Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pa's Journal: The Legend of Epitaph Creek by Lee Aaron Wilson: Interview & Excerpt

After leading his family to safety from a deliberately set range fire, a father rides off to seek help for his family, and disappears.
Background Thunderstorm collaborative kit by PickleBerryPop. Other Elements by Mistica Designs.
After leading his family to safety from a deliberately set range fire, a father rides off to seek help for his family, and disappears. His sixteen-year-old son, Davy, reads his father's Journal to better understand his father and, hopefully, find him or his body.

Pa’s Journal becomes his guide to manhood over the next few years and earns him respect in the community. As Davy searches, those who set the range fire and massacred their companions fear Davy will find evidence pointing to them. They stalk him with murderous intent.

Taught how to fight and survive by a lawman, Davy becomes a legend. But will a legend bring his father home, or give the girl he loves the courage to come back to him?               

Love Bouquet
In August, I went among the roses in the garden off our back patio, selecting just the right ones for a bouquet. I selected nineteen of the most beautiful. Sylvia found me there.
"For me?"
"For a young lady's nineteenth birthday. Would you like to come for a ride with me?"
"To deliver them? Should I?"
"I wish you would. We'll take the surrey, in style."
"All right."
When we entered the cemetery, she put her hand on mine. "These are for Saralyn?"
"Yes. Please don't be jealous. It was before I ever met you. I loved her, I think."
"I'm not. I can't be." She said no more, but at the grave, she knelt and touched the stone.
"I owe you so much, Saralyn," she said. "I will take care of him."
In the surrey, I took her hand. "I think something went past me. What do you owe her?"
 "I think God called her home early because you needed to learn compassion. First to understand your mother's feelings better, then so you'd be able to accept me, and help me escape and find myself. I love you so much. Now I have a double duty. I need to give you all the love she didn't get to share with you, and all I feel as well. Please understand. It's my duty, and my pleasure to give you all the love two women can give their man." She kissed my cheek. "I love you so, Davy. We both do."

* * * * *

Sylvia and I were married on Betsy's fifteenth birthday, September twentieth. Ma was firm in her rules. Sylvia slept in a guest room until our wedding night. There was no question; Ma was the grand lady, and totally respectable. No one argued.
Phyllis and Lanky were back to stand with us. Betsy squealed when she saw Phyllis get out of their sedan. Three months and already she was expecting. I couldn't see any change in her body, but Ma and Betsy knew at once. Ma didn't look like a grandmother. She looked like a bride, herself. Well, Pa had been gone five years, and was back and those two loved each other.
"Making up for lost time?" I asked Phyllis.
"We'll see how long before your first one," she retorted.
Our wedding was held at White Haven, in the grand entry hall, same as Phyllis' and Lanky's. The Senior Lancasters came back down from Montana for our wedding. I suspect it was as much to see Pa and Ma again as to watch Sylvia and me take our vows. The house on the hill, the Lancaster's Wyoming Residence, was finished. The big house looked wonderful, and Adrian Lancaster, Senior, was fully satisfied with it. He and Pa agreed, however, White Haven had that touch of elegance that took it beyond just a grand house. All I cared was Ma and Pa liked it, and Sylvia loved it, and I liked it. With her in it, and Pa home, all my dreams had come true. Pa and Lanky stood with me. Pa in a new suit, after his years in prison he needed it.
As much as I had hated the title, The Legend, it brought Pa home, and Sylvia back to me.
All brides are beautiful. Sylvia confirmed and exceeded that. I have never seen any woman, anywhere, look as absolutely gorgeous as she did. Betsy and Phyllis stood with her, and both are beautiful women, but she way outshone them. When Sylvia came down the stairway, I was sure I saw two women, briefly, arm in arm. Sylvia and Saralyn, one blonde, one dark, both beautiful, and both smiling. Each aware of the other. I blinked and wiped my eyes.
One woman, Sylvia, came to my side.  "We're here," she whispered. I believed her.


