The Caswell-Nash Chapter of the DAR, and Revolutionary War Days 2007 at Ninety Six

On Friday 13 April, I received the opportunity to speak
before the Caswell-Nash chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution
(DAR) in Raleigh at the chapter’s monthly luncheon. My topic was how so-called
"non-traditional" women of the eighteenth century and Revolutionary
War weren’t so uncommon after all. As a whole, Georgian-era women weren’t
confined to domesticity like their Victorian sisters but mastered many professions
and trades such as astronomy, blacksmithing, brewing, coach making,
gunsmithing, lighthouse management, mathematics, printing, scouting,
shoemaking, tanning, and upholstery. There’s sagacity behind that bumper
sticker that reads, "Well-behaved women seldom make history," so I
postulated that most members of the Caswell-Nash chapter had
not-so-traditional, not-so-well-behaved female ancestors. Otherwise they
wouldn’t be members of the DAR today. Many thanks to the chapter for its
elegant hospitality. I enjoyed the intelligent questions and audience
discussion. Ladies, are you absolutely certain you don’t want me to bring my
redcoat with his musket and bayonet next time?

Ninety Six, SC figured in altercations between settlers and
Cherokee Indians in the 1750s. During the Revolutionary War, two battles were
fought there. The second battle, in June 1781, unfolded when the forces of
Loyalist commander Lt. Colonel John Harris Cruger were besieged by the forces
of Continental General Nathanael Greene at the star-shaped fort and stockade.
While Greene’s engineers attempted to tunnel to the fort, Cruger received
supplies and communications via trenches. The approach of Lord Francis Rawdon’s
reinforcements sent Greene into retreat. Battling beneath a Carolina summer sun
was no one’s idea of fun, and Lord Rawdon had brought British regulars with
him, not just militia.

As usual, Chief Ranger Eric Williams and the rangers at
Ninety Six National Historic Site put on a great show for the annual
Revolutionary War Days living history event the weekend of 14-15 April.
Although no battle reenactment occurs at this event, visitors witness plenty of
weapons and artillery firings from reenactors. Living history-only events tend
to set a less hectic pace for everyone involved, allowing spectators to meander
and learn more and reenactors to relax. So spectators enjoyed an impersonation
of Lt. Colonel Cruger at the Star Fort, learned about the everyday life skills
of early settlers, listened to performers of period music and theatrics, and
watched artisans at work. There were battlefield tours and activities for

I was one of four women authors to give talks and/or
participate in an author forum. Sheila Ingle (Courageous Kate), Leslie
Sackrison (Awesome Women), and Dr. Christine Swager (White Crows and Black
et al.) also participated. Traditionally, the Revolutionary War has
been chronicled by men. When women talk about this war, however, a different
story emerges. In 2000, only Chris Swager was published. Now there are four of
us, and we’re in the forefront of a huge movement to redefine the roles of
women in history. Very exciting! Thanks to the rangers at Ninety Six for the
opportunity to participate in the event.

Next up: author appearances for National Library Week at the
libraries in Hampstead, NC and Burgaw, NC on 19 April; and a booksigning with
the Carolina Conspiracy at Shakespeare and Company 21 April in Kernersville,

Paper Woman Wins the 2007 Patrick D. Smith Literature Award

I’ve been busy proofing The Blacksmith’s Daughter for
publication this fall. Lo and behold, in my email in-box today, I found a
congratulatory message from the executive director of the Florida Historical
. Paper Woman has won the 2007 Patrick D. Smith Literature Award. What
an honor!

Patrick D. Smith’s novels such as A Land Remembered have
stimulated greater interest in the literature of Florida. The award is open to
authors and presses for a book of fiction on a Florida history topic published
during the calendar year Jan.1-Dec. 31 preceding the award.

This year, the Belleview Biltmore Resort in Clearwater,
Florida hosts the annual meeting of the Florida Historical Society. I will
receive the award at the luncheon on May 24.

By the way, Liz Clifford recently posted a good review of Paper Woman. Click on "Suzanne Adair" in the right column ("Reviews By Author"). She also posted the review to Thanks, Liz.

The Robeson County Friends of the Library

The Friends of the Library (FoL) serve different library
systems in a variety of capacities. One of the more dynamic groups I’ve
encountered is the Robeson County FoL (Lumberton, NC), where I was privileged
to make an author presentation, followed by a booksigning, Thursday 8 March

What makes these folks so memorable?

