Friday, July 19, 2019

Lone Star Book Blog Tours - Light From Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker


Genre: Christian Fiction / Magical Realism / Rural Fiction
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: July 16, 2019
Number of Pages: 400
Scroll down for Giveaway!

When Cohen Marah steps over his father's body in the basement embalming room of the family's funeral home, he has no idea that he is stepping into a labyrinth of memory.

Over the next week, Cohen's childhood comes back in living color. The dramatic events that led to his parents' separation. The accident Cohen witnessed and the traumatic images he couldn't unsee. And the two children in the forest who became his friends--and enlisted him in a dark and dangerous undertaking. As the lines blur between what was real and what was imaginary, Cohen is faced with the question he's been avoiding:

Is he responsible for his father's death?

Master story weaver Shawn Smucker relays a tale both eerie and enchanting, one that will have you questioning reality and reaching out for what is true, good, and genuine.


Chapter Two of
Light from Distant Stars
By Shawn Smucker

Monday, March 16, 2015

Darkness was upon the face of the deep.
Genesis 1:2

The Preacher
When Cohen was a small boy, lying on the floor under the church pews on a humid summer Sunday night, the bright ceiling lights shone. He listened to his father’s voice boom through the quiet, the heavy pauses filled with scattershot responses. “Amen!” and “Preach!” and semi- whispered versions of “Hallelujah!” so hushed and sincere they sent goose bumps racing up his skinny arms. 

Under the pews, on the deep red carpet, drowning in the hot, stuffy air, young Cohen drifted in and out of sleep. It was as if he had descended beneath some holy canopy and settled into the plush red carpet surrounded by a rain forest full of trees, which were actually the legs of pews and the legs of people and women’s dresses draped all the way to the floor, rustling ever so slightly with the sermon. He could smell the hairspray and the cologne and the sweat mingling like incense, a pleasing offering to the Lord. 

Far above him, like branches moving under the weight of resettling birds, people waved paper fans created out of their Sunday evening bulletins, folded an inch this way, an inch that way, stirring the air. But to no avail. Sweat came out of their pores. Sweat welled up in droplets like water on a glass. Sweat trickled down, always down. And even there, from the floor, Cohen could imagine it: the sweat that darkened the underarms of Mr. Pugitt’s light blue collared shirt, the sweat Mrs. Fisher blotted from her powdery temples, the sweat that made his father’s bald head shine like a beacon, and the sweat that sweetened the nape of Miss Flynne’s slender neck. 

Ah, his Sunday school teacher, Miss Flynne! Cohen was only nine years old in 1984, but he could tell that something about Miss Flynne opened doors into rooms where he had never wandered. Why couldn’t he speak when she looked at him? Why did the lines of her body push his heart into his throat? She was all bright white smiles and straight posture and something lovely, budding. 

His mother was not all smiles, not in 1984 and never before that and never since. Sometimes, from his place of repose under the church bench, he could peek out and see his mother’s stern face, eyes never leaving his father. The intensity with which she followed his father’s sermon was the only thing that could distract her enough to allow him to slip down onto the floor. No one else seemed to notice her lips, but Cohen did, the way she mouthed every single word to every single one of his father’s sermons, as if she had written them herself. Which she had. 

Sometimes, when Cohen’s father said a word that synchronize with his mother’s mouth, she would pause, her eyes those of a scorned prophet, one not welcomed in her own town. Cohen could tell it took everything in her not to stand up and interrupt his father, correct him, set him back in the record’s groove. But she would shake her head as if clearing away a gnat and find the cadence again. Somehow their words rediscovered each other there in the holy air, hers silent and hidden, his shouted, and Cohen’s mind drifted away. 

If Cohen rolled over or made too much noise or in any way reminded his mother of his existence there beneath the canopy, she hauled him back up by his upper arm or his ear or his hair, whatever she could reach, hissing admonitions, hoisting him back to the pew. He felt the eyes of the hundreds of other people on the back of his own neck, sitting there like drops of sweat, their glances grazing off his ears, skimming the top of his head, weighing down his shoulders. There was a certain weight that came with being the only son of a popular country preacher. There were certain expectations. 

