Behind the Smile by Paulette Monteiro


About the Book

This book was written in a hope to help those who have found, or still finding, themselves in the same predicament I was before. It tells of the upbringing of a broken girl who grew deeper in her brokenness. She only noticed how broken she was later on in life as she reflected on the many choices she had made which resulted in this ultimate realisation that “making choices/decisions from a broken place often leads us to more brokenness.” I was that girl.

In this brave and beautiful memoir, written with the raw honesty and openness, I boldly discuss my painful childhood memories which devolved from a safe place into a shocking tale of heartbreaks and abuse—examining why I endured years of physical, mental and emotional pain, and how I eventually broke free from it all.

As painful as it was, I had to allow God to do that open heart surgery on me in order for me to understood that there is a need for us to be healed, not just physically, because “trauma is not what happens to you; trauma is what happens inside you as a result of what happens to you.” It affects us in many different ways and creeps up in the way we perceive ourselves, those around us and life. There is a need for us to be made whole before embarking in new friendships and relationships. There is a need for us to know our truest identity and be rooted in it.

A smile can hide many painful tales, that’s right but the pain behind the smile in not hidden to the one who constantly relieves it. You need to be set free. Do not allow your past, your experiences, etc. define you or your future. There is hope. There is freedom. There is light even at the end of the darkest tunnel.


Book Excerpt

Chapter 2

From Childhood to Adulthood – The Lone Ranger

In the early 90s, our mum came back to visit us again but this time she was taking us back to France. I believe I was around 7 years old. We were sad to leave our family and friends behind yet were definitely happy to be reunited with our mum and at the thought of being with her every day.

Back in France, we lived in Paris for a short while and moved to Toulouse where most of our family were. I remember our mum still going back and forth to Congo. She made sure her sister, nephew and brother joined us in Toulouse when we had settled. Her heart was always in the right place and she helped a lot of people making their way to Europe, I will always remember that.


Foster care debut

I don’t recall how my sister and I ended up in foster care, but one day we did. Most of our childhood, when we got back to France, was spent with our mum and in foster care with foster parents or in care homes. We were in foster care on and off for some years but I’ve always been with my sister. It is not usual practice to find children from the same family kept together. I consider us lucky. Thinking about foster care brings back both good and not-so-good memories.

Our mum was very present and involved though all I can remember is that we moved homes and locations a lot!

My childhood is nothing I believe I can brag about except I did enjoy amazing activities such as horse riding lessons, skiing trips in the winter, the drives to the beach in the summer and the numerous after school club activities. I knew most children my age did not do as much as we did. I know that is certainly more than what some would or could do but to me, those were not exceptional things. I guess I may have taken them for granted.


My family

As mentioned before, I have 6 sisters and 2 brothers. Yes, that is a lot but let me explain in order for you to understand the rest of my story. On my mum’s side, I have 3 sisters and I am the second born. On my dad’s side, I have 2 sisters and 2 brothers and I am his firstborn. I also have a sister who is my stepmum’s niece whom they adopted as a child.

In 1991, during our last year in Toulouse, our little sister was born. She may have been 1 year old when we moved to Lille. In Lille, my big sister and I were back in foster care while our little sister lived with our mum in a small studio flat. I think the main reason why, at that time, we stayed in a care home was because our mum was not settled down but also because she could not afford a bigger flat to accommodate us all.


The cycle

From what you read, you can understand that our lives were pretty much set in an undefined and unwanted rhythm – foster home to foster family to mum and back into the same cycle. Whilst in foster care, mum always made the effort to visit, it never felt like she was an absent mother but she was still missing the important bits. I probably had all my major achievements while in foster care i.e learning to ride a bike. Don’t get me wrong, I wish I was with my mum all the time but I somehow got used to it, I had desensitised myself to whatever emotions I could feel. I knew it was impossible and I learned to accept things just the way they were. To be honest, I did not mind. I know it sounds heartless but I was young and I learned to adapt.

My experience of being in the “system” wasn’t that bad, except for one part which I will discuss in Chapter 4. Strange things have happened there but nothing out of the ordinary I guess. Being in that environment, I got to do a lot of things I wouldn’t have done growing up in an African home hence in a way, I am grateful for the experience and the way this has opened up my mind to new things.

Whether in care homes or in foster families, my sister and I have always been together. As I mentioned in the previous chapter this was a comfort to both of us. I think it also brought comfort to our mum. I know we were blessed to be together when other siblings have been split apart whilst in the “system”.

