Why Shiloh for my Story’s Setting?

 

In Sanctuary, my premier Southern mystery, readers are introduced to the quaint, time-lost South Georgia town of Shiloh. The story begins as Theo and his wife Liddy desire to relocate and retire back to their country roots, after investing four decades of their lives in the shadows of Atlanta. According to the story, it is Liddy who discovers an advertisement for a quaint Craftsman home that convinced her Shiloh would be a perfect fit for them.

But, it’s what readers sense early on as they arrive in Shiloh that draws them into the story? First of all, Shiloh’s reputation paints a serene picture about this time-lost town, but like its namesake from biblical lore, reputation and present reality are subject to the whims and shortcomings of men.

Like the Shiloh of old, Sanctuary reveals that the once proud Shiloh had lost its luster and position as the county seat decades earlier. Alexandria, like Jerusalem in biblical lore, surpassed Shiloh as the center of power and influence, leaving the proud people in Shiloh with their beautiful, antebellum courthouse on the town square a victim of progress. According to the story, Alexandria blossomed during the post-WWII boom and expansion in Georgia, while Shiloh stagnated and struggled, like many real-life small towns in South Georgia. Shiloh’s conciliation came in the preserving of its beloved courthouse as it received a facelift and became reconfigured into the town’s city hall. However, the facelift and remodeling of their sesquicentenary courthouse left the edifice’s skeleton of 19th Century hewn timbers and ornate woodwork in tact. Decades later, their beloved historical courthouse would be razed to the ground and steal away the life of a town hero, who rescued others from the growing inferno.

Biblical Shiloh became the first seat of governance once Joshua and the nation of Israel completed their conquest of the Promised Land. The ark of the covenant and tabernacle that had traveled for forty years found a seemingly permanent resting place in Shiloh. Israel’s priests and judges (leaders) established Shiloh as the central seat in the Promised Land until Israel felt unsettled about the way Israel was governed, and desired to be like the other nations. Not long after Israel turned to the rule of king’s, rather than priests acting on God’s behalf, Shiloh fell victim to King David’s selection of Jerusalem as his site for his palace and the building of the new temple. A rival army burned and ransacked Shiloh not long before David ascended the throne as the second king of Israel. However, he turned his back on Shiloh and chose Jerusalem for his palace.

All that remains of biblical Shiloh in modern Israel.

The name Shiloh to this day still paints a different picture than the historical reality which its namesakes have experienced. One of the bloodiest and decisive battles fought during the Civil War became known as the Battle of Shiloh, in Tennessee.

Darley’s Painting of the Battle of Shiloh, 1862

Even the Hebrew origin of the name Shiloh means “place of peace,” but as history revealed, “peace” requires the cooperation of men to live up to the expectation of maintaining peace in their community. Sanctuary and its sequel play on the dichotomy of Shiloh’s reputation and the reality of its present state as Theo and Liddy soon discover upon their arrival to Shiloh that there’s a rift in the tranquility of the community.

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Hope you will read more here and then head over to T. M. Brown, Facebook Author page. I’d love to connect with you and offer the latest on my book tour schedule and insight into this Southern author.

Take it from this Southern boy, you won’t want to lay Sanctuary down…

Please leave any comments or questions you may have about Sanctuary or about me. Also, feel free to ask other questions concerning the upcoming sequel, Testament, an early 2018 release.

 

Sanctuary Has a Pervasive 21st Century Enemy

Premier Southern mystery in the Shiloh series of stories by T. M. Brown

The greatest threat to any Sanctuary, where hope, peace and the presence of God’s embrace reside, is the pervasive cancer of sex, violence and vulgarity.

According to recent statistics, novels replete with explicit sex, violence, and vulgarity continue to thrive as the flavor of the month in book sales. However, should authors kowtow to earthy content to increase book numbers?

Good writers engage their audience so well, scenes calling for sex, violence, or vulgarity communicate through the actions and attitudes of the characters. Thus, allowing the story to unfold without explicitly necessitating every sordid detail.

I believe an author’s responsibility is not only to entertain but also engage readers, so they sense they are witnessing the story as it unfolds.

