Thursday, January 31, 2013

Love's Journey Home by Kelly Irvin


Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series, which includes To Love and To Cherish,  A Heart Made New, and Love’s Journey Home, which released February 1. 2013. She recently signed with Harvest House Publishing for a three-book spin-off series entitled the New Hope Amish.

Kelly has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine, published by Five Star Gale in 2010 and 2011.

The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter. For more than nineteen years, she has worked in public relations for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-four years, and they have two young adult children. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors.



You can find Kelly's book for sale in the following locations:


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BACK PAGE BLURB:

Do you ever get a second chance?



It’s been seven years since her husband died, but Helen Crouch is doing just fine. She’s selling her jams and canned goods at the bakery and making a tidy living. But her whole world goes topsy-turvy when a new family moves to town. Gabriel Gless has brought his children to Bliss Creek to escape the worldly influences in Indiana. Helen and Gabriel have so much in common—the loss of their beloved spouses, the experience of raising their families alone, their rock-solid faith—so why can’t they seem to speak without arguing?

And that’s not all that’s going on in Bliss Creek this summer. In the middle of a punishing drought, the community is faced with the decision to uproot their families and establish a new settlement. As families struggle to say goodbye, each one must find the faith to follow the Lord’s direction.

*          *          *

Join the families of Bliss Creek in the dramatic conclusion to their story, and discover with them the joy of finding home.

EXCERPT:

