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…
Throughout our lives we are faced with changes and challenges… some of the changes we choose and some choose us. The same with challenges, some we choose, some choose us. The changes and challenges we choose, we can usually prepare for, like running a marathon, or moving to a new place, or changing jobs. We can prepare ahead of time by running longer distances, packing and organizing, and getting the training or education we need. Those challenges and changes that we don’t choose are often filled with difficulty and defining moments for us to grow from.
The main character in New Parish, Sarah, chooses a big change and knows there will be challenges… she faces the challenge presented to her, but wonders if it’s maybe more than she wants to deal with…
Excerpt from New Parish:
Change she chose:
“So I finally got to the end of all the pros and cons and all my own analysis to make this decision, then I prayed…” Sarah stopped to see what her parents expressions would be to this information then continued. “I felt so much peace and calm inside, I knew what I wanted and what I needed to do. I’ve never slept so peacefully as I did last night,” she smiled at her mom and dad and waited for their response.
“Okay,” her dad said reluctantly, “if that’s what you’ve decided we will do our best to accept this. But you may have to be patient with us for a while. Do you think you can do that?”
“Yeah,” Sarah smiled at him.”
Later unexpected challenge…..
“Sarah sat and eagerly awaited this life changing information. Brother Michael sat in the opposite chair crossing his legs in a casual relaxed way, then asked, “Are you sure you’re ready?”
Sarah laughed, she knew now he was just teasing her, “Yes, I’m ready,” she assured him.
He smiled at her, “We all prayed about this and we think you should marry…..”
Sarah could hear her mind make that record screeching sound that always happened in the movies when something went the wrong way or the opposite way of what should have happened. She sat there looking blankly at Brother Michael, when the thought occurred to her, “He’s joking, he’s got to be joking…” she gathered herself as best as she could and said, “That’s not funny.””
Trying to deal with the unexpected challenge……..
“Sitting in her usual chair she waited for Brother Michael to begin the conversation, “After all,” she thought, “it was his idea to talk now.”
“I know you are not happy with the suggestion that we made,” he began, “but I’d like to tell you about the man before you toss the idea away completely. If you’ll listen… will you listen?”
“Sure,” Sarah agreed, “I’ll listen, but that doesn’t mean I’ll change my mind.””
There’s a place near Durango Colorado, called Silverton. This place is one of the oldest settlements in the area. The first settlers arrived in the early 1870’s, they were mostly killed off by the Indians and the weather. That didn’t stop people from wanting to be there. The main reason for settling there was gold. The town, was later built around the mining industry. It took a few tries for some brave people to actually be able to establish the small mining town. They had to be willing to risk their lives and everything to live there for the first few decades of the settlement.
Silverton is nestled in a valley between some very large mountains, and in the middle of some very ruggedly beautiful country. From high in the mountains, approaching Silverton, the town looks very picture perfect and cozy. But Silverton still has some serious weather issues, they get snowed in and have some brutally cold temperatures. There are times when they’re cut off completely from the outside world, even the train can’t get through some of the weather they have…
The fact that these conditions exist and the small town is still there, is a real life testament to what the first settlers had to go through and survive to create a home and life in this still dangerous area. But, survive they did, and even thrived, the town has lasted all this time, through the unkind, unfriendly, and unwelcoming elements that first greeted the first white men to the area.
Sarah’s journey west didn’t take her to the Wild West. She found a wonderful community full of people who were kind, friendly, and welcoming. There is an Indian Reservation down the road, but they don’t attack anymore.
Excerpt from New Parish:
A couple of emails from Sarah to her little sister Hannah –
So, I went out to New Parish and had a really good visit, I asked so many questions you wouldn’t believe! They were very open and honest with me about everything. I met a lot of people who were very nice. I got to know Brother Michael’s wives a bit and they’re great. I tried to sort out which kid belonged to which mom and I’m still not sure on most of them…
I met a guy that was so incredibly handsome I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him. Too bad he’s one of those macho jerks we both avoid like the plague. He’s a full on cowboy, yeah I know you’d like his horse. LOL
It’s weird now to be back in Atlanta, I feel sort of out of sync like here or there, one is surreal. I have to decide what I’m going to do, I can’t focus on work or anything really, so I have to figure this out soon. I’m going to check with mom and see if the condo is available soonish…
How’s school? How’s work? Any cute guys?
