Meeting the Author — from The Most Dangerous Game by Sophronia Belle Lyon

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“I am Edward S. O’Reilly, but you can call me Tex.”
“Well, Tex,” I [Sluefoot Sue] said, “just what is it you think qualifies you to write about Pecos Bill?”
“Why, I know everything about him.”
“Is that so?” [Pecos] Bill asked.
“Indeed!”
“Huh,” said Bill. “I thought I heard you mention women?”
“You have touched upon the biggest selling point of my books,” O’Reilly cried. “I will whet your appetite with the story of Sluefoot Sue, the woman Bill loved best of all. You will think me the greatest liar on the planet. Bill saw Sluefoot Sue riding down the Rio Grande on a giant catfish. Their eyes met, and it was love at first sight.”
“Well, at least he’s got that right,” I murmured.
“Sluefoot Sue demanded as a wedding present a chance to ride Bill’s stallion Widowmaker. Right after saying ‘I do’, that plucky cowgirl mounted the great black stallion Indian fashion. She bounced up into the sky. Bill tried to lasso her with Shake the Snake, his longest and best-trained reptile, but she continued to bounce until she landed on the moon.”
“Huh,” Bill said. “Say it ain’t so.”
“Why sir, I say it is so!” exclaimed O’Reilly. “You cannot pass up this chance to own a piece of history.”
“How many books do you have there, my good man?”
“I have forty-three left. Will you take more than one, then?”
“I will take them all,” Bill replied. He dug a twenty-dollar gold piece out of his pocket. The fellow began to fumble for change. I held his book box for him.
“Ready, darlin’?” Bill asked.
“I am, honey-bunch.” Bill let out a whistle. I tossed the box into the air. Widowmaker’s heels connected with the box and it burst open in midair.
Bill and I both unlimbered our weapons. Book after book exploded and nary a one touched the ground.
Bill tipped O’Reilly’s dangling jaw shut. “Keep the change, son, to compensate you for the loss of your box.”
“Who — how — why — ?”
“I am Pecos Bill, and this lovely lady is my wife, Sluefoot Sue. Let me suggest that you quit making up nonsense about respectable people.”
“B-but — ”
Bill lassoed O’Reilly with Shake, his bronze mechanical snake-lasso. “There are no buts.”
O’Reilly nodded like a woodpecker on a grub-filled log. I gave out with a whistle. Out of the river rose the Catfish, our steam-powered sub. Its mouth clanked open. O’Reilly fell on his backside into the Texas dust, his jaw pretty much unhinged this time.

 

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Decision time Is Here! — Post by Mary C. Findley

decision time is here

We at the Christian Indie Author Network want to help you make a very important decision. We want you to decide to join us at our first ever Indie Author Conference. It will be held July 30-August 2, 2015, at the Radisson Quad City Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, 111 East Second Street, Davenport, Iowa, 52801.

We have come up with three reasons why you may still be undecided and we’d like to deal with them one by one to relieve your mind of some of the decision-making responsibility.

questions

I still have questions
Please ask. If we don’t have an answer right now, we’ll get one. Our conference pages do have lots of answers already, though. We hope you’ll stop by the site and take a look around. We’re only an email away if you don’t find what you’re looking for. Check out our sessions or our full conference schedule. Look at the facilities, accommodations, and vendor possibilities. Don’t just keep saying “I don’t know,” or “I’m not sure.”

money

I don’t think I’ll have the money
Many CIAN members are struggling with finances right now, as are many Christian indie authors. We are believing God for finances, praying for each other, and seeking all the financial help we can get, to find vendors and supporters. We look at this as a need. God’s writer people have to help each other learn, grow, and have an impact in publishing. We declare 2015 to be the Year of the Indie. Come meet us, pray with us, and become inspired and informed.

