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A New Chapter

Friends . . . It has been a while since I’ve blogged! I’ve missed you. We have some catching up to do!

A WISH MADE OF GLASS – AUDIOBOOK

First things first: A Wish Made of Glass has been made into an audio book!! If any of you follow my Facebook page, you will have seen my occasional posts on the exciting progress of the audiobook – what a fun process! I auditioned several narrators, and was absolutely thrilled with Keely, the lady I ended up choosing. Keely’s voice is mesmerizing and whimsical and just perfect for my little tale. I couldn’t be happier with her lovely rendition of it, and I think you’ll love it too.

I have several FREE audio books to give away, too (of course! You knew I would!). In order to receive one, you only have to do two little things for me: Write a review of it to post on Amazon, and share either your review or the link to the audio book on as many of your social media as you’re comfortable doing so. See . . . not so bad!

If you’d like to be considered for receiving a free code for the audio book, email me at ashleew@zoho.com and let me know why you’re interested, and what social media you’d plan on sharing the book through (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.). Preference will be given to those who also have blogs they plan to share on. If you’ve already read A Wish Made of Glass – no worries! You still qualify for receiving a free copy!

NEW CHAPTERS

Life has thrown some huge changes at me this past year or so. Some good and some bad, including two big moves, a change in schools for my almost-10-year-old son, and a brand new job for me. Needless to say, amidst all these changes, my writing has had to sit on the back burner. That doesn’t mean that everything that has been happening to me hasn’t been grist for the mill . . . when life gets complicated and sad and stressful and unexpectedly joyful, that’s where the real stories come from! So, story ideas abound, and you’ll often find me scribbling away on the back of a receipt or church bulletin, to capture the next idea or snippet of an idea before it floats away.

About 3 or 4 months ago, when my son was having a hard night, I lay in bed with him and told him a bedtime story (something I haven’t done in ages!). That story, which was for his own courage and comfort, sparked something in me, and I couldn’t let it go. A few weeks after telling it to him, I began writing it. And just a couple weeks ago, I finished the rough draft of what is now a 14,000-word children’s book. Yes, it’s different from what I’m used to writing. But still fantasy, still full of fun and whimsy and even some heartbreak. I’m so excited to be able to do my preliminary revisions and then gather a few beta readers to help me on the next step to publishing this story.

Tell me what this near year has been like for you so far . . .?

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The Cost: A Retelling of Pandora’s Box

I wrote this short story last year for publication in the Timeless Tales fairy tale magazine and thought I’d share it on my blog for those of you who haven’t yet read it. I’ve always been fascinated by the way many Greek myths are so similar to stories from the Bible. So of course, being me, when I wrote my version of the story, I had another, deeper, meaning in mind.

If you’re unfamiliar with the original Pandora’s Box myth, you may want to refresh your memory at this link.

Hope you enjoy!

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The Cost

by Ashlee Willis

My father Zeus cast me from him – proof he was loveless. He locked tight the only gift he had ever given me – proof he was faithless. And he gave me in marriage to Theus – proof he held no respect for me.

Morning light slants across the tiny room and I lie awake, seeing things that aren’t there. Heaven, a silver crown to fit my head and golden streets beneath my feet. Things I should have had. Things I’ve never seen, yet somehow still yearn for. Things to make this life I’ve been dropped into seem as pale as a candle against the sun.

Theus stirs in the bed next to me, bringing me back from my bitter thoughts. When he opens his eyes, his first look is for me. Smiling, he puts a rough-skinned hand gently to my face.

“Dora.”

I try to smile back, but I’m not sure the muscles in my face obey.

A year ago I had never seen this man. I watch as his handsome face, now so familiar, falls slightly at my cold response. He turns from me to get out of bed, and I am close behind. For there’s breakfast to make, and cleaning to do, and errands to run. I’m a wife now, the daughter of a god no more.

“Husband, fetch down that spoon there – I can’t reach it.” In one arm I carry a pot, with the other I stoke the fire beneath the stove. But my mind is far away.

