Tag Archives: book giveaway

Guest Release Promotion–Moosed Opportunities by Jan Elder

Last Christmas, a group of contemporary Christian authors got together to form a “boxed set” of novellas that would include dessert recipes of some sort. That set was called Frosting and Flurries, and it’s still going strong. My book in that set is called Moostletoe, the first book in the Moose Creek series.

We had so much fun doing the set, we did it again this summer, another “boxed set” that came out in July called Picnics and Promises. Moosed Opportunities is the second book in the Moose Creek series. And guess what? Book three (Almoosed Heaven) releases in November.

Working with these lovely ladies has been so much fun, and creating the little town of Moose Creek, Maine, has been a joy. Rev. Samantha Evans and her boyfriend, moose wrangler Eric Palmer, continue to thrive despite many obstacles and adventures. Oh, and did I mention the town moose, Matilda? She causes a ruckus in more ways than one.

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Rev. Samantha Evans loves living in Moose Creek, Maine, the land of moose and men … or namely one man, her fiancé, Eric Palmer. The problem? Trouble looms large; Eric’s meddling ex-wife lives right around the corner.

Forest ranger, Eric Palmer, just wants to plan his wedding and marry the woman he loves. Not that life makes it easy. Samantha’s busy schedule, an interfering ex-wife, missing college students, and a misplaced pregnant moose, all conspire against him.

Will they find the time to clear the air and concentrate on their relationship? Or will their lives be a series of Moosed Opportunities?

Amazon buy link

EXCERPT

Eric hurried down the path toward the woods, shouting for his dog. “Apollo. Stop!”

The bounding deer rapidly disappeared in the distance, and the gleefully barking miniature dachshund followed in hot pursuit. Eric didn’t have time for these shenanigans. He was due at Samantha’s house for dinner, and he was already running late.

The merry deer headed for the trees, traipsing through the wet spring snow as if prancing on a sandy beach in the Bahamas. Before Bambi’s mom disappeared completely, the female deer flipped her white tail at the excited dog, making a game of the chase. The two sped down the path Eric had created with his snowshoes, taking advantage of his man-made corridor in the trees.

“Apollo! Get back here.”

His disobedient dog paid no attention whatsoever as he scrambled, hopped, and skated across the freshly fallen snow lying atop frosty ground.

Eric quickened his pace. Tonight, he’d planned to bring the boys over to Sammie’s to introduce them to Jezebel. Before stowing the wiener dogs in the car, he’d let them out for a quick pee break. His attention had wandered as he’d allowed himself a moment of reverie … Sammie had such soft, silky hair … That was when Apollo had spotted the deer.

Eric glanced over his shoulder. His more obedient dog, Zeus, waited on the front porch. Hopefully, the little guy would still be there when this ill-timed adventure was over.

Excited yips echoed through the crisp air. Dang it! His dog was headed for the frozen creek. Eric’s best boots broke through the crusty top of the snow, the resulting crunch ringing in his ears as he tramped down the trail. Apollo had to be tiring by now, and that blasted deer had to be long gone. But then again, his pup was the stubborn type.

When he’d trudged through here yesterday morning, the sun was perched on the horizon, rays of soft light peeking through the treetops. So peaceful, so serene, so awe inspiring. A good way to start his day. Now, through the trees up ahead, pink wooly clouds puffed across a spectacular sunset and glimpses of waning light glinted off the snow-covered creek. Surely his foolish dog would stop when he reached the debris-strewn banks of the solidified water.

Eric rounded the corner in time to see the deer hurtling up the bank on the opposite side of the creek. The waters of Moose Creek were normally deep and fast, the wide expanse river-sized at this point in its journey south. The creek had been frozen over for a couple months, though the big deep freeze in northern Maine had been late this year. On his daily walks, he’d thought he’d heard water running near the beaver dam upstream. Was the ice safe? The deer had made it across handily, and if she could do it, so could a ten-pound canine. Right?

A moot point, since his dog was not going to get the chance if he had anything to say about it.

