Friday, May 30, 2008

Book review while helping a brother

Just as his dream came true, his world fell apart. Just two months before Mike Delloso’s novel, The Hunted, was scheduled for release, Mike discovered he had colon cancer.

He’s now in treatment but bloggers at Writer…Interrupted have linked arms to help Mike market his novel in the midst of personal difficulties.

About the book:

A town’s deadly secret will drive one man to the edge of his faith…

Mike Dellosso offers a bone-chilling mystery in the style of Frank Peretti and Stephen King about the town of Dark Hills and the deadly secrets it holds in his debut novel,The Hunted, to be released June 3, 2008.

Joe Saunders is determined to unravel the mystery surrounding the brutal mauling of his nephew.

Police Chief Maggie Gill is determined to protect the mystery surrounding her family’s deadly secret.

But neither is prepared for the truth when the mystery revealed uncovers the horror that is lurking in the shadows of Dark Hills.

After learning of the disappearance of his nephew, Joe Saunders returns to his childhood home of Dark Hills to aid in the search effort. When Caleb is found, badly mauled and clinging to life, Joe embarks on a mission to find the beast responsible. But the more Joe delves into the fabric of his old hometown, the more he realizes Dark Hills has a dark secret, shrouded for three generations in a deadly code of silence. As Joe unravels the truth behind a series of unexplained animal attacks, murder, and corruption at the highest level of law enforcement, he is led to a final showdown where he must entrust his very life into God’s hands.

About the author:

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Mike now lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Jen, and their three daughters. He writes a monthly column for Writer . . .Interrupted, was a newspaper correspondent/columnist for over three years, has published several articles for The Candle of Prayer inspirational booklets, and has edited and contributed to numerous Christian-themed Web sites and e-newsletters. Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, the Relief Writer’s Network, and International Thriller Writers. He received his BA degree in sports exercise and medicine from Messiah College and his MBS degree in theology from Master’s Graduate School of Divinity.

Where did you get your idea for The Hunted?
The idea for The Hunted came from the internet. I was surfing one day just looking for ideas or something to spark my imagination and get the wheel churning when I came across this story of a small town in Indiana that reported lion sightings back in the 1920’s. Several of the townsfolk said they saw an African lion in the fields surrounding the town. A couple cows were mauled and eaten. Then the sightings just stopped. No one knows where the lion came from or where it went. I thought it was a pretty neat idea and ran with it. Story born. Happy birthday!

Okay, so what themes were you thinking about when you wrote the book?
So, here’s what I think the themes are, what I wanted the themes to be when I wrote the book (whether anyone actually finds these themes is another story entirely, and I’m okay with that, really I am, as long as they get something meaningful out of it). One theme is the idea of not putting God in a box, of letting Him be God, letting Him work in your life and do some miraculous things. I think too often we put a leash on God and tell Him what He’s allowed and not allowed to do. That’s not our place. God can do anything He wants to do. He’s the one in charge, remember?

Okay, enough of that. The second theme is the danger of a vengeful heart. Vengeance is a powerful thing; I think that’s why God said He’d take care of it. In the hands of mere mortals, it’s a deadly poison, able to consume a man and turn him into a monster. Revenge is not something we should try to harness. We have no business playing with that fire. In The Hunted we see the end result of a vengeful heart unbound.

Lastly, there’s the theme of forgiveness and acceptance and redemption. Beautiful things we experience from the heart our Heavenly Father and pass on to others.

Why did you choose to write supernatural suspense?
Because I’m weird. No, not really . . . well, maybe. Plenty of people think I am weird after reading my stories. It was a natural gravitation for me. I grew up loving The Twilight Zone and The X-files and any kind of monster movie. I’ve always been intrigued by legends like Big Foot and the Loch Ness monster. The unexplained has always fascinated me. I honestly can’t see myself writing anything else. I have so many ideas now, but maybe when I exhaust them I’ll try my hand at something else . . . maybe westerns.

Tell me about when you were diagnosed with cancer.
Yeah, cancer. Kind of a big thing. I was diagnosed on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. Here I was getting ready to launch into trying my hand at promoting my new book and in the middle of negotiating a contract for a second book when the doctor dropped the bomb: You have colon cancer.

Funny thing is, I don’t remember ordering colon cancer. Not part of my plans at all.

How has that diagnosis affected your writing?
How has it affected my writing? Well, immediately, it’s halted my writing. With the exception of daily journaling on my blog, I haven’t written a lick since being diagnosed. I love to write, it’s my passion, but this cancer thing trumps it. I took this diagnosis as a nudge from God that I need to set writing aside for a little while and just concentrate on the most important things: my relationship with Him and my relationship with my family. Sometimes it takes something like cancer to refocus you, to get you to evaluate your life and do a little re-prioritizing.

In the long run, I think the experience of traveling through this valley will only enhance my writing, give it more depth, more texture, more emotion and passion. I know firsthand what it’s like to traverse that Valley of the Shadow of Death, to question Why me?, to be scared of dying, not for dying’s sake but for my family’s sake, to live with a monster inside me that wants to kill me (hey, that gives me a great story idea), to be poked, prodded, scoped, and stuck, to live a life that revolves around the next test result or the next doctor’s appointment. I’ve been there now and I can incorporate those experiences into my stories, into the life of my characters. It’ll be interesting to see how my writing changes once I get back to it.

What is one thing your diagnosis has taught you?
One other thing I’ve learned is to fully rely on God, to willingly submit myself and put my life in His hands. And of course, this carries over into my writing as well. We writers never know where the next contract is coming from or how much the next royalty check will be for, or even how the next story will unfold, if there is a next story. We are constantly at His mercy, and I’m learning that’s a good place to be.

Check out Mike’s personal website and his blog.

You can order a copy of The Hunted from Amazon.