In France, it might be different elsewhere, care homes are places where children stay for a while when their parents cannot take care of them for various reasons. It may be for weeks, months or years. It’s a big house with a lot of children and adults on a rota looking after us, day and night. The adults on-site managed the place and looked after us, especially the younger ones. We were all assigned a key worker and I will always remember ours, he was like a father figure to us. He taught me how to fish and ride a bike.

We had our meals together on big tables which we took in turns to set. Things were very structured from breakfast to showers to school to snack time etc.  Pretty much everything was run on a schedule. Most of us were encouraged to take part in activities on Wednesday afternoons as there was no school. the activities could be anything you like, I often wondered where the money came from because we were all doing something. I believe I made the most of that by joining Karate, Boxing, Kickboxing and many more. Weekends were always packed with fun outdoor activities which we enjoyed when we were not spending them with our mum. Compared to our peers at school, we were definitely privileged. Most children in the care home received visits from their parents, if not every weekend for the lucky ones, at least every 2 weeks but for the less fortunate (as I would call them), it was on a monthly basis or none.

From my experience, I am well aware that not all care homes are the same.



Having moved around quite a lot as a child, I never made lasting friendships. That’s one thing I always regretted; I moved schools so often there was never an opportunity to. It, however, has a rather advantageous aspect; my focus was more on my studies than on making friends. The thought of the heartbreak of leaving friends behind made it slightly easier for me to not get attached. I was detached emotionally but still envious of finding people who had been friends since Nursery. I longed to settle in one place and have friends with whom I could recall our past years in school as in “Do you remember last year…”. Having these sorts of friendships meant that I belonged somewhere and was part of something.

If you are reading the book and have gotten this far, I would encourage you to speak to a leader of your church or cell group about similar things. Healthy human relationships are essential for physical, spiritual and emotional growth and quite important that you heal from past hurts and emotional detachments as I call it. I now realise that, through the culmination of past pain and other issues, I had built a wall around my heart and kept people at a distance.

This went on until I was about 9 or 10 years old when we got settled in a foster home in Lille, North of France. That foster home was the same one we previously lived in. Our mum lived with our sister. My big sister and I stayed in the same care home for 3 consecutive years only seeing our mum some weekends, this was not regular. I never actually stopped to think what our mum was doing during the times we were in care, I just got on with things. I think I didn’t want to get attached to anyone, even her, emotionally. I was only attached and cared mostly about my sister. She seemed happy to see us during those weekends and we were happy to be with her – an effective unspoken arrangement.

We had no family in Lille and our mum was a full-time mum who eventually got involved with the wrong people. She was arrested and sentenced to serve a couple of months in prison. From then on, our little sisters entered the care system. It was still a shock to us.

My little sister, the one directly after me, had been in care previously in Lille when she was very young, she must have been 3 years old. I remember going to visit her with our social worker. When it was time to leave, she screamed and cried so much, my heart was in pieces. I cried all the way back. I mean, my big sister and I were used to being in care but it was her first experience and because she was much younger than us she could not be where we were at that time. Her cries haunted me for a couple of days. She wanted to be with us and we wanted to be with her too. After going through this, I vowed to never let anything like that happen to my children.

A couple of months later, my aunt came from Toulouse and took my younger sister out of foster care to go live with her. I think she was granted temporary custody at the time. She visited us in our foster home to give us the news and for us to say goodbye to our sister. Our mum was aware of everything that was happening and would write to us as often as she could to reassure us.

When our mum was released, she went to Belgium to live with her partner at the time. A couple of months later, she gave birth to our youngest sister. This was a surprise to us, especially since we were not aware that she was expecting and deducted that she went to prison being pregnant. We received pictures of our baby sister while in foster care and were very excited. She was born prematurely and had to be incubated for several months so our mum wasn’t able to leave Belgium to visit us. When our little sister came out of the hospital, our mum moved back to Toulouse to join our little sister who was with our aunt and settled there. We couldn’t wait to see the latest addition to our family.

Because we hadn’t seen our mum for a long time, on a particular Christmas holiday, I remember vividly, our social worker driving us from Lille to Toulouse so we could spend Christmas with our mother and sisters. That was a long journey! Let me take this opportunity to applaud the good and caring social workers we were blessed with; this was one of them. Later on, our mum, with the help of our assigned social worker, started the process for us to be reunited in the same city at least. Shortly after filing the paperwork and consulting with the children’s court, we were transferred from our care home in Lille to another care home in Toulouse. Once again we found ourselves packing our lives in small suitcases though this time we embarked on a plane journey by ourselves only supervised by the air hostesses. Being in Toulouse meant that we had the opportunity to be out most weekends and spend time with our extended family more frequently.

