ABOUT AUTHOR: Cathleen Armstrong lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Ed and their corgi, but her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives. She and Ed have three grown children and eight amazing grandchildren.

ABOUT BOOK: It didn’t take Lainie long to pigeonhole everyone she met: the empty-headed waitress, the crazy religious old lady, the full-of-himself bartender, the nosy busybody, and of course, as she got to know them all, she realized she was wrong on all counts. (Well, maybe not completely wrong about the nosy busybody.) Have you ever been guilty of that? If you’ll admit it, I will.

What inspired you to write this novel?

Even though I've lived on the California Coast for quite a while, and find the cliffs that drop straight into the sea and the stands of redwood breathtaking in their beauty, there’s something about the desert that says to me, “You are home now.” I don’t know if it’s that dry air, or the hundred mile vistas, or the craggy mesas, but it just seems timeless and solid and unchanging—like it’s been quietly waiting for…what? For the next person looking for a place to hide, to start over maybe? To become someone they never thought they could be? One day a few years ago, my husband and I were driving through southern Arizona, and I saw a small town off in the distance, miles off the interstate. I found myself wondering who lived there and why. What brought them there and why did they stay? And what would happen if someone from a big city suddenly found herself in that little town and for some reason couldn't leave. Then Lainie started telling me her story.

What fascinated you and/or surprised you in your research Last Chance, New Mexico that made you say I need to include that in my book?

Last Chance, New Mexico is, of course, fictitious, as is the nearest larger town, San Ramon. But its location in southwestern New Mexico is real, as are the chile farms, and diners, and ranches and churches of the area. One of the little towns in southwestern New Mexico is Animas, with a population of about a thousand. My husband and I attended the community New Year’s Eve party there one year and a young lady, with justifiable pride, told us the Animas High football team had once won sixty-nine consecutive games. She said there were classes, more than one, who from freshman to senior year had never seen the team lose. Of course I had to put that in the book. How could you not? High school football is huge in the southwest.

What do you hope readers take away from Last Chance?

I think the take-away from Welcome to Last Chance is found in the title itself. Even if you’re at the end of your road, and your car is going nowhere, ever again, and the past is catching up, and the future doesn't look that good either, it’s not over. There’s always another chance.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on now? When will it be out?

I’d love to! Book II of the A Place to Call Home series is in the works now and is scheduled for an April 2014 release. We’re still trying to come up with a terrific title as I write this, but I’ll let you know as soon as we have one. This book is also set in Last Chance and features Chris Reed, who you meet at the very end of Welcome to Last Chance, and Sarah Cooley, Last Chance’s new second grade teacher. I have to say, as much as I love Lainie and Ray, I really hated leaving Chris and Sarah at the end of Book II.

When you sit down to relax and read, what genre do you turn to? Do you prefer hardback, paperback or digital when you read? Why?
Cathy and her husband

Oh, my goodness. I don’t know that I can claim a favorite genre. I love literary fiction, historical fiction, biography, history, political thrillers, big fat generational sagas—I’m one of those people who gets panicky if she doesn't have something on hand to read at all times. I've even been known to read the ingredients on a cereal box if that’s all that’s handy. That’s why I love my Kindle so much; I’m never without a book. Even if I find myself suddenly stranded with nothing to read, I can pull out my phone and read from my Kindle app. Of course, by the time I get the print large enough to read, I only get a couple sentences per screen, but it beats the cereal box.
 Did you always want to be an author? If not can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

I have always wanted to write. And as a child I was always writing poems (mostly little sing-songy verses where ‘love’ rhymed with ‘above,’ and ‘way’ rhymed with ‘pray’), short stories, and very, very short novels. But you grow up and get realistic and make more sensible use of your life, and short, short novels give way to the occasional clever article for the church newsletter. But one day, a character marched into my head, unpacked, and started telling me her story. What could I do but to write it down?

Can you share your testimony with us?
Cathy at Sarah's Birthday Party

My pleasure, although it’s not the least bit dramatic. I grew up in church, was baptized at eight, and went on to youth group, college group, young marrieds…and then saw it all start over again with my own family. Pretty seamless. But, of course, life can really throw some curves. Finances can get tough, children can rebel, parents can suffer lingering illnesses, and even when things appear to be going fine, doubts can spring up from nowhere and you can be wandering though a spiritual death valley before you even know it. And here’s the cool part. Jesus is always, always, there. If I've wandered, he’s gone after me. If I've been crushed, he’s gathered up the pieces. And as I've received the numberless gifts and blessings he’s bestowed, I've felt his pleasure. It’s been an amazing walk.


What movie affected most you when you were young? If you didn't watch movies what books affected you most?

I didn't see a lot of movies when I was young, but I read incessantly. Two books I remember well are Little Women and David and the Phoenix (a Weekly Reader Book Club book—anyone remember those?) I loved Little Women because of Jo, the writer, of course. David and the Phoenix couldn't be called a classic, but I loved it anyway was about a boy who rode on the back of a Phoenix and night to visit mythical creatures—griffins, banshees, leprechauns. It was very magical.

You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?

I’d prepare food. I’m always trying to feed people. One of my characters says of her mother, “If you’re not actually eating, she thinks you must be starving.” That’s me. I’m also pretty good at looking on the bright side, so I’d be encouraging people not to give up.

A friend of yours has a time machine and they will let you use if for a while. Where would you go and what would you do?

There are so many times and places I’d love to visit, but if I could only chose one, I would love to have heard Jesus speak, perhaps the Sermon on the Mount.

What three things would you rather not live without (besides your family)?

My Kindle
My Computer
And my coffee pot
(I’m including the dog with the family).

What two jobs have you had that would surprise people? Do tell!

Paid jobs? Not many, but I've volunteered a lot. Two of the most interesting things I've done were to landscaping the yard at a home for young women rescued from the sex trade in San Francisco, and helping to put together a library for a school of highly at risk middle schoolers.

Just that I really hope you enjoy Welcome to Last Chance. The people you’ll meet there are people I've known all my life. They can be a little quirky, and a little nosy, but they really do care..


THANKS for stopping by Cathleen and helping us get to know you and your books. I'm excited about the giveaway opportunity. You are also doing a great job of interacting with readers. There's lots of book fun happening at TBCN. Check it out. 

