And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. Acts 12:2

   How unexpected it is to read in the Word of God that James, the brother of John was killed by King Herod, just as the New Testament Church began in its infancy. He was the second of the twelve to die;  Judas Iscariot, the traitor, being the first.
This was not supposed to happen, was it? James was part of the “inner circle” of Apostles along with Peter and John. He was privy to the special teaching and experiences from Our Lord. He saw Him transfigured, and speaking with Moses and Elijah. When the other Apostles were left behind to “stay by the stuff”,  he was invited along when Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, sought Our Lord’s healing for his daughter. The Scripture says: And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.
James and John along with Peter were given the privilege of praying alone with Our Lord in the garden just before his betrayal:  And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
James and John’s father, Zebedee must have been quite a character. In Mark it is recorded: And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he (our Lord) surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:   Zebedee must not have been one you wanted to cross. Perhaps he showed his displeasure when our Lord told James and John to follow him, right in the midst of a busy workday.  I love this passage because it shows Our Lord had a sense of humor.
Perhaps James wondered himself at his special treatment, perhaps thinking he was being set apart and prepared for some great ministry.  Maybe the other Apostles felt a tinge of envy and wondered why James was so privileged, thinking to themselves as Peter had done concerning John: “Lord, and what shall this man do?”
Our Lord told his half-brothers (Mary and Joseph’s other sons): “your time is alway ready.” Good people sometimes die inexplicably, even God’s children, and it pleased the Lord to take James home early in martyrdom.  Some might say, before he fulfilled his ministry, but I believe it was fulfilled. It was just as much the Lord’s will for James to be executed by Herod as it was for his brother John to be the last of the Apostles to die almost one hundred years after the Lord’s birth. A ministry is not measured by its length, but by other things like faithfulness. —MLJ

Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.    Matthew 11:26

Since I am primarily a writer of fiction, I once had some “tongue and cheek” criticism leveled at me by a friend. My friend, who is a good friend, by the way, considered fiction writing a “piece of cake” compared to non-fiction because its “just made up stuff” and there is little to no research done or needed to back it up.  I wish someone would have told me this before I got started because I spend a grueling amount of time and effort doing just that.
When a book, especially an historical work that has its setting in a particular time and place (say, the late 1800s in Wyoming, etc) and involves specific named locations and historical events and characters, one would be extremely careless not to get as many details correct as possible. If you check my books, especially the Western genre, you will find that I get it pretty close to the way it was.
I once drove to Canada from Michigan to follow the approximate route of the Northwest Mounted Police in the 1870s to Saskatchewan and then to Montana so I would have a feel for what they saw and experienced along the way. This is borne out in my two books MYSTERY IN THE BEAR PAW MOUNTAINS and its sequel, THE NEW BADGE. The following is an excerpt from MYSTERY:

“The exchange lasted for only a few moments and suddenly stopped, as if the outlaws sensed the Mountie had somehow gotten reinforcements. Brenton looked at his younger companion. “Hold out your hand!” he said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out several boxes of rifle cartridges. “I think these should fit your rifle. You Mounties use that confounded .45-75 cartridge that nobody else around here uses, so I grabbed a couple boxes on my way out. Load up and lay down a barrage of fire to keep their heads down, and don’t let up! And for goodness’ sake—don’t shoot me!”

How many would know that the NWMP once used a specific caliber in their Winchester Rifles, different from the Americans just across the border? I could have put anything in there and most people wouldn’t have known (or cared) but I needed to get it right.
If no research was done or required, I could put out books as frequently as church bulletins.
Sure the remark bothered me, still does, but in all fairness, the person who made the suggestion, as far as I know, never wrote a book–fiction or otherwise. Enough said.  MLJ



Well, it has been awhile since I’ve been guilty of posting anything on this site. Retirement hit me kind of hard.  I think I’ve realized, however, that it is not an excuse for lack of diligence. I haven’t been completely idle, though. I have three manuscripts that are 99% complete (actually, one is 99%, the second is 98% and the third is more like 97). I hope to have a new book out soon, that is if my editor in Canada is still talking to me.  Perhaps she thinks I’m dead (my wife hasn’t received any flowers or sympathy cards, yet).
I’d rather not reveal too much about them, except to say that I’m pretty pleased with what I am seeing thus far.  Most authors do look at their books like they are new-born babes, purposely not noticing the spit up and soiled diapers, not to mention the crying and the smells.  I’ve tried to be honest with myself all along, recognizing my limits, but also knowing that I happily seem to improve with each new project.
I’m going to strive to write a new posting each week, something substantial, so check back when you can.  It’s hot today, about 93 degrees, but its 73 in the house. A little bit of Heaven, I think.  Take care.  MLJ



If you like the 1890’s in Montana, throw in a young town marshal and his girl, a Northwest Mounted Policeman who occasionally strays across the border to visit his American friends, and a retired Buffalo Soldier who is not above meeting out a little frontier justice, than you might like THE NEW BADGE (sequel to MYSTERY IN THE BEAR PAW MOUNTAINS).
Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble in paperback and on Kindle—MICHAEL LEONARD JEWELL


FB_IMG_1456190671489  tabor farm c 1910I thought I’d share this photo sent to me by my sister Cindy. This was typical of the magic that existed back in the glory days of Sodus  Township.  I remember as a kid, the street car tracks in Benton Harbor when many of the streets were attractive red brick–a reminder that Benton Harbor once had its own glory days. You could make a trip to the famous Tabor Farm on River Road on the Interurban. This photo is circa 1910. Thanks to Cindy for sharing and credit to the unknown owner of the photo.  -MLJ