Theus holds out the ladle to me, but does not let go when I grasp it. I look at him.

“I’m happy to get this spoon, as I’m happy to do your bidding in all things. I love you, Pandora,” he says in a voice quiet as a lullaby, his blue eyes bent on my face.

“Obedient,” I mutter, jerking the spoon from him and turning back to the stove.

“What?”

“I said you are obedient, Theus.” My voice raises slightly, but I don’t look at him. “You were obedient to your parents when they bade you listen to Zeus. You were obedient to Zeus where he bade you marry his castoff daughter. And you are obedient to Pandora now when she bids you get her a spoon to stir your gruel. Ha.” My laugh is bitter. I can’t help it. “Look where obedience has brought you, husband.”

Now I glance over my shoulder and see something I have never seen on my husband’s face before. Anger. But only for a moment. Then it is gone, replaced with that hard-won patience he values so much. A pity, that – I had almost seen something in him to make me pay attention for once.

“Zeus commands many things,” says my husband. “But he cannot command love, not in me nor in any other man or woman alive. I love where I choose. And I love you.”

Most would think me a cold woman not to respond to those words. But most would simply not understand. In silence I spoon out the gruel into two wooden bowls and place them on the table, without once looking up at my husband.

A heavy hand falls on my shoulder. Theus pulls me around to look into his face, full of pain. “What is this about, truly, Dora? Is it the box again? I asked you not to speak of it. Zeus said we may not open it – not now or ever.”

The familiar feeling is in me again, at the mention of that infernal box. The feeling that nothing will ever be right in the world if I cannot have the gift that was meant for me – the gift that was only partially given.

Why do you keep it from me, I want to cry to my father, when you know it is meant to be mine?

Instead, I hiss, “It’s not the box. It’s only … it’s only …” My life? My freedom? My restless, hungry spirit, calling for more, more …

“I know what it is,” says Theus.

“You do?” I give him a look that says I don’t believe him.

“You long for more, Dora – you think I can’t see it? More than the life we have, more than what Zeus gave us.”

I’m shocked he’s hit at the very heart of it, but my face remains stony. “Then why don’t you do something about it?”

My voice is shot with venom, I can hear it. For a moment I think Theus will walk away from me. But then his strong arms are around me, and the wetness on my face tells me I must be crying.

“I try to give you more, Dora, I try, I try … if only you could see it.” His voice is a heartbreaking mixture of kindness and sorrow. His embrace surprises me with the comfort it gives. And it whispers of something just beyond my grasp – something that I can almost see … but not quite.

I shake my head and step away from him. “Thank you, Theus,” I say, wiping tears. And I mean it. I am thankful, in that moment, to have had the solace of his arms. I smile at him, willing him to leave. He smiles back, a smile full of love. A smile that tells me he believes in our future together.

How wrong he is. We have no future – not so long as that box glares at me every night. Not so long as my husband keeps the key to what is mine and mine alone.

After Theus is gone, I slam the cupboard door, wiping more angry tears from my face. The latch doesn’t catch, and it swings back open. So I slam it harder.

A clinking noise makes me freeze. It’s a noise only metal makes.

pandora's box4I am at the cupboard in half a heartbeat, scrabbling at the base of it like a dog digging for a bone. It is heavy, but I soon have it inched away from the wall with enough space for my slender arm to fit into. My fingers slide through a fine layer of dust and meet with the cold of brass.

And just like that, the key is in my hand. The key Theus tells me he has kept away out of love for me, when I know that if his love was true he would keep nothing from me.

Nor would my father have done.

This box is yours, Pandora, yours alone – but you must not open it.  My father’s thunderous voice swirls into memory. And Theus’ voice follows, more softly: Some gifts are meant to protect, not plunder.

“But you should have given me more,” I insist aloud to the empty room, not knowing if I talk to father or husband. “The daughter of a god deserves more than this. So much more.”

My hands shake almost too much to fit the key into the lock. But at last the key turns and the lock opens with a heavy scrape. I have longed to hear that sound for nearly a year, although something tells me it has been much longer than that, in truth.

