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Writing Marta – Strong female characters right out of history
One of the cool things about Delilah and the Women in the West adventure series is the fact that there is a true-life historical female character in a supporting role, along with the strong female protagonist in each book. In the first book, Delilah, the supporting character is Elizabeth “Baby” Doe McCourt Tabor. In Book 2, Sarah, the supporting character will be Big Nose Kate, and I’ve begun the pre-writing process of outlining for that one. In Marta, book 3 in the series, the supporting historical character is Clara Brown. An emancipated slave, Clara was one of the first women to go to the Colorado gold camps, providing domestic services for many of the miners, including the first laundry service in the Colorado territory.
I’m not that far with the third book. Marta is still a loose collection of ideas, with an outline draft, which can be manipulated as I change my plot points until I’m ready to begin the actual writing of the story. If you read Delilah, you will learn that Marta was captured by Indians while traveling west with her family. Book 3 is the story of Marta’s life in Central City, Colorado in the years following her release from the Utes. The supporting historical female character for this is not as renown as the supporting characters for the first two books, but she was an important figure in the gold camp turned township of Central City, and I am proud to offer her a supporting role in my story. Marta takes place at a time when Clara Brown was elderly and in failing health, and she will fill the role of the wise women or mentor, sharing her wisdom with Marta, who is a nurse in charge of Clara’s care.
“Aunt” Clara Brown – A true pioneer in her own right
Clara Brown – Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame
Although there weren’t many women on the American frontier, there were women who did ‘go west’ to seek their independence, their fortunes, or both. There were also those who came west in the familial units, as wives and daughters, later losing husbands and fathers to the many hazards in the rough pioneer lives of those who ventured west into the frontier, and finding their own way out of necessity. But, if there were few women to be counted, there were even fewer black women. In this respect, Clara Brown was a pioneer and a trailblazer for the women who followed. Clara was a rarity indeed, as she was not only a female, but a female of African American descent – a freed slave, acting as her own agent in a frontier that was often harsh and cruel.
In slavery, as an indentured servant, Clara acquired domestic skills needed to run a household. Freed after many years, Clara used those skills to establish her value in the community and make her own way as an independent business woman and entrepreneur.
Born a slave in Virginia in 1800, Clara and her mother were sold and sent to Kentucky when she was nine. Later, she married a slave on the same plantation, and they had four children together. But, as was the fate of many indentured slaves, she and her family were all sold at auction by their owner and she would never see any of them again, with the exception of her youngest daughter. Her third owner freed her in 1859, at the age of 56. Under Kentucky laws, freed slaves were required to leave the state or revert to indentured servitude once more, and so she cooked and provided midwife services on a wagon train, to pay for her passage west, making her way to Colorado.
In Central City, a gold camp consisting of mines, a few shops and saloons, and the shacks of miners and their families, she established the first laundry service in Colorado territory and provided domestic services such as cooking and cleaning, earning enough to make a living. go back to Kentucky as a representative of the Republican governor of Colorado to help freed slaves. She learned that her husband and oldest daughter had died in slavery, and her son had been sold too many times to trace, but she continued to search for her youngest daughter, Eliza Jane. She located her in Council Bluffs, Iowa in a heartwarming reunion. Clara returned home to Denver with her granddaughter in 1882.
In 1869, she went back to Kentucky in her search for her family. She came back empty handed on that score, but she brought back sixteen freed men and women, helping them to relocate in Colorado. At that time, she had accumulated savings and properties around Denver and Boulder, Colorado totaling almost $10,000.00, (which would be valued at around $100,000.00 today).
With her wealth, she helped other blacks to relocate to Colorado, providing shelter and helping them to obtain gainful employment. In addition, her home became a community hub, as she opened it to freed slaves and provided religious services for the community, helping to establish the first Protestant Church in Colorado, and earning herself the “Aunt” Clara moniker. Most female philanthropists at this time were women wielding the wealth of their husbands, but there were some who did it on their own. A rare bird indeed, Clara Brown was a black, independent female philanthropist and profitable businesswoman.
Clara proved her value in the mining community of Central City, once labeled the richest square mile on earth, and to the state of Colorado, by venturing forth into places not for the faint of heart, much beyond the realm of common expectations for a black woman of the times. She became Clara wasn’t a superhero, but she was an amazing woman, who used her brains and her inner strength to help others. She was voted into the Society of Colorado Pioneers in 1884 for her contributions during the Colorado gold rush. She died on October 23,1885. Clara Brown was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2022.
Karen A. Johnson (Winter, 2006) The African American Experience in Western StatesJournal of African American History Vol. 91 No. 1 pp. 4-22 Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/20064044
Her homecoming from prison quickly turns into a quest for vengeance when she is brutally raped and left for dead, and her fourteen-year-old ward is abducted. Sheer will and determination take this tough and gritty heroine up against wild beasts of the forest, Indians and outlaws to Leadville, Colorado.
