Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Research Wednesdays: Living History, Drawing on the Past

Or We-Search Wednesdays, for alliteration's sake.

Today I'm highlighting a little book that packed a big punch when it came to outfitting botanist, artist, and physician Neil MacGregor, one of the main characters in Burning Sky.

Living History, Drawing on the Past by Cathy Johnson is a lovely little book that should be bound in leather like a traveling journal, with a whang-and-toggle closure, because once you open its pages, that's what it feels like you're reading. Someone's actual field journal.

The pages are filled with sketches and handwritten annotations. Sketches of historical peeps. Sketches of an artist's field equipment. Sketches of a naturalist's accoutrement. Or that of a topographer, or a spy.

There's a section on the everyday frontier accoutrement a person might need while exploring outside the bounds of settlements and towns.

And more, like an appendix with tips for creating a persona for living history and reenactment events. 
I think so highly of this little book that somehow I wound up with two copies in my possession. To give it more of a shout out, I'm going to give away my extra copy. It's not brand new, but it's unmarked and very much like new (and it's signed by the author). I'll pair it up with a signed, pre-release ARC* copy of Burning Sky.

If you'd like to win a copy of Living History, Drawing on the Past AND a copy of Burning Sky, leave a comment on this post today, Thursday, or Friday (I'll close the drawing at 9pm Pacific Time Friday the 14th--USA addresses only).
~ Mention whether you've participated in a historical reenactment event, and if so where and, historically speaking, when? If not, have you witnessed such an event? Tell us where, the time period, or event.

I'll do a random drawing over the weekend and post the winner's name here on the blog.
Updated to add: if you would, please leave an email address so I can contact you if you are the winner. Those who've already commented, don't worry. If you're the winner I'll track you down. Mwahahaha...
Updated Friday Evening: Comments, and the drawing, are closed now. Thanks everyone for entering. I'll do the drawing and announce the winners in a bit...

I grew up on the east coast, and we had friends from Florida who participated in Civil War reenactments (as rebels, of course!). When they came to our area, we would trek out to see them, the women of the family in camp, the men on the field as soldiers. The fellows had the opportunity to be extras in a Civil War miniseries, the title of which escapes me now. (Juanita, if you read this, remind me what that miniseries was, please!).
*An ARC is an Advance Reading Copy, released before the finished book. It's the unproofed galley, bound in a cover, so there will be a few typos that were caught in our final proof reading edit. But it's very very close to the finished book.

29 comments:

  1. I really like the look of your blogsite, Lori, and the title Frontier, Faith, and Fiction. I'd love to win the giveaway.

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  2. Lori, I agree. It's a beautiful blog. I love discovering books that are historical research gems. Best wishes and many blessings on the upcoming release of Burning Sky!

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    1. Lisa, Thanks for stopping by, and thank you for the blessing!

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  3. I saw a re-enactment once, they did it for my class that was on a field trip when I was in grade school at Fort Loudon...I'm not sure how professional they were, but we thought it was the best at the time ;) The other thing I've seen is the local cemetery tour, where they highlight famous locals of the past, much of it centers on the Civil War. History majors from the university where I went to school & now work dress up in the appropriate attire & tell the story of their lives at their grave. It's very informative (and a little scary if you go to the one after dark though they don't mean it to be).

    Burning Sky has been on my radar for quite a while. I love the title & premise. Congrats on the upcoming release & thank you for the chance to win!

    Beth

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    1. I've recently read about Fort Loudon--that would have been very cool to see as a kid. But that local cemetery tour, oh wow, I'd love that too but you're so right, it sounds like it could get quite spooky.

      Thanks for commenting, and for your interest in Burning Sky!

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  4. Hi Lori--

    If I win I'll split the giveaway with another person. I'd love to win the "Drawing on the Past" book, and your ARC can then go to another lucky winner! (I have an ARC for those who might wonder :) Thanks so much for this opportunity! Just want to let everyone know, "Burning Sky" is a beautifully written novel--something to hold on to.

    Blessings on your future writing endeavors, Lori.

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    1. Thanks for the shout out, Pat! Drawing on the Past is a book I think you'd love.

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  5. I chanced upon my one and only reenactment in Bartow, FL in the mid-90s. I was visiting a friend in Zolfo Springs and we drove up there and as we were entering the town we noticed a park full of people in costume and realized it was a reenactment and decided to stop and watch for a while. It was lots of fun.

    Lori... been hearing lots of good things about Burning Sky and I would love to get an ARC. This would be my first so that would be momentous for me. And the Living History book would be just lovely. I love history, love researching too. My husband keeps telling me I need to find a way to make that into a money-making venture. ( :

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    1. Marie, thanks so much for entering and sharing your reenactment experience. If I had my first twenty-something years to live over again (I grew up on the east coast but now live on the west), I'd somehow get a message to myself to take advantage of all the Colonial reenactments that were going on all around my oblivious little self. :)

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  6. What fun--ohhh, I do love sketches like that, and so would love to be able to do them. Can you? You're a super artist, I know, different, but I'll bet ya could if you tried! My dear galpal in White City, Leslie, was a reenactor until she became a mom. Ohhhh, the "fun" they all had with their guns 'n muskets and and and... But she usually was made to "fill in" for whichever side needed somebody--and played the role of a man. But when time for the Ball came--wowie zowie! She had scratchy, awful true to the period underwear and a razzmatazz hot pink satin ballgown with black accessories, gloves, cutest little black beaded purse on a chain--ok---tmi! But you asked! :) I'll bet she'd take you with her if ever you wanted to go...

