Characters in Motion: Naamah Carter

Today I am talking with Alfred Woollacott III about his character, “Naamah Carter.” Alfred retired from KPMG after a career spanning 34 years, choosing to reside full time at his summer residence on Martha’s Vineyard. Being “45 minutes from America” and with a 50 – 60 hour per week void to fill, he began dabbling into his family history. His dabbling grew into an obsession, and he published several genealogical summaries of his ancestors. But certain ones absorbed him such that he could not leave them. So, he researched their lives and times further while evolving his writing skills from “just the facts ma’am” to a fascinating narrative style. Thus, with imagination, anchored in fact and tempered with plausibility, a remote ancestor can achieve a robust life as envisioned by a writer with a few drops of his ancestor’s blood in his veins.

Alfred, why did you choose to write about Naamah?

Naamah_Carter_Young

Naamah continues the planned trilogy, albeit chronologically out of order since her story had to be told. She and her four-greats grandfather John Law the first novel’s protagonist faced similar challenges. Both held shunned Christian beliefs, were forced from their homeland, endured tragic losses, and persevered against prejudice and hostility. In “The Believers in the Crucible Nauvoo” Naamah symbolized the pioneering women of the early LDS church, just as John Law exemplified the Scottish Prisoners of Wars struggles in the Puritan Theocracy of Colonial America. Carol Cornwell Madsen’s book “In Their Own Words” enriched my knowledge about Nauvoo’s women, a story that had to be told.

Delving further, I found some of Joseph Smith’s discourses not dissimilar to my Episcopalian beliefs and broadened my Christian foundation. However, the plural wives principle was an anathema that I had dismissed as justification to institutionalize man’s polygamous tendencies. Yet I continued wondering about Naamah’s perspective. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s book “A House Full of Females” provided further insight. Each relationship was unique and multi-faceted as was Naamah’s with Brigham.

What is the mood or tone Naamah portrays and how does this affect the story?

Naamah is a strong, resilient woman of deep faith. She is six-years-old when we first meet her placing flowers on her father’s gravesite in remembrance of his birthday. Her unique name honors her aunt, Naamah Kendall Jenkins, who had died three weeks before her birth. Early in life, Naamah connected to family residing in heaven. Her mother’s death several years later tightened those heavenly bonds. In a larger sense, the Calvinist doctrine of the First Awakening had formed her Christian beliefs and had grown stale. Something was lacking. Joseph Smith’s teachings offered refreshment and a romanticized view of principles she held dear. The Second Awakening gave an offer of hope, salvation, and glory to those who had believed their lives were pre-determined to be ‘sinners in the hand of an angry God. Many still clung to past and persecuted those who followed the teachings of these ‘false prophets’.

What are Naamah’s role in her family and some emotions triggered by it?

Naamah lost her father early and her mother several years later. Being the eldest of three sisters, she assumed a surrogate mother role for her ‘baby sister’ Susan, protecting her from the acid-tongued, narrow-minded, middle sister Betsey. Susan’s relationship with Naamah changed as she matured while Naamah’s did not. Her baby Susan still needed care; she had to stay in Peterborough and not leave with the Saints for Nauvoo. Eventually, she realized that Susan had become her crutch, which caused her to doubt the depth of her faith.

Soon after arriving in Nauvoo, she marries, only to lose her husband a few months later. A month later her beloved Aunt Susan dies and compounds her sense of loss. Now virtually alone and feeling isolated, she longed to return to Peterborough. Her emotions overwhelmed and paralyzed her until two Sisters rekindled her belief in eternal life giving her a path out of her nadir.

What is one of her beliefs as a Christian and how does this affect her life?

Naamah believed in eternal life, and Joseph’s teachings enhanced her understanding of it. He prophesized that we reside in heaven like Jesus did until we are sent to the earthly kingdom. While there, those who believed in Joseph’s prophecy and lived the gospel daily will return to the heavenly kingdom.

Naamah accepted that God spoke through the prophets and came to believe that Joseph was his latest. She dreamed to hear directly from Joseph. She first witnessed Joseph through Brigham as he preached to the faithful in Peterborough. After Joseph’s death, she rationalized that the closest she would come to him while on earth was through Brigham. In Nauvoo, She worked daily with Brigham at the temple doing the Lord’s work. She is torn when he proposed marriage to her. She had been sealed for eternity to another who awaited her in heaven. Brigham was married, and becoming his plural wife ran violated what she held sacred. Yet, through marriage, she would be closer to him, and thus, to God.

How is she influenced by her setting?

