I lived my childhood in rural Lincoln County, on some of the same land I’ve written about in my two historical novels. I was the only kid in my grade for eight years at the one-room schoolhouse close to our farm. My graduating high school class in Vesper, Kansas, totaled five. That life was —from another time.
My novels, Never Waste Tears and Never Waste Dreams, are fictional. However, I wanted to be true to the history of the area and the times. So, one of my research sources was the book LINCOLN—that County in Kansas by Dorothe Tarrence Homan. When I was a young girl attending school, she was the Lincoln County School Superintendent.
Through Ms. Homan’s research, I learned of the early families that founded the history of Lincoln County, including the battle for county seat between the town known as Lincoln Center (at that time) and the town of Abram. I trusted her research and used it to show the growth and development of Lincoln and the end of Abram, Kansas. I’d never heard of Abram before. Unfortunately, a quick search on the internet gave me no information that the town existed.
My curiosity piqued when I read her accounts about several murders and a vigilante party. I wanted to mention them to bring a bit of Lincoln’s history to the story. Yet, I didn’t want to focus on them, so I used Tinker’s version of those events.
Dorothe’s book also told of the devastation Lincoln County suffered during the years of the Rocky Mountain Locust Invasion. I used that material with the brochures and postcards sent to me by a friend (thanks, Jim) to show the true grit of the people who settled in Kansas. It was all—from another time.
Suppose I need a comment to describe something awe-inspiring. In today’s writings, I might use one or more of the following words: stupendous, bombastic, fabulous, tremendous.
My characters used more elementary words in my novels about homesteading in the 19th century era. For example – Martha’s description – I think I will never forget the beauty I saw in the sky that morning when the sun rose, making the clouds in the east dance in golden highlights.
I often turned to the web to ensure a word or phrase would work for the vernacular I used. For example, I wanted to use hooligans. However, a quick inquiry told me it wasn’t used in English until around 1900. I used the word ruffians instead.
The Ellsworth sheriff cussed with a mild form of profanity. “Now, what in tarnation am I gonna do with you?” I’m sure even that tough-guy sheriff would blush at some of the profane words we use today.
When one of Hannah’s chickens met her unfortunate demise from the hooves of a cow, Hannah yelled, “Mathew, you are gonna learn how to pluck a chicken.” Yet, Nellie used the same word to describe courage and fortitude. She said, “We’ll all need some pluck to pull through this winter.”
I love playing with words—my favorite in Never Waste Dreams was when Mathew realized he no longer needed to fear an obnoxious brood hen. He said, “You were right. She had me bamboozled.”
I let my characters speak in their simple dialect. Maybe that’s why I had so much fun finding the right words for my early pioneers.
I’ve written four novels. Each novel is based somewhere in Kansas. Why Kansas? Why not?
Yes, I know it’s flyover country to those who don’t live here. It’s not even popular with some who do. I’m a native Kansan and it’s home for me. Maybe I just never transplanted well. I’ve lived in other states. But my roots always brought me back to Kansas.
Will I ever base a novel in another state—another country? I don’t know. I’m eclectic when it comes to my writing. I’ve written two books in a suspense genre and two books in historical fiction. When an imaginary friend takes over my heartstrings, I let them dictate what I write and where they’ll be. I merely adjust accordingly.
How did I choose one image for a book cover to describe a novel about dreams?
I picked one dream that meant survival and prosperity for Kansas settlers—an abundant harvest.
I’ve followed Greg Rud’s photography on Facebook for several years. I love how he captures the spirit of the Kansas landscape and history. So I contacted him to use one of his photos for the cover of my latest novel, Never Waste Dreams.
Greg features the original, colored print on his website:
Rural Routes by Greg Rud
Thank you, Greg.
To place your order for Never Waste Dreams click here
Never Waste Dreams--my latest novel is now available on Amazon.
Four years ago, on my blog of May 8, 2017, I mentioned that my heart was leading me to travel back in time again. What a journey it's been for me to listen to my characters tell their own stories. It’s one story—it’s many stories.
Never Waste Tears was the beginning. Never Waste Dreams is the continuing saga with Carl, Hannah, Nathan, and Sarah. They show grit and determination for their land, and they open their hearts to those who join them when new voices are heard.