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    1. I can sketch still, but I'm pretty rusty. Been a little distracted the past few years with this writing thing, so I've let Neil MacGregor (my character in Burning Sky) do the sketching for me. :)

      I swear you know everyone here, Patti. I sure miss you! Hope you visit soon.

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  7. A member of ACFW mentioned that I stop in for a chance to win your new book. It looks like a good summer read.

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    1. Awesome, Steven. ACFW is a great organization. I'm a member too.

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  8. Anonymous9:53 AM

    Hi Lori, we would love to win your book drawing. A book for each of us-what could be better than that? The first civil war reanactment that I ever went to was in Albany, OR. Of all places. By far, most of the reanactments that we have seen were when we lived in England. My favorite was the Battle of Hastings. The reactors were mostly on horseback and when the attacked, boy did the ground shake! I finally understood the term "thundering herd"! Anyway, even if we don't win, we can't wait to read your book when it comes out!
    Oh, our email is: strandclan2004@yahoo.com

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    1. Thanks! This is Bryan and Diane, right? A friend of ours, who makes his own leather and chain mail armor, went to England a few years ago to take part in the Battle of Hastings reenactment (an ancestor of his was in the original, best as I recall him telling us of it). I thought that was one of the coolest things anyone of my acquaintance had ever done. I can only imagine what it was like for you guys to be there and see it. Thanks for stopping by and entering!

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  9. Hi Lori ~
    I've been counting the days until the release of 'Burning Sky' and would be thrilled to win an ARC and shorten my wait. :)

    'Living History, Drawing on the Past' sounds fascinating and informative. I've seen a number of reenactments, most of them from the Civil War era as I live in the shadows of Antietam, Gettysburg and Harper's Ferry. My husband and I witnessed a rather impressive Revolutionary War reenactment at Yorktown on the 225th anniversary of the British surrender. Later that evening, we had dinner at one of the period taverns in Williamsburg. A number of reenactors dined there as well (in costume) and we really felt as though we'd been transported back to 1781.

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    1. Sallie, your description of that dinner made me smile. I'd love to have been there just to soak it all up. Harper's Ferry, I remember you live near there. We visited last in 2009, I think it was. I love that town where the rivers come together.

      Thanks for counting those days with me! Less than two months now.

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  10. I've not been to a re-enactment, would love to go sometime. I know there are some Civil War ones here in Kentucky.

    Chelle.Leigh (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. Michelle, I'd wager there are frontier/fort type reenactments too. Kentucky has quite the history when it comes to frontier forts. I've visited Locust Grove, a late 18th century home near Louisville where Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark spent his last days. The guide we had wasn't in period costume, but when he stopped in the hallway beside a portrait of Clark to talk for a spell, I did a double-take. I'm sure he well knew it, but he was a dead-ringer for Clark at the age that portrait was made. Spooky. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      http://www.locustgrove.org/

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  11. I've never been to a re-enactment, or participated in one, but I'd love to! Please throw my name in the hat for this generous giveaway. :)

    road_to_avonlea_17(at)yahoo(dot)com

    Whitney

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    1. Thanks, Whitney. You're in! :)

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  12. Hi, Lori~

    I'd love to be entered in a chance to win an ARC, but I think I've already pre-ordered a paperback as well. (If not, it's on my to-do list. Been waiting for this one!)

    My children and I served as costumed historical interpreters at an antebellum house in our hometown. I was interested because I'm a residential designer and love historical homes, and it was a great way for the kids to do a bit of "time travel." We homeschooled, so I was always looking for ways to bring history to life. We had booklets of historical information to memorize, period costumes, and monthly docent duties as well as helping with special seasonal exhibits and annual re-enactments. It was great fun!

    We also got to attend the 130th Anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Saylor's Creek in Farmville, VA. That was especially meaningful since the Hillsman farm, where the battle took place, was owned by ancestors whose home was used as a field hospital and has been wonderfully preserved. I took my oldest daughter, who was 9, and made sure she understood that everyone was play-acting. When the cannon fired and the men began to scream, she burst into tears. I reminded her that the battle was just pretend, but she cried, "Oh, mama, it wasn't that first time!" Hadn't meant to make history quite so real as that for her, but I suppose it's good to remember that wars are painful things.

    yoursbecausehis(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Wow, Lynn, those are some great reenactment experiences, especially getting to visit your ancestors' home during a reenactment. Talk about history coming to life. Whew. What a tender heart your girl-child has. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

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  13. Did I ever tell you about the living history I participated in in Jacksonville from 1992-1997ish? It was 1911 at the Beakman house every week! I really enjoyed it and learned a lot about our local history.
    And I can't wait to touch Burning Sky, the ARC I may win or the finished edition in August!
    Sarah

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    1. And not just touch it, read it too!

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    2. That's right. You did that! I do enjoy those rare occasions we see folk in costume walking down the streets of Jacksonville. I haven't forgotten that article we read at the museum by Butte Creek Mill, about Mary. Not sure what it would take to tear my focus from the east coast, but if I did, I'd write the story of her people.

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  14. Congratulations on your upcoming release! I'm waiting until release day to shout the news to the world, but in the meantime I'd love to win the ARC :D

    Christi Corbett
    christicorbett at gmail dot com

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    1. Thanks Christi. It's hard to get noticed amidst all the books out there, so I appreciate any shouting whatsoever. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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