Saturday Snippet of I, John Culpepper

I began researching my ancestry as a teenager. I knew my Culpepper line came to America from England in the 1600s, and I knew they were wealthy land owners with much prestige in the English court, but I didn’t understand why they would give all that up to sail to an inhospitable land full of savage Indians, facing the possibility of shipwreck, starvation, and death. How did those aristocratic people end up as the modest family I knew in my youth in Mississippi? The journey to find these answers became a series of four books about my 10th great-grandfather, John Culpepper.

51hHerBrPbL._UY250_Follow the series as John rebels against his father, the English civil war destroys the family, John ends up as the family patriarch in the colony of Virginia, and finally, as John comes to terms with his life and his past. The first book in the series is I, JOHN CULPEPPER. The subsequent books are JOHN CULPEPPER THE MERCHANT, JOHN CULPEPPER ESQUIRE and being released October 2015, CULPEPPER’S REBELLION.

Here’s the opening chapter of I, JOHN CULPEPPER, setting the stage with his tumultuous relationship with his dad.

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CHAPTER 1

Fall 1626

“No! For the hundredth time, no!”

John looked down at the intricate grain of the walnut desk beneath his fingertips and shifted his weight to his other foot. He sighed, feeling his dreams disintegrate before his very eyes. The snap of the white sails, the taste of the salty spray on his lips, the smell of the tar that sealed the decks—the visions were quickly vanishing behind the thick fog of his father’s adamant disapproval. He pictured his mighty ship sinking into the black waters of condemnation, bubbling like a cauldron as it disappeared from sight. There was nothing he could do to change his father’s mind, and he wondered whatever possessed him to come to this man for assistance. He should have known better.

His father glared at John from behind the desk. He propped his elbow on the scrolled arm of the chair as his large hand methodically stroked his pointed beard. “Is there anything else?” he snapped.

John didn’t look up. He shook his head and mumbled, “No.” He turned and padded across the thick rug toward the door, listening to the man’s heavy breathing behind him. He reached for the brass doorknob, paused, and turned back. “You know I’ve always done everything you’ve asked of me. I went to school. I studied to be a lawyer. I did it all for you. I never wanted to practice law. I’d never be happy on the bench.”

“Happy? What makes you think life has anything to do with being happy? You are a Culpepper, and as such, you have an obligation to serve your family and your king in a manner befitting your station. This childish notion of owning a ship is nothing but rubbish.”

John released the doorknob and walked back toward his father’s desk. The intimidating man dwarfed the desk, his size exaggerated by the broad shoulders of his leather jerkin, yet he sat up taller in his chair in preparation for the quarrel to continue. It was a wasted gesture, as his opponent already knew the battle was lost.

John made sure he didn’t raise his voice. “Father, you have financed merchant ships for as long as I can remember. What difference does it make if I’m the one who owns the ship?”

“Culpeppers don’t own ships. I funded those expeditions as an investment—a losing investment, I might add.” He rose from his chair and his voice grew louder, echoing off the oak panels that lined the walls. “There has never been a Culpepper placed in a position of experiencing hunger and savages and shipwrecks, and there won’t be one now, not with my blood written on the purchase. I will not fund a ship for you, John, not now, not ever.” He pointed his finger in John’s face. “And if you somehow find a way to procure a ship, mark my words—I will disinherit and disown you. No son of mine will become a common sailor. I am finished with this conversation once and for all. Have I made myself clear?”

John exhaled, beaten. His shoulders slumped as he broke his father’s glare and dropped his eyes to the floor.

“John? Have I made myself clear?”

“Completely.”

***********

5-star-largeThe recipient of 5-stars at Readers’ Favorite, I, JOHN CULPEPPER is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon. CLICK HERE.

