I had lots of fun with this one. Sam can shoot, cheat at poker and drive a mule team, but she was raised in what has become a ghost mining town and she knows little about men and romance. So she doesn’t really know how to act when a marshal comes to Gideon’s Hope to arrest, and hopefully see hanged, one of her beloved godfathers. He, on the other hand, became a marshal after the violent death of his gentle wife by outlaws.
You can see all the conflicts here (especially after she shoots him), and I love conflicts, especially conflicts of loyalties. .
But now I have to look ahead to the second book, and I’m in search for another unique heroine.
Off to all my research books. And in “Life and Manners in the Frontier Army,” I might have found her.
How many of you have read a book involving an army laundress as a heroine.
Laundresses became a fixture in the Army when Congress authorized four per company in 1802, allowing them to be carried on company rosters and authorizing quarters and rations for them. They would often live in shanties or log houses some distance from the main part of the post.
They were paid by the officers and enlisted men and, according to “Life and Manners,” one of the unwritten laws of the rank and file . . . was to square with the laundress if you didn’t square with anyone else.”
Sometimes they were wives of enlisted men but more often they were single ladies, and according to the book, they were pretty “damned independent.” Army regulations specified that they were ‘to do the washing for the company officers and their families: as well as enlisted men (at a fixed price of seventy cents per month for soldiers and one dollar per dozen for officers.)” But she could refuse, as well, and one laundress at Camp Heliac refused to wash for officers’ wives, causing gently reared girls to redden their knuckles at a scrub board.
Granted I have a problem with reddened arms and hands. But I like the idea of a fiercely, independent red-headed laundress who stirs up endless trouble at the fort.
But what would bring her to such dire straits?
This is where the fun of writing comes. I can think of several scenarios, but which would work the best?
She could have been stolen by Indians as a child (this really happened to one child orphaned on the Oregon Trail – she was adopted by missionaries who were later killed by UTES). Maybe she had an Indian child and was scorned by most men because she had given birth rather than commit suicide.. Or maybe she married a trooper at a very young age. He’d been an abuser and when he was killed, she had no wish to marry again, especially an Army man but desperately needed a job. Or maybe she’s the daughter of an enlisted man who was killed.
Lots and lots of possibilities here. And the hero?
Well, that’s a matter for another blog unless someone here wants to take a shot at it.
Who would bring the most conflict to the story? A half-breed scout? An English lord traveling west? An army officer?
I love the “what ifs’ that always go into the creation of a new novel. All the possibilities that filter down into one – hopefully – strong tale.
The process is just beginning. I can’t wait to see the final characters. They are shadows now, but they will slowly take form, become individuals I’ll live with for several months. Then off they go to the mental waste paper basket, replaced by new friends.
Often I feel a little schizophrenic, what with characters going in and out of my head with such regularity. I would like to hear from other writers how they manage all the comings and goings.