Chapter 1
Helen Crouch squeezed by a couple busy scolding a small boy who appeared to have a green lollipop stuck in his golden curls. Smiling, she angled her way through the growing crowd along the parade route. She could remember when Edmond had been that age. He’d been so sweet and anxious to please as he rummaged for eggs in the chicken coop or helped her pluck weeds in the garden. Ten years and a rumspringa later she could see little of that child in her only son. Inhaling the mingled aromas of popcorn and cotton candy, she held her hand to her damp forehead to block out a July sun that peaked through glowering clouds overhead. Maybe Edmond had slipped into the crowd to find Emma and Thomas for her.
Not likely, given a recent spate of disappearing acts by a sixteen-year-old apparently bent on squeezing every last drop from his running around.
Mudder, look, funnel cakes.” The note of entreaty in Naomi’s voice told Helen her oldest daughter wanted to ask, but knew better. Their egg and jelly money wouldn’t stretch to treats—not this month. “They smell so good.”
“Not as good as chocolate-marshmallow cookies.” Helen patted her daughter’s shoulder. The cookies were Naomi’s favorite, which was why Helen had thought to pack them in the basket along with the sausage, cheese, and biscuits. “Let’s find Emma and Thomas. They’ll have saved a space for us.”
 “Helen, over here!” As if she’d heard Helen’s words, Emma Brennaman’s high voice carried over the many citizens of Bliss Creek who’d gathered, despite the threat of an impending thunderstorm, to see the Fourth of July parade of area high school marching bands, cowboys on decked-out horses, John Deere farm implements, and fancy cars from the dealership on I-35. “It’s getting crowded already. We managed to save a shady spot!”
“We’re coming.”
After glancing back to make sure her two younger daughters kept up with Naomi, Helen dodged a knot of Englisch teenagers who crowded Bliss Creek Park’s edge. They were busy examining a bag of firecrackers, looks of delight on their acne-dotted faces. She stubbed her toe in the crack of the sidewalk and stumbled. One of them grinned, his braces glinting in the sun. She forced a return smile. “So sorry. Can we get around you?”
The sea parted and they trotted through.
 Why did she apologize? Habit? In another habit she’d never been able to break, Helen looked beyond Emma to make sure Thomas accompanied his wife. Her friend’s husband stood in the shade of a stout Elm, his back turned. He talked to another man, equally tall and lean. Helen picked up her pace and narrowly missed colliding with a double stroller and its occupants—rosy-cheeked twins dressed in matching red, white, and blue sundresses and bonnets. “Sorry. So sorry.”
Her daughters tried to hide their giggles behind their hands, as they tended to do when she made a blunder. “Mudder!”
“Hush, girls.” She turned to Emma, glad Thomas hadn’t seen her latest misstep. As if it mattered. He seemed engrossed in a conversation that held words like harvest and wheat and rain and something about a well having gone dry. Indeed, Thomas had his hands full, it seemed. Helen focused on Emma. “Have you seen Edmond?”
“He’s not with you?” Emma ran one hand over a crisp black apron that did little to hide her swollen belly while she grabbed little Caleb with the other to keep him from escaping into the street. “Don’t worry. Knowing Edmond, he won’t want to miss the fried chicken, homemade potato chips, and pecan-chocolate-chip cookies we brought to share with y’all. How’s your mudder doing? It’s too bad she couldn’t have come along.”
“She’s doing better, but crowds don’t suit her. What about Annie? Didn’t she come?” Helen glanced at the quilts strewn in the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the street. No Annie. “When I dropped off my jams and jellies at the bakery yesterday, she promised me she would come—that she would try to come.”
Ach, if only it were so.” The customary happiness in Emma’s face since her marriage to Thomas and Caleb’s arrival fled for a second. “She isn’t ready. She decided at the last minute she didn’t want to come. Couldn’t come, I reckon. She can’t seem to bring herself to celebrate anything yet.”
“She’ll get out when she’s ready.” Helen knew this from experience. The deep wound of loss took time to heal and could be ripped open by the simplest thing. A smell or a taste that reminded one of the person forever gone. “With time, she’ll find her way.”
“It’s been a year. It’s time for her to begin again.” Emma’s tone was kind, but firm. “She’s young and she should marry again. Noah needs a father. She needs a husband.”
“A year isn’t so much.”
Helen said the words at the same time as the man who stood next to Thomas, one hand propped on the tree’s trunk. He’d turned at Emma’s statement and his gaze met Helen’s. In his expression, she saw a fellow sojourner, someone who’d experienced the rocky, meandering road that follows the death of a loved one. Who had he lost?
“Not so long at all,” the man added, his dark eyes filled with a sadness that quickly fled, replaced with a polite blankness. “All things considered.”
Helen intended to agree, but instead remained mute. The man had been cut from the same cloth as Thomas, sewn with the same careful stitch. He could’ve been a twin, except older, at least forty. Threads of silver and gray shot through his dark beard and the unruly hair that escaped from under his straw hat. His eyes were large and the color of tea allowed to brew all afternoon in Kansas’s summer heat. His leathery, bronze skin spoke of years spent working outdoors. Crow’s feet around his eyes told the story of squinting against the broiling afternoon sun. Or laughing.
“Helen? Helen.” Emma’s insistent tone jerked Helen from her inventory of this stranger who seemed so familiar. “This is Gabriel Gless, Thomas’s cousin.”
Feeling as awkward as a child on the first day of school, Helen scrambled for a simple salutation. She opened her mouth and nothing came out.
Naomi nudged Helen with a sharp elbow. “Mudder?”
“Nice to meet you.” She managed a nod. “Welcome to Bliss Creek.”
Straightening, he moved toward her, a glint of laughter in his eyes. What was so funny?
“These are my daughters.” She introduced the girls. “Are you and your fraa visiting long?”
“My fraa passed.” No emotion visited those words but Helen saw the same expression in his eyes as before. He might be able to stifle the feelings in his speech, but not in his heart. “Been almost three years now.”
