What Is So Historical About Research?

By Tammy Trail

When I began to write my first novel, I knew it would be a historical. I love history. I love the idea of our nation being shaped by hardworking men and women who sacrificed to live in an untamed country. I chose Frontier/American Revolution because that’s what I like to read.

I began of course with WHO, WHAT, WHERE, and WHEN. I was given advice from a writer friend to research everything for accuracy and keep notes on where I found that information. I may need it later to educate or confirm my research.

If you just google Historical Research, you will find a plethora of options. Historical research involves examining past events to draw conclusions about the future. That is one definition I found. Instead of drawing conclusions about the future, we who write historical fiction pour our definition of past events and how they might have affected our characters onto the page.

Some material that may help in your research are newspapers, diaries, letters, speeches, or interview a person with firsthand knowledge. Museums, historical societies, and old pictures are helpful too. I would really love to take a “research” trip one of these days. Williamsburg Virginia has been calling my name for years.

Other information you may need to research.

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Trades
  • Politics
  • Travel
  • Weapons

In my American Revolutionary story, politics plays a huge role because it set the social and economic climate for that period. I read about some of the lesser known places and heroes that played a part in our winning independence from Great Britain.  I also asked myself what roles would a woman have played during the American Revolution? How does life go on when your men are away from home?

I have even read novels from other authors who write in my chosen time to get a feel for that era. I stay away from books that have a plot like my own. Some authors write blogs about their extensive research to share with others. Something as simple as shoes were totally different over 200 years ago. Beware of doing so much research that your story becomes bogged down with just facts, and not enough story. You can do too much research and never introduce your character to the world.

I have used Pinterest to keep pictures of my character’s lives. I can look at them and imagine what the interior of a home would look like, how my heroine may have dressed for chores, or how she may have dressed for a party.

I also dabbled in writing a western set in Wyoming territory in the early 1800s.  My heroine is a Chinese national who arrives in San Francisco on a ship. During my research for that story, I found a ship that sailed from China to that port in 1854. Now some of the other facts in my story had to be changed to fit that timeline. And that’s OK. It adds authenticity. I also needed to learn about the US Calvary, Indian tribes who were indigenous to that part of the country, and what obstacles my heroine might encounter because she was not born in the United States.

When you have all your questions answered and you begin to write, chances are you will find you have more questions. Keep researching or seek out an experienced author. I find that someone is always happy to help.

Writing Prompt: In what year did the following events take place?

  • Senator Daniel Webster endorses a bill as a measure to avert a possible civil war.
  • Millard Fillmore is sworn into office as President of the United States.
  • California is admitted as the 31st state.
  • P.T. Barnum introduces Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind to an American audience.

Click to Tweet: What Is So Historical About Research @InspiredPrompts #writetip #amwriting

 

My Grandmother’s Kitchen: Homemade Pancakes

I love the title for this month’s blog post. I had different relationships with both of my grandmothers. They each taught me so much in the precious time I had with them. After our family moved from the city, I used to spend a few weeks each summer with my Grandma Milem.

She lived in a cul-de-sac with other homes filled with folks much like herself; elderly, with grown children. There were very few kids my age living, or visiting in that semi-circle of homes; so I ended up spending a lot of time with Grandma and Grandpa. This is the place where I learned to sew, embroider, and watch Grandma cook. A favorite family memory: she loved to whistle while she worked.

There was always fresh produce on Grandma’s table. Tomatoes sliced on a plate, cucumbers bathed in vinegar, or swimming in sour cream with dill, and onion stalks with their greenery spilling out of the top of a glass of water. She taught my mother how to can the benefits from our garden, her bread and butter pickles were the best! We had jars and jars of corn, green beans and tomatoes. Grandma would take zucchini home and come back to visit with loaves of zucchini bread!

I have fond memories of holiday gatherings. Wonderful smells would fill the house. There were no store bought pies here, no sir. Everything was made by hand, and if you went home hungry it was your fault.

