Happy Independence Day to all of us who live in the USA! And happy July to everybody in general!
You know, I was reading a book recently (KATHRYN: Days of Struggle and Hope, by Donna Fletcher Crow), and the book has renewed my wonder at the resilience of the people who settled the United States.
No matter what our country’s come to (and I can’t help but have the sinking feeling that we’ve passed our prime), you really have to honor the folks who came to the New World for whatever reason—and there were many reasons besides seeking freedom to express religious views without fearing retribution. In KATHRYN, Donna tells the tale of a young woman and her preacher father who leave the relative civilization of Nebraska to brave the desert nothingness of Idaho before there was any way to irrigate the land they attempted to farm. I think we sometimes forget how much people struggled to conquer a new land in order to gain independence and security for themselves and their families.
As a matter of fact, I wrote my very first published book, ONE BRIGHT MORNING, bearing the struggles of our forebears in mind. I used to get ghastly migraine headaches that knocked me out, sometimes for days at a time. Now migraine headaches aren’t anything new. Folks have suffered from them probably since humans first stood upright. But one day, whilst suffering the agonies of a migraine, I bethought myself of pioneer women, whose lives were hard enough to begin with. Would migraines visit those women, too? You betcha they would! And they, unlike me, wouldn’t be able to stay home in a dark room and collect sick pay. They’d still have to do all their regular daily duties, because if they didn’t, they’d die (and so would their families). Quite a consequence. So I wondered what would happen if a young widowed woman with an eighteen-month-old baby, living in the wilds of New Mexico Territory, woke up with a terrible migraine one morning only to have a gunshot stranger appear at her door. I mean, migraines aren’t fun at the best of times and in the best of places, and the NM Territory in the late 1800s was neither. Trust me on this.
Fortunately for Maggie Bright, the heroine of ONE BRIGHT MORNING, the gunshot stranger (Jubal Green) had a Mescalero Apache chum named Dan Blue Gully who always carried a supply of willow bark with him. After scaring Maggie nearly to death by appearing in her kitchen unannounced, Dan was able to help Maggie with her headache—and the patching up of Jubal Green. Things got dicey from there, but at least poor Maggie didn’t have that hideous migraine pain to deal with at the same time all hell was breaking loose around her.
By the way, one of the nicest things to happen to me as an author came about as a result of ONE BRIGHT MORNING. This nice thing didn’t have a thing to do with the book winning the HOLT Medallion, either (although it did). A bookseller in Nebraska was so taken with the book and the heroine that she named her new-born palomino colt Maggie Bright. I still get weepy when I think about that. The palomino Maggie Bright would be sixteen years old now. My, how time doth fly!
At any rate, sometimes I tend to whine about things. Okay, I often tend to whine about things. My so-called writing career is stalled, I’ve come to understand that I’ll never be able to make a living at writing, and that makes me sad. However, at least I have the time to write, and I can write whatever I want to write. Poor Kathryn or Maggie Bright wouldn’t have had the time or energy to write a book if they wanted to (fortunately for them, they didn’t). I honestly don’t know how our fore-mothers survived. Well, a whole bunch of ‘em didn’t, I guess. No wonder men didn’t want women to have the vote. If women had had independence and the means to make a living on their own, they’d probably have stayed home in civilization and let their husbands go out exploring without them. Wonder what the USA would look like if that had happened. As it was back then, women didn’t have much choice in the matter, so I suppose it’s idle to speculate.
Anyway, happy Fourth of July! And please enter my monthly contest. This month (providing my author copies arrive in time and don’t get blown away by a tornado like my author copies of FALLEN ANGELS did), I’ll be giving away three copies of GENTEEL SPIRITS, book #5 in my “Spirits” series, featuring Daisy Gumm Majesty. Just e-mail me at email@example.com and give me your name and home address. I’ll drop your entry into my special contest doggie dish. Rosie, who’s filling in as winner-picking wiener dog for the nonce, will gum up winners at the end of July.
Speaking of GENTEEL SPIRITS, a great and innovative man passed away in June. Dr. Martin Greenberg was a proponent of speculative fiction, particularly science fiction/fantasy. But if it weren’t for Marty and his widow Roz, many of us whose books (like my “Spirits” books) don’t fit neatly into the niches most publishers require of them would never have had our work published. R.I.P. Marty Greenberg: http://tinyurl.com/3p6efhh
Please feel free to read the first chapters of pretty much all my books at www.aliceduncan.net, and also feel free to buy my e-books at Kindle or Smashwords!