5 Book Giveaway Opportunity at THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK 

Go to TBCN to enter the 5 book drawing for Cathleen's new book. You must be a member to enter. It's free and easy!


Nora :o)


ABOUT AUTHOR: Judith is an award winning and best-selling author of historical fiction for Bethany House Publishers. With a love of history, a dash of romance and a touch of mystery, Judith transports her readers to another time and place. Her passion for history and love of God keep her inspired. Judith and her husband are empty-nesters who live in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Judy blogs with four other historical novelists at

What inspired you to write A Simple Change?

This is the second book in the Home to Amana series. One of the reasons I proposed a second series in the Amana Colonies was because I wanted to set stories in as many of the villages as possible. While the seven villages that comprise the Amana Colonies are very much the same in some respects, each has something to distinguish it from the others. I've attempted to show some of the distinguishing characteristics in each of my books. A Simple Change is set in Middle Amana where readers will learn that beyond farming, there was a huge woolen mill where many of the residents worked. The mill provided a perfect place for my hero to work.

What fascinates you about historicals? What do you look forward to when you pick up one to read?

I love history, so I’m naturally drawn to historicals. Whether reading, writing or researching, I love discovering new and interesting facts from the past. When I pick up a historical to read, I want to be educated as well as entertained. I love a good story, but enjoy learning something new at the same time. I hope that’s what my books do for readers, as well.
What do you hope readers take away from the book A Simple Change? The whole series this was part of?

It is my hope that people will learn about the people of Amana and the Inspirationists’ faith. This was a group of believers who had banded together due to persecution and had begun to live communally while in Europe in order to survive. They continued the practice once they came to America, but members were permitted to leave at any time and if they decided to return, they were welcomed back. There was not shunning as with the Amish and they were permitted to marry and had individual apartments or homes, unlike the Shakers. It is my hope that through reading the series, people have gleaned the truth of their beliefs and the lifestyle these people adopted until 1932.

Out of all the interviews you've ever done, is there a question you wished someone had asked you but didn't  Yes. If so, what is the question and what is your answer?

Because my books are considered “bonnet books,” they are often confused with the Amish. I've always wanted someone to ask me to explain the difference between the communal Amana villages and the Amish. So, here’s the answer: The people of Amana are Inspirationists and were a communal group of forward thinking people who used and developed technology. By Inspirationists, I mean that the group believed in a personal relationship with Jesus and that some members of their group received a word or inspiration from the Lord.

The people of Amana developed the Amana Radar Range and are home to the Amana Corporation, so you can see that they have always been involved in developing efficient methods to complete their work, with the idea that they would then have more time to worship God. The group voted to cease communal living back in 1932, although all seven villages are still in existence. The Amish are NOT communal, do not embrace technology, and are not Inspirationists. The two groups are very different—years ago, they were confused because they were both religious groups, both groups wore dark clothing, and both group names began with the letter “A”.  Other than that, they are quite different.

Nora: THANKS JUDITH for asking this questions and explaining this. Good info!

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on now? When will it be out?

I’m currently giving the finishing touches to the third book in the Home to Amana series, titled A Shining Light. This final book in the series will be set in West Amana and it will release in March 2014.

If you lived in the 1800’s what would you like to experience first hand?

Imagining I was wealthy, I’d like to experience one of those ‘course after course’ lovely meals (minus the corset, of course), while wearing a beautiful gown that made me look like I was wearing a corset. Then I’d like that dinner to be followed by hours of dancing to a string orchestra. What would you not want to experience? Using an outhouses (I have done this and it isn't pleasant) and/or using and emptying slop jars. Why? I’d like to attend a dinner and dance so I could be totally immersed in the conversation and attitudes of the day. As for the dance—well, I think it would teach me a great deal about the events, but I also think I’d enjoy it.

As for why I wouldn't want the outhouse experience:  I don’t think going out to the outhouse in the middle of winter would be fun and in the middle of summer, I can attest to the fact that the smell isn't pleasant! As to emptying slop jars? I’m holding my nose just writing about them.

Nora: Fun Judith! I'm with you about the outhouse!

When you sit down to relax and read, what genre do you turn to?

My first choice is historical fiction or biographies. Do you prefer hardback, paperback or digital when you read? Why? When I’m at home, I prefer to read a paperback. Hardbacks are a little too heavy, but I truly enjoy the feel of a book in my hands, turning the pages, the beautiful covers and filling my bookshelves with a variety of books. When I travel or go for appointments, I prefer digital because of the ease of carrying a digital device with me.  

Judith with Friend Lorna Seilstad

What three things would you rather not live without (besides your family)?

Freedom—what a privilege to live in a free country.
Coffee, LOL. Gotta have my coffee.

Nora: Judith you are the first author to mention FREEDOM!! I have to agree with you my friend. Freedom is an amazing gift and a wonderful privilege! It's something I know I take for granted. Thanks for the reminder!

What movie affected most you when you were young? If you didn't watch movies what books affected you most? 

The Wizard of Oz. Every summer my sister and I traveled to West Virginia to stay with my aunt, uncle and cousin for several weeks. My aunt took us to the drive-in to see the movie and I was absolutely scared to death. Because I was so frightened, I've never liked the movie and have never watched it again. Those flying monkeys were enough to set me to quivering, and I still don’t watch scary movies.

Nora: I was terrified by the Wizard of Oz too. I had nightmares about the witch and the flying monkeys I know what you mean. We watch it on T.V. My parents loved it and watched it every year, I would close my eyes but the image was already in my mind. When I got older I refused to watch it! Yikes that was scary!

You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?

If someone else would forage for food and make a fire, I’d be glad to cook and wash dishes. Of course, without a supermarket, I’m not exactly sure what kind of dishes I might prepare, but I’d give it a good try.

Nora: I'm a good dishwasher. My husband Fred is the cook at our house. When It's my turn I break out the cook books. I'm not a chef like he is or it sounds like you might have that gift too!  I need the step by step directions!! Grin!

A friend of yours has a time machine and they will let you use if for a while. Where would you go and what would you do? 

I think I’d like to go back to the period of time when the King of England had Scottish families move to Northern Ireland to settle. That’s the history of my ancestors so once I was there, I’d try to begin my search for them! I’d love to know more about my Scots-Irish heritage.

What was your favorite show on T.V. when you were growing up? Why is it your favorite? If you didn't watch TV what were your favorite books?