So this last week was full of things going on, the community had a social which you would have loved! It was on a real cowboy ranch with some beautiful horses, (picture attached), with a live cowboy band, a hayride, and a bon fire for me to burn marshmallows in. Which of course I did…
Brother Michael said he and the other church leaders think I should marry that cowboy that I detest… I threw a real fit and said there was no way I was marrying him, then I calmed down and promised Brother Michael that I would try to give him (the cowboy) a small second chance. I really can’t stand him, the cowboy I mean not Brother Michael, he’s everything I decided long ago I would never get involved with ever again. He’s a macho, self centered, nethanderthal man who thinks that the world revolves around him and what he wants, you know the type the ones with no real higher level thinking just testosterone and me Tarzan you Jane. Oh well I’m sure Brother Michael will see soon that this just won’t work.
Anyways back to the party, Mary insisted I try to square dance with her, you would have laughed at me so much, there would have been tears… it was going okay until I saw that cowboy in the band, he plays the guitar, I tripped over my own feet and fell on my bum… I can’t seem to keep my balance around that guy… Yeah I know you would have fell over laughing at me then too.
Okay, so work is going pretty good, I have a couple of picture books I’m working on now, they are both from a series that I’ve worked on before. Living with this really big family has been amazing and fun. You wouldn’t believe how much fun!
How’s school going? Are you dating anyone yet? I know you’re really busy with all the extra classes you’re taking but you should find some time for fun… Any returned missionary prospects?
Visiting Durango Colorado was a wonderful walk into the past for me. It also reinforced my thoughts that there were many reasons for people to come west. There were beautiful ranches there, and farms, and a very famous train to visit. There were also a couple of amazing museums I visited, and yes, I bought books for more research 😊
I had lunch at one of the ranches near Durango, the James Ranch, (http://www.jamesranch.net/market), they prepare food that is completely organic and have items in their market that visitors can purchase and bring home to enjoy later… I still have some of their cheeses in my fridge.
The Animas Museum was full of history, there was a classroom to walk through that was set up like they had them long ago, before Durango was Durango, (http://www.animasmuseum.org/exhibits.html). The area was first settled and called Animas Valley, after the nearby river before Durango was ever thought of. The Waterfall Ranch was one of the first ranches in the area, the waterfall is sometimes, not falling, due to lack of water but I saw pictures of it in full flow and it looked beautiful. The Waterfall Ranch changed hands a few times but maintained the name throughout, it also contributed to the history of the Animas Valley and Durango. There was a real west battle over water rights, which included the attempt to divert water, claim water, and someone getting killed in the process. The Lamberts owned the ranch at the time of the water war, and J.P. Lamb who was a sheep rancher, (no pun intended at this time), wanted to divert the water. So, there was a sort of, “I’m gonna!” and an, “Oh no you’re not!” situation that evolved. A few years later, the ranch was sold to a railroad man named Thomas Wigglesworth (I had to use this name! How often do you hear a name like that?) took over, the gun fights ended, and according to my research the ice-cream socials began. His wife was a southern lady and liked to socialize in nice polite ways – no guns. The ranch only changed families one more time, the present day owner’s (the Zinks), ancestors were the next to step into this piece of history.
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad was built in 1881-1882. The train is an integral part of the history of the Durango area, it was built to connect the silver mines in Silverton to the surrounding areas. The train is based in Durango, and now takes visitors back and forth from Durango to Silverton. The route is quite an adventure through the glorious countryside, and along some dodgy looking narrow tracks that skirt around the edges of cliffs. I went to the D&SNGRR Museum and explored the wonderful history that was preserved there, they had old engines, old motor cars, miniatures, stuffed wild animals, and so much more. They even had old movie posters featuring movies that were made in the area. I’m sure I spent over an hour there, and it’s only a two room museum.
This cowboy history is what builds the history of my characters, or at least the western characters. I love bringing them to life with real historical backgrounds.
Excerpt from New Parish:
““Well, I was riding a horse when I was four,” Max admitted. “Uncle Alex said it was a necessity for every boy to do.” He chuckled then went on, “We were going out to round up some stray horses that had escaped the corral overnight.” He paused in thought then went on, “They made it all the way to the ridge, Uncle Alex used some colorful language when we found them,” he smiled at her and winked again.
