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24 November 2010

Honorable Mention--Excerpts and Summary

Thanksgiving week gave us the chance to highlight a couple of honorable mentions.  Erin Rainwater's The Arrow that Flieth by Day went up against Deb Kinnard's Seasons in the Mist and won.  Ashley Mott was also a winner- she won the drawing for a copy of Deb's book.

Excerpt A--Erin Rainwater's, The Arrow that Flieth by Day

That night as they lay in bed, Mandy turned to her side and watched Dakota, his back to her, as he breathed evenly in his sleep. He had once considered her the woman worth waiting half a lifetime for, and she had hoped to prove worthy of that wait. She thought it would be easy. Indeed, it had been for a time. Not since they lost Gregg.
She couldn’t change what happened to Gregg, but couldn’t accept what was happening between her and her husband.
Her hand moved toward his bare shoulder. She stroked it gently, stirring him into wakefulness.
“What is it?”
“Will you hold me?”
Silence pressed heavily upon her.
“Please, Dakota? I’m scared.”
“There’s no need to be. We’re locked up tight. Nothing can get in.”
She felt dejected, but entreated him again. “Please?”
He sighed deeply, then rolled over. He did not reach for her, but studied her careworn face in the dim light of the one chandelier lamp they had left burning at night during Gregg’s illness. After his death, they could not bring themselves to leave it unlit.
She struggled for adequate words. “Dakota, I can only hope that at some point you will forgive me for the brutal things I said today. It’s just that…I feel like we would somehow be…betraying Gregg by enjoying things, including each other, after losing him.”
His countenance softened; his words came more gently than she had anticipated. “I feel it, too, along with tremendous guilt. I still have desires I think should’ve died because Gregg did. I was enraged at you for saying what you did, but more so at myself because it was true. That’s what I was running from today, not you.”
“You didn’t deserve it,” she whispered sorrowfully.
He wiped a fallen tear. “Will explained where some of these feelings may come from. He says that when we begin to enjoy life again, we feel like we’re letting go of our grief, and that’s the one thing we have left that still bonds us with our baby.”
As the words settled in her soul, Mandy wept. Dakota caressed her. For the first time, they grieved as one.
“When you left me today,” she sobbed, “I was so afraid you were gone forever.” She looked into his tear-filled eyes. “I want to be the woman you prayed for and built this cabin for. But I wonder if I can ever be that woman again.”
His fingers pressed her lips. “You will always be that woman.”
He lightly placed his arm around her and inched closer, as if gauging her reaction to his nearness. “I’ll never leave you, Mandy. There’s enough uncertainty in this world without your fearing I’ll abandon you someday.”
His gentle voice and soothing arms eased the tension in her body.      
As the lamp flickered its dying light, Mandy gave herself willingly to the one man whose love was deep enough, forgiving enough, enduring enough, to conquer her fears.

Excerpt B--Seasons in the Mist by Deb Kenard

I wish these clouds would break.
Bethany Lindstrom did an involuntary bounce in her seat and felt herself flush in embarrassment. Casting a covert glance around, she figured nobody had seen. Good thing, too. PhD candidate-overachievers should not bounce.
Not long now. In a moment, in only a moment, this plane will break through this infernal cloud cover. It can’t be long, we’re descending so fast. Seconds now—my first glimpse of England. England, Avalon, Narnia. Land of my forever dreams.
She’d planned, fantasized, speculated, and schemed this trip all her life. As a child she’d read every book in the school library about medieval British history. She’d studied until eye drops no longer eased the strain. She’d outlined studies, written theses, defended her dissertation, labored over ecclesiastical Latin and legal terms, learned Anglo-Saxon and vernacular Middle English until she could converse with a contemporary, should one materialize. At last, she’d taken the prize. Through the efforts of her faculty advisor, the good Dr. Richards, the university had offered a summer semester at Oxford and finally—finally—she’d dug up enough grant money to make the flight and to support herself during three fantastic months in England.
England. The very word beckoned like a siren song. Beth leaned forward to see past the woman in 17-A as clouds scudded past the tiny window, obstinately refusing to clear on final approach to Heathrow.
“It’s your first visit to the U.K., isn’t it?” asked her seatmate with a smile.
“Yes,” Beth answered. “I can’t wait to see it.”
“Oh, you’ll see plenty in a moment, love.”
She’d enjoyed chatting with her seatmate. Sheila Tyrrell lived in Cornwall and had visited Chicago on business. Violating every stereotype about the taciturn English, Sheila had talked volubly of her family, her small town on the coast and the local amenities. “You really must find time to visit,” she urged as Beth strained to see through the clouds. “No holiday is complete without seeing Cornwall.”
“Is it far from Oxford?” How would she afford bus fare, so tightly had she budgeted every last pound-sterling?
“Oh, not so far. You take the Inter-City to Exeter, and from there you’re just a short hop to Truro . . . “
Beth listened, fascinated. Learning she was a historian, Sheila mentioned many ancient sites in her native county. “Of course, most folks want to see the places associated with King Arthur.” She snorted delicately.
“Not an Arthurian fan?”
“Well, he belongs to the English, doesn’t he? Not the Cornish.”
“There’s a difference?”
That gaffe earned Beth a ten minute discourse on differentiating the present-day English and the Cornish—a Celtic race, and therefore superior. Sheila’s lecture fell apart in quiet laughter. “My, I guess I do get rather passionate about not being called English. We’re British, and visitors don’t know it matters.” Sheila dabbed her eyes with an airline napkin and gave Beth a helpless grin.
Then she said something Beth wondered about while watching the clouds part for her long-awaited first glimpse. “Passion isn’t always easy, though, is it? You’ll need all of yours, and more of strength, to finish your journey well.”
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Item Reviewed: Honorable Mention--Excerpts and Summary Rating: 5 Reviewed By: April Gardner