Author Platform, Unspoken History

White poppy near Washington-on-the-Brazos in East Texas
White poppy growing near Washington-on-the-Brazos in East Texas, photo by Karen Klink

I’m supposed to create an author platform with this blog. I looked up “author platform,” and got this: “everything you’re doing online and offline, to create awareness about who you are and what you do, so you can boost your brand visibility and make it easier and faster for your target audience and even the general public, to discover and connect with your brand and books.” That’s a mouthful. Let’s try words appropriate to what Unspoken is about: history, antebellum, slavery, plantations, abolitionism, bisexuality, women’s rights, secession, Texas. Love, of course, lots, requited and not. I hope y’all get into that. “Y’all” is one of those Texas words—yeah? And East Texas is the background for my story. I make a point of east, because East Texas is more like Louisiana than like Southwest Texas desert or Texas panhandle of Larry McMurtry Texas Ranger fame. I will be blogging of this fascinating historical background research as well as discuss Unspoken’s journey to publication. 

I knew so little about Texas when I started over eight years ago. That long? You betcha. This is historical fiction, after all. I knew my readers would jump on every mistake I made. Plus, I have always loved history and wanted to get it right. I love a story that makes me feel I am present in that place and time. That’s one of the reason I read. When I read, I’m gone. Don’t try to talk to me. Knock me on the head if you want my attention.

Old oak and home near Washington-on-the-Brazos in East Texas. Photo by Karen Klink.

Why Texas?

Let’s back those horses a little. I have been a Civil War buff since Junior High or, Middle School, as some call it. What a mess. Families split, brother against brother. Romantic South versus Industrial North. The slave question and so much more. Ripe for all kinds of drama and character development. So much has been written about the eastern states, much less about the western theater, and practically nothing about Texas’s involvement. Then, researching on the web I discovered the diaries and journals of Terry’s Texas Rangers. After reading those journals, I had my main character and only needed to flesh him out.

In researching Texas, I discovered Stephen Austin’s Three Hundred, those southern families who, with the permission of Mexico, began settling along the Brazos River in 1822. I now own Austin’s Old Three Hundred, The First Anglo Colony in Texas, as written by their descendants, edited by Wolfram M. Von-Maszewski. I’ll put some of the more fascinating gems from this in my blog as we go along, citing the book, of course, and letting you know where you can purchase it. This is the sort of thing there is no room for in the novel, but can be interesting to other history buffs like me. My two plantation families, one growing cotton, the other tobacco, are members of this group.

Eight years of research, writing, and editing later, I have Unspoken, and a draft of the following novel, Here We Stand. 

Oh. And authors must have a log line.

That is how you tell readers in one sentence what your novel is about. Yeah. A whole novel in one sentence. That takes some doing. So far, I’ve got two loglines: 

  1. Unspoken is a story of the slaves, dark secrets and passions of two of Austin’s Old Three Hundred plantation families in East Texas prior to the Civil War.
  2. With the help of his sister and keen-witted loyalty of a slave, a sensitive boy attempts to gain his father’s respect amid the dark secrets and unruly passions of two Brazos River plantation families in pre-Civil War Texas.

The second one is a little more on point. Anyone have a favorite?

I may put these up again later for voting if I get enough readers. At present I am still learning about blogging and will let you know as I go along, if I learn how to do that voting thing.

This has been the introduction to Unspoken, in case you didn’t notice. There will be more about what it took to research the novel, as well as links to what I have already posted, and photos, lots of photos on Pinterest and here. I know folks like photos. I surely do. I have traveled to Texas and Louisiana where Unspoken takes place—beautiful country. Hope you join me and take a look. Until next time . . .

Push

Push, courtesy of Michael at Flicker, Creative Commons

Push, courtesy of Michael at Flicker, Creative Commons

It’s hard some days, isn’t it? To make yourself do what you don’t feel like doing. You know you must, you should, deep down you really want to, but the push isn’t there. Maybe you haven’t had your caffeine yet, or the brew isn’t doing the job.

Writing is like that some days, even writing this post. I don’t have the benefit of caffeine, ever, and I am basically a Type B person, a dreamer more than a doer. But to make those dreams happen, I got to push. We all have to push sometimes, to get what we want.

There is always something in the way.

The cat puked on the carpet, usually-sweet little Tommy dumped his Cream of Wheat all over the kitchen floor and your car battery went dead. Nevertheless, that presentation you haven’t prepared yet is due at 2:00 p.m.

Sound like one of those silly movies? They make those movies because nearly everyone can identify with them.

You don’t have to be perfect, either. Who told you you did? Your mom? Your pop? Yourself? Do you even know a perfect person? A perfect mom? A perfect dad? Do you like them?

Life is constant challenges, ups and downs. As Kristen Lamb says, “This is life. Focus on your love and passion, but also be fearless with yourself. We all procrastinate, make excuses, hide, or deflect. We are human. A pro takes problems seriously, the amateur takes them personally.

Check out Kristen Lamb’s blog. She focuses on writers, but what she has to say applies to everyone, and she says it much better than I do.

 

 

Two Cats Too Many?

Blue and Riley

Blue and Riley

Busy, busy, busy. And I thought retiring was supposed to leave me more time for doing what I enjoy. It does, but I enjoy so much! Do you have so many things you like to do, but can’t find the time to do them all?

I love writing, and writing one novel in particular, is my main project. Then there’s all I have learned about social media recently at the Tucson Festival of Books. I’m sure you know how it is. You learn something new, get all excited, and have to jump right in there and try it all. In this case, it makes sense for me to sit down and set my goals and write my biographies and sign up on social media sites and learn Hootsuite and redo my blog and, and, and . . . .

And last night I was blasted out of a sound sleep by the screeching of our three cats fighting. Yeah, three of them. I never thought we’d have three but, Dickens, my main man, struck out for parts unknown last summer and, when he didn’t come home for food for four days, we were sure he was gone forever. There’s raptors, coyotes and bears around here, and we try to keep the guy in at night, but he had his own idea about that.

So we went right to the shelter and brought back Riley and Blue, two all black males who got along great. Naturally, a week later Dickens showed up at the patio door, all filthy and skinny and howling to come in.

We tried everything to get them friendly, or at least to put up with each other. I bought a book on accommodating cats and followed all the rules and spent a fortune on cat toys. We kept them separated and tried special introductions with playtime and treats. Nothing doing. The two boys stay in the bedroom downstairs and Dickens stays upstairs, usually. But Blue absolutely, positively has to sneak upstairs on Dickens at every opportunity. Anyone who has cats knows how good they are at disappearing and appearing when you are least aware.

What, or what, are we going to do?

SOMEONE HAS

 

IMG_2894Ever wish someone would surf through all those writing, publishing and marketing blogs, pick out the best and most informative ones and drop them in your email?

Someone has.

His name is Gene Lempp, and once a week he compiles a list of all the best and lists them on his blog at http://genelempp.wordpress.com/

He even categorizes and writes a short synopses of each so you can choose which ones you want to read.

Gene is another special example of how writers go out of their way to help one another. Is there any other “business” like this?

Thank you, Gene!