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Eleven-year-old Emmaline Gullege, called Emmy by her family, has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a keen eye. She explores the mountains and valleys around her home with a zeal that is rivaled only by that of her mother, Charity. Even the Civil War her country is embroiled in has not dampened her nor her mother's enthusiasm for exploration and the long rides they take on Kagali, her mother's horse, up to the waterfall where the Indian Princess Noccalula took her own life many years earlier.
At the close of the war in the summer of 1865, her mother suddenly lies down and dies after receiving a mysterious letter from a man that came to visit her. Emmy can see her mother there in the cabin; therefore, refuses to believe that her mother is dead, even though her older brothers and sisters insist that she is.
A meeting with an old Indian man named Two Feathers at her mother's funeral, who is supposed to be the Keeper of the Sacred Fire and her great-grandfather, thrusts Emmy into the mystical, spiritual world of her mother's native peoples, the Cherokee.
Told by the old Indian that she must carry on her mother's duties and given the power of observation and shape shifting, Emmy is charged with the task of becoming the family "Ka no he ha Ka no Ge sdi," the Storyteller. She is supposed to remember and pass down her family's history and tell about their ancestors to the coming generations. However, her refusal to accept her mothers crossing launches her on a mission to find and talk with her mother by using the powers bestowed on her by her great-grandfather, Two Feathers, who is the Keeper of the Sacred Fires ashes.
During her explorations, Emmy discovers a hidden path that takes her beyond the willow tree to a layer of the world that is much different from her own. That is when she discovers that her grandfather can travel between space and time and communicate with all peoples within those layers... will Emmy return to her world or will she find what she seeks Beyond the Willow Tree?
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I have always been fascinated by history, especially family history. Coming from a family of storytellers who told stories passed down through the generations and adding their own stories, we children were schooled in the art from an early age. My mentors were firm believers in passing down their knowledge of where we came from, who married whom, and what blood we carried in our veins, and they stressed the need for us to carry on this information to the future generations.
I was in awe of their ability to keep so much information stored in their heads and then relate that information when questions were asked or when asked to relate the stories they had heard while growing up 'back in the old' days. Also, to tell what it was like when they were children... one of my ancestors has always been a mystery for me was my g-great-grandmother Charity. During years of genealogy research, I never found who her parents were. I knew when and where she was born from census records, and I knew she died sometime after 1866 and before 1870 from those same records. However, I have never found where she is buried.
During the Civil War, one of their sons died in 1861 in Culpepper Virginia and my g-grandfather Henry died during the Siege of Vicksburg, I discovered that info through military records.
Family legend has it that Charity was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian from South Carolina. She somehow met and married my g-great-grandfather, Henry (who was white) about 1831 in Spartanburg District South Carolina; and, by the 1840 Census, they had four children and were still living there in the same district-- next door to my g-great-grandfathers parents, Eli and Nancy. The next census, (10 yrs later) finds them each approx. 35 years old and settled in northeastern Alabama with a total of 9 children, the youngest, a daughter born that same year, would grow up to become my great-grandmother. From there, it was easy to follow them through the censuses and other records up until my father's mother was born and so on. It was not enough to satisfy my curiosity about her or my need to know.
In 2007, I sat down and wrote my first full length novel based on the life of, or rather my perception of what my g-great-grandmother's and her children's lives were like back in the 1800s; beginning in the year 1830 when she was about 14 yrs old and ending in 1866 when she died. I called it "She Walks the Night Winds," published in 2009, it is mostly a work of fiction, based on a few facts.
Those lost years traveling from the 1830s Carolina's through Georgia to Alabama were one of the greatest adventures I have ever been on; they were filled with one adventure after the other, and wonderful tales passed down from generation to generation... and then, the war come along and with the death of her beloved husband, so did this wonderful story... I was at a lost to continue because I knew that after Henry died, so did she. And even though Charity and Henry both died, folks still wanted to know what become of the children, especially their son Charles who was gifted of many of the same gifts his Cherokee mother possessed, such as talking with the dead, walking the night winds, and soaring upon the wings of eagles to find those they loved.
After 3 years of writes and rewrites, I have finished, Beyond the Willow Tree. This is the sequel to the much-loved She Walks the Night Winds saga.
After Charity's death, her children must carry on. Her son Charles and youngest daughter Emmy take up where their mother left off and on the day they bury their beloved mother, start us on a new adventure. One that rivals and maybe even surpasses some of the adventures we partook of in the first; going so far as to revisit some of the places and people, we encountered in the first novel. I cannot go into detail lest I giveaway too much of their story. I hope you all enjoy this new adventure as much as I did.
I grew up in a family of storytellers on both the maternal and paternal sides of my family. I could sit for hours listening to them tell stories passed down from ancestors and stories of their own about how it was when they were growing up. I especially loved the ghost stories! When the stories ended, I wanted more... many times, I concocted my own stories where I would journey with these mysterious people, my ancestors. I found them fascinating. All I knew about them was what my parents and grandparents told me. However, it was never enough, I always wanted more... I began researching genealogy. What I learned through genealogy research still did not fill the void. I needed more, so, in my mind I invented more! Somehow, I felt as though I had known each character personally, sat and talked with them about their lives. I gave each a personality and a face. I could do that because of the descriptive storytelling ability of the storytellers. I want to be like that. I want to share my stories with all of those around me. Those who enjoy journeying into another world, a world that makes us forget about our troubles. A mysterious world, that exists only between the pages of a book. My name is Susan Cobb Beck. I also write under the pseudonym, Lila Beckham. I live along the coast in Southern Alabama with my husband, three children, three dogs and half a dozen cats.
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