Tag Archive | Georgia

Vive La Difference

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.” 

 

 

 

 

 

Families Are All Unique

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!

New Parish

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.”

Out West:

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

Kanab UT – The Cowboy Town

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.

https://www.westernlegendsroundup.com/

The trail ride:

https://www.westernlegendsroundup.com/events/wagon-train-2017-4-day-3-night/

A few pictures from my adventures…

Honeysuckle and Sagebrush… again…

This week I’ve been thinking about the culture and traditions of my youth, in the “South”. Back in those days families stayed close, not just in the heart, but in proximity. The only time my grandmother ever left the state of Georgia was when I took her to Florida to see the ocean one year, other than that she never did. It was a culture of, you were born here, so you live here, and stay close to your family. It was like the “place” was not just a town, city, or a state, it was part of who you were. There were rich traditions of cooking, hunting, and manners that were carried out and respected. Everyone knew what to expect from everyone else, what was accepted and what wasn’t. I have one brother who still lives in my old hometown, the rest of us have ventured out to other places, I’m the only one who’s moved to another state. We still keep in touch, but probably not as much as we should. Our grandparents would be appalled at our distance. Things have changed…

Out here in “cowboy land” where I live now things have changed too. There are still wide open incredibly amazing scenes of prairies, mesas, and the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see, but… there are towns and cities, along with all sorts of development that has changed the way things are. The lonesome cowboy days, where you could ride a horse for days and not see anyone are just about gone. That culture is still celebrated, there are activities and celebrations of what things were like… but it’s not like that anymore.

It’s good to remember the good about the past, there are very rich cultures out here and back home… I love to remember mine and learn about these. It helps me infuse that rich culture into my stories and characters. It also helps me stay true to who I am, and where I’m from.

Honeysuckle and Sagebrush Continued…

I’ve been pondering Spring time this week. Spring in the South and Spring in the Western desert have their differences and similarities. Spring time in the south always seemed to be very sudden, things could change literally overnight from cold and blustery to warm and green. I’ve known years when Spring got skipped altogether, the seasons would just go from winter to hot sticky summer in just a few days.

Out here in the desert Spring happens slowly, you get little subtle signs that things are changing. I think the doves are one of the first signs I’ve noticed out here, of spring. They get an early start on their work. Each year I’ve lived here, there have been a pair of doves that try to build their nest between a drainpipe and the house. Each year they fail, there’s nothing there to actually hold the sticks they bring to build with, so they leave a pile of sticks on the deck to be swept off for a few weeks, till they finally, once again, figure out that it won’t work.

It’s funny to me that they try so hard, for so long to accomplish something that just isn’t possible. And, that they repeat the same error in judgement in the same place every year. I suppose it’s the proving of the old saying, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.”

I do laugh at their futile efforts, but I also ponder the meanings for us “other birds” who have learned or are learning the next part of the lesson. The doves eventually go off and build a nest somewhere else and raise their family. Us “other birds” need to remember to try something different when what we’ve been doing isn’t working.

That’s what the characters in my books do… they try something very different when what they’d been doing didn’t work…

More Honeysuckle and Sagebrush

One thing I’ve found to be a certainty, is that things always change. The honeysuckle of my youth has become the sagebrush of my now… but in my mind, they both have a special place. I look at them a bit metaphorically, the sweet smell of the honeysuckle has become the useful wisdom of the sagebrush.

In quiet moments of pondering and staring off into the distance, memories of growing up in the “South” invade my mind. I remember my grandmother teaching me how to make biscuits, and teaching me to never devalue myself. She would tell me, “You’re just as good as anyone else, not better than them, but just as good.” We’ve all had someone in our lives who’s built us up and encouraged us. You know that voice that stays with us, the voice we hear repeating what was said, long after it’s said…

I’m drawn to that sage wisdom that sticks with you, and have found it in different places and people throughout my life. This is something I try to infuse into my characters as I write. Everything from “Don’t sit on your spurs,” to, “Don’t let a bad situation define who you are,” are included. With loads of humor of course!

We all have a journey to take, mine has been full of challenges that have helped me to become the person I am now. There have always been ways for me to find happiness on this journey, even if it was to stop and smell the honeysuckle or ponder the uses of sagebrush.

Honeysuckle and Sagebrush

Growing up in Georgia was full of lush green trees, honeysuckle and kudzu everywhere, and full of warm humid days and nights. Living in Arizona has some stark contrasts to my place of origin. Not many trees, there is a bit of honeysuckle growing in the back garden, (it has to be watered a lot), there is heat out here too, but, it’s not the humid sticky heat I grew up with. I’ve often pondered the commonalities and the differences between here and there when I’m writing my books. There are quite a few of both.

The south I grew up in was full of life, manners, and vivid culture. I try to infuse that into my southern ladies as they come to life in my stories. The ladies are spunky, feisty, and usually well mannered, most of the time. They do show the southern temper flare on occasion, but always seem to rein it in before things get too far out of control… well, except for Hannah, sometimes she seriously wants to punch someone.

When a southern lady meets a cowboy gentleman many odd things can happen…. And in my stories the odd things do happen. If that were the only differences between the girls and the boys it would still present loads of fun and lots of stories… but, that’s not the only difference. The girls grew up on a totally monogamous lifestyle and move to Arizona to meet the cowboy gentlemen and live in a polygamous lifestyle. This provides so much more opportunity for humor, culture shock, and exploration.

As I have asked before… have you ever wondered what polygamy would be like without the villains or media hype? In my books I explore what it’s like when normal people are simply living their lives in a normal way, polygamously.

New Parish

I’ve finished my newest book! The name of my latest adventure is “New Parish”!

Now I’mCanyon 2 waiting on a smart, energetic, and resourceful agent to take on the challenge and walk through the rest of this adventure with me. So while I’m waiting, I’m of course, writing…

The “New Parish” story goes like this: Sarah, (main character) has had one too many bad dates, she has dreams of being a mom but she’s had all she can take with dating losers and jerks.

Sarah meets a new friend, Mary, at a children’s center where she volunteers, this new friend comes from a community where they use a very unique dating and marriage system. Sarah’s intrigued with Mary’s lifestyle and begins an extensive investigation trying to decide if this is a viable option for her.

Sarah gets the low down on how they live when she visits New Parish and asks some of the women there to tell her about the process “warts and all”.

Sarah meets two men in New Parish, one is very handsome, well mannered, well dressed and almost perfect. The other is a rough edged cowboy who completely blows her away at first sight, she never seems to be able to stay up right when he’s around. Sarah had never been a clumsy person until she met him, this annoys her to the enth degree!

This is not a mushy romance… it’s a romantic comedy adventure and I can’t wait till everyone gets to read it!