A tight-knit Peterborough began unraveling as Joseph Smith obtained a following. Erstwhile friends and family turned from Naamah and her rapidly-growing community of Saints. Many Saints left for Nauvoo while Naamah dawdled. But as Peterborough’s animosity increased, she left, too. Tenfold larger than Peterborough and unified in a belief, Naamah saw Nauvoo as Joseph Smith had promised — God’s earthly kingdom, But over time, Nauvoo grew more hostile and threatening than Peterborough ever had been.

Did she ever have doubts about Joseph Smith’s testaments? 

As her beloved Aunt Susan oft said, “Even Jesus had doubts while in the garden of Gethsemane.” Family ridiculed her, former friends turned from her, the death of loved ones caused her to grieve, hostile surroundings threatened her peace, and the offer of a plural marriage challenged a sacred belief. With each, doubts arose that she eventually overcame when she realized God would be with her . . . always.

Please talk about the courage and strength of Naamah and possibly the isolation?

On her wedding day, Naamah felt as though she was atop an alabaster column that extended to the heavens. As the newlyweds neared Nauvoo’s temple, she said, “Once the temple is completed, we must have our marriage endowed in it.” To which her husband replied, “Once it’s completed, we’ll leave Nauvoo.” “Leave Nauvoo?” She said. “I’ve just arrived here. Why? Why?”

Chip, chip, and cracks appeared in the alabaster. Chip, chip; increasing enmity surrounded Nauvoo, her husband died, and Aunt Susan died, and within months of her marriage, Naamah lay amid the rubble of alabaster. She wallowed in her nadir until uplifted by doing the Lord’s work alongside Brigham made her realize again that God would be with her always.

What are some similarities that a modern-day woman would have with Naamah?

Naamah with sisters wives editted

Naamah with Sisters Wives

Naamah’s challenges were not dissimilar to those women have faced for eternity. But she had fewer options than today’s women. A couple of centuries ago, it was more a ‘Man’s world’ than today. As such, we are less aware of the women’s perspective than we are now. Ulrich’s book “A House Full of Females” would have been near impossible to publish in the 1800s. Roles are less defined by gender than before, giving women more options and more reasons to question.  Of course, “Even Jesus had doubts while in the Garden of Gethsemane.”, and questions will eventually be answered.

Where can readers buy your book?

Alfred with book resized to 300

Available at Amazon, my website, or directly from me at mv4al@aol.com.

Interview with Alfred about his books HERE

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The Path Of Righteousness

Book Open

If you are not watchful of your heart, it is so easy to allow outside influence to direct you away from the path. For the last couple of months or so, this had really been on my mind and I’m working hard not to allow negativity and sinfulness into my heart. Influences are everywhere and how we project it is vital to our well being and in our relationship with the Lord. Being a Christian and my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the most important aspect of my life. My Faith is who I am. My focus is to do what is pleasing to God rather than what is pleasing to self.

I am not perfect and I miss that mark often. More than I really want to admit sometimes but knowing God loves me and forgives me gets me through the dark times. When I feel doubt, pain, sadness creeping in, I’ve been praying and mediating on His promise and that is really getting me through it.

Lately I have been questioning what I’ve been reading and watching on tv and I feel God is really talking to me about it. To be knowledgeable in the human condition is important I think but I feel there is a limit to how you get your knowledge in those things. You know the saying, “Garbage going in, garbage going out.” I am becoming more selective in what I watch on tv, the movies I see and the books I read.

crossThere is so much pain in the world and so much immoral actions. As a society we have turned from what is right and good and we have focused on what we want, when we want it without thought of consequences or others. We have let greed, pride, hate, envy, gluttony, lust, and anger rule our lives. Are you a believer in Christ? Do you take notice of your daily walk or has outside influences distracted you and you are straying?

If there every was a time to get right with God, it is now. My prayer today is that for those who are loss will find God and accept the Lord Jesus Christ in their hearts. I pray for Christians everywhere to stay the path of righteousness, to not allow bad influences in their life, to be kind, loving and to give to others. There is hope through Christ.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

A Stranger Here Below (Gideon Stoltz #1) by Charles Fergus

astrangerherebelow

A Stranger Here Below (Gideon Stoltz #1)

by Charles Fergus

Hardcover, 304 pages

Expected publication: March 19th 2019

I just added this to my wish-list. I love the simplicity of the book cover and yet at the same time there is so much more to image. The scenery in the image draws me in…  It gives you an atmospheric feel of a mysterious primitive time in the past. I hope this story delivers because it sounds utterly fantastic and it take place in one of my all-time favorite periods. -Stephanie M Hopkins

About the book:

 

For fans of C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett series, a fabulous historical mystery series set in early America. 