I think that was a good move for us however, I wished we were at home with our mum and sisters.

We thought it would only be a matter of time before we could be reunited properly but our mum got really sick and the girls were placed together in a foster family until she got better. Though she never really got better, she was able to look after the sister who comes after me and the last born stayed with the foster family and regularly visited with occasional stays.


About the Author

Paulette Monteiro is a first-time author and has been working on her memoir for over a year. She volunteers in her local church as part of the youth ministry.

Her life journey has given her a broad base from which to approach many life topics and issues.

She is new to writing and is still developing her writing skills.

She especially enjoys sharing her testimony and faith with individuals who are going through similar situations and encourage them on their life journey.

Buy the Book






Reads to Remember: A book lover’s journal to track your next 100 reads by Janet Sketchley

About the Book

Available in two covers: Book Stack Edition and Books with Tea Edition
132 pages, 8 x 10 softcover (not available as ebook)

Do you love reading?

Whether it’s a book a day or a book a year, in print, digital, or audio, this reader’s journal is the perfect way to track the next 100 books in your life.

  • Jot your reactions and reflections.
  • Note key details:
    • author
    • subject
    • format
    • date finished
    • rating
    • favourite lines
    • and more
  • Track your reading habits across genre/subject.
  • List those rare, life-impacting reads.
  • Manage your to-read list.

Includes bookmarks you can cut out and colour for the print books on your list.

Happy reading!


Book Excerpt


Reading Journal Sample Page Watermarked


About the Author

Janet Sketchley is an Atlantic Canadian writer who likes her fiction with a splash of mystery or adventure and a dash of Christianity. Why leave faith out of our stories if it’s part of our lives? You can find Janet online at, or sign up for her author newsletter at


Buy the Book





Hope in the Balance by Jim Baton

About the Book

Book #2 in the HOPE Trilogy–

The small town of Hope is shaken when teenagers Kelsey and Harmonie uncover its skeletons of the past. Will those secrets tear the town apart, or will they become a path to healing? Meanwhile, it appears someone is willing to use any means necessary to take over their town. The girls look for new allies to save Hope. A House of Prayer arises to confront demonic forces, leading to glimpses of angelic activity. As the intensity of the warfare increases, people on all sides are being pushed past their limits. The future of Hope hangs in the balance.

The Hope Trilogy is written for those who are hungry for God’s revival and transformation of their communities.