“In I, John Culpepper, you will be transported back to the time John lived and you will feel like you are a part of John’s life. The experience of reading this book was out of this world. … it is a magical experience and you will not want to miss it for anything! Amazing!” ~ Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite

culpepper saga-001

52 Ancestors #35 School Days with George Washington Spencer

52ancestors-2015

This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small and this week’s challenge is “School Days.”

geo wash spencer

My 3rd great grand-father became a Confederate soldier in 1862, but in 1860, he was listed on the U.S. Census as a school teacher in Newton County, Mississippi.

church of rev william saladin spencerGeorge Washington Spencer was born in Alabama in June 1829, the son of preacher William Saladin Spencer and his wife Martha Didama Gross. GW grew up around the Shake Rag Church (photo) in Tuscaloosa, AL as one of eleven children. His last sibling was born in 1835, his father died in 1841, and his mother died in 1867 all in Alabama, but at some point GW moved west to Mississippi. At the age of 29 in 1858, he married Nancy Virginia “Jenny” Holdcroft, and in 1859, they had their first child, my 2nd great grand-mother Nancy Didama Spencer. (She was followed by six siblings.)

The Spencers made their home in Newton County, MS, and with a wife and a baby at home, GW needed a job, so he became a school teacher. There was no organized education at the time, so communities and churches usually gathered up some money and asked someone to educated their children. Teachers were generally left to their own devices to create a curriculum, and classrooms usually held children of all ages in one room. But the good news is that twelve-year-old children at the time were educated with books we would consider college level today. GW spent his days with the local kids, expanding the minds of the next generation.

Then the war began.

He enlisted 1 Mar 1862 at Scooba, Mississippi with Co.B 35th Mississippi Infantry. According to family members, he was sick most of the war from a leg infection and was medically discharged 10 Jan 1864. Rosters show him in Confederate hospitals in Jackson, Marion, and Lauderdale Springs, Mississippi. The passed-down family story is that his wife went by horse and wagon to pick him up from a Confederate hospital to bring him home. This was just before General Sherman’s march from Vicksburg to Meridian in Feb 1864.

Following the war, he is listed on all census records as a farmer until his death 22 Jul 1901. His career in education was a short-lived one.

GW and his wife Jenny are buried in unmarked graves at Hickory Cemetery, Newton County, Mississippi.

(photos courtesy of my cousin M. Baucum)

Step-by-step Instructions for a Facebook Release Party

imagesBook launch coming? Awesome! How about a virtual release party on Facebook?

If you’ve never attended an online event, they are a lot of fun. This blog will explain step-by-step how to set up a book release party on Facebook.

 

BEFORE THE EVENT

1) Decide on your budget – you have to give away prizes, swag, books, gift cards, and don’t forget to include postage for anything you have to mail.

2) Choose a date (that’s not a holiday or major sporting event) and a two-hour block of time for your event. When you promote it, don’t forget to add the time zone (example: 7-9pm Eastern). Monday and Thursday nights usually work pretty well.

3) Decide if you’re going to give away your book. The whole reason for the party is to sell your book, so giving it away seems a little counter-productive. Perhaps you could give only one copy away in the grand prize.

 

 facebook-eventSETTING UP THE EVENT

Go to Facebook and “Create an Event.” On the left side of your Facebook newsfeed page is a button called “Create Event.” Click on it and when the pop-up box appears, look at the top and make sure it is set to “public event.” You cannot change it later.

Add the date and time. Under “Where” state clearly that the event will take place “Right here on this page!” People get confused when they’re invited to a party and it’s actually taking place online. You can’t emphasize enough that the party is “RIGHT HERE ON THIS PAGE!!!”

Once you have the event page, you can upload a picture for the top banner.

Now, invite all of your Facebook friends. Some people will not respond to the invitation because they just don’t see it, so copy the link at the top of the event page and post it on your Facebook page. You will have to do this a few time and more frequently as the date approaches. Promote the event everywhere. Your blog and Twitter followers can also attend. Post the page link anywhere you want.

 

NOW, IT’S TIME TO PUT TOGETHER A GREAT PARTY!

