Thursday, May 31, 2012

Paper Dolls!

Paper Dolls? Yes, indeed. 

I have no memory of playing with paper dolls as a child. If I did, they weren't a large part of my childhood. But I collect them now. A very specific type of paper doll that serves as a historical resource for the time periods I write about. 

I'm referring to the historical fashion plate paper dolls by gifted illustrators like Tom Tierney. Just take a look at these covers and titles:

These beautiful, simple illustrations are a wonderful basis for establishing what styles fictional characters should be wearing in various times and places during the 18th century. The books are arranged in large, colorful, numbered plates, each one described in detail and given historical context at the back of the book, so that you can cut out these outfits and used them as paper dolls were meant to be used. Or not. 

So far I've kept all my books intact and simply leaf through them from time to time for inspiration.
Pictured at right is my newest acquisition, and easily my favorite. The Fowler Family Gets Dressed: Frontier Paper Dolls of the Old Northwest Territory, by Mary K. Inman and Louise F. Pence. Included in this book are an extensive glossary, bibliography, maps, and historical notes.

Paper doll books aren't limited to early American fashions. Is the Medieval Era more your cup of mead? Byzantine? Arthurian?

So what do you think? Have you ever used paper dolls as a fiction writing reference? If not, have I convinced you that they're a fun historical fashion resource? 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Posting at Colonial Quills today

I'm sharing my full bibliography of Iroquois research today at Colonial Quills. If you have a title of a good book on the subject I've missed, I'd love for you to share. :) Come on over and leave me a comment.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

First Things First

So what's been happening since I signed my first book contract back in March?

My deadline is June 15th, and I'm reading the manuscript over one more time, out loud, before I send it in.

A week ago I received and answered a 12 page Author and Book Questionnaire, which asked questions about (bet you guessed) me and my book, The Quiet in the Land aka Willa.

Some of these questions were challenging. Some were challenging and fun, such as:

What ideas do you have for the cover design or image and the interior design of your book?

What are some key words that cover the topics/themes in your book?

For your forthcoming book, what title ideas do you have? Please supply at least three variations and/or approaches.

After the questionnaire came my first phone conversation with my editor. I wish I had better recall for things told to me over the phone. I tend to forget 75% of what I hear. It's partly why I choose email over phone communication whenever possible. But sometimes email is just too clunky and a real live conversation needs to take place. This one went well, I think. Edited to add: I took notes!

As of yesterday, I've had my first official photo shoot (official in that WaterBrook requested I have it done). Waiting on those photos now and hoping there are several good ones from the bunch to send to the publishing house.

My photographer happens to be a friend as well. Her name is Julie. We used the grounds of our church, Applegate Christian Fellowship, for the setting. We're blessed to attend church in a truly lovely setting in the mountains of Oregon. Here's a shot of the valley in the autumn.

Photo by: SusieFood Flickr Commons

The baptismal pool in the amphitheater. I sat here with those lovely purple flowers as one background.

A sneak peek Julie gave me of the photos she's still putting on disk for me.

I'm not sure what the photos will be used for. The back of the book? A website? Marketing and publicity? Maybe all of the above! I look forward to finding out.

That, and many other things. But the ball is rolling now.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What I hold in my hand

I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. Psalm 57:2

One beautiful old translation of this verse says, "He will perform the cause I hold in my hand." 

That makes it very real to me today. 

The very thing "I hold in my hand" -- my work today, this concern that is beyond my control, this task in which I have greatly overestimated my own abilities -- this is what I may "cry out" for Him to do "for me," with the calm assurance He will perform it. 

"The wise and what they do are in God's hands" (Eccl. 9:1).

Frances Ridley Havergal
Streams in the Desert

photo by Raúl Hernández González

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Event: 4 Authors, 2 Days, 2 Book Signings

Will you be in the Portland, OR area this Friday? Or in the Seattle, WA area on Saturday? 
If so (and lucky you!) join historical fiction authors Bonnie Leon, Ann Shorey, Mesu Andrews, and Laura Frantz for...
A Book Signing Event

Friday, May 18, 2012 ~ 5~7:00 p.m.
Beaverton (Portland) LifeWay Christian Store
2785 SW Cedar Hills Boulevard
Beaverton, Oregon 97005

Saturday, May 19, 2012 ~ 1~3:00 p.m.
Tukwila LifeWay
Parkway Super Center
17326 South Center Parkway
Tukwila, Washington 98188

I hear there will be gift basket drawings!

How I wish I could be there with these lovely, talented authors and friends. If you're in the area, don't miss meeting them!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

People of the Standing Stone -- Oneida Nation Research

Oneida Nation Sacred Stone, over 100 years ago at Forest Hill Cemetery in Utica, NY
The story I'm working on now is partly set among the Oneida tribe of western New York.

Their name, Oneida (Onyota’a:ká:) is translated as People of the Standing Stone. The Oneidas are one of the Six Nations that make up the Iroquois Confederacy, or League, now and during the time my story is set, 1757 - 1777.

Though no nation of the League was 100% pro-British or 100% pro-Patriot during the Revolutionary War, most of the Oneida Nation sided with the colonists, while most of the other nations (Mohawk, Tuscarora, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca) fought on the side of the British.

For the past several months I've been immersed in learning about the Oneida Nation, their role in the Revolutionary War, and their struggle to adapt and survive in a distressingly fast-changing political, religious and cultural climate.

It's taken me a while to track down several good resources for Oneida-related subjects. For the benefit of anyone else researching along this same path, here's what I've found thus far:

The People of the Standing Stone, The Oneida Nation from the Revolution through the Era of Removal, by Karim M. Tiro.

The Oneida Indian Experience, Two Perspectives, Edited by Jack Campisi and Laurence M. Hauptman.

Forgotten Allies, The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution, by Joseph T. Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin.

The Divided Ground, by Alan Taylor

Life of Samuel Kirkland, missionary to the Indians, by Samuel Kirkland Lothrop (can be found online as an ebook through Google).

Oneida Iroquois Folklore, Myth, and History, by Anthony Wonderley.

(I'll update this list whenever I come across a new resource that proves helpful)


If you've been down this research path ahead of me and know another good resource for all things Oneida, take your axe and mark a tree please leave a comment and share the title so I'll be sure to turn aside and check it out. 

~ photo courtesy of Flickr commons, by mrsmecomber

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Happy Anniversary CQ!

We're celebrating our one year anniversary at the historical Colonial Quills blog Monday, May 7. Come join us!

There will be book giveaways.
(Edited to add that the book giveaways at Colonial Quills will continue all week.)
There will be tea. 

There will be cake!

Friday, May 04, 2012


Sometimes I'm jarred out of my novel in progress enough to wonder where it all came from, this plot, these characters, this setting.

It happened again this week. These are the sorts of questions that race through my head whenever it does:

How (and why) did this story weave together like this? Why did all these bits and pieces of my soul and interests and research and echoes of the past 40-almost years of reading come together to create this story world filled with these characters that so trouble and delight and challenge me?

Even though I work hard at this story-weaving/writing thing almost daily, adding to the novel in progress piece by (mostly) deliberate piece, there's still something mysterious and wonder-filled about the process and I really hope I never figure it out.

photo credit: justin

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


photo by Ed, via Flickr
Forewarned is forearmed, they say. 

Life As A Published Author, an eye-opening post by Books & Such agent, Rachelle Gardner. 

Telling it how it is.