A short distance away, Apollo picked his way between the rocks on the shore, each step taking him closer to danger, his gaze on the prize fifty feet away, across the frozen expanse. Mrs. Deer stopped at the top of the hill, seemingly just as fascinated with the sight of the yappy dachshund.

The scrappy dog was shaking, whether from excitement or cold, Eric couldn’t tell. He headed down the slope toward his miniature canine. “Come here, boy.”

Apollo tossed him a cursory glance and then ogled the deer, the joy of the chase shining in his doggie eyes.

Eric sidled a few steps forward and to the side, moving slowly and carefully so as not to send the dog running in the wrong direction. He was so close he could almost reach out and grab the dog’s collar.

Whew. Apollo yipped one last time and back-peddled toward Eric’s waiting fingers. At last.

And then the deer at the crest of the hill pawed at the crunchy snow. The canine couldn’t help himself. He launched onto the frozen expanse, tiny legs propelling him like a windmill in a gale. A few feet out, the dog lost his footing on the slippery snow-covered ice. Landing on his stomach, legs all akimbo, the brownish-red missile rocketed straight for a thin spot in the ice on the other side of the stream.

With only a split second of indecision, Eric flung himself off the bank, half-skating on the ice, the breeze stinging his ears as he zipped forward. If he had any hope of catching that bundle of fur, he was going to have to slide. If a full-grown deer could make it across…

The ice creaked, but it held fast. Thankfully, he was gaining on the dog. Halfway across the river, he caught up to Apollo and grabbed his collar with his right hand. They kept sliding. They were going to make it.

 Crack! The ice on the other side of the stream gave way and he plunged into the frigid water, his breath whooshing from his lungs. The animal slithered from his grasp as Eric fought to keep his head above water.

Apollo’s soft brown eyes grew impossibly large as he bobbed to the surface a few feet away. Before Eric’s frightened dog could be carried away by the loosed current, he managed to grab onto the leather collar, hauling the animal to his upper body.

Water swirled around them. He kicked his legs to bring them to shore, his sodden cold-weather clothes weighed him down. He stumbled through the cripplingly cold water, laboring each step of the way, his boots as heavy as if he had a brick strapped to each foot.

The poor dog whimpered and Eric clutched him closer as he stumbled onto land. “It’s okay, boy. We’re safe now.”

He crashed down on a log and surveyed his soaking body, chest heaving. No doubt about it, he was in a pickle.

BIO

JAN ELDER is an inspirational romance writer with a passion for telling relateable stories. She strives to write novels that will strengthen the reader’s faith, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story. She lives in Maryland with her beloved husband and two pampered cats.

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GIVEAWAY

I’d be happy to give away two ebooks of Picnics and Promises from among those who leave comments. Moosed Opportunites is the first book in the set.

Picnics and Promises_Oct 6

Guest Release Promotion—Keri’s Christmas Wish by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

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For as long as she can remember, Keri Jackson has despised the hype and commercialism around Christmas so much she seldom enjoys the holiday. Will she get her wish and be free of the angst to truly enjoy Christmas this year?

A devout Christian at heart, Jeremy Hinton, a Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Spiritual Mentor and Energy Medicine Practitioner has studied all of the world’s religions and homeopathic healing modalities. But when a rare bacterial infection threatens the life of the woman he loves, will all of his faith and training be for naught?

BUY LINK

Amazon ebook

EXCERPT

An image began to form in her mind…a young girl being led around on a horse by an ethereal figure. As the trio came closer, Keri felt as though she looked in a mirror. Her heart swelled. Tears clogged her throat, filled her eyes, and slipped down her cheeks.

“Hi, Keri!”

The childlike voice reverberated through her entire body. Keri smiled and whispered, “Hello.”

 Excitement lit the youngster’s eyes. Brilliant colors vibrated around her. “Do you know who I am?”

“You’re me as a little girl. That’s Spark, my horse who died when I was a teenager.”

Spark nodded his head as the girl giggled—a joyous melody that rang through the atmosphere. “No, silly, I’m your big sister. Only, I didn’t live very long.”

 Tension seeped in, a mixture of shock and awe.

 “Don’t be afraid. Ask Mom.”

