A J Hawke was one of my earliest critique partners and biggest encouragers. Colorado Morning Sky is A J’s fourth western – Cabin on Pinto Creek, Joe Storm: No Longer A Cowboy and Mountain Journey Home, as well as a contemporary romance, Caught Between Two Worlds. Leave a comment about this interview or the cover for a chance to win Colorado Morning Sky! Winner will be announced next Tuesday. For those from outside the US, it will be an ebook (to avoid that pesky overseas shipping).
Tell me about the story of Colorado Morning Sky (Cedar Ridge Chronicles, Book 3).
I thought you would never ask! That’s what I really want to talk about, my novel. It is kind of like talking about one of your children. Until the person you’re talking to gets around to asking about your children or grandchildren, heh, novel, the conversation just isn’t interesting.
Sixteen-year-old outlaw Jeremiah Rebourn is on his way to Yuma Prison. After Indians attack the prison wagon and force it over a bluff, he awakens to find himself the captive of a mysterious old man. For two long years, he digs gold out of the tunnel as a prisoner. Even after he regains his freedom, the experience leaves him traumatized and he wanders until he finds a place at the mountain ranch of Elisha and Susana Evans (Cabin on Pinto Creek, Cedar Ridge Chronicles, Book 1). It takes him years to recover from his ordeal, which he is able to do working with horses under the guidance of Joe Storm (Joe Storm, No longer a Cowboy, Cedar Ridge Chronicles, Book 2). Finally, at the age of twenty-four, he starts to build his own ranch. He meets Emily and marries her. But when a terrible secret is revealed that ties his beloved Emily to the trauma of his past, it threatens to destroy all that he has managed to make of his life. Can he forgive enough to move forward? Will he and Emily be able to turn to God to rebuild their marriage?
Give us the backcover of the book.
Swift Justice in the American West
At age 16, a guilty verdict hurls Jeremiah Rebourn across a hot Arizona desert in a prison wagon on his way to Yuma Territorial Prison. The year is 1876.
Left for dead after an Apache attack on the wagon, Jeremiah alone survives. He wakes to find himself blindfolded, shackled, and enslaved to a cruel, mute taskmaster.
His only companion becomes the ever-present noose around his neck that forces him to do its bidding. He labors hard in a gold mine for days, months, years. He awakes one day to discover his irons and blindfold gone … and an unexpected message. Now equipped with uncommon strength and a deep distrust of his fellow man, he sets out to begin a life.
Balm from a Gentle and Quiet Spirit
Emily Johnson, at finishing school in Boston, is summoned west to Colorado by her ailing grandmother. She arrives in Cedar Ridge and soon attracts the attention of Jeremiah.
This strong, silent rancher draws Emily’s interest as no other man has ever done. Will her love break the chains that enslave his heart? Will Jeremiah grasp that God is using the evil done to him and his present trials for a grander purpose?
Share the first page with us.
“God sets the lonely in families: he brings out those which are bound with chains.”
Arizona Territory, 1876
Jeremiah jerked desperately at the chains that shackled him to the floor of the prison wagon as fear crawled through his stomach like a living thing. Indians, whom he recognized as Apaches, yelled and raced their horses on both sides of the iron-barred prison wagon as it bounced across the Arizona desert.
Inside, a guard frantically worked to free the lock that secured the six prisoners’ chains through the eyebolts on the wagon floor. The driver whipped the horses, trying to outrun the Indians.
Bile rose in Jeremiah’s throat and he fought to keep his breathing under control. The guard released the shackles of the man next to Jeremiah and then turned to him. Without warning, the prison wagon lurched, and they tumbled over a bluff. The wagon rolled over, tossing the occupants inside like rag dolls. Jeremiah winced as blow after blow battered his body until a sudden crack to his head thrust him into darkness.
Jeremiah tried to touch his throbbing head as darkness surrounded him but his hands were trapped at his waist. He felt the iron of shackles on his wrist. He tried to move and heard the jingle of a chain between his hands. Pain shot through his shoulders as he discovered his elbows were pulled back, trapped around some kind of bar. He rubbed his face on the ground but could not remove the blindfold. Aches and pains fought for attention all over his body. Gingerly moving his fingers, his toes, he was thankful that he seemed to have escaped the wreck of the wagon without a broken neck. He sensed someone close by and wanted to call out, but his fear of the Apaches whom he assumed had him tied up kept him silent. Yesterday had been his sixteenth birthday. Tall for his age, though not yet filled out, Jeremiah could only hope that he would live to be seventeen.
Suddenly, a rope tightened around his neck. Hanging? Was he about to die? Icy fear raced up his back. The rope pulled upward and he choked. To loosen the pressure on his neck, he got to his feet. Then the rope pulled him along. Unable to see, Jeremiah often staggered and fell. Each time, the pull of the rope on his neck tightened. He soon learned to walk by shuffling. How long he walked, he had no idea, but it was hours. By the time the pull on the rope loosened and he collapsed on the ground, he was so tired and thirsty that all he wanted was to lie down and die.