Book Excerpt

Chapter 1

Kelsey Axel headed north on Third Street toward Armistice High School to meet her classmates, Harmonie Seymour, Kavon Harris and Bennett Crabb. A brilliant blue September sky promised to chase away all the tension of the last three days. But over the Rocky Mountains to the west, Kelsey noticed dark clouds were gathering.
When she reached the parking lot, Bennett greeted her with delighted eyes and a warm smile. “Kelsey! So glad you came.”
She glanced around. “Where are Harmonie and Kavon?”
“Kavon texted that when Harmonie’s dad found out you were coming, he said she couldn’t come. And without her, Kavon bailed on us too.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Tell me you didn’t set this up so we’d be alone.”
“No, I swear,” Bennett protested. He started scrolling through his phone. “I’ll show you Kavon’s text—”
“Forget it. Sorry. I shouldn’t be so suspicious.”
“I’m guessing you’re bailing on me too?”
“Nah, I’ll go. I needed to get out of the house. Slacklining sounds fun, too.” Kelsey had her own reason for spending her Saturday morning at Cougar Creek, but Bennett didn’t need to know that.
“Cool. Let’s go.” Bennett flipped his long blond bangs back from his forehead and started walking north to the edge of town.
They walked in silence for a few minutes, until they reached the stile allowing them to climb over the fence that kept the cattle inside the Deats Ranch. For generations kids had been passing through here to swim in Cougar Creek, and Arthur Deats didn’t seem to mind.
Bennett offered Kelsey his hand, but she ignored it and climbed over on her own.
He didn’t give up easily, though. “You don’t have to be afraid of me, you know.”
“If I were, I wouldn’t be here,” Kelsey retorted.
“It feels like you’re still mad at me about last year, that thing with Chelsea. I was a stupid sophomore. Come on, give me another chance.”
“You seriously want to talk about this right now, with all I’m dealing with?”
“Like what? The library fire? They already caught the guy. It’s over.”
Kelsey knew that the sheriff had arrested the wrong man, and it most certainly was not all over. The secrets she’d discovered could make things much more dangerous for her. But she couldn’t tell Bennett that.
She turned away from him, spotting a splash of blue under an aspen tree. Sure enough, it was a small patch of Colorado Blue Columbine. She knelt beside them.
In a flash Bennett’s hand was there to pick one of the flowers.
“Stop!” She held his arm. “It’s against the law.”
“Only on public land. Angry old Deats won’t mind. He never comes around here anyway.” He almost got his fingers around the stem when Kelsey pushed him away.
He gave her an odd stare, then stood up. “The slackline is this way.”
She followed, but her heart wasn’t in it. When she’d first moved to Hope in ninth grade, she’d had a major crush on Bennett, even though he never noticed her. Now they were juniors, and he was clearly pursuing her. Maybe she would like him again someday.
But today wasn’t that day.
A few minutes later they reached Cougar Creek. This spot was farther upstream than the swimming hole she and Harmonie usually went to. The water was quite shallow, the banks narrow. But Cougar Creek only reached about fifteen feet across at its widest point, and just over her head at its deepest.
The slackline Bennett had set up was about three times the width of a thick rope. He had tied it to a tree on each side of the creek.
“You can really walk on this?” she asked.
“Sure, watch me.” He set one of his feet on the rope, then pushed off the ground with the other and quickly balanced himself, arms stretched wide. “Try to keep your head over the slackline and straight up. Let your foot step forward first, and don’t shift your upper body forward until your front foot is ready. Like this.” He walked carefully but confidently out to the middle of the creek, then turned his body sideways to look downstream.
“Now, I don’t recommend this move for a beginner. Unless you want to get wet.” He grinned. Then he pivoted, walked back to her, and stepped off the line. “See? It’s easy.”
Kelsey popped her neck from side to side. On the one hand, she didn’t want to have an epic fall in front of a cute guy. But on the other hand, she and Bennett had always been rivals on the basketball court, and she hated to lose.
Might as well get this over with.
She grabbed onto the tree and tried to lift her foot above the slackline, but it was up to her waist. “It’s too high,” she said, thinking that Bennett being six inches taller than her gave him an unfair advantage.
“Come down closer to the creek.” Bennett held down the slackline with one hand while offering Kelsey the other. She took it, and gingerly set one foot on the line, then the other.
The slackline swayed wildly beneath her. She leaned forward to get closer to it.
“Keep your back straight, head up and over your back foot. Use your arms and hips to steady yourself.”
It took her a while to get the slackline to calm down. Once it was still, she tried taking a step like Bennett had showed her. The line wobbled, but she stayed upright.
She let go of Bennett’s hand. “Are you going to catch me if I fall?”
From the corner of her eye she saw him holding his cell phone. “No way, but I’ll film it and put it on Tik Tok for you.”
Keep your eyes on the target, she told herself. She stared at the opposite tree and took small, cautious steps forward.
When she guessed she was over the middle of the creek, she couldn’t help herself. She pivoted her body, arms out wide, just as Bennett had, to gaze downstream.
Far in the distance she spotted her swimming hole, and beyond that, some of the Deats’ cattle coming to the stream for a drink. A light breeze began to pick up, blowing her hair.
Suddenly, all the swirling tension of the past month surrounded her. Bennett was saying something from the bank, but his voice couldn’t get through.
A decision needed to be made. It could have dire consequences—for her, for others she cared about. Or it could maybe return Hope to its destiny.
So much hung in the balance.
After three days of soul searching, there, suspended in the air over Cougar Creek, Kelsey knew what she had to do.
She made a bargain with God: If I do this, would you give me a sign? How about if I can walk to the opposite tree and back across the creek without falling, that means you’ll make everything turn out okay?
She pivoted her body again and made it across the creek. Holding on to the tree, she slowly turned around and started back. Bennett was saying something, but again, she couldn’t hear him.
Somewhere over the creek, a sudden wind hit her, whipping her long brown hair into her eyes. Her front foot slipped off the line, and she fell forward . . .
. . . right into Bennett’s arms, her feet on dry land.
He was speaking again, but all she could think about was her bargain with God. I fell. Does that mean things won’t turn out okay? But technically I made it across the creek. Doesn’t that count?
She pulled her hair out of her eyes and glanced down. Bennett had one foot in the water.
“Thanks,” was all she could say as she gently pulled out of his embrace.
“Dude, that was epic! I never thought you’d do so well on the first try.”
Her eyes were on Cougar Creek. “Hey, I’m glad I came.” She turned back to him. “And this is really lame of me, but I need some time to think through some things. Could you walk back without me?”
He looked confused and hurt. “We just got here. What—was it something I said?”
“No, I’m really sorry. I’ve just got a lot on my mind. And I think you brought me to the perfect place to think. But I need to be alone.”
He pursed his lips. “Whatever. I’ll leave the slackline here so we can do it again sometime.” He paused.
She answered with what she hoped was a gentle smile.
“Okay. Later.” He shoved his hands in his pockets and shuffled off, every other step making a squishing noise on the Indian Rice grass.
Once he was gone, Kelsey sat down and stared at the water. She closed her eyes and let the soothing, gurgling music wash over her.
Cougar Creek, where it all started seventy-five years ago.
Her dream from Wednesday night came rushing back. Hope McCormick and Harmonie’s grandmother, Sylvia Seymour, were right here at this creek, waving to Kelsey and Harmonie across time and space. It was the day that Hope McCormick had disappeared.
And they named this town Hope after someone who wasn’t even there.
After all their efforts to solve the mystery of Hope’s disappearance, and all the efforts of others trying to stop them, it came down to this—
Another teenager at Cougar Creek, trying to decide between running away from the truth or bringing it into the light.
Even if she had to take the fall.


