Sunday, April 01, 2007

FIRST BLOG TOUR: Mary DeMuth's
WISHING ON DANDELIONS

First of the month, folks! That means it's time for the FIRST blog tour (Fiction in Rather Short Takes).

I'm really happy to provide a focus for the subject of this tour, a lady who used to live in France, is back in the US, and who has a real passion for perfecting her prose: Mary E. DeMuth. Her novel featured this month: WISHING ON DANDELIONS. (That's a pretty cool title. Reminds me of wishmaking in my childhood and how dandelion fluffies figured in that.)

This novel is the second in the Maranatha series, where the first was WATCHING THE TREE LIMBS, a book that got a lot of discussion going due to its sensitive writing on a difficult subject matter. (That title, I liked a lot less. But it does get one wondering, "What does that mean?")


Here is an excerpt. Note: I (impertinently) ditched the introduction-- which, honestly, I don't much like and makes me slightly annoyed with the character--and go straight into Chapter one, first scene. Read the part I snipped and the whole excerpt HERE, and forgive my impertinence:

O n e

Summer 1987
Burl, Texas


Every year on the anniversary of his stroke, and many times in between, Maranatha retraced the route she and Camilla had ridden that day. In front of her bike tire beckoned a serpentine of gray pavement radiating heat. The more her shirt clung to her body in a sticky embrace, the better she liked it.

Penance.

She’d learned the word from Bishop Renny. He said something about trying to make things right by abusing yourself. Said Jesus took the need for all that away. But she knew Jesus would say something different to her, considering how she’d nearly killed Uncle Zane because of her selfishness.

The hot Burl breeze tangled Maranatha’s hair so that it whipped and wrangled about her face. She didn’t mind, didn’t even brush a casual hand to her face to clear the hair from her eyes. At seventeen, she welcomed the wildness, wearing her tangles like a needed mask. A gust of sideways wind whipped the mask from her face.

Maranatha passed the costume shop where, behind a cracked front window, one headless mannequin sported a faded Santa suit and another, a sequined Twenties dress. She pedaled past the farm implement shop whose yard was dotted with ancient rusty plows. This strip of road held most of Burl’s broken dreams — a turn-of-the-century white farmhouse, now converted into a bed and breakfast that no one visited, a handpainted For Sale sign declaring the dream dead. A mobile home stood way back on a fine piece of property, the structure tilted oddly to the left where the cement blocks had deteriorated. A goat preened on its roof, claiming it for himself. Four years ago, children had played out front. She and Camilla had even waved to them. So carefree for such a day.

Wiping the sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand, she glanced down at the too-small bike, despising it, as if it had once held her hostage, carrying her away from Uncle Zane’s need four years ago when she and Camilla had been drawn toward the lure of cotton candy and caramel apples.

Maranatha veered onto the familiar gravel driveway flanked by crepe myrtles. She stopped, straddling her bike, catching her breath. She listened for cars but heard only the labored noise of a tractor, far away, until the engine sputtered and died.

The silence roared at her.

It should have blessed her with peace; instead, she remembered Uncle Zane’s hair askew and wondered why God let a selfish girl like her take up space in this world.

She looked behind her. Her thoughts shifted as a deeper worry played at her, taunting her. Though she never voiced it, she lived with a constant fear that someone would burst from the silence and grab her. She hated that she always looked behind, like she was expecting some crouching phantom to nab her. She’d been running from monsters bent on destroying her ever since General first drawled, “Hey, Beautiful” in her ear. Even though she was sheltered in Uncle Zane’s white house and safety was no longer elusive, she always felt the presence of evil five steps behind her. Ready to suffocate her.

She glanced at her wrist to soothe her fears. Circling it was her name, maranatha, each sterling letter separated by a bead. Zady’d given it to her a year after she found out that her real name wasn’t Mara but Maranatha. Part of her quest in discovering her identity was a need for a name that meant more than “bitter.” When she learned that her real name meant “Come, Lord Jesus,” a part of her heart enlivened, as if it knew she was named that all along. She touched each letter, thanking God that He added Natha to the end of her name, that He changed her from bitter to a heart where Jesus could live. If He wanted to, that is.
~

Read all the Intro and Chapter one at FIRST.

Buy WISHING ON DANDELIONS at amazon.com. Visit Mary at her blog.

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