fun

Not sure what our plans for the summer will be
Make sure. Set aside this date and this place and come join us. If you are concerned about Davenport, Iowa being a boring or pointless place to spend precious down time, family time, or vacation time, please keep in mind that the Quad Cities area is a major cultural center not that far from Chicago and other cities. The host hotel has a major jazz festival at the same time as our conference and the hotel is already fully booked beyond our specially discounted and reserved block of rooms. Check around for yourself and see that we’re not asking you to drop into the middle of a cornfield.

vendors title

This post applies to vendors as well. We need swag and swag bags. We need cover designers, on-demand publishers, small presses, editors, writer software providers, marketing experts – Indie authors make their own choices about what services and products they buy. Help them choose you by being there where they can see you.

readers

We haven’t forgotten readers, either. You are welcome, and more than welcome. We need you! Come and see our costumed story characters. Meet authors you know and authors you’ll be glad you discovered. Find nonfiction, children’s and young reader selections, romance, historicals, YA, scifi, fantasy – yes indeed, we write it all! Learn about the diversity that is the Christian Indie Author Network!

CIAN Website/Conference section
http://www.christianindieauthors.com/cia-conference.html

Facebook group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/818894711513293/

YouTube Video (made by Debby De Quilettes-Alten of Alten Ink)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLdzIkr5jR0&feature=youtu.be

who or what wait

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Snippet from Kittens in My Kiln, a short story in Fifty Shades of Faithful 2 — In Living Color

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“And the cat is important because…?” Sam wanted to roll his eyes. Again with this cat thing.
“Well, it’s not just any cat. Seems it was a special breeding experiment, very pricey new variety called a ‘Glitter Himalayan’. Her cat was pregnant, ready to drop the load anytime, and its kittens are gonna be worth like fifty thousand a pop. She cares more about the warm fuzzy aspects, but she did say it was big bucks.”
“Fifty thousand! Grace, Viv and the homeowner here found five kittens in his kiln but no cat.”
“His kiln?”
“Yeah, he makes fancy gold pottery. That’s why Viv was here; to do a photo shoot.”
“Seriously? How did the cat get in his kiln? Sam, do we like this guy for the B&E and rape? You think he stole the cat but lost track of her?”
“He sure doesn’t seem like the type,” Sam shrugged. “But the kittens are here, and if they’re worth a quarter mil maybe we need to get somebody to make sure they don’t kick off before we find mama cat.”
“Nobody’s questioned him yet?” Grace scowled at Sam. “You saw him getting snoogy-woogy with a bunch of kitty-cats and you eliminated him as a suspect on that basis? I thought you hated cats.”
“I do hate cats. I consider anybody who gets snoogy-woogy about cats is soft in the head, but unlikely to be a rapist, if you follow my reasoning. Besides, I’m just guarding the perimeter. You CSIs are supposed to be handling the important stuff.”
“Get him out here right now.” Grace’s eyes went hard.

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Blog Fun: If you write Christian fiction, please join our linkup! Copy and paste the little description below, and remember … be social and leave comments for some of the other writers who participate!
Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post short (400-word or less) snippets from their current works in progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman.

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Please Donate to Help Save an Author Friend’s Eyesight

display of covers

Most of us don’t have  a lot of money, especially if we are authors. But If you are looking for a book cover, consider letting me make one for you. Above you can see some premade covers I created especially to try to raise funds for my friend Jen Gentry. Here is a facebook page we started to give information about her condition. https://www.facebook.com/groups/933509013328171/.

You can find her GoFundMe page here. http://www.gofundme.com/n5mw0g. If you wish to donate directly through Paypal, go to the facebook page and you will find her paypal email there.

You don’t have to choose a premade cover. You can see other covers I have made on my Pinterest page to give you an idea of what I can do. https://www.pinterest.com/marycfindley/all-about-book-covers/

Any ebook money I make, up until Jen meets her goal, should be donated to her fund. Here are my terms for making covers for authors, with the proceeds to be donated 100% to Jen’s medical needs. These offers apply to ebook covers only.

1. For a $10 donation, you can have any of the above-pictured covers as they are, with your title and author name in place of the generic text.