Please pray for Mike as he walks with God in this difficult time in his life. Here’s a list of the bloggers supporting Mike in this blogtour:

A Peek at My Bookshelf

Alien Dream

An Author’s Life

Artistic Blogger

Behind the Mountain

Blog Tour Spot

Camy’s Loft

Canadian Prairie Writer

Chatter Matters

Dee’s Christian Fiction:


Gatorskunz and Mudcats

Good Word Editing

Heart Chocolate

His Reading List

Home-Steeped Hope


In the Dailies


Kells Creative Musings

Life in the Midst of Writing

Life with Missy

Light for the Writer’s Soul

Margaret Daley

Mommy Come Lately

My Cup 2 Yours

My Name is Michael Snyder

Not Just Romance but a Love Story

Notes in the Key of Life

Novel Journey

One Day

Penning Prose

Portrait of a Writer . . . Interrupted

Real Women Scrap

Refresh My Soul

Relevant Blog:

Savvy ReViews

See Ya On the Net


Terri’s Treasures

The Book Beat

The Law, Books and Life

The Surrendered Scribe

The Suspense Zone

The Write Message

wandering, wonderings of a whacked-out woman

Windows to My Soul

Wisdom Walk

Writing Career Coach

Writing on the Edge

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The children of Swaziland

Becky Spencer is a self-proclaimed “girly-girl” who traveled to a country of dust and bugs and hopelessness. And the trip captured her heart.

In Swaziland, where Becky visited, AIDS has ravaged a nation. There are not enough adults left and the country is populated by children. Unless changes come, the people of Swaziland will cease to exist in 20 years or less.

Swaziland is located in southern Africa, a land-locked country with South Africa on three sides and Mozamique on the fourth.

Nearly 70% of the population of Swaziland lives in rural areas, where they have been hammered by drought causing alarming food shortages. The death rate outdistances the birth rate and a baby born today in Swaziland can expect to live to age 31. Nearly 70% of the population lives in poverty.

I heard Becky speak recently and was captivated by her compassion for the children of Swaziland. She is a gifted singer and performed a song she authored about those children forced to shoulder responsibility in the face of much hopelessness.

Her ministry is offering sponsorships of children, where for $20 a month you can help feed and educate a Swaziland young person.

Check out her website and please pray for her work with the children of Swaziland.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Under the radar

After I hung up on the lady trying to squeeze out a $200 donation to a cause that I am passionate about, I decided I ought to re-think the whole business of contributions.

I didn’t hang up on her intentionally, but the phone shifted on my shoulder while I was stirring up some biscuits for supper and suddenly her warm voice was replaced by a dial tone.

To be honest with you, those cold calls from ministries bug me a little. They spend a good percentage of their income on such fundraising techniques. I can’t donate to every good cause out there and I want to choose after a time of prayer, not in the midst of a telemarketer’s sweet talk.

Also, it bugs me that the big ministries have enough money that they can overshadow little ministries – both in our attention and in our checkbooks.

I plan to highlight a few smaller ministries in the coming weeks. I’m not endorsing any or asking you to donate, but maybe, as you read about them, you’ll pray and be open to God’s leading. Most are not flashy but their leaders are passionate about their cause.

And, please, if you know of a ministry you’d like to see highlighted, let me know. I’ll try to include it at some point.

So, tomorrow: Swaziland!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How can I find the answers?

Houses were shredded by a tornado ripping through Windsor, Colorado last week. A 12-year-old boy is sweating to re-learn to walk after a throat-gripping gun accident at Christmas. A godly, missional woman is fighting cancer.

And we want to cry out, “Why, God?”

We know from Deuteronomy that sin causes suffering. Is the opposite true? Does all suffering come from sin?

That’s the question Job’s friends threw to heaven. Their conclusion? Of course. They badgered Job to admit his sin. But Job, from the first chapter of the book, was described as righteous. Job’s claim, as he sat on a pile of dust scratching his painful boils, was that he deserved none of this.

He shouted: “Why, God?”

When God’s answer finally comes to Job, it silences complaints. God, in describing all the animals of creation, reminds Job that no one understands why God formed the heavens or created an ostrich. Our minds are finite and limited. We cannot understand infinite deity.

God tells Job, as he tells us, that there are mysteries beyond our abilities to understand.

We are people, not deity, and our need is not to understand but to trust.

God challenged Job: "Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God's critic, but do you have the answers?" (Job 40:2)

Job was humbled. His knowledge was dew in the sun. "I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I will put my hand over my mouth in silence. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say." (Job 40:4-5)

The answers to tornadoes and injury and cancer don’t come through the “why’s.” We can’t know. But we can trust the One who does.

(Painting from The Genesis Project, used by permission.)

Monday, May 26, 2008


Memorial Day is more than hamburgers and barbecue sauce. I have two nephews in the military, one just returning from Iraq and the other still over there. I respect their sacrifice and appreciate the freedom they are fighting for. We all have family and friends who have or are making sacrifices in our name.

I ran across a beautiful blog post at The Master's Artist commemorating the sacrifice made by our military. Please take a look.

Ruth: beginnings

It should have felt better to see the familiar buildings, Naomi thought to herself as she lifted the heavy pack one more time. “That’s Bethlehem,” she told Ruth.

“Small,” Ruth said quietly.

“We have a house here,” Naomi said. “It’s better to die among family.”

Ruth laughed. “We didn’t come here to die!”

The dust of the journey was gray on Naomi’s hair. “God has brought me back empty,” she said. “I am dead already.”

Naomi and Ruth believe they have reached the end of their journey but it has only begun. We will join them in a fresh look at the book of Ruth in the coming weeks.

If you have room in your journal after our study of Luke, plan to make new notes as we go through Ruth.

Ruth is a short book – four chapters – but one of the literary gems of the Bible. Try to read it this week – preferably in one sitting. We’ll dive in next week.

Friday, May 23, 2008


After the black snake of destruction came the rainbow. After the angry cloud punched its way through a town, the sun came out.

Yesterday I tracked a storm that plowed through an area where friends and family lived. A tornado slapped a community hard, tossing chunks of roof onto lawns and twisting trees free from their roots.

Take a look at the destruction, only an hour from our home.

One person died, a man trying to run from the storm in his camper. A daycare of 150 children was in the path of the tornado but the children were rushed to a nearby basement and none were hurt. An office complex was ripped open but the employees had seen the approaching clouds and left.

What if the storm had hit at night?

Before the skies even cleared, workers appeared. Homeowners were hauling off shingles and trucks were backed up to houses to carry off debris.

