Looking for Cochise

I love historical research. I love history – that’s probably why I enjoy writing historical fiction. This past weekend hubby and I spent two days scouring the southern Chiricahua mountains for the site of a firefight between the US Army and Cochise’s Chiricahua Apaches in 1869.

My fictional Army officer will be engaged in this event. I had questions about the location, and after searching through books and historical papers I managed to pinpoint the place I needed to see. To put myself in my character’s mind, explore his emotions, and find out who he would be after this was over, seeing the location was important for the story.

Much to her great pleasure Millie came along on the road trip, riding comfortably on her bed in the back seat. 

There was so much for her to see and smell, so much to experience. She was so good, and when we stopped for pictures or to explore she was happy to do her own research of the area. 🙂 

Rucker Canyon was where we were heading. It runs between the Chiricahua Mountains to the north and the Pedregosa Mountains to the south west. The creeks were running thanks to snow melt, and the dirt roads were well maintained, with a few places I wouldn’t want to drive on if they were wet.

  My driver did a good job getting me where I wanted to go, and he loved exploring those crude trails disguised as roads. I’m not so fond of the bouncing around on these, but he was having a great time.

Considering we were very close to the international border we saw this sign going either direction. Gave me pause. 

Using our topo map and the references, we were able to pin point the bluff where the Apache warriors held off the US Army. This series of fights lasted for a month beginning in October, and resulted in both sides suffering injuries and loss of life. It also prompted Cochise to examine the cost to his people of the continued fight against the whites.  He was dead five years later.

Walking the area where these two groups struggled to control the land was profound for me. The area is a pristine, rugged, and beautiful wilderness area of oaks and junipers. The bluff was found by us, and we spent time examining it and imagining the humans surrounding it, climbing, it, hiding behind its peaks, and moving in a strategic dance of combat. I was thrilled.

Left – from the south, right – from the north.

The south view was a steeper approach the Army attempted but were pushed back by the well entrenched Apaches.

The Army circled around to the north side which was a gentler slope, but still unapproachable. It was this activity that leads to my character’s encounter with a warrior and a crisis moment for him and his life going forward. After a bit more driving and a bit of hiking hubby suddenly stopped and said, “Here, it happens here.” He found a perfect place for the confrontation. In this area there were signs of human presence at least 100 years old. Nancy was in her happy place!!

Down this slope my character will struggle and his life will change. At the bottom is a creek, and beyond that a meadow lined with trees that are good cover for the warrior.

Boy did Millie like this place. She could wander and discover, glancing back at us to make sure we were near.

It was getting late, so we headed out for Douglas, Arizona and to the ranch home of old family friends of hubby. When I say old friends, I’m talking before marriages and kids, my father-in-law and Mr. Christiansen were BFF’s.

This ranch house was built in early 1960, and is one of the most comfortable, and welcoming homes I’ve visited. We chatted, laughed, looked at books and photos, walked around the land, and hubby’s memories were tickled. Millie loved this as well. She had plenty of room to run, sniff, and do her business. Our beautiful hostess, Mrs. Ursula Christiansen, made us comfy, fed us, and loved Millie. Ursula, born in Germany, married an American military man, and moved to this country. I asked her what she thought of southern Arizona when she arrived and she said she wanted to see Indians, she didn’t realize they were on reservations.

The two German girls got on pretty well. They’d had German Shepherds on the ranch, and she missed them. I think Millie sensed that. After a good nights sleep, Ursula wanted to take us to her favorite Mexican restaurant – El Pato (The Duck.) Chuck and I loved it, fresh and delicious Sonoran food.

Ursula was greeted warmly by the lovely owner Alba, she introduced us, and we ordered. If you ever get to Douglas, AZ go see Alba at El Pato.

 After our wonderful meal, and full bellies we headed back to the mountain for a few hours, then home.

My mind was racing with ideas, scenes, and plots. I can give the writing an authentic feel, and take the reader into the action with authority.

The best part was the chance to be there, on the spot, in the location, walking the same paths, seeing the same landscape, being in history, and becoming my character.

Cheers!

-N

 

 

 

 

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A Season of Learning

I am in a season of learning.

My desire right now is to discover learning opportunities. Webinars, podcasts, you tube videos, ebooks, wherever I spot something I want to know more about I am jumping on it. As I was starting this blog I had at least six tabs open on my laptop with various searches, emails, and a PowerPoint presentation on script reading ready for my perusal. I had my cell phone next to me and a notepad with a mechanical pencil at the ready.

