The Locket is now available on-demand. You can order copies through me. It will be available within 3-5 days on Amazon/Kindle.
The Locket is now available on-demand. You can order copies through me. It will be available within 3-5 days on Amazon/Kindle.
For a long time, I’ve had a project in the back of my head. It is an updating of the Book of Ruth with the setting being the Civil War. Eli and Naomi Armstrong leave their home in Bethlehem, Indiana to go live in Moab, Kentucky with his cousin and now business partner, Lot Bowman. Eli has failed as a farmer and is enticed by the opulent lifestyle of his merchant cousin, who breeds and sells horses on the side. Lot also has a black concubine. Eli dies and then both his sons do as well, leaving Naomi alone with her two daughter-in-law Ruth and Orpah. Orpah is happy with the Southern lifestyle and unapologetic about the Cause. However, Ruth sees a new sense of faith in both her husband and Naomi, and when the war ends, both she and Naomi return to Bethlehem. Well….you know the high points of the story.
One thing I was struggling with was how to present Naomi telling Ruth to lie beside Boaz within the framework of a Victorian era. Then, in reading something the other day, I realized that what she was essentially doing was proposing to him. So here is that scene, which I will use for this future project.
The moon shone across the fields, now shorn of their wheat, as Ruth moved silently toward them. The men lay near the tall bound bundles, each with his own bedding spread beside them. She had watched carefully to see where Boaz was settled and made every effort not to awaken anyone.
Her heart beat rapidly within her, though she kept control of her emotions. She knew that approaching him was risking herself, despite the fact that she had sensed his tenderness toward her on many occasions. Why he did not propose, she did not know, but it was difficult for him to hide the fact that he had a fondness for her.
She came upon him where he lay, and for a moment watched his face in peaceful repose. Her heart swelled with the admiration she held for him. It wasn’t that he had wealth, or that he had status in the community that she admired. Though a man approaching middle age, he had fine, strong features, though he was not as startlingly handsome as some of the younger men she had met. Above all, she felt he was a man of integrity and strong faith. She recalled the faith of Mahlon, and the faith of Naomi, and here was their cousin, a man of like, precious faith that she could trust to guide her life.
She knelt gently beside him, and then placed her hand on his shoulder, hoping to rouse him. Boaz opened his eyes, and at first could not adjust to the fact that she was there. He sat up quickly, and looked into her face, trying to search for meaning.
“Ruth…what are you doing here?” He looked at her, puzzling, trying to fit it together in his mind.
“Boaz, I wanted to speak to you. I am a poor widow, sir. These past few months, I have worked diligently to ensure that I and my mother-in-law have been provided for. I want to thank you for helping me in that.”
“Ruth, you have no need to thank me. I am your cousin, as I am Naomi’s. A man is supposed to provide for those in want among his family. But surely, my dear, you did not stay just to offer me your thanks.”
She hesitated, and her gaze met his. “No, that is so. I stayed behind tonight because I wanted to…I wanted to ask you sir if you would take away my burden. I wanted to ask if you would marry me.”
His face changed as he looked at her. He smiled, shaking his head that she had been so bold, but also knowing she was surrendering her pride to do so. He couldn’t believe that this lovely young woman was offering him marriage. It should’ve been he who had offered it to her.
“Ruth, there are many young men who would be glad to marry you. Why do you approach me?” He ran his hands through his hair to comb it. “I also know that Lucian has had his eyes on your property. I would want to ensure he has no intentions toward you first.”
Ruth nodded. “I understand that. I do understand you don’t want to create trouble with your cousin.”
“My dear”, he began, holding her gaze, “I want you to know I consider it a profound honor that you would ask this of me. I realize you have risked your reputation in doing so. Ruth, you must know that I do care for you. You are not only a lovely young woman, but I’ve seen your character, as you’ve cared for Naomi. The only reason I did not ask you before now is because I believed myself too old to hold your interest.”
She shook her head. “Mr. Armstrong, I would be proud to be your wife. I’m not looking for a young man, someone who can cater to romantic needs. When I married Mahlon, I saw the strength of faith he had, the faith of his mother. I wasn’t raised with that, Boaz. My father lived loosely, and my mother was stiff and proud because of it. I needed something more. I saw in my husband a light of hope, of a different life. I believe God led me here, to find the roots of that faith among his people. I see that same faith in you, Boaz, that strength of relationship with God that I need in my life.”
