Why I Write

Gettysburg 2012

Gettysburg 2011

Why do you write?  I’ve heard this question many times throughout my years. As long as I can remember, I’ve had a love affair with paper and pen. Journals, notebooks and pages askew. I write everyday. It all begins with “what if” and I wonder… Writing is not a want for me, it is a need. I need to express myself through thoughts and words. I write because it makes me happy and I enjoy entertaining others.

My second love is getting lost within the pages of good books. I love adventuring through the pages. Make me laugh, make me cry, let me celebrate with the characters. Then safely release me home at the end of the story.

As much as I enjoy going on adventures, I want to be your adventure guide. Let me show you adventure, suspense, emotion, love, hate and all the things that make humans who they are, in situations you may never otherwise dare to go. In the end, I promise to bring you back home.

I write historical fiction because I don’t believe history is boring. If this is your opinion, allow me to change that. I will write exciting stories about important times everyone should understand. Our history teaches us about ourselves.

This blog talks about my writing journey, the books I write and the research behind the stories. Because I write about history, I will tell it like it is. Human beings, as a species, are good and bad creatures. This blog is not politically correct, because our history has dark times and we are human. I will write with respect and honor for all,but you will never find it sugar-coated. I will write the story from the winner and loser’s point of view. Learning both sides of a story expands our understanding which allows us to decide how to view the event. I encourage you to do this in life. Ask questions. Draw your own conclusions. Learn…never stop learning.

My first publication: The Cause: Love & War.(2013) A historical romance novel about the civilian side of the Civil War in Gettysburg Pennsylvania.Told from a Southern POV we see how Emilie Prescott soon learns the human side of war. She understands her northern cause, while still bound to her southern beliefs and culture. Her views of the war very different from the history books.

I am currently writing the sequel to The Cause: Love & War. It discusses the aftermath of the war from both sides. How the characters quickly learn there is no going back to life before the war between the states. How do you move forward after a profound life changing event? These and many more questions will be answered.

I invite you to stay tuned to the blog for the latest research and upcoming book events. I look forward to interacting with each one of you.

All My Best!

Ellyn M. Baker~

Birth of New Characters-Tips & Hints


Image of Emilie pinterest.com


Image of Stephen Byrne pinterest.com

Developing characters closely resembles watching a child grow. Writers understand solid characters can make or break their story lines. Characters need to have lives, personalities, positive and negative traits. Most importantly characters must be realistic. If they are going to take the readers hand and lead them through the story, they must appear to someone you could meet on the street. I found reading Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland, gave me a springboard to creating my characters. I recommend her series, she gives great ideas and a solid foundation for any new novel in the making.

New characters are one of writer’s biggest challenges. It takes hard work to create images and personalities that add to the story. I used these tips to create my new characters with depth and personality.

  1. Think about their purpose within the story. Friend or foe every character has a purpose. When the story focuses on this character he must make a difference in the whole scheme of things. Will he block the protagonist’s progress or help him along? Will this character stand out or complete the background in the protagonists world? Big or small, his reason for being on the pages of your novel are important to the story. If his purpose diminishes, you may consider cutting him from the storyline.
  2. Make the character have personality traits unique to him. Flatline characters do not have dimension, they are background extras and your reader will forget him quickly. If he has purpose and goals. He must be created enough to step out of the book. Writers know their characters intimately enough to pick them out of a crowd, or from a criminal line up.  The reader should know them too.  Create a list of characteristics, background and purpose to the story line. Unique characteristics helps the character complete the character dimensions.
  3. Write the story from the characters POV. If you struggle to find the character’s purpose in the story line. Write the story as the character understands it. Not just the facts, write how he see it. He may not know everything, but at least you will see his POV through his personality. It is an eye-opening experience.

The characters in the second book include freedmen and women from Virginia. Characters found in the Reconstruction South. Good and bad, these characters are challenging. New characters are fun to create, but I really enjoy evolving my current characters. Young Thaddeus as an older child. We last saw him an infant. Emilie and Stephen change over the years. How has marriage challenged these characters? There will be some cameos from beloved characters you knew from the first book.

Watching my characters change and grow through life challenges is one of the joys of writing novels. I hope the tips and hints will help develop your characters. Characters are like family to writers. We love some and hate others. If the reader does not feel the same, there is more work to do. Think about introducing this family member to your readers. What will be their impressions?

Author-Where Are You?


Hello again! I missed my WordPress community. I am back and in the midst of working through the second novel a sequel to The Cause: Love & War. Most of my work until now has focused on researching, and toiling over the new story structure. I started this blog as my writer’s journey and it will continue. My hope is to inspire writers to write and others who want to write to finally pick up the pen and fill books and journals with their talents.  I am finally organized to share with you the development of book two.

