New Finds: 1862 Tax Return?

These past couple years have been such a rollercoaster of events. Some good, some bad, some I had to let go of in order to save my sanity. We didn’t expect the passing of a loved one. Sometimes it seems like family members will live forever, like an invincible dragon, blowing smoke all around to keep the threats at bay.

Then they are gone.

And the house is empty.

Except when the wind chimes jingle without a breeze, and the emotions found inside letters bubble to the surface. It’s full. It’s full of memories, sometimes my own faint ones, but never anything below the surface. As I’m allowed to go through some items to discover more about the people I thought I knew…but didn’t really, I’m finding more and more history.

Since this is all that has been on my mind aside from the Historical Novel Society Conference, I’m going to do this post on some American History closest to me.

The Hersey family apparently kept a lot of old written items, which is wonderful for a nerd like myself. I figure I will pick just one interesting piece of history to talk about today: A Tax return from 1862.

But the US didn’t start taxing until the next century, right?

Well, yes…and no. Revenue Acts of 1861, 62, and 64 all attempted to fund a nation already in millions of dollars of debt, through a civil war. The tax was let go in the 1870s due to severe backlash about the government having too much power. It’s way more complex than that, and so I’m slapping this link down so you can look into it yourself:

How much did Mr. Hersey fork over in today’s money?

He made roughly $2,002 before taxes, and that equals $53,359 today. Not bad! He’s got a farm and pays a laborer. It looks like he’s got some real estate income as well.

His payment of about $16 would be $426 today.

Why save this return for so long?

Did they know that it would be something people wanted to see later? Maybe they were so upset about taxes that they wanted to hold onto it and get angry every time they took it out? So many possibilities! At any rate, I’ve got more things to scan and stow away.

Want more random history?

Check out the other posts on the American History Blog Hop!

Author Interview: Monique De La Uz

8 Words coverWhat I love about the writing community is that every once in a while I meet an author or two that has a heart of gold. I know several of them now. These people have a genuine desire to pour their hearts out onto a page and help others do the same, in whatever capacity they can. We share in the excitement of finishing a draft, critiquing each other’s work, seeing each other succeed, and sending our new friends off into publishing land. I can’t do them all justice in one blog post, but I can share their beautiful minds!

Monique De La Uz is a debut Psychological Thriller author. I’m proud to have been part of the critiquing process and to have watched her grow by leaps bounds. Her riveting book, called Eight Words, comes out on August 8th, 2019. Let’s dive in!

Monique, in a few sentences, tell us about your book

My novel chronicles a woman’s journey in trying to save a student whom she teaches. He has no one and she wants to help but when her mentally ill brother accuses the relationship of going further than mentorship, she risks losing everything. She spirals down a path that jeopardizes her own mental health. Caught between her future and her family, she must decide if telling a vengeful truth and secret might be her only way out of this nightmare. Continue reading

#WIPjoy: About Fodder for Pigs

I realized I don’t talk about my work in progress much, at least not with people who don’t have a reason to care. One of the groups I admin did the #WIPjoy tag a while back, and I thought it was pretty fun! It is a good exercise in getting us to think about our work and communicate what it means to us.


Fodder for Pigs is a historical Fiction/Thriller set in 1850s Alabama and Georgia. This is my attempt at a blurb as of right now. It will change like fifty more times, guaranteed.

Blood don’t wash off yo’ shirt; it sho’ as hell don’t wash off yo’ soul.

Continue reading

Is it Character Weakness or Strength?

People dancing wildly

Bring some sense to your characters

We often focus on our characters’ weakness. This is fine because everyone has a weakness and that makes them relatable, but what if we focus on their strengths? We get more defined characters. According to psychologist Don Clifton, each strength, when used at the wrong time or inappropriately, can be seen by others as a weakness.

If we can make the over-application of character strengths to work in our writerly favor, we have crafted better characters

Example: Sally has a commanding strength. This is great in tight situations where somebody needs to take charge. People listen to her when the going gets tough. It’s her best strength so it comes natural, and she sometimes uses it when she doesn’t need to. When she tells people what to do in casual situations, they think she is bossy.

Often, a person can have strengths that counteract each other or fight for dominance

Continue reading