Fifteen Minutes: A Novel

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Simon and Schuster, Oct 29, 2013 - Fiction - 353 pages
26 Reviews
#1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury shows why she is America’s favorite inspirational novelist with this dramatic story about character, compromise, and the cost of having it all.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes a dramatic story about fame, true love, and the cost of having it all.

Zack Dylan made a promise to God and his college sweetheart as he left his family’s horse farm in Kentucky to compete on the popular reality television show Fifteen Minutes: If he makes it, the fame won’t change him.

Overnight, Zack is the nation’s most popular contestant, a country singer with the looks and voice of a young Elvis. As his star rises, Zack is asked to compromise and quiet his beliefs, and also some­thing more. Something Zack could never have imagined. Just as America is falling in love with Zack, just as he’s on the verge of winning it all, his choices lead him to the brink of personal disaster.

At the same time, Reese Weatherly, a thera­peutic horse instructor, is no longer sure about her relationship with Zack, or the wedding they had dreamed about. While Zack advances from one round of the competition to the next, an offer comes to Reese—one that will take her to a home halfway around the world.

Then Chandra Olson—reigning diva pop star and one of the Fifteen Minutes judges—intervenes. Chandra has suffered so much public pain and pri­vate agony since her days as a Fifteen Minutes contestant. Now she wants just one thing: meaning.

Can Chandra’s private losses help Zack find his way, or will his fifteen minutes of fame cause him to lose the life he once loved? Fifteen Minutes is a story of character, compromise, and the cost of having it all. A story that raises the question: Who are the real winners?

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User Review  - judyg54 - LibraryThing

Karen Kingsbury has a gift of making her stories seem so very real! Although it took me awhile to really get into this story, by the end I couldn't put it down until I finished. It seemed very true to ... Read full review

Entertaining and inspiring!

User Review  - Christianfictionaddiction -

With likable characters and heart-tugging scenes, Karen Kingsbury latest novel is sure to garner her new fans! I will admit that I have watched many a season of "American Idol" and Kingsbury does a ... Read full review


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 18
Section 19
Section 20
Section 21
Section 22
Section 23
Section 24
Section 25

Section 9
Section 10
Section 11
Section 12
Section 13
Section 14
Section 15
Section 16
Section 17
Section 26
Section 27
Section 28
Section 29
Section 30
Section 31
Section 32

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About the author (2013)

Fifteen Minutes

chapter 1
Zack Dylan held a steaming mug of black coffee in one hand and his Bible in the other. He stood on the wraparound wooden porch of his parents'' farmhouse and watched a pair of Arabian horses run through the Kentucky bluegrass. The hundred-acre horse farm had been in the family for six generations.

He breathed deep the sweet July air and set his things down on the old wooden table. Four metal-back chairs made up the seating. Zack took the one with a view of the horses. This had been his routine lately. Taking his coffee out here and reading his Bible. He loved Jesus more than his next breath. He could feel Him close as skin. But these days he needed all the wisdom he could get. His girlfriend, Reese Weatherly, would be here in half an hour.

Their last chance to hang out before he left for Atlanta.

The Arabians stopped as if they could sense something changing, something big about to happen. Then like the wind they took off again, flying through the grass, a song in motion. Zack leaned his forearms on the old table and watched them run. His great-great-grandfather had raised thoroughbreds and in 1934 the Dylans'' horse farm had produced the winner of the Kentucky Derby. A sketch of the champion with a bouquet of roses formed the farm''s logo.

Dylan Champion Horse Farm.

A farm doomed to foreclosure if something didn''t change.

Zack let the history hit him again. Sometime in the 1950s the family stopped raising costly thoroughbreds and switched to Arabians. Now dressage riders boarded their horses here and rented time in one of the three arenas. Faith, family, and Southern horse farming. Danville, Kentucky, born and bred. The problem wasn''t the business. It was the tornado that had come through and damaged the barns and stables in January.

The damage didn''t touch the house, but the insurance didn''t cover the barns and stables. Liability, yes. Storm damage, no. The operation was too tight to justify that sort of insurance. Especially when six years ago a different tornado had done similar damage. Back then the family''s insurance had been comprehensive. After the claim, covering the outbuildings against storms wasn''t possible.

From the moment the storm passed, Zack and Duke, his fifteen-year-old brother, had worked alongside their dad to fix the damage. They needed additional lumber to replace the roofs on the outbuildings. Tens of thousands of dollars in supplies. Without that, the buildings had stayed in disrepair and most people had moved their horses to other facilities. The Dylans spent more money than they made and the tension around the kitchen table grew every day.

On top of that Zack''s sister, AJ, had been sick. She had Down syndrome and juvenile arthritis, an especially severe kind. A host of other complications had left doctors convinced she wouldn''t live another ten years.

Zack exhaled, feeling the weight of his family''s troubles. Regardless of the broken buildings and dwindling bank accounts, this was his family''s horse farm. Sure Zack had other dreams, songwriting, even singing. Those were tangents, really. Hobbies. More than anything he wanted to see the farm up and running, wanted to bring in new Arabians and even Derby contenders. Put the Dylan Champion Horse Farm on the map once more. Horse farming was supposed to be his and Duke''s legacy. The fabric of their past, the lure of their future.

