I’ve Been Tagged!

Cherokee Rose © SeanPavonePhoto

Cherokee Rose © SeanPavonePhoto

The writers’ blog hop simply asks ten questions about your current story, and then you tag five other writer-blogger friends to participate next week. Bethany Jean over at My Saviour My King tagged me. Thanks Bethany!

I’m posting about Across the Wide River, the third novel in my historical series.

1: What is the working title of your book?
Across the Wide River

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’d written the rough draft of High on a Mountain, the first book in the MacLachlainn saga, and titles for three sequels came to me: Deep in the Valley, Across the Wide River, and On the Red Clay Hills. I didn’t know what the stories would be about, but all I need is a title and a keyboard in front of me, and a story will flow.

3: What genre does your book come under?
It’s historical fiction.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I rarely watch television or go to movies, so I’m totally unfamiliar with the current list of popular actors. However, since my most of the characters are Cherokee, I googled Native American actors and picked these (because of copyright constraints, I’m not posting photos of the actors, but links to photos if you’d care to check them out):

Yonvusdi MacLachlainn, the main character, would be played by Eric Schweig http://avalon-medieval.blogspot.com/2010/01/eric-schweig.html

Coinneach MacLachlainn, Yonvusdi’s uncle, would be played by Adam Beach http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Beach

Wayaunega, Coinneach’s uncle, would be played by Wes Studi http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0836071/

Susanne Bertrand would be played by Michelle Trachtenberg http://wallpapersget.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/michelle-trachtenberg-girl-beautiful.jpg

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A young boy loses his home when his father dies, and throughout his life, he wants to go home.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
It will soon be self-published (currently being edited).
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I tried to write it during NaNo 2009, completed the 50,000 word challenge, but had not done the research necessary to make the historical part of the story accurate. When I began the research phase, I realized I had to throw out everything I’d written and start over again, which I did about a year ago. With all the interruptions I’ve experienced since I started over, it has taken me about a year to write the first draft (or second draft, if you count the discarded NaNo false start).

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
That’s a difficult question to answer. There are some elements in Yonvusdi’s childhood with his grandparents in the first part of the book that might be compared to “The Education of Little Tree.” But for the rest of it, which includes the Trail of Tears, for instance, I’m at a loss as to a book to compare it to.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
This is a continuation of the story of Ailean MacLachlainn’s family, and I was inspired to write Ailean’s story by the experience of the Scottish ancestor of a friend of mine.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
One event in the story is one some people have heard of but don’t know much about…the Trail of Tears. Although it’s a painful period in our nation’s history, we need to know what happened then. And I think there’s an inspiring lesson for those who study the history of those days…the Cherokee people suffered the loss of their ancestral lands and lost loved ones (it is estimated that at least 4,000 Cherokees died during The Removal to Oklahoma, and some put that figure as high as 6,000…..and that is out of a population of about 15,000 people). They experienced much hardship, but they didn’t give up. They overcame obstacles that might have destroyed a lesser people, and they survived and are thriving today, both in Oklahoma and North Carolina.

NOTE: The image at the beginning of this post is of the Cherokee Rose. The legend of the Cherokee Rose says that Cherokee mothers cried on the Trail of Tears, and the elders prayed for a sign that would lift the mothers’ spirits. The next day, a beautiful rose began to grow everywhere a mother’s tears fell. The petals were white, representing the mother’s tears, the center of the flower was gold, representing the gold taken from Cherokee lands, and there were seven leaves on each stem, representing the seven clans of the Cherokee. The Cherokee Rose grows wild along the route of the Trail of Tears.

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Why Reading (Literature from Bygone Days) Is Fundamental

Image © L. Emerson via stockxchng

Image © L. Emerson via stockxchng

I’m not altogether sure when it happened, but the American people, in general, lost touch with their language, both in written and spoken form. Every day, on Facebook, in emails, on blogs, and in other places, I see evidence of that fact.

Some problems, I suspect, may have developed because of certain accents. Like, for instance, the use of “weather” when the word should be “whether,” because in some places, people have dropped the “h” from their pronunciation. (To hear how “whether” should be pronounced, go here.) And the use of “then” when the person means “than,” or vice versa, likely stems from the same problem…pronunciation.

Other problems may have come from a lacksadaisical approach to the study of the English language in school. Like when folks write “ice tea” rather than “iced tea,” because they don’t understand WHY it should be “iced tea.” (Hint: it’s because the tea has been “iced,” i.e., poured over ice, not because the tea was made from ice…like, chamomile tea,  herb tea, ice tea, etc.)

