Friday, October 28, 2016

A Shadow Life by Leta McCurry - Some Mystery, Same Sadness, Some Joy!

Readers I apologize if you are unable to read all of this article!
Would you believe the colors were changed--not by me--and made it impossible to read on the screen!
Add this to my list of computer problems!

Menard, Texas--June, 1938

The kerosene lamp burned low in the silence. Mattie Hawkins was the only one fully awake in the deep hours of the night. She stared at the plain pine coffin holding the remains of her husband as flickering shadows, like ghosts on the prowl, moved softly among the small group keeping wake. In that raw box lay her life and Laney's, snatched away as suddenly and surely as if they had been picked up by a tornado and blown to kingdom come.

How could God let this happen--in an instant--with no time to prepare? Could she have done anything to change it?
Only two days ago--the morning had started like any other except it was Calvin's birthday. About mid-morning, Mattie shopped working the iron pump handle and leaned against the kitchen counter to catch her breath. She took a tin dipper from its nail on the wall, filled it with the cool water she had drawn from the pump, and drank deeply. Patting the sweat from her face with the bottom of her apron, she smiled at her five-year-old daughter. Laney Belle, playing with homemade A-B-C  blocks under the kitchen table.
"Whatcha doin', dumplin'?"
"I spelled cat, Mama. See?" Laney patted the blocks lined up on the raw pine floor.
"You sure did," Mattie said. "You're so smart."
"And pretty," Laney giggled. "Daddy says I'm pretty just like my mama."
I might be pretty to look at on the outside but I'm ugly on the inside, Mattie thought. How come her neighbor women had a dozen babies one right after another and she could barely produce one?
Laney was the only living child from Mattie's five pregnancies over the last five years. The others were either lost early or stillborn. There wouldn't be any more babies either. Doc Crouch had taken Mattie's husband, Calvin, aside and made sure he understood that getting his wife with child again would likely mean her death...
...a constant prayer always hovered in Mattie's mind. Lord, don't let my girl grow up weak, and sickly like me and my mama before me.

A Shadow Life

By Leta McCurry

The stories Leta McCurry shares reveals the heartaches of women in the early 1900s. A woman could bear children one after the other and become an old woman while still young due to the hard work required to maintain her family... At the same time, if she was unable to have children due to health problems, that essentially ended the intimacy of the marriage.

Our story tells of a woman who had constantly lost children, and had been told that any further pregnancies would likely cost her life. She tried hard to keep her husband and child happy, but she greatly missed the intimacy, the touching they had shared. 

It was on her husband's birthday when it happened. Laney and her mother had to make a quick trip to town since she didn't have everything needed to make him a birthday cake. And the accident happened, there, right in front of them. Within seconds her husband was dead...

...Sorry wasn't what she needed. She needed her husband to rise up whole again out of that ugly pine box. She needed her life back. She needed the words for her little girl when she came home in the morning. Words to tell Laney there wouldn't be any more Daddy for piggyback rides, waking in the creek, reading fairy tales and singing Laney's favorite song, "Ragtime Cowboy Joe," at the top of their lungs...

Who was going to give her words for that?

I was acquainted with the loss that Laney and her mother felt when husband and father was accidentally killed. My mother was carrying me when my father was killed, too, in an accident in the mines. Mom was left with four children... But there were some benefits at that time and family nearby and we made it... 

Laney and her mother had nothing and were soon required to leave their home. The man had been at a tent revival and they'd attended. He was a stranger but she couldn't help knowing he was watching her. She felt something wrong about him, but after attending several nights, he finagled an introduction. It was a bad foolish decision for Laney to accept the proposal of a wandering man. But when there were no other choices, she took the only one available... 

While a new like began for Laney, another young girl, Ruby Jo Cassity, in Freeburg, Texas, enters the story...