We will use the above example of 7-9pm Eastern to explain the exact details. The party moves amazingly fast, so write a script in Word so you can copy and paste it onto Facebook at the exact times you want to. You’ll also want to take photos of your prizes and anything else you want to show. Have them ready to go on your computer to upload. Make your party questions things that everyone can participate in. Your script will look something like this:

7:01 Hi, everyone! Thank you for coming to the GREEN EGGS AND HAM Release Party. We are going to have a lot of fun and give away some great prizes, including the grand prize of a swag bag, a signed copy of GREEN EGGS AND HAM, and a $25 Amazon Gift Card. We will get started in a moment.

7:05 Hi to everyone who just joined us! Thanks for coming. If you have any question about GREEN EGGS AND HAM or about writing in general, fire away. I’ll answer questions as they’re posted. Now, let’s get started…

7:06 Question #1 for Prize #1 – a swag bag and a lovely green ceramic egg. A winner will be chosen from the comments at 7:20. — In GREEN EGGS AND HAM, Sam I Am had a name that rhymed. If your name rhymed, what would it be?

7:10 (post photo of the ceramic egg) Here’s the green ceramic egg we’re giving away right now.

7:15 (post photo of the book) Here’s the cover of my new book GREEN EGGS AND HAM.

7:20 Okay, comments are closed. One moment while we select a winner…

7:21 And the winner of Prize #1 is John Doe. Please send your mailing address to Sam@greeneggsandham.com. Congratulations!

7:24 Question #2 for Prize #2 – a swag bag and a $5 Amazon Gift Card. A winner will be chosen from the comments at 7:35. — In GREEN EGGS AND HAM, Sam didn’t like green eggs and ham until he tried them. What food did you not like until you tried it?

7:28 (post picture of prize #2)

7:31 (post picture of something that inspired the story)

7:35 Okay, comments are closed. One moment while we select the winner….

Question #3, picture of prize #3, picture of something else, close comments, announce winner, Question #4, picture of prize #4, repeat and so on and so forth.

Give away prizes at 7:20, 7:35, 7:50, 8:05, 8:20, 8:35, and 8:50. The 8:58 grand prize should be offered to all attendees and chosen from all comments.

In total, you will need seven questions and eight prizes, because the grand prize doesn’t require a question. You will also need eight pictures of prizes and probably eight pictures of your cover or inspiration to fill the time. If you correspond the question # and the prize picture, you’ll be able to upload pictures quickly. Question #1 goes with prize picture #1, etc. Trust me, you won’t have time to look for it.

 

329238-hints-and-tipsA FEW HINTS

Before you sit down for the event, get yourself something to drink and have a good clock nearby to keep an eye on the time. It’s good to have a friend stay with you. They can pick the winners for you, help keep an eye on time, and they can run and refill your coffee cup. You’re going to be too busy to move for two hours!

The day of the event, repeatedly post the link on your Facebook page like a countdown. Post in the morning, again at mid-day, 2 hours before, 1 hour before, 30 minutes before, 5 minutes before. (If you have multiple pages, post on all of them. Also post on Twitter, your blog, your website, everywhere.)

Ask questions revolving around your book that anyone can answer, relating a little about the story or characters, but not confusing people, because they more than likely have not read the book yet.

If you see someone come in midway through the party, comment “If you’re just joining us, we’re on Question #4. Please jump in.” Some of your author friends may stop in for a few minutes to support you. Don’t be surprised if they don’t participate. They don’t want to steal your thunder. If you have time, say hi to them publicly, telling your friends, family, and readers that Jane Doe, author of XYZ, is in the room. The general public loves to know that we’re friends with other authors.

Post photos about things that are relate to the prize or the book. If your book takes place in a castle or on a beach, post a photo that “inspired” the location. If your book takes place in a certain time in history, post a photo of that era. One or two photos between questions is plenty. The last half hour, you’ll be commenting and answering questions, so you probably won’t need the photos, but they’re good to have on hand if you do need them to fill time.

Respond to funny comments. Like EVERY comment. Even a smiley face lets everyone know you’re paying attention to them.

About 8:30, your crowd will get a little quiet as two hours is a long time to pay attention. This is the perfect time to advertise a second chance at a $25 Amazon Gift Card by going to your website and signing up for your newsletter, or mention what is happening on your book tour tomorrow, or where you’ll be signing books next week. You have a captive audience. Use it.

