An excerpt from Harvesting Hope

My latest book releases today, so for today’s post, I decided I would share an excerpt of it.

First, the description of the book:

The last year has been a whirlwind of trials and triumphs for the Tanner family.

With injuries, near foreclosures, and a family tragedy behind them, Jason Tanner, the oldest of the Tanner children is facing his own struggle after his longtime girlfriend, Ellie Lambert, overhears the secret he’d planned to tell her himself.
Now, in addition to trying to keep his family’s dairy farm sustainable during a hard economic season, Jason is dealing with the heartbreak of Ellie’s decision to end an almost 10-year relationship.

In an effort to bury his feelings, he throws himself into his work on the farm and into volunteering with Spencer Valley’s small volunteer fire company, where tragedy strikes the foundation of his faith during an already vulnerable time.

Ellie has her own challenges to face as she tries to navigate a time of life where her expectations have been turned upside down and shaken out.

As she copes with the decision to walk away from her relationship with the man she saw as her best friend, her flighty, less responsible younger sister shows up to further complicate an already complicated situation.

And an excerpt from the first chapter:

Alcott, Angelou, Austen, Barrie, Bronte, Blume . . .

Ellie Lambert’s fingers slid over the spines of the books on her bookshelf until she came to the Cs.

“C is for Christie.”

 She slid the book in its place and stood up, stepping back to admire her handiwork.

All five shelves of books completely organized, in alphabetical order. Just the way she liked it.

Contentment settled over her like a warm blanket. At least she could control one thing in her world.

While all other aspects of her life swirled around in blistering chaos, this place, her new apartment above Missy Fowler’s beauty salon, offered her a reprieve from it all, a place where she controlled what was out of place and what wasn’t.

It was how she had always soothed her soul – enacting control over what she could change when her emotional environment was off kilter and impervious to her influence. Even as a child, her toys, clothes, and books were organized neatly and perfectly in her room while her younger sister Judi’s were scattered across the floor as if they’d been caught up in a tornado and deposited there.

Judi, now spelled with an “I” of course. Her real name was Judy with a “y” but, in an attempt, in Ellie’s mind, to gain attention, she’d started spelling her name with an “i” in junior high school. It irritated Ellie that everyone, including her parents, catered to Judi, going along with the ridiculous spelling, the same way they went along with every other eccentric, off-the-wall thing Judi did.

She looked at the clock above the television, realized she was running late, and snatched her purse and cellphone from the small table by the door. Moving from her parents’ farmhouse to this apartment had several advantages, one being she was only a five-minute walk from Little Lambs Daycare, her primary job now that she had resigned from her part-time job at the Tanner’s small country store.

Walking into the sunlight on Front Street she mentally contrasted the difference between living in town and living on her family’s farm. Living in town was busier and louder, for one. There was the lack of feeling pressured to get up at 4:30 a.m. with her parents and help with the milking, despite the fact they had two young men who already helped. Then there were the most beneficial differences — living alone, having time to herself, and not having to chance passing Jason on the small dirt road leading from her family’s farm while driving to work.

She paused in front of the mirror when she reached the front lobby of the daycare.

Slacks with no scuff marks and no wrinkles. Check.

Shirt, freshly ironed. Check.

Hair that curved toward her jawline neatly combed. Check.

She lightly touched the edges of the shorter crop, admired again how it fell along her jawline, yet briefly mourned her decision to lop off the straight brown strands which had hung down her back, almost to the top of her waistline, since she was a young child

She still didn’t know what had come over her that day in Missy’s shop.

“Cut it off.”

Missy had looked at her through her reflection in the mirror with raised eyebrows. “Excuse me?”

She’d needed a change, to step away from the life she had known. It was clear she was stuck in a rut, spinning her wheels, for a very long time. She’d already decided she needed a break from who she had been with Jason. Now it was time to change the rest of her life. Starting with her hair.

“Cut if off,” she’d repeated.

Missy cleared her throat, picked up the scissors, then paused and looked with a doubtful expression at Ellie’s eyes staring back at her in the mirror’s reflection. “Ellie, are you sure? Your hair has always been long.” She held the scissors out to the side, chewing her gum. “I mean, like, I remember you with long hair down to your butt in Kindergarten.”

Ellie shook her head, not to say “no” to the cut, but to dismiss her own doubts. “I need something fresh, Missy. Don’t worry. I won’t sue you if I hate it. I’ll just let it grow long again.” She tapped the arms of the stylist chair. “Let’s go. Start cutting.”

Ellie sighed at the memory, but also at herself for checking herself in the mirror. Why did she feel the need to be so well dressed and put together for a group of 4- and 5-year-olds? Maybe it was because she actually was uptight, as Judi always said. Uptight, snooty, too-perfect, or whatever term Judi could describe her to prove that Judi was the fun sister and Ellie was the boring sister.

She hooked her hair behind her ears, knowing she was being unfair to her sister. It wasn’t likely Judi was trying to prove anything about their differences. She probably didn’t even care; the same way she didn’t care about most things other than herself.

 It was Ellie who was stuck on the fact that Judi had always been more carefree, while she felt as if she had been born a little old lady. A little old lady who made lists planning out her future, organized her books in alphabetical order, and who hung her clothes by style and color coordination in her closet.

She flipped her hair from behind her ears, deciding it looked better that way, raised an eyebrow as she inspected her shirt again and touched up her lipstick. It was the same color of lipstick she’d worn the night Jason had not-actually proposed to her. She shuddered at the memory. It had been the night she had thought her life had gotten back on track. She’d been able to write, “marriage and children” back onto that list she’d written out in high school. A few weeks later, though, she was marking out the list all over again.

Harvesting Hope is available today on Amazon for the low price of 99 cents.

Author: Lisa R. Howeler

Lisa R. Howeler is a wife and mom from Pennsylvania who also happens to write. She’s been writing for 25 years, fourteen of those for smalltown newspapers in rural Pennsylvania and upstate New York. When she isn’t writing about love, faith, and family life in a small town, she’s taking photographs and homeschooling her two children. She blogs a little bit about a lot of things on her blog Boondock Ramblings at www.lisahoweler.com.

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