Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I, Saul

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:

Worthy Publishing (August 27, 2013)

***Special thanks to Leeanna Case for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Jerry B. Jenkins is a New York Times best-selling novelist (Left Behind Series) and biographer (Billy Graham, Hank Aaron, Walter Payton, Orel Hershiser, Nolan Ryan, Joe Gibbs and many more), with over 70 million books sold. His writing has appeared in Time, Reader's Digest, Parade, Guideposts, and he has been featured on the cover of Newsweek.


Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A MURDERER who would change the WORLD
From multi-million copy best-selling novelist Jerry Jenkins comes a compelling international thriller that conveys you from present-day Texas to a dank Roman dungeon in A.D. 67, then down the dusty roads of ancient Israel, Asia, and back to Rome.

A young seminary professor, Augustine Knox, is drawn into a deadly race to save priceless parchments from antiquities thieves and discovers a two- thousand-year old connection with another who faced death for the sake of the truth. I, Saul consists of two riveting adventures in one, transporting you between the stories of Augustine Knox and Saul of Tarsus.

Filled with political intrigue, romance, and rich historical detail, I, Saul is a thrilling tale of loyal friendships tested by life-or-death quests, set two millennia apart, told by a master storyteller.



Product Details:
List Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Worthy Publishing (August 27, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1617950068
ISBN-13: 978-1617950063


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Tor n

T E x AS

W EDNESDAy, M Ay 7



“call now. desper8.”
The text appeared on Dr. Augie Knox’s phone at 8:55 a.m., seconds before he was to turn it off—protocol for profs entering a classroom at Arlington Theological Seminary.
Augie could have fired off a “give me a minute,” but the message was not signed and the sending number matched nothing in his contacts. The prefix 011-39-06 meant Rome. He’d traveled extensively in his thirty-eight years and enjoyed many visits to the Eternal City, but such a text could easily portend one of those I’ve-been-mugged-and-need- money scams. Whatever this was could wait until he got the Systematic Theology final exam started and could step into the hall with his phone.
Augie had long been fascinated by his students’ nervous chatter before






final exams. One announced, “I looked you up in Who’s Who, Doc, and I
know your full name.”
“Congratulations for discovering something you could have found in your student handbook four years ago.”
“No! That just says Dr. Augustine A. Knox! I found out what the A
stands for.”
“Good for you. Now, a few instructions . . .”
“Aquinas! Augustine Aquinas Knox! Man, what other career choice did you have?”
“Thank you for revealing the thorn in my flesh. If you must know, that moniker was my father’s idea.” Augie mimicked his dad’s monotone basso. “‘Names are important.They can determine a life’s course.’”
Many students chuckled, having sat under the elder Dr. Knox before he fell ill the year before.
“It also says you were adopted. Sorry, but it’s published.” “No secret,” Augie said.
Another hand shot up.“Was that a hint about the exam? Will we be speculating on Paul’s thorn in the flesh?”
“He’s only mentioned that mystery every class,” another said.
Augie held up a hand. “I trust you’re all prepared for any eventual-
ity.”




“So, what’s your dad’s name?”
“Ed!” someone called out. “Everybody knows that.” “Look it up,” Augie said. “You may find it revealing.”
With blue books distributed, Augie slipped out and turned on his
phone.The plea from Rome had already dropped to third on his message list. At the top was a voice mail from Dr. Moore, who had been filling in as acting department chair since Augie’s father had been hospitalized with a stroke.






