner of the room.
“Taking from me the man I love is your greatest mistake since the Crucifixion. I will torment you before your time. I will consume you long before the season appointed for your annihilation. I have been given the power to do it. And I will have no mercy. You do not know the meaning of the word. And now, because of what you have done, neither do I.”
She drew the katana across her throat and left a thread of blood.
“I am your destruction.”

What do you think of the sample from Flora Reigada's Devotional "Where Your Heart Meets God's"

The Jewel of A Waiting Banquet
"Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart" (Jeremiah 15:16, NKJV).
How do I know it is God speaking? That question has echoed through the ages.
Among the many excellent books written on the subject, one of the best in my estimation is "Hearing God" by my retired pastor, Rev. Peter Lord. In more than 50 years of ministry, he has helped many do just that, myself included. However, he cited a dilemma.
"One of the most common experiences I have in encouraging people to listen to God is that they hear him but cannot believe that it is really the Lord communicating with them." Such doubts have arisen in my mind. I compare them to a hungry orphan shivering in winter's cold outside a great mansion. She is gazing through its windows at a banquet table spread with a mouth-watering array of meat, buttery potatoes, vegetables, pastry and more. The orphan yearns for even one crumb and perhaps a moment to warm her icy hands at the crackling fireplace.
But she believes the feast, warmth and riches have been prepared for those far more important and worthy. She knows all too well, the dark mental corridors to which a hungry soul can stray. Certainly, the Master of this great place must know and would not want such a one at His table.
Our poor orphan does not see the truth—the "feast" and the sustenance it provides, illustrates the Bible and Jesus Christ, the living Word, becoming a part of us through His personal, rhema word, available to all who believe.
Does the orphan sound familiar? Are you stranded outside in the cold of doubt?
No matter what, you don't need to stay there. God's love can reach into the darkest corners of our hearts. Scripture assures us of His compassion. If our starving souls ask Him for bread, He will not give us stones.
This means we don't have to watch from the sidelines while others feast on God's goodness. The riches of His presence is not for an elite few, but for all who believe—the "heirs of salvation."
God would not have us hear His words second-hand, or crawl around the floor groping for crumbs. The doors to His house and heart are open and as near as a Bible, a prayer or a hunger for more.
God has many wonderful things to say to you. Your place is set at His table.

PEARL TO PONDER: To teach our congregation to establish communion with God, the Rev. Lord would ask, "What two qualities do you especially love about God?" After we had a minute to jot down our answers, he would then ask, "What two positive qualities do you think God loves about you?"
We were urged not to "think" about this, but to write what first comes to mind. If you can complete this exercise, it is likely you have communed with God and sampled the riches of His table.

LOVE NUGGET: "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Give "Day 17" a read from Sue Badeau's soon to be released Devotional "Clean Heart,Renewed Joy"!

Day 17 – Wash Me!

Read Verse 2

“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.”

Read also Jeremiah 2:22 “Although you wash yourself with soap and use an abundance of cleansing powder, the stain of your guilt is still before me," declares the Sovereign LORD” (NIV)

