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Authors: Julie L. Cannon

Twang

BOOK: Twang
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Twang

Twang
is powerful and moving with profound insights into faith and forgiveness—of finding grace, mercy, and even beauty in the ugliest and most destructive of memories and events.
Twang
helps us realize that the shining of divine light on the secrets and buried bones of our past can actually set us free. A story that reads like a greased bullet, as if taken from a country song itself, is ultimately pleasing and redeeming.

—Walt Larimore, author of
Hazel Creek
and
Sugar Fork

With an authentic Southern voice, Julie L. Cannon’s
Twang
takes you into the heart of Nashville and the sometimes overlooked dark side of fame. But there’s nothing dark about the characters in this delightful book. It had me tapping my toes to the music until the very last page. Bravo!

—Carla Stewart, award-winning author of
Chasing Lilacs
and
Stardust

Unforgettable characters! And a beautiful story, beautifully told.

—Augusta Trobaugh, author of
Sophie and the Rising Sun
and
Music from Beyond the Moon

Twang
is a delightful journey through Nashville’s Music Row. Protagonist Jennifer Clodfelter grabs your attention and sings her heart out, all the while immersing you in a story that will have you wondering if you are living your dream while fulfilling your God-given destiny or just treading water. It’s a novel that validates the premise that forgiveness is a powerful force and faith really
can
move mountains. This book speaks to the heart and whispers to the soul. I’m so glad I read it.

—Jackie Lee Miles, author of
The Heavenly Heart
and
All That’s True

In her latest book,
Twang
, Julie Cannon once again brings characters to life with such accurate and picturesque detail and captures the cadences of Southern speech so perfectly that we feel as if each character has sprung to life as a neighbor or member of the family. Even more important, as we follow Jenny Cloud’s struggle to move beyond the tribulations of her childhood, Cannon leads us inexorably to a conclusion in which we see the mysterious and transformative power of Grace and, in the process, makes us feel transformed ourselves.

—K. S. Schwind, author of V
ermilion Wanted to Go to the Movies

Achingly honest and engrossing novel about a Taylor Swift hopeful who nearly loses herself when she finds fame. A must-read for fans of country music and anyone who’s ever dreamed of becoming a star. I loved it!

—Karin Gillespie, author
Bottom Dollar Girl
series

In this heartwarming look into the pain and heartache that can lie behind stardom, Julie Cannon demonstrates that Thomas Wolfe was wrong: we not only can, we must go home again to forgive hurts we endured there before we can truly find peace in our lives.

—Patricia Sprinkle, author of
Friday’s Daughter

T
WANG

Julie L. Cannon

Other books by Julie L. Cannon

Truelove & Homegrown Tomatoes
’Mater Biscuit
Those Pearly Gates
The Romance Readers’ Book Club
I’ll Be Home for Christmas

Twang

Copyright © 2012 by Julie L. Cannon

ISBN-13: 978-1-4267-1470-2

Published by Abingdon Press, P.O. Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202

www.abingdonpress.com

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, stored in any retrieval system, posted on any website, or transmitted in any form or by any means—digital, electronic, scanning, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without written permission from the publisher, except for brief quotations in printed reviews and articles.

The persons and events portrayed in this work of fiction are the creations of the author, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Cannon, Julie, 1962–

Twang / Julie L. Cannon.

p. cm.

ISBN 978-1-4267-1470-2 (trade pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Women country musicians—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3603.A55T93    2012

813'.6—dc23

2012014935

Printed in the United States of America

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 / 17 16 15 14 13 12

When a flood swept through Nashville, Tennessee, in May 2010, people were killed and homes and property destroyed in fifty counties. President Obama declared it a disaster area. And although it was a true disaster in every sense of the word, the flood also brought out the good in this community.

Twang
is dedicated to all those volunteers who selflessly worked to rescue other people and animals; who did the nitty-gritty work of recovering, clearing, rebuilding, and restoring; who provided emotional support for those whose lives were devastated. The compassionate spirit of volunteers helped Music City come out of this disaster stronger and more united than ever before.

A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS

Many thanks to Ramona Richards, my editor, and Sandra Bishop, my agent. They are stars in the industry, and it’s no wonder. Ramona grabbed the bull by the horns and took me on a tour to show me all of Nashville, from the Grand Ole Opry to Music Row. She truly loves this city, and I couldn’t have written this book without her guidance and support! I am fortunate to be published by Abingdon Press, where everyone does their job with great enthusiasm and extreme competence. Frances Merritt, Julie Dowd, Pamela Clements,
Lisa Huntley, Mark Yeh, Bryan Williams, and Susan Cornell—and many others who work to support and build the Abingdon fiction authors: thank you all!

I must also tip my Stetson to country music singers, past and present, whose songs echo in my soul.

This book wouldn’t be the same and my acknowledgments wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Kay Arthur and her devotional study called “Lord, Heal My Hurts.” A neighbor dragged me to this remarkable study as I was in the middle of writing this story, and it gave me a terrifying, eye-opening window into tormented lives where the pain ran deep and memories were torture. I read stories of people delivered from personal hells, set free as they placed their tears and bitterness into God’s hands, finding refuge and healing.

