Book: Cordelia's Journey (Pierce Family Saga Book 1) by Hazel Hartcategories: Book, American Frontier Life, Bleeding Kansas, Family Saga, Family Life, Kansas Territory, Coming of Age
Hazel Hartabout this book: Cordelia's Journey: From Idea to Book
Like all my novels, Cordelia's Journey is about family, but unlike my others, it is set in the past: 1855 Kansas Territory to be exact.
The idea of Cordelia first came to me at least thirty years ago when I visited Bent's Fort in Colorado. As I toured the buildings and read the history, I began imagining the daughter of a fur trapper going west to find the father she had never met.
What stopped me from writing the novel then? The research.
How and when did I manage to push the research obstacle aside? NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and Internet search engines.
In November 2011, I wrote a sizable portion of the book during NaNoWriMo. The fast pace made me shoot past all the research that needed to be done. Instead, I littered pages with notes in red that said "Research this" and kept on writing. I completed about a third of the novel that month and kept the momentum going by submitting chapters to a critique group while I wrote the remaining 50,000-plus words and did the research.
• The Middle
The middle of the writing process involves a lot of searching: for characters, events, and facts that add suspense and meaning to the story. Search engines led me to sites like Territorial Kansas Online where I learned about early towns and events along the Kaw (Kansas) River. I had no idea that steamboats once traveled that river. Yes, not for long, but they did make trips during the time period of my novel. While looking for characters, I became fascinated by itinerant photographers and added one to the book, the handsome Ryan O'Rourke, who demands perfection in his work. As research progressed, more characters developed.
Chapters were submitted to my critique groups, pages were edited, and finally, it was time to format the book for publishing.
• Final steps to publication
But wait! There was no cover. That's when friends stepped in. A full day in May was spent with writer friend B.J. Myrick exploring possible settings for the cover photo. After many shots, we had a place but not a person. That's when additional writer friends came forward. Vicki Hermes-Bond volunteered to be Cordelia, and Arlene Rains Graber took the photo of her. With a number of photos to choose from, Myrick, using Photoshop, skillfully inserted the picture of Vicki as Cordelia into the setting and made the cover.
After going through several beta readers and proofing cycles, Cordelia's Journey is ready for readers. But surprise, by the time I finished the novel, Cordelia wasn't heading west to search for her father (that will come in the next book in the series), she was heading east to enlist her Aunt Hannah's help in saving her mother's life.
Cordelia's Journey is a coming of age novel meant for anyone age twelve and over who enjoys reading fiction set on the nineteenth century American frontier.
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