Augie would have checked that one first, but next was a voice mail from Sofia Trikoupis, his heart. It was eight hours later in Athens, after five in the afternoon. “Call me at the end of your day,” her message said. “I’ll wait up.” It would be midnight her time by then, but she apparently needed his undivided attention. That would bug him all day. How he longed for them to be together.
His phone vibrated. Rome again. “urgent. call now, pls!” Augie pressed his lips together, thumbing in, “who’s this?” “trust me. begging.”
“not w/out knowing who u r.”
Augie waited more than a minute for a response, then snorted. As I
figured. But as he headed back into the classroom, his phone buzzed again. “zionist.”
Augie stopped, heat rising in his neck. He quickly tapped in, “90 minutes OK?”
“now! critical.”
Few people had been more important in Augie’s life than Roger Michaels, the diminutive fifty-year-old South African with a James Earl Jones voice and a gray beard that seemed to double the size of his pale, gnomish face. Augie would never lead a tour of an ancient city without Roger as the guide.
“2 mins,” Augie texted.
He rushed to his father’s old office, which still bore the senior Dr. Knox’s nameplate on the door. Augie knocked and pushed it open.“Les, I need a favor.”
Dr. Moore took his time looking up from his work. “Number one, Dr. Knox, I did not invite you in.”
“Sorry, but—”
“Number two, I have asked that you refer to me as Dr. Moore.”






“My bad again, but listen—”
“And number three,” the acting chair said, making a show of study- ing his watch, “we both know that at this very moment you are to be conducting—”
“Dr. Moore, I have an emergency call to make and I need you to stand in for me for a few minutes.”
Moore sighed and rose, reaching for his suit coat.“I know what that’s about.Take all the time you need.”
Augie followed him down the hall. “You do?” “You didn’t get my message?”
“Oh, no, sorry. I saw one was there, but I—”
“But you assumed other messages were more important. I said we needed to chat after your first exam.”
“Well, sure, I’ll be here.”
“Part of what we need to discuss is your father. Is that what your call is about?”
“What about my father?” “We’ll talk at ten.”
“But is he—”
“There have been developments, Dr. Knox. But he is still with us.” As Dr. Moore headed for the classroom, Augie ducked into a stair-
well, away from the windows and the relentless sun forecasters were saying would push the temperature at least twenty degrees above normal by 2:00 p.m., threatening the 107° record for the month.
Augie wasn’t getting enough signal strength to complete his call, so he hurried back out to the corridor. Cell coverage was still weak, so he stepped outside. It had to be near 90° already. Scalp burning, he listened as the number rang and rang.
Augie moved back inside for a minute, braced by the air condition-






ing, then ventured out to try again. He waited two minutes, tried once more, and felt he had to get back to class.
On a third attempt, as he neared the entrance, it was clear someone had picked up a receiver and hung up. Augie dialed twice more as he walked back to take over for Dr. Moore. Just before he reached the class- room, his phone came alive again with a text.
“sorry. later. trash ur phone. serious.”
Augie couldn’t make it compute. Had his phone been traced? Tapped? If he got a new one, how would Roger know how to reach him?
Dr. Moore stood just inside the classroom door and emerged imme- diately when he saw Augie. “Talk to your mother?” he said.
“No, should I?”
Moore sighed and opened his palms. “You interrupt my work and don’t check on your father?”
Augie reached for his cell again, but hesitated. If he used it, would he be exposing his mother’s phone too?
“Call her after we’ve talked, Dr. Knox. Now I really must get back to my own responsibilities.”
It was all Augie could do to sit still till the end of class. Before get- ting back to Dr. Moore, he dropped off the stack of blue books in his own office and used the landline to call his contact at Dallas Theolog- ical Seminary, just up the road. Arlington Sem sat equidistant between DTS to the east and the massive Southwestern Baptist Seminary to the west. Arlington was like the stepchild no one ever talked about, a single building for a couple of hundred students, struggling to stay alive in the shadows of those two renowned institutions.When Augie needed some- thing fast, he was more likely to get it from the competition. Such as a new phone.
Like his father before him, Augie was the travel department at






