Now to start the next one …
Now to start the next one …
As I tried to find the perfect 500 word excerpt from Shadows this morning, I consulted my daughters… They quickly listed off a couple samples.. but I still couldn’t decide…
So I thought I would ask you..
Which section would make YOU more likely to download a copy of Shadows?
!The first Sample!
“I can’t believe my luck. Sure was happy to see ya walk past my horse. I was jest leavin’ town myself. Now I can escort ya home,” the stranger continued happily.
“You’ll hafta excuse me, sir, I must be hurryin’. My Da will be expectin’ me ta have dinner ready soon,” Emma stated.
“Well then, we musn’t keep him waitin’,” he replied. There was a chuckle behind her. The fair haired gentleman smiled in response to his friend’s laughter. “I’ll come along with ya. Ya can introduce me, so I can git permission ta call on ya. Official like. We can git our courtin’ started today.”
“I believe ya misunderstood me, sir,” Emma replied appalled.
“Misunderstood? Na, I think not. I see that ya waited fer me outside of town, so that we could walk together without all those busybodies watchin’ us and interuptin’.” Smiling, the man reached for her arm. Emma stepped back and bumped into the horse behind her. Feeling panic well up within her, she looked around for help and was amazed to see a pair of stormy eyes walking towards her.
From behind, Emma heard the man on the horse cleared his throat in warning. The fair haired gentleman stiffened in irritation as he turned towards the approaching man, demanding, “What do ya want now?”
Emma could not take her eyes off the approaching help, even though she knew it was rude to stare. The gray eyed man did not look away from her as he answered, “When this young lady fergot ta bring me my coffee before she left town, I started in ta worryin’.”
Looking down into her basket, Emma realized that she had indeed purchased the tin of coffee the man had intended only as a distraction. “I fergot,” she said weakly, trying to figure out why he would want the coffee she accidentally purchased.
Coming to stop a few steps from Emma, the gray eyed man smiled at her. “Ya steal a man’s heart and then ya steal his coffee, darlin’?” He winked at her. “Ya go too far.” The smile that touched his mouth, did not reach his stormy eyes. They tried to convey a meaning to her. A meaning that Emma could not quite grasp. “Ya shoulda waited fer me ta walk with ya. I’ve been wantin’ ta speak with yer Pa,” he paused briefly before continuing, “before the weddin’.”
Gasping as his plan dawned on her, Emma ducked around the fair haired gentleman and reached for her rescuer’s arm. He weaved her hand around his tense elbow and held it there. Wanting to look convincing in her new role, she desperately tried to remember how Abigail had looked at her David all those months while they were courting. Opening her eyes wide, she batted her eyelashes. “Oh do forgive me darling,” she said, attempting to mimic Abigail’s sugary tone. She hoped no one would notice how her voice quivered.
!!The second Sample!!
By the time she walked back from the field and made it to the hill by the creek, she had convinced herself that Thane would have left by now. When she arrived, it was indeed vacant. Emma sat down in disappointment, but intent on looking carefree. “Well Mama, it looks as if I brought ya a sandwich.”
“Ya’ve already given my sandwich away?” asked a voice that made her jump guiltily.
“Ah—No, of course not,” Emma replied, willing her heart to slow down. “But I almost dropped it in the water, ya scared me so,” she scolded. Thane sat down a couple paces from Emma. She handed him a sandwich, wrapped in a towel.
Thane took a bite of the sandwich. Looking thoughtful, he asked, “Ya gonna introduce me ta yer Mama?”
Emma looked up at him. She couldn’t decide if he was making fun of her. Finding no hint of teasing in his face, she replied, “Mr. Hawkins meet my Mama, Lilliana Wells. Lily, to those that loved her. Mama, this is Mr. Hawkins.. He’s taken ta savin’ me lately. Even promised ta marry me ta protect me from an ugly mess,” she ended with a smile.
“Pleasure ta meet ya ma’am. Please call me Thane.”
“Mama wants ta know where ya come from that we shouldna know ya already? We thought we knew everyone here in the valley,” Emma asked innocently.
“Well ma’am, I live in those hills,” nodding his head across the creek, “tucked in a valley. I come this way a couple times a year but spend most my time on the trail huntin’ and trappin’.”
“So yer a trapper?” Emma asked between bites.
“Call me Emma –,” she reminded him.
“Beggin yer pardon, ma’am, I thought I was talkin’ ta yer Mama,” he said with a lopsided smile.
She chose to ignore his teasing and looked toward the hills.