Can the colorful inhabitants of the Colorado mining town work their way into Delilah’s heart, offering a chance for a future she thought she’d lost along with her innocence?
If you like strong and capable female protagonists, you’ll love Delilah.
Kaye Lynne Booth lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Colorado. With a dual emphasis M.F.A. in Creative Writing and an M.A. in Publishing, writing is more than a passion. It’s a way of life. She’s a multi-genre author, who finds inspiration from the nature around her, and her love of the old west, and other odd and quirky things which might surprise you.
Her latest release is the re-release of Delilah, as Book 1 in the Women in the West adventure series. She has short stories featured in the following anthologies: The Collapsar Directive (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”); Relationship Add Vice (“The Devil Made Her Do It”); Nightmareland (“The Haunting in Carol’s Woods”); Whispers of the Past (“The Woman in the Water”); Spirits of the West (“Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”); and Where Spirits Linger (“The People Upstairs”). Her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, and her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, are both available in both digital and print editions at most of your favorite book distributors.
In addition, she keeps up her authors’ blog, Writing to be Read, where she posts reflections on her own writing, author interviews and book reviews, along with writing tips and inspirational posts from fellow writers. Kaye Lynne has also created her own very small publishing house in WordCrafter Press, and WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services, where she offers quality author services, such as publishing, editing, and book blog tours. She has served as a judge for the Western Writers of America and sitting on the editorial team for Western State Colorado University and WordFire Press for the Gilded Glass anthology and editing Weird Tales: The Best of the Early Years 1926-27, under Kevin J. Anderson & Jonathan Maberry.
In her spare time, she is bird watching, or gardening, or just soaking up some of that Colorado sunshine.
I have recently read The Chimes, a Dickens novella which was first published in 1844, one year after the well known A Christmas Carol. It’s social critisism perfectly suited my criteria for Dark Origins posts and I decided to share my thoughts and research on this novella for my March Dark Origins post.
The story involves the disillusionment of Toby “Trotty” Veck, a poor working-class man who works as a casual messenger or ‘ticket-porter’. Dickens goes to great lengths at the beginning of the story to detail Trotty’s poverty as per the following description:
“Making, with his leaky shoes, a crooked line of slushy footprints…
I just love these ‘who are you?’ pictures. These animals have so much personality.
… doing artwork
Colleen’s challenge this week is to write a syllabic poem using synonyms for green and spring. I chose moss and vault and before you say anything about the context, there are no rules about that – hehe!
Pathological liar? Sociopathic killer? Or just a troubled kid seeking attention? These are the questions that haunt therapist Selena Harris as she undertakes the most challenging case of her career.
Sitting on a couch two feet across from her is an ordinary-looking teenager who confessed in a text, inadvertently broadcast to his entire school, to murdering an autistic child left in his care. With no evidence to support Leal Porter’s testimony, authorities have referred him to Selena for counseling.
Challenging her professional distance is the emotional bond she develops with this lonely, isolated boy, whom classmates describe as “that scrawny kid who talks to himself at his locker.” Although Selena believes the alleged victim is the product of her client’s fevered imagination, she harbors one major doubt:
What if she’s wrong?
Selena can relate to Leal’s feeling of isolation, especially as she has returned to her small hometown on the heels of a divorce to take care of her father, who has suffered a debilitating stroke. In Leal’s case, however, he’s a school outcast due to his predisposition to tell tall tales to worm his way out of trouble.
Stepping outside the confines of her office in a quest for clues, Selena is determined to separate fact from fiction. But nothing in her experience prepares her for the harrowing revelation of the inner demon that lurks beneath the surface of Leal’s confession.
I reviewed this book in my capacity as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team. If you would like your book reviewed, you can contact Rosie Amber here: http://rosieamber.wordpress.com/.
This book is a well written and fascinating psychological thriller. Leal Porter, a teenager from a seemingly troubled background, is sent to psychologist, Selina Harris, for counselling sessions following his claim of drowning his younger autistic friend. His mother is not keen on his attendance at the counselling sessions, citing there cost and drain on her health insurance, but the school has made it a condition of his continued enrolment.
Selina has her own problems: she’s pregnant and isn’t sure whether the father is her soon to be ex-husband or an ex-lover with whom she had a one night stand, she’s in the process of getting a divorce from her husband, her ex-lover has announced his engagement to be married to another woman, and her elderly father has had a debilitating stroke. Despite, or perhaps because of, these personal issues, Selina becomes increasingly involved with Leal’s rather unbelievable account of the events leading up to the death of his young friend.