  • The FoL schedules at least one author presentation each
    month in addition to their other events. Most of these authors are non-local.
    The local press is in tune with the events and provides advance coverage of
    guest speakers.
  • The FoL employs a webmaster and computer guru, responsible
    for making all the libraries wifi as well as keeping the web site up to date.
  • All author events except the annual dinner are held at the
    Osterneck Auditorium, a new facility with excellent acoustics.
  • The FoL encompasses the entire county and has a mailing list
    of about 1,500 people who have expressed interest in FoL and library events.
    There are no competitive events among branches. All county library branches
    work together.
  • The FoL holds regular meetings to discuss the needs of each
    library location so money is distributed wisely and equitably among branches.

Starting with the "Dinner With the Author" before
my presentation, I saw how much the Robeson County FoL values each guest
speaker. Such a pleasure to present before them last Thursday night and answer
the many insightful, intelligent questions the audience posed about the
Revolutionary War in the South. I look forward to future opportunities with

LRWA and Researching Historical Fiction

Saturday 17 February in Summerville, SC, I taught a workshop
on researching historical fiction for the Lowcountry chapter of the Romance
Writers of America.  I regret not having the time to tour historic Summerville,
once a woodsy summer escape for plantation owners who wished to avoid malaria.
Nearby are Middleton Place, restored gardens from the eighteenth-century
plantation of one of SC’s signers of the Declaration; and Moncks Corner, where
the forces of General Isaac Huger and Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton clashed in
April 1780. Charleston, which I’ve yet to visit, is less than half an hour
away.  All that history: I need an excuse to return for several days.

Heads up, fans of historical fiction.  Be on the lookout for
ten ladies from the LRWA chapter who have fascinating ideas and a load of
enthusiasm for their historical projects.  Researching historical fiction isn’t
for the faint of heart.  You have to be a detective, think outside the box,
synthesize information from dozens of sources –- and knit it all into a seamless
presentation.  Small wonder that many authors take two years or more to produce
a work of historical fiction.  But each of these ladies, some of them already
published, stepped up to the plate, undaunted.  The
hands-on portion of the workshop was lively with sagacious discussion and
inspiration.  I expect a crop of published historical novels out of this group
within a couple years.

Many thanks, LWRA, for the opportunity to present the
workshop, as well as the opportunity to learn from each of you.

Next up: the Friends of the Library in Lumberton, NC, 8

Historical Novels Review of Paper Woman, February 2007

Paper Woman received three good reviews this week. Mary
Axford and Rhonda Lane published reviews on the Dorothy-L discussion list. And
last night I received a preview of Janette King’s review of Paper Woman in the
Historical Novels Review, a quarterly for the Historical Novel Society. Since
none of these reviews is accessible via an online link, due to space
limitations, I’ll only print Janette King’s review:

Set during the American Revolution, Paper Woman follows
Sophie Barton’s attempts to learn the truth behind the murders of her rebel
father and two other men. But if
running the printing press at her father’s newspaper in Alton, Georgia, isn’t
already an inappropriate occupation for a lady, joining a group of concerned
locals (including a notorious Frenchman, her womanizing brother, her former
lover, and two Indians) on a cross-country journey should earn Sophie quite a
reputation! A clever and resourceful woman,
she quickly proves herself a capable associate. But even with the combined
abilities of her team of friends, there is still much to fear from the redcoats
behind them on the trail.

Suzanne Adair has provided a compelling array of characters,
in particular the roguish adventurer Jacques le Coeuvre. Sophie herself isn’t exactly a
run-of-the-mill heroine, having chocked up quite a past before we meet
her. And she’s soon to be a
grandmother. Before Sophie embarks on
her adventure, a difficult decision concerning her future is put before her.

Adair’s interests in historical re-enactment serve her well
in creating details necessary to bring the period to life. Paper Woman is an entertaining and
well-paced novel, and Sophie Barton proves to be far more substantial than the
title might suggest. I look forward to
the upcoming sequel.

Thank you, Janette, Mary, and Rhonda, for the reviews.

