Friday, October 28, 2016

HitH - My Song Shall be of Jesus - Part 2

Good morning Faithful Friday Fiction Fans,
Do you have Indian summer weather, chilly autumn weather, early winter weather, or some of each? Ours has been on the warmer side. Not quite Indian summer, but some days have been pretty close. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be a high of 80º. And it's the end of October!!! Where are the frosts? We still have yet to have a frost. :P Maybe we'll get one before Thanksgiving. :P

I sure hope your week has gone well. I've been busy. (Aren't I always?) I have projects I'm trying to get done before next Wednesday when AGC (American Government Camp) starts. Then I'll have 8 days of late nights, early mornings, and busy days filled with door-to-door lit drops, sign waving (a personal favorite!), phone calls, interacting with campers, lots of politics and a Tuesday sitting at the polls all day long. So, you will get a post next Friday, but I'm going to be getting it ready ahead of time. :)

I'm afraid my writing has suffered this week. I just haven't been able to feel like writing. And, even when I've forced myself to write, I don't get as much done. Oh, well. Maybe I need a break.

I hope you enjoy this next part of Hymns in the Hills. I just love these characters and have quite a few more ideas for them, but I have to have time to write the story/book.

My Song Shall be of Jesus
Part 2

    Ez gave an answering nod, dropped over the side in one easy motion and then reached up to help Riss and Ali. Kade and Rome, disdaining a helping hand, jumped out and then stood still as though suddenly unsure and nervous, their eyes wide in wonder.
    The bell was ringing and a few folks hurried past the Russums, scarcely giving them a nod before quickly moving inside.
    “They must not know Uncle Benjamin’s family,” Belle thought, remembering the friendly greetings she and her parents always received around town. “If they don’t come to town much–”
    “Ya wantin’ ta go in?” Zeke’s question brought Belle’s mind back from its wanderings, and she nodded quickly.
    The bell was still sounding its melodic call when Zeke pulled open the door and Belle stepped through followed by her cousins. The room was bare, no carpeted floors or gas lights, but the windows were clean and the sun shone in brightly. Hesitating, Belle glanced around. Where were they to sit? Always before she had followed her father to their accustomed seat near the front, but he wasn’t here and there was no accustomed pew. Where did her uncle’s family sit when they did come to church? Stealing a glance at Ez, she could read nothing on his face. All the back rows were full and Belle, with a sudden shyness stealing over her, as heads began turning and dozens of strange eyes swept over her and her cousins, felt strangely out of place. She almost wished she hadn’t suggested they come, but she couldn’t bear the thought of not attending church when she was perfectly well and could go.
    Before her courage failed her completely, a line of the song she had been singing all morning came to her aid. “My song shall be of Jesus, When sitting at His feet.” She hadn’t come to church just because, she had come to sit at the feet of Jesus. With a soft smile, she lifted her head and met the gaze of the pastor up front. He was looking right at her with a kind smile and made a quiet motion of his hand to the empty rows near the front. Though her heart beat fast, Belle Standish, her Bible clutched in one hand while Ali clung to the other, marched up the aisle and slid into an empty pew.
    The bell stopped tolling, and a small boy began to pump the air for the organ while a pretty young lady played a few notes. Belle gave a soft gasp of pleasure and her smile grew wider. Stealing a glance at the faces of her cousins, she saw no recognition until the pastor began to sing.
“My song shall be of Jesus . . .”

