INSPIRATIONAL JOURNEYS PRESENTS!
Meredith Leigh Burton!
I’m proud to announce the following guest for your listening pleasure.
Please be sure to read onward after the following message to learn how you can be my guest here on INSPIRATIONAL JOURNEYS.
Thanks for listening and do write to let me and my guest know what you thought of this presentation.
Meredith Leigh Burton
Thursday, May 16, 2019
MORE ABOUT GUEST AUTHOR MEREDITH LEIGH BURTON
Meredith Leigh Burton was born on July 4, 1983. She developed retinopathy of prematurity and attended the Tennessee School for the Blind. She attended Middle Tennessee State University, where she received a Bachelors’ of Arts Degree in English and theater and a teaching certification for grades 7-12. Meredith is a motivational speaker, singer, teacher and writer. She loves teaching a Sunday school class of middle school-aged students and participating in other church activities. She writes young adult fantasy and inspirational fiction that often features disabled protagonists who are called upon to fight against evil. She hopes to demonstrate through her fiction that “all things work together for good to them who love God, to them that are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Meredith resides in Lynchburg, Tennessee.
Connedt with Meredith on her GoodReads page:
Blind Beauty and Other Tails of Redemption
A blind beauty … a slave girl … a lonely daughter. Immerse yourself in three fairy tale retellings that are unique but reminiscent of tales as old as time. In Blind Beauty, Jenna, who has lost her sight as the result of a traumatic accident, must save her father from a horrible beast. But, things are not what they seem. Can Jenna’s lack of sight help her see beyond the beast’s hideous appearance to the cursed young man beneath? In “Crossing to Afendia,” Faluri, a young slave girl, may be the only one who can save her people from a malevolent evil that lies closer than one might think. In Hart Spring, Bianca’s stepbrother is dying, and she may be the only person with a unique gift that can save his life. But, when Bianca’s stepmother seeks to possess Bianca’s gift for herself, Bianca flees, seeking refuge in a slave settlement. Things may not be as they appear, however, and Bianca’s enemy may not be the one you expect. Enter worlds where trees transport you to enchanted castles and the earth sings. An anthology that features disabled protagonists, Blind Beauty and Other Tales of Redemption will take you on incredible journeys.
Jenna strolled through the lush meadows, delighting in the soft song of the grass beneath her feet. She listened for any sound that would herald someone following her, but she heard no one to hinder her walk. She sighed in relief. Songbirds serenaded her in joyous trills, and the scent of spring was redolent upon the air. Spring was her favorite season, the time when the land of Floraine radiated new life. It was the season when flowers and trees awoke from sleep and praised Tecoptra for his goodness. She remembered a proverb Mother had always been fond of murmuring. “The fragrance of spring is the fragrance of love.” Spring had been Mother’s favorite season, too.
As Jenna ascended the small hillock before her, she felt a thrill of anticipation. Her destination lay just ahead. She remembered how she used to admire the profusion of pink and white blossoms upon the majestic apple trees. Now she had to rely upon her ears, which brought to her the rustling music of the trees’ songs. Anger at the injustice threatened to rise and mar the beautiful morning, but she forced it back.
Jenna entered the apple orchard, brushing the sturdy stick she carried along the ground. Poppa had carved the guidance tool for her. As she walked, the tool encountered obstacles that would have caused her to fall. Thus she was able to avoid accidents.
As Jenna shuffled onward, a soft sound stole upon her, the sound of weeping. The piteous cries issued from her appointed destination.
Jenna was drawn to the cries. Hadn’t she made those moans of desolation only six months earlier? Shaking, she followed the sounds to her tree.
When trouble began stalking Jenna’s family, she’d sought refuge in the orchard that lay beyond the village. Her tree was a perfect sanctuary. Jenna named it the Tree with the Humped Back, for it bent at an awkward angle. Even so, there was no denying its majesty.
The Tree with the Humped Back was sacred in Jenna’s mind. Before the fire occurred, she had often come here to read.
Jenna approached the tree, compassion filling her heart. Softly, she asked, “Why’re you crying?”
“Go away!” A boy’s snarling voice reached her ears. Jenna involuntarily shuddered, for the voice was harsher than any she’d ever heard. Then she admonished herself for being silly.
“Are you all right?” she asked.
She heard thudding footfalls as someone stepped from behind the tree. “Go away,” the boy repeated. “Why aren’t you running?”
Fear was receding in favor of indignation. After all, she was trying to help. “Why should I leave? This is my tree.”
“I was here first,” the boy said indignantly.
Jenna heard the sadness beneath the harsh tones of the boy’s voice. Despite her frustration, she decided to be polite. She groped within the pocket of her threadbare frock. She withdrew two pieces of peppermint candy and popped one into her mouth. She also retrieved a small handkerchief. Holding forth her offerings, Jenna said around the melting sweetness, “These peppermint drops always comfort me. My sister makes them. She sells them at market. Would you like one?”
There was a long pause. Then Jenna felt a brief touch against her palm. She shivered at the touch, for the hand was strangely heavy. When its hold was relinquished, the peppermint had been taken. She still held the handkerchief. The boy spoke again, his voice emerging from behind the tree. “That’s a girl’s handkerchief.”
