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Friday, June 7, 2013
Barbara Derkson returns to Fearless Friday!
Barbara Ann Derksen
the expressions on the faces of her readers, as well as answering questions
about her characters, is what drives author and speaker, Barbara Ann Derksen to
write yet another book and another. Her favorite genre is murder mystery but
each book brings forth characters who rely on God as they solve the puzzle in
devotionals are sought after each year when she publishes a new one that reflects
what God has placed on her heart. From Straight
Pipes, her first, to More Than Bells,
Preparation for Prayer, the latest, Barbara’s devotions take people to the
place where God can touch their heart and leave a lasting impression. When
people stop by her table for the latest, they talk to her about using the
devotions in their chapter meetings, or their personal devotions. Some men
return at their pastor’s request because the books are used as launch pads for
men’s bible study. Many copies have been passed on to new believers as
in Canada, Barbara lived in the US for 12 years. There her writing surfaced as
she worked under contract as a journalist for six years with over 2500 articles
published in newspapers and magazines during that time. Meeting and
interviewing people, digging for the hidden gems in their lives, made those
years informative as well as instructive. She began attending Colorado
Christian Writer’s Conferences and each year, under the tutelage of great
Christian writer’s like James Scott Bell, Angela Hunt, and others, she honed
has developed a speaking platform and has spoken across the US and in Manitoba,
Canada for women’s groups and in church services on topics such as The Writing
Experience, working in the ministry of Christian Motorcyclists Association,
Love, Parenting, Time Management, and a host of others.
17 books to her credit, one currently inactive and awaiting revision, each one
surpasses the last, according to her readers. They look forward to discovering
the new characters in a new series Finders
Keepers. Book One – Shadow Stalker – will be released mid-May, 2013
Writing, however is simply a tool to be used
in the ministry she shares with her husband. With his gift of music (he sings
country gospel), Barbara and her husband operate CatchFire Ministries, a
ministry to bikers through Christian Motorcyclists Association. They travel for
four to five months every summer in the US and the rest of the time in Canada
where they seek to inspire, encourage and invite people into a deeper ministry
with Jesus Christ. They also minister at Veterans Homes and churches along the
way and are about to begin a ministry to Juvenile offenders incarcerated at
Manitoba Youth Center. The mysteries include a gospel message that opens her
readers to the possibility of reading books written from a Christian World view
and supply funds for CatchFire.
Shadow Stalker - An ominous shadow hangs over her, as
Christine Finder,alias Melissa Rompart,
visits the brutal slaying of her parents most nights in a dream.The threat of discovery propels her to search
for the whereabouts of the killer to see the man brought to justice. In the
meantime, the killer stalks her mind while she operates Finder’s Keepers, an
agency that searches for the people her clients hire her to find. Nathan Brent
is only four years old and missing. Will she find him in time or will the
killer find her first?
Page count 336
Read the Prologue and Chapter One!
Her vision seeped through the louvers on the utility room
door. The images seemed broken as in a jigsaw puzzle until she leaned forward
and placed her forehead against the wood. Her insides tightened. Everyone was
shouting. She willed her body to stop trembling but it seemed to have a will of
its own. The gun that the stranger held, just like on TV but different, was
pointed at her father. This was real. Daddy had hid her ... told me to stay where I am until ... She couldn't remember.
Daddy’s voice sounded like it did when he talked on the
phone sometimes. “What do you want with us? You have no business being here. We
said no contact."
She watched his face get redder than she'd ever seen it,
even when he'd been out in the sun too long. Mommy was shaking her fist. She never did that. The stranger smiled,
totally silent, not intimidated, it seemed to the five year old. A shiver
walked its way up her spine. She’d seen guns like that in the cartoons she
watched. This one was a little longer though. Only business, the man said. What business, she wondered.
The man straightened
his arm, the one holding the gun. Her vision blurred for a second, horror filling
the empty spaces in her brain. The explosion echoed in the foyer. The bullet
seemed to travel in slow motion. Just
like the cartoons, she thought. Her daddy’s body slammed into the banister
of the staircase heading up to the bedroom area and the maid’s quarters. The
railing shook. Her father’s body flopped forward. His head smacked the floor.
He lay still then.
covered the wall behind where her father had stood. Her mother screamed and
then was silent. Before her father's body hit the tiled foyer, she watched the
side of her mother’s head explode. Specks of blood and other gooey stuff
splattered all over the walls, mixing with the blood from her father. Her
stomach lurched. She wrapped a hand tightly across her mouth. A silent scream
rattled around in her head seeking an escape. Get up, it said. Daddy.