About the Author

Jim Baton has invested more than 25 years in the Muslim world, working with both Christians and Muslims to transform their communities.

Buy the Book



Straight: an ExGay Prodigal Story by Matthew Karchner

About the Book

Growing up in a rural Christian home, Matt was unable to reconcile his faith and sexuality. Drawn to the glamour of the city, Matt plunged into a life of sin and squandered all he had. Severely addicted, rescue would require the power of God. Straight chronicles the falling away and return of an exgay prodigal son. God’s truth and faithfulness remain steadfast, despite His servant’s betrayal. Spoils of surrender include peace that money cannot buy and resurrection to new life. Praise the Lord!


Book Excerpt

I sold my soul to the god of this world. He had the face of an angel. He took me to the mountaintop and said I could have it all. We flew to New York and Miami. He adorned me in Burberry and ushered me to the front of the line at exclusive clubs. He told me I was king. When I was convinced it was all about me, the music stopped. I turned around to find the crowd gone and a switchblade to my throat.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”   Proverbs 14:12


About the Author

When his corporate career required that Matt support the LGBTQ+ agenda, his resignation letter read, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.” Once chief among gay sinners, he is now a missionary to the LGBTQ+. Based in Southeast Asia, Matt and his wife Rebekah serve wherever the Lord leads.


Buy the Book




Trials Release Our Destiny and Purpose by Colette Blaise-Bycinte

About the Book

The book is to encourage people who are facing trials and difficulties in life. Trials are inevitable. Everyone goes through it at some point in life, and it comes in many different ways. Some will make positive changes in our lives, and others will affect our lives negatively. However, we will never face trials alone; God promises that he will never leave nor forsake us. God has it all figured out.

There were times when I did not feel like God was with me when I was facing difficulties, but he was. He carried me through; he was always there. I will always be grateful to him for keeping and leading me. My God had to hold my hand when I was going through tough times. I made it through some challenging times, and I am still here because God’s love toward me is unfailing.

The book will help you understand that trials are not to destroy you but to release your purpose. It makes you resilient in order to face whatever comes your way. It will transform your life and provide skills on how you can deal with difficulty. It will increase your faith and gives you hope for eternal life.


Book Excerpt

You are the reason that I decided to write this book. It is for people who are suffering in silence and feel like all your hope is gone. This book will guide you to the different stages of pain. The book begins with creation and how sins brought suffering into the world then it moves on to the reason why Jesus came into the world.  Jesus came to bring peace and love into the world. It described Jesus’mission and how he accomplished it.  He was faced with a lot of obstacles that could hinder Jesus from completing his mission. Jesus did not give up when he was faced with trials. It discussed many great men and women who were faced with difficulty and did not give up.  They continued to press on until they received their breakthrough. Some did not receive this victory on earth however they received eternal life. Some were persecuted and killed for their faith in Christ. It was not easy but they endured the pain until the end. Some were suffering for years when their deliverance came, they received double of what they prayed for or lost. It described where pain and suffering began. Lastly, it talks about how crisis helps shape us into our destiny. It helps us to be more in tune with life.




