Dark Glass Ponderings

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. -1 Corinthians 13:12

Talking about Writing in the Broken Places and ministering to others with the writing craft. 

Regina Andrews is here to join us and tell us about her latest ebook release, Light of the Heart.  Be sure to check out her site and blog for more information on Regina and her books.

A very busy lady, she also has another book releasing in less than a month!

Regina, thank you so much for joining us again. It sounds like you have had a lot going on in the past few months, including an award and a new release. Congratulations on both accomplishments!

Hello again Julia and thank you so much for hosting me today on your lovely blog. Thank you for your warm good wishes and your nice congratulations.

I notice on your blog that you were inspired to write Destiny's Designs when you were working for an interior designer. I would love to hear where inspiration came to you for your other novels?

What an interesting question, thank you for asking. Well, "Spotlight on Love" was actually inspired by my parents. My father was actually a Captain in the Army and served in WWII in Africa, and my mother was a nurse. They had quite a romance!

"The Perfect Proposal" was written while I was home taking care of my mother. Much of that book is based on personal experience (but not all of it).

"In Good Faith" features a girl who is in the Greeting Card Industry, a field in which I worked for over 10 years. Yes, I wrote and edited greeting cards for the 3rd largest company in the US - Paramount Cards. We were second to Hallmark and American Greetings. The company, however, unfortunately, went out of business in 2006, just shy of its 100th birthday. The rest of "In Good Faith" came out of a night class I took on writing! The hero, Aaron Carrier owns and air conditioning company. Carrier is a brand of air conditioner and it's a little inside joke that his initials are AC - air conditioning.

Do you have any wisdom to share for beginning writers? Maybe some gems you've learned along the way?

I would have to say be patient, be true to yourself and don't ever, ever give up. Also be the writer you are, not the writer "they" - meaning anyone - wants you to be. Read a lot and keep learning, good writing is very technical. Naturally, practice, practice, practice :-) Most of all, have fun.

Can you describe your writing space for us? What type of atmosphere do you like to write in?

What a nice question! More than anything I love to be near light, so I am near windows all the time. I've changed to a laptop now so I move around - but my favorite space is the bay window in our living room. So cozy! At night when I am burning the midnight oil, I re-locate to the kitchen table. There's a great view of the clock from there - and two windows where I can see the world of the night going by. I love classical music, and world music, so that is always playing, too.

Which of your heroines do you most relate to and why?

Hmmmm...Spiritually, I think it would have to be Lindsay Richardson in "The Perfect Proposal." The other heroines have all suffered much greater losses than I have, and have experienced deeper spiritual questionings. Lindsay was torn between her love and devotion to her family and the life God was calling her to with Dean Singleton Copley. She grew to understand that, with God's love and with faith, they were not mutually exclusive.

Has romance in your own life influenced the romance of your heroes and heroines?

Oh my goodness, every single hero is based on my husband, re-invented. lol. Guess it's a good thing he has so many dimensions to his personality!

We would love to hear more about Light of the Heart. I see it is the start of a new series. Can you tell us a bit about your main character in this series? Will the main character stay the same throughout the series?

It's so exciting to do a series, Julia, I can't begin to describe how wonderful it is.

Cascade Preston is the main character in the series, and the heroine of "Light of the Heart". The premise of the Sterling Lakes Series is how the renovation of the church in town leads to a rebirth of the entire town itself on many levels – physically, emotionally and spiritually, to name a few. “Light of the Heart,” book one on the series, deals with the effects of a difficult childhood on the heroine, Cascade, now a very successful stained-glass artist. As a child she knew her father was abusing her mother but was powerless to stop it. She was also aware as a child that the town knew of the trouble in her house, yet did nothing to stop it. Her anger and resentment are so intense that she refuses to return to Sterling Lakes. However, circumstances take a turn and the project to redo the stained-glass windows in the town church becomes hers. As she is challenged to let the light of God’s love shine into her heart, she also meets the hero, Dan McQuay.

She does not know this yet (in Book One), but her aunt will reveal to her that her mother used to be crying what she called a 'cascade' of tears before she was born due to her unhappiness. Only her faith saw her through those rough times. When she was born, her mother's tears turned from sorrow to joy, and the hope inherent in her daughter's birth inspired her to name her 'Cascade' as a reminder of the two-sided nature of all our experiences, and the redemptive power of God's grace. Her whole name is Cascade Grace Preston. She will appear in each book, but not as the heroine; each book will have a new heroine.

