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American Indians, Famous People of the Old West, Researching Historical Fiction, Resources and Events for Writers

My Kingdom for a Horse

It’s impossible to imagine the Old West without horses. Impossible to imagine cowboys, outlaws or lawmen making their way across the plains without them. I recently volunteered to help with a 30- and 50-mile endurance riding event to learn more about the sport, and in the process, I learned a lot about horses, which naturally… Continue reading My Kingdom for a Horse

American Civil War, Blacks in the Old West, Researching Historical Fiction

Contraband: The Secret to the Union Army’s Success?

I came across this photograph in a magazine with a fascinating article about the often-overlooked impact that refugees from slavery had on the Union’s victory in the Civil War. When three slaves — Shepard Mallory, Frank Baker and James Townsend — fled to the Union-held Fort Monroe, Va., in May 1861, Gen. Benjamin Butler faced… Continue reading Contraband: The Secret to the Union Army’s Success?

Creativity and Productivity, Researching Historical Fiction

The Pleasures of Stacking Firewood

Since I moved (see previous post), my life is busy in different ways. Here are some of my new distractions: caring for the three geese and one duck we inherited from the previous owners, maintaining an amazing series of gardens, and hauling and stacking firewood for our furnace. Wood is cheaper to burn than any… Continue reading The Pleasures of Stacking Firewood

Creativity and Productivity, Writing/Rewriting

Why I Haven’t Been Blogging: Part 2

My teaching gig ended in May, and in June, I packed up and moved several hundred miles up the East Coast. More dramatically, I moved from bustling suburban sprawl (and a townhouse whose tiny yard was little bigger than the back deck) to five beautiful acres on the outskirts of a small New England town.… Continue reading Why I Haven’t Been Blogging: Part 2

Creativity and Productivity, Women in the West, Writing/Rewriting

Why I Haven’t Been Blogging: Part 1

It’s been a while since my last post, but I haven’t been idle. I’ve been busy in unexpected ways. I was making some good progress on restructuring my novel when I got an offer to teach intro composition at the local community college. I had some concerns about maintaining my writing schedule, but I naively… Continue reading Why I Haven’t Been Blogging: Part 1

Researching Historical Fiction

Beyond the wives of famous men: Myrlie Evers-Williams

Writing fictional accounts of the women involved with influential men presents the challenge of making the women strong enough to keep their story from being overshadowed by the men’s. Medgar and Myrlie Evers on their wedding day, Christmas Eve 1951. She was 18. An article a few months back in the Washington Post gave me… Continue reading Beyond the wives of famous men: Myrlie Evers-Williams

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

In her own words: Civil War soldier Sarah Rosetta Wakeman

Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, alias Pvt. Lyons Wakeman I went looking for some of the source material for "They Fought Like Demons" and found "An Uncommon Soldier: The Civil War Letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, alias Pvt. Lyons Wakeman," edited by Lauren Cook. It is rare to come across an account written in an everyday woman’s… Continue reading In her own words: Civil War soldier Sarah Rosetta Wakeman

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

How we lost sight of women soldiers

Women soldiers were not a secret during the Civil War. Men wrote letters home about the women discovered in their ranks, most often with surprise and admiration, and newspapers also carried the stories. The knowledge naturally worked its way up to the highest level of both armies, with evidence that Sherman, Sheridan, Burnside, Forrest and… Continue reading How we lost sight of women soldiers

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

How women soldiers avoided detection

Women soldiers in the Civil War had an easier time hiding their identities than you might think, according to DeAnne Blanton and Lauren M. Cook’s fascinating book, “They Fought Like Demons.” Soldiers spent the majority of the war outdoors — in tents or on the march. They rarely had an opportunity to bathe or even… Continue reading How women soldiers avoided detection

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

Best-kept secret of the Civil War

I don’t profess to know everything about the Civil War by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I have a pretty good grasp of the basics. However, “They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War” by DeAnne Blanton and Lauren M. Cook blew me away. Until I read the book,… Continue reading Best-kept secret of the Civil War

Writing/Rewriting

George R.R. Martin: A public case of writer’s block?

George R.R. Martin is a little behind on his writing, and all the world seems to know it. His "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels form the basis of HBO’s "Game of Thrones" TV show. But the show will soon catch up to where Martin left off in his books because he is years… Continue reading George R.R. Martin: A public case of writer’s block?

American Civil War, Resources and Events for Writers

The Civil War in one spectacular chart

Lest you think complex infographics are a modern invention, numerous websites have resurrected a century-old chart with a mind-boggling amount of information on the Civil War. Click on the image for a closer look. The Comparative Synoptical Chart Company submitted its creation to the Library of Congress back in 1897. You can still see the… Continue reading The Civil War in one spectacular chart