Monday, May 28, 2012

the new beginning (finally)

After agonizing over the beginning of my story for ages, I think I finally found something that works. This is thanks to a brilliant idea of Katie Goad's, with whom I had a fabulous lunch today. Please read the new introduction and comment with your thoughts!

             Mama and Papa waited until it was a new moon, pitch black outside, before they decided to leave. Dr. Wolf was there, he said he would take them where they needed to go. It was a cold night, and Mama had bundled all her little girls up. Papa carried the twins and Mama took Maddie and Ellie’s hands. That left no hands free to carry their belongings, so Dr. Wolf carried those – just an old trunk full of  dolls and the family Bible. Mama said she wouldn’t part with them, especially the Bible.

            They walked along the road until they came to the creek. Papa went first with the twins, and then Mama pushed Maddie and Ellie through. She went before Dr. Wolf, but once she was through, she realized she had dropped her locket. Her locket with baby James’ hair. She screamed and cried and tried to go back, but Papa and Dr. Wolf held her, and pulled her away. Mama cried all night, cried for the locket, cried for her family, cried for her home that she would never see again. She was hugely pregnant at the time, and baby Lottie wouldn’t stop kicking the whole night. It was like she knew something wasn’t right.

            It took weeks before Mama went a full day without crying. For the longest time her eyes were continuously watering, silent tears always falling down her cheeks. She knew she was making a change to save her daughters, and to give them a future, but she cried for her old life, and cried that her daughters would never know the rest of their family. She cried that something would always be missing, and nothing would ever be the same.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Almira

The following is an excerpt from my great-great-great grandmother's memoir. She was born in 1842 in Jennings County, Indiana. She lived there all her life, and died in 1931. Much of the description of early Indiana in my book has been taken from her memoir.

I am an old woman now, so old that some of my grandchildren have grandchildren of their own, and my daughter is writing this for me just as I tell it to her. If it seems rambling at times, remember that I am telling things just as they come back to me.

There has been much of sorrow and hardship but also much of joy in my life and as I look back over the past eighty years, I can see my life like a pattern woven in with the lives of so many others. It seems, as I look at it from here, now that it is so nearly finished, that there is plenty of brightness to offset the dark, gloomy part of my weaving.

My grandparents on both sides were pioneers in the Ohio Valley state where I was born. They belonged to that old race who kept pushing farther and ever farther west. My people settled in the poorest part of the state, not far from the Ohio River, but it seemed a goodly land to them, with springs and little creeks of pure water and good pasture for their cattle, an abundance of sugar maples to furnish sweetening, and wild berries everywhere. The woods were full of great luscious blackberries and raspberries and there were wild strawberries along the creeks. Plenty of acorns too, to fatten hogs, which were allowed to roam the woods at will, and beechnuts to give the fine flavor to the Thanksgiving turkey, to say nothing of the abundance of walnuts, butternuts, and hickory nuts for the children, no store candy for them. Then there were the wild grapes, large rich fox grapes for jelly in the summer and after frost came the fall grapes, small but delicious in flavor.

                                                                 Almira King Holsclaw

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

the song that wrote my story

There is one song that I have literally listened to several times a day for nigh on three years. Different versions, but the same song. This song has been instrumental in the writing of my novel, and a couple of my characters even sing it (no worries, it's public domain). I even have a tattoo on my foot that says wayfaring. If you are a fan of folk music or music of Appalachia, then you will no doubt recognize this song (it's suspected that it was an old slave spiritual). Here I have three of my favorite versions:

                                                      Wayfaring Stranger

#1. Jack White from the Cold Mountain soundtrack. I remember listening to it over and over again while driving an entire half of I-465 on my way to student teaching one morning, and this was the first time the song really hit me. It made me cry (great for my students to see my red, puffy face that morning). Love this version to no end.

Okay, boo, I can't get it to embed. So, here's the link:

#2. 16 Horsepower. They have more than one version that I can also listen to over and over again, too. Here's one:

#3. And here's the last version by the Christian group Selah. It's definitely different in style, but I love it just the same.