 And then the mirage disappeared.

Pamela S Thibodeaux publicity photo

 Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Participants on the blog tour for Keri’s Christmas Wish will have a chance to win one of 5 electronic  or 5 print copies. Prizes awarded at the end of the tour

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Additional stops on the blog tour where Pamela would love to see visitors

Dec 10th – Marilyn Leach Blog: marilynleachteaandbooks.com

Dec 11th – Robin Bayne Blog: http://wwwwritingbetweensundays.blogspot.com/

Dec 12th – Raquel Byrnes Blog: http://nitewriter6.blogspot.com/

Dec 13th – Cami Checketts Blog: http://www.camichecketts.com/

Dec 14th – Linda McLaughlin Blog: http://lindalyndi.com/reading-room-blog/

Dec 15th – Diane Burton Blog: http://dianeburton.blogspot.com/

Dec 16th – Maureen Bonatch Blog: http://www.maureenbonatch.com/blog/

Dec 17th – Alicia Dean Blog: https://aliciadean.com/alicias-blog/

Dec 18th – Jody Day Blog: http://jodysdevotionaljournal.blogspot.com/

Dec 19th – Marian Merritt’s Blog: http://marianmerritt.blogspot.com

Dec 20th – Kim Headlee Blog: https://kimiversonheadlee.blogspot.com/

Dec 21st – Patricia Preston Blog http://patricia-preston.blogspot.com/

Dec 22nd  – Delia Latham Blog http://chirpnchatter.blogspot.com/

WEB CONTACTS

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Guest Interview—Jana Begovic

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (ex Yugoslavia) where I spent most of my adult life. I also acquired most of my higher education there (B.A. and M.A. degrees in languages and literature). With my husband and son, I immigrated to Canada in 1991, half a year before the country was engulfed in a civil war. After graduating from the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University, Canada, I started working for the Department of National Defence and began my career path as a foreign language curriculum and testing specialist. With a full-time job that involves a lot of international travel, too, I currently write only as a hobby.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Gourmet cooking and entertaining friends and family, reading, running and other fitness activities, travel, walks in nature.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I think of the characters first and have a rough contour of the plot in my mind. I allow the story to evolve organically without much planning.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

I’ve traveled to most of the locations I mention. For example, in Poisonous Whispers, parts of the plot unfold in Vienna, Rome, Barcelona and Glasgow. Glasgow is one of the cities I have not visited yet. England and Ireland are also mentioned in this book, and I was fortunate to visit England several times. I dream of travelling to Ireland because I feel a strong attraction to that country. My bucket list is much too long for one lifetime.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

When I get stuck, I simply stop writing and let the story ferment further in my subconscious mind. I also believe in synchronicities, that is meaningful coincidences that come into your life when you need them. And invariably, whenever I’d hit a reef in my storytelling, I would hear a story from a friend or an acquaintance during my travels that would inspire me to continue writing. When it comes to Poisonous Whispers, I simply trusted the process because I believed this book was destined to be born. I will never forget sitting in an airport in Europe and having the “Aha” moment, and knowing without a speck of doubt where the story needed to go in order for the plot line to come full circle.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

I was shocked to see my characters assume a life of their own. They became alive and started to control the storyline. I was especially surprised that the heroine would reveal a certain secret to her husband almost ruining her marriage. That was so unnecessary and cruel!!! When it comes to editing itself, the realization that it is an almost never-ending process, that it is almost impossible to catch every single error discouraged and frustrated me many times. And I’m not even a perfectionist in my everyday life!

What’s your dream vacation destination?

A hot climate with white pebbled beaches surrounded by pine trees, buzzing with cicada song and infused with the scent of brine and Mediterranean grasses. I believe I’m describing the Adriatic coast where I used to vacation, and which I will always miss.

In what genre do you read?

