Posted on March 7, 2014
Fools Gold is the first book in my Gold Rush series. The next book is the prequel to Fools Gold, set in Juneau, Alaska in 1886. It’s a novella, a quick read. We get to learn more about Ada’s and Tom’s background in this one. (You may recall they own the hotel across the street from Ellie’s pie tent.) We see how they meet, what brings them to Alaska, and what shapes their characters as young people.
Here’s a short excerpt:
Ada opened a trunk, and Stephen handed them a rifle and pistol and picked up a rifle for himself.
“Thanks, let’s go,” Jack said after he checked the chamber of the Winchester.
Tom looked at her a moment after pocketing the revolver. “Here we were headed to dinner, and –”
Ada shook her head. “No, this is important. Let’s go help China Joe.”
“You can’t come, you’re just a girl,” Jack sputtered.
“They’re our guns, aren’t they?” Ada took a pistol and started out the door.
Jack shook his head. “This is a job for men. You should go back home where it’s safe.”
Ada didn’t slow in her stride up the street. “I know how to handle weapons, maybe better than you do.”
“But what if it gets ugly?”
“I’ll keep an eye on her, you just worry about the others,” Stephen said.
Ada wanted to help as much as they did. China Joe was a nice man. He needed them right now.
“Look, they’re her guns, so if she wants to come she can,” Tom pronounced.
“Oh, all right, but she better not get hurt,” Jack grumbled.
Ada’s stomach tightened at the thought, but there was little chance of that, and she wouldn’t back down now.
Worth Her Weight in Gold now published by Prism Book Group! Buy it for 99 cents on Amazon today!
Posted on February 28, 2014
My office window looks out toward a raven flyway. Each day a little after sunrise and a little before sunset, ravens fly by on their way to work and back. From their nests in the foothills east of town, they fly to their scavenging sites. They spend their days cruising for roadkill, natural carcasses, human garbage, whatever food they can find. And they commute to work just like we do, mostly individually, sometimes in pairs.
I enjoy watching them fly by. Personalities shine through as some fly slowly and deliberately, some quickly. Some flap flap flap the whole way home, others flap and glide. A few have a gap where wing feathers are missing, but still fly well enough to get around. Sometimes I make up stories for them: that is a mating couple going back to their shared nest. That is a young male strutting his way through the sky. If it’s a slow day at work, I give myself permission to watch for several minutes, let their steady wingbeats slow down my heartbeat. Instead of walking meditation, it’s watching meditation.
I am so lucky to see these ravens every weekday. Hope you are enjoying your birds or other critters wherever you are. What interesting things can you see from your window?
Encore, first posted on February 17, 2012
Photo from Wikicommons, by Calle Eklund/V-wolf
Posted on February 21, 2014
Author Suzanne Lilly and I are swapping Gold Rush posts this week. See my appearance on her blog at http://teacherwriter.net and enjoy her guest post below:
Love, lust, and gold. They’re three of the most powerful four letter words in the English language.
Say the word “gold” and people will come running from all areas of the globe. The 1849 California gold rush brought hundreds of thousands of people to the area. Nine out of ten of those people were men.
Why did mostly men arrive? Once President Polk announced the gold discovery in California, everyone wanted to capitalize on it. Some men figured if they came out west, they would strike it rich and bring home a fortune to their wives and families. Women stayed home and waited while their men worked hard in the gold fields. Single men came out west, hoping to make a fortune and then move back east to live a life of luxury.
Reality hit them hard when they arrived in California. In the mid-nineteenth century, men didn’t bother themselves too much about housekeeping or cooking. Many of the miners didn’t know the first thing about creating hearty meals. They subsisted on rice and beans, in part because they were sturdy staples, and in part, because they didn’t have time to learn how to cook much else. Gold panning took up all their time.
Beans and rice, rice and beans, morning, noon, and night. “Beans and dishwater for breakfast at the Frenchman’s; dishwater and beans for dinner; and both articles warmed over for supper,” Mark Twain wrote in his journal.
At the height of the gold rush, a slice of bread cost $1. The price doubled to $2 if the bread was buttered. The price of a single egg could range anywhere from $1 to $10, depending on supply and demand.
Due to such a limited diet, many of the men came down with scurvy, even though there was an abundance of wild onion, garlic, and other vegetation they could have added to their three-legged pots. When they became sick or injured, they were ignorant of the folk remedies that could have saved their lives.
