Friday, August 26, 2011

Excerpt from Patchwork Dreams

Patchwork Dreams
by Laura V. Hilton
Whitaker House, April 2011

Chapter 1

Could he say, ‘I quit?’

Could he say, ‘Stop this ride, I want to get off?’

The white van passed a McDonalds on the right, then pulled off the southbound lane of Highway 60, turned left at the light, and continued down a mostly ice-covered road. The ice-laden trees, while beautiful to behold, nonetheless reflected Jacob Miller’s inner turmoil. He was thankful for the heat coming from the vents. He leaned forward, his black felt hat clutched in his hands, as the vehicle lurched over a bump. Or something. Seymour, Missouri, wasn’t too far from Springfield, referred to by the driver as “the Queen City of the Ozarks.” But the trip dragged by in slow motion. Maybe because he’d been dreading it for so long.

Fearing it.

Having nightmares about it.

Mama’s fourth cousin twice removed lived somewhere in this rural Missouri town. Jake grimaced as the van rumbled past several small businesses and then turned down a narrow dirt road.

“Not too far now. A bit anxious, are you?” The driver glanced at Jake through the rearview mirror, then reached forward and adjusted the heat. “Getting a mite warm in here.”

Jake made a non-committal grunt and looked away. The driver had made a couple of attempts at conversation since picking Jake up at the bus station, but with nausea clogging his throat, he didn’t trust opening his mouth to speak.

How could Daed do this to him? It seemed wrong in so many ways.

Instead of building his farm in Pennsylvania, Jake would be working the rocky red clay in southern Missouri.

Instead of marrying sweet Susie during wedding season, he’d be spending a year helping out an unknown distant cousin.

Well, if Daed thought this would destroy Jake and Susie’s love for each other, he had another think coming.

Bare trees dotted the edges of someone’s property, and in the distance the rolling hills made a rather hazy mountainous background picture. Pretty, though not at all like home.

Would he be able to get past the homesickness—and this streak of bitterness toward Daed—to embrace this as an adventure? A chance to learn about his country, expand his boundaries, and, more importantly, minister to this needy family member.

Too bad his pep-talk wasn’t working. He didn’t like the bad attitude he sported.

All too soon, the van arrived in the gravel driveway of a larger two-story farm house. The trees surrounding the haus would provide plenty of shade during the hot summer months, though now they were decorated with dripping icicles from a recent ice storm. Jacob imagined the wide front porch would be a gut place for shelling peas or shucking corn for the women folk during the harvest. A porch swing hung on one end, possibly a silent testimony to a courtship from days gone by.

A whitewashed barn stood sentry several yards away, and with a casual glance around, Jacob noted cows, horses, chickens, goats and pigs, plus the usual array of dogs and cats.

The driver pulled to a stop in front of the house. Almost immediately, the front door opened, and a woman with honey blond hair pulled back into a bun and tucked under a prayer kapp appeared.

She peered out at the van, then disappeared behind the door, before reappearing with a wrap tossed over her slim shoulders.

Jacob opened the sliding vehicle door, and clambered out as the driver went around to the back to get the baggage.

“Hello, Tony.” The woman stopped in the doorway. She spoke to the driver, but her blue eyes were fixed on Jacob.

“Miz Becky.” The driver bumped his hat, in what Jacob took as a greeting. “Brought your cousin by.”

Becky nodded. “Jah. That I see. Welkum, Jacob.”

She didn’t smile, and her eyes remained somber. Distant. As cold as the wind that howled around the corner of the house. Maybe she wanted him here as much he wanted to be here.

Not so much.

Jake straightened his shoulders. Like it or not, he was here. Might as well turn on the charm and start making the best of a bad situation.


Want to read more?

Monday, August 1, 2011

August new book releases

These late summer releases promise some good reading from ACFW authors. Check out the list. There's bound to be something to meet anyone's taste in reading.

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW FictionFinder website.

A Horseman’s Heart by Myra Johnson -- Romance from Barbour/Heartsong. When Kip Lorimer shows up with a horse to donate to the family's equine therapy program, Sheridan Cross can't help but be suspicious. A cowboy a thousand miles from home and living out of a horse trailer? What's wrong with this picture?

A Most Unsuitable Match by Stephanie Whitson -- A Historical from Bethany House. They are opposites in every way. . . except how neither one can stop thinking about the other.

Agent Undercover by Lynette Eason -- Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired. A little boy with a secret, a killer with a vendetta, and a man and a woman who will stop at nothing to protect the child while catching the killer.

Aquasynthesis by Grace Bridges, Fred Warren, Caprice Hokstad, P.A. Baines, Adam Graham, R.L. Copple, Travis Perry, Mike Lynch, Keven Newsome, Kat Heckenbach, and Ryan Grabow. -- Fantasy from Splashdown Books. From classic-style fantasy and science fiction stories, through speculative tales that delve deeper into motivations and meanings, we move from humor to sacrifice by a linking story that connects many very different themes.

Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin -- General Fiction Historical from Revell. In a time of peril, can they find the courage to confront their fears and embrace a love that lasts?

Edge of Grace by Christa Allan -- General Fiction from Abingdon. Unable to cope with her brother’s news that he is gay, Caryn Becker rejects him. But when he is attacked and nearly killed, she is forced to make hard choices that take her to the very edge of grace.

Lost in Dreams, Book Two; Altered Heart Series by Roger Bruner and Kristi Rae Bruner -- Young Adult from Barbour. Eighteen-year-old Kim Hartlinger discovers the victory Jesus provides during the most trying of circumstances as she learns to lean on other Christians.

Marrying Miss Marshall by Lacy Williams -- Romance from Bethany House. Her job is to protect the town... but who will protect her heart?

Out of Control by Mary Connealy -- Romance from Bethany House. Rafe Kincaid controls everything in his life . . . until he meets Julia.

Ransome’s Quest by Kaye Dacus -- Historical Romance from Harvest House. Romance, intrigue, and swashbuckling leaps of faith create a wonderfully heroic close to this beloved series.

Something Old by Dianne Christner -- Romance from Barbour. Love is rarely plain and simple.

Surrender the Dawn by Mary Lu Tyndall -- A Historical from Barbour. You’ll be swept away in this seafaring romance between a plucky damsel-in-distress and a nefarious rake who’s selling out his country amid the War of 1812.

The Matrimony Plan by Christine Johnson -- Historical Romance from Love Inspired. A rich girl falls in love with a poor boy -- until the tables are turned.