In my home growing up there wasn’t any emphasis on learning. School wasn’t made any kind of priority. I can’t even remember my parents asking if I had homework or making me sit down and do my homework. It seemed if I liked what I was doing that was good enough for them. There were no parent/teacher meetings about my progress, no issue made of my grades, and if my folks wanted to take off for a trip to Texas they thought nothing of taking us out of school to go, and no worry about textbooks or concern about missed assignments while we was gone.

My middle sister had what we know now as a learning disability-ADHD and probably dyslexia. School was a nightmare for her, she was held back in first grade as much for her behavior as her lack of understanding. She had no idea how to be a student. My youngest sister and I were pretty good in school from nothing more than being natural learners. I do wish my parents had put greater emphasis on our school work. It might have been because we were military brats who moved every three years including overseas until my father retired, but I knew of other kids like me who achieved success in school.

Why didn’t they notice I loved writing stories and plays and encourage my talent? Why didn’t they find someone to help me with math when they saw I struggled?

My husband’s experiences were the opposite of mine and fortunately this motivated us to promote the importance of learning and school to our kids. They both went on to college and university.

So now, after years of wishing I had attended college, I am drawn to all sorts of learning. My love for history has directed much of my writing-it’s a joy to do historical research for my stories. I adore books. Geology and meteorology fascinate me and I can have meaningful discussions on these topics. My curiosity is strong and my desire to know more has given me the drive to seek out opportunities. I love challenging my brain, and hope this season is a long one.

Cheers!

-N

 

Is it a romance novel?

Well…I guess it has romance.

It’s a question I get when I’m asked about two of my books. How do I explain it is a genre mix? My books have good, well researched history of dress, speech, locale, conveyance, and real historical figures merged appropriately into the setting of my books. That is of huge importance to me as a HistNerd.

Yep, made that one up!

That being said, I do incorporate the human side. Family, love, struggle, conflict, all the parts of who humans become as we live. Yeah, there is sex. However it is not erotica by any stretch. I don’t do gratuitous in any media I access. But my stories are sexy. I love sexy people; what they think, how they move, how they speak, the way they touch. Sexy is fun. However these two stories are set in a time when there was no deodorant, shampoo, washing machines, toothpaste, and tampons. Women had body hair, men had even more. You get me right?

I don’t avoid these things in my historical writing. It’s how it was.

The settings are fleshed out to give the reader easy access to the time period. With language it is important to be precise in order to drive the reader into the feel of a relationship. I do describe dress both male and female, as well as room decor to pull out who the people in the story are and what their lives are like. Are they rich? Do they have servants and how many servants would this person have in their lifestyle of the time period? Do they struggle to feed their children? Do they have to work and what would that work look like. It is a disservice to readers to give 2018 attitudes to women and men of the 1880’s.

Likewise forcing the language of the 21st century on 19th century characters diminishes the powerful effect of the communication of people of that time. They wrote letters, they kept journals, and they read newspapers, all part of human interaction and understanding. I love it!

So when you read about two proud individuals who are forced into a farce of a marriage, they still adhere to the standards of the day. When you read of a woman who is used by a man to gain favors and blackmail, she is a victim, but in the time there would be no rescue for her.

I am a mixed genre author and reader.

Cheers!

-N

Boosting that post!

Book lovers are so cool!

On my Facebook author page I posted a piece, with photo, about my huge bookshelf hubby built for me, and mentioned I am soon needing another one for a different wall. Then I boosted it to my standard audience.

Well…the response has been amazing to say the least.

As of now over 4500 people have seen it, over 400 reacted, with dozens of comments and shares. I feel like I got a big ole hug from an international audience. Fantastic feeling!

There are plenty of book lovers out there who appreciate my collection and the room my hubby has set up for me. It has comfy seating, plants in front of the window, a shelf of memorabilia of my beloved late father, and displayed photos of my precious children, my grandson, and other family members. Its a cool space.

It was a thrill to hear from others about collections of books and how they love their books. One fun thing were the readers who noticed Cleo sitting on the love seat in the photo. I even had a women in the UK who offered me some books from 3000 her parents left her! How cool is that?!

With the increase in digital book purchases (I admit I am one of those, too) I feel the real thing is getting left behind unless true book lovers and collectors like myself make sure to keep a library. The joy I feel when I look at my books, re-read a favorite author, share a special part from one of them with someone, or open my glass cabinet with my very old tomes and sniff the air inside, is immeasurable and gives me comfort. Those books have inspired me, they’ve provided character names and locales for a story. They have provided necessary historical data so my stories are accurate no matter who would peruse them.

I love to share the special finds I’ve made at used book sales or used book stores (I love how those places smell!) because you never know what might have been left inside a favored copy of essays or poems. I once found a clipping of review of the book I bought written in the 1930’s, and I found a photo from the end of war in the Pacific in a used World War II historical atlas.

