Cover Reveal: Fly Away Home by Rachel Heffington

15 January 2014

Today I have the pleasant honor of presenting to you all the shiny-new cover for Rachel Heffington's debut novel, Fly Away Home!

back cover synopsis

1952 New York City:

Callie Harper is a woman set to make it big in the world of journalism. Liberated from all but her buried and troubled past, Callie craves glamour and the satisfaction she knows it will bring. When one of America's most celebrated journalists, Wade Barnett, calls on Callie to help him with a revolutionary project, Callie finds herself co-pilot to a Christian man whose life and ideas of true greatness run noisily counter to hers on every point. But when the secrets of Callie's past are hung over her head as a threat, there is space for only one love, one answer: betray Wade Barnett to save her reputation, or sacrifice everything for the sake of the man she loved and the God she fled. The consequences of either decision will define the rest of her life.

Self-preservation has never looked more tempting.

. . .

This project occupies a close place in my heart because Rachel's been keeping everyone who follows her blog in the loop since the conception of Fly Away Home. The snippets and excerpts she's shared on The Inkpen Authoress over the past two years or so have duly won our hearts to Callie and Mr. Barnett and the tangled tale in which they find themselves. Having read, laughed, and cried my way through the book myself, I have it on good authority that this is a story you won't want to miss. Mark your calendars for February 14th, dear ones — Fly Away Home is due to release on St. Valentine's Day!

about the author

Rachel Heffington is a Christian, a novelist, and a people-lover. Encouraged by her mother to treasure books, Rachel's favorite pastime was (and still is) reading. When her own library and her cousin's ran out of interesting novels, twelve-year old Rachel decided she would write her own; thus began a love-affair with word-crafting that has carried her past her teen years and into adulthood. Outside of the realm of words, Rachel enjoys the Arts, traveling, mucking about in the kitchen, listening for accents, and making people laugh. She dwells in rural Virginia with her boisterous family and her black cat, Cricket. Visit Rachel online at


To make this reveal even more fun, Rachel is giving away a Fly Away Home Coziness Package, which includes Posh Stationery, Tea, a one-of-a-kind Nickleby Mug, and Hazelnut Chocolate. Enter your name and email address in the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win! The giveaway will close on January 18th, so enter while you can!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Toast Raised to the Promised Land

13 January 2014

"There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before."
willa cather

Some books lend themselves to reviews, and still others do not. Long before I finished My Ántonia, I suspected it would fall into the latter category. Reviewing it in my typical fashion would drag all the beauty from its marrow and leave nothing but bones behind. It suits some stories to describe them in such terms, but this particular book is more a portrait than a roving plot.

And if the truth be known, I did not read Willa Cather's masterpiece with mental pro and con boxes in my head, eyes and pen alert for the points that would best suit each section. I simply read, and that doesn't happen often with assigned literature. I soaked in the richness of the author's prose, drinking up the wild beauty of the Nebraskan prairie until the coarse wind, golden wheat sheaves, and azure sky bled through my fingertips. I marveled at the endurance and courage of the immigrant pioneers, digging a life for themselves out of alien soil, their heartache and triumph threading through the pages like a crimson ribbon. More than anything else, the way Cather describes the changing of the seasons — barren winter to yielding, fresh-faced spring, jovial summer under the high sun to chilling, radiant autumn, and so forth — worked its way into my heart and marked a claim on a small part of my soul (in five years or so, it should be permanent).

I'd like to offer up some of the gems I've mined from the pages of this memoir. Don't try to swallow them whole — they're much better when taken with a dose of winter sunshine, and they'll leave a thrumming ache in your heart even so.

It was a day of amber sunlight, but there was a shiver of coming winter in the air.
book one, chapter vi

The sky was brilliantly blue, and the sunlight on the glittering white stretches of prairie was almost blinding. As Ántonia said, the whole world was changed by snow; we kept looking in vain for familiar landmarks. . . . The wind had the burning taste of fresh snow; my throat and nostrils smarted as if someone had opened a hartshorn bottle. The cold stung and at the same time delighted one. . . . All about us the snow was crusted in shallow terraces, with tracings like ripple-marks at the edges, curly waves that were the actual impression of the stinging lash in the wind.
book one, chapter ix

"My papa sad for the old country. He not look good. He never make music any more. At home he play violin all the time; for weddings and for dance. Here never. When I beg him for play, he shake his head no. Some days he take his violin out of his box and make with his fingers on the strings, like this, but never he make the music."
book one, chapter xiii

"Oh, great and just God, no man among us know what the sleeper knows, nor is it for us to judge what lies between him and Thee."
book one, chapter xvi

There were none of the signs of spring for which I used to watch in Virginia, no budding woods or blooming gardens. There was only — spring itself; the throb of it, the light restlessness, the vital essence of it everywhere: in the sky, in the swift clouds, in the pale sunshine, and in the warm, high wind — rising suddenly, sinking suddenly, impulsive and playful . . ."
book one, chapter xvii