About the Author

I’m a dedicated Christian who is very compassionate about people. I’m a prayer warrior who intercedes for others. I’m involved in 3 different prayer groups; I enjoy interceding for my local church, family, friends, and others. I love giving to the community; I have done Walk for Hunger and Walk for Strides for Teen Success in the past. I love working with children; I have been the leader of the children church in my local church for many years and part Boys and Girls Brigade. Currently, I volunteer to help another church in my community with their Boys and Girls Brigade program. I’m trained to provide mentoring services to the youth in my community. I’m part of the Abigail project. I work as a Child Welfare investigator who determined the safety of children. I have been working in child welfare for over 7 years. I received a Master o Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I am a Clinician. I have been working in the human services field for over 10 years. I worked with children, youth, and families in a number of settings. I have attended several trainings in community centers as well as school settings. I worked as a substitute teacher, foster parent, family partner, family stabilization team, intensive care coordinator, and social worker. I also worked as a crisis clinician. I am certified in addictions and trauma. I enjoy spending time with my family. I’m married to Mario Bycinte and have 3 children, Jiovanni, Jillianna, and Jadeana. My family is a big part of my life.


Buy the Book




Lighthouse on Tortola by Dale S. Rogers


About the Book


A debut novel filled with suspense as Photojournalist Andra seeks to clear an innocent person’s name and find evidence against a wealthy adversary. But she isn’t expecting the biggest twist of all… falling in love.

When Andra goes to the British Virgin Island of Tortola on a magazine assignment, she never expects to become involved with a tour guide bent on revenge. Pulled into his world of intrigue, she must learn who she can and cannot trust while striving to prove the truth concerning the Ahoskie Diamond Necklace.


Book Excerpt

They waded through the clear water until reaching a labyrinth of stones leaning together to form a teepee. Andra felt a little uneasy as they entered the cave and the rest of the world disappeared, but fascination soon took over. Pushing through thigh-high water, she felt grainy sand under her feet while avoiding sharp rocks.

“Unbelievable,” she said out loud, wincing at the echo her voice produced.

She kept quiet during the remainder of their venture, and the sound of splashing water prevailed. As they neared light at the cave’s far end, Andra touched the smooth stone wall, surprised at its coolness. Her ears perked up as an engine broke the spell which had fallen upon them, and Michael peered outside. “Hold on,” he whispered urgently, dragging her farther back into the tunnel. They pressed against the wall while a huge white yacht with a broad black band below the deck slackened its pace. Two men on board scanned the vicinity, coming so near, Andra was certain they would be discovered. Idling for another minute, the yacht slowly motored back out to sea as Michael’s panicked expression changed to one of embarrassment. “I suppose you’re wondering what that was about.”

“Some questions did come to mind as my face pressed against the cold stone,” Andra replied good-naturedly.

“Those men are trouble. We shouldn’t be out here alone with them.”

Concern crept into Andra’s mind. “Why don’t the police arrest them?”

“They’re slippery. They manage to blame their crimes on others, avoiding proof of their wrongdoings.”

The far-off look in Michael’s eyes and the intense set of his jaw caused her to wonder if he had more than a casual knowledge of the situation. “Okay,” he said suddenly. “Let’s go back to the boat and continue our tour.”

The rest of the island was stunning, with tiny coves and towering trees, and Andra was excited about the photographs she’d taken. But she couldn’t keep her mind from returning
to the boulders, the yacht, and Michael’s strong reaction to the men who seemed to be searching . . . perhaps for him, she realized with concern.


About the Author

A South Carolina native, Dale currently lives in North Carolina with her husband and three cats. With several family members involved with writing, Dale soon found herself drifting in that direction, and she joined her high school newspaper staff. Continuing her interest in writing after graduating from Anderson College and the University of South Carolina, she penned articles and stories, as well as poetry, eventually starting a novel. Since then, she has written several novels, both for teens and adults. She also loves music and dance, and has participated in several musicals and even one movie!


Buy the Book





Girls, Guys, and a Tangle of Ties by Galynne Howard Matichuk

About the Book

A girl with an eating disorder, in denial and angry at God. A camp director with a handful of ropes, two cardboard cutouts figures, and a radical plan to touch the hearts of the campers. An athletic hunk, a stolen hat, and a flaw-filled prank that has the entire camp in an uproar. This summer, lives are about to change forever.

