Thursday, June 30, 2016

Research trips this summer

As I've already mentioned in a previous post, I did a wee bit of research. The Internet is fine for the most basic of research but doesn't quite cut it for details. I'm a detail sort of writer or at least I want to be. I get frustrated when I can't find simple things like the layout of a historical location.

That said, my 85-year-old mother and I set out on a ten-day road trip. She doesn't amble as well as she used to and there were many things I didn't get to see but the trip was in part for her so I can't complain - much. We started from our home in central Texas and landed in Natchez, Louisiana our first night. While there we toured Sanford Hall and ate a lovely lunch at the Carriage Inn. The house was lovely but we weren't allowed to take photos so if and when I ever write a story with it as my setting, I'll just have to go back.

We headed for Florida to visit two of my friends and then to Athens to visit my mother's college roommate. After that we landed in Nashville, TN to visit my cousin. We did no touring for this leg of the trip as it was all about family and friends but our next destination via Kentucky was Kansas where I was able to visit the location of four forts.

Fort Larned, Kansas
We toured Fort Hays first which is where a good deal of my current story takes place. Already I have to change a scene I wrote to accommodate a more accurate setting but that's okay. It will give me my writing challenge for the day.

We then toured Fort Larned which was great as most of that fort is still intact. I made the drive to Fort Supply but there's nothing there, nothing to see. And then we spent time in Dodge City, Kansas where I got to see the location of Fort Dodge. It was a good, informative trip.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The little things make a difference

Jail from Fort Dodge
We all harbor preconceived notions. I think most of us watch so much TV that we accept everything we see as fact and that includes setting. My preconceived notion has to do with historic western jails.  All the old westerns show them in much the same way. You walk into a building where the sheriff's desk sits. Off to the side is either two jail cells with barred doors or you go through a small hallway to the jail cells.

On my recent fact-finding trip, I went to Dodge City, Kansas. Some of my current story takes place there. I haven't fully settled on the year. It will either be 1876 or 77. I'm so glad I went because I found out lots of tidbits I had wrong in my story. Mainly about the jail. When I looked on line, the only reference I could find was a jail they'd rescued from Fort Dodge to add to their tourist area.

At the Boothill Museum, I discovered that the jail in 1876 was in the basement of the courthouse. After a bit more research, I found a drawing of two courthouses. Seems they built a courthouse out of wood and turned around the next year to build one using limestone. They built the new courthouse in 1876 and nicknamed the jail the lime kiln. Well, a kiln is a oven used to bake clay so I can only imagine the nickname refers to how hot it was for the guests of the jail. Located in the basement, would not allow for much breeze.

Not only did I find the information I needed to make my story a bit more plausible but I found out that the original jail was a really large, 15ft deep well. They named it the "cooler".

Monday, June 27, 2016

Back in the Saddle Again

Well, I'm finally back to writing. My life has been crazy busy since I last posted but it's all been good. Just returned from a 10-day road trip with my 85-year-old mother. Purpose? To visit friends and family and do a little research along the way.

We started off on June 16 and headed for Florida via Natchez, Louisiana and on into Alabama. In Natchez we toured Stanford Hall and ate a wonderful lunch at the Cottage Inn. While I'm not currently writing about anything with a setting in these states, I like collecting info for possible future stories.

Our first real stop was Pensacola where I got to see a really good friend whom I used to work with. Next we headed to Largo where I got to visit with my best friend from high school. The last time I saw her was about 10 years ago. Then on to Athens, Georgia where we spent time with Mom's college roommate. Next on the list was Nashville, Tennessee where we were entertained by my cousin. After those visits, we headed back west toward home, but along the way I toured a few sites and gathered information for a historical western I'm currently penning.

More later but I did want to check in since it at been so long.