I am pleased to announce that my novel, THE STONE OF EBENEZER, Book 1: Trilogy of Kings Saga, will be released midnight, on August 21, 2015. In celebration, I invite you all to my Book Launch Party on Saturday, August 22 from 2-5 pm at the Barnes & Noble in Hurst, TX.
The sun stood at its full height over the once lush valley, laid to ruin by the ravages of war, now a barren wasteland littered with corpses and blood-soaked earth. Heat bore down upon them despite the early spring season. A sanguineous aroma filled the air, mingling with sweat as it ascended to assault the nostrils. Blood spewed forth from his victim as his sword sliced through flesh and bone. Nagad looked with horror at the great slaughter strewn about the field: soldiers ran, bodies fell, smoke rose. He seemed to be caught in a raging tide that threatened to engulf all in its path. The air rang shrill with the sounds of battle: swords clashing, spears splintering, cries of the dying. Nagad retched as he took in the scene.
From behind, he heard the creak of leather and the scrape of metal. Startled, he spun around. He caught the glint of a sword as it struck out at him. Instinctively, the young conscript lifted his shield to block the blade of the large Philistine. The thrust was deflected, but the tip of the sword nicked Nagad on the left shoulder. Down his bare arm, warm blood trickled.
“Ha! Well, played Hebrew,” scoffed the enemy. “But you have been marked by my blade.”
He had no voice. The enemy lunged at him with intimidating agility. Spurred on with renewed vigor, Nagad sidestepped, striking his foe across the left flank. The enemy recoiled, drawing himself away from the inflicting blade. But his armor was thick; the sword turned aside, marring the breastplate, yet not biting flesh.
The Philistine growled as he swung down upon the young Hebrew. Nagad brought his shield up to meet the enemy’s blade. His footing gave way as the brutal attack pushed him back.
With unrelenting waves, the adversary beat down the young conscript. Size and experience served the enemy well as the youth struggled to stand against the onslaught. Their swords rang as the contest raged. The young conscript grunted in his effort.
Taking a clout to the head, Nagad fell, landing hard upon his side.
“It is enough,” spat the enemy.
As he lifted his shield, the young Hebrew pushed with his feet against the hard earth, scrambling away from the foe.
The Philistine paced toward his prey. Standing over the encumbered youth, the enemy raised his sword.
“Away with you dog!” snarled the Philistine.
– excerpt from THE STONE OF EBENEZER, Book 1: Trilogy of Kings Saga, pg. 1-2
Sorry folks, that is all I’ll give for now. I hope that whet your appetite. Don’t forget to follow this blog to receive email updates to see the progress of this novel. I will be announcing the release date very soon!
In the days of the last judge of Israel, from the foothills of Ephraim to the coast of the Great Sea, THE STONE OF EBENEZER is a thrilling saga of loss and revenge. As nations clash in a struggle for regional dominance, two men, on opposite sides, each strive to overcome the past and reconcile faith in his god.
The battle is about to begin! Summer 2015
I am truly fortunate to have experienced such unfailing support in writing this novel. With pleasure, I here present the foreword to THE STONE OF EBENEZER, written by my good friend and mentor, Rev. Judith Wiegman. Her enthusiasm for my effort is overwhelming; she is a constant source of guidance and strength.
So without further adieu, the FOREWORD:
~ ~ ~
As I begin this Foreword, I am reminded of the call from Susan when she completed her manuscript “The Stone of Ebenezer.” Months before, she had contacted me to pray about writing the Foreword; a request that aroused a feeling of deep responsibility. I am a pastor, author, and faith writer columnist but this was more than a writing assignment, more than a column for the newspaper, it was a call from Susan’s heart to mine; one I accepted with feelings of immense humility.
Susan and I met when as a children’s pastor; I taught her three children in a Dallas area church. Our mutual love for prayer, music, and writing, bound our hearts and minds together as kindred spirits. One summer I learned of Susan’s love for biblical, historical accuracy when she created booths for a children’s vacation Bible school. The children were intrigued to step back in time and experience life in the little village of Nazareth where Jesus grew in “wisdom, and stature and in favor with God and men.”
