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Archive for February, 2011

From www.history.com for this date in history:
American Revolution
Archibald Bulloch dies under mysterious circumstances, 1777
Automotive
Lee Petty wins first Daytona 500, 1959
Civil War
Battle of West Point, Mississippi, 1864
Cold War
George Kennan sends "long telegram" to State Department, 1946
Crime
Gang commits largest robbery in British history, 2006
Disaster
Deadly tornadoes rip through central Florida, 1998
General Interest
The U.S. acquires Spanish Florida, 1819
Battle of Buena Vista begins, 1847
Suharto takes full power in Indonesia, 1967
Tet Offensive ends, 1968
Hollywood
Actress Drew Barrymore born, 1975
Literary
Edna St. Vincent Millay is born, 1892
Music
Milli Vanilli win the Best New Artist Grammy, 1990
Old West
Montana passes law against sedition, 1918
Presidential
George Washington is born, 1732
Sports
U.S. hockey pulls off Miracle on Ice, 1980
Vietnam War
Westmoreland asks for Marines, 1965
Operation Junction City begins, 1967
World War I
Mussolini wounded by mortar bomb, 1917
World War II
President Roosevelt to MacArthur: Get out of the Philippines, 1942

This date has a wealth of history. Not only did several things happen that changed events in the world, many events happened in local regions throughout.  Using today’s date as an example…for a person writing about early Americana, one glance at this page taken from www.history.com (website of the History Channel) shows interesting things about future president George Washington (this date is his birthdate) and  Archibald Bulloch (a mysterious death…great fodder for a novel). Writing a World War I or II epic? What story of either would be complete without including Mussolini or MacArthur? A visit to any of these sites can get a writer’s creative juices flowing.

I am interested in writing about the Civil War era…nearly 150 years ago the Battle of West Point, Mississippi occurred. For the Confederates it was a battle resulting in turning General William T. Sherman back from his objective.

Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was born on this date…she went on to become a Pulitzer Prize winner for a book written in 1923. Her life story is very interesting, quite an interesting series of events!

All are great events in history, all happened on February 22. Perhaps reading and researching an event you see online or hear about in today’s news will spark that writer’s imagination and a new book or series of books will be born!

Here’s to sparking the imagination,

KW

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What was it like…

Some of you may know I do genealogy research for a hobby. This is a wonderful tool for writing historical novels…giving you an idea of names that were popular during different times in history as well as locations of well populated areas, types of jobs most available in a particular era  and family sizes. Often while doing genealogy research I will incorporate the Internet to find out more about the places and events that were pertinent in those times to use in my writing.

I have found wonderful “period” names for my works in progress as well as family surnames and often connections between cities.  Civil War events, family secrets and patterns in dating in communities around the country are brought to the surface…even going so far as to show interesting things happening around the world. Interesting facts about boot camps and live-in schools are uncovered that could be useful in future novels.

While I am currently writing Regency historicals, I am also planning ahead. The information garnered from my hobby is helping build new characters…couples who are living during the Civil War or in the Old West, or fighting in one of the World Wars….develop in my mind. New information surfaces every time I do research that makes writing books about the days gone by incredibly fulfilling.

Some information is available on Ancestry.com or Genealogy.com. Not all is free, most sites require paid membership to dig very deeply into your past…but take a few minutes to access one of these sites’ free pages and look at a census page or two. Take in the penmanship, the size of families and the ages of their children…even the jobs the heads of household held. Imagine their homes and the lives within them, and wonder how their futures unfolded. Now imagine was their lives must have been like…….

A fine imagination can easily find romance within those walls,

KW

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I’ve always been a dreamer. Someone who delights in seeing people in love, perhaps this is why I prefer writing about romance and happily ever after’s. Monday is the day we celebrate Valentine’s Day…and I have a few thoughts about the history of this day.