    After church, Belle lingered with her cousins until most of the congregation had left the church. No one had come up and welcomed them, though a few nods of greeting were exchanged between Zeke and Ez and a few of the men.
    “Belle,” Ali whispered as they finally started down the aisle, “are folks allowed ta talk ta others after church?”
    “Yes. Why?”
    “Jest wonderin’ why no one talked ta us.”
    Belle had been wondering the same thing. “Perhaps they don’t know us and feel shy.”
    “Reckon they know Zeke and Ez,” Jess murmured behind them.
    To this Belle had no answer. It was strange that no one had welcomed them or even seemed glad they had come. They neared the door, and the pastor, who was waiting on the porch, turned to them with a smile. “Hello, I don’t remember seeing you here before. I’m Philip Williamson.” He held out his hand to Zeke.
    “Zeke Russum.”
    “I’m mighty glad you came out, Zeke. Do you live around here?”
    “Back in the hills a fair piece.”
    The pastor, hardly looking much older than the young man he was talking to, smiled again. “It must be beautiful out there this time of year.” His eyes wandered towards the rolling hills before them, for the church, situated on top of a rise, commanded a lovely view of hills, valley and sky. Turning back to Zeke he glanced at the others waiting around him. “These must be related to you. Siblings?”
    At that Belle stepped forward and offered her hand. “I’m Belle Standish, their cousin.”
    “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Belle.” The minister’s eyes were warm and his smile contagious. “Do you live back in the hills too?”
    Belle realized that her dress, though plain and simple, was made in a more current style than those of Jess, Riss and Ali. “For a time. I only arrived on Friday.”
    “I see,” said the minister. “I’m glad you came. You helped with the singing immensely this morning. You all did.” His smile included the others.
    Ali, blunt and honest, said, “Only ‘cause Belle taught us the song on the way over. We ain’t never heard it ‘fore she sung it in the wagon.”
    “Then you have a fine teacher in your cousin, Miss–”
    “I’m Ali.”
    Mr. Williamson shook hands with her. “It’s a pleasure, Miss Ali.”
    One by one he greeted the others, shaking hands and treating each of them with as much respect and attention as Belle was used to in the city. As he stood talking to Zeke and Ez, the young woman who had played the organ came up on the porch with a winning smile. Turning to her, the minister said, “Chrissy, I’d like you to meet the Russums and their cousin, Belle Standish.” And then he proceeded to name each cousin with only a slight hesitation when he came to Kade and Rome.
    “Why, it took me all day to learn everyone’s name,” exclaimed Belle.
    The young woman laughed brightly. “My husband’s gift of learning names and faces often astonishes people. Do you all live here in town?”
    “No’m, we live back in the hills.” Zeke looked out in the direction they had come.

Do you talk to visitors at church?
Are you good at remembering names and matching faces?
What do you think will happen next?

Friday, October 21, 2016

HitH - My Song Shall be of Jesus - Part 1

A lovely autumn morning to you, FFFs!
It actually feels like fall now! Well, for the most part. We still haven't had a frost of any sort yet. But it was supposed to get down to 40º last night. :)

How was your week? Mine was different. Not is a bad sort of way except that I just couldn't seem to get much done. Yesterday I printed some calendar pages and worked on planning the rest of the year with the things I'm trying to get done. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming, but other times I think, "That's all I have to do? No problem. I could probably get some other things done too." ;)

And I really can't think of anything else to say at the moment. I have hardly done any writing this week. At least in the way of stories goes. I won't be writing tonight because my nieces and nephews will be here. Oh, I did get my proof copy of my Christmas book!!! :D I can't wait to get it proofed and then share the wonderful cover! Okay, and the story. ;)

I hope you enjoy this first part of Chapter 3 of Hymns in the Hills.

My Song Shall be of Jesus
Part 1

    The sun was barely up when Zeke came to the door of the cabin and looked in. “If’n we’re goin’ ta make it ta church ‘fore it’s over, we’d best git a move on.”
    Two last bites were shoveled by Kade into his mouth while Rome swallowed his milk so hastily that he choked and started coughing. Jess, Riss and Ali, all suddenly looking unsure, smoothed their best dresses and hurried out to the wagon.
    Excited but somewhat nervous, Belle slipped from the girls’ room where she had gone to fetch her Bible. Her dress was neat and clean, her hair smooth. Though she didn’t know it, the contrast between her and her cousins was observed by both her aunt and uncle.
    Uncle Ben followed the others and stood on the porch beside Aunt Lillian. “Good bye, Auntie,” Belle was saying as she waited to be helped up into the wagon. “I do hope that you and Uncle will be able to come with us next time.”
    “Zeke,” Uncle Ben called before that young man sprang up to take his seat in the front beside his cousin who had been given the seat of honor next to Jess on the broad seat. “Make sure ya tie Coon Dog right, er ya might all be walkin’ home.”
    “Yep.” Zeke nodded and clucked to the dark horse. With a creak, the wagon started forward over the hard packed trail.
    “Zeke, did Uncle say this horse’s name is Coon Dog?” Belle asked with doubt in her voice as the house disappeared behind the trees.
    “Why would a horse have that name?”
    When Zeke didn’t offer an explanation, Ali volunteered the answer from the back of the wagon where she sat with the others. “It was a few years ago an’ the boys’d been wantin’ ta get a coon dog ta help ‘em hunt. Pa goes off one day an’ says he’s goin’ ta look fer one, but he comes home with this horse. There jest weren’t no coon dogs ta be had. Least ways not where Pa looked.”
    “So you named the horse for the dog he couldn’t get,” Belle chuckled softly. “I do like the name, now that I know the story. Did you ever get your dog, Zeke?” She hadn’t seen any around, but Belle wondered if it could be somewhere else.
    Inwardly relieved, Belle didn’t reply. One thing she had always been afraid of was dogs, but she didn’t want to admit it. At least not then.
    Besides the creaking of the wagon wheels as they jolted over rocks and across holes, and the steady plodding of Coon Dog’s hoofs, the travelers were quiet. The morning songs of the birds in the trees could be heard, and the sky, when they could see it, became streaked with pink and orange as the sun came up higher.

