Somergate: The Scent of Autumn Roses by L. L. MacLellan

About the Book

Steal away for a quiet hour or two to Somergate, a 1920’s-era estate on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, where mossy stone walls keep quiet company with winding pathways, where sun pennies dance on salty waters, and where long-forgotten stories lie waiting to be discovered.

On the brink of happy retirement after more than three decades of teaching, Sarah Marshall is living at Somergate and is ready to embrace all that this next chapter of life will bring. Tucked beneath her excitement though, is a nagging uncertainty: will retirement bring the same sense of fulfillment that she found in her work? Will her finances hold up under the strain of the ever-mounting costs of maintaining the old estate? And will she ever again find a love like the one that was lost to her years ago?

Filled with warmth and a quiet humor, Somergate is a story that emphasizes the importance of family and of faith, speaks of the healing that can come after heart-wrenching loss, and gently directs the reader’s attention to the presence of a loving Creator.

Book Excerpt

Hours later, Maddie lay, exhausted but sleepless, in the immense bed that she had shared with her husband for more than four decades. Her thoughts drifted back over the day and turned once again to the swans. She, too, had seen them fly over Charles’ grave, and she had known, immediately, that it was no coincidence. The sun breaking through the clouds, the swans flying overhead illuminated to a glorious creamy white against the dark blue-black sky… The exquisite beauty of that moment was much more than mere chance. It had been a gift, and somehow, a promise. She had felt Charles’ presence there at the graveside as surely as if he had been standing next to her. He had been right there, and she had felt his love embracing her, supporting her. How fitting that the swans should put in an appearance on the day that marked the beginning of her own personal winter. She and Charles had shared a memorable, precious summer and autumn together. Now, in winter, she would journey on alone.

The fact that there had been forty-one swans at Charles’ grave today was merely a quiet confirmation of what she had felt there, of what she already knew. Charles wasn’t lost to her. He had only stepped through an unseen curtain into another place a bit ahead of her. Maddie remembered how sometimes at parties Charles would make his way from group to group, talking, laughing, occasionally looking up and catching Maddie’s eye across the room. Then he would smile or wink and Maddie would know that his thoughts were still with her. Separated temporarily, but together still. Today at his grave, she had caught his old familiar smile, as though across a crowded room. Somehow, across the great canyon of death, Charles had caught her eye and sent her a message. Together still. Maddie drifted at last into an exhausted slumber, and as she did one thought held her in its comforting embrace: Charles was waiting for her, loving her still, and someday, sometime, she would step through the curtain too, and join him.


About the Author

L. L. MacLellan is the author of the recently published inspirational romance novel “Somergate: The Scent of Autumn Roses.” She won her first literary award, a shiny blue ribbon, for a short story entered in a three-state regional writing contest back in the sixth grade, and has been writing ever since. Lori lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia with her Mountie husband and their four beautiful daughters, where she cares for her mother and spends any free time gardening, antiquing, and of course, writing.

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Unknown Enemy by Janet Sketchley

About the Book

Landon Smith vowed never to return to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Despite her faith, the memories might undo her.

But a shadowy figure has been skulking around the Green Dory Inn—seen only by her friend Anna.

Loyalty demands she stand by this woman who’s been a second mother to her. No matter the cost.

With the police unable to find solid clues, and the incidents escalating, Landon must help Anna discover the truth about the prowler and stop him. Before he turns violent.


Book Excerpt

Dry-mouthed, Landon watched the runway speed beneath her window. Vibration from the landing gear drilled into her core.

She shouldn’t have come back. But she couldn’t refuse, not when Anna needed her.

The plane’s intercom crackled. “This is your captain speaking. Welcome to Halifax. Local time is two twelve.”

Around her, seat belts clicked open despite the warning lights. A few people stood and rummaged in the overhead bins. The plane hadn’t fully stopped. What was the hurry?

Yet the other passengers’ sense of urgency had her reaching for her purse.

She followed the herd into the terminal, pulling her borrowed carry-on and checking the overhead signs. When she reached the baggage area, she stood against the wall, watching reunions. Friends, lovers. Two women, clearly mother and daughter, crying as they embraced. She turned away.

A scruffy-haired man with glasses hurried toward the meeting point. He dodged a woman with a pet carrier and stopped beside a pillar. Scanning the crowd, he raised a white cardboard sign: Landon Smith.

Anna’s neighbour had promised to send his grandson to meet her at the airport. Funny, she’d expected a teenager. This guy was closer to thirty, five or six years older than she was. Tousled hair and a few days’ growth of beard made him look like he’d just crawled out of bed.