So. If you think you may have been shortchanged as far as using the language properly, check the title. At first, it was “Why Reading Is Fundamental.” And then I realized, no, just reading per se (not “per say”) wouldn’t help, because of the plethora of misuse everywhere. No, to be exposed to words and language in such a way as to absorb how it should be used, you’d need your reading materials to have been produced during a time when people knew how to use words.

Now, lest you think I hold myself up as an example of correctness, let me say, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha {gasping for breath} ha ha ha ha ha! I’m as prone to making errors as the next person (I would normally say “the next feller,” but some would take issue with that word “feller,” and I’m trying to make a point, here, so….). But, I do try to pay attention and learn.

What do you suppose would happen if we ALL tried to pay attention and learn…..

Saying Something

Image © Byron Solomon via stock.xchng

The advice given to authors is to avoid commenting on religion or politics. After all, we wouldn’t want potential readers to discover what we really think and thereby lose sales of our books. But I realized that anyone who will be turned off by my statements of what I believe will likely be turned off by my books, anyway, since my world view comes out in what I write, whether fiction or non-fiction.

And of late, the danger that I see looming for my country is such that I can’t remain silent about it. Book sales are of no importance when compared to the demise of my country and the untold suffering about to be visited on my fellow citizens.

Granted, there are a huge number of those fellow citizens who have no clue what’s coming, and they embrace the very thing that will prove to be their undoing. And they will most likely ignore what I say. But I have to at least give a warning so they can’t come to me later and say, “Why didn’t you say something about what was coming?”

So…from now on, I won’t be silent, I’m saying something….

50th Anniversary

Image of rings © Alexander Moroz via iStockphoto

September 29, 2012: fifty years ago today, my hubby and I eloped.

We’d known for some time that we wanted to get married, but the idea of “walking down the aisle,” with all the attendant fol-de-rol was intimidating to both of us. Neither of us enjoy a big fuss or being “center stage,” so eloping seemed the logical thing to do. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to bypass the ceremonial activities that I’d dreaded and make our vows privately before the Justice of the Peace.

I know this route is not for everyone, but it was perfect for us.

Last year, I realized we’d be facing another situation that could possibly entail a party or other event that made me feel squeamish—our fiftieth anniversary. I dreaded it. I said off-handedly to my husband that I wished there was some way we could “slip under the radar” and enjoy our anniversary quietly, no muss, no fuss, no party. And, sweetheart that he is, he arranged it.

He told me last week that it was all arranged: we’d go to a nice hotel in Nyawlins (that’s “New Orleans” for those of you who “ain’t from around here”). And we could celebrate it however we chose. Sounded great to me!

A few things he mentioned during the intervening days sorta gave me a sneaking suspicion that he wasn’t telling me the whole story. But…I didn’t ask, I just waited to watch everything unfold.

When we arrived in Nyawlins and he headed to the Port of New Orleans, my suspicions were confirmed. And today, on my anniversary, I’m taking a few minutes to write this post while the Carnival Elation is docked in Cozumel, Mexico.

Leave it to my hubby, he always has the greatest ideas! What a perfect 50th anniversary celebration for the two of us!

What about you? Is there a special time you’d like to share a comment or two about? I’d love to hear it!

HyVee

Image by Tommie Lyn

I must say that blogging per schedule (i.e., having to churn out blog posts whether or not you have something to say) is wearing. Why is it that exciting topics hide when I’m ready to write, and others find them and beat me to it?

Plus, at this moment in time, my focus is on current events…which is a no-no in blogland (unless you’re a political writer, which I’m not).

The only other option, when your mind’s empty of possible topics, is writing posts about writing. Also a no-no, since other writers are the only ones likely to have an interest in reading them, and far better writers than moi cover writing topics much better than I.

That reduces me to digging up topics that no one, not even me, have an interest in reading or writing. For instance, I could talk about my addiction to working jigsaw puzzles (yawn!).Or maybe, a post about another addiction…Extra Dessert Delights Sugar-free Apple Pie Gum (yum, yum!).

Or…say…how about a post about…HyVee Supermarket? YAY!

Hubby and I made a trip to North Dakota this summer (part of his bucket list…he’d been in every state except North Dakota and Alaska and wanted to tick them off his list. Guess where we’ll be going next year?)

On the way, we needed some things and stopped at a supermarket in Kansas City, Missouri…a supermarket we’d never seen or heard tell of…HyVee Supermarket.