I read both fiction and non-fiction, commercial and literary prose, but literary fiction is my preferred genre. I enjoy the depth of literary thought, and I crave books that make me stop after every couple of pages and contemplate life.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope that readers derive pleasure from reading my debut novel; I hope they read it slowly, visualizing the pictures of both the physical and emotional landscapes I painted; I hope they lose track of time once they step into the multi-layered worlds I created; I hope the heroine’s pain-laced journey touches them, and also shows them that pain and loss, and poor judgment can deepen, strengthen, humble and redeem us.  And I hope they like and relate to my characters in spite of their flaws and moral fallibility.

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“Don’t you ever forget about me…,” he whispers during their secret encounters. Like a curse, these simple words now haunt Leandra, a reputable psychiatrist, who finds herself in emotional chaos after the sudden breakup of her illicit affair. Unable to heal on her own and tormented by dreams in which supernatural forces create havoc with her fate, she desperately turns to David, a colleague psychiatrist, asking him to take her through past-life regression therapy. She hopes that this unorthodox and somewhat suspect technique will explain her profound connection to the lover who has abandoned her so abruptly.

The sessions take Leandra through 17th and 19th century Ireland, Italy and England, where love, loss and betrayal are the leitmotifs in an ambiance of co-mingled fantasy and reality. In her hypnotic state, Leandra recounts a saga of intoxicating love, dizzying passion, flaming lust and profound heartbreak. Despite the painful answers she finds under hypnosis, Leandra still cannot let go of the hope to reunite with her lover. Ultimately, the shattering revelations from her past-life incarnations, along with the turmoil over her ruined marriage, become the stepping stones of her introspective path to healing, self-discovery and an appreciation of true love.

BUY LINKS

Roane Publishing

Amazon

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK

EXCERPT

A tiny streak of pale light is cascading softly down the cell window and making a shy sliver in the veil of darkness. I open my eyes, disoriented. I do not move; I do not even dare blink until I get my bearings. Then I remember and freeze in horror. I sit up, an aching all over my body and cold dread in my heart. Instinctively, I try to disentangle my matted hair with my fingers, but it is hopeless. All around me, I smell mold, decay and death. How can I survive another day in this hole? The sound of the door opening with a screech makes me jump in terror.

The gaoler walks in; a heavy set of keys dangling and jingling in his hand.

“Come. You are being moved in preparation for tonight’s execution. A verdict was reached.”

I speak not but follow him. We climb a steep staircase. Below us, I hear moans and yells and what sounds like the death throes of those hopelessly lost to the world and forgotten by justice, compassion and mercy. Again, I am feeling dissociated from the event of my calamity; I see my body walking, but my soul is not in it and indifference over what might happen floods me. Death is not the end. Death offers me salvation from pain, from the torment of living a human life.

We leave the jailhouse and enter the house across the street to the village inn. The inn owner, James Bourke, looks at me with hatred and disdain. He also always hated my husband because his wife had hoped my husband would marry her. She was in love with him, and when he married me she tried to kill herself. James married her later, but has always known that she never stopped loving my husband.

The gaoler takes me upstairs to one of the guest rooms and locks the door behind me. The room is wide and clean even though sparsely furnished. The bed is large and looks inviting and I realize how exhausted I am. On the bed is a white, thin chemise and I immediately understand thisis what I will wear tonight when I am pushed off the bridge into the water that is cool even on the hottest of summer days. Will I have the strength or the will to swim and save myself? What surprises and almost delights me under such grave circumstances is a bathtub in the corner of the room. There is steam rising from it and I immediately undress and slip into it, relieved to be able to wash off the dirt, the grime, and above all the horrible stench on my body. I rub myself raw trying to clean my skin. Washing my hair is more difficult because at home I have servants who help me with bathing, dressing and undressing. I have been spoilt by marrying a man of wealth and power. Where is my husband now? I crave his protection. If he saved me now, would I give up Kieran, would I give up love in order to live? I surmise I would.