ONE MINOR ISSUE:

On Facebook, the last comment on any particular post sends that post to the top of the page, so wait for a couple minutes for everyone to say congratulations to the last winner before posting the next question. You don’t want your next question to get lost in the shuffle. Make it clear what you are posting. Example: “Question #3:” or “The Winner of Question #4 is:”

CLOSING:

After the final question, post “We have a few more minutes to answer questions, and at 8:58 we’ll announce the grand prize winner.” Your crowd will again come to life after the last question, and answering their questions becomes a free-for-all. Be warned, their questions will be very few at first, but will snowball toward the end.

An easy way to answer questions it to copy the person’s name and question, add the word “asked” after their name, and create a new post so everyone can see it. Example: Bob Jones Why are the eggs green? – Make it: Bob Jones asked Why are the eggs green? ANSWER: You’ll have to read the book and find out.

At 8:59, thank everyone for coming and POST A LINK to where they can buy GREEN EGGS AND HAM. Have this link ready in your Word document so you can copy and paste it. You don’t want your guests to leave before you’ve posted it.

At 9:00, re-invite them to the book signing or webpage that you told them about earlier. Post link to website or location.

 

downloadIT’S OVER! Now what?

Go back to your Facebook, Twitter, blog announcements where you invited people and add a comment: “If you didn’t make the Book Release Party, you can still click on the link and see all the fun we had. The posts will be out of order, as the last one to get a comment automatically moves to the top, but visit anyway!”

Post-promote on Twitter, Facebook, your website, etc., telling everyone what fun you had and invite them to check it out. You’ll still get likes and comments for a few days.

Mail your prizes! WHEW!!

Saturday Snippet of STUCKEY’S BRIDGE

Stuckey's cover_webIf you haven’t yet heard about Old Man Stuckey, he’s a little like Dexter, but with less conscience and a lot more lovable. THE LEGEND OF STUCKEY’S BRIDGE got its start when I wondered about the real man behind the ghostly legend I grew up with in Mississippi. I got so many emails and letters asking about the secondary character, Levi, who is a little psychopath in his own right, I wrote the sequel, STUCKEY’S LEGACY: THE LEGEND CONTINUES. There were similar legends around the same time and the same place, so I pulled them all together and finished up the trilogy with STUCKEY’S GOLD: THE CURSE OF LAKE JUZAN. They are best if read in order, but can stand alone on their own.

Here’s a creepy scene featuring Old Man Stuckey in his younger days…

*********

He stood silent and still for a long time, not knowing what to do next. It wasn’t like he had ever killed anyone before. He didn’t have this planned out. He was certain his father would beat him to a pulp when he found out. He stood with his back against the barn door, gazing down at his dead brother, and came up with a plan.

He gathered piles of hay and arranged them in mounds in the middle of the floor. He then pulled matches out of his coat pocket and set the hay ablaze. He added more hay. And more. The fire came to life and roared as he watched. Black smoke filled the air. He felt as angry as the fire looked. His brother deserved to die and to burn—in hell. This was as close as he could come to creating the real thing.

He felt the flames hot on his face, and the smoke made him cough. He covered his nose and mouth in the crook of his arm, and breathed through his sleeve as he watched the flames grow higher and larger. The fire crackled and hissed as it quickly raced up the dry wooden ladder into the storage loft above. There was nothing up there but last summer’s hay, which lit with a whooshing sound.

He looked up. The dimness of the barn had been replaced by a bright yellow glow. Within a few short minutes, the fire had spread all the way across the loft and the roof. While he watched the loft, he didn’t notice the fire had spread all around him, eating everything in sight. Even with his nose covered, he began to cough violently, and he made his way through the black smoke to the barn door.

