Caryl McAdoo

More Ways to Open Your Story

To hook ’em, reel ’em in, and land ’em, use drama!

Last month we talked about backstory, but before we leave that completely, I’d like to show you an example of using an omniscient narrator to open your story. If done well, the all-knowing voice can quickly inform readers to know pertinent things of the past.

This method is more often used in literary fiction. I’ve read a few authors who open with an omniscient narrator to pull the reader in. Disney used the well accepted practice to open his stories, ‘Once upon a time . . .’ In The Chief of Sinners, I used the narrator for three paragraphs.



Fall, 1926

God always tests His sons. From Adam on, He’s required absolute obedience from those He calls to greatness. Such a man, born in the afterglow of the Azusa Street Revival, was Broderick Eversole Nightingale, known to all as Buddy. From his earliest memories, his father preached and practiced the power of the Holy Ghost while his saintly mother led the singing.

Buddy’s first test came at the age of ten when his mother fell deathly ill. He never dreamed to blame God when she went home, but his father did. For the first six months, the Reverend Nightingale drowned his sorrow in moonshine. Broke of heart and pocketbook, Nightingale returned to the only solace he knew, preaching the good news. While he no longer invited people to come and be healed, reports of past miracles and his fiery oratories always kept his revival tent full.

The second test came eighteen months later in a small Texas hill country community. That fateful day started like so many others. After obtaining their permit, the Nightingales pulled into the fairgrounds, unloaded their tent, and began work. By mid-morning, they had the canvas spread and the poles up.

Buddy held the first peg while his father tap-started it. He stood back. Five whacks later, he tied off the guy rope then scooted to the next peg. A second passed before he squinted against the sun and looked up at his father. Unseasonably warm for October, the reverend’s face glistened. He leaned on the double-headed mallet

“What’s the matter, Old Man?  Not getting tired, are you?”

“Who you calling old?”

Buddy smiled. “Here, let me have that thing. I wouldn’t want the great Nathaniel Nightingale too tuckered to preach tonight.”

“Have at it.”

Finding his spot, Buddy tap-started another peg then stood back and eyeballed the alignment. Perfect. Slowly, he raised the oversized wooden hammer, held it a second over his head, then pulled down hard. The hickory head hit the peg a glancing blow, and the mallet slipped from his hands. The stake flew one direction, the hammer another.

Nathaniel laughed. “You practice a while, Little Man. I need a drink.”

Buddy stared at his father. “You talking about water?”

The stooped man walked toward their trailer. “Of course. I quit. Don’t you remember?”

“Yeah, I remember all right.” Then added under his breath, “You’ve quit a hundred times.”


I opened with an omniscient narrator—who, by the way, runs through the whole novel—but only a few paragraphs at a time and always at the beginning of a chapter or POV (point of view) break.

As we discussed before, you do not want to write the whole story in omniscient POV. It keeps your readers high above the story with you, knowing and seeing all, what every character is doing or thinking, but far away from the story’s action.

That is not where you want your readers!

Let them get right down in the story, be in the scene with your characters; don’t hold them at arm’s length. When you keep them afar off, the whole story is “tell,” not “show,” and the readers will fast grow bored at that distance.

People read to get up close and personal with the characters, to live vicariously through their adventures, visit the places they go. To do that, they need to be in that character’s head…or point of view! Seeing and experiencing every emotion and every sensory detail of that hero and heroine as their journey unfolds.

In the narrator example, the statement that our hero has been called to greatness and will have to face more tests is intertwined with a bit of back-story, then quickly moves into Buddy’s POV, setting up the tent.

I let the crisis and his first decision unfold and propel him on his journey to becoming that man after God’s own heart.

My next novel to debut is TEXAS TRAILS, coming March 6th. I thought we’d look at its opening.


February, 1869

Dallas, Texas

Sometimes Enoch hated his father, but never as much as he loved him. A body would think a man as rich as Morgan Chesterfield Lowell wouldn’t be such a hard taskmaster on his firstborn son. It wasn’t like he didn’t stand to make money on the deal.

 His father raised his pencil and rolled it back and forth between two fingers, hovering it over the page. A pop sounded, and sparks exploded but didn’t make it past the fireplace screen. A puff of smoke escaped then was drawn right back in, leaving a hint of burning oak in the air. Enoch filled his lungs.

