A Simpler Time…

I’ve been doing research again, I love history, it’s not always pretty but it’s always interesting. I’m building on the history of where some of my characters would have come from, and things that would have been in their history.

Back in the “good ole days”, an era we would now refer to as a simpler time, there was a lady who didn’t get to hide out at Pipe Springs, (http://www.julieworthington.com/there-is-beauty-all-around-pipe-spring-national-monument/). She was actually arrested and had her children, eight all together, taken, (kidnapped), from her by state authorities. Her name was Vera Black, she was a wife and mother, very devoted to her husband and family. That was normal in her time, what wasn’t normal was that her husband had more wives than just her. There were people in that time period that thought they had the right to inflict their morality and religious beliefs on people who didn’t live the way they thought everyone should. These self-righteous people who thought they should inflict others with their beliefs decided that Vera and others in her small community shouldn’t be allowed to make their own choices. So, they perpetrated what’s now known as the 53 Raids. Although the children had a home, food, clothing, and were happy with their mother and father and the rest of their family, the authorities charged that the children were abused and neglected mostly because they were “an issue of polygamy”. 

Caption: Eight children in all were placed in foster homes after Mrs. Black refused to sign affidavit that she would refrain from teaching them polygamy. She refused on grounds of “conscience and religion.”

1956 Jan. 13

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, NYWT&S Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-111157]

The state authorities actually came into the community and without proper legal warrants, in most cases those authorities pilfered through these American citizen’s homes, (taking papers, family photos, personal journals, and anything else they wanted), took their children from them, and arrested many of them.

This place in 1953, was a small obscure town, at that time called, Short Creek. This was before the Jeffs’ cult crap happened, back when things were really wholesome, and good. People of that time lived a simple life, working, and taking care of their families as best as they could in this very rural place. There wasn’t always indoor plumbing, or electricity, in every house. There might have been one phone in the community, but I’ve heard that no one had anyone to call so it wasn’t used much.

I’ve talked to many of the people and the descendants of these people, some are still traumatized today because of what happened all those years ago. They had a wonderful life, they were happy, and then their whole world was turned upside down. Many children had to wait over two years to be reunited with their families, and some were never returned. These people felt like they had to go into hiding to be able to live as families, but even then, the families were all very far apart. All this, and no real laws were broken, other than laws like those prohibiting interracial marriages, or preventing gays from being intimate, they did have laws like that preventing consenting adults from co-habitating together. What it all boiled down to is that these people were just living their lives differently than others thought they should. I’m very glad we live in a time when religious and other beliefs are respected and tolerated… well, I hope we live in a time when religious and other beliefs are respected and tolerated… I guess time will tell.

 

If you’re interested… this is still being fought over today:

https://ecf.utd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?211cv0652-78

There have been a few more skirmishes since this one, but I like what Judge Clark Waddoups has to say.

Vera Black’s court case in the Utah Supreme Court:

http://law.justia.com/cases/utah/supreme-court/1955/8222-0.html

 

Ken Driggs Atlanta Attorney:

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3520119/AAA-031517-to-Governor-Copy.pdf

https://library.dixie.edu/special_collections/Juanita_Brooks_lectures/1990-twentieth.html

http://mormonpolygamydocuments.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/MF0195.pdf

https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V24N04_46.pdf

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New Parish

New Parish is the name of my new book, which isn’t published yet, but it’s also a place in the book. The place is fictionally created in and around the place where I live, and the surrounding areas. I love exploring the wonders of Arizona and Utah, I also love learning the history, culture, and adventures that have happened here.

The ruggedly beautiful land, the uniquely different people, and the intriguing history are all fascinating to me. I have a long list of re-visits to do soonish… I want to go back to Pine Valley, Pipe Springs, Kanab and many other places when time and weather permits. It’s been so hot here lately, I’ve spent most of my time indoors. I guess that’s what you get when you live in the desert. Any who, back to my revisit list – Pine Valley is a great place to set some awesome scenes for the book I’m writing now. I think there will be at least one fun picnic in my story that’ll be set there. There are tall trees and there’s even water, which makes it an unusual oasis out here.

I want to revisit Pipe Springs for several reasons, 1, it’s beautiful, 2, it’s loaded with history, and 3, I get the feeling of walking where a lot of other very brave women walked. I can imagine how they longed to be with their husbands and family, and how exiled they must have felt… it’s a sort of solemn, almost a reverent place.

