Is Your Pastor or Priest a Man of Action? Check Out Pastor Stephen Grant in, for example, MURDERER'S ROW: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL and THE RIVER: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL by Ray Keating

Pastor Stephen Grant?

Stephen Grant is the pastor at St. Mary’s Lutheran Church on eastern Long Island. Grant is one of the more unique second-career clergy around, as he once worked for the CIA. Besides theology, his interests include archery, golf, writing, classic films, the beach, poker, baseball, and history. Grant also knows his wines, champagnes and brews. Oh yes, he generally dislikes politicians, and happens to be an expert marksman with a handgun and a rifle, while being pretty handy with a combat knife as well.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Baseball Season is Here - Enjoy a Baseball-Rich Excerpt from MURDERER'S ROW

Chapter 6 of MURDERER'S ROW: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL...
     

     Stephen Grant inhaled deeply. He loved the aromas of baseball.
     Having been mown just a couple of hours earlier, the smell of fresh-cut grass under his feet still lingered.
     He raised the glove on his left hand to his face, and took in the bouquet of oil and leather. How long has it been since I was on a baseball field? Had to be the softball team at seminary. Too long.
     Growing up in the Cincinnati area, Grant became a big Reds fan, and in addition to golf and archery, he played Little League and high school baseball. After graduating from Valparaiso University, and serving his time in the Navy SEALs and with the CIA, Grant arrived at the seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he organized and managed the seminary softball team.
     In fact, the last time he stood in centerfield, as was now the case, Grant was in the vast field at the back of the seminary property. At that time, his friend and fellow seminarian Jacob “Big Jake” Stout joked, “You’re the best we have on our baseball and basketball teams, Stephen. But considering that we’re dominated by short, pudgy guys of German descent, that’s not exactly saying much.”
     This time, except for Father Tom Stone and Pastor Zack Charmichael standing nearby, Grant was the worst on the field.
     Stephen had found out just a few days earlier that two of the benefits of being on the “Chaplain Team” for the South Shore Surf Kings would be actual uniforms and the option to wander the outfield during the home team’s batting practice.
     Regarding the uniforms, when informed by Tom, Stephen said, “I always thought it was odd that managers and coaches wore uniforms in baseball. Now, we’re adding chaplains?”
     Tom replied, “Hey, you can turn down the uniform if you want.”
     Stephen paused, and then said, “Actually, it’s kind of cool. I’m in on the uniform.”
     “Now you know why the coaches wear them, too,” grinned Tom.




     As for roaming the outfield during batting practice, that’s exactly what Stephen, Tom, and Zack were doing before the Opening Day game on the Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend.
     Zack’s smile was wide and constant. He jumped up and down on his toes, slammed a fist into his glove, and asked, “Is this great or what?”
     Tom answered, “It doesn’t get much better than shagging flies with professional baseball players.” He looked around at the various members of the Surf Kings stretching, talking, doing sprints, and reacting to the balls hit by those swinging in the cage.
     The three watched as a ball off the bat of Brodie Blue sailed over the left field fence.
     Grant admitted, “Makes me feel like a kid.”
     Tom said, “Me, too, and what about the sounds? Wood in this league, thankfully, so we get the real crack, rather than the ping, of the bat. And that slap when the ball lands in a glove. I love it.”
     Stephen replied, “Funny, I was just thinking about the smells of the game – the grass, oil and leather.”
     Zack began, “Yeah, and what about ...?” Another crack of the bat interrupted him. The ball streaked in their direction. Zack announced, “It’s mine!” He ran forward at the sinking line drive. But the ball hit the grass a few feet in front of his outstretched glove, and bounced by him.
     Tom jogged over, fielded the ball, and tossed it into the infield. He smiled at his future son-in-law. “Hmmm, now I’m not so sure that you should be coaching my future grandchildren’s Little League team.”
     “Thanks,” Zack replied. “I might have been too enthusiastic.”
     Stephen smiled, and observed, “Too enthusiastic? Not you.”
     They looked in at the pitching coach tossing another fat batting practice fastball, and Blue launching the ball high and deep.
     It was Stephen’s turn. “I’ve got it.” He turned and ran toward the six-foot centerfield fence. Grant looked over his left shoulder, picked the ball up in the sky, continued his strides, glanced one more time at the warning track and wall, and then back at the quickly descending ball. At his second step on the dirt and gravel mix of the warning track, he jumped. Using the top of the wall, Grant pulled himself up higher with his right hand, and fully extended his glove into the air. The ball landed in the mitt. The momentum of the fly ball took Grant’s forearm over the wall. Descending to the ground, he pulled the glove back with the ball resting firmly in the pocket.
     Grant held the glove up as he felt a wave of elation sweep over him.
     Shouts of approval came from around the field.
     Zack called, “Sweet catch!”
     With the bat still in his hand, Brodie Blue walked past

