Stalemate

Ok, this is driving me nuts! I am stalled on research for my historical fiction. I have looked everywhere online and in my vast collection of reference material in my personal library, but I cannot find any data that gives updated stage stop locations for the Butterfield Overland Mail for 1869. Everything I have or can locate is 1858 to 1861.

I discovered this issue when I started writing a travel scene I had beautifully sculpted, and fleshed out in perfect detail. However, after doing a last minute fact check on location details for one of the stops, Ft. Belknap, TX, I found the fort was abandoned by 1862. It could not have been part of my character’s destination.

Or could it?

Even if the fort was abandoned did they still use the area for stage stop, or did they transfer the stop the the nearest town, Graham, TX? I can’t find out.

So, now the research will become wider, and will probably require phone calls or emails to people who might know. But this is the fun stuff. I need an expert on the Overland Stage in 1869 in Texas.

My husband defines expert as “X is an unknown and a spurt is a drip under pressure” anyone know one of those?

Cheers!

-N

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Working with words

The Netflix is on, the red wine is poured, I’ve sorted through stacks of research and plotting, and the words in my mind feel powerful as I have these discussions with myself about the next scene. I prevaricate, interrogate, contradict, profane and sermonize to draw out the dialogue coming up. With my eyes closed I wander through rooms, ride on horses and in carriages, feel the wind blow and the rain fall. It is part of immersing myself in the past.

There will be fictional and non-fictional humans represented in the story. I love the idea of putting the “real to me” characters I have created into contact with real people in historically accurate settings and see what happens.

In my first book “Blame It On Whiskey” Amanda Peterson had a face to face with Geronimo. It required quite a bit of research into who he was and how he might react in an encounter with a white female. What would she do to gain his respect? In my second book “The Holder of My Flame” Jacob Severn meets with President Andrew Johnson and General Ulysses Grant when he is assigned a dangerous job for the government. Their interactions required knowledge of what are the priorities, desires, and motivations that drive powerful men.

For a time in this current book Jude Tremaine is in a place so alien, and contrasts so profoundly to his home he must find in himself the will to continue because this is his place in life, an officer in the US 1st Cavalry. He has left his Philadelphia home and is heading to Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory. He will face bigotry, violence, and his whole purpose wrenched from him. In all of this is a delicate, good woman who loves him and is patient.

Time to get back to work.

Cheers!

-N

 

 

Sample first draft scene

I’m having such a good writing day working on the first draft of my new story. These people are so real to me. So I wanted to share a scene from the new book Anchor Bay –

Tom sat in his recliner watching basketball, holding his second beer. His mind was not on the game but on a beautiful red head with lips he hoped were as soft as they looked. He was happily surprised when she accepted his invitation. She gave him her number when he dropped her at her house, and he smiled watching her shapely form walk toward the front door. She opened the door, turned to him, offering a quick wave and went inside. He had just sat in the cruiser for a few minutes enjoying the newness of attraction before heading home.

                “Oh damn!” he swore when the realization hit he had just broken his own rule of not dating a local. He would have to take her somewhere close but not in Anchor Bay. Maybe she wouldn’t mind a drive down the coast to Ogunquit. Some good eating down there. Barnacle Billy’s had good food and drinks, yeah that’s where they would go. Still, there might be Bay folks there. What were the odds? He jumped when his landline rang.

                “Sheriff Chambers,” he said, his voice sharp.

                “Tommy.”

                “What did I tell you about calling this line, Barb? It’s for work.”

                “Oh, Tommy don’t be that way,” she whined. “I need to stay with you tonight. My car broke down at Willies and Tony won’t come get me.”

                “Call a cab.”

                “Tommy!”

                “You can’t stay here. Impossible!” He insisted.

                “Wait…okay here,” she was obviously talking to someone.

                “Sheriff, get this woman out of here!” Willy Plum owner of Wet Willies shouted into the phone.

                “Willy, what the hell is going on?”

                “Damn woman is driving the paying customers away. She’s begging drinks, and well ya know how she is Tom.”

                “Yeah I know. I’ll lock her up for the night. She can sleep it off and I will get her car fixed so she can leave.”

                “Thanks man,” Willy said and then Barb was back on the phone.

