MURDERS—Then and Now
In my newest release JO, book 23 in the Prairie Roses Collection, I open with a life-changing tragedy for my heroine. A few of my early readers wanted to hear about the outcome of it . . . why it happened, who was responsible, but that wasn’t relevant to Jo’s story—the whos and whys.
What mattered to this particular covered wagon tale was that the six-year-old was reared for the next ten years by her grandfather with the help of a his confirmed-bachelor brother and a housekeeper. I hadn’t anticipated that readers would want answers to that first chapter calamity that setup my 2022 contribution to the annual multi-author project.
I did some research and found that in 1849, murders were first, quite rare. Most crimes were theft and fraud—property offenses, But the vast majority of killings that took place were either solved very quickly or not at all. Certainly only a few were prosecuted.
With the connectivity of our police agencies today, the forensics—DNA, fingerprints, facial recognition, ballistics, and blood evidence—solving a murder whose perpetrator wasn’t quite evident was a rare occurrence indeed. The criminals got as far away as fast as they could—disappearing into the wind so to say and got away with their crime.
So, I determined it wasn’t at all necessary to do any rewriting to let readers know details of the incident other than that three people suddenly and brutally lost their lives that day, and those of the family left did their best to go on. I’ve been so blessed and can say nothing of this sort has ever happened to me. I’m not so naïve though as to not be aware tragedies still strike families today.
In my research, I did discover that sine the 1840s, crime has been on a steady rise, even though many more murderers are caught these days because of all the technology that helps our lawmen. Still though, it’s estimated a third of murders go unsolved.
Josiah Foster is all the family Jolene has after the incident that irreparably changed her life that day, and he takes on her upbringing without question. I used an omniscient narrator in this story and going into that point of view, skip over teen years when Jo has turned sixteen and knows her grandfather’s health is failing.
The covered wagon journey is one to add years to his life as she insists he follow doctor’s recommendation to move from the heavy, moisture-laden air of the Mississippi Delta to the dry thinner air of the desert west—namely, go live in Santa Fe! It wasn’t New Mexico or a part of the United States until January 1912 when it became the forty-seventh state.
We who love the Lord and trust in Him need never worry over unexpected trials or troubles, and that’s how her Papa taught Jo. When others who love her pass away, she starts listening to the devil and meditating on his lies to be convinced she is cursed.
That low-life snake has no new lies. Whatever he can do to steal our life, joy, peace, kill us, and destroy the fulfillment of God’s purpose for our lives. We just don’t always recognize His voice. Yet . . . He says, “My sheep know my voice.” We don’t always recognize the voice of the enemy either.
Mama told me, “Caryl, there are three sources of conversation in our heads: God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), Yourself (soul: mind, will, and emotion), and the enemy (Satan along with his evil minions: powers and principalities, demons).” She taught me to test the spirits—ask the Father in the name of His Son to silence my flesh and the enemy, leaving the only voice I would hear to be His.
He gets to us all using the same old lies over the centuries
Read JO and see how the issue of curses is dealt with. Meet her dual ‘heroes’—both get on her nerves! As usual, forgiveness is a part of God’s will and my story. I always get this mixed up, but those who are forgiven much love much. I just want everyone to know how to be in His Will.
I have arranged for LEAVING TEXAS to be free to all the #BecauseFiction readers through Tuesday, May 31st at Amazon! Here’s your link, and please feel free to share it with any reader-friends you’d like!
Linda Brooks Davis
My historical novel, The Awakening of Miss Adelaide, includes an abundance of turmoil. The Great War and Suffrage Movement alone represent the apex of chaos.
As I age, my capacity for turmoil diminishes. As a result, I check on national and world news in tiny segments of time. I want to remain informed, but about five minutes at a time is all I can tolerate. From the horrors of war to terrorism, homelessness, the economy, illegal immigration, politics, drugs, crime, human trafficking, and wayward youths, the turmoil increases. With each report, I imagine the devil’s ever-growing glee. He loves to wreak havoc amid God’s creation. Unfortunately, we let him.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8 NIV
As a matter of fact, we have let the devil inflict his chaos since the beginning of time. From Adam and Eve in the Garden, to Babel, Noah, and beyond, human beings have bought into the evil one’s lies. And ushered in turmoil.