A creaking sound made him look over his shoulder. The door opened and Grandpa Dan stepped out, most of his weight on his black cane. "Zack."

"Sir." He pushed his chair back and stood.

His grandpa''s steps were slow, Parkinson''s disease stealing a little more of his freedom every week. A smile lifted his weathered face. "Beautiful morning."

"Like a painting." Zack waited.

The porch boards protested with each step. His grandpa reached him and put a shaky hand on his shoulder. The old man had lived in the guest house out by the largest arena before the tornado hit. Now he stayed in the guest room on the main floor. He spent most of his time here, on the porch overlooking the farm, staring out at images from decades gone by.

The old man struggled to his seat, exhaled slowly and leveled his gaze at Zack. "You''re leaving. Is that what I hear?"

"I am. Yes, sir." Zack leaned closer, took his grandfather''s black cane and rested it against the porch railing. He sat back down. Neither of them said anything for a while, the morning breeze warm and easy between them.

Zack broke the silence first. "How are you?"

"Wonderful. Never better." The old man''s eyes looked deep and full. "Good Lord gave me another day. Got nothing to complain about." His look grew serious. "AJ''s coughing more. I''m worried about her."

"Me, too." Zack studied his grandfather. Stoic, strong. A throwback from another era. Complaining wasn''t an option. He could be drawing his last breath and he''d be more concerned with those around him.

"I hate when she''s sick. She can''t get on a horse coughing like that."

Zack patted the man''s leathery hand. "She needs a different doctor, someone from Louisville."

"Yes." The old man eyed him, sizing him up for a long moment. "You have some time?"

"Yes, sir." Zack had expected this. Dreaded it.

His grandfather looked deep into his eyes, right through him. "The audition. Fifteen Minutes."


"You know how I feel about it."

"I do. Daddy told me." Zack took a swig of coffee. His father''s words rang in his heart constantly this past week. I believe in you, son. No harm in trying out. But you know your grandfather. Dylan men don''t chase fame . . . they tend the farm and keep up tradition. They get a second job and buy the wood and fix the buildings. They find a way.

Zack forced his dad''s words from his mind. He respected his father, but still he was going to Atlanta. He couldn''t be afraid of success. The idea was ridiculous. He sipped his drink more slowly.

His grandfather gazed back at the front door, his eyes a steely reflection of some yesteryear. Gradually he found Zack again. "Why are you going?"

"What if I''m supposed to go?" Zack felt his heartbeat quicken. He set down his coffee and leaned back in the chair. His words came measured, unrushed. "Maybe God could use me better on a stage somewhere." He tried to smile. "I could pay off the farm. Daddy wouldn''t have to work so hard." Zack paused, feeling the weight of the situation. His father had looked older lately, constantly worried. He thought of something else. "We could get better doctors for AJ. Duke could go to college like he wants to."

"A lot of good men get lost on a stage."

"Not me." Zack folded his hands on the table and studied his grandfather''s eyes. "You know me, Grandpa. If I make it . . . I won''t get lost. Not ever. God loves me too much for that." Nothing stood more certain in Zack''s mind. He watched the Arabians flying across the Kentucky grass. Why was his grandpa so worried? He would go with God''s blessing, sing for His glory, and one audition to the next he would walk only through the doors that the Lord Himself opened. If singing on Fifteen Minutes got in the way of him and God, he''d pray to be sent home.

It was that simple.

His grandpa watched him. "You''re a Dylan, and you''re a good boy." The old man searched his eyes, processing. "But if they keep you, it''ll change things, Zack. Fame always does." He hesitated, his tone kind. "God-fearing men . . . we live a quiet life."

Zack didn''t argue. He respected his grandfather''s opinion but nothing would change his mind. He had prayed for God''s will and he was going to Atlanta. Besides, was he supposed to go his whole life untested? What good was his faith if it couldn''t see him through whatever lay ahead?

"What troubles me"--the old man drew a shaky breath, and for the first time a flicker of fear showed in the lines on his forehead--"is your motive, son. What do you hope to gain?" He waved his hand around. "Yes, you want to pay off the farm. Rescue your tired father. I admire that, Zack, I do." He let the moment breathe. "When I was your age I worked two jobs. Three, even. You could do that, son. Why the show?"

"I need an answer." Zack didn''t blink, didn''t waver. He breathed deep, the certainty of a lifetime filling his heart. "God gave me my voice, Grandpa. I have to at least try."

"You sing at church." Sincerity softened his eyes. "With the teens. They love you."

"Yes." Zack stared out at the far reaches of the field, at the Arabians standing alert now in a tight herd. "It''s just . . ." He turned to the old man. "What if I could shine brighter for God on a bigger stage? In front of the whole world?" A growing passion filled his tone. "Country music, Grandpa. That''s as big as it gets. People will see my faith and they''ll want Jesus. They will."

His grandfather stayed quiet, his eyes never leaving Zack''s. "God doesn''t measure big the way people measure big. Jesus had just twelve followers." He blinked a few times. "Fame is a demanding mistress."

Zack hesitated out of respect. Most people he knew were excited for him, wishing him well. But his family hadn''t gotten behind him.

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