Sunday, June 21, 2009

Worth A Thousand Words Blog Tour - Day 1


Jubilant Soul Series Book Two

by Stacy Hawkins Adams

ABOUT THE BOOK

Life has always gone Indigo Burns’s way. She’s smart, pretty, and talented, and she knows exactly what she wants. A photography internship at her hometown’s local newspaper is the next step in her well-laid plans for her future. But her long-term goals are put to the test when her boyfriend Brian proposes–two years before he’s supposed to and in front of all the guests at her college graduation party.

Too concerned about his feelings to say no, she heartily agrees, but inside she’s cringing. Indigo knows in her heart that she’s not prepared to sacrifice her dreams to become Brian’s wife–not before she has achieved any of them. Will she find the answers among family and friends in Jubilant, Texas? Or will the picture-perfect life she dreams of be left behind?

EXCERPT

Indigo Burns peered over the balcony at the crowd that had gathered in the courtyard below to celebrate her achievement and her brief homecoming. "Brief," if that's what one could call the next four months. In a town the size of Jubilant, seventeen weeks could feel like sixty, especially after being away for four years, pursuing your dreams.

"This day is perfect," she said, surveying the colorful variety of flowers that bathed the grounds of Jubilant Botanical Garden."I feel like God is giving me a thumbs-up and sealing it with a kiss."

Brian tweaked her nose with his thumb and forefinger. " Then I guess you don't need mine, huh?"
She chuckled and raised her head so his lips could easily reach hers.

Brian delivered the smooch with a smile and she returned the gesture. She laid her head on his chest and closed her eyes.

This man was another special gift.

Without consulting one another, each had come to the party wearing tan linen outfits and brown leather sandals, although his shoes were flat and hers bore two-inch heels.
"How does it feel to be a college graduate?" he asked. "A summa cum laude one, at that?"
Indigo squeezed his waist. "Feels good, babe. I'm excited about the next chapter."

He wrapped his deep brown arms around her, and they both turned their attention back to her friends and family milling about below. The intimate group laughed and chatted as they enjoyed seafood and barbecue and browsed through scrapbooks filled with photos from her childhood. Along with snatches of conversation, the scent of fried catfish and basting ribs wafted upward, and Indigo felt herself growing hungry again.

Young and old guests were dancing to some of her favorite old school R&B and hip-hop grooves. At one end of the patio, Brian's parents swayed in sync, tucking their round bodies into each other's like matching puzzle pieces. They had surprised Indigo by driving the two hours from Austin to attend the party.
A few feet away, her mom and dad sashayed to the riffs of Chaka Khan, a half second offbeat as always. And holding center court were Indigo's cousins Rachelle and Gabe. Indigo smiled as she watched the tall, lean couple move in close and pull away at the beckoning of the beat. Their eyes remained locked, and at one point, Gabe lowered his head and savored a kiss from his wife.

Indigo blushed and instinctively framed the picture in her mind. If she weren't locked in Brian's embrace right now, she'd grab one of her cameras to capture this miracle. Those two clearly didn't need words to let the family know their marriage was back on track.

The song ended, and before the DJ could start another, one of Indigo's aunts climbed the steps to a small stage adjacent the patio. Indigo's best friend followed on Aunt Melba's heels. A bed of multicolored tulips and roses served as their backdrop.

Each of the women grabbed a microphone from its stand, and Aunt Melba shushed the crowd by tapping hers. She pointed in Indigo's direction.

"That's where they're hiding," she said into the mic. Everyone looked toward the balcony and laughed. "Brian, will you please escort the guest of honor to the stage?"

In jest, Brian saluted Aunt Melba. He held out his arm so Indigo could tuck hers inside, and they descended the curved stone stairwell. A minute later, Indigo was facing her guests.

Wearing a smile that showcased her perfect teeth, she slid between Aunt Melba and Shelby and waved at her cheering loved ones.

We're in perfect position for a photo shoot. She chuckled inwardly.

One of the companies she had interned with a few years agowas always looking for catalog models of different shades and sizes. Today, the three of them would have been hired at their asking prices-Indigo with toffee skin and a thin bone structure that gave her jaw and cheekbones prominent angles; Aunt Melba with her bronze complexion, full red lips, and thick hips; and Shelby, a dark chocolate Hershey's kiss, whose smooth skin and curves made her eligible for Barbie-doll status.

"Aw, y'all really love me!" Indigo said in response to the lingering applause. Her eyes moistened as she scanned their faces. There was her great aunt Margaret, now ninety and wheelchair bound; her childhood babysitter, Sheila; the leader of her Girl Scout troop, Mrs. Jones; and her favorite instructor ever, eleventh grade humanities teacher Mrs. Hutton.

Thank you, God, for this day.

Shelby opened her palm and revealed the tissue she had tucked inside. She passed it to Indigo.

"Any of us who know this girl well knew this would happen,"Shelby teased. "We haven't said a word about her yet, and she's acting like the Grammy is hers."
Indigo swatted Shelby's arm.

"Seriously though," Shelby said, "it's an honor to be here to celebrate Indigo Irene Burns. For those of you who don't know, I'm Shelby Arrington, Indigo's friend and sister in spirit. We met at Tuskegee University our sophomore year and graduated together yesterday."

Aunt Melba waved. "If any of you don't know me, you better ask somebody!"

The guests roared.

