Trains and Sandstorms of the 1890s

While I’ve been working on Camp NaNoWriMo (slowly, but surely is my motto this month!), I’ve come across some interesting research that I thought I’d share! This novel is Book 2 of my Colton Fen series, and takes place in the 1890s. My characters first have to take a train from western Texas to New Orleans, which at the time took 3 days. (If you want to see the detailed research I had to dig up for that calculation, check out my post on Maps and Trains of the 1880s,probably one of the most popular posts on this blog).

Here’s a quick run-down:

  • Traveling on an Emigrant Train, 1879 – Omg, is that David Thewlis I see on the side there?
    David_Thewlis RobertLouisStevenson
    No, it’s just Robert Louis Stevenson, the same gent who penned Treasure Island. (Maybe I’ve been watching too much Harry Potter lately? Nah!) It turns out he also documented his train ride from Chicago to California to be with a married woman ten years his senior who he was madly in love with. He talks about the newsboy, who goes around selling books, fruit, lollipops, and cigars on the trains. He ended up being given the nickname of Shakespeare. Most notably he talks about the difficulty of bathing on the train.

    There he knelt down, supporting himself by a shoulder against the woodwork; or one elbow crooked about the railing, and made a shift to wash his face and neck and hands-a cold, an insufficient, and, if the train is moving rapidly, a somewhat dangerous toilet.

    I was looking for details on how toilets were used on trains, but this was the closest I got. Certainly quite useful all the same, and it makes me glad for the conveniences we have today.

  • 3 Ways to Survive a Dust Storm or a Sandstorm – Now you might think that sandstorms don’t happen in western Texas, but you would be very wrong. In fact there’s video of one that just happened a couple of years ago.

    Oh and here’s a photo from one rolling into Midland, Texas in 1894. It’s terrifying just seeing it from inside a building with glass windows. I can’t imagine what it must have been like back then.
    Sandstorm_MidlandTexas_1894Either way, it can’t hurt to know how to survive one of these things, right? Oh and those people driving in the sandstorm still probably didn’t read the section about how to survive when you’re in a car. They’re a rare occasion in Texas at least, thank goodness.

These are just a couple of teasers on the sort of things I’ve been writing about!

Hostages and Regrets

Look at that, I’m finally getting some words in on Book 2 of the Colton Fen series. Going at a far slower pace than what I would prefer, but I do at least have somewhat of an outline to go along with this scene. Seems like every time I sit down to write on this story, I can never get more than 500 words or so done. A far cry from the 2k/day I did back in November on this same piece. I tell myself it’s due to the story coming to a close, and that all the strings of storylines have to coalesce, but really I think I just need to be more disciplined with my writing. If I were writing every day, or even every other day, and doing 500 words at a time, I would be fine with that. Instead I end up writing maybe twice a week, which just isn’t working.

Eastern-Redbud_1In other news, we picked up a couple of trees for the yard at the City Hall tree give away yesterday for Arbor Day. They were the smallest of the trees being given away, but some of the cuter ones I think. We’re going to put them on the side of the house next to the road, to assist with blocking noise from the cars. I’m sure it’ll take a while for them to get big enough to do much good though. Right now they remind me of Harry Potter wands. Aren’t they cute though? We really do need some color in our yard.

Well on to word metrics!

Project: Smoke & Witchcraft

Summary: My trio of protagonists (a werewolf, a half-vampire, and a sharpshooter) head to New Orleans to investigate a series of unexplained abductions. So far this pulpy paranormal will have plenty of banter, a slew of fistfights, undercover operations that fail miserably, battles of magic, a necromancer seductress, a coven of witches with a bad rap, and a ton of zombie alligators. Also I plan to toss the damsel in distress idea on its head since both guys will likely need saving. Oh, and did I mention awkward romance?

Current Word Count: 58,295

New Words Written Today: 514

Progress: Rennick’s love is held at gunpoint. What the hell is he going to do about it? I guess he picked a bad time to have an emotional breakdown. Now he’s just kicking himself for it.

Total Words for 2013: 3,177

A Witch’s Workshop

Got some writing in today! My first writing for the year and it took me over an hour to churn out. Not exactly my best pace, but I haven’t touched this piece in a few weeks. Oh the holidays, totally throwing off my writing groove.

