Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Throw the Devil Off the Train by Stephen Bly

Hi Friends,

Here's the new book I have to tell you about this week. It's THROW THE DEVIL OFF THE TRAIN, a Western by Stephen Bly. Here's all about it, including a fun ELK CHILI recipe!


It's 1880.

Catherine's got to escape from her hometown in Virginia. She heads west to marry a childhood friend she hasn't seen in 17 years. She needs a fresh start and he's got a booming business in Paradise Springs. She'll do almost anything to get there. . .except reveal her true last name.

Race heads west set to avenge his brother's death, with a body aching for sleep, and determined to avoid the conniving lady with a throw-away heart. But it's a long, cramped, chaotic train ride from Omaha to Sacramento.

The only thing these two agree upon: they despise each other. And something evil's on board. As they gnaw on each other's nerves, a holdup, hijack, kidnapping and gold mine swindle shove them together, then push them apart. Fiery, opinionated and quick to react, can they team up long enough to throw the devil off the train?

Stephen Bly is a Christy Award winner for westerns and author of 105 books of fiction and nonfiction, some of them co-authored with wife, Janet. They live in north-central Idaho at 4,000 ft. elev. on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. They have 3 married sons, 4 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild.
Throw The Devil Off The Train can be ordered through your favorite local or online bookstore, such as www.Amazon.com. It's also available through http://BlyBooks.com


Many of you have asked me. . .well, only one, maybe two. . .for my world famous recipe for chili. This is an expected and anticipated dish at every Wild Game Feed potluck at our northern Idaho church each November. It’s also a staple at our Broken Arrow Crossing events in the summer. Broken Arrow Crossing is the false-front town I’ve built beside our house. Wife Janet calls it our ‘theme yard.’

So, now the secret’s out. You can create your own chili sensation, Bly-style.

2-4 pounds of elk meat (for my pals in Quebec, that’s Wapiti meat)
1 16-ounce jar of Pace salsa (“medium” for most gringos; I prefer “hot”)
2 cans of Hormel Chili With Beans (life is too short to wait for beans to soak)
1 green bell pepper (make sure it’s crisp…the red or yellow bells will work good too)
Several fresh jalapeno peppers (don’t wimp out; leave the seeds)
An unending supply of Montreal Steak Seasoning
Red Tabasco Sauce

Apply for an out-of-state elk tag from the Idaho Fish & Game Department. Clean your Winchester 1895, 405 caliber rifle. Fly to Idaho and camp deep in the forest along the upper stretches of the north fork of the Clearwater River. Shoot your elk (whether you taxidermy the head or not is your decision). Pack meat in dry-ice and take it home with you on the plane. OR. . .accept that package of wild game meat your brother-in-law keeps trying to give you every Christmas.

The night before. . .put one cup of water, 2-4 pounds of elk (steak or roast) in the crock pot. Season with Montreal Steak Seasoning to taste. Turn that sucker on low, then go to bed.

Sometime the next day. . .drain most of the juices off the meat (yes, you can make elk gravy for breakfast, provided you don’t put it on biscuits that come out of a tube). Place meat in very large pan (the one on the bottom shelf at the back that takes forever to yank out). Dump in your two cans of Hormel Chili Beans (or more if you’re feeding the starting offensive line of the Green Bay Packers, or their equivalent). Important note: never use cheap canned beans that taste like they were soaked in fast food restaurant catsup.

Gut out your bell pepper and carve it into ½ inch squares, then sauté (that means fry ‘em in a skillet, but don’t burn ‘em black or let ‘em get mushy). Toss them in the big pan.

Cut the stems off the jalapenos, quarter them and toss them in. If your fingers blister while cutting the peppers, you have to invite me over for supper. Add a bunch more Montreal Steak Seasoning (bunch=6 tads) and red Tabasco.

Stir everything together and simmer the chili for an hour or so. (Simmer is what happens when you ought to throw another log in the stove, but you wait until half-time of the football game and the fire almost goes out.)

Now, it’s time for the taste test. After stirring the chili again (wooden spoons seem to be less susceptible to corrosion), take a small taste. You may want to add more Tabasco. (Note: if an obnoxious nephew is visiting, let him test the chili. It’s about right if he spends the rest of the day out in the yard with his head buried in leaves, sand, or snow.)

Serving size: this varies. Most times, the bowl is scraped clean with only 10 to 12 people. But, with luck, there will be some leftovers and you’ll get to have it cold for breakfast for several days.

