Tag Archive | Georgia

Friends…

We’ve all known them, friends, those who come into our lives for a short time, those who we’ve known our whole lives, and those who come into our lives to stay – and change our lives forever. As I’ve said before, I pull from my own experiences when I write. So, I’ve pulled from personalities and characters, bits and pieces of people I’ve either known or heard stories about to create the friends Sarah encounters in my book New Parish. To me this brings the characters to life and gives them depth, because after all, I really know them…

It all begins with Mary, who’s out in Atlanta working on her bachelor’s degree at the local children’s center, where Sarah volunteers. They become fast and true friends, which opens up a whole new world for Sarah… Mary becomes that new friend, who not only becomes one of those who come into her life and changes it forever, but introduces her to more of new friends who become her, forever best friends.

New Parish Coming Soon!!!!!

Excerpt from New Parish:

“Sarah’s mind went to something her new friend Mary had said when they were working together at the children’s center. Mary had mentioned her home, a place called New Parish in Arizona; she had explained that she was only going to be there for a while, just until she finished her degree in early childhood development with the work study program she was involved in at the children’s center.

That day, Sarah had been complaining about the poor dating prospects and her dream of being a mom floating away from her. Mary revealed to her that in the community she came from the people did plural marriages, so any girl could get a good man and not have to worry about missing out on being a mom. Her descriptions of her home made it sound like a little piece of heaven, where people lived happy lives, and found their happily ever afters.

Sarah sighed, thinking of the small rural community Mary had described, “Maybe…””

……

““Mary!” Sarah waved as she entered the room.

Mary was working with a group of three year olds on coloring pictures of shapes.

            “Hi!” was Mary’s cheery reply.

            “Do you have some time to talk today?” Sarah asked, noticing Mary’s strawberry blonde hair. She always had it done in some really pretty style, today it was rolled up behind with a pretty colorful clip in it. Sarah liked how petite Mary was, she was only about five feet tall and very slender with bright green eyes that always seemed to be ready to smile.  

            “Yes, in about ten minutes when these little guys get to go to the gym,” Mary answered.

            “Cool,” said Sarah, “I’ll wait around in the garden room.”

            “Okay, see you there,” Mary said, as Sarah waved and walked away.

            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,” Sarah said 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, and in a way, trying to talk herself out of further inquiry.”

…….

““All I can tell you is that my mothers all seem very happy, they don’t attack each other, they’re really good friends. They’re always joking around and laughing, I haven’t seen any of that attack stuff,” Mary replied, now looking at Sarah with concern.”

I can’t wait to share the whole story with everyone! Very soonish…

 

Christmas in New Parish

My mind has been reflecting on Christmases past. There have been wonderfully happy times that will linger in my memories throughout eternity. Watching my children reach a level of joy that could only be associated with Christmas morning, reading the story of the first Christmas to them, and of course all the covert and sneaky activities throughout the year to create the Christmas morning that will last forever.

As I reflect on those Christmases past, my thoughts drift over to the Christmases I’ve written about in New Parish. These Christmases are filled with family, large families, and Christmas traditions that have been observed in these families for generations. Sarah’s first Christmas in New Parish is as a guest in her friend Mary’s home, as she investigates maybe moving west herself – she finds a Christmas morning that will linger in her memory forever…

New Parish Coming Soon!!!

Excerpt of New Parish:

            “On Christmas morning Sarah and Mary were up early because Mary said Sarah, “didn’t want to miss this!” Entering the main sitting room, it looked to Sarah like a magical place of happiness. The tree was full of colored lights and was filled to the brim with ornaments that depicted children, toys, and candy, and all sorts of Christmas happiness. The tree had been there when Sarah first arrived and she’d immediately loved it. Mary had complained that she missed the decorating and explained to Sarah that the whole family gets in on the event, they put the tree up together, place the lights together, hang the ornaments together, make homemade things like popcorn and cranberry garland together and put it on together. She’d given Sarah the whole run down on Christmas at her home.

            The presents that had been added over night were covering a third of the room and there was a table with hot chocolate, marshmallows, and cool-whip. The table, with hot chocolate, made Sarah think of that “incident” she had been trying not to think of, she quickly put that out of her mind. The room looked and felt like Christmas, the best part of Christmas, you could feel it when you walked in… the kids were all filing in with excitement in their eyes and big smiles on their faces. Everyone was in their pajamas. This made Sarah think of her own childhood and the wonderful feelings she had on Christmas morning. This made her both happy and sad, as a deep longing to share this type of experience with her own children filled her heart.

            Brother Michael came in last and as the kids excitedly jumped up and down pleading with him for permission to open presents he laughed and said, “Okay, have at it.” They did just that, there was a present opening frenzy the likes of which Sarah had never seen. She watched as Brother Michael slowly walked over and put his arms around two of his wives and kissed each on the cheek. Sarah smiled thinking she might like something like this, “It could really work… maybe,” she thought.”

Oh yeah, just wait till you read what happens at Christmas time in Return to New Parish… I can’t wait to share that with you too!

Merry Christmas!

 

Home for Christmas

Going home can be wonderful, difficult, complicated, or even a great adventure. This week has been a journey of going home to see family and friends… Without getting too personal, I’ll just say this has been a great adventure! Planes, trains, and automobiles…
I guess the most complicated part has been the unexpected snow… it impaired my ability to go and see someone I dearly wanted to see. Life can be that way, unexpected things happen to change our plans… We live with those things, we learn from them, and we grow…

Excerpt from New Parish:

“Sarah’s memory of last year’s arrival continued in her mind, last year when there were shouts of “Aunt Sarah,” and nieces and nephews coming out to greet her. She wondered what the greeting would be this year. She didn’t have to wait long for her answer to that uncertain quandary. The door burst open just like last year and the usual shouts of, “Aunt Sarah,” rang out.”

…………..

“The last evening with her family was spent telling old stories and sharing new ones. Sarah told about how she and Max first met, everyone laughed, Dave laughed so hard he almost fell off the sofa.

Falling asleep that night Sarah thought, “This was nice, I’ll miss them but it’ll be good to get home. Home, she thought… home.””

 

Brigham Tea Magazine – Tea Time

For the next few weeks a section of Brigham Tea Magazine will be spotlighted… We’re starting with Tea Time.

Plans and Goals for Next Year…

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

Horse Apples…

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!”

          

 

History, Research, and Technology

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.”

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:

Western Skies

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.”

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