He pulled on it. It wouldn’t budge. He pulled it again. It wouldn’t move an inch. His brother’s dead body was lying in a heap in front of the door, blocking his escape. He bent down and grabbed the arms and attempted to pull the body out of the way, but the dead weight was far too heavy for his small, slender frame. He gave up, coughing even harder, and tried to pull the door again. He was having trouble breathing and thought he should have planned this better. He was going to die in this barn with his brother.

Suddenly, he heard his mother’s voice outside. “Is anyone in there? Thomas? Wilson?” She pounded on the door.

“Ma?”

“Thomas?”

“Ma, I’m in here. I can’t get the door open,” he yelled over the roar of the flames.

“Thomas, is that you? Pull the door!” She was screaming now, hysteria building.

“I am! It won’t open!”

The fire was thunderous; it was almost as loud as a train roaring down the tracks. He never realized fire made such a deafening noise. The flames spread quickly toward the door, licking at his feet. He looked behind him, and all he could see were yellow flames and black smoke.

“Push the door, Ma!”

He pulled the door as she pushed from the outside, and it inched open just enough for him to squeeze out. She grabbed his arm, and they ran about a hundred yards before they stopped and turned to look back at the barn. Black columns of smoke billowed into the sky, and the flames were a continuous rumble.

When he took his initial breath of fresh air, he coughed even harder. He wrapped his arms around his mother’s waist, buried his head into her bony shoulder, and hugged her tightly. She asked again if Wilson was also in the barn, and tried to pull away from him to go check. He coughed more through tears and hugged her even tighter. Again and again she tried to pull away from his grasp to go search for her other son, but he wouldn’t let go until he was sure the fire had erased all traces of his deed.

When the walls collapsed and the flames finally began to die down, he released his grip on his mother and said, “Thank you, Ma. I’m fine now.” He glanced at the smoldering rubble, then back at his mother, and added, “I don’t imagine Wilson is, though.” He turned toward the house and walked away, leaving her standing in the field with tears streaming down her smoke-stained cheeks.

*************

5-star-largeA five-star recipient at Readers’ Favorite, THE LEGEND OF STUCKEY’S BRIDGE is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon. CLICK HERE. Pick up a copy and root for the bad guy for a change. :)

The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge by Lori Crane is a page-turning winner. This is a five star winner and Lori Crane is a must-read author.” ~Trudi LoPreto for Readers’ Favorite
“Lori Crane is a Southern storyteller of the first order.” ~Writer’s Digest

 

52 Ancestors # 34 Alma Saterfiel

52ancestors-2015

This challenge is brought forth by No Story Too Small and this week’s challenge is “Non-population.”

Non-population refers to using a schedule that is not a populating-counting survey, such as an agricultural schedule. I’ve searched and searched, but all of the information I possess about my ancestors besides their personal records or land records involves them being counted for something. So… I’ve decided to forego the real meaning and twist the challenge into something I can do. I’ve decided to write about someone who created no population – someone who either never had children or perhaps died young – I’ve opted for Alma Saterfiel.

alma saterfiel

Alma was born to Mary Eudora Culpepper and William Bartley Saterfiel on 28 Jul 1907 in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. (Eudora was my great grandfather’s sister.) Alma was the last child of Eudora and William’s union, following two girls and three boys. She died at the age of four on Valentine’s Day 1912. She is laid to rest at Zion Cemetery in Kemper County, Mississippi with her father and her grandparents.

Her family is pictured below in a photograph taken in 1909.

Front row left to right: Dewey Oliver Saterfiel 1901-1968, Will B Saterfiel 1862-1925, Mary Eudora Culpepper Saterfiel 1871-1950, Alma 1907-1912, grandfather Joel B Culpepper 1848-1911.

Back row left to right: Evie Mae Saterfiel 891-1957, Indeola Saterfiel 1893-1956, Willie Carlos Saterfiel 1898-1955, Adie Joseph Saterfiel 1895-1954.

Joel B, Will B and baby Alma are buried at Zion Cemetery, Kemper Co, MS. All others are buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in Lauderdale, MS.

culpepper mary eudora culpepper saterfiel family

Creating a Live Twitter Event

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Ever consider doing a live Twitter chat? It’s a great way for your fans to connect with you. If you don’t yet have fans, it’s a great way to get some!