NOW AVAILABLE! Throw The Devil Off The Train, western romance by Stephen Bly

Order through your local bookstore, your favorite online bookstore such as www.Amazon.com or get an autographed copy from http://BlyBooks.com/store.htm

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lessons from the Log Ride

Hi Friends,

On Sunday, Joelle got to go to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk to celebrate her birthday with her sisters. It was lots of fun and reminded me of this story from a few years ago -- something I learned about life and God at the Boardwalk one summer:

The creak of the ferris wheel called petulantly to the seagulls as we walked down the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Sweat trickled down my forehead to make a damp trail on the side of my face. I squinted into the hot California sun. Another 100 degree day in September. I still wasn’t used to it.

Earlier that day, Christy had turned up her innocent six-year-old face and pleaded to go to the Boardwalk. So, we forsook the comfort of air conditioning to brave the tortures of sun and surf.

The Boardwalk teemed with people in swimsuits and sunglasses. I squeezed Christy’s hand and brushed her hair back with my fingertips. She was as hot as I was. “Just a few more minutes,” I assured her, “and we’ll be there.”

Within moments, we reached the ride we had all been looking forward to – Logger’s Run. I shaded my eyes from the glare as I looked at the twisting trail of canals far above. With a shriek of pure joy, the kids in one of the plastic logs plummeted to the end of the ride. Splash! Sunlight danced off droplets of water like a thousand tiny diamonds.

I smiled. Christy would love this ride. The water, the logs, the bumping along in bright blue channels, the final plunge, the big splash . . . it was just the type of thrill that suited her.

“Here we are. The log ride,” I said. “Are you ready for some fun, Christy?”

To my surprise, she answered, “No!”

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“I don’t wanna go.” She crossed her arms and pushed out her lower lip.

“But this is the kind of ride you like the best.”

“I don’t wanna go.” She stomped her foot and gave me that “I need a spanking’ look.

“Fine,” I muttered. “we’ll sit here on the bench and wait while everyone else goes on the ride.”

She glared at me, walked over to the bench, and sat down.

What had gotten into her? The heat? The fear of something new? I watched the others get in line. It didn’t make sense. The ride would cool her down, and she knew that I would be right there with her if she became afraid. Besides that, it was fun!

I shook my head and let a frown creep over my face. We had come to the Boardwalk because Christy had asked. Now she sat on the bench, in the blistering sun, and refused to enjoy the best ride of all. It was crazy.

I opened my mouth to blast her with my opinion, but God stopped me. I looked down at her, her brow still furrowed in stubborn rejection.

Was Christy a bit too much like me? Did I sometimes make that same surly face to God? I remembered a gentle urging to talk to my neighbor about Jesus. I hadn’t done it. And last spring I thought I might start a new Bible study in my neighborhood. But the heat of life and the fear of the unknown had stopped me. Had I refused the best ride in my spiritual life?

God often asked me to plunge forward with what He wanted for me, to take a risk, to try something new with Him. But, my tendency was to hang back, to sit on the bench while others enjoyed the ride.

Perhaps the uncomfortable things that God was calling me to do would actually refresh me, and be a lot of fun besides. I knew, too, that God would be with me the entire time, right there holding me tight as I bumped along the channel of His will. What had I been missing by my reluctance to do something new and join Him on the “Logger’s Run” in my life?

“There they are.” Christy’s words startled me. Sure enough. The others had finished the ride. They came laughing down the steps, their shirts wet, their hair dripping.

“That was great!” Bryan strode over to us with a grim still spread across his face. “You guys should have come.”

I smiled up at him. Yes, we should have. And from now on, I would.

In the heat of everyday life, I couldn’t afford to miss any more log rides with God.

(I didn't have a log ride picture, so here's another - older girls on the ride, twins watching.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dining with Joy by Rachel Hauck

Hi Friends!

Here's the new novel I wanted to tell you about this week. It's Dining with Joy by Rachel Hauck. Here's a bit about it in Rachel's own words:

From Rachel:

Thanks for having me today!

I’m no genius in the kitchen, but my heroine, Joy Ballard, finds herself doing a job she can’t do for all the right reasons. She’s a cooking show host who can’t cook!

When I started this book, that premise got a good laugh from those who heard it. Then, I’d ask, “But what’s that story about?”
The person would shrug. “I don’t know.”

“Yeah, me neither.”

I had to ask a lot of questions about what a woman hosts a cooking show when she can’t so much as fry eggs. I didn’t want an insincere, lying heroine. She’s not a manipulator or conniver.

Joy simply found herself filling a job she was asked to do – by her father. She was great in front of the camera. Just not behind the stove.