Jenna laughed. “So?”
“I don’t need your help. Why’re you pestering me?”
Enough was enough! “If you’ve nothing civil to say, then leave! You’re ruining my alone time.” Jenna trailed her hands along her tree’s crooked trunk. She placed her feet upon the lowest branch and began to climb. Her hands and legs shook with weakness as she pulled herself upward. Yet she was determined. Ah! Here was her branch at last. She sat and began swinging her legs as she caught her breath. “I know you’re still there,” she called cheekily.
“If you don’t go away, I’ll make the tree let you go.”
Jenna felt a shiver stroke her spine. “What do you mean?”
“I’ll break the branch. You’ll fall.”
Jenna snorted, an unladylike but appropriate sound given the circumstances. “You’re a ninny. You have no power over trees. They wouldn’t listen to a stuck-up–“
She felt the tree move, a sharp thrusting motion as if it were pushing against her. Jenna gasped. The tree moved yet again, and a snapping sound filled her ears. She plummetted toward the ground.
She felt two strange hands grip her sides, halting her fall. She was gently lowered to the ground. The hands felt like large paws, but her mind spun in confusion, and she wondered if she was imagining this fact. She stumbled as she tried to regain her bearings and brushed against something sharp with many prongs. She flinched.
Jenna heard the grass rustle as the boy drew closer to her. “You shouldn’t have said that.” His voice trembled. “You can’t se, can you?”
Jenna didn’t speak. She was too frightened. Frantically, she groped for her guidance tool which had dropped to the ground. She gasped when her exploring fingers touched a severed branch that lay beneath the tree. “How could you?” she whispered.
She felt her stick being placed within her hand. ”I was only trying to frighten you. I’ll leave now,” the boy said.
Jenna stepped away from the tree. Swallowing, she said, “I’m sorry I called you a ninny. You weren’t letting me help. Poppa and Mirabel are like that, and it makes me mad. Are you a Flower Master? I thought only grown-ups spoke to flora.”
“Claudio says Flower Masters can be any age. Trees and flowers are my friends. I talk to this one everytime I come here, and he talks to me. Now he’ll probably never speak to me again. He’s furious.” As if to confirm his words, the tree’s branches rustled violently, several apple blossoms falling to the ground as it did so. “I’ve made him cry,” the boy whispered sadly.
“This tree’s my friend,” Jenna said. “I never thought it would try and hurt me.”
“He wouldn’t have on his own. He says he’s sorry. So am I.” After another long silence, the boy said, “I’m glad you cannot see.”
Jenna blinked, unsure what to say. She thought of the fire. “It’s hard,” she said. Then, to distract herself, she asked, “Will you tell me why you were crying when I found you?”
“I wasn’t crying,” he growled.
Jenna sighed. “I’m not dimwitted.”
“Maybe I was crying, but you would too if your father told you not to leave the house and threatened to lock you in.”
Empathy stirred within Jenna’s heart. “But, you did leave,” she pointed out.
“I snuck out. The roses helped me. The servants’ll be searching.“
Jenna leant forward, whispering conspiratorially, “I snuck out, too.”
It was then that Jenna heard reverberating footfalls and a frantic cry. She felt her arm being jerked. “Catch him!” Poppa’s hoarse voice yelled.
Jenna struggled against Poppa’s grip, crying out in indignation.
She heard shouts as a large crowd approached her. She heard someone running and the notching of bowstrings and the whoosh of arrows. A low whimper stole upon her ears. Poppa lifted her into his arms. He began running, paying no heed to his daughter’s angry flailings.
When Jenna was finally placed upon the ground, she snarled, “How did you find me? I thought you’d gone to help mend Ms. Carruthers roof.”
Poppa spoke through clenched teeth. “Confound you, girl! Thank Tecoptra’s providence I forgot my tools. I found Mirabel in a dreadful state. She said she went next door to give Charlotte some mint syrup for the baby’s cough. She’d only just returned and couldn’t find you. Can’t we leave you even for a minute? What were you thinking?“
“I’m sick of being cooped up, Poppa. You won’t let me go anywhere.“
“That’s not true. You accompany Mirabel to market everytime she goes.“
“Yes, and what do I do there?” Jenna’s voice shook. “I sit on a stool and swing my legs. People cluck at me. They’re like ill-bred hens! I had to get away.” She blinked rapidly, her eyes burning. Sadness burrowed into her soul like an animal unreleased. “How could you hurt that boy? I was only trying to help.”
“What boy?” Poppa’s voice was softer now, tinged with concern. “That beast would’ve killed you.”
Jenna blinked. “Beast?”
Poppa clutched her hand. She felt him trembling. “A monster,” he whispered. “A wolf with a deer’s head.”
Jenna shuddered. Poppa was many things, a worrier, a careless businessman, and a protector, but he wasn’t a liar. Yet what he was saying was absurd, wasn’t it? She thought of the boy’s touch. Had she been imagining it, or had his hand felt paw-like? Shaking, she allowed Poppa to lead her home.
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Podcast cover art photo provided by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash: