Author-Where Are You?

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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

Writing through Their Words

 

wehearit.com

wehearit.com

 

 

While researching the historical background for The Cause: Love & War, my goal was to move away from the history books and uncover true tales of the time period as told by the ones who lived it. I found a wealth of information in diaries, letters and oral histories. These histories allowed me to see “life as usual” for a common person as pivotal historical events unfolded.

I use these histories to understand people’s personalities through their thoughts and written words. Reading these words set my creative mind to work. Using  these stories as a springboard for character development and story line I began to weave my own tale. Their words taught me dialects, phrasing and vocabulary. Mimicking these historical elements created a believable storyline.

While writing this historic specific story, I found it difficult to “stay in the period” while present day flowed around me. Historical novelists must keep vigilant watch to prevent modern phrases slipping into the storyline. It takes mindset and concentration.

Diaries and journals add realism to the storyline. My goal is to create a reality within the pages. I want the reader to think they live within the pages alongside my characters. I believe this transformation only happens by listening to the past. I dug deeper to uncovering a set of oral histories about slavery in the South. I excitedly found documentation about slave life different from the horrors we read about in textbooks. Slave owners who treated their slaves as people. Another oral history talked about a slave owner hosting a marriage of a black couple at their home. The afternoon said to be a joyous occasion. Not all white slave owners mistreated their slaves. This point often overshadowed by the blatant atrocities seen in movies and book.

The ladies of Gettysburg had an incredible talent for writing everything down. Sallie Meyers, Sarah Broadhead and Tillie Pierce bring the war to our doorstep as it arrived at theirs. I am sure some of these women never intended their words to be published. Their views about their lives help us to understand their experiences in a time we can only read about today.

Each aspect of The Cause: Love & War was touched by some letter diary or oral report, I read. Using various elements of these letters personalized the book and made it unique. The Prescott family’s views toward slavery came directly from the oral histories I read. The letters between Emilie and Thaddeus were written in the same spirit as many lovers, husband and wives. Emilie’s journal entries, helped her express herself, in a voice she was not allowed in Victorian times as many journals written by young women allowed them to express emotions they weren’t allowed to show to anyone else. These therapeutic memoirs open a new world of history for us today.

If the history bug bites, you may want to consider delving into books about collections of letters and diaries about people like you and me.

A Tale of Two Book Signings

Every new job comes with a learning curve. Each new equally challenging as another. Learning from these experiences creates better outcomes for the next. The book is four weeks from its release date. I decided set out to pre-sell the book to gain experience through book signing events. I traveled to Gettysburg in June and Northern Wisconsin for July. Prior to the events, I studied several sites on How to Launch a Successful Book-Signing Event. I felt prepared and ready. Here is how that turned out.

The first shipment of books arrived, despite tornadoes around the publishing company weeks earlier. I felt the excitement tingle through me as I touched the “real” books I only dreamed about weeks before. These books were hard-won in my opinion. The first experience through this writing process is bumpy as hell and painstaking at times.

My debut signing scheduled for Heritage Hill during the Civil War event planned there. I chatted up the book throughout the park all day.  I strolled through the 90-degree weather fully dressed in 1860’s gown and bonnet. My PR person aka Mom came with me handing out push cards and telling everyone about the new author and her book. Before the signing event, I changed into my author clothes and set up the signing table. As the visitors trickled through the visitors’ center at the end of the day, I chatted about the book and met some interested readers. The best part about book signings is interacting with the readers. Not everyone was interested, but those who showed interest made the event pretty fantastic. This first event as a whole was a success in my book.

Off to Gettysburg. OH BOY!! Gettysburg’s 150th anniversary was the goal from the moment I started writing this book. I wanted to appear at the re-enactment sites, to get the book into the hands of re-enactors. The downfall to this excursion was a lack of early planning. This event week was too big to tackle alone. The arrangements I made washed away like the tide overtaking a sandcastle on the shore. I refused wash away with the sand. I sold some books and made contacts with bookstores for November. The key to Gettysburg is to plan months in advance, not weeks. I simply did not have enough time to get is done successfully. My son and I forged ahead and pre-planned November by meeting book store owners, leaving promo copies and adding to my list of contacts. I left with one signing and two potential signings scheduled.