Take a moment and look at the post. I would love to know your impressions my fine followers!

Cheers!

-N

https://www.facebook.com/NancyTurnerVaughn

Do Not Disturb

Some people don’t seem to understand what it takes to focus on writing. Just because the music is playing and I am walking around talking to myself doesn’t mean I am not in a writing zone and it’s okay to barge in and start chatting. I am seriously thinking I need a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door.

Some people need silence, solitude – space to make the words flow and the jumble of thoughts to become a cohesive body of narrative. Me, not so much. That works at times I’ve found, especially when I am editing. In most cases I have music – all kinds of music – filling my work room. I dance, pace, wander, talk to no one, and fiddle with my muse.

Right now the playlist is soul/pop from the last forty years. Prince, Jimmy Luxury, Michael Jackson, Sly and the Family Stone, The Temptations. Whoa baby, digging it.

Then the interruptions….

Thus the blog refuge to focus my mind on creating and my fingers a needed a warm up – you get me?

 

Had a fun thing happen yesterday while hubby and I were gardening. Lots of soil was moved, reseeding the back yard and planting flower seeds by the pond. I asked if the spa was hot and he said yes, and I replied after this day we need a soak and alcohol, and who knew what next. He agreed and by 8:30 pm we were in the hot water, staring at the stars, planning our next adventures. It was splendid. In my mind I thought “I’m going to use this in a story!”

Isn’t that great when that happens?

We have introduced Cleo to the outdoors and she is digging it. She has gotten big enough and savvy enough to know to stay near the house while she explores. One interesting aspect is Millie, as the big sister German Shepherd, pays attention to her and when she gets out of Millie’s sight the search is on. Millie kind of whines as she tries to find the wee cat, only calming when she is back. So adorable.

They are so cute and are pretty good buddies. Cleo loves Millie’s big swishey GSD tail, and Millie will nudge and lick Cleo when she is laying on the floor. Their food bowls are in the same place separated by a water bowl they share. 

We had Jake for a while but he went back to his family once they were again able to house him, much to Jake’s happiness.

I have always liked having a dog and a cat. I love the difference in the two animals, and they both nourish the variety of pet lover needs I have. Chuck and I are both this way.

So now the words are flowing. Time to ease back into the past as Jude Tremaine arrives at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory. It could very well be a bloody night in the mountains around him. Ready for a rowdy ride, a betrayal, and a heartbreaking loss? Volume II of The Tremaines is in progress. Pray for no more interruptions unless the house is burning down or the wine is running out.

Cheers!

-N

 

The new book

Story construction, especially the part where the characters are created, fleshed out, and developed into someone who draws emotion from you, is where I am in my current work.

My historical romance stories are equal parts romance and history. I need to make sure my people and places are fit together in a way that is consistent for the time period. The culture and the morals of the time are critical to the realism of the story. The history research plays into that part of the story. The romance part, the sexy part I build into the relationships in a way that is as compelling to me as I hope it is to the reader.

One part of the history I write has action in it. I love writing the action, with the help of my hubby. He is great help in developing these parts, especially from the mans perspective. The current story is set in 1869, has post civil war US Army and Chiricahua Apaches in it. The research has been so exciting, and fun. The discoveries I’ve made and the knowledge I’ve garnered is compelling.

I have to tell this story!

This romance is one I hinted at in the previous book. It’s funny how as a writer you find out what the character wants to say, feel, and do. They exist in my mind, but once they are on paper they become more than the words. I know what they sound like, how they walk, the way they caress the person they desire, and the emotions in their relationships.
I did discover a new character who stepped onto the story stage and will really mix things up. I’m excited to see how this all teases out.

So now it’s time to put it together.

Cheers!
-N

Click on the link below to buy the first book in the trilogy.

Research is fun

I’ve mentioned previously I have started plotting my next book. As a historical romance, the emphasis for me initially is on the historical part of the story I am telling. So this means I get to do historical research.

Yum!

As a history geek, I love this part of writing these books. It is important to me the scenes are accurate in speech, dress, actions, and setting. The way these people in 1869 interact within the parameters of the time period are very different from now. My goal as a writer is to walk the reader into the comfort of existing in this place with these characters.

Currently I am in a logistical difficulty. 100_6614Most of my library of approximately 2000 books is boxed up and in storage while the shelves are relocated, set-up, and painted. This means much of my historical resources are not accessible. Bummer. I’m ready to get them out, sorted, and organized.

 

When I say I have resources, I mean I have enough material my son could write a 10 page paper for his history class requiring one source for each page, and only one online source, and I had all of it!100_6612

I love my books.
100_6613

I do read a lot of eBooks,
but I also collect hardback copies of my favorite writers. Hubby does too (can you say Clive Cussler.) I prefer hardback if possible in the books I add to my collection.
I also am a book sale fan. And I love the smell of old books.

