My Aunt Ruth & Uncle Clifford
As some of my followers may or may not know, my family came from West Virginia and that Southern lifestyle colors much of my writing. My mother got married and moved away from those West Virginia mountains, but her sister Ruth stayed behind and married a man who was a coal miner.
Growing up, we visited my aunt's family every summer and those were the most wonderful vacations any child could wish for. We ran barefoot, drank icy cold water from the well and sat on the front porch listening to the tales of our forefathers. For me, it was an awesome vacation, but I was just a child and I remember only the best parts of that life…but the truth is that it was in many ways, a hard life. A life of long days and hard work. A life of having little but thanking The Good Lord for what you did have.
When I wrote Jubilee's Journey, I based the character of Bartholomew in part on my Uncle Clifford. Like Bartholomew, he spent his days in a coal mine and came home with his face blackened by soot.
Today I spoke with my cousin and we retraced some of these old memories which is what has prompted me to share the start of Jubilee's Journey with you. As you read these few paragraphs, I hope you can see that life as I did….
On an icy cold November morning in 1956, Bartholomew Jones died in the Poynter Coal Mine. His death came as no surprise to anyone. He was only one of the countless men forever lost to the mine. They were men loved and mourned by their families, but to the world they were faceless, nameless people, not worthy of mention in the Charleston Times
Morning after morning those men descended into the belly of the mountain, into a world of black dust that clung to their skin with a fierceness that no amount of scrubbing could wash away. In the winter the sky was still black when they climbed into the trolley cart that carried them into the mountain. And when they returned twelve hours later, daylight had already come and gone.
None of the men complained. They were the lucky ones, they told one another. They were the ones who slept easy. Their family had food on the table and coal for the stove when winter blasted its way across the ridge of the mountain.
Read a FREE excerpt here or buy the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes or Kobo.
The story starts in a coal mine community. When you think of coal mining what sorts of things do you picture?
Do you think Bartholomew gave up too soon looking for work outside of the coal mine? Why or why not?
If you were Ruth would you have stuck by Bartholomew or would you have asked family for more help?
Paul makes some decisions in the beginning about what to take when they left. What three things would you take if you had to leave your home and could never go back?
Do you think Paul made the right decision to leave Jubilee on the park bench? Why or why not?
Olivia steps in to take care of a complete stranger. How important do you think Ethan was in convincing Olivia to help Jubilee?
Sharing someone's problems takes courage. In Olivia's position would you have stepped in the same way? Why or why not?
If you've read Spare Change, how has Ethan Allen changed from then to Jubilee's Journey?
If you've read Spare Change, how has Olivia changed from then to Jubilee's Journey?
What is your favorite quote or saying from Jubilee's Journey?
Do you feel Detective Gomez was justified in judging Paul in the beginning? Why or why not?
Do you feel Hurt's path was inevitable? Was there anything that could have happened differently that would have changed the course of his life?
Everyone feels protective of Jubilee, why do you think that is? What part of Jubilee's character makes people want to help her?
What does Olivia do when she feels stressed? What do you do when you feel stressed and want to relax or calm down?
How does Olivia draw Mahoney in to help her find Jubilee's family?
Were you surprised by Anita's reaction when she learned about her sister's children? Why or why not?
Olivia and Anita both have people that enter and change their lives. How has a new person who has entered your life changed you?
Carmella wants to find out who shot her husband. Do you feel her methods were justified? Why or why not? Who finally sets the record straight on what happened to Paul?
At the end several people step forward to help Paul and Jubilee. Do you agree with how things turned out? If not, what would you have done differently?
It is the kind of story that takes you back in time and makes you long for days gone by. It tells us bad things can happen to good people but if you keep faith and keep going, good things are possible. Good people are out there. It is this message that makes this book uplifting. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars. – Alaskan Book Cafe
Upon reaching the end of Jubilee’s Journey, I blinked, held the book to my chest, and sighed. I slowly left their world. So moving, so powerful was this story, I tried to hang onto it, to keep everyone close. Thank you for gifting me Jubilee’s Journey, Bette. There is no better gift than words on a page. – fuonlyknew
Bette Lee Crosby writes stories as if they are biographies. They are full of the cruelties and unfairness of life, but also the beauty and wonder. The worlds and dialogue are so real, I feel as if I am there and I feel frustrated because I do not know what to do to help. She packs so much life and realism into her novels, sometimes a BOX of tissues is not enough. I laugh and cry with the characters. I go through their highs and lows, their ups and downs, all the while trying to figure out how Bette is going to make this end with a happy ever after. The ending left me begging for more. I was sitting on the edge of my seat as if my happiness was on the line. – fundinmental
Crosby also paints imagery like a true artist. The imagery she uses to describe the men, for instance, who work in the coal mines, is devastating as well as hauntingly beautiful; and so real. What the men in the coal mines had to experience was truly heartbreaking and she allows us as readers to catch a very real glimpse of that world. Crosby paints pictures using just the right words to bring you into a world you may have known nothing about before. – The Silver Petticoat Review
Jubilee’s Journey blends several genres together making it a captivating read. It is a tale of growth, hope and inspiration, with a mystery weaved into it as people in Wyattsville move to help this young child and her brother. – Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Ms. Crosby has written yet another marvelous book that will steal your heart, make you think about your family, and make you not want the book to end. – Silver's Reviews
I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre. – Books and Musings From Downunder
This book drives home the point that a community can accomplish so much more than a single individual. We can definitely learn some lessons from the loving and giving characters in Bette Lee’s novels. – fundinmental
DRUM ROLL for JUBILEE'S JOURNEY, BOOK TWO IN THE WYATTSVILLE SERIES
Jubilee's Journey is scheduled for release in October 2013.
The Wyattsville series started with Spare Change, but it wasn't meant to be a series. Spare Change was written as a stand alone book…but somewhere along the line I fell in love with Ethan Allen and Olivia, so much so that I simply couldn't bear to have them leave me.
Like Spare Change, Jubilee's Journey could easily be a stand alone novel…but instead it's the best of all worlds. It's a full circle story that enabled me to go back and revisit some of the people I came to love.
Jubilee's Journey starts with the story of a coal mining family from West Virginia, so I thought my readers might enjoy meeting the source of my inspiration… they are my family. Well, my mother's sister and her family to be exact.
Beginning Monday I will feature three stories about these awesome people. They are inspirational, heartwarming and real. They are part of who I am and why goodness inspires me. For more years than I can remember I have held these stories in my head and now it's time to share them. Join me for a look at what life was like in the coal mining country of West Virginia. Once you get to know the very special people in these stories, I think you'll be as anxious as I was to move along with Jubilee's Journey.