Two weeks later, I landed in Northern Wisconsin. My PR person set up multiple library tours and a Strawberry Social event. This was my first set of speaking engagements. I prepared to talk about the book, and its important history. The week was exhausting. The Plum Lake event was a signing event with three local authors. We drew local readers excited to meet us. I practiced my one-minute book speech and enjoyed meeting the readers. I am thankful for the librarian’s efforts to advertise through flyers and press. It was exciting to see the events documented in the local newspapers. This was evident as people recognized my name when I introduced myself.

These events are a warm up to the release of the book in September. The marketing learning curve will become easier with experience. Right now, I am enjoying the process. The editing is done, the book is complete. I am meeting new people, talking about the book and learning new things along the way. It’s just another day in the life of a writer.

 

Blog Hop: Visiting Other’s Works

blog hopA blog hop is a way to visit other author blogs to see what they have been up too. Thank you Dora Drinovac (http://mysoulfragments.blogspot.com/ ) for tagging me. This post will tell you more about my upcoming book The Cause: Love & War due out Spring 2013. Be sure to visit all of the tagged authors to see their works in progress or recently published works.

Here are the questions Dora asked me to post about my book:

1.) What is the working title of the book?
The Cause: Love & War

2.) Where did the idea come from?
My love for history and the Civil war started to fuel this story, but it was a past life regression that put me in the middle of war-torn Gettysburg that gave me the feeling this story needed to be told.

3.) Which genre will your book be published?
Historical Fiction

4.) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Emilie Prescott –Emma Stone            Thaddeus Marsh- Robbie Arnell
Stephen Byrne- Freddie Stroma           Seth- Corbin Bleu

5.) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Understanding an issue from both sides can leave you standing in the abyss of trying to decide where you belong.

6.) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Tate Publishing represents my book.

7.) How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?
This project was a start/stop manuscript for many years. When Tate accepted the partial manuscript, it took 8 months to finish.

8.) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The book closely resembles Michael Shaara and Jeff Shaara Civil War trilogy Gods & Generals and The Killer Angels and The Last Full Measure. He wrote about the personal side of the military generals who fought at Gettysburg. This story tells a similar story about how the civilians survived the battle of Gettysburg. The main characters are fiction but they interact with non-fiction civilians.

9.) Who or What inspired you to write this book.
The people of Gettysburg during the war inspired me to tell their story. It is a story about real life. I wanted to write about the civilian side of the war.

10.) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Most of the townspeople Emilie interacts with are real people of Gettysburg. I used their stories and diaries to re-create their characters as close to real as possible. We see Gettysburg through their eyes. I am thankful for my Gettysburg National Park Guide who helped me understand Gettysburg during these years.

Now it is your turn to check out the following authors. Some of these fellow bloggers have books they would love to share with you. Others in the list are blogs that are very interesting to read. Go check out these blogs.

1.) S. Thomas Summer  thelintinmypocket.wordpress.com
2.) Karen Kubicko          karenkubicko.wordpress.com
3.) Boomie Bol               boomiebol.wordpress.com
4.) Susan Kiernan-Lewis susankiernanlewis.com
5.) Kelihasablog             kelihasablog.wordpress.com

Secession- Is it Legal or Practical?

Congressional Painting

America has a long history of secession. We seceded from Britain. The South attempted to secede from the United States. Did you know, several states resolved to secede from the new country even before there was an established federal government? The last post, Echoes of Succession, discussed the roots of secession. Several key issues remain the same in each incident. The first point included a group of people not feeling fairly represented by the government. The second points to the infringement and abuse of government power toward the people. Finally, the last point of contention is the movement away from the fundamental principles of the constitution. This post will answer the following questions using these key points as a springboard. Do we as individual states have a right to secede from the United States and would it be practical to do so?