He gave the room another once-over, and then angled himself to face the passengers still straggling through the arrival gates.

She grasped the handle of her carry-on and walked up beside him. “Hi. I’m Landon.”

He turned to her and froze, wide-eyed, a half-formed smile suddenly dead on his lips.

Really? Landon had been gone almost ten years, but this guy had clearly heard something about her. Truth or speculation, he must have thought he could handle it until they were face to face.

It could be a long, silent drive to Anna’s inn.

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

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Kristian’s War by Peter Wisan

About the Book

Kris Anders, a dirt-poor farmer, lives in a land where evil forces take the form of men. The sins of his past weigh heavily on his mind. When a stranger directs him to take a new path, Kris begins the journey of a lifetime towards a distant King who is rumored to solve all problems. But then a ruthless soldier is dispatched by the ruler of the dark land to capture or kill Kris. Everything leads to one final fight, where Kris must defeat the demons of his past or die.

Book Excerpt

A renewed roar rang his ears.

Kristian expected death at any moment, but the hungry eyes did not advance.

<He’s toying with me. He wants me to run.>

Blood returned to Kristian’s limbs. He prepared to fight for his life.


About the Author

Peter Wisan is a world traveler, screenwriter, film director, and Captain in the United States Marine Corps Individual Ready Reserve. He lives in San Diego, California, where he leads musical worship at Church Tsidkenu.

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The Narrow Gate by Kristoffer Paulsson

About the Book

The Narrow Gate is about how to come through the Narrow Gate and enter onto the Narrow Path. In 31 chapters the author explains several concepts, that is part of coming to Jesus and receive salvation, preparing the heart of the seeker. The layout follows the classic concept of telling the Law and the Gospel. This is mainly for seekers and everyday Christians, but also seasoned followers of Jesus might find some good advice.

Book Excerpt

Fulfill Salvation – Finish Your Course!

In second Timothy 4, Paul explains that we need to fulfill our salvation by running the race.

Run the Race – 2 Timothy 4:6-8

6 For I am already being poured out as an offering, and the time for me to depart is at hand. 7 I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith 8 Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day– and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing.

We who have received the salvation must be aware that we are on a journey. This trip consists of:

* Fight the good fight

* Complete the race

* Preserve your faith

Once Saved, Always Saved?

But the person who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:13

Once saved always saved!? Is this statement correct? Just because you received salvation once, does that mean that you always will remain saved?

The greatest lie within the church, and especially within the evangelical church community, is that you remain saved just because you once prayed the salvation prayer.

The Bible clearly states; that the one that endures to the end will be saved, not the one who gives up or who stops walking the narrow path.

The Good Will of God

12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, 13 for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort- for the sake of his good pleasure- is God. Philippians 2:12-13

It is the good will of God that we should be saved! It is God who through his grace works salvation in us. But this working within us does not affect unless we are obedient to God.

God is the one who judges us; we must obey and fear God. We are commanded to work on our salvation, not so that we have an opportunity to earn salvation. But it is up to us, to cooperate with God so that his good will can happen.

Sanctification Through the Truth

13 But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brothers beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 2 Thessalonians 2:13 (KJV)

God has determined that we should be saved. For this to happen, we need to believe the truth. When we believe the truth, we will be sanctified by the Spirit.

There is a connection between completing salvation and being sanctified by the Spirit, through the truth. As we learn and understand the truth, the Holy Spirit can work salvation in us through the process of sanctification.

Preserved Unto Salvation

5 who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5

God will through faith preserve us with his power to fulfill salvation. He is the only one that is mighty to do that.


About the Author

Kristoffer Paulsson started to serve God as a part-time evangelist in Sweden, Uppsala, 2013. As he handed out tracts, he was inspired to start a blog about the Gospel and printed his own tracts. In 2015 he was holding the initiative and was the most daring evangelist in his city. Under this period he developed the blog and wrote 31 articles about salvation, the way to God. In January 2017 God called him into full-time ministry, and to another city. After that the blog was translated into English, it was remade into book form.

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Romanian Runaway by Kelley Rene

About the Book

Alexander is a preteen living in the sewers of Bucharest. Running from conformity and the structure of life around him, Alexander seeks to medicate his pain in the only way he’s ever known.

Sal and Gloria Perkins, a couple living in small town suburbia, U.S.A., are running from the same sense of conformity and structure, but choose to medicate in a completely different way.