I also have several reasons for wanting to revisit Kanab, the cowboy lore that still lives there, the museum that has old cowboy movies sets, and I found out about a special section in their library that has some local history I really need to dig into.

Research, research, research…

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Writing from experience and research…

I know I’ve said this before, but, a writer, (meaning me) writes from experience – life happens, and knowledge – research happens. I think there are some things that are best learned second hand, through research or from other’s experiences, rather than one’s own experience.

I’ve been planning out a scene in my new book, Home to New Parish, where I had the main character, Brenda, in a rather compromising situation. That scene is going to help build the conflict between Brenda and the fella she’s going to be, eventually, falling in love with. I’d come up with the perfect embarrassing scenario to inflict upon her. I of course, had some knowledge of what it would feel like to have the experience I was intending on inflicting her with, but had never actually experienced it… until a couple of days ago…

Okay, so, I was in a parking lot, we won’t say where. I was preparing to get into a car, and suddenly felt a temperature change on my lower half… yes, my skirt fell down to my ankles. There was only one other person in the parking lot, this person was with me, this person handled the incident graciously. Me on the other hand… I quickly retrieved the lowered item and replacing my skirt in its upright position, I began to laugh. This isn’t just normal laughter I’m speaking of, the kind we experience during normal humorous occasions. It’s what’s called in my family, a giggle fit. You know the kind of laughter you can’t stop right away? There’s simply no cut off, till the giggle fit has run its course…

As I was deeply involved in said giggle fit, it slowly dawned on me that I’d gained knowledge and experience that I could apply to that scene I’d been working on. I went through what sensations I’d felt as the event happened and quickly made mental notes on what I was going to include in that embarrassing scene and how I was going to embellish them – this didn’t help the giggle fit I was experiencing at all. It took me most of the rest of the day to return to my normal quiet self.

The scene, will include the skirt being lost, along with a room full of people. At least one person in the room will absolutely have a giggle fit, while others will help rescue my poor main character from this humiliating situation.

Sometimes experience and research collide in a train wreck to give writers unique insights… and sometimes we just have to live through sitcom moments, creating our very own blooper reels.

 

 

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New Parish…

I can’t wait to share my books with everyone! This is what a college professor wrote about New Parish:

Review of New Parish

“I did two reads of the book.  The first time in January and then I just read it again and made comments. Honestly, most of my comments were simply wanting more information. It sounds like a second book is in the works that it covers more culture which will be fantastic. Julie is a captivating author. After the first six chapters I spent more late nights reading than I should have. I found that I made comments in the first few chapters and then as I got caught up in the story I had less to say because I was just truly enjoying the story line. This story captured the magic of your community, it’s the kind of hometown we wish we all had, and the kind of community where we wish all of our children could be raised. I’ll be first in line to buy anything she publishes.

Jaclyn Knapp, M.S., ED.S – Weber State University, Ogden, UT

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Water Canyon Park

Not far from where I now live is a place called Water Canyon Park. It’s a small rustic park with a few picnic areas and lots of rugged grandiosity all around. I love going there to spend some quiet time, or write, or just take in the abundant beauty it offers. I’ve used this place for several scenes in my books, it just has so much to draw from. There’s quiet solitude, amazing mountains and mesas, and the feel of being more than one’s self. It lends much to a writer’s imagination and inspires that imagination to greater heights!

I can imagine pioneers of old roaming through there, seeing the wonders of the place for the first time and feeling that they’ve found a bit of paradise. I could see them there thinking they’d found a respite from their journey, or maybe even a place to stop and build a home among the tall cottonwoods, Russian olive trees, and the gnarly oak that grow there. There’s a natural spring that the pioneers could have gathered water from. I can imagine the pioneers with covered wagons circled around in the clearing getting ready for supper, with the tall skyscraper mountains standing watch behind them. They’d have to be careful around the prickly pear, but what an amazing time they would have had. Maybe they would have had squirrel stew, there’s an abundance of squirrels there now, but I don’t know about back in the old days. If not squirrel stew then maybe jack rabbit pie, that would definitely have been an option.

An excerpt from New Parish when my characters saw Water Canyon for the first time:

“The plane turned again and they flew over some mountain mesas lined with gorgeous colors of different shades of chocolaty brown, auburn, ocher and umber. Brother Michael informed the passengers that, “This is what we call the Water Canyon, it has some really good hiking trails. Some of them are quite challenging, but always rewarding.”

            “It’s gorgeous,” Samantha whispered.

            Sarah smiled, she could see that her mom was still in white knuckle mode, but the absolute beauty of what was below was overpowering her fear.

