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The Locket Saga


 

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Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812

 

This month we have gone over how I will be developing plot, primary characters, and secondary characters of the yet unnamed novel that I will be writing this November for NaNoWriMo in November. Now we are going to discuss the other main aspect of a book and that is setting.

What I know About the Place and Time

In a screen play, the setting and time are separated, but in my novels, I combine the time with the setting. In my yet unnamed book, I know my setting and that is Erie County, Pennsylvania in 1812 through 1815. I grew up in that county, so I know the terrain. The difference, of course, would be how man has changed certain aspects of the area and how people did things differently back then. The trees were old growth trees, some so big that it took two men to put their arms around them. The house I grew up in had been built around 1860 from old growth timber. The sawn lumber produced wide boards and you could see the two-man saw marks on many of the marks the handsaw made in at lumber. The stairs going up to the second story was and is still held together with square-headed blacksmith nails. It is not hard to imagine going back a few years further and imagining before when the houses were log cabins built using the same two-man saws and wooden pins holding puncheon logs together.
At the time, the growing villages of Erie and Waterford were starting to develop into sizable communities. Some of the homes in the area were already built as stick rather than log houses. It is a little-known fact that in Erie at the time, street lamps were already using natural gas to light up the muddy village streets.
A ship yard had been developed in early. During the War of 1812, President James Madison ordered the construction of a naval fleet at Erie to regain control of Lake Erie. Shipbuilders Daniel Dobbins of Erie and Noah Brown of New York led construction of four schooner-rigged gunboats and two brigs. Oliver Hazard Perry arrived from Rhode Island to command the squadron. His fleet successfully fought the British in the historic Battle of Lake Erie, which was the decisive victory that solidified United States control of the Great Lakes.

In addition, wild animals still prowled the area. Families worked hard and the fear of Indian attack was still a possibility.

The Back-drop for Character Activity

These pictures of life in this part of the Great Lakes Region give a back drop for the characters and events that I develop in this book that I plan to write in November. In the meantime, I have two other books to develop and ready for publishing as well as eleven other books to promote. I will let you know more about this book after I finish the first draft in November.

Read the Locket Saga

The Locket Saga 5 books

Have you read the books of the Locket Saga? In the first book: When God Turned His Head, Kanter starts the tradition by giving the locket to Drusilla. From that time on, the Locket was passed down from bride to bride. Join the Tradition, read the books of The Locket Saga and discover what all the fuss is about.
Available on Kindle https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007SM23IK
Available in Print http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown

More from Cygnet Brown

Also read my guest blog post on Pam Young’s Blog

The Journey of a Self-Publisher is Paved with Good Intentions (5)

https://skatingthru2012.com/2018/05/27/i-could-find-ways-to-make-things-happen-on-my-own/

 

 

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The Plight of the Unnamed Crew Member

galaxy quest

The Crew of Galaxy Quest with the unnamed crew member on the far right back of picture

Last week we discussed the main characters which include the protagonist, antagonist, and the love interest (Haven’t Read it? Here’s the Link) In addition to a protagonist, antagonist, and love interest, there are other characters in the story and these are called secondary characters. What you don’t want for secondary characters is what I call the “unnamed crew member” in other words, you don’t want too many of those people who are only there to serve the protagonist and antagonist. If you’ve ever seen Galaxy Quest, you’ll probably remember the plight of the unnamed crewmember is vaporized at the beginning of the episode to indicate that the idyllic planet that they were on was not so idyllic.

Secondary Characters are Not Just Props for the Main Characters

It is too easy to use secondary characters as simple props for the main characters. You wouldn’t want someone using you for their own gains, and I don’t think that secondary characters like being used that way either. Therefore, just as you develop the protagonist, antagonist, and love interests, you want to develop their sidekicks as well.
So how do you do that? To develop secondary characters, I create character sketches and work to get inside of their heads.

How to Develop a Character Sketch

A character sketch is a document that tells the physical, emotional, mental and social aspects of a character. It takes you from telling about the character and actually getting inside of his head.

What goes into a secondary character’s sketch? To create a character sketch, you want to have a number of things that you know about this character. First, you want to know a little about this person’s physical appearance, but you want go a little deeper than what color hair, how tall, and the color of their eyes. Does this person have any scars? How did he or she get it? Was the protagonist or antagonist there when it happened? Do they have any other physical defining characteristics? Did he or she have an illness as a child or older that caused other physical defects, limps or whatever? Does this person have any bad habits like smoking or drinking too much? How does this person relate to the protagonist and antagonist? If the protagonist is controlling, how does the sidekick relate? Does he feel intimidated? Does he resent the main character’s control over him? What is his or her history with the protagonist/antagonist/love interest? Have they always known one another or how did they meet? What kinds of things did they do together in the past? The more well-rounded you can get your secondary characters, the more well-rounded your story will become.

