Monday, March 18, 2019

OF FIRE AND LIONS - Mesu Andrews - One Free Book


Welcome back, Mesu. Tell us about your salvation experience.
I was raised in a Christian home—a spiritual mutt. Mom charismatic. Dad Quaker. Paternal grandparents ordained ministers (both grandpa and grandma) in the Pilgrim Holiness denomination—then switched to Nazarene, and then Wesleyan. Scripture was the weapon in my family’s theology wars, and I wanted nothing to do with God by the time I was twelve. I was an alcoholic by nineteen. When I was a sophomore in college, my boyfriend of five years broke off what I thought was an engagement, and I tried to end my life. A week later, my best friend and her fiancé invited me and her fiancé’s best friend, Roy Andrews, to attend a high-school-alma-mater football game. I’d known Roy since jr. high. He was as pagan as I was, but when he wore a tie to the football game, I knew something was different. When he didn’t cuss or show his red-headed temper while telling us that his roommate wrecked his car earlier in the day, I thought the folks at a Texas Christian college had brainwashed him! He denied it and said Jesus had changed him. I laughed. I only agreed to a second date as a challenge to see if he could keep up his holy-roller act. But the second date turned into three weeks of dates. The realization that he was so thoroughly different, completely changed, brought me to the saving knowledge of Jesus that I needed. I poured out my last bottle of black-label Jack Daniel’s (whiskey) the next morning. I married Roy Andrews six months later, and we’ll celebrate our 35th anniversary in June. J

What a testimony! I love hearing them. You’re planning a writing retreat where you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?
Francine Rivers – for three reasons: 1) because she came to Christ later in life and writes real stories; 2) because of her wonderful dry sense of humor; and 3) because she’s insanely talented and my favorite fiction author.
Liz Curtis Higgs – also three reasons: 1) same as Francine—came to Jesus later in life and has a humility about her that saturates a room; 2) forget dry sense of humor—she’s just crazy fun! And 3) I’d pick her brain on how to get soooooo much done and still have time to breathe!
The last two are men—they’d have to sleep in a different cabin! But I’d invite James Scott Bell and Donald Maass because I’ve learned so much about the writing craft from both of them. Though they have significantly different styles, they’re fascinating teachers and passionate about writing.

I know all of them, besides Donald Maass, personally and agree with you wholeheartedly about each one. Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that.
Yes, I enjoy speaking, but because of some chronic health issues and increasing writing deadlines, I don’t do it as often as I once did. I’m looking forward to sharing about the themes in Of Fire and Lions at the writer’s conferences and women’s events in 2019. I still have some openings in the 2020 calendar and will begin to share about the next release early that year, Isaiah’s Legacy, the sequel to Isaiah’s Daughter. My favorite weekend conference topic is still “Sacred Love, Sacred Dance,” a journey through the entire Book of Song of Songs exploring intimacy with Christ.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?
I was a Mary Kay consultant when our first daughter was a year old and had the opportunity to do the makeup for one of my high school friend’s wedding. We finished the makeup on the bride, the bridesmaids, and the mothers of both bride and groom. I helped my friend get her dress on and stood back to appreciate the stunning image. She looked A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! But then she realized she hadn’t painted her nails! “No worries,” said the Mary Kay lady-friend from high school, “I’ll paint them right where you stand.” We only had five minutes before she was to walk down the aisle, so someone handed me the bright red fingernail polish. I’d almost finished the second coat when someone asked what time it was. I looked at the watch on my wrist—and unwittingly tipped the bottle of red polish… Yep… The collective gasp nearly sucked all the oxygen from the room. I saw spots before my eyes and the red polish in a streak down the front of the bride’s pure, white taffeta. I. Wanted. To. Die. Every woman in the room went into “fix it” mode. One tried acetone to remove it, and the taffeta started to “melt” before our eyes. I just stood there with the polish still in hand. Slack-jawed. Stunned. Mortified. Finally, someone grabbed some liquid white-out (like we used to use to correct typewritten pages) and covered the red with that. I called out, “I’m so sorry!” as she walked out the door and got a laser-death stare from her mother. I sat in the back row for the wedding and left before the reception. Fast forward to our 20th high school reunion—this precious woman never mentioned the fiasco. Fast forward another fourteen years, when I have a conference in this woman’s Texas town. She picks me up from the airport and chauffeurs me to my hotel. I finally worked up the courage to ask her how she ever forgave me. “Mesu, there were so many other hard things that happened that day,” she said. “A little fingernail polish on my dress was the least of my worries.” What a great lesson in perspective and grace!