September, 1876, One Year Later
At noon  we sat on the back veranda where we could watch the spring foals run and play. Sylvia rested her blonde curls on my shoulder. "Davy, I get so tired."
"I saw. It was after ten this morning, when I got back to the house, and you were barely in the dining room nibbling away as Mandy pushed food at you."
"Another month, and it will be over."
"As big as you are, it might be today." I touched her belly, huge with our baby.
I stood and tugged her hand. "Yesterday, we finished his crib. Come and see. I varnished it then so it would be dry when you saw it today."
"What if it's a her?" Sylvia held onto my hand and let me pull her to her feet. Hand-in-hand we strolled to my workshop, once the room I lived in for a time beside the small barn.
Inside, I showed her the crib. The work I did for the school tables had been practice, but Pa helped me with this one. Actually the more ornate work was his creation from an old sea legend. He had made one for Phyllis' baby, which was now six months old, and was working on a larger bed as it grew. He promised a new crib for each grandchild, handmade by him.
Sylvia, looking totally Patrician, examined it. "It's beautiful. I didn't tell you about yesterday's visit to Doctor Burns, did I?"
"No, we were at dinner with the whole family. You said 'later.' Is everything all right?"
"You'd better get busy with a second crib."
Two of them? Now that was something Pa hadn't taught me.

Today, I am pleased to welcome Lee Baldwin.  Lee is a multi-published author who writes under several pen names. So, Lee, let’s start off with an easy one. When did you start your writing career?

In the fifth grade, in a two room country school, I decided we needed a school paper. You recall mimeograph? Or gelatine copying? 

Actually, yes, I do remember mimeograph.  Gosh, we’re showing our age now! Lol  Tell us about a favorite character from a book, published or pending. 

Um. Amanda Saunders. A deadly, beautiful, professional hit woman--who becomes so much more . . . .

Oh! You stinker! Teasing us that way… please stick around a bit after the interview and tell me where I can meet Amanda! Ok, you sidetracked me there for a minute. What can you tell us about your current release.

It’s called Pa's Journal, and it grew as I polished it to include, The Legend of Epitaph Creek. As I left Cody, Wyoming, after a Western Writers of America convention, I saw a sign. It sparked the idea. I wrote it in my head during the 1600 mile of so drive home to Tucson. Basically, a man disappears. His son finds his journal. He studies it to get into his father's head. He knows his father would not abandon his family. The thoughts and feelings of the father become the boy's guide to life. Under that guidance, and the tutelage of the sheriff, he becomes a legend . . . .

It sounds wonderful to me. I am looking forward to reading it just as soon as I get my backlog under better control.  Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?

From the time my first novel came out, a western, and Larry Martin heard about it and got me to join WWA, his wife, Kat Martin--yes that Kat Martin--has given me advice and encouragement. She thinks I write very sensual romance scenes, and should write romance, like she does. I can't even read one of them. But romantic suspense, a romance as part of a story, that I can get into. John Duncklee has been an encouragement and help, too.

What is the hardest part of writing your books? 

I'm a lousy typist. I did one book--which didn't sell--on a typewriter. One page was retyped 23 times. Computers help. I have yet to write a sentence, and I did not say paragraph, or page, without stopping to make a corrections. And there are the proofing and editing revisions and corrections. As to the ideas - they just erupt!

Does your significant other read your stuff?

My wife is the first reader as soon as I have a draft I can let her have, she's waiting for it. She's reading Bloody Damn Trail right now.  A woman, raped in her teens, becomes a serial killer of rapists or suspected rapists. As she deteriorates into her psychopathology, she meets the hero who was a rookie cop then, and is a homicide cop now, and decides she knows his face because he was one of her rapists and starts stalking him.

Who are your books published with?

Mostly small publishers. I have yet to get the attention of a major publisher, or an agent that can get my work in front of one. However, Pa's Journal in number nine. Maybe I'm due to be "discovered." (I hope.)  Don't misunderstand me, they are good, and when my work comes out, it's polished, and appropriate. Treble Heart Books did some, and has one in her cue yet. Western Trail Blazer has done several, published by Rebecca J. Vickery.

Is there one passage in Pa’s Journal that you feel gets to the heart of your book and would encourage people to read it? 

