ABOUT AUTHOR: Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German MoonThe Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. 

Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications likeMomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

What have been the benefits to you in having relationships with reading groups? 

 I love reading groups because dedicated readers "speak" the same language as I do. I love hearing about what they read and what they like and dislike about the books they've discussed. Readers who are part of reading groups are my target audience because they understand fiction. They are impacted by themes and characterization and setting and all the things that writers like me love.

Where would you like to see your relationship with reading groups grow? How do you think your goals can be met? 

Well, I have an EXCITING way that I'm hoping to grow my relationship with reading groups. I have a new system on my website that allows me to do Video Book Club Chats. This allows me to visit a bookclub LIVE. Book clubs can find out more information here: ... they can even book me for an upcoming event!
Book Signing in York, PA
Book Signing in York, PA
Do you have a set size a reading group has to be before you'll talk to them on the phone or in person? What do you feel most comfortable doing? 

I'm comfortable with two people, twenty people or two hundred people! I just love talking about book! That being said, I wish I had unlimited time, but since I don't I appreciate groups being 10+ members. I know that people have other commitments and might not be able to make all the meetings, but for me to tell my family, "I have to visit a book club tonight," I need to justify my ministry reach.

Which type of book club meeting do you prefer? Why? 

It's super fun visiting book clubs in person. Then I get to talk to members about all types of things, but being their "virtually" is the next best thing!

 Do you learn about your book and yourself from book club meetings? If so what? 

Speaking to a group in Shippensburg

I've discovered that readers are VERY smart. I can't offer easy answers or become lazy in my writing. What I've learned about myself is I have similar themes in my books, such as unplanned pregnancy or abandonment issues. When I listen to readers discussing my books I discover they often figure stuff out about me that I didn't see myself. LOL!

Did you learn more about your characters than what you had originally intended? Have you been surprised by readers’ reactions to one of your books? Characters? If so, which ones? 

Most of the time I'm not surprised by the readers' reactions. I actually think about what type of reaction I want the reader to have concerning a character before I write them. What does surprise me is how readers pay attention to little clues I drop in, things I think most people won't notice. It's fun! It's like hiding Easter Eggs. They DO get found by smart readers.

Has your book club experience - getting feed back from reading groups - helped you in writing future books? If so, how has it helped you? 

Yes. It has helped me know what readers like. When I think of book ideas I often think of specific groups or readers and then ask, "Would they like this book?" I helps me to narrow down my ideas into ones that I can see people talking about at book club! LOL. What do you think about ebooks and future sales of your book? How will authors do book signings with an ebook reading crowd? I'm actually excited about ebooks because I think it gets the books into hands of people who might not have picked it up before. I haven't thought about book signings before ebook style BUT after doing LOTS of book signings this year I've discovered even readers who mostly read my books in ebook form will come and meet me--and buy a paperback book and have me sign it--if I'm in town!

Can you Please give us a peek into what you are working on Now and when it will be released? 

 I have three upcoming releases: Chasing Mona Lisa (Revell) is a WWII high-adreline novel that I wrote with Mike Yorkey. It releases January 2012.

By the Light of the Silvery Moon (Barbour) is a novel about the Titanic. It releases March 2012, just in time for the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Beyond Hope's Valley (B and H) is my 3rd novel in my Big Sky Amish Series. It releases April 2012
I just finished writing The Memory Jar (Zondervan) which is my first Amish novel in the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors Series! It'll be out Fall 2012.

I'm currently writing two books, Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska (Summerside). I'm writing this with my friend and co-author Ocieanna Fleiss.

I'm also writing Lead Like Jesus for Parents (Focus on the Family) an non-fiction book I'm writing with Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. I'm working on two more Amish novels; too, so all those things keep me busy!

 Nora : ***WOW*** You are one busy lady!! EXCITING for us!! I’m excited to read your new books!

I'm EXCITED about the GIVEAWAY OPPORUNITY - B and H is offering at The Book Club Network 

Starting DECEMBER 1st through the 20th. They are giving away 5 copies of your newest Amish Book Called ALONG WOODED PATHS. Anyone can join in the fun. Just check out The Book Club Network 

On DECEMBER 7th Tricia will be giving away 
(1) complete set of Chronicles of The Spanish Civil War (1) set of her new Amish series which includes two books so far and (1) signed copy of Remembering You and (1) signed copy of 3:16 for Teens. Exciting month ahead. Mark your calendar. Hope to see many of you there!!