2. For a $15 donation, I will give three choices to change the font to.

3. For a $20 donation, I can change one image for a choice among 3 I have in my fairly large collection.

4. For a $25 donation, I can change both font and 1 image among a choice of three.

5. For a $35 donation, I can make you a cover to your specifications.

I can also make ad graphics. Here are a few, and I have many more images and fonts.

display of ads

These are $10 each. All donations should be made directly to Jen’s fund. Show me a receipt or other proof, and I will respond accordingly with your graphic.

If you don’t need a cover or ad, or can’t donate, please tweet and share this blog so that others can see it and be made aware of Jen’s need. Thank you!

 

 

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The Great Thirst Book One Prepared Is Finally Here!

Great thirst 1 prepared final 25

This story began life in 2013 as a NaNoWriMo project. Someone challenged me to put together some of the issues we cover in our nonfiction works — History, Science, and Secular Humanism, into a contemporary fiction work. I wanted to make it an archaeological mystery. I also wanted to include public school education, but in a small town where people think they are “safe” from government control. The book will be released serially in about 100-page segments. Here’s Chapter One:

Chapter One – “Mr. Safety”

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“Hey!” Keith Bradley shouted. “No cars in the bus lot, and what kind of car is that, anyway?”
Keith waved off an incredibly red and shiny thing that didn’t seem to make any noise at all as it tried to slide past him into the bus lot at Bradley Central School on Tuesday morning, the first day of the new school year.
“Oh, no! The bus lot? I feel like such a doofus.” The driver pulled over to the curb and rolled down her passenger window. “It’s a Tesla.”
She was even more incredible than the car. Her highlighted brown hair framed a face that looked about sixteen and she pulled off some designer sunglasses that didn’t look like knockoffs.
“A whatsla?” An eighth-grader, Jermaine Tufo, gawked around Keith’s shoulder.
“A Tesla?” Keith repeated. “You’re kidding me, right? As in, the most awesome electric car ever made? Are you a new student?”
“Student? Are you hitting on me, kid? I’m the new English Lit teacher. Ms. Ramin to you.”
“You? A teacher?” Jermaine asked.
Keith pushed him toward the building and pointed him in the direction of the side doors. “Cafeteria, Jermaine, until 07:50. You know the rules.”
Jermaine ambled off.
“I’m a teacher, too,” Keith said. “Keith Bradley, science. The car parking is up at the other end of the building.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. Thanks.” Ms. Ramin pulled a tight U-turn right in front of the last arriving bus. The car buzzed away.
Yeah, buzzed, Keith repeated to himself for emphasis. A Tesla? That’s like a $100,000 car, minimum!
Keith had somehow been pegged as “Mr. Safety” since junior high, when he’d made the mistake of thinking it was a big honor to be appointed to the “Junior Safety Patrol.” Twelve years later he was the science teacher at Bradley Central. The building had been renamed in honor of his late principal grandfather. Keith still stood out in the parking lot, breathing diesel, shouting at kids to get on the right bus or get out of the way of –
“Who was that crazy woman and what was that crazy car?” Veronica James, the driver of the bus the Tesla had almost pasted itself to, hollered out to Keith.
“New teacher, Mrs. James.” Keith spread his hands out helplessly. “Ms. Ramin, English lit. The car is called a Tesla.”
“Some new Japanese thing, huh? Anyway, she ain’t settin’ a very good example for the children, drivin’ like that. And you’re the Safety Director. I hope you’re going to speak to her.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Keith saluted and Mrs. James pulled her bus into the offload circle, much to Keith’s relief. Yeah, like I’m ever going to talk to … to … that! He glanced toward the student entrance to make sure all the kids got into the building as the warning bell rang.
A squeal of tires sent Keith sprinting back toward the street. Up at the car parking lot entrance he saw a tall black van with dark windows narrowly miss the Tesla as it turned in at the upper lot. The Sprinter spurted past the school, ignoring the reduced speed limit.
What just happened? Keith stared at the vanishing tail of the Tesla. That Ramin woman might be kind of a crazy driver, but Keith could have sworn the Sprinter was trying to hit her, not avoid her. He shook his head and headed inside.