Someone grabbed his hair from behind and pulled his head back. Even without the blindfold, he probably wouldn’t have had the strength to open his eyes and see his captor. A cup pressed against his lips and he eagerly swallowed hot bitter tea.
“Thank you,” he croaked and then wretched in pain as he coughed. His body was a mass of raw nerves. His head throbbed relentlessly. His elbows and shoulders hurt from the pole behind his back. His skinned and bruised knees and feet ached from the walking—and falling. At least they intended to keep him alive. He was miserable. And scared.
“Could you just let my arms loose?” he asked the presence he sensed close by. But, no one untied him. Unable to stay awake, he lay down on the bare ground. His body seemed to float, and then he knew no more.
What’s next after Colorado Morning Sky?
I have the next in the Cedar Ridge Chronicles about seventy percent complete. The story revolves around new characters, but yet, many of the characters from the first three novels of the series are part of the supporting cast. The working title for this novel is COLORADO EVENING SKY.
I‘m also working on another inspirational contemporary Western romance that is yet unnamed.
I have a ‘To Do’ list? Let me find it. It must be somewhere in this stack of papers. Okay, here it is: Number One: Get this interview done as I promised I would. I like to keep my promises but let life interfere at times. Carole has been kind enough to invite me to her blog and the least I can do is not show up late. Yikes! How uncool is that?
Number Two On the ‘To Do’ list: Get ready for my Bible Study Group who will be showing up at my home this evening. Strange group. When they arrive, they expect me to be ready as I am the facilitator of the group. So, I need to have the house uncluttered (that’s the best I can do today, otherwise I might get around to actually cleaning house), tea and dessert ready to serve (surely I have something frozen that I can just take out of the freezer), and oh yes, be ready to lead a lesson from the Scriptures.
Number Three on ‘To Do’ list: Write my next, great novel. Well, I can hope to get to greatness in my writing, although good enough won’t hurt.
And the ‘To Do’ list continues from there, but it is too boring for public consumption.
Okay, now that I’ve depressed myself with my ‘To Do’ list. What’s the next question?
How do you organize your writing day? How many hours per day writing? Use a word count to determine when to stop? Just write until you drop?
Organize my writing day? How about grab an hour to write here and there? I read of other writers who are sooooo organized with their writing and I just shake my head and look with wonder. How do they do that? One author told me she spends twelve hours a day, five days a week writing. It made my head swim. Of course, that may be why she has sold several million copies. Hmmm Maybe she is on to something. If I can find another hour somewhere I will have to consider organizing my writing day. Until then I am a write by the seat of my pants, when I can catch an hour or two here and there.
What do you love about writing?
I get to control what my characters do. Do you realize how attractive that is compared to real life where people just do what they want? I barely have control of myself, much less control of others. And it is too exhausting to try to control others. But that good little character in my book usually will do whatever I decide. I say usually because sometimes even a character in one of my stories wants to do their own thing. The nerve of some characters!
What gave you the inspiration for this particular story?
I was at a writer’s conference and one of the speakers suggested that a way to start a story was to put your character in the most difficult situation you could imagine. Then figure out a way to get them beyond that and to a happy ever after. Once I had the beginning of the story, the rest just seemed to flow from there. I wanted to write characters that people would care about and see their growth as people being guided by the hand of a loving heavenly Father. One of the themes in the book is how do we as humans truly forgive those who wrong us when we cannot forget? Hopefully, when you read the novel you will see both Jeremiah and Emily arriving at that point in their struggles with life. The novel is number three in the Cedar Ridge Chronicles series, but it can stand alone. It is fun to read the series in order but each one is a complete story.
Thanks, Carole, for having on your blog. It’s been fun.
Born in Spur, Texas into a multi-generational Texas family, A J Hawke has traveled throughout the American West as well as other parts of the world and enjoys reading, writing, friends, family, and being a Christian. Other novels by A J Hawke: CABIN ON PINTO CREEK (Cedar Ridge Chronicles 1), JOE STORM NO LONGER A COWBOY (Cedar Ridge Chronicles 2), COLORADO MORNING SKY (Cedar Ridge Chronicles 3), COLORADO EVENING SKY (Cedar Ridge Chronicles 4, Available Dec 2013), MOUNTAIN JOURNEY HOME, Western Historical Romance CAUGHT BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, Contemporary Western Romance.
My web site is under revision, my Facebook page is a mess, and I have yet to Twitter. Maybe I do need to consider some organizing.
All of my titles are available on Amazon as a paperback and on Amazon/Kindle as an ebook.