the pitcher’s mound, stopped at second base, and pointed at Grant. He yelled, “Who do you think you are, Mike Trout?”
     Assorted Surf Kings latched onto that, with calls of “Nice, Father Trout” and “Father Trout’s the man,” along with a “Blue robbed by Father Trout.”
     Grant was still smiling as he tossed the ball back into the infield.
     While Zack shook Stephen’s hand, Tom shook his head and said, “I know I shouldn’t be surprised by what I just saw. I suppose you have a Moe Berg story?”
     Stephen replied, “The major league catcher who became a spy? Nice, Tom.”
     Stone smiled. “Well, thank you.”
     Zack asked, “Moe Berg?”
     Tom said, “Berg took home movies in the early thirties 
when he was traveling with other major league players in Japan. Those movies supposedly were used by the U.S. when preparing for Jimmy Doolittle’s bombing of Tokyo in 1942. After he retired from baseball, Berg worked for the OSS during the war.”
     Zack asked, “OSS?”
     Stephen answered, “Office of Strategic Services. It was the forerunner to the CIA.”
     They watched a ball driven off the right field wall by Ty Beachamp.
     Zack queried, “Was Berg any good? At baseball, I mean, not spying.”
     Stephen chuckled. “I recall reading two things about Berg’s baseball skills. One said that a St. Louis Cardinals’ scout came up with the phrase ‘good field, no hit’ when evaluating Berg. The other said Berg was a true scholar. A teammate supposedly said, ‘He can speak seven languages, but he can't hit in any of them.’”
     Both Tom and Zack laughed.
     When batting practice ended, it was time for Tom, Zack and Stephen to do their job for the Surf Kings. As they approached the dugout, the manager, Sam “Salty” Waters asked, “You ready, Father Tom?”
     Waters was short, thin, and slightly slumped over. He looked older than his 43 years, as his thick hair and mustache were almost completely gray. In fact, gray had begun to appear during his earliest days in the minors, not long out of high school. That was when he earned the nickname Salty. Waters knocked around the minors for several years, getting as high as Triple A for parts of two seasons, and then became a scout for some 15 years. But when offered the position of general manager for the Surf Kings in a new independent league, Waters told team owners Mike Vanacore and Melissa Ambler that he would only do it if he could get back on the field as manager as well. They agreed.
     Tom Stone said, “Sure, Salty. We’ll be under the tree, as discussed.”
     Tom led Zack and Stephen into the walkway under the small grandstand, out the other side, and toward a large maple tree 20 yards away. Down a grassy slope on the other side of the tree ran the Connetquot River, or sometimes called Great River. The baseball diamond, many large maple trees and assorted brick, ivy-covered buildings all rested on the grounds of Clancy & Flynn College in Oakdale on Long Island’s south shore.
     Based on the plans laid out by Woodrow “Woody” Doughty, the league commissioner, each of the eight teams in the New York Summer League of Professional Baseball (NYSLB) began play during this inaugural season on a local college field that was upgraded, including new seating of at least 1,200 and, if needed, a small clubhouse with lockers and showers. The administration at each of the eight colleges was particularly elated that the individual team owner picked up the tab. The league also earned a great deal of goodwill with the public as a result.
     Salty called out to his players, “Anyone interested in the team prayer, now’s the time under the maple on the other side of the seats.”
     Twenty of the 24 players wandered over, and formed a circle around Tom, Stephen and Zack.
     Tom said, “I think you’ve all met us, but just in case, I’m Father Tom Stone from St. Bart’s Anglican Church in Eastport, and these two gentlemen are Pastors Stephen Grant and Zack Charmichael, both from St. Mary’s Lutheran Church in Manorville. The fourth member of our so-called chaplain team, whom you will see on occasion, is Father Ron McDermott from St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Center Moriches. As I announced before, we’re here to lead prayer before each of your home games, and to help you out individually in terms of any spiritual needs, or if you just need someone to talk to about, well, pretty much anything. One of us will be at each game, and feel free to contact any of us at other times.”
     Tom paused, and looked around the circle. “Okay, does anyone have any particular needs that you would like us to pray for today?”
     No one responded.
     “In that case,” Tom continued, “let’s bow our heads. Heavenly Father, we thank you for this day, and for yet another opportunity to exercise our bodies and use the gifts and talents you have given us. Grant to these players the strength and the skill to accomplish all that you would have them do. Keep them, and the players on the Long Island Sound, safe from injury or harm. Bless the coaches with wisdom to guide these players on to victory. Grant awareness to the umpires that the game may be played in fairness and honesty. And watch over all the fans who come to support the Surf Kings that they may be a source of encouragement. All this we ask in the name of the One who promises us the crown of righteousness at the end of our race in faith, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
     All echoed, “Amen.” 