            “Yes it is,” agreed David.”

I’ll of course attach some pictures so you can see the place I’ve been talking about…

This link shows part of Water Canyon:

http://www.americansouthwest.net/slot_canyons/water-canyon/index.html

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Arizona Strip

There’s a lot of life that has happened on the Arizona Strip. The Native Americans, the early explorers, and the Mormon pioneers, were all a part of that life. I think they all were looking for a place to live differently, to find new ways of expanding their freedoms, knowledge, and experiences. The Arizona Strip is still full of life with new explorers and pioneers of today. It’s an amazing thing to go explore along the Honeymoon Trial, Pipe Springs, Lees Ferry, Zion’s Park, the Grand Canyon, and countless other places here.  

When I visit these places it’s amazing to see that much of the natural wonders have been wisely preserved. It’s like stepping back in time, you can feel the spirit of the place and the people who walked there long ago. I love history! For me being able to visit history by going to places that haven’t changed in hundreds of years is very inspiring. Studying the history of this area through books, journals, and articles, allows me to gain a deeper understanding of how things have evolved and how the characters in my books would have evolved from the rich heritage that was, to the present day culture that exists, because of their history.

“Sarah woke early the next morning she quickly showered, dressed, and sneaked out of the house. She wanted to spend some quiet time alone this morning, to take in the beauty of the little community that was weaving its way into her heart. There was still snow around but all the walk ways were cleared away, and the snow created accents to the surrounding areas, it really gave contrast to the mountains. The sun was just starting to peek up over the horizon, there were a few clouds in the sky, which looked like it went on forever. This created the most beautiful sunrise she had ever seen. It looked like the sky was lined and smudged with pink and purple cotton candy. Sarah slowed her pace and thought, “This is really an absolutely amazingly beautiful place…””

This place, the Arizona Strip, makes an amazing and incredible setting for my books, and my adventures! I’m very much looking forward to many more adventures…

 

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There’s Beauty All Around… If You’re Looking for It

Someone wise once told me that you’ll find the good if you look for it, and you’ll find the bad if you’re looking for that. All the elements and levels of good and bad are all around us all the time. Some are unavoidable and can’t be overlooked, some are very subtle, either way, life has taught me, the most prominent (good or bad) will be what we are looking for…

 I’ve always been a glass half full kind of girl… so I look for the good, the beauty, and the wonders around me. Yeah, that other stuff happens, but I try not to focus on it.

Out here in the western desert there’s what some might say a lot of harsh, dangerous, and foreboding land, and they’d be right. One has to have a deep respect for the land, its climate, and the animal life that’s here, but with that respect one can find the wondrous beauty that’s present here.

In the spring the desert blooms, okay, I think it’s beautiful all year round, but in the spring, it blooms. Some springs there are more blooms than others, but each year you get something. From the prickly pear cacti to the globemallow and even the sage brush, it blooms. This turns the desert into an almost treasure hunt for me. You literally ride along the barren stretches of sand and sagebrush and then a splash of color bursts out at you. Its easily missed, if you’re not looking for it, but if you’re looking for it, it’s an awesome treasure.

Prickly Pear Rose

In my book, New Parish, the main character, Sarah, was riding across a barren stretch in her life till she found something different. At first, she didn’t know if it was something good or something bad. She was willing to do the work to find out, she was looking for the good, so she found it. She finds the beauty, love, and fulfillment she’d been longing for all her life… after several bits of conflict of course.

Excerpt from New Parish:

““I feel like I’ve stepped into a Louis L’Amour novel,” Sarah said looking around at all the cowboys and horses.

            The cowboy band was playing and there was a square dance going, Mary said, “Come on let’s go!”

            Sarah said, “No way, I’ve never dosey doed in my life. I don’t know how,” trying to excuse herself from this activity.

            Mary grabbed her hand and pulled her toward the dance area in front of the wooden stage the band was on, “I’ll show you, it’s fun!” she said laughing.

            Sarah had an inner dread that she was not only going to dosey doe for the first time, but that Mary had much more confidence in her abilities than she did.

            Mary had her twirling around the grassy dance area in no time. They were both laughing at her many mistakes, and having so much fun. Then Sarah saw one of cowboys on the stage…”

Okay, so Sarah falls down and embarrasses herself, but she’s willing to look for the good in life and she finds it.

Hidden treasures are all around us if we are willing to look for the good, take a chance, and cultivate the courage to be brave enough to find them.