What do you hope the reader will take away spiritually from Light of the Heart?

This book deals with forgiveness, and I hope readers will see something in this book they can relate to in their own lives. Sometimes we have to forgive ourselves for the way things were, because they were out of our control. Developing an understanding of the levels of forgiveness, and the depth of faith involved in the process of forgiving is key to growing as a person, spiritually and on every other level as well.

I have always wanted to be able to share a mission of God's love through writing uplifting, inspiring books in His honor. It's so basic, to me -- to gladden people through reading, and to bring the Word of God to their lives in another way, and to reinforce the love of God in their hearts and the light of God in their lives.

What projects do you have coming up next?

The second book in the series, "Angels of the Heart" is due April 1st. This also is edgy inspirational romance - dealing with teenage pregnancy. Then I will rest my eyes for a few days! After that I will start Book Three, which is due September 1st.

Would you like to share an excerpt of Light of the Heart for our readers?

For your enjoyment, here's an excerpt from Light of the Heart. This is my favorite scene, when they still do not know each other very well and the go into the church together for the first time.

Cascade watched the sun, dappled from the leafy trees nearby, play across the firm planes of his face. "Being back here, I don't feel like anything has changed."

"Does that surprise you?" he asked.

"The way things are going lately, everything is coming as a surprise. I'm just trying to process it all."

"Want to go into the church?"

"Sounds like a great idea." She looked over at him but could not read his expression.

They walked past the dirt piles toward the front of the church. A songbird trilled in one of the rhododendron shrubs as they moved by. Sunbeams glinted off the colorful stained glass windows. At the top of the wooden staircase, Cascade held the brass handle to open the ornately carved door.

"Go on." Dan reached beyond her and held the door open for her.

She entered the vestibule, blinking her eyes as they adjusted to the darkness. Images of the past flooded her mind. Some of them good, some of them not so good. She turned to Dan. "Come with me."

"You got it."

They walked together down the main aisle. Cascade inhaled the familiar scents of wood, candle, and incense. She stopped midway and turned to face the back of the church.

"These windows are beautiful," she whispered, looking up at the large round West window. "This is where I was inspired to do what I do and to be who I am today."

"Impressive." Dan touched her arm. "Let's sit down here."

They slid into a pew and sat back against the smooth, varnished wood. Cascade slowly scanned the interior of the church, looking at each window. It was as if she were seeing it for the very first time.

She turned to say something to Dan. His eyes were closed, and he sat motionless. It looked as if he were in prayer. Could he be?

Cascade took the opportunity to admire him. His profile was softened just a bit in the filtered light. Dark hair and a firm, masculine nose were all balanced by the strong jaw line which composed the proportions of his face. His lips, curved into just a hint of a smile, were slightly parted. The shadow of his long dark eyelashes danced upon his cheek. To Cascade, he looked completely and utterly at peace.

She reached over and gave his hand a friendly pat. To her surprise, he took her hand, holding it gently in his. Warm and weathered, it fit hers just right. For a moment, she let herself feel protected. She didn't know what had happened since he walked into her life. Everything had turned topsy-turvy, but she knew one thing: Dan McQuay was some kind of wonderful.

Then she remembered his words the first time he visited her showroom: "I come into town, do the job, and leave. No ties, no friendships, no tea parties and barbecues with the neighbors. In and out."

What was she thinking? She snatched her hand away.

"What's wrong?" Dan looked at her.

"Nothing. Nothing."

"Sure there is. Your lips are all tight."

"No, I'm fine. I was honestly just thinking about you."

He smiled.

"What were you thinking?" He smiled.

She took a deep breath, and listening to all the choirs of angels rejoicing at the sight of his smile and wondered, Why me? This guy is way too dangerous. He's attractive, kind, smart…and ready to leave as soon as the job here in town is finished.

Just then, the church doors opened. A black-cassocked figure hastened towards them.

"Excuse me, excuse me. This area is restricted. Masses and confessions will be held in St. Luke's school auditorium or the rectory."

"We were just leaving, Father Greene. I'm on the construction crew, and we came in to say some prayers."

"Oh, it's you, Dan." The furrows in the priest's brow vanished. A saintly smile replaced his scowl. "By all means, children. Stay a long as you wish. We have to be extra vigilant because of the vandals."

"You've had vandalism problems, Father?" Cascade asked. "That's horrible."

The priest blessed himself. "Just dreadful, my dear. What they did to the statue of Our Blessed Mother Mary last month was unthinkable."

Cascade cupped her hands over her mouth.