What do you hope your readers take away from your new book Along Wooded Paths?
I hope readers walk away wanting to be more open to the stories around them. My greatest joy is if they'll take the time to invite a veteran to share his or her experiences. These stories need to be remembered!
Thanks Tricia for sharing about your book club experience and your photos. It was great to catch up with you this summer at the ICRS conference in Atlanta!! 


Nora St.Laurent 
The Book Club Network 

SUSY FLORY (1) Signed Copy Giveaway and INTERVIEW

ABOUT AUTHOR: Susy Flory is a New York Times best selling author who grew up on the back of a quarter horses in North California. She took degrees from UCLA in English and psychology, and has a background in journalism, education, and communications.

She first started writing at Newhall signal with the legendary Scotty Newhall, an ex-editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and a one-legged cigar-smoking curmudgeon who ruled the newsroom from behind a dented metal desk where he pounded out stories on a Underwood typewriter. She taught high school English and journalism, then quit in 2004 to write full time for publications’ such as Focus on the Family, Guideposts books, In touch, Praise and Coffee, Today’s Christian, and Today’s Christian Woman.

Susy is the author or co-author of four books, including So Long Status Quo: What I Learned From the Women Who changed the World, as well as the much-anticipated 2011 memoir sho co-wrote with blind 9/11 survivor Michael Hingson, called Thunder Dog: the True Story of a blind Man, His guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero.

Susy is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), and a CLASS certified speaker.  She lives in San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two children.

How did this project come about? What compelled you to write this story?
Michael and Roselle
I first met Michael Hingson over a phone interview for another book I was writing for Harvest House called Dog Tales: Inspirational Stories of Humor, Adventure, and Devotion. Mike told me his story, and when he got to the part about God speaking to him as the World Trade Center collapsed just behind him, I had chills. At the end of our 30-minute conversation, I was inspired and challenged by Mike's courage and can-do attitude as a blind man competing and succeeding in a world not set up for him. I asked Mike if he'd ever thought about writing a book. He said yes, but he needed help. Soon after, we met in person, talked through the project, and decided to work together, and that's how Thunder Dog was born (or whelped :)

Where were you when you heard about a plane hitting the Twin Towers?

 I was a high school English teacher at the time. I was preparing to leave for school when my mom called and told me to turn on the TV. I was getting dressed when I saw the first tower collapse. I couldn't believe my eyes. I drove to school, shaky, and someone wheeled a TV into the classroom and we just watched, and talked.

What fascinated you about Mike’s story? 
Two things fascinate me about Mike's story. On a day of utter and complete chaos and destruction, Mike was looking to help others (and did). If ever there was a time and a place where he would be expected to look for and accept extra help due to his blindness, this was the day. But he did not. Second, Mike holds no anger or bitterness at the religious group that spawned the terrorists who put him through hell that day, and killed and wounded thousands of others. I still find that hard to believe.

What did you enjoy most about this project? 
Photo of me, Mike, and Roselle just a few weeks before she passed away this summer. She was squinting because the sun was in her eyes
I enjoyed getting to hang out at Mike's house with his wonderful wife, Karen, and his three rowdy and wonderful yellow Labrador Retrievers. There is never a dull moment!

What parts of the book were hardest for you to write? 

The hardest part of the Thunder Dog project was the 9-11 research. I read dozens of books and articles and hundreds of personal testimonies about the experiences of that day. It was overwhelming and I felt much grief and sorrow for the untimely deaths of so many innocent people and for the pain and terror they went through that day. The research forced me to relive the events of 9-11 through the experiences of a person lived it; that was hard enough. But to read the transcripts of the 911 calls or the phone calls to friends and family of those who didn't make it out alive still haunts me. Worse, though, were the first hand accounts of witnesses who saw the jumpers or who made it out when their friends did not. I will never forget their words or their stories.

What was your favorite part of the book? 

My favorite chapter of Thunder Dog is called Woman on Wheels, about Mike's wife, Karen. She has been paralyzed from birth and is the wind beneath Michael's wings. But she has never been interviewed and shuns the limelight. We became friends and she let me interview her for the book. I love her intelligence, her honesty, and her bravery. She and Michael are an amazing couple. As Mike says, "She is my eyes and I am her feet." I liked the mix of had in the book of you telling Mike’s story of him escaping the Twin Towers and all that happened in the stairwell on their way down, and that mixed with flashes of Mike’s past growing up. Great blend. It made the read very interesting on many levels.

