I’m not skipping holidays I promise, (I love Thanksgiving, and especially Christmas!), I’m just getting a head start on a couple of New Year’s resolutions. I’m the kind of person who likes to plan things way ahead of time, I’m okay with serendipity when it happens, but I’ve never trusted it. I’ve been working on a few plans for next year, for a while now… so, I thought I’d share some of them with you.
New Parish will be published next year!!! Probably mid-summer, I’ll let you know as things progress. I’m so excited!!! Getting to share New Parish with everyone is a wonderful dream come true. There are still so many details to work through, but it’s finally happening, and I’m enjoying the journey.
Something else that I’m planning for next year is a new magazine! It’ll launch the first quarter of next year… details coming soon! The name of the magazine is Brigham Tea Magazine, it’s been in the planning stages for a while, and has become an almost all-consuming project. I’m not obsessed, really… Brigham Tea Magazine is a fresh new look at the West. Its readers will find unknown gems of the past and previously hidden treasures. Brigham Tea Magazine is for everyone who lives in, or loves the West – its culture, history, places, legends, and the western spirit…
We’ve all had to navigate the challenges of life. Sometimes that navigation can get a little complicated, or interesting, or even dicey. Most of us have a starting point that determines where we are and an ending point of where we want to go, life’s challenges are the things that get in the way of us making progress from where we start and where we want to go. I often ponder these things as I go out into nature. I like to go on long walks, this activity helps me with finding solutions to the challenges that get in the way of my end goals.
One morning while out for one of those walks, I happened upon a trail of what’s known out here as horse apples. That’s cowboy lingo for what a horse drops behind them, just in case anyone didn’t know. As this was a particularly long trail of horse apples I had to work out how to maneuver around them without having any of the stuff joining me on my way. After I had a good laugh and got through the obstacle the horse apples presented, I started pondering that situation. Some of the challenges we face in life can be just like those horse apples, a long trail of stuff you have to get around and not have it come along with you afterwards.
I guess our biggest problem is the surprise horse apples, you know those that you don’t see in time… In New Parish there’s a time when Sarah finds herself in that sort of trouble.
Excerpt from New Parish:
““Sarah and I came to visit with you,” Brother Michael greeted the cowboy.
“Welcome, welcome,” Max smiled and walked over to shake hands with Brother Michael. Then turned toward Sarah and smiled, “I’m glad you’re here.”
Sarah nodded and looked away, his presence created an inner turmoil she didn’t like. She awkwardly, for some reason didn’t know what to do with her hands, she tried folding her arms then placing her hands on her hips then decided to just put them in her pockets.
“Myra said you have a mare close to time,” Brother Michael said obviously trying to smooth the situation.
“Yeah, she’s over here. Want to see?” Max pointed toward the stall he’d emerged from. “She’s about a week out.”
“Yes,” Brother Michael replied motioning for Sarah to go ahead of him.
Sarah gathered herself together as best she could and began walking toward the stall which looked like it would be too close of quarters for her and the cowboy. With her focus on the stall she didn’t see what was on the barn floor just ahead of her. The second step she took, her foot stepped into something soft and slimy. Her foot slid forward and upward the rest of her went backward and downward… hard. As she lay there on the floor of the barn with the aroma of what she’d stepped in wafted strongly around her she thought, “It just figures!”
As I’ve said many times before, I love history! I’ve been doing more research, and loving it! Did you know, that the first telegraph in Arizona was put in place back in 1871? Did you also know, that it was manned by a sixteen year old girl? Back in 1871, the telegraph was real cutting edge technology, so, I’m not surprised that a teenager was proficient at it, the surprising part was that the teenager, was a girl. Back then women didn’t have many opportunities for careers, and girls had even less. This girl taught herself the language of Morse Code and did a few other tricky things to get the job, (she didn’t let them know her gender until she got the job), but she got it, and, she did a good job.