Read the Locket Saga

The Locket Saga 5 books

 

Have you read the books of the Locket Saga? In the first book: When God Turned His Head, Kanter starts the tradition by giving the locket to Drusilla. From that time on, the Locket was passed down from bride to bride. Join the Tradition, read the books of The Locket Saga and discover what all the fuss is about.

(Have you read Book III of the Locket Saga: A Coward’s Solace? If not, a copy May 22-28, 2018 at a discount.)

Available on Kindle https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007SM23IK
Available in Print http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown


prince madoc

Every story has its main characters. The protagonist is the good guy and the antagonist is the bad guy. In a romance novel there is also the love interest.

The Protagonist

I think the protagonist will be Joseph McCray, Elizabeth and Phillip’s youngest son. He is very much like his brothers and sisters. He is like his mother in that he likes adventure, so he goes with his Cousin Jonathan Mayford to Erie to work at the shipyard building the Great Lakes Fleet.

The Antagonist

If you haven’t noticed, most of The Locket Saga series does not have a lot of antagonists per se. If there could be an antagonist in most of the series, it would be the environment or perhaps the friction between the future bride and groom. Even the two books that are coming up, Two Rivers and Sunrise on the Mississippi don’t have any other antagonist than the environment and the struggle preventing the couple from being together. It is not that I don’t think they are good stories. I do, but I want to change that for the book that I write in November. I want to include a real villain.

In The Anvil, I put James in as a pseudo-antagonist where Robert thought that James and Judith had a love relationship, but that was an illusion. For this story, I want a real antagonist. Perhaps I could have a British spy set out to destroy the Niagara. This person could be someone who has an interest in the protagonist’s girl who finds the other guy charming, or maybe not. I will have to keep you guessing throughout the book. Don’t you think?

The Love Interest

So, who should this love interest be? If she is anything like the other female love interests of the series, she is a hardy female. No matter what situation she finds herself in she can handle the situation and the man at her side. She is sure of herself. She doesn’t accept the female stereotype of fragile female. Not even Lowri, the noblewoman of Sailing under the Black Flag, was able to stand up for herself.
The girl of this story also probably lives at the port in Erie. Imagine a girl living in a town along one of the Great Lakes knowing that at any time, the enemy, who’s territory is just across Lake Erie, could invade the secluded town. This, of course is just how I see this story might unfold. I won’t even be doing the character sketches until October.

Read the Locket Saga

The Locket Saga 5 books

Have you read the books of the Locket Saga? In the first book: When God Turned His Head, Kanter starts the tradition by giving the locket to Drusilla. From that time on, the Locket was passed down from bride to bride. Join the Tradition, read the books of The Locket Saga and discover what all the fuss is about.
Available on Kindle https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007SM23IK
Available in Print http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown


the enemyHave you ever wondered what it takes to write one of the books in the Locket Saga? Because each book is part of a family dynamic, I already have the already in place for the characters, I must decide the plot. In determining the plot, I first decide what events I want to cover in the book.

Research Begins with Curiosity

I get inspiration for my books from actual history. I like reading history and our country is rich in history that we never are exposed to in school so its easy for me to find a story that I want to share in future stories of the Locket Saga.

Setting Up for Future Stories in the Locket Saga

In Book VII of the Locket Saga, Two Rivers, I decided that I wanted to have two of the cousins Isaac Thorton and Andrew Mayford go down the Ohio River with Meriwether Lewis as he forms the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Isaac goes up river with the expedition. I had been curious to know about the details of the expedition and was fortunate enough to find an online site that not only told the adventure from one view point, but from the viewpoints of numerous members of the expedition party. The plot for this book, not only sets up this story, but also the plot for the next book which I have the first draft written called Sunrise on the Mississippi where Andrew becomes the first person to pilot a steamboat down the Mississippi. By sending Andrew down the Mississippi into Natchez, I am setting set up a southern branch to the family in preparation for the saga continuing through the Civil War.
The book after that will be the book that I will work on next during NaNoWriMo. I am not exactly sure yet what the plot will be, but I have some ideas from history for developing this plot. I have decided that the story will happen during the War of 1812. There’s a lot of cool history for the part of Pennsylvania where the families were living. There’s the fact that Chief Cornplanter comes out of the woods and no one is certain whether he is at this point a friend or an enemy because during the Revolution, the Seneca were on the side of the British. There’s the fact that Jonathan Mayford had been on a ship during the Revolution and that many of the young men of the revolution were the heroes of the War of 1812. The fact that he knows something about ship building from his father and that his relatives don’t live that far from Erie, Pennsylvania, port where battles on Lake Erie originated was, makes Erie a great setting for the story.
So, I have a lot of subplot material, but I haven’t yet determined yet who will get the locket, or the love story involved. This is what I need to develop before including it as a blog post. This needs more development. This I will show how this will develop during the next blog post.

