Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fort Laramie, Southern Midlands & Cain't

Today my research has been focused on ferreting out those small details I want to make my short story, "A Christmas Promise," believable. First, although I visited Fort Laramie last summer, I spent hours reading and perusing site maps to figure out where my character, Annie Murdock, may have lived when she was a laundress at the fort. Also, I found out where the non-commissioned officers lived.

The earlier 1867 map of the fort does not detail where either the married soldiers or the laundresses lived. The only structure across the footbridge was a hotel.

This map of the fort, made in 1888, 15 years after the setting of my story, shows the married men's quarters to be directly across the footbridge.

My character, Annie Murdock, was married to a soldier most of the time she was at the fort, so it would make sense that she lived in the area set aside for families of married soldiers. She might have been living in a tent or more temporary structure in the early 1870s, which is why it may not have shown on earlier the map.

Map from the Fort Laramie National Historic Archives
The map put together by the National Historical Archives shows laundress quarters across the footbridge, but does not indicate the time period. There was also another laundress location, now also in ruins, up next to the quarters for the non-commissioned officers and the sutler. However, since she was married with two children, I figure she would have lived in location 29 on this map.

My second area of details I worked on today was dialect. Annie and her late husband came from western Kentucky, the region where it was truly brother against brother during the time of the Civil War. Annie's late husband, Daniel Murdock, fought for the Union while her brother and father fought for the Confederacy. This was not the Appalachia region which has its own distinct dialect, a favorite of historical novelist. It falls into the Southern Midlands dialect group. What an adventure ferreting out exactly what speech patterns and words belong to that dialect!

When I wrote this story, deciding I just needed to write it and go back to check the dialect later, I incorporated a lot of words and speech patterns my husband uses. He was raised by family who came from the "old country" of western Arkansas and Northern Texas to California during the dust bowl era. One word he pronounces quite distinctively is "cain't." I used it in my story.

Well, folks, that word is coming out of my manuscript. From what I have been able to discover, "cain't" is a Southern word, not a Southern Midlands word. I'll save it for a story with redneck characters.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pinterest Board for Family Secrets

I love Pinterest. I don't get on it too often, though. The reason? It never ends.

This morning I arose early (early for me) and signed on to my Pinterest account for Zina Abbott Books. Five hours later, I had to force myself to shut it down.

While there, I did add some pictures to my board for my novel titled Family Secrets scheduled to be published sometime this year. I have more to add in the future, but, for now, Except for this first image which is mine, I have pinned pictures from other pinners. Not all pins pertain specifically to the experiences or Army regiment and company of my Vietnam soldier, Mike Carpenter. But, they are great for giving a feel for the country of Vietnam and what the soldiers were forced to deal with while there.

The LIFE magazine cover gives you an idea of a landing zone (LZ) like the kind Mike and his crew cut out of the jungle

 The board includes some pictures of war protestors. They played a role in his novel, also.

The Vietnam portion of the novel is set in 1967-68. Mike was there during the Tet Offensive. I searched for pictures of that battle.  The last photo on this blog post is from February 1968, the month after Tet.

These are just a sample of the images already on this board. Please sign up to follow the Family Secrets board on the Zina Abbott Books Pinterest account.

I would be thrilled if you would sign up for all my Zina Abbott boards on Pinterest. I have other novels in the works. I am collecting images that will help inspire, provide visual detail and set of tone for each of my novels. Here is the link:

Enjoy!  Robyn Echols writing historical novels as Zina Abbott.