Part I:
She’s All That (Spa Girls Collection)Kristin Billerbeck. Integrity, paper (256p) ISBN 1-59145-328-3

Christian chick-lit star Billerbeck has moved on from her popular Ashley Stockingdale trilogy with an engaging new novel that features struggling fashion designer Lilly Jacobs, and her two best friends Morgan and Poppy. The trio met at Stanford, and they couldn’t be more different. Morgan’s the down-to-earth daughter of a wealthy diamond dealer, while Poppy is a tie-dye-sporting chiropractor who’s always prattling on about nutrition and energy. Now in their late 20s, the three are still best friends, and they make periodic trips to a spa when life gets too rough.

As the novel opens, Lilly’s just been passed over for a promotion, and discovers her boyfriend has been two-timing. She decides it’s time to launch her own couture company. Along the way, Morgan gets ensnared in a curious May-December romance, and Lilly falls for a gold-digging Brit she meets at church. As if her plate weren’t full enough, Lilly’s birth mother, who abandoned her as a baby, turns up out of the blue; what’s more, $20,000 of Lilly’s start-up money vanishes. But all’s well that ends well: Lilly finds true love and is trumpeted as the next Vera Wang. Snappy dialogue and lovable characters make this novel a winner. (Oct. 4)

Cheering for my pal Kristin! You go, girlfriend!

Part II: The most important part of any book is the beginning. I’m second-drafting and have this for an opening. Whaddya think? Does it grab you?

Silence, as thick as wool, wraps itself around me as I enter the judgment hall. When I fold my hands, the chink of my chains shatters the quiet.

The tribune looks up from the rolls of parchment on his desk, his eyes narrow with annoyance. I don’t blame him. I am not a Roman citizen, so I have no right to a trial. Besides, I have already confessed and am ready to die.

My appearance here is a formality, an exercise in Roman diligence before the application of Roman justice.

The tribune’s eyes flick automatically over my form, register my sober tunic and veil, then return to an unfurled parchment in his hand. “State your name for the record.”

“Mary,” I say, using the Greek form for his benefit. “But my people call me Miryam. Miryam of Magdala.”

Hope that works! If not, there’s always draft three!


  1. Sue

    The opening almost works for me. I’ve read the line about silence thick as wool lately, can’t remember where, so that almost struck me as cliche. But you built tension in the rest of it. Made me wonder why she was condemned to die and why she was so content with the outcome.

    PS I just bought Unspoken today. Looking forward to reading it after reading your blog for a few weeks.

  2. Angela

    Unless I come up with a new first sentence (which is entirely possible), I think the “wool” is going to stay. She’s a wool-worker, you see. Magdala was famous for to things: salted fish and wool. So this one, in Mary’s case, is more than apt.

    When you write historical fiction, your metaphors are limited to what the characters would know. No “nerves of steel” before steel was invented, no “cotton” in a land that didn’t know any, etc.

    Thanks for the comment! Enjoy UNSPOKEN!

  3. C.J. Darlington

    I’m new to this blog but wanted to chime in. I like the opening. It poses enough questions to make me want to read on (and I’m not usually a historical fiction reader) but also answers some questions right off the bat, which I appreciate. Makes me think, “There must be more to Mary Magdeline than I know.”

  4. Accidental Poet

    I’m interested. I wasn’t expecting chains, and then I wasn’t expecting a woman. That’s enough to keep me reading.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.