Book Two, title still pending, is developing. The reader will revisit old friends and meet a new supporting cast of characters. The research is beyond fascinating for me. While most history books stop at the signing at Appomatox, we know the Civil War and its aftermath went on for many years to come. This is the focus of  book two. What happened after the fighting stopped? The husband, brothers and lovers did not simply put down their weapons and go home to pick up where they left off four years earlier. How did the civilians at home receive their loved ones? How did the South begin to rebuild?

The emotional, social and financial impact of the war only scratches the surface. What about the physical, mental and environment impact? These men were four to five years older. A majority of them who, by the grace of God, survived to arrive home with physical and mental scars. They arrived home to a family who knew them as the person who left. The families expected the same man to return to them. War is not that simple. Can you imagine the shock for both family and soldier? A shift in decision making roles, family roles and expectations. Nothing was the same in Post Civil War Era. Everyone had to define a new normal for themselves.

A portion of the book will talk about the reconstruction of the South. History books are written from the victor’s point of view. Every story has two sides and I am compelled to tell you the other side of that story. Continue reading

Shine On



Graduations abound. This is a time where weary final exam students can breathe a sigh of relief and smile about their accomplishments. I am blessed as two of my children graduated this week. One child graduated from high school and the other for eighth grade. During this pride-filled week, I had the privilege to hear some moving graduation speeches from both student and adults. Every speech had a similar in theme clearly applies to not just the graduate, but also every adult present.

The goal of commencement is to encourage the graduate to push on into the unknown and figure out how to get what you want out of life. It does not matter if you are pursuing a new job, college life or beginning high school the goal is all the same. You have to be willing to define yourself, your goals and move forward to achieve it. Like a star being born, life teaches you how to shine on.

Life is the polish, and it is up to you to learn how to make yourself happy and fulfilled.

These graduation tips are for everyone young and old.

Failure is certain. Eventually, you will fail at something. The key to overcoming failure is to learn from it. Glean the wisdom from the moment feel its sting because you are human and move on knowing you achieved wisdom and strength from this experience. The message here- It is OK to fail as long as you become stronger and wiser from the experience.

Everyone has the incredible ability to pave their future by each decision they make. Right or wrong, these decisions will carve out your future and make you an incredible unique person.  If you want to achieve a goal, you have to work hard. On the flip side, have fun. A twist to the “all work and no play” theme we have heard many times. This is remarkably insightful. How many times have we worked diligently to achieve a goal only to feel disappointed afterward? Life is supposed to have joy. Work and joy can intertwine to create a fulfilling life. Think about this the next time you feel no joy on the way to your next goal.

Never stop exploring. Other tidbits talked about getting involved outside your studies or work. Have an outlet to broaden your interests and explore your personality. Take time to learn a new hobby, try something that interests you. Enrich your life by learning a new skill and meeting new friends. Isn’t it time to explore something new? Which new hobby have you attempted lately?

Graduation is exciting, as a parent I am both proud and worried about my young adults. They have so much to learn, but I know I will be there to help them through. The speeches remind me we are never finish learning. As long as we have another day, it is one more opportunity to shine on!

No Names Please!



Listening to the radio news, it is appalling to hear how the press uses labels to divide people from each other. This divide and conquer tactic pits any group against another.  No one is immune; we are exposed to harmful names and labels every day. We hear names, races, political affiliation, religious affiliations and labels that are unnecessary. Labels and name-calling are the dividing line that separates humans from caring about each other.

Black white yellow blonde ginger democrat republican Muslim, Christian or Jew- each label brings forth good and bad images. Why do we separate ourselves in this manner? We are simply humans with different physical traits, cultures and life experiences. The differences should bring us together not separate us.

~Others opinions of you does not have to become your reality~ Les Brown

It begins with the grade school bully. The first experience when someone points out a physical difference we all possess. We are not meant to look alike, yet children feel the sting of humiliation by someone pointing out a physical attribute deemed different. Most children go on from this experience while others remember it for life. This would be considered a learning tool if it stopped on the school playground but it does not. How unfortunate it is to have your self-esteem ruined because someone chose to be mean-spirited. Everyone is beautiful to someone. If one cannot accept someone by his or her physical attributes, then move on without pointing it out. The accused know their own flaws far better than anyone.

~I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy as a cause for withdrawing from a friend~ Thomas Jefferson

What do wars, murder and bloodshed have in common? Each event was triggered by opinions tied to raw emotion. Opinions teach us about each other. We think differently shaped by experiences and own unique life journey. Instead of staying close-minded ranting and raving about your rights, stop, calm your emotion and listen. Have respect to hear another point of view. It is perfectly ok to disagree, but have respect and openness to listen. The world needs more listening and less violence.