Not long ago, I stood on stage at church with my worship team praying before the service started. Head back, eyes close, I said in my heart, “Lord, help us. You have to help me. I’m so weak in leading worship. I cannot do it without You.”

While I’m a decent singer, and I can lead the people to worship Jesus, I’m not a musician. I’m not one who can skillfully bring the band and the worship sound together. And until I found myself with a “starting over” band, I never realized how gaping this weakness was for me.

A few days later, I was thinking of all the great worship leaders, singers and musicians. Of great writers. And I just felt weak and inadequate in the two main callings of my life.

Again, I went to the Lord. “Why can’t You find a good worship leader for church? Why can’t you help me be a more successful writer? I see people who are good at what they do, succeeding.”

This is what He said to me. “… most people won’t give me their weaknesses.”

I was stopped cold. I understood that a lot of times God invites us on a journey to participate with Him in some aspect of our lives or others, but because we are not good at that thing, or because we are weak with fear or shame or whatever, we say no.

It’s in our weaknesses His strength is manifest. God is not looking for mighty men and women, He’s looking for weak men and women in which HE can show His might.

Don’t misunderstand, God loves excellence, skill and devotion. While leading worship practices, I have to be excellent as I can be to bring the team and songs together.

I’ll never have a recording or national ministry as a worship leader, but for our little church in Florida, I’m God’s girl. For now.

That, in some ways, is Joy’s journey. She said yes to her father’s desire.
Can we say “Yes?” to our Father’s desire for us? Offer Him all of our strengths AND weaknesses? He’s more than willing to overcome.

In my story, Joy’s secret is revealed and takes a pretty good tumble, but love is waiting to catch her. In the form of cowboy chef and hero, Luke Redmond.

Sigh… Love wins.

One of the things Joy discovers along the way is her father’s banana bread recipe. It’s delish!

Here it is:

Charles Ballard’s Banana Bread
From Connie Spangler

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1t. baking soda
1/2t. salt
1/2t. cinnamon
2 eggs
3 mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup oil (I use canola)
1/4 cup plus 1 T. buttermilk
1t. vanilla
1/2 cup choc. chips
1/2 cup p.butter chips

In a large bowl stir together flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In another bowl, combine eggs, bananas, oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Fold in chips. Pour into a greased 9-in. x 3-in. loaf pan. Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until it tests done. Cool on a rack 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Tips for baking banana bread:
DON'T over mix the batter, just until moistened. Banana bread is always best if after its cooled to wrap up and serve the next day.


Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and writes books from the second floor of what she calls her “turret tower.” A gift from the Lord. Besides “Dining with Joy,” Rachel has written fourteen other novels. Also out is “Softly and Tenderly” which Rachel wrote with country artist, Sara Evans.

Visit her web site at http://www.rachelhauck.com/

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tidbits of News

Hi Friends,

It's been a busy week mostly away from my computer, so this week I'd like to share with you some tidbits of news in case you missed any of it. So, here ya go:

1) My interview with Focus on the Family about infertility and miscarriage aired this week on Monday and Tuesday. Lots of encouraging emails have come in from listeners who were impacted by the segments. Yay, God! Here's the link to Focus broadcasts in case you missed it: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.aspx

2) My "Childless on Mother's Day" story went live today on the new HELD blog from Hannah's Prayer Ministries. You can find it here: http://bit.ly/mlTbXr Thought from that story: God has not abandoned you, even when prayers go unanswered and hopes seem crushed. Instead He's asking you, "Am I enough? Even now, even in these difficult circumstances. Do you still love me when all seems wrong?"

3) Jayna, Joelle, Bethany, and I had a great time riding in the Salinas Valley Fair (in King City) gymkhana show this week. Jayna won high point in the 6 and under division, and the rest of us won ribbons and also had LOTS of fun in the show, then at the fair too. Below are some pictures:

Jayna starting out in the Bi-rangle race (the second event).

Me taking off around the third barrel in cloverleaf barrels, ready for the all-out run home!

Bethany and Rusty ran like the wind!

Beautiful form for Joelle! She had her fastest runs ever.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thoughts on Being "Mom"

Hi Friends,

In honor of Mother's Day, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on being "Mom."

Being "Mom" is . . .

Beautiful, wondrous, nerve-wracking, crazy, incredible, scary, and worth every minute.

My mom-in-law says motherhood the hardest job you'll ever love. And so it is. There are moments of breathtaking wonder. Then, there are times when I'm sure I'm losing my mind permanently.

