Remembrance arrived on my doorstep when the COVID-19 lockdown started. It came with some goodies that make my first couple weeks feel a whole lot better.
Because I gave up coffee a while ago I only had my dad’s coffee filters (for when my parent’s visit) and used a rubber band to hold it in place while the hot water did its thing. It’s only redneck if it doesn’t work, right? Or did I get that wrong…I don’t know. But my patience was rewarded with some amazing coffee in a beautiful mug made by awesome women of Papillon.
Anyway, on to my thoughts.
Remembrance…It’s a rumor, a whisper passed in the fields and veiled behind sheets of laundry. A hidden stop on the underground road to freedom, a safe haven protected by more than secrecy…if you can make it there.
Ohio, present day. An elderly woman who is more than she seems warns against rising racism as a young nurse grapples with her life.
Haiti, 1791, on the brink of revolution. When the slave Abigail is forced from her children to take her mistress to safety, she discovers New Orleans has its own powers.
1857 New Orleans—a city of unrest: Following tragedy, house girl Margot is sold just before her promised freedom. Desperate, she escapes and chases a whisper…. Remembrance.
Full disclosure: I have never really enjoyed supernatural or fantasy elements in my historical fiction. I also dislike most alternative history. I could not get into The Underground Railroad (by Colson W.) no matter how badly I wanted to. But Remembrance caught my eye. Here’s why: Woods uses an element (voodoo) that is reasonable for the time, but still markedly different than usual alternatives to history. In other words, it’s unique but not ridiculous.
What does over two decades worth of research get you? An artful and brilliant series with the ability to put the reader right into the past. I have the privilege of receiving advanced reader copies before each release so far, and it’s hooked me from the first page. Since this is a saga meant to be read in order, I’m putting my reviews of the first two books here in order.
As soon as I read the first chapter, I knew this book would tear at my heart and make me want to reach through the pages to slap a couple of characters. The author dives right into the mind and life of each character, period prejudice and all, giving a vivid experience of the times and culture. Heroes are conflicted. Villains live up to their labels. Every scene, character, and phrase drives the story forward with relentless irony.
Spare time is like riding unicorns through rainbows while pigs fly about my head. It never seems to happen except when I neglect my household. Well, get ready for some spare time I’ve made. Maybe you can read it while watching your own pigs fly. I’ve been challenged to participate in #Authortalktuesday. I think that sounds fun! I can’t wait to meet everyone else and see your stuff. Please link in the comments.
This is part of the author newbie tag 2.0
1. What’s your book’s pitch? If you have multiple works, choose your favorite!
Oh my…well, I’ve pitched my book Fodder for Pigs enough times. I may as well take a stab at a new approach: the antagonist’s view.
“Joseph pines for when he had everything: a great job, close family, and a new bride. She betrayed him. One by one everything fell through his grasp. He exists in turmoil and wretchedness.
Only revenge will do.
The man who took it all away from him is within his grasp, yet he must savor this. He’s been preparing for decades, priming what child should have been his into a tool for revenge. He’s in too deep to turn back. Too many have died for this moment.
Now is the time.”
2. If you were a book, how would you pitch yourself?
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.
#1 INTRODUCE YOUR WIP…
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.
Learn a new language as research? Crazy lady! I decided to learn Tsalagi/Cherokee over the next five years. Logical, since I have [almost] nobody with whom to speak this new language? No! But I have found a way to work it in and have about a week left of syllabary learning. Then it is on to the language basics.
I want to make a believable and respectful representation of people in my novel’s time period
By the late 1820’s, after George Guess (or George Gist/Sequoya) developed the Cherokee Syllabary, most of the Nation read and wrote this language. It was important to read the news and communicate at that time. Laws and treaties were being made without them being able to verify any information. At least with this written language, they could have something with which to create and preserve their own government.
I have some Cherokee characters in Fodder for Pigs, but most are only half Native. Given the time period and circumstances, they experience a rapid loss in culture and language. What that means for me is that I need to explore what this loss entails and how to present it accurately and with respect. History books are not enough. The internet is not enough. Cherokee/English dictionaries will have me using any one of seven words for the same object, and I know I am in deep you-know-what if I choose the wrong one.
Language is the way into the culture, forgotten or otherwise
I am encountering countless things every day that enrich my characters and plot.
I realized while researching words, meanings, traditions, etc. that some concepts in English do not exist in other languages. Take for example, “goodbye.” English uses this often. “Goodbye” for early Cherokee was too final. They would rather have said the equivalent of “be strong” or “I will see you later.”
Another example is Aniyvwiya, or the Real People/Principal People. This is how the people used to refer to themselves. Since the nation was matrilineal, only people with Cherokee mothers were Aniyvwiya. If I had not dived right into the language, I would have used it incorrectly. Half of my characters do not have Cherokee mothers.
Even though the old culture was fairly documented by both English and Cherokee speakers, there are few ways to accurately experience it halfway across the country in the 21st century. In this case, the internet, library, and databases have been beneficial to connect with material and native speakers involved in history. Not every Native American knows exactly what happened 150 years ago. Do I know what happened 150 years ago in Hungary? Nope!
So far I have learned enough to make significant changes in my Book One narrative, family dynamics being the most changed. David and Sarah are part of a broken and blended family and they live their early years on the fringes of a dying culture. Having a white mother means more than being a little confused. Since bloodlines were carried through mothers, they had no clan membership. No clan membership means no protection, at least not the depth they will need.
Languages are disappearing
Very few people speak the dialect I am learning, and yes, maybe I will have to learn another to actually talk with people, but it is better than it dying out. A dialect of this language has already died.
If you asked me a year or two ago if I wanted to write microfiction, I would have Googled it and said: “no, I’m working on my novel.” This would be a mistake. A new novel writer ought to have a collection of short stuff or risk being completely unknown in front of the “jury” when his or her manuscript is in the publisher’s slush pile (or new to the bookstore). Not having other works is one of the seven new writer’s mistakes.
A competition came up in one of the writing groups I am in and I decided to try it. We all submitted three, eight sentence pieces in response to writing prompts and voted to determine a winning piece. There were so many good pieces of writing and I’m going to follow all those wonderful authors!
I am honored to have been a finalist and amazed at having made the winning piece. This had me walking on clouds the past week or two and I am feeling more confident in how my writing has progressed. My instinct is to downplay it and call it a silly little piece of fiction, but maybe it’s time to just put it out there.
Prompt: Graves of historical figures are being robbed
Tall Socks: a Microfiction
“Abraham, you promised you would consider stopping this habit,” she floated up and placed her ghostly white hands on the gravestone in front of her.
“My dear Mary, I said I would ‘consider’ stopping, which is still not a lie. Besides, this old man doesn’t need tall socks and I do.” Abe stretched out his leg and showed Mary Todd the chilled space between his own trousers and socks.
“You don’t need socks, you’re dead! Leave Robert E. Lee alone and come back into the mist.”
Abe looked around at the series of mutilated graves and sighed. “I finally found tall socks, Mary, and I’m going to use them; if he wants them back he can start another war.”
There you have it: a nice distraction from my editing! I enjoyed this creative challenge and I’ll be looking for more opportunities this year. There are many groups and resources. I should update my list of writing communities as well! Onward ho!
“Show me your socks”
You’ve got to check out the other winning contestants. They did such a great job! I will post links to their blog here as soon as I get permission.
Here is a great piece from Glass Heart. You should really like her page, just saying: