Kindle Scout Campaign Update

 

CJ_FWF twitter promo2 copy

Only six days left! I am using my limited Photoshop skills to create a new graphic for the last three days. Any feedback on changes to improve the above image will be appreciated. However, remember my skills are limited.

Links

The first book in the series, Cordelia’s Journey,  will be on a free promotion from April 28-30 only.

For Want of a Father is up for nomination for publication on Kindle Scout until April 30. If Kindle chooses this book for publication, you will receive a free copy of the e-book. If you like American frontier family fiction, take this opportunity to make your reading preferences known.

To everyone who has already nominated For Want of a Father, thank you. Also, a big thanks to those who have re-tweeted my Twitter posts and shared my Facebook posts. My Kindle Scout campaign has had 195 unique viewers so far. I’ll give a final report at the end of the campaign. Also, Kindle Scout will send an e-mail to all who nominate the book, letting you know whether the novel has been selected for publication.

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19th Century Fashion: The Unmentionables

Imagine you are a fashionable woman getting dressed in the nineteenth century. You might put on your clothing in the following order:

First, stockings made of silk, wool, or cotton. Hold those stockings up with garters above the knee. Then add shoes. If stocking and shoes  are not put on first, you might not be able to fight through all the layers of clothing to don them once you are fully dressed.

Second, drawers, open-crotched for elimination purposes. They are often made of cotton, are knee-length, and button in the back..

Third, an undershirt or chemise.

Fourth, a short, knee-length petticoat.

Fifth, a long petticoat.

Sixth, a corset that begins under the armpits and goes all the way to the hips.

Seventh, a corset cover.

Eighth, as many extra petticoats as your fashion sense and budget allow.

Now that you have donned all the underwear, or unmentionables as they were then called, you will need to fix your hair and put on your hat before you put on your dress.

Why?

Because the sleeves of the bodice are so tight that you cannot lift your arms above your shoulders.

Who in For Want of a Father would wear all of the above? Aunt May, the society-conscious banker’s wife. Aunt Hilda, the minister’s wife would have fewer petticoats and dresses of more subdued colors. Aunt Hannah would wear even fewer petticoats and sometimes leave off the standard form of dress and wear bloomers.

If you have not yet nominated For Want of a Father for publication,  please visit Kindle Scout and do so now. There are only thirteen days left in the promotion.

for want of a father final copy

 

19th Century Fashion Facts

  • In the 1850s, skirts measured as much as ten to twelve yards around the hem.
  • Small pieces of lead were sewn into the hem to keep the wind from lifting full skirts.
  • A woman might wear six to nine ruffled petticoats underneath her full skirts.
  • The entire weight of one dress with petticoats might be as much as forty pounds.
  • Whether a woman wore a cage crinoline (hoop skirt) or layers of petticoats, wide skirts were a fire hazard.

Kindle Scout question: What did you learn while writing this book? Answer in 300 characters or less.

I have to admit to being fashion blind. I do not notice what other people are wearing unless their clothes are truly outrageous for the circumstances. If someone were feeding the pigs in a ball gown to rival Cinderella’s or someone attended a ball in a gunnysack, that would get my attention. Otherwise, I assume people wear whatever clothes are normal for the circumstances and don’t pay much notice. The result of my fashion blindness was brought to my attention by a critique partner who noted that my characters had no clothes. Given I’m writing historical fiction, I should probably include a few details.  After some Google searches, I learned a few fashion details and pinned some pictures on Pinterest. The question is how to include the descriptions without slowing down the story.

Below are my original and revised paragraphs.

Original: The next afternoon, I stood outside a small room at the back of the church where the women’s bible study group met, waiting for the meeting to break up so I could speak to my aunts. Aunt Hilda was the minister’s wife, so she led the study, and Aunt May attended because she was the banker’s wife and supporting the church was expected of someone with her position in society.

Revised: The next afternoon, clutching my borrowed copy of Godey’s Lady’s Book, I stood outside a small room at the back of the church where the women’s Bible study group met, waiting for the meeting to break up so I could return the magazine and tell my aunts that Pa had sent for me. Aunt Hilda was the minister’s wife, so she led the study, and Aunt May attended because she was the banker’s wife and supporting the church was expected of someone with her position in society.

My aunts were obviously sisters. May, Hilda, and Hannah were all tall and blonde with blue eyes. It was their petticoats that set them apart. Aunt Hannah swore that too many petticoats interfered with her work managing the hotel and never wore more than four and her skirts hung embarrassingly straight. Aunt Hilda usually had six for an acceptable fullness. It was Aunt May with nine petticoats that rustled and held out her skirts in almost a bell who was truly fashionable.

