Tuesday, August 19, 2014

RELEASE DAY: J.L. Salter "Hid Wounded Reb"

Cold secrets are finally warming up… and Kelly can feel the heat.
            Kelly is haunted by the mysterious involvement of her landlord’s ancestor with a wounded soldier in 1863, while her boyfriend researches the unsolved murder of an unidentified horseman in that same Kentucky community a few years after the Civil War. As Kelly and Mitch assist each other’s research, tantalizing discoveries seem to connect their subjects.
            Kelly’s initial assignment is to research the cemetery which started 144 years ago with the death of a battle-wounded Rebel hidden briefly in the Butler family cabin. But the actual facts are clouded with hazy family legends, including possible involvement of a second soldier — the dead man’s cavalry buddy. Mitch’s belated study of the stranger murdered at the church yard has also hit baffling snags.
            When surprising old documents surface and rekindle fading memories, the uncovered secrets could help solve both cold cases. But those investigations are hampered when Kelly harbors a terrified girl (with her own complicated secrets) who brings danger close behind.
            The exciting prequel to “Called to Arms Again”.
My newest novel is “Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold,” a screwball comedy released by Dingbat Publishing in December 2013.  My published novels (with Astraea Press) are:  “Called to Arms Again” (May 2013), “Rescued By That New Guy in Town” (Oct. 2012), and “The Overnighter’s Secrets” (May 2012).  Also released through AP are the short novellas, “Echo Taps” (June, 2013) and “Don’t Bet On It” (April, 2014).  Romantic comedy and romantic suspense are among nine completed novel manuscripts.  Two more novels are under contract and likely due for release during 2014.
I’m co-author of two non-fiction monographs (about librarianship) with a royalty publisher, plus a signed chapter in another book and a signed article in a specialty encyclopedia.  I’ve also published articles, book reviews, and over 120 poems; my writing has won nearly 40 awards, including several in national contests.  As a newspaper photo-journalist, I published about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos.
I worked nearly 30 years in the field of librarianship.  I’m a decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote tour of duty in the Arctic, at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland).
I’m the married parent of two and grandparent of six.
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March 30, 1919
Her worn overcoat already fastened as tightly as possible, Belva Butler’s bony fingers held the top of one lapel flap against the spot where the button was missing. With her other hand, she pulled her woolen scarf over her ears and clasped the ends against her throat.
As the sun hovered over the treetops to her right, she stood in the small graveyard. The hand-shaped stone marker bore no name, but she studied it as though she were reading. Belva remembered how she felt at sixteen, so long ago: the middle of the War Between the States. She never called it the Civil War because it was anything but civil. Brutal and horrible, it was devastating to the state, their community, her family… and to her.
Fifty-six years ago that very night was when her life first changed. Then a few years later, everything transformed again.
Without realizing, she began humming a mournful tune. Though people had mentioned this to her, she never seemed to notice. Humming that song felt as natural as breathing. A gust of wind made her shiver as she watched the sun disappear behind the highest branches of the leafless westerly trees.
Belva leaned forward slowly and placed in front of the unmarked stone a small, white blossom which she’d grown indoors on a windowsill. Though struggling to mature out of season, it was enough of a flower to suit anyone, especially here in the quiet cemetery. Nobody else would bring flowers until Decoration Day at the end of May. Her specially-grown flower, two months before anyone else, made this her private commemoration — her ritual every year on that date, weather notwithstanding.
Belva shuddered again, her frail bones aching. She exited the rusty wire gate and walked carefully over the hillside, through several gullies, along the crude line of dense cedars and oaks. At a large sinkhole, one of three near her little cottage, she paused again.
Clutching the thin coat around her neck with one hand, she reached into a coat pocket with the other. With considerable difficulty, she extracted a small, dark bundle. Belva stood there quite a while, gazing down into the deep sinkhole, seeming to calculate something. Perhaps she wondered whether she’d see another of her private annual Decoration Days.
Then she tossed in the bundle. Actually, it was more of a slow release. One might think it caressed her skin as it finally broke contact with her wrinkled fingertips… and fell to the sinkhole’s deepest part.
Another sudden gust swept away her scarf, which wafted upward slightly before settling into a different area of the pit, part way up the side nearest her. She thought about trying to retrieve it, but that would be too dangerous with the dark, the cold, and her unsteady legs. The sun was gone, leaving only a hint of orange in the western sky. Belva eyed the bright half moon and guessed just enough light remained to finish her business.
She made her way carefully to the small spring some forty yards away and lower on the slope. Everybody said the water sprang from somewhere deep below the sinkhole.
She turned over the dented metal bucket from its resting place on the small rock ledge just above the spring and filled it a bit less than halfway. Water was heavy and Belva longed for the day when her pump would be fixed. She also wished she had a heavier winter coat. She was upset at losing her warmest scarf in the sinkhole, but at least she could do something about that: she’d go back tomorrow morning and fish it out with a potato rake.
Belva trudged down the hill, past the fence-row, and over toward the southeast corner of the family property. She had hoped someday to build a proper farm house farther east toward the road, but the ground was too steep, and everybody said it would take too many wagon loads of dirt to build it up enough. It probably wouldn’t happen… not in her lifetime anyway.
By the time Belva reached her back door it was even colder. The last two days of March always seemed the bitterest.


  1. Thank you for posting this. The novel is close to my heart, in part because it was inspired by two real-live events which involved my wife's ancestors. They actually DID hide a wounded Reb soldier ... at great peril to themselves.

  2. I like Belva already. Good job.