Would you pray for these people in Weld County of Colorado, who were thumped by a swirly angry storm? And thank God that only one person was lost. The sun came out and a rainbow glimmered.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Sichuan China earthquake

Please take a look at this Powerpoint display illustrating the devastation of the earthquake in Sichuan, China. This information came from a missionary serving Chinese studying in America. If you have further questions, please e-mail him at

You'll need to use the forward button to step through the slides.

Although some of the text is in Chinese, I think you'll be able to see the agony of such a horrible tragedy. Please keep these people in your prayers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Galatians: Finally...Melons?

Melons and cucumbers look pretty good when you’re eating dust most of the time. And so the people complained. Who brought them to this place of dryness and monotony when they could have fish and garlic, onions and leeks?

The Israelites were willing to trade their freedom for the delights of food. They minimized the food God had provided and whined about what was on their plate. (Num 11:4-6)

They were willing to go back to slavery for melons and fish.

As we conclude the book of Galatians, we see Paul writing to rescue churches from similar thinking. These new Christians throughout Galatia had been given new life. No longer were they under a death sentence.

But they were listening to those who were luring them back to slavery.

Paul reminded them: you are set free. Trusting anything but Jesus’ sacrifice was a walk to Egypt’s whips and chains.

This is our last lesson on Galatians. Feel free to review the lessons, as listed in the sidebar to the right.

For now, please read Galatians 5:1-4 and think about what Paul composed to people he loved and mentored. Write in your journal the impressions you get. Have you tried to return to the land of melons and cucumbers, ignoring the slavery that’s part of it? What is God asking you to lay down in the name of freedom?

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Novel: Sweet Caroline

Welcome to the "Sweet Life" blog tour! Read on for a book blurb, a recipe and a chance to win a fun prize as well.

About the book...

Caroline Sweeney has always done the right thing--the responsible, dependable thing--unlike her mother who abandoned her family. But when her best friend challenges her to accept an exciting job adventure in Barcelona, Spain, Caroline says "yes" to destiny.

Then, without warning, ownership of the run-down cafe where she's been waitressing falls right into Caroline's lap. While she's trying to determine the cafe's future, handsome Deputy Sherriff J.D. Rand captures Caroline's heart.

But when her first love, Mitch O'Neal, comes back to town, fresh from the heat of his newly-found fame as a country music singer in Nashville, Caroline must make some hard choices about love and the pursuit of the sweet life.

About Rachel:

I'm a forty-something, a child of the '60's, '70's, '80's, '90's and '00's.

I roller skated through the '70's into the '80's with Farrah Fawcet hair and a three-speed orange Camero.

Born in Ohio, I lived several years in Oklahoma and Kentucky before my parents moved the family to Florida.

I graduated from Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!) with a degree in Journalism. As a member of Phi Mu sorority, I partied my way though the last few years of college.

But, the truth is, and always will be, I belong to Jesus. At the age of six, I knelt at the altar of a Tulsa Methodist church and gave my life to the One who loves me.

After graduation, hired on at Harris Publishing as a software trainer, determined to see the world. And I did it without a laptop, a cell phone, an IPod or portable DVD player. Those were hard times.

But, I traveled to Ireland, Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Australia, Canada and the U.S. from California to Maine.

I met Tony, my husband, in '87, at church, of all places. We got married in '92. Tony has been a pastor for twenty years. I've worked with him in eighteen of those twenty. Our heart is to see teens and adults passionate, radical and whole hearted for Jesus.

Tony and I don't have any children of our own, lots of kids-in-the-Lord and we love them all. However, we do have a very spoiled dog, and an even more spoiled cat.

I've always wanted to be a writer. My dad used to tell me, "You're a writer." I have letters he wrote me post college, exhorting me to write. In this, I believe he had the heart of God.

And BONUS here's a recipe for Bubba's Buttery Biscuits!

3 cups self-rising flour
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled, plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted for brushing the tops
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the flour and chilled butter in a medium mixing bowl. Work the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingertips until the butter pieces are a little larger than an English pea, but not larger than a lima bean. If you are using your fingers, work quickly so that the heat of your hands won't melt the butter.

Pour in all of the buttermilk and, using light pressure, fold the mixture a few times with a plastic spatula until it holds together. Do not over mix. In order to make light biscuits, it is important to work the dough as little as possible.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead it quickly and gently 6 to 10 times or until it begins to be almost homogenized. There will be large pieces of butter throughout. Sprinkle a little flour under the dough so that it won't stick to the board and lightly dust the top of the dough so that it won't stick to the board and lightly dust the top of the dough so that it won't stick to the rolling pin. Roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness.

Cut the dough into 2-inch rounds, place on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. I like the biscuits to be crispy and brown on the top and bottom, but not dry in the middle. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter. Serve right away. (recipe from Louis Osteen)

And, about the contest:

The Sweet Life contest! Enter to win a Scrumptious Baking Basket from Rachel. The basket contains a Super Cool Apron, a Low country cook book signed by PAT CONROY, rolling pin, and a pie plate! All you have to do to enter is sign up for Rachel's newsletter here:

Rachel's website:

Buy the book here:

Rachel's My Book Therapy ( a writing craft blog for writers):


Paul had to pull a small suitcase around on wheels because he had brought his entire manuscript for editors to read. Marie passed out bookmarks to everyone she met, because her book will launch in a couple of months. Jeff discussed the intricacies of fantasy writing while warning that fantasy doesn’t sell well in the Christian market.

My days at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference in Estes Park were a kaleidoscope of images and words. I asked God to give me interesting contacts during our meal times and his answers were fascinating. I met a book editor, a couple of authors whose books will be featured here at some point, and many new friends.

Several ministries were highlighted – and I’ll be featuring those in a weekly column for awhile.

Writers can set sidetracked onto the craft of our latest novel or how to meet a magazine’s deadlines. But we were reminded that we, as followers of Jesus, write for him.

In Habakkuk, the prophet declared, “I will climb up into my watchtower now and wait to see what the LORD will say to me and how he will answer my complaint.” (Hab 2:1)

Each of us gets to do that, to climb our watchtower and wait for the Lord.