Why was he so nervous? He’d nailed his test. It wouldn’t surprise him if he didn’t miss a one of the stupid questions. For sure, he spelled all one hundred of the words correctly.

Whoever used such a long and stupid word like quintessential in a sentence? The old codger threw that one in to stump him. He studied as hard as he ever had then stayed up practically all night studying some more. He committed that ringer and the other ninety-nine to memory.


This scene opens in the hero’s POV and introduces the character in his natural world. Readers know he’s with his father and conflicted about the test he’s obviously just taken. Are you curious about the test? Or maybe why Enoch is so concerned over its outcome?

Did you notice how much you found out about Enoch in these four, short paragraph’s? I didn’t “tell” you, but “showed” it, letting it come out naturally through Enoch’s introspection.

Readers now know: 1) Enoch has a close relationship with his father but is still young enough to be under his authority. 2) his last name 3) The family is rich 4) Enoch is the firstborn  5) They’re profit from  a deal hanging in the balance. 6) Enoch’s been tested. 7) His father is testing him.

Start your story by leaving your readers curious. Does this opening make you want to find out more? Maybe what the deal is? Or why his father is testing him? I go straight into the action and start answering your questions, adding a bit more angst—the deal is between father and son, and mother is not going to like it.

The pencil fell from his father’s fingers. “Who’s the president?”

“Right this minute, Andrew Johnston.”

“Who’s vice president?”

“Trick question. There isn’t one. Not until March fourth when Ulysses Grant and his sidekick Colfax are sworn in.”


“Come on, Papa. Stop, I passed your test, and a deal is a deal. I’ve done what you required. You can quiz me all you want. I passed, and I’m going.”

“How do you know you passed?”

“I’ve have eyes. Don’t you think I’ve been watching? You didn’t mark any of them. I’d say I earned a pert near perfect score. Am I right?”

“Your mother is going to skin us both.”

A grin etched its way across Enoch’s mouth, then he chuckled. “That’s going to be all your problem, sir. A deal is a deal though. If I was you, I wouldn’t tell her until the day I leave.” That way, he wouldn’t be around to suffer her wrath. “She’ll get over it.” He extended his hand palm up. “Can I have the cash now? Gus and I have located us twenty more head we can get right.”

There are many ways to open your story but drop your readers right into the middle of a little drama! Keep them wondering what’s going to happen, so they’ll turn the page!


Chautona Havig

What Happens When Faith Becomes Subtext in Good Christian Fiction?

If you’ve ever discussed what makes fiction, “Christian,” the opinions are as varied as the authors who write it. However, a few elements stand out. Basically, no sex or swearing is “always” a given. In addition to those (which differentiates Christian fiction from simply “clean” fiction), there’s that faith appears in some form.

As for me, I always hope that form isn’t just a token prayer, someone plopping their bum in a pew for a paragraph or two, or a Bible verse shared at the top of each chapter. I really hate it when characters preach at the reader, or worse, the author does. Look, they’ll preach at each other sometimes. People do that. Why not characters? But when a novel is really a sermon, few people want to read it. Can you blame them?

A few years ago, I noticed a new trend with one of the major Christian Fiction publishers, Thomas Nelson. As if in a pendulum swing from the preachy side, their books had fewer and fewer overt instances of faith on the page. A few books had literally no faith element at all aside from being written from what I perceived to be a “Christian worldview.”

The more I saw it, the more critical I became. After all, Thomas Nelson is a major Christian publisher. In fact, their parent company, Harper Collins, owns a couple of the largest Bible publishers in the nation.

So, I did some digging. I looked at timelines. One interesting thing I found was that within about two and a half to three years from when Harper Collins bought out Thomas Nelson, the faith content of those books seemed to disappear.

The reason for it looked pretty obvious (and disheartening.)

However, last month I had a chat with author J’nell Ciesielski over on Because Fiction Podcast, and since I’d noticed the same shift from more overt faith elements in her first two books to almost “none” in her more recent two, I asked her about it. After all, her publisher for the most recent books was none other than Thomas Nelson. And I learned something fascinating and important.

What I thought I’d seen happening is exactly what is happening.

Thomas Nelson has decided to experiment with fiction from a Christian worldview without overt faith elements in an attempt to be a bridge between the more traditional Christian fiction and mainstream or “general market” fiction. They want to provide fiction that offers something to the reader who wouldn’t pick up an overtly Christian or evangelistic novel but who will give something that isn’t so “religious” a chance.