 Did you do reach on this project? Visit any other guides dogs and facilities? If you did, what was your impression of the whole process? Anything surprise you? Stand out?

I did quite a bit of first hand research, including trying to replicate Mike's journey down 1,463 stairs to safety. My husband and I found a high rise in San Francisco and asked for permission to walk down 78 flights of stairs. It wasn't too difficult, but we both had trouble walking for the next three days. I also enjoyed visiting the Guide Dogs for the Blind campus in San Rafael, California, a number of times. If you ever get a chance, pay a visit. The puppies are adorable! An interview with Roselle's trainer at Guide Dogs really surprised me. He said he was in no way responsible for how well she guided Mike at Ground Zero---he said she was a special dog with a God-given gift. "Most dogs would have fallen apart." Roselle didn't fall apart, and instead guided Mike through smoke, debris, panicked crowds, the tower collapse just 100 yards away, and the 300-foot debris cloud. No one knows how she did it, but she did. She saved Mike's life and they worked together as a team to help others, too.

Stetson our retired racehorse, drinking tea out of my NYTimes Crossword Puzzle commuter cup 
Stetson reading Thunder Dog
SF Susan G Komen Walk for the Cure. It was in September 2011 and we did 3 days, 60 miles. (Ouch!)


If you had the opportunity to hang out with any two people (alive or dead) in the history of the world (besides Jesus that’s a given), who would you pick and what would you do? 

I would sit down to coffee with Deborah, the judge from the Old Testament, and find out what it was like to lead Israel into a battle where the odds were overwhelming. What tremendous faith! Which God answered with miraculous deliverance.
The other person I would like to have met is Mother Teresa. I would have liked to see her in action both in the slums and Calcutta and to have been with her at the Nobel Prize awards ceremony where she refused the celebratory dinner and instead told officials to give the money they would have spent to the poor. 

A friend of yours has a time machine and they are letting you use it to visit Two events in the history of the world. Which two events would you visit and why?

The resurrection of Lazarus so I could meet three of Jesus's best friends and see a tremendous and unexpected miracle.

The other event is my parents' wedding. They both had horrific childhoods but found each other, fell in love, and lived happily ever after, until my dad died at 47 of cancer. I would love to see them young, in love, and finding the strength in their bond to enable them to overcome their difficult beginnings.

Name three movies you can watch over and over again.

Man From Snowy River (because I'm a cowgirl--yee haw!)
Fly Away Home
Pride and Prejudice

Name three of your favorite book you read as a child? 

 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Walter Farley's Black Stallion series
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

What movie did you watch as a child that really impacted your life?

The Sound of Music. I loved Julie Andrews' infectious joy with the Von Trapp kids and I think it helped me be a better mother. Keeping things light and fun and joyful and musical is a great way to approach parenting. As my Irish mother always says, "It's better to laugh than cry."

THANK YOU Susy for this opportunity to get to know you and your books. This was an amazing read not only of a horrific day but of an amazing man and his trusted companion. Thanks for the FOUR books that you are giving away @ THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK CHRISTMAS PARTY and the ONE on my blog. 

Lots of opportunities to win this AMAZING book Starting DECEMBER 1st @ TBCN! Thanks for stopping by and sharing this story with us.

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network 


** Mandatory** Answer this question.
Where were you when you first heard the Twin Towers had been hit by a plane? 


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Nora :D

********DISCLAIMER: Entering the give away is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. Void where prohibited; open only to residents of the  U.S.A and Canada, must be 18 years or older to enter, odds of winning depend on number of entrants.

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In the last ten years since I started interviewing veterans for my WWII novels, most have passed away. Some of them—realizing their days on earth were coming to an end—returned to Europe one last time with their family members to walk along paths they've never forgotten. Those trips inspired my most recent novel, Remembering You.

In the last ten years since I started interviewing veterans for my WWII novels, most have passed away. Some of them—realizing their days on earth were coming to an end—returned to Europe one last time with their family members to walk along paths they've never forgotten. Those trips inspired my most recent novel, Remembering You.