But here’s the kicker. God gave Habakkuk this instruction: "Write my answer in large, clear letters on a tablet, so that a runner can read it and tell everyone else.” (Hab 2:2)

If you write, let it be God’s answer. If you read, be the runner who tells others what God has written.

Either way, be waiting and watching for God’s words.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Are you unique?

Here's an interesting game for you, if you have a blog or website. Because God makes each of us unique, let's see how well you're expressing that. Here are the rules:

1. Find as many words or statements are you can that, when typed into Google, return your site first on the list.
2. Share those statements with us in the comments below.

See if you express something unique in your online work. Have fun!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Suffering in Estes

Thanks to the magic of Blogger new posting options, my appearance here is only a Fig Newton of your imagination (as a good friend of mine likes to say.)

I’m really not here. I am at a writer’s conference in the beautiful Rockies near Estes Park. Here’s a look at the YMCA camp.

And here’s information about the conference. I am nervous and excited to be attending so I appreciate your prayers for what God wants to do there. You’ll get more of a report when I return.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Daring to be strong

Seneca said:

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.

God said to Joshua:

I command you—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Josh 1:9)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Running the race

Even though Lisa was Miss Clean, the bracelet had to stay. It wasn’t time yet to cut it loose.

The memories still brought tears to her eyes. “It was like heaven,” she said. “The path went up a little hill to the finish line. There were big pillars there.”

The people were cheering and somebody had a foghorn. “You can do this! Keep going! You’re almost there!”

Lisa had finished a two-day fundraising walk, covering a 26-mile course one day and another 13 the next. She collapsed across the finish line in tears of joy for completing a strenuous spring of training before the big event.

“I didn’t think I could do it, really,” Lisa admitted. “All the cheering reminded me of angels. Lots of people waving their hands and cheering as we came across the finish line.”

She held up her wrist with the plastic entry bracelet. “I’m not ready to forget yet.”

Taking a long drink of water, she reflected. “The blisters are about healed up. Did I tell you that I got a heat rash? It’s about gone, too.” She paused for a moment. “What did I learn from this? I think we’re able to do much more than we think we can and we’re better for it. I wasn’t sure I could do this but I still tear up thinking about it.”

Paul talked a lot about races, too. At the end of his life, thinking, he wrote:

“I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”[1]

For Lisa, the prize was crossing the finish line to the cheers of hundreds. Paul found that prize and even more:

“And now the prize awaits me: the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return.”[2]

A race is hard work, but the finish line makes it worthwhile. Keep running.

[1] 2 Tim 4:7-8

[2] 2 Tim 4:8

Monday, May 12, 2008

Galatians: Branded

If you’ve ever been around livestock, you’ve seen a branding. A branding iron, heated to cherry red, is pressed against the flank of the cattle, leaving a mark on the skin for life, identifying the owner of each calf.

Paul reminded the Galatians as he closed his letter that he, too, was branded. In Gal 6:17, he said that the stigma or brand-mark of Jesus was on his flesh.

The irony of that comment was that judaizers (Jews who were trying to lure the Galatian believers into obeying Jewish law over Paul’s teachings) were insisting that the Gentiles be circumcised. That was the mark on their body which identified them as set apart for God.

Paul’s brand allied him with Jesus’ crucifixion, not the old laws. He was marked for life, owned by Christ.

So he told the Galatians it was no longer necessary to be circumcised. What mattered, Paul said, was a new creation.[1] While the judaizers required circumcision to be set apart, Paul said believers were set apart as a new creation.

Today, we don’t see circumcision as a rite of being set apart for God. But we sometimes have other practices which may seem to make us worthy of walking with God. And we trust those practices rather than placing our trust solely on Jesus’ work of redemption.

While the new believers in Galatia were tempted to trust in Jewish law and traditions, Paul reminded them again that they were new creation, set apart by Christ. They had been set free, not to return to traditions, but to walk in the life Christ had given them.

Do you wear the brand-mark of Jesus?

Have you trusted anything besides Jesus’ death and resurrection to give you freedom?

How do you trust and celebrate your status as a new creation?

[1] Gal 6:15

Friday, May 9, 2008

I'm wearing what?

I recently joined an online group, Fellowship of Christian Writers, and was featured in a blog roundup by one of their members. Take a look. There are some interesting blogs listed there.

On a personal note, I’d ask for your prayers. God has given me some writing opportunities that are exciting – and the next deadline for three of them is in May. I’d appreciate your prayers that I can stay on schedule and get those completed.

And my 17-year-old daughter is busy telling the world that Prince Caspian arrives on the big screen in – count ‘em – seven days. She’s planning costumes for our movie-going entourage and expects me to show up looking like Susan. I guess it’s better than the White Witch. Pray for me!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Freedom Finances: an open palm

We’re shopping for a house. When the kids first heard, they panicked. “Are we moving?” We’re not moving.

But we’re looking for more passive income.

Passive income comes from places where I earn money without working. When I sock money into a savings account, I am earning passive income with the interest. (Barely, but that’s another topic.)

We’re looking for a rental property.

We’ve talked in Freedom Finances for several weeks about getting on the topside of interest. Instead of paying interest, earn it. Instead of spending every penny, save some.

More than once, Jesus spoke of investing money. The classic is the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Although Jesus’ point was not investing, he didn’t condemn it but praised the two servants who invested while condemning the one who refused to invest.

For some Christians, making money through passive income seems vaguely wrong. Jesus didn’t have a savings account, did he?

No, he didn’t. But he had some finances. (Judas handled the ministry treasury.) And we know that some wealthy women followed him, suggesting they may have helped with the daily expenses. Certainly, wealthy people contributed to the apostles as they traveled throughout the civilized world spreading the gospel.

God needs followers in all financial classes. The issue for us as followers of Jesus isn’t accumulation of money, but how we use that money. If money is gathered just to make me comfortable and safe, then I’m wrong.

But if money is gathered so that missionaries can be financed, Bibles printed, widows assisted, then the riches are very helpful.

Investing isn’t wrong. God used investors to finance the outreach of the early church and to provide for Jesus’ followers.