fingers dust ding
Fourth period, Keith led his ninth grade earth science class into the auditorium for the annual “Welcome to Bradley” assembly. He cringed when he saw Ms. Ramin and her class already seated in the section where his bunch was supposed to sit.
“Mr. Bradley, tenth grade is in our seats!” hissed Sonja Gray.
“I see. I see. Hush, Sonja.” Keith counted rapidly. “Just go in here.” He waved them down another row of seats, the ones the tenth grade should have taken. A dozen students felt compelled to make comments about these being the wrong rows, as hard as he tried to hush them up.
“The sign’s right there by her elbow,” grumbled Tim deLuca. “Man, I thought English teachers could read.”
He said this as he plopped down beside Keith, right in front of Ms. Ramin. She appeared to come out of a trance and looked over at the sign next to her that said, “grade nine.”
“Oh,” she exclaimed, jumping up and windmilling her arms. “Class! Everybody! We’re in the wrong seats. Get up! Get up! We need to move to – ” Her eyes flicked over to the “grade ten” sign at Keith’s elbow. “Up there. Come on!”
“Ms. Ramin, it’s okay,” Keith said. “It’s fine. Look.” He reached out with his long legs, hooked the signs with his ankles, and shuffled them until the “grade nine” one stood next to him. “Sit back down. It’s fine.”
She collapsed back into her chair, red-faced. “I lost a contact,” she confessed. “I have no idea where – ”
Keith risked a look into that little almond-shaped, almond-colored face and found some big brown eyes staring back at him from under her soft gold and chestnut bangs.
“Oh, I see it,” Keith almost shouted, forcing himself back out of the depths of those eyes and taking a breath. “It’s the right one, right? It’s back up in the top corner there.”
“Really? I can’t feel it!” She whipped out a lighted, magnifying compact and peeled back her eyelid.
Keith heard and felt rather than saw the reaction of the tenth graders. He gave them the Eyeball, a look perfected and passed down through three generations of Bradley educators, and they subsided into relative silence and motionlessness.
“Yeah, no, it’s right there – You got it!” Keith crowed. Ms. Ramin nipped the contact out of her eye, pasted it to her tongue, and popped it back in.
Every kid for six rows said, in unison, “Eeewww!” But not very loudly, and shut up instantly with the application of another “Eyeball” treatment.
“Thank you so much, Mr. Brady,” she said. “I have been trying all morning to find it. All my classes tried to help, didn’t you?”
How can that many kids all roll their eyes at the same time? Keith somehow managed to keep his expression bland.
“It’s Bradley!” muttered someone.
“What was that?” Ms. Ramin asked.
“It’s not Mr. Brady, it’s Mr. Bradley. The school is – y’know – like, named after him or somethin’,” a voice supplied.
“Oh, you’re Mr. Bradley? Everybody said at the in-service that you’re the go-to guy if anybody needs help, and they were so right!” Ms. Ramin stuck out a hand, rattling metallic bangles and displaying multiple rings –
Keith stopped looking at her arm, her fingers, her perfect little hand, and shook it. He turned back around as a voice boomed over the feedback shriek that always signaled an assembly getting underway.
“Welcome to Bradley Central!” Keith’s father, the principal, called out. “Returning students and teachers, no falling asleep. Don’t care how many times you’ve heard me give you ‘Bradley’s Best’. You still might miss something, especially this year, because we have something brand new and very special for our high school students. If you miss that very special announcement, you will miss out on an opportunity to make history.”
Make history? How’s Bradley Central ever gonna make history? Keith couldn’t help it. This tiny town, and this tiny school, would never matter to anybody. But as he looked around the auditorium, he sat up a little straighter.
A stranger prowled along the side wall. It was a blonde in a fedora, tinted glasses, and one of those “business-sexy” outfits he never expected to see in real life.
Who is she? An extra microphone had been attached to his father’s podium and a cameraman flanked her. The blonde looked bored but perked up whenever the camera angled her way.
A reporter? For the first day of school at Bradley Central? Keith realized he had better try to pay special attention to a speech he had been hearing since Kindergarten, because between Ms. Ramin and this “making history” stuff, something was definitely up.