People say children will change your life. I have not found that to be entirely so. I still do the same things I did before. I write, go out to eat, stare at the blank computer screen and think about how I ought to be writing, sneak a game of computer solitaire while no one’s looking, scrub toilets, read a good book (though, I must admit, it's been mostly Dr. Suess and Sandra Boynton here lately). What has changed, however, (besides the amount of laundry) is who I am. I am "Mommy" now, and that makes all the difference.

Someone looks up at me with big, wide eyes and knows that everything is all right now because Mommy's here. Someone watches how I interact with others and takes her cue from me. Someone laughs when I come into the room and sometimes cries when I leave it (I'll be glad when we're over this latter part). Someone races across the room, then looks at me with a big grin, wanting my approval. Someone gives me big, open-mouth kisses and nuzzles into my neck when I pick her up. Someone puts her fingers up my nose then puts my fingers up hers. Somebody smiles, a huge joy-filled smile, when I read books and make silly noises. Someone stops to listen when I sing and doesn't care if I'm out of tune and my voice cracks. Someone pulls the sheet over her head, then pulls it down again fast and waits for me to say "peek-a-boo." Someone draws me pictures, picks me flowers, and borrows my earrings.

Those are the precious moments. They are treasures mined from a field of dirty diapers, concerns about eating, sometimes-little-sleep nights, toy-filled floors, crying (several of us), doctor appointments, and (from Jayden) nooooooooooo Mama, no nap for me - waaaaaaaaa.

So, being Mom has changed my life a little, but has changed me a lot. I'm someone new now. .. Someone with greater joy and a lot more crazy. Someone who saves a scrawled "I Juv Mom. - Jayna" note like it's a treasure, and a picture of lopsided cat like it's Monet. I yell more and smile more. I laugh more and cry more too. I forget where I put my watch and spend half the day picking up toys and finding toilets that certain little someones have forgotten to flush.

But I can tell you this: My mom-in-law was right. I’m glad there’s someone who calls me Mommy, little someones (six, in fact,) who remind me daily that God has looked upon me with kindness, who remind me that God loves me no matter what, tears, tantrums, and all.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley

Hi Friends,

I'm excited to tell you about a brand-new, just released TODAY (yay, Meg!), novel by first-time author, Meg Moseley. I hope you'll check out her very first novel, When Sparrows Fall!

Here's a bit about it, and below is a special message from Meg:


Freedom. Safety. Love. Miranda vows to reclaim them--for herself, and for her children.

A widow and mother of six, Miranda Hanford leads a quiet, private life. When the pastor of her close-knit church announces his plans to move the entire congregation to another state, Miranda jumps at the opportunity to dissolve ties with Mason Chandler and his controlling method of ruling his flock. But then Mason threatens to unearth secrets from her past, and Miranda feels trapped, terrified she’ll be unable to protect her children.

College professor Jack Hanford is more than surprised when he gets a call from his estranged sister-in-law’s oldest son, Timothy, informing him that Miranda has taken a serious fall and he has been named legal guardian of her children while she recovers. Quickly charmed by Miranda’s children, Jack brings some much-needed life into the sheltered household. But his constant challenging of the family’s conservative lifestyle makes the recovering mother uneasy and defensive—despite Jack’s unnerving appeal.

As Jack tries to make sense of the mysterious Miranda and the secrets she holds so tightly, Mason’s pressure on her increases. With her emotions stirring and freedom calling, can Miranda find a way to unshackle her family without losing everything?


Meg Moseley is a Californian at heart although she’s lived more than half her life in other states. She formerly wrote human-interest columns for a suburban section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and home schooled for more than twenty years. Meg enjoys reading books, traveling, gardening, her three grown children, and motorcycle rides with her husband Jon. They make their home in northern Georgia.

Visit her website at: www.megmoseley.com.
Read her blog at: http://megmoseley.wordpress.com/


The writing of When Sparrows Fall required months of research into spiritual abuse in the church. I wanted to expose the legalism and man-made rules that put such heavy burdens on believers, especially in certain circles of Christianity. I found plenty to expose, but I was surprised to find so much legalistic garbage in my own heart too. It was humbling. It made me realize that legalism is a trap any of us can fall into, without even knowing we’ve fallen.

I continued to work on the novel but with a softer heart and a new emphasis on the grace of God. Finally, it was the best I could do. As much as I wanted to offer a perfect story as an offering to the Lord, every human offering is flawed. Only Jesus can present a perfect offering, and He already did, once and for all. “It is finished,” Jesus said on a long-ago Friday afternoon, and that’s the Gospel. Right now, this very moment, the good news is as true as ever. We can drop those man-made burdens and live free in the grace of God, loving Him because He first loved us.