Turmoil Then and Now
Political turmoil is a grim reality of more recent times, as well. Take for example the case of South Carolinian, U.S. Representative Preston S. Brooks, one of my very distant cousins, who attacked Senator Charles Sumner in the U.S. Congress on May 22, 1856.
According to an account of the event at www.ushistory.org, Republican Senator Sumner of Massachusetts, an avowed abolitionist, gave a bitter speech in the Senate after the sack of Lawrence, Kansas on May 21, 1856. In his rant, he blasted the “murderous robbers from Missouri,” calling them “hirelings picked from the drunken spew and vomit of an uneasy civilization.”
Part of his speech was a bitter, personal tirade against South Carolina’s Senator Andrew Butler whom Sumner declared an imbecile. “Senator Butler has chosen a mistress. I mean the harlot, slavery.” Stephen Douglas predicted that a fool like Sumner would likely get himself killed by another fool. The speech went on for two days and another two days passed before the prediction proved true.
A Prophecy Fulfilled
Two days later, U.S. Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina was a Southerner raised to live by an unwritten code of honor. Defending the reputation of one’s family was at the top of the list. As a distant cousin of Senator Butler, Brooks entered the Senate chamber where Sumner was working at his desk. “You’ve libeled my state and slandered my white-haired old relative, Senator Butler, and I’ve come to punish you for it.” Brooks struck Sumner over the head repeatedly with a gold-tipped cane. The cane shattered as Brooks administered blow after blow on Sumner, but Brooks could not be stopped. Only after being physically restrained did Brooks end the pummeling.
Northerners were incensed. When they were unable to garner the votes to expel him, the House levied Brooks a $300 fine for the assault. He resigned and returned home where South Carolina held events in his honor and reelected him to his House seat. Replacement canes were sent to Brooks from all over the south. This response outraged northern moderates even more than the caning itself. (Shades of politics today?)
The physical and psychological injuries from the caning event kept Charles Sumner away from the Senate for most of the next several years. The voters of Massachusetts reelected him and let his seat sit vacant during his absence as a reminder of southern brutality. The violence from Kansas had spilled over into politics in the national legislature.
Turmoil Lives On
Which brings us back to today. Physical brawls have erupted in the legislative bodies of other countries around the world and in connection with peaceful political gatherings in the U.S. We’ve seen the extremes to which political and religious fanaticism has taken some of us. And we’ve turned off our TVs to find peace amid the turmoil. But so far, we haven’t seen a physical attack among U.S. legislators since the one perpetrated by my very distant Brooks relative. Thank God for that. May He keep the canes out of Congress, give us the insight to elect men of wisdom and honor in our U.S. Congress, and deliver us from turmoil.
Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.
Proverbs 15:16 NIV
~ ~ ~
Lord, deliver us from the devil’s lies and his turmoil.
~ For Jesus’ sake ~
Linda Shenton Matchett
The German Home Front
My Wartime Brides collection consists of four novellas that are retellings of biblical stories set during World War II. When I read the account of midwives Shiprah and Puah in the first chapter of Exodus, I knew I had to share their story. Risking their lives, they disobeyed Pharaoh’s decree to kill all male babies born to the Hebrews. Female babies were allowed to live. According to Exodus, the women “feared God…and let the boys live.” When the pair was called in front of the King for an explanation, they replied, “…the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.” (NASB)
I can’t imagine being summoned by someone as important as a king, and I’m impressed at the women’s seeming aplomb when they lied to his face. Not that lying is a right, but their actions in saving the babies blessed God’s children, and He in turn blessed the midwives.
Love’s Belief is inspired by Shiprah and Puah and is set in Berlin, Germany during 1943, a time in which Hitler’s “Final Solution” saw heightened activity. There are many non-fiction books, autobiographies, and biographies about the brave people who resisted Germany in occupied countries, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot written about life inside Germany during the war.
During my research for Love’s Belief I found German Voices, an incredible book by Frederich Tubach who was born in the U.S. to German immigrants. The family returned to Germany before the war and remained until the late 1940s, at which time Tubach came back to the U.S. and went through a lengthy process to reclaim his American citizenship. He interviewed dozens of “average” Germans who, like him, grew up between 1933 and 1945. Their stories are varied, but all hold a common theme: they disagreed with the Nazi’s philosophy and did what they could to resist the evil that overtook their beloved country, many times endangering themselves to save others.