Money, like all things, is not to be held in a clenched fist but in an open palm.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Losing it

Martin Luther King Jr. said:

I submit to you that if a man hasn't

discovered something he will die for,

he isn't fit to live.

Jesus said:

If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it.

But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. (Matt 16:25)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A party

Jeremy slammed the bucket in the corner of the shed and stomped out. He could hear the chatter of the cooks, excited with the party plans. Somebody was even singing.

Then his father appeared in the doorway. “What’s up?” he said quietly.

“He doesn’t deserve all this,” Jeremy said sullenly. “Look at him. He’s a mess. You’re telling him that it’s all OK, that what he’s done is no big deal.”

“He’s home,” his father said.

“But you’re rewarding his behavior!” Jeremy said angrily. “I’ve been here, working beside you. I’m the responsible one. I had to pick up his work when he left. And he gets rewarded?”

“All those months when he was gone,” Father said, “he was alone. People milked him dry. Some sold him pleasure just to take his money. No one loved him. When he needed kind words, I wasn’t there. When he needed wisdom, he was without help. I couldn’t rub his shoulders and wash his wounds.”

Jeremy glared at him. “You’d rather be with him than me.”

“No,” his father said. “We walk together in the cool of the morning, planning the day. We talk over decisions. Remember how we laughed over that idea for the backyard? While others picked away at your brother’s soul, you were with me.”

Do we treasure presence?

Isaiah promises that God will “bring them to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.” (Is 56:7)

Maybe you were expecting wealth or good health or a party? But God promises joy. Come to his presence and the joy will shower down. We’ll delight in presence.

The older brother of Luke 15 had presence and he wanted a big bash instead. Are we content with God’s presence or are we still holding out for something else?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Galatians: community

Emotions looked like a bad stock market line graph in those days. One day, my joy soared and the next I was sitting in the basement of discouragement.

Fortunately, when the small group asked me, “So how are you doing?” I told them.

I was in the early weeks of pregnancy after two successive miscarriages, and hormones were playing tennis with my emotions.

They gathered around me, put hands on my shoulders and prayed. From that moment forward, those emotional swings leveled out. I still had ups and downs, but not those crazy extremes.

I’m glad I live in a community.

In Galatians 6, we see a few responsibilities of community. In v 1, we are asked to gently restore one overcome by sin. In v 2, we’re told to share each other’s problems. In v 3, we’re told to get off our high horse and help.

Up to this point, Paul’s letter to the Galatia churches urged them to run from legalism. Their salvation did not depend on their rules. But, in chapter 6, he seems to pile on the rules.

Not so. He points the way to valuing relationship. First, in the early chapters, with God and now with one another, Paul describes a healthy community.

Read Galatians 6 and answer these questions in your journal:

Paul describes a healthy community in the early verses of Galatians. What does that look like?

Why is verse 3 important in a healthy community?

Why is verse 5 also important?

Reflect on verse 10. Do you see that happening in your life?

Friday, May 2, 2008

For our children's children

Samuel didn't do such a great job of it and neither did David. Really, few of the children Israel worked at it hard enough.

I’m talking about following the command “so that you and your children and your children's children may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments.” (Deut 6:2)

We have an obligation to our children and children’s children to reveal God’s truth to them. Because that is so important to me, I have included another book review today. This one is for “tweeners” but it’s written with a biblical worldview to help our young ones learn about God.

It’s hard to find readable books with a biblical foundation for that age group. So I want to tell you about a resource to consider for the “tweeners” in your life, whether they’re your children or your niece or your cousin or your grandchild.


An interview with D.C. D.C. Stewart, the author of Where Would Cows Hide?:

**How did you come up with your characters, Charlie and Brad?

A combination of what my brother and I were like as kids, the stories I heard about my husband and his twin when they were kids, and how I imagined my own twin sons acting when they reached eleven years old.

**Do you have experience living or working on a farm? Any funny stories related to that?

Everyone on both sides of my family are farmers, doing a combination of growing wheat and raising cattle. Our house was in town, but we spent most of our time, especially in the summer, on tractors, combines, wheat trucks, in pick-ups, and working cattle.

The only funny story I can think of about me is helping my dad, mom, and brother one morning feeding and counting the cows. The cattle all came into the lots except one, and my dad told me to hurry and open the gate to let her in before the other cows could get out. As I pulled the gate open and trotted backward, I tripped over a concrete block used to hold the gate in place, and got hung up in the chain. I was stuck at such a weird angle I couldn't get myself loose and all the cattle were rushing at me to get out. I was kicking and waving all over the place trying to keep them back, but my family thought I was panicking because I was stuck. They still give me grief over that one.

**Brad and Charlie have a quirky younger sister who sometimes drives them crazy. Do you relate?

I have a younger brother who used to drive me nuts all the time, but we were also the best playmates because we are so close in age. I have friends who were the "younger sister" and I remember them getting yelled at by their older siblings all the time.

**Brad and Charlie stay at their grandparents for an annual summer vacation. What's your favorite place to vacation and why?

Honestly, I don't really have a "favorite" place to vacation. We didn't have the opportunity to travel much when I was a kid, so ANY vacation is awesome to me. I love to travel, eat different foods, take in the scenery, watch the people. It's all new and exciting to me.

**As a writing mom, how do you juggle the demands of your kids and your career?

With great difficulty. I have a wonderful and supportive husband who gives me time in the evenings and on weekends to write. Usually if anything suffers between my writing and taking care of the kids, it's our house. I'm more of a relaxed housekeeper (fancy title for slob), and I only move on the housework if there are no clean clothes, we have to order out because there is no room to cook in the kitchen, and if I walk across the floors and they crunch.


D.C. Stewart grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, and spent most of her childhood getting into trouble with her younger brother on their ranch. She began writing short stories in high school, and won a writing competition at a nearby college at age 17. After graduating, she attended Northwestern Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in History, and also met her husband, Scott. She worked for a church in Maumelle, Arkansas as the Communications Coordinator for five years. After moving back to Oklahoma, she chose to stay home with their four year old twin boys, and six month old baby girl, and to pursue her dream of being a full-time writer. The Stewarts live in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Where Would Cows Hide? is her first novel.


