The past casts a long shadow — especially when it points to a woman's first love.

Her name was Mary Grace until she fell in love with the French exchange student visiting her family's Nebraska farm. François renamed her "Aglaia" — after the beautiful Third Grace of Greek mythology — and set the seventeen-year-old girl longing for something more than her parents' simplistic life and faith.

Now, fifteen years later, Aglaia works as a costume designer in Denver. Her budding success in the city's posh arts scene convinces her that she's left the country bumpkin far behind.

But "Mary Grace" has deep roots, as Aglaia learns during a business trip to Paris. Her discovery of sensual notes François jotted into a Bible during that long-ago fling, a silly errand imposed by her mother, and the scheming of her sophisticated mentor conspire to create a thirst in her soul that neither evocative daydreams nor professional success can quench.

The Third Grace is a captivating debut novel that will take you on a dual journey across oceans and time — in the footsteps of a woman torn between her rural upbringing and her search for self.



A child's antique ring and a message from beyond the grave point to the treasure of a legacy lost.

Flirty globetrotter Sybil badgers her friend Libby to travel along in seeking out the world's "sacred places" — a monastery in Japan, a mountaintop in Africa, a mosque in Istanbul. Her footloose wandering far from family values costs her more than money.

But Libby can't afford to travel, and she's plagued by a different kind of restlessness. Grieving the recent death of the grandmother who raised her in their inner-city Minneapolis tenement now slated for demolition, Libby faces homelessness in both heart and habitation.

When Libby discovers a cryptic message from beyond the grave and an antique ring pointing to a mystery in an inner room of a mansion museum in North Dakota, she sets out on a quest of her own for the meaning of heritage and home.

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The following Mosaic Collection anthologies each contain a story by me.

"Ever Greening" is Deb's short story appearing in the anthology Hope is Born.

Thirty-year-old anti-Advent Holly, who'd abandoned Montana as a pregnant teen, faces another Christmas—and this time the meaning of the Incarnation—in the barren desert of Nevada far from the evergreen forest of home.

"Blue Genes" is Deb's short story appearing in the anthology Before Summer's End.

Home for spring break during calving season on the ranch, twins Jenny and Gwynne—in pain over an unsisterly offence that's broken their unity—bring forth new life in the messy process of birth as they labor with their own forgiveness and reconciliation.

"Reconstituted" is Deb's story appearing in the anthology Song of Grace.

Aging expat Dolores, retiring alone in colonial Mexico and agitated over losing her youth, meets up for a one-day cultural tour with her visiting granddaughter and new baby. Their mother-child vitality forces Dolores to face the fear that drove her from her family and the grace that calls her back to Christian faith.

"Taste Budding" is Deb's story appearing in the anthology All Things New.

Long ago in the far away kingdom of Gastronomia, Matron instructs Moppet in the rigid oral culinary customs that regulate all of life until the day a visiting minstrel introduces the original recipe book that promises wildly free appetite and profound satiation.

"Clanging Symbols" is Deb's novella appearing in the anthology Dancing in the Rain.

In the summer of 1976, American Doran O'Connor, disenchanted with love and the faith he once embraced, travels to Kyoto to explore the culture and tutor a young Japanese student, Shoma Yamamoto. In the end, Shoma is the one who tutors Doran after the young teen discovers the red words in a castaway Bible.


Roots and Branches traces the image of the tree in the fiction of G.K. Chesterton, interpreting the underlying message of his religious convictions through biography and literary analysis. This book introduces the unitiated to a classic British author, allows students of G.K. Chesterton to mine his enigmatic work for metaphysical connotation, and encourages current-day writers to build symbolism into their own stories.

There are few intellectual exercises more rewarding than the close reading of a Chesterton text. And too few critics have made the effort. Along with most exercise, it is avoided. Perhaps they are intimidated to offer a critical analysis of a writer who is himself a master literary critic. But Deb Elkink has risen to the challenge. She has not only gone very deep, she has gone deep on one theme in Chesterton, which illuminates the rest of his writing. The branches of the tree cover a wide area indeed. But she has also plunged into one particular text: Chesterton's rollicking tale, The Flying Inn. With her essay, "The Seven Moods of Gilbert," she has presented a more penetrating analysis of this novel than has ever been written.
— Dale Ahlquist, President, American Chesterton Association

I warmly recommend Deb Elkink's excellent study. It is particularly admirable in giving Chesterton that close reading of his imagery (in this case that of the tree) and in convincingly linking particular aesthetic effects (a somewhat overlooked area in Chesterton studies) to a convincing grasp of their religious meaning. This is a valuable exploration which fills a need in accounts of the subject.
— John Coates