Research for the next book.

Well, now that An Uncivilized Yankee is out there (and doing relatively well, I might add), I’m hard at work on a sequel. The next one picks up a year after the Civil War has ended, and focuses on life at an Army post in Wyoming (or what was then Dakota Territory). I’m not terribly familiar with the area or history, so I’m taking steps to make sure my writing stays historically accurate.

  1. I leave in two weeks for a quick research trip out to Cheyenne, with a side trip to Yellowstone for my daughter (okay, so I really want to see Yellowstone too)
  2. I’m loading up my bookshelf with lots of new books to pore over. Here’s a list of what I have so far:
    • The Post Near Cheyenne
    • Life and Manners in the Frontier Army
    • US Army in the Plains Indian Wars 1865-91
    • The U.S. Cavalry, 1865-1890
    • Forts of the American Frontier 1820-91
    • From Everglade to Canyon with the Second United States Cavalry
    • The Soldiers (Time Life The Old West series)
    • The Cheyennes: Indians of the Great Plains
    • Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay
    • Army Wives on the American Frontier
    • Bugs to Blizzards or An Army Wife at Fort D.A. Russell
    • American Army Life
    • The Horse Soldier 1776-1943 volume II The Frontier, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Indian Wars 1851-1880
    • Army Letters from an Officer’s Wife

    I just ordered Glittering Misery: Dependents of the Indian Fighting Army. A Frontier Army Christmas and Elizabeth Custer’s Following the Guidon are in my cart (I figured I had enough to read right now) Unfortunately, I’m having to buy most of these. In writing An Uncivilized Yankee, I already had a huge collection of Civil War books of my own, and I live in Virginia: getting books on the Civil War from the libraries around here is a piece of cake. But the local library doesn’t have a large selection of books on Wyoming history. The upside to owning the books is I can make all sorts of marks and notes in the books, and nobody’s going to complain.
  3. I’m watching John Ford’s cavalry trilogy: Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and Rio Bravo. Yes, they’re Hollywood, and so historically suspect. But I found this really cool thesis that points out just how accurate or inaccurate the movies are (and it had a marvelous bibliography, too), so I can watch them for a general feel without contaminating my history too much.

Looks like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Thankfully, I like researching, so digging into a new subject isn’t a chore for me. And that being said, I should stop writing about researching, and get back to researching and writing!

Christians and Fantasy

While doing some searches related to an upcoming book review, I stumbled across (or was led to) The Christian Guide to Fantasy. It’s been around for ten years now, but this was the first time for me. While it is mostly inactive, the archived material is great.

I’ve struggled with these issues for a long time, trying to reconcile my desire to write fantasy with a Christian worldview (and to avoid writing the in-your-face pap that unfortunately is what most modern Christian fantasy is). Often, all I had to hold on to was ‘Tolkien and Lewis were devout Christians. If they can, why can’t I?’ This essay puts my reasoning into words. And the explanation of magic was right what I needed to hear.

The Three Wolf Moon Anthology (Now available at Amazon.com)

It seems that everyone wants to see their stories in print. To this end, would-be writers write everywhere and anywhere, and about anything.

Just witness the phenomenon of the Three Wolf Moon T-Shirt on Amazon.com. According to the news report I saw online, the shirt had been selling there for a few years when B.Govern decided to post a humorous review of something he didn’t even own. His “review” is still the highest ranked, with 9,126 of 9,202 people…yes, close to 10,000 people…finding it “helpful”. A college humor website pounced on his review, its readership adding their own works of fiction.

Like most stories, they range from the extremely well-written to the poorly thrown together; none of them (as near as I can tell) are in any way serious. There are now 909 such “reviews” posted–an anthology, if you will–all for this rather benign T-Shirt, making it Amazon.com’s number one rated article of clothing. It even has a highly-viewed YouTube video.

As if seeking more places to publish, the reviews have…um…poured over to the Tuscan Whole Milk page. This one has risen to include poetry–the parody of The Raven is particularly well done.

Zubaz Pants and the Breakthrough Wolf T-Shirt are also experiencing this review phenomena.

There are probably many other items where this impromptu storytelling occurs; these are just the few that I have found tonight and thought I would blog about.

Hey! Maybe if I bought a Three Wolf Moon T-shirt of my very own, I would finally have agents knocking down the door to get to my books! I’ll post a review on Amazon if it works.

Correction to ‘Should Writers Blog’

Okay, as my husband (who blogs much, much, much more than I do–he has over 5 blogs going right now) pointed out last night, all bloggers are writers.

What I should have said was, “Should those who want to write full-length novels, and who have extremely limited amounts of time, use that limited time to blog?”

Is that better?

Should Writers Blog?

Waste of Time

Should writers blog?

Back in 2005, when I first started up this blog, I had a relatively regular schedule for posts. However, as the Punkin got older and more demanding, and as I branched off into the world of quilting/sewing, my posts appeared less and less often. I’d look at the site guiltily every day, but be unable to sit down long enough to post on something interesting.

Added to my problem was this: To have a successful blog requires not only good content, but also good comments on other people’s blogs. I used to spend hours reading other blogs, then even more time commenting on what I read. You know, that whole interaction/traffic thing. So by the time I was done my nightly surfing, my eyes were crossing, my yawns were splitting my head, and all I could think of was bed (I get little enough sleep as it is–my doctor has actually ordered me to get more). Worst of all, my own writing was sitting there untouched.

I eventually took a sabbatical from all blogging, writing and reading, in order to focus on finishing my first novel. That finished, I tried to get back into blogging, and instead got side-swiped by NaNoWriMo. Then sewing projects one right after the other. Until recently, working my way back into the thick of the blogsphere has been near impossible.

I now have two blogs that I attempt to post to on a semi-regular schedule, without much success. This one gets new posts only when I’ve a book review to post. Hitting the Blocks gets new content only when I finish a project. And I’ve got the insane idea of adding a third to chronicle my attempts at homeschooling. I’d love to get my blogs up to the level they were that first year, but somehow I just don’t see that happening. But when to add all this content? The small amounts of time I do have for writing (usually from about 11pm to 1am), I now hoard for working on my books.

So I ask again–should writers blog? Yes, it can be a wonderful place to trade thoughts, receive criticism and support, and find new ideas. But it can also be a terrible time-suck. In the time it’s taken me to write this one post, I could have gotten two or three pages of my book(s) written (possibly more, since it’s still early and I’m relatively coherent).

That being said, I’m off to work on a skirt. And then to write. Hopefully.