It was finally four o’clock, and Aunt Hilda led a prayer to close the meeting. After the “amen,” women began drifting toward the door, chatting on their way, and I got my first clear view of Aunt May’s new gown as she stood to leave. The dress had no collar, leaving Aunt May’s entire neck exposed, and her skirt was a perfect bell, indicating that she had received the cage crinoline that was advertised in the issue of Godey’s I held in my hand.  Aunt Hilda’s face had a sour look, and I wondered if it was Aunt May’s choice of neckline for church wear that caused it.

Have I gone overboard with description or do the details add to the story? Let me know.

If you enjoyed this excerpt from For Want of a Father, please nominate it for publication before April 30.

for want of a father final copy

 

 

For Want of a Cover

for want of a father final copy

One of the requirements of the Kindle Scout campaign is that the book must have a cover. In addition, one of the Author Q&A questions I could choose to answer in 300 characters (includes spaces) or fewer was “Tell us about the cover and the inspiration for it.” In 300 characters? Really? Read on and you will see why that was an impossible task.

 

When you don’t have a budget, a talented friend can save you.

FWF5cover blogYes, my initial cover budget was zero dollars. What saved me was Bonnie Myrick Eaton, my friend and talented Photoshop guru. She spent many hours working through all my ideas, even the early ones that were truly unworkable. Those of you who have been following the blog may remember the empty picture frames. My idea was that the empty frame signified the missing father. The picture frame is one that held my grandmother’s picture, and the background is my kitchen cabinet door. It is easy to see why this didn’t work.

 

FWF small frame cover

Not to give up to easily, Bonnie took a picture of one her frames and tried that. It still wasn’t quite right.

 

 

 

Old pictures and copyright woes

I can’t show you the next effort, but the cover was wonderful. Karen Overturf let me borrow two old photographs, and I used them as inspiration for my main characters, Lucy and Cordelia. I was ready to purchase the pictures and use them for the cover when I ran across a disturbing article titled “Copyright and the old family photo.” Besides explaining why a photo of one’s grandmother taken over 100 years ago may still be under copyright, the author includes a chart showing what photos may or may not be under copyright law. Since I had to swear to Kindle Scout that I had the rights to everything I submitted and I couldn’t do that with the photos of the young women, I had to pass on a wonderful cover.

A search for symbols

Next, Bonnie and I brainstormed for symbols of the fathers. We thought about pipes, pocket watches, and boots. I suggested an empty place at a dining table. Nothing seemed right. Finally, I realized we had been looking at fathers when we should be looking at daughters. The girls were traveling to be united with their fathers.

The stagecoach on the cover

Cowtown stagecoach, Wichita, Kansas
Cowtown stagecoach, Wichita, Kansas

I remembered a picture I had taken several years ago during a visit to Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita, Kansas. Since the girls were traveling by stagecoach, I saw this image as my best option. I sent the photo to Bonnie and she did her Photoshop magic. I also got permission from Old Cowtown Museum to use it. I wasn’t sure if I needed permission since I took the picture, but I wanted to be certain I wasn’t violating any laws. So ends the story of my search for a cover.

If you have not nominated For Want of a Father for publication, please do so. If you have, thank you for your support.

 

 

 

For Want of a Father’s Kindle Scout Campaign

For Want of a Father Final Cover

 

In January, 2016, I made a New Year’s resolution to submit For Want of a Father to Kindle Scout by March 29, and to campaign for the book’s publication. I have met the first deadline, my submission materials have been approved, and the campaign will be live on Kindle Scout from April 1 – April 30, 2016.

For Want of a Father needs your vote.

Now it time for the campaign. Kindle Scout gives readers the opportunity to nominate books for publication. Like the current presidential campaigns, a nomination does not guarantee the outcome, but votes/nominations matter in the final selection process. If you would like to see more frontier family fiction, your nomination may help that happen. As I recently told some friends, I’d like to see frontier family fiction become “hotter than Harry Potter.”

What happens after the nomination period?

After April 30, the end of the campaign, Kindle Scout will take approximately two weeks to review the submission and decide on whether to publish. Once their decision has been reached, those who nominated the book will receive an e-mail giving the results: publish or not publish. If Kindle Scout says no, I will still publish the book on my own, so you will be able to get a copy. If Kindle Scout says yes, then you will get an e-book copy free when the book is released.