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Image credits:

Cover credits: Book One: Professional man and woman images (Keith Bradley and Natalia Ramin) from iStock
“Couple-waiting” (teens in “have faith” shirts) image from Kozzi.com uploaded by Wright Artistry http://www.wrightartistry.com

Artifact image from http://www.fouman.com/ Iranian Historical Photo Gallery source for Darius I Persepolis Gold Plates
These plates were found by archeologists in 1938, in Persepolis, near modern day Shiraz, Iran. There were two gold plates and two silver plates in a stone box, written on in cuneiform script. The plates date to 518 – 515 BC.
Tesla Roadster (chapter header image) 13 April 2010 Author Thomas Doerfer Wikimedia Commons
Fingers with dust (section divider image) from pixabay.com user Unsplash

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Love Is … 2015 Blog Hop for Christian Indie authors

cia hop

We are sharing in a blog hop for fellow Christian Indie authors in honor of Valentine’s Day. Coming Valentines Day Feb 13-15.  Click the images at the top or bottom of this post to visit the main hop page.

My book is Carrie’s Hired Hand, a Civil War novella with a mystery and a romance., priced at only 99 cents.

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There were times, however, when Robbie “asked” for permission to go away from the farm. He went off for a part of a day, or a whole day once or twice. Carrie wondered greatly where he went but knew it was none of her business.
Robbie had been gone overnight this time. Carrie tried not to be worried, but she missed Robbie and his cheerful “dumb show” of eating breakfast with the family and going out to work in the morning. She was teaching Bethany to roll piecrust in the kitchen when she heard a commotion out in the yard.
“Mama!” Matthew’s voice screamed. He had gone out to get water. “Some men are comin’, an’ they’re chasin’ Robbie!”
She looked out and was horrified to find a group of confederate soldiers riding into the barnyard, and Robbie running madly ahead of them like a rabbit from a dog pack. Before she could get out to them they had caught him by the chicken yard and torn his shirt from his back. They lashed him to the fence and began to beat him with a horsewhip. Matthew stood by, crying and begging them to stop. Bethany, who had followed Carrie out, burst into tears also.
“Stop that! What are you doing?” Carrie screamed at the men.
“This fellow’s a spy, ma’am,” snarled one of the soldiers.
“You’re crazy! That’s my hired man,” Carrie stormed. “He’s just a poor deaf and dumb boy. How could he be a spy?”
“Deaf an’ dumb?” another man, in a sergeant’s uniform, repeated. “You sure about that?”
“Of course I’m sure. Look what you’ve done to him.” Carrie put herself between Robbie and the soldiers. Robbie hung there, shuddering but not making a sound.
“We – we’ve been hearin’ rumors of a spy in this area,” one of the men said uncertainly. “Information’s gettin’ out to the Yankees, that’s for sure. An’ we saw this fellah hangin’ around our camp over the hill, an’ we thought when he headed back here – ”
“You mean to a northern woman’s farm?” Carrie demanded. “I suppose you think I and my two children are spies too. My husband fought and died in the Confederate army! You should be ashamed. Get out of here.”
“We’re sorry, ma’am,” the sergeant said. “Can we do anything to help?”
Carrie glanced at Robbie and saw the terror in his face. “Just go,” she ordered, and bent down to free Robbie as they rode off. Robbie could barely walk and she had a terrible time getting him onto his feet and into the house. The children’s attempts to help only made it worse. She made him lie down on her bed and sent Matthew and Bethany to heat water and get clean rags.
When she removed what was left of Robbie’s shirt she found a small, thin book tucked into the back waistband of his trousers. Curious, she opened it, and found it crammed with tiny, close writing. She couldn’t begin to read it. Putting the book aside, she returned to caring for Robbie. It was eerie how he never made a sound, though he must have been in terrible pain. What a dreadful, silent world he lived in. Did he know how to cry, or laugh, ever show what he felt? His eyes were tightly shut and he scarcely moved, just flinched once or twice, while she washed the whip cuts. She left his back uncovered when she had finished, putting some soothing salve on but knowing bandages would only rub and irritate.
Are you going to be all right?” she asked loudly, seeing that his eyes were open now. Robbie nodded his head jerkily and tried to get up. Carrie shook her head.
“Stay there and rest,” she ordered. She checked on him later and found him asleep, but noticed that the little book had disappeared. His face was lined with pain and weariness, and scratched and bruised too, as were his hands. Carrie assumed the soldiers must have chased Robbie through the woods, maybe hunted him all night. He couldn’t seem to eat anything at lunchtime, and was wakeful and obviously in distress in the afternoon. Carrie gave him a dose of willow bark powder and that seemed to ease the pain and let him sleep another hour or two. At supper Carrie was surprised to see him come into the kitchen and join the family.
“What’s a spy, mama?” Matthew asked timidly, while Robbie sat gingerly on the edge of his chair and nibbled on a biscuit and some ham. Carrie glanced at Robbie and saw that he was absorbed in his own thoughts.
“A spy is a bad person who tells bad soldiers about secret things that good soldiers are doing,” Carrie said.
“Why did the soldiers think that about Robbie?” Bethany asked. “He can’t even talk! He don’t even know what nobody’s sayin’.”
“It was right fool-headed of them, wasn’t it?” Carrie said. It would have seemed almost funny, if it hadn’t been for the way Robbie had suffered. She glanced at him and was startled to see the haunted, deeply troubled expression on his face.

