What’s Next? A Look at Pierce Family Options

Hiram’s War: Live on Amazon
                     May 15,2020


Those who have read Hiram’s War have a common question: What’s next for the Pierce family? It’s a question I’m asking the five older siblings. Let’s see what they’re telling me.

Cordelia: I’ve spent the last four years as a traveling photographer for Mathew Brady. I’m not sure what I’ll do when the war is over.

Ambrose: I’m heading to New York City to get my wife, son, and stepbrother, then we’re heading for Kansas and a new life.

Lucy: I’m on my way to Cairo to resume nursing duties, but I want to do more, to know more, to save more lives. I want to be a doctor, but I’ll have to fight to make that happen. Women are usually barred from medical schools. 

Ella: I’m looking for a husband and a permanent home for me and Jennie. My older siblings say I don’t know what marriage is all about and I’m asking for trouble, like being fourteen means I don’t know anything. We’ll see. 

Jennie: I always wanted little sisters, and now I have three of them under three years old. Ella and I have split the responsibility: she takes care of the house and I take care of the little ones. It’s only been a week, and I already think I’m in over my head. Help!

Another Option: Aunt Hannah

Hannah True is sister to the Pierce siblings deceased mother. She took the girls in after their mother’s death and raised them until 1860. Then Hannah’s mother died and her brothers-in-law sold the hotel she ran and left her uprooted. At thirty-eight, she is on her own for the first time in her life. In 1848, she was a suffragette. Now, on her way to New York City and a new life, she meets a man who runs a detective agency and gives her an unexpected option. Will she take it? 

So those are my choices. Which one appeals most to you and why? 

For more on the Pierce family, check out the following e-books: Cordelia’s Journey (always 99 cents), For Want of a Father ( on a 99 cent countdown sale May 29-June 5, 2020), and Hiram’s Boy


Hiram’s War: What Lucy Wants

Remember Lucy Pierce, Hiram’s oldest daughter, from For Want of a Father?

Lucy’s back, nineteen years old now, and she’s been to war with the boy she loved and served as a Civil War nurse with Mother Bickerdyke. She’s taking a break from a battlefield hospital to join her sisters in Westport and do what she can to protect them from Confederate General Price and his soldiers who are planning to march through the town on their way to Ft. Leavenworth.

Lucy in her own words: 

I’m almost twenty, and I’m a widow. I married Jake when he was dying from dysentery like so many other soldiers. No one knew the cause or what to do, so all I could do was sit with him. Now I will devote my life to healing the sick in honor of my one true love. But first, I must make sure my sisters are safe from Price and his rebel marauders.

I convinced Cordelia we must go to Westport and watch over them. Now that we have arrived, I see the situation is much worse than I imagined. Jennie is still having visions of the future, and Uncle Graham has beaten her with a belt until her back bled. I have put iodine on the cuts, but there will be scars, and it will be some time until her bruises heal.

Jennie insists she’s had a vision of Pa being hurt, and we must help him. After the way he treated me, Cordelia, and Ambrose, I am resistant to the idea, but Jennie won’t stop pleading, so we must do it for her sake. Once we have found him, I will move on to the next goal: finding a home for Ella and Jennie. Ella’s marriage idea is so misguided. She doesn’t remember how bad things were between our parents and how bad an arranged marriage can turn out to be. Once my sisters are taken care of, I will return to the Sanitary Commission and see where my nursing skills are most needed. Please, let this war be over soon.

Hiram’s War is available for pre-order on Amazon and goes live on May 15. If you enjoy American historical fiction dealing with family struggles, order your copy now.

Beginning the third book

for want of a father final copy

Now that For Want of a Father is published as an e-book and I am waiting for the proof copy of the paperback to arrive, I have some downtime to start the third book in the series, Hiram’s Boy. I am testing out Bublish, a platform for getting the word out about my books. On this site, I am able to put rough cuts of my novel-in-progress online along with my comments about the process of writing the book. Please check out my profile page and tell me what you think.

My Kindle Scout Experience

for want of a father final copyYesterday, I received a survey from Kindle Scout asking for an evaluation of my campaign experience. One of the questions was whether I would recommend Kindle Scout to other authors. I would.

I chose to participate in Kindle Scout for several reasons: The possibility of an advance and a quick decision compared to traditional publishers, the opportunity to get some advance publicity for my novel, the ability to see where campaign views came from, and the follow-up announcement Kindle Scout will send to those who nominated For Want of a Father when it is published.

