Beulah Land by Nancy Stewart
Duet Books, an imprint of Interlude Press
Release Date: November 16, 2017
Cover Artist: CB Messer
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Nancy Steward on her Beulah Land tour. Welcome, Nancy!
Come on, Muse! Give Me a Break
By Nancy Stewart, author of Beulah Land
What is it about muses? I know they take their work seriously, and yet conjuring up mine can be quite a chore at times.
I almost always search for her at the computer. She’s usually there, but not today. Sometimes she hides in my Favorites List. But not today. How about the Homepage? Nope. One more try my lists of guest posts. Occasionally, she will transform herself into a bright new post from an old one. Today, no such luck.
Not one to give up, I go to the gym. Strangely enough, she hangs out there quite a bit. And usually her gym ideas are good ones, full of life and vigor. She particularly likes the elliptical. Actually, so do I. But after 25 minutes of trying to coax her to visit, I give up and move to other machines where I’ve never seen her ply her magic. One lives in hope.
On the way home, I stop by the bookstore and congratulate myself on a stroke of genius. She can’t not be there. It’s a muse kind of place, after all. She’s not there. Not even in the Young Adult books section. She’s always in the Young Adult books section. “Getting great ideas,” I usually tell her, but she sometimes rejects that notion.
Ah, well. I give up. I’ve learned there’s no future in sleuthing after a muse that does not want to be detected. So, home I go.
I consider the computer a lost cause, so I opt for a glass of iced tea and a comfy chair. And then, like a tiny bee buzzing in my brain, my muse appears. She speaks of Violette Sinclair, the brave and determined, and single-minded heroine of my new Young Adult novel, Beulah Land. She worries over Junior McKenna, Vi’s best friend, who puts himself in harm’s way to keep her alive in her own home town. My muse whispers the book’s ending to me, then smiles and says she loves it.
My muse is such a tease. But when she gets down to business, there’s no stopping her! Today, I’m only happy she visited, threw out a couple of notions then left me to ruminate.
What is it about muses? I still haven’t figured out that answer. But though they are fey and capricious creatures, this author is grateful to have one.
If you haven’t met yours, don’t worry! Give her the time and opportunity to make an appearance. Carry that little notebook. You know. The one that everyone says to take with you? It’s crucial for dealing for a mischievous muse emergence. Read lots of books, particularly the genre you’re most interested in writing. It’s amazing how she can virtually pop off the page to infuse you with a brilliant idea.
Above all, while you wait for her, keep writing. I’ve found that most muses appear when one writes and writes and doesn’t give up. Taskmasters they may be, these little creatures know their stuff. You’ll be delighted when yours finds you.
Beulah Land Synopsis
Seventeen-year-old Vi Sinclair’s roots run deep in the Missouri Ozarks, where, in some areas, it can still be plenty dangerous to be a girl who likes girls. Her greatest wish is to become a veterinarian like her boss, Claire Campbell. Fitting in at school wouldn’t be so bad, either. Only one obstacle stands in the way: She may not live long enough to see her wishes ful lled.
With help from her only friend, Junior, Vi unravels a mystery that puts her in con ict with a vicious tormentor, a dog ght syndicate, and her own mother. Vi’s experience galvanizes her strength and veracity as she overcomes the paradox of mountain life, in which, even today, customs and mores seem timeless, and where a person can wake up dead simply because of being who she is.
“I don’t buy it,” my sister says, after not interrupting for a change. “There’s no way some random guy would be after us. I mean, for what reason? I don’t even know this Dale whatever his name is. You sure, Violette?”
“After listening to his rant? Yes, and that means you gotta be extra careful. I don’t want to scare you crazy. Don’t go places alone. You hear?”
Her gaze shifts away from my eyes, and she gives a tiny nod, but I’m not convinced she believes me or I believe her. “I have a suspicion there are secrets, Jessie, dark ones. And you and me? We’re being dragged in because of Mama.”
She picks up a plastic cat that Seth won for her at the county fair, examines it like it’s a priceless treasure and gently sets it back on the table. “So what can we do?”
“First, we gotta work out the real reason Dale’s after us.”
Jessie puts a smirky smile on me. “He’s after you because you’re not like us. Lots of folks around here’s downright vicious about it.”
I’m gonna ignore her nasty attitude. “Don’t think it’s that simple anymore, Jess. I got a pretty big notion what’s going on circles right back to Mama.”
My sister sighs, gathers her hair in a hunk, and moves it to her other shoulder. “If what you’re saying is true, Vi, we gotta go to the police.”
“Won’t do any good. I hear Sheriff Fletcher’s real close to the Woodbines. Best friends and all. If that’s true, nothing’s going to touch Dale.”
“Then we need to talk to Uncle Gray. With him being the clan head of us Sinclairs, it’s his sworn duty to protect us.”
“Not Uncle Gray. No. Not yet.” “Vi—”
“NO! I can take care of this on my own.”
“Why are you so stubborn if we’re in this much danger, Violette? People in these parts get
dead for a whole lot less than being gay. But since you are and everybody knows it, you got a real head start. You want that?”
“No, I don’t. But Uncle Gray, he’s got no respect or liking for me. Don’t you understand that, Jessie?”
“Yeah, and dead’s dead a long time. And you’re saying my life’s in danger now, so that’s something you should understand.” She flounces her hair back on both shoulders; a punctuation mark for being through with this conversation.
“I’m going out to get some air, Jess.”
She doesn’t answer, even when I slam the front porch door.
A lightning bolt zigzags between Bald Knob and Scoggins Ridge, as I settle on the top porch
step. Thunder growls like those Greek gods we studied battling over some old-timey feud, and a few fat raindrops splat on my head, chilling the tops of my legs.
Jess and Junior are pretty much right about me taking too many risks. I almost wish for once Mama would caution me on that. I long hard for her to love me for who I am. Mama, she always lays heavy on my heart.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A professor of education specializing in Children’s and Young Adult Literature, Nancy Stewart is also the award-winning author of several bestselling books for young readers. The original manuscript for Beulah Land received the 2015 State of Florida Rising Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives with her husband and an adopted Bichon/Shih Tzu pup, Louie, in Tampa, Florida.