Please have a look at our offerings and see what tickles your fancy, whether you are a romantic or just have a heart for God-honoring books.  Click the images at the top or bottom of this post to visit the main hop page.

from our heart to yours

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Chapter Twenty-three – What Do You Want from Me?

great thirst promo 4

Talia dragged Keith away from the windows of a travel agency with posters of Greece and Turkey destinations. They were spending the day in the “big city” shopping and finishing up preparations for the trip. “We’re going there,” she laughed. “You don’t have to look at pictures.”

“The history of these lands is like a huge press,” Remmy explained as they climbed into a rental car. “Wine, olives, cheese, words, all are squeezed, and the faithful were squeezed, by war, by persecution. Sometimes they flowed out to other places. Sometimes they went into hiding. Sometimes they hid in plain sight.”

“They hid in plain sight? How can you do that?”
“So many ways. Let me give you an example from Europe. The Jews, the Marranos, as the Spanish called them, publicly claimed to have converted to Roman Catholicism under the threat of the Inquisition. Jews have the Mezzuzah, the little box on the doorpost containing Scripture. They would still have that box, but it would be part of a whole design, carvings around the doorway, and none would notice that one part which contained the treasure. Even for the Moors, the Moriscos, it was so. In a country where one ruler proudly displayed no less than five severed Moorish heads on his coat of arms, these people lived and served another faith, but very cautiously.”

“I’m glad Christians don’t have to do that in America,” Keith said.

“Really? You think you still have religious freedom in America, do you?”

“Sure we do.”

“Nonsense. How many people have been fired from their jobs for such trivial things as wearing a pin with the Pledge of Allegiance, containing the words Under God?”

“What? Nobody.”

“You are wrong. How many teachers have been disciplined for having a Bible on their desks – not even showing it or reading the Word to students, just reading it themselves during times when the students have seat work?”

“They can’t stop you from doing that. How do you know this stuff? You don’t even live in America.”