Half the sky was chequered with black thunderheads, but all the west was luminous and clear: in the lightning flashes it looked like deep blue water, with the sheen of moonlight on it; and the mottled part of the sky was like marble pavement, like the quay of some splendid seacoast city, doomed to destruction.
book one, chapter xix

In my memory there was a succession of such pictures, fixed there like the old woodcuts of one's first primer: Ántonia kicking her bare legs against the sides of my pony when we came home in triumph with our snake; Ántonia in her black shawl and fur cap, as she stood by her father's grave in the snowstorm; Ántonia coming in with her work-team along the evening sky-line. . . . I had not been mistaken. She was a battered woman now, not a lovely girl; but she still had that something which fires the imagination, could still stop one's breath for a moment by a look or gesture that somehow revealed the meaning in common things.
book five, chapter i

All the strong things of her heart came out in her body, that had been so tireless in serving generous emotions. It was no wonder that her sons stood tall and straight. She was a rich mine of life, like the founders of early nations.
book five, chapter i

[Lest you worry I won't be thinking critically about this novel at all, I have a literary analysis paper coming up with My Ántonia as its subject, so there will be plenty of time for discussion and disection at a later date. A season for every activity under heaven, you know.]

For the Bookish Ones

09 January 2014

At the encouragement of my fellow scribblers, I've decided to answer this questionnaire that's been tossed around the blogosphere a bit and looked fun. Enjoy, but take warning — this is no ten-question affair.

1. Your favourite book as a child? Little Town on the Prairie. I read those poor Little House books to death, as their nonexistant spines bear witness.

2. What are you reading right now? I just finished My Ántonia, which was an assigned read. The Mind of the Maker probes my mind each night when I pick it up (one of the many reasons to read Dorothy Sayers). Just a few days ago I began The Eagle of the Ninth, but I haven't gotten very far yet.

3. What books do you have on request at the library? None at present, but that's only because I received several new ones for Christmas.

4. Bad book habit. Slipping my book under my pillow or between the slats of the bed instead of putting it on the desk. If I'm on the top bunk, as I am now, it sometimes ends up on Bree's head by morning.

5. What do you currently have checked out from your library? Nothing.

6. Do you have an e-reader? No. I like the feel of real pages too much.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or do you tend to read several at once? Since we're speaking of preferences, yes, I prefer to read one book at a time, but in reality, I end up reading several.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? My reading habits haven't changed much, although I've definitely received more good recommendations. Starting a blog introduced me to the helpful and addictive Goodreads, though, so I've kept track of what I'm reading a bit better.

9. What was your least favourite book this year? Either Frankenstein or The Metamorphosis. 

10. What was your favourite book this year? That should be a plural. I loved A Tale of Two CitiesThe Last of the Mohicans, and yes, even The Count of Monte Cristo.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? Tutorial literature courses force me out of my comfort zone more often than anything else, but I'm willing to read almost anything a trusted friend recommends.

12. What is your reading comfort zone? Classics, generally. Anything with vivid characters and a compelling plot that prods me further up and further in, specifically.

13. Can you read in the car? To a point.

14. Where is your favourite place to read? In bed, before I go to sleep.

15. What is your policy on book-lending? Bree recently lent out her copy of The Grand Sophy to a friend, but I'm not half so unselfish. My books are my children. Would you lend your children to other people?

16. Do you ever dog-ear in books? It depends. I don't dog-ear books I'm reading for pleasure, but if it's a book for which I'm going to have to write an essay and I have no pen at hand, I'll fold down the corner as a means of marking certain parts. 

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books? Not much; I underline more than anything else, and then only in school books or non-fiction books.

18. What about text books? If the book belongs to us and is not on loan from a tutor, I highlight. It greatly improves an otherwise tedious process.

19. What is your favourite language to read in? The one in which I'm currently writing.

20. What makes you love a book? Please refer back to question #12.

21. What would inspire you to recommend a book? This is much the same as #20. If a book is a worthwhile read, possesses characters that leap off the page, and keeps me up until the wee morning hours, I'll praise it from the rooftops. Sometimes I toss around titles too carelessly, though, and receive nothing but blank stares in return. I'm learning to be more selective and consider whether said person would enjoy said literary work.

22. What is your favourite genre? I like many genres, but mainly history and fantasy. Tolkien, Lewis, Austen, Dickens, and Sutcliff all come under those two headings. 

23. What is a genre you rarely read but wish that you did? Mystery. I need some Holmes, Poirot, and Wimsey in my life.

24. Favourite biography? I'm stealing Bree's answer for this one and saying Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober. I was a little dubious when my father had us read it for school years ago, but I've eaten those words every time I go back to its worn pages.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book? I think not.

