Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Figuratively "Into the Storm"

Been awhile, hasn’t it?

I’ve been working, and in trying to stay focused instead of working on three or four different projects at a time like I used to do, I’m focusing on this latest manuscript. Hence, I’m neglecting the blog.

But I’m excited about my latest work in progress. For some reason, when people hear “Canadian historical”, most groan, expecting the usual angst driven books that Canadians hail to the skies. I have always been a great fan of commercially popular books instead of the esoteric literature so much heralded in Canada.

I’m editing this one for about the third or fourth time. When I first wrote it, I intended it as a romance novel. However, when I read it over and did some additional research on the outbreak of WW1 and the impact it had on Alberta ranches and farmers, I found exciting and unexpected facts. It’s true what they say, that truth is stranger than fiction.

I’m now re-working it completely as historical literature, because this story is far too rich to be hindered by the romance formula. Yes, there may be a romantic interest (though that is not completely set yet and may change), but the unexpected turn in fortunes for the people of Western Canada take precedence over marketability, (sorry, future potential publishers). This is just a case of a story that needs to be told, since there is very little in the historical books and virtually nothing in fiction for this era.
Image that became, and continues to be, my inspiration for this novel.

Working title is “Into the Storm”, a tale based on fact a few months after the declaration and recruiting started for the army. A young woman is fighting to regain the farm her father almost lost through gambling and plain laziness, with the help of an elderly couple, refugee slaves from the Civil War via the Underground Railway fifty years previously. The newly married black couple were taken in by the young woman’s grandfather when they travelled west, after reaching Ontario, with a dream of having their own land, but instead stayed on at Spruce Haven farms. Now, fifty years later, they were old and unable to help young Cally Haven bring the failing horse breeding back to life. Cally is forced to seek help from a stranger who escaped the aggressive recruitment techniques of the local women, more patriotic than the soldiers themselves, how insisted all able bodied men join up, whether they wanted to or not.

Tom Booker is newly arrived from the south, formerly Calgary but spending the last few years working on a casual basis on various Montana cattle farms. Soft spoken, easy going, but always restless, he decided to take the non-paying job on Cally’s farm to escape being kidnapped into the army. Very soon, he realizes why Cally is failing; horses are quickly becoming a thing of the past, becoming more for recreation than work, and farming is being taken over by machines, replacing horse power. He tries to convince her than cattle farming is the ticket to prosperity, the army already putting out the call for more grains and meat stock to feed the fledging Canadian forces overseas and domestically.

Reluctantly, Cally agrees though inexperienced in cattle husbandry. Tom agrees to stick around long enough to help her set it up, and uses his former connections to get a start-up herd from his former, wealthy and powerful employer in the Calgary area. But now lies of the problem of getting them north with no capital advance to use the railway or other transportation. There is also the issue of no men of army recruiting age being left to help drive the cattle north back to Cally’s farm.

I won’t give any more away, but the solution is true to history as relayed to me by an old-timer I met, as well as quite unorthodox, and begins the epic adventure of one of the last historical, overland, large cattle drives during a harsh Alberta winter. It is exciting and thrilling, and I felt it even as I did the research for this. My problem lies in that there is a love story involved here, but I really don’t to do this as a romance. I don’t want the exciting and unusual aspects of this story edited out to follow the romance formula. So, I think I have made the decision to write this with a view towards literature with a romance element included.

**Note: I realize this write up is probably sloppy, but I wanted to muse aloud on this, since writing it down usually works to clear up confused thought, but I didn't bother to edit carefully, so forgive me. This entry is strictly self-indulgent.**

Now, on to the editing and re-writes, and excited to see how this goes.

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