Set in 1835 in the Pennsylvania town of Adamant, Fergus’s first novel in a new mystery series introduces Sheriff Gideon Stoltz, who, as a young deputy, is thrust into his position by the death of the previous sheriff. Gideon faces his first real challenge as death rocks the small town again when the respected judge Hiram Biddle commits suicide. No one is more distraught than Gideon, whom the old judge had befriended as a mentor and hunting partner. Gideon is regarded with suspicion as an outsider: he’s new to town, and Pennsylvania Dutch in the back-country Scotch-Irish settlement. And he found the judge’s body.

Making things even tougher is the way the judge’s death stirs up vivid memories of Gideon’s mother’s murder, the trauma that drove him west from his home in the settled Dutch country of eastern Pennsylvania. He had also discovered her body.

At first Gideon simply wants to learn why Judge Biddle killed himself. But as he finds out more about the judge’s past, he realizes that his friend’s suicide was spurred by much more than the man’s despair. Gideon’s quest soon becomes more complex as it takes him down a dangerous path into the past.

Brief Review: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell

Dr. T. Colin Campbell is a pioneer in the medical and food industry. His book The China Study and the documentary, Forks Over Knives on Netflix exposes the dirty truth about S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) and the harm that it is causing the American People and people around the world. We know that there are many diseases in this country and it is an epidemic and Campbell has studied this problem for decades. You’ll also be surprised to know that he grew up on a dairy farm. Not only can changing your diet reduce your chances of these diseases but it can also reverse many of the symptoms you have from them. We must stop listening to the main-stream food industry, pharmaceutical companies and the government on this issue. It is not about prevention. They want to keep us ignorant. For them, it is all about power and money in my opinion. Also, many of our Doctors have not been educated on nutrition and the importance of it. If you already have a disease or you are in constant pain, why wouldn’t you want to try to change your eating habits and learn what foods to eat and what foods to avoid so you can feel better? When I discovered the truth about meat and dairy, I changed my diet immediately! This book has really opened my eyes about the truth of what we eat and why our country has so many diseases and an obesity epidemic. It really isn’t hard and the benefits are worth it. I can’t even stomach the thought of eating meat or dairy anymore. Please consider reading The China Study. Your health starts in the Kitchen.

Check out why I drink Lemon Water every day. I get personal! Read article here

Stephanie M. Hopkins

the china studyAbout the Book:
The science is clear. The results are unmistakable.

You can dramatically reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes just by changing your diet.

More than thirty years ago, nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell and his team at Cornell, in partnership with teams in China and England, embarked upon the China Study, the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease. What they found when combined with findings in Colin’s laboratory, opened their eyes to the dangers of a diet high in animal protein and the unparalleled health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet.

In 2005, Colin and his son Tom, now a physician, shared those findings with the world in The China Study, hailed as one of the most important books about diet and health ever written.

Featuring brand new content, this heavily expanded edition of Colin and Tom’s groundbreaking book includes the latest undeniable evidence of the power of a plant-based diet, plus updated information about the changing medical system and how patients stand to benefit from a surging interest in plant-based nutrition.

The China Study – Updated and Expanded Edition presents a clear and concise message of hope as it dispels a multitude of health myths and misinformation. The basic message is clear. The key to a long, healthy life lies in three things: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 

Discovering Southern Poets and Their Poetry

I’ve been wanting to start a new series on Southern Poets and their poems. To honor their work and to openly discuss the meaning of their prose and the importance of Southern Poets. When I started researching poets, I noticed that Southern Poetry is still dominated by men. When I think of poems written by Southern Poets, my mind takes me to poems by William Faulkner, Sidney Lanier and so on. By no means am I trying to make a political or feminism statement with this project but I’ve decided to start a journey to explore Southern Female Poets. Not only that but to explore my own inner thoughts and feelings of southern life and to possibly write my own poetry. I say this all-the-while thinking to myself that all I need is another project to take on! Ha! I might let that sit a spell and just focus my energy on the former. There are many themes to discover in Southern Poetry which I find thrilling. Being Southern and living in the South is such a broad subject. History would be the first to come to my mind since I am a history geek but I might challenge myself and explore place. How do I do that without exploring time? Hmm…well now, southern traditions and way of life does evolve after all. Despite what people from other cultures or backgrounds might think. Having said that, many do cling to the their traditions, songs, stories and heritage from their for-bearers and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. For me, that keeps the history authentic, knowing all the while how many are trying their best to re-write it. I’ve got to watch myself! I’m starting to get political! This project really is going to be a challenge. Now, who will I choose as my first subject? Whose voice and style speak to my heart?

cities of flesh and the dead.I have discovered Diann Blakely of Brunswick, Georgia and a book she wrote called, “Cities of Flesh and The Dead.” Now I’m not entirely sure this book meets my needs but I aim to find out! If you know of any names of Southern Female Poets I might find interesting, please share!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

Next Up On The Reading Agenda

Here are two books I am planning on reading next. I can’t wait! Both of these books are by authors I adore and find their stories gripping. Aren’t the covers great?! -Stephanie M. Hopkins

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until the day i die by emily carpenterUntil the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter

Pub Date 12 Mar 2019

Description

From the bestselling author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls comes a riveting novel about a mother and daughter separated by grief, secrets, and a conspiracy that threatens to destroy their lives.