“Yer mama seems ta belong in this spot,” Thane observed.
“She does,” she stated simply. “A fever took her and my baby sister ta heaven a few years back.” Her final words were barely above a whisper.
“I’m sorry,” Thane said softly.
Emma blinked back a tear before she looked at him.
“Where is yer sister’s stone?” he asked.
“Isn’t one. She was so small, I couldna bear fer her ta be put by herself. Mama had wanted her so. And Da– well he couldna bear ta name her. So she sleeps in Mama’s arms, here in Mama’s favorite spot.” She waved her arm to indicate the hill top overlooking the little creek. “Da brought this rock here. When he dug it up outta the cornfield – he decided ta roll it here so Mama wouldna have grass stains on all her skirts. She always was sittin’ in the grass. She tried ta make them stop before they hurt themselves. But Da had jest teased how “embarrassed” he was ta have a wife with green dresses. She finally relented then …but wouldna come down here fer weeks,” Emma laughed sadly. “But when she did, she sat on the rock.” She paused, remembering. “She kept one skirt with an especially bad grass mark though. She hung it right in their room. It’s hangin’ there still. Da won’t even let me wash it.” She didn’t notice the tears on her cheeks until Thane handed her his towel.
“What about yer Ma?” Emma asked, trying to lighten the mood as she dried her cheeks. “Will I know her if she’s in town? Or will I have ta wait `til the weddin’?”
Thane looked back towards the hills. “Awhile beyond that, I expect,” he answered softly. “My Ma died when I was young. We went out trappin’ and when we returned.. she was gone.”
“Oh,” Emma replied, not knowing what to say. “How old were ya?”
“Not sure really. Probably 9 winters ago.”
“Ya don’t know how old ya are?” Emma asked incredulously.
Thane shrugged his shoulders. “Pa doesn’t keep track of such things-says they’re nonsense. I stopped askin’.”
Wiping her eyes again, she cleared her throat. “Maybe we should jest start plannin’ our weddin’ before I start cryin’ again.”
**Please Vote in the comments below**
… if you haven’t downloaded Shadows yet.. you should… It’s a bargain at 99 cents..
One of my readers informed me that they could tell a lot about my personality from my book… Ha ha… I think that this is especially true by reading the sections of Shadows with Mark and Seth. I think that my greatest gift in life was siblings.. not only brothers but my sister as well.. Unfortunately, Emma’s story just didn’t lend itself to having a sister in it…
Enjoy the following sample from Shadows….
When the vegetables were almost tender, Emma went out and rang the dinner bell. “Everythin’ will be done by the time they make it in from the field,” she figured.
“I made it in time fer dinner?” came a voice close by.
She turned in the direction of the road to see James walking toward her. Emma laughed at the hope in his expression. “It’s like you’ve a clock in yer belly.”
“Is yer family still in the field?” he asked.
“Yea. I canna leave my bread bakin’ ta take them lunch today,” she explained. “They should be in shortly.”
“Anythin’ ya need help with or should I head out ta meet `em?” James asked.
Emma thought about his question. “I’ve only the wash tub ta refill, if ya want ta make sure my Da and brothers heard the dinner bell ringin’,” she suggested.
“Seth can hear that dinner bell over any sound, no matter how quietly ya ring it,” James said with a laugh. “Let me go check ta see iffen they’re headed in, then I’ll fill the wash tub fer ya.”
“Thank ya,” Emma said. She returned to the kitchen. She could smell that her bread was done baking, so she pulled it from the oven and set another loaf in its place. Then she drained the vegetables, replacing the lid to keep them warm until the menfolk came in. She had just set the plates around the table, when James came in toting a bucket full of water for the wash tub.
“They are headed in. Should be close ta the front field by now,” James reported as he headed out the door with the empty bucket.
“I’ll dish it up when they come in.”
“It sure smells good,” James said eagerly.
Emma laughed softly, “Now ya sound like Seth.”
James laughed too, as he left through the door.
When James returned again, her father and brothers were with him.
“Sorry ta make ya come in fer dinner. I couldna leave my bread bakin’,” she explained to her family.
“We were needin’ a break from the sun, Emma girl,” Da answered.
“This smells better than a picnic lunch anyhow,” Seth decided, inhaling deeply.
Emma met James eyes and they laughed. Seth’s words were almost the same as the ones James had used earlier. Da saw the shared joke and raised his eyebrow at James. Emma had turned back to start serving up the plates and missed the exchange.
Once everyone was seated, her Da blessed the food and everyone started eating heartily.
