This has been a difficult week in the household of practical history. My sweet mother-in-law passed away after a long health struggle. It’s been an emotional time of grieving and planning and hosting, and it has not been a week for posting or commenting. I am sorry about that, and I am working to catch up.
In general, I would suggest that one might wish to avoid big, emotionally difficult life events when launching a book. Of course, since big, emotionally difficult life events are rarely planned, here we are. Because the other thing that happened this week is that my third historical novel launched into the world.
I had originally planned to post that announcement accompanied by some interesting history, a little whimsy, and much fanfare. Instead, I’m just going to post the prologue of the book. If you get to the end of the prologue and you would like to keep reading, you can get the book here: mybook.to/PurchaseOnAmazon or here: https://books2read.com/u/31KjGw I would also really appreciate that if you are on Goodreads and feel so compelled, you go ahead and mark it as “Want to Read”: https://bit.ly/3osuNGV. And, of course, reviews are an author’s best friend. Thanks!
August 13, 1837
Even the buzz of the insects hushed as the final preacher of the Sabbath day stepped onto the stage to claim the pulpit. It was this man they’d come to see—the farmers and the merchants, the ladies in their finest silks, the young lawyer who, at the request of his friends, had left piles of work in his office six miles away in Springfield only to hear the renowned speaker.
Peter Akers didn’t disappoint. He was a giant of a man. More than six feet tall and broad with long limbs and large hands that animated his speech, he loomed above the crowd. They leaned into his words in the slick heat of the Illinois summer.
He began his sermon with a text from Zechariah 9:9: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold thy King cometh unto thee. Akers favored the Old Testament prophets, often preaching from these strange and ancient texts sometimes for hours, diving without hesitation into high-minded allegory and apocalyptic language, inviting his congregation to ascend with him to new intellectual heights.
His were not the emotionally exhilarating sermons of his colleagues. He neither condemned nor flattered. His words did not inspire the quaking and contorting otherwise common at camp meeting revivals, yet he held his audience rapt and eager.
Like Jacob of old, Akers wrestled with God, and all who listened came away changed. His sermon danced among the words of God’s prophets, from Zechariah to Isaiah, from Ezekiel’s proclamations of the unrighteous overturned, to the book of Revelation and Babylon’s inevitable fall.
And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise anymore: the merchandise of silver and gold and precious stone, of wine and oil and fine flour, of sheep and horses and chariots and slaves and the souls of men.
Akers paused here, his eyes raised to heaven and at the same time locked into the hearts of each silent person awaiting the forthcoming conclusion, breaths held in anticipation.
“If we interpret the prophecies of this Book correctly. . .” Though the preacher’s commanding voice lowered to nearly a whisper, not a word could be missed. “There will soon come a time when the head and front of this offending shall be broken; a time when slave-ships, like beasts of prey, will no longer steal along the coast of defenseless Africa. When we shall cease to trade in the flesh and souls of men but will instead expel forever from this land the manacle and the whip.
“I am not a prophet,” Akers explained to a congregation that did not believe him. “But a student of the Prophets. American slavery will come to an end in some near decade.”
At these words, shifting and murmuring rose in the crowd, some perhaps angry but most filled with hope and awe at the sheer audacity of the assertion. Undaunted by the excitement, Akers carried on, saying, “Who can tell but that the man who shall lead us through this strife might be standing in this presence.”
This was a pronouncement rather than a question. The preacher paused, giving space for the seed of prophetic vision to find fertile soil.
At the edge of the crowd, the young lawyer drew a long breath, rubbed his weary eyes, and reflected on the preacher’s powerful words.
One of his friends clapped him on the back. “What do you think, Mr. Lincoln? Are you glad you came with us?”
“As odd as it seems,” he answered with only slight hesitation, “When the preacher described those changes and revolutions, I was deeply impressed that I should somehow strangely mix up with them.”
He did not wait for a response from his dumbfounded friend, but stood tall and stretched the stiffness from his shoulders and limbs as he thought of the many tasks awaiting him on his desk, and of the much greater work he’d yet to begin.
