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~

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.

 

The Cause Comes Alive !

I am tickled pink to see and hear the book trailer. This piece finally brings the book out of my head. It is different to see it from the reader’s perspective. This is a quick 15 second trailer for The Cause: Love & War.

The official release date is September 10, 2013. Enjoy!

I linked you to my Facebook Author Page go ahead and Like this page too!

The Cause: Love & War Book Trailer

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

Character Interview with Emilie

 Every book has a call and a reason to be written. In the case of The Cause: Love & War, its calling is to tell the story of not the soldier, but the citizens. During the war years, Gettysburg was a small crossroads town, minding its own business, flourishing in farming and industry. Gettysburg was an exciting place, politically charged by the newspapers printed both democratic and republican views; its people as colorful in personality as anywhere else. It was flourishing with a small population of black citizens that made it an accepting, progressive place. Gettysburg was a safe haven only a stone’s throw from the southern states, whose views about these citizens were very different. Gettysburg was patriotic in its war effort raising troops to support the Union. The town certainly fulfilled its duty to the war, and when called upon again on those fateful days of July 1863, the citizens of Gettysburg did not flinch, despite the enormous pain it felt as its county’s men fought each other in their backyards. Instead, they nursed, fed and opened their homes to families who sought out their loved ones. Their hospitality was given not once, but twice as they remembered the fallen in November of 1863 when Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg address at the National Cemetery Dedication.
There are thousands of books regarding Gettysburg and the Civil War. It is rightly so, as what happened there was so big no one should forget it significance. Gettysburg witnessed the struggle for freedom of America and it lived through the aftermath with grace and resilience. The non-fictional people of Gettysburg write an amazing story of what they lived through. The Cause: Love & War is a historical fiction novel that centers on a young woman coming of age before and during the war years in Gettysburg.
Emilie Prescott is like every other young woman living in 1862. Her family and friends are fighting for their country. This interview is early 1862. Still early in the fight, many believe this war will be short lived. As the country’s fate hangs in the balance, we learn life goes on for the citizen’s of Gettysburg.
Emilie, tell us a bit about you.
My name is Emilie Kathryn Prescott. I was born on the Prescott Plantation outside Richmond Virginia in 1845. I live in a family of five; my parents and two brothers, Aaron and Henry. We recently moved from Richmond to Gettysburg last year.
Why did you move to Gettysburg?
We could not manage the plantation by ourselves. The demands of farming were too much for us do alone. My Uncle William took over the plantation from my father and we moved up here.
How is life in Gettysburg?
This is a wonderful place. There is education abound. There are many schools and colleges. The town is full of industry and manufacturing. Father and Henry both found good work here. Mother has her ladies meetings and I am teaching. We were all very happy until the war broke out. Things have changed for not only my family, but also everyone around me. The men have gone to war and we are here hoping they all come home soon. Rumor has it, this war won’t last long.
Did Henry and Aaron enlist?
(Smiling) Oh no, the boys are not fighting for the North like my friends. They left for the Calvary with a Virginia group. We don’t hear much from them. It’s just like them, always running off for adventure.
Tell me more about your friends, are they class mates of yours?
The other two I referred to are my fiancé Thaddeus and his best friend Stephen. Thaddeus and I are engaged to be married, as soon as he comes home. Stephen is a good friend. He was actually the first person I met when I arrived in Gettysburg.

What do you do for fun?
Besides, knitting and sewing for the troops and family? I enjoy taking Starlight out for a run. We travel all over together. Since we live outside the center of town, Starlight is the quickest way for me to get to town and back. I enjoy visiting my friends and acquaintances in town.
Just for fun, how about some quirky questions. (Emilie raises an eyebrow, and smiles playfully).
What is your favorite candy?
Lemon drops and Mother’s Christmas fudge made with peppermint.

What is your favorite beverage?
Lemonade during the summer and Earl gray tea with honey and cream. My grandmother made this for me all the time.

Are you a cat person or a dog person?
Very much a horse person, but if I had to pick, I would choose…..Can I like them both? They each have very useful qualities. If I had to choose, I would pick cat. They tend not to spook horses. I like only one house cat. The rest belong in the barn chasing mice.

What is your favorite meal?
I love Martha’s roast pig served with greens and potatoes. She makes the best cornbread and apple crisp for dessert. You haven’t had a good meal until Martha has served you her best.

Tell me more about Martha.
Martha has been with us since I was born. She was deeded to us with the plantation after my grandparents died. She married Big Jim and then they had Seth about the same time I was born. Seth and I grew up together. We use to hide out together so I could teach Seth how to read.

What do you mean when you say, “Hide”?
As you know, it was illegal to teach blacks how to read or write in the South. My parents tried to scold me, but we hid away or drew letters in the dirt until Seth understood them. This was my first teaching experience. I don’t think I have stopped teaching since.

What is in your future Miss Emilie?
For now, all I can do is send letters, goodies and clothing to my loved ones. Thaddeus and Stephen have as much need as Aaron and Henry. I cannot choose one over the other. I pray that no harm will come to them. I look forward to life after the war. In the meantime, life goes on as usual.

Do you worry about being so close to the Southern boarders?
I don’t worry too much. The war seems to be in the South more than the North. Gettysburg doesn’t have much to offer soldiers except a good education. I am sure they won’t stop fighting long enough to go to college. (She smiles at her own jokes) I am sure neither army will come this way. I feel safe here. The war seems so far away.