One of the most amazing experiences was when I received an email from a woman named Hana. She'd heard of my book and knew I'd interviewed some of the veterans. She asked if I'd interviewed any medics. Then she told me an amazing story. Hana was born on a cart just outside of Mauthausen. Her mother had survived being a prisoner of another camp and was transported to Mauthausen at the end of the war.

Hana was just three weeks old when the Americans arrived, and she was very ill. Because of the filthy conditions she got a skin infection and sores covered her body. No one expected her to live. Yet one of the medics saw the small baby and knew he had to do something. Even though it took most of the day, he lanced and cleaned all Hana's sores, saving her life. Over the years she'd wanted to find the medic, but didn't know where to start.

I was amazed by Hana's story and told her I knew one medic—maybe he remembered who that man was. I gave Hana the contact information and I soon heard the good news. My friend LeRoy “Pete” Petersohn was the medic who'd saved her life! The two were soon reunited! After all these years Hana was able to look into the eyes of the man who saved her and thanked him. After all these years Pete was able to meet the woman he saved. “Baby!” he called out when he met her.

Remembering You is a work of fiction, but the experiences of the men are true. The experiences of the main character, Ava, are also true-to-life. I was busy with life when God pointed me to an amazing story, and to even more amazing men. I'm so thankful I took time to listen and care. I'm so thankful I allowed these men to share what … and who … they remembered most.

Tricia Goyer is a homeschooling mom of four and an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundreds of articles in national magazines. She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Tricia's written numerous novels inspired by World War II veterans, including her new release Remembering You. Tricia lives with her husband and four children in Arkansas. You can find out more information about Tricia at

***NOTE*** This looks like a good one Tricia. I look forward to reading it! Nora St.Laurent The Book Club Network


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Abingdon Press (April 2011)

Richard L. Mabry, MD, is a retired physician and medical school professor who achieved worldwide recognition as a writer, speaker, and teacher before turning his talents to non-medical writing after his retirement. His first novel, Code Blue, was published by Abingdon in the Spring of 2010, followed by Medical Error that fall. He is also the author of one non-fiction book, and his inspirational pieces have appeared in numerous periodicals. He and his wife, Kay, live in North Texas.

Visit the author's website and blog blog.


Removing life support can be a killer!

When her comatose husband died in the ICU while on life support, the whispers about Dr. Elena Gardner began. They were stronger after another patient died in ICU. After she took up practice in a small town, the whispers turned to a shout: “mercy killer.”

Then there were the midnight phone calls that started after her husband’s death. Who was the woman who sobbed out, “I know what you did?” And how could Elena stop the calls that tortured her?

Two physicians, widowers themselves, tell Elena they know what she is going through. But do they? And is it safe to trust either of them?

What was the dark secret that kept Elena’s lips sealed when she should be defending herself? Would what she did in her husband’s ICU room turn out to be a prescription for trouble?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press (April 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1426710216
ISBN-13: 978-1426710216



She stood by his bedside and waited for him to die.

Outside the room, the machines and monitors of the ICU hummed and beeped, doctors and nurses went about their business, and the hospital smell—equal parts antiseptic and despair—hung heavy in the air.

With one decisive move she flipped the switch of the respirator and stilled the machine’s rhythmic chuffing. In the silence that followed, she imagined she could hear his heartbeat fade away.

She kissed him and exhaled what passed for a prayer, her lips barely moving as she asked for peace and forgiveness—for him and for her.

She stood for a moment with her head bowed, contemplating the enormity of her action. Then she pocketed the empty syringe from the bedside table and tiptoed out of the room.


Dr. Elena Gardner approached her apartment as she had every night for six months—filled with emptiness and dread. The feeling grew with each step, and by the time she put the key in the door, fear enveloped her like a shroud. Some nights it was all she could do to put her foot over the threshold. This was one of those nights.

She turned the key and pushed open the door. The dark shadows reached out at her like a boogeyman from her childhood. The utter stillness magnified every sound in the old apartment, turning creaking boards into the footsteps of an unknown enemy.

She flipped on the light and watched the shadows turn into familiar surroundings. Even though the thermostat was set at a comfortable temperature, she shivered a bit.

Elena dropped her backpack by the door and collapsed into the one comfortable chair in the living room. The TV remote was in its usual place on the table beside her. She punched the set into life, paying no attention to what was on. Didn’t matter. Just something to drown out the silence, something to remind her that there was life outside these four walls. That somewhere there were people who could laugh and joke and have fun. Somewhere.

