Tag Archives: John Brown

The Road Trip

I love road trips, and I have an infuriating tendency to view life through “trip” or “journey” metaphors. (Do you think it’s a coincidence that the male lead character of my new series has the last name Journey?)

There are lots of “trips” going on in my world these days. My oldest son graduated from high school last week, and will be heading to college in the fall. My youngest will “bridge” from middle school to high school tonight. My middle son, who has profound autism, is always learning to deal with transitions, how to adapt to new situations and circumstances. It is a process—a journey, not a destination.

SILVER CROSS is in production. I’ve made all the changes I can make to it. I’m finally able to turn my fiction writing attention to the third book of the Journey/Tolman series. My working title is WOUNDED LAND, and I’ve done the reading, taken the research trips, written and rewritten the outline, then filled pages of incoherent notes to myself, which I will soon tape up above my desk, covering the wall.

It’s time to write the book.

There are always a few breathless moments before I start a new book, when I sit at the computer and type “Prologue” or “Chapter One.” It is like the beginning of a cross-country road trip. Did I check the tires, change the oil? Where is my Rand-McNally? Did I pack enough socks? But eventually I will stop pestering myself about the preparation. It’s time to get behind the wheel, pull out of the driveway, and point the car down the road. If I forgot something, I can figure it out along the way. That is part of the thrill of the road, the joy of discovering something unexpected…just as in my recent weekend trip up the road to Kansas, where I pulled off the road to marvel at courthouse architecture and to climb around a century-old steam engine in a small-town park. Likewise, in the research part of the same trip, I didn’t learn what I expected to learn…but I was able to fill in some of the blanks in the plot for the new book. I didn’t fill them in the way I anticipated, and the story took on a totally new dimension. My mind is filled with the history, with John Brown and John Wilkes Booth and Sergeant Boston Corbett, the man who shot Booth…and, as I have learned in the last few weeks, one of the strangest and most fascinating historical characters no one knows. My mind is filled with Nick and Andrew Journey and some difficult decisions that face Nick, with Meg Tolman and Ray Tolman and Sandra Kelly and Darrell Sharp and Kerry Voss, and with (as always) some shadowy figures who seek to twist history to their own ends in the present.

In the meantime, keep watching this space. I’ll post an excerpt from SILVER CROSS soon. It will publish on November 27.

Time to buckle up and head down the road. In a few days I’ll create a new Word file, and I’ll type the word Prologue…and I’ll begin to tell the story of WOUNDED LAND.

 

 

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Catching Up

It’s been a busy few weeks…so busy I haven’t blogged. But it’s been productive busy-ness, both in my personal life and on the writing front.

The last weekend of March was the University of Central Florida Book Festival in Orlando. It was my first trip to Florida, and it did not disappoint. I learned that UCF is the second-largest university in the nation, in terms of student enrollment. (Who knew?) I learned that, away from touristy areas, central Florida is beautiful and the people are delightful. (Special thanks to Anita Gonzalez for showing me around some off-the-beaten-path spots.)

My panel on Saturday was alongside Bob Graham, former two-term governor of Florida and three-term U.S. senator. He and his wife Adele are two of the most thoughtful, down-to-earth people I have ever met. We chatted about our families, our books (he has written a terrific thriller called “Keys to the Kingdom,” which is, as he says, largely non-fiction, but written in the guise of a novel), our respective home states, education, and politics. Sen. Graham never refused to stop and talk to anyone who wanted to visit with him. I can understand why he is still revered in Florida, even in his retirement from public life. (He even drove me from the hotel to the festival site in his own car…what a nice guy!)

This past Saturday was the Oklahoma Book Awards, for which COLD GLORY was a fiction finalist. Didn’t win, but was honored to be there. It is an outstanding event, presented by the Oklahoma Center for the Book, a leading affiliate of the Library of Congress. I met some wonderful book people, and enjoyed simply being there. Congratulations to fiction winner Constance Squires on her win.

This weekend is the Society of Professional Journalists Oklahoma chapter awards, and I have been told I will be receiving at least one award for my non-fiction work with Slice Magazine. I’m delighted that my magazine feature stories are continuing to gain recognition from real journalists.

Next month I’ll be road-tripping to Kansas for the last bit of location research for the third book in the Journey/Tolman series. Part of the historical basis for that book involves the “Bleeding Kansas” era just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. It’s fascinating, going to the heart of what the war was about, and I’m looking forward to walking the ground and getting the lay of the land. Two tiny tantalizing tidbits about that story: John Brown and John Wilkes Booth. Yes, there is a connection between these two men, who were on opposite sides of the great conflict, and who both believed extreme measures must be used to further their ends.

The paperback edition of COLD GLORY will release on October 30. Mark your calendar for November 27, as that is the publication date for the hardcover edition of SILVER CROSS. I am so excited about it. I can’t wait for you to see what is going on with Nick Journey, his son Andrew, Meg Tolman, Sandra Kelly, Kerry Voss, and Darrell Sharp. (Sharp has a larger role in SILVER CROSS. He really wanted to do more, and who am I to argue with a guy like Sharp?) You’ll also meet the shadowy Ann Gray, one of the more intriguing and complex characters I’ve yet met in my fiction.

Also, it’s baseball season, and my Rangers have started the season 9-2. (Couldn’t resist!)

Keep on reading, and drop me a line. I love hearing from you.

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