Monday, May 23, 2011

Author Emily Sue Harvey: Eagles Always Fly High

It’s my pleasure to welcome author Emily Sue Harvey as the special guest blogger here today as she makes a stop on her virtual blog tour.

Emily’s latest release is HOMEFIRES. Here’s a brief synopsis of it: HOMEFIRES is set in the Deep South’s Bible Belt on the eve of unprecedented moral changes. It is the story of Janeece and Kirk Crenshaw, a couple married just after their high school graduation who set out to make a life for themselves. It is a life marked by surprises, none more dramatic than when Kirk receives his “high-calling” and becomes a pastor. It is a life marked by tragedy, the most heart-rending of which is a devastating event very close to home. And it is a life marked by challenges: to their church, to their community, and most decidedly to their marriage. And as the fullness of time makes its impact on their union, Kirk and Janeece must face the question of whether they have gone as far as they can together.

Filled with the rich emotions and evocative characters that fans have come to expect from Emily Sue Harvey, and reminiscent of the work of Jan Karon and Anne Rivers Siddons, HOMEFIRES is a poignant and compelling novel that will steal readers' hearts.

Emily stop by today to talk about ‘EAGLES ALWAYS FLY HIGH.'

I love challenges. Especially the writing kind. SONG OF RENEWAL, my first full length paperback release, provided many during it’s creation. So did FLAVORS. But writing FLAVORS, the story of twelve year old Sadie Ann Melton’s coming of age during a summer at her grandparents’ farm, living amid a passel of kids who rivaled Ma and Pa Kettle’s brood, was so delightfully fun that I hated to finish it. Then, another recent full length paperback release, HOMEFIRES, chronicles the fictional experiences of a preacher’s family. It’s told from the wife, Janeece’s perspective and reveals the good, bad and ugly of life in the glass house. Victims of ecclesiastical circumstances, Janeece and Kirk Crenshaw face the challenge of their lives. Yet—despite their prayerful lives, a solution is not so simple. Forgiveness and unconditional love are in abundant supply for the parsonage family. But then loss and betrayal tear the family asunder. Can Janeece and Dan even go on together? Is love enough to put them back together?

My soon to be released novel, SPACE, is the story of a nucleus family of three who face some of the greatest challenges that I—as an author--have ever encountered. The Stowes, Dan, Deede, and Faith, their nearly-thirty, recovering drug addict daughter, battle a universal dilemma when Faith comes back home to live.

Faith--the Faith they’ve always known--is gone away. In her place is a stranger—a needy, demanding, neurotic, clamorous individual who steals their golden years, idyllic life. Faith has lost everything, her marriage, her child, and her health. Worst of all, Faith is the black sheep of the remarkable Eagle family clan, one in which no one, save her Aunt Priss and soul-mate cousin Jensen, trusts her. During her dark drug days, she lied, stole from, and betrayed all who loved her. Now, in post drug rehab, the rubber meets the road when Faith has to face the consequences of her actions and must learn to co-exist with her aging parents. Faith must find her space in life.

Faith is, under the best of conditions, a trial to bear, as Dan and
Deede soon learn. First, her needs bankrupt them financially. Beyond that, they wrestle daily with guilt—they want her gone; and resentment—she’s stolen their space, their time together. Their very peace.  Some sage advice to them is to simply throw their daughter out. But in this particular situation, we learn that this is not ‘simple’ and not possible. Faith was their “miracle baby,” one that was not supposed to happen.

When? Deede and Dan both wonder, does one give up on a child and throw them under the old proverbial bus? In Faith’s case, it would mean prison.

While Dan gets stuck in the “do not be her enabler” counsel, Deede is imbedded in the “as long as she’s trying to change, help her” advice. Faith doesn’t know who she is anymore or where she’s headed. Her frustration, anger, and dishonor toward her parents brings much heartache and stress. The collision course is wide and long. Unavoidable.

This story challenged me more than any other I’ve done because of the complexities of three people living together under one roof, while each is forced to sacrifice chunks of their own space for the survival of the family unit.

Deede Stowe says it best, “We each need our own little corner of the universe.” So true. Without our own space, life can turn on us and, at times, even bring us down. This happens, in turn, to each of the Stowes.

Deede’s wise mother, Noni Eagle, teaches the entire Eagle clan that “Eagles always fly high!” Noni illustrates with the American Eagle’s aging odyssey during which—to live beyond its 40th year and survive another 30--it must experience tremendous agony, first by banging and dislodging it’s misshapen beak against stone, and then growing a new one. It then plucks out its talons and waits for new ones to grow. All this is paramount to its capturing prey and surviving.  Lastly, it plucks out each heavy aged feather until it is naked, then waits in the mountain top nest for a new coat to emerge. This entire ordeal lasts 150 long days, after which the eagle takes its famous flight of rebirth and lives to be 70.

The Stowes each ‘get it’ as to why this process of painful change applies to them during their own quest for healing and rebirth. They survive by ridding themselves of old memories, habits and other past traditions. Dysfunctional Dan has to learn to forgive while Deede must endure Dan and Faith’s clashes and maintain her own equanimity. Faith must reclaim herself by somehow freeing herself from past entrapments so that she may take advantage of the present and begin a brand new life.

“You see,” Noni Eagle tells them, “when it rains, birds head for shelter. Of all the birds, only the eagle can avoid the rain by flying above the clouds. So, go spread your wings and soar with the eagles.”

The Stowe’s victories are hard won. The story teaches us that no one is beyond redemption. It shows that familial love endures beyond our wildest expectations.

It teaches, too, that everything meaningful begins with family and ends with family.  

Emily, thank you so much for guest blogging today. I love your last sentence and agree with it completely.

Now for a bit about Emily, author and speaker, who writes to make a difference. Dozens of her upbeat stories and articles appear in Chocolate for Women, Chicken Soup for the Soul, women’s magazines, websites, and other anthologies. She is the author of the novel SONG OF RENEWAL and the novella FLAVORS. Her new novel, HOMEFIRES, will be followed by two more novellas and another novel (Unto these Hills) later in 2011.  To find out more about Emily visit or

Share your thoughts on this inspiring post and thanks so much for stopping by.


  1. Sounds like a very interesting story about what can happen in a family--how we love our family, even when they cause us pain. Best wishes with "Homefires."

  2. Mason, I always thank you for introducing me to new-to-me authors. I'm very interested in Emily Sue Harvey's books and I'll be on the lookout for HOME FIRES and also looking forward to SPACE. Family dynamics are always interesting to me and these books sound like ones that I would really enjoy.

  3. Mason - Thank you so much for hosting Emily Sue.

    Emily Sue - Family dynamics and family changes against a backdrop of larger social changes is such an interesting theme! It's a set of questions and ideas with which we all can relate, too, so I'm sure your novels resonate with your readers on a very personal level. I wish you much success with Homefires.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.