She sighed and picked up the phone. She should call David.

He’d been firm about it. “Call me anytime, but especially when you get home at night. That’s the toughest time. It’s when the memories butt heads with the ‘what-ifs.’”

She dialed the number. Maybe she should put him on her speed dial. But that implied there wouldn’t be an end to this soon. And she wasn’t ready to think about that.

“Hey, Elena.” Although Dr. David Merritt—a resident physician in one of the busiest obstetrics programs in the Southwest—was surely as tired as she was, his voice sounded fresh, almost cheery. “What’s up?”

“Oh, you know. Just needed to hear a friendly voice.”

“Glad to oblige. How was your day?”

That was one of the things Elena missed most. Now that Mark was gone, there was no one to share her day. “Not too bad until I was about to check out. The EMT’s brought in a thirty-two-year-old woman, comatose from a massive intracranial hemorrhage. The neurosurgeons rushed her to surgery, but––”

She knew David could guess the rest. He cleared his throat. “Did that…was it tough to take?”

Elena started to make some remark about it not bothering her. But that wasn’t true. And she knew David wanted the truth. “Yeah. Not while it was happening. Then I was pretty much on automatic pilot. But afterward, I almost had a meltdown.”

“It’ll get better.”

“I hope so.”

“Any more phone calls?”

Elena felt goose bumps pop up on her arms. “Not yet. But it’s Tuesday, so I expect one later tonight.”

“Why don’t you call the police?”

“What, and tell them that for four weeks I’ve answered the phone every Tuesday at midnight and heard a woman sobbing, then a hang-up? That’s not a police matter.”

“And you—”

“I know what they’ll ask. Caller ID? ‘Anonymous.’ Star 69? ‘Subscriber has blocked this service.’ Then they’ll tell me to change my number. Well, this one’s unlisted, but that doesn’t seem to matter. How much trouble would it be for whoever’s calling to get the new one?”

David’s exhalation was like a gentle wind. “Well, let me know if there’s anything I can do.”

“You’ve done plenty already. You know, after Mark died, I had a lot of people fuss over me for about three days, but you’re the only one who’s stayed with it. Why?”

His silence made her think she’d asked an embarrassing question. People didn’t go out of their way to be nice the way David had with no thought of something in return. Did they?

“Elena, I’ve been where you are,” David said. “Oh, I know. A spouse divorcing you isn’t the same as one dying, but a lot of the feelings are the same. I mean, when I saw my wife and little girl pull away from the house for the last time, I wanted to lie down and die.”

She knew exactly what he was talking about. “That’s me. I wanted to crawl into the coffin with Mark. At that point, my life was over.”

“But I got past it,” David said. “Oh, I didn’t ‘heal.’ You don’t get back to where you were, but you learn to move on. And when Carol sent me the invitation to her wedding, it broke my heart, but it helped me realize that part of my life was over. Anyway, I made up my mind to use what I’d learned to help other people. And that’s what I’m doing.”

Elena sniffled. “Sorry.” She pulled a tissue from her pocket and dabbed at her eyes. “That’s another thing. I feel like tears are always right there, ready to come anytime.”

“That’s normal. Let them out.”

They talked for a few minutes more before Elena ended the conversation. She wandered into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and looked in without seeing the contents. She wasn’t hungry. Since Mark’s death she’d lost twelve pounds off a frame that had little to spare. Maybe she should patent the process. “Sure-fire weight loss guaranteed. Withdraw life support and let your husband die. If you don’t lose weight, double your money back.”

Her lips drew back in what started as a hesitant smile but turned into a grimace of pain. She dissolved into tears.

Elena wasn’t sure how long she sat at the kitchen table with her head cradled in her arms before the ring of the phone roused her. She looked at her watch. A little after nine—too early for her midnight caller. Had the routine changed?

She shuffled back to the living room. When she checked the caller ID, she felt some of her tension subside. Dr. Helen Bennett represented the only ray of sunshine in Elena’s dark landscape right now.


“Elena, did I wake you?”

“No, not really. Just starting to unwind. What’s up?”

“We need to talk.”

That didn’t sound promising. “Wow, that sounds like what I used to tell boys in college before breaking up with them. What’s going on?”

“I’d rather do this face to face. Why don’t we have breakfast tomorrow morning? I usually make rounds at six-thirty. Can you meet me in the St. Paul Hospital staff cafeteria at six? We can talk then.”