When I was young, we didn't have a television—my mother was widowed at a very early age, BUT our neighbors had one and would let us come to their house and watch Howdy Doody. That’s one of my earliest television memories and the show remains a favorite simply because of the nostalgia I connect to it—sitting with neighbor children while their mom cooked supper


I’m always thrilled to hear from readers and thankful for each one of you. Books bring such pleasure and knowledge to the world and I’m thankful God has blessed me with the ability and opportunity to write a few of those books. I blog with four other historical novelists at


Judith, I've enjoyed your interview and look forward to reading your book. Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. I’m thrilled about the 10 book Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN starting the 20th AUGUST. Looking forward to it.

You can encourage here but the DISCUSSION and the ENTRY to the Book Giveaway is at THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK  You must be a member to enter the drawing. It's Free and easy. All comments at to be made at The Book Club network not here!


Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!

SARAH SUNDIN UP-CLOSE & PERSONAL 5 Book Giveaway Opportunity

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Sundin is the author of On Distant Shores and With Every Letter in the Wings of the Nightingale series from Revell, and also the Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children. When she isn't ferrying kids to tennis and karate, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies.

What inspired you to write On Distant Shores?

In my non-writing life, I’m a pharmacist. When I was researching nursing in World War II for the Wings of the Nightingale series, I was surprised to find nothing about pharmacists. After more digging, I discovered Army hospital pharmacies were primarily staffed with technicians with three months of training, and any pharmacists who practiced their professions were also classified as noncommissioned officers—despite bachelor’s degrees. Meanwhile, nurses had commissioned rank. So if a nurse and a pharmacist fell in love, not only would they not be allowed to date—but she’d outrank him. I had to write that story!

What fascinates you about historicals? What do you look forward to when you pick up one to read?

I have a chronic case of Wanderlust—the love of travel. For me, reading historical fiction is like traveling in time. I can never visit ancient Israel or medieval Europe or a World War II battlefield—but I can pretend to in the pages of the book. Historical fiction also serves to remind me that real people lived through those times, and that they faced similar challenges as we do today. When I read about them conquering great obstacles, that gives me the strength to face contemporary obstacles.

What fascinated you and/or surprised you in your research for this book? Why do you write about war times?

The stories of nurses in World War II fascinated me. In Sicily and Italy, where On Distant Shores is set, the nurses lived in primitive conditions, slogging through mud, dealing with bugs and strange diseases, living in tents, eating tinned rations—and diving into slit trenches during air raids. On the Anzio beachhead, sixteen American nurses lost their lives from German bombardment—often while protecting the lives of their patients—yet when the Army talked about evacuating all the nurses, they protested. They insisted on staying. That’s honor and courage in action. And that’s why I write about war times. When I read about young women bearing up in such conditions, it helps me bear up in my extremely comfy conditions—and I hope my readers will be inspired too.

What do you hope readers take away from On Distant Shores?
Family & I in Italy 2011

Flight nurse Georgie Taylor struggles with her fears and has to learn to turn to the Lord for wisdom in making decisions and handling tragedy and trauma. Meanwhile, pharmacist John “Hutch” Hutchinson finds his dreams constantly thwarted and deals with rising bitterness. He has to learn to find contentment wherever he is. I hope readers will find encouragement for when dreams are thwarted, tragedy falls, and decisions have to be made.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on now? When will it be out?

I just turned in the third book in the Wings of the Nightingale series, In Perfect Time, which will be published by Revell in August 2014. In this story, flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, but C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper is immune to her charms. Throughout Italy and southern France, as she evacuates the wounded and he delivers paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them where they don’t want to go.

I also signed a contract with Revell for another three-book series, tentatively called Waves of Freedom. During the early years of World War II, three naval officers based in Boston find adventure in the Battle of the Atlantic and are captivated by three lovely women—a shipyard worker, a pharmacist, and a WAVE. Battles erupt on the high seas. Mysteries arise on the Home Front. Family ties and friendships are tested. And love is found where least expected.

Nora: Congrats Sarah! I look forward to your new series. I've enjoyed the Wings of the Nightingale series. 

Out of all the books you've written what reaction to one or several that surprised you, encouraged you in your writing journey?

At a book signing, the store owner was telling me about her other job—as a prison warden! (And she’s just a slip of a thing!) One day she was in her bulletproof glass enclosure reading my first novel, A Distant Melody, when a big tough inmate rapped on the window. “Hey! I read that book.” “Yeah?” the warden replied. “What’s it about?” The prisoner then told her—and added, “It’s a good book.”
Holy moley. I can’t go into prisons—but God can put my books into prisons! I’m still amazed by that.

Nora: WOW!

Was there something in your research you ran across that you found interesting and you thought I have to include this in my book? If so, what was the event or situation?

My family & I in Italy 2011
 So many. My family was blessed to take a trip to Italy and Southern France in 2011—half family vacation and half book research. I was able to feel the sand of the beaches of Anzio and Salerno under my toes. We visited Paestum on Salerno Bay, where the Americans landed in September 1943, where the 93rd Evacuation Hospital (Hutch’s hospital) was based, and close to where the 802nd Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadon (Georgie’s unit) flew in. In Paestum, we saw ancient Greek temples and a little amphitheatre, smelled the scent of umbrella pines, and heard the cicadas [See pictures]. All those details went into the book—and the amphitheatre inspired a fun little gladiatorial scene with Hutch and his best friend Bergie.

Nora: Thanks for sharing about these Sarah! How fun! Love the pictures! 


What movie affected most you when you were young? If you didn’t watch movies what books affected you most?

I did watch movies, but books affected me more. My sister and I read the entire Little House on the Prairie series over and over, and acted it out with our beds as covered wagons and rain hats for sunbonnets. Since I was a prissy, fearful girl, Laura Ingalls’s example of a real girl facing danger with pluck really helped me. Plus, the books inspired a love of history and a fascination with how real people lived in the past.

You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?

I’m the boring practical one, so I’d probably be making lists of things we had to do and helping decide who did what and when.

A friend of yours has a time machine and they will let you use if for a while. Where would you go and what would you do?

I’d go back to the 1940s and visit the sites where my stories have been set—the bomber bases in England, small town California, airfields in the Tunisian desert, quaint Sicilian towns, the beaches of Anzio—as much as I could squeeze in before I had to return!

What three things would you rather not live without (besides your family)?

Caffeine, books, and air conditioning.