Sarah wished he wouldn’t do that, it was very discombobulating, she tried to smile back but wasn’t sure it had worked. She looked out at the expanse of prairie with the dead looking sage brush and short pine trees, there were tufts of straw colored grasses in some places and some small prickly pear cacti, which Mary had told her about. She could imagine Mary getting a good case of the giggles if she could see her now.
“Didn’t you ever get scared as a little boy riding such a big animal?” Sarah asked. The question came out in spite of her efforts to not engage him in conversation.
“Uncle Alex taught me when I was little that if you have a fear, well then, you face it. He told me about when he was doing the rodeo, and they would have a real bad bull to ride, some guys wouldn’t get on that bull, they’d refuse. He said one time there was a bull that he was about to refuse to ride then he heard the announcer say ‘cowboy up’ for another fella that was coming out of the gate. He said that hit him hard, he rode that bull, and from then on throughout his life when there was something difficult or something he maybe was scared of, he could hear the Spirit telling him to cowboy up. So, he taught me that when you’re afraid first you pray then you cowboy up,” he smiled and winked at Sarah, “you get the job done, no matter what it is.”
Sarah couldn’t help herself, she had to smile back…”
Taming the west wasn’t easy for man or beast! In many situations it was kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, and so forth. The early pioneers and settlers to the west, came out for various reasons, gold, free land to start a farm or ranch, and some came simply for the adventure. No matter what the reasons, they all encountered the rugged land that had to be tamed, the ferocious wildlife that had to be reckoned with, the Native Americans, (who weren’t happy with being pushed out), that had to be fought, befriended, or ran from, and the unstoppable weather that had to be survived.
This last week I visited some of the places these pioneers, settlers, and adventurers came out to tame. The wild west, is still very rugged, very unique, and very beautiful. I visited some museums and historic sites, then toured some amazing Rocky Mountain areas. In the early 1800’s white men arrived in the Animas Valley and surrounding areas. These areas developed into Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, and many other towns and communities in the south west corner of Colorado.
I’ll be posting about the wonderful places I visited and sharing pictures with you over the next few weeks. I love visiting these places, they inspire my imagination, and enliven my writing. My mind swirls with all sorts of ideas for what will come next for my characters… I believe real life infuses fiction with life.
In New Parish Sarah becomes her own kind of pioneer, she moves out west to tame her new life and maybe a cowboy too…
Excerpt from New Parish:
“The next day after breakfast Sarah and Mary decided to get out and explore some of the community and enjoy the snow that had fallen, several of Mary’s little brothers and sisters tagged along with them. They were all bundled up in coats, scarves, gloves, and boots, Sarah laughed at herself and the rest of the gang, they were definitely prepared. Sarah had already decided that the community was quite beautiful but now with a blanket of snow it seemed like a picture postcard of a Christmas village from long ago. There was even a wooden wagon with red painted wheels going down the road pulled by two large chocolate brown horses, it was all very picturesque.
They walked along the freshly shoveled sidewalks happily talking and planning on building a snowman in the park. When from behind her Sarah heard the sound of a horse trotting, she turned to look and saw the man she never wanted to see again, on his horse. She quickly looked around to see if any cows were running around, then said to Mary, “Let’s walk faster, that cowboy is back and you know what happened the last time he was near.”
Mary laughed, “You know it wasn’t really his fault, right?”
“It was his cows,” replied Sarah avoiding the fact that she just deep down seriously didn’t want to like him or his smile, or his beautiful eyes, or his anything.
“Yeah but they broke the fence and got out,” Mary tried to excuse the cowboy.
“Wasn’t it his fence that wasn’t strong enough to hold his cows?” asked Sarah.
“Yes, but really that stuff happens,” Mary tried to soothe her friend’s feelings.
Sarah looked at her firmly and said, “Red punch and hot chocolate all over my brand new outfit.”
“Sorry, that was really bad,” agreed Mary.
The sounds from the horse got much closer as Max touched it’s sides to encourage it to speed up, he pulled the reins to stop where Sarah and Mary were on the sidewalk, “Howdy Mary, Ma’am,” he said in a very friendly cowboy drawl.