After I have washed, I come out of the tub feeling more exhausted than ever. At the same time, I realize I have not eaten for over a day and devour the plate of bread, cheese and apples ravenously. As I am eating, I can feel tears stream down my face; they are tears of silent despair and hopelessness. My chest is heaving with pain and I have difficulty swallowing the last few bites. I throw myself on the bed thinking my weeping and sobbing will continue forever, but I fall asleep. One would think that my dreams would be filled with the terror of the situation, but instead I dream of Kieran. In my dream I accuse him of being a weakling, of not fighting for our love. He just looks at me sadly and his eyes are filled with tears of powerlessness. He is also saying something in his defense, but I do not understand his words. I wake up feeling a sharp pain stabbing my chest and I gasp for breath. I feel like I am suffocating. I take a sip of water from the pitcher on the floor and the pain subsides. Outside, the moon is peering out from behind a cloud and I realize I’ve slept through the whole day. It is time to get ready for a new chance at life or for death.

I use the chamber pot and wash myself again with the bath water that is no longer clean. I tie my hair into a braid and pin it up. If I had scissors, I would gladly cut it off so it does not weigh me down once the cool river takes me in its wet embrace.

I sit on the bed waiting for my fate to open the next chapter of my life. I do not understand why I am suddenly so peaceful, and I cannot be certain if it is tranquility or resignation that has filled my heart.

I have no reaction when I hear the key turn in the lock and see the homely face of the gaoler appear in the doorframe. He is carrying a large red candle and in its light his toothless smile appears eerie and foreboding.

“Are you ready, my lovely, to face the savior? I must say ‘tis a shame to see such a nice body go to waste and be eaten by the fishes and snakes, but you are not the first or the last wretched witch this village has put an end to.”

His laughter is broken by a cough that must be tearing up his insides. It is so strong that it overwhelms him and he has to bend down to cough out something awful that seems to have been stuck in his throat. What a horrid man!

From a 5-star review

“The writing is exquisite—a book of depth, sophisticated in style, literary in nature. Ms. Begovic displays strong lyrical and poetic writing filled with symbolism and universal truths. The book also holds an element of suspense that keeps the reader wondering about the relationships of the characters until the surprise ending. A beautiful story, a compelling read.”

Beverly Knauer, Author of “The Line Between”

Jana_Begovic_Photo

As far back as she can remember, Jana has been fascinated by storytelling and intoxicated with the written word. As a young child, she began spinning stories, talking to an imaginary friend and devouring fairy tales. Her love of reading and writing drove her to study languages and literature. She works for the Government of Canada in the field of military language training. She was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, but has lived in Canada since 1991.

WEB CONTACTS

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GIVEAWAY

One AUTOGRAPHED book copy as giveaway will be mailed to a reader who leaves a question/comment and his/her contact info. The author will select the winner randomly. Good luck!

 

Guest Interview with DiAne Gates

Linda, it’s so kind of you to have me on your blog today. Thank you.

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m a Florida gal turned Texan for the past thirty something years. I won my first writing contest when I was a teen. The article, entitled The Basis of a Great Nation is a Christian Home, and the paper still resides in my cedar chest. I cringe at the teenage grammar.  I also paint and for most of my life painting took center stage. Moving to Texas stirred my interest in rodeo and the rest is history. I wrote articles and took photographs for the Youth Rodeo Association in East Texas, and rodeo is kinda like Florida sand—once the sights, sounds, and razzle-dazzle of the arena gets in your blood, well, you know—Roped was the result and I’m pleased to let you know Twisted is finished and will be with my editor at Prism Books by the second week in June.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I come from a long line of foodies. My mom and aunt were caterers and I love to create new recipes and tinker with Mama’s family favorites. Being raised in the deep south, fried chicken, grits, and greens were the staples tingling my early taste buds. However, you can’t be a Texan and not love spicy. When the frustrations of technology get the best of me, I head to the garden. I love, love, love flowers and photography, as my FaceBook page and blog illustrate.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

Definitely a SOP writer—Seat of the Pants—start to finish. Outlines are for sane, normal people. I’m sure if they tested me for ADD, I’d rank off-the-charts nutty artist. I’ve taken some personality tests that place me as a totally right-brained individual. Not one brain cell even leans left. Just ask my accountant husband, or my math teachers.

