On Tour with Prism Book Tours
We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stopsyou’ll find snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:
Launch – Author Interview
What inspired you to write The Melody of the Mulberries?
My mom is the inspiration for both novels in the Big Creek Series. She grew up in rural West Virginia. Her use of Appalachian folk lure made me giggle as a small girl. She also did not mince words when talking about the joys and struggles of living in poverty in the hills. She was an overcomer.
Hearts & Scribbles – Excerpt Charlie and Charley were coming to Big Creek. Charlie was a man. He had a spirit, soul, and body. He had grown up in the hills and been sent away because of the harm he had done to others. Coral had invited Charlie back to the holler. He wasn’t physically present, but, according to Emie, Coral might as well have sat him down at the table to enjoy Sunday family dinner.
Books and Zebras – Review“The Melody Of the Mulberries embraces the quirks, oddities and eccentricities of a people and a way of life rarely seen now. . . . I cherish the genuine voices found here more than any other aspect of the story, which is excellent by the way. I found it interesting that the reader gets a good dose of the inner dialogue of several characters. I would like to read more stories written this way. This story is a tale of everyday life of a few residents in the region as they toil, celebrate, struggle and love.”
Christy’s Cozy Corners – Excerpt
His heart seemed to quit beating when he heard Lottie approaching. She had entered the back door of the schoolhouse. He could hear her brisk steps on the worn wooden floor. The mama bear began a slow approach and started to growl. He yelled a warning to Lottie, but within seconds the front door opened to the porch where he was standing. She had her bow and arrow in hand and was preparing to shoot.
“Where do I aim?”
“Upper chest, but wait,” Ernest cautioned. “She’s movin’ slow. I think she’s bluffing.”
True to his words, the bear turned tail and headed back to her cubs. Eruptive gas escaped from her backside which signaled her cubs that it was time to move on.
Two Points of Interest – Spotlight
I’m All About Books – Excerpt In order to redirect their attention, he thought about telling the story of Goldilocks and the three bears but remembered in one of the earlier versions of the fairy tale that Goldilocks was an old woman who ended up impaled on a steeple. He shuddered at the thought.
“Students start pushin’ the tables and chairs to the sides. I’m gonna teach you a rollick called the dancing bear.”
Locks, Hooks and Books
What kind of creature is this? Charlotte thought.
Next, the bird flew from its perch, landed on her shoulder, and started singing.
Every mornin’, every evenin’, ain’t we got fun? Not much money, oh, but honey, ain’t we got fun?
Peaceful Pastime – Review“There is a bit of humor, faith and wonderful characters to keep the reader engaged while relaxing in your favorite reading spot. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more of the authors work.”
Rockin’ Book Reviews – Review“The Characters were interesting and well-defined. The scenes were easy to visualize. . . . It is an intriguing conversational text, similar to the text of Huckleberry Finn. It is a great book for relaxed reading.”
Remembrancy – Excerpt He knew that Rudy was trying his best not to laugh. Ernest also knew that some sows appreciated a good love song. When he was a boy, raising hogs with his father and brother, he had learned that a gentle touch and soft voice accomplished more than a hickory stick and harsh words.
Hallie Reads – Excerpt “Charlie, we’re having a not-so-nice meeting today, and I’m thinkin’ we need to talk about pleasantries,” she began. “Do you know why I’m liking mulberries so much? I like the pies and jams and the berries picked fresh, but someday I am wanting to touch silk, and, in other parts of the world, them silkworms do enjoy eating the mulberry leaves.”
“You is done crazy,” Charlie declared.
“Sometimes I am,” she answered. “But among the women in the holler there’s a longin’ for finer things. Not to get rich and leave their husbands and littles but just to know about and touch and see.”
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post…
The Melody of the Mulberries(Big Creek Series, #2)By Tonya Jewel Blessing
Historical RomancePaperback & ebook, 248 PagesSeptember 1, 2019 by Capture Books
This sequel to The Whispering of the Willows is set in the late 1920s’ Appalachia, where granny witches and spiritualism often show the path for wanderers to take, especially in matters of the heart.
This Big Creek sequel follows the lives and loves of two siblings. Coral determines to visit the family’s nemesis, Charlie, now in prison for the rape of her sister, Emerald, and the murder of her in-law. When Mercy re-enters brother Ernest’s life, he has already found a new attraction in his elder brother’s widow.
Coral sat in contemplation under a mulberry tree. It was spring, and the fragrant female blossoms promised the mid-summer arrival of first white, then pink, then crimson, and finally deep purple berries. The white berries were hard and tart and enjoyed by the quail, wild turkeys, mocking birds, and blue jays. The blackish purple berries were soft and sweet – perfect for pies and jams.
When the berries turned white, Coral would thank the good Lord for providing food for the birds. When the berries ripened she would thank the good Lord for the sweetness savored in her mouth and curse the birds for wanting more than their share.
Where Emerald Ashby’s story leaves us in the last pages of The Whispering of the Willows, sixteen-year-old Coral Ashby’s story begins. Like the changing mulberries, Appalachian siblings Coral and Ernest Ashby, navigate life through the late 1920s. Coral is determined to visit the family nemesis, Charlie, who now stews in prison.