“Gabriel’s not visiting.” Thomas spoke up as if to rescue his cousin. He too knew about this rocky road, even if his had diverged toward happier times. “He and his kinner moved here from Indiana. Making a new start of it.”
Gabriel cleared his throat. “Meet the Gless clan.” He swept his long arm toward the wiggling mass of youngsters engaged in all sorts of tomfoolery on the quilts. “Isaac, Daniel, Mary Elizabeth, Samuel, Abigail, Seth, Isabelle, and little Rachel.”
They all chimed in with hellos that ranged from bellows to softly uttered words and ducked heads. Mary Elizabeth, whose blond hair and blue eyes must’ve belonged to her mudder, shifted from one bare foot to another. “Some of us will be looking for work, if you know of any.”
“Work . . . jah, jah, I’m sure you’ll manage that around here. Annie, Emma’s sister, have you met her?” Helen glanced at Emma who shook her head as if to say not yet. “She’s needing a hard worker who knows how to bake to help her out at Plank’s Pastry and Pie Shop.”
“Not now.” Gabriel gave the girl a sharp look. “We’ll have time for that later. For now, let’s enjoy the parade.”
Mary Elizabeth ducked her head, but she seemed pleased with Helen’s tidbit of information. Helen studied the rest of the children. Rachel appeared to be about three, Isaac probably twenty-one or twenty-two. Quite an age spread. At least the older ones could care for the younger. As if to underscore the thought, little Isabelle, who might be about four, escaped from Mary Elizabeth’s grasp and trundled toward Helen, arms up as if to offer a hug. Her sweet smile enveloped Helen, and she accepted the damp offering of a hug and a kiss.
“It’s so nice to meet you, Isabelle.” The hug warmed Helen’s heart. Her own daughters were quick with affection, but this little girl didn’t know her in the slightest, making her unconditional offering all the sweeter. “You are very welcome to Bliss Creek too.”
“Want cookie.” Isabelle had a lisp. She patted Helen’s cheek with a sticky hand that indicated she’d already had at least one dessert. “Hungry. Want cookie. Have cookie?”
Not only did Gabriel have his hands full with eight children, but this child would require extra care. In her almond-shaped eyes and round cheeks, her stubby fingers and arms were all the signs Isabelle was one of those special children who would forever be a child. Helen raised her gaze to Gabriel. She saw nothing in his bronzed face but a father’s deep love for his child.
Isabelle wiggled from Helen’s grasp.
“Pony!” Her hands flailed and she skipped in the direction of a wagon that had pulled into a parking lot on the other side of the street. “Pet pony.”
“Not now.” Gabriel called. “Don’t go in the street, little one.”
Isabelle looked up at Helen and smiled. “Pony.”
“Jah, pony.” Helen waved at Luke, Emma’s oldest brother, and his wife Leah who were directing their flock as they hopped from the wagon Luke had outfitted with rows of wooden seats for his big family. “You made it. The route’s almost full.”
An unsmiling Leah returned her wave with a barely noticeable flick of a hand. “We’re late as always,” the other woman called as she hoisted baby Jebediah on to one hip and rousted her twin girls from the second row seat. “I forgot the basket and we had to go back—”
The high, tight whinny of a horse interrupted Leah’s words. Helen glanced east toward the beginning of the parade route. A buggy, swaying from side to side, raced down the middle of the street, the horse pounding in a frantic gallop.
“What is . . . who is . . .” Helen’s questions were caught up in the murmurs of the crowd that immediately began to swell. Plain families didn’t participate in the parade. They only came to watch in anticipation of the fireworks display to follow. “Whose buggy is that?”
The horse looked familiar. Daed’s Morgan? She still thought of him as Daed’s Morgan even though her daed had passed in April. She couldn’t get a good look at the driver of the buggy. His hat covered his face. Then he stood and snapped the reins. One hand went to his hat and lifted it high. He whooped and yelled, “Yee haw, ride’em, cowboy!”
The voice. The face. The face so like George’s. Her cheeks suddenly hot, hands shaking, Helen started forward into the road. “Edmond? Edmond! What are you—”
A hand grabbed her arm and jerked her back so hard she tumbled into the quilt and landed atop Abigail. A knee gouged her back. With a startled cry, the girl scooted to the left, causing the other children to scatter. Tangled in her long skirt, Helen scrambled onto her knees, fighting to see over Daniel, Isaac, Samuel, and the other boys who jumped to their feet.
Gabriel dashed into the street and swept Isabelle into his arms just as the horse and swaying buggy whipped past them, wheels rattling on the asphalt. His momentum carried him to the far curb. He stumbled, dropped to his knees, but kept the little girl securely wrapped in one long arm.
The buggy, still swaying wildly, disappeared down the street. Several folks in the crowd, their faces at first puzzled, and then amused, began to clap. From the looks of them, they were tourists. The teenagers hooted and hollered their appreciation. Others, older folks, shook their heads and muttered, disapproving looks on their faces.
Gabriel popped up, whirled, and marched back toward the them, Isabelle still dangling from his arm like a stuffed doll.
“Who was that?” Despite his obvious anger, he kept his voice down to a low growl. He panted, furious red blotches on cheeks that had gone white. He seemed oblivious to his daughter’s giggles. “He nearly ran over Isabelle. He could’ve killed her.”
“I—”
“Police. Stop. Stop that buggy now!” Police Chief Dylan Parker raced past them on foot, dodging people who had spilled into the street to watch the buggy continue its flight toward Bliss Creek’s city limits. The police officer’s hat blew from his head, but he didn’t halt. “Edmond Crouch, stop now!”
Sirens wailed. Flashing blue and red lights came into view. One of Bliss Creek’s three police cars gained on Chief Parker, swerved around him, slowed and then halted long enough for Parker to jerk open a door and climb in before picking up speed again.
The noise of the crowd grew. Laughter mingled with questions and curious bystanders turned their gaze on the Plain families who had congregated in one spot along the parade route.
“You’ve met my daughters.” Fighting the urge to cover her face, Helen rubbed the spot on her arm where Gabriel had jerked her aside and gazed up at him. “That was my son, Edmond.”