"Any luck finding the culprits?" Dan asked.

"No. We have no luck here at St. Luke's."

"Well, Father I don't know about that. Maybe this is the day that all that is going to change." Dan's voice sounded strong and reassuring. He shook the priest's hand.

"There's always hope. I'm Father Greene, dear."

"Cascade Preston." She smiled and shook his hand.

Wagging his index finger, Father Greene said: "I've heard of you, but I can't remember why."

"Cascade's designing the stained-glass windows for the project, Father. She's originally from Sterling lakes."

Turning to Dan, Cascade saw him give an eager smile. What was he thinking?

"How wonderful," Father Greene blessed himself. "So good of you, Cascade, to give back so generously to the town that you called home."

"It's my pleasure, Father." Cascade answered. Did I just agree to do the windows?

"Oh bless you, my dear. Bless you." Father Greene checked his pocket watch. "It's been so nice to chat with you wonderful folks. I have confessors waiting now." Turning on his heel, he bustled off through the shadows to the door.

"What were you thinking, Dan? I haven't agreed to do the windows. Now that nice priest is going to be all disappointed and flustered when he finds out," Cascade whispered.

"He might not be," Dan answered.

"I'm infuriated. You weren't asleep at all. Were you really saying prayers?" Cascade asked as they walked down the aisle.

Dan nodded. "Were you?"

"Oh yes," she answered. "Without a doubt. Lots of special prayers. Now there's one more special intention on this list -- me getting out of helping Father Greene." She turned to face him. "You look like you're going to laugh!"

"Well, it's just that..." Dan's eyes seemed to twinkle as he looked at her. It turned Cascade's knees to jelly.

"Let's change the subject." She cleared her throat and gripped the edge of the pew to steady herself. "Before we go, I wanted to tell you that my parents were the first couple married in this church."

Dan's eyebrows shot upwards. "Quite a distinction."

"They started out with lots of hopes and dreams for a bright future, I'm sure. Life takes some funny turns." She sighed. "Look, I've been thinking, Dan, of how stubborn I've been about not working in Sterling Lakes. I've been holding on to that way of thinking for years now. It really hasn't made me any happier in the long run, to think like that. Just kept me tied to this town in a negative way. I think the fight is over. I want my life to be filled with light and beauty and color. And love. God's love."

She blinked away the tears that filled her eyes. "You were right. Abby was trying to do me a favor, and I think she did. It's through forgiveness that we are set free. Maybe it's time for me to forgive what happened in the past. At least I can start, and this might be a good first step. Plus, I would never in a million years disappoint that nice priest. Father Greene has enough to worry about without me adding to it. So if it's at all possible, could I do the windows here?"

Regina has generously offered an e-copy of Light of the Heart to a reader.  TO ENTER, please leave a question for Regina about herself or her books.  Include your email address: whoever (at) wherever (dot) com.  Winner will be announced on 3/23/11.

For more information on Regina:

My website is http://www.reginaandrews.com/

Tweet me @ regina_eileen

And my blog door is always open: http://www.reginaandrews.wordpress.com/


Julia, thank you so much for having me today, it an honor, my friend. May God bless you, your loved ones and your writing.

Thanks, Regina! 

Today I would like to welcome Roseanna White to Dark Glass Ponderings!  One busy lady, Roseanna does a little bit of everything (er, maybe a lot).  You can find her website here, her daily blog here.  She has two books published, she and her husband keep very busy in the publishing industry, she runs a book review site and is a homeschool mom.  Maybe we should give away some caffeine :)

Roseanna, thank you for joining us at Dark Glass Ponderinngs. Can you tell us about the concept behind Jewel of Persia?

Thanks for having me, Julia! Oddly enough, the concept for Jewel of Persia began because of my niece, who’s 13. I’d wanted to write a fictionalized account of Esther for her, but I hadn’t come up with any brilliant ideas. I was contemplating how to make my favorite story from the Bible the kind of biblical fiction I write—the kind with a fictional heroine—when I began to wonder about those other wives in the harem. “Hmm,” I thought, “what if Xerxes had another Jewish wife too? What if she and Esther had been childhood friends?” And Jewel of Persia was born . . . though not exactly as a book aimed at teens, LOL.

I love the cover of this book and A Stray Drop of Blood. They are so colorful and detailed, bringing me right into the time period. Can you tell us about the process of choosing the cover?