The Locket Saga Series

The Locket Saga 5 books

 

Have you read the books already published in the Locket Saga? In the first book: When God Turned His Head, Kanter starts the tradition by giving the locket to Drusilla. From that time on, the Locket was passed down from bride to bride. Join the Tradition, read the books of the Locket Saga and discover what all the fuss is about.

 

Available on Kindle https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007SM23IK

Available in Print http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown


Little Africa 1

Not much left to see, but in the early 1800s this was the location of what became known as “Little Africa”.

In my research for the Locket Saga, I have found numerous amazing historical accounts of African Americans in America’s early history. In honor of Black History Month, this month, I have been sharing some of the accounts that I found from our history and how they relate to the Locket Saga series. This week’s subject is different because I discovered something that had been right under my nose since I was a little child, but of which I had never heard of until recently.

The Underground Railroad

little africa 5.jpg
Of course, I learned in grade school that the Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th-century enslaved people of African descent in the United States in efforts to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The term is also applied to the abolitionists, both black and white, free and enslaved, who aided the fugitives. There is evidence that some of my ancestors may have been a part of this underground railroad or at least knew of it because just a few miles from where I grew up there had been an African American community still known by the locals as “Little Africa”.

End of the Rails: Little Africa

little africa 2
I learned about this place a few years ago, when my brother and I were having a conversation and he brought up the name “Little Africa”. I asked him what it was, and he told me that it was on Jackson Hill which was less than ten miles from where I grew up.
I learned that this was a community of free and escaped blacks. All I could learn from history was that this community was established in Spring Creek Township, Warren County, in Northwestern Pennsylvania prior to the Civil War where fugitive slaves were welcomed on their journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
Before 1850, African Americans who had escaped freely lived in that community where they built homes and established crops, not only to eat, but to sell in the market place. However, it makes sense that there are few written accounts of this place. The locals and the escaped slaves wanted to keep it secret so that slave hunters would not be able to locate the fugitives. After The Fugitive Act became law in 1850, that all changed. African Americans could no longer live anywhere in the United States without fear of being sent to southern plantations. Even Free blacks were often kidnapped, their papers destroyed, and sent south to unscrupulous slave traders.

little africa 3
Because of this new law, African Americans fled across the border into Canada because the British government (which Canada was a territory) outlawed slavery. The community was abandoned as a permanent settlement, but the story of “Little Africa” did not end there.
The blacks who crossed the border, continued to help other slaves escape north by maintaining “Little Africa” as a place of refuge. Former slaves who escaped north in the spring would plant crops that the slaves in the summer would cultivate and the slaves of the autumn months would then harvest. This provided slaves who went through there in the winter and those of the following year with sustenance.

Special thanks to Jan Bemis and Diane Miller for the photographs they took on their Facebook group “Wanderlost”!

Read the books of The Locket Saga

Though the Little Africa story is not currently part of The Locket Saga, I do plan to include Little Africa in a future book in the series. It will take me a while to write that book, but if you get started on the rest of the series now, maybe it will be published by the time you get to that book in the series.

The Locket Saga 5 books
In print at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown
On Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076ZSK5PB/ref=series_rw_dp_sw


The William T. Johnson Story

 

plantation house

Longwood Plantation, Natchez Mississippi

In my research for the Locket Saga, I have found numerous amazing historical accounts of African Americans in America’s early history. This month in honor of Black History Month, I want to share some of the accounts that I found from our history and how they relate to the Locket Saga series.
Up to this point in this Black History Month series, I have focused on characters that I already included in the books of The Locket Saga. This week’s focus is William T. Johnson, was a free African American barber of biracial parentage, who lived in Natchez, Mississippi. He will be a prominent character in a yet unwritten book in the series.

Johnson’s Early Years

Johnson was born into slavery sometime in 1809. Because his owner was also named William Johnson, many historians believe that this man may have been his father. William Johnson, the elder, emancipated the young man in 1820. His mother, Amy, had been freed in 1814 and his sister Adelia in 1818. Johnson trained with his brother-in-law James Miller as a barber, and began working in Port Gibson, Mississippi. He returned to Natchez, where he became a successful entrepreneur with a barbershop, bath house, bookstore, and land holdings. Though a former slave, William Johnson went on to own sixteen slaves himself. He began a diary in 1835, which he continued through the remainder of his life. Also in 1835, he married Ann Battle, a free woman of color with a similar background to his. During the following years, they had eleven children. Johnson loaned money to many people, including the governor of Mississippi who had signed his emancipation papers.