I agonized with Susan and her family upon learning how deeply they were all wounded two years prior to our meeting in the powerful tragedy of September 11, 2001. They were forced to travel a journey, not of their choice, but theirs just the same. One of the passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 77 that hit the Pentagon was her father, Stanley R. Hall. I prayed diligently for her as she struggled to publish her first book, SILENT RESOLVE AND THE GOD WHO LET ME DOWN. I share her grief each time I pick up the book and re-read any portion.
During our times together, Susan would share about another “book” gathering momentum in her heart and head. As an author I could certainly relate and was not surprised when she completed her second work, THE STONE OF EBENEZER. Susan sent this message: “I am sending the manuscript certified mail. It is always a frightening thing to put your manuscript in the mail. It is like sending your child away unsupervised.” Her choice of words struck a memory in my thoughts as they wandered to an Old Testament mother who placed her child in a basket made of bulrushes and “sent him away” unsupervised. As the mother gave the basket a small push, she trusted God to provide a person that would receive the child and care for him. 
I could picture Susan as the manuscript left her hands in Texas headed for mine in Pennsylvania. It arrived! Overwhelmed by excitement, I signed for the treasured box. I held it in my hands, called immediately to announce its safe arrival and curled up in a sunny spot to begin an incredible journey that began long ago in Ancient Israel. A journey traveled by Old Testament characters, re-born in Susan’s heart, now ready for anxious readers such as myself.
As I began to read, I envisioned the daunting task Susan faced as the overwhelming “I must write” feeling flooded her mind repeatedly in the early dawn. I marveled at the countless hours of research she logged in on this work. Her dedication allowed her to portray the events found in I Samuel chapters 4-7. Its amazing, vivid account of biblical events is historically accurate. The Bible states “So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. The ark of God was captured and Eli’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas died.” God’s judgments, treacherous journeys, blood battles and even romance come alive to the reader in this skillfully written epic story.
Portrayed in her book are characters brought forward from Old Testament antiquity and presented face to face for the reader to experience. This novel draws the reader to “be at home” in the Old Testament setting. Woven throughout its pages, the reader will readily see the hand of God as it moved in times past to protect the ark of God and the chosen children, Israel. It will allow the reader to grasp the fact that God’s faithfulness to His Word in both blessing and judgment has not changed and can be claimed by us today.
I am honored to introduce this work by Susan Van Volkenburgh and to encourage her to pursue the completion of the series, TRILOGY OF KINGS SAGA.
~ FOREWORD BY: Rev. Judith Wiegman
Ordained Minister, Church of the Nazarene, 2003
Women’s Conference and Retreat Speaker
Faith Writer Columnist, Jotting Judi, The Dalhart Texan Newspaper 2008-2013
Author: Featured in Teatime Stories for Mothers, River Oak Publishing; Tulsa, Oklahoma
Featured in God’s Vitamin C for the Hurting Spirit, Starburst Publishers, Lancaster, PA
Recent Children’s Books: The Trail of the Wooden Horse, A Stranger at the Gate, The Night of the Storm, Beacon Hill Press, KC, MO
 Luke 2:52
 Exodus 1:22-2:10
 1 Samuel 4:10-11
To learn more about Susan’s experience with September 11, 2001, read her book: SILENT RESOLVE AND THE GOD WHO LET ME DOWN (a 9/11 story). You can find it at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, LifeWay or your area retailers.
Grand Prize Winner of the New Look Writing Contest
The Stone of Ebenezer
by Susan Van Volkenburgh
Coming Summer 2015
NAGAD’s life was perfect until it was torn apart by the ravages of war. Now, haunted by his past, this young conscript must meet the enemy in battle. With shaking rage the nations collide in a fierce conflict for dominance. Yet more is at stake than the survival of a people. The dispute contests the claim of immortal supremacy, the outcome to prove whose god reigns omnipotent.
And so, Nagad of Benjamin pushes on through the raging tide of battle. But to no avail. Soon crushed by the mighty war machine of Philistia, thousands of Hebrew soldiers lay slaughtered upon the carrion infested field. Hope has abandoned them. Then it is remembered, that in the days of their fathers, any army that bore the Ark of the Covenant could not be defeated. They need the Ark, for only then can the Chosen of God prevail against the enemy.
But they are wrong.