What images race through your mind that depicts anger and rage? Do you picture contorted faces and threatening gestures, or do you need to be explicitly told? Consider this scene from my book Sanctuary:

Hank gritted his teeth as the veins on his neck swelled, and his eyes glared through me. “Well, I think you’re putting your nose into places you’ve no business being.” He uncrossed his arms and pointed at my chest. “I’m warning you. Stay away from me and my wife!”

“Hank, I’m sorry if I’ve said or done anything to upset you. Have you spoken to your father?”

“This is between you and me. Stay out of our lives.” Hank’s effort to be more composed fell apart.

… Hank pressed his finger into my sternum. “This is all I’m going to say to you about Jessie or John…” He thumped his finger against my chest adding emphasis to each word. “I’m truly sorry about what happened to Jessie, but John got what he deserved. And you can quote me on that. Now back off! I’m warning you.”

Pete stepped out from the shadows, unceremoniously interrupting Hank’s exchange with me. 

“Mister P, is everything okay?” Pete asked as he glared at Hank. “Hank, who’re you warning about what?”

Hank surveyed Pete and the four remaining shadows just out of the light. His finger fell to his side, but his distended veins on his neck swelled even more. “Pete, this has nothing to do with you or any of you guys!”

…Pete extended his finger just shy of Hank’s chest. “How in the blue blazes do you know it don’t involve us? If you think you can flex your muscles and intimidate one of my friends, you just made it my business.” His stern warning and unflinching stare froze Hank.

Granted a few expletives could’ve been exchanged, but did the scene work anyway?

John Grisham achieved his decades-long success capitalizing on his uncanny knack of drawing his audience’s attention upon his colorful characters and settings. Doing so, he exited scenes involving sex, violence or vulgarity using innuendo. In fact, Grisham’s Theodore Boone YA mysteries found a broad new audience without much of an adjustment in his storytelling to do so. Neither should we to reach a wider audience to sell more books.

Sanctuary, a Southern mystery novel that celebrates small-town life dealing with 21st Century challenges while trying to move beyond scandal and dark secrets holding the idyllic, time-lost town of Shiloh hostage as Theo Phillips and his wife, Liddy arrive in town to retire. For more information – TM Brown FB Author Page or CoachBrown.org

The Source of My Inspiration – Family!

Avarice Infests Our Imperfect World

Oh the voracious appetite of the Gargantua called Avarice
Oh the voracious appetite of the Gargantua called Avarice

Avarice Infests Our Imperfect World

If you see oppression of the poor and perversion of justice and righteousness in the province, don’t be astonished at the situation, because one official protects another official, and higher officials [protect] them. The profit from the land is taken by all; the king is served by the field. The one who loves money is never satisfied with money, and whoever loves wealth [is] never [satisfied] with income. This too is futile. When good things increase, the ones who consume them multiply; what, then, is the profit to the owner, except to gaze at them with his eyes? The sleep of the worker is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich permits him no sleep. Eccl 5:8-12 (HCSB)

This passage affirms a relevant reality about life. Since the beginning of time, avarice has insatiably devoured wealth. In America today, avarice thrives throughout all levels of society. Our economy continues to teeter on the brink of collapse because avarice once tasted hooks the soul of men like other irresistible opiate. It spawns voracious corporate investment firms and financial institutions devouring one another while seducing everyday Americans with tantalizing money schemes. The result: Americans pretend to be wealthier than their income can afford. Their generous lines of credit entrap them with a false sense of wealth. However, there comes a time when everyone discovers they cannot even pay their monthly interest debt. Then Americans wake in the midst of the nightmare they allowed themselves to embrace only to realize too late that they bit into the shiny apple that blinded them from the greed of the corporate world sapping America dry, raking the wealth of our country into their pockets. During these nebulous times, the wealthy get wealthier while average Americans find they are deeper in debt and fearing the future.

As if America did not learn the lessons of less than a decade ago, new corrupt and irresponsible credit schemes are creeping back, promising once again that everyone should be able to invest in homes of their dreams; owning real estate is an American right. Add to that fever, television networks broadcast shows documenting young couples buying fixer-upper homes, investing in their makeover because their new home will be worth more than they invested when they decide to resell. No one mentions that like before, the future housing market offers no guarantees. The real benefactors are the contractors, home supply retailers, real estate agents, and bankers. If they all are getting their fair share, what is the home buyer left with? Avarice affects us all with blatant, blinding greed. Whether the stock market or the housing market, all market bubbles bust. The contractors, home supply retailers, real estate agents, and bankers have already pocketed their profit while the young couple is left trapped in monthly debts for a dream home that feels more like a financial millstone around their necks.