As I told J’nell Ciesielski, this sounds like what we called “Friendship Evangelism” in the 80s.

Having that conversation with her really helped my personal attitude toward these novels. Knowing that Thomas Nelson has a clear goal (regardless of whether it’s what I would choose) makes a difference to me. If they no longer want their name to signify overtly Christian fiction, that’s fine. I can go into a book expecting to enjoy a clean read that I can pray keeps someone who doesn’t know the Lord intrigued enough that maybe she’ll give something else a try… and something else. And perhaps eventually, she’ll come across something with just the right verse, or someone living out faith on the page that pricks her heart and turns her to seek answers.

It’s not the fiction I’d want to write, and it’s not my preferred choice of reading, even. However, now that I know this, I won’t pick up a novel by Thomas Nelson and trust that this Christian publisher will be using fiction to help focus my attention on Jesus and the Word. I won’t have those unrealistic expectations because the publisher isn’t (silently) promising that anymore.

I just wish they’d be more open about that, so authors don’t bear the brunt of disappointed readers’ unmet expectations.

There’s just one more thing to all this that I’d like to share. The book I discussed with J’nell Ciesielski on the podcast that day? Her newest release, Beauty Among Ruins? That book, despite no prayers, no Scripture, no speaking of the Lord at all, drove me to the Bible to look up a thing or three. It made me think, question, ponder. This plan of Thomas Nelson’s can be highly effective in serving two markets at once, but only if Christian readers ensure they keep a steady infusion of the Word in their lives, first.


Linda Brooks Davis

Is Love Worth It?

Love is at the heart of Soon the Dawn, my latest release. This novella serves as a bridge between the Women of Rock Creek and Valley of Promise series. The story emerges around Ella McFarland Evans’s love for her family–her husband and six daughters–and it intensifies when Ella must trust God with that love.

As wife to my beloved, much esteemed husband, Mom to a son and daughter (and a son in Heaven), and Mama D to 6 grandchildren, I understand the depth of Ella’s love. No other human attachments compare.

I also understand the vulnerability that comes with it. Vulnerability latches onto the heart that loves beyond measuring. The downside of love, if you will.

Vulnerability lurks in the shadows around lesser loves, as well. Take, for example, love for a pet. Shortly before I turned 9, I learned love equals vulnerability. Is it worth it?

Our family of 5 was preparing to pile into the car for a Saturday evening at the Corral drive-in. As I skipped across the family room, I wondered where Daddy was.

Peeking out the kitchen window, I saw Prince, our Collie, barking and running toward the road. As a pickup truck slowed, Prince snapped at the tires. With a simple turn of a steering wheel, the truck caught my Prince and pulled him under.

My heart broke at the sight of gentle Prince floundering beneath that truck. And lying there in the drive, his bark silenced, the breeze ruffling his coat.

Daddy moved Prince’s body out of sight, thinking to shield me. He never knew I had witnessed every agonizing second. Loving Prince made me vulnerable. Was it worth it?

If I were to relive those days, knowing what I know now, would I choose to love Prince still? Or would the memory of his violent death, bound up with heartache, harden my heart? I don’t know. I was only 7, but I remember expecting God to heal my friend. When He answered in a way I hadn’t expected, I was devastated. And confused. But I would choose to love Prince still.

From middle school through high school and college, loves came and went. Each arrival brought excitement, anticipation, and laughter. But each departure brought relief, melancholy, or even fleeting grief. My affection made me vulnerable. If I could return to those sweetheart days, would I spurn the attachments to spare myself the hurt? I don’t know. But I do remember praying Your will be done. So, yes, it was worth it.

Then came marriage. And, a year later, a baby. I was a sheltered child, teen, and young woman who knew not the first thing about having a baby, the carrying or the birthing. I learned as I went. The pain of labor and delivery knocked my socks off. What in the world was happening to me? Somebody, do something!

Joy for a son. Motherlove blossoming. And on their heels—vulnerability. “Your baby won’t make it,” the doctor said. Right away, a stab of white-hot heat in my middle. Over the agonizing 8 hours that followed, I begged God for Wilson Lee’s life, a litany of pleas that seemed to go unheeded. The funeral director brought my baby boy to the hospital—in a basket, still and cold, the closest I came to holding my first offspring.