A subject near and dear! I have more say over the covers than many authors do. For Stray Drop, the designer’s wife actually did the modeling, LOL, because we were on a tight schedule. For JoP, I had a little more foresight—I made contact with a Greek jeweler who agreed to let me use photos of his lion bracelet, and a friend of mind located the gorgeous cover model (who is SO my Kasia!) and found a professional photographer to take the photos, after I’d stitched up the costume for her. But the true masterwork is thanks to our designer, George Weis of Tekeme.com. He is just brilliant and took those raw images and made them into real art.

The color that pops so beautifully on the cover of Jewel of Persia is all a testament to his attention to detail—he researched the colors preferred by the Persians and then went in and added it all by hand to the images he’d chosen (go figure, there aren’t any stock photos of Ancient Persian stuff not in ruins. The nerve!).

No other choosing was necessary—we give him our ideas up front and then trust him to work his magic, as he always does without fail. =)

Do you enjoy the research process? What does that involve for you?

I do! It can feel overwhelming before I get started, but I’ve managed to come up with a workable method. I’ll start out with basic, quick research just to get my facts about setting straight—usually this is internet research, or some reference books from the library. Once I’ve got those elements hammered out, I like to find primary texts from the time I’m writing in to use; in this case, Histories by Herodotus. I reread this massive tome (well, the relevant parts anyway) as I wrote, taking notes on anything that I thought might be helpful. I’ve also discovered that YouTube can be an amazing place to find documentaries, photos, and videos on historical subject matter. Who’da thunk? LOL.

Are there any Bible verses that have been particularly meaningful to you as a writer?

Oh, there are so many! But the one I most want to live up to is from I Samuel 3:19. Samuel has just been given his first prophecy, and it says, “So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.”

As a writer, that just made me sit back and go, “Wow.” Words are how we reach people, how we communicate. Words have such great power . . . yet so often we use them poorly. But this is what I want to be able to say at the end of my life—that I have grown, that the Lord was with me, and that none of my words fell to the ground. I'm certainly no Samuel—but that's my prayer.

What biblical heroine do you most identify with and why?

Well, my favorite has always been Esther. =) (Duh, given Jewel of Persia, right? LOL) There’s something about the romance, the danger, the mystery . . . and the quiet faith that triumphs over ambition. Her story appeals to my inner princess, I guess. ;-)

Which of your book characters do you most identify with and why?

Hmm . . . I don’t think I’m all that much like any of the characters in JoP, actually. I try to be like Mordecai and Kasia, but I’ve got a looooong way to go to reach their levels of faith, LOL. Presumptuous as it may sound, I think I’m most like my version of Esther. The way I wrote her, she’s older than her years, with a serious streak . . . but can be cajoled into having fun with the more mischievous characters. What most defines her, though, is her loyalty to those she loves, even after losing them. She never forgets, and that’s something I tend toward as well . . . which isn’t always a virtue, LOL.

Do you have any favorite writing rituals? As a mom, do you write in the chaos or do you write when the kids are sleeping?

Well I prefer “when the kids are sleeping,” but there isn’t nearly enough of THAT, ha ha, so I’ve learned to write in the chaos too—and to set up a day a week when their grandmother takes them! =) It’s not very ritualistic, but I love little more than sitting down at my desk, laptop at the ready, with a cup of steaming coffee (and some chocolate never hurts either . . . )

Do you have any advice for balancing motherhood and writing?

Oh boy. It seems like every time I think I’ve got this figured out, something changes on me. But at this point, the thing that has really best helped me is that one day a week when I have help. The kids enjoy the time with their nonna, she enjoys time with her grandbabies, and I enjoy the hours of quiet when I can do what I need to do without interruption. On those days, we get schooling done first thing in the morning so they’re ready to go when she picks them up, and then she makes us all dinner that night. Just knowing I have that one day really helps me balance out the rest of the week.

What projects are coming up next for you?

I have no idea. ;-) Seriously, I just turned in a project that may be my next release, but I’ve yet to hear back from the editor, and she could yet hate it, LOL. So if that one falls through, my next project will probably be a sequel to one of my Biblical novels.

Want a peek into the first chapter of Jewel of Persia?

Susa, Persia

The third year of the reign of Xerxes

The river called to Kasia before she saw it, the voice of its sweet waters promising a moment of unbridled sensation. Kasia cast a glance over her shoulder at her young friend. She ought not go. Abba forbade it—rarely enough to keep her away, but today she was not alone. Still. Esther was not opposed to adventure, once one overcame her initial reservation.

Kasia gripped her charge’s hand and grinned. “Come. Let us bathe our feet.”