“We noticed the raccoons are back in the fields. They did a fair amount of damage ta the cornfield by the woods last night,” Da told Emma. “So we’ll probably be sittin’ out there tonight.”
Nodding in understanding, Emma started planning what food she would send out with the boys.
“Ya interested in joinin’ us, James?” Mark added.
James agreed easily. “Wished I woulda known earlier, I could’ve jest stayed on inta the night.”
“We could send Emma inta town with a message fer yer Pa,” Seth suggested.
“I’ll not ask her ta make that trip in this heat,” James said. “Besides she’s bread ta bake.”
Emma gave him a thankful smile. She was already dreading the trip to the mercantile that she knew was coming up. An added trip was not appealing to her.
“Speakin’ of bread,” Seth said suggestively. “Can I have a slice with my dinner?”
Emma put her fork down and pushed her chair back from the table. Reaching for a loaf that was cool enough to slice, she heard a whispered comment that made her smile.
“Rotten kid. Let her eat her food while it’s warm,” James said.
“Jest asked fer bread,” Seth responded confused.
Their father laughed at his expression.
“It’s fine,” Emma insisted. Setting the plate of sliced bread on the table, she sat back in her chair.
Just as she was putting a bite to her mouth, Seth asked with a impish smile, “Could I have butter on mine?”
Emma froze mid-bite, just in time to see Mark smack Seth in the back of the neck. James slid his chair back and retrieved the butter crock before she could even respond. She tried to keep her smile hidden as Seth rubbed the back of his neck. “Never dull at mealtime,” she thought to herself.
**DISCLOSURE*** No brothers were harmed in the making of this book…
(If you would like to read more… Click here for links to BUY Shadows.)
Recently.. I launched my book, Shadows, into the world. To make it a momentous occasion, some friends of mine helped me host a book signing. I made sure I had books available to purchase.. I made sure I had pens to personally sign each book… We made coffee and cookies… And I decided I would give a brief talk.. followed by a question and answer opportunity. To prepare myself, I asked my Facebook friends and family what questions they would ask me. Things that they were curious to know. I used these questions at the launching… and I was asked many more.
After the Book Launching day passed.. I received messages from people who wished they could have come hear me speak. I understand this feeling. Life is so busy that it is impossible to do everything we would like to do. But in this one instance? In this instance, I can share a few of the questions (and answers) I talked about…
Here are a few of the most frequently asked…
#1. Is Shadows a continuation of your blog site?
Short answer… No!
Long answer… My blog site is made up of short stories from my life. Simply put.. it’s non-fiction. My thoughts, my memories, my sorrows, my hardships.. from the real life of Jules Nelson. Shadows is my first published work of fiction. It is about the thoughts, memories, sorrows and hardships of a fictional young lady named Emma Fern Wells. And while many people enjoy reading about the lives of both, they are NOT one and the same.
#2. What made you want to write a book?
Short answer … I am a writer. It is nice to put the works of my brain on paper.
Long answer… As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to write a book. Ever since I was a little girl, I have made up characters and mapped out their stories. Where ever I was, my mind would slip into my writer’s world. Whether I was folding laundry.. or washing dishes.. or raking leaves.. or vacuuming.. or sweeping… my mind would be a million miles away.. Sometimes hundreds of years away. Wondering how a young lady would do the same task 100 years earlier. OR wondering if a young lady would have been allowed to do that task… YES.. you can imagine that my mother was annoyed with me on more than one occasion… Everything I did was done to perfection.. but it took FOREVER. When I was old enough to write things down.. I did.. I often filled notebooks full of stories. My first stories just rambled.. weaving and wobbling along with no particular direction. By my teen years, I had gotten the hang of sticking to a plot.
#3. If you have been writing since childhood.. why did it take you so long to complete a novel?
Short answer… Life.
Long answer… Life during high school and college is so busy.. and packed full of activities.. there was NO time to write. I kept my usual journal for awhile… but that too fell by the wayside after a few years. Then I met my wonderful husband.. and had my 2 amazing kids. These 3 people consumed my life for a time. When my son was diagnosed with Autism, all my research went into learning new therapies and new concepts. Even when life was at its busiest, I never stopped making up stories. I would develop characters and tell adventures with them to my daughter. Make up new endings to terrible movies. But until recently? Until my husband’s job brought our family home to Michigan, my life was not simple enough for me to write a book.
#4. What inspired you to write Shadows?
Short answer… Hmm.. there isn’t one.