Mommy. Get up. Please. The scream evaporated, as if it had never been. They
weren’t moving. In the cartoons, they always got back up. Why don’t they get up?
her eyes, blurring her vision again. Daddy just lay there. Mommy lay beside
him, covered in the blood that flowed from her body. Her sightless eye stared
toward the girl, hidden. The girl felt as if she was going to throw up but she
swallowed instead. She swiped at the tears that silently trickled down her
pudgy cheeks. Her mother told her she had cute dimples, whatever that was. Her mother
liked to touch her cheeks. Now...
as the man, the monster, moved toward the entrance. Then he stopped. He looked
up the stairs, then down the hall. He looked toward her hiding place, his eyes
cold, calculating, wondering. Her stomach lurched, the fright almost real
enough to touch. Could he see her? Her daddy had told her to hide here. He knew
they were in danger. Why? Who was this
man? How did daddy know him? Maybe it was mommy the man hated. Why?
Footsteps interrupted her questions. The man was moving down the hall straight
backwards, crawling on all fours as if she were a spider. Her gymnastics
teacher had taught her that. I need to
get out of here. He will kill me, too. She remembered her discovery when she’d
hidden in here last week. Her cousins had come for a visit. They loved to play
hide and seek in the large, multistoried mansion that was her home. She'd found
a door leading to the garage where her daddy’s cars were kept under the chauffeur’s
apartment. She’d sneak out that way.
hanging tools brushed her shoulders as she crept under them toward safety. They
swung to and fro. It was as if they whispered, “She’s in here.” She twisted her head behind. She couldn't see through
the slats in the door anymore but the heavy tread of footsteps grew louder,
closer. She reached the hidden door. It creaked as she slipped through.
voice echoed through the tiny room, resonating off the walls of the small
space, the sound carried over the creak of the door as he pulled it open. The
menace in his voice was gone, replaced by enticement.
into the large garage. Ignoring the man, she skirted the three cars stored
there. Her heart pumped so loudly in her ears, the sound blocked out the rustle
of the man's clothes as he squeezed through the same opening. She turned
slightly and saw his shadow. Her short legs pumped toward the door leading to
the stone walled courtyard and the gated entrance to the back yard. The wrought
iron gate was open. Good.
flew over the paved driveway toward the gate. She turned once to see if the
chauffeur was nearby. Benson played with her sometimes. He was nowhere to be
seen. Then she remembered. Benson had asked for the day off to take Maria, the
maid, to the beach. There’s no one to
help. She streaked through the wrought iron gate.
The yard was
tree filled, almost like a park. She ran like the wind, as if the devil himself
was after her. He is. She reached the
second gate in the high wrought iron fence that surrounded her parent's property.
It was slightly ajar. Her parent's always kept this one locked but now... She
almost forgot to breathe as she raced through it and into the street. The
sidewalk led to town. Her legs pounded the pavement hard. “Wait.” The shout
came from behind her. The man was following.
The sound of
his footsteps bounced off cement walls and rock enclosures, the attempt of homeowners
to protect what was theirs. Trees, thick for privacy, lined the street, hiding
nearby houses from view. Traffic was non-existent along this street at this
time of day. She ran. Her instincts told her that life, her life, depended on
it. She rounded a corner but then peeked back. He was still coming, walking
briskly in her direction. I need to hide.
under a nearby bush, its dense foliage
the perfect cover, she thought. The picture of her mother’s head scattering
debris all over the walls played like a ticker tape through her brain. Her stomach
roiled again and she gagged. Mommy.
Daddy. Please help me. Footsteps rounded the corner. The sound grew louder.
He’ll find me. I have to leave.
He reached for her with one hand while the other, the one that had held the
gun, was in his pocket. She ducked just out of his reach. She raced like the
wind, staying off the sidewalk this time. She flew through the trees as if
someone carried her, her feet barely touching the ground long enough to make an
indent in the leaves. Her body slammed into low branches that scratched and
tore at her clothing. She was shorter than the man so movement for her was
easier here, she reasoned. The heavier footsteps had slowed, proving her right.