It is my hope that Love’s Belief honors these brave people.
I just recently celebrated a book birthday. I’m getting old enough that regular birthdays are such a thrilling thing anymore. I could easily do away with them, though I happen to enjoy cake and presents. Book birthdays are another matter entirely. They’re something that authors never grow tired of. In fact, I think the more we have, the more we enjoy them.
For months, we’ve sat in our caves—I mean offices—and slaved away on each and every word in that book, changing and rearranging and reworking it until we think that maybe it won’t be too bad. Then again, maybe it will be.
Your publisher sends a mock-up of the cover. Some of the covers I’ve gotten have been spot on the first time around. Others I’ve given up on after many go-arounds with the publisher. Still, I always question how it will look when I see it in person.
Writing is my dream job, something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl. I have to pinch myself to make sure this is real. Honestly, it often doesn’t feel like it. It still feels like I’m playing around at this. One of these days, someone is going to notice that I’m not very good at this and pull the plug. I’ll wake up and have to get a job slinging hamburgers again.
And then the author copies of the book arrive. My hands shake as I hold the scissors and slice open the tape on the box. I hold my breath as I open the flaps and extract the paper on top.
There it is in all its glory. My name is emblazoned on the front. For real. I wrote the words on the 300 plus pages inside. God gave me the talent to do this. He made my dream come true.
And then the magical day arrives when my baby goes out into the big, wide world. Book birthday. No, we don’t have presents or cake. Bummer. I usually treat myself to lunch with a friend, dinner with my hubby, or a manicure and pedicure all by myself. That’s what I did when A Promise Engraved released a few days ago. Pure heaven.
Like real birthdays, book birthdays come to an end. Then it’s back to reality. There’s another book to write as well as this one to promote. Emails have to be answered, articles written, and social media scheduled.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for giving me all the book birthdays I’ve gotten to enjoy. Thank you for all the amazing reviews. Please keep them coming. Thank you for being readers.
Oh, and thanks for the great looking nails!
Marguerite Martin Gray
Snippets are Jewels
I read novels from many genres, though mostly historical. Since I don’t use a highlighter in my books, I have sticky notes handy to write down any quotes that I find meaningful, catchy, or ever so clever or witty. Sometimes I fail to record the author’s name—shame on me. I put the words or phrases in a notebook after I’ve posted them for a while on my desk or storyboard.
Do you ever do this? I have no pattern, no reason for the ones I choose, except my mood or disposition when I’m reading.
Here are a few of my recent finds:
“Chase joy with me, even when happiness flees.”—Kellyn Roth
“I need a pen and paper hug.”
“Give us sleepy hearts.” (Prayer after a lullaby)
“War zone of my worry.”
“Ladders of sunlight spotlight my incompetence…”—Jennifer Sienes
“I’m in a constant state of improvement.”—Melissa Wardwell
These jewels reach out to me from the hope they give or the encouragement that others have felt the way I have. A word, a phrase, a sticky note of brightness.
Write on authors! Sprinkle your jewels on the pages for me (and thousands of others.)
What do you know about Ezekiel?
The dry bones coming to life?
The wheel within a wheel and the angels with four faces?
Ezekiel 4:9 bread 😉
The New Temple
Or what about being asked to cook over human dung?
A couple years back I was reading through my Bible Plan and was BLOWN AWAY by the symbolic action that God required of Ezekiel.
Did you know, Ezekiel’s message was for the people back in Jerusalem? (See Apr ’22 article on the exiles)
As if that wasn’t challenging enough, right away in chapters 3 and 4, Ezekiel physically bears the burden of Israel and Judah’s sins. One day for every year they strayed, Ezekiel lies on his side, paralyzed.
390 days on his left side for Israel’s iniquities, and 40 days on his right side for Judah. That’s about 14 months.
If that wasn’t enough, Ezekiel is also struck mute, unless the Lord directly places a prophesy in his mouth. This lasts 7 years until the fall of Jerusalem. 7 years.
How is a man who is paralyzed and mute meant to communicate the message to the people a world away?
Amidst the rather bizarre symbolism and signs, we find that Ezekiel had a wife. Suddenly the picture becomes more clear. My husband is a pastor and we’ve been serving in ministry for our whole marriage. I know what it is to serve alongside him in ways I hadn’t planned on. To carry on when he wasn’t able to.