Esther’s creased forehead made her look far older than twelve. “We could get in trouble.”

Kasia laughed and gave the small hand a tug. “That is half the fun. Oh, fret not, small one. My father is too busy to notice, and your cousin will not be back from the palace gates until evening.”

“But the king’s household is still here. It is unsafe.”

“We will only be a moment.” She wiggled her brows in the way that always made her young friend smile. “It will be fun. Perhaps we will even glimpse the house of women.”

Esther’s eyes brightened, and she let Kasia lead her another few steps. “Do you think Queen Amestris will be out? I have heard she is the most beautiful woman in all the world.”

“Only until little Esther grows up.” She tugged on a lock of the girl’s deep brown hair and urged her on. The Choaspes gurgled up ahead, where it wound around Susa and gave it life.

Esther laughed and plucked a lily, tucked it behind Kasia’s ear. “I will be blessed to have a quarter of your beauty, Kasia. Perhaps if I do, Zechariah will marry me.”

“And then we shall be sisters at last.” Kasia twirled Esther in a circle. A merry thought, though it was hard to imagine Zechariah settling down. He was two years her elder, but showed no signs of maturity at eighteen. If anyone could inspire it, though, it was sweet little Esther. Once she grew up, half the men in the Jewish population would probably bang at Mordecai’s door . . . and probably a few of their Persian neighbors as well.

Esther joined her in her impromptu dance, then sighed happily. “I should very much like sisters and brothers. I am blessed that Cousin Mordecai took me in, but having him as a father provides no siblings.”

Kasia smiled but knew she had better change the subject before Esther fell into memories of the parents she had lost. Though three years past, the tragedy could still pull the girl into a vortex of pain. “Any time you want to borrow one of mine, you are welcome. Ima certainly has her work cut out for her today, trying to keep a rein on them in weather so fair. I daresay much of the royal house will be out to enjoy it. Surely we can spot a few of them.”

“And how will we know the queen? Will she be encrusted with jewels?”

Kasia laughed, even as guilt surged to life. She ought to get home and help her mother with the little ones. Soon. Five minutes and she would be on her way, back in ample time to check the bread and sweep the day’s dirt from the floor. For now, she could spare a thought or two to the palace. “She will be decked out in the finest Persia has to offer, surely.”

“Cousin Mordecai says that the king wears jewels in his beard at his feasts.”

She had heard the same stories but widened her eyes with exaggerated shock for Esther’s benefit. “In his beard? What if one were to fall into his soup?”

Their laughter blended into that of the river, and Kasia’s pulse kicked up. The weather was warming again, and when the sweltering summer heats came, the king’s entourage would leave. Kasia could not wait for the change in seasons. Her body may not tolerate it for long, but there was something intoxicating about feeling the sun’s burning rays upon her head. She always volunteered to gather up the barley seeds they roasted on the roads in the summer, and not just to spare her mother the task. To feel it. To be nearly overwhelmed. To watch the world around her quiver in the rising heat and let herself sway with it.

Esther paused a fathom from the river’s bank. “It will be freezing. The snows still cover the mountains.”

Perfect. Kasia grinned and sat down to unfasten her shoes. “We will only step in for a moment.”

Esther sat, too, and soon they tossed their shoes aside and helped each other up. They ran the six steps to the river, where icy water lapped at Kasia’s toes. She shrieked. “Oh, it is cold! Why did I let you talk me into this?”

Esther laughed and pushed her another step into the water. “I? Ha! And you are supposed to be the responsible one, taking care of me.”

“Responsibility begs to be escaped now and again.” She waded out one more step, careful to lift her tunic above the water.

When Esther stepped in, she gasped and leapt back onto the bank. “You are mad, Kasia. Your feet will be ice all night.”

A price worth paying for this freedom slicing through her. How could something that touched only one part affect her whole body? Her feet felt the prickles of a thousand needles that coursed like spears up her legs. A shiver sped along her spine, down her arms, and left her laughing. She turned to Esther, intending to tease her into joining her.

The levity died in her throat. Faster than she knew she could move, she jumped back onto the bank and put herself between Esther and the men that stood a stone’s toss away, watching them.

“Kasia? What are you . . .” Esther broke off, having apparently spotted the men. Fear sharpened the intake of her breath. “Your father will kill us.”

“Hush.” Kasia reached back with one arm to be sure her charge remained behind her. Her gaze stayed on the men. They each had a horse beside them, and gold roundels on their clothing. Bracelets, torcs, gems. A million things that shouted nobility and wealth.