In other news, the Christmas Tree is finally down. We learned the woes of untangling lights from a pre-lit tree though since one of the strands went out. I think next year we’re going to just put the lights on ourselves. Way less trouble that way. Part of the entire strand went out and as we looked through, we counted at least 10 bulbs that were all blown on the strand. Looked like some kind of power surge. Either way, taking that strand off the tree was more difficult that you would expect. I kind of wish I’d taken a picture of all the annoying plastic pieces that were holding wires onto the tree branches, but I was just happy to be finished. I’m pretty sure my hands and fingers are going to be sore for the next couple of days. Thanks a ton, tree!

The bad part is that we still have the middle and bottom sections of the tree that we need to remove lights from at some point. I guess they’ll just have to wait until next year when I feel like dealing with that mess again. If only they had sold trees that weren’t pre-lit when we were picking up ours a couple of years back. *sigh*

Anyway, here’s an update on the writing for today. Not too much, but better than nothing.

Project: Smoke & Witchcraft

Summary: My trio of protagonists (a werewolf, a half-vampire, and a sharpshooter) head to New Orleans to investigate a series of unexplained abductions. So far this pulpy paranormal will have plenty of banter, a slew of fistfights, undercover operations that fail miserably, battles of magic, a necromancer seductress, a coven of witches with a bad rap, and a ton of zombie alligators. Also I plan to toss the damsel in distress idea on its head since both guys will likely need saving. Oh, and did I mention awkward romance?

Current Word Count: 56,178

New Words Written Today: 1,060

Progress: What exactly does a witch keep in her workshop? Mary and Colton are about to find out. Colton also wonders how the Agency is going to take the fact that Mary is traveling with him, and how long he can keep it a secret.

Total Words for 2013: 1,060

What does blue mean exactly?

After dealing with a short hiatus after NaNo, I finally got back to writing today. I had tried a couple of times over the last few days, but I think my brain just needed a break from the material. I’m not quite back up to the 2k/day speed I had before, but I’m still pretty pleased with today’s writing. The plot has split into two directions, so it takes me a bit to figure out where it will be going next. I always tend to slow down as I try to wrangle the characters together for the final scenes, but it’s getting there. I know in my head what direction it needs to take, it’s just getting the cast to do what I ask. 😉

In one scene today I had Rennick change into his baby blue suit that he loves (he wears it quite a bit in Book 1), and I thought of this.

https://i1.wp.com/i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff319/lenaf007/author_englishteacher.jpg

Sure Rennick is rather depressed, and he’s been dealing with some heavy revelations from some other characters, but that is his favorite suit and he doesn’t always wear it when he’s depressed. He’s about to go traveling, and he wants to look nice and give himself a bit of a confidence boost. I did mention he’s a little arrogant, didn’t I? He’s kind of into unusual fashions for the time. I guess when you’re a half-vampire you can get away with that a bit more.

Here are the latest word metrics!

Project: Smoke & Witchcraft

Progress Bar:
52113 / 80000
65.14%

Summary: My trio of protagonists (a werewolf, a half-vampire, and a sharpshooter) head to New Orleans to investigate a series of unexplained abductions. So far this pulpy paranormal will have plenty of banter, a slew of fistfights, undercover operations that fail miserably, battles of magic, a necromancer seductress, a coven of witches with a bad rap, and a ton of zombie alligators. Also I plan to toss the damsel in distress idea on its head since both guys will likely need saving. Oh, and did I mention awkward romance?

Current Word Count: 52,113

New Words Written Today: 8,460 (Last Post), 1,565 (Today)

Progress: Seems like the whole world has decided to gang up against Rennick, or least it feels that way to him. He’s not exactly the kind of guy to deal with it well, so he throws up his hands and gives up essentially. Though it doesn’t seem like that will be the end of it.

Total Words for 2012: 165,126

And the winner is…

Feels good, man! After failing horribly last year at getting my NaNo completed, it sure does feel good to mark this one off my list. This is the second NaNo I’ve completed this year if you include Camp NaNo. It’s amazing how having a deadline and constant statistics to look at helps improve my wordcount and my writing regiment. So here’s the progress report:

You can definitely tell when I got sick at the beginning of the month and had to play catchup after that. I felt like I was always under par for the rest of the month, but I just kept on working on it. Smoke & Witchcraft is far from being completed, but I sure do feel like the finish line is closer than it was at the beginning of the month. It’s at least halfway completed if not over that, and it feels amazing. I was a little unsure about participating in NaNo this year, but now I’m glad I did.

I think I’ve gotten more writing done this month than I have the last three months combined. 😛

Thanks to all of you for your encouragement! Without all the helpful blog comments and the r/nanowrimo reddit board, I don’t think this would have been possible. 🙂