Arlington. No auxiliary staff handled logistics as they did at DTS and Southwestern. The head techie at Dallas was Biff Dyer, a string bean of a man a few years older than Augie with an Adam’s apple that could apply for statehood. He could always be counted on to program Augie’s phone, depending on what country he was traveling to.
“Calling from your office phone, I see,” Biff said. “What happened to the cell I got you?”
“It’s been compromised.”
Biff chuckled. “Like you’d know.What makes you think so?” “I need a new one.Trust me.”
“I’ll just switch out the chip.You’re not gonna find a better phone. How soon you need it?”
“Fast as possible.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me? I’m not deliverin’ it. Can you come by during normal hours?”
There was a knock at Augie’s door and he wrenched around to see
Les Moore’s scowl. “Gotta go, Biff.”
“Sorry, Les. On my way right now. Or do you want to just meet here?” “Here would not be any more appropriate than your insisting on our being on a first-name basis,” Dr. Moore said, scanning the tiny chamber in which the guest chair was folded in a corner and brought out only
when necessary.
“C’mon, Les. You were only a couple years ahead of me. We hung out, didn’t we?”
“Hardly. You spent most of your free time in the gym with the—
what?—six other jocks who happened to enroll here.”
It was true. And everyone knew the library had been where to find
Les Moore.
Augie looked at his watch. Another final at 11. He followed his interim






boss back to his father’s old office. It wasn’t that much bigger than his, but at least the guest chair didn’t block the door.
“Would you start with my dad?” Augie said as he sat.
“I would have thought you’d have already checked in with your mother, but all right. She called this morning, knowing you were in class. Your father has slipped into a coma.”
Augie nodded slowly. “She okay?”
“Your mother? Sure. It’s not like he’s passed. She just thought you might want to visit this afternoon.”
“Appreciate it.”
“Now then, Dr. Knox, I have some paperwork here that I’m going to need you to sign. Frankly, it’s not pleasant, but we’re all expected to be team players and I’m going to assume you’ll accede to the adminis- tration’s wishes.”
“What’s up?”
“You’re scheduled to teach summer-school Homiletics beginning four days after commencement.”
“A week from today, right.”
“And we have contracted with you for this stipend, correct?”
Why Les felt it necessary to pencil the figure on the back of a business card and dramatically slide it across the desk, Augie could not fathom.
“Yep, that’s the fortune that’s going to let me retire by forty.”
“Um-hm. Humorous. It is my sad duty to ask you to agree to under- take the class for two-thirds that amount.”
“You’re serious.” “Always.”
That was for sure.
“Les—Dr. Moore, you know we do these classes pretty much as gifts to the sem. Now they seriously want us to do them for less?”






“This is entirely up to you.” “I can refuse?”
“We’re not going to force you to teach a class when we have to renege on our agreement.”
“Good, because I just don’t think I can do it for that.”
“I’ll report your decision. We’ll be forced to prevail upon a local adjunct instruct—”
“Like that youth pastor at Arlington Bible—” “He’s a graduate, Dr. Knox.”
“I know! I taught him. And he’s a great kid, but he didn’t do all that well in Homiletics, and there’s a reason they let him preach only a couple of times a year over there.”
“He’ll be happy to do it for this figure—probably even for less.” “And the students be hanged.”
Les cocked his head. “Naturally, we would prefer you . . .”
Augie reached for his pen and signaled with his fingers for the doc- ument.
“I’m glad I can count on you, Dr. Knox. Now, while we’re on the subject, I’m afraid there’s more.You were due for a four percent increase beginning with the fall trimester.”
“Let me guess, that’s not going to happen either.” “It’s worse.”
“What, now it’s a four percent decrease?” “I wish.”
“Oh, no.”
“Dr. Knox, we have seen an alarming downturn in admissions, and the administration is predicting a fall enrollment that puts us at less than breakeven, even with massive budget cuts.We’re all being asked to accept twenty percent reductions in pay.”






Augie slumped. “I was hoping to get married this fall, Les. I can barely afford the payments on my little house as it is.”
“This is across the board, Dr. Knox. The president, the deans, the chairs, all of us. Some departments are actually losing personnel. Mainte- nance will be cut in half, and we’ll all be expected to help out.”
Arlington had been staggering along on a shoestring for decades, but this was dire. “Tell me the truth, Dr. Moore. Is this the beginning of the end? Should I entertain the offers I’ve gotten from Dallas over the years?” “Oh, no! The trustees wish us to weather this storm, redouble our efforts to market our distinctives, and then more than make up for the pay cuts as soon as we’re able. Besides, the way your father bad-mouthed Dallas and Southwestern his whole career, you wouldn’t dream of insult-
ing him by going to either, would you?”
“He bad-mouthed everything and everybody, Les.You know that.” “Not a pleasant man. No offense.”
Augie shrugged. “You worked for him. I lived with him.”
“Do you know, I have heard not one word from your father since the day I was asked to temporarily assume his role? No counsel, no guidelines, no encouragement, nothing. I assumed he was angry that you had not been appointed—”
That made Augie laugh.“He still sees me as a high school kid! Forget all my degrees. Anyway, I wouldn’t want his job, or yours. It’s not me.”
“How well I know. I mean, I’m just saying, you’re not the typical prof, let alone department chair.”
“I’m not arguing.”
Augie couldn’t win. Despite having been at the top of his classes in college and seminary, his having been a high school jock and continu- ing to shoot hoops, play touch football, and follow pro sports made him an outsider among real academics.Too many times he had been asked if