All these years later—if I could–would I choose for Wilson Lee never to have existed to spare myself the grief? No. You see, I learned then how very much I wanted to love another child. Even so, would I choose for Wilson Lee never to have existed to spare him the agony of such a death? Yes. But then, his birth and death were God’s will, so I must trust His goodness.

Then, after a ten-year muscular degenerative disease, my beloved father died. Everything I knew about devotion to God, integrity, goodness, selflessness—the fruits of the Spirit—were wrapped up in Daddy. I loved him to the deepest recesses of my soul. He was my prince. By then, I had learned a tad about love and the vulnerability that comes with it, but I refused to believe God would take away my prince.

In my sorrow at Wilson Lee’s death, I had asked Daddy, my well-spring of wisdom, “Why? Why Wilson Lee? And why you, Daddy? Someone as good as you should live decades longer.”

His answer: “I don’t know. But I don’t have to know. You see, I know God exists, that He’s good, and that he loves me. So, I trust that whatever comes my way is best for my spiritual good.”

Eighteen years later, divorce raised its ugly head. As I struggled to believe the unbelievable, to accept the unacceptable, an image recurred in my imagination. It was a piece of woolen fabric in a Scottish plaid (why a Scottish plaid, I have no idea) being pulled apart by a force I couldn’t control. It tugged on opposite sides of the fabric, the weave stretching and stretching and stretching until individual threads broke. One at a time. Snap. Pop. Snap. Relentless.

That was a new level of agony, the kind that wouldn’t let go, wouldn’t move to acceptance in weeks or months or even years, wouldn’t ease even a little bit. Love had made me vulnerable.

Would I choose that love today? For myself alone, I would choose for that love to have passed me by. But God used it for my spiritual good—and gave me children and children via that love. And for that, I’m thankful.

Over the past 50+ years, I’ve mulled on Daddy’s words—I trust that whatever comes my way is for my spiritual good. Today, like Ella, I can truly say I understand. I know there’s a God and that He is good. He loves me, and I can trust He’s bringing about what’s best for my spiritual good—to the glory of Jesus Christ.

Unlike me, God knew in the beginning what choosing to love humankind and giving us free will would cost Him: His Son’s agony on the cross. Jesus’ love brought vulnerability, but He chose it anyway.

Perhaps the closest we come to God is when we choose to love. In doing so, we experience the One Who Is Love. Yes, the downside of love is vulnerability. God, help us to love anyway.

To love at all is to be vulnerable.
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves


Linda Shenton Matchett

Mail-Order Brides: Would You or Wouldn’t You?

“A widower, aged 51, with a family of four children, the youngest five years old, desires to meet with an eligible lady (no objections to a widow without encumbrance) for marriage. She must be a domesticated person, quiet, fond of home, and able to take care of children.”

Beginning in the late 1850s, thousands of advertisements like that above appeared in mail-order newspapers such as The Matrimonial News (initially a London publication), magazines, and catalogs across the United States and its territories. The bulk of the mail-order marriages occurred between the 1880s and the 1910s, but there have been documented reports of unions occurring into the 1920s. A high percentage of the ads were from men seeking wives, but there were plenty of women looking for husbands as well.

According to an estimate in the October 6, 1859 edition of the Daily Alta California, the ratio of women to men in the entire territory west of the Missouri River was one to two hundred. Initially, men headed west as explorers and fur trappers. Then word filtered back East about the vast tracts of timber for logging and expansive plains for farming, and thousands more followed. That number increased exponentially after the discovery of gold and silver.

The men soon learned that being surrounded by male friends was no cure for loneliness. They craved female companionship, but couldn’t risk leaving their land long enough to head home to find a bride, especially considering how long it took to make the crossing before the railroads came into existence.

Some men wrote home asking friends or family members for recommendations of single women who might make good wives. A correspondence courtship would occur until the couple decided to marry or not. The bride would then head west for the ceremony and her new life.

Why would a woman be willing to marry a man she’d never met? After the Civil War, the gender imbalance in the East was just as pronounced as in the West with a large percentage of the male population of marriageable age dead, leaving grieving widows and girlfriends. One report estimated 30,000 single women in the East, not counting those who’d lost husbands. Other reasons women chose to become a mail-order bride included strict parents, being the subject of a scandal, leaving a bad situation at home, or simply a desire for adventure.