“My song shall be of Jesus,
His mercy crowns my days,
He fills my cup with blessings,
And tunes my heart to praise;
My song shall be of Jesus,
The precious Lamb of God,
Who gave Himself my ransom,
And bought me with His blood.”

    Belle’s voice seemed to blend in with the morning sounds, as though it were part of the woods and the sunrise, the light wind and the birds. It had not been her intention to sing; in fact, she scarcely noticed her voice had taken up the song she had read earlier that morning. Something in the woods, the colors of the flowers, and the early morning light streaming through the trees had awakened the melody in her heart and she had to sing.

“My song shall be of Jesus,
When sitting at His feet,
I call to mind His goodness,
In meditation sweet.”

    The steady plodding of Coon Dog’s hooves quickened a little as though to mark the time of the music.

“And when my soul shall enter
The gate of Eden fair,
A song of praise to Jesus
I’ll sing forever there.”

    Belle felt a light tap on her arm when the song was ended. Turning, she saw Ris looking up at her.
    “Sing it again.” The pleading was in the girl’s eyes, for her words, if they had really been spoken aloud, were lost in the creaking of the wagon as it jostled over a particularly rough part of road.
    At once Belle began the song again. It was one of her favorites and she had sung it often at home. This time, when she reached the last lines, she said, “Now all of you try and sing it with me.”
    A grunt came from Zeke, but Belle thought it might have been a cough.
    Slowly she began the first verse.

“My song shall be of Jesus,
His mercy crowns my days.”

    Timidly, Ali and Jess joined in. Twice through the first verse Belle’s strong, young voice led the others before she ventured into the second verse. By the time the town was reached, the song had been well learned. Belle wasn’t sure if Zeke and Ez had sung at all, for she never heard them. But the others had. Even Kade’s off key warbling hadn’t clashed with the others.
    A hush fell over the wagon as it drew near the outskirts of town. Belle wondered when the younger ones had last been to town, for a remark from Ali last night made her think going to town was a rare occurrence. Hardly a soul was to be seen as the wagon, its occupants quiet, rumbled and creaked up the hill to the church. There Zeke skillfully drove to a place near the clapboard building where other rough wagons and a few buggies already stood, and with a low “whoa” brought Coon Dog to a halt. Springing out, he lifted first his cousin down and then his sister. “I’ll tie up Coon Dog,” was all he said.

Have you ever named an animal for another animal?
Have you ever heard this hymn?
Are you looking forward to next week's part?

Friday, October 14, 2016

One of Those Days

Hello FFFs!
It happened again. Last night I was feeling good about getting some things done. And then it hit me. Tomorrow was Friday and I hadn't a clue what to post! What was I going to do? I decided that I would find something and get it ready as soon as I had gotten ready for bed. Ha! By the time I sat down at my computer, I had forgotten. Again. :P So . . . This morning I've been trying to decide. And it's really hard! I needed something that was 5 parts long. But I had either just posted those stories, or they were published already in one of my books. Okay. Now what? I decided to give you a one-part story and then next week I just might start the next chapter of "Hymns in the Hills." Would you like that? I will TRY to get the first two chapters linked to the post so you can go read them if you haven't already.

You'd think I'd be able to get a lot done this week since I didn't have a party to wrap up, no books to publish right now now, and not a lot of extra things going on. Well, I did get some done.

My big astonishing thing though, was that I had listed TCR-1 as FREE (yes, it's free forever now, so go download it, tell your family and friends and your next door neighbor) and submitted it to Money Saving Mom to be listed. Well, I wasn't sure if it would be listed. It was. Thursday I had 240 downloads! Yesterday I had 172 downloads. But Wednesday topped it all! Submit your guess as to how many downloads I ended up with on Wednesday. ;)

And now, here's today's story. It was posted back in 2011, so maybe it'll be new to some of you. Enjoy! Oh, and this was a writing assignment I had given my students and decided to do it too. And yes, I drew the pictures. :P