Elena hung up with a growing sense of unease. Mark’s death had plunged her into a dark abyss. The only glimmer of hope for a future had been Dr. Helen Bennett’s offer to join her practice. The opportunity to work alongside a woman who was one of the most respected family practitioners in the community, a doctor Elena had admired since her days in medical school, seemed like a gift from above. Was that about to be taken from her?

The evening dragged on as Elena worried about the problem like a kitten with a ball of yarn. Finally, she ate some peanut butter and crackers, forced down a glass of milk. She’d shower in the morning. Right now, she just wanted to crawl into bed.

Sleep was elusive as a glob of mercury. She picked up the book from her bedside table and tried to read, but the words blurred on the page. Finally, she closed the book, turned out the light, and tried to sleep. Instead, she watched the red numerals on her bedside clock change: 10:00, 10:40, 11:15.

She was tossing in a restless slumber when she heard the ring of the phone. The clock showed 12:05 as Elena reached for the receiver. Her left hand clutched the covers tighter around her as her right lifted the phone and brought it to her ear.

At first there was silence. Maybe this was simply a wrong number. Maybe the calls had stopped.

No, there it was. Sobbing. Starting softly, then rising to a crescendo. A woman’s voice—a husky alto, like a lounge singer in a smoky, second-rate club.

“Who is this?” Elena said.

No answer. Only sobbing.

“What do you want?” Elena’s voice rose to a shriek.

A click. Then silence.

Elena stabbed blindly at the phone’s “end” button, finally hitting it as an electronic voice began, “If you’d like to make a call—”

She turned on the bedside lamp and stared at the cheap lithograph on the opposite wall. In it, a young man and woman were walking through a field of flowers. They looked so happy. Like she and Mark had been.

But he was gone, and she’d never be happy again. Ever.

She reached for the light, but withdrew her hand. No, leave it burning. Elena burrowed deeply under the covers, the way she used to do as a child after hearing a ghost story. She closed her eyes and watched the images march across her brain: endless days spent at the bedside of a living corpse, Mark’s casket disappearing into the ground, a faceless woman at some shadowy location sobbing into a phone.

As the sound of those sobs echoed through Elena’s mind, that image of a face from her past came into focus. Was that who was calling? If so, there was nothing Elena could do. She’d simply suffer . . . because she deserved it.

* * *

Elena slapped at the snooze button on her alarm clock. Why was it buzzing already? Then she remembered—her breakfast with Dr. Bennett. What had Helen meant by, “We need to talk?”

Her stomach did a flip-flop, and she tasted a bitter mix of peanut butter and bile. Maybe some coffee would help.

Elena padded to the kitchen and reached into the cabinet, wishing she’d had the foresight to make coffee before going to bed last night. The weight of the canister told her before she removed the lid—empty. She filled a glass at the sink and drank the contents, hoping to at least wash the bad taste from her mouth.

A quick shower brought her a bit more awake. Now for hair and makeup. Elena had always taken pride in her resemblance to her mother, a beautiful woman with dark, Latina looks. But long days at the hospital followed by sleepless nights took their toll.

There were dark circles under her eyes, the brown irises surrounded by a network of red. A few drops of Visine, and she looked less like the survivor of an all-night drinking spree. She’d cover the circles with a little make-up and hope Dr. Bennett didn’t notice.

Elena ran her hands through her long, black hair. She needed a haircut, needed it in the worst way. But there was neither time nor money for that right now. She’d pull it into the always-utilitarian ponytail she’d favored more and more lately.

Dressed, her backpack slung over one shoulder, her purse over the other, she stepped through the door into the early morning darkness, in no way ready to face the day. It was bad already. She hoped it wouldn’t get worse.

* * *

The ride in the elevator was three floors up, but Elena’s stomach felt as though she was in a free fall. She didn’t have to do this today. When Helen Bennett called, she should have put this visit on “hold.” But something told her she needed to get it out of the way.

The elevator doors slid open, and the scene before her made memories scroll across her mind like a filmstrip unwinding. The waiting area of the ICU at Zale University Hospital was quiet at 5:30 a.m. The television set high on the far wall flickered with silent images as closed captions of the local news crawled across the bottom of the screen. An older man huddled in a chair near the “Staff Only” door, glancing every few seconds toward that portal as though Gabriel himself were about to come through it with news of his loved one.