Alexander, Sal, and Gloria collide in a struggle to mask their own pain. Will they allow love to redefine it?

Book Excerpt

A dark-headed boy approached, adorned in a white T-shirt, cuffed denim jeans, and bare feet. He stared at the ground; his toes fidgeted the weeds and pebbles. A mangled paper bag dangled from his fingers.

“Here you go.” I placed a wrapped sandwich in his hand.

With my grocery bag now empty, I squatted down to look into his glassy-eyed gaze. He was a middle-aged boy in a child’s scrawny body. His face was pale, flakes of dried mud accented dull features. With lips pursed and turned upward, he grew embarrassed and looked away, but not before bringing the paper bag to his face and inhaling.

“Thank you,” he whispered.

“You speak English?” I grew excited.

The boy shook his head and shied away back into the crowd.

One of the local volunteers, Ivantie, was standing nearby.

“That is Alexander. He was learning English at the mission before he ran away.”


About the Author

Kelley Rene lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex with her husband and two teens. When she’s not scratching out a new novella, you can find Kelley walking her miniature Aussie, Blossom, or cuddling with a latte and good book.


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Free at Kelley’s website

Sacred Secrets of the Cedar Chest by Angela Pisaturo

About the Book

Veronica Wheaton is a wounded adult. She has suffered deep wounds relating back to her childhood upbringing. Veronica allows those hurts and abuses to influence her career as a reporter, as a result, she almost self-destructs. If not for the annoying Bible-thumping weatherman who recognized her pain, Veronica would have never found the answer and healing for her wounds.

This is a poignant account of the life of a child in a home where a parent suffers from bipolar disorder and how the love of God saved this fragile soul.

Book Excerpt

That night Veronica wrote this account in her journal;

The weather-beaten cedar chest stood in the forsaken, Victorian attic, covered with cobwebs and dust that collected over a lifetime of grief. I was afraid to life the rusted lock that held the secrets to my family history.

MY friend spotted Mother’s old coverlet, lying in the corner, crumpled up like a sad, old woman. Coffee stains and stale perfume filled the folds of the blanket. He exorcised the dust from it, and laid it down on the rotted, wood floor. So it began: my staring contest with this evil chest that held my family secrets. It seemed to take on a life of its own, daring me to expose its contents. This old cedar chest is the last piece to the puzzle of my mother’s sad, manic life.

The mere presence of that hideous chest, caused me to forget my fear, and now the desire to destroy its right to exist had emerged. I lifted its ancient lid with vengeance. Hidden memories of bloody family feuds that led to the arrival of police, bust forth in my head, and with the onslaught of emotion rushing over my soul, the contents were exposed.

About the Author

Angela Pisaturo studied writing at the Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, specializing in fiction She teaches creative writing at a local community center and also hosts author events for her students. She has penned articles for Creation Illustrated Magazine, has been an inspirational columnist for a local online newspaper, written an article for Pet Supermarket and other non profit newsletters. She presently lives in the Tampa Bay area and loves to paint, play her keyboard, garden and walk her feisty Cavachon, Sofie. She has received an honorable mention, John Gardner award for best character description in a novel for her first book, The Rich American Woman and has also received a shout-out, one of fifteen finalist in Pockets Magazine, Put Children First, First Lines Contest.

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Heart Song by Annie Douglass Lima