When Ernest’s previous love interest, Mercy, returns to the holler of Big Creek, she discovers that his heart is now singing a melody for Charlotte, the older Ashby brother’s widow. But Mercy has brought along her own spiritual tools and a special friend who guides her way.
Accompanied by friends and foes, matters of the heart complicate life for Coral and Ernest. Relationships must be journeyed carefully.
(Affiliate links included.)Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Other Books in the Series
The Whispering of the Willows(Big Creek Series, #1)By Tonya Jewel BlessingHistorical RomancePaperback & ebook, 396 PagesFebruary 2, 2016 by Capture Books
Young Emie isn’t desperate for a man, but she is surrounded by a variety of them in the Appalachian holler of Big Creek. How does a young girl find her way, and grow strong, when life begins to spin out of control?
A 1920s’ saga of Emerald Ashby coming of age.
Set against the superstitions and old time religion in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, author Tonya Jewel Blessing tells a difficult, yet redemptive story of a blossoming young woman who is accompanied by her friends and her foes on a journey towards hope and healing. Love weaves through gut-wrenching circumstances and dismal poverty where Emerald Ashby grows strong despite grievous wrongs committed against her. In this desperate historical setting, mysterious disappearances lead to traps set for the innocent.
Now, when key individuals begin carving out a rescue plan, Emerald Ashby sets a few of her own traps. It’s a page turner. In this ailing town. What will be their measure of success?
Cleverly suspenseful and sweetly spoken, the storyteller’s unassuming voice transforms an Appalachian trail of tears into holy terror against an evil that stalks the innocent. In The Whispering of the Willows, an Appalachian marriage practice might be compared to the modern sex trade which exploits young females.
Not since Catherine Marshall’s strong heroine named Christy, has an Appalachian drama come to life like The Whispering of the Willows.
Includes: Bibliography and Book Club Questions. A novel for women examining the Old Time Religion. Coming of age in the Southern Appalachians. If you love a story where the underdog surfaces and thrives, you’ll love this story.
Praise for the Book
Best book I have read in a while. Didn’t want it to end. Great and different story line. – Christine
This is a fantastic book that had me examining my own personal spiritual journey. Kudos to the author for writing such a heartfelt, inspiring work. – Verified Amazon Reader
I absolutely loved the characters and the story. Their faith in God helped them through the trials they faced. The story is engrossing and very believable. Hope this book is a winner for the author. – Verified Purchaser
“The story is emotionally gripping and pulls the reader along to see what will happen next. The best stories grab our emotions and don’t let go.” – Judge’s Commentary from 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Book Awards
The Whispering of the Willows is an inspiring story full of twists and turns, freedom and redemption, the expected and unexpected. This book brings to light the struggles of young woman past and present. God’s goodness and provision flow from each page. – Linda Bottoms, Rocky Mountain Ministry Network Women’s Ministries Director
(Affiliate links included.)Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Christianbook
About the Author
Tonya Jewel Blessing National/International Speaker, Published Author, Co-Founder/Director Strong Cross Ministries
Tonya grew up in rural Ohio. She currently lives in South Africa with her husband of 35 years. Tonya decided to trust Jesus for the destination of her young soul at the age of four. As a young adult, she worked for a well known television evangelist, and traveled with a Christian drama group throughout the Midwest.
Tonya attended Arapahoe Community College and Akron University, and has enjoyed a trusted position in formal and informal ministry settings and training opportunities. Tonya also worked as a children’s pastor, youth pastor, and women’s pastor. She served on staff at Praise Church in Littleton, Colorado for a number of years, and also worked as the Director of Women’s Ministries for Journey Church in Strasburg, Colorado. She has served on a number of ministry boards that support concerns for women.
Tonya and her husband operated Strong Cross Ranch Colorado for over eleven years, a place of respite for missionaries and ministers. They had the honor of hosting over 2,000 guests during that time frame. The Blessings relocated their ministry to South Africa in June of 2012. The ministry continues to serve and partner with local pastors and missionaries through a variety of creative and responsible means. The Blessings oversee building projects, feeding programs, educational services, interventions, and church planting.
Tonya is a well-known national and international speaker, often serving women in areas of the world which cannot be publicized. She writes articles and devotionals for missions’ magazines and women’s groups and is also a published author. She is the author of two historical fiction books The Whispering of the Willows and The Melody of the Mulberries. Both novels are set in Big Creek, West Virginia, during the late 1920’s. Tonya has also co-authored a devotional called Soothing Rain – Living Water to Refresh Your Soul. All three of Tonya’s books have received literary awards.
Tonya enjoys speaking and sharing her life with women at retreats and events. She thinks that women are amazing, and appreciates that the female gender is multifaceted yet fragile creations of God. In her personal life and as a speaker, Tonya believes that God’s Word is powerful, and needs to be read and written on her heart and on the hearts of women everywhere. For additional information, please review her author and ministry webpage: www.TonyaJewelBlessing.com
She was ordained in 2011 and is currently pursuing further pastoral and biblical studies. For additional information regarding Strong Cross Ministries South Africa, please visit the ministry web page – www.strongcrossministries.org.
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One winner will receive a $30 Amazon Gift CardOpen internationally (to those who can use one of Amazon’s branches)Ends July 1, 2020
Disclaimer – I have not read this book so I cannot speak to its appropriateness for a K-12 Christian School library. I encourage librarians to read the book before making a purchasing decision.