If you have a large following, you can probably do a one-hour Twitter chat all by yourself. Most of us are not so lucky and need to enlist the help of our author friends.

SETTING IT UP

Ask four or five author friends to join you.

Choose a day that is not a holiday or a sporting event day.

Choose an hour to do the chat. When promoting, always include the time zone (example: 4-5pm Eastern).

Choose an appropriate hashtag for the event. Hint: If including the live chat with a book tour, perhaps use the name of your book. If you’re considering doing a monthly or weekly chat, use something that you’ll be chatting about. If your monthly topic is about you and your friends who are all indie authors, maybe something like #indieswrite would work. Make it short and specifically on topic.

Choose a name for your chat. “Indies Go Global” “You Too Can Write” “Thrillers for Chickens” “Cute Boys who Write” Your choice!

Now, go to Tweetchat.com and register your time, day, name, and hashtag. It sometimes takes them two weeks to register your chat and put it on their calendar, so plan in advance. If you’re doing a recurring chat, they will put that on the calendar also.

Tweetchat.com is a live Twitter feed that only shows the hashtag you are following at that moment. You won’t have to wade through a million posts to follow the conversation. Tweetchat also automatically includes your hashtag in your comments, so you don’t have to remember to do so with each comment.

images (2)PUTTING IT TOGETHER

Keep in mind, Twitter only allows 140-character comments, so you should plan your comments in advance.

Pre-write a welcome to your guests in Word, so you can simply copy and paste.

Offer your author friends a chance to introduce themselves, their genres, their titles. Even if the chat is about your book, guests still like to see that you have a lot of cool author friends. Ask each other questions about books or writing process. You can also plan these in advance.

At the end of the chat, offer your author friends a chance to post where guests can find more information about them.

The most important part is: Plan specific questions for you and your author friends. Email them to your author friends and give them ample time to create 140-character answers. After everyone answers a question at the chat, discuss the topic among yourselves. Your guests will start chiming in. Leave your answers open-ended. “Don’t you think a hatchet is scarier than an ax?”

Include your guests in the conversation.

Don’t be afraid to re-tweet comments. This will bring in other guests from Twitter who didn’t know the event was happening. If everyone tweets enough, you may even “trend” on the front page of Twitter and attract an even larger audience. Cool!

If none of your guests enter the conversation, that’s okay. They’re still watching, so keep it lively for them.

twitbirdPROMOTING

Promote the event on Twitter, your blog, your website, Facebook, everywhere.

Create an event on Facebook and invite all your friends. (On the left side of your Facebook newsfeed is a button that says “Create Event.” Use it. On the top of the pop-up box, you can change the event from Private to Public. )

Tell people the day, time (with time zone), hashtag, and topic. Invite them to join you on Tweetchat.com. Create a link. Don’t make them go looking for it. Explain that Tweetchat is a live Twitter feed that only includes the hashtag you’re currently following.

If you’re using the chat as part of a book tour, do the chat toward the end of the tour. That gives you plenty of time to promote that hashtag at every stop!

Saturday Snippet of Elly Hays

elly cover_webElly Hays is based on real people and real events. She was my 5th great-grandmother, Elizabeth Hays Rodgers. I wrote about her granddaughter in Okatibbee Creek and about her great-granddaughter in An Orphan’s Heart, but I began to wonder where the strength of these women came from, so I backed up in the family tree and found Elly. She lived in the Mississippi Territory, today known as Alabama, in the early 1800s – through a most frightening time when the South was the unsettled frontier and the Creek Indians fought against the Americans for the rights to the land. Not only is this her story, but we also get to see it through the eyes of the Creek warrior, Tafv (pronounced TAH-fuh.)

Elly Hays is told in alternating chapters of Elly’s point of view and Tafv’s point of view, and from the first few chapters, you can sense their will be an epic clash between a warrior with nothing to lose and a young mother on the verge of losing everything.

Below is a snippet of the first meeting between Elly and Tafv’s brother Eto.

