trackback thursday: desegregating the army

 

desegregation

Desegregation of Troops, 1944. Picture courtesy of trumanlibrary.org

In July 1944, the U.S. Army started desegregating its training camp facilities.

 

Black platoons were assigned to white companies in a first step toward battlefield integration.

Sadly, this didn’t go over as smoothly with the troops as leaders had hoped. But we all know that part of history, right?

The official order for integrating the armed forces didn’t actually come until four years later in 1948, signed by Harry Truman.

Before this, black platoons date back to the Civil War. Although African Americans fought in the wars predating the Civil War, they actually were included in integrated militias and so forth.

I guess at this point it should come as no shock that our country was behind on this. During WWI, many African Americans went overseas to join because they wanted a chance. For example, Eugene Jacques Ballard graduated his flight training in 1917. The Georgia native had to go to France to become a pilot at the time. To read more, follow this link.

WWII also brought about African American troops and pilots. The most famous of these were known as the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the first African-American military aviators. There are many books, and at least one movie, dedicated to these brave men. To read more, check out Wikipedia or Amazon (for a list of books and movies).

 

 

 

 

how blogging builds your brand

imageIf you read about how Twitter can get you published, you may recall that I hinted at blogging. Well, hold on to your pencils, pens, and keys, because this one can get a bit tricky.

Most authors today have a blog. This is because having an online presence is essential. I repeat, essential.

Why?

Because agents and publishers want to know these three things:

Your ability to attract an audience/following

Your publicity potential

Your continued writing skills

All of these apply to your platform because they are letting publishers know that you are marketable/sell-able. Publishers are not just investing into your book—they are investing into you.

I am not saying you have to sell your soul here. But I am saying that a blog can do wonders.

But where do you begin? After all, as I said, you can find most anyone online these days.

How do you stand out? How do you make a unique writing blog? How do you appeal to those that could one day be your book-buying audience?

As always, I’ve got some advice for you.

Know Your Audience

You want to attract people who will, one day, buy that book you’ve written/ you’re writing. You may love to blog about recipes, but are you selling a cookbook? Are you writing for teens? Find a way to incorporate that into your blog. Writing historical fiction or non-fiction? Use facts and images from that era in your blog. Writing self-help? Give advice! If your blog is not attracting the same audience as your readers, publishers might use that as a reason to pass you by. Take this from someone who has personally had that happen—know your audience!

Post Regularly

Whether you’re posting once a month, twice a month, once a week, every day—make it consistent. Let your readers know they can depend on you. If you post on Tuesday at 5AM—do so every time you have a post. Regulate your site to see when you have the most traffic and adjust accordingly, but try to post at the same time, every time.

Build a Community

Find a few blogs that have similar pieces of your puzzle. Read, comment, and follow those blogs. Do this until you have a stead community of 5-10 blogs that you are in communication with. They post on your blog, you post on their blog, you like, follow, share, and support each other. This community is so important. You might be able to launch a blog and grab supporters and never have to do much more, but it’s unlikely. You want them to love you, and they want you to love them. So find and build a community to help your marketing even more.

Before long, the blog will work for you.

There are so many blogs out there, good and bad, that it might be intimidating of starting your own. Everyone wants to be different and unique, and with a plethora of sites out there it may seem impossible to stand out. But let me tell you something: you will. Just like your story will fall into the hands of the right agent, editor, and/or publisher—your blog will attract the right readers who will love you because you are you.

Everyone is different, so find your voice and let others hear it. Your book is one way to share the stories building up inside you; your blog is another. Odds are, you won’t regret it.

 

 

This post was originally written for & posted on Stark Contrast Editing‘s blog. Make sure to check out Katelyn’s amazing new site and the services she and others offer. Plus, more posts by yours truly!

trackback thursday: women’s rights convention

seneca-falls-meeting-1848-grangerJuly 19-20, 1848:

Women’s rights convention is held in Seneca Falls, New York. This convention marked the beginning of an organized women’s rights movement in the U.S.

Which, obviously, was a big deal.

 

The main ladies who organized this were:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who had four children at the time and was from upstate NY.

Lucretia Mott, a Quaker abolitionist.

 

How many women attended, you ask? Well, around 100 people attended– and 2/3rds of that was women.

At the convention they talked about voting rights, property rights, and divorce (to name a few things).

Stanton drafted a “Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions,” that echoed the preamble of the Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.