Author D.C. Stewart is giving you a chance to win a copy of WHERE WOULD COWS HIDE?, and more! Here’s how to enter for a copy of WWCH and to enter the grand prize drawing:

1) leave a comment on this blog post (or on any of the blogs participating in the blog tour);

2) email the contest coordinator at with subject line “WWCH ENTRY”;

3) join D.C. Stewart’s ezine list by either sending a blank email to: or visiting and subscribing through the yahoogroups page.

Book winners and the GRAND PRIZE WINNER will be drawn on or before May 31st, 2008 and will be notified by email. Please make sure you leave a valid email address on applicable blog posts.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

And the winner is

The winner of Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon by Debbie Fuller Thomas is Ann. I used to randomize the names of those who entered the drawing. Thank you for your entries. We'll be doing more book giveaways in the coming weeks.

FIRST: Finding Hollywood Nobody

It is May FIRST, time for the FIRST Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

Today's feature author is:

and her book:

Finding Hollywood Nobody

Navpress Publishing Group (February 15, 2008)


Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Apples of Gold was her first novel for teens

These days, she's working on Quaker Summer, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying . . . some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.

Other Novels by Lisa:

Hollywood Nobody, Straight Up, Club Sandwich, Songbird, Tiger Lillie, The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition: A Novel, Songbird, The Living End

Visit her at her website.


Chapter One

Hollywood Nobody: Sunday, June 4

Well, Nobodies, it's a wrap! Jeremy's latest film, yet another remake of The Great Gatsby, now titled Green Light, has shipped out from location and will be going into postproduction. Look for it next spring in theaters. It may just be his most widely distributed film yet with Annette Bening on board. Toledo Island will never be the same after that wacky bunch filled in their shores.

Today's Hottie Watch: Seth Haas has moved to Hollywood. An obscure film he did in college, Catching Regina's Heels (a five-star film in my opinion), was mentioned on the Today show last week. He was interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air. Hmm. Could it be he'll receive the widespread acclaim he deserves before the release of Green Light? For his sake and the film's, I hope so.

Rehab Alert: I've never hidden the fact that I don't care for bratty actress Karissa Bonano, but she just checked into rehab for a cocaine addiction. Her maternal grandfather, Doug Fairmore, famous in the forties for swashbuckling and digging up clues, made a public statement declaring the Royal Family of Hollywood was "indeed throwing all of our love, support, and prayers behind Karissa." The man must be a thousand years old by now. This isn't Ms. Bonano's first stint in rehab, but let's hope it's her last. Even I'm not too catty to wish her well in this battle. But I'm as skeptical as the next person. In Hollywood, rehab is mostly just a fad.

Today's Quote: "It's a scientific fact. For every year a person lives in Hollywood, they lose two points of their IQ." Truman Capote

Today's Rant: SWAG, or Party Favors. Folks, do you ever wonder what's inside those SWAG bags the stars get? Items which, if sold, could feed a third-world country for a week! And have you noticed how the people who can afford to buy this stuff seem to get it for free? I'm just sayin'. So here's my idea, stars: Refuse to take these high-priced bags o' stuff and gently suggest the advertisers give to a charitable organization on behalf of the movie, the stars, the whoever. Like you need another cell phone.

Today's Kudo: Violette Dillinger will be appearing on the MTV Video Music Awards in August. She told Hollywood Nobody she's going to prove to this crowd you can be young, elegant, decent, and still rock out. Go Violette!

Summer calls. Later!

Monday, September 15, 4:00 a.m.

Maybe I'm looking for the wrong thing in a parent.

I turn over in bed at the insistence of Charley's forefinger poking me in the shoulder. "Please tell me you've MapQuested this jaunt, Charley."

She shakes her tousled head, silhouetted by the yellow light emanating from the RV's bathroom. "You're kidding me right?" She slides off the dinette seat. Charley's been overflowing with relief since she told me the truth about our life: that she's not really my mother, but my grandmother, that somebody's chasing us for way too good of a reason, that my life isn't as boring as I thought. We're still being chased, but Charley can at least breathe more freely in her home on the road now that I know the truth.

Home in this case happens to be a brand-spanking-new Trailmaster RV, a huge step forward from the ancient Travco we used to have, the ancient Travco with a rainbow Charley spread in bright colors over its nose.

"Where to?" Having set my vintage cat glasses, love 'em, on my nose, I scramble my hair into its signature ponytail: messy, curly, and frightening. I can so picture myself in the Thriller video.

"Marshall, Texas."

"East Texas?"

"I guess."

"It is." I shake my head. Charley. I love her, I really do, but when it comes to geography, despite the fact that we've traveled all over the country going to her gigs ever since I can remember, she's about as intelligent as a bottle of mustard. And boy do I know a lot about bottles of mustard. But that was my last adventure.

"If you knew, then why did you ask?" She flips the left side of her long, blonde hair, straighter than Russell Crowe, over her shoulder. Charley's beautiful. Silvery blonde (she uses a cheap rinse to cover up the gray), thin (she's vegan), and a little airy (she's frightened of a lot and tries not to think about anything else that may scare her), she wears all sorts of embroidered vests and large skirts and painted blue jeans. And they're all the real deal, because Charley's an environmentalist and wouldn't dream of buying something she didn't need when what she's got is wearing perfectly well. She calls my penchant for vintage clothing "recycling," and I don't disagree.

"Is this really a gig, Charley, or are we escaping again?"

She shakes her head. "No phone call. I really do have a job."

I feel the thrill of fear inside me, though there's no need right now. Biker Guy almost got me back on Toledo Island. (Yeah, he looks like a grizzled old biker.) To call the guy rough around the edges would be like saying Pam Anderson has had "a little work done."

I've been looking over my shoulder ever since.

But more on that later. We need to get on the road. And I need to get on with my life. I'm so sick of thinking about how things aren't nearly what I'd like them to be.

I mean, do you ever get tired of hearing yourself complain?

I flip up my laptop, log on to the satellite Internet I installed (yes, I am that geeky) and Google directions to Marshall, Texas, from where we are in Theta, Tennessee—actually, on the farm of one of Charley's old art-school friends who gave her some work in advertising for the summer. Charley's a food stylist, which means she makes food look good for the camera. Still cameras, motion picture cameras, video, it doesn't matter. Charley can do it all.

