Tag Archives: CIvil War

Easier isn’t always right

This 110+ degree heat is driving me crazy. Crazy was used in the 186Os. Unlike the words genetics or cool (as in neat, not the weather). One if the neat things abut writing historical is looking up etymology. Not that I got everything right in Honor and Lies. The problem with Texas other than the heat, at least during Civil War times, was that before the war, former slaves were free, but once the war started, in several areas, free people of color were enslaved even if they had papers proving they were free. I chose to make the North Texas ranch areas slave free for the purpose of my novel. In reality, my research showed a different kind of Underground Railroad in Texas. One that utilized Native American tribes to get those seeking freedom to Mexico. I was shocked that people who had always been free, people who owned property and businesses found themselves enslaved suddenly when Texas joined the South. It didn’t happen everywhere in the state, but it wasn’t uncommon either. We didn’t learn much about slavery when I was in school. I think we do a better job now. In England our tour guide told us they spend a long time talking about the slave trade, and he said they are very honest about confronting tough truths. I know any time we talk about racism and prejudice in class, it can leave an uncomfortable awkwardness if the teacher doesn’t do the pre-discussion work and then facilitate. It’s often easier to skip the discussion altogether. Easier isn’t always right, though.

Someone to Believe

Sometimes all you need is a chance and someone who believes in you.

It seems pretty generic. I was in a class studying scripts, and my professor gave us the assignment. I was a junior in college, a single mom, a little confused about what I wanted to do with life.

In stepped Dr. Hoffman with the assignment: write a one–act play.

Groans went up around the room, but not from me. I was worried and excited and ready to write.

Years before I’d written on a regular basis, but real life stepped in, and the writing stopped. At least the writing that wasn’t in the form of a paper or news story for my classes.

I don’t remember a lot about the play except it was a young adult romance and I made an A.

Dr. Hoffman didn’t know it then, but he’d rekindled a dream. It just needed a little more time.

Three years later I was done with school, teaching English and newspaper and enjoying life with a job that paid the bills and gave me weekends and summers off. My daughter and husband were suffering through my multiple attempts to become a gourmet cook. I didn’t really know something was missing.

Until Dr. Hoffman called to tell me he was offering a seminar class at the graduate level, and he’d like me to take it.

Two years later, I was done with grad school. All I needed to do was write my thesis.

When I submitted my idea, my committee didn’t hide their doubt. A coming-of-age historical novel set in the pre-Civil War era didn’t seem to fulfill the requirements for the assignment.

Dr. Hoffman stood up for me, said I needed a chance.

Thus Honor and Lies was born.

The research that goes into a book like Honor and Lies was crazy intense. I’m sure I still got some of it wrong.

What I didn’t get wrong: the idea that sometimes all you need is a chance and someone who believes in you.

Thanks for being the person who believed in me!