~You never truly understand someone until you have walked in their shoes~

Cultural differences are the biggest obstacle. Who are we to judge how other cultures choose to live? Each culture has its own set of rules set back from the beginning of time. Just because we do not agree with other cultures rules, does not mean they have to change for us. Striving to change other cultures goes back since the beginning of time. After thousands of years, we have not learned anything. Culture is the foundation of whom we are as people. Before I get a thousand opinions about human atrocities in other countries, I am well aware of these facts. Any one’s interference is pushing foreign ideas onto someone else’s world. How is that respecting their culture?  No one will fully understand someone’s way of life without living inside the culture. Walk a mile in their shoes, as long as they do not infringe on another’s lifestyle, then let it be.

Regardless of our differences, we are all the same. Next time the urge to judge someone strikes, take a moment to look at him or her. Try to see they are like you shaped by different life experiences. Would you be any different if you walked in their shoes? Don’t you think it time to step outside your comfort zone and learn about each other?

Mother’s Day Thank You



Happy Mother’s Day to new moms; experienced mom’s and grand moms. Your journey is not an easy one, but the rewards are priceless. Today, we remember the women who have touched our lives and shaped us in many profound ways.

I do not know how women become mothers. Well yes, I know the basics, but where does the wisdom, patience and perseverance come from? I do not remember someone bestowing these qualities on me to get me through the ‘tough years’. Reflecting back on Mother’s day, I realize each child I raised gave me these qualities. They changed me as much as I shaped them.

Our children change us.  It is a long hard road, paved with tears and triumph. It begins with trial by fire and ends with deep satisfaction and pride. The first wail after birth is our call to action from the commanding officer as Parent Boot camp begins.

How does something so small have so many demands? They deprive us of sleep; make us wonder if we are “cut out” for this parent thing. Just as we get our bearings, they find their voice. These little tykes mirror our actions bossy and demanding. Before we know it, we release them to the world as they enter school with a tearful good luck. The next few years get easier, guiding them through their school age years boosting their confidence, helping them find their identity. The years seem to accelerate forward and before we know it, our grip loosens little by little each year as their independence grows. We watch their wings develop growing stronger by the year. The young adult years come with harder decisions and then they leave. The last link bonding us as parent and child is never broken. It only feels that way as they excitedly leave the nest to begin the adult years.

Children teach us about ourselves. They force us to grow stronger and more resilient. I would not trade those experiences for anything. Yes, it was hard, rewarding, crazy, and wonderful all at the same time. The pride I feel being their Mom is knowing I grew from these experiences. I did not have to be perfect to be a good parent. I just had to be there for them.  I have my children to thank for that.

Thank you my beautiful children. You made me a better version of myself. Know I am always here for you. I won’t save you from life, but I will help you through it.  I am honored to be your Mom and I thank you for choosing me. Happy Mother’s Day!

Lost Art of Letters and Diaries

The art of letter writing is becoming a talent of the past. Correspondences between family and friends is now replaced by emails and Skype and instant messaging. How will this impact future generations when they want to understand the world we live in today? Our world no longer values cursive writing or a man’s signature marking his word or contract. Our  younger generations do not know how to properly sign their names because they are not being taught cursive writing in school.  All of these skills are lost to the computer age.

Letters and diaries give researchers a first hand account about lives past. Personal ideas and reflections of life as one experiences it.  Thoughts and feelings scribbled onto now aged yellowed fragile paper.  As technology propels us forward, paper gives way to intangible clouds. Are we losing a valuable link to answer questions future generation will ask about us?

Letter writing and diary keeping is an art. It is a space where someone can record their thoughts and feelings about their lives, hopes and worries. Ideas written in personalized handwriting, printed or cursive.  The creative squiggles of cursive writing decorates the page with personality and wit. These personal accounts allow the reader to understand “life as usual” and intimate details about love and devotion. It is all about life as someone experiences it.

Sallie Myers

Salome Meyers

Tillie Pierce

Tillie Pierce

The diaries of Tillie Pierce Alleman and Salome Meyers Stewart discuss life before during and after the Civil war at Gettysburg. Learning intimate details about these women’s lives brought Gettysburg and its people to life.  These accounts helped me create characters who would have seamlessly fit into Gettysburg during that time. Letters from the southern point of view, from Richard Henry Watkins to his wife Mary revealed his devotion to his family and home. Richard wrote about the farm and business dealings before talking about personal issues to Mary. Through these first hand accounts, I understood how they saw the war. Richard treated the war as an inconvenience, while Tillie and Salome expressed fear and worry about how their lives may change. Reading their words helped me understand the events through their eyes.

Hand written letters are becoming a lost art. How will future researchers understand history through our eyes? Will these records exist for future researchers to understand our lives as we see it or will it be gone forever?


The Ties of the Past: The Gettysburg Diaries of Salome Meyer Stewart, 1854-1922

At Gettysburg or What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle: A True Narrative by Tillie Pierce Alleman

Send Me an Old Pair of Boots & Kiss my Little Girls – The Civil War Letters of Richard and Mary Watkins 1861-1865 Jeff Toalson, editor 


Richard and Mary Watkins 1890

Richard and Mary Watkins 1890