"Oh, we've got plenty of time, Charley. Five hundred and fifty miles and . . . we have to go through Memphis . . ."

My verbal drop-off is a dead giveaway.

"Oh, no, Scotty, we're not going to Graceland again."

The kitsch that is Graceland speaks to me. What can I say?

And you've got to admit, it's starting to look vintage. Now ten years ago . . .

I cross my arms. "Do you have cooking to do on the way?"

Yes, highly illegal to cook in a rolling camper.

"Yeah, I do."

"And do you expect me, an unlicensed sixteen-year-old, to drive?" Again, highly illegal, but Charley's a free spirit. However, she refuses to copy CDs and DVDs, so in that regard, she's more moral than most people. I guess it evens up in the end.


"Then I think I deserve a trip through the Jungle Room."

She rolls her eyes, reaches down to the floor, and throws me my robe. "Oh, all right. Just don't take too long."

"I'll try. So." I look at the screen. "65 to route 40 west. Let's hit it. And we'll have time to stop for breakfast."

Charley shakes her head and plops down on the tan dinette bench. The interior of this whole RV is a nice sandy tan with botanical accents. Tasteful and so much better than the old Travco that looked like a cross between a genie's bottle and the Unabomber cabin. "You're going to eat cheese. Aren't you?"

"I sure am."

And Charley can't say anything, because months ago she told me this was a decision I could make on my own.


"I've rethought the cheese moratorium, baby. I know you're not going to like this, but three months of cheese is enough. I can't imagine what your arteries look like. I think it's time to stop."

"What?" Cheese is my life. "Charley! You can't do this to me."

"It's for your own good."

"Are you serious?"

"Yeah, I am."


"Because summer's over, baby, and we've got to get back to a better way of life."

I could continue to argue, but it won't do any good. Charley acts all hippie and egalitarian, but when push comes to shove, she's the boss. However, I'm great at hiding my cheese . . . and . . . I'm going to convince her eventually.

But still.

"This isn't right, Charley, and you know it. But it's too early to argue. And might I add, you have no idea what it's like to have a teen with real teen issues. You ought to be on your knees thanking God I'm not drinking, smoking, pregnant, or"—I was going to say sneaking out at night, but I've done that, just to get some space—"or writing suicidal poetry on the Internet!"

We stare at each other, then burst into laughter.

"Just humor me this time, baby," she says. "We'll come back to it soon, I promise."

I don't believe her, but I hop into the driver's seat, pull up the brake, throw the TrailMama into drive, and we are off.

Six hours later

I pull through Graceland's gatehouse at ten a.m., park near the back of the compound's cracked, tired parking lot, and change into some crazy seventies striped bell-bottoms, a poet shirt, and Charley's old crocheted, granny-square vest. Normally I go further back in my vintage-wear, but I'm trying to go with the groove that is Graceland.

I kiss Charley's cheek. "I'll be back by noon."

"When will that put us in Marshall?"

"By six thirty."

"Because I'm not sure where the shoot is."

"Please. Marshall's small. Jeremy and company will make a big splash no matter where they set up. Besides, growing up around this, I have a nose for it."

She awards me one of her big smiles. "You're somethin', baby. I forget that sometimes." She puts her arms around me, squeezes, pulls back, then smacks me lightly on my behind. "Tell Elvis I said hello."

"Oh, I will. He's one of the groundskeepers now, you know."

I've seen computer-generated pictures of what he would look like now, in his seventies. Scary.

I jump down from the RV, head across the parking lot, over the small bridge leading into the ticketing complex and walk by Elvis's jets, including the Lisa Marie. Gotta love anything with that name. Don't know why. Just has a nice ring to it.

Banners proclaim, "Elvis Is."

Is what? Dead? A legend? What? Because he isn't "izzing" as far as I'm concerned. Present tense, people! If the person's not alive, "is" can only be followed by a few options: Buried up in the memorial garden. Rotting in his casket. Missed by his family and friends. Not exactly banner copy, mind you.

Still, you've got to admit the name Elvis wreaks of cool. Perhaps the sign should read, "Elvis Is . . . A Really Cool Name."

But it's not nearly as cool as my name. You see, my real mother loved the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. And that's my name: Francis Scott Fitzgerald Dawn. Only Dawn's not my actual last name. I don't know what my real last name is. My real first name is Ariana. Being on the run, Charley renamed us to protect our identity. So she honored my mother by naming me after Mom's favorite novelist. More on that later too.

It sounds fun, traveling on the road from film shoot to film shoot, never settling down in one place for too long, but honestly, it's very sad.

I always knew Charley lived with a sadness down deep, and when I found out why this spring, her sadness became mine. See, my dad is dead and my mother, Charley's daughter Babette, is too. Or we think she must be, because she disappeared under questionable circumstances and never came back. Learn that when you're fifteen and see where you land.

When I thought Charley was my mother, I had such high hopes for who my father might be. Al Pacino was number one in the ranking. Don't ask.

Okay, Elvis, here we go. Let's you and me be "taking care of business."

I hand over my money to the lady behind the reservations counter. I called thirty minutes ago on my cell phone, compliments of my mother's friend Jeremy, and reserved a spot.

"You'll be on the first tour."

Yes! More time amid the shag carpeting and the gold records. And the jumpsuits. Can't forget the jumpsuits. I want a cape too.

The gift shop calls to me. Confession: I love gift shops. They even smell sparkly. Key chains dangling, saying, "You can take me with you wherever you go!" Mugs with the Saint Louis Gateway Arch or the Grand Ole Opry promising an even better cup of coffee. Earrings that advertise you've been somewhere. That's exactly what I choose while I wait for the tour, a little pair of dangly red guitars with the words Elvis Presley in gold script on the bodies, and how in the world they put that on so small is beyond me. See, gift shops can even be miraculous if you take your time and look.

A voice over the loudspeaker announces my tour number, so I stand in line. By myself. Just me in a group of twenty or so.