Kelly is giving away a copy of Love's Journey Home.The giveaway is only available to U.S. Addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Jo Huddleston Reveals Story Behind That Summer


A warm welcome to you, Jo! We are excited to learn about the story behind your novel, That Summer.

The setting of That Summer is the Southern Appalachians of East Tennessee where my ancestors and I were raised. I've listened to the older generations tell their stories at family reunions about time before telephones and automobiles. Their stories fascinated me and caused me to want to write about a time before I was born.

This story percolated in my mind in the late 1990s. I’m what writers call a pantser type of writer. I don’t outline my plot on paper. My entire plot and characters simmer in my mind before I write a word. Many times I don’t know the ending but I know how to get there. Of course, sometimes characters surprise me by going this way when I intended them to go another way. I love how my stories many times work themselves out as I write.

While this story still rumbled around in my mind, in 2001 I received a life altering health diagnosis with a negative prognosis. My first symptom was the loss of penmanship that nobody, even I, could read. Then I began to have involuntary muscle spasms that prevented me from holding my fingers on the home keys of a keyboard. I couldn’t write and couldn’t type—this was before speak-to-type.
I thought my writing career had vanished. I cleaned out my files—even trashed all my rejection letters I’d been saving. Now I wish I’d kept them to prove that I really am a writer. I gave away most of my writing craft books.

My mind was still intact but my body wouldn’t do what it was told. My balance while walking started to diminish and I quit going to writing conferences. My doctor advised me not to drive. I was dependent on my family to even get to my doctor’s appointments and still am.

In 2008, I began to improve. My hands were steadier and I could get my story started. The biggest aggravation when I write anything is the time I have to leave my story to research the facts. When the story starts pouring out of my mind I want to write. I write continuously, not indicating chapters but I do indicate scene and POV changes. After I finish that first draft I go back and do those things.

I have outlived my doctor’s prognosis by over a year and a half. I’m writing the second of a 3-book contract and feel fine other than fatigue when I don’t stop to rest now and then. Fatigue does bring on more unsteadiness in my hands and legs.
From 2001 to 2008 I had a lot of time to meditate. A relative marvels that I’ve never questioned God, why me? I have not become bitter because of the health issues. I think God just gave me time to understand a lot of things when I was inactive. I’m a more peaceful, patient, and faithful me.

This is the way That Summer came to be: hibernated for seven years, and then became a story on paper.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? 

My favorite character is Jim Callaway. He’s restless and leaves the family farm to to go to an imagined prosperous city life. He chooses every path he takes without following God’s leading. Jim stands at many crossroads some sometimes he takes the wrong path. 

And now a fun question: What is your strangest habit? 

I guess you could call it a habit but it’s really just what I do naturally—I chew my ice cream.

What is your favorite season of the year? 