he was merely a seminary prof because that was what his father wanted for him.
Dr. Moore slid the new employment agreement across the desk. “Sorry, Les, but this one I’m going to have to think and pray about.” The interim chair seemed to freeze. “Don’t take too long. If they
aren’t sure they can count on you for the fall, they’ll want to consider the many out-of-work professors who would be thrilled, in the current econ- omy, to accept.”
“Yeah, that would help. Stock the faculty with young assistant pas- tors.”
“May I hear from you by the end of the day?”
“Probably not, but you’ll be the first to know what I decide.”
Back in his own office, Augie popped the chip out of his cell phone and put it in a separate pocket. He called his mother from his desk phone to assure her he would see her at the hospital late in the afternoon, then called Biff to tell him he would try to stop by DTS on his way.
“What’s the big emergency?” Biff said.
“Roger Michaels has himself in some kind of trouble.” “Tell me when you get here.”
During his 11:00 a.m. final Augie was summoned to the administra- tive offices for an emergency call. On the way he stopped by to see if Les would stand in for him again, but his office was dark.The final would just have to be unsupervised for a few minutes.
“Do you know who’s calling?” he said to the girl who had fetched him. If it was his mother . . .
“Someone from Greece.”
He finally reached the phone and discovered it was Sofia. “Thought you wanted me to call later, babe.You all right?”
“Roger is frantic to reach you.”






“I know. He—”
“He gave me a new number and needs you to call right now, but not from your cell.” She read it to him.
“Any idea what’s going on, Sof ?” Augie said as he scribbled. “This is not like him.”
“No idea, but, Augie, he sounded petrified.” “That doesn’t sound like him either.”
“You can tell me what it’s about later, but you’d better call him right away.”
Augie rushed to his office and dialed the number in Rome. It rang six times before Roger picked up. “Augie?”
“Yes! What’s—”
“Listen carefully. I’ve got just seconds. I need you in Rome as soon as you can get here.”
“Rog, what’s happening? This is the absolute worst time for me to—” “Give Sofia your new cell number and text me your ETA. I’ll give
you a new number where you can call me from Fiumicino as soon as you get in.”
“I don’t know when I could get there, Rog. I’ve got—” “Augie! You know I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t life or death.”


In my opinion...

This book takes place in modern day US and Italy as well as First Century Rome. The story goes back and forth with intertwining plots, looking for one of the greatest finds in antiquities ever – the personal memoirs of Saul/Paul. This book kept me reading. In fact I stayed up until 2am one night/morning finishing it only to be left hanging. I thought all the loose ends were being tied up, but the last sentence of the book untied that!

I am definitely looking forward to the next book, I, Paul.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Hair Mavens


Terri with her heroine Shira
I am pleased to have Terri Gillespie, author of She Does Good Hair here with me today. I have read her book that recently came out on Kindle and I loved it. Here are a few questions to help you get to know her a little bit and find out more about her book. 
 
If you were to go to the Hair Mavens Salon, who would you want to cut your hair and why?
Oh, golly. Don’t tell Shira, but I would go to Kathy for a cut and style. Why? Because Kathy is known for her cuts and styles. If I wanted color to die for—pun intended—then definitely Shira.
 
Why did you feel that you had to tell the Hair Mavens story?
First of all, the mavens wouldn’t let me sleep. All that yakking in my head and hair teasing. Goodness.
During a brief stint in sales, my specialty was salons. Since then, I’ve always loved that culture. It’s arguably one of the most intimate environments for women. A hair salon was a fun way to show how much good—or not-so-good—women can do together.
The mavens will learn how important that is in the subsequent books. First they have to get their own acts together.
 
What was the most interesting/fascinating thing you learned when doing research for this novel?
Oh my. So many things, it’s difficult to choose one. I found the Mac-Daddy blow out fascinating. Essentially you take about 10 huge round brushes and "lock" them all around the head like giant brush curlers. Once the hair is cool and the brushes removed, you’ll have soft, shiny, really BIG hair for days. If my hair was longer, I’d have Sharon, my stylist, do the Mac Daddy on my limp hair. As they say, "The bigger the hair, the closer to God!"
 
Since Harriet had a weakness for coffee and Danishes (as well as Edna), I would like to know what would you order if you were to go a coffee shop/bakery?
 
I’ll let you in on a secret; Edna had a motive for going with Harriet to Delicious Bakery. It won’t be revealed until the second book.
My favorite? Cherry-cheese Danish, of course. My daddy used to make an early morning Saturday run to a local German bakery back in Ballwin, Missouri. I have a lot of sweet childhood memories centered on accompanying him. Walking into Schaettkin’s Bakery on frosty morns was the best. Being welcomed with "guten morgen" by pleasant grandmotherly types in white uniforms, along with an equally warm greeting of buttery, fruity, cinnamon deliciousness was worth getting up at the crack of dawn for.
Runner up: pecan sticky buns. Panera’s (aka St. Louis Bread Company) has the best today, IMHO. The caramelized stickiness must glue itself to your teeth or it’s not the real thing.
Honorable mention: Glazed donuts. No offense, but that little bakery’s glazed donuts would make other donuts roll away in shame.
Is anyone else hungry right now?
 
Out of these four ladies stories, which was the hardest to write? The funniest?
The most difficult was Kathy—she was pretty tight-lipped. She didn’t want to talk about her past. While it was understandable, it was a challenge to respect her wishes and still let readers get to know her. Book two she’ll let readers get to know her better.
Funniest? Harriet. I LOVE Harriet. She’s such a transparent character. She doesn’t do anything halfway. Don’t tell her, but I miss the beehive.
 
I thought it was so fascinating that there were Messianic Jews and Christians who interacted with each other on a deep, personal relationship level. Can you tell us a little bit more about your passion to see Messianic Jews and Christians united as one? Where did it all begun?
I will try to condense what has been an arduous, miraculous, wondrous journey.
Nearly 20 years ago, the Lord called us out of a wonderful church we loved to a whole new world of the Messianic community—Jewish people who had found their Messiah, Yeshua.
Like Ruth, I made a commitment to the Jewish people and Israel. In a defining moment, between the Lord and me, I recited the Ruth’s words:
". . . Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me." Ruth 1:16-17
Romantic verses, but not for wimps, as I was soon to discover. Around that time my hubby learned of his Jewish heritage. The transition made sense for him, and he blossomed in his relationship with the Lord in the most amazing way. For me as someone whose ethnicity was everything but Jewish, it was a bit more challenging. More times than I care to admit, I wondered if I had heard the Lord correctly.
It finally coalesced for me while attending a Messianic conference with over a thousand Messianics and Christians from around the world.
I had signed up as an intercessor for the week-long event. As I entered the room set up for prayer, there was an open Bible on a table. Someone had turned to John 17. Initially in this passage, Yeshua prays for strength for what He is about to do on our behalf. Next He prays for the spiritually immature Jewish disciples who would be devastated by His death. He knew His own strength resided in His unity with His Father, Yeshua prayed for them to be united as He and the Father were.
Then, His prayer takes a prophetic turn. Verses 20-26 are directed at the nations who would come to faith because of this ragtag team of Jewish disciples. A team that would grow at Pentecost and then who would labor in Yeshua’s great commission to go into the world.
But even more than their work in Thessalonica, Rome and elsewhere, as the ordained stewards of God word—the Bible—non-Jews would come to faith by the millions through the words of eternal life.
Praying, alone, in the Garden, He saw us in the future and prayed for us.
Us.
Right there, as He prepared to be brutally beaten and crucified, as He carried our sins, He prayed for us—that we would be one.
There is this wonderful spiritual physics that happens when there is unity between Jewish and Gentile believers in Yeshua—Yeshua said, this Biblical unity would show the world who He is.
Oh, the stories I could tell of the impact of Messianics and Christians working side-by-side for Yeshua’s glory. But, that’s for another time.