The most immediate thing that struck me when I reflected on these verses is that we need God to wash us—I need God to wash me. It is not enough to do it ourselves because even an “abundance of soap” is not enough to cleanse us from our sins when we try to do it ourselves.
These reflections on washing make me think of children who like to wash up in the kitchen sink, or take a bath. Sometimes they use “an abundance of soap.” Bubbles and suds everywhere! Sometimes they love the bath—laughing and squealing with delight as they play and splash in it. Sometimes they resist our efforts to wash them—proudly declaring that they can do it themselves.
Their washing is not totally in vain. They do get cleaner than they were before. The most obvious dirt sloughs off in the soapy water and by virtue of their efforts. They do not emerge from the bath as dirty as they went in.
This is like me with God, trying to “get myself clean” with my own efforts. With some prayer, reading the confession in church with others, trying to refrain from bad habits and sinful activities and turning towards more positive activities. It is not totally in vain. It is good to shake loose the “dirt” of laziness or anger, bitterness or judgment, mindlessness or wastefulness. I believe that just as we as parents or grandparents smile and are pleased with the efforts of our children to get themselves clean, so God too is able to smile at our efforts to cleanse ourselves.
And yet, it is not enough. It is not enough to let an infant or toddler “do it myself” or they will never be clean. In the realm of eternity, we are but babes or at best toddlers in God’s kingdom. It is not enough for us to try to clean ourselves, as the Jeremiah passage demonstrates; even when we use “an abundance of soap” the stain of our guilt is still before him.
When we move from playtime to serious cleaning time with an infant or small child, the laughter sometimes turns to tears. The child does not like it so much when we scrub the places where the dirt is really ground in. She doesn’t like us getting behind the ears.
We also have to get the places that are hard for the child to reach herself—the back and butt for example. This is no longer play but serious business and so important. The child may complain, yell, cry and squirm to get away, but the good parent will patiently and persistently continue to wash the child until the child is thoroughly clean.
Are you ready to join me in saying to God, “My playtime in the bath is over, come and wash me. Get behind my ears, get all the hard to reach places. Help me to not squirm away from Your washing. Rather give me the courage to allow You to get to all the hard places, the stained places, and the hidden places where the dirt and crud has accumulated. Wash away all of my iniquities and cleanse me thoroughly even though I may not like it!”
As we reflect and write in our journals today, let’s listen to “What Can Wash Away my Sin”. This version, sung by a child is particularly appropriate to go with our reflection today:

Grab an early glimpse of "The Outlaw Unchained - V5- The Posse"

The Outlaw Unchained – Volume 5 – The Posse

White curtains billowed inward as the afternoon cool breeze waifed over the two weathered hard looking men. Each one had a Spencer Repeating Rifle in front of them leaning up against the wall. They were finishing up placing all the .56-.56 shells they were going to need to complete the mission on the worn and beaten table that sat between them for fast loading, bullets tip up.
“Humpf,humpf ,humph” came the noise from over at the bed behind them. A man tied to the bed, one limb per each of the four posts, wearing a blindfold made of a sweaty bandana over his eyes continued to struggle with his restraints in a futile effort to free himself.
“Sir, if you are trying to extricate yourself from your restraints I can assure you that it is impossible. In fact the more you tug the tighter they will become. If you want to lose all circulation in your hands and feet, please thrash some more. We promised that no harm would come to you unless you resisted. I am close to considerin’ this resisting. Please stop.”
The thrashing subsided.
“Good now if you can remain quiet while we perform the task at hand I will remove my cohorts sock from your mouth. I know where his feet have been and the last time he bathed, let alone the last time he washed the socks. I had thought you would have passed out quite a while ago just from the stench. Your sense of smell must be dimmer than your brain pan friend.”
“Hey, I take umbrage to your comment about the time I bathed. I was in the tub before you.”
“Yes, but I also washed my close then. You did not. Remember?”
“Yes, now I do recollect. I stand corrected. Can we stop talkin’ and commence with the job at hand?”
“Yes we may. But first let’s a prayer for those about to be sent forth into judgment to the Almighty. In the name of the Father, Son and The Holy Spirit Amen.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
With that the man to the left stood and faced the table, took a small flask from his left front flannel shirt breast pocket, screwed off the cap, closed his eyes and mumbled something in Latin, then shook the liquid from the flask all over the table and the bullets.
“Can we start shootin’ now? Wait back up. I still don’t understand why you sprinkle Holy Water all over the bullets before we commence a shootout. You have to let me in on that.”
“Another day, another time we will discuss it. Not in front of the uninitiated. Now, follow my lead, I will take out the first Border Ruffian. We go by rank from high too low as always.”
“I’m good then; the breeze will take the smoke into the room. They may not figure out where we are at for a little bit.”
“My God have mercy on their souls.” With that the he looked down through the sight at the bottom of the rifle barrel and fired the first shot. Instantly Chaos and Anarchy began to rear their ugly heads.

What do you think of the sample Devotional from Marcia Lee Laycock's soon to be released "Celebrate This Day"?