History is full of fun surprises, I love to find them, you never know what treasure you’re going to come across. You might find a funny story about a brother pulling a prank on another brother by daring him to shoot a hole in a silk handkerchief… or you might find a story about an Indian woman giving her young son to a white man she’d just met because she’d had a vision that that was what she was supposed to do. You might even find a story about a man who was married to more than one woman, having to jump out his second story bedroom window, in his nightshirt, when the federal marshals came looking to arrest him for “co-habbing”.
There’s so many treasures to find, they play into the work I’m doing. They inspire my writing, give an incredible foundation to my characters, and bridge the gap from the past to the present. In New Parish, all my characters have a close link to their past that helps define their lives and relationships. Yeah, I’m still working on getting it published but, I do love sharing bits of it with you each week.
Excerpt from New Parish:
“Breakfast consisted of yeast rolls, rolled out flat, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, then rolled up, baked then fresh sugar/cinnamon glaze was poured generously over them. It was a tradition in Sarah’s family that had started when her grandmother was a child. Eating her cinnamon roll that morning while stirring sage into the dressing Sarah thought of her grandmother and wondered what she would think of her predicament. She remembered her grandmother telling her about her and her grandfather’s engagement and marriage, their marriage had been arranged by their parents, it was sort of the tradition in their families for many generations. Her grandmother had told Sarah that she felt safe with that because she trusted her parents and knew they would never put her into a situation that would be bad for her. Sarah remembered thinking that she wouldn’t have liked it at the time but now she was actually considering the same sort of scenario, not with her parents making the arrangements but with Brother Michael helping out with them. She smiled at that thought…
“Whatcha smiling about,” asked Hannah.
“Just thinking of Grandma,” Sarah replied wistfully.
“Yeah, but her cinnamon rolls were a lot more work, doing them from scratch took way long,” laughed Hannah.”
A short (partial) synopsis of New Parish:
Sarah, a 27-year-old feisty southern girl, living in Atlanta, has had too many bad dates. She thinks her new friend Mary, might have the answer to her problem, plural marriage. Mary comes from a place where they do that. Sarah wants to find a nice guy, get married and have some kids. That’s all she really wants, she thought that would be a simple, just the old fashioned dream of home and family…
She agonizes over this option, investigates the community for herself by spending Christmas with Mary and her very large family. While there she asks for the whole story, warts and all. She gets an open honest conversation about plural marriage the good and the bad. Then she retreats to her southern comfort zone to try and figure out what she really wants to do. While in said comfort zone, on Tybee Island, Sarah meets a super cute guy and decides to give dating one more shot. The date ends when the guy tries to grab her inappropriately and she knees him in the nards. She leaves the restaurant with her dignity intact, but, slowly begins to spiral into a deep despair creating an inner storm to match the terrible one that is beginning on the island. That night alone in the family condo she finally makes her choice, she’s going West….
Sarah asks a lot of questions and gets some straight forward honest answers…
Excerpt from New Parish:
“Sarah was checking messages on her phone when Mary joined her on a bench underneath a big tree. “Hi, what’s up?” asked Mary.
“Well I don’t know if I’m really desperate, stupid, or what, but I wanted to ask you about that whole plural marriage thing that goes on where you’re from,” said Sarah with some apprehension.
“Oh?” was all that Mary said as she sat down beside Sarah and waited for her to continue.
“Yeah, well, how does it work?”
“Very well, I think,” Mary said, looking quizzically at Sarah.
“Oh come on! What do they do? What’s the process? Are they miserable? Are the women conditioned to be in these relationships, like “Stepford Wives”? Do men abuse the women? How do the women get along? Are they mean to each other?” Sarah bombed Mary with all the serious questions she could think of, in a way, trying to talk herself out of further inquiry.
“Whoa!” said Mary holding her hands up, “I need a paper and pen to write all those questions down.”
“Okay start with the conditioning and how the women get along,” Sarah pointed the questions she thought were the most important aspects of her inquiry.
“Well, as in the rest of the world, everyone is different and very individual, so they’re not conditioned. They are taught the value of living in the life style, but everyone chooses for themselves, it’s not for everyone, some people can’t deal with it at all while others thrive in that environment. As for getting along, well, that depends on the women involved, as I said everyone is individual so some personalities clash and some people get along really great.” Mary was still looking quizzically at Sarah.”