First of all, many believe the first Valentines were not related to love at all. Valentine was more often found in relation to Christian martyrs and/or ancient Rome. Valentine of Terni and Valentine of Rome are those who are said to be celebrated on February 14th. Even a third martyr name Valentine has been mentioned in the Catholic Encyclopedia but little is known of him. Legend has it that one St. Valentine is said to have written what was thought to be the first Valentine to his beloved the night before his execution for refusing to be converted to paganism.

Geoffrey Chaucier, the great Englishman of the 1300, is credited with the first officially known reference to Valentine’s Day in his Parlement of Foules in 1382.

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

Translated to modern English it says "For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate." He supposedly wrote this to honor the romance of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, both 15 years of age when they married.

Even a “High Court of Love” existed in Paris in 1400 where judges of the court were selected based on poetry readings and handled cases of love contracts, violence against women and love betrayals. Amazing isn’t it!

While the oldest known Valentine’s Day card is on display in British Museum, the cards of Esther A. Howland of America are the first commercially produced…with real bits of lace and ribbon. She is affectionately known as the Mother of the Valentine. I have seen some of these cards and they are elaborate yet not too elaborate…sweet and sentimental actually.

Jump ahead to modern times and Valentine’s Day is a day to send a loved one sweets, paper cards (hand-made or commercial) and flowers. This commercial tradition is well represented in America. In England Jack Valentine often leaves treats at children’s doorsteps. Across the globe most countries celebrate a version of such…gifts of chocolate for their loved ones and friends, romantic dinners, cards exchanged. It is reported that approximately one billion cards are exchanged each year!

According to Wikipedia, some countries do not celebrate Valentine’s Day as it has often been considered a Christian holiday.

Honestly, I never had thought of it as a long-standing holiday based on these time honored dates in history. To me, as a child it meant wonderful and silly cards in the classroom exchanged by friends…and a party day with cookies and Kool-Aid. As a teenager it meant hoping someone would give me a card or flowers…perhaps that unrequited love would finally find me. As an adult it was the traditional flowers or chocolates I’d receive then later the tradition turned to giving gifts to my children.

As a romance writer, it is a day symbolic of love. Love of a child, a dear friend, a lover or spouse, or a love of life. A date set aside to let someone know you care. No candy or cards or flowers are necessary (although some may disagree LOL), but make sure you let those you love know you love them. Then again, shouldn’t we do this every day?

Ya know, flowers would look nice on my desk,

KW

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From Ideas into Novels

“Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars. Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait. The grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas.” ~~ Henry Ford

I have tons of ideas. I keep them locked away inside my mind, testing and twisting them until they become viable storylines…then I put my stories in my files, ready to become new novels. If I wrote every story I’ve entertained at one time I would never accomplish an entire novel. Simply because I’d be writing more that two or three at one time!

As I entertain these ideas, I often become honed into the stories I have floating in my mind and lose track of my writing time. I’ve found this is NOT a good practice for a beginning novelist. With great determination, I am learning to just put that idea into a simple synopsis and store it for later use. Maybe by then the story will be no longer as exciting as I’d originally thought, maybe it will have grown and become my next project. I have a problem I suppose many writers experience…I think too much!

Today I am working mainly on one storyline, while another lurks in the back of my mind….impatiently wanting to be written. Another sits on the sidelines…partially written and also impatiently waiting for my return. Three storylines…all at once. This is why I have learned to save my stories to my files for I’d never get them all written. I am learning to pace myself for the sake of my characters and for my readers. Writing a novel is almost like raising a child…it needs attention and it is hard to divide attention between several works at once.

As a friend recently told me, this division of my attention can also affect other parts of my writing. A great and new aspect of a writer’s world is social networking. Making friends with authors and readers alike, I maintain a fairly active Facebook life. The jury is still out on whether I am a successful Tweeter…it is so hard to keep my thoughts under a certain number of characters. Not to mention I still do not completely understand the Twittering world! My blog is a mainstay of my communication with the world, and I need to visit this site more often…I promise to reach out to my readers more often. It is here that I share more than just thoughts on writing…but on life and being me as well. I apologize if I’ve been remiss.

Thanks for being there, my blog friends are important to me,

KW

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