I’m thrilled to have my friend and bestselling author, Julie Lessman her today. Julie is sharing a scene from her Christmas novella, A Light in the Window, and having contests to give away some of her novels.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?
Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues.
But when two of Boston’s most notorious pursue her,
attraction, dreams and faith only muddle her mind.
Can the light in the window illuminate the path of true love?
In 1895 Boston, 18-year-old Marceline Murphy is overseeing a fundraiser for her parish’s soup kitchen, a Christmas play entitled A Light in the Window. In the following scene when she and Sister Francine are holding auditions, they witness a performance by a little girl that simply wrenches their hearts … and, I hope, yours too.
Two hours later, Marcy had a headache from off-key singing, slaughtered diction, and Sister’s Francine’s whistle, giving her pause as to her sanity in agreeing to the job as fundraiser chair. Kneading her temple, she glanced up to see a young boy who had auditioned for the cast pushing a small girl in a wheelchair to the front of the stage.
With a scrub of shaggy brown hair, he approached with a solemn smile and a nod of respect. “Sister, Miss Murphy, my name is Nate Phillips, and this here is my sister Holly.” He took another step forward, cap in hand and voice fading to a whisper. “She’s only seven, but Ma asked me to bring her ‘cause, well you see, Holly doesn’t get to do too much on account of she’s crippled, you know, so Ma thought …” His Adam’s apple wobbled several times. “Well, she hoped you’d consider letting Holly audition because of her name and all, seeing it has to do with Christmas and that’s her birthday too.” He leaned in, a glimmer of moisture in his eyes as he twisted his hat with his fingers, voice lowering all the more. “You don’t have to pick her, understand, just let her read and sing ‘cause she’s real good at both, you know, and Ma just thought that alone would be enough to make her happy.”
Marcy blinked, the boy’s face watering into a blur. She swallowed hard to fight a heave, but it was no use, it broke from her lips in a shuddering rasp.
Sister Francine patted her arm and spoke to the boy with a firm lift of her chin. “If your sister took the time to come and audition tonight, young man, then audition she will.” She glanced up at Julie. “Miss O’Rourke, will you please hand this young man both a script and music for his sister, please.”
The young boy, all of twelve, looked as if he might break down and cry himself, jaw aquiver while tears welled in his eyes. “Thank you, Sister,” he whispered, then grabbed Marcy’s hand, shaking it as if he were pumping water for a man dying of thirst. Or maybe a sister … “Bless you, Miss Murphy, and you too, Sister Francine—Holly ain’t never had nothing like this happen to her before, so bless you!” He whirled around and rushed to give Holly a hug, then took the papers that Julie gave him and handed them to her as well. With a squeeze of her shoulders, he stepped aside.
Marcy took a quick swipe at her eyes and leaned forward, awarding Holly the brightest smile she could muster. She noted the faded calico dress the little girl wore that seemed three sizes too big and a pale face that made her appear like a china doll with liquid-brown eyes. “Holly, are you ready to read from the script?”
The little girl nodded, chestnut hair trailing fragile shoulders as she gave Marcy a sweet smile. “Yes, ma’am,” she whispered, her voice so soft and wispy, Marcy worried that no one would be able to hear.
“Start at the beginning, then, sweetheart, reading the script just like you’re that little girl in the play who’s excited about Christmas, all right?”
Holly nodded again and paused … right before she belted out the lines as if they were coming from an entirely different little girl.
“Excellent!” Marcy said with a grin when Holly had finished. “Are you ready to sing, and do you know the Christmas carol, Oh, Holy Night?”
“Perfect!” Marcy glanced up at the piano. “Julie, let’s try C major, all right?”
Whether it was the fact that it was late and everyone was tired or whether it was the sight of a frail little girl in a wheelchair who longed to be a part of the play, the room stilled to a hush. Marcy’s breath suspended as she waited, the pounding of her own pulse in her ears drowning out Julie’s musical intro. And then, in the sweet and soulful song of a little girl, a steamy and noisy auditorium became the gate of heaven itself as a sound so poignant rose in the room, Marcy had no power over the tears that slipped from her eyes.
For several thudding heartbeats after the last note was sung, the silence was almost painful, an ache in Marcy’s chest over the loss of a voice that had ushered them into the very presence of God. And then, in a blast of applause that swelled to the ceiling, the audience shot to their feet along with Marcy and Sister Francine, dewy-eyed over a delicate little girl who may not be able to walk, but whose voice could soar to the sky.