One of Those Days

Striding away from his horse, the tall, brown-haired cowboy sighed. It was a cool morning in Santa Fe, lovely in all aspects as far as weather goes, but Big Tom didn’t notice. To him it should have been dark and stormy for then it would have suited his mood better. “I can’t wait until this morning is over,” he grumbled. “It started out bad, and has only gotten worse.” Bitterly, he recalled his problems. First his boss had accused him of stealing and dismissed him! The very thought still rankled deep in his heart. Then his horse, Dixie, who was usually a well mannered animal, had been balky and stubborn all morning and even now, as he glanced back at her, was tossing her head and pulling at ties holding her to the hitching post. Everything and everyone was against him! Depressed, his kicked at a clump of dirt in the road. Dolefully he looked up and a feeling of relief and excitement swept over him. There before him was Pixie, his fiancee! Then he remembered. He had no money, for he had purchased only the day before, a new saddle for Dixie, and now he was out of a job! How could he buy Pixie the engagement ring he had promised? Dashing forward, Big Tom hoped she would understand.

Pixie, tossing her head in annoyance, spied the dark horse tied to the hitching post and was struck with an idea. Her meeting with her fiancé, Big Tom had ended in an argument about the missing ring. Sadly, with tears in her eyes she thought, “What a selfish man he is.” She sniffed, completely upset. Stomping away, Pixie hadn’t noticed the unhappy droop of Big Tom’s shoulders; all she could think about was revenge. Now, seeing the horse standing there, she began to plot. Quickly untying the horse, she led him over to a wagon which had just driven in. “Will you buy this saddle?” she questioned the driver. It just so happened that the driver had come into Santa Fe for the purpose of purchasing a saddle. Soon the deal was made and Pixie hurried to catch the stagecoach to the city. There she planned to buy her own engagement ring, for her love for Big Tom was still there in spite of her annoyance. Having completed her plan, Pixie was driven off and the feeling of anger dwindled.

“Something must have happened!” Sheriff Chris exclaimed to Big Tom as the two of them conferred in the street. “I always tie Belle up to this hitching post, and now I can’t find her anywhere!”
Big Tom frowned. He was also upset, for not only was the sheriff’s Belle gone, but Dixie was missing too. Worriedly, both men looked at each other. If someone was stealing horses in the day time, this could get serious! At that moment, a dark horse came wandering down the street with no rider. “Dixie!” Big Tom exclaimed catching hold of her bridle. “I’m glad you weren’t stolen.” But what could have happened to Sheriff Chris’s horse? Big Tom began to think. “Pixie! I wonder if she sold your horse, Sheriff!”
“Why would she?” the Sheriff demanded.
“Because I didn’t have the money to buy her a ring. I must find her!” Big Tom was growing frantic. Where had Pixie gone?
“Hey, Sheriff! Here’s your horse!” someone hollered, leading forward a horse without its saddle. “Some girl brought it to the livery before catching the stage,” he explained.
Big Tom wasted not a moment, but springing onto Dixie’s back, galloped away at a breakneck pace. The chase was long and hard, but at last he caught the stage, sprang off his horse and flung open the door. “Pixie! You sold the sheriff’s saddle! I love you and will sell Dixie to buy you a ring if you want it now,” he exclaimed all in one breath. Instantly, Pixie burst into tears of remorse. She could wait for a ring, she told him.
Back in Santa Fe, Big Tom and Sheriff Chris agreed that this had just been one of those days.

Big Tom did manage to get Pixie a ring. It was only a bit of metal from Dixie’s bridle, but Pixie was happy. The sheriff bought himself a new saddle with the money Pixie had given him from the one she sold, declaring that the old one wasn’t ever one he had really liked. Becoming the Deputy for Sheriff Chris was the best move Big Tom had ever done. As for Pixie, she never again let her annoyance get the better of her. It was only a matter of a few months before Pixie became Mrs. Big Tom and all lived in relative peace (as much as is possible in a town like Santa Fe) and happiness for the remainder of their lives.

Have you ever had a really bad day like Big Tom?
What is your guess for Wednesday's downloads?
Do you want "Hymns in the Hills" next week?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Neglected and Forsaken - Part 3

Good morning, FFFs!
(For those of you who may be new here, FFF stands for Friday Fiction Fans.)

The cooler weather blew in last night. And boy did it blow! The branches were lashed back and forth like there was a huge storm. The wind whistled around the house, at times making it shake, and causing our closed door to rattled and bang, until we shut something in the door. Then it rained. Now the breeze that comes in through the partly opened skylight is chilly. I heard it was only supposed to be in the 60s today. :) Fall weather!