I never get tired of taking in the skies out here. Day or night, they seem bigger than life, or at least very different from what I grew seeing. I’ve always been a sky watcher, I guess that goes along with being a dreamer, a writer, or an explorer.
Sky watching in the east is much different than sky watching in the west. During a storm in Georgia, you know that the skies get dark, you can hear the thunder, and see the lightning. It’s a very different experience out here. You can see a storm coming from miles away. You can literally watch it form and progress toward you. In my mind, I think of it like going to a regular theater and going to one of those 3D IMAX theaters… very different experience.
Most days the skies out here are clear, some days there are a few clouds, and on rare occasions you get storms. If the skies are full of activity or empty, they are always amazing. Because they are so huge!
At night, I have many times stared in amazement at the sky, the stars are so vivid, and seem so very close, that it’s just wonderful to sit and look up. If I had a really cool camera I’d take some pictures of the night sky, but alas… I will attach plenty of the day sky though.
Sitting quietly and watching the skies often brings inspiration, and helps me to expand my stories… just like the incredible difference in the skies from east to west, Sarah, chooses something very different to make her dreams come true. I can’t wait to share her decisions with everyone in my book New Parish!
Excerpt from New Parish:
“Sarah looked at the time it was almost an hour since she’d left the house, she hadn’t realized she’d been out that long. She’d been so immersed in the environment and scenery that she’d completely lost track of time. This was something she never did in Atlanta, she had to always be aware of the time and how long it took to get to her destination, for safety reasons. But here she felt safe, and could very easily get lost in the beautiful surroundings that were everywhere she looked. From the vast expanse of the sky either in the daytime with the blue blanket spotted with clouds you could see from far away, or the infinite night sky filled with stars that seemed so close she could almost touch them, to the mountains which towered over the community in noble splendor and grandeur, striped with the colors of the earth that people don’t usually get to see because they are deep underneath their feet.”
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
It rained here the other day, that’s a rare and beautiful thing when that happens here. Where I’m from in Georgia you could keep a look out for the ark to come floating by, it rains a lot there, really. Out here you have to water the weeds to get them to grow but in Georgia everything grows. The birds and whatever else, carries the seeds to wherever, and it grows. There’s an old saying that goes something like “bloom or grow where you’re planted” well it’s much easier to do that in some places than in others.
I used to grow cacti when I lived in Georgia but they never bloomed, out here even the “hen and chicks” (Sempervivum/succulent plants) bloom, it’s all about being in the environment that suites you best, I suppose.
Georgia has lush green hills that turn into mountains, rivers, lakes and streams, and some of the oldest history in our country, that’s vastly very different to the naked, barren, and mostly empty space of the mountains, mesas, and prairies that are along the Arizona strip. I can’t imagine what the pioneers and early settlers must have thought of this place, when they had to have at least, passed through, the abundance of the eastern states. They might have thought they’d reached the edge of Hades or some other waste place. I can understand why some kept going, but I can also understand why some stayed. This place presents a challenge to those who accept it. It can be an environment that can suit a person, but has to be respected, sort of like you would a wild animal that becomes your friend. It might turn on you and bite if you get careless…
It’s different, the people are different… Experiences grow us all different, just like it does with the land. Vive La Difference, I’m very glad places and people are different, it makes life interesting.
Excerpt from New Parish:
“When her cell alarm sounded she went down to help with lunch and discovered that Myra had it all done and they were eating in the tree house room. It was blistering hot outside now and Sarah was learning a lot about summer in the desert. She was learning that you don’t go out in the middle of the day if you don’t have to. After the sun goes down at night the temperatures drop quickly and the outside is quite nice, but during the day it was just super hot. Sitting down on the picnic blanket that was spread out on the grass floor she smiled as the kids all gathered around, “This is so amazing, I’m living my dream,” she thought. They had fruit and sandwiches with some ice cream for dessert. Sarah was a bit bummed when she had to leave before all the fun was over but she had to get back to her computer for a video meeting with her boss and an author.”