A Bad Day and the Day After
by Marcia Lee Laycock

My dog died yesterday. We got a call from the vet that someone had brought her there after she’d been hit by a car. She was still alive when we arrived and we had to decide whether or not to try and keep her that way. She was an old dog – somewhere between fifteen and eighteen, we think, and she was in pain, so we did what was merciful.
Then I got home to find an email from an editor saying he was rejecting a manuscript I’d sent him a few months ago. I was kind of numb as I read it. The words took a while to sink in.
I was expecting my dog to die soon. She was old a long time ago. I was pretty sure that manuscript would be rejected by that editor. It isn’t ready to be published.
But it was still a bad day. A day when things die always is.
But now that the day is over and I look back on it, I see there were some good things in that space of twenty-four hours. I was able to put my hand over my dog’s beating heart one more time and cry a little before having to go on with a day full of things that needed to be done. I was able to be thankful for the fifteen years that little ball of fur and bone was underfoot. I was able to be thankful for friends that make you feel better just by sitting across a table sipping tea; for days full of mundane things that are so beautiful in their rhythm that you hardly notice. And for that word, ‘hardly,’ because I did notice, just a bit; for the hope that gives me. And for editors whose rejections leave you still believing in the dreams you have for words strung across a page.
There are always things to be thankful for, even on a day when death becomes a reality. There is always hope for a new day, hope that the darkness won’t always seem impenetrable. There is always hope because our Redeemer lives.
It was a dark day when He died -literally, according to the scriptures - but Jesus didn’t stay wrapped in death. He rose and walked among his friends again, spoke to them, encouraged them, ate with them. He not only gave them hope for a new day, he gave them life forever after, life lived in the presence of God.
The Apostle John wrote that “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30,31).
We no longer live within the day on which death seemed victorious. We live in the day that came three days after. We call it Easter.

Coming Soon: Patti J. Smith-"Drama,Decisions,and Departures"! Read the first two chapters NOW!

What's next for characters of "The San Francisco Wedding Planner" series?

Patti J. Smith is the author of the next story set to release 2/26:"Drama,Decisions,and Departures".

Below is the first two chapters for you to sample.

Feel free to leave a comment or message us by using the "Contact Form" on the left sidebar!

Chapter 1
Heather’s stress built with every passing minute. The clients were anxious, and Indigo still had not arrived. This is not good for business. The Legolas ringtone blared again. “Indigo, we’ve been waiting for forty-five minutes. Are you on your way?”
“Sorry, Heather. I lost track of time. I’m ten minutes out.”
“Okay, I’ll make up some excuse. Just hurry.”
After the shoot, Indigo invited the clients to another location to take extra photos later on in the week, at no charge, to make up for his tardiness. As they drove away, he turned to Heather. “That’s going to cost me, but it’s the least I can do. Now what can I do to make it up to you?”
“You did enough Indigo. In fact, that was more than generous. Are you okay?”
He took a deep breath and exhaled. “Danielle set up a meeting with me and my dad this morning, and he didn’t show. Guess that says it all.”
Heather slapped her head. “I got so wrapped up in the shoot I forgot to tell you. Danielle called earlier. Your dad’s wife had a stroke. She’s at San Francisco General. That’s why he didn’t show, Indigo. Why don’t you call Danielle? She and your dad could probably use some support.”
He headed towards his car. “Okay, I’ll call her on my way back to the office.”
Heather looked at her watch and realized the lunch date with Jonathan was in five minutes. She grabbed her cell phone and sent a text to tell him she was running late but would be there.
Gloria paced nervously back and forth in her living room, holding her phone. I’ve got to do something. Heather is making a terrible mistake. She punched in a number and waited. Pick up, Skye. Please pick up.
A bubbly voice came through the receiver. “Hi, Gloria. How are you feeling?”
Gloria blurted, “Oh, Skye, it’s a mess. Heather thinks you and Bryan are having a fling, and she’s having lunch with Jonathan this afternoon. Bryan was going to propose.”
After a minute or two of silence, Skye burst out laughing. “Gloria, I know all about the proposal, and I was hugging Bryan after he told me. Your daughter just happens to have a wild imagination. She even sent my husband a text about what she saw. I tried calling her, but she’s not answering. I decided to wait for her to contact me or Bryan.”
Gloria huffed. “This isn’t funny, Skye.” She confessed to overhearing Heather’s conversation with Jonathan and their plans to meet. “What are we going to do? She needs to know how Bryan feels. She might go back to Jonathan, and I know he’s not the one for her.”
Skye stifled the chuckles. “Gloria, calm down. We need to stay out of it and let it play out. You know as well as I do, it takes a little time for her to mull things over. She’ll get in touch with Bryan or me when the time is right. Just give her a chance. I’m sorry, Gloria. Gotta run. A customer just came in.”
Before Gloria could reply, the phone went dead. She paced some more, and then looked up. God, please forgive me for what I’m about to do.