Two alien worlds.
One teen emissary.
No reality she can trust.
Thirteen-year-old Liz Smith has been ripped away from one foster family after another for years, so the idea of a permanent home is tantalizing. Who cares if that home is a colony sixty-five thousand light-years from Earth? The friends in her trusty e-reader will keep her company just fine on her interstellar relocation.
But when the adventure of a lifetime turns into the disaster of the cosmos, Liz can only retreat so far into the books that have always sheltered her from loneliness and loss. Trapped in half-truths and secrets that leave her questioning reality, can one orphaned bookworm find a way to stop two races from destroying each other … and somehow write a happy ending to her own story?
If you like books about space travel, aliens, or cross-cultural transitions, you’ll love this poignant science fiction adventure. Click here to get your copy of Heartsong now and start the journey today! (Shh! For July 1st and 2nd only, the ebook is available for free!)
Read on for a sample of the story …
Chapter One
My love of reading started the whole thing.
The best place to read on the Laika was in the lifeboats. I’d discovered that on the first leg of the trip, during the flight from Earth to the jump point off of Phoebe. I mean, what else was there to do when we couldn’t see much through the viewports? The view was exciting when there was one, but when you’re far away from anything, space all looks the same.
The hyperspace jump that shot us across the galaxy had been quick, of course, so no time to get bored there. And after we came out of it at the jump point off of Somav, the blue giant that would light my skies for the rest of my life, the flight toward the little moon Soma was pretty exciting, too. I couldn’t stop staring as we passed Somavia, the blue and white planet I knew none of us would ever see close up again. I wondered about the aliens whose home it was. What were they like? The pictures and video Forerunner had sent back, from the few passes it had taken in high orbit, left everyone with more questions than they answered.
Of course, we knew the planet had a breathable atmosphere. If it hadn’t been for the alien race who already lived there — and the tirtellium that we were going to mine on Soma, of course — New Horizons Industries might have decided to set up its colony on the planet Somavia instead of on its moon.
We passed Somavia three days ago, and we’d been orbiting Soma ever since. Which was also exciting, at first. I couldn’t wait to actually get down there and start life on my new home. A home I would get to help create, along with the adult scientists and miners and the rest of the Young Explorers. A home I would never be taken away from just when I was starting to settle in. My forever home. Normally I hated new beginnings, but this one was different. This would be the last new beginning of my life.
Even the colony’s name, chosen by the Samoan astronomer who discovered this solar system, was perfect. Avanoa, which apparently meant opportunity in the Samoan language, sounded to me like a kingdom from some fantasy novel.
Not that life in Avanoa was going to be a fantasy. I knew that starting a colony would be hard work, but that didn’t matter. A real home, with friends I would never have to say goodbye to, would be worth any amount of work.
Soma was interesting to look at, though not as pretty as the planet it orbited. The moon was mostly brown, with splotches of gray-green surrounding the dark blue dots that marked the location of its scattered lakes. With no actual oceans, the moon had just enough water to support a little plant and animal life. Nothing too dangerous, at least as far as we could tell from Forerunner’s pictures. Insects. Some fish and crustaceans that might or might not be edible. Small reptilian or maybe amphibian creatures that lived in and around the lakes. A handful of different mammals, all tiny, that made their homes in the hills. Nothing that seemed likely to bother two hundred human colonists setting up a new home on their world.
Of course, the aliens could be another story. We knew the Somavians had developed a limited form of space travel; we knew they had mines on Soma, too. But whatever they were mining for, it wasn’t tirtellium, and they only had a few tunnel mines in a few locations. We planned to set up our colony hundreds of kilometers away, where if all went according to plan, they wouldn’t even know we were around. Forerunner’s sensors had not detected any other artificial satellites in orbit around either Somavia or Soma, and as far as we could tell, the locals had no instruments capable of detecting Forerunner, no way to suspect we were coming. Its orbit was carefully programmed to keep it out of sight of any of their mines after dark, when it might be visible from the ground as a moving point of light.
The adults all said that hopefully we would never have to encounter any Somavians, but all of us kids hoped we would. I mean, why would anyone in their right mind not want to meet the first real live aliens actually confirmed to exist?
Jessie, who loved science fiction movies almost as much as I loved reading, had often kept Maria and Shaliqua and me awake late into the night back in our dorm room discussing all the possible alien-related adventures that awaited us if we ever made contact. Most of those possibilities were a lot more fun — though some were scarier — than the idea of living in isolation and never letting the locals know we were on their moon.
Anyway, judging by Forerunner’s footage, Somavian culture seemed peaceful, with no evidence of any wars going on down on their home world. If they did find out about the humans in their solar system, hopefully they wouldn’t mind us being there. We wouldn’t bother them, and with any luck, they wouldn’t bother us. And if they did get mad, well, the Laika had some weapons. Not enough to wage war with, but hopefully enough to convince them to leave us alone.