Fall would be my favorite season because it’s not yet turned cold and the hot days of summer are going away. I could live anyplace where the temperature  would be 80 degrees all the time.

Me too! Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

First, it would be dusting. I put it off until you can write your name on the TV screen. And of course, cleaning the bathroom.

Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?

The beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, specifically around Pensacola.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
Philippians 4:8. If all populations held those thoughts, what a change for good we’d see.
How do you react to anything that causes a loss of your writing time?
I’m always tempted to react with impatience. But I only have to think back to 2001-2008 and I’m calmed knowing God is in control of the timing in my life.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

My next book is due out in April 2013 currently titled Living Beyond the Past. It will be Book #2 in The Caney Creek Series. It continues to follow the Callaway family. Live their triumphs, sorrows, achievements, and losses. Walk along with them as they meet faith challenges and fight to regain a rightful place in God’s plan. Some new characters will join those from Book #1, That Summer.


Blessings to you Jo!
Here are several ways to connect with Jo Huddleston:


That Summer is available in paperback and eBook online at AmazonBarnes&NobleChristianbook.com, and publisher's website: swordofspirit.net. Any bookstore can order the book for you.

Jo Huddleston is giving away a copy of That SummerTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.








Monday, January 28, 2013

That Summer by Jo Huddleston



The Great Depression brings devastation to the Southern Appalachians but love’s triangle survives.

To escape his poppa’s physical abuse and their dirt-poor farm life, Jim flees to an imagined prosperous city life where he can make his own choices, ignoring God patiently knocking on his heart’s door. Settled in town, Jim strays from God and the way of faith his momma taught him. He meets a girl and loses his heart … and meets another girl and loses his willpower. Jim wrestles with social and moral dilemmas as he makes a choice beside Caney Creek that will alter the lives of five people.

About the Author

After three traditionally published nonfiction books, Jo Huddleston's debut novel, That Summer, released in December 2012 as the first book in The Caney Creek Series. Books 2 and 3 in the series are scheduled to release in April 2013 and September 2013, respectively. Her more than 200 articles and short stories have appeared in over fifty different Christian and general publications and she is a contributing online writer for Christian Devotions Ministries (ChristianDevotions.us).

Professional membership: American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Huddleston holds a B.A. degree with honors from Lincoln Memorial University (TN), and is a member of their Literary Hall of Fame. She earned a M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University.


Excerpt


PART ONE 
1928 

Chapter 1 
Sanford County, Tennessee 
August, 1928 

    The back of Poppa’s big hand smacked across Jim’s face and flung him against the splintered timbers of the barn wall. "What're you doin’ outside when you ain’t finished your chores?"
    "Uh . . . me and The Twins was just foolin’ around, Poppa."
    Poppa scowled at his son. "Well, you best get that hay pitched down for the mules. The Twins need to draw water for the animals and shuck corn to feed the hogs."
    Jim stood and tried not to think about how much his face hurt. "They’re comin’. We’ll get to it all, Poppa. We’ll finish before dark."
    John Lee Callaway’s hand curled into a fist at his side. "You’ll do it now! Don't you sass me."
    Jim watched Poppa’s temper build. His face flushed. His dark eyes withdrew beneath heavy brows and his fury spewed out misdirected or unmerited. When Jim saw the storm rise in his poppa’s dark eyes, he knew he’d better get the chores done or feel the sting of Poppa’s backhand again.
    "No time for loafin’." Poppa glared at Jim. "Loafin’ won’t pay the rent. Quit shunnin’ your work, or you won’t never amount to nothin’."
    "Yes sir, Poppa. I promise I’ll do better." Jim obliged Poppa with words he wanted to hear. Jim grabbed the hay rake. He’d had about all of this he could take. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t please Poppa.
    He rubbed his stinging cheek. He would’ve thought he’d been used to this by now, but he wasn’t. His face still hurt, but it hurt a lot worse on the inside. Not that he’s ever let his father see that side of him. The crops hadn’t brought in what Poppa had counted on, and Poppa always took it out on him. But better him than his younger brothers. He lived for the day he could leave all this behind and make his own decisions. Make his own way.