She heard a twig snap. He was still coming. Maybe a policeman…
ran. Her legs hurt. Muscles contracted painfully. Trickles of blood from
scratches marred her perfect skin, skin that her mother would caress from time
to time. Mommy. The thought hurt so
much. Her daddy liked to swing her over his head. She almost smiled at the
thought but then tears flowed again when she remembered. He’s back there. Lying on the floor. Blood oozed from his forehead. He
never got back up.
continued. She rounded another corner. Her body slammed into legs encased in
dark blue pants. Strong hands steadied her but she wriggled to be free. She
looked over her shoulder, twisting this way and that. “Hey there. What’s the
hurry?” The voice sounded kind, different than the one she ran from. She looked
The man’s smile turned quickly to a frown, concern written all over his face.
in the direction she’d come from. Her breaths were mere gasps, words
impossible. Tears fell unhindered. She slipped behind the legs. Would the man shoot this person too? She
pointed again as the man rounded the corner. She saw him stop before the
policeman could look in the direction she pointed. The man ducked his head as
his foot stepped backward. She watched him, silently and as quickly as he’d
come, step behind the nearest tree, out of sight. Her heart felt as if it would
leap out of her chest. Then she was sick. All over the shiny black shoes of the
policeman she’d collided into.
“I don’t see
what you’re trying to tell me, Melissa. Calm down. Just take a deep breath.” He
saw her looking at the mess at his feet. “Don’t worry about that. I can clean
them. But what’s got you in such a tizzy?”
swallowed, tears streaked down her cheeks as if they’d never stop.
“He-he," She hiccoughed. She pointed in the direction she'd come from.
"He shot mommy and daddy.” She gasped for another breath. Her finger shook
as she continued to point toward the corner where the monster had disappeared.
“He shot them.”
sat up in bed, her back straight. She swiped at the streaks of perspiration on
her face only to discover they were tears. Images of her parents disappeared
like wisps of fog. She shuddered. The dream always felt so real, just like it
happened yesterday. The face of that
monster never fades. One day ... She swung her legs to the floor and hung
her head. The loneliness was always overpowering after the dream left. She rose
from the bed and looked at the twisted sheets. She sighed. Nights like this are never restful.
She stepped into
her tiny bathroom, turned on the pewter coated hot water tap, and splashed her
face. Images swam before her eyes. She shuddered. I hate that dream. She grabbed the lace edged towel that hung near
her right hand and covered her face, escaping into its folds. A cold nose
brushed her bare leg. “Chief.” She looked down at her large German shepherd.
The dog wagged his tail in response and then cocked his head as if to ask if
she was okay.
his head. “I’ll bet you wanna go for a run, don’t you?” She ran her fingers
behind his ears. Then she looked at the clock on her night stand. “Man, its
only 7 a.m.” Christine groaned and then slipped through the door on her way back
to bed. Chief blocked her progress. “Aw, come on. It’s too early.” He whined
and then wagged his tail harder.
right. I guess an early start will do us both good.” She stepped toward the
hook behind her bedroom door where she kept her running clothes.
the shorts and t-shirt she wore at night on her bed. Chief barked.
"Sh-h-h. You'll wake the neighbors." She grinned at her pet/partner
of three years and then pulled the sweatshirt she used for her early morning
excursions over her head. She stepped into the matching pants. The gray fabric
warmed the cold spots on her leg. I like
wearing shorts to bed but some nights they’re slightly inadequate, she
decided. Maybe it’s time for flannels.
She turned toward the door to the hallway. Oh,
right. Running. She slipped her sweatshirt off again and retrieved her
sports bra from the chair beside her closet. I hate these things.
ready, if a little groggy still, she looked at her patient animal. “Okay Chief.
Let’s go.” Christine walked briskly down the hall, past the other two rooms that
would one day be an office and another bedroom, and through the living room of her
modest home. She opened the drawer in the coffee table and located her taser.
With one hand, she pocketed her weapon and with the other, turned off her home
alarm system. The front door was double bolted so she turned the bolts and then
took the industrial strength chain off before stepping into the early morning
air. The sun isn’t even up yet. She
groaned. Oh, well. “We won’t have any
traffic to contend with at least.” She looked down at her companion and then locked
the door behind her.
had chosen this area to live in because dogs didn’t require leashes in the
nearby park. She wanted Chief to be able to run free. She looked at her pet as
he lifted his leg at the closest oak tree. Her heart filled with love. Even if he does push me out of the house
before sunrise. Her stride increased as soon as Chief was able to keep up.
They moved toward the walking path the city had devised for just this purpose
through the park.
a point to never do things the same way or at the same time each day but she’d
go for a run when she had the time. She felt it kept her agile. She chuckled.
It also cut down on how stringent she needed to be with her diet. Can’t leave the junk food alone.