What two jobs have you had that would surprise people? Do tell!

I had the best college summer job ever! I worked as a ride operator at Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California, running roller coasters and the merry-go-round and the Ferris wheel. My favorite job skill—learning how to jump on and off of a moving merry-go-round. That was fun!

Another job that might surprise people—I tutored physical chemistry in pharmacy school at UC San Francisco.


I’m thrilled to visit—and to belong to—The Book Club Network. For almost ten years, I've been blessed to belong to a book club. These women have become some of my dearest friends, and I love supporting other book clubs.

Sarah Sundin
On Distant Shores, coming August 2013 from Revell
With Every Letter, 2012. “A well-researched and absorbing tale”—Publishers Weekly

Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN starting the 20th AUGUST. 5 Book Giveaway oppotunity is at TBCN . ALL entries are to be made there You must be a member to join. It's free and easy.


Nora :o)

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!


ABOUT AUTHOR: Judith is an award winning and best-selling author of historical fiction for Bethany House Publishers. With a love of history, a dash of romance and a touch of mystery, Judith transports her readers to another time and place. Her passion for history and love of God keep her inspired. Judith and her husband are empty-nesters who live in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Judy blogs with four other historical novelists at

ABOUT BOOK: Joining the communal society of the Amana Colonies isn't what Jancey Rhoder planned for her future, but when unforeseen circumstances force her family to make some difficult decisions, she chooses to give up her teaching position in a Kansas City orphanage and move with her parents to Iowa. Her besotted suitor, Nathan Woodward, isn't at all happy about the move and is determined to get Jancey to change her mind. And Jancey herself isn't sure what she's gotten herself into when the simple life of the Amana Colonies means she'll be assigned a job and may have to give up teaching for good. Will Nathan woo her back to the city, or will she be forever changed by the mysterious events and new relationships that await her in the quiet villages of the Amana Colonies--and decide to make this unique place her forever home?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Sundin is the author of On Distant Shores and With Every Letter in the Wings of the Nightingale series from Revell, and also the Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children. When she isn't ferrying kids to tennis and karate, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies.

ABOUT BOOK: Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A comfortable boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie's cozy life gets decidedly more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson. Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancee. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made?

With her signature attention to detail and her talent for bringing characters together, Sarah Sundin pens another exciting tale in her series featuring WWII flight nurses. Fans new and old will find in "On Distant Shores "the perfect combination of emotion, action, and romance.

ABOUT AUTHOR: Cathleen Armstrong lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi. Though she has been in California for many years now, her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives. After she and Ed raised three children, she returned to college and earned a BA in English. Welcome to Last Chance won the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for Women's Fiction.

ABOUT BOOK: The red warning light on her car dashboard drove Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico. But as she encounters the people who make Last Chance their home, it's her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and to interested in her personal life for Lainie's comfort--especially since she's on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed. Yet in spite of herself, Lainie finds that she is increasingly drawn in to the dramas of small town life. An old church lady who always has room for a stranger. A handsome bartender with a secret life. A single mom running her diner and worrying over her teenage son. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little hick town? Or will the past catch up to her even there in the middle of nowhere?

***NOTE*** TO ENTER CONTEST go to The Book Club Network site  You must be a member to enter. It's free and easy!

Great line up.  Author are jumping into the discussion too! Lots of BOOK FUN AHEAD!!

Check it out.

Nora :o)
The Book Club Network COO


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:

Whispers from the Shadows
Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


Roseanna M. White is the author of several novels, as well as the senior reviewer at the Christian Review of Books, which she and her husband founded, and the senior editor at WhiteFire Publishing.

Visit the author's website.


When Gwyneth Fairchild flees London to save her life, she ends up under the care of Thaddeus Lane in Baltimore. Though their hearts turn to each other, Gwyn and Thad are on opposite sides of the War of 1812. What is God’s plan for them when the war is over?

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Series: Culper Ring Series (Book 2)
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736951016
ISBN-13: 978-0736951012

**NOTE** I haven't finished reading this book but when I do I'll have a full review. Here is the First Chapter for you to enjoy.

Nora :o)


London, England

April 1814

The servants hefting her trunks onto the carriage might as well have been loading her coffin. Gwyneth Fairchild pulled her pelisse close and gazed across Hanover Square with a sick feeling in her stomach. Surely she would awaken from this nightmare and walk down to the breakfast room to find Papa smiling at her. He would speak and say something that actually made sense.

Not like yesterday.

She shut her eyes against the image of all that was familiar, all that she might never see again. What if the Scribe went down? Was attacked by a renegade French ship or those dreadful American pirates? What if, assuming she made it to Annapolis, they killed her the moment she stepped ashore?

Annapolis. Had Papa not looked so sorrowful, so determined when he said that word yesterday, she would have thought he had gone mad.

His hand settled on her shoulder now, warm and large. Those hands had steadied her all her life. Capable, that was what General Isaac Fairchild had always been. Capable and steady and so very noble. All that was worthy of love and respect. So surely she could trust him now when logic and reason said she couldn’t.

“I know it makes little sense to you, dear heart.” He touched her chin, a silent bid for her to look at him. She found his eyes gleaming with moisture he would never shed. Not when anyone could see him, though she had heard his heartrending sobs when Mama died last fall. “I wish there were another way, but there is not.”

Another way for what? He hadn’t said, wouldn’t say. Gwyneth drew in a tremulous breath and tried to stand tall and proud, the way Mama had taught her, the way Papa himself had instilled. To convey with her posture that she was the great-granddaughter of a duke, the granddaughter of two earls, the daughter of a general.

A daughter sent into exile for no apparent reason. Separated from all those she loved, the only people left in the world who mattered. “Papa—”

“I know.” He leaned in and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I do. But I cannot entrust you to anyone but the Lanes.”

A light mist descended, heavier than fog but too tame to be called rain. At this moment, a thunderstorm would have better matched her confusion. “Please tell me what is happening. Why must you entrust me to anyone? And if you must, why not Aunt Poole or Aunt Gates?”

His jaw moved for a moment but no words came. Nay, he simply looked past her, his eyes searching for something unseen. Then he sighed. “The Lanes will welcome you and take care of you, Gwyn. I will follow as quickly as I can. A month at the outside. No more.”

Exactly what he said yesterday too. He would give no explanation as to why he was sending her to a nation with whom they were at war, across the Atlantic to a family she had met only once, when she was but a tot.