Was my protagonist Sophie’s occupation as a printer
inappropriate for women during the Revolutionary War? Have a look at my blog
entry 14 November 2006, "Busting Myths: Women and Freedom During the Revolutionary War." I’m looking forward to my panel 9 June 2007 at the
Historical Novel Society’s conference in Albany, NY. The panel is entitled,
"Rewriting the Role of Women."

Next up: a workshop on researching historical fiction
for the Lowcountry chapter of the Romance Writers of America in Summerville,
SC, Saturday 17 February 2007.

Quail Ridge Books and Cowpens, January 2007

Although both these signings occurred last month, I want to
cover them because they were excellent events.

Qrb2007exteriorQuail Ridge Books has been in business since 1984 and is
Raleigh’s most well-known independent bookstore. Owner Nancy Olson and the
staff are some of the friendliest, most helpful booksellers I’ve met. Even
before they knew I was an author :-), I received a warm greeting whenever I
came in the store and a "May I help you find anything today?" I was
honored and delighted to read and present there Tuesday evening 9 January.

My family and I dressed in our eighteenth-century clothing
and answered a number of questions from the audience about reenacting and life
during Revolutionary America. Carl demonstrated fixing the bayonet to his
musket, to the "oohs" and "aahs" of the audience. One woman
commented, "Look at how long it is!" This helped attendees understand
why the bayonet, not the musket ball, was a principal weapon of the war. (Early
on, before George Washington’s army developed discipline and professionalism,
Continentals often ran in terror as soon as the British fixed bayonets. Imagine
a line of a hundred redcoats advancing toward you, sixteen or so inches of
pointed steel fixed to the end of their muskets and leveled at your midsection.
Not an auspicious sign.) Thanks to Quail Ridge Books for providing me with the
signing opportunity, and special thanks to Carol Moyer for the lovely

The third book of my series, Camp Follower, culminates in
the Battle of Cowpens. On 17 January 1781, an army of Continentals and rebel
militia commanded by Brigadier General Daniel Morgan defeated British Legion
provincials and their loyalist allies beneath Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton.
Morgan’s army didn’t just defeat Tarleton’s army; Morgan decimated it. Although
most of Tarleton’s cavalry escaped, almost all infantrymen from the British
Legion and allied units were killed, injured, or captured in battle. Those
soldiers were irreplaceable, and the battle deprived Charles Lord Cornwallis of
much might from his crack unit in the South.

Carl and I daytripped the event Saturday 13 January while my
sons were off winter camping with their Boy Scout troop. However, there wasn’t
much winter to be found in the southeast that weekend. Cowpens weather usually
means snow on the ground or bitter cold, but everyone sweated for the event. We
arrived in time to catch up with a battlefield tour guided by ranger John Robertson, who creates the maps for my novels. Then I dressed
in my eighteenth-century clothing and set up my signing table inside the
visitors’ center, in the august company of authors Dr. Bobby Moss, Dr.
Christine Swager, and Sheila Ingle.

No battle reenactment occurs on site at Cowpens National Battlefield, but visitors
always enjoy plenty of living history, military drills, demonstrations, and
presentations. On Saturday, chapters of the D.A.R. and S.A.R. conducted their
annual wreath-laying ceremony. Visitors were also treated to Dave Sherrill’s
portrayal of Benjamin Franklin and got to watch mounted members of the Third
Continental Light Dragoons saber a head of cabbage — at human height — off a
post during a cavalry charge. (Coleslaw, anyone?)

Cowpens2007robertsonadairswageringleMid-afternoon, Sheila Ingle,
Chris Swager, and I presented a panel on the American Revolution in the South
as seen through the eyes of its female participants. From left to right in the
picture, moderator John Robertson and panelists Suzanne Adair, Chris Swager,
and Sheila Ingle.

A huge Huzzah! and thank-you to Virginia Fowler, chief ranger at
Cowpens, and all her staff for hosting another successful event and allowing me
the opportunity to be part of it.

Next up: a workshop on researching historical fiction for
the Lowcountry chapter of the Romance Writers of America in Summerville, SC,
Saturday 17 February 2007.

Career Day and a Teahouse: Two Appearances in Two Days

On Friday, my sons’ middle school held its annual Career
Fair. Monica Smiley, editor-in-chief of Enterprising Women magazine, and I
presented three joint sessions on what it’s like to be a publisher and an
author. We squished a great deal of information into those 35-minute sessions
and still allowed time for Q&A. All our attendees were seventh-graders, and
Monica and I were pleased to see them so full of intelligent questions.