What makes you laugh aloud?
I laugh most at my jokes. I laugh at Henry when he is not making me angry and I love to laugh when Thaddeus teases me and makes me see how ridiculous I can be sometimes. It is good to laugh.

What is the best memory of your childhood and why?
The best memories are of teaching Seth how to read. I had fun helping understand the letters and reading the words. This experience helped me decide to become a teacher.

What is your most treasured possession?
Starlight! I have learned so much raising this horse. I don’t know what I would do without her.

What is your greatest fear?
I am afraid this war will change all of us. Above that, I mostly fear my brothers or Thaddeus and Stephen won’t come home. Thaddeus says war changes people. I hope he is wrong.

Thank you Emilie, I wish you the best of luck with your teaching and we look forward to reading more about you in the upcoming book The Cause: Love & War due out in the Spring 2013.

Past Lives and Déjà Vu

The subject of life and death conjure up many old age questions. Questions of what happens when we die? Do we have a chance at more than one life? I am not here to discuss whether these questions are true or not. I believe everyone goes through a journey to answer these questions for him or herself. I have had some déjà vu experiences that I am not willing to put off as coincidence.

First, it is important to define what I understand so far. I am by no means an expert on this subject, but it fascinates me endlessly. I have learned that déjà vu is a memory of a past life that you can remember in this lifetime. You do not know all of your past “soul memories” in this lifetime because they can often be very traumatic. Once and awhile, you go some place or experience something that triggers a memory. Most people have no reason to question it, they often pass it off as “oh that seems familiar somehow or why do I like this (fill in the blank) so much? After the moment is recognized, it is often forgotten. Many of us can pinpoint some likes, dislikes or “affinities” we cannot explain. Phobias or wanting to travel some place “just because” or certain countries you want to visit even though you have no ties there.

My déjà vu experience focuses on a place. I have two places I have always wanted to go. I have no reason to travel there other than the fact “something” told me to go. One of these places is Gettysburg. I finally got the chance to visit and found it to be a very emotional place for me. Despite the emotion of the Civil war-time and what happened there. I found myself drawn to a certain church. Looking at the building gave me an overwhelming feeling of sadness and helplessness. I could not enter the building because of these intense emotions. The other places in town looked to be familiar and comfortable. When I talked about the battle, feelings of anger, frustration and protection came over me.  I was angry the battle came there, upset at the destruction left behind for me to clean up. It felt personal to me. After my first visit to Gettysburg, I struggled with these emotions for months. I had vivid dreams about the church and blood all over me and my period dress. Do I have a vivid imagination or was I there? Am I possibly remembering what happened? I wanted to know why I felt suddenly felt as if Pennsylvania was my home.

I believe there is truth to past lives and déjà vu. I could not have written this novel with so much detail if I had not been there. I do not want to know exactly what happened to me then.  I feel strongly that the past needs to stay in the past. The emotions of this place are too much for me to work through in this life.  This is where the art of storytelling begins for me.

When creating the details of my book The Cause: Love & War; I knew Gettysburg had to be the place my heroine resided. Luckily, I was introduced to a National Park Service Guide willing to fill in the details I don’t know enough about. One cannot rely on bits and pieces of memories alone. Once I did some research about the fascinating people of Gettysburg; how the land looked in 1860 and where my character lived, I was ready to write. It felt familiar almost as if I were writing a memoir. I go back to Gettysburg every year. I need to visit because the pull is still very strong. I have made good friends there. Gettysburg feels like home. I am honored to write about this town with the pride a townsperson who lived, loved, and raised a family there.

Lost in Research

Confederate Calvary

Good historical novels should have facts based on history. Otherwise why call them historical novels – right? I am committed to be an excellent storyteller and educate my reader at the same time. Yikes. I severely underestimated the depth of that commitment. I spent all day yesterday researching the Southern Calvary , its ins outs and how men enlisted there. I am not completely satisfied with my results, but the book can not wait another day for me to chase down these boys. I feel like I am playing hide and seek with the Confederate Calvary.  I have a few more sources to contact. Hopefully they will enlighten me.

My second goal yesterday was to find a way for Thaddeus and Stephen to enlist late, and still get back to Gettysburg in time for the battle. Out of all of the men enlisted in the various counties in Pennsylvania, you would think there would be more than one group out of Adams county that comes back in time. Nope, just one that works for our story. I found my link only after 3 hours of research. I would have been desperately lost in muster roles if it weren’t for my good friend-John- from the National Parks Service. Thank you John.

You may be asking why I am so obsessed about research. Aside from my perfectionist personality type and my love for research.  I am a historical re-enactor. Traditionally, most re-enactors are passionate about their hobby. We are driven to show and tell history through characterization of a specific role in history. We educate through acting. We go through pain-staking research, digging up any verifiable facts we can find pertaining to our character. We become moles lost in archives and musty books, round-table discussions all to give you the public the most realistic view of history.  It is a world of never-ending education. Some re-enactors are obsessed with every knit-picky detail. Picking apart uniform stitching, speech and mannerisms. I am not that obsessed, but I am leery of these types.

I realized from Day 1 this novel was going to be a huge undertaking. I am writing about one  of the most researched, well documented events in American History.  I am not intimidated by this, (well most of the time I am fine-really). I am driven to produce a verifiable novel sprinkled with fiction that tells a story that is enjoyable. Characters who you think about after the book is put down.  In the end when all the smoke clears (pun intended :-), I want you the reader to enjoy  the experience. For this, I will continue to work at it until I get it right.  So back to research, I think its time to call my infantry expert who knows a Calvary man.