I’m a GenX/Hippie/Feminist/Redneck who lives just south of Laura Ingall’s Wilder country. Here I developed a love of the land and history. My Hippie thinks solutions for today’s problems exist in the historical record. While researching I’ve found these snippets in the written narrative suggesting that “women worked before they worked.” These trigger my GenX, especially at a time when I struggled to balance the gift of the ERA movement with raising children. My Feminist wants to expand this history. Period.
This is the About Me/Personalization paragraph of my query letter for AMERICAN DISTAFF. I figured if I happened to tap any agents curiosity, maybe want to get to know me better before they ask for my manuscript, I better have a place for them to land.
Like my first throwaway book, I also have my throwaway blogs. I stall out on blogging because I’m focused on the book. So if I never blog again, I hope this ages well and I’ve set this up to where it serves as a decent landing page.
AMERICAN DISTAFF is Historical Fiction. Not Women’s Fiction. Although that wouldn’t be a bad thing. I’m just aiming for a general audience. What if American history was told through the lens of females? What if we had included, like really included, our French and Spanish beginnings? Would we be acting different today? If we included a long history of women working would women just be able to go to work without carrying the heavy burden of forging new paths, without butting our heads against walls and getting nowhere? Would we find a way through the glass ceiling? So yes, this is why I think looking to our past will help with today’s problems. With that, I went to the very beginning of our history and created four characters, “These people without a country, fight pirates, survive storms, attempt peace with the natives, collaborate with women in business, and heal old wounds while sailing between the French and Spanish Colonies of America.”
But supposedly, in the very beginning not much was going on and there are these vast stretches of travel. I have to get these people to relate with each other just as much if not more so than they do with historical events.
You know how you’d find something out about your family history and… Mind. Blown?
“What? Grandma and Grandpa were never married? But. But. They were together for so long! They had ten children! Wait! GRANDMA was the mistress!”
That is what I pitched to my writers group when I leaned in and told them that I was starting a new project and switching to fiction. ((We were a non-fiction group.) I wasn’t the only one making the switch.) Kari Anna and Merrick are the characters to fulfill those Grandma and Grandpa roles. What would make two upstanding citizens make such scandalous choices. Are they above reproach? No absolutely not. I have to present them as making do with their lot in life as time moves them from historical event to historical event. No, “I’m special” treatment for these two characters. No, “because I’m the author and I say that’s how it’s gunna be”. Nope. I have to drag these two through the nitty gritty realities of life events and social constructs of the time period.
Irene and Rowan are the other couple. Eventually I’d like to tie them all in so they are all the Grandparents, but I don’t think I want to do that right away with the first generation. I’d like to wait until the grandkids. Get some other grandparents in there and get this family to be the big multi-cultural melting pot that is America.
Yes, yes, yes I have a big, bigger and ginormous plans for these characters but I’m just starting with the first book so I don’t refer to them as grandma and grandpa that often.
So for this book speaking through the women’s lens is Kari Anna taking on the unconventional role and Irene the traditional role. This is to provide a well rounded view of the American woman. Even though these characters pester each other, they also support each other and get things done because of their differences. Not in spite of them. I want to do both women justice in our walk through history.
I need some networking, so if you are an agent please follow. I’m not expecting you to represent my book right of the bat or anything. Just hang for a min. Say hi! I’m out here in the middle of everywhere so it’s not like we’re ever gunna to shake hands in a coffee shop to judge first impressions.
But moreover, I want women’s stories! I want to collect the stories of women in history. Do you ever find yourself amazed that your Grandma(s) made a successful living back when women didn’t work? I want those stories. Was your G-g-g-g-ma the first and only woman lawyer in Massachusetts? I want to know what you know. OR, did she run a trading post in the 16th century? I want to know. Does your family have connections to the French and Spanish colonies before Britain attempted settlement? I want to know. If we can’t find anything in the written record, we have to go to the oral record.
Basically the plan is pretty much based on if there is one there is more, if your relative was prominent and pretty much undisputed that she was the only one, I will include her in the book and try to leave her story intact. But if I find that there are three or more such women doing similar things, I will probably mash her story with others and fictionalize her a bit. But I want to include credit somewhere in the book because I want the research to go on. I want our history to be pieced back together. I am looking for real things that happened. Kari Anna, Irene, Merrick and Rowan are going to be the ones either gossiping or defending the women of history. They are going to be neighbors, or in the same congregation, working together, attending school together, going off to war with each other….famous, infamous, a regular working girl or housewife I want to hear.
Right now I’m working in 1596 between the time of Roanoke and Jamestown, so St. Augustine Florida has been established, San Juan, Puerto Rico is a bustling hub of activity and the French occupied Northeast is filled with European fishing villages and Santa Fe is just about to be established.
Mind blown yet? The crazy part is that these are things we all know, they just collide with our collective narrative.
So if you are sitting there thinking my Grandparents did this.. was the first to …went to… Say Hi in the comments right now. If you are shy? Too much story for a comment section? …just say hi. If you are excited and ready to start talking send me an email…. provided that I provided one in the revamp. So we are back to saying hi in the comments. Drop the line to start the conversation and let’s start connecting.
Anyway, I’m excited. Thank you for landing here.