Thank you, Kelly for coming to Journeys To Joy, for sharing your heart with us in the devotional that follows, and thank you for the privilege of being one who can introduce and promote your latest novel.
Kelly Irvin – Biography
Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest Housing Publishing. Her latest release is A Plain Love Song, set in Amish country in Missouri, which debuted July 1. It is the final installment in the series, which also included Love Redeemed and Love Still Stands.
She is currently working on The Beekeeper’s Son, the first book in the Amish of Bee County series, for Zondervan/HarperCollins. She has also penned two inspirational romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.
Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-six years. They have two young adult children, one gorgeous new granddaughter, two cats, and a tank full of fish. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors.
This week's feature: A Devotional By Kelly ~
New Stories, Old Doubts
By Kelly Irvin
I recently turned in a completed manuscript and began writing a new story. Next to writing The End, beginning a new book is one of the most fabulous times in a writer’s life. At least it is for me. That new project is a clean slate full of wonderful, brilliant, exciting possibilities. This could be the best book I’ve written yet.
Or the worst.
Yes, those little niggling doubts do manage to worm their way into my thoughts as I create new situations and new challenges for my characters. What if this latest book stinks?
We’re all like that, I think. No matter how much success we have, we still fear failure. I still cling to negative reviews no matter how many five-star reviews come down the pike. Instead of focusing on the knowledge that with each book I write, my craft gets better and my storytelling improves, I remember the reviewer who said she need only read the first three chapters and the last three chapters of my last book to know it was boring and repetitive.
So what is a person to do? I can’t speak for everyone, but this is what I do. I remember that God loves me just as I am. He doesn’t care about what others think of me or my work. He created me. In his image. Have you ever thought about that? When you stand in front of the mirror critiquing your too big behind or pudgy thighs or crooked teeth do you think about the joy God took in creating you in his image?
And God saw that it was good.
I remember that I don’t have to write blockbusters to please God. I don’t have to have my name in lights or on the New York Times bestseller list, because God knew my name before I was born. I only have to use my God-given talents and gifts to his glory. The only opinion that counts is his.
As long as I write stories that entertain and still manage to inspire readers to think hard about what they believe and why they believe it, I have done the job God has called me to do.
Whatever job God has called you to do, remember you have a direct pipeline to the boss. Pray without ceasing.
Then our jobs will always be full of his wonderful, brilliant, exciting possibilities.
~ A PLAIN LOVE SONG ~
Be sure to check out the excerpt from the first chapter of A PLAIN LOVE SONG below and leave a comment about it along with your email address - to be entered into next MONDAY night's drawing for a winner of a copy of Kelly Irivin's Amish Romance Novel ~
A Plain Love Song
By Kelly Irvin
Not having a pencil and paper handy made writing a song a challenge for Adah Knepp.
But then she liked a challenge.
Adah belted out the lyrics, the bob-bob of the horse’s head along with the clip-clop of his hooves kept time on the asphalt highway. The squeaking of the buggy wheels joined in. Her voice carried on the warm June wind across the wheat fields of Missouri. Sparrows preening on the power lines that ran along the road served as her only audience. They probably thought she’d gone crazy, talking to herself.
She closed her eyes for a second, listening to her own words. They weren’t quite right. They didn’t sound like the songs she heard on the radio while she cleaned the Harts’ house. Not like Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift with their sweet voices. She sounded flat. Of course, she didn’t have the benefit of steel guitars, fiddles, keyboards, and drums. She stomped one black sneaker, and then the other, against the floorboard, picking up the beat. “Love like sun-kissed apples . . .” She shook her head. Nee, nee. “Love like a baby’s sweet kisses . . .”
No, that wasn’t it either. Still mulling the words, she turned into the open gate adorned with a huge wrought iron H and onto the sunflower-lined dirt road that led to the Hart farm. She would clean the house lickety-split and use the rest of the afternoon to work on her song before she went home. That way she wouldn’t be late and Mudder wouldn’t have cause to complain. Stop mooning around, Adah, and get to work. Those dishes won’t wash themselves.
Which, of course, they wouldn’t. Having six brothers and sisters, Adah surely wished they would. How about that for a fanciful notion?
She could write her song, cook, clean, and still be ready to take a ride after dark if Matthew Troyer should happen to shine his flashlight in her window. Gott was good.
A horse whinnied, an uncertain, unhappy sound that carried on a breeze that kept the day from being stifling hot. A man answered in a soft, coaxing sing-song. The voice reminded Adah of the announcer on the radio the Harts kept tuned to a country music station. It was husky like sandpaper, yet smooth and warm like kaffi made with an extra dollop of milk and three pinches of sugar.
“Come on, sweetie, come on, it won’t hurt you, I promise. It’s fine, it’s okay, it’s fine.” The voice sang in a steady patter of sweet nothings. “Let me just do this one thing and you’re gonna like it, I promise.”