26. Favourite cookbook? I gave my younger sister The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook for Christmas, and we've been having a lot of fun with that.

27. What is the most inspirational book you have read this year? Letters to a Diminished Church by Dorothy Sayers.

28. Favourite reading snack? Dried fruit is a favorite of mine. Chocolate covered craisins are divine, but I don't eat them often.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience. None come to mind . . .

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book? I don't read a lot of critical reviews, but I've read enough to know that my opinions tend to run counter to those held by the public.

31. How do you feel about giving negative reviews? If the author died long ago and will most likely not be perusing Goodreads or my blog in the near future, I have few qualms over speaking honestly. Not many of the authors I read are still living, but should that be the case, I try to word my review with both truth and tact, which is, in the words of Newton, "the art of making a point without making an enemy." I wouldn't want to lie, but there's no reason to clutter the Web with heated rants.

32. If you could read a foreign language, which would you choose? Either Latin or French; the former for its usefulness and the latter for its beauty.

33. What was the most intimidating book you've ever read? Probably The Count of Monte Cristo, though it wasn't half so intimidating once I got into it.

34. What is the most intimidating book you're too nervous to begin? Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Another verbose French author, which is awfully telling.

35. Who is your favourite poet? G. K. Chesterton, a poet who consistently makes the soul-light burn brilliantly like no other. I also have a certain fondness for Dickinson.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall all men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

36. On average, how many books do you have checked out of the library at any given time? Anywhere from one to eight, depending on how ambitious I feel.

37. How often do you return books to the library unread? Not regularly, but there are times when I pull too many from the shelves at once and cannot finish them all.

38. Who are your favourite fictional characters? Oh goodness, you would ask. Aslan (The Chronicles of Narnia), Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice), Sir Percy Blakeney and Marguerite Blakeney (The Scarlet Pimpernel), Sydney Carton (A Tale of Two Cities), Cora Munro (The Last of the Mohicans), Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird), Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit), Johnny Tremain (Johnny Tremain), Sophia Stanton Lacy and Charles Rivenhall (The Grand Sophy), and most recently, Ántonia Shimerda (My Ántonia). 

39. Who is your favourite fictional villain? Like Abigail, many of the books I read don't have one concrete villain. I'll say Hri Sora (Dragonwitch), because her complex history was written in a singularly unique fashion, and yes, it broke my heart.

40. What are the books you are most likely to take on vacation? Jane Austen. Georgette Heyer. Anything well-loved and familiar or else light and inviting. Gone With the Wind is going to be my heftiest summer read this year, though, and it doesn't fit into either category. Fiddle dee dee.

41. What is the longest you have gone without reading? Um . . . the eight hours I spend sleeping?

42. Name a book that you could not or would not finish. Unfortunately, most of the books I'd prefer to put down are required for school, which means I'm duty-bound to complete them.

43. What distracts you easily when you're reading? Music with lyrics.

44. What is your favourite film adaptation of a novel? Undoubtedly the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. It has stood time's test quite well.

45. What is the most disappointing film adaptation? The 2005 Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley, otherwise known as Let's See How Many Times We Can Make Jane Austen Turn Over in Her Grave.

46. What is the most money you have spent in a bookstore at one go? I generally buy books online, partly because they're cheaper and I have a wider selection from which to choose and partly because I get a thrill down my spine when I see that promising brown box on our doorstep. I've probably spent around $20 at one time or another.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it? If it's a school book and particularly dull at parts, I might skim during the reading process (yes, Benjamin Franklin, I'm looking at your autobiography). If it's a book I'm reading for pleasure and I'm not sure if I'll like it, I'll read bits and pieces here and there, but I generally settle down and begin it properly shortly after.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through? Flat characters and dialogue. Lack of plot. An exorbitant amount of vulgarity, be it language or content.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized? Yes, though I'm not always very prompt about it. I dusted our bedroom bookshelves just before the new year and reorganized the languishing tomes, so they look rather nice at present.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you're done with them? I keep them for myself or pass them off to one of my siblings.

51. Are there any books you've been avoiding? I haven't officially been avoiding North and South. I've just been choosing to read other books first. Or something like that.

52. Name a book that made you angry. Probably one of the Dear America books that I used to take out of the library in dozens when I was nine. The heroines tended to be irritating and immature and the historical accuracy was uncertain, which is why I eventually stopped reading them.

53. A book you didn't expect to like, but did? Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I still have mixed feelings about this one, but it was much better than I had expected.

54. How about a book you expected to like, but didn't? After my sisters and mother raved about The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, the actual reading was surprisingly disappointing. I could never get into it, a fact Bree still holds over my head.

55. Favourite guilt-free pleasure reading? Little Women, because it sounds like childhood and memories and beautiful familiarity. My little green copy was my constant companion for a year or two when I was younger, and the impression hasn't smoothed away.
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