The rich continue to get richer, while the average American suffers. Yet, is this a new phenomenon? No not at all? We could address the same with school loans weighing down graduates while the colleges grow in wealth because they increase their tuition and fees while they convince unsuspecting, easily duped new students of the value of earning their degree at their school.

Throughout history, as this biblical passage relates, the powerful have always benefited from the redistribution of wealth. The hierarchy of power makes certain that the wealth of the people beneath them flows upward, not downward. The greatest financial pyramid schemes that exist legally are designed to squeeze the wealth from the land by taking advantage of the avarice infestation that exists within all men who fail to stop and evaluate what is truly important in life. This reality allows the rich to sleep at night knowing they will continue to prosper while the average person tosses and turns in his bed, unable to sleep because they fear they will wake up unable to hold onto what little bit they have managed to grasp onto.

When we stop and seek God’s will, ways, and wisdom on this matter, what does God have to say? The pursuit of wealth is its own god. No one can serve both their desire for wealth and their relationship with God. Avarice will always infest this world, but there is a better way to live free from its ill-affects while we dwell in this world. Choose wisely whom you will serve and revere first and foremost.

Coach

Words of Wisdom #230-14EC

When I Choose for Myself, Loneliness Thrives

Crossroads

When I Choose for Myself, Loneliness Thrives

I increased my achievements. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made gardens and parks for myself and planted every kind of fruit tree in them. I constructed reservoirs of water for myself from which to irrigate a grove of flourishing trees. I acquired male and female servants and had slaves who were born in my house. I also owned many herds of cattle and flocks, more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. I also amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I gathered male and female singers for myself, and many concubines, the delights of men. Thus, I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem; my wisdom also remained with me. All that my eyes desired, I did not deny them. I did not refuse myself any pleasure, for I took pleasure in all my struggles. This was my reward for all my struggles. When I considered all that I had accomplished and what I had labored to achieve, I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind. There was nothing to be gained under the sun. Eccl 2:4-11 (HCSB)

Solomon offers the greatest example of when we live a self-centered, self-focused lifestyle, self-satisfaction is not possible.

When “I” dominates our thoughts and motivates our life, we are focused on pleasing ourself first and foremost. However, “I” focus leads only to futility, and in time, growing futility morphs into frustration, which ultimately develops into hate for our insatiable self. Even when all the prestige, power and pleasures of this world are available, our “I” focus can never be adequately satisfied. Why? Because, God did not create us to be selfish creatures. We were created to serve and share with those within our circle of family and friends.

The richest people in this world have repeatedly testified that when they got caught up in their growing wealth and fame, only loneliness shared that wealth and fame. Why do so many rich and famous people resort to lifestyles that are so destructive, risking all they have? Even the great Solomon discovered his insatiable desires nurtured the loneliness he found himself surrounded by – his concubines failed to satisfy his desire for true love; all his servants could not offer him true friendship; and his enumerable slaves were not a replacement for family.

There is a decision we all must make in life: a crossroads of two choices. One road offers glory, fame and fortune found through a lifetime following our own will, ways, and wisdom – much like Solomon. The other road leads to a destination that can only be discovered by faith. A faith that requires the surrender of shortsighted, selfish desires in exchange for trusting God’s will, ways, and wisdom. At the crossroads, our decision depends on whether we trust our eyes or our heart.

Solomon asked for wisdom, and God gave him his wish, but what he got was a lifetime of misery and frustration. History reveals, his selfish choices affected all the families of Israel. After his death, the clans that made up Israel split, went their own ways and never reconciled. They all entered the slippery slope on the road to destruction. Likewise, if we choose wrongly, we too can land on that same slippery slope and discover we too caused the demise of others as well. Which way is the right way? The one with a favorable destination your eyes can see, or the one with an unclear destination but your heart feels is the right choice? Choose wisely, but unselfishly. Success is never determined by the value of things we accumulate, but by the growing number of people we serve and share with in this world.

Coach

Words of Wisdom #220-4EC