Ruby Jo couldn't figure out
what there was about homemade
flour-sack panties that was
worth good money to Boyce...
But it didn't hurt her none
and it was an easy nickel...
Ruby Jo had the typical feelings for many children, they see children at school with nice clothes and getting presents, while their poor family can barely keep the family fed and clothed. There was one little girl in particular who made a point of looking down on Ruby Jo and she and her friends often made fun of her clothes...

But as she grew a little older, she had the opportunity to earn a nickel from a neighbor boy. All he wanted was for Ruby Jo to let him see her underpants... 

But soon, her teacher found out what was happening...and offered her a dime...

Ruby Jo's life continued along these lines for most of her life...

Ruby Jo sang softly about grabbing her coat and hat and directing her feet to the sunny side of the street as she took her books out of the satchel and put them on the bed. Mama would have a hissy fit if she heard. "Don't be singing them trashy songs, Ruby Jo," she would say. "Good gospel hymns keep the mind where it ought to be." Ruby Jo Snorted...
She didn't understand all of it, but she was beginning to get the idea that as long as there were men or boys around, there could be nickels for Ruby Jo. There couldn't be a whole lot wrong with that...

McCurry moves from one shadow life to another as Laney and Ruby Jo continue along the lives that has been made for them. One is timid and doesn't know how to change what is happening to her; the other has found a source of money that keeps coming in... She saves it all to allow her to leave home...

Readers can't help but become involved in the lives of both of these girls. But let's face it, if sexual abuse of the young is still going on in this world, did either of these girls really have a chance?

Ahhhh, but Leta McCurry could not leave either of these girls where they were. The amazing thing is how she has molded two stories, separately, while ultimately merging the two stories...and keeping readers somewhat in suspense while it is all happening!

There is no way I was able to foresee where the book was headed. It is compelling, provocative, and holds readers in thrall as the magical twists and turns evolve into a wonderful closing. I loved it! In fact, I loved both of McCurry's books, but this one had an edge because of the suspenseful telling of her story...I was simply amazed how she weaved this tale and can only highly recommend it!



Tale-spinner. Revealer of secrets. A dog’s best friend. Cornbread and fried okra country girl.
Lives in Southern Oregon and enjoys writing, reading, the open road on a Stallion motorcycle (trike–as a passenger), good food, travel, genealogy, and a large, fun-loving family. Favorite destinations: Ireland and Singapore. Author of “High Cotton Country” and “A Shadow Life” and presently writing her third novel, “Dancing to the Silence.”

Leta says she loves the fascination of new characters and the fun of getting acquainted with them and seeing what they will do as the story develops.

And a final message from Leta

You can be an important part of my writing.
As a writer, I love feedback and conversations with readers. You are the reason I write, so when you have read High Cotton Country, A Shadow Life or any of the books to come, please tell me what you liked, what you loved, and even what you hated.

Who were your favorite characters? Why did you like them? Who didn't you like? Why? Please write me with your thoughts.

Here's another way you can really help me. Reviews. They are difficult to come by these days. People have good intentions but get busy with life and forget, but you, the reader, have the power to make or break a book. So, if you would be so kind, please post a review on Amazon. It doesn't have to be long or fancy.  Even a sentence or two means a lot and carries weight with a person looking for a new book to read. It would mean so much to me.

They say word of mouth is more powerful than the most expensive and expert advertising. I believe that is true, so please pass the word along if you've enjoyed my books. I really appreciate it.  Who knows? You could help one of my books become a best seller. Wouldn't that be amazing?

Finally, there's the Pre-Launch Team. It's kind of like the undercover "James Bond" part of the Advanced Readers Club. It's easy but it isn't for everyone because it comes with some responsibility. It doesn't take much time and it only costs 99 cents but it is very important. It is your opportunity to be involved in launching a new book and  it would be such a big help to me. (Oh, there is also a limit to the number of Pre-Launch Team Members for each book.)
Thank you! I appreciate each and every one of you.
Leta, we certainly have enjoyed your visit at Book Readers Heaven. You are an inspiration to all of us and your books reveal the type of person you are... No wonder we enjoyed your stay! And...we're looking forward to your next book! Keep Writing... Glenda

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