I generally begin with a situation or principle or character flaw and build my story from there. When writing Roped, my phenomenal edit group coined a phrase—that’s not a Crissy word. And bless their hearts, that phrase made Crissy’s character bud and bloom on the page. She’s Texan to the bone.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Terrell, Texas is the scene for the Roped series, that’s about twelve miles from our home in the small town of Crandall, Texas. But you will find a rodeo arena, horses and trucks and trailers, goats, and cattle, and, of course, barbeque, near any-town-Texas.

 Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

Take a bath, a bubble-bath preferably. Don’t laugh, I’m in good company. Author DiAnn Mills shares my idiosyncrasy. Something about relaxing in the warm water sets my brain to problem solve.  I just have to remember to keep a note pad on the sink so I can write the dialogue, plot twist, or whatever down before I forget. DiAnn’s dear husband installed a white-board for her creative flashes. The accountant personality in my husband said, “Really?”

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

I mentioned earlier I belong to a group of the greatest writers this side of heaven. We are seven in number. I’ve dubbed us The Magnificent Seven, but in fact we are called The Literati. And six of them are indeed magnificent! When we began I would create what I thought was wonderful. Arrive at our weekly meeting to find these six magnificent writers had torn my work apart. The drive home was usually tearful, with my husband asking, “Why do you go to these meetings?” “To learn to write,” I’d reply, sniff, and blow my nose. “Well, are you learning?” I’d change the subject and determine next week I’d show ’em.

By the time Roped reached my Prism editor, tears, rewrites, and revisions could have filled several moving boxes. Too bad I didn’t buy stock in Kleenex. I’ve learned the editing process is an awful lot like work, but they are also a writer’s best friend.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

Oh yes, my blog is serious non-fiction, written mainly to the Church. I believe the Church is one of the largest mission fields in the world. Most church members don’t crack their Bible during the week. They come to church to have their weekly feeding of the Word, then starve ‘til the next Sunday. That’s why our children have very little interest in the things of God and have been transfixed by the world. Because you can’t teach your children what you don’t know. I also write about the grieving process on my blog.

My writing career seriously began with a four book family devotional series entitled The Master’s Plan, which I’ve written and illustrated. And it keeps company with another children’s book, Arnold the Ant Who Didn’t Want To Be…an ant. Again one I’ve written and illustrated.  These five books are looking for a publishing home. Prism does not publish children’s books.

In what genre do you read?

If you had asked me three weeks ago,my resounding answer would have been, mystery/adventure. But two Prism authors have changed my mind by their new releases, Nancy Bolton with her historical fiction romance, Answering Sarah, and Julie Cosgrove, with her Navy Blues. My favorite author is Joel Rosenberg. His nail-biting, heart-stopping, fiction you’ll probably read as headlines in the newspaper in a month or two.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

No doubt whatsoever, the ability to see the issues my characters face and learn what to do and what not to do when facing those same life experiences. My stories are Christ based. Not hit you over the head with my Bible, but real life problems and what the Word has to say about our choices. In Crissy’s case, her Papa is the glue that holds the family together. A man who has walked with the Lord through the tragedies of life. The grandpa we’d all like to have claimed.

Roped

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“Will Texas teen Crissy Crosby’s rivalry and temper throw her off her dream to win the rodeo buckle?

When life bucks hard and unfair, will she latch onto the faith she was raised to rely upon or grasp anger and pride as her rope on this ride?”

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

EXCERPT

“Before Chun could sit down, Jodie Lea leaned over and deliberately jammed her elbow into his side, then scooted as close as she could against the side of the bus, just as Mrs. Moore shifted the bus into gear and stepped on the gas.

One of his books jarred lose and tumbled into her lap. In a rage she turned and took aim. “What a jerk.” And with both hands, shoved the poor kid backward. He fell, fanny first, to the floor. Books flew every which way.

She leaped out of her seat and gathered up the fabric of her skirt, holding it fan-style for everyone to see. “Watch what you’re doin’, moron.” She turned to the other kids, stuck her nose in the air, and the curtain went up on her one-act horror show.

“His dirty Chinese slime is all over my brand new skirt. It’s ruined.” She brushed at an imaginary spot. “Stupid nerd. Why don’t you go back to China?”

I gasped. That was evil. Even for Jodie Lea.