“Papa, your words hint at danger, but what could threaten me here more than the sea and its pirates? The French, the Americans?”

“The French ought to pose no threat now that we’ve subdued them.” He reached inside his coat of blazing red and pulled out an envelope. “In all likelihood your ship will reach harbor safely, but if by chance you do encounter American privateers, offer them this.”

She frowned as she took the envelope. It was too thin to contain anything but a single sheet of paper. “What—”

“Trust me. ’Twill suffice.” Chatter from the house grew louder, and Papa looked away again, to the nearing housekeeper and gardener. “There are the Wesleys. Time to go.”

A million arguments sprang to her tongue. She didn’t want to leave. Not her home, not him, not all she held dear. Not her first Season, the one that had been put off because of Mama’s illness last year. Not her friends.

And what about Sir Arthur? She hadn’t even spoken to him to tell him she was leaving, hadn’t dared send a note. “Papa, Sir Arthur…”

“It isn’t to be, Gwyn, not now. Perhaps when this has passed, when it is safe for you to return.”

Tears burned, begging to be set loose, but she clenched her teeth and blinked. How had it come to this? Promise had finally shone its light again. Shopping with Aunt Gates had made it feel as though Mama were with her still. Making the rounds with her friends had finally distracted her from the loss. Getting vouchers for Almack’s, and then Sir Arthur’s court—she had, at long last, looked forward to the future.

“Please don’t cry, dear heart.” Papa thumbed away a wily tear that escaped her blockade and kissed her forehead again. “Up with you, now. You must be at the docks soon.”

Instead, she surged forward and wrapped her arms around him. “I don’t want to leave you, Papa. I can’t. Don’t make me go. Or come with me.”

He held her close. “Would that I could. Would that I didn’t have to bid goodbye, yet again, to the one who matters most.” He gave her another squeeze, another kiss, and then he set her back. His eyes were rimmed with red. “I love you, Gwyneth. Go with God.”

He let her go and pivoted on his heel, all but charging back into the house. She almost wished she could resent him, but how could she, seeing his struggle? Whatever his reasons, they must be valid.

And whatever his reasons, they must be dire. A shiver coursed up her spine and made the mist seem colder. Isaac Fairchild was a respected general, a man loved by all. A man of considerable sway in London and beyond. If there were something frightening enough that he must send her away, was planning on leaving himself—

And for America, no less. Would he be going there to take command of troops? Possibly. Though why would he be secretive about it? But then, there was much about Papa’s work he could not discuss. Secrets, always secrets.

“All’s secure, Miss Fairchild,” the driver called down from the bench.

She slipped the envelope into her reticule and took a step toward the Wesleys. They, at least, would provide familiar faces for the journey. They would be an anchor on the foreign seas.

Quick hoofbeats snagged her attention. “Miss Fairchild!”

Her eyes went wide when she saw the dashing figure astride the horse. Sir Arthur reined to a halt beside the carriage and leaped down, fervor ablaze in his eyes.

“Miss Fairchild.” He gripped her hands as he searched her face with his gaze. He had the loveliest brown eyes, so warm and beckoning, the perfect fit to his straight nose and sculpted mouth. “Is it true, then? Broffield just told me that Miss Gregory said you were leaving Town.”

“I…” He was holding her hands. Sir Arthur Hart, Knight of the Order of Saint Patrick, presumed heir to a viscountcy, the most sought-after bachelor in England, grasped her fingers as if he never intended to let go. The mass of confusion inside twisted. “Yes, it is true. My father…”

He eased closer, his gaze so compelling she feared she might drown in it. “Something to do with military business, then? You will return soon?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think Papa knows.”

“Dear Miss Fairchild. Gwyneth.” His fingers tightened around hers, much like the band around her chest. Never before had he spoken her given name. Hearing it in his rich tenor, spoken with such affection, made her fear her tears would overcome her after all. “Why must you go with him? Can you not stay here with your aunt?”

Her attempt at swallowing got stuck in her throat. “I am all Papa has now since my mother passed away, and he is loath to be separated.” True, so true. Why, then, was he sending her an ocean away to a hostile land?

“But surely there is a way to convince him. What if…” He paused and then swallowed before using their joined hands to pull her closer. “What if you were betrothed?”

Her heart quickened inside her, beating a desperate tattoo against her ribs. Would that change anything? Could it? “I…don’t know.”

“Gwyneth.” Oh, he made her name into music. The breeze toyed with his honey-colored hair under the brim of his hat, making her itch to touch the curls. “My darling, I have such a love and admiration for you. If you would feel inclined toward accepting my hand, I will speak with your father this very moment.”

At first all she could think was He proposed! Then she drew in a quick breath and nodded with too much enthusiasm. “Of course I am inclined if he agrees. Only…” She drew away when he moved closer still, recalling Papa’s discomposure mere minutes before. “Let me speak with him first, as he was out of countenance.”

“Certainly. Yes. Anything.” He laughed and raised her hands to kiss her knuckles. As if surprised she had said yes. “I will take a turn through your garden to try to calm myself.”

“Perfect.” If only she could be sure Papa would agree. If only she could be sure that, if not, Sir Arthur would wait for her. She pulled away, but he snagged her hand again.

“Gwyneth. Darling.” He smiled, so bright and handsome it made her doubt trouble could exist. “I will make you very happy.”

A smile stole onto her lips. It melted away again in a moment, but he had turned toward the garden by then.

Mrs. Wesley snagged her attention with a shooing motion toward the door. “You had better hurry, love. If the general does not change his mind, we must hasten on our way.”

Gwyneth flew through the mist up the steps to the door and back into the house. For a moment she paused to breathe in home, but she hadn’t time to savor it. If her mission went well, she needn’t say goodbye to it at all.

Please, Lord. Please let him relent.

She sped down the hallway and around the corner toward Papa’s study. He always ended up there, either busy at work or staring at the picture of Mama she’d painted for him. A professional portrait hung in the drawing room, but he said she had done the better job. Praise which always made her heart expand.

The study door was before her by the time she realized voices spilled out. Two of them—though when had anyone else arrived? Surely no servant would dare speak over Papa like this.

“Isaac, listen to yourself!”

Gwyneth froze a step from the door. It was open a crack, letting her look in, though only the corner of the desk was visible, and just behind it, where Papa stood. But she recognized Uncle Gates’s voice.