Drawn by the velvety words, she hopped from the buggy and approached the fence. The voice belonged to a tall, lean man with a shock of black hair, ruffled and sweat soaked under the rim of a dirty straw cowboy hat. He held a blanket in one hand while he used his other hand to hold the lead rope attached to a tawny Palomino with a long dark mane and tail. The man wore a T-shirt and tattered jeans faded to a blue-white. The sun glinted on a huge silver buckle on a belt that hugged his narrow hips.
“Sweetie, come on, come on, baby,” he crooned as he crept closer to the horse. “It won’t hurt you, I promise. Remember this blanket. We played with it yesterday. You remember.”
At that moment he looked across the corral and their gazes met. “Hey there, Amish girl.”
He said Amish girl as if it were her full name. As if he’d been waiting for her. As if he were glad to see her. It made her smile. “I’m Adah.”
Letting the lead rope out, he sidled away from the horse without turning his back on it. The horse pranced and arched her long neck as if she knew she no longer had the man’s complete attention. “I know. Adah, the Amish girl. The house cleaner.”
Mrs. Hart called her the maid, a word that didn’t bother Adah in the least. She did honest work and what she earned helped her family pay for the things they needed, things they couldn’t grow or make.
For some reason she couldn’t string words in a simple sentence. She edged toward the buggy. She shouldn’t have stopped. She should’ve gone right up to the house. Mind yourself with these Englischers. Mudder’s voice echoed in her ears. You clean their houses, that’s all.
“I’m Jackson Hart.”
Adah figured as much. He looked the spitting image of his father. She’d started working at the Harts after Jackson left for the spring semester of college so she hadn’t met him, but she recognized him from the dozens of photos that lined the walls of the Hart living room and the room they referred to as the “study.” The study where she lingered over her dusting so she could run her fingers over the ivory keys of a grand piano while she stared at photos of family members posing with horses and steers and trophies and ribbons.
Jackson glanced at the horse, then back at Adah. “You ever seen someone break a horse to a saddle?”
“My daed—my father—does it.”
“Maybe he should come do this one. This filly’s a stinker.”
“She’s willful.” That’s what her daed said about Adah. He said she was worse than a wild horse when it came to being stubborn. Her mudder said she inherited that from Daed. Either way, she’d made more than her share of trips to the woodshed as a little girl. “She doesn’t want to give up her wild ways.”
Like Adah had been doing since starting her rumspringa. She’d been avoiding baptism for two years now.
“My brother says he can’t be ridden. The family we bought her from waited too long to break her, but I think she can be taught to be a lady. Today is her day to learn who’s boss.” Jackson grinned, his teeth white against the dark stubble on his chin. The bottom teeth were a little crooked, but they took nothing away from the blinding effect. “That would be me. I’m gonna turn her into a rodeo horse.”
Adah had seen the rodeo when her family went to the county fair to visit the exhibits. They didn’t have money to buy tickets, but she’d peeked into the arena. Riding a bucking horse or bull or lassoing a bawling calf for sport didn’t make much sense to her.
“I better get in the house.” The words came out in a stutter. Why, she had no idea. She heaved a breath and tried again. “There’s floors to be mopped.”
“Mom went to the grocery store. Then she’s stopping by the house in town.” Somehow he made this information sound like an invitation to stay. “You got all the time in the world.”
“This house is big. Takes me all day.”
“Yeah, but it’s not like we’re pigs or anything—well, except RaeAnne, but she’s at the house in town most of the time. I’m pretty good at picking up after myself and so is Jeff.”
RaeAnne stayed at the farm sometimes and it always meant more work for Adah. Jeff, the other brother, kept his room neat and tidy, but she still had to vacuum, dust, take out the trash, and generally straighten up after him. She didn’t mind. That’s what they paid her to do. “You’re never here, so I don’t know.”
“I’m here now.”
No doubt about that. Adah couldn’t take her gaze from him, as much as she didn’t know why. She should get in the buggy. She didn’t move.
Still grinning as if he liked having an audience, Jackson edged toward the horse, who snorted and tossed her head.
“Sweetheart, it’s time. You know me. I’d never steer you wrong. You can trust me. It’s just a blanket. You’ve seen this blanket before, remember?” He held it up. “It’s nice. Soft. Warm. It’s light. You won’t even feel it on your back. I promise.”
A chill ran up Adah’s arms despite the June heat. Jackson spoke to the horse, not her. Still, she took a step back.
With a gentle flick of his wrist, he settled the blanket on the Palomino’s back. The animal responded with a high, angry whinny. She side stepped, snorted, and shook her head.
A second later, she reared and bucked, hooves flailing.
Still hanging onto the lead rope, Jackson stumbled back. “It’s okay. It’s okay, sweetheart, we’re doing fine.”
The words seemed overly optimistic. The palomino came down, then reared again, bucking and shrieking.
Jackson moved, but not fast enough. The horse’s front hooves connected with his chest.
Jackson crumpled to the ground.
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