She slipped a smirk at her two dingy girl-shadows who were equally offended. Jodie Lea stretched herself to haughty, her arms folded, her lips pouty, and her eyes narrowed to slits.

The boy sat motionless on the floor, muttering, “Please excuse me. I did not mean to cause you harm.” He struggled to his feet and reached to brush the invisible smudge from Jodie Lea’s skirt.

She flattened herself against the window wall of the bus. “Don’t touch me.” Her shriek had the grinding pitch of a tornado siren.

“Hey kid.” Jimmy Henry grabbed Chun’s arm and shoved him back down on the floor. “Can’t ya hear? Are ya yellow?”

Another boy jammed his foot against the new kid’s chest and pinned him there.

Our bus driver, Mrs. Moore, shouted, “Knock off the noise and sit down, or you’ll all end up in the principal’s office.”

Chun mumbled something in his native language. Sure couldn’t understand what he said. Prob’ly a good thing. But the hair on the back of my neck bristled. Poor kid. If Mrs. Moore didn’t do something—

The kids snickered and picked up Jodie Lea’s taunts.

I sprang from the back seat. “That’s enough.” In two quick steps, I latched onto Jimmy’s arm and shoved him away. “Knock it off. Can’t you see he’s upset?” I kicked the other kid’s foot off the boy’s chest and reached down to give Chun a hand up. “It’s his first day. Give him a break.”

An arsenal of words somersaulted syllable over syllable out of my heart and leaped off my tongue. “Jodie Lea Fairgate. This was low—even for you. You’ve done some rotten things, but this one ranks with the worst-of-your-worst.”

My bad-self suggested I rub her nose into the floor. I had enough cause. But Mama’s voice echoed in my ear. Not a word, Crissy.

So with all the self-control I could scrape up. I shut up, glared at her, and returned to my seat.

A voice came from the back of the bus. “You takin’ up for the nerd, Crissy?”

I stopped and, with my hands on my hips and my best cowgirl swagger, scanned the crowd of faces. “Yep, you wanna make something of it?”

“Don’t you guys know? Nerds of a feather fly together.” Jodie Lea twisted her face into an evil-step-sister grin and her groupie friends, of course, did the same.

Yikes, a litter of Cheshire cats. Monster-show scary. Right.

On his feet by this time, Chun’s face blushed a vivid shade of crimson.

I crawled under the seat to rescue his books. “Don’t pay attention to that girl. She’s the jerk.” I took his arm and guided him back to my row, then sat and glared at Jodie Lea Fairgate and the others ‘til their laughter stopped. Talk about rotten—that girl’s heart must be tough as steel. And dark. Very, very dark.

The boy glanced at me, his mouth forming a wanna-be half-smile. “Thank you for helping me.” Then he sat and stared at the floor.

I gestured toward the other kids. “They’re just a bunch of wooly-buggers. They follow whatever that stupid girl does. She’s trouble with a capital “T.”

“I did not mean to harm her.” Chun’s eyes met mine long enough for me to see those deep chocolate circles fill up with sad. My heart hurt to see him upset because of Jodie Lea Fairgate.

“Just stay out of her way and ignore her. That’s what I do.”

A twinge of guilt tugged my conscience. Yeah, right. Sure you do.”

REVIEW SNIPPETS

“A great read for teens and adults, Roped is a gallop-paced rodeo ride from the first to the last page. ” ~Lori

“Couldn’t put it down. Truly an AMAZING work of art.” ~Abigail

DiAne Gates

Texas writer, DiAne Gates, illustrates and writes fiction for children, YA, and serious non-fiction for the folks. Her passion is calling the Church’s attention to how far we’ve catapulted from God’s order.

DiAne worked as a photographer and writer for the East Texas Rodeo Association, which gave birth to this western rodeo adventure series, ROPED. The second book in the series, entitled TWISTED is just completed and with Prism Books.

She leads an edit group for North Texas Christian Writers and is a GriefShare Facilitator. Wife, mother, and grandmother, whose passion is to share those life lessons God is teaching her. Lessons she hopes will leap from the page into your heart.

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