Monday, January 22, 2018

Buried by Research - Who was Who

Research can, at times, be more than I can take. I spent two days working on one obscure commander at Fort Laramie. Not only was there not much about him but there were two of him. Not really two of him, but another with the same name. Both men held the same rank, captain, achieved six-weeks apart and both were with the same group of Kansas Volunteers. After a few more hours I was able to separate them as one went east to fight in the War Between the States, and the other, the one I was looking for, came west to Fort Laramie. 

Thought I had it all figured out, except now when my man coming west should have been listed as the fort commander, he is not. Now I have another dilemma to work through. So goes the life of a researcher.

At some point I will go down to Fort Laramie and see if I can find answers in their files, actually looking forward to it. As of now, I am swallowed up in books, military records, and online research sites. Fun, but it can be exasperating.

Oh, I didn’t mention when doing the research I ran across a murder at the fort and another of a past Fort Laramie Commander in Texas, a few years after he left Laramie. Two stories I will likely use in my book.

Hard work, but highly interesting and entertaining. 

All photos are from Fort Laramie - I took them on an April visit. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Writing Westerns and the Dreaded Contraction

The Use of Contractions in the Old West

To use, or not to use, contractions in a western that is. I ran across a review of a new western movie with the reviewer trashing it as not authentic to the old west period. The reason it was not authentic, according to the reviewer, was that the characters used contractions when speaking, which were not used in the old west.

Long story short, this is not true, the use of contractions in speaking the English language has been around for years, some can be found in English writings from centuries ago.  Mark Twain used hundreds of contractions in his works from the late 1800s.

It was all about the rhythm and cadence of the time that made the speech patterns different, not the lack of contractions.  Oh, and the absence of modern swear words that seem to have been fit into much of today's, old west literature and movies.

Some version of the old phrase, “If you got-um, smoke-um,” seems to fit here. If you have a place for a contraction and it is set in the old west, use it.  I find myself, along with many of the authors I read, using contractions more in dialogue than in the normal telling of the story – and I think that is the better place, and sometimes the only use for them.

Just my thoughts. Enjoy winter and all the time it affords to read and write. 

Now recovering, sort of - Day five of the flu, most unpleasant few days, stay healthy everyone. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Off and Running In 2018

Welcome site at the end of a snowy hike this week
No New Year’s Resolutions for me this year. I have tried them in the past but never followed through. I do like seeing others with resolutions and hope they do well with them. But, I do have hopes for the new year.
Unintentional Slow Down - After publishing four books in 2014-2015 and four more in 2016, I finished one last year. So here I go with my non-resolution, resolution – I need to get back to four again this year. Shouldn't be hard, as my faithful readers know, I have two finished, and being edited now, that means I need to finish the other two I have stated.

New Things in 2018  -  I do have a new Author Page on Facebook 

I have great hope that the new page will add to my author exposure, and eventually to more book sales.

Working On - The first week of the year most of my work has been on my nonfiction book. This one takes more time with footnotes and so many sources, but I am having fun with it. Not sure when I will finish, looks like it could go five or even six-hundred pages. When this one wears me out I will go back to one of my other projects.
An old-time dugout in the snow

Happy New Year and wishing you Luck with your 2018 resolutions. 
Think Spring