By the time I became a teenager, Grandpa had passed away and their home had been sold. Grandma called herself a vagabond; she lived from place to place. Mostly with her grown children in different parts of the country. She would visit us in southern California for a couple of months, she would then divide the rest of the year between Arizona, South Carolina, or Ohio.

In 1999, we were all called to my Uncle’s home in Ohio to say our good-byes. Hospice had advised that Grandma would be leaving us soon. A memory from that time, so precious to me  was when my Uncle’s home lost power, and there was no air conditioning. My cousins and I took newspaper and made fans. Then we went into the bedroom where Grandma rested and fanned her while singing hymns. If you listened real close you could hear her humming along.

When asking my cousins which recipe they remembered most from Grandma’s Kitchen our memories varied.  But we all think of her as a constant reminder of our childhood, and her great cooking abilities. I just found out recently that one of my cousins had  snagged her recipe box! Oh what a treasure! She then proceeded to send me a picture of all of those recipes. So, per her request, I am happily sharing Grandma Milem’s pancake recipe.

 

Grandma Milem’s Pancakes

1 Egg
1 1/4 cup Buttermilk or sour milk
1/2 cup of Baking soda
1 1/4 Cups of Flour
1 tsp. Sugar
2 Tbs. Soft shortening
1 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Salt

Mix the dry ingredients together well. The shortening should be soft like butter at room temperature. Add shortening, and  buttermilk; stir well. Let batter rest for a minute or two before pouring on hot griddle.

Click to Tweet: My Grandma’s Kitchen: Homemade Pancakes #holiday #memories .@InspiredPrompts

Winners for the Fourth of July

 

Happy birthday, America! As another fourth rolls around, we celebrate by making some of our loyal audience aware of their winnings. Congratulations!

Traci Wooden-Carlisle gave two people a chance to win. Congrats to Jeannie D. for winning a copy of Missing Destiny and Caryl for winning the jewelry. Hooray!

Betty Thomason Owens is gifting either a Kindle or print copy of Sutter’s Landing to Traci. Woo hoo!

Loved Defined by Leila Tualla   has been won by Mimi. Yay!

Wow. Winning and reading. What a great way to enjoy the holidays.

 

Football Frenzy – Sports Chick

Crazy Card Fan

Latoscia Mason – “Crazy Card Fan”

I don’t think it’s as rare as it once was–to run across a female sports fanatic.  If you asked me for an example of one, I wouldn’t have to give it a thought. I’d say my friend, Latoscia Mason. If you asked me for an example of a Godly woman, I’d give you the same answer. Can they coexist? Absolutely. Here’s her story:

Growing up with my Dad was an adventure to say the least. He was a sports person who loved to read and watch sports. As the older of his two girls, he would challenge me to read the sports page to him every morning as soon as it hit the front porch from delivery. Instead of talking about boys and ponytails, we talked about teams and pigskin.

I learned a lot about every sport while spending precious moments with my Dad. The words of the Courier-Journal came alive and stirred up a passion in me that made me not only want to read about sports, but also play them.

IMG_3427I loved basketball growing up. I played from middle school on, and went to the Kentucky High School State Tournament three out of the four years I was in high school. Losing the state tournament championship by one point to Whitley County in April 1985 was a horrible defeat, but I enjoyed every moment of that journey. Even though I do not play basketball often anymore, I have grown to love the mud races that bring out my Army ties, as I low-crawl through the mud under barbed wire in my tutu!

MudderI was born a University of Louisville Cardinal and love my city as well as my alma mater! I shall never forget celebrating the 1980 Basketball Championship and singing “This Is It” with my Dad. As a freshman, I celebrated the 1986 Basketball Championship in the Red Barn on campus, screaming with exhilaration with hundreds of Uof L students. These memories I shall never forget.

There is something magical and mesmerizing about fall and football that gets me revved up like most partiers on New Year’s Eve. I do not know if it is the warm colors of orange and brown, the leaves falling from the cool, crisp air, or the sounds of whistles, grunts, and football pads clashing in major match ups. I call this time of year, “My Zone!”