My book, Ezekiel’s Song, addresses what life could have looked like for those living with those symbols and prophesies. The stage is set back in Jerusalem with the wicked king Jehoiakim disregarding the Lord’s repeated messages to repent. Historical sources indicate that Jehoiakim was not a nice guy.
Remember the part where Jeremiah’s scroll is read to the king, and he cuts it with a knife, section by section, and burns it? Yeah, that’s the guy.
So we’ve got Jehoiakim doing all that he can to do his own thing and not follow the Lord. The people think they will be protected because they live in the Lord’s holy city, Jerusalem. And (how I imagine it) Ezekiel and Jeremiah—both who worked as priests—trying to disciple a remnant to be strong in the faith for the inevitable day of destruction.
How do you think that will work out?
Interview with Almira “Emilie” Crawford Wheeler from Love in Disguise
Hello, Emilie. It is great to have you here today. Tell us a little bit about yourself, e.g., parents, siblings, and where you live.
Thank you for allowing me to be your guest. I am 28-years-old and am the only child of Cecelia and Ernest Crawford. I am originally from New York City, but when I married my husband, Newt, we moved to Hollow Creek, Montana, where Newt inherited a sizeable cattle ranch, which included a lovely home with all of the latest amenities.
You go by the name “Emilie”, although your given name is “Almira”. Why is that?
I was named Almira after a relative, and I’ve never been particularly fond of it. Hence my reason for choosing to go by my middle name, much to Mother’s disturbance.
What are your favorite hobbies?
That is an easy one. Gardening, tending to my flower gardens, and driving my 1911 Model T.
Do you have any pet peeves?
Yes. One of my pet peeves is having rogue cattle traipsing through my gardens. The neighbor’s rogue cattle, to be exact. Another pet peeve is that the Montana summers are so dreadfully short. It barely gives me enough time to enjoy my flowers.
Can you share with us a particularly embarrassing moment in your life?
Yes. It happened not long ago while I was visiting Missoula, a few hours from my Hollow Creek home. I just finished shopping for items for the children at the orphanage, as well as, purchasing some of the latest fashions and a new hat at Miss Julia Mathilda’s Fine Dresses. Lo and behold, as I attempted to juggle the towering stack of parcels while walking down Mateer Avenue, the most devastating event occurred. A handsome stranger with the bluest of blue eyes bumped into me, my parcels went flying, and I landed in an unladylike heap on the ground. Not only a huge disaster, but also in an unfortunate turn of events, my new hat was crushed in the catastrophe.
Sounds extremely embarrassing! Let’s change topics for a moment. If you could collect only one thing, what would it be?
I have a fondness for hats, especially those of the wide-brimmed variety with many decorations and ornaments. As the saying goes, a woman can never have too many hats!
Indeed. Do you have a favorite food?
Yes, I have three. Pie à la mode, snickerdoodle cookies, and pancakes.
Any foods you strongly dislike?
What are some causes close to your heart?
I have three that come to mind. The first is spending time reading to the children at the orphanage. The second is the women’s suffragette movement. The third is, with my dear friends, Joy, Carlotta, and Rhoda, arranging and supporting charity events for missions.
Would you consider yourself conventional or unconventional?
Are you generally organized or messy?
What are four words friends would use to describe you?
I would have to say strong-willed, determined, generous, and classy.
The Wheeler Ranch is an extensive operation. Can you tell us about your employees?
Yes, the Wheeler Ranch is quite extensive, and as such, we have numerous employees, mostly ranch hands. Some of my most cherished employees, whom I also consider friends, are Vera, my housekeeper; Morris, my butler; Hattie, my maid; and Jep, one of my ranch hands. Vera and Morris are an elderly couple, have been married forever, and are my closest confidants. Hattie is a delightful young girl with a dramatic flair. She is fond of Jep, a tall and lanky young man with vibrant orange hair.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
With the exception of my close friends, Vera and Morris, no one else knows I have developed a fondness for a rancher I met in Missoula named Thad Evanson.
Sounds intriguing. Do you plan to see more of him?
Yes, absolutely. I look forward to meeting him soon for a noonday meal at the Bellarose Restaurant in Missoula.
Thank you for joining us today, Emilie. I
It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me!
This interview originally appeared at http://juliearduini.com/blog/