Okay, here is where it gets hard to be me. I know I should be thankful for my free-spirited life. But especially now that I know my parents are dead, it feels empty all of a sudden. I shouldn't be standing in line at Graceland alone. My mother and I should be giggling behind our hands at the man nearby who's actually grown a glorious pair o' mutton-chop sideburns, slicked back his salt-and-pepper curls, and shrugged his broad shoulders into a leather jacket. Really, right? My father, who was an FBI agent the mob shot right in a warehouse in Baltimore, would shake his head like a dad in a sixties TV show and laugh at his girls.

We'd get on the bus like I'm doing now, each of us putting on our tour headphones and hanging the little blue recorders around our necks in anticipation of the glory that is Elvis.

The driver welcomes us as he shuts the hydraulic doors of the little tour bus with its clean blue upholstery, a bus in which an assisted-living home might haul its residents to the mall.

It smells new in here, and my gross-out antennae aren't vibrating in the least like they do when I go into an old burger joint and the orange melamine booth hasn't been scrubbed since the place opened in 1987.

In my fantasy, my dad would sit beside me. And Mom, just across the aisle, holding onto the seatback in front of her, would look at me as we pass through those famed musical gates, because she would have introduced me to Elvis music. According to Charley, my vintage sentimentalism comes from my mom. I've learned a little about her this summer.

Charley said, "She'd wear my cousin's old poodle skirt and listen to Love Me Tender over and over again while writing in her diary." She became a respected journalist, loved books as much as I do. I pat my book in my backpack, looking forward to tonight when I can cuddle into my loft and get into one of Fitzgerald's glittering worlds. "She was different from me, Scotty. I tried to change the world through protest. Your mother wanted to build something completely different and much better." She sighed. "All my generation could do, I guess, was tear apart. It's going to take our children to put the pieces back together. Babette was a very careful person. Very purposeful."

If it drove my freewheeling grandmother crazy, she doesn't let on.

"I could try to describe how much she loved you, baby. But I don't think I could begin to do her devotion to you justice. I was so proud of her, for how much she loved and gave away. She was amazing."

So in May I found out she existed, the same day I found out she is dead, or most likely dead. And now I'm going into Graceland alone, truly an orphan. Who wants to be an orphan?

We disembark from the bus—me, Elvis Lite, some folks from a Spanish-speaking country, and a lot of older people. I miss Grammie and Grampie right now. More later on them, too. And you'll get to meet them. Like the waters of the Gulf Stream, we seem to travel in the same general direction. I spent a week with them this summer in Tennessee. Yeah, we did Nashville right. They're loaded.

Standing beneath the front porch, my gaze skates up and down the soaring white pillars and comes to rest on the stone lions that guard the steps. My father was a lion. That's why he ended up with a bullet in his chest. Speaking in very broad terms, the story goes as follows:

Dad, undercover, worked his way into a portion of the mob, or mafia if you prefer, that was heavily financing the campaign of a Maryland gubernatorial candidate. When they discovered him, they shot him on site, in a warehouse in the Canton neighborhood of downtown Baltimore. My mother watched, gasped, and a chase ensued. She hid in a friend's gallery, called Charley and told her to keep watching me. (Charley had kept me the night before because my mom and dad had some glamorous function to attend.) And then she disappeared.

The Graceland tour recorder tells me to look to my right into the beautiful white living room with peacock stained-glass windows leading into the music room. This room really isn't so bad, I've got to admit. A picture of Elvis's dad hangs on the wall. He really loved his parents.

I've toured this house at least seven times before, and I'll tell you this, Elvis's love for his family soaked into the walls. A girl that lives in a camper, has dead parents, and is being chased by someone from the mob who knows my grandmother knows what went down, well, she can feel these things.

Charley thinks someone's trying to kill us. This guy is always trying to find us, but Charley's really great at evasion. She said the politician who won the governor's seat all those years ago just announced his candidacy for president and—oh, GREAT!—he's probably trying to make sure nothing comes back to haunt him and sent Biker Guy to finish off the entire matter.

The thing is, he seems to be after me too. And what in the world would I have to do with all of that?

I'll bet Charley's back in that camper shaking in her shoes because I'm over here by myself; I'll bet she's figuring out more ways to be utterly and overly protective of me. I wouldn't be surprised if she's wondering whether locking a kid in an RV is child abuse.

But I love Charley. I really do. I know she's scared back there, and despite the fact that I would be no real help if Biker Guy caught us, I can't leave her there so frightened and alone for long.

Elvis dear, I can only stay a little while. So love me tender, love me sweet, and for the sake of all that's decent, don't step on my blue suede shoes.

I hurry past the bedroom of Elvis's parents, decorated in shades of ivory and purple, very nice, and through the dining room—a little seventies tackiness I'll admit—into the kitchen with dark brown cabinetry and the ghosts of a million grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches, then on down into the basement. Okay, I admit, I've got to just stand for a second in the TV room and admire the man's ability to watch three TVs at once on that huge yellow couch with the sparkly pillows.

I shoot through the billiard room, which is, honestly, truly beautiful with its fabric-lined walls and ceiling, up the back steps and into the Jungle Room, probably Graceland's most famous room. Green shag carpet overlays the floor and the ceiling, and heavily carved, Polynesian-style furniture is arranged around a rock-wall waterfall at the end of the room. It really defies the imagination, folks. Google Jungle Room Graceland and see what I mean.

The second floor of Graceland is closed off to the public because Elvis died up there. On the toilet. Wise decision on the part of Priscilla I'd say.

Out the door, into the office building, down to the trophy hall, I whiz through all the gold and platinum records, the costumes, the awards, and even a wall full of checks he'd written for charity. According to my recorder, Elvis was an active community member in Memphis. And he obviously didn't care what race or religion people were. He supported Jewish organizations, Catholic, Baptist. Pretty cool.

Of course, this recorder isn't going to tell of the dark side of the man. But Elvis Isn't, despite what the banners say. So why drag a dead man through the mud?

I hurry through the racquetball court, more gold records, the infamous jumpsuits, back outside to the pool and memorial garden where Elvis has been laid to rest.

An older lady cries into a handkerchief. I don't ask why.

Good-bye Elvis. Thanks for the tour. Maybe one day I'll do something great too.

A few minutes later . . .