Without another thought, I reach for the lid and throw it back.

The world comes to an end.

A thousand banshees scream past my ears, laden with the rank odor of death and sickness. Images, creatures, even people, rush from out of the box. It is impossible. They’re horrible, all of them, beyond compare. I want to push my face into my pillow and hide, but I cannot tear my eyes away. They sweep over me, tearing at my clothes, roaring in my ears, baring their bloody teeth in my face until I am weeping and screaming like I have lost my wits.

None of them stay … they fly round the house and out the windows, crashing the panes and splintering the wood as they go. They leave me crumpled on the bed. My body is unharmed, but I am aware of a horrid throbbing, deep within me, as if there is a part of me there that I never knew about – a part of me I should have held more precious.

That part of me is torn in shreds. It will never be whole again, I think.

“Pandora.” A voice is at my ear and I jump violently. It is my husband. His eyes are red-rimmed, as if he’s been weeping too, and his hand is bewilderingly gentle on my hair. His blue eyes hold no reproach. Even so, I’m filled with shame so deep I don’t think I can live beneath the weight of it.

He does not ask, “How could you?” He does not say, “You have loosed hell on earth.” Instead he sits next to me and takes the box from my lap, looking into its emptiness.

“You will find nothing there,” I whisper. “They’ve all gone, and it’s all my doing. Zeus will strike me down now, I know, and you will be rid of a wife who was never good to you anyway. Perhaps it’s for the best.”

Theus’ dark brows come together as he shakes his head. His blue eyes pierce me, and I see tears forming in them. He is fiercely angry, I can see, and I wonder if he will strike me, or perhaps force me to leave him. An hour ago I would not have cared. Now the thought of leaving him makes me grasp at my chest, for I think I can feel my heart cracking in half.

“Even now, Dora, you do not understand, do you?” Theus’ voice shakes with emotion. “Even now you can’t see what I have tried to offer you – the more that you have always wished for.”

I am nodding, grasping wildly at his hands. “I see it, I do see it now, Theus. I swear to you. It’s only that I’m afraid I’ve lost it forever. Please … please …”

My husband looks once again into the box’s depths, then sets it down and gathers me into his arms. He kisses my forehead, then my nose, then my lips. I sob with anguish and relief.

What a price to pay, I think as I kiss him back. What a cost, just to see something that was there all along.pandora's box wings2

Over my husband’s shoulder I see something tiny perched on the box’s rim. From its darkness has crawled a creature like I’ve never seen, winged and beautiful and fragile as a cobweb. It flies to me and its touch as it lands on my ear is light as the warmth of sunlight.

Then it is gone, its small wings propelling it out the shattered window, into the shattered world.

It will be crushed, I think anxiously. It will be destroyed by those other horrors. Killed even by breathing the same foul air that they do.

But then Theus looks at me, and I see the light of that bright, tiny creature within his eyes. And in joy, I laugh.

Copyright Ashlee Willis, 2014

Four Great Christian eBooks On Sale Now

I have noticed there are several great Christian books either on sale now, so I thought I’d give them a shout-out in case you hadn’t already heard.

Some are free, others are 99 cents … either way, it’s a great deal!  (And of course my book is 99 cents as well until August 22nd!).

If you purchase any of the books below, don’t forget to leave a review after you’ve read it. Reviews are one of the best ways to help other readers discover great books!

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City of Invaders by Sarah Scheele – FREE until August 14City of the Invaders

As a Christian, Katia Vingo belongs to a tiny, hereditary minority called the EC. Her friends keep a risky balance with the hostile invaders who have taken over Palladia. When Katia’s family is forced out of their isolated home by guerrilla bandits, she finds herself living in the large, city-state of Wyncon. She hopes to blend in and live quietly. But this future world is not a place where anything stays the same for long.

And Katia’s life is one of the things that is about to change.