That Summer is available in paperback and eBook online at AmazonBarnes&NobleChristianbook.com, and publisher's website: swordofspirit.net. Any bookstore can order the book for you.



Jo Huddleston is giving away a copy of That SummerTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.




Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Song of the Tree by Lotis Key


Author Bio:

Lotis Melisande Key (SAG/AFTRA/ACFW/MCWG) has lived a life of wide travel and curious variety. She’s raised horses in the Australian outback; skied the Alps; run tours through a tropical jungle; bought & sold antiquities. She’s been a restaurateur; a breeder of show cats; a third world church planter. She’s worked in an orphanage, and run a ministry that puts children through school.
After a professional theater d├ębut at the age of twelve, she subsequently starred in over seventy five feature films for the Asian market. She’s also hosted numerous television and radio shows. Upon settling in the United States, she signed with Chicago, New York, and Minneapolis based talent agencies, expanding into American on-camera and voice over narration, industrial videos, trade shows, professional theater, television, and radio commercials.
Retiring from secular work, she founded MESSENGERS, a Christian theater arts group based at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis (www.themessengersfeet.org). As artistic director, she toured the company throughout the US, Canada, and Asia.
Vice-president of the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild, Lotis is a passionate storyteller. Her work focuses on the mystery of God, and His incomprehensible love for the unattractive, wayward parts, of His otherwise perfect, creation.

Facebook: Author Page
Website:  Lotis Key

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Despite promises of eternal joy given by the Tree of Life, a privileged young woman loses everything in a brutal war. Her husband disappears; her family is murdered; her home is burned to the ground.
Desperate, starving, and burdened with an unwanted child, she now despises and rejects the Tree she once worshiped. Ripped from her land and people, forced into survival immigration, she becomes a lowly refugee, a servant in the homes of the rich. Her unusually gifted child thrives, but is an ever present reminder of ultimate loss and betrayal.
Two women: one broken, the other rooted in bitterness, continue to be drawn towards the song of a Tree that will not let them go. Along roads of degrading poverty and equally destructive wealth, each much wrestle with the siren call of perfect love, and its altar sacrifice of perfect trust.
The Song of the Tree is an intense, contemporary allegory that moves the God-seeker from fist shaking stance, down to knees before the throne.

EXCERPT:




Prologue
In the land near yet far, grows the magnificent Tree of Life: older than memory, wiser than time, stronger than the earth on which it stands. Barring approach is a massively ornate iron gate. It is a complex work of blooming flowers and thorny vines, which weave and tangle in embrace to tell the story of life. The kind Tree, softening the sharp edges of that tale, stretches over and around it, inviting all who will, to stop and take comfort in the shelter of its arms.
The Tree tends a garden and among its flowers grows a delicate queen. She worships the Tree and claims it as King. It has promised her eternal joy; she has promised her faithfulness. Their love is true. Their commitment is real. But their journey together, has just begun.

 OneThe Beginning

The air is sultry, and half asleep in the arms of her Tree, she’s let a song escape. Unknown lips enter her dream and capture the wayward melody. Drowsily allowing trespass, she is spun into a silken web, threads of warp and weft intertwining in dulcet tapestry. Lulled by the melody, the little queen floats among the woven notes, catching and storing them one by one in the treasure box of her heart.
“Do you dream of me?”
Startled, pulling herself quickly upright, she turned to see a young man looking in at her from the other side of the gate. Frowning, she eyed him with displeasure.
He continued, “Because I dream of you.”
“I’m a queen,” she answered. “No one may dream of me without permission.”
“I make full confession, your majesty. I’m a prince who has passed this way three times now, each time stopping to dream of you. You must arrest me immediately.”
The fire-tinged air paused in its journey between them; a slight breeze turned its face to watch. Hot young blood surged, and with the same catch in the throat, the same small toss of the head, proud spirits examined each other.
In a flash of temper, she jumped off the branch, shaking the Tree and causing a sprinkling shower of its red flowers. She strode to the gate. From opposite sides of iron flowers and thorny vines, two pairs of dark eyes offered fierce challenge. Each the other’s equal in passion, could hold their own fortress; yet, despite her ready sword and quick wit, unexpectedly, with no warning to herself, the little queen surrendered. She blushed. She smiled. She glanced away. She lowered her lashes. She laughed softly. She opened the gate.
The prince, holding her prisoner with his eyes, entered and closed it behind him.