Other amazing versions include: Andy Griffith, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, and a little band from Damascus, Virginia - Fire in the Kitchen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

editing and my temper tantrum

Editing is hard. Not grammar and punctuation editing - that's easy. Fun, even. Content editing. Story slashing gut-wrenching tear-jerking mind-blowing face-twisting horrible terrible no good very bad day kind of editing.

So, I've been told my story has a slow start. It takes a while to get into the meat of the story, the real gripping part. Okay, I says, I'll cut out a bunch of the not-so-necessary stuff. So I did. I took my pencil on the hard copy and I slashed and dashed it all to pieces. Some of my favorite parts were gone, just like that.

Thought I was good for a while. Then I hafta go and read some stupid blog by a lady who knows what she's talking about that says "NO BACKSTORY, ESPECIALLY IN THE FIRST THIRTY PAGES." Well, guess what is freaking in my first thirty pages! That's right, you guessed it: back story!

And here I thought I was about done editing. My last full manuscript edit was focused solely on hyphens and dashes - that was fun. But I tell ya, I'd do it all over again if I could avoid trying to figure out what to do with my back story. If I should move it, cut it even more, cut it out entirely, I really have no idea what to do. I like the way my story is. I wanted it to read like a memoir, like a genealogy, with my character reminiscing about her childhood and growing up. Now I wanna stomp my feet and cry like a baby is what I wanna do, lemme tell ya. (This very blog is an avoidance technique.)

Okay, okay... Ima goin' Ima goin'.

>:( (that's my final word)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Interview: Author Kate Roth

I got to chat with friend and fellow author, Kate Roth. She has just released her first novel entitled The Low Notes with Rebel Ink Press. Check it out!


1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a 26 year-old newly published author and full time hairstylist. I’m married and have a sweet little dog named Sampson. My first novel was published May of 2012 and now I’m on the road to writing more and hopefully nurturing my career as an author.

2. Tell us about your upcoming book.
The Low Notes is a story about a forbidden love between a high school student and her teacher. It’s all about choosing whether to follow the rules or follow your heart. I think a lot of people connect with the idea of star-crossed lovers and forbidden romance.
3. Was there a "moment" where you got your idea, or was it more gradual?
In high school I had a pretty major crush on a teacher, so the idea has always been lingering. I took a novel writing course back in 2008 and I was working on something completely different at that time. When the class was over I told myself the teacher/student relationship idea was a good one and that I needed to run with it finally. The rest is history.

4. What book(s) have inspired your writing?
I’ve read tons of books with the teacher/student thread and a few are some of my favorite books. For some of my other works in progress I’m a little all over the place. I have ideas for paranormal and young adult so really all books inspire me. Along with music and films too!
5. What do you do when you experience writer's block?
Remain as calm as possible. When I start to wig out about having writer’s block it only gets worse. I try to do things I know will inspire me like listen to music or outline some vague ideas. Anything to get the creative juices flowing again. I had a rough few years of nearly constant writer’s block and for me it has a lot to do with the rest of my life. If I’m happy with everything else in life I can write but if something is off it blocks me up until I figure it out.

6. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), I haven’t been given a lot of criticism that I found tough or unnecessary. My editor of course gave me notes and changes to make but none of that was a blow. I guess I’m still waiting for the big heartbreaking comment. (Critics, please ignore that as a potential challenge!) Best compliment so far came from a friend who got my book and told me she was getting lost in the story and forgetting that I, her friend, had written the words. To me that was huge. It is one thing to support a friend by reading their work but another to end up falling into the story, escaping into the book like we normally do, forgetting it was someone’s creation. That was when I realized I’d written something worthwhile.

7. What advice do you have to aspiring writers?
Make the time to do what you love. Being published was always a dream of mine but that isn’t why I wrote and now that I’m published my reasons remain unchanged. I write because I love it. It’s no different than the person who loves golf so they make the time in their schedule to play because it makes them feel better. If you write with the intention of someday making money or selling movie rights or hitting it big, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Whatever your passion, make the time, find the energy, make the commitment to doing it.
Find Kate @KateRothWrites on Twitter, on Facebook, & her blog:

Thanks for taking the time to chat, Kate! Best of luck with your book.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

a woven pattern

I love this quote by my great-great-great grandmother, Almira King Holsclaw:

“I can see my life like a pattern woven in with the lives of so many others. It seems, as I look at it from here, now that it is so nearly finished, that there is plenty of brightness to offset the dark, gloomy part of my weaving.”