A million things that meant trouble.

She dipped her head, gaze on the ground. Had she been alone, she would have grabbed her shoes and run, perhaps with some vague apology as she scurried off. But she could not risk it, not with Esther there too. What if the girl tripped? Or moved too slowly? Kasia could never leave her young friend exposed to two strangers.

One of the horses whinnied, fabric rustled, and footsteps thudded. Kasia tossed modesty to the wind and glanced up.

The taller of the two men moved forward. His were the more expensive clothes, the heavier gold. He had a dark, trim beard that did nothing to hide his grin. “My apologies for startling you. We should have continued on our way after we realized your cry was not for help, but I was intrigued. You often wade into the river swollen from mountain snows?”

Esther gripped Kasia’s tunic and pulled her back a half step to whisper, “Kasia, just give your apologies so we can go.”

Sage advice, except she doubted a man of import would take kindly to his questions going unanswered. She forced a small smile. “Not often, lord, no. I rarely have the time, and I should not have taken it today. My parents are expecting me home. If you will excuse me.”

The man held out a hand. “Far be it from me to detain you, fair one. But it is not safe for a beautiful young woman and her sister to be out alone. Do you not know that the court is yet in Susa? What if some nobleman concerned only with his pleasure came across you?”

The words ought to have terrified her, given the sweep of his gaze. But his tone . . . teasing, warm. A perfect match to that easy smile.

Her chin edged up. “I expect if such a man were to come upon me, he would try to charm me before accosting me. Then I would have ample time to convince him that his pleasure would be better pursued elsewhere.”

He chuckled, took another step closer. “But on the off-chance that your wit would fail to persuade such a man—there are some very determined men in the king’s company—I feel compelled to see you safely home.”

“No! I mean . . . it is not far, we will be fine. I thank you for your concern . . .”

The man’s eyes narrowed, his smile faltered. “You must be a Jew.”

A logical deduction—her trepidation at being caught with a Persian man would not be shared by a woman of his own people.

Still. The tone of his voice when he said the word Jew was enough to make her shoulders roll back. As if they were less because they had been brought to this land as captives a century ago. As if they had not proven themselves over the years.

She narrowed her eyes right back. “Proudly.” Not waiting for a reply, she spun away and grabbed Esther’s hand.

“Kasia, our shoes.”

“We shall grab them on the way by and put them on when we get back,” she murmured.

A mild curse came from behind them, along with quick footsteps. “Come now, you must not walk home barefoot. Please, fair one, you need not fear me. Sit. Put on your shoes.”

He reached the leather strips before they did, scooped them up, and held them out. The gleam of amusement still in his eyes belied the contrition on his face. He offered a crooked smile, his gaze never leaving Kasia’s.

She had little choice. Esther’s fingers still in hers, she reached out and took their shoes.

Esther pressed closer to her side and hissed, “Kasia.”

The man’s smile evened out. “That is your name? Kasia? Lovely.”

“I will pass the compliment along to my parents.” She would not ask him his. Certainly not. Instead, she handed off Esther’s shoes to her with a nod of instruction.

Esther huffed but bent down to wrap the leather around her feet and secure it above her ankles. Kasia just stood there.

The man arched a brow. “I have no intentions of hoisting you over my shoulder the second your attention is elsewhere.”

“And I would see you prove it with my own eyes.”

He shook his head, smiling again, and backed up a few steps. “There. You can sit and put them on, and you will be able to see if I come any closer. Is that satisfactory?”

Though it felt like defeat to do so, it would have been petulant to refuse. She sat and swallowed back the bitter taste of capitulation. Glanced up at the man and found him watching her intently, his smile now an echo.

Who was he? Someone wealthy, obviously. Perhaps one of the king’s officials, or even a relative. She guessed him to be in his mid thirties, his dark mane of hair untouched by grey. He had a strong, straight nose, bright eyes. Features that marked him as noble as surely as the jewelry he wore.

But it was neither the proportions of his face nor his fine attire that made her fingers stumble with her shoes. It was the expression he wore. Intent and amused. Determined and intrigued.

He fingered one of the ornaments on his clothing, gaze on her. “Who is your father, lovely Kasia?”

She swallowed, wondering at the wisdom of answering. Surely he had no intentions of seeing her home now, of . . . of . . . what? What could possibly come of such a short encounter? It was curiosity that made him ask. It could be nothing more. “Kish, the son of Ben-Geber. He is a woodworker.”