Sarah looked away and didn’t speak, Mary smiled and said, “Hi Max, what are you up to today?”
“Just rounding up a few strays,” he smiled back at her.
That threw Sarah into an angry frenzy, “What sort of cowboy can’t keep his cows where they’re supposed to be?!?” She looked around frantically wondering from which direction she would be attacked, “Maybe you should get a different job!””
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!”
Just in case you stumble across this page, dear Literary Agent, and are looking for something different. I’ve written a sweet old fashioned romance, filled with humor, frustration, and life changing decisions. My book, New Parish, is a literary fiction, light romantic comedy, with an intriguing polygamous twist. New Parish is the first in a series of books I’m working on. Return to New Parish, is also finished, and Home to New Parish, is underway. This isn’t the dark side of things kind of story. This is the lighter side of plural marriage, where adults chose to live this way and are happy doing so.
In New Parish, the story follows Sarah from bad dates to total frustration as she explores her thoughts, fears, and feelings of contemplating plural marriage as an alternative to dating the losers she’s had to deal with. She asks the hard questions of her new friends, and even asks herself if she’s nuts or desperate for considering this option. All factors are explored, but the better side of living this unique social arrangement is truthfully told through the voice of its lovable characters. The story reveals happiness, fulfillment, and safety in this lifestyle.
In Return to New Parish, Sarah is settled into her happily ever after life when her younger sister Hannah comes to town with some difficult problems. Her last boyfriend tried to take something from her that she’d been saving for her husband. With Sarah’s help and her eventual husband’s extreme patience she finds her happily ever after too. The stories are all woven with real life, humor, and human frailties that everyone can laugh at and cry over.
Review of New Parish by Jaclyn Knapp, M.S., ED.S Weber State University, Ogden, UT:
“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 and 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.”
I write from experiences and observations, dear Literary Agent, I always try to infuse realisms in my writing, that goes for both the setting and the characters. So, if you have an opening on your list of clients that you might be able to include me and my work that would be greatly appreciated. You’ll find me a hard working, easy to get along with person, who is willing to listen and learn.
Thanks for your consideration,
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.”
Yesterday I spent the day in an amazing place called Pine Valley. It could really have been called Hidden Valley, it’s really a hidden gem in the middle of the desert. Pine Valley was originally founded back in the mid 1800’s, beginning as a sawmill settlement. In 1868, they built a chapel which in that time served as church, school, theater, dance hall, and I guess whatever else they needed it to be. It’s still in service as a church today and has the distinct uniqueness of being the oldest, still in use chapel, in the LDS church.
The place was discovered by accident when a cowboy, (William Hamblin) was rounding up some strays. He must have thought he’d wandered into paradise, seeing this garden like valley for the first time. Even today after the sawmill did its work, there’s still loads of tall trees all around. There’s grass growing, not just the scruff you see in this area, but real green grass. The very small Santa Clara River flows through the valley, creating the wonderful abundance that’s all around and giving life to the area. The reservoir, which is really a lake, is one of the most beautiful places you can experience. There are picnic tables around it, and a deck with railings that looks like the porch to an old farm house. You can sit there and watch fish jumping up and splashing back down in the water. It felt like drinking in nectar to my soul… I will be attaching pictures… you have to see this place!
My day there was spent having a picnic, strolling along the nature trails, and soaking in the nature and beauty all around me. I saw a chipmunk, some wild turkey, and a couple of does and a Bambi. It’s places like this that inspire some of the scenes in my book, New Parish, I wish I could bring everyone along with me to these glorious places and introduce you all to the people I’ve met out here… I guess the only way to do that is to get my books published. Can’t wait till that happens!
Excerpts from New Parish:
“The small pinion pines turned into the tall ponderosas as they drove further up the mountain, the cacti that covered the hills and rocky mountainsides diminished and ferns took their place. As they neared the clearing where the cabin was Sarah noticed that the ground was mostly covered with pine straw with a few small trees growing between the giant ponderosas. There were lots of large rocks and boulders lying around with some protruding from the ground as if they were making an escape from somewhere deep beneath, giving the place a very rustic and ancient look. Every now and then there would be a small grey squirrel run across the road in front of them. Sarah delighted in these occurrences each time with childlike happiness….
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.”