I love that. People are always telling me that they’d like to write a book someday. I’m sure they do to you, too. What would you tell someone who came up to you and said that?
I tell them it’s easier to write a book now than ever before. If they’re interested in writing about their life and memoirs, I suggest they do it through Amazon’s KDP program, where they can sell copies one-by-one at any price they set. It’s simple. They don’t need a publisher. And they can make changes for themselves if they find errors or typos. This is the perfect solution for those who simply want to write something for family and/or friends to read. If they’re serious about making writing more than a hobby, that’s a completely different animal. That requires commitment, passion, and a willingness to withstand multiple rejections—possibly never being traditionally published—on the journey to sharing their work publicly. Lots of folks want to write a book but few have the passion or calling to publish one. I wrote for twelve years before signing my first contract and endured countless rejections. If writing is just a whim…let it pass.

Good advice. Tell us about the featured book.
Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives. She thought she'd perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar's court. Now, as Daniel's wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she's safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear—until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar's palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and Bellili's tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone? Ultimately, Yahweh's sovereign hand guides Jerusalem's captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.

Please give us the first page of the book.
"King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles. . . . He gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar . . . had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. . . . As they drank the wine, . . . the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall."
—Daniel 5:1–2, 4–5
Babylon October 539 BC
I’d never seen a sesame seed grow until I came to Babylon almost seventy years ago.

At harvest time my husband, Daniel, looks to the tiny seed as cause for great celebration. How inconsequential is a miniscule seed? How incomprehensible its yield? How unbearable the process of growth? A seed is buried. It dies. Then sprouts. And grows. It blossoms. Dries and dies again to be plucked up and used for the purpose of its planting. My husband’s purpose in celebration was to mark the passing of years toward prophecy’s fulfillment—now just futile poetry. But it caused me to remember things I’d rather forget.

It was a day I dreaded all year long.

I picked up my polished-bronze mirror and tucked a stray tendril of gray curls beneath my new linen head scarf, noting in the reflection his fidgeting behind me. He always had trouble tying a jeweled belt, but his fingers seemed more trembly this morning. Was he nervous too?

I set aside my mirror and crossed the bedchamber, nudging his hands aside. “Let me do it.” Though both his hands and mine were spotted with age and lined with bulging blue veins, at least mine were still nimble.

He cradled my head and placed a kiss on my forehead. “Thank you, love. What would I do without you?”

I finished the knot and gazed into his rheumy eyes, as smitten as I’d been sixty-six years ago. “Let’s hope you never find out.” I laced my arm through his. “Let’s go downstairs. The children are waiting.”

He opened our chamber door, and lively family sounds floated up from the courtyard below. We descended the stairs slowly since Daniel’s feet pained him. Waiting in our lush green courtyard were three generations of our descendants seated around four long rectangular tables. Four daughters with their husbands. Twenty-one grandchildren. And thirty- two greats.

Two conscientious grandsons met their saba Daniel at the bottom of the steps, one supporting each elbow. I was left to follow—alone. The snubbing had begun.

“I’m fine,” he protested. “Tend to your savta.”

“But Ima said your feet have been paining you, Saba.” Our oldest daughter’s firstborn offered an obligatory nod at me. “Shalom, Savta.”

I returned the nod with a half smile but remained silent, refusing to mock the peace such a greeting offered. One glance at our oldest daughter, Kezia, assured me there would be no shalom today. She stole sullen glimpses at me while standing beside her husband, Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah’s exiles in Babylon. Our other three daughters stood arm in arm with their husbands, eyes trained on the abba they all adored.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
Ways to Connect With Mesu
Connecting with readers is one of the greatest blessings I’ve found in this writing journey. I’d love to hear your suggestions, your opinions, or anything else you’d like to share!
Please visit http://www.mesuandrews.com/ to order free bookmarks, download Bible studies or group discussion questions.
Facebook: Mesu Andrews
Twitter: MesuAndrews
Pinterest: MesuAndrews
Goodreads: Mesu Andrews
Instagram: Mesu Andrews

Thank you, Mesu, for sharing this new book with my blog readers and me. Last weekend, my pastor started a sermon series on The Kings of Babylon. This book is very timely for me.