“In America you have a saying, ‘to keep the ear to the ground’, I believe it runs. I have been a long time keeping my ear to the ground. I listen, I watch, I see the chipping away that goes on. Christians are supposed to turn the other cheek, to bear all things, to be longsuffering, to always be loving. You see, the enemy has used our own Scriptures against us, just as the evil one used them against our Lord in the wilderness temptation. I read of someone who pointed out that Satan used more Scripture in one conversation than many faithful use in hours of ‘fellowship’.”

“I never thought about that. We get together for a youth activity and we play basketball, eat pizza, and at the end we have a devotional.”

“Exactly. Even when we have a choice, it is divided into tidy packages. Why do we not ourselves always try to press the word stored in our hearts, to make it flow out into all our lives, not just the ‘devotional’ parts? Do we regard it so lightly, that the basketball and the pizza, they are given more time? What do the Scriptures say, over and over and over again? They call for meditation. They call for prayer. They call for tucking the word into the heart. They do not call for the basketball or the pizza.”

Keith laughed uneasily. “Right. But look at our Bible as Literature class. That’s spilling over into the kids’ lives, into their families’ lives. We had no idea it would take hold like that.”

“It is the Word. That is what it does, if we truly let it. What do you think will come of this archival project they have taken your Bibles for?”

“It could be the greatest thing that ever happened. So many people use computers and the internet for Bible study already. You can meet people all around the world. You can study with them. Getting school students involved in it can only be good, right? And you saw it yourself. They didn’t take anything. They gave it all right back. Didn’t even bend a page out of my Bible. I checked.”

“Are you trying to convince me, or yourself?”

“But they said they respected our faith. They thought it was important.”

“I respect the huge dog with many shining teeth who guards my neighbor’s yard,” Uncle Remmy smiled, pointing out a ferociously barking animal as they pulled up alongside a bistro. “But what if I persuade that man that I cannot sleep for the barking, that I do not feel safe. He must build a high, strong fence. He must get a chain. He must put a muzzle on his dog. These are reasonable things, already laws in civilized countries. But his dog can no longer do what he obtained it to do. ‘Oh, look, what an admirable dog he has’, we can say, when it is restrained and silent and troubles us no more.”

“Wow,” Keith said. “But everyone whose opinion I value, everyone I love, said we should do this. I mean, you two were right there helping us carry the stuff out to the church van Sunday night.”

They ordered coffee and pastries. “I think maybe Uncle Remmy’s just playing devil’s advocate with you,” Talia ventured, shooting some sharp looks at her uncle.

“Talia tells us that you are ‘safety man’ at your school,” Sophia said. “She says how much you and your father care for these children, and for your beautiful sister and mother. We just want you to keep on doing that, to think ahead and to plan for the safety of these you love and honor.”

“Okay, so, are you saying we’re being too short-sighted? You’re giving us that van for Grandma and Joana, because you thought we weren’t considering their safety enough? Maybe you don’t realize that my mother and father spent everything they had taking care of Grandma, and then Joana got sick. My mom worked sixty-or seventy-hour weeks, and my dad still has two jobs.

“I just took off like some oblivious teenager, because I had scholarships and grants for college and no debt, and got my own place and my own car. When my mom dropped dead from a heart attack, I realized that I’d quit being Mr. Safety and started being Mr. Selfish. Dad and I sold everything we could possibly do without, and we have done the best we could. I don’t know what you want from me, but I’m just a guy trying to do what’s right. I don’t need this kind of grief.”

Keith jumped up and took off running. The others called out to him but he was in no mood to stop. He had gone to college here and knew the city fairly well, but finally ran out of breath in the park. He collapsed on a bench and tried to get his breathing back to normal.

“No way,” he muttered as the familiar rental car pulled up alongside the black wrought-iron fence.

“Please don’t be angry,” Talia said as she ran up to him. “They do it to me too. The new cellphone we just got you for the trip? Uncle Remmy can track the GPS.”

“Why do I keep feeling like I’ve suddenly become part of some super-secret spy mission, and that it’s up to me to save the world?” Keith demanded. “Who are you people? Why did you come to our town? What are we to you? Why did you even need our participation in this trip? What’s really going on with these Golden Testaments, and why in the world would you need our school’s help, or my help, to get them?”