This is the world Lucinda Martin York lives in during 1849 in Gold Rush Girl. Lucinda’s mother was a midwife and healer, and she taught Lucinda the herbal lore that was handed down through generations of women. Lucinda finds herself in a unique situation. She is one of the few people who can take care of the sick and injured miners. She also knows how to cook, and she capitalizes on that by providing meals for which the miners are willing to pay top dollar. She hits a bonanza in business, but she struggles in love.
The man she falls for, George Arnold, hails from San Francisco. Like so many other men of his time, he thinks he’ll win in the gold fields. Lucinda and George team up to ward off thieves, fire, and danger as they work their claims. But when it comes to claiming their love, they discover it’s more elusive than finding the gold nugget that will make them rich.
Gold Rush Girl, Book One of The California Argonauts, is the story of a young woman, alone in the gold fields of the Sierra Nevada, creating a daring new life in a bold new land. Immerse yourself in the wild ways of the argonauts and their lust for gold in this new series.
Available now in print and eBook formats from Amazon, Smashwords,Barnes and Noble, and independent bookstores.
During the month of February 2014, use coupon code JS59J at Smashwords and receive 50% off the price of any digital edition.
About Suzanne Lilly
Suzanne Lilly is a teacher and a writer who occasionally takes time off to zipline in Alaska, teach in China, and traipse around Rome. She writes sweet stories with a splash of suspense, a flash of the unexplained, a dash of romance, and always a happy ending.
Sign up for her email newsletter to find out about upcoming books before anyone else. You’ll also get exclusive bonus materials and contests just for subscribers. One subscriber is chosen to win a $25 gift card each time the newsletter comes out. Sign up for my occasional newsletter
What reviewers are saying about Suzanne Lilly’s books
This is ultimately the coolest YA book I’ve ever read. You don’t have to be a teen to love this book!~~~LAS YA Reviews Long and Short Reviews, about Shades of the Future
The story had me smiling all the way through. It’s sweet, touching, a bit scary and nerve-wracking and ultimately satisfying. The romance is sweet, and this is a book that could be read and enjoyed by readers from the mid-teens on up. ~~~Books in the Hall, about Untellable
Find Suzanne Lilly online at these sites:
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Suzanne-Lilly/e/B006HY79IY
Author website: http://www.suzannelilly.com
TeacherWriter blog: http://www.teacherwriter.net
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5258804.Suzanne_Lilly
Twitter: @suzannelilly http://twitter.com/suzannelilly
Posted on February 14, 2014
The celebration of Fur Rendezvous started as the end of the trapping season, when fur trappers would come to town to sell their pelts and enjoy the benefits of town life for a little while. I imagine some festivities took place in saloons, but they trappers also enjoyed good food and the company of friends. It was a great way to celebrate the growing daylight and shake off the doldrums of winter. That tradition grew into the Anchorage winter festival of Fur Rendezvous (Fur Rondy for short) that is celebrating its 78th year!
Even if you haven’t spent most of the winter out in the boonies by yourself on a trapline, it’s the perfect way to blow off a little steam and have fun. Activities include sled dog races, outdoor hockey, a snow sculpture contest, outhouse races, snowshoe softball, and the running of the reindeer. If it’s Alaskan, quirky, or involves the winter outdoors, it’s probably on the list! There are also indoor activities, from the oyster shucking contest to the Native musicale to the Miners and Trappers Charity Ball, known for its outlandish costumes. The last day usually coincides with the ceremonial start of the Iditarod. This year, Rondy is February 21 through March 2.
I enjoy going out to a few events each week that Rondy is held. My daughter and I usually attend the Rondy on Ice figure skating show. And I plan to browse the Native Arts Market and the Great Train Show. Maybe I’ll attend the melodrama and throw popcorn at the villain. It wouldn’t be right to miss out on Fur Rondy!
To plan your own Fur Rondy adventures, see the official website at http://www.furrondy.net
Posted on February 7, 2014
Rachel Epstein, the Events Coordinator at the UAA Bookstore, is a good friend. Even before I was published, we daydreamed about me having a book signing event at the bookstore. When I got a book contract, those daydreams blossomed into actual ideas. Since Fools Gold is set in the Gold Rush, I could wear my Victorian clothes from my cowboy action shooting. We could have a display of fools gold and real gold. A former student is in a Country Americana band, so they could come and play old-timey music. Since Ellie bakes apple pies, we could have apple pie for our refreshments.