Elena knew the feeling. For two weeks, she’d spent much of every day in this same waiting room. The rest of the time, the minutes not spent snatching a quick bite in the cafeteria or hurrying home for a shower and change of clothes, were spent at her husband’s bedside, holding his hand and listening to the even rhythm of the respirator that kept him alive. Her heart bled for the old man and for every other person who’d ever sat in this room.

Elena was pleased when her final training assignment took her away from Zale, the place where her life fell apart. St. Paul Hospital was less than half a mile away, but she welcomed every foot of that buffer. When she walked out of Zale for the last time, she silently vowed never to return.

Now she was back, and she still wasn’t sure of her reason. Was it to add the books from the box balanced on her hip to the dog-eared paperbacks next to the volunteer’s desk? Or was it to show she had the courage to revisit the scene of the most terrible two weeks of her life? No matter, she was here. She clenched her jaw and forced her feet to move.

“Dr. Gardner. What are you doing here?”

Elena looked up at the nurse emerging from the elevator. The woman’s name tickled at the periphery of Elena’s memory like a loose hair. What was it?

“Oh. You startled me.”

“Sorry. What brings you back here?”

Elena held up a handful of books and shoved them into the bookcase. “These are some of Mark’s––” Her throat closed up and words left her. With an effort, she began again. “I was going through some of Mark’s things and thought these might help the people in the waiting room pass the time.”

The nurse moved closer and Elena sneaked a look at her nametag. Karri Lawson. Of course. How could she forget Karri? The pretty brunette had been the nurse responsible for Mark’s care almost the entire time he was in the ICU. In fact Karri had been Mark’s nurse the day––. Elena shook her head. Don’t go there. Don’t go back.

If Karri noticed Elena’s discomfort, she made no mention of it. Instead, she gave Elena a brief hug. “I haven’t seen you since…since that day. I’m sorry for your loss.” She made a gesture toward the closed doors leading to the ICU. “We all are.”

Elena had heard “sorry for your loss” so many times, it was almost meaningless. Her response was automatic. “Thank you.”

“Would you like to come in and see the other staff?” Karri looked at her watch. “The day shift isn’t here yet, but there may be some nurses you remember from when…from your time here.”

“I don’t think so.” Elena reached out and touched Karri on the shoulder. “I have a meeting. But tell everyone hello for me. Tell them I said, ‘thanks.’”

* * *

“The coffee here is surprisingly good,” Elena said. “Everyone always says that hospital food, especially hospital coffee, is terrible.”

“I agree,” Helen Bennett said. “I wish my receptionist could make coffee like this. She’s a jewel, but in fifteen years with me she’s never learned to make coffee that doesn’t taste like it’s brewed from homogenized tire treads.”

“Don’t be too hard on her, Helen. I’m looking forward to working with her. And with you, of course.”

Helen placed her mug on the table as carefully as an astronaut docking the space shuttle. “Well, that’s what we need to talk about.” She looked around to make sure there was no one within earshot. Around them, the cafeteria was filled with bleary-eyed residents, medical students, and nurses, but no one seemed interested in the conversation at their table. “I’m afraid you’re not going to be working with my receptionist, or my nurse, or me.”


Helen stemmed Elena’s words with an upraised hand. “Let me give you the whole story. Then I can answer questions if you have any—assuming you’re still speaking to me by then.”

The hollow feeling in Elena’s stomach intensified.

“I’ve been in private practice for fifteen years, going it alone. There aren’t many of us left in solo situations, but I’ve held out. I’ve managed to get other doctors in various groups to share call with me, but lately that’s been somewhere between difficult and impossible.”

“I know. That’s why you wanted to bring me into the practice,” Elena said.

“True, but that’s changed. The Lincoln Clinic has approached me to join their family practice section. Actually, they want me to head it. They’ve made me a great offer. Not just the money, although that’s good. The whole package seems tailor-made for me. I’ll be supervising six other doctors, and I’ll be exempt from night call. A great retirement plan and benefits.” Helen looked down at the tabletop. “I couldn’t turn it down.”

Elena’s mind scrambled for a solution. The ship was sinking, and she grabbed for something to keep her afloat. “So, why don’t I take over your practice? I can buy you out. I mean, I won’t have the money right way, but I can pay you over several years. It’ll be sort of like an annuity for you.”

