Debut Novel Seeking a Publishing Home
In September of 1999, nineteen-year-old Talitha Joy Dahlen has far more to worry about than a worldwide computer glitch, Y2K, that could bring the global economy to a grinding halt. Her two sons are hungry, and she has only enough money left to buy a cup of oatmeal at the corner store. She has nowhere to call home.
Time and location dissolve to Talitha’s life at thirteen, when her father dies in September 1993. She voices, without rancor, the childhood losses and lessons that have made her strong—the isolation that led her to marriage at fifteen to a man twice her age—and how she ultimately came to her present reality as a homeless and desperate teen mother on the run.
Talitha’s story merges full circle into 1999 when she meets Miss Ella, a blind woman from Liberia who claims that the name Talitha arises from the story of an amazing miracle. Wary of people after too many betrayals, Talitha accepts Miss Ella’s invitation to a free lunch, hoping the woman won’t turn out to be a liar, or worse. Miss Ella draws her into a faith community that reaches out with food, guidance, and safe refuge at Shelter House.
But just as Talitha begins rebuilding her life, a court order threatens to close the shelter. Can she transform the tough stuff of her gritty past into a brighter future for her beloved sons?
--Eagle illustration by Jen Hem, Ames, IA
Nuggets of Truth In Fiction
When I met “Talitha” in a campground she was seventeen, already the mother of two, and separated from her husband. She worked in the rustic little store, selling groceries and renting out campsites. Her name wasn’t really Talitha, but she was indeed a seventeen-year-old American mother. Her strength, tenacity, and love for her children astounded me. She claimed a forever place in my heart. Over the years, during times when I’ve especially struggled, the courage of this young lady came to mind and cheered me on. Eventually, the strong spiritual core of who she was became the main character of my debut novel. I hope and pray that the heart of who Talitha is will encourage you also.
Another woman entered my life for a brief time and deeply touched my heart. She was a praying woman, a refugee of the Liberian civil war that ravished her country from 1989-2003. “Miss Ella,” as she is named in the novel, had witnessed her husband and daughter killed in front of her when rebels attacked their village. Like Talitha, the details of her life are fiction, but the golden nugget of who Miss Ella was—her grief united with her transforming faith—is genuine.
Talitha and Miss Ella—at heart two very real people—linked arms, and became the underlying spiritual essence of Rise on Eagle’s Wings.
— Lois Kennis, Writing to Stir Hearts
I dedicate Rise on Eagle’s Wings to all the struggling young mothers of this world who bravely strive to make a better life for their children, and to the Miss Ella’s of this world who reach out to others with the helping hands and the gracious hearts of Jesus.