*******

She angrily plopped down on a rock and yanked dirty stockings from the basket. She dunked them in the water and began scrubbing them hard enough to put holes in them. She could feel her ears buzzing and her shortness of breath and realized she needed to calm down. She stopped scrubbing, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath through her nose, trying to slow her heart. She concentrated on releasing the tension in her shoulders and the knot in her stomach. She felt guilty for losing her temper with her husband, but frustration was taking over her life. Every day brought new problems—life-and-death problems. Her mounting anger was overriding her fear of the Indians and her love for her husband.

She opened her eyes when she heard him clear his throat behind her, and she turned to apologize for her harsh tone of voice. But when she saw the black eyes looking back at her that did not belong to James, she stopped and gasped. They belonged to an Indian, sitting tall on a brown and white painted horse. She hadn’t heard him approach. She jumped to her feet, wondering where she could run.

The Indian was bare-chested, wearing only tan animal hide pants and moccasins. His hair was short, shaved on the sides and sticking up higher on top. Most of the Indians she had seen had this same haircut. His face was covered with lines of red and black paint, and he wore a headband tied around his head with strips of animal fur hanging on either side of his face. His headband was not adorned with any feathers. This was not the same Indian she had seen before.

He stared at her for a long time and did not move. She glanced across the swift creek to the left and right, but there was nowhere to run. She would never be able to outrun a horse. Her heart beat wildly as beads of sweat broke out on her brow. She remained frozen.

“I came to warn you,” the Indian said in a monotone.

Elly was surprised by his English.

He sat motionless, waiting for her response.

She finally blurted out, “Warn me about what? That you want us to leave? We already got that warning.” She could feel her temper escalating again. All of the tension she had felt the last few months, all of the worry for her children, all of the stress of building a new life, was about to explode in this Indian’s face.

“Yes, I’m here to warn you that you need to leave, but not for the reason you are thinking.” He looked down at the reins in his hands, as if trying to gather his thoughts and find the correct words. “My brother and I were the ones who killed your animals.”

Elly threw a wet stocking on the ground. She hadn’t realized she was still holding it, and it had dripped down her blue linen skirt, causing the front of her dress to become dark in color. “You? You did that? How am I supposed to feed my children?” she raised her voice, her temper becoming stronger than her fear.

“This is the least of your worries. When your husband chased us away, my brother’s boy fell from his horse and snapped his neck.” His eyes carried a tint of sadness. “The boy is dead.”

Elly felt her heart soften for a young boy she didn’t even know. Her anger began to subside, as if it were being washed away by the babbling creek beside her. “I’m…I’m very sorry to hear that,” she stammered, wringing her wet hands together.

“You must understand, my brother is the great warrior of our village. He has vowed revenge on your husband and your family for the death of his son.”

Elly’s eyes widened as the Indian continued.

“He told our Great Chief your husband killed his son, and the Great Chief has given him permission to slaughter your family.”

Elly was shocked by the revelation and quickly shook her head. “No. My…my husband would never kill a boy. He’s never killed anyone, for any reason.”

“Our great warrior does not know this.”

“Please tell him. Tell him my husband didn’t kill his son.” She took a step forward as she begged.

The Indian shook his head and looked at her with compassion. “I cannot tell him anything. I can only warn you. You must leave now…before it’s too late.”

Elly placed her hand over her mouth as tears stung her eyes. Her body began to tremble, and she turned her face toward the creek so the Indian would not see her cry. After a moment, she composed herself, wiped her cheek with the back of her hand, and turned back toward the Indian, but he was gone. She looked left and right through the trees, but it seemed he had simply vanished as quickly as he had appeared.

************

3booksElly Hays is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.

Elly Hays received Honorable Mention in the 2013 Great Midwest Book Festival, it was on the short list of “50 self-published books worth reading 2013/14” at Indie Author Land, and the cover was a semi-finalist in the 2014 Authorsdb Book Cover Contest. It is the third book of the Okatibbee Creek Series, following Okatibbee Creek and An Orphan’s Heart.