A special thanks to Tom, my husband, not only for being supportive and patient when we ate burritos almost every night through the writing of
Twang
but also for believing in me unequivocally since the very first novel. He put as much blood, sweat, and tears into this story as I did, and my gratitude to him is boundless.

Prologue

I thought the absence of a past meant freedom. I didn’t exactly have a Norman Rockwell childhood, and when I set out for Nashville with my Washburn guitar, I was determined to leave my baggage buried deep in the red Georgia clay. That April evening in 2004 when I first glimpsed Music City from the interstate, the twin spires of the BellSouth building glittering against the sky made my heartbeat speed up. The little green Vega, windows rolled down, hit Broadway in the heart of downtown, and the music floating out on beery waves from inside the honky-tonks made my feet start dancing on the floorboard. Never in my life had I spent the night away from the pitch black of a rural countryside and it felt like a beautiful dream.
You’re here, Jennifer. You’re a strong, independent woman, and you’re gonna be a star
.

Not that I was cocky or overconfident, but rather full up with the praise of a handful of encouragers. Looking back, I see I was also woefully ignorant about a lot of things. Time went on like it always does, and everyone I met in Nashville insisted that powerful country songs are the ones carved from the songwriter’s own experience. Well, how could I argue?
From earliest memory, a transistor radio powered by a nine-volt battery was my life-support system. No matter how bad my day had been, no matter how bruised or lonely my soul, each night as I crawled into bed I tuned in to 103.9 FM out of Blue Ridge, closed my eyes and mashed the earplug into my ear, transfixed by the voices of country artists who sang of dusty roads and broken hearts. They painted auditory pictures of people so lonesome they could cry, of people looking for love in all the wrong places, of those whose soul mates were now on the far bank of the Jordan. I heard legends like Hank Williams, Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton, Mother Maybelle Carter, and Tammy Wynette, and newer voices, like Sara Evans and Faith Hill. These artists became my friends, then my idols. They told me who I was and infused me with hope as they beckoned me to Nashville.

In the beginning, I absolutely adored making music. But then came the constant pressure to dig deeper, to stalk those painful memories that would be fodder for heart-rending, money-making songs. One place I sure didn’t want the music to take me was home, and at the height of my career, I felt like I was wearing high-heeled pumps while trying to walk on ice. I never knew when I was fixing to slip and careen into some ugly memory.

Tonilynn, my hairstylist, was acting like a psychiatrist, saying I’d never move past certain issues in my life until I forced myself to dig them up and look them in the eye. She said, “Jennifer, I’m convinced your healing is through your music. Don’t be afraid to use your pain ’cause pouring it into your art would be therapeutic. Plus, you’ll touch other people, and ain’t that what music’s really about? Giving expression to experiences and emotions we all have? And if your music can help some girl through a rough spot, ain’t that reason enough to brave the heartache?”

Although my journey’s been fulfilling to me in a way words can’t explain, although I can hardly ask for more than the feeling I get when I hear that something I wrote or a performance I gave touched somebody, there are still those shaky moments when part of me still asks,
Would I have been willing to allow the music to call me home if I had known the cost?

F
IRST
V
ERSE
:
M
AKING
I
T
B
IG IN
M
USIC
C
ITY
1

Those first days in Nashville were happy. Happier than any I could recall. It was no accident that I had Mac’s cousin pull his sputtering Vega to the curb on the corner of Music Circle East and Division Street. The Best Western was in walking distance of Music Row.

All my belongings were stuffed into two huggable paper sacks, and when I marched down that strip of red carpeting into a marble-floored lobby with a chandelier, I knew it was a palace compared to that drafty cabin in Blue Ridge with peeling wallpaper and warped floorboards. Room 316 had pretty gold and maroon carpet, gold curtains at a window with an air conditioning unit beneath it, two queen beds, and two glossy wood tables—one in the corner with a lamp, an ice bucket, and a coffeemaker and the other between the beds with a phone, a clock, and a remote for the television. There was even a little bitty refrigerator, a microwave, an ironing board, and an iron. What else could a person need?

More curious about having my own indoor bathroom than a television, I tiptoed in there first. Nothing had prepared me for what met my eyes. Clean white tiles on the floor, a marbled sink, a blow-dryer, a stack of sweet-smelling towels, and fancy
soap. The washrags were folded like fans, and there were free miniature bottles of shampoo and conditioner.

To say this felt like paradise would not be an exaggeration. Turning around and around until I got drunk with my good fortune, I collapsed and fell flat onto the closest bed, laughing like a maniac, some pathetic yokel finding out she’d won the lottery.

Although bone-tired on account of being so journey-proud that I hadn’t been able to sleep a wink in forty-eight hours, I couldn’t fathom closing my eyes. I hadn’t eaten in as long either, except for some pork rinds and a Pepsi on the ride. But I was like someone possessed: hungry only for the feel of Nashville, thirsty only for the way she looked. I promised myself for the hundredth time I would not think about my mother and the fact I’d left no note. I told myself I’d eat some real food and get sleep later, after I’d explored my
new
mother. I took the elevator downstairs to find some maps.

BOOK: Twang
3.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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