Researching Hiram’s War

 

 

Mine Creek 1
Photo of the location of the Civil War Battle of Mine Creek in Kansas taken July 7, 2018

The Civil War: Too Big for Me

I knew as I was writing the final pages of Hiram’s Boy, that the next story in the Pierce Family Saga would have to include the Civil War. The thought was intimidating. How many battles should my characters be part of? How would I ever do all the research? Then, sometime in January 2018, I started thinking about Civil War battles fought in Kansas. A bit of research led me to the Battle of Mine Creek, which took place on October 25, 1864.

The Research Trip

When I mentioned my brilliant idea to a group of writer friends, Cheryl Unruh said, “Road trip!” I immediately said, “Yes!” We had thought to visit the Mine Creek Museum in April, but time passed without a definite date. Then on Saturday, July 7, I got a text from Cheryl saying the day was the coolest we would probably get for a while, so let’s go. And we did.

The Museum

The museum is in a rural area off Highway K-52 near Pleasanton, Kansas. Upon signing in, we were greeted by a member of the museum staff. I explained my interest in the battle and was handed a fabulous brochure, which I will say more about later. Then we wandered through the indoor exhibits, which included fashions, bullets, and a cannon replica, as well as large information posters about the battle sequence and soldiers involved. Then Chery and I went outside to view the battlefield. By that time, it was mid-afternoon and too warm for me to make the hike through the field and read the signs, but as you can see from the picture at the top of this post, it was a beautiful Kansas day.

The Brochure

I didn’t look at the brochure I was given until that evening when I got home. My first reaction when I opened it was “Wow!” I still keep saying “Wow!” every time I look at it. This has got to be the absolute best, most informative brochure ever. The entire Price Campaign of 1864 is shown, along with the battles and dates from September through November. Below that map is a brief description of what happened at each point in the campaign. On the reverse side of the brochure is a detailed accounting of the actual Battle of Mine Creek. there are two large maps and two small ones, each showing different views, along with a summary of the action on the day of the battle. This one brochure gives me a wonderful timeline for presenting the action in the novel.

What’s Next?

Given what I’ve learned about the Battle of Mine Creek and what happened in the days before it was fought, I’ve found a title for Book 4 of the Pierce Family Saga: Hiram’s War. I’ll be writing more about that in the next post.

In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about this little-publicized battle on Kansas soil, check out their museum page. The research links are going to be high-priority for me as I gather more information for Hiram’s War.

 

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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.

 

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.

Which Book Cover: Please Vote

 

I’m still revising For Want of a Father, so it may seem a little early to worry about a book cover, but I need something to visualize. Thanks to writing buddy and Photoshop whiz, Bonnie Myrick Eaton of Keyhole Conversations, I have the above three possibilities. Now I need your opinion, so there is a poll at the end of this post. Before you take it, though, here is a back cover blurb in process.

Back cover blurb

1859, Kansas Territory

Half-sisters Cordelia, 17, and Lucy, 13, suffer from the lack of a father in their lives.

Cordelia has never met the man who dazzled her mother Minerva with promises of love and a life together, then disappeared, leaving Minerva with child. To save her parents from the shame of a daughter bearing a baby out of wedlock, Minerva marries a man who demands sons, but she produces only one living boy. She dies in childbirth, trying to fulfill his demands and leaves Cordelia, the bastard child, without a parent.

On their mother’s death in 1855, Cordelia, Lucy, and their two younger sisters go to live with an Aunt in Westport, 150 miles from Lucy’s father. In the four years since she last saw her father, Lucy has idealized the life she could have with him if he would only send for her. She has grown up and is ready to take on the work of running a house, certain her father will appreciate what a fine daughter he has in her.

Two events occurring within ten days of each other give the girls the opportunity to learn more about the men responsible for their existence. Cordelia gets word that her father is prospecting near Denver; Lucy’s father wants her to return to his home in Hidden Springs. Cordelia cautiously decides to search for her father, unsure of the kind of man she will find while Lucy is overjoyed that her father wants her home. Will either father live up to his daughter’s fantasized image of him, or will each father break his daughter’s heart?

Cover ideas

I considered a couple of possibilities on the way to the picture-frame images in this post. I thought of a split front cover showing a miner panning gold (Cordelia’s father) and a blacksmith (Lucy’s father), but I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find the appropriate images and the cover would be too busy. Next, I thought of an empty chair at the head of a dining table, but I’d need furniture for that. Finally, I settled on the empty photo frame, which is not to say it is the best idea. If something better comes to mind before publication (I’m planning on June or July, 2016) I will use it. I know it is asking a lot, but if you choose none of the above, I’d love to have you leave a comment with your opinions of a cover that might work better. Thank you for your help.

 

 

 

November Results and December Commitments

Two out of three isn't bad.
Two out of three isn’t bad.

I really was crazy to commit to three things at once. I am here to report that I finished NaNoWriMo with the official count of 50,481 words, and I have a complete draft of For Want of a Father, Book 2 of the Pierce Family Saga. Now the revising fun begins. I also completed the Iowa Fiction MOOC. As for Blogging 201, I didn’t make it through the first lesson. I will have to repeat.  All that technical stuff hurts my brain.

Besides beginning the revision of For Want of a Father, December commitments include marketing Cordelia’s Journey. It has been out for a month with no official launch or promotion. Needless to say, it is reaching the bottom of the Amazon ranking pit, so something has to be done. I will be putting the e-book on a 99 cent promotion from December 1 through December 7. Other 99 cent promotions for the rest of my e-books will follow. Warning: You will probably see more of my promotions that you would like, but I don’t know any other way of getting the word out beside Facebook and Twitter. If anyone has a marketing plan that works, let me know.

In December I will also be participating in three Emporia Farmers Market events with other local writers, so if you would like a signed paperback and are in the Emporia area, stop by 727 Commercial. Hours are Saturday, December 5 and December 19 from 10 a.m. to noon, and Wednesday, December 10 from 8 p.m. to midnight. Yes, midnight is correct. It’s a citywide event with “Madness” attached to it.

As you can see, if anything has “crazy” or “madness” attached to it, I am probably there.

Cover Done and Paperback Published

Cordelia's Journey available in paperback on Amazon and Create Space.
Cordelia’s Journey available in paperback on Amazon and Create Space.

 

Thank you to Bonnie for taking the scenery photo and designing the cover, Arlene for taking the picture of the model, and Vicki for being the model. These same women and Bess, my friend in Boulder, spent many hours proofing my book. Also, thank you to Wes, an online critique partner, for his suggestions during the development of the novel. What? A guy? Yes, there was male input, too.

I am now working on the e-book format, which should be on Kindle by next week.