Latoschia FCA typical weekend consists of cheering on my sons and their local high school team, watching the Paul Finebaum show on Friday. Saturdays are college football heaven as I cheer on the CARDS and Bama football, as well as take in some Top 25 action. Sundays are full of channel surfing trying to catch the big plays from all the NFL games.

Fall is an awesome time to celebrate the harvest as well as cheer on my favorite football teams.

God blessed me with the sons my Dad never had. We watch sports together and all three of them play some type of sport. I am their #1 Fan in everything they do. We are passionate about our teams and these sports moments shape our lives and give us opportunities to bond and cherish as we interact one with the other. I love our adventures as we cheer on our favorite teams be it UofL, Bama, or UK. U of L plays Bama in 2018! We are definitely a house divided by teams, but united by love.

bama famI love being a sports Mom. I love cheering on my children and encouraging them to be team players in all areas of life. Some may find my passion a little obsessive and maybe even over the top, but I enjoy every second of it. There is nothing like the adrenaline that flows through my veins when my teams are playing. I am the ultimate fanatic! I love to dress up in my sports gear from head to toe and cheer on my teams regardless if they win or lose.

I love sports so much; I decided to obtain my Masters in Education in Sports Administration. Sports come natural to me, almost like breathing. I am enthused by the camaraderie that being part of and cheering for a team brings.

I remember sitting on the porch listening to Churchill Downs stories with my Granddad Benjamin Bell (my Dad’s Dad). He taught me a lot about the horse racing industry and wagering. Horses are my favorite animals and I countdown the days to the fastest two minutes in sports. I wish my Granddad had been alive to see American Pharaoh. I love the Kentucky Derby, too.

258727_2123668580120_4178106_oLife is meant to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest. The happiest moments come when we explore our purpose and our passion. Life without sports, to me would be mundane and boring. I am beyond blessed to be able to cheer, take over the TV remote at home, and travel to see my favorite teams in action.

I love my favorite teams, but they are not idols to me. They are outlets of fun, a healthy way to rid myself of pent-up frustrations, and a great way to encourage and cheer on others. I love my teams, being a team player, and growing up in a family that enjoys all kinds of sporting events. I am a woman that loves her sports!

 

 

They Say The People Could Fly : African American Folktales

The young woman lifted one foot in the air. Then the other. She flew
clumsily at first, with the child now held tightly in her arms.
Then she felt the magic…
No one dared speak about it. Couldn’t believe it.
But it was, because they that was there saw that it was

                                                                        ~The People Could Fly
                                                                         told by Virginia Hamilton

IMG_0272-003As many here at Writing Prompts have discussed several aspects of mythology and folklore, I have to say my favorite aspect is the way we can learn from the past. Mythology and Folklore make us wonder. Did this really happen? Did these people actually exist? Some of these stories cause us to feel uncomfortable. In a memorizing way, these stories showcase humanity and divinity, and both through the scope of vulnerability.

I was an avid Reading Rainbow fan as a kid. I envisioned myself being one of the children on the show and often rigged my parents camcorder to film myself introducing my favorite books. I remember one episode stood out to mephoto. It was startling and equally intriguing. It was the broadcast on Black History. Stories like Follow the Drinking Gourd, explored African American History and introduced difficult subjects like slavery, through beautiful art and song.

The story called Follow the Drinking Gourd, is actually a map in song form; a coded way for fugitive slaves to follow the Underground Railroad to freedom. I was mystified by The People Could Fly, a tale of slaves that took to the skies, magically leaving their chains behind to fly all the way home to Africa.

Stories like these help us remember where those before us have been and what they felt. A glimpse into their hopes and fears. Observing folklore is like embracing our histories. It can give a sense of where we are in space and time. Through the knowledge passed down through folk stories, we can come to view the world with brand new eyes. Like old souls.

Everyone of us is given the power to transcend the hardships of our present, and transform our future, instead of allowing history to go on repeating it’s mountainous sorrows. I sincerely believe that wherever one finds himself in life, a kosher perspective on where you’ve come from, only paints a brighter picture of hope for the future. ❤ Read my poem Blended Respect

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