His sister Kaye was always there, waiting for him in the canopy, only four years older than him and sitting completely still. She had an unnatural ability to weather even the longest of sermons without so much as twitching, without moving a single muscle. Sometimes she didn’t even blink for long minutes at a time. He knew. He watched her, counting the seconds. When they got older, she told him her secret to this, the things she thought about to keep her in that central spot, the stories she made up. She told him about the things in the church she would count: the wooden slats on the ceiling, the imperfections in the wooden pew, the number of pores on the back of the person’s neck in front of her and how those tiny hairs became an endless forest through which she embarked on an adventure. 

When Cohen became bored contemplating his sister’s stillness, which took only moments, his gaze joined with those hundreds of other gazes, the way small streams drown into bigger ones, and he stared at his father on the stage. Cohen was transfixed by what he saw. His father reached up with his long, slender fingers and loosened his tie. He raised a pointed finger to the heavens and made a desperate plea, his voice a cadence, a rhythm, a kind of calling out, and the congregation heaved with emotion. People shouted. Women’s shoulders shook with poorly suppressed sobs. Men leaned forward, their faces in their hands, as if scorched by Isaiah’s coal. 

Cohen’s father pulled a pure white handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his bald head dry, and the lights shone. An usher opened the windows that ran along the east side of the building, and a cool night breeze blew through, leaking in and spreading along the floor, gathering in pools that Cohen slipped into when his mother had been taken up again by the words of her own sermon.

Shawn Smucker is the author of the young adult novels The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There, as well as the memoir Once We Were Strangers. He lives with his wife and six children in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


Copy of Light from Distant Stars
+ Look to the Stars 8”x5” Journal + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card; 
Copy of Light from Distant Stars + Personal Library Kit; 
Copy of Light from Distant Stars + $10 Starbucks Gift Card. 
July 17-27, 2019
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Goddess Fish Promotions - Extinction Of All Children by LJ Epps

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. L.J. Epps will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Book Blast For
Extinction Of All Children

By L. J. Epps

Genre: YA Fantasy

The futuristic world of Craigluy has been divided into three territories and three economic classes. A large wall separates the territories, so the poor cannot mingle with the rich.

Since President Esther, the ruler over all of Craigluy, believes the poor do not have adequate means to take care of children, they are no longer allowed to procreate. Pregnant mothers are imprisoned until their babies are born, then the infants are taken away.

Emma Whisperer is the last child to survive. She is the last child born in lower-class Territory L before the law was instituted in the year 2080. She is the last eighteen-year-old.

Emma struggles to understand why she was spared while others weren’t. She doesn’t like the laws and believes they should be repealed. Her family doesn’t agree with her; they discourage her rebellious streak. Yet, she helps them to cover up their own family rebellion. She helps them to hide a big secret, a secret that could be both disastrous and deadly for members of their family.

As she meets new people along the way, Emma learns who she can and cannot trust. And, in the end, she makes a gut-wrenching decision that may be disastrous for everyone.

She finds herself in danger for doing what she feels is right.

Read an Excerpt

“I see your side is still bothering you.” He looks me up and down. “That’s why I came by in regular clothes. I knew you wouldn’t feel much like training. You should rest your side for a few days, like the doctor said.”

“How do you know what the doctor said?”

“Samuel told me. He said we should put off training, for a while.”

“Until I recuperate.” I groan again, pushing the pack more into my skin. “I don’t want to lose my newfound skills. Pretty soon, I will be good enough to beat you.”

“Now wait a minute.” He holds up his hands. “Slow it down, a little. You’re doing well, but don’t get ahead of yourself. I think the nickname Whisper has caused you to lose all sense of reality.”

“No, I’m still in my right mind,” I say. I grin like baby Abigail when you tickle her stomach.

“Seriously, though.” His eyes find mine. “Is your side all right?”

“It’s fine, or it will be.” My fingers sting, holding the pack.

“What about your hand?”

“They gave me some ointment to use.”

“Why did you let Samuel take you?” His chest rises and falls like the words were hard to say. “I mean, I asked to take you to the hospital and you refused. Why would you let Samuel take you, instead of me?”

About the Author: L.J. Epps is a lover of all things related to books: fiction and nonfiction novels, as well as biographies and autobiographies. She has also been known to sit and read comic books from cover to cover, several times over.

Over the last few years, L.J. has written several manuscripts; her mission is to publish all of them. She enjoys writing fiction in several genres, including contemporary romance and women’s fiction, as well as young adult dystopian, science fiction and fantasy. She loves to write because it immerses her into another world that is not her own.







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