Esther made a disturbed squeak beside her, but Kasia ignored her.

The man’s mouth turned up again. “Kish, the son of Ben-Geber. And I assume he is not inclined toward his daughter socializing with Persians? It is a prejudice I find odd. Are you not in our land? Have you not chosen to remain here, even after King Cyrus gave you freedom to leave? It seems very . . . ungrateful for you Jews to remain so aloof.”

Kasia sighed and moved to her second shoe. “Perhaps. But it is an outlook hewn from the continued prejudice the Persians have against us.”

“Some, perhaps.” The man flicked a gaze his companion’s way. “But most of us recognize that the Jews have become valuable members of the empire. Take Susa for example.” He waved a hand toward the city. “It is such a pleasure to winter here largely because of the Jews who withstand the heat in the summer and keep the city running. We are not all blind to that.”

She inclined her head in acknowledgment. “And some of us recognize the generosity of Xerxes, the king of kings, and his fathers before him, and are grateful for the opportunity to flourish here.”

“But . . .” He cocked his head, grinned. “Your father is not one of those?”

Kasia sighed and, finished with her shoes, stood. “My father has lived long under the heel of his Persian neighbors. Were it not for the size of our family, he would have returned to Israel long ago.”

“Ah. Well, fair and generous Kasia, I thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Your wit and eloquence have brightened my day.” He stepped closer, slowly and cautiously.

Esther shifted beside her, undoubtedly spooked by his nearness. But Kasia held her ground and tilted her head up to look into his face when he was but half an arm away. “And I thank you, sir, for your kind offer to see us home, even if I must decline.”

“Hmm. A shame, that. I would have enjoyed continuing our conversation on the walk back to the city.”

With her eyes locked on his, she was only vaguely aware of his movement before warm fingers took her hand. She jolted, as much from the sensation racing up her arm as from the shock of the gesture.

He lifted her hand and pressed his lips to her palm. Her breath tangled up in her chest. If her father saw this, he would kill her where she stood.

But what was the harm in a moment’s flirtation with an alluring stranger? He would return to his ornate house and forget about her. She would go to her modest dwelling and remember this brief, amazing encounter forever.

A stolen moment. Nothing more.

His other hand appeared in her vision even as he arched a brow. “A gift for the beautiful Jewess.”

That tangled breath nearly choked her when she saw the thick silver torc in his hand, lions’ heads on each end. “Lord, I cannot—”

“I will it.” He slid the bracelet onto her arm, under her sleeve until it reached a part of her arm thick enough to hold it up, past her elbow. Challenge lit his features. “If you do not want it, you may return it when next we meet.”

“I . . .” She could think of nothing clever to say, no smooth words of refusal.

With an endearing smirk, he kissed her knuckles and then released her and strode away. Kasia may have stood there for the rest of time, staring blankly at where he had been, had Esther not gripped her arm and tugged.

“Kasia, what are you thinking? You cannot accept a gift from a Persian man! What will your father say?”

“Nothing pleasant.” Blowing a loose strand of hair out of her face, Kasia let her sleeve settle over her arm. It covered all evidence of the unrequested silver. “He need not know.”

“Kasia.” Esther’s torment wrinkled her forehead again. “What has gotten into you? Surely you are not . . . ?”

She glanced over to where the man mounted his horse and turned with one last look her way, topped with a wink. Blood rushed to her cheeks. “Perhaps I am. He is a fine man, is he not?”

Esther sighed, laughed a little. “He seemed it, yes. But your father will never allow you to marry a Persian. As soon as he decides between Ben-Hesed and Michael, you will become a fine Jewish wife to a fine Jewish man.”

“Yes, I know.” Her breath leaked out, washing some of the excitement of the last few minutes away with it. “It hardly matters. The loss of one bracelet will probably not bother him. He will consider it restitution for our dismay and think of it no more.”

Esther lifted her brows. “But he said he would see you again.”

“Do you really think a man of his station will bother himself over a Jewish girl whose father cannot afford a dowry?”

“I suppose not.”

Kasia looped her elbow through Esther’s. “Come, little one. We had better hurry home.”

Esther renewed her smile. “You have quite the romantic story now. Someday, when you are an old married woman, you can pull out that torc and give it to your daughter along with a tale to set her heart to sighing.”

Yes . . . someday.

Want to read more of Roseanna? 

She has generously offered winner's choice of:

(1) Signed copy of A Stray Drop of Blood
(2) E-book of A Stray Drop of Blood
(3) E-book of Jewel of Persia
(4) Signed copy of Jewel of Persia when it releases.

