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. ūüôā¬†

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

 

 

 

 

Computer coolness

Greetings all!

I am so stoked!

Hubby helped me set up a second monitor, an external one, for my laptop. Now I can have research pages open on the external monitor and my manuscript open on my laptop. Pretty snazzy let me tell ya.

Sometimes when working on descriptions of vehicles, weapons, or garments for an historical setting it is helpful to have open a visual of said item for reference as I use them in the story. This is going to be so fun.

At this moment I have my manuscript open on the laptop and I’m writing this blog post on the second display!! I’m feeling pretty tech savvy.

I had an idea of how to do it, but hubby and I working together found the place in the settings to set up multiple displays. I readily admit it would have taken me quite a bit longer, and lots of google searching, had I been on my own.

So here I sit, with both monitors up and working splendidly, and no need for an IT department. Hehe.

Cheers!

-N

I’m still here

Hello all,

The past two weeks have been busy. Almost too busy, but I’m still here.

Busy, and unfortunately no writing. I’ve been squeezing in a bit of research reading and writing a few notes but not actual creative stretches of time. It’s distressing and disturbing to the writer in me. Instead I’ve been in the middle of cleaning, cooking, going to hospital and appointments with doctors for mom who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Adjustments are being made to the lifestyle of hubby and I since she lives with us.

However, welcoming my daughter and grandson for a visit this weekend has been a joy. He is a three year old who can keep all of the adults on their toes. But he is so fun.

So tonight I plan to sit down alone in my room, after I am “off duty” taking care of mom, and will try to plot the last several chapters of my current book. No stopping until I make some progress. I expect more doctor/hospital visits this coming week.

So that’s it for now.

Cheers!

-N

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

I know you missed me!

It’s been a few days since my last post and I know you’ve missed me-haha.

I spent some time helping Chuck clear out crap from the back half of the acre and store some things designated for a yard sale. I moved my sewing/quilting things into the space in my office that was opened up after most of my books were boxed up (sniff) and stored. I still have a bit of research material, since my current books are historical they require a lot of time delving in the time period to make the story work.

Yesterday I succumbed to my allergies. I’ve been a sneezing, coughing fool and yesterday it nailed me. Actually had a sore throat and a fever. I was an achy, pain in the butt. Enough of that! It makes me sound like an old human. We stopped into a Walgreens at 1st and River to pick up my allergy nasal spray and the guy at the check out was so fun. A very cute guy who was dancing and smiling brightly as we came to the check out. After being cheered by him as he rung up the purchase, I said I hoped his day went fast. His response as he shuffled away was it had so far. If I had been more with it I would have gotten a pic for the blog.

Today, after the run into town to take care of selling our dive stuff on consignment and buy my allergy stuff we came home and I sat down at the computer only to find out Prince had died. This stunned me since he is the same age as my beloved hubby Chuck.

The flu? Really? So I sit here, puzzling on this and wondering how I make a difference in the life of another human.

I did have a wake up call about my writing. Going through the proof copy of my book I found some¬†formatting issues and typos that will be relatively easy to fix. What it did was confirm the¬†due diligence every story requires. The happy harp playing, birds gaily singing, sun brightly shining moment…I saw my words in print. It took a moment to wash over me, then I jumped up to hug Chuck.

A question for you writers out there: When did you feel you were an author?

Cheers!

-N