Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Guest Post: THOUGH THE MOUNTAINS BE SHAKEN by Kathleen Neely

My guest today is Kathleen Neely, a retired elementary principal. She enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading. She is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes, The Least of These, Arms of Freedom, and In Search of True North. Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions 

Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. 

Her latest book, Though the Mountains be Shaken, is one she wanted to write for some time. The heroine begins to have symptoms of Parkinson's Disease. Kathleen also lives with this neurological disorder. The heroine experiences symptoms similar to the ones Kathleen had, which progress quickly. Kathleen wants to bring awareness of this very prevalent disease by weaving it into a story that she thought readers would enjoy.  

 Her challenge as a writer was to achieve a satisfying ending without diminishing the seriousness of the disease. She believes she accomplished that. She also desired to show that God’s grace is present in our afflictions.  He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9


Now for the blurb! 


Kate Dunbar puts 100% into everything she does—a career as a literary agent, a mom of preschool twins, and the wife of Ryan Dunbar, a criminal defense attorney. She appears to have the perfect life, until it begins to crumble piece by piece—her marriage, her health, and her job. 


Kate blames emotional stress for her fatigue, stiffness, and tremors. As symptoms begin to increase, Kate finds herself unable to control her body’s erratic movements. At the same time that she and Ryan separate, she receives a diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Determined not to tell her estranged husband of her diagnosis, Kate faces an unknown future and the possibility that she’ll face it as a single mother. 


As glimmers of hope for a restored marriage begin to surface, more upheavals await them. A case that Ryan is defending endangers his family and his career. 


Kate and Ryan both harbor secrets that threaten their marriage. Can they mend their broken family? How will Parkinson’s affect their future? For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others. Every vow they spoke eight years ago is being tested. Can they survive the storm? 



Read an excerpt!


Silence swelled as they stared at each other. Should she start this conversation? Kate decided to wait it out. Instead of beginning his explanation, he cast a questioning look toward her hands, resting on the table. “What’s wrong with your wrist?” 

Confusion filled her. “Nothing. Why?” She glanced down to see her left hand firmly grasping her right wrist. 

“You’ve been holding it. I thought maybe you hurt it.”

“No. It’s fine.” She shrugged it off but realized she had unconsciously stilled the shaking. She released it and tucked the tremoring hand in her lap. 

It was way past time for this conversation. “Why, Ryan?” 

His eyes filled with sadness. A look of regret. “You’re not the same person I married.”

Irritation sprang up from her belly, but she tried to press it back down. “No one is. People change. They grow.” Another long pause. “How have I changed?” 

“You’re driven. You’re a perfectionist.”

Kate tried a little smile. “When did that become a bad thing?”

He straightened from his slouched position. “When no one’s good enough. When most of your words are critical.”

Her propensity to return a sharp reply hadn’t changed. She swallowed back the retort that almost spilled from her lips, forcing Kate to see the truth of his words. The fight in her wilted. “I never intended to be critical. Couldn’t you have told me?”

A sarcastic humph left his lips. “You’re not easy to tell.” Ryan leaned back, arms locked behind his neck, his long legs stretched out before him. “I’m tired of having no say. You should have been an attorney. You win every case.” 

With much restraint, Kate managed to keep her tone soft. “That’s not fair. We always talk through decisions.” 

Ryan nodded his agreement. “Yes. You talk and talk and talk, until it goes your way. Until you wear me down.” 

Kate wanted to counter that remark, but then she’d be validating his accusation. She remained silent. Did he want her to apologize for having opinions?

When she offered no response, Ryan continued. “I remember when you were proud of me. When I finished law school. When I passed the bar. When the firm hired me. All the times we celebrated.”

They had celebrated. When the scores came in and they knew he’d passed, she had jumped into his arms, and he twirled her in a circle. Giddy with excitement, they called their parents to share the news, then went into the city for dinner. A few weeks later, Ross and Roberts hired him, a prestigious law firm for a rookie lawyer. 

“I’m still proud of you.”

His eyes hardened. “No, Kathryn. You show disdain for everything I do.”

She sprang forward on her chair. “Ryan, that’s not true.”

“It’s very true. I can’t do anything right at home, and you ridicule my work.” 

She answered with a tip of her chin. “I think you’re being a little oversensitive here.”

“Of course, you do. Because you can’t imagine that the problem may be with you.” 

Hurt fueled her response. “You’re painting this one-sided.”

“It’s not. I know I have faults.” A smirk formed. “You’re not reluctant to point them out.” 

Kate sat back with the bitter taste of truth in her mouth. How had she become so carping? “I’m so sorry, Ryan. That’s not the way I want to be. I love you. You know that, don’t you?”

A prolonged pause preceded his answer. “No, I haven’t known that for quite some time.” His voice heavy with the admission. 

Did he really feel unloved? One look around their home showed the busy schedules, the undone tasks, the children’s needs. Did he expect her to stoke his ego as well? Then she recalled the times she squirmed away from his embrace, too busy or too distracted. 

Kate lowered her eyes as the length of silence grew. Her thoughts tumbled together. She wasn’t accustomed to being out of control. Kate reached deep and began what came natural to her—problem solving. “Okay. So how do we fix this? I can’t see how living apart will help.”

Ryan’s eyes weren’t meeting hers. Fear stole her brief moment of control. 

“Ryan? You do want to fix this, don’t you?” 

The pause stretched on. “I don’t know, Kate. All I know is that I need some time.” 

 His words gave birth to her panic, sending the hand in her lap into frenzied motion. “Ryan, look at me.” He raised his eyes to hers. “Do you still love me?” Her head tilted into the question. 

He lowered his eyes again, before looking back at her. “I don’t know, Kate.”

This couldn’t be happening. Kate leaned forward and, despite her shaking, reached for his hands that rested on the table. She grasped both of them in hers. “How can you not know? It was only a few days before I left for the conference that we made love.”

He shook his head. “A carnal need, Kate. We used to make love. It’s been a long time since I’d call it that.”

She pulled her hands back abruptly. A carnal need? The words crashed into her like an angry fist. She stumbled as she rose from the chair, carrying the last frayed edges of her dignity. Ryan’s muted voice called to her from a vacuum, but the words were indecipherable—the moment in slow motion. Somehow, she made it to her car and her car made it home. 

The conversation replayed over and over in Kate’s head. Each word. Each expression. Her husband no longer loved her. He didn’t want the marriage to be fixed. It was over. Irreparable. Every muscle in her body ached with stiffness. Every motion came in slow, bumbling moves. She reached for the ibuprofen but struggled with the cap. When she finally managed to open it, her hand lost its grip. The open medicine container fell, scattering pills on the tiled bathroom floor. As she proceeded to pick up each pink tablet, she collapsed to her knees, then sat on the tiled floor drawing her knees to her chest. Deep sobs wracked her body. 




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Barbara Britton said...

Congratulations on your new release, Kathy. You've done it again! Another fabulous story.

Carol James said...

Congratulations, Kathy. A wonderful book. I highly recommend it.