My library is a legacy I will leave to my kids. My daughter is a teacher after all.

The research I’m doing is about Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory and this is a location I have100_7059 actually visited.

It is truly amazing to walk the area my character will walk. To look at the surrounding hills and mountains, and see the colors of the vegetation will give the words authenticity.100_7062 I want it to be real for the reader and this is part of it.

So, let’s see what my hero experiences so far from home. Will he be the same person when he returns from the southwest?

Cheers!

-N

Writing progress

I finally finished the first draft of my new book, the working title is “The Holder of My Flame.” What a great feeling, so fulfilling and exciting. There it is, my newest baby. I just printed it out and will now start on red pencil edits, and fleshing out some scenes, as Kevin Johns says, without filler or fluff.

I am in that place where all I can think of are these characters. They are becoming more real to me all the time, the sound of their voices, the way they walk, their hand gestures and facial expressions – the total look they have. Now I will sit down with my notes, writing and grammar helps and look at each chapter to make sure these people are staying true to the personality I have in mind for each of them as they tell the story for me.

Near the end of the book is an intense, powerful scene, pivotal to bringing important people together, redeeming some and revealing others. It was hard to write, so much so I had to stop for a break before I plunged in and banged it out. The scene was painful and emotional. My heart broke for one of my characters as they endured physically and emotionally.

A biggie, I have to double check my historical data to make sure the places and time these fictional humans are inhabiting is accurate. Yay-history research! (History nerd here)

I know other writers become attached to characters they write about, and I am no exception. There always seems to be that one character who is so fun to write for and who makes me wish they were real so we could be friends, or not. Ha ha!

So now on to the next step.

Cheers!

-N

Writing and perspective

I’m working on a new book, and this is one I’ve had half written and fully plotted for a few years. It is requiring a lot of research for the time period, and the action centers on how Americans treated each other after the Civil War/War of Northern Aggression/War Between the States was finished. Post war reconstruction was nasty business.

One reason for the genre of my stories is I love history-official history geek here. I also love romance and this is also a reason for my genre. Though I am combining my two interests I also want to make the stories real in the interactions of the people. This is why I go to my source for all things male-my hubby.

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If I get to a sticking point where I’m trying to come up with dialogue or action for a scene I will run it by him for his reaction. He will ask me questions to make me revisit the plot and character motivation and soon he has teased out the perfect next step in writing the scene.

I have had to occasionally remind him I am writing the book for a specific audience and I’ve got this.

He’s good with that.

Looking back over the old stuff I have written it’s apparent I am getting better at the writing process. I read through those first pages and mercilessly hacked at lines and scenes. Now as I rewrite it is coming into better focus. I’m at around 17k words with about four times that to go.

I’m really enjoying reconnecting with these people and fitting the historical events, places and people into their fictional lives.

What a thrill.

Cheers!

-N

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01CXRU1QA

Oh man, I like these people

I’m sitting in my writing place. This is it! Dark chocolate and a Napa Cab nearby.writing place

Maybe I should change the blog to vinowithchocolate, but I digress.

My ebook will be available on Amazon in twelve days and I smile whenever I think of it. I can’t wait for the readers to meet Mitch and Amanda.

I’m building followers on my blog, my Facebook author page and Twitter which amazes me. I love followers and I welcome as many as there are out there.

I have started my next book. I had a lot of it roughed out, a lot of research done-love research-and it is well plotted so the writing has started to flow. Flow is the optimal word to describe what is happening. These are really fun people to write for. My heroine is a dream to write dialogue for with her voice in my mind. She is spunky, immature, adventurous, spoiled and sexy. My hero is, well, a hero, you know-tall, dark and handsome-oozing testosterone.

The male voice and perspective is the part where my husband steps up.

I’ve mentioned this before, he is a man’s man and will tell me when I’m writing my male characters too soft or not in a true gender POV.

He’s the first one to go through the story for errors and inconsistency. Like me, he is an avid reader, but not in this genre, so he has fresh eyes.

My stories are historical so the research is paramount to it being valid as not only a romance but in giving the reader a stimulating historical experience. I had someone ask me if I would want to live in the time I am writing and I had to be honest and say-um no. I like central air and heating, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant and feminine hygiene products. But in my study of the times and people there were people who blew my mind.

I have been mulling the idea of a biography of an amazing woman who lived in the late 1800’s. She was who I would have wanted to be had I lived in the time she lived. She watched history be made. We’ll see.

Time to get back to work. I need more iTunes music.

Cheers!

-N