Boaz surveyed her for a moment. He couldn’t believe his good fortune. Here was this lovely lady asking to marry him. He hoped in his heart….he prayed he knew Lucian well enough.
“Ruth, I would ask one thing of you. I want to approach Lucian. If he has no intention of asking you to marry him so that he can have Eli’s property, then I will certainly, without a doubt marry you myself.” He brushed back her fine black hair. “My dear girl, you should leave here though before it turns light. People might think wrongly of you, and I wouldn’t want that. Do you trust me to do what is best for you as your cousin?”
She looked into his steady brown eyes and nodded. “Thank you, sir.” She stood and began to walk away when he said, “Wait.”
“I know you would not want charity, but I do not want you to return to Naomi without something.” He picked up a nearby wheat basket and filled it with wheat. “You can take this to the mill, and they can turn it into flour for you.”
She took the basket and nodded, and then slowly disappeared into the night.
Boaz thought of tomorrow. He must be convincing. He must somehow convince Lucian, because he wanted to marry Ruth. This dear, honorable girl who had sacrificed her pride to come to him.
As I’m writing about the Battles of Lexington-Concord and Menotomy, I realized I needed information about leaves, etc. I came across this nice powerpoint done by the National Parks detailing the equipment of the militiamen, which varied by town. Some towns required them to totally outfit themselves, while others might provide things such as bayonets.
Following Lexington, the militiamen who turned out not only chased the British back to Boston, but besieged the city so that the British were blocked in by land.
Writing in the 9th chapter of Liberty’s Promise, I just passed 200 page, with about 33000 words. I am thinking there will be one, perhaps 2 more chapters. Right now, I am describing the timeline of events of Lexington-Concord. How the patriots chased the British back to Boston. A lot of people do not realize they had a major battle in the process at a place called Menotomy.
I am working on the 7th chapter of Liberty’s Promise, so it is at about 3/4 complete. I am well pleased with the progress I am making on it. The past few days, I have just felt so impassioned in writing that it is quickly taking shape.
I decided that I will work on proofing the Locket and getting it ready to publish, as A Wounded Heart still needs considerable editing. So, hopefully by next week sometime, I will have the Locket on Amazon for sale. It’s a lovely story taken from a lot of my personal experiences, though it is set in the post-World War I America.
Here is the blurb for The Locket:
Ella Goodwin is a Christian girl living with her parents in the rolling hills of Los Angeles in the last year of WWI. Her father is a lawyer, while her mother is a devoted housewife. They are people of great faith, yet that faith is shaken when tragedy strikes. A devastating illness–influenza–comes to the Los Angeles area after causing many deaths worldwide. Ella must strive to put her life back together, all the while holding on to a promise of love sealed by a golden locket so long ago. She must discover for herself that God’s promises hold true in the midst of her ever-changing world.
Thomas Rockdale took off his wig, and settled back on in his favorite chair at the rectory. He poured himself a glass of wine, and sipped from it, thinking of Anna Barton. He wondered for a moment whether he was wasting his time with her. It wasn’t as if she was the only woman attracted to him.
True, she was startlingly beautiful, and he felt deeply attracted to her. He did want her as his wife, but he also felt a rebellious streak in her. Women did need a man to rule over them. And he felt Anna resented that.
He had long felt that all women needed a man to control them. Women were naturally rebellious ever since the Garden of Eden, and though they really wanted the rulership of men, they tried to control man. It took strong men, men like himself, to refuse their games of love, to bring a woman to obey and fear God correctly.
It was just like these unruly colonials. He had meant his words. They were like an unruly woman that needed force to bring them under control, and force they would get. He had heard about their “Congress” that was meeting, though small good that would do. No, rather, they needed to fall into line and accept the rulership of their King and Parliament and do what they were told.
He came from a very old British family, long before the Elizabethan era, and he didn’t understand this unreasonable behavior among them. His father, as an Earl, had shouted “God Save the King” at George III’s coronation. His earliest known ancestor, Richard of Rockdale, had fought alongside Henry VI, the last Lancastrian King of England before the Tudors. No, he did not understand these rabble at all.
The fireplace flickered, and he let his mind wander back to Anna Barton. If he were her husband, he would teach her to obey him. He was a strong man, and smart enough to know the little games women played. He knew how to overpower them with his personality, how to make them recognize the superiority of men, until they had to give in. Then she would obey him, and he would teach her what being a godly woman was.