The framers of the Constitution avoided addressing two key issues while writing and debating the course of our country. The issue of slavery and the provisions for secession were deliberately avoided. The founding fathers knew the addressing of these issues would mean the death of the Constitution. Leaving us no clear way to resolve slavery and secession, resulted in a four-year battle that affected every American from that time forward.

There are two theories when it comes to the question of the legality of secession. Those who hold the sovereign states belief and others who argue the United States is one country. Sovereign state supporters point to the Constitution to support their argument of legal secession. It is interesting to know, the Constitution does not use the phrase, sovereign states, anywhere in the document. The implications of sovereignty and states’ rights originated with the original 13 colonies. The colonies seceded from Britain as a separate states united by this one cause. They gathered their arms, volunteers and beliefs to secede from England. The mentality of separate sovereign states is clear. People of this new nation did not refer to themselves as Americans. They were still Virginians, South Carolinians and Pennsylvanians. The belief that your state was your country rings true from the conception of this country.

The second theory believes the separation of state will be the demise of the country as a whole. The North leading up to the Civil War vehemently argued this side of the story. Lincoln was a staunch believer in the county as one, with a powerful central government. During his first inaugural address, he clearly stated his legal position: (www.historynet/secession)

“No State, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union, that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence, within any State or States, against the authority of the United States, are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.”

Lincoln clearly believed that if he allowed the south to secede from the Union, it would lead to the destruction of the country as a whole. He rejected any notion of sovereignty of states. Yet, he allowed the secession of West Virginia because it benefited the Union. The final argument against secession became a verbal war of interpreting what “was meant” by articles and words within the Constitution. It all circles back to the fact there was no clear provisions to secession. If states want to secede from the Union, they must address the issues with the federal government.

The last civil war did not dispel the success or failure of secession. It was declared a rebellion, which then resulted in violence without the chance for a peaceful resolution. Nothing was solved by the last Civil war, the south returned to the Union under duress that is still seen today. If Texas succeeds in its petition to White House, it is my hope this issue is resolved without acts of war. The Civil War proved violence does not solve anything. The country suffered greatly during the Reconstruction period. Our country cannot afford to take a step back. Today we need to forgo violence and listen to each other. Our forefathers spent months arguing and compromising to create the best government model known in history. It took patience, compromise and perseverance.

The practicality of secession is possible. Texas is on the cusp of creating history for our nation. In order for them to succeed, it will take everything this country has to quiet their opinions and bigotry to listen and peacefully come up with solutions. This is no longer a fight for the freedom of one race, but it is a fight for the quality of life for the human race. History writes another chapter every day. What will the next chapter of the United States read?

Echoes of the Past


While crafting my upcoming novel, The Cause: Love & War, I often half listened to the radio my husband enjoyed,    while I traveled back to the 1860’s to create. Many of you know my husband and I work in very close quarters. He drives the semi while my writing office is only 3 feet from him. During these days, I tried to focus on the 1860’s with half an ear to the radio. Amazingly, the topics I wrote about echoed through the radio programs. I soon discovered taxes, government and racism are hot topics of both time periods.

The early candidate debates talked a lot about the size of government. Today, Republican’s believe in smaller federal government with more control given to the states. In 1860, the South complained about government having too much power. Southerners believed their state was their country and the Federal government had its place as an umbrella over the states to protect the country not govern it. Many 1860’s citizens believed in the idea of popular sovereignty. This principle states the consent of the people is the resource of all political power. Who is correct? Opinions from both sides still make the issue of big government vs. states rights controversial. The answer always lies in the foundation of the country.