The morning air
felt like an early fall was descending. She noticed the beginning of some red
hues appearing within the green leafy trees that were in abundance along her
street and into the park. She inhaled the crisp air, coughed as the cold air
hit her lungs and then inhaled again enjoying the smell of smoke from nearby
chimneys. I love that smell. But not the
thought of winter coming. She
smiled. The cobwebs of the dream were finally dissipating.
hidden among the leaves of a nearby tree, chirped it's greeting at them, as
they made their way along the path. Christine kept a steady pace, running
defensively, looking for shadows that moved. She kept her pace slow enough that
she could enjoy the beauty around her, what she could see of it at this early
hour. If it weren’t for Chief … The dog had no trouble keeping up. His
muscles rippled beneath his sleek fur and his breathe gave off wisps of cloudy
emissions. His training kept him alert.
turned her head toward the east. The yellow gold rays of the sun could be seen
through the branches of the trees in the distant landscape. As the duo made
their way down the path that wound around the circumference of the park, more
birds could be heard as the sky lightened. Christine began to relax a little,
her vigilance not as worrisome. Then the sun slipped up over the horizon illuminating
everything in its path.
led the way past the walking bridge that led to a favorite ice cream stop for area
residents. I love living on the edge of
the park. It gives me a place to get away from the search. She grinned as
she picked up the pace a little. I won't
need to work out at the gym today, I think.
areas of well-kept lawns filled the left side of the path, places where people
often enjoyed picnics after a long day at the office. Now the area was empty. Christine enjoyed the serenity that surrounded
her. Dew twinkled on the blades of grass as she sped quickly by. Instead of
cavorting across the wet grass as dogs loved to do, Chief matched her pace
right beside her.
minutes had passed, she guessed, when Chief whined and then stopped just off
the path. She stopped as well but continued to pump her legs up and down to
maintain her heart rate. She reached into her pocket, pulled an empty bag out
of her pocket and turned it inside out. She slipped her hand inside and when
Chief was finished, she bent forward to clean up after him. The nearest trash receptacle
gained a deposit.
on, Chief. Time to get home. I have a busy day today and so do you." She
reversed direction and began the trek home. Chief fell into step beside her and
then stretched out when she expended an added burst of energy. The run cleared
her mind as it always did, and gave Chief his early morning exercise as well.
By the time
she reached the yard of her little bungalow, Christine was panting almost as
much as Chief. She bent forward resting her hands on her knees and then
stretched her legs, one at a time, to cool down. Chief rolled around on the
grass giving his back an extra work out on the prickly twigs hidden in the thatch.
Christine laughed. "I guess that's your way to cool down, huh Chief?"
She reached over to scratch him behind his ears when he walked beside her to
their back door.
I feel so lucky to have this house, she
thought, not for the first time. Once I get my agency up and running, I’ll be
able to cover the costs from my salary but for now … Christine took long
strides toward her back door, continuing to stretch her tired muscles. "Mr.
Goodman did a good job finding this house for us, didn't he Chief?" The dog
panted in response. If I can't have
parents to advise me, then a lawyer is the next best thing, I guess. And it
doesn’t hurt to have a trust fund.
her door, stepped inside and allowed her vision to sweep the premises for
anything that might be out of place. She relocked the door as soon as Chief
slipped through behind her. Her habits had been ingrained in her since
childhood. She'd been taught to always be aware of her surroundings and to make
sure her house was secure ... just in case.
heightened her insecurities, as always. She jumped when the phone rang as soon
as she was inside the kitchen. She reached toward it. Wonder who could be calling so early. She popped it open.
The voice on
the other end was from a new friend at the local police detachment. "Oh.
Hi, Charlie. What's up?" She listened as the man on the phone gave her
some disappointing news. "But, can't you tell me anything else? I mean ...
they're my parents." She listened as Charlie reiterated his reasons.
"Yeah ... well ... I'm going to find him. I'll just ... Yeah, fine."
She slammed the phone closed.
banged her fist on the counter. "Darn regulations. Just because I’m
family. They say I’m too close to the situation. Phewy." She scowled
toward her dog whose ears were folded back on his head. Then she marched toward
her bedroom. She punched the doorframe as an added inflection over her
unsatisfactory phone call. "I'll just have to find another way, won't I
straightened the crumpled sheets on her bed, threw the duvet over the cover and
then straightened the pillows and the shams.
I'll never be free if I don't get some answers. She grabbed a pair of jeans
from the closet. Christine inspected the shirt she’d worn once before to make
sure it was still suitable and deposited it on her bed post to keep it free of
wrinkles. Now for a quick shower.
Before he finds me. The thought traveled
across her brain as quickly as any she'd had that morning. She looked at her
reflection in the mirror. The frown lines were back. She slipped out of her running
clothes and tossed them in the hamper under the vanity. She reached past the
shower curtain and twisted the knob in her shower stall. Hot water erupted from
the rain shower head. She folded the plastic lined floral fabric back and then
That's why I cultivated my friendship with
an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They're federal. I thought ...
but it seems not. She soaped her hair and massaged her scalp. Her hair was
a lot shorter than when she'd grown up but it still got greasy if she didn't
wash it every day. As she ran fingers through her curls, she assessed her
situation again. "I'll just have to get a little friendlier with Charlie.
