Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Sunday in the Frederick News Post 100 years ago today section the following was printed.

June 28, 1909
Notice: My wife, Cecil Alice Fretwell, having left my bed and board, I hereby notify all persons that I will not be responsible for any debts contracted by her. JAMES B. FRETWELL.

This clip gives us little information in the way of details as to why Cecil Alice left her husband's bed and board. I assume this meant his home. Or did he literally mean 'his bed' and that she left him for good? He makes a public announcement that he will not pay for anything she might need while she is not under his roof. . .no food, clothing, housing, etc.
Quite extreme for the day. In fact there were laws in place that said a husband could not neglect his wife's welfare.

As a writer I imagine this story, brief as it is, on two accounts. One, Cecil Alice may have been an awful wife, perhaps unfaithful, lazy, a poor cook and housekeeper, frigid, unkept. Or maybe she was a constant nag. The Bible says in the Book of Proverbs, 'a continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.'

Obviously she was unhappy in her marriage to James and decided to leave him. Did she leave him for another man? Could that have been the reason James announced he would not pay for any of her debts?
Did she go home to her family?

On the other hand, perhaps James was a real fiend, an abusive husband. Perhaps he was controlling, demanding, and punished her when she would not 'obey' him. He may have denied her simple necessities in life. Maybe James was having a few flings of his own and Cecil Alice said enough was enough and walked out on him.

I'd like to give Cecil Alice the benefit of the doubt. Due to the fact her husband would be so unkind as to advertise to the entire county he would not pay for her debts since leaving him, makes me think he was did not love her and cared little what would become of her. If he did love her, he would have been searching for her, and doing all he could to convince her to come back home. But his advertisement says otherwise. Can you imagine her walking into an establishment to buy a meal and being denied because her husband will not pay up?

What do you imagine about this newspaper advertisement?
If you were to use this in a story, what would you write?
In your narrative, how would you describe Cecil Alice's flight?
How about Jame's anguish or anger?

Time is Short

(What's outside my window. A night sky that is covered with stacks of gray clouds threatening rain.)

The release of Surrender the Wind is one month away. Readers who have preordered will likely receive their copy in the mail by mid-July.

It's been a fantastic experience preparing for the launch of this novel, and I've been blogging about it's journey from contract to release so that prepublished writers can get some idea of what the process entails.

Book trailers are the 'thing' nowadays. I'm the type of gal who likes to think outside the box. I created a trailer a while back, but the other day I had the idea to make a trailer that is an endorsement video with quotes from writers who have read the ARC. It turned out pretty well.

You can view it on my Endorsement page on my website at

Monday, June 22, 2009

Past Experiences

(What's outside my window: A gloriously sunny day.)

Writing historicals is my passion, and with it comes a love of history. Indeed it is vital to have a knowledge of history, and research time and place, custom and culture, when preparing to write a work of historical fiction. But what I find the most fascinating is not dates and details, but events that happened in the lives of the people in the past.

As I've mentioned before my local newspaper posts events that occurred 20, 50, and 100 years ago. Can you guess which time grabs my attention? Did you guess the 100 years? You are right if you did.

Today this was posted, and it is something I will keep and use at some point in the novel I am writi
ng. It is sad, but it has a certain romantic air about it that grabs the heart. In our time, life is fast paced. We are taught to 'move on with our lives' when we lose a loved one. We haven't time to truly grieve. Society says that there is more to life than love. Money. Entertainment. The daily struggle to gain more and more, and we end up missing out on the things that really matter. Love. Devotion. Marriage. Children. Faith. These are the things that truly matter. These are the things Christian writers write about.

June 22, 1909 Striken by the hot rays of the sun, Martin B. Eyler, a well-know Civil War veteran of Chambersburg, Pa., formerly of Frederick, fell across the grave of his wife in Cedar Grove Cemetery at Chambersburg yesterday and expired before aid reached him. Physicians pronounced death due to sunstroke.

(This is not really their photo. But I imagine they would have been like this...clothes, gown, hair. And notice how he has his arm across her shoulder and she is holding his hand. A couple in love no doubt.)

It must have been a very hot day. I can imagine the sky was cloudless and the sun beat down as the cicadas whirled in the trees. Perhaps it was in the afternoon when the heat would have been the strongest. Perhaps he had walked to the cemetery, or rode horseback.

It had been 44 years since the Civil War had ended. There is no mention of Martin's age but I'd say he could have been anywhere over the age of 55. Try to imagine his love was so deep for his beloved that he ventured out on a hot day to her grave where he knelt and then expired. It is very sad, but is it not moving?

How would you use this newspaper clipping in your writing?
If you were to write a scene, what elements would you include?
What name would you use for his wife?
How long had they been married?
How many children did they have?
Did she die in childbirth or was it scarlet fever?
Was it really sunstroke or was it a broken heart that took Martin?
Did he leave a fortune behind or was he so poor there was nothing left by his legacy?

Friday, June 12, 2009

This poem gives me pause to think of the value of motherhood, it's rewards and joys. I thought I would share it with you today and say 'blessings on you that are mothers, wives, daughters, and friends.'

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, is the Hand that Rules the World

Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy's the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother's first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow—
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky—
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

William Ross Wallace ~ 1865

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Inside a Writer's Toolbox

Yesterday, I thought about all those older people who do not have the Internet or order anything online. My mother has a lot of senior friends that have asked her about the release of 'Surrender the Wind'. I could send each of them a nice note. But then a better idea came to mind. Postcards.

I went to my Abingdon Yahoo Group and asked if anyone knew of a good online printing company. Sure enough two of my Abindgon sisters came through and suggested Overnight.com You can design your own stationary items, or use what they have. I chose the first.

I designed a postcard with the book cover on the front with a greeting and a brief synopsis. On the back I put "Published by Abingdon Press ~ August 2009" at the top. At the bottom I put an endorsement and my website.

Surrender the Wind
portrays a haunting world of passion, deceit, and betrayal redeemed by unwavering faith and love that will not be denied.
J. M. Hochstetler ~ author

I ordered 100 and it only cost about $21 which included shipping.
I also designed a stunning business card. A pink rose to the left, my name, then 'author', and my website in to the right in a beautiful italic font. Again 100 for about $21.

Even if you do not have a published novel, a writer should have business cards. If you write a blog, include it on your card. Start building a readership now. Don't wait until you have a book contract. If you can tell a publisher you have a contact list of X amount of readers, they will be pleased.

If you are pre-published, what kinds of things are you doing to build a readership?

If you are published, what kinds of tools do you use to reach people who are not Internet prone?

Eight more weeks left until the official release of 'Surrender the Wind'!

August 1

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Making of a Book Trailer - Part I

This summer I am posting a series of articles about creating book trailers. Part I is up on Stepping Stones Magazine for Writers and Readers.



Reviews are coming in for Surrender the Wind.

Interviews are being posted and scheduled.

The Book Expo was recently held in New York City. Regional sales manager for Abingdon Fiction, Bryan Williams said the Abingdon booth was 'slammed' with traffic on Friday and hundreds of attendees picked up galley copies for some of their releases.

Only 8 weeks until the Launch!