To Love a Falcon Release Promo – Midnight in Moscow

Continuing where Chapter 3 left off yesterday…

Life in the factory continued on as it always did, despite the anticipation for the party. Every girl there, likely, dreamed of being Viktor Stepanov’s companion for the night, but similarly, every girl knew how unlikely they were to be chosen. Except, of course, Tanya, who displayed eternal optimism. Who knows how much of it, only in fun. Anastasia resolutely put the thought out of her mind after her disturbing dream. She had no reason to believe she would be chosen, and told herself that she didn’t care to be.

It would only deepen the pain at any rate, wouldn’t it? Attending a party would remind her of the charmed life she once led with her husband. A life forever and cruelly torn from her.

I hate war, God. I hate death. I hate grief and pain.

In the last few days, she had fallen into the habit of talking to God at the most random moments and about the most arbitrary thoughts. She wondered if it bothered Him that many of her thoughts centered on painful or confusing topics.

One of the girls made a quip about the party, and it brought her sister Milana to mind. She ought to write to Milana tonight. It had been a while. Milana’s last letter had been anything but cheerful.

Anastasia tried to bring her focus back onto her work, onto the shifting gears and machinery around her. She glanced up as Viktor Stepanov paced passed her station again, his constant watchfulness over the production of the factory somewhat unnerving. His gaze reminded her of a hawk, and she wondered if he ever missed anything. 

I wonder how much of the girls’ chatter he’s heard. If he knows that Tanya has all but claimed him for the party. If he knows what some of the others say when they dream out loud about being his companion for a day. I don’t know how he couldn’t know.

She shook her head, attempting to pull her focus away from the party once more. To convince herself that she didn’t care about it.

One of the gears shuddered and ground in an odd manner, startling Anastasia, giving her a flashback to Tanya’s near demise of a few days before. Before she could do anything about the sound, however, the gears shifted back into their normal grind. She sighed.

“Comrade.” Assistant Director Yakov’s voice sent a zing of fear through Anastasia’s heart. She spun to look at him.


“Comrade, you are to accompany me to the office directly.”

Heart sinking, Anastasia dared not disobey or even question her orders. She left her station, following the assistant director through the working women, to the quieter office at the end of the room.

Once inside, Chief Director Stepanov stood behind his desk, while Viktor stood off to one side, his arms crossed and expression unreadable. Anastasia stood across from the director and waited. The man looked her up and down in an appraising manner, the silence unnerving. Anastasia shifted uncomfortably.

“Comrade, you will accompany my son, Viktor, to the party.”

Anastasia stifled a gasp, but a response from her was not required.

“As he has chosen you, I trust that you will do all things necessary to behave in a manner worthy of such a day. I understand that you have some little experience in these matters?”

Anastasia struggled to find words. “Yes, Comrade. Experience. I have a little.”

“Good.” The director slapped his desk by way of emphasis. “Is there anything you will require from us to prepare you, Comrade?”

“I-I don’t…” Anastasia’s voice trailed away. “I can’t think of anything.”

“Very well, back to your station, Comrade.”

Anastasia made her way back to her station in a daze. Tanya started to ask her what they wanted her in the office for, but they saw the director enter exit the office and she hurried back to her own station.

“Comrades, your attention!” Chief Director Stepanov raised his voice to be heard above machinery and the clatter of working women. “My son has chosen his companion for the party. I am sure you regret that only one among you can be chosen. For the rest of you, your cake shall be provided, and drink too, at the close of day, and may you make merry with it!”

Chief Director Stepanov made a motion for the women to continue their work. Tanya sidled up to Anastasia with a conspiratorial whisper. “I wonder who he chose? It wasn’t me after all – unless he hasn’t let me know yet. I wonder why Director Stepanov didn’t tell us who the lucky girl is?”

Anastasia replied with a noncommittal shrug. She didn’t feel equal to telling anyone anything yet.

I’m going to the party. What am I going to wear? I have nothing. And… Why did he choose me?


Tune in for Chapter 5 tomorrow… In the meantime, join the giveaway!

To the KING be all the glory!

When Curlew Calls – Release Serial Novella

To celebrate Joanne Markey’s release of When Curlew Calls, we have a serial novel for you!