Almira (left) with her grandson Hubert and family (baby is my grandma Mary)

Aren't we all so inextricably connected? Just think about it, one small decision by some obscure ancestor of yours could have dramatically altered your own life, or caused it to not exist at all. Two of my great-great grandfathers were pestered by their mothers to become priests, but they decided to marry and have families instead. If one of them had given in, my whole family wouldn't be here. Or if a single ancestor hadn't made the decision to remove to America, hundreds and hundreds of their descendents wouldn't be here. The temperment of our ancestors mattered, too. A kind mother or father sowed important roots and molded our families  into what they are today. Then think about the chance encounters you have every day with people. How many of those meetings have eternal significance?

My character Maddie does something that changes lives forever. In the present, she reads about an ambush on a runaway slave family and decides she isn't going to let it happen. So she crosses the time portal and changes the past - hiding the slaves in the future until the hunters have gone away. In the future, one of their descendents finds her and thanks her - for without her, she and her family would have never been born.

Read the synopsis for my story on the Going over Home tab!

Friday, May 18, 2012


I know I ought to be strong and chipper when I promote my book, but the truth is, I'm kinda scared to death. I'm afraid my book won't find readers, I'm afraid if it does the readers won't like it. What author isn't? I have two magazines reviewing my book and several historical societies and libraries and even Conner Prairie reviewing it. The name will get out there. But worry continues to creep in. So what do I do?

I have to give it over to God. He is ultimately in control. Every time I start to worry I have to make myself stop and give it all back to God. Every time I try to take it all back in my hands, he gently reminds me, "I'm in control. Let me handle it."

It's not a copout, it's not a weakness. I think it takes more strength to give it up than to keep it and worry over it. I just keep reminding myself that he gave me this gift and this passion for a reason.

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A tribute to the ones who went before us

Do you ever think about what will be said of you after you're gone? I love a quote from the show Lost: "Don't knock the obits," one character says. "It's the nicest part of the paper." To me, there's nothing like the writings of our ancestors in the history books - they could bestow a more eloquent compliment like nothing seen in today's obituaries and tributes. Below find some of the more sincere tributes given to my ancestors.  

Of Fredericka Peterson Goldquist: "Her labors were a continuous element for good in the community in which she lived and her life was, indeed, a serviceable one for she was continually holding out a helping hand, or speaking a word of encouragement, or kindly advice."

Of Catherine Kerr Oder: "Deceased was a great sufferer but bore her affliction with patient fortitude and died firm in her faith in the Savior's promises."

Of Hannah Zimmerman Caylor: "Her affliction has been a constant source of suffering during the last twenty years of her life but she has been patient and silent, always fearing that her own suffering might bring others worry. Thus has she lived long and learned the beautiful, but hard lesson of patience and died as she had lived with fortitude resigned to the will of the God whom she had found and served."

Of Anna Walsh Garrity: "Despite her many trials and sorrows, she bravely cared for her little brood until the last. It has been said by loving friends, in eulogizing Mrs. Garrity, that no woman ever lived that was more void of faults, and that no woman ever bore her burden more resignedly than she."

I'm dumbstruck when I read some of these. What amazing people we come from! My ancestor Almira Holsclaw stands in awe of her parents' generation, her mother in particular: "It must have been the pioneer spirit that kept her going." Do we still have that spirit alive in us? Let's rekindle it. Let's learn the hard lesson of patience and live with fortitude, resigning our lives to the will of God, for we know that he works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).

What stories do you have of your ancestors? Please, share away!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The mommy writer

Every writer has certain music that gets them in the mood to write. I am no different. I have my trusty mixes readily available in my car, complete with several versions of Wayfaring Stranger. Tonight I had to head over to CVS to pick up a prescription and I decided to pop in my CD. My daughter happened to be with me. Here is what happened when I tried to sing along:

"I know dark clouds will gather o'er me, I know my path is rough-"
"Mommy, is a lady is a girl or a boy?"
"A girl. but golden fields lie out before me-"
"Who is Sarah's brother? Daddy?"
"Yep. where weary eyes no more will weep"
"Who is your brother? Nicholas?"
"Yep. I'm goin' there to see my Savior-"
"Who is your mommy? Grandma?"
"Yep. I'm goin there no more to roam-"
"Mommy, do ducks talk? I mean, in the singalong?"
"Only in the singalong. I am just goin' over home. I am just goin' over home."