A Quick Decision

My campaign ran from April 1 – April 30. I received my rejection e-mail on May 12, which was within the turnaround time set by Kindle Scout. I appreciated the promptness.

Advance Publicity

I love to write and hate to market. During this campaign, I forced myself to do something almost every day to get the word out and ask for nominations. Fifty-four percent of my views came through my own efforts, and forty-six percent of my page views came from within Kindle Scout. I wish I knew the percentage of viewers who nominated the book in each case, but they don’t tell that in the statistics. However, many people saw the book who would not have done so if I had simply uploaded it without participating in the campaign.

Sources of Campaign Viewers

I have already mentioned that 46% of viewers came from Kindle Scout itself. Of the 54% that came from my own efforts, 17% of the traffic came from Facebook and only .05% from Twitter although I spent much more time on Twitter. During the last week of the campaign, I discovered Kindle Scout groups on GoodReads and KBoards. Both groups were supportive and together were the source of 26% of campaign views. This blog and my other blog, Seasoned Aspirer, accounted for 10% of the traffic. This knowledge is helpful as I go forward with marketing my books.

Follow-up Publication Announcement

I plan to publish the e-book version of For Want of a Father by June 1. The paperback will be available by June 30. Kindle Scout will send an announcement when the e-book is available. Within a few days of the e-book publication, I will be doing a free download promotion, so check back here and on Facebook for dates.

Thank you to all who supported me during the campaign.

Not for Them

for want of a father final copy

The word didn’t come at midnight, but at nearly noon instead. Kindle Press did not accept For Want of a Father for publication. I was disappointed but not surprised. After all, I have nominated half a dozen books by other authors for publication and only one has been accepted, so my reading preferences are not the same as the editors. Or maybe the non-acceptance was for another reason than whether an editor considered the book a good read. Reasons are not a part of the rejection message.

Even though my book was not accepted for publication, I did learn a great deal from the campaign process. I will be sharing some of those learned lessons on this blog in the days to come and also at the June 11 District 2 meeting of the Kansas Authors Club in Lawrence.

What happens next for the book? I will be doing a final revision of For Want of a Father and then formatting it for e-book and paperback publication. Projected publication date is June 30. If you nominated the book, Kindle will send you an e-mail when it is available for publication. I will also be running a free promotion during the launch and posting the dates on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you to everyone who nominated For Want of a Father during my Kindle Scout campaign. I appreciate your time and your vote.

Expectations and What We See

I used the tagline, “Fathers, Daughters, and Expectations,” for my For Want of a Father Kindle Scout campaign. As my character, Lucy, let expectations color her memories, my own expectations caused me to read what wasn’t there in today’s e-mails.

This is the second week since my campaign closed, and I have been checking my e-mail compulsively every half hour of so throughout the day, hoping to hear from Kindle Scout. This morning when I got up, the first thing I did was check my e-mail. I scrolled through the overnight messages until I saw it: Kindle Scout in the sender column. I barely noticed the “Thank you” in the subject line in my eagerness to get to the message. When I did read the first line of the message, all my eyes saw were the words at the end of the sentence: “was not selected for publication.” It was not until I got to the words “The author, (name,) wanted to. . . .” that I realized that the name was not mine and the book title was not mine either. It was a notification for a book I had nominated, not my own book.

We hear all the time about how we see and hear what we expect. This experience reinforced that lesson for me in my own life, and I will remember it as I write fiction. It’s such a great conflict creator.

As for expectations, now that I have received a notice at midnight, I won’t be able to go to sleep until after that tonight, expecting that the next Kindle Scout message may come then; this time one telling me about the acceptance or rejection of my own book.

Kindle Scout Campaign: Two Days Left

CJ_FWF twitter promo2 copy

After four weeks, I am tired of promoting. The Kansas Authors Club Convention theme this year is “Imagine.” I am imagining having the money to hire someone to do the promoting for me. An even better thing to imagine is getting that Kindle publishing contract, so here I am making a last push for nominations. The problem: Most of you wonderful people who will read this have already nominated me, and you can’t do it twice. However, if you didn’t get the free download of Cordelia’s Journey, Book 1 of the Pierce Family Saga, you can do so now through April 30. And if you suddenly think of anyone who hasn’t gotten the word about my Kindle Scout campaign, For Want of a Father, please pass the word along.

Stats update

As of today, my campaign page has had 226 views. Fifty-five percent or 124 of those came from those of you who saw my promotion and clicked through. Thank you.


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.


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.

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.


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