There are many different types of families. The “traditional” family with a dad and mom raising a kid or two, the large family with a dad and mom and four or more kids, single moms with a few kids, or single dads with a few kids. There’s also grandparents raising grandchildren, two dads raising children, or two moms raising children, even a dad and several moms raising children. There are probably many more types of families than I’ve mentioned here, my point is that, all families are different. There’s nothing wrong with being different, America was founded on principles of being different, in many ways. Freedom to choose who we live our lives with is, (should be), an American right.
In New Parish Sarah finds very large families, these families are full of love, kindness, and caring. She sees women being happy, fulfilled, safe, and secure. She sees happy children who are nurtured, well taken care of, and bright with life. The dads might be a bit busy and tired on occasion but they seem very happy to her too.
Sarah makes lots of new friends and falls in love with the absolute beauty of the area. She thinks it could be perfect, except for that darn cowboy….
Excerpt from New Parish:
“Sarah coughed to cover an escaped giggle, her mom’s expression was completely humorous. First she looked taken aback, then she looked like she might have understood what Mary had said, then she simply looked confused.
As they emerged from the park, Sarah saw something that made her blush with excitement and a weird frustrated awkwardness that she didn’t know quite how to deal with. She didn’t want to see him, not him…
“Howdy,” Max drawled, “How’re you?” he asked as his beautiful blue eyes pierced into the depths of her soul.
Sarah found herself without the capacity to speak, it was like when she’d seen him the first time… then the rush of memory of what had happened that time came to her mind. She felt sick…
Mary came to her rescue, “Hi, Max. We’re all doing good. These are Sarah’s parents, David and Samantha Nichols.”
“Howdy,” Max smiled at them and tipped his somewhat dingy cowboy hat.”
I can’t wait to share the whole book with everyone!
Kanab UT, ever since the first time I visited this awesome place I’ve called it The Cowboy Town. There have been some amazing real and fictional cowboys roaming the streets of Kanab and the surrounding areas throughout its history. They filmed loads of old western movies there, and around there, there’s even a museum with some of the old movie sets out back to show off the history of that era. The local restaurants have signed photos of the actors who frequented their establishments hanging on the walls, well, Nedra’s does anyways. If you go to Kanab you have to go to Nedra’s and the museum, they’ll both give you some necessary history and culture of the Cowboy Town.
Kanab is also another stop along the Honeymoon trail, which I’ve been writing about lately. The fella I mentioned in my last post, Jim Emett, (that was a guide to Zane Grey), was the marshal of Kanab for a while before he went to Lees Ferry to work there. I’m learning more and more about Jim Emett, he was quite an amazing person, the kind of person legends are made of.
Because of my interest in the area, its history and Jim Emett, I’m reading Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey, (I usually stick with Louis L’Amour) I found out that Zane Grey wrote about the areas I’ve been living in and visiting and described them in some detail in this book and a couple of other books. It’s been an interesting read so far, it’s fiction of course, and he doesn’t have too many good things to say about the Mormons and their system of plural marriage but the descriptions of the area are good. He did make at least two visits out to this area, but only met a few Mormons and never lived the religion, or as far as I know experienced it except from an outside looking in with a prejudice perspective, so his point of view on that is spurious. (I think the rest of the story needs to be told on the plural marriage issue, lots has been told on one side, it’s time for the other side to emerge.) I do love his descriptors of Pipe Springs, Lees Ferry, the Grand Canyon, and the surrounding areas, though. He used the experiences he had in this wondrous place to create an amazing setting for his book.
In my books I try to infuse my characters with the real life experiences that have been so inspiring to me, both out here and back home in Georgia and Tennessee. I think a writer should write about what they know or have experienced, it fills the story with life. It also gives the writer some pretty great adventures…
Every year in Kanab they have what the locals call Cowboy Days. I’ve watched as the wagon train came in from the long ride. It was wonderful to watch and experience, actually going out on the trail and doing that must be so incredible, I can only imagine… The link below will show you what things are like during those Cowboy Days.
The trail ride:
A few pictures from my adventures…