Now we’re having the party. And yes, all those things are included, plus a few more! It’s not just a book signing, more of a celebration of the book and my debut as a author, and mostly a party for family and friends. Of course, you’re invited.
If you’re in Southcentral Alaska, please join us at the UAA Bookstore Monday, February 10, 2014, 5-7 pm. We’ll have “music, food and frolic,” as Rachel puts it. Free parking for bookstore events, no purchase required, just come celebrate this moment with us!
Posted on January 31, 2014
I have two big writing projects now: the editing of my next Gold Rush book and the first draft of my Alcan Highway book. The two manuscripts are in totally different stages, and I’m trying to honor the process for each one.
Worth Her Weight in Gold is a novella I wrote last year, and the prequel for Fools Gold, so it’s the next book to be released by Prism Book Group. My editor Bev Haynes read it through and wrote editing notes, and I got them on Sunday. I took my time to look them over, then started making the changes she suggested. The most difficult one was dropping the first couple scenes and starting in another place. Deleting the pages was easy, but I wanted to add the pertinent information the reader needed. I had to figure out where and how to do that. Then there were typos to correct, repeated words to fix, that kind of thing, I find that when I’m revising, I do better to make short passes, not try to do everything in one session. If I take the time to look at it more than once, my eyes (or brain?) can see things they didn’t pick up on the last time. So I have to honor my process and let it happen instead of trying to do it all in an all-nighter. I sent Bev my next draft and now the ball’s back in her court–I assume we’ll go through several rounds before the book is ready for primetime.
The Alcan book doesn’t have a title yet. It is set in Skagway, AK and parts of Canada where the Americans and Canadians built the Alcan Highway. (It is how we got many supplies to Alaska, which we needed as part of the war effort.) I’m enjoying the 1940s. My weakness on writing first drafts is trying to fix each word and get it perfect, instead of writing the whole first draft first. If I let myself do that, then I get bogged down at the beginning of the book and it takes forever to finish it. So I am trying to stop that tendency, just let myself write bad pages knowing I’ll go back and fix it later. Once I gave myself permission to do that, I moved much more quickly. I ran it by my SCBWI critique group to see if I’m on the right track, but I’m going to keep moving forward on it. I’m now about a third of the way through the draft, and hope to finish it this spring.
As an English teacher, I taught the writing process: prewrite, write, respond, revise, edit. Now I am practicing those things in my own writing, and I have to honor that process. I can’t expect to write a perfect book the first time my fingers hit the keyboard. Thank goodness I have great people on my side–thanks to Bev and my critique partners for their help!!!
Posted on January 24, 2014
It’s easy for writers to fall in love with our characters, and like loving our children, writers love each character for different reasons. I obviously love my main characters, because I spend so much time with them and know them inside and out. But I also love my supporting characters. My favorite in Fools Gold is Billy Webster, Ellie’s younger brother.
I created Billy as a way to get Ellie to Alaska. I knew a decent woman would have a hard time traveling to the Klondike Gold Rush by herself, so Ellie needed a chaperone. Billy is the escort she needs to keep things proper, and he has to take her because she had qualities he doesn’t. Ellie is the brains and Billy is the brawn of this outfit, and they compliment each other well.
Billy is seventeen at the beginning of the book, a little green and inexperienced, but brave and willing to do anything to save the family farm and keep his sister safe. He is a caring, sincere person. He proves himself worthy several times throughout the book, and learns to solve problems and handle business affairs too. Billy stumbles a few times, as we all do, but his good side prevails. As he is growing physically and intellectually, he also forms a deeper bond with Ellie. Their sibling relationship becomes more of a partnership. Billy also becomes friends with Duke Masterson, and writing scenes where the three of them interact was a great pleasure for me.
I enjoyed watching Billy grow up in Fools Gold, and I hope you do too. Watching our characters grow is one of the rewards of the writing life.
Posted on January 20, 2014
Goals and achievements is the theme for this blog hop. Jacqueline Hopper suggested we write about “what a writer goes through to make the goal of writing a book and finishing it.” Last year, I wrote several posts about my journey getting Fools Gold ready and having it published. (It was released in December 2013.) My goals for 2014 are to repeat the process for the rest of my Gold Rush series! Fools Gold was the first, and Prism Book Group contracted for four more books. I’ve written a manuscript for each, but I need to do edits and revisions. So I have my work cut out for me in 2014.