So much to wonder about. So much to look forward to. I could hardly wait to get down to the surface and start my new life. But here we all were, stuck in orbit for three whole days so far. Three painfully long and boring days. Earth days, that is. It had been nearly five Soman days, though we wouldn’t officially switch to using Soman time until we landed.
Atmospheric storms. Who would have thought that storms would be this big of an issue on a world with virtually no precipitation? Our science team had come up with a theory about minerals in the soil reflecting particles and wavelengths from the solar flares that Somav had been throwing out since our arrival. Whatever the case, the result was some pretty impressive windstorms in parts of the atmosphere. Since the spot picked out for Avanoa was directly underneath one of the worst storms, Captain Tyler insisted it wouldn’t be safe to try to land yet.
But no one had anticipated that the flares and storms would go on this long. At first, I was glad of the opportunity to orbit my new home and see what it looked like from space. But after a while the excitement faded, and everyone turned grouchy as we all grew more and more bored and impatient. The movies and games preloaded on our Horizon-brand tablets weren’t good enough to keep everyone happy, not while we had to put the adventure we’d all waited over a year to start on hold indefinitely. And I’d never been a big fan of video games or movies anyway.
So I did what I always do when real people get too annoying. I pulled out my old-school Novareader and turned to my true friends, the ones who never got annoying, who would always be there for me no matter what, who I never had to say goodbye to. And I escaped to the one place I had found on board where nobody would bother me or interrupt my adventures to ask what I was reading or exclaim over their new high score in who-cares-what-virtual-adventure on their RizeTab.
The Laika was designed to be taken apart when we arrived. Its decking and bulkheads would be used to help create Avanoa’s buildings until we could construct permanent residences from local rock, and that was one of the reasons the ship was so large. But big though it was, it had no extra empty space. Every compartment was full of freeze-dried food items, mining equipment, packages of seeds for genetically modified crops designed to grow well in the moon’s dry soil, and educational resources for us youth, because even on an interstellar adventure, there was no escaping school in some form.
So I had discovered in between Earth and Phoebe that the lifeboats were the best place to read. I wasn’t sure if I was really supposed to hang out in them, but they were unlocked, because after all, what would be the point in locking something that people would need to get into in a hurry in an emergency?
I sat curled up on a seat in Lifeboat 1, alternating between reading and looking out to see if anything interesting had come into sight down below. But from this angle, the one window — a wide viewport at the very front — was mostly full of stars, only a tiny sliver of Soma visible from one edge. I could have turned on the screen at the lifeboat’s navigational console and adjusted it to show me any view I liked, but that might trigger some sort of alert, and I didn’t want anyone showing up to tell me I wasn’t supposed to be in here.
So I joined Caz and her friends on their travels across the Granbo system, caught up in their space adventure on my Novareader screen, since my own space adventure had turned pretty dull. Lunch was another two hours away, so I might as well enjoy myself in the meantime.
And I did — until the ship vibrated more vigorously than usual and the fasten seatbelts sign flicked on.
I often felt as though several of me were debating inside my head. For a moment, Cautious Liz wondered if I should return to my seat. But what was the point? Practical Liz reminded me that I would be just as safe here in the lifeboat, and if the turbulence got bad, walking around with the Laika lurching under me would not be the smartest idea.
I already had my seatbelt on, since that was the best way to keep from floating around. Not that floating around wasn’t fun, but there was too little room in the lifeboat to do mid-air flips and spins without banging into things, and drifting around while I read made it hard to focus on the book. Of course my magnetic-soled shoes could have kept me anchored to the deck, but not when I wanted to sit cross-legged.
So I just tightened my seatbelt a little and turned back to The Gypsy Pearl. We had encountered turbulence lots of times in the last few days, thanks to the solar flares. It was no big deal.
But the vibrations grew stronger, and then the ship started lurching under me. I lowered my Novareader and looked around, but there was nothing to see here in the little lifeboat. The stars jumped and jerked outside the window, and if it hadn’t been for my seatbelt, I knew I would have been thrown about and probably injured already.
I waited for the crackle of the intercom and Captain Tyler’s voice to explain what was happening or issue instructions. But I heard nothing, and I wondered if the flares had damaged the lifeboat’s intercom system. They had interfered with the Laika’s electrical systems before, after all. Now I wished I’d returned to my seat while I could. If something dangerous was happening, I would rather face it with the others in the main cabin, where at least I would know what was going on.
Without warning, the lights flickered and then went out. Now that was a first. An instant later, an alarm screeched, making me jump. I gasped, really worried for the first time since we left Earth. The screeching continued as the stars swirled and zigzagged, sending faint but frightening shadows thrashing around me like alien spirits trying to take over the ship. For a second I wondered if that could actually be happening. Maybe the Somavians had powers we didn’t know about. Maybe they were trying to drive us out of their system … or worse.