Lemme tell ya, juggling motherhood and a budding writing career is no easy work. My daughter comes first before writing ever does, but I won't tell a lie - it is a sweet moment to lay her little head down to bed and come and rest before the computer. Ah, peace and quiet.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Out of the ordinary stories from my past

I've been a writer since I could hold a pencil in my hands. Throughout my school years, I had a series about an eccentric family with triplets: Jenny, Nick, and Michael. As the years went on, these triplets were joined by no less than thirteen other just-as-crazy children. They went on several adventures and ran into a number of mishaps. Nick, who was not-so-loosely based on my own younger brother by the same name, was the worst. He preferred to levitate when bored and often provoked his other siblings. See below for an example of his antics:

Never fear, his little tirade was not without consequence.
He did get in trouble. Stay tuned for more off-the-wall stories from my past (and future)!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My first review

There's no better gift to give an author than a review. I received my first today, and I couldn't be happier! If you've read my book, I would covet a review from you. :)

My first review

As a lover of historical fiction, I was delighted to find a new author in this genre. Katie Andrews Potter has crafted an engaging and gripping tale traversing 2 centuries that give the reader a glimpse into life in Indiana during the 1800's. The quality of the work is as good as that of Louis L'Amour and other highly respected writers of historical fiction. I look forward to the release of the rest of the books in this series by this talented author. - John Etchberger

I'm on Cloud 9 after this review. I'm also very busy contacting genealogical and historical societies for reviews, as I believe their members would have an interest in my book, it being a genealogy-themed historical fantasy. I'm workin' and prayin' hard to spread the word! Speaking of which... go "like" my author page on facebook!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

memory and scent

Tonight my husband, daughter, and I were taking our dogs for a walk in our neighborhood. All of a sudden we could smell one of my favorite scents: wood smoke. I love it because it reminds me of Conner Prairie, and of camping -- all good memories.  But my 3-year-old had a reaction too. She piped up, "I smelled this smell when we got chicken nuggets, fries, and chocolate milk, and I smelled this smell when we slept in a tent." She was referring to when we went camping in Brown County last October. Scent and memory are inextricably linked.

I was especially glad of her little discovery because of something in my book. My character, Maddie, has a memory of her past when she smells a wood smoke scent, too.  Her parents refuse to talk about it, but Maddie now has her first clue as to where they came from, and that is wood smoke.

            “Mama,” I began. “I-I know that wherever we come from is somewhere you don’t want us to know about….”
            Mama lifted her chin, a worried look surfacing. “Oh?”
           “I just don’t know why.”
            "You don’t know why?”
             I shook my head. “No. I don’t know where we came from, I don’t know why we left, and I don’t know why you and Papa won’t tell us. I was tired of asking you questions and getting these worried looks, but today I remembered something from back then… the memory came back at Conner Prairie --”
            “The memory?” she cut in. “Wh-what do you mean by ‘the memory?’” Her look was bewildered now, almost frightened.
          My hands went up in exasperation. “I-I don’t know. I couldn’t place it, but -- at Conner Prairie, I smelled a wood smoke smell. It seemed so familiar, and I realized that wherever we came from, it had that same smell. And there were so many things at Conner Prairie that you do at home too, so I thought that might be a clue….”
           “I see.” Her expression softened. “But you don’t know where we came from?”
            No, Mama. I told you I don’t. But I really would like to know.”
           My mother sat down at the table and brought her hand to her forehead, and I watched as the worried look surfaced once again. She rubbed her forehead, shook her head, then looked up at me, her face wrinkled with sadness, her brown eyes misty.
            “I can’t tell you, Maddie. It’s too dangerous. I’m sorry.”
            And with that she stood up and left the room, leaving my head spinning with more questions than I’d begun with, and not a single answer.