And lastly, here's the Amazon link:


The Fine Art of Insincerity by Angela Hunt

Hi Friends,
Here's the book I have to tell you about this week, complete with prologue and trailer. I love Angela Hunt's books, and I think you will too. Check it out!

The Fine Art of Insincerity
Three Southern sisters with nine marriages between them — and more looming on the horizon – travel to St. Simons Island to empty their late grandmother’s house. Ginger, the eldest, wonders if she’s the only one who hasn’t inherited what their family calls “the Grandma Gene”— the tendency to enjoy the casualness of courtship more than the intimacy of marriage. Could it be that her sisters are fated to serially marry, just like their seven-times wed grandmother, Lillian Irene Harper Winslow Goldstein Carey James Bobrinski Gordon George? It takes a “girls only” weekend, closing up Grandma’s memory-filled beach cottage for the last time, for the sisters to unpack their family baggage, examine their relationship DNA, and discover the true legacy their much-marrying grandmother left behind.

The Fine Art of Insincerity is a stunning masterpiece. I was pulled into the lives of Ginger, Pennyroyal and Rosemary--sisters touched by tragedy, coping in their own ways. So real, so powerful. Pull out the tissues! This one will make you cry, laugh, and smile. I recommend it highly. --Traci DePree, author of The Lake Emily series

“Only Angela Hunt could write a relationship novel that’s a page-turner! As one of three sisters, I can promise you this: Ginger, Penny, and Rose Lawrence ring very true indeed. Their flaws and strengths make them different, yet their shared experiences and tender feelings make them family. From one crisis to the next, the Lawrence sisters are pulled apart, then knit back together, taking me right along with them. I worried about Ginger one moment, then Penny, and always Rose—a sure sign of a good novel, engaging both mind and heart. Come spend the weekend in coastal Georgia with three women who clean house in more ways than one!”
Liz Curtis Higgs, best-selling author of Here Burns My Candle



“You can’t tell your sisters,” my grandmother once told me, “what I’m about to tell you.”

I listened, eyes big, heart open wide.

“Of all my grandchildren—” her hands spread as if to encompass a crowd infinitely larger than myself and my two siblings—“you’re my favorite.”

Then her arms enfolded me and I breathed in the scents of Shalimar and talcum powder as my face pressed the crepey softness of her cheek.

My grandmother married seven times, but not until I hit age ten or eleven did I realize that her accomplishment wasn’t necessarily praiseworthy. When Grandmother’s last husband died on her eighty-third birthday, she mentioned the possibility of marrying again, but I put my foot down and told her no more weddings. I suspect my edict suited her fine, because Grandmom always liked flirting better than marrying.

Later, one of the nurses at the home mentioned that my grandmother exhibited a charming personality quirk—“Perpetual Childhood Disorder,” she called it. PCD, all too common among elderly patients with dementia.

But Grandmother didn’t have dementia, and she had exhibited symptoms of PCD all her life. Though I didn’t know how to describe it in my younger years, I used to consider it a really fine quality.

During the summers when Daddy shipped me and my sisters off to Grandmom’s house, she used to wait until Rose and Penny were absorbed in their games, then she would call me into the blue bedroom upstairs. Sometimes she’d let me sort through the glass beaded “earbobs” in her jewelry box. Sometimes she’d sing to me. Sometimes she’d pull her lace-trimmed hanky from her pocketbook, fold it in half twice, and tell me the story of the well-dressed woman who sat on a bench and fell over backward. Then she’d flip her folded hankie and gleefully lift the woman’s skirt and petticoat, exposing two beribboned legs.

No matter how large her audience, the woman knew how to entertain.

I perched on the edge of the big iron bed and listened to her songs and stories, her earbobs clipped to the tender lobes of my ears, enduring the painful pinch because Grandmother said a woman had to suffer before she could be beautiful. Before I pulled off the torturous earbobs and left the room, she would draw me close and swear that out of all the girls in the world, I was the one she loved most.

Not until years later did I learn that she drew my sisters aside in the same way. I suppose she wanted to make sure we motherless girls knew we were treasured. But in those moments, I always felt truly special.

And for far too long, I believed her.

© 2012 by Angela Hunt, used by permission. Do not reprint without permission. For more information, visit www.angelahuntbooks.com

To order: www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1439182035/booksbyangelae0d

To download the Angela Hunt iPhone/iPad app: http://mobileroadie.com/apps/angela-hunt