So, now that the blog party is over, what have you been up to? Thank you all so much if you attended the party. We had a great time hosting it for you all and hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. :) And if you're wondering when the next party is going to be, I don't know. We'll just have to wait. I'm too busy right now to plan another one, and I think Kate is too.

My writing is being a bit of a challenge right now. I want to write, but I'm also trying to finish up some other things. Some days I get a lot of writing done, and then the next day I don't. You can all be praying that I'll be able to write.

Here's the final part of this short story. I hope you enjoy it.

Neglected and Forsaken
Part 3

    “Yah, but Will,” Joe put in, “What’re we goin’ to do with all the snow we dig out?”
    “First we’ll fill a few pails to melt for our use. After that, well, I reckon at first we’ll have ta tote the buckets upstairs an’ dump them out the window. But that’ll only be ‘till we get a good start on it ‘cause then we can use it ta reinforce the tunnel as we go.”
    It was hard, exhausting work digging that tunnel. Many times Joe paused to shake his head and mutter, “Sure glad I don’t work in the mine. Never could stand much of this type of thing.”
    Will worked patiently but carefully, packing the snow firmly on all sides of the tunnel. When the two men grew too cold to work, they would retire to the upper level of the mine. And so for the next day and a half the storm raged above them as they worked on their tunnel. At last Will stopped short, cocked his head and listened.
    “Say Joe, ya hear voices?”
    Joe nodded, a grin spread across his face, and they both fell to work again with renewed vigor. Soon a wooded wall appeared. After an hour or two more, the door was uncovered, and they burst into the boarding house to the astonishment of the boarders. Before too long a second tunnel was started; this time heading to town. The storm was forgotten in the excitement of tunnel digging. And with more hands, this one progressed much faster. And so day followed day. The snow continued to fall and the wind continued to howl and blow, but under it all, the men and yes, even some of the brave women were digging tunnels to get about. Before the storm had stopped, nearly every building in town was connected.
    The snow had reached the top of the second story windows in the mine. Will and Joe climbed up to the small window in the loft. Peering out they saw, not blowing snow, but sunshine!
    “Well, I’ll be! If that ain’t the prettiest sight I’ve ever seen,” Will murmured. “What day did the storm start, Joe?”
    Joe thought a moment and then gave a low whistle. “This is the twenty-third day, Will! That ought to be a record. Twenty-three days of blizzard! How much ya think got dumped this time?”
    Will, who had been busy calculating as he noticed how high the snow came up on the mine, turned around. “I’d say twenty-five feet.”

    The old man shook his head at the remembrance. “That sure ‘nough was quite a snow storm wasn’t it, old girl? An’ other years it was the avalanches that came down one side of those slopes,” here his gaze rose to the mountain peaks on his right, “an’ went right up that other side.” His gaze shifted to the farther side of the mountains. “They sure enough did a lot of damage to the town.”
    The silence that followed was broken by the call of a bird in a nearby tree. “Well, Frisco, we’ve had many pleasant times together. This town jest never was the same after Silverton became the county seat. Them rich mine owners left Animas Forks for Silverton. An’ then, you know what happened. We watched it together. Folks just up an’ left. An’ now . . ..” The old timer’s voice trailed away. For some time he just sat there, his eyes on the old worn mine before him. At last he stood up. “I reckon I’ll be sayin’ good bye now, Frisco. My nephew wants me ta go help him with his mine farther west, so I won’t be able ta come up here no more. But don’t fret, I’ll never be forgettin’ ya. So long, girl.”
    It was with slow steps that the old man trudged dejectedly away towards the ramshackle log houses that used to be the town of Animas Forks. At the edge of the town, Old William Croften stopped and looked back at the timeworn Frisco Mine. He could hear faintly the creaking of her loose boards as the wind blew down on her. Slowly he turned and continued on his way. Soon he was lost to view down the obscure overgrown trail that led down the mountain.
    The sun was beginning to set in a blaze of glowing colors. The twitter of birds was heard. A few small animals crept into their nests inside the old mine, and her boards creaked in the wind. Alone on the mountainside, the Frisco Mine stood like a sentry left at a forsaken post. Alone. She was forgotten by most who ever knew her. A weary, lonely sigh seemed to come from her as the darkness closed around. Would anyone ever come back to visit the old Frisco Mine? Or would she crumble into dust with no one to care?

For those of you who might care,
I heard that this old mine was being restored as a landmark.
Wouldn't you like to go see it?
And yes, the things I wrote about it were true. :)
What did you like best?