First of all, let me say, we were intrigued by the name, because, when one of our grandsons was small, he could never wrap his mind (or tongue) around the fact that hubby’s RV was, well, an RV. He called it a “high vee.” And here was a supermarket by that name. (An omen of what was to come, that this place was special? Indeed!)

But what bowled us over was the store itself. HyVee stores are employee-owned, and it shows the minute you walk inside. It’s clean, the staff is friendly and glad to see you, and the selection is amazing.

I walked in the door…and fell in love.

There were so many things to choose from, we spent more time in the store than we’d intended, just marveling at everything. Plus, they have restaurants in the store and a salad bar that is incredible. (Hubby got a fruit salad assortment and I got a tossed salad…never had a fresher, better-tasting salad, even the ones I make at home.)

Suffice it to say, I will pine for HyVee until, by some small chance, the HyVee company decides they ought to build a store in the Florida panhandle. Sigh…

What about you…do you have a favorite place to go grocery shopping?

History

Image © Beaucroft via iStockphoto

During my school years, history, with its dates to be memorized and dusty books, didn’t interest me. (Neither did math, for that matter). English was my favorite subject.

Family history was an important topic in my father’s family, though, and I absorbed much of it almost by osmosis. My grandmother made sure that I and my cousins knew what happened to our ancestors, at least, what she had knowledge of. I learned about our Cherokee ancestors, and about Dr. Pierre Chastain, a French Huguenot who fled religious persecution, arriving in Virginia aboard the Mary and Ann in July, 1700. But beyond that, I had little interest in what happened before.

Until, that is, I had children of my own. The thread of continuity became important to me, and I began to care about the people who came before, what their lives were like, and what they did. And not only my own ancestors, but the ancestors of others.

A friend of Scottish descent often spoke of the fact that his Scottish ancestor was a slave on a plantation near Savannah, Georgia. I was skeptical. And since I also had Scottish ancestors, I began researching Scottish history. And found out he was right…Scots had been enslaved at various times and in various circumstances (Have you ever heard of the Redlegs of Barbados? Read this article.)

“Why do so few people know about this?” I wondered. The answer came immediately. Lots of people are like me–they have no interest in history, and although this information is available in history books, they don’t care to read them. And I thought someone should write a novel, should fictionalize the historic record. If it were entertaining, folks might read it and learn what happened.

I deepened my research and chose a major event in the mid-1700s, The ’45, or, The Jacobite Rebellion, when Bonnie Prince Charlie raised a Highland army to fight for him, to help him reclaim his father’s throne, as the setting of the story. In the aftermath of the last battle of the rebellion, the Battle of Culloden, at least a thousand Highlanders were transported to the American colonies and to the Caribbean, some sold as indentured servants, some as slaves.

And I told the story of that time in the person of Ailean MacLachlainn in High on a Mountain, and I did my utmost to ensure historical accuracy as well as making the story entertaining.

I’ve continued delving into history, following Ailean’s descendants, trying to tell the story of some of the people who went before us.

What about you? Does history interest you?

Flatland

In my post about the mountains of north Georgia, I mentioned that when I was a child growing up, I thought we who lived in Dalton were flatlanders. And I continued thinking that until I went “back home” after many years away.

But as to another idea of flatlanders, I had never heard of the short novel, “Flatland” by Edwin A. Abbot, until I attended a lecture by John Clayton. He used concepts from the novel to help illustrate the nature of God, and he raised questions that had never occurred to me.

Like, what is the definition of “time.” (Hint: there is no definition…there are ways we quantify “time,” ways we measure it, but we don’t have a clear definition of it because it is outside our frame of reference. We live in a three dimensional world, and time is the fourth dimension, hence, we don’t have knowledge of it that would allow us to define it or understand it, just as a resident in the two-dimensional world of Flatland cannot conceive of nor understand an object that has three dimensions.)

I was intrigued (and still am) by the concepts Mr. Clayton presented, and I revisit Flatland from time to time. Today, I was surprised to learn there are Flatland movies based on the novel, Flatland: the Movie and Flatland: the Film. I haven’t seen either of them, so I can’t speak about them, positively or negatively. But I am interested in seeing both of them. And if I do, I’ll probably have something to say about them in a later post.

Usually, I’m the last to know about something, and by the time I hear about new things, they aren’t new any more. So you may already have been introduced to the concepts in Flatland. If you have or have not heard of this little novel or the movies based on it, what are your thoughts about it?