Newspaper editors proclaimed their goal was ensuring the happiness of their readers, and as such, strictly enforced the rules and regulations posted in each edition. Advertisers were required to provide information about their personal appearance, height, weight, financial, and social positions, along with a description of the kind of persons with whom they desired to correspond. Ladies’ personal ads of forty words or less were free. Gentlemen’s ads cost twenty-five cents for up to forty words. Any ad over forty words cost a penny a word. Replies were to be sent in sealed envelopes marked with the advertisement number to the newspapers’ offices.

Were some ads misleading? Apparently so. In the 1870s, The Matrimonial News printed warnings by Judge Arbuckle that “any man deceived by false hair, cosmetic paint, artificial bosoms, bolstered hips, or padded limbs” could have his marriage annulled if he so desired. Other states implemented laws that required men to sign a witnessed agreement not to abuse or mistreat their brides-to-be. Her signed agreement promised not to nag or try to change her husband. Sounds fair, right?

Would you have left all you knew to travel hundreds or perhaps thousands of miles to become a mail-order bride?


Marguerite Martin Gray

History Repeats Itself…well sort of

I do not know about you, but there are some things in the past I do not want repeated. For example, incidents like wars, natural disasters, unsanitary conditions, slavery, and now I can add pandemics or epidemics.

By now the reader of the Revolutionary Faith series knows my love of history. Although I do not personally want to physically experience some of the adventures of my characters, I do desire to dig into research to expose how they might have lived during the era. The American Revolution had many others facets besides the fighting. The whole dynasty of British life faced the crumbling of centuries of rule, leaving a people to form a new government and economy. The mind-boggling thought process must have occupied so much of the colonists’ time.

Does this sound familiar? On March 13, 2020 in the United States, we were whirled into an unfamiliar war zone, not a physical war with weapons on a battlefield, but it was a repeat of history in how the pandemic brought the nation to a reevaluation of her priorities and direction. It halted her advancement and pursuit of normal life and exchanged it for months without answers, jobs, reason, schedules, and places of worship.

On the present-day home front, as in the American Revolution, individuals and families traded the old way of life for the new. No one wanted the drastic changes, not by a war or a virus. So, we gathered our wits and resources and made our homes our safe havens. Hopefully, we learned from our ancestors how to survive on what we could find. Each of our stories are different, just as each story from the families in the Revolution were unique.

Creativity became a household challenge. Games for children and adults occupied long hours indoors isolated from friends. Recipes were invented and tried with the food supplies available. Children chose to become partners in the meal preparation. The space in the house or apartment served as a school, gym, church, crafts, projects, as entire families huddled in the secure environment.

So much of this was the same in past eras. In Wait for Me, Elizabeth and Louis make their home into a secure place with supplies to last a siege and a shelter to protect from the enemy. It sounds familiar as history repeats itself. The same wariness and worries about the world on the streets of beloved cities and neighborhoods.

Some of the things our predecessors had to change or discard are the same that we face today. My list is not necessarily a negative one. Here are some adjustments I made: 1) habits 2) clothes 3) time 4) job 5) pastimes 6) spending 7) exercise 8) food.

As I read and write historical fiction, I am impressed with the similarities shared as part of the human race. I hope as history repeats itself, I learn and carry on the good as blessings passed on to future generations.


Misty M. Beller

Behind the Scenes and a Sneak Peek at Faith’s Mountain Home

Hello Reader Friend!

I’m excited to share about my most recent release, Faith’s Mountain Home. Before I do that, I wanted to let you know you can receive a free ebook of one of my other books, A Pony Express Romance, and all the latest happenings in my newsletter.

Now on to the main event! Faith’s Mountain Home is the 3rd book in the Hearts of Montana series, and it picks up not long after the events in book 2. In book 2, Laura was kidnapped by a gang of thieves, along with the young boy she was watching at the time. Now, Laura is the heroine in book 3 (Faith’s Mountain Home). The hero in this book is actually one of the gang members, Nate, who was strongly opposed to her kidnapping and tried to free her several times.

I always love redemptive stories, and I was so excited to see how Laura and Nate would overcome the pain of the kidnapping. I love Nate’s protective heart, especially since he’s accepted the Lord now and is working to make restitution for the harm the gang did.