Helen was already shaking her head. “No, one part of the deal was that I bring my patients with me. The clinic will hire both my receptionist and nurse, and give them a good package as well. They’ll even buy my equipment from me. I’ve already terminated the office lease. I’m moving out in ninety days.”

Elena forced back the tears she felt forming. “Helen, do you realize what this does to me?”

“I know. I just—”

“No.” Elena worked to keep her voice level. “You don’t know. You don’t know how I’ve struggled to get through my residency after Mark’s death. You have no idea what it meant to me to have a practice waiting for me. No need to lease space, to remodel and buy equipment. No waiting to build up a practice. There’d be a guaranteed income and a chance to pay off a mountain of debt.”


Elena shook her head. “I finish my residency in less than a month. Thirty days! Now you’ve pulled the rug out from under me. I have four weeks to find a way to do the only thing I know how to do—practice medicine.” She turned her back to Helen, thinking that Helen had done the same thing to her. “No, I realize this is good for you, but I don’t think you really know the effect it has on me.”

“Elena, I had to do this. Once you get over the shock, you’ll think about it and agree. But listen, I’m not going to leave you hanging.”

Elena turned back to face the woman who’d been her mentor, the friend who was now betraying her. “What do you mean?”

“The clinic gave me a very short deadline to accept or reject their offer. I only made my final decision this weekend. But the second call I made, after the one to the clinic administrator, was to your chair, Dr. Amy Gross. She and I are both putting out feelers for a place you can practice.” Helen reached across the table and patted Elena’s shoulder. “We know how hard this past three months have been on you. We worry about you. And believe me, we won’t abandon you now. God has something out there for you. Trust Him.”

Elena drained the last of the coffee from her cup. When she set it down, she knocked her fork off the table. The dull clank of silverware on vinyl floor was barely audible over the low hum of voices that filled the cafeteria. “Trust God? I don’t think so. I trusted Him when Mark lay there fighting for his life, but it didn’t seem to do any good.”

“I know. But He’s still in control.”

Elena shook her head, while one more hobgoblin joined those already dancing in her brain.
**Note** Richard Mabry, MD talked to Finding Hope Book Clubs this month. He was a hoot. Loved hearing about how he got his ideas for books and how he began his writing career! EVERYONE on our group enjoyed his books very much.

His newest book is Lethal Remedy!! I'm reading this one next. We read Medical Error and his first book is Code Blue. I highly recommend Richard's books. They are suspenseful and written from the Medical professionals POV. He kept us guessing who the bad guy was up until the end!! It's a page turner for sure! He just signed a three book deal with a new publisher. The new series sounds exciting!

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network 


American Christian Fiction Writers had their ACFW Conference in St.Louis, Missouri in September of this year. At there ACFW banquet they handed out The Carol Awards. I'm the ACFW On-Line Book Club Coordinator. It's been an honor to work with many members in this organization and read their amazing books! 

The American Christian Fiction Writers is an organization that promotes Christian Fiction through developing the skills of its authors, educating them in the market, and serving as an advocate in the traditional publishing industry.

ACFW has over 2000 members worldwide, consisting of authors, editors, agents, publicists and aspiring writers and was organized in 2000 under the name of American Christian Romance Writers (ACRW). In 2004, the group changed the name to American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) in response to the diverse needs of its membership, who write across many genres. Find the organization online at

The Carol Awards are ACFW's recognition for the best Christian fiction published by traditional publishing houses in the previous calendar year. Here are the 2011 Winners.

Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes (Tyndale)
Never Say Never by Lisa Wingate (Bethany House)

Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson)

Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren (Summerside Press)

Love Finds You In Homestead, Iowa by Melanie Dobson (Summerside Press)

The Camera Never Lies by Elizabeth Goddard (Barbour Books)

NOVELLAS (Photo unavailable)

A Trusting Heart by Carrie Turansky (Barbour Books)

The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson (Summerside Press)

A Father for Zach by Irene Hannon (Love Inspired)

Night Prey by Sharon Dunn (Love Inspired Suspense)

Her Healing Ways by Lyn Cote (love inspiried Historical)

KONIG'S FIRE by Marc Schooley (Marcher Lord Press)

Predator by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan)

Beaded Hope by Cathy Liggett (Tyndale Publishers)

Anything but Normal by Melody Carlson (Revell Books)

Wow! What a list of books! Looks like a few could go on my Christmas list! Grin!

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network