“‘Isaac’ now, is it?” Papa’s laugh sounded dry. “Odd how you only remember our familial ties when we disagree. Otherwise it is always my rank to which you appeal.”

A loud bang made Gwyneth jump. Uncle’s fist connecting with wood, perhaps? “Blast it, Fairchild, it’s your rank you are abusing!”

“No! ’Tis my rank I honor. Someone, Gates, must do what is right. Someone must stand for justice rather than—”

“Hang all that noble rot.” A nasty curse spilled from Uncle Gates’s lips as glass shattered. Gwyneth recoiled, staring in horror at the sliver of room. What keepsake had he destroyed? The vase Mama had chosen two years ago? The small porcelain figure Gwyneth had given Papa for his birthday when she was fifteen? Something precious, for only the most special pieces gained a place of honor on Papa’s shelves.

And why? Why would Mama’s own brother do such a thing?

He sent something else toppling. “You are undermining years of careful work! The Home Office—”

“The Home Office, you say?” Papa leaned forward onto his desk, a look of deathly calm upon his face. “Nay. The Home Office has decent men in it yet. A few, at least, though you are not one of them. This evil must be stopped, Gates. You must be stopped.”

There came a shuffling sound, one Gwyneth couldn’t comprehend but which made Papa snap upright. Made him lift his hands, palms out, and make a placating motion. “Gates—”

“I am through reasoning with you, Fairchild. Tell me where they are. Now.”

One of Papa’s hands lowered toward his desk drawer, but another shuffle made him pause. “I am only—”

“You think me so great a fool? I already removed that, dear brother.” More curses exploded from Uncle Gates. Closer now, as though he were rounding the desk, just out of her view. “Tell me where they are!”

Papa’s sharp inhalation was clearly audible. “Gone.”

“Gone? Gone? What do you mean, gone?”

“Just that. Out of my hands and on their way to those who can put a stop to this before you destroy two nations in the name of avarice.”

A cry tore through the room, guttural and animalistic. Light flashed on something metallic as her uncle charged into view, the gleaming length held before him. Still, she had no idea what he wielded until she saw the silver stained red.

She pressed her hands to her mouth to hold back the scream, hold back the horror, but it didn’t help. Uncle still hissed words of hatred. Papa still staggered back, away from the blade. Then he crumpled and fell.

Gates followed him down, muttering, “You couldn’t have, not yet. You must have it.” His hands shoved into Papa’s jacket and searched.

Papa, fight back! But he didn’t. He gasped, seemed to struggle for a moment, and then went lax. No. No, no, no, no, no!

Did she bleed too? She must. She couldn’t move, couldn’t make a sound, couldn’t be. Not anymore.

When Papa’s head lolled to the side, he blinked and his gaze focused on her. There was life yet in those familiar depths, but it flickered. Sputtered. “Gwyneth.”

She didn’t hear it. She just saw the movement of his lips. But her uncle, tossing Papa’s case of calling cards into the wall, snarled. “Now you worry about your darling daughter? Oh, have no fear, Fairchild. Dear Uncle Gates will take care of our precious girl.”

Bile burned her throat.

Papa blinked again as he tried to pull in a breath that choked him. Again his gaze sharpened, caught hers. This time when his lips moved, he made no sound whatsoever. Run!

Then it was gone, all the light in his eyes. Extinguished like a flame left before an open window.

And she ran. She turned on silent slippers and fled back around the corner and down the hall. Out the doors and straight into the waiting carriage.

“Gwyneth? Miss Fairchild?”

All she noted of the voice was that it wasn’t Uncle Gates’s. Nothing

else mattered. Seeing that the Wesleys were already seated, their eyes now wide, Gwyneth pulled the door shut herself. “Go!”

An eternal second later, the driver’s “Yah!” reached her ears, and the carriage jolted forward.

When she closed her eyes, all she could see was darkness yawning before her.


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Lost Medallion
B&H Kids; Mti edition (June 1, 2013)
Bill Muir and Alex Kendrick

Bill Muir is a popular speaker, an international award winning film maker and a sought-after consultant.

Having completed his new novels The Lost Medallion and A Hidden Treasure, Bill has turned his creativity to his new Children’s novel, Howdy Neighbors.

When Bill isn’t writing a novel, he’s busy directing and producing movies. He recently spent four months in Thailand filming, The Lost Medallion: the adventures of Billy Stone. The movie will be in theaters this fall. When he isn’t working on movies, he’s having fun with his family working their farm.

Alex Kendrick is associate pastor of movie outreach for Sherwood Baptist Church. He is also an actor, writer, and director whose film credits include Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous. He and his wife, Christina, have six children.

Archaeologist Dr. Michael Stone looked for the lost medallion his entire life, and now his son Billy has taken up the search. Amazingly, the medallion ends up in Billy's hands and a spontaneous wish in a precarious situation takes Billy and his best friend Allie, back 200 years to what they realize is a very different Aumakua Island.

When Billy and his friends are not jumping off waterfalls, avoiding animal traps, crossing the ocean, sneaking through caves or escaping a prison they're facing their nemesis Cobra, who wants nothing more than for them all to disappear.

With no other way to get home, and the well being of the entire island resting on his shoulders, Billy must discover the key to reclaiming the medallion and its tremendous power. One way or another, this adventure will change Billy, and life on the island, forever.

Best-selling author and film director Alex Kendrick (The Love Dare, Courageous) and Youth for Christ veteran Bill Muir bring us this exciting novelization of The Lost Medallion movie.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Lost Medallion, go HERE.

**NOTE*** I haven't finished reading this book yet. It's interesting so far. I look forward to seeing the movie The Lost Medallion. I've enjoyed the other movies that Alex Kendrick has been specially Courageous. I'll post a full review on my blog when I complete reading the book. *****


Nora :o)


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:

B&H Books; Reprint edition (July 15, 2013)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***

 Michael K. Reynolds is the writer and producer of Emmy and Telly
Award-winning film campaigns and has more than two decades of
experience in fiction, journalism, copywriting, and documentary production. He owns Global Studio, a marketing agency, and is also
an active leader in church and business, speaking in both ministry
and corporate settings. Michael lives with his wife and three children
in Reno, Nevada.

Visit the author's website.