Chapter 2

Heather pulled into an underground parking lot near the Zuni Café. She turned off the engine and pulled down the visor mirror for a last-minute appearance check. It’s just lunch, not a date.
As she opened the door to the café, she glanced towards the long, copper-topped bar. Her heart fluttered. There he was, chatting with the bartender.
The minute their eyes met, he stood up and walked towards her with open arms. She fell into his embrace, and he whispered in her ear, “You’re as beautiful as ever.”
She pulled back, trying not to blush. “It’s good to see you too, Jonathan.”
They sat at a window table overlooking Market Street. A waiter delivered two glasses of La Crema Chardonnay. “I took the liberty of ordering. I hope you don’t mind. I remember how much you loved wine.” He raised his glass. “To us?”
Heather smiled and did her best to suppress old feelings that were beginning to surface. She touched her glass to his and casually asked, “Are you still at Northwest?”
He leaned back. “I turned in my resignation. That’s why I’m here. I was offered the Chief of OB/GYN at San Francisco General. I’m meeting with the board of directors to discuss changes they want implemented once I start. Plus, I need to find a place to live.”
Heather’s face paled. He and Bryan at the same hospital?
“Heather, are you okay?”
She took a healthy-sized gulp of wine. “I’m fine, Jonathan. It just took me by surprise. San Francisco General is one of the best.” Her cell phone vibrated in her pants pocket. She pulled it out, gave him an apologetic smile, and said, “Hi, Mom. I’ll call you right back.” She stood up. “Excuse me for a minute?” She walked out to the waiting area listening to the phone dial her mom’s number. “Hi, Mom, I’m at lunch right now. Is there something you need?”
“I’m sorry honey, but I used the step stool to reach the salad bowl from the top shelf and took a little spill. I might have twisted something.”
“Mom, did you call 9-1-1?”
“No, Heather, I just need you to come help. I’m still sitting on the kitchen floor and can’t get up.”
Heather sighed. “Okay, Mom. I’m on my way. Just stay calm. I’ll bring Jonathan with me. He can check you out.”
“No, don’t do that. I’m in my pajamas. I just need help to the couch and an ice pack. If I wanted a stranger in my house with me looking like this, I would have called the neighbors.”
“Alright, if that’s what you want. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
She walked back to the table and shook her head. “I’m so sorry, Jonathan. My mom took a little fall, and I need to help her. Can we possibly reschedule?”
He jumped up. “Do you want me to come with you?”
“Thanks. I already asked if she wanted you to check her out, but she thinks it’s just a sprain.” She chuckled. “And she never wants anyone to see her unless she’s all decked out. You remember her style, don’t you?”
Jonathan nodded. “Who could forget?” He kissed her on the cheek. “I’ll call you later.”
Gloria’s heart lurched with pangs of guilt. She’ll never forgive me for this, but someone has to do something. After she changed back into her pajamas, she set the accident scene in the kitchen and waited to hear Heather’s car before she positioned herself on the floor.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What do you think of Flora Reigada's Devotional from her soon to be released book "Where You Heart Meets God's"

The Jewel of a Giving Heart
"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14, NIV).