22 thoughts on “A Somewhat Subdued Book Launch”
I am sorry about your mother in law. It’s got to be a hard time and will be for some time to come. Congratulations on the new book and good luck with the launch! I was really surprised when Abe appeared and am interested to see where things go…
Thank you. It’s been a strange week of highs and lows for sure.
Don’t wait to read Sarah’s newest book. Neither my husband nor I could put it down. Historical fiction might just be my new favorite genre.
That’s so kind, Phyllis. Thank you.
I’m so very sorry for your loss and the tough time you’re all going through.
Thank you. It’s been a strange week.
I can only imagine. Take care
My condolences on the passing of your mother-in-law. I shall be in touch re your third book! Congratulations!
Thank you, Bruce.
Aw, Sarah! What deeply conflicting emotions! I’m so sorry about your family’s loss. Praying for you, friend. You can give your book a big splash when you’re ready. It doesn’t have to be right away. Maybe a belated book birthday party? 🙂
Thank you, Karen. Yes, a delayed celebration sounds good.
That prologue is riveting! Very intriguing. And I am terribly sorry for your family loss.
I’m sorry for your loss. It’s a difficult thing, I know. I really like the prologue.
Condolences and congratulations are an odd pairing, not often extended in the same sentence. An excellent prologue.
Sarah, i’m really sorry to hear about your mother-in-law.
And congratulations on the launch of your book, though I know most of the joy of it must have been taken away, but I do hope it does really well.
Thinking about you and your husband, and also your kids, who have lost their grandmother. Love to you all,
Thank you so much. Yes, definitely a lot of mixed up emotions.
I feel ya’, Sister Sarah. And thanks for responding personally a while back to my questions re St. Louis as a place to retire to. My friend who grew up and retired there will be visiting me and some of the other friends she made here in CA when she lived here. Meanwhile, she’s been texting me snippets about how wonderful it is there! Nothing about any drawbacks of course.
Historical fiction, or really just history in general, is one of my favorite genres, and I just added this title to my want to read list. Maybe if/when I visit STL I can get a signed copy directly from the author? I’m also interested in your other books and was particularly intrigued by something said about one of them possibly referencing golden plates i.e. The Book of Mormon. Which title would that be?
My interest is based on my ex’s (and his family’s) use of some of the teachings of that religion, in which they were raised, as some reason to divorce after marrying someone not of the faith. That is only one of the things that sticks in my craw about him!
I seriously doubt that my literary ambition would ever rise to your level of actually publishing anything for sale, though it has finally risen to publishing some blog posts! If you have time and/or interest, I would appreciate your feedback on both sites.
Starting Over https://hbsuefred.com/
My Self Evident Truths https://hbsuefred.wordpress.com/
Seems like you’ve got a lot to say, and I agree that a blog can be a great way to start saying it. I came at mine from the other direction, because I had written a novel (actually, the one you are asking about) and I needed to build some kind of audience. Then the blog sort of took on a life of its own because the writing I do here is pretty different than the more well-researched and better written stuff of my fiction. Still, it’s a great creative outlet and I have virtually met some great people with amazing, creative minds through blogging. It seems to me that if it’s memoir you have in mind to write, then you are developing your voice in just the right direction, and possibly developing an audience that will look forward to your future book.
My novel that involves the Book of Mormon is Smoke Rose to Heaven. It exploits a historical conspiracy theory known as the Spalding Enigma, which suggests that the Book of Mormon was actually plagiarized from an unpublished novel written by a man called Solomon Spalding. Actually, my novel Gentleman of Misfortune also tangles with some tricky LDS history, following a shipment of Egyptian antiquities from which Joseph Smith purchased several mummies and a scroll he claimed to have translated into the Book of Abraham, which became part of A Pearl of Great Price. The two novels are companions. Their timelines intersect and they share some characters. I’d love it if you check them out! And, yes, if you end up int he area, I’m sure we could work out some signing. I haven’t done any live book events in a while, but hope to be getting back to them before too long. Also, if you end up in my corner of the world, there is a great community of writers and writer organizations. I imagine we might wind up running in some of the same circles. 🙂
Thanks for the words of encouragement and additional background re LDS history. Like Alice In Wonderland, the facts just make me “curiouser and curiouser.”