In this “declaration,” Stanton also brought forth these grievances for women:

  • Married women were legally dead in the eyes of the law
  • Women were not allowed to vote
  • Women had to submit to laws when they had no voice in their formation
  • Married women had no property rights
  • Husbands had legal power over and responsibility for their wives to the extent that they could imprison or beat them with impunity
  • Divorce and child custody laws favored men, giving no rights to women
  • Women had to pay property taxes although they had no representation in the levying of these taxes
  • Most occupations were closed to women and when women did work they were paid only a fraction of what men earned
  • Women were not allowed to enter professions such as medicine or law
  • Women had no means to gain an education since no college or university would accept women students
  • With only a few exceptions, women were not allowed to participate in the affairs of the church
  • Women were robbed of their self-confidence and self-respect, and were made totally dependent on men

While we have clearly progressed since 1848, I wonder if many women today would still see these as applicable grievances? Clearly not most of them, but some….

 

 

my love for historical fiction

historical fictveion loI come by my love of historical fiction honestly. Growing up in a family of historians, writers, readers, artists– all of it added up to my creation.

It started when I was young and I would hear my parents talking about historic events at the dinner table. Whether it was Biblical, American, Russian, European, it didn’t matter. Any topic was open for discussion, debate, and ultimately giving my sisters and me history lessons. As I continued in my education, it shocked me that others didn’t know the things I knew already. Not to say that snobbishly, only to say I was blessed in knowing what I knew because of my parents.

Not only did I know it, but I appreciated it. I lived for it. And I always wanted to know more.

I’m pretty sure I only read historical fiction up until I had required reading in school. Even then, the classics to me are from the same pot of tea, so I was always wanting to get my hands on more. However, there are three authors who made me want to read more, and more, and more– and with that, study more, and more, and more.

Ann Rinaldi

Samuel Shellabarger

Elizabeth George Speare

These three authors, to me, filled pages with adventures, challenges, and history that everyone should want to learn more about.

When I first started writing, I knew I wanted to write historical fiction. But it frightened me. I was afraid of the hours dedicated to research to get the details right. I was intimidated by the idea that someone could read my book and decide that I was no true historian, and give me a raving review that was less than mediocre.

I. Was. Afraid.

So I avoided it. I first wrote a YA Contemporary, which I love and hope someday others still might as well, but my editor and CP pointed out the language was very formal. I didn’t understand the concept of it being anything but, and realized that perhaps that came from my choices of reading. When I started reading contemporary novels, I tried to refocus my own into language that wasn’t ‘antiquated’.

Then I moved West, and something clicked inside of me. Having gone through my own adventure of moving with my family cross-country, I remembered books I read about families doing the same in covered wagons. And that’s when I realized I needed to stop being afraid of chasing my passion, and go for it.

I wrote my first historical fiction. And it’s what got me my agent.

History, the past, is a part of all of us. The amazing thing is that we all have our own lineage, our own pasts, our own family stories that have been passed down for generations– but the bulk of it is we all come from somewhere.

That, to me, is the beauty of historical fiction. These stories bring everything that we may have learned or wished to learn to life. Even if we know they aren’t straight facts, they help us feel a part of that time in history. They make us crave for ‘simpler’, or harder, times. And many times, they also make us appreciate the here and now.

You will find me reading just about every genre, and if you question that you can take a look at my bookshelves. But, if we get down to it, I write historical fiction because it made me who I am as a reader and a writer– and I’m so thankful for that.

 

trackback thursday: the northwest ordinance

Every Thursday on the blog will be “trackback thursday.” Here I’ll share something interesting/fun/ridiculous/who-knew-it piece of American history. Being a somewhat history nerd myself, and an author of historical fiction, it seemed like something fun to do.

On July 13, 1787, Congress authorized the Northwest Ordinance.

This established the formal procedures for transforming territories into states. So, instead of massive blocks that first made up the Midwest and West, the territories would eventually shrink into smaller states. The Northwest Territory that it created stretched from the Ohio River to the Great Lakes (South to North), and the Appalachian Mountains to, well, pretty much the middle of current Minnesota.

This eventually lead to the establishment of around six states, which were to be considered equal with the original 13. Though it technically didn’t include ALL of some of these states (see above: half of Minnesota), over time they eventually came about because of it.

Considered one of the most important acts of the Continental Congress at the time, it showed that there would be westward expansion and creation of new states rather than existing states ruling and expanding their existing boarders.