And now, here’s a peek at page one of Faith’s Mountain Home!

Chapter One

Late September 1867
Settler’s Fort, Montana Territory

Just a little farther.
Laura Hannon dared another step on the rock ledge that wrapped around the mountain. The flat space was just wide enough for a person to walk, as long as she stayed close to the stone mountainside on her right. The sheer drop on her left stole her midsection every time she allowed herself to look over the edge, so she kept her focus on the path in front of her. Of course, it would be impossible not to occasionally lift her gaze to take in the magnificent view of the mountain cliffs surrounding her.
This was why she’d come out here, after all. To escape into the beauty of the landscape. To remember that her problems were but a tiny dot compared to the vastness of the moun- tains God created. And yet, He cared about each one and loved her enough to help her through anything she might face. She paused to soak in that thought as she inhaled a deep breath of the cool, invigorating air.


Wild Heart Books featuring Elva Cobb Martin

Behind the Scenes of Georgia Ann ~ English Rose by Elva Cobb Martin

I enjoy researching material to make my novels richer and help readers learn something new while enjoying my Christian historical romances. In Georgia Ann, my hero, Samuel Vargas, sails off to make his fortune in spices we take for granted in our kitchens today. I loved doing the research about this flavorful commodity.

The Spice Islands are actually called the Maluku Islands and they lie in the Indonesian Pacific archipelago, north of Australia and south of Thailand and China.

The history of spices reveals a hazardous, exciting tale spread over centuries of daring, courage and greed and many countries and oceans.

The spice trade actually drove the world’s economy from the end of the Middle Ages well into modern times. But the economical importance of spices, recorded in the history of Kerala, referred to as “The Spice Garden of India,” goes back as far as 3000 BC which marks the beginning of the spice trade.

Wars have been fought on land and sea and nations have been made wealthy (and at least one annihilated) in the battle for control of the spice trade.

Nutmeg and New York

The spice trade brought great riches to Arab, Indian, Venetian, Portuguese, Dutch, and Spanish traders. It once brought death to residents of the Banda Spice Islands over a nutmeg monopoly. In 1603 the Dutch East India Company (known as VOC) ousted the Portuguese control of nutmeg on these islands.

Here’s an interesting tidbit in the history of nutmeg. The English fought the Dutch over control of this spice. England finally handed their island of Rhun over to the Dutch in exchange for a swampy island trading post in North America, an unattractive property known then as New Amsterdam; today as Manhattan Island!

The search for cinnamon, ginger, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, turmeric, cassia, in the ancient world gave rise to unbelievable tales. To satisfy the curious, to protect their market, and to discourage competitors the spice-source countries like India and Asia spread fantasy tales of danger, magic, strange animals, and snake-infested glens. Sinbad the Sailor stories grew out of this mindset.

For us in the USA, another most important fact stands out about the Spice Trade, besides it being involved in the trade for Manhattan Island. The Americas were discovered (1492) due to Spain sending Columbus to find a western route to India (from the Atlantic to the Pacific) to reap in the rewards for these valuable spices desired by all Europe.

The danger-fraught routes at that time (1400’s) from Europe were through the Mediterranean and Egypt (Alexandria) overland to the Red Sea and down the Persian Gulf, then sailing over the Indian Ocean to India, and to the Spice Islands.


A native tradition of the Spice Islands was to plant a clove tree at a child’s birth, symbolically linking the child to the tree’s life.

The clove tree is an evergreen that grows up to twelve feet tall with large glossy leaves and crimson flowers in clusters that when ripe and dried become the cloves like we use in cooking.

Today, spices are grown in many countries other than the Spice Islands that have temperate climates.

The World’s Three Most Traded Spices Today

Pepper, vanilla, and ginger are spicing up lives and economies. Millions of dollars are earned in sales. Pepper is exported by Viet Nam, India, and China. Vanilla comes from mainly Madagascar, Indonesia, and Mauritius. Main exporters of ginger are China and the Netherlands.

And one last spicy tidbit: The United States leads the world in spice consumption and imports.

Hope I haven’t bored you, but I love discovering history like this and sowing bits into my novels.

Thanks for stopping by. And remember when you use cloves again to stick in that ham, or use the powdered form in an apple pie—a lot of “stuff” happened over centuries to get this spice so readily available in your kitchen.