No, if he were her husband, there would be no more speaking against him. There would be no more games. Men had to use their superior minds and their force of being to overpower a woman or she would use her feminine wiles on him. He had seen it in his mother and sisters, how his father gave in to them. He had seen it in the wives of his friends. He would not allow a woman to do that to him.
If he were Anna’s husband, she would obey him in the end. He would make her a compliant, peaceful wife who would fear God and fear him and there would be no feminine games, no emotional outbursts, no shrewish disagreements. And she would thank him for his attentions to her.
It helped that her own sister was for him. The insipid Mrs. Tetford. He knew how to use women to his best advantage and he felt no qualms in doing so. He realized some women even felt themselves the equal of men, but he knew better. It was a man’s world, and would remain so, because of strong men like himself.
God had intended the world to be ruled by men. He had intended a natural order of things, in marriage, in the church, in society. Men tried to defy the divine right of kings, when they were truly casting off their God. And women threw off the divine rulership of their husbands for the same reason.
All this talk of “liberty” was against everything he knew in life. They brought up the Magna Carta, while ignoring that the rights contained in it were barons, and not for the lower classes. This had begun to be a problem as liberal ideas of the rights of man had taken root in men’s minds, convincing them that they were the equal of kings. He hoped their government would soon send the Army. This rebellion needed to be put down before it got out of control.
He sat in his chair and considered what his next strategy should be. What would bring the beautiful Mrs. Barton to crave more of his attentions? Perhaps a little jealousy was due. He could think of one or two women in the congregation he might enjoy having lunch with, and if he let Hope know….He smiled to himself.
He knew Anna was attracted to him. He felt it whenever he entered the room. Perhaps if she thought he was considering another woman, she would be more amiable to him. She was after all, a widow, and not getting younger. Certainly her number of suitors must be waning—why else would her sister be matchmaking for her?
Yes, he finally settled, he would make her jealous for his attentions. He would meet with her again soon, and make her think he wanted to marry her, and then he would have lunch with one or two ladies. She would be anxious about his attentions.
He took out some stationary, and wrote a letter to her.
My dear Mrs. Barton:
I do feel our last meeting was not as amiable as I had hoped. I was really hoping you would enjoy to hear me speak, and understand my devotion to God as well as to my King.
Anna, I must meet with you at your sister’s home again soon. I implore you to say yes. I am sorry if you did not understand my statements on the duties of a wife, but I hope you will give me the opportunity to better explain them to you. I hope that once you see the truth of my statements, you will agree with them.
After we discuss that, there are other, more important matters I want to discuss with you.
There, he thought. He felt he was forceful and dynamic, and he also left open the possibility that he might take a closer step toward engagement. A real man simply had to play the game better than the woman if he was to succeed with her. And he did feel he would succeed with Anna.
I have completed the first chapter of Liberty’s Promise and am writing in the second while I’m also in the editing stage for A Wounded Heart.
I am praying this book will be much smoother in writing than the last.
Will post more as things progress.
Also, backing up my work. 🙂
I have had a scene on my mind from my new book. Sometimes, that’s the way things come to you as a writer. You have an idea that sparks into something larger.
Here is the scene, where the heroine, Mrs. Anna Barton, comes upon her neighbor, Mr. Caleb Strong (I changed this. The name I had for him sounded too much like her name) in prayer.
Anna passed by the window to Caleb’s shop, and noted no one was there. He must’ve stepped away for a moment. She wanted to ask him to teach her son Joshua to shoot her husband’s flintlock. He had shown no interest in showing the boy how, and since she and Joshua were alone, she felt they needed to protect themselves.
She passed by another window, the back room where he kept his supplies and the window was ajar. She saw that Caleb was kneeling on the floor by a bench, and then she heard him intoning a prayer. She felt like she was intruding, but couldn’t help being drawn by his low, strong voice pouring himself out to God. Then she realized, with a flush, what he was praying for.
“Father”, he pled, “help me to know your will. Your word says that it is not good for man to dwell alone, and Lord, I have been alone these many years. I know I am not as pleasing to the eye as many others, that young ladies are not drawn to me. Lord, send me a wife. Send me a God-fearing woman to be my companion. Lord, if you would…” It was not overemotional, nor was it weak, but the heartfelt desire of a lonely man. Anna could not help be moved, remembering the many lonely nights she had spent since Jonah died.