Description: C:\Users\messengermama\Pictures\SELAH.jpg
Everyone loved him. He, in turn, loved everyone back with an energy that melted resistance. His laughter ignited gold lights floating in the depths of his dark eyes, and the net he captured with, turned the free into grateful slaves.
He excelled in adventure, poetry, games of all kinds, singing, dancing, conversing until dawn and rising late. His was nobility, strength and kindness, yet also the aroma of barely controlled wildness. No one could resist.
The little queen’s family enjoyed him thoroughly, but warned her: she must not marry him. That kind of beauty isn’t safe, they said. That kind of beauty can be dangerous, they said. That kind of beauty has too much power, they said.
She listened solemnly to their voices, but the nodding of her head was not to their wisdom, but rather, to the beat of her heart. His long lashes, framing eyes lit from within, the perfect cheeks flowing into swan-strong neck, the powerful muscles of his arms, the silken brush of his lips against her hand … it was too much for such a little queen, and she was snared.
The power of youth is its faith in eternal joy; on a song-filled sunrise in early spring, young lovers stood, blending two into one, making promises that must last forever. Dressed in white and gold, they exchanged vows beneath the Tree of Life, committing to each other: families, fortunes, and futures.
A thousand guests sang and danced on the sea of emerald grass, a net of sparkling dew diamonds spread across its waves.
The queen gave her prince a gold pocket watch engraved with their entwined initials. He promised it would mark his time, until his time was done.
The prince gave his queen a necklace from which hung a perfect pearl. She promised to warm it with her heart, until her heart lay cold.
The brightness of their love knew no shadow, each day filled with the brightness of mutual delight. His pleasure in her softness: the sculpture of her gentle form, the golden color of her skin, the purity of her laughter, never diminished. She in turn, needed only to stand by his side, the lobe of her ear warmed by his whisper, to know completeness.
In the fourth month of their marriage, the happiness they thought could grow no more, exploded into ecstasy, ignited by the discovery of a child sleeping softly within the queen. A great feast was given to announce this joy of all joys; tears were wept, congratulations proclaimed, thanks raised. Laughter rang throughout the kingdom like the tinkling of a thousand silver bells.
Each day the queen, with her prince and unborn child, roamed slowly through the wide gardens of their castle. When the heat rose, they swam in the clear stream that wound through the meadows like a sparkling ribbon. Floating on their backs, hand in hand, they watched the clouds form and reform above them. Huge, blue dragonflies followed their course as the water, bubbling and laughing, pulled them along, silver-haired rushes slipping like silk between their toes and fingers.
Watching the sky endlessly unrolling above them, the queen reflected, “My parents floated in this water and watched this sky. As did their parents. And their parents’ parents. One day, our children will also float here, watching and watched by, this same blue heaven. The sky is forever, as are you and I.”
Seated on the smooth stone banks, allowing the sun to warm and dry their skin, they took turns amusing each other with stories, before finally rising and making their way to the Tree. Sinking into the grass at its feet, the prince would lay his head in his queen’s lap, desiring to be as close as possible to his child.
“A son,” he whispered in amazement. “I have a son.” The queen laughed at his presumption, but he was adamant. He sang to his little prince, and the queen, filled with the pleasure of his pleasure, accompanied him.
One morning the prince, singing softly with his head pressed against the child’s, felt it turn towards him and clearly reveal the beat of its heart. He fell silent, overcome with wonder. Eyes filling with tears, he whispered, “Your life force pulses with the rhythm of power. You have the heart of a king. A mighty warrior. A conqueror among men.”
The queen, stroking the prince’s head and gazing up at the light filtering down through the blood-red flowers of the Tree, laughed. “If he looks like you, it will be enough for me.”
The warm winds of their time carried simple dreams that should have come true, but on earth the season of song is a short one.



Lotis Key is giving away an EBOOK copy of  The Song of the Tree via a voucher for any ereader format.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.