Irish immigrant Seamus Hanley is a lost soul, haunted by his
past as a U.S. Army deserter and living alone in the wilderness
of the Rocky Mountains in 1849. But after witnessing a deadly
stage coach crash, he finds purpose in the scattered wreckage -- a
letter with a picture of a beautiful and captivating woman named
Ashlyn living in San Francisco at the height of the Gold Rush.
Moved by her written plea for help, he abandons all and sets out on
an epic journey across the wild and picturesque American frontier.
While being pursued by those who want to hang him, Seamus
encounters fascinating characters including a young Pauite Indian
who makes the ultimate sacrifice in helping Seamus to cross the
snowy Yosemite Valley.

Battered but changed for the better, Seamus reaches San Francisco
on Christmas Eve as the city burns in the tragic fire of 1849. But
there is little time for rest, as an even greater, more harrowing
adventure involving Ashlyn is about to begin.

Product Details:
List Price: $11.16
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: B&H Books; Reprint edition (July 15, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433678209
ISBN-13: 978-1433678202

***NOTE***I'm sorry I'm unable to give a review at this time. My husband had back surgery and I got behind in my reading!I haven't started reading this yet.  I'll post a full review when I'm done reading this book. It sure looks good! Read for yourself! Here is the FIRST CHAPTER!!

Nora :o)


Chapter 1
Man of the Mountain Wilderness of the Southern Rocky Mountain Range

September 1849

His sunken face windburned and forested by an icicle-encrusted mustache and beard, Seamus Hanley exhaled a steamy billow through his cracked lips into the frosty mountain air. Then the Irishman held his breath and lowered his rusted Brown Bess musket, his hands numbed by the frigidness breaching his torn and frayed bearskin gauntlets.

The pain of hunger in his stomach had long subsided, and now only the trembling of his grip and weariness of his soul impressed upon him the urgency of this unpleasant task.

He closed one of his lake-blue eyes, the last remnant of the promise of his youth, and sighted the muzzle of the weapon at the unsuspecting, rummaging elk.

Even at a distance, the ribs of the great beast showed through its patchy and scarred chestnut fur. Through the barrel’s eye, Seamus tracked the young bull as it limped its way over to an aspen tree. The elk raised its head, crowned in mockery by horns uneven and fractured.

Did it catch his scent?

Then the animal relaxed, bared its teeth, and tugged on a low-lying branch, releasing a powdery mist of fresh snowfall and uncovering autumnal leaves of maroon, amber, and burnt orange. Brilliant watercolor splashes on a white canvas.

In the deadly stillness of a finger poised on a trigger, Seamus shared a kinship of loneliness and futility with his prey, whose ear flapped and jaw bulged as it chewed.

This wasn’t the way it should be. For both were trailing the herd at this time of season.

This was when both mountain men and wildlife should be well fattened by summer’s gracious hands. For the fall offered only last provisions, the final stones in the fortress. Because, like shadows in the distant horizon, the bitter enemies of winter were approaching.

Seamus tried to steady his focus as the wind shrilled. “It’s me or you, my friend.”

The frizzen was closed, the powder set, and his very last musket ball was loaded. This would be his only shot.

For it had been another disappointing trade season amidst the dwindling market of beaver, otter, and marmot pelts. The fashion shifts in faraway places like New York and Europe were flushing out trappers like Seamus throughout the Western out- lands of this sprouting nation.

But he expected as much. Seamus’s past was rife with disap- pointing harvests.

With a pang of regret, his numb finger squeezed ever so gently and spark and flame breached the touchhole, igniting the gunpowder and sending a lead ball, laced with hope and des- peration, through the icy air. Sounds, though dampened by the snow, ricocheted through the woods.

The creature leapt into the air, thighs and legs flailing in a moment of frenzy. Then it gathered itself, turned, and bobbed its white tail up through the embankment into the sheltering embrace of the frozen forest.

A flash here. A speck of brown again. Then it was gone. And Seamus was alone. Completely alone.
Seamus lumbered over to a tree stump mushroomed by snow, and with the back of his glove he gave it a firm sweep to dust it clean before sitting down on the iced, jagged surface.

“Arrgh!” He flung his musket in the air, watching it spiral before being enveloped into a bank of snow. Then he lowered his face into his moist, fur-covered hands and sobbed.

No one would see him cry. No one ever did. Here, in the high country, emotions were shielded by solitude.

Though just two years had passed, it seemed forever ago when he chose self-exile. When he tried to hide from the memories.

Seamus could barely recall the laughter of his youth and his passion for whimsy. Growing up in the green-rich fields of Ireland, he would feast off the sparkle of cheer that echoed through the farmlands of his people back home.

But that was many tragedies ago. Now that all looked like someone else’s life.

He dwelled in the blackness of despair for a while, but even- tually the chilling lashes of the winds pried him from the depths of his misery. Survival still lorded over the emptiness.

Seamus retrieved his musket from its snowy grave. It was useless without ammunition, but he couldn’t part with one of his only friends.

With slumping shoulders, he headed home. Home. His mis- shapen cabin in the hollow of the woods. Despite his best efforts to acclimate to the wilderness, he was still merely trespassing. And where was home when your spirit wandered?

Yet there was a more pressing question. Would he even make it back to the cabin? The moment the hobbled elk escaped, it became Seamus who was hunted. He had risked the chase and strayed far. Now his hunger grew fangs and eyed its prey.

The weariness. The throbbing of his temples. Every step mattered.

Seamus popped the top of his canteen, lifted it, and poured water down his dry, aching throat. Then he surveyed this unfamiliar terrain.

He rarely traversed this patch of backcountry and for good reason. Civilization had encroached following the opening of a United States Army outpost not far away. It intersected with the Oregon Trail, the main pathway for travelers to the West, who of late were drawn in droves to the resonating whispers of gold in California.

The army fort was tasked to free the flow of commerce from the growing hindrance of the Indian population. Seamus had no quarrels with the brown-skinned natives of this territory. In fact, he coveted their ability to thrive in this cruel environment, which had buckled him to his knees.

But he was terrified of the American soldiers.

At the thought, he reached up to the scar on his left cheek, hidden beneath his scraggly facial hair. The image haunted of that branding iron growing in size as it was pressed down on him, the burning flesh both his punishment and permanent mark as an Irish defector in Polk’s war, the battle against the Mexicans.

