I received some great comments when I published the two Hancock volumes. Among the comments were observations regarding the cover art. I spent hours, no days, walking battlefields to get the "lay of the land" so to speak. I also took hundreds of photographs along the way looking for the right cover. Once I decided on the photo and published, there were folks who stated they would not have picked the book off the shelf on the cover art alone. GREAT point! A short study on selecting a book cover, hiring a company or, in most cases, hiring an independent graphics artist, certainly enhances the book making that critical positive first impression.
I looked for something regarding my next novel...an established artist whose subject matter is related to my story. It has been a great experience reviewing scores of fine paintings and many artists are receptive to using their works. we are working the details now and I'll tell you how it went on the next blog post. Once published, I think you will be impressed as you review this website.
The great thing about writing historical pieces, whether fiction or non-fiction, is the amount of things one learns during the research phase. I should really say the research never actually stops. I write scenes or specific passages then ask myself the questions concerning details. That prompts a quick review of things like types of saddles, clothing Indians wore in winter, techniques in hunting buffalo in the 1870s, and, more recently, how Lakota women gave birth. There are many other examples that I could throw in here, but you get the picture. I want to ensure the true history buff is satisfied that the smaller details are accurately included in the backstory. I find it fascinating. Always learning!
An effort has begun to submit the required materialto a long list of people and literary houses. I would like to have "These Sacred Lands" traditionally published. Self publishing is great but, as we all agree, it is limitingditribution if you are looking to get your book(s) into Barnes and Noble. Most independent book stores will not carry self published works. If there is someone out there who has had a different experience PLEASE give me a holler using the Contact form below. I am interested. That said -- I am continuing to frame the latest effort as though it will follow the first two books into Kindle Direct Publishing. I am enhancing my game when it comes to the cover by seeking artists with Native American works. It is amazing how much is already available, but permissions, permissions, and permissions are the key. Along the way it is great to make contact and discuss the project with the artists.
We are looking to make another trip out west to close the loop with some Native American historians. Perhaps the colleges and universities would be supportive of he effort and I am certain there are experts on faculty who would be willing to spend some time discussing tribal life. With COVID a consideration, it could easily be Zoom or simply a telephonic meeting. Tell you all about in the next posting.
If you are interested I recommend "Twelve Years Among the Wild Indians, From the Diaries of George P. Belden" by General James S. Brisbin, U.S.A.; 1881. Belden goes into minute detail on all aspects of life among the Santee tribe. Of course Dee Brown's "Bury My Heart at Wounded KNee" should be on everyone's list of historical reading. My library is full of references.
In the meantime, keep writing, keep reading!
02/25/2021The new site is complete and entirely professional in its presentation. Please look for the latest and future books here. If you have a comment on the site, please use the contact information and send it on. I am always interested in critiques. My current historical fiction project is entitled “These Sacred Lands,” and, who knows, that title may survive the process of traditional publication. “Lands” is my third book in the “I am a Soldier, First and Always” series and features two young men, one the son of a US Cavalry officer and the other a Lakota Indian on his way to warrior. They met in the Wyoming Territory in 1868-69, and the story each into manhood. On opposing sides during the Great Sioux War, the novel captures cultures’ clash while the two main characters struggle to maintain their friendship amid the conflict.
I love the research for this project as I did my earlier work on Major General Winfield Scott Hancock. Last fall, we traveled west to the area in which the story takes place. I prefer to see the ground and visit as many places as possible to capture historical fiction scenes accurately. Landing in Denver, we headed north. Amazing to see the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. These were sacred lands to the Lakota Sioux, and Manifest Destiny brought thousands of white settlers, miners, and soldiers to the region when treaties promised the lands to the Indians. We visited historic Army posts like Fort Laramie, Fort Kearney, Fort Fetterman in Wyoming, and Fort Robinson in Nebraska. We were amazed to see the rolling plains with its gullies, ravines, and bluffs – little in the way of grassy plains I had pictured earlier. The survey allowed us to appreciate the Tongue River, Powder River, and the Rosebud Creek, the scene of a significant battle one week before Custer met his fate. When I walk the ground, it allows me to see through a character’s eyes. I try to convey a sense of realism.
My library and files contain information on lifestyles, including clothing, weapons, horses, and items Indians and Cavalrymen carried. Interesting to keep increasing the body of knowledge. I find the details fascinating, even if they do not make it into the story. The planned release for “These Sacred Lands” is Summer 2021. Check back here, and I’ll keep you posted. These are plans beyond three additional books that follow the next generation into the Twentieth Century. Perhaps a trip to Europe to see WWI and WWII battlefields is in the future…post COVID, of course.
I truly appreciate your interest in this blog. I will be updating this page weekly, if not more often. There is much I want to share about writing. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to fill out the form on his Contact page or visit his website again for updated information.
Great work accomplished on "Sacred Lands" manuscript this week. Escaped to another location in northern Florida and reworked many of the chapters adding more information from my research. A great helping hand from authors associated with a number of historical fiction groups and authors helping authors. My hat is off to the folks who provided their insights on prologue, foreword and introduction -- whether to use or not and when. Good information.
There is a line, I believe, in writing historical fiction where facts start to overwhelm the story. I find I am reviewing the material that is already included in the manuscript with a critical eye to tell a story not cloud it with facts. The characters move through the historical setting which serves as a backdrop for the story. Its the details, details, details I want right. For instance, what was on the cavalryman's saddle and how/why did Lakota warriors paint their ponies? I think the purists who read this book will certainly appraciate the correct details.
Framing the next two books in the "I am a Soldier, First and Always" series. Looking at this as a generational thing where the sons and grandsons become the protagonists (or antagonists -- who knows).
Check out the first two books in the "I am a Soldier, First and Always" series, Rebellion (I) and Turning Point (II). If you have downloaded an ebook or purchased the paperback, many thanks. Please leave a review on Amazon. Authors are always looking for feedback.
More to follow.