The story mainly constitutes Leal’s recounting his version of the events of his summer and involvement with a strange couple. He and his young autistic friend, Thuster, meet a beautiful young woman, Diana, who is married to a wealthy furrier. The two boys help her carry some groceries home and a friendship of sorts develops.
Leal is an unreliable narrator and neither Selena or the reader can tell what parts of his story are truth, if any, or if all of it is true. Is Thuster a real boy or is he a figment of Leal’s imagination? What has happened to Thuster’s caregiver, who also sometimes cares for Leal? Are the boys really friends with Diana and her husband, Saul, or it that all a lie? What happened to Leal’s father the night he died?
These are the questions around which the story line rotates. The book is beautifully written and it is impossible to know, as you read, what the answers to these questions are. Selina is also struggling and feels she is failing with this patient.
Selina is an interesting character with her poor self image and lack of confidence although she appears to be a competent psychologist. She is a bit confused about her relationships and does some strange things which are not unbelievable, just not well thought out. The more you learn about Selina, the easier it us to understand why her life is in such a muddle and why she is so perplexed by Leal. I thought Selina’s character was well drawn although I couldn’t understand her or relate to her reactions and actions. I ended up feeling sorry for her. Her short sightedness in all aspects of her life and projection of her internal conflicts and confusion onto her relationship with Leal contributed to the terrible situation she ended up in.
This book takes some very unexpected and interesting twists and turns, especially towards the end. A fascinating story with a great ending.
Here is another entry into the U.L.S., the Underground Library Society by Robbie Cheadle, a long-time member of this unofficial group. I am honored that Robbie Cheadle has written another entry–this one on The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.
To Robbie: thank you!
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a gothic novel written by Oscar Wilde and first published in April 1890.
The book opens on with painter, Basil Hallward, a sensitive soul, painting a portrait of a young man of extraordinary good looks called Dorian Gray. Basil’s friend, Lord Henry Wotton is observing Basil adding the final touches to the painting and comments that it is Basil’s best work.
Lord Henry takes an interest in Dorian, a remarkably good looking but shallow young man, and sets about influencing him with his believes that beauty and the pursuit…
This book is close to my heart as the 62 syllabic poems are all devoted to southern African wildlife and nature conservation. My intention with this book is to share information about African animals, birds, insects, and other creatures and to highlight their plight in the face of the Sixth Mass Extinction and climate change. This book also includes my short story, The Nutcracker, which also highlights these themes.
Do you rely on Earth for your survival?
Lion Scream is a graphic collection of poetry and prose. The book portrays the author’s experiences with South African wildlife and the growing impact of the Sixth Mass Extinction and Climate Change on the natural environment.
Lion Scream There is no jungle Only acres of smooth stumps There is no jungle No habitat, no food source Hopeless lion screams tonight
Editorial review of Lion Scream
“In this reflective collection of syllabic poetry, poet Roberta Cheadle weaves words, emotions, and images as she recounts her soul-stirring journey around South Africa in 2022. She highlights the plight of the animals in the face of the Sixth Mass Extinction, during a visit to Ukutula Lodge & Game Reserve. Lion Roar is a poetic and photographic roadmap to the heart & soul of South Africa with highlights about the increasing impact of global warming on humanity and the greater planet. A must read!” —Colleen M. Chesebro, Author of Word Craft: Prose & Poetry, The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry
I am grateful to Colleen from Unicorn Cats Publishing Services for her help with editing and preparing Lion Scream for publication. You can find out more about Colleen’s services here: https://colleenmchesebro.com/my-services/
Terri’s prompt for this week’s Sunday Stills is as follows:
This week’s Sunday Stills theme is “out of this world” which can be described as something extraordinary looking, food that tastes super-delicious, or things that might look otherworldly. My examples show images depicting things that are odd, cosmic, celestial, or a bit alien. Many are from my archives and have been shared before.
This prompt fits in beautifully with my new children’s book idea. Dinah in Chocolate Land is about Alice in Wonderland’s cat, Dinah, and her visit to Chocolate Land where meets several cats, all of whom have unusual adventures.
I must admit I am delighted this Vocal challenge came along as I’ve been meaning to start writing this new book for some time. This challenge gave me the inspiration to get started. The story will include a selection my my cake and fondant artwork which are all ‘out of this world’.
The Chocolate Land characters are also ‘out of this world’. Below are Sir Chocolate and the Roundy Twins, Professor Smartie, Sylvia the Alien, the Man on the Moon (made of cheese), four Moon Babies, a surprised Taylor Red, and on of the Nougat Clowns.
Here are a few of the Chocolate Land Homes:
I made Greg a hummingbird cake for his twentieth birthday last weekend. I used a new marbled cream cheese icing technique which came out very well.