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ROSE OF SHARON. Book #3 of The Huachuca Trilogy

Front Cover-50522b
ROSE OF SHARON, the third book in the Huachuca Trilogy, is a work of historical fiction set in the exquisitely beautiful Southeast Arizona Territory at the end of the 19th century. The Welty twins, Rose of Sharon and Jacob, are left alone after witnessing the murder of their parents until a wandering cowboy, Blake Harris, enters their lives. A new, fragile family emerges to face stressors of mental illness, another murder attempt, and clashes of culture and race. Jacob, burdened with a sense of guilt for his parent’s deaths, is drawn to Fort Huachuca and a military career. The passage of years finds Rose of Sharon developing her paranormal gifts, including contact with a fictional character from the future. Her precocious writing skills set her apart and, as with Jacob, she does not want to run the ranch. Loss, hardship and obstacles to her love for tri-racial White Buffalo mark her life path. Rose of Sharon’s story is one of struggles against all that would isolate her. Resolution comes in unanticipated and welcome ways.

 

Excerpt from “SPRING RETREAT”…A Short Story set along the Russian River, before it had that name.

“The days of my uncleanness are upon me, my husband. I go from you for a time, even as our son reaches his Days of Manhood. I will pray to Old Man Coyote to guide him in the trials to come.” Ni’ka made her statement as she gathered acorn meal and dried salmon into her feathered basket.

While it was unusual for her to leave the village, she had done so on rare occasions. The village was scarcely that: a collection of brush shelters, not destined for permanence. . A Dreamer Woman, she often retreated within herself, away from the Red Earth People.

The People were seasonally nomadic, settling in the oaken plains to gather acorns in the fall and then to remain through the winter. Spring would find them fishing the Shabaikai, or Snake, River or climbing the mountains to camp on the shores of the Sacred Lake. For Ni’ka’s group, spring usually found them following the Shabaikai through the Forest of Dark Giants to the Endless Waters, where fish and shells were more than abundant. Berry gathering preoccupied them at the edge of the cool woods and mountains in summer. Then, the cycle would start over again.

Ni’ka thought of these things as she made her way down river in the simple tule canoe, more commonly used on the Sacred Lake. The sun warmed her as the chill of winter lifted from the land. The great blue heron and a flock of snowy egrets watched her passing and were neither surprised nor fearful of her.

Coming to the place she sought, Ni’ka pulled her craft above the waterline and anchored it with heavy rocks. With a quick pace, she turned away from the river and headed into the forest. Ni’ka’s movements gave no hint of fear or revulsion for the myth of Evil Spirits in this darkened glade. It was late afternoon before she reached her destination, about five miles inland.

Alongside a thin creek, the giant tree she called “Old Friend” waited for her.At the base was a room larger than the brush shelter left behind that morning. Using a broom of ferns, she swept the place clean of rodent droppings and debris of five years absence. Filling her water basket and placing her food on high, she was satisfied by the completion of her tasks and settled in. She wouldn’t go far from the tree again until it was time to return to the People.

Sitting in the entryway, Ni’ka watched the darkness come quickly on the forest where dense treetops hid the setting sun. She listened for the rare sounds of animal life and was rewarded. A doe and her fawn came to drink at the creek and approached Ni’ka. They lay down near her, the fawn taking nurturance from its mother. The trillium, just outside the den, closed upon itself for the night.

Entering a suspended state, Ni’ka sought understanding, peace and renewal. Her son was passing into manhood and, with that passage, he would become her equal. She welcomed this strong muscled young man exuding the high spirits of youth . She mourned the loss of her baby, his buttercup soft skin, his deep trust. She remembered the seriousness of his infant gaze as his eyes followed her movements. How wise she was then, how quick, how able to meet his every need!

Ni’ka regretted the passing of her age of power. Now, her son was beginning to know the limits of her power to protect, to guide, to share. In coming into his own adulthood, he was discovering something of the frailty and powerlessness of the human adult. True, he had learned some lessons along the way, as when his friend, Ts’it, died, or when the People nearly starved during the Year of No Water.

She studied on the future. How could she keep him, but also let him go? The answer didn’t come readily. On the fourth day, sitting in her doorway, Ni’ka spied a grandmother sea trout making her way downstream. Ni’ka considered the ways of the salmon and sea trout. Each fights its way upstream in wild wintry waters. Then, spawning their young in near-glacial pools, their similarity stops. The salmon, exhausted by the task, dies, but in early spring the trout returns to the sea.

“I am as the sea trout. My young has spawned and grown. He has been just behind me in the creek of life. I can still guide him a ways yet. And as he catches up to me, we can swim companionably, side by side, past shimmering sands, warning each other of rough places and obstacles. When he passes me, as his strength and youth insist, I will be content to follow his lead. He may take me to new places and new ideas. I will not be able to follow him everywhere, but, then, I won’t want to. It will be enough to rest in my own quiet pool and enjoy his comings and goings.”

Ni’ka rested fully that night and returned to the People, her husband and her man-son on the fifth day.

JAPAN SUFFERS

 

Earth shakes
Fear presides
Breathe, breathe
don’t forget how
Panic rules
Flames incite
Shocks continue
Into the night
Mud rushes in
Capturing the land
Roof becomes basement
Debris swims by
Where are the people
Turned upside down
In seconds, in minutes
Life flows apart

 

All that water
None to drink
Brother, mother, child
Dead or lost
Shattered earth
Shattered home
Shattered life
Shattered future
Nuclear rods
Hot to let go
Float in the abyss
Of afterglow
Fear runs amuck
Chaos has its day
But shall we skate
The world asks anyway

AD March 2011

MUSEUMS AND WRITING PART 2

Museum searches bring out the lingerer in me. I can’t get enough of the hidden and visible treasures alike.  Whether a tiny pioneer child’s dolly, the interior of an old Model T or a beautiful ball gown, I devour it all. At times I simply savor the experience and, at other times, I take notes and photos to help me remember the experience, especially if I think I’ve found something to use in my writing.

