Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pining Away in Pearl, Arizona

I'm writing chapter six of The Storm Women and finding myself drawn into the melancholy of Gabe Rafferty. He's such a love-sick guy, longing for a woman whose sights are set on the allure of the professional stage. This man continues to be so infatuated with Almanza that he's blinded to the love that's right in front of him. He's willing to wait forever if it means he can be with her for just a few weeks at a time between tours.

If you've read Charade, you already know about the ghost town of Pearl where Gabe Rafferty presided as sheriff back in the 1870s and 80s. Digging up his past and Almanza Storm's has been Star Lance's most recent occupation while she runs her antique store in Mineral City. Star, the protagonist of the Arrowstar series sells the historical fiction she writes as she attempts to make ends meet in this out-of-the way corner of Arizona.

I'm exploring as an actor might, the mind of the character, Star Lance. Looking at writing The Storm Women though Star's eyes is an exercise in fiction-writing times two! How would she construct dialogue, describe characters, and follow the threads of her research into the 19th Century? Since The Storm Women will be published under Star's authorship, I need to be true to her character.

I'm highly intrigued by what life might have been like for these women of the Storm family and others who peopled the western towns of Pearl, Tucson, Mineral City, Prescott, and the like during the late 19th Century. These women were more than brave, they must have had iron backbones to survive the times.

The west coast, of course, was settled first as pioneers came round by ship, but the interior was slow to civilization. Yet, there were actresses who managed theatrical touring companies, traveling on the back roads of Arizona through wild country rife with life-threatening dangers. What drove these amazing women? I hope you're anticipating the publication of The Storm Women so you can find out.

Today's pearl: I'm learning to "write on" even when I'm uncertain of the outcome. Words written when I'm wandering often surprise me at being just the right ones after all.

Write On!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Finding Out What You Never Guessed You Wanted to Know Circa 1879

Outlining The Storm Women from beginning to end has eliminated the "now what" question each time I complete a segment of the story. However, I've been tripped up when the places I've chosen for my traveling troupe of players to travel, in the outline, aren't even on the 1879 map! I gobbled up one whole writing day last week blundering around on the Internet trying to locate a town just a bit bigger than "two tents and a trading post!"

The following day, I stumbled upon Charleston, Arizona, with, among many other establishments, its fine hotel, four restaurants, a bakery, a post office, a lawyer's and a doctor's office, plus not one, but two livery stables. In 2014, Charleston and Millville, the town on the opposite bank of the San Pedro River, exist as ghost towns accessible only by shank's ponies. Things, and as I'm finding out, places do change mightily over the years, especially when the phrases "strike it rich" and "all played out" dictate the head count of a particular locale.

I may have spent time "blundering around" on the Internet, but in that process I discovered some treasure. The Arizona Citizen newspaper in Tucson, Arizona, from 1879 reports, on its front page, local stories of murder and mayhem, matters working their way through the territorial legislature, theater openings, and adverts for hotels, restaurants, and stores selling everything a miner needs to go prospecting right down to boots, shirts, pants and underwear.

Tucson evidently flourished toward the end of the 19th century, and the news stories of the day provide some rare candor and lively reading entertainment. It's worth joining just for the fun and fascination of reading some really, really old news!

I.O.U.: What if Apaches, highway robbers, deeply rutted roads and rattlers had kept our Old West ancestors from digging up fortunes in gold, silver, and copper?

Write On! Read On! Enchantment Awaits!