On that steamy summer day, the car trip was too long, the children too crowded in the back seat and our air-conditioner broken. Even the wind whipping in our open windows felt hot and stale. We were all in a foul mood by the time the car overheated.
Dan turned off the road into a large service area. It consisted of several bays, all empty but one, where a young woman stood beside her car with its hood up. She watched us as we drove through the lot and pulled in beside her. In retrospect, it seems strange that we would come so close. However, we seemed drawn to her.
When Dan got out of the car, he noticed that there was no mechanic or attendant in sight—only the woman who approached to inquire about our situation and needs.

The kindness on her face was unlike any I'd ever seen. It was more than an expression. It was a caring warmth at her very essence. She made me feel safe. Have you ever encountered anyone like that?
She gave Dan a container of antifreeze, exactly what we needed. Along with some water, he poured it into the radiator and off we went.

A few miles up the road, Dan gasped.
"Oh no! That woman who helped us looked like she was having car problems of her own, but we never asked her about them."
My mouth popped open. How could we have been so thoughtless?

Discussing what had happened, Dan and I realized that even our helper did not appear concerned about her plight. She was preoccupied only with ours. When we drove into the service area, she seemed to be expecting us. She was ready with what we needed. Then there was her otherworldly kindness. Could she have been an angel?

PEARL TO PONDER: Can you recall a kind stranger who helped you make it through a rough spot?

LOVE NUGGET: God sends angels to those He loves and God loves you.

What is a “Detective”?

What is a “detective”?
Here is one definition straight from the dictionary:

1.a member of the police force or a private investigator whose function is to obtain information and evidence, as of offenses against the law.

2. of or relating to detection or detectives: a detective story.
3. serving to detect; detecting : various detective devices.

Does this definition contain an age requirement?

Does it specify gender?

“Detectives Incorporated” will not be boring, staid or average.

The story lines are unique, timely, and humorous.

The author team for this series will be announced next week.

The release date of the first story, the overall story line and cast of characters will shared as well.

We hope that we have piqued your interest a tad.

What do you think of "Day 4" of Sue Badeau's soon to be released Devotional "Clean Heart, Renewed Joy"?

Day 4 – Great Compassion
Read Verse 1(b),
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
God’s compassion is great enough for me, even when I feel totally unworthy. I am unworthy, but that is exactly the point—God’s love and compassion are great enough, even for me, even in my unworthiness.
The story found in Nehemiah chapter nine is particularly stunning regarding this point. I encourage you to read the entire chapter. Count the number of times you read the word “compassion” in this chapter. Over and over again, the people had been so disobedient and rebellious that God decides to hand them over to their enemies. And yet, over and over again he is moved “in his great compassion” to rescue his people from their enemies.
Each time, the people go immediately back to the ways of sin—verse twenty-eight “But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before You;”
Like children! Any parent, teacher, auntie or coach knows the frustration of spending time teaching, reprimanding and lovingly disciplining a child only to see her return to the same behaviors moments later.
As a mom, these are the moments that make me pull my hair out. “How many times have I told you …” is a tired, trite but very real phrase on the lips of any adult who provides care and guidance for children.
As a foster and adoptive parent, I know that children will do more of this testing when they are uncertain if they can trust you. Again and again they will engage in actions and behaviors that they know are against your family rules and values. And again and again, out of love and compassion, you will discipline, teach and then wrap up the interaction by saying, “I still love you, I will always love you.”
As the child becomes more secure in the relationship, the frequency of the testing diminishes. The child begins to trust that nothing they can do is going to push you over the edge and cause you to “send them back.” They can rest in the assurance of your love and that is when their healing begins and hope blossoms.
How often am I like that insecure foster child? Testing, testing, testing God. Daring Him to turn away and “send me back” into the dark abyss. Yet, in God’s great compassion He forgives me, rescues me, and preserves my life.
Will you pray with me? “Lord help me today and always to remember that I can trust you and rest in the assurance of your great compassion for me. Help me to test you less and trust you more. Help me also to have and to show this great compassion towards each precious child you place in my life. ‘Remember not the sins of my youth, and my rebellious ways; according to your love, remember me, for you are good, O Lord.’ (Psalm 25:7) Amen.”

Take a few moments to reflect upon God’s great compassion and make some notes in your journal.

