Welcome back to the blog! Today for the A to Z Blogging Challenge I’ve got E. Ayers talking about what she learned while writing her book.
Here’s E. Ayers!
Waving hello to everyone. Thank you so much for allowing me to be blogging about the letter L.
I’ve been working on the Diary of Clare Coleman, one of the first settlers in Wyoming. Except Clare isn’t real nor is Creed’s Crossing. This fictional character is really a culmination of people and events. In my story, Clare and Jessie Coleman settled in Wyoming in the 1840’s. They are homesteaders. Seems simple enough but it’s not.
The truth is I’m busting myths of our Wild West. Women weren’t running around in fancy dresses and swooning over hunky cowboys. Let’s start with cowboys. As the name implies, they were boys! From what I can tell most of these boys were barely ten and some weren’t as old as eighteen.
Take a quick look at the Pony Express. Again, they were young boys. Pony should have been a big clue! They weren’t big enough to ride a horse!
Right now, I’m dealing with the Battle of Little Big Horn (aka Custer’s Last Stand) as I write Clare’s diary. I can’t regurgitate history or everyone would be bored, so I absorb the history and see how it might apply to the Coleman ranch and write it. As I plow into this battle information, I’m learning about the Lakota Indians, and the logistics of troop movements. And why am I doing this?
The Coleman land would have been near or rather in the path of the troops moving into the area. And the Crow Indians supported our U.S. military. Okay, I’ll be honest. This sort of thing bored the heck out of me in school. We learned history based on battles and not on people. So here I am digging to discover facts about a battle because I’m writing a fictional story? It doesn’t seem to make sense, but I do it because I need to accurately portray their lives.
Did the troops bring their own food? Did they hunt along the way? Would they have removed sections of fence as they crossed property lines? Would they have put those sections back together once they passed through? Where might I find the answers to my questions?
And how do I know what is right and what is wrong? Well the alliance with the Sioux and Lakota tribe is well documented, as is the battle itself. It’s been the most studied battle because we lost! We don’t like losing! Actually no one does. But this is one time in history when we didn’t win.
How do I know what is fact and what is fiction when I’m writing something historical? Of course Wikipedia is my friend, but I don’t count on it as being the perfect source, because it’s not. People, average people, not historians, have built Wikipedia. I need to look beyond to other sources.
So how do I know when we first started using fountain pens? I like going to several resources. I might look up the history of fountain pens. That will yield almost two million search results. Fountain pens are actually a collectors dream and there are all sorts of people who are well versed on them. There are also plenty of brand name pen companies who have their history on the web. So I browse the collectors, check out Wikipedia, and hit a few pen companies with their historical pages. I like to check at least three different sites to make certain they agree.
And just because something was invented doesn’t mean everyone had one. Go visit your local library and you’ll get an idea of how many people don’t have Internet in their home. Most of us do, but not everyone. I have Internet but not a fancy TV. If there is something important in the news, I do have my computer. It’s been that way throughout history. The washing machine was invented and then they had to create a need for women to want one and make it affordable!
My cell phone isn’t very smart. I’m not even certain what makes it smart. I’ve never bothered to even try to get my email on my phone, but I’m sure I could. So obviously it takes time for things to filter through the population and in places like Wyoming, which were not, and still aren’t highly populated, things took longer.
So shipping something in the late 1890’s in corrugated cardboard, instead of a wooden box, might be a novelty to the recipient. Yet cardboard boxes had been around for a few years and many companies embraced them because it was cheaper than shipping in wooden boxes. It also weighed less.
By using various sources for information and looking at each thing from different angles, allows us, as authors, to accurately portray history. This makes our stories believable and adds depth.
It’s a learning process. I’m not a historian or even a real history buff. But I’m discovering bits about history that I didn’t know, and it’s all very interesting.
The constant warring between American Indian tribes often wasn’t much more than a sporting event. A chance to prove bravery or a way of saying this is our hunting ground. One week they might have had one of these events and the next week they had joined forces for something else.
For me, the Lakota Alliance and the Battle of Little Big Horn really isn’t about military history, but how it might have affected the Coleman ranch and the Crow Indians who were helping our military. Because aren’t people and their lives more exciting than the actual military battle?
When writing, it’s important to get the facts straight and then figure out how to utilize the information. It doesn’t matter if you write about ladybugs, Lakota, Latinos, lemurs, laws, Liberia, loons, or lynxes. It’s essential to understand facts. How the information is applied is up to each author.
I’ve enjoyed showing life as it really was for the men and women who settled our western territories. And the romantic notions that are perpetuated in novels need to be replaced with the stories of men and women, who fought the elements and worked hard to survive. From the beginning of time, people have always wanted to have someone to love, to be loved, and to live a better life.
E. Ayers writes both contemporary and historical novels. Visit her blog for more information on her books.
A Rancher’s Woman set in 1896 is available now
A Rancher’s Dream set at the end of the 1800’s will be available by May 1, 2015 in ebook and paperback.
A Rancher’s Woman
Coddled and protected from the harsh realities of life, Malene runs away from a bad marriage by posing as a chaperone to her younger sister. A series of events soon prove she’s capable of standing on her own two feet. However, she’s not prepared to follow her heart and accept marriage from the one man who truly loves her.
Many Feathers chance encounter with a blue-eyed blonde woman sets him on a path that lands him between the white man’s ways and the traditions of his people. Determined to protect his people and prove his worthiness as a suitable husband to a white woman, he stakes claim to land and establishes a ranch. But there’s one outlaw focused on destroying Many Feathers and everything he’s trying to accomplish.
Amazon International Buy Links. http://authl.it/B00HGV37VA
Available as a Kindle Unlimited
Soon to be available at a local bookstore near you in paperback.
Cindy here again.
Thanks for stopping by the blog. I love learning new things and I have been known to let the research bog me down. I need to find a good balance.
April 14, 2015 at 2:11 pm
Getting bogged down with research is a pain. I try hard to avoid it. If I’m bored, it’ll be boring to my readers. I often try a different approach to the subject, and getting into the photos is always fun! But photos can be mis-marked as to content and or year.
April 18, 2015 at 9:25 am
Great post, E. I can tell you spend a lot of time researching your books. As always, your stories are down to earth and heartwarming. I look forward to your next release!