Then the emergency lights embedded in the deck glowed to life, and I let out my breath in relief. The navigational computer two rows ahead of me powered on automatically, its screen lighting up green.
My relief was short-lived, though. The alarm kept blaring its intermittent warning. Screech! Silence. Screech! Silence. Screech! The turbulence was worse than ever, as though the Laika was a wild horse, bucking and leaping and trying to throw its rider off. And that rider gripped the edge of her seat all alone there in the lifeboat, wondering what in the universe was happening.
Suddenly the whirling stars vanished and Soma swung into view, filling the viewport ahead of me, a blur of brown-blue-gray-green-brown. I barely had time to notice before it was gone and the streaking stars reappeared. Then the moon appeared again.
My stomach was spinning as fast as the ship. Thank goodness I had inherited the Smith Stomach of Steel, or my breakfast would probably have ended up all around me. I could only imagine what a nasty experience that would be in zero gravity with the ship thrashing around like this.
A new noise caught my attention. A mechanical noise, a series of clicks and clinks and the sliding of metal against metal. I had only ever heard it before in simulations, but I recognized it right away, and my heart lurched in terror. “No!”
Words flashed across the computer screen, large enough to read from where I sat. LIFEBOAT LAUNCHING.
“No! I yelled again. I fumbled for the seatbelt clasp and flung myself across the tiny cabin, lunging for the manual override button beside the door. Not a smart move, I have to admit, considering how wildly everything was jerking around me. But I panicked. Can you blame me? None of our training, none of the simulations, had dealt with what to do if the lifeboat you were sitting in alone accidentally detached from the ship.
I knew what to do if a lifeboat didn’t detach when it was supposed to. I knew which lifeboat I was supposed to board in an emergency. Not this one, though they were all the same. I knew who my lifeboat buddies would be — a fairly even cross-section of the ship’s crew in terms of age and abilities, so we would have the best possible chance of survival in case not every lifeboat made it. I knew how to steer the lifeboat and bring it down for a controlled landing, even though I wasn’t the assigned helmsperson in my group. We had all learned all those skills, just in case.
But I didn’t know how to survive in deep space or on Soma’s surface on my own. The cupboards contained emergency rations and survival gear, of course, but not enough to live off of indefinitely. Of course the lifeboat would emit a signal that the ship’s sensors would pick up — I knew they were picking it up already, as of the moment my craft started to detach — but what if no one could come and get me right away? What if I landed on Soma, but the Laika couldn’t land for days or even weeks? They would have no way to rescue a stranded teenager who shouldn’t have been reading in a lifeboat in the first place.
And what if the aliens found me before my people did?
All that went swirling through my brain within a couple of seconds as I slammed my fist into the manual override button again and again. But nothing happened. That is, the hatch didn’t open to let me out into the ship’s corridor. But the incessant alarm finally went silent, and the frantic jerking and thrashing stopped, replaced by a slow, gentle twirl.
For a second, Optimistic Liz dared to hope that the trouble was over. But I knew that wasn’t it.
The lifeboat was no longer connected to the ship.
Too horrified even to yell again, I watched the Laika drift past the window, Somav’s light tinting her silver-white hull a metallic frostbite-blue against the blackness of space. She was still spinning and dancing like some huge bird as the solar flares played havoc with her electrical systems. And then I saw only stars, and then the mottled brown of the moon, then more stars. And then there went the Laika once more, further away this time.
Grabbing the back of a seat for leverage, I shoved off from the deck, thankful for the zero-gravity training. Floating was faster than clomping along in magnetic shoes, and I had to get to the controls now. I had to steer myself back to the ship.
But as I seized the arm of the helmsperson’s chair and maneuvered my body into it, I realized I had no idea how to reattach a lifeboat to its socket on the ship’s side. They had never taught us that. Were lifeboats even designed to reattach once they were separated?
Well, somebody must know the proper procedure for this kind of emergency. Captain Tyler or one of the other adults could talk me through the process. Right?
I fumbled for the seatbelt, twisting my ankles around the legs of the chair so I wouldn’t float off in the meantime. Jabbing the intercom button, I called, “Help! I’m in a lifeboat that just detached! What do I do?”
Realizing how panicked and little-girly I sounded, I took a deep breath and tried again. “I mean, this is Liz Smith on Lifeboat 1, calling anybody on the Laika who can hear me. Come in, please.”
There was no response, and I realized that the communication light wasn’t even on. The intercom was offline.
Great. Dang solar flares.
I took another deep breath. I had never felt so alone.
But the controls in front of me looked exactly like the ones in the simulator. I could do this. It would be just the same as I had practiced.
Except this was no game, where the only real struggle was to beat my classmates, to be the first to land my virtual lifeboat safely.
This was a real emergency.
This was my life at stake.
Buy Heartsong from Amazon in Kindle or paperback format here:

About the Author:

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published eighteen books in a wide variety of genres (science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.




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