                “Tommy, don’t listen to him. He thinks just because he owns the place he can boss people, and…” Tom hung up on her, got his coat and weapon, grabbed the keys to the cruiser and took off for Wet Willies.

 

Cheers!

-N

A day to experience

Yesterday morning, after coffee and a bit of getting the day started Chuck and I decided to drive to Tombstone Arizona. We got the idea after a fun and informative conversation Sunday afternoon with my wonderful and creative friend Scott Taft who has agreed to do the cover art for my book. We were talking about what I was visualizing and what he imagined after reading some of the story. Chuck also had a really good idea for it and once a date was set for the photo shoot I got very excited to do my part of the prep.

The point of going to Tombstone was to find some props for the shoot, and get a feel for the time period of the book-1886. I’ve lived most of my life in Tucson and have been to Tombstone a lot, starting in the 1960’s. On this last visit I realized how it is changing. In my memories Tombstone is a dusty old town, with old buildings full of the old west spirit and characters who seemed to come right out of history.

The Tombstone I saw yesterday was spiffed up, cleaned up, painted and very touristy. They have even made a place called “Old Tombstone Western Town” on the outskirts to the south. Bizarre. The outside of “The Bird Cage Theater” was painted freaking pink! I never, ever remember that place being pink. It was a faded white-washed adobe building, a bit crumbly but maintained it’s essence. The inside still held onto the old stuff. The ghosts of the ladies and the gamblers moved there. 20160307_131808 The host, dressed in appropriate attire found an old whiskey bottle for me to photograph. It was authentic to the period, blown glass and had a beautiful amber color. Most of the bottles of the day didn’t have labels, instead they were etched or embossed with the makers name and what it contained.

I went across the street to “T. Miller’s Tombstone Mercantile & Hotel” to look around and found two books with some helpful material and a beautiful black Victorian cravat! Woo hoo, one prop down. The woman who worked there, CC, was so helpful in directing me to some places to look for my other items so here is a shout out to her.

We stopped in at “Big Nose Kate’s” for lunch and to get strategic on what was next. Down a tiny metal spiral staircase was “The Shaft” and there is supposed to be the ghost of “The Swamper”. I left Chuck to wait for our food and went down there and looked into the gated off area where he is supposed to be. It was where he lived while he worked there in the Hotel that was originally there. I asked the woman working the gift shop if she had seen him come out of there. She laughed and said, “I haven’t seen him come out,” then smiled. Hmmm, so maybe she’s seen him go in? I left it there, we finished our lunch and moved on.

We stopped at an amazing place called “The Killer Bee Guy” and discovered the most amazing honey and honey blends ever. We sampled and bought some really good stuff, because Chuck is a real big time honey eater. If you ever get to Tombstone go to this shop on 5th and Toughnut. We found it by accident when I was looking for the location of the “Russ House” which I mention in my book. Buildings and history are perfect bedfellows and to kno20160307_151604w this place was part the culture and touched by the people of Tombstone gives it history energy.

Nellie Cashman, the owner at the time my story is set, knew the Earps-she was there when the OK Corral went down. She walked the floors of this building, served food and helped many people who were in need. She was called “The Irish Angel of Mercy.”

We walked to our car to drop off our honey purchase and just before we walked back Chuck pointed to a Land Rover next to us. It’s plates were from the UK, it was covered in stickers and it had a blogger named on the side. I looked it up and am now following her blog. She is a traveler.20160307_151104So here’s a shout out to janetdowle.wordpress.com who was in Tombstone when I was. A very cool co-incidence.

We wandered into “Russell’s Roadrunner” and after much searching and a very helpful Cheryl Honeycutt, we found a perfect replica 1880’s gambler’s hat for the shoot. Boom, that’s two props!! Chuck spied the smoke shop across the street so it didn’t take long for him to find a cigar. Walking slowly back toward our vehicle we said a see ya later to this town. I hope they don’t do too much more fixing up. Leave some of the ghosts of the past to wander through whats left of the old adobe of 1870.

As we drove home I looked over to the west toward the Huachuca Mountains, looking across the landscape where my fictional people live. The light was soft, there were storm clouds with scattered rain and winds blowing up dust swirls. I know these characters well and as we rode on I spoke of them as real people who experienced life in such a place.

Cheers!

-N