I’ve visited huge museums like the Field in Chicago, the former Ford historical artifact museum in Michigan, the Cody  in Wyoming, and the Heard Museum in Phoenix. Then, there have been a multitude of small museums, especially those scattered about small towns in the West. I believe it was a visit to the museum in Benson, Arizona where I found  Josephine’s  (HUACHUCA WOMAN) costume for the 1914 El Paso gala at the mayor’s house:

“I thought my new gown of ivory striped satin dipped in the front a bit too much, but the schoolboy grin on my husband’s face told I’d do, for a cow gal. That comforted me some. The gown was made by a Frenchie, name of Jacques Doucet, in the old style of the Empress Josephine. A red velvet jacket embroidered with delicate flowers kept the chill off. My new rope of pearls and carved ivory fan were birthday gifts from Peter, who looked as handsome as could be in his fancy duds. I was ready to lasso in any wild critters to come my way.”

Jacques Doucet 1853-1929

When I decided that Grace Pelham (BY GRACE) would make her way to Jane Addams’ Hull House, nothing would do but that I visit the place, source of inspiration for my first career in social work. Follow me to 1899 Chicago when Grace has had to change her name to Ginny Price as she eludes a would-be killer:

“Armed with instructions from Hilda (hotel maid), Ginny made her way to Hull House.  With several newer buildings complementing the facility, the still elegant fifty-five-year old mansion faced Halstead Street. Hull House was a sturdy brick and mortar reminder of what the neighborhood had once looked like. Other mansions had long since been broken into rooming houses where dirt and grime tore at worn paint. Shanties made of tarpaper and odd bits of lumber and tin didn’t look fit for the basest of animals. Factory chimney stacks puffed unrelenting stinky smoke. Ginny stood outside for a few minutes, finding refuge from the drabness of the neighborhood in the beauty of Hull House. Brilliant white pillars marched along the Italianate veranda where floor to ceiling windows looked out on the street. Great oaken doors invited the stranger in. Ginny smiled heartily and pushed at the heavy doors.”

Hull House, Chicago

As you wander museums, what do you imagine about the past?

Do historical figures jump out at you, demanding their stories be told?

Do you see your own family stories in the lives of those who have gone before?   

FROM DREAM TO REALITY

I was recently invited to share my experience of moving from dream to reality with a group of Red Hat Society Queens (Not that kind of Queen but like president!)   I turned to my dictionary for help.

Dream: 1.  A succession of images, thoughts or emotions occurring during sleep;2. A daydream or reverie; 3. A goal or aim; 4. A wild fancy; 5. Something of unreal beauty; ….to devise or concoct.

In MAN OF LA MANCHA, we were encouraged to “dream the impossible dream” and some of us were already doing that. Dorothy adventured into Oz knowing that “dreams really do come true.”  I was slow to evolve my dream, to be able to believe and act on my hidden gift with words. Raised in the post WWII 1950’s, I thought my options for a career were to be a secretary, a nurse or a teacher. I found social work at 14 when I read Jane Addams’ TWENTY YEARS AT HULL HOUSE, and went on to gain the necessary education and skills; I worked for forty years as the primary bread-winner for my family of four and felt entrapped.

An avid reader, I was fascinated with the structure of words and sentences turned into poetry and prose which came so hard for me to put down at paper. Finally, at the end of college and in grad school, I could do a first and last draft of a term paper in one swoop.  Still it didn’t occur to me to try my brain and hand at fiction.

By my forties, in the early eighties, I wrote some poetry and short stories, some of which I shared. Short stories were doable in my three day weekends as I balanced the needs of the family, job and housekeeping. I started taking classes and attending conferences to learn my craft. Another trip into Arizona and New Mexico in the late ‘80’s brought the inspiration for the Huachuca Trilogy. While still working at a very demanding job, I began the research and imagining of the characters who would populate my books. I took photos, kept journals, read extensively, and learned my craft.

As I wrote more, I submitted to agents and book publishers as was the method to get to publication at that time. It was a hard, impossible row to hoe! Self-publishing was called Vanity Press for which the author put up considerable funds to have just about anything see the light of day, often unedited, unpolished and, sometimes, unreadable. I investigated and turned away. Still writing and submitting, by now I was a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Women Writing the West, and eventually the Historical Novel Society and Redwood Writers chapter of the 100 year old CA Writers Club. I wrote book reviews,chaired or coordinated writing contests, entered contests and anthologies, and have been in a critique group for the last six years. I was paying my dues.

One more rejection from an agent who “loved” my work made me turn to the new self-publishing phenomena called Create Space and Kindle. The first two books are out and the third will see print before much longer.

To go from Dream to Reality, no matter your age or experience, I suggest this path:

  1. Believe in yourself—throw fear and cowardness away; don’t let others or yourself talk you out of the pursuit
  2. Define your goal…whether a small business, an art form, travel or whatever your heart desires…listen to your heart
  3. Seek like-minded people, organizations, classes and explore that dream
  4. Learn your craft, practice it, expose yourself to critique or advice
  5. Refine your dream as you go; be open to new ideas and visions as your dream expands
  6. Dream your next dream…in my case a book of short stories, a return to a WWII novel left  unfinished, a chapbook of poems.