Blog

American Civil War, Researching Historical Fiction

Abe Lincoln Dead — Film at 11

President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated 150 years ago today, and nearly 60 years ago, the last surviving eyewitness appeared on a TV game show called “I’ve Got a Secret.” Samuel J. Seymour was 96 when the show aired. The Atlantic posted a video clip of his appearance, and Robbie Gonzalez picked it up on the… Continue reading Abe Lincoln Dead — Film at 11

American Civil War, Researching Historical Fiction

Celebrating the End of the Civil War Today

Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant 150 years ago today, and bells will toll across the country this afternoon to commemorate the occasion. The bells will peal at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park in Virginia at 3:00 p.m. (EDT) to mark the time when Lee and Grant concluded their meeting to negotiate… Continue reading Celebrating the End of the Civil War Today

Writing/Rewriting

Harper Lee and Her Editor

Most of the hullabaloo over the announcement that Harper Lee would finally be publishing a sequel to her much-loved classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” focused on whether the 88-year-old author had willingly surrendered the manuscript or whether she was being taken advantage of after the death of her very protective sister Alice. Readers have been… Continue reading Harper Lee and Her Editor

Resources and Events for Writers, Writing/Rewriting

What We Talk About When We Talk About Plot

E.M. Forster defined the difference between story and plot this way: “The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died and then the queen died of grief is a plot.” Some writers visualize their plots as suspension bridges, with the towers representing key turning points. Photo by abarndweller. Plot is… Continue reading What We Talk About When We Talk About Plot

Researching Historical Fiction, Women in the West

Blizzards in the Old West

My driveway in the early stages of clearing after a winter storm. We've been using a combination of snow blowing, shoveling and salting. It has been a battle keeping our long, curving, sloping driveway free of snow and ice this winter, and the experience made me wonder how people used to clear snow. After doing… Continue reading Blizzards in the Old West

Creativity and Productivity, Writing/Rewriting

Prize-Winning Dandelions and the Best Time to Write: What I Learned in 2014

Last year was one of the busiest I’ve had in a long time. Here is some of what I learned: 1. Teaching is much harder than it looks. After teaching intro composition at a college last year, I have a profound appreciation and admiration for teachers. The work is hard, it is intense, it is… Continue reading Prize-Winning Dandelions and the Best Time to Write: What I Learned in 2014

Resources and Events for Writers, Writing/Rewriting

Rewriting: How to Begin

Once you've written a complete draft of your story or book, you're ready for the next stage of the process: rewriting. The complexity of the revision process mainly hinges on whether you're the sort of writer who creates a detailed outline before you begin or someone who makes it up as you go along, by… Continue reading Rewriting: How to Begin

Researching Historical Fiction, Women in the West

Minnie the Moocher and Opium Use in the Old West

It’s tough to research people and life in the Old West without stumbling over references to opium use. Opiates in various forms were widely prescribed and used, and legal at the time. I’ve read numerous books and articles on the topic of opium, and one day when I’d been delving deep, I happened to listen… Continue reading Minnie the Moocher and Opium Use in the Old West

Creativity and Productivity, Writing/Rewriting

Writing When You Only Have Moments to Spare

To follow up on my earlier post about “The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.,” the DVD version features a fascinating conversation among the show’s writers, who came together to talk about the experience of creating 27 episodes in one season. They described a “war-like environment” and some pretty insane deadlines — perhaps best summed up… Continue reading Writing When You Only Have Moments to Spare

American Civil War, American Indians, Researching Historical Fiction, Women in the West

Thanksgiving without the Pilgrims

Sarah Josepha Hale. Portrait by James Reid Lambdin. Americans owe the modern-day celebration of Thanksgiving to Abraham Lincoln and Sarah Josepha Hale. However, I fear we owe our warm, fuzzy image of Pilgrims and Indians living in harmony to a lazy attitude toward history. Hale promoted women’s issues through the American Ladies Magazine, which she… Continue reading Thanksgiving without the Pilgrims

Creativity and Productivity, Writing/Rewriting

The Art of Revision — And Why You Should Love It

Writing, like just about any creative pursuit, is a process. That process begins with exploring ideas, writing a first draft (which is where many people romantically think writing ends) and then revising, revising, revising. Writers who are now in the throes of National Novel Writing Month are in that starry-eyed first-draft stage. That is a… Continue reading The Art of Revision — And Why You Should Love It

Researching Historical Fiction

Brisco County and His Horse Comet

While we’re on the subject of horses, I have to confess to a deep affection for “The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.,” a short-lived (one season) TV series from the early 1990s. It is a strange and charming combination of western, comedy, action and sci-fi starring Bruce Campbell. Bruce Campbell with one of the horses… Continue reading Brisco County and His Horse Comet