Saturday, January 26, 2013

Please Welcome Lotis Key to the Loft


Is there a story behind your book Song of the Tree?
Yes. On the surface, it’s the story of a woman who lives through a terrible war, and in it, loses everything that makes up her life: her family, her husband, her home, her identity. She hates, and blames, the God she loved, for allowing her suffering and loss. The story, follows her bitter journey away from God, and the long road back to Him again.
On another level, it’s the story of the journey every Christian must make to the foot of the Throne. There is no trusting Him without sacrifice, and there is no relationship without trust.

What started you on your writing journey?
Since becoming a Christian (going on almost thirty years now) I’ve had a burning desire to tell people that God is wonderful. That He is beautiful. That the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, doesn’t have to concern Himself with us, yet He does. Out of love. Unbelievable, the most amazing story in the world … and the truest.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
My brain is always, always, circling, and examining, the fact of God’s love. Why does He love us? I see it continually, but it’s hard to grasp hold of any logical reason for it. We are so … unlovely. I understand virgin birth, the creation of the world in eight days, the Trinity… however, the fact that He loves us, ALL of us, continues to stupefy me.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.   
The Lord God has given me
the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how,
to sustain with a word,

him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
he awakens my ear
to hear as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious;
I turned not backward.  
                                     Isaiah 50


When I first read this, I thought, He wrote it for me. I’ve been an oral communicator most of my life, and my greatest joy, has been talking about Him. Trying to encourage the weary, and those, whose personal pain, is driving them away, from His love. It’s not without personal sacrifice, and sometimes, outright difficulty, but the honor and joy, of communicating Him, pushes everything else into the blurry background. These days, I mostly write about Him, but the pleasure is not diminished.

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud? 
Just about everything. I have a condition called, “perpetual happiness”. I read somewhere that it’s linked to an excess of some particular chemical in the brain. Maybe chocolate.

Has some place you have traveled inspired something in your writing? 
Well, I’ve traveled most of my life, and I guess you just absorb things without realizing it at the time. I don’t ever remember looking at a place, or witnessing an event, and thinking, “Oh, I’m going to write about that someday….” Yet, when I’m writing, I’ll suddenly remember … a face, a tone of voice, the silence … It’s odd. Sometimes I don’t know I’ve taken something from my memory, and my husband will read my work and say, “Oh yes, that happened when we were in -----“.  Maybe, I’m just not that original.

If you could paint or sculpt like a famous artist who would it be and why? 
Whoa, this is like picking a favorite color … how can you, when they’re all so beautiful? Once upon a time, I worked as a gardener for a rich lady. She instructed me, “Don’t plant anything with blue flowers. I hate the color blue.” I was stunned.
Thinking about this question though … I would have to say, I remember an experience in the Galleria dell’ Accademia, in Florence, Italy. Here, live Michelangelo’s, “prisoners in stone”, his unfinished sculptures. He believed the artist was a tool of God, not creating, but simply revealing, work God had already done. Man’s job was to chip away the excess, and let God’s work shine forth.  From each block of marble, arms, legs, torso’s are emerging, not quite out, but still completely identifiable. It was such an emotional experience, I burst into tears.


When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it? 

My second novel, A Thing Devoted, just came out. It chronicles two years in the life of a Christian family devastated by adultery and divorce. Three, adopted, multi-racial children, struggle with the question of God’s seeming indifference to their pain. Ten year old Abster, a tiny spy in the house of loss and confusion, keeps a daily record of her observations.

“If you attend church weekly, and on time, are attentive in Sunday school, get full immersion baptism, tithe more than ten per cent, volunteer in the nursery, pray for missions, and really, truly believe in God, shouldn’t you be protected? Shouldn’t He keep terrible things from happening to you? I understand my obligations to Jesus, but what are His, to me?”

This intimate story of one family’s journey through fire, considers the purpose of suffering, its defining nature, and ultimately its life giving power.





Go to Lotis Key's website for purchase info:
www.lotiskey.com

Lotis is giving away a EBOOK copy of The Song of the Tree  via a free voucher with files for download to any device. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


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