If there’s a healthy way to grieve, Erin Gaines hasn’t found it. After her husband’s sudden death, the runaway success of the tech company they built with their best friends has become overwhelming. Her nerves are frayed, she’s disengaged, and her frustrated daughter, Shorie, is pulling away from her. Maybe Erin’s friends and family are right. Maybe a few weeks at a spa resort in the Caribbean islands is just what she needs to hit the reset button…

Shorie is not only worried about her mother’s mental state but also for the future of her parents’ company. Especially when she begins to suspect that not all of Erin’s colleagues can be trusted. It seems someone is spinning an intricate web of deception—the foundation for a conspiracy that is putting everything, and everyone she loves, at risk. And she may be the only one who can stop it.

Now, thousands of miles away in a remote, and oftentimes menacing, tropical jungle, Erin is beginning to have similar fears. Things at the resort aren’t exactly how the brochure described, and unless she’s losing her mind, Erin’s pretty sure she wasn’t sent there to recover—she was sent to disappear.

the lost girls of paris by pam jenoffThe Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

Pub Date 29 Jan 2019

1946, Manhattan

Description

One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.

Nutritional Science and Reading

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Recently I have made a big change in my lifestyle of eating. I’ve always considered myself as someone who has eaten fairly healthy but I struggled with how I felt physically and mentally. I’ve had a lot of surgeries and physical problems since I was two months old. First beginning with a heart defect and the list goes on…

For people with chronic health issues, you know that waking up everyday you don’t know how you are going to feel. It is a daunting way of life. If it weren’t for my strong will, I think I would be in worse shape. Don’t get me wrong, there are days where I felt totally hopeless. However, I am no longer having days where feel like that. I’m not giving up and I am getting stronger. What is helping me? First, research, and learning all I can about the Whole Foods Plant Based Diet.

One of my illnesses is a Digestion Disease and I have to be careful what I eat not knowing how it is going to impact me on a daily basis. Its like taking a gamble of what to eat. The Whole Foods Plant Based Diet has opened a whole new world for me and believe me, I’ve tried a ton of different diets. On this diet you do not eat meat, dairy, or processed foods. People have asked me all sorts of questions about this diet and wonder how this can be healthy without the meat or dairy. This year on Layered Pages, I will be answering those questions but first, I recommend you read The China Study and watch Forks Over Knives on Netflix. I will begin today by saying that I no longer have cravings for processed sugar, meats or dairy. Matter of fact, every time I see meat, I cringe knowing what it was doing to my health and digestive system.  If you have any questions about the Whole Foods Plant Based Diet, please feel free to ask me and I will do my best to answer your questions or direct you to the right source.

Now onto my other books I am reading. I finished, Long Road To Mercy by David Baldacci! There was thing I liked about the story and things that made me roll my eyes. Ha! I might discuss this more later on.

I’m still reading The Blue by Nancy Bileau and I’m enjoying the story so much I am savoring it. I will be working on a project about this book with the author and I look forward to sharing more of that with you soon.

I’m also listening to an audible book, Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. So far, I haven’t really been immersed into the story but I’m not giving up. I do find some of the situations fascinating however.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful and productive New Year! Until next time….

Stephanie M. Hopkins

The China Study: Revised and Expanded Edition: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health

The updated and expanded edition of the bestseller that changed millions of lives

The science is clear. The results are unmistakable.

You can dramatically reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes just by changing your diet.

More than thirty years ago, nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell and his team at Cornell, in partnership with teams in China and England, embarked upon the China Study, the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease. What they found when combined with findings in Colin’s laboratory, opened their eyes to the dangers of a diet high in animal protein and the unparalleled health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet.

In 2005, Colin and his son Tom, now a physician, shared those findings with the world in The China Study, hailed as one of the most important books about diet and health ever written.

Featuring brand new content, this heavily expanded edition of Colin and Tom’s groundbreaking book includes the latest undeniable evidence of the power of a plant-based diet, plus updated information about the changing medical system and how patients stand to benefit from a surging interest in plant-based nutrition.

The China Study – Updated and Expanded Edition presents a clear and concise message of hope as it dispels a multitude of health myths and misinformation. The basic message is clear. The key to a long, healthy life lies in three things: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

“A lush debut; Owens delivers her mystery wrapped in gorgeous, lyrical prose.” (Alexandra Fuller, author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight)

How long can you protect your heart?

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.