The last place Kelly Martin wants to spend her summer vacation is volunteering at a Christian camp. But it’s either that or be forced by her parents into a program for girls with eating disorders.

Prepared to be surrounded by religious fanatics, Kelly is surprised to meet genuine friends who pull her into the first crazy prank of the summer. Even more unexpected is the handsome counselor who starts looking her way.

But it is the radical campfire talks that touch her heart most of all, sparking a longing for change. But that would mean trusting God. And Kelly vowed she’d never do that again.


Book Excerpt

The early-morning sun streamed through the kitchen windows above the sink but couldn’t drive the chill from the room. A shiver ran through Kelly’s body, and a strand of long brown hair fell across her eyes. She brushed it away and focused her attention on her father as he placed a set of pale-green luggage in the center of the room. She’d been expecting a moment like this for the last few weeks. And now it was here.

Kelly perched on the edge of the wooden chair, her back stiff and straight as she stared at the bags. The suitcases seemed to crouch together, as if preparing to attack and drag her away.

“Why is my luggage out of storage?” Kelly turned to her mother, seated across the table. “I thought we had a deal. If I improved, you wouldn’t send me to the hospital program.” She braced herself for a fight.

“Improved?” Her father snorted as he took a seat beside his wife. “Gaining half a pound is hardly progress.”

It could have been. At least if it were true. But she hadn’t even improved that much. However, now was not the time to confess that she’d manipulated the results.

“We’re not sending you to the teen recovery center.” Her mom concentrated on pouring a small amount of milk into a steaming mug of coffee. With slow and deliberate movements, she picked up a spoon and stirred. “Your father and I met with your counselor last week. She’s heard great things about a church camp that’s not too far from here.”

So she wasn’t being rushed off to the eating-disorder intervention program. Kelly relaxed, but only slightly. Camp was still a form of punishment. Most likely for what happened last weekend.

Kelly’s mom gave her a tentative smile. She slid a plate with a banana and a blueberry muffin toward Kelly, who ignored it.

“I’m too old for camp.” She was also too old to have her mother feed her. Especially since she’d stopped eating breakfast months ago, along with every other meal she could skip.

Kelly’s mother leaned back, a frown creasing her brow. “The counselor recommended that you work there as a volunteer for the summer.”

Two whole months? No way. Being stuck at some religious camp would ruin all her plans.
Her mom raised the cup to her lips and took a sip. “You can’t spend your vacation sitting around with nothing to do.”

No fear of that. Kelly had already planned an intense summer program of daily hikes, bike rides, and speed walks. Of course, all that exercise would be worse, in her mom’s eyes, than doing nothing. Particularly if she lost more weight.

But Kelly knew the plan to send her off to camp wasn’t just about keeping her busy. It was also about keeping her away from her friends—and her boyfriend, in particular. Or ex-boyfriend, thanks to the disaster last Saturday night.

“I’m not qualified.” Kelly took a deep, steadying breath. She wasn’t about to surrender without a fight. “I don’t know anything about church camps. I’ve never even been to one.”

Kelly’s father dismissed the argument with a wave of his hand. “Experience isn’t necessary. The director told us they offer a two-day training program that will cover everything you’ll need to know.”

Kelly shook her head as she imagined a cabin full of hyper campers. “What if the kids don’t like me and beg for a new counselor?”

Her mother gave a faint laugh. “Don’t be so melodramatic. All the neighborhood children adore you. You’re the first person who gets called whenever someone needs a babysitter.”

That was true. And Kelly did enjoy hanging out with all her little buddies. But she couldn’t let her mother’s compliment sway her. Kelly turned a wary eye to the suitcases. The bright rays of sunshine glinted off the partially open zippers, making the silver rows of metal gleam like razor-sharp teeth.

“You’ll be a sophomore next year,” her father cut in. “Time to think about college applications. Volunteer experience looks great on a resume.”

That was her dad, always practical and thinking of the future. But Kelly was thinking ahead too. And this was about more than the summer. Her social future was at stake if she couldn’t patch things up with Aaron. The icy fingers of panic seized her, and she found it hard to breathe. She couldn’t imagine her world without him.

Kelly scrambled for a different tactic. “But I won’t know anyone at camp.”

Her father raised an eyebrow. “Considering how much time you spend on the phone, I’d say you don’t have a problem making friends. And this will give you the chance to make some new ones.”