The Constitution of the United States created to form a “more perfect” union. If followed as our forefathers intended, this document and its principal’s work. The Constitution gives through the eighteen enumerated powers, more rights to the states, than the Federal government. The novel is set during the Civil War. States rights regarding the issue of slavery and its expansion into new territories was a big issue for our country. Those who study the Civil War understand, the issue of states rights was as important to the Southern culture as jobs and lower taxes are important to us today.

The subject of taxes will never change. Today our president discusses the importance of taxing to pay for government spending. Tariffs began as early as the 1790 had become the largest source of government revenue until the Federal income tax, established in 1913. Prior to 1860, the tariffs were low and reciprocal. The Morrill Tariff, passed two days before Lincoln took office deeply affected the cost of trade for Britain with the South. The Morrill Tariff favored the industrial north as it placed heavy tariffs on imports and exports. As you may have guessed, the south felt overtaxed and slighted by this new law. Prior to this idea, tariffs had not been a major political issue. Tax inequality today echo the southern complaints of tariffs favoring the industrial North, just as people complain of the inequalities of today’s tax system.

I think the most remarkable similarity between the subjects in the novel and today is racism. I was deeply involved in writing about Emilie and her father rescuing the family’s  friends from slavery at the same time  the Trayvon Martin murder happened. The impact of the emotion in the book and the senseless killing of a teenager haunted me for a long time.

I do not know exactly what happened that day, as I do not know what happened daily on a plantation, but trying to understand how people simply discount another person’s value by the color of their skin will never make sense to me. The relationship between the Prescott’s and Big Jim’s family is not unusual; it is simply not, what everyone hears. The topic of slavery and racism spurred me to research more about plantation life and the Underground Railroad. I needed to find hope. We still have a long way to go as a human race. The key is we are all the same. We are human, and to accept each other as we individuals is not a sin, it is the biggest gift we can give ourselves.

Time marches on and history is being made every day. We need to learn from our past and stop pushing it into the future. Our clothes have changed. Our technology had jumped light years ahead, but I see little difference in the people of 1860s than I do looking at us today. Is this just a result of being human or are we sadly destined to repeat our past?

 

Both Sides of the Story

Those who study history, soon realize not all subjects are created equally. There are millions of documents written about war. We read about the winners more often than we learn about the losers. Time in the classroom is typically focused on who is right and who is wrong. Remember: arguments are born out of valid beliefs that clash. Studying one side of an argument deprives us from understanding the whole story. What are we missing by only viewing the subject with half of the information? Why do we blindly turn away from the other side of the story?

Both sides of the story became my personal theme when I began Civil War re-enacting. Preparing my family for our first re-enactment, I was educating the kids about the weekend and some of the points they needed to remember as mini re-enactors. My son, Ian stopped me in the middle of my lecture and asked. “Mom, why are we representing the South? They lost.” I asked him if he knew why they lost the war. His response like so many was because slavery was wrong. My heart sank. Yes, I agree enslavement of any human is wrong, but that is not the South’s only issue. It went so much deeper than that. This was a teaching moment for my children. I explained he would best understand the Civil War if he “lived” the part of the South. Learning their side of the story would better help him understand our nation’s history.

My original intent for writing The Cause: Love & War was to put Emilie into a dilemma that would challenge everything she knew up to this point in her life. Born and raised in the South, not as a spoiled Southern belle, but as a girl who understands life is work and family values are worth cherishing. When the Prescott family moves north, everything she knows and hold dear is challenged, not only by her Northern neighbors, but also by the pending war.

As suspicion rises, Emilie must meet the challenges to keep her values or re-invent herself, while learning to live and love in a place that continually demands to know where her loyalties lie. Emilie can see both sides of the story, but unlike us, she has to decide who she is and where she will stand when the war ends. The reader will see both sides of the war through her eyes.

My greatest hope is that this story will encourage people to learn openly about so many real life issues today. The Cause: Love and War will be a springboard for people to stop blaming each other and instead sit down and listen to each other. We will be an enriched society if we can stop fighting and start understanding.

The Cause: Love and War is scheduled to be published Spring 2013.