Also, if you're interested in purchasing go to Whitefire PublishingJewel is also available for $3.99 for e-readers of various types.


Please answer: What Bible character would you most like to see a fictional book about?

Include your email: email (at) wherever (dot) com

I will draw names in one week from today, 3/21/11. 

It seems to me that my last post has had a negative outlook to it.  The truth is that many VERY positive things have come out of homeschooling in the past year.

Although I lament that my house isn't perfect, this year my children have learned to help me out around the house. 

I miss trying out new recipes, but have realized that meal planning had become time-consuming.  For this season we are depending on 20 simple recipes that my family likes. 

What have we gained from homeschooling in one simple year?

-We can't get enough of read-alouds.  The best part of the day is the fact that we get to snuggle up and read as a family.

-At 5 years old my daughter is learning to ask if what she reads, watches, hears is true.  Unfortunately many adults don't even have this sense of discernment.  Reading has been a great opportunity to learn about worldview/why we believe what we believe.

-My son at 2 has learned more than I thought possible through listening while he plays.  He asked to "do school."  I love his enthusiam for learning.

-My daughter is developing a heart for those who don't know the Gospel.  She loves history/geography and wants to know whether every group we study knows about Jesus.  I hope this missionary heart will follow her for life.

-Hiding God's word in their hearts.  Each week my daughter has memorized a Bible verse and Noah knows parts of each verse. 

-Most of all time with my children.  We are the ones she looks to for advice, for help, not a teacher who may not share our worldview.  This time is so precious.

-Learning to be more desperately dependent on God.  Yes, there are days when homeschooling takes all day because of interruptions, behavior problems, or other factors.  I forget that sometimes the interruptions are the very tools God has planned to help my children and I to learn more about Him.

-Chris and I have spent much time thinking about and discussing worldview and being intentional about teaching our children so much more than the main subjects.  Would we otherwise just expect the teacher or Sunday school teacher to do so. 

**Thanks to the Crossway Homeschool Book Review program for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a review.  The opinions expressed are my own.**

How do I most efficiently store the boatloads of paperwork involved in homeschooling?  What to keep and what to toss?  How do I organize my son's day while I am doing one-on-one work with my daughter?  What's for dinner?  Where's my living room floor?

These are the questions asked by one homeschooler in New York on a daily basis. I was hoping Vicki Carauna's book The Organized Homeschooler would help me find the answers to these questions. 

Carauna has some great suggestions, but this book at times seemed like a potpourri.  Many ideas were explored, some not as indepth as I would have liked.  Perhaps, organizing a homeschooler is too grand a task to be accomplished in a single volume, however. 

I loved the information Vicky shared about filing though and her bookshelf system.  I wished for even further detail, perhaps an entire book about organizing paperwork?  It sounds like Vicky has developed a fantastic system and judging by the markings in the book has even copyrighted it.  I feel this section was the strongest in the book and would have liked to have seen it expanded on.

On the whole I'm glad I read this book.  I gained a few suggestions for organizing my papers and that's an essential as a homeschooler.

I chose to read this book because of the endorsement by Randy Alcorn, whose ministry I respect. 

I found this book both fascinating and heartbreaking in more than one way.

First of all, although I think Kimberly Smith's ministry has done great things for the orphans in the Sudan region I was troubled by her decision to take many short-term mission trips without the presence of her family.  Ultimately, Kimberly herself addresses this issue and she and her husband do find peace in their marriage.  I believe the most important ministry a woman has when her children are living at home is to take care of her family.  Beyond this, I do believe women can have a ministry but generally think it should be with the family. 

Slavery, cholera, genocide.  These are just a few of the dangers faced by Kimberly when she ministered in Sudan.  Part of her mission was to share the stories of those living in the Sudan.  These stories were beyond heartbreaking, but I do believe its important to be aware of what's going on around the world so we can pray for those undergoing persecution.

The most extraordinary transformation that takes place in the book is in Kimberly herself.  God brought her to a broken place during her travels and showed her the need to get beyond herself.  She underwent cholera and a personal attack. 

Ultimately Kimberly reminds the reader that God can use us in spite of ourselves, whether our "mission" is in the Sudan or closer to home.  I will not soon forget Kimberly's journey.

Julia M. Reffner

About Me

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Christ-loving bookworm & homeschool mom of 2 stealing the rare quiet moments to pursue that all elusive writing dream. I also write book reviews for Title Trakk and The Historical Novel Society.


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