“Get them all out in the open, Keith,” Sophia said. “Every question you want to ask. We promise to try to answer anything you want to know. Anything we can, at least.” Remmy and Sophia sat on a bench across the footpath and Talia sat next to Keith.

“Well, okay, then, did you or didn’t you know that this Repository Project was going to demand that we get all our Bibles and materials scanned?”

“We knew nothing about that part of the project. We asked Talia to become involved in it, frankly, because we wanted to learn more about it, and could get no information from the outside. We did not specifically choose your school or you. Talia sought the teaching job there, because we wanted to learn about the project from the perspective of a small, conservative school and community where the program would be new. We wanted to see the implementation from the beginning.”

“What about these new families?”

“We have no connection to them, and no specific knowledge of where they came from or why they chose this town to push their agenda. But this is a pattern, which I am sure you and your father and grandmother have already noted, to extend government control and extort compliance in places where they would likely find great resistance. These small towns require special handling. It took us a little time to realize that the Bible as Literature grants would first break down the resistance, and then create obligations, and finally force obedience.”

“So who are you people, that you feel like you need to get involved with us? Talia was the one who told dad about the program. Nobody showed up from the government. None of those parents brought it up.”

“We are just people, Keith, who want to try to preserve the Word of God and slake the Great Thirst. We know that many governments, not just the American government, are trying to stifle reliance on the Scriptures. They don’t want them taught. They don’t want them to exist. So of course we assumed this program must seek to do the opposite of what we would wish it to do. Talia wanted to make a stand, to make their plan, whatever it was, what is the expression? – backfire. She wanted to teach truth as truth, not as just another mythology. The two of you have succeeded beyond our wildest hopes, especially in the memory aspect of the class. Your memory clues have been simply brilliant!”

“Well, I just remembered all those crazy memory cues we had to learn for Science. Mnemonics, I mean. Especially for Chemistry. Like ‘Leo says Ger! or Leo the lion, Ger!’ T stuff like that for the Bible memory, especially the references. That’s what I always mess up on.

“Grampa used to say, ‘If the Scriptures are your best friends, why don’t you know where they live?’ So I told the class; here’s Galatians 2:20: ‘They only asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I also was eager to do.’ Think of two gals who ate two hundred and twenty peanuts. These gals weren’t much like Paul, which starts with a P, because they didn’t care about the poor, which also starts with p. So the gals help you remember the reference, and the P in peanuts reminds you of Paul, plus the P in poor, and then we’re ready to start working on the verse itself.’”

All three of his companions exploded with laughter.

“But to get back to the nasty now and now,” Keith continued, “How’s the trip connect to the Bible as Literature Class, anyway?”

“For over two years now, we have believed that we were being followed and spied upon in our work to discover the whereabouts of the Golden Testaments. We thought we were getting very close with the information we had that was leading us to search in the Levant or Anatolia. Things began to go wrong with our research contacts, our travel plans, our equipment … All of this convinced us that we must be on the right track, but that we must try to misdirect those who wanted to stop us. So we arranged for Talia to offer this trip to for the school.

“Who would suspect that we would take forty-five high school students along with us on a quest that has brought us more and more into danger? It was our hope that they would think we have given up, or were aimlessly fishing and no longer a threat. Indeed, recent events nearly persuaded us that we had to stop, when we learned that people would kill to stop us, and even those we would want to be our allies did not think us worthy.”

“Oh, so this is that ‘honorable man’ who said that you shouldn’t ‘play with defilement’?”

“We have promised to be candid with you, Keith,” Sophia said. “So we must tell you that Talia did not have pneumonia. Please do not think that she intentionally lied to you. We had an emergency and needed her to come to us in Naxos, so we had contacts here arrange for her to appear to have fallen ill and be hospitalized. Poor Talia did not even know what was going to happen.”

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