It’s been over a month since I last participated in Friday Fictioneers, and it’s good to be back. As always, please read other stories and add your own, using the link at the end of the story!
As it is the beginning of a new year
and as I am trying to avoid grading homeschool Algebra, now is as good a time as any to do one of those reflective/prospective posts we only write to seem cool love so much. I’ll keep it brief(ish).
2015 brought the release of both GRIT OF BERTH AND STONE and HEIR OF KORADIN. Sometime around Thanksgiving, I turned in the last of the content edits for the final book in the Chasmaria trilogy, CHILD OF THRESH. I also had the immense fun of participating in and winning WRiTE CLUB 2015. (Go, Commando!)
2016 presents at least as much reason for excitement. In February, I’ll be presenting a session titled “Dear Teen Writer” at a literacy conference that expects to draw around 1,200 teachers and others interested in promoting literacy. I also plan to attend the Dallas Fiction Writers Conference. Not only will this be my first writers conference, but I’ll get to meet my amazing editor face to face! CHILD OF THRESH is set to release in August, so there will be a cover design wishlist to consider, acknowledgements to compose, a little more proofreading, and a whole lot of emotions to sort through.
For the past several months, I’ve been working on a new contemporary YA series. The major mental plotting phase is over. Now, I’m drafting the second book of an eventual quadrilogy and adding details to a rather lengthy outline to ensure nothing gets forgotten. It’s a totally different project from the Chasmaria books – and quite an unexpected one, at that – but I’m enjoying it every bit as much. Just ask my Wise and Wonderful
and Slightly Weary of Hearing Me Ramble Sister. I haven’t set any specific goals for this project, other than to get the story right – all four books of it – before entering the query stage. Maybe it’s the perfectionist in me, but when a story is worth telling, it’s worth telling well, and I’m willing to take my time on this one. That said, the words are coming quickly, which is always a delight.
Also a delight is the sight of one’s four children gathered around the dining room table, each working on a story of his or her own. I’ll close with that image and this thought:
If you have a story to tell, tell it and tell it well.
Then get ready for the next story, because it’s sure to come, whether you’re ready or not.
Wishing all of you a happy year filled with the best kinds of stories!
Today on the blog, we have fellow Anaiah Press author Carrie Dalby, whose debut novel, Fortitude, recently released. Thank you, Carrie, for sharing a little about the process of researching and writing your Young Adult Historical Fiction novel.
Thank you, Lisa, for having me on you blog today. I thoroughly enjoy the Chasmaria series. It’s an honor to be here to talk about my debut novel.
Fortitude is a historical YA that took five years of research and plotting for me to write the first draft. I was working on another manuscript for the first several years, but I devoted much of my reading and study time to researching 1898 and the Spanish-American War. Library trips, special book orders, reading microfilm—I did it all. And though I’m not a historian, I enjoyed every minute of it, even finding the historical facts that soured my stomach.
Learning about the deplorable conditions the American troops lived in throughout Florida while waiting to disembark for war was the spark that began Fortitude’s journey. Recently drained swamps for campsites, over-crowding, disease… more soldiers died in Florida that year than in battle on foreign soil.
The other killer in the Florida camps was deadly riots. Soldiers from around the country were squeezed into unhealthy camps in a racially divided state that lived by the post-Civil War Jim Crow laws. The locals and many of the other troops despised seeing African-American men in uniform, especially the decorated Buffalo Soldiers. Fresh volunteers didn’t like being outranked by people they considered inferior and the townspeople didn’t want to serve them when they were on leave.
The riot scene in Chapter Twenty-five is based on an actual riot that took place on June 6, 1898 after white volunteers from Ohio “decided to have some fun” by snatching a two-year-old African-American boy from his mother, spanking him, and then using him for target practice. It was sickening to read so many different accounts about it, but I had to use the scene to depict just how extreme the attitudes were.
As fate would have it, I wrote the first draft of that chapter in early July 2013, when the George Zimmerman trial was happening in Florida. Anger, fear, and screams of injustice on the news echoed the voices of the past as I wrote—often with tears in my eyes.
Art imitating life?
History repeating itself?
Not learning from mistakes?
Truth is stranger than fiction?
All these and more are possibilities. What I do know is that a friend loaned me something I never would have chosen to read—a biography about the founder of the Girl Scouts. Within that book there were a couple pages about the miserable conditions the troops lived in at the Spanish-American War camps in Florida, where Juliette Gordon Low and her family tried to relieve some of the suffering. The story of those soldiers shouted at me from the pages and sent me on a research journey that lasted years and uncovered many difficult truths from American history. Facts we can learn and grow from, hopefully preventing painful history from being repeated.
Growing up with a Creole best friend, sixteen-year-old Claire O’Farrell held little regard for the Jim Crow laws and the consequences of befriending those of a different color. But once she leaves the haven of her home on Dauphin Island, the reality of racial intolerance can no longer be ignored. Though she’s underage, Claire makes the bold decision to serve alongside Loretta, her best friend, in the “colored camp” hospital tents during the Spanish-American War, but her idealistic attitude and choice of working location immediately puts her in danger. Claire gives her heart to a soldier in the camp, only to find herself caught in the racial violence besieging the area. When the intolerant attitudes and stigma follow her home, she clings to her faith to navigate through her social isolation and find the path she was meant to travel.
Release Date: December 8, 2015
Anaiah Press: TBA
Born and raised in California, but a resident of Mobile, Alabama since 1996, Carrie Dalby is a homeschooling mom with a love of literature for young adults and children. Some of Carrie’s favorite volunteer hours are with Mobile Writers Guild, SCBWI, and Metro Mobile Reading Council’s Young Author workshops.
A GRACEFUL CHICKEN
We stand on the patio, a circle of raised eyebrows. If no one else will ask, I will. “What is it?”
Pete waves a hand at the mass of golden feathers and wire. “Duh, Grace, it’s a chicken.”
“It was a chicken.” Jason kicks a broken wing.
Nathan crouches to tinker with the wires. “You might fix it.”
“So it can do what, cross the road?” I wish I had a sister, even a brother with some sense.
“We play Lewistown Friday.” John holds the chicken up, like Mom does to check if a shirt will fit me. “Team Lewiston just got an unexpected mascot.”
Just the other day, I was thinking it would be fun to write a story about a “Backup Plan” marriage – two people who promised to reconnect so many years later and marry each other if they weren’t already married. Today’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt provided the perfect opportunity to play with that idea. (And don’t worry, Wise and Wonderful Sister, this is a way, way, way back burner story idea!)
Thank you for reading and please do leave any constructive criticism in the comments section!
Mr. and Mrs. Right
We used to wait for the bus here. Four short years, thirty long years ago. We carried each other through countless high school crushes—two of hers to every one of mine—but we never loved each other, not like that.
Tiny wrinkles stretch across her forehead and shoot from her amber eyes like rays from the sun.
“You’re bald,” she says, as if the mirror hasn’t been telling me the same for years.
I pull the ring from my pocket, a promise we made thirty years ago. “Sorry you never found Mr. Right.”
She takes the ring and slips her hand into mine. “Maybe I did.”
They dance on your grave, them sweet l’il angels we made together. Your mama thinks it’s sweet I bring ’em here every year, like some kind of memorial to the dead.
“It’ll help them remember their daddy,” she says.
I just nod like I ain’t still trying to forget all you did. If it weren’t improper, I’d dance on your grave myself.
Ain’t no memorial to you, whether you be singin’ in glory or writhin’ in some fiery lake way down deep. I memorialize the livin’, me and my girls and everyone who never had the guts to fight back.