Spring sale on signed copies of MURDERER'S ROW and the other Pastor Stephen Grant novels at www.raykeatingonline.com.

Also, get paperbacks and ebooks for the Kindle at Amazon.com.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring Sale on Signed Copies of the Pastor Stephen Grant Novels

Don't forget about the BIG SPRING SALE on the Pastor Stephen Grant novels signed by Ray Keating. Keating has been compared to Brad Thor and Tom Clancy, and Stephen Grant has been referred to as one of the most unique characters in fiction. 

Order signed books at www.raykeatingonline.com

"Would Make a Great Movie"

New 4-star review of WINE INTO WATER: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL on GoodReads: "Pastor Grant, former navy SEAL and CIA operative, jumps into action to help solve what's going on in the wine industry world-wide. This is an action packed book - it would make a great movie, but I would be concerned they might ruin it with Hollywood theology instead of what is presented in the book."
Thanks!!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Does Your Pastor or Priest Kick Butt?

Does your pastor or priest kick butt? No? Well, check out Ray Keating's Pastor Stephen Grant novels. Kirkus Reviews says, “Action fans will find plenty to love here, from gunfights and murder sprees to moral dilemmas.” And in another take, Kirkus Reviews declared, “A gritty, action-stuffed, well-considered thriller with a gun-toting clergyman.” Get yourself a kick-butt pastor - in paperback or for the Kindle.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

SPRING FEVER SALE ON SIGNED PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVELS!

We’ve caught spring fever, and come up with our best sale yet on signed copies of all six books - including Ray Keating's new thriller, WINE INTO WATER: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL. Yes, spring is the ideal time to read about a Lutheran pastor who once served as a Navy SEAL and a CIA operative. These are exciting and thoughtful thrillers and mysteries.

A complete set, signed by the author, is now on sale for only $56.99. Previously each book sold for $12.99-$17.99. Now each is only $9.99-$13.99 for a limited time, with the author’s message and signature. Go to www.raykeatingonline.com.



According to reviewers, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy the PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVELS. Consider just the following 10 points…

1. Reviewers love WINE INTO WATER. Kirkus Reviews says, “A first-rate mystery makes this a series standout.” Self-Publishing Review adds, “Part thriller and part mystery, Wine into Water is full of action, suspense and an electric cast of characters - both villainous and heroic - that will satisfy fans of crime thrillers.” And Aleteia.org declares, “In this adventure, sixth in the series, wine counterfeiters (no, I haven't heard of that either) infest the vineyards. When Grant's around, nobody messes with the communion wine.”

2. MURDERER’S ROW: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL by Ray Keating named “Book of the Year 2015” by “BookTalk” on KFUO Christian radio.

3. On MURDERER’S ROW, Kirkus Reviews says, “Action fans will find plenty to love here, from gunfights and murder sprees to moral dilemmas.”

4. Kirkus Reviews also gives a big thumbs up to THE RIVER: “A gritty, action-stuffed, well-considered thriller with a gun-toting clergyman.”

5. THE RIVER: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL was a “Book of the Year” finalist in 2014.

6. From a Washington Times review of THE RIVER written by a pastor and former CIA officer: “What Ian Fleming's 007 series has probably done for ex-MI-6 agents and Tom Clancy has done for retired CIA officers, Mr. Keating has done for the minority of former CIA agents who have served their country by working in the intelligence community, but now wish to serve God.”

7. The host of KFUO radio’s “BookTalk,” calls Ray Keating “a great novelist.”

8. A Touchstone magazine review of MURDERER’S ROW says: “This is a fun read, though the embedded theology is real and salutary. There is death and life, adultery and commitment, friendship and betrayal, violence and victory over violence… Perhaps the best part of the book for the reviewer is that the clergy are good at helping people bring Christ into their vocations.”

9. Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief of WORLD magazine, lists Ray Keating among his top 10 Christian novelists.

10. Lutheran Book Review says: “I miss Tom Clancy. Keating fills that void for me.”


Spring is the season for reading. So, order signed copies today – for your own enjoyment and for gifts – at www.raykeatingonline.com.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Blizzard in the Northeast!?! Fire Up the Kindle

Parts of the Northeast are staring at as much as two feet of snow over Monday night into Wednesday, according to the latest weather reports. Yikes! 

Sounds like an ideal time to download the Kindle versions of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels, and just enjoy some good reading. 

https://www.amazon.com/Wine-Into-Water-Pastor-Stephen-ebook/dp/B01MCT217H/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1489325172&sr=8-1&keywords=wine+into+water+by+keating

Ray Keating As Your Guest Speaker

Ray Keating, author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels, is available to be a guest speaker at your event. Get more information at

http://www.pastorstephengrant.com/guest-speaker.html