Long answer… I love History. Not the type of history that you learn in the classroom.. not all the dates and facts.. But history ITSELF. The clothes they wore in a certain time period.. What those particular clothes said about a person… How you could often tell what class a person was in by the clothes they wore… How they cooked… What they ate…
Whenever I learn something new, I try to tie it back to something I already knew. For instance, wagon trains were going on before and after the civil war. These were NOT two separate time periods .. but one and the same. So to head off to join the war? They traveled for WEEKS by wagon or horseback to meet up with the army.
There are photographs of the soldiers during the civil war. A strange mixture of primitive conditions. Pictures of living in tents and cooking over fires. Pictures of women washing the officer’s clothes. The more I thought about the photos… the more I thought about how SOME of these soldiers could have been on a wagon train. How none of the scenes in these pictures would have been unusual for them. They would have slept in tents.. and cooked over fires.. and washed clothes in any creek they could find. The more I thought about the soldiers.. the more I thought about the wives they left behind..
And then I decided that SOMEONE should write their story.. the story of the wives left behind to do the job of pioneer woman and man both.. left behind to do it all alone, in most cases. And I decided that I could do it.
#5. When did you know you would write Shadows?
Short answer.. As soon as I developed Emma’s character… and had a dream about her.
Long answer… Shadows is actually the prequel to the story I want to write about the civil war wives. The more I developed the character of Emma.. the young mother who will be left behind.. the more I longed to tell her story from the beginning. When I had a dream about the person she would have been? I woke up with the firm decision that I would start with Emma…. that I would write Shadows before I wrote Ashes… I would write where she came from.. who she was… write about how God shaped her character..
#6. Do you plan to write another book soon?
Short answer… Yes.
Long answer… I am already writing the next book. Shadows is the first of 3 books that follow Emma’s life. The next book.. the ONE that I am currently working on… will follow Emma’s first year of marriage (no spoilers here.. so I won’t tell you who she marries). I am hoping to have this second book, Road Home, finished by Spring 2015. The third book will follow Emma as the Civil War breaks out. When her young husband leaves her behind to take care of their growing family and the farm.
#7. Where do you find ideas for your books?
Short answer… Everywhere..
Long answer… Everywhere… Research… ballads… undeveloped characters in other novels… phrases in songs that leave you thinking.. photographs… pretty much anywhere…
#8. What is the most important aspects of writing?
Short answer… Details… and editing.
Long answer… Details! Lots of details.. If I can explain my story the way I see it in my mind? If I can describe my characters so that you can “see” them as you read? If I can do that? Well, then you won’t want to put my pages down. That is when my story becomes a book. AND THEN? And then I edit to make sure my words say EXACTLY what I want them to say. Nothing slows down a reader more than typing errors.. or words used in the wrong context.(I know this because I love to read.) So details and editing.
#9. How much (if any) does Shadows reflect your life experiences?
Short answer… A little…
Long answer… Emma’s faith is similar to mine. Unwavering and simple. I trust the Lord to provide for my needs.. and so does Emma. Emma has brothers.. and so do I. Brothers who are protective, supportive and loving.. Other than that? Other than that, Shadows reflects my life long pursuit of knowledge and everything history.
#10. What was your most life changing experience about writing this book (Shadows)?
Short answer.. Peace.
Long answer… Writing this book was exciting and fun… and fulfilling. But the most life changing experience would be the peace I feel. Writing is what I was meant to do.. and it feels so good to be doing it.
I hope you all have read Shadows.. and I hope you really enjoyed it.
Keep the questions coming.. but for now…
I need to get back to writing…
Authors are mysterious people.. Citizens who live in secretive places .. with secretive lives.. right?
Well …that isn’t me.
I am just an average Joe (or Joe-etta)! I’m the mom who donates all her daughter’s old books to the school library.. in a sweatshirt and jeans.. and a messy ponytail. (gasp– shocking I know).. I’m the lady who you pass on the road, singing her heart out. I’m the stranger who smiles at the toddlers in grocery carts… and yes.. I am the lady who cries in the lobby of the school when her son has a hard day.
I am NOT mysterious at all.
So maybe I can’t really be an author?!?
HOWEVER… I have written a book.. Shadows!!! (note the extremely proud.. and excited smile.. almost like it is my newborn child)… and four months later?!? Four months after contacting a publisher .. it is published. On that day? The day that my book, Shadows, went “Live” online? YUP… I was the lady doing the happy dance .. in her pj’s! I was so happy to have that long process done.. and so happy to be able to introduce my beloved characters to the world.