After a whisper in Sister Francine’s ear and Sister’s subsequent nod, Marcy hurried to give Holly a hug, kneeling to clasp the little girl’s hands in her own. “Holly, that was simply the most beautiful thing we have ever heard,” she said with a sheen in her eyes, “and we want you to know right now, young lady, that not only are we giving you a part in this play, but we want you to sing that very song as well. Would you like that?”
Brown eyes as glossy as Marcy’s blinked back when Holly nodded, her rosebud mouth quivering along with her jaw. “Oh, yes, ma’am,” she whispered, flinging herself into Marcy’s arms with a chuckle that broke into a sob.
Marcy squeezed the little sprite of a thing, eyes closed and heart rejoicing that even now, before this play came to pass, it was changing lives as Marcy had hoped and prayed. That it wouldn’t just be a mere fundraiser, but a spirit raiser as well, touching people with the grace of God. Jumping to her feet, she hurried to pull two rehearsal packets from Papa’s portfolio and handed them to Holly’s brother, who now stood by her side. “Nate, please give these to your mother so she knows the exact dates Holly and you will need to be here. There’s a full script inside each packet, so you need to practice both of your parts together. You will play the part of Daniel, and Holly will play the part of Sara—” She paused, her eyes softening as they lighted on his sister once again. “No, wait—Holly will play herself.” She glanced up and gave Nate a wink. “Since it is a Christmas play and all.”
He stared, mouth agape before it curved into a silly grin. “Yes, ma’am, and thank you, ma’am!” he gushed, cranking her hand so hard once again, she was sure she’d be sore come morning.
“Why don’t you take Holly home now so you can tell your mother the good news, and no need to come back until the first rehearsal date, all right?”
“Yes, ma’am!” he shouted, and took Marcy by surprise when he bowled her over with a hug that had her grinning ear to ear. She watched Nate wheel his sister away and sighed, returning to her seat next to Sister Francine.
“I’ll tell you what, young lady,” Sister Francine said with a smile that displayed a rare show of tenderness, “it’s moments like this that weaken my resolve to be an old crab.”
Thank you SO much, Tamera, for allowing me to be a part of this fabulous Christmas blog tour! I LOVE to hear from reader friends, so if they like, they can contact me through my website at http://www.julielessman.com, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter at http://www.julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/.
Also, I have a cool blog feature on my website called “Journal Jots” at http://www.julielessman.com/journal-jots1/, which is a very laid-back Friday journal to my reader friends that will give your readers an idea as to my relaxed style of writing. Or readers can check out my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books on the “Excerpts” tab of my website at http://www.julielessman.com/excerpts/. Finally, I can be found daily at The Seekers blog at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/, a group blog devoted to encouraging and helping aspiring writers on the road to publication.
And finally, just as an FYI for your readers, I have the following giveaways/contests/sales going on right now, so I hope they take advantage!
CURRENT GIVEAWAYS/SALES/CONTESTS GOING ON RIGHT NOW:
FREE Download of my debut novel A Passion Most Pure! American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year, A Passion Most Pure has 270 five-star reviews on Amazon and some of my readers have actually read it more than 20 times! Here are the links for your free download! AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, iBOOKSTORE, CHRISTIANBOOKSTORE.COM
JULIE’S CHRISTMAS VIDEO CONTEST!! Want to have a character named after you in Julie Lessman’s next book, a signed copy of that book, and a $50 gift card? Or maybe your choice of any of Julie’s books, including her new paperback release of A Light in the Window OR her January 1st release of Dare to Love Again? Well now you can, AND get to ogle some rogues in the process, choosing your favorite from Julie’s brand-new video for A Light in the Window. And then, of course, she’s also celebrating the Christmas SALE of her 99-cent ebook for A Light in the Window as well, so head on over and give it a shot — you’ll be glad you did! Here’s the link: http://www.julielessman.com/journal-jots1/
For those of you who missed the free download of Love at Any Cost on 12/4, there will also be a $2.99 SALE of Love at Any Cost on 12/12 and 12/27, when it will be the Kindle Daily Deal at $7.00 off the listed price, so that’s something anyway, right? AND you can even give it as a Christmas present by designating the date you want it delivered. Details can be found below in my Video Contest. Here’s the SALE link to click on come Dec. 12:
Yes, it’s true, Revell is giving away FIVE copies of Dare to Love Again on Goodreads, so head on over to enter, okay? The giveaway runs through Jan. 7 and here’s the link:
Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. She has also garnered 17 RWA awards and made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Her book A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers’ Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. You can contact Julie and read excerpts from her books at www.julielessman.com.