The prequel, the novella Worth Her Weight in Gold (set in Juneau in 1886) is due to be released on March 7. Bev Haynes will be my editor for this book. She has the manuscript now and will be sending the editing notes soon. We need to have the final draft to our editor-in-chief Joan Alley by mid-February. So I know I’ll be busy with that process pretty shortly. I was impressed with my first book on how collaborative the editing process is, how much the editors helped me make it a better book. So I am excited to have that experience with this book as well.
After that, there are three more novels in the series, set in: 1900 Nome, 1906 Fairbanks, and 1916 Kantishna (near today’s Denali National Park). Their tentative release dates are in June, September, and December of this year. I know I’ll be pretty busy with editing and revising in 2014.
What does that look like for me on a daily basis? While the editor is doing her part of it, I am free to focus on writing new stuff (currently a novel set in 1942) and getting out there on blogs, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. to hang out with people and promote Fools Gold and myself as an author. Once I get my editing notes, I cut back on all of that and work on the manuscript up for revision, doing my best to fix errors, smooth out the bumpy parts, and whatever else the editor finds for me to do. That can take me from a few days to a couple weeks, depending on where we are in the process. My standard routine is creative writing in the morning, business writing in the afternoon. But if I have a tight deadline, everything “extra” in my life gets set aside–non-required writing put on hold, appointments and meetings rescheduled, time with friends put off–until the draft is sent back on time. Then it’s lather-rinse-repeat until we are all satisfied with the final product. Last time, I think we had five rounds of edits. We’ll see what it takes this time; I’ve been told by veteran authors that every book is a little different. I’ll be able to tell you more once we get going on this one.
Writing a book is a lot of work. Taking it through the process is even more work. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The dedication and patience is well worth it when you hold that book in your hands and people tell you how much they enjoy reading it!
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Posted on January 17, 2014
There’s one Alaska history book I am really looking forward to reading this year. You may be aware of Kate Carmack (Shaaw Tláa). Her husband George Carmack allegedly found the gold that started the Klondike Gold Rush. I’ve written about her on the History page on this website, and she’s been featured in several other stories and books. Deb Vanasse has been working on what may be the definitive book about her, Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Last Great Race for Gold. Vanasse has found information that rounds out the previously sketchy parts of Kate’s life, including unfounded reports that she may have been the person who really discovered that gold.
According to Deb Vanasse’s research, George Carmack filed the “Discovery Claim” and the Yukon Order of Pioneers and others gave him full credit for the find. But an unpublished report shows George Carmack admitting that Kate’s brother made the find, and other information suggests that Kate herself may have found the first nugget.
To make things even worse, George Carmack treated Kate badly, eventually abandoning her in California and denigrating her character. As Deb Vanasse puts it, “It’s like a country song. ‘Somebody done somebody wrong.’” Vanasse’s book will tell the real story, including the indigenous perspective that is all too often left out of our history.
Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Last Great Race for Gold will be released in 2014. More about the book:
•Illuminates the social, cultural, and economic tensions along the frontier.
•A counterpoint to the usual Klondike narrative of intrepid adventurers driven by gold
• 97,000-word manuscript includes ten black and white archival photographs, two maps, endnotes, a bibliography, an index, and an author’s note
•The author has lived and traveled for thirty-five years in the North. Her previous books are with Penguin/Puffin, Houghton Mifflin, Sasquatch, Globe-Pequot, and the University of Alaska Press.
For more about Deb Vanasse and the book, check out http://klondikekatecarmack.homestead.com.
Posted on January 9, 2014
And now for something completely different!
Sorry, no Monty Python reunion here. But today’s post is different than my usual ones. I’m introducing you to one of the most entertaining blog hosts around: I. B. Nosey.
I. B. Nosey is the creation of the talented author and blogger Miss Mae. You may have heard of her romantic mysteries, children’s book, and website http://www.themissmaesite.com. She is also known for I. B. Nosey and his “Feeling Nosey?” website. I. B.Nosey is an “official unofficial reporter” who interviews authors. He wears tacky blazers and always seems to get into trouble on his assignments. Think Inspector Clouseau with Rocky and Bullwinkle-style humor, and you’ll have the right tone for his posts. They are way more fun than most author interviews, and I am pleased to say that I am his newest victim, er, subject.
Read more and see my interview with I. B. Nosey at http://feelingnosey.blogspot.com/2014/01/lynn-lovegreen-hits-trail-with-ib-nosey.html