Johnson’s Murder

Johnson was murdered June 17, 1851 after a boundary dispute, by a mixed-race neighbor named Baylor Winn, in front of Johnson’s son, a free black apprentice, and a slave. Winn was held in prison for two years and brought to trial twice. Johnson was such a well-respected businessman that the outrage over his murder caused the trial to be held in a neighboring town. In that town no one knew Winn, so they didn’t know that he was half-black. Since Mississippi law forbade blacks from testifying against whites in criminal cases, Winn’s defense was that he was half-white and half-Native American, making him white by law. The defense worked, none of the witnesses because of their color could testify, and Winn escaped conviction.

 

William_Johnson_Museum

William T. Johnson Museum in Natchez, MS

Johnson’s diary was rediscovered in 1938 and published in 1951. It reveals much of the daily life of a 19th-century Mississippi businessman, including the fact that he was himself later a slaveholder. His papers are archived at Louisiana State University. Through an act of Congress, the home of William Johnson became a part of the Natchez National Historical Park in 1990.

 

 

 

 

Read the books of The Locket Saga to find where this story will fit

In print at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown
On Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076ZSK5PB/ref=series_rw_dp_sw


james-forten1

This month I am commemorating Black History Month and this week I am featuring James Forten. As I was researching history regarding Book IV of the Locket Saga, Sailing Under the Black Flag, I came across this amazing man and included him as a major character in the book. I hope you enjoy our second week’s focus for Black History Month.

James Forten was born on September 2, 1766 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was born a free black man. Over the course of his lifetime, he made significant impact upon the fortunes of the American capitalist system and the livelihood of his contemporaries.
He was the son of Thomas and Sarah Forten and was the grandson of slaves. He grew up in Philadelphia and attended Anthony Benezet’s Quaker school for “colored” children. By the time he was eight years old, he was working for Robert Bridges’s sail loft with his father. A year later, his father was killed in a boating accident. This tragedy forced the nine-year-old James into the additional responsibility of supporting his family.
Forten’s Military Service.

During his early teens, he worked as a powder boy during the Revolutionary War first in the army and then on the ship, the privateer Royal Lewis. In Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag, he was powder boy for the protagonist Jonathan Mayford.
Most people don’t know that on privateer ships, every member of the crew from the captain down to the deck hands were considered equal. This equality on the Royal Lewis must have left a strong impression on James Forten because it certainly influenced his character.

Prisoner on the Jersey

Forten may have been raised free, but he could certainly empathize with the slaves who had come to America on slave ships.

As told in this fourth book of The Locket Saga, Forten was captured by the British and held prisoner on the Jersey a prison ship. As the story goes, Forten had arranged to be smuggled off the ship in Gustavua Conyngham’s trunk when he allowed Daniel Brewton, two years younger than he was, take his place in the trunk. It was not until March 25, 1782 that Forten was released.

He would never forget the smell of the prison ship. Years later, he was repairing a sail when he smelled that sickening familiar smell. By then, the slave trade was illegal and Forten threatened to press charges because he knew that the ship had been used in the slave trade.

Making His Fortune

After his mother nursed him back to health, Forten boarded the Commerce, a merchant ship. The ship went to London and he worked there for a year.
In 1785, he returned home to resume his previous job. Pleased with his work and dedication, Bridges appointed him to the foreman’s position in the loft.
In 1798 Bridges decided to retire, and wanted Forten to remain in charge of the loft. His desires were realized. Eventually James owned the business, and employed almost 40 workers.
James married Charlotte VanDive, a woman of Native American, African American, and European blood on December 5, 1805. In 1806, he purchased a brick house at Third and Lombard Streets. Charlotte gave birth to all nine of their children here. In addition to a good home, James ensured that each of them received a good education.

James Forten’s Legacy

James Forten newspaper clippingEventually, James Forten became interested in politics and avidly campaigned for and supported the issues of temperance, women’s suffrage, and equal rights for African Americans. In the year 1800, he was the leader in organizing a petition that called for Congress to emancipate all slaves. Given the fact that this was a presidential election year, rumor had it that a few of the presidential candidates (among them Thomas Jefferson) were none too pleased with a Negro man advocating for the emancipation of slaves. His activism was further recognized when he wrote and published a pamphlet denouncing the Pennsylvania legislature for prohibiting the immigration of freed black slaves from other states. Many consider him the “Father of the Abolitionist Movement.”
In 1817 Forten joined with Richard Allen to form the Convention of Color. In the 19th century Allen was the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Interestingly, the organization argued for the migration of free black slaves to Canada, but vehemently resisted any movement for a return to the African continent.
James Forten’s early years had been devoted to providing for his widowed mother. As an adult, he focused on acquiring a vast economic fortune and rectifying the brutal injustices that had been perpetrated upon his fellow African Americans, poor people, and women. He believed in liberty for all people and he fought against slavery and for equal rights all of his life. He died on March 4, 1842.

Read Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag and other books in The Locket Saga

In print at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown

On Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076ZSK5PB/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

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