Hot and Trending

I appreciate any nomination at any time during the campaign, but in order to gain maximum exposure, I am trying to get as many votes as possible during the first five days: April 1-5. A rush of votes during a short period will put the book in a separate category, “Hot and Trending,” and give it more exposure. To encourage readers to do this, I have put the first book in the series, Cordelia’s Journey, on a free promotion during that time. So please nominate For Want of a Father and download a free e-book copy of Cordelia’s Journey April 1-5. Note: You do not need a Kindle to download a free e-book. You can get a free ap on Kindle book pages that will allow you to read a Kindle book on your computer, tablet, or other device.

Would Cordelia Sleep Here?

Cover 1 with green text

Revision steps and concerns

I have spent the past week revising pages in For Want of a Father that show main character Cordelia arriving in 1859 Denver. In the original Nano manuscript, I had her check into a hotel. Then I got worried. Were there hotels in Denver on or about June 1, 1859? I made several online searches and poured over my personal research library of western history as well as the public library’s stacks. One reference indicated there were about twenty houses in Denver at the time. Another mentioned the first newspaper being published in April, 1859, but I could find nothing on hotels. After complaining to writer friends about this lack of information, someone said, “It’s fiction. If you want a hotel, make one up.” So I did.

The trouble with details

There was little description of the hotel in the first draft. Cordelia got a room and had a pitcher of water delivered so she could wash off the grime from her twelve-day stagecoach journey. The writer in me said, “You need more details,” so I added them.

Cordelia reacts to her hotel room:

When I opened the door to the cramped cubicle, my nose was assaulted by the stench of tobacco, whiskey, and sweat. Smoke stung my eyes. Seeing what appeared to be a window on the outside wall, I crossed to it, pushed the wooden slat open, propping it with a board and pressing my face close to the opening, filling my lung with fresh air.  Hoping the room would air out, I stepped away from the window and took in the furnishings. A bed of sorts made of board slats on top of nail kegs stood along one wall. On inspection of the mattress, I concluded it was straw stuffed into a stained cotton ticking. The two woolen blankets smelled of tobacco and sweat but seemed otherwise clean.

Be careful what you describe

For a short time, I was proud of my description. It sounded like the kind of accommodations Cordelia might find in a new, rough mining town. Then I got worried. Would Cordelia sleep here? Several already written scenes depended on her doing that. Obviously, I needed to give her a good enough reason to stay in spite of the unsavory surroundings, so I attempted to do that.

Cordelia struggles with staying: 

My impulse was to leave, but where would I go? This was a new mining town. Other accommodations might be worse. I did not know Miz Wilma’s situation, and I did not want to inconvenience those who were caring for her. Best to stay here. It was only for one night.

Good enough?

Now that I’m reading the motive for staying again, it doesn’t seem good enough. But then this is only the second revision. A few weeks ago, a new writer asked, “How many times do you revise a novel?”

Answer: I revise as long as each reading of a scene gives me a deeper understanding of character and better ways of presenting the story. The end of the process does not come with a number but with a feeling that I have told the story to the best of my ability.

 

Defining Panic

FWF5cover blog

In last week’s post, I lamented the lack of closets in nineteenth century houses, but fixing that error in my novel was easy compared to the other problem my astute critique partner, Wes, brought up. First, the offending sentence from thirteen-year-old Lucy’s point of view:

In his letters, Ambrose had said even with the depression the last couple of years, the town and Pa’s blacksmith shop had done well.

The problem?

In the nineteenth century, economic downturns weren’t depressions, they were panics. Yes, Lucy was referring to the Panic of 1857. It was easy enough to remove depression and insert panic, but I couldn’t help wondering how a modern reader would interpret panic. I felt a definition was necessary, but definitions tend to slow down the action and take readers out of the story. Below is my attempt to explain without author intrusion. Does it work?

In his letters, Ambrose had said even with the Panic the last couple of years, the town and Pa’s blacksmith shop had done well. All I knew about the Panic was what I heard folks at the hotel say: In 1857, a ship on the way from the San Francisco Mint to the States in the east had sunk with thirty thousands pounds of gold on board. I couldn’t even imagine what that much gold looked like. Aunt Hannah said banks were shutting down, railroads were going broke, and farmers were getting less money for grain and not paying their mortgages. With fewer people going west, fewer people were staying at our hotel. For most of the last year, Aunt Hannah said the hotel barely made enough to stay open, and my pa and uncles complained they weren’t seeing the profits they once did. Those hard times seem to have gone by without touching Hidden Springs.

Just writing it out here, I’m thinking I’ve overdone the explanation. I question whether I needed all the facts I gave about the Panic. Should I take out the part about the sinking ship and go straight to what Aunt Hannah said? Is the definition of a panic clear? Is it credible that Lucy has this information at the age of thirteen? These are all questions I will continue to mull as I finish the second revision and move on to the third. Any advise will be appreciated.