VsteastreasuresSaturday afternoon, I made a presentation at a new teahouse
in downtown Raleigh, V’s Teas & Treasures. While guests enjoyed a full tea,
I spoke on "The 232nd Anniversary of the Wilmington Ladies Tea

Wilmington Ladies Tea Party? During a visit to Wilmington,
North Carolina, in 1775, Scotswoman Janet Schaw kept a journal. Discovered in
the early twentieth century and made available in book form as Journal of a
Lady of Quality
, this journal has given historians a tantalizing, rare view of
the American Revolution seen through the eyes of a Loyalist woman. The famous
Boston Tea Party was the first of many "tea parties" celebrated
throughout the colonies. The patriot ladies of Wilmington held their own tea
party sometime in the first quarter of 1775. But had Janet Schaw not commented
on it in her journal, we’d never have known about it. Unlike the Edenton Ladies
Tea Party several months earlier, highly publicized and even lampooned in
London, the sister event in Wilmington drew no press coverage.

V’s Teas & Treasures, located at the corner of Glenwood Drive and Peace Street, is a must-see,
must-do. The vintage Victorian-era house has been restored and decorated with
love and a tremendous sense of comfort and coziness by owner Vivian Nicolsen
Holt. There are two tearooms, both seating about fifteen guests, and nooks and
crannies throughout the house filled with arts and crafts, jewelry, antiques,
teas, coffees, edible goodies, soaps, fragrances, and home accents. But don’t
take my word for it. Check it out for yourself. Oh, and did I mention that the
full tea is scrumptious?

Mary Buckham’s Online Course on the Hero’s Journey

Aside from completing the first draft of Camp Follower last month, I was engrossed in an online course offered through Guppies, an Internet chapter of Sisters in Crime. Technically, Guppies are “The Great Unpublished,” but quite a few of us are now published.

“Plotting with the Mythic Structure: Creating Surefire Plots that Sell” is taught by Mary Buckham. Mary teaches a variety of courses online and on-site. Guppies sing her praises for a synopsis course she taught in 2006. I can certainly attest to her attention to detail and almost psychic ability to identify individual problems in manuscripts, as well as her warm-hearted willingness to help everyone who puts forth effort. At times during January, she juggled about two-dozen plot lines and avoided confusing one plot with another. When there are days that I get even my two sons mixed up, how does she do it — software? I suspect her predominant archetype is “goddess.” :-)

Joseph Campbell gave us the Hero’s Journey decades ago in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Christopher Vogler followed up in 1992 with his book The Hero’s Journey, one of the “homework” pieces recommended by my editor back in 2004 when he told me, to my surprise, that I write the Hero’s Journey. The what?

The Hero’s Journey is an ancient storytelling structure common to myths and legends, but we find it embedded even today in the plots of novels and movies. Vogler describes twelve steps of the journey in his book and discusses archetypes, but Mary Buckham brings it home in her course with templates that apply it to bestselling movies and novels of all genres. The most helpful aspect of the course is applying those templates to your own work in progress and then sharing with the rest of the class. Several writers came into the course with just a few sentences of story idea and finished with an entire novel plotted out. I told you Mary was a goddess.

She offers the course online again in May through Writer University. Whether you are a first-time writer or a published veteran, I highly recommend the course. But I shall act as threshold guardian here and warn you that the course isn’t for dabblers. There’s serious work involved. And that, folks, along with finishing Camp Follower, was why I skipped blogging in January.


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The First Draft of Camp Follower is Complete!

Whoa! It’s been almost two months since I last posted. Have
I ever been busy! Over the next week, look for updates on all
I’ve been doing. To kick off the updates, I’ve finished the first draft to book
3 in the series, Camp Follower. What characters from Paper Woman and The
Blacksmith’s Daughter
(book 2) make an appearance in this third book? David St.
James, the three peddlers, Lt. Adam Neville, Lt. Michael Stoddard, and Lt.
Dunstan Fairfax.

Snowredcoat_1We get a couple of snow days per year in Raleigh, and
today was one of them. Might as well make the best of all that snow.