As you reflect, listen to this rendition of “God of Mercy and Compassion”

Thursday, February 5, 2015

It's About to Happen-The Finale of "The Outlaw Unchained"

The burning questions need to be answered:
-Will Sam finally "Unchain" himself?
-Will those that framed him finally meet Justice?
-Will Sam be reunited with his one true love?
-Will Sam even survive the entire ordeal?
These questions and many more will be answered in the Grand Finale to "The Outlaw Unchained"!

Will The One True God give them their heart’s desire? Find out next week in Marcia Lee Laycock's "The Ambassadors Book II-V2-A Plan Unfolding"

Prince Eghan’s heart is weighed down by the looming prophesy that foretells the destruction of his father’s kingdom. He throws himself into working on the house of prayer at Ulhrik’s side, until his father introduces him to a beautiful young woman. He has invited her to court for a specific reason – to win his son’s heart. Though Eghan is at first angry that his father has been arranging an alliance without his knowledge, he is attracted to Malora and begins to forget the urgency of the work he should be doing. He tries to overlook Malora’s mockery of his faith but can’t seem to be completely open and honest with her.

Eghan is thrilled when his Uncle Adlair arrives, but saddened again when he hears that Nara, the Alingan princess he had grown so close to, has become a queen and is happily occupied with rebuilding her own realm. Eghan chafes under Ulhrik’s warnings about Malora and is increasingly captivated by her charms even though dreams of Nara still haunt him.

Will the prophesy unfold as Ulhrik believes? Or is there time for Eghan to think of spending his life with a beautiful young woman? And which woman will it be? Will The One True God give them their heart’s desire? Or will He change the desire of their hearts?

Can you help Mark Venturini chose a cover for his new YA Fantasy series "Blood Tithe"?

Months have passed since dragons had torched parts of Chicago. With the portal finally locked between Eversong and Earth, life seems to be returning to normal on both worlds. Fat chance.

On Earth, Jason Snider and Kat Meyers thought eighth grade would be the toughest thing they’d face until faeries start stalking them. An ancient faerie war threatens to erupt again, one that only the Blood Tithe sacrifice can prevent. The Tithe requires special blood from a special human and Maurelle, the terrifying faerie king of the Winter Court, has found that one special person: Jason Snider.

On Eversong, destructive forces are unleashed that the Magi Order hasn’t faced in generations. The young elf Strum is drawn into a race to capture a mad mage bent on reopening the portal. Many fear the mage will succeed. Others secretly fear Strum will and summon the power of the storm to ensure that he fails.

Mark's "Whispers From Forbidden Earth" is available in Paperback and Ebook at many fine retailers.Here is the Amazon Kindle link:

What is going on in San Francisco? Drama, Decisions and Departures

Drama, Decisions and Departures

What is going on in San Francisco? Heather is smack dab in the middle of a romantic pickle that's bound to end badly and an announcement from Gloria renders everyone speechless.
Heather's love-life teeters on the brink of disaster brought on by misunderstanding and mistrust. It's further complicated by her mother's incessant meddling and the relocation of her business. Drama is unleashed not just on Heather, but Indigo and Raul as well. Twists and turns abound in Drama, Decisions and Departures.

Look for any and all of Patti J. Smith's titles on her Amazon Author Page:

What do you think of the cover for Sue Badeau's soon to be released Devotional-"Clean Heart,Renewed Joy"

Clean Heart, Renewed Joy:
A Six-Week Journey Through Psalm 51

By Sue Badeau

Does Psalm 51 stir your soul? Do you long for the “clean heart” and “renewed joy” promised in these familiar verses? This Psalm contains a perfect and complete framework, divided into six themes, for the Christian walk of continual renewal, growth and purpose. The themes, reflected throughout the Psalm include:
(1) God’s Holiness
(2) Our Separation from God
(3) Thorough Cleansing
(4) Truth in the Inner Being
(5) Joy
(6) Purpose
This book is a perfect devotional for Lent or any other time you want to embark on a season of reflection and renewal. I invite you to walk with me for six weeks, reflecting upon and allowing God to work within you in each of these six areas. Begin expectantly and come away refreshed and re-invigorated with a renewed sense of joy and purpose!