In our last episode with Tabitha Bouldin, we saw our heroine face to face with her former love who gives her unfortunate news about her father’s supposed sordid past. Was he innocent as she believed or is there more to the story? Find out in the next installments

Whatever Candor may have been planning to tell me, didn’t get a chance to be formulated into words. A distant sound, certainly an explosion, drew his attention, while the man who had driven the cab disappeared through the door. I started to rise, but Candor, probably assuming I planned an escape, jumped to his feet, grabbing hold of my shoulder.


The cab driver reappeared at a sprint. “They’re blowing the gates open. They haven’t gotten through, but they will soon.”

Candor shook his head, frustration in his voice. “How did they know she’s here?”

The cab driver shook his head. “I should take her. Get her out of here, before they find her.”

I looked from one man to the other. “Before who finds me? What do they want from me?”

“No time for that now!” Candor let go of my shoulder, and walked back toward his chair. “Fine. Steven, you take Alethea and get her to safety. I’ll remain here and greet our guests.”

“Why don’t you-” The cab driver wouldn’t, however, let me finish.

“Let’s go. Right now. Questions later.”

I glanced back at Candor, but he merely looked grave. “I’ll see you soon, Alethea.”

I didn’t get a chance to reply before I’d been hurried through the doorway.

Another explosion went off as we exited and the gateway fell through with an echoing crash. Steven, the cab driver, grabbed my hand and began running the opposite direction. Shouts followed us.

I couldn’t begin to keep up with him on my own, but he seemed to know how to drag me along without allowing me to faceplant. Before long, however, the stitch in my side made me wish faceplanting could be an option.

Dragging me through a short doorway, down an alley, up a long street, and down two more alleys, all I could think of were more questions. I didn’t understand.

At the same time, reflecting on Candor’s words about my father, I wasn’t sure I wanted to understand. I didn’t want to believe my father to be a criminal. Surely, Candor had to be wrong. He had his information mixed up. His proof twisted. He must.

We hadn’t suffered and believed in Father all these years, for nothing!

Down another alley, my breath coming so short I could barely get any oxygen, Steven finally stopped.

“Catch your breath. I don’t hear them anymore. I don’t think they followed us.”

I bent over, staring at the filthy street, trying to obey. Steven hardly seemed to need such trivial things as catching one’s breath.

Two cats twisted through a pile of garbage nearby, as thunder broke out once again. The rain began to come down faster again. I shivered and looked up at the man in front of me.

“Candor isn’t here.”

He stared down at me, almost, it seemed, amused. “No, he isn’t.”

I shrugged. “Since he isn’t here, you can tell me, please. What in the world is going on?”

To be continued tomorrow with Liz Tolzma… While you wait, however, make sure you enter the GIVEAWAY! It’s the best way to help deal with the suspense and anticipation!

To the KING be all the glory!

Should I Go Behind the Curtain?

I almost ignored the note when it showed up. I’m not fond of notes signed “Anonymously Yours.” Even if they do smell of ink and flowers. I don’t trust them. I don’t see any reason to listen to them.

The more I thought about it, however, the less I could ignore the note. Why I should do as it said, I didn’t know. It’s not like writer really gave me anything to go on. And did I actually care about whatever was behind the curtain? But it could be something to do with Edwina Kiernan’s new release. Did that mean I had to go?

When I finally talked myself into going and eventually arrived in front of that curtain, my stomach turned. What was I doing? Why was I doing it? What could possibly be so important behind that sheet of velvet?

I glanced around. No one had seen me. I took a step forward. What was I going to do when I got back there? Why had I been foolish enough to come all alone?

Did I hear voices? I felt certain that I did. They issued from behind the curtain. I took a step nearer, but I couldn’t decipher the words. One voice belonged to a woman.

Denise had warned me that a security guard made her leave when she came. I glanced around again. No one. Cautiously, I reached out my hand and took hold of the curtain, taking yet another step nearer.

“What are you doing back here?” I spun around, staring at the woman on the other end of the stage. She seemed familiar.

I thought I heard something fall. Music burst out from somewhere. If you could call it music. Really, someone was probably tuning their cello and their violin. At the same time.

I glanced back at the curtain, my hand still holding onto it. Did I dare?

The woman called out something else, but I couldn’t understand a single word she said. She took a few steps toward me.

I took to my heels and ran.

Only later, did it occur to me that the reason she looked familiar was because I knew her name. It was Marji Clubine. Of course. Perhaps I hadn’t needed to run after all. Unless that meant all the more reason to run.