Below are pictures of some flowers and scenes I found on a recent adventure to the Honeymoon Trail:

 

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Researching the West…

Research is a big part of the writing process, it’s one that I enjoy immensely. I’ve been researching the people who lived out here in this extraordinarily unique area, the Arizona Strip. People like Jim Emett, Jacob Hamblin, and Lot Smith, just to name a few. They were true cowboys, mountain men, and adventurers of the old west. They lived lives like Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett, they were true to life characters that John Wayne would have played in his best movies. All three of these men were marshals, ranchers, farmers, trailblazers, oh yeah, and polygamists. I’ll tell you more about each of them soonish.

The late 1800’s and early 1900’s was a time of rugged survival out here. Many didn’t make it, but those who did left their mark and a few heroic stories behind to let us know how life was in those days. This rich history is both exciting and intriguing to me as I learn more.

Like I said research is a part of writing that I enjoy, actually I haven’t found any part of writing yet that I don’t enjoy. Learning about these incredible people helps me bring my characters to life, it gives them depth and a fictional history that’s based on the real history of here. I can’t go back in time and experience what they did, but I can study their lives and experience it that way. The books I’m writing now are in present day, but the ones I’m planning on writing next are going to be back in the late 1800’s. I’m sure I’m not the only writer that plans two to three books ahead… it’s just a very normal thing for me now.

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Point Sublime Overlook at the Grand Canyon

Yeah, the one everyone writes about, the Grand Canyon. There are several view points, I think I’ve been to all of them now except the one I most want to visit. The one where you can stand on a glass overlook and look straight down into the canyon… someday. I’d seen pictures before I actually visited the Grand Canyon, I remember thinking, “Yeah, that’s big, looks amazing.” Well, no, it’s not big, its huge! It’s breathtakingly humongous. It’s much more than amazing, it’s awe inspiring. No picture could ever really give you the full giganticness and grandeur of it. You really do have to experience it for yourself…

Here’s an excerpt from my book as my characters experienced the Grand Canyon:

“A few minutes more and the plane was showing them the vastness of the Grand Canyon. They all oohed and ahead as the glorious scene entered their view. The vast canyon seemed to go on forever, it was as though there were a whole mountain range within the canyon with deep ravines, cliffs, and a river. The beauty of it had Sarah and her parents repeatedly saying “oh look at that,” for the duration of the time they were above the Grand Canyon.”

This is a review from a friend, (Socrates) who’s visited the place a lot:
“Beyond Awesome

Reviewed May 20, 2015

Once again we returned to our favorite vantage point of this unbelievable natural wonder, Point Sublime… and once again we were amazed at the overpowering scope of its thrilling beauty. Although it requires a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle and just under two hours of slow going to reach this, the best view of the canyon, the scenery of the forest and meadows is breathtaking, wild life abundant, and only a handful of visitors to share your view… a peaceful picnic on a finger jutting out into the this awesome chasm is truly life at its most generous moment…”

As I said before pictures can’t really show the full canyon effect, but I of course took some. So here’s my feeble attempt at capturing something beyond the camera’s capacity:

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Oak Grove…

Not far from the Honeymoon Trail is another wonderful oasis in the middle of the desert, Oak Grove, it’s a part of Dixie National Forest in southern Utah, with an elevation 6800 ft. I’ve been up there a couple of times and each time there was no one else around. Just you and the beauty of the place.

It reminds me of back home with tall pine trees that reach for the sky covering the top of the mountain. It’s almost serene, a place you can go to think, have a picnic, or just write a few scenes in your book. This place has an old rustic rock gazebo, beautiful trails, and a spring that pools up along one trails creating a picturesque place that just one visit gives a person forever memories.

This scene from my book, New Parish, is set in Oak Grove:

“He’d shown her the trail that led to the gazebo he built before he ever built the cabin. He’d used very rustic materials to build it, round creek rock and rough hewn beams and poles for the open walls, with split cedar shingles for the roof. Sarah thought about sitting in there on the benches that he’d made to go around the inside along the creek rock lower walls. Then her mind turned to the other paths they walked, one led to a small waterfall stream that they had splashed each other in, Sarah smiled warmly at that memory. Another path led them through the tall ponderosas that seemed to be reaching for the distant sky, she remembered seeing little snippets of the surrounding mountains through the trees which gave them even more grandeur.”

I always try to make the settings in my books as real as possible, so, I write about places I’ve been… those places range from all over the south east to all over the south west, and a few other places. I do love to travel…

Below are a few pictures from my visit to Oak Grove:

 

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