He bristled at the word defector. People confused it too easily with deserter. Seamus had fought bravely in the war and never wavered amidst firestorms, death screams, and the lead- filled chaos. Even when, like many of his countrymen, he chose to change allegiances and fight for the other side.

Suddenly, the whinnying of horses pulled him out of his trance. Seamus bent down behind a bush and strained his eyes high above in the direction of the repeating and frantic neighing sounds.

Of course. Fools Pass.

It was daunting enough for wagons to climb this section of the main trail during the warm and dry months. But trying to scale it during wintertime only validated its name.

The horses sounded again, this time blending with the curses of a man and the cracking of a whip. From Seamus’s vantage point far below, he could see a wagon drawn by two steeds straining to make it up the crest of the hill. Its driver beseeched the creatures with a mad flailing of his arm whilst they slid and grappled for traction.

The two great horses managed to find a steadiness in their hoofing and the wagon straightened and lunged forward with the wooden wheels digging into the deep snow. The vehicle moved closer to the crest of the peak.

Then there was a hideous splintering of wood. One of the horses reared and broke free from its bindings causing the other to stumble. In the matter of a moment, the still-yoked horse, the carriage, and its horrified teamster started to slide back down the slope, angling toward the trail’s edge that dropped hundreds of feet below.

Slowly. Excruciating to watch.

First one wheel cleared the edge. Then another. And all was lost.

The driver leapt from his bench, but much too late. The full momentum of the wagon and its cargo ripped violently against the futile efforts of the horse to regain its footing. The helpless creature was yanked through the air as if it were weightless. Its neck flexed unnaturally backward.

Then launching downward, in one flight of wagon, wooden shards, scattering luggage, and flapping limbs of man and beast, the behemoth plunged in fury to depths below amidst hideous songs of anguish rising above the wind’s mournful cries.

Seamus shielded his eyes from the horrific imagery. But his ears weren’t spared the tortuous screeching. He loathed to hear the conclusion of violence, the anticipated clash of rock and timber, metal and flesh.

Instead, there was a muffled thud. Was it possible they survived?

Energy surged through his flesh and he dropped his musket and ran with abandon, boots sinking through fresh powder and legs tripping over fallen pine boughs and sunken boulders.

After bloodying his face and arms through dashes between patches of trees, he arrived with his lungs ablaze at the scene of the carriage accident.

The collision with the ground had been softened by a deep snowdrift, and as a result, the wreckage was relatively intact. But the driver hadn’t survived the fall. His body was bent grotesquely in a rose-colored embankment.

There too lay the horse, still trained to the wagon. Amazingly, the poor creature still showed signs of life, though it was reduced to a dim wheezing, and tiny flumes rose in the coolness from the flutter of its bleeding nostrils.

Seamus curled up beside the fallen beast and stroked its head. “Shhh . . . dear fellow.” He sat beside it in an honoring silence until the last flicker extinguished in its eyes.

He then pushed to his feet and walked over to the mangled body of the driver dressed in a soldier’s uniform and young enough to still be in the daily prayers of a heartbroken mother.

As he looked upon the dead boy, he was struck by the emptiness of the wide-open orbs gazing into the murky skies. Seamus’s thoughts jarred to crimson-drenched fields, haunting memories of explosions, the flashing lights, the whirring of can- non shot hurled through the air against crumbling stone walls, battle equipment, flesh and bones.

How could he had ever fired at another human being? Back then they were faceless uniforms, just flags flapping in the winds of war. Yet this soldier lying below him could have been his brother. Maybe even the brother he lost.

Oh! Why bring back those haunting visions of his youth? Would they ever go away? Would he torment himself in even crueler ways than did his father?

Seamus looked around for anything that could serve as a shovel, and the best he could find was a wooden panel he ripped off of the carriage. He used it to drag snow over the body. It was a crude burial at best, but it would at least keep the corpse from being dragged away by scavenging predators for a day or so before the weather warmed again.

Perhaps he just couldn’t bear to see the boy’s face any longer. He then explored the wagon, which had landed on its side  and was twisted and embedded deep in the snowbank.

Seamus reached down and pulled on the door, which tore from its bro- ken hinges, and he tossed it out of his way. He climbed down inside, discovered several canvas sacks, and threw them up and out of the carriage’s womb.

Getting out was a much more difficult proposition. Whatever parts of the cabin he tried to pull himself up with shattered to the touch, and the walls of snow around him threatened to col- lapse. He feared being crushed and suffocating.

After much exertion he managed to claw his way out, and when he was back on his feet, his muscles writhed and his breathing wheezed. Dizziness swept over him and he had to close his eyes to regain his balance.

There would be little time now. His stomach clenched. He must return home. Could there be food?

He propped up the first of the bags and hesitated for a moment before unfastening the slender rope binding it shut.

Was this right to do? Wouldn’t this make him a robber of graves?

Ridiculous! He was starving.

He removed his leather gauntlets and worked the knot with determination. Then it was freed and when he opened the mouth of the bag his spirit sank. Mail. Then the next bag. It was the same.

Another. Uniforms. He flung the sack down, and the cloth- ing scattered, blue against the white.

The heavy bag? Please. If there is a God above, then have mercy on me.

Cans! But there would be no way to open them out here. He untied the last bag, which proved to be the most stubborn. Finally it was freed and, once again, it was mail. But this one also had parcel boxes. He reached in to pull one out and several letters scattered in the wind.

Seamus stared at the box and shook it. Looking up, he saw the sun dipping below the crowns of the trees. He couldn’t squander any more daylight.

He returned the package in the sack and gathered the letters from the ground. As he did, one letter caught his eye.

In addition to an address on it was written PLEASE OPEN IMMEDIATELY. He stared at it for a moment and went to fling it but paused and examined it again.

Not understanding why he was compelled to do so, he tucked the envelope in an inner pocket of his doeskin jacket. Then he lifted the bag of canned goods and slung it over his shoulder. Too heavy. He would have to do something.

Yet he couldn’t fully embrace the thought of throwing away some of its contents. How much would he regret leaving any of these cans behind? The indecision was amplified by the pounding of his head and a surge of nausea.

Something drew him out of this. A movement in the trees behind him, a rustling of leaves.

He spun, now alert, and gazed through foliage beginning to be shrouded by dusk.

Silence. Even the wind had stilled. Only his breathing remained.

Then. It happened again. The snapping of branches. Something or someone was approaching.