Now if you are looking for spoilers for Shadows?? Then you would be in the wrong place… I love that no one expects the twists and turns in my book. I love that readers say they (literally) can’t put Shadows down. I love that my friends call me to say they love where Shadows leaves off.. but that they couldn’t have predicted the ending. And if I gave you spoilers?? Well that would.. umm… “spoil” the surprise for you… So in a sense.. by not giving you spoilers.. I am giving you a gift.
But this morning? This morning as I sit here, sipping my chai.. all warm and cozy in my favorite sweater and my thick.. warm.. wool socks.. I realize that I can really identify with Emma..
Shadows follows the life of Emma.. Emma Fern Wells… Emma feels she is plain. Plain with no distinguishing characteristics. Everything about her is average… and she is ok with this. Add to this that Emma is busy.. so busy that she feels like she has no identity.. no chance at being noticed by anyone. And she accepts this.. content for now. It sounds dramatic.. but it isn’t! Emma just… exists…
I can relate to Emma… In my life I don’t stand out.. and I like it that way. Why? Well.. because I like to watch people and observe their natural behaviors. When you don’t stand out? Well… everyone relaxes around you. It’s a wonderful life! And I understand busy.. (Ok.. my husband says I crave busy.. While I don’t know that I would go so far.. I will admit I volunteer my time freely.)
But here is where our similarities stop..
For one.. Emma is young.. (alas.. with 2 children taller than me.. I cannot claim youth.. Although I am not sure at what point I became “not young”.. hmm?? I seem to have missed the transition)..
Beyond that?? Emma stays focused on her work long enough to finish each task.. She lets her mind wonder while she churns her butter .. but her feet stay firmly planted. Me??? Well the chapter in Shadows .. the one where Emma burns the cookies? Sigh.. that describes me much better.. especially when I am in the mood to write..
Now.. I placed this young (and focused) girl in the community of Vermontville, Michigan.. shortly after it was settled.. so 1850 era. I used common names in this valley.. common family names… and the fact that it was a farming community.. Then? Then my book took flight… the characters came alive… I laughed with them.. cried with them.. and fell in love with them..
But the storyline? I have had that in me for awhile.. long before I moved to this picturesque valley. Where do my stories come from? Sometimes from a section of a song.. you know the phrase that has you wondering what happened in the songwriter’s life that would make them write it? My ideas are sometimes born in that moment. Sometimes when I see people in public.. with happiness or love.. or worry.. painted on their face.. Ideas are sometimes born in their emotions. Sometimes when I read other books.. by other authors.. the characters that are overlooked.. the storylines they leave undeveloped.. ideas are just waiting to be born there.. Sometimes during research, I will come across old traditions, commonplace crimes of the times, historic events, natural disasters.. weird unexplained phenomenons… I have found these facts to be a lot stranger (and more unpredictable) than fiction. In these facts.. stories are just begging to be told.
But a lot of the time? Ha.. a lot of my story ideas are born from my dreams.
I have some of the craziest.. most vivid dreams.. Dreams that seem so real.. I am still thinking about them when I wake. In fact, well into my day.. I will still be wondering how they would have ended. From these dreams? YUP.. the best of my ideas are born.
But storylines aren’t straight.. they curve.. and stop… They veer off.. and merge with other storylines.. THIS “maze” of storylines? This is what makes a good story.. This is what kept me up typing until my eyes wouldn’t stay open.. This is what prompted me to take a notebook with me to every appointment.. every meeting… every spare second that I could jot down notes…
Ok.. take my life… I am so excited about my book being published!?! So excited that I do a crazy book lady dance every time there is a “first” in my life.. First book sold online.. first blog read in a new country.. first book sold overseas.. first review posted online… etc.. you get the picture. But my excitement? It doesn’t overwhelm me like you would think.. Why? Because life doesn’t travel in a straight line. I have kids.. I have a family… I have responsibilities.. ha…. I have LAUNDRY… and right now I have a 3 year old nephew who has to have 18 months of chemotherapy. If those things didn’t affect my excitement? Well? Then I would be a robot..
In order for Emma to be realistic? In order for this character to seem ALIVE… she has to let her surroundings affect her. She has to let her friend’s life-changes affect her thoughts. She has to let her previous encounters effect her future actions. She HAS to let her emotions affect her choices…
If I can make Emma comes “alive” for a reader? Then they won’t be able to put her “life” .. her story.. down. They will want to keep reading until they know how her story ends..
.. and for me… life doesn’t end..
So neither does Emma’s story….