I think it's the theme. But if there is one passage, it's where Davy goes to the graveyard to give Saralyn a bouquet of roses on her birthday. Sylvia, his wife to be, comes with him. She says, essentially, "God called her home early because you had to learn compassion to understand your mother's unfaltering love for your father, and so you could accept me, and love me, when we met, though I was a prostitute at the time. Now my duty is to give you all the love both of us have for you. And I will." 

Awww....We’re down to the last question.  I’d like to know what’s in the pipeline now. Can you give us a sneak preview about your next release?

I'm not sure what it will be. Probably a western, Killdeere Challenge, it’s the third in the Killdeere Outlaw Clan saga, scheduled for release May 15. The story follows a family that becomes outlaw, and the sons, nephews and cousins as they tire of the life, break away, and become worthwhile people. It started with Confederate Lieutenant James Killdeer using inside information to rob Union transfers of money. After that, his brothers continue their raids for money "So the South Can Rise Again. Eventually, the boys get tired of the life. Billy Killdeere, in a book by that name, leaves first. Later, in Killdeere Way, a cousin leaves.  Adventure, mystery, suspense, and romance in each. And in each case, it's a woman's faith that carries him through.

Thanks so much for giving us such insight into your books and your creative process.  It’s been a pleasure hosting you and I am looking forward to our future visits.

Since I can remember I've been making up stories. As the oldest grandchild I told stories to the younger kids at family get-togethers at the old farm in Michigan where I was born and grew up. An avid reader from about the fourth grade when I discovered the school library, I enjoy most genre. I started writing the next year when I decided we needed a school paper.
            My undergraduate work was in physical chemistry, but my graduate work was in Psychology. I have worked at a social worker, in law enforcement, and as a probation officer. (My final few years of work were with probation, as a Criminal Psychologist.) There I did a lot of work similar to what the FBI now calls profiling. I did private counseling, as well.

            I wrote SendAn Angel (Authorhouse, 2002). The story is a romantic suspense about people with substance abuse problems. Because we're all romantics, I have to put a little romance into my stories. The sequel Kyla's Angel, came out in October, 2008.It focuses on growth and forgiveness, as the angel reminds an estranged couple of their love as a means to save a principality in Europe.

            My love of western lore produced Billy Killdeere in 1995. It sold out. The second edition of Billy Killdeere came out in February, 2008. Killdeere Way, the sequel, came out in February, 2007, both from Treble Heart Books. Treble Heart brought out PrairieRose, a historical romantic suspense in October, 2010, ToKill my Love, a romantic thriller, was brought out as an ebook and a trade paperback in September, 2011. In November, two short novels ($0.99), TheDownfall of Ross Dent, and The Mis-Placed Sapling, a romantic suspense, came out. Pa's Journal, The Legend of EpitaphCreek come out as an ebook in Feb, 2012 and is now out in paperback, with a hard cover due soon. Killdeere Challenge, a romantic western, will come out in May, 2012 and Colorado Justice, another romantic western will be out in June, 2012; both of them as e-books and trade paperback. eXstasy Books is preparing Blood On The Tiger's Eye as a three book series to come out soon. It's a paranormal romance, with shapeshifters.

            Vital statics? I was born May 25 sometime in the last century. I'm married to the former Phyllis Sharp. Between us we have two sons, two daughters, a grandson, and a great grandson. Oh, and I have a 1965 Austin Healey 3000, Mark III, I rebuilt and drive when it’s in the mood.

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Lee Baldwin said...

Hi, It's me, Lee. Thanks for dropping in. I'll be in and out, responding to comments.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

I agree Lee, I think the theme of Pa's Journal says so much about the essence of this book. I like that a father had such an impact on his son through a journal. In our society these modern days it seems that the importance of fathers has been shoved aside. Dads are important participants in the raising of a child, boy or girl. Your book sounds a wonderful story.
BTW, you put a spoiler in your excerpt and told what happened to the missing dad all those years. I didn't know if you meant to do that.
I enjoyed your interview Lee, and I wish you great success.

Gale Nelson said...

Thank you for this giveaway! I would like to win this for my father for Fathers Day. Gale