Get him on my side." She grinned.
gentle spray worked its magic on her senses, helping her relax for the first
time all morning. She stood still, letting the overhead shower head pour water
over her as if she were standing in a rain forest during the afternoon deluge.
Her mind returned to the conversation with Charlie.
He said they
never let family members know the details of an on-going investigation. They’ve had twenty years. She leaned her
head back allowing the spray to rinse her hair really well.And they’re no closer to
knowing the truth about my parents’ killer than they were the day it happened.Their regulations are ridiculous. Who
else has a better right to know? I guess I'll just have to find out what I need
to know a different way. Maybe the lawyer ...
stepped out of the shower, grabbed a nearby towel, and began drying her slender
body. Her muscles rippled. Maintaining a high degree of fitness was always of
personal interest to her. She looked toward Chief. His body seemed relaxed as
his head lay over his large paws but she knew he was watching her every move.
"You ready for a busy day, boy?" The dog lifted his head and then
opened his mouth, his tongue hanging out one side of his mouth, His intelligent
eyes spoke volumes as if to say, "I'm ready. Let's go."
chuckled. "You like the added training, don't you? One day, you'll be the
one to solve one of those missing kid cases." She hoped so. Then it would
all be worth it … the six months spent training hard every day in order to open
her agency for finding missing children.
Chief had been trained to work as a team. The training was for finding any
missing person, but she hoped it would help them specialize in children. That’s
where her heart was. Since her move to this location, she’d found a private
instructor. They could hone their skills and keep sharp. It did keep her out of
her office part of the time. "And that's the problem, Chief. I can't find
out what I need in my parents’ case if I'm not there."
walked past her dog, dodging his sharp claws with her bare feet, and removed
clean lingerie from her dresser drawer. While she dressed, she thought about
her life until now. Born Melissa Ramport, she'd been raised by a distant cousin
of her dad's after her parents were murdered. They had changed her name to
Christine Finder ... to protect her, they said. I'm glad I kept my adopted name, though.
Finders had given her a good life. She thrived as a small town girl in Texas.
She'd learned to shoot, ride a horse, and herd cattle right along with her
guardian's ranch hands. She'd become a legal permanent resident of the United
States as soon as she was old enough to understand but she'd retained her
Canadian citizenship. The nightmare had ended ... almost ... a long time ago
but the details of that night were as clear as if it had happened yesterday.
Now that she was living near the city where it all began, the dreams had
after we’ve spent some time at the office, we need to go see Mr. Goodman."
She watched the dog's ears perk up as if he understood all she was saying. She
buttoned the top button on her shirt, and then reached with her right hand to
scratch the dog between his ears. "Maybe he will answer some of my
questions since he's been looking after mom and dad's estate all these years.
Surely he wants to see their killer caught just like I do." A tingle
walked up her spine from her tailbone. She'd been warned, hadn't she?
pulled on her comfortable shoes, grabbed her handbag from the dresser, and then
walked briskly through the door of her bedroom, with Chief right on her heels.
She wobbled in her haste and struck one of the photographs she'd mounted on the
wall with her shoulder. It was the one of her mother and father on their last
anniversary. They seemed so happy. She straightened it and then shook her head.
Can't think about that now. Gotta get to
work. "Come on, Chief. Let's get some breakfast and then hit the
Are you a “pet person” or prefer no pets? I love dogs of all
kinds but especially Shih-Tzus. I also have to restrain myself when I see a
magnificent buffalo, a horse (any kind), big cat like a tiger or a lion, polar
bears, etc. Everything needs a hug, don’t they?
Would you rather travel or stay at home? I love to travel but
home is great too, especially after a lengthy trip.
Do you read more or write more? I read more but writing is also
a passion. With 17 books published since 2003.
Would, or do, ride a motorcycle or prefer to ride/drive a car?
It depends on the weather but I love riding a motorcycle when the sun is
shining. I dress differently when it rains but that works too.
Are you part of a big church congregation or a small church? I
am part of a big church and a small mid week group with my husband and a couple
of ladies bible studies.
Do you eat at home or eat out? I love to cook, to try new
recipes on my husband, But I also love to explore new restaurants and try new
Listen to music or prefer quiet? I love listening to music when
my house is all quiet and it plays in the background. When I am writing,
however, the music must be instrumental.