Madame Death

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Like Flesh, Like Knife

I am currently working on 1877. It feels good to be in a new decade, especially after spending nearly a year working on just the Civil War years.

When I briefly lived in Tennessee for 13 months and then Florida for another 2 months, I can say from first hand experience they were still fighting the war. The Civil War Re-enactors had become an American art form.

I had the privilege of watching the re-enactment of the Battle of Franklin at Carnton. It was as authentic as anything I had ever seen in my life. It was better than any Ted talk. We were given the opportunity to step back in time and watch the Union army just mow down huge swaths of the Confederate Army - and it was all executed on their turf. It was a devastating blow.

From the Carnton website:
“The majority of the combat occurred in the dark and at close quarters. The Battle of Franklin lasted barely five hours and led to...

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Where Flies are Born

I took a few days off of working on the book to ink posters and today I am back at it.

The main working date for the book starts around the beginning of 1800 and ends around 1910-ish, but there are moments when it does venture into the 1700s.

I thought about putting the 1700s section in chronological order, but it is only a few paragraphs and is only used more as an introduction of the topic before that topic Itself becomes much more prominent in the rest of the book. So about a hundred plus years.

I am currently on the second draft and today I will be heading into 1875. That is how close I am and then the third draft! Third draft is the one I have been waiting for, the cutting, the bludgeoning, the re-arranging again and again and again.

It feels like I am finally able to put all those 15 years of research and writing into one long chronological story. It has been an odd journey...

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Unquiet Undark Undone

My husband and I have been in self-quarantine since February, and in October, it will be eight months. My husband plays music to help keep himself grounded, and me, I feel compelled to write. From the moment I get up and after I eat, I am at my writing desk until it is time to go to bed. So, about 15 sometimes 17 hours.

A lot of it is just keeping track of where everything is and where everything needs to go, there is just so much here. Moving photos around in my two clouds to line up with what is on my Scrivner has been a challenge, it is like a map of my book and sometimes I think, oh fuck. Where did I put that? So a lot of my time is not necessarily writing, just a lot of moving blocks of type around and matching up my cloud with what is happening on my Scrivner.

Today I am in a section where I am dealing with not one but five historical events that all occur within the same...

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The Between-Times

I feel like I am sitting in an airlock chamber waiting for the mothership to land and then we can emerge. What will be there waiting for us in the After-Times? As of this writing, I have been under self-quarantine since February.

I read about the Virus in January but it was on March 10, 2020 when I realized things were no longer the same. I took a marking pen and wrote that date on my writing desk, to remind myself that this date is far, far more devastating than 9/11 ever was.

On March 10, I actually felt like the Universe had shifted and we were now experiencing a brand new paradigm. The same thing happened when Windows 5 first went on sale, and the moment everyone had access to their own personal computer, the world changed forever.

Add social media run by nefarious companies into the mix and what we have is a Grade A dystopian nightmare. I wake up every day and I still can’t...

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It Has Arrived

The Rainy Season has begun.
Weeks of smelling the smoke of burning trees and the ashes of dead animals, I woke up this morning to the smell of rain.

The smell of rain falling on dry streets and soil releases that incredible, intoxicating scent called Petrichor. Every year I count the days until Rainy Season. The weather forecast says there will be rain all week.

It is still hazy and smoky here, and I’ve been obsessively checking the weather and air quality. The PM2.5 is 189 and still unhealthy. But at least I can see the blue blinking light sitting out on the Columbia River again. Hopefully the rain will tamp down the fires and wash away the smoke along with all the other situations that are related to the fires.

Music: The Face in the Woods by Nym

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A Bed Full of Bones

A few months ago I moved a huge section to the second book and but then ever since, it didn’t sit well with me. Every day I would wake up and wonder if I should put it back again or leave it.

So last week I realized yeah, I did want it back again after all, but it was going to take a while to get it all sorted out, which meant going back to the beginning and figuring out where it all should go.

Well, I finally put it all back and after a few tense moments of having lost my way a few times, it all worked out just perfectly. I am feeling quite chuffed.

There is one writing gimmick that I absolutely abhor, and that is the cliff-hanger and then falling into a flashback sequence.

When this happens, I press my lips firmly together and start feeling like what was supposed to be an enjoyable read has now turned into extra work filled with end-notes, foot-notes and note-taking to compare...

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Soft Words Break No Bones

Last week I ended up moving a huge section back again. I thought it would go in the second book, but now I realize it can only go in the first book and the more I have been chipping away at it, the more I realize I should have left it the way it was.

When I am working, I have a folder called DELETED even though nothing is actually deleted, it is just moved to a Word document titled 1Deleted, 2Deleted, 3Deleted, etc.

I realize I delete things and then have to put them back or I wonder did I imagine it, and where the hell did I put it, only to find it in the delete folder. When I first started, I was actually really deleting stuff and to this day, I regret deleting this one paragraph that I found in a 19th century paper.

No matter how much I’ve searched for it, it is like it never even existed and sometimes I lie away at night thinking about that paragraph that I wish I had not...

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As Subtle as a Crowbar

About five years ago, very subtle things started happening and I am starting to wonder if this happens with other writers, when you get the feeling your subject is helping from beyond the grave.

For no other reason except on a whim, I got this idea for my second book and decided to research something else that was not associated at all with the subject of my first book.

I was poking around on eBay and found a twelve Issue set of a 19th century magazine that I wanted to use for research for my second book. After a quick search, I couldn’t see any other issues of this particular magazine title anywhere, it was like it didn’t even exist. Nothing from sold or end of auction.

When the magazines arrived, they were more than perfect, they were exactly what I was looking for and as I was casually flipping through the pages, I stopped. I could not believe what It was I was looking at. I felt...

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Silver Hairs are Death’s Blossoms

When I got up at 2 a.m. to get to work, I heard the rain on the leaves outside my window. The “Rainy Season” where we live starts around late September and doesn’t let up until April, sometimes May. But first we just have to get through the jagged months of June, July, August and September, which is just ten days away, so. There is a slight chill in the air, I can feel it coming. I get emotional thinking about the smell of Autumn. So close.

Whenever I hit a plateau, I make sure to stop and take a break, to help replenish my writing brain. I took a break and inked three new posters from a new astrology series I am working on. They are already penciled, I just need to ink them.

I keep inking until I start to get anxious about writing, and then I stop inking and head over to my writing area and I feel so much better. Rinse, repeat. They both compete for my time, when I work on one, I...

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No Rose Without a Thorn

When I was compiling the list of places I wanted to research for my book, I felt an underlying sense of panic, like everything was going to be bulldozed tomorrow and I needed to get to these places yesterday.

Research Dates:
First Trip
August 18-23, 2015 - New York City

Eight Months Later
April 12-19, 2016 - Washington D.C.

Five Months Later
September 22-27, 2016 - New York City

A Year Later
September 2017 - The Battlefields

  • September 14-15, 2017 - Gettysburg, Pa
  • September 16, 2017 - Fredericksburg, Va
  • September 17-19, 2017 - Richmond, Va

A Year Later
September 18-25, 2018 - New York City

A Year Later last year
September 18-24, 2019 - New York City

September 24, 2019 was the day we left the BeforeTimes New York - trying to leave was like trying to run with legs made of wet noodles. There was a sense of foreboding and urgency. New York City felt really dark this time around.


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