Readers, here are links to the book.
Of Fire and Lions - Christianbook.com
Of Fire and Lions: A Novel - Amazon paperback
Of Fire and Lions: A Novel - Kindle
Of Fire and Lions: A Novel - Audio

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:

22 comments:

Mesu Andrews said...

Thanks for inviting me to your blog again, Lena! Always a pleasure to chat with your readers.

Rebecca Bex said...

Hello from Pensacola Christian College!

Patty said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Isaiah's Daughter, and I'm sure this book will be no different.

Patty in SC

Mesu Andrews said...

Hi Rebecca! Thanks for taking a break from the books to say "Hi!"

Patty, I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed Isaiah's Daughter! And we're neighbors. I'm in NC!

Ozark Grandma said...

I live in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. My husband it pastor of a small rural church. I love well written Bible fiction and Mesu's books are so well researched and Scripturally accurate, which is so important to me. I totally enjoyed Treasures of the Nile series as well as several others. I would so love to win a free copy of this story about Daniel. I guess I assumed he didn't have a wife, so I am very intrigued by this!

Mesu Andrews said...

Hi Ozark Grandma! I'm an Appalachian Gma! ;) I'm thrilled you enjoyed the Nile series. It was so fun to write! I hope you get to "meet" Daniel's wife. She's a pistol!

ReviewsByErin said...

I've been to Pensacola Christian College (we take our teens to their Teen Extreme Camp every summer!) as well as the Ozark mountains in Arkansas, though I live across the border on the Missouri side of the mountains. :-)

I am really interested in reading this book! Mesu has been on my radar for a long time but somehow I've never gotten around to reading any of her stories yet. This one sounds particularly fascinating to me.

Kathryn DiDomizio said...

I have loved all of Mesu's books, including this one, and would be thrilled to win a copy to give someone I know would enjoy it greatly! I live in Indiana.

Sandy Quandt said...

What a fascinating story. I've never thought of Daniel's life from the perspective of his wife and would love to read Bellili's rich story.

Sandy Q TX

Mesu Andrews said...

Hi Erin! You had me at "Mountains." Hubby and I live in the NW corner of NC in the Appalachian mtns and love it here. Let me give you a little tip. If you sign up for my newsletter (www.mesuandrews.com), you get a free novella and can read something I've written for FREE whether you win my book or not! Then you'll know if you want to read anything else I've written. LOL! Blessings on you, dear one!

Hello, sweet Kathryn! Fun to see you here. Big hugs to you! ;)

Vivian Furbay said...

What an exciting story! Danial is full of God's miracles and this is one interesting story. Vivian Furbay of CO

Mesu Andrews said...

Hi Vivian! Yes, I was so excited to dig into Daniel's story. The research was fascinating, and the miracles--well, they were so fun to let my imagination soar as I wrote those scenes!

Caryl Kane said...

Hello Lena and Mesu! I'm excited to read Daniel's story.

Caryl K in TEXAS

Gwendolyn said...

I came upon this page by chance and having set a goal to make time to read this year...I think Of Fire and Lions may get me started!

Melissa M. said...

Very interesting story, I'm sure! Please enter me in the contest.
misshoneybee(at)gmail(dot)com

Melissa M. said...

Oops, I forgot to say:
Melissa from TN
misshoneybee(at)gmail(dot)com

Sharon Bryant said...

Enter me in your awesome giveaway!!
Conway SC.

Mesu Andrews said...

Hi, Sandy Q! Writing a familiar Bible story from a different POV is one of my fav things to do. My first book, LOVE AMID THE ASHES, was the story of Job from his wife's POV and another woman, Dinah--Jacob's daughter. It was fun to explore their historical family connections. ;) Daniel's historical research was every bit as interesting. Such a fascinating book to write!

Hi, sweet friend Caryl! You're a TX girl like Lena, huh?! I'd forgotten that!

Hey, Gwendolyn! I thought I replied to your comment and Caryl's the day you both posted, but it must not have saved. So sorry, gals!!! Gwendolyn, I'm so glad you happened upon this page and hope you'll enjoy the book!

Hello to Melissa in TN and Sharon in SC--y'all are neighbors! I'm in Boone, NC! ;)

Connie Porter Saunders said...

Thanks for this giveaway.
Connie from Kentucky
cps1950(at)gmail(dotd)com

Mesu Andrews said...

Hi Connie in KY! Thanks for stopping by!

Elly said...

So excited for this novel!!
Elly -Indiana-

Mesu Andrews said...

Hi Elly! Welcome, to a fellow Hoosier!