Lastly, are you able to share with your readers about what's coming up next in this series as well when it will be released?
Currently I’ve written four chapters of the second book in The Hair Mavens series. It’s entitled, CUT IT OUT! The story has pretty much been plotted out and I love it! Some exciting things are going to happen to the mavens.
The mavens begin to step outside their comfortable styling environment and into the needs of the community. As well as developing and defining their own relationships—especially with the additional of one, maybe two more mavens.
The protagonist of book two will be "Kathy". Readers will learn more about this mysterious maven.
If this book is also published straight to eBook then I hope in the next 6 to 12 months. You’ll have to watch for more info on my blog, Facebook, or Twitter posts. Click on the book cover to go directly to Amazon to purchase Terri's wonderful book.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
 
 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Note That Made the Difference

People often ask me why I write. “Why do you do what you do?” Sometimes it’s thankless. Sometimes the pay stinks. Many times people don’t even know the extent of my work. This following is a story that really happened and I think it explains why it is I continue doing what I do.

“Another gray hair!” I promptly yanked it out and flushed it.

“Are you going to quit now?” My husband had heard my comment.

I couldn’t quit. I had made a commitment and I wasn’t one to bow out after giving my word. I was putting on a play with the children at our church. I had done it a couple of times before and thoroughly enjoyed it. This time, however, I had the most unruly bunch of kids with whom I had ever worked. I spent more of my time trying to establish order in the classroom and sending troublemakers to sit with parents in the sanctuary. I didn’t know if these little actors would be ready to give their performance in one week.

After the dress rehearsal, I decided the kids were going to embarrass themselves and me. I figured it might be a good idea to have one last rehearsal the afternoon before the evening disaster would occur. During that rehearsal, my husband was fixing the set. He was shocked at how these kids could behave so badly.

Then the tape that had our music on it was eaten by the electronics. Fortunately, the lady who had recorded the music lived next door to the church. I sent someone to go get her. When she arrived she said, “There’s no problem. When I recorded the music onto the tape, I saved it in the piano, too. It’s still all there.” Thank goodness for computerized instruments!

During the rehearsal, she sat between the two boys who had given me the most trouble. After that, things went a little smoother. I focused my attention to those who were running their lines. During our break between the rehearsal and the performance my piano lady told me, “I have a new respect for what you do. I’m surprised you don’t have gray hair by now.”

If she only knew!

My husband then came to me and told me, “I don’t want you to do this anymore.” At that moment I agreed.

The play went off, but not without a hitch. My main character forgot a lot of his lines. Other than that, I guess it wasn’t too bad. I did plan on keeping my word to my husband. The plays had become a chore, not a joy.

However, a couple weeks later, I received a letter in the mail from one of the girls that had been in the play. Her note read,

“Dear Mrs. O’Neil,

This is Ravin. I am working on a project for church and it says that I need to thank the person who told me about Christ. It was you when you did the play. I learned a lot about Noah and the Bible. Thank you for telling me so I can have eternal life.

Love, Ravin

P.S. I’m getting baptized soon!”

That note reaffirmed why I do what I do. God knew I needed some encouragement and He sent it at the right time.

I went back on my word to my husband and did another play the following year. I knew I needed to keep on keeping on in the work of the Lord. He will give you the strength you need to get through each and every day of your ministry.

Kids are not exclusive to sending me notes. There have been several times I received a card in the mail, an email, and even several phone calls from complete strangers who have read my writing and were touched in one way or another by it. This encouragement comes always when I am in most need of it, reminding me that is why I do what I do.