Rita Ownby Holcomb Author

Bringing my ancestors to life.

Under the Witch’s Mark is an excellent example of coming of age during the Age of Aquarius.

In the late 1960’s, millions of Flower Children rebelled against their conventional, post World War II upbringing by experimentation with psychedelic drugs, “free” love and out of the norm costumes and music. They (we) embraced any behavior that would shock society.

By the early 1970’s the movement had become wide spread with some young people learning that freedom from convention led down roads from which there was no return.

Rickey Pitman simply and distinctly gives the reader a glimpse of how evil walks among us and how quickly innocence can turn into evil when the weak and susceptible.

Those who believe the devil is a myth will rethink their convictions after reading Under the Witch’s Mark

When I was 12 my Mother bought a large lot of old books from a library sale. I was a voracious reader and she thought the books would occupy me for a while. On the top of the stack was Forever Amber by Kathleen Windsor. Published in 1944 (four years before I was born) it was already out of print. Unknown to my sweet Mama, it had received much criticism by the press.

While many reviewers “praised the story for its relevance, comparing Amber’s fortitude during the plague and fire to that of the women who held hearth and home together through the blitzes of World War II”, others condemned it for its blatant sexual references. Fourteen US states banned the book as pornography. The first was Massachusetts, whose attorney general cited 70 references to sexual intercourse, 39 illegitimate pregnancies, 7 abortions, and “10 descriptions of women undressing in front of men” as reasons for banning the novel. Winsor denied that her book was particularly daring and said that she had no interest in explicit scenes. “I wrote only two sexy passages,” she remarked, “and my publishers took both of them out. They put in ellipses instead. In those days, you know, you could solve everything with an ellipsis.”

Despite its banning, Forever Amber was the best-selling US novel of the 1940s. It sold over 100,000  copies in its first week of release, and went on to sell over three million copies. Forever Amber was also responsible for popularizing “Amber” as a given name for girls in the 20th century.

The book was condemned by the Catholic Church for indecency, which helped its popularity. One critic went so far as to number each of the passages to which he objected. A film adaptation by 20th Century Fox was finally completed after substantial changes to the script were made, toning down some of the book’s most objectionable passages in order to appease Catholic media critics.

The book was banned in August 1945 in Australia. The Minister for Customs, Senator Richard Keane, said “The Almighty did not give people eyes to read that rubbish.”

In the mind of a 12-year-old on 1960 Amber was to be learned from. Not for the promiscuity’s but for her problem solving ability and to learn what NOT to do in life.

My main take-away was Kathleen Windsor’s descriptive writing. I still can feel the heat as Amber battles the Fire of London and smell the stench as she and Bruce survive the Great Plague.

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The boys climbed over the rail fence and Jim threw a rope in his best cowboy fashion and lassoed the hog. They tightened the rope around his neck and led him to the trees. Thinking he was to be fed, the hog stood patiently.

Eli walked up and, bowing his head, quietly said, “Thank you, Lord, for this bounty we are about to receive.”

(Excerpt from A Twist of Tobacco)

get the Kindle on Amazon or buy it Here

On my many trips to Tennessee to visit the places where my ancestors lived, I stopped at many battlefields and burial sites. All of them touch my soul but none like Ft. Donelson National Park. Here are some of my favorite shots of the surrounding area. Original music by Rickey Pitman (Bard of the South) and Jed Marum. Thank you for the inspiration guys.

Battle of Ft Donelson is featured in A Twist of Tobacco. Get the Kindle on Amazon or buy it Here

5 star review of A Vow Unbroken. Once again, following the story of the Ownby family makes you laugh, brings you to tears, and leaves you wanting more. Written in a relaxed, homey style it is easy to read and brings you into the lives of the Ownby’s and their extended families. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Photo taken at The Homeplace in Dover, Tennessee. We visited there a few years back and it was the model I based the Ownby Farm on in A Twist of Tobacco and A Vow Unbroken. Get the Kindle on Amazon or buy it Here

Many readers ask what and who are real versus fiction in the Twist of Tobacco Trilogy. I put together my research notes and papers along with the justification of the created characters in the series. Tennessee to Texas is a record of the people, both real and fictional from the A Twist of Tobacco Trilogy.

My many research trips to Tennessee gave me so many photo opportunities as well as the time spent locally revisiting the places the family lived.

Original music by Eddy Simmons

Tennessee to Texas – Get the Kindle on Amazon or buy it Here

The first novel I read in 2021 was Innocence Lost: The Legend of Henrietta Clay by Rita Ownby Holcomb. (Fountain Springs Publishing).  The novel is well constructed with 44 dated chapters starting with August of 1860 and ending Christmas Eve, 1864. Innocence Lost is the first in a series that spans from 1860-1920.

This construct gives the story the feel of a memoir, telling the story of fifteen-year-old Henrietta Clay from Hogeye, Arkansas. The young, naive girl marries a man who promises her a beautiful life, but instead uses her and drags her into the seedy world of war-torn St. Louis. Fate rescues her from her difficult circumstances and leaves her with the gift of a child and an inherited brothel.  Henrietta Clay is actually the great-great-grandmother of the author.

The author skillfully constructs her plot with the kind of chapters I like to read: short enough to read in one sitting with very descriptive writing that moves from one conflict to another. The storyline has plenty of conflicts and twists and at times has the feel of a romance novel, but as mentioned before, it feels more like a memoir, and one that is full of historical details indicating the extensive research the author must have done,  Even though I’ve long been a student of the Civil War, some of these facts are surprising, such as introducing Lissie Keckley, a free slave who became the personal dressmaker of Mary Todd Lincoln. As the War Between the States is always in the background, the protagonist is an observer of the St. Louis civilians as well as the Federal and Confederate officers and soldiers whose destinies and actions affected the city.  In a way, one could say that this is very much a story of St. Louis.

Review by Bard of the South, Rickey Pitman https://bardofthesouth.com/innocence-lost-by-rita-ownby…/

Innocence Lost

At 15, innocent dreamer, Henrietta Clay was beguiled by a narcissistic opportunist who promised her escape from tiny Hogeye, Arkansas. Instead, he thrust her into the underbelly of war-torn St. Louis. Fate intervened and gave her two unexpected gifts…a child and an inheritance – a brothel.

$15.00