Basically, Congress didn’t want anyone getting greedy and ruining the “good thing they had going.”

 

So, what states eventually came out of this?

I knew you were dying to know.

trackback thursdayOhio- 1803

Indiana- 1816

Illinois- 1818

Michigan- 1837

Wisconsin- 1848

Minnesota- 1858

With all of this, the Ordinance included a Bill of Rights that promised: freedom of religion, right to trial by jury, public education (including a university!), and a ban on slavery. This will be important later (see: Civil War).

 

I have lived in half of those states– and my parents have lived in 5 out of 6.  That’s my personal fun fact.

Check back next Thursday for more #trackbackthursday– the new #tbt.

 

how working with an editor changed the way i write

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I was never good with criticism, good or bad. I have never been good with rejection, and I have never been good with someone telling me how to do something.

This sounds like a, “DON’T WORK WITH ME” advertisement as an author. BUT I PROMISE THIS WAS IN THE PAST!

After I finished my first true novel, one that had been years in the making, I sat down and was excited and ready to query. I wanted to start sending out my amazingness and have everyone faun over my words.

This was the dream. Isn’t it everyone’s?

Luckily, at this point in my writing I was blessed with a wonder CP who gently suggested that maybe I should consider working with an editor to work through some slow parts and make my manuscript the best it could be. While I wasn’t sure of cost and the idea of someone openly criticizing and making suggestions with my book-baby, I decided to give it a shot.

After e-mailing and going over some details back and forth, I began working with Katelyn from Stark Contrast Editing. I am blessed because I was basically her first client, and I think this is one thing that really made it easier on me to be open to criticism. She was patient and quick to respond, and understanding of many things I didn’t want to change at the time.

I can’t review Katelyn’s services justly, because she completely changed the way I write. She opened my mind to little things (action, not description) that I was pretty terrible at. Words or phrases that I overused (“sigh” and “that” and descriptive actions of the eyes), and so much more.

Though my first book was unsuccessful in scoring me an agent, I was confident that Katelyn had given me the tools to do even better. Once more, she encouraged me to start writing what I really wanted to write. I had worked with her on a YA Contemporary, but Historical Fiction was my passion, and ultimately I think my calling with writing.

I took her advice to heart and worked hard on my next manuscript. When consulting the very same CP who introduced me to Katelyn, she raved how much better this first draft was, and it was only off of her suggestions that I worked, queried, and scored an agent. Although I didn’t work with Katelyn on this one, I cannot deny that she didn’t completely makeover my writing process.

Yes, your book may be that good to begin with, but it seems to me there is no writer that has never had a typo or even just a sentence that didn’t make sense.

I would always suggest working with an editor over not– even if you don’t think you need one. Everyone needs an editor, and every writer is not an editor. Whether you hire someone or work with another writer in a personal way, it needs to be a trusted relationship that can help develop your story into a true masterpiece.

 

While I didn’t write this as a plug for Katelyn’s services, if you are looking for an editor I cannot recommend her more. She and Nikki (aka my wonderful CP I talked about) at Stark Contrast Editing are masters at what they do, and you couldn’t ask for better people to work with.

 

 

summer days and summer nights review

imageIt seemed impossible to review this volume of short stories in one post, but here I am– trying. Please keep in mind that I’m sure one review can’t do this collection justice, as each story has such fun quirks and it would be easy (but time consuming) to review each one individually.

Purchasing this book was a bit uncharacteristic for me. While I love short stories, I admittedly hadn’t bought a book of them since college. But with the Arizona summer heat settling in, and a collection of stories from such wonderful YA authors, it was too hard to pass up.

I get so wrapped up in each story I find myself always wanting more. I think that’s my trouble with short stories. The desire for more backstory, more details, more development– it’s always in me. So these little blips of love stories that are so easy to gobble up, I have a little heartache wishing for more.

With so many great contributing authors, I don’t want to pick and choose since each author has his/her own style, and each story is great for different reasons. But in the first five stories, I have to say that Libba Bray’s Last Stand at the Cinegore had me laughing out loud the most.

Here is what Goodreads has to say about the book:

Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

 

Overall, if you are looking for something to read before the end of the summer, this should be it. These summer romances are perfect for long, sunny days lounging on the beach.

(Or, in my case, acting like you’re in hibernation until “normal” summer temperatures arrive. Thanks a lot, Arizona.)