Indigo shook her head. Aunt Melba was always trying to be hip.

I am Indigo's favorite aunt and one of her biggest fans," Melba said. "Indigo graduated with honors yesterday, with a 3.9 GPA. She has received a partial scholarship to a prestigious school in New York City, and she'll move there in August to get her master's in digital photography."

She's going to tell us what her summer plans are in a few moments, but her long-term goal is to become as good as, if not better than, some of America's most famous photographers."

Shelby continued the introduction. "She wants to shoot fine art images for magazines and museums and maybe even still-life for movies. The awesome thing about Indigo is that, not only does she want to do these things, being the person she is, she'll get them done."

She turned toward Indigo. "Indie, we wish you much success and Godspeed on your journey. And when you hit it big, I'll be your 'Gail.' If Oprah can have a 'ride or die' girlfriend, you can too!"

Indigo hugged Aunt Melba and Shelby and took Shelby's microphone. The women stepped aside to give Indigo center stage. She thanked everyone for coming and for supporting her over the years.

"Now, to my parents," Indigo said and shook her head. "I can't say enough. They gave me a camera that used 35 mm film when I was ten. Remember those? I took so many pictures that at some point they began upgrading me to a better model every Christmas."

They've always believed in me and supported me, even when it meant they had to sacrifice something else. They have taught me, and shown me, that with God and personal grit, there's nothing I can't accomplish. Anything that I've achieved so far, or will achieve-I share those accolades with you, Mama and Daddy. I love you."

Indigo dabbed her eyes with the tissue again and searched the crowd."

Where are Rachelle and Gabe?" she asked.

The couple waved from their seats, in the last row of black folding chairs positioned near the stage. Their teenage son and daughter sat next to them.

"Rachelle, you're a cousin who's more like a big sister, and I appreciate you for that," Indigo said. "Thanks to both of you for giving me this party at this beautiful place. Our usual backyard barbecue was all I had in mind. You're so good to me!"

Gabe stood up and blew her a kiss. "Remember this day when you're rich and famous and I need a loan!"

Indigo raised an eyebrow and laughed. "Okay, Doctor Covington," she said. Just about everyone there knew Gabe was one of the top heart surgeons in the nation and wouldn't need her financial help anytime soon.

"Tell them what you'll be doing this summer," Aunt Melba reminded her.

"I will be interning at the Jubilant Herald for ten weeks," Indigo said. "My long-term interest isn't photojournalism, but I'll get to add a range of shots to my portfolio before I head to grad school. Plus, it will be great to spend the summer at home."

Brian approached Indigo and put an arm around her waist."No men on the stage!" Shelby teased.

Brian winked at her."Hey, everybody," he said in his husky, laid-back drawl, skipping the self-introduction. "I just want to say that I'm very proud of Indigo. We met at Tuskegee when she was a sophomore and I was a senior." Brian looked in Shelby's direction. "Our friend over there introduced us, and within half an hour of talking to Miss Indigo, I knew she was special," Brian said. "She hasn't proved me wrong. She has big plans for the future, and I'm praying that I'll be part of them."

Indigo felt tears surfacing again. Brian had never been much of a romantic; this overt show of affection surprised her. Then he knelt on one knee. She stopped breathing.

"Indigo, if you'll take this ring, and agree to become Mrs. Harper, you'll make me the happiest man in the world. Will you marry me?"

Indigo stared at Brian and tried to process what she'd heard. Did he just propose? In front of everyone she knew? Had this man forgotten that he'd be leaving in a few weeks for the Navy's Officer Candidate School, with plans to become a pilot?

Countless emotions engulfed Indigo, from love and gratitude to a tidal wave of fear. Suddenly she felt her stomach churning.

Please, God, no. Not now. Not here. As much as she loved Brian, becoming his wife wasn't in her immediate plans. Neither was giving up her first choice grad school.

"I love you too, Brian," she said weakly, hoping her grin effectively masked her mental wrestling match. How could she say no to this fine, smart brother, who had a bright future ahead of him and happened to be crazy about her?

She couldn't. Not in front of all these people. God forgive me."Yes-I'll marry you!" she told Brian.

She flung her arms around his neck and let the tears fall. She did love him, and she did want to be his wife. Just not now-before she, and her dreams, had a chance to blossom.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stacy Hawkins Adams is a nationally-published, award-winning author and speaker. Her contemporary women’s fiction novels are filled with social themes and spiritual quests that take readers on journeys into their own souls.

She holds a degree in journalism and served as a newspaper reporter for more than a decade before turning her full attention to penning books, speaking professionally and writing freelance articles. Stacy lives in a suburb of Richmond, Virginia with her husband and two young children.

Follow the blog tour schedule at http://bitly.com/WorthAThousandWords

5 comments:

Ty said...

Rhonda, thank you for supporting the Worth a Thousand Words Blog Tour. I look forward to your reactions to the second book in the Jubilant Soul series. Stacy is a superb writer!

Renee Williams said...

Stacy is definitely a superb writer! I absolutely loved this book!

vanessa said...

I third that! Stacy's books are wonderful!

Vanessa

Patti Lacy said...

Okay, since reading Speak to My Heart, I have neglected this fabulous author. Sigh. It's time to order more books. Good thing the 30th is closing in!!!

Thanks for a great blog, Rhonda!
Patti

Bernadine said...

This book sounds like an excellent read.