It’s too late to figure that out. Besides, I needed to go enter her giveaway, before it was too late…

If Our Troubles Looked Like Burdens…

Proverbs 12:18

If our troubles looked like burdens, 
Our pain as bloody wounds,
Our struggles, fears, and worries
Were bruises, stripes, and runes;
Would our sympathy be greater?
Our gentleness grow deep?
If we saw what makes one stagger
And makes the steps grow steep?

If pain could cause an injury,
If words cut like a knife,
If we could see the ragged flesh,
The slowly ebbing life –
Would we choose our tone more gently?
Would we think before we speak?
Would we show more love and kindness?
More hands to help the weak?

If our inner pain and sorrow
Played out upon our skin,
Would we treat each other different,
Then how we’ve always been?
Why would the sight of bruises,
Of cuts and blood and gore,
Be what it takes to get us
To love our neighbor more?

To the KING be all glory!

I Didn’t Steal It… I’m Just a Tourist.

Visiting the Louvre had been on my list of dream destinations since age sixteen. That was when I first saw Sherlock Holmes recover the Mona Lisa, stolen from the Louvre, before going on the run from Professor Moriarty. Therefore, my connections to the famed building were conclusively linked to the mysterious.

I didn’t, however, expect to be accused of theft on my very first visit!

My excitement could scarcely be contained as I skipped past the glass pyramid and walked up the steps to the beautiful old building. That building made my trip worth it even without seeing the outside, it was so magnificent, but I didn’t have much time to consider it. The moment I stepped inside the building, two members of the French Police marched up to me, pulling me aside for questioning.

Their accents were strong, but I could understand them fairly well. They demanded to know my name and the reason for my visit. I told them that I was just a tourist, though I might be considering writing a mystery set in Paris. I think it was the wrong thing to say.

“A mystery? A theft, perhaps?” The first officer crossed his arms.

I shrugged. “That or a murder. I don’t really know. Maybe both. But a theft seems likely.”

“A theft of, say, the portrait of a Russian Princess, perhaps?”

I blinked. That seemed awfully precise. “I’m sorry?”

“We already know about you. We’ve read your blog.” The second officer had seemed more approachable, until he started speaking. “You posted that you were on your way to Paris two days ago, that among your plans while in our city that you planned to visit the Louvre, and that you were especially interested, among other things, to see the portrait of the Russian Princess.”

“Is… Is that a crime?” I looked from one officer to another.

“It is, if your interest led you to steal the portrait instead of merely observing it.”

I have never done well at responding when shocked. I lose all sense of words. Thus, I only started at the two men with my mouth hanging open.

The officers waited in silence with me. Obviously, they expected a response. I tried to think.

“When… When did the Russian Princess get stolen?”

The second officer narrowed his eyes at me, but the first one dropped his arms. “Last night. In the dead of night, someone stole the painting and disappeared. Undetected. You expressed interest in the Russian Princess.”

“I didn’t steal her!” I took a deep breath and lowered my voice. “I wouldn’t know how to get into the Louvre without detection, even if I wanted to. Not by day or by night. And I didn’t want to!”

The two officers nodded at me. “We understand, Mademoiselle.” The first officer spoke smoothly. “You must understand, however, that you must be high on our list of suspects.”

“How did you even know about my blog? I’m anything but famous!”

“Someone tipped us off.” The officer shook his head. “No, I can’t tell you who.”

I bit my lip.

“Are you implying that you can tell us nothing else about the theft, Mademoiselle Jones?”

“I can’t tell you anything at all, except that I didn’t do it.”

The second officer seemed to soften. “And yet, we will need to keep contact with you for the time being.” He pulled out a notebook. “Would you, please, give us your phone number – the best way to contact you?”

I complied.

“Another question, Mademoiselle.” The first officer cocked his head. “Do you know anyone else in town, who might be interested in the Russian Princess?”

“I’m sure she wouldn’t steal it!”

“Then you do.” His partner smiled. “Supply us with her name, if you please. I assure you, if she is as innocent as you think, she has nothing to fear.”

I wanted to refuse, but I didn’t now how wise it would be, so I complied. “I don’t actually know if she is here, but I know she said something about visiting to see the portrait of the Russian Princess again. At least, I think she’s seen it before. After all, she put it in her new book! She’s the one who got me interested!”

The men gave each other a look. “The name, if you please, Mademoiselle Jones.”

I shook my head. “Liz. Liz Tolsma.”

I hope they aren’t too hard on her. What could I have done besides give her name? I really don’t know. Maybe I can make it up to her a bit, by showing you the GIVEAWAY for her new mystery, Slashed Canvas