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King’s Warrior by Jenelle Schmidt – 99 Cents until August 13

Six hundred years ago the land of Aom-igh was threatened with invasion by the Dark Country across the Stained Sea; in their danger King Llian sought the help of the dragons and the myth-folk. Graldon, King of the Dragons, granted the human king with a gift that would help him defeat his enemies. Graldon King's Warrioralso promised King Llian that the dragons would come to the humans’ aid should Aom-igh ever be in such danger again. Years passed, and Aom-igh remained safe and isolated from its enemies. The dragons slowly disappeared and faded into legend and myth, and people forgot magic had ever existed.

When her kingdom is threatened by the Dark Country once again, the headstrong Princess Kamarie sets off on a quest to find the man who may be able to save them all: the former King’s Warrior. Traveling with her are two companions: her eccentric maid, and a squire who resents his charge to travel with and protect the princess. However, finding the legendary hero proves to be the least of their worries. Together the companions encounter more than they ever bargained for. A beautiful gatekeeper, a sword fashioned by dragons, enemies who pursue them relentlessly and hound them at every turn, and an underground world full of mythical creatures are just the beginning of their adventures.

As they search for the answers to mystifying riddles and seek a way to save everything they hold dear the comrades will learn a little about courage, a lot about truth, and more about themselves than they ever imagined. But if they can succeed in their quest, they may join worlds together.

(Second Son, the next book in this series, will be marked down to 99 cents next week, so keep your eyes open!!)

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The Door by Lorilyn Roberts – 99 centsthe door

Seventh Dimension – The Door, a Finalist in the 2013 Grace Awards, Selah Awards, and International Book Awards, is the first book in the Seventh Dimension Series that combines contemporary, historical, and fantasy elements into a Christian “coming-of-age” story. A curse put on Shale Snyder, because of a secret, shrouds her with insecurity and fear. Following suspension from school, Shale’s best friend isn’t allowed to see her anymore and she feels abandoned by her family. When a stray dog befriends her, she follows it into the woods. There she discovers a door that leads to another world—a garden with talking animals, demonic underlings, and a king unlike any other. Can Shale overcome her past, defeat the underlings, and embrace her eternal destiny?

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WitnessWitness by E.G. Lewis – FREE

An old story told a new way. The events Rivkah witnessed changed history. As a young shepherd girl, she accompanied her father to a Bethlehem stable where she held the baby Jesus. She watched Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt, met the strange visitors from the East who’d followed a star, and watched Herod’s soldiers kill the children of her village. Experience life in Roman Judea. The Jewish people struggle under the burden of Caesar’s armies and Herod’s cruelty. Watch false Messiahs rise and fall and see the fatal retribution that followed. Rome tore them apart, but slavery and rebellions couldn’t destroy the love between Rivkah and Shemu’el, the man she believed God destined for her.Witness it all through the eyes of one who lived it.

Have a great Tuesday! And happy reading!!

Words of Freedom

What a perfect day for hearing all of the great things that can be said about our freedom!

 

“Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.” (George Washington)

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” (Charlotte Bronte)

Flag pallets

I had to snap a picture of this patriotic display we saw on the way to visit family!

“Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere.” (Abraham Lincoln)

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” (Jane Austen)

“And the turtles, of course … all the turtles are free, as turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.” (Dr. Seuss)

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.” (Abraham Lincoln)

“Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.” (Ayn Rand)

“People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.” (Emma Goldman)

“Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16)

“I am an American; free born and free bred, where I acknowledge no man as my superior, except for his own worth, or as my freedom flowerinferior, except for his own demerit.”  (Theodore Roosevelt)

“Freedom lies in being bold.” (Robert Frost)

“True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.” (Mortimer J. Adler)

“The first duty of a man is to think for himself.” (Jose Marti)
“He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.” (Aristotle)

“Freedom is what we do with what is done to us.” (Jean-Paul Sartre)

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” (Sigmund Freud)

“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” (Benjamin Franklin)

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” (Nelson Mandela)

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 3:12)

“Injustice in the end produces independence.” (Voltaire)

“The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.” (George Washington)

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

 

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, EVERYONE!