But that was the point. She already had plenty of friends, although lately they’d been blowing away like dry leaves in a windstorm. Which wasn’t too surprising. Just the natural consequence of being dumped by the most popular guy at school. Even if she could use some new friends, she didn’t want to meet them at some stupid camp. Especially since anyone working there was likely to be a boring spiritual nut.

Kelly looked straight into her father’s eyes. “Are you punishing me for what happened with Aaron?”

Her father’s hand came down hard on the table. “Aaron is a different matter, and we’ve already dealt with him.”

Yes, they had. By forbidding all contact with him. Of course, Kelly had no intention of obeying, which they’d probably already guessed. It’s not like they could stop her, unless they sent her away. Which was exactly what they were doing.

“I know I broke a bunch of rules, but it’s not what you think.”

“Really? You stole my brand-new car, snuck off to a party, and your drunk boyfriend almost drove you home. Did I get anything wrong?” Her father leaned forward.

Yes. No. Kelly studied the floor. Telling the truth now would only make things worse. At least for Aaron. And she wasn’t a snitch.

“Don’t I get any credit for calling home?” Kelly spat out the words.

Her mom took a sharp breath. “Thank God you did, or someone might have been hurt. Even killed.”

Kelly shuddered as she remembered the expression on her parents’ faces when they arrived at the party and found her dad’s Corvette Sting Ray parked in the driveway with a seriously hammered Aaron behind the wheel, keys in hand, and her in the passenger seat. The hurt in her mother’s eyes. Like she didn’t recognize her own daughter. And her father’s barely-controlled fury as he pulled Aaron out of the car.

“Don’t even try to tell me it’s not what I think.” Her father’s voice cracked. “I know what I saw.”

Maybe, but he’d missed a few things. Like the fact that she was already crying when they drove up, and not just after she’d been caught. And she’d been trying to grab the keys away from Aaron, not pass them to him.

In a last-ditch effort, Kelly launched her final weapon. Brutal honesty. “You think some lame religious camp is going to fix me. I’m not broken, and I don’t need help.”

An awkward silence descended on the kitchen. Kelly’s mother lifted the cup to her lips, but her hands shook and brown liquid dripped over the side. She lowered the mug and glanced at Kelly’s father.

Watching them through narrowed eyes, Kelly felt a stab of remorse for causing her parents so much grief over the last year. They thought they were being discreet, but she’d overheard the whispered conversations. And their desperate prayers.

Kelly’s mother turned toward her, mouth set in a firm line. “The hospital called last night to tell us that a spot opened up in the treatment center for eating disorders.”

“But you just said you wouldn’t make me go.” The words tumbled out of Kelly’s mouth. She didn’t belong there. Just because some doctor said she was anorexic didn’t make it true. Sure, she’d lost some weight over the last year. Okay, a lot of weight. But all the popular girls were skinny, and that’s what guys like Aaron found attractive. She knew exactly what she was doing.

“We aren’t sending you…at least not yet.” Kelly’s mother cleared her throat. “I told the hospital we’d already signed you up for summer camp. But I can call back and tell them we changed our minds.”

There was no way out. She was being sent away, and her only choices were a religious camp or a treatment center. Kelly shot her mother a scathing look. “I’ll take camp.”

Her mom nodded. “Training starts on Friday. That’s just two days from now. Why don’t you go upstairs and start thinking about what you’d like to pack.”

Kelly could have sworn she heard a snarl coming from the suitcases. And the sound of metal jaws snapping shut on her summer.


About the Author

Working with teenagers has been a passion for Galynne Matichuk, and she has over three decades of experience with young people in a variety of settings.

Galynne has nineteen years of middle and high school teaching experience in public schools in Canada and a private Christian school in the United States. She spent twelve summers working at summer camps, during which time she was a counselor, canoeing instructor, and camp speaker. For two years, Galynne worked with Teen Time, an inner-city teen ministry.

Galynne has enjoyed speaking at several camps, churches, and had the privilege of leading several seminars at the California conference for the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) in California.

Galynne recently began working with the T. R. A. C. program (Teen Reach Adventure Camp, specifically designed for youth ages 12-15 in foster care) as a counsellor and camp speaker.

Currently Galynne works as a substitute teacher in the Issaquah School District and has self-published a Kindle book entitled: How to Bond with Your Child Through Books: One Family’s Plan to Read 100 Books Together.


Buy the Book