Her feet seemed fastened to the place where she stood as he continued, his prayer turning to groaning as he laid his head on the bench. The sound resonated within her own soul, as his prayer turned to fervent words, of beautiful cadence but unknown to her. She felt the power of the Spirit as he prayed, and tears began to stream down her face. She leaned against the building and prayed also, not knowing really what she was praying for, except that she felt it was in unison with him.
Then she realized he had stopped, and the Spirit subsided. She brought a corner of her apron to her face to wipe away the tears. She took a deep breath to calm herself before entering the shop.
“Mr. Strong, are you here?” she called out and he emerged from the back room, his face slightly flushed with the emotion of his prayers. He didn’t say anything at first, but she could tell she had surprised him.
“Oh, Mrs. Barton. Is there something I can help you with, ma’am?”
“Mr. Strong, I did not mean to disturb you, sir, but I wondered if I could beg a favor of you?” She offered him a friendly smile, feeling a sudden sympathy for the man.
He felt more at ease, and returned her smile, which brought a softness to the plainness of his features. She thought momentarily how beautiful his smile was, and sensed despite his occasional gravity that he was at heart a kind man.
“What would that be, missus?” He wiped his hands and gave her his attention.
“Mr. Strong, it’s a matter of protection. As you know, Joshua and I have been alone since Jonah’s death.”
“Ma’am? Is there something I can help you with in that area?” He lifted a brow, and she realized he may have mistaken her meaning.
“Mr. Strong”, she went on, suddenly flushed, realizing he was staring intently at her. He realized his lack of manners, and broke his gaze. “Sir, I merely meant that one of us should learn to use a flintlock. My husband never felt the need to teach us how. I wondered whether you would teach my son? He is twelve now, and a quick learner.”
He looked at her again, and for a moment, his deep, brown eyes met hers. “I would be most happy to help you, ma’am. There are many dangers for a woman and child living alone, and whatever I can do to assist you. Mrs. Barton, please don’t hesitate to call on me…for anything…should you need assistance.”
“Thank you, Mr. Strong. You are most kind”, she responded, breaking his gaze. He was a pleasant man, even if he wasn’t attractive, and she suddenly felt at ease with him.
“My pleasure, ma’am”, he said, and gave her a courtly bow.
She turned and went out, headed down the road toward her home. She was suddenly finding that she liked Mr. Strong. While they had known each other for years, she had always found him aloof and wondered whether it was just that he was not socially skilled. Though a successful tradesman, he didn’t mingle with many families, but kept to himself except for church. She knew there were a couple of times he had nearly married, but she did not know why no marriage had occurred.
She sensed that women found him unattractive; his face was kind, but not at all fine-featured. He had the straight, angular features that more resembled a schoolmaster, and though his deep brown eyes were intelligent, his serious, quiet nature didn’t lend itself to the conversation that would hold a lady’s interest.
I’ve come up with a sketch of an outline for my fourth book, which will be titled “Liberty’s Promise”, and is set in the period immediately before the American Revolution. I am thinking it will end with Lexington/Concord. It represents the two types of ideologies of the conflict: tyranny, both spiritual and physical as represented by the Tory British government, and liberty as represented by the colonials.
The story involves Anna Barton, a young widow and seamstress who lives in a community just outside Boston. She has a teenage son. Her neighbor is Caleb Strong, a bachelor carpenter who is interested in marrying her, but Anna is unsure. He helps her in many ways, including teaching her and her son how to use a rifle for protection. He expresses interest in apprenticing her son. At the same time, she is courted by the Reverend Thomas Rockdale, a pastor who represents the Loyalists. He is the son of an Earl, and his family has money, status, and he personally is attractive and a sought after suitor by many young women. While seeming to promise Anna a spiritual life as the wife of a pastor, his inner intentions are far different, and he represents the tyranny the Americans will be fighting against. He is forceful, domineering, and secretly believes that all women are sinful Jezebels trying to deceive men into falling. He believes all women need to be in subjugation.
One suitor offers a true and steadfast, Christlike love while the other offers duty, obligation without joy, ritualism and legalism. It represents the struggle, both temporal and spiritual, between freedom of the Spirit and the letter of the Law, in essence, tyranny.