Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There's Gold in Them Thar Hills!

Hi everyone,
This post is going to be the first of a series about the Klondike Gold Rush which is the setting for my work-in-progress, ALASKAN HEAT.  I’ve found so many interesting facts about the era and the people that I thought it would make a great post. I hope you enjoy!

Yukon Territory 1897
The Klondike Gold Rush
The gold rush started in July, 1897 when two ships docked - one in San Francisco and one in Seattle - each carrying miners returning from the Yukon. The miners carried large amounts of gold and didn’t hesitate to proclaim great amounts of wealth was to be had in the Yukon. The press was alerted and papers carried the story to the masses – stories as ridiculous as gold nuggets lying just barely underground. * More on the reality in later posts.*
Soon, miners of all shapes and sizes – both male and female - called "stampeders", were on their way to the gold fields. Within six months, as many as 100,000 gold-seekers headed to the Yukon.
 Only approximately 30,000 completed the trip.
Most stampeders knew nothing about where they were going, so pamphlets were available to help them on their way. *Note: The United States was still in economic decline at this time, so the lure of money, much less a way to get-rich-quick made many leave or sell what little they had and head to Alaska. *
 Many of the pamphlets were pure fiction, some written by men who never even made the journey. But nevertheless, the pamphlets made outrageous claims of “easy” routes to the gold fields. Outfitters – both along the West coast and in Alaska - sprang up overnight that were more than happy to sell the stampeders whatever they needed to get started – most of the time at outrageous prices, especially the outfitters in Alaska. The supplies included food, clothing, tools and camping, mining and transportation equipment. Helping the outfitters in this regard were the Northwest Mounted Police who required all stampeders to have one year’s supply of goods before they allowed them across the border into Canada. *More about the different routes in later posts*  The supplies equaled roughly one ton of goods per person.
Here is a list of required supplies.
1898 Supplies
McDougall and Secord Klondike Outfit List (clothing & food):
2 suits heavy knit underwear
6 pairs wool socks
1 pairs heavy moccasins
2 pairs german stockings
2 heavy flannel overshirts
1 heavy woollen sweater
1 pair overalls
2 pairs 12-lb. blankets
1 waterproof blanket
1 dozen bandana handkerchiefs
1 stiff brim cowboy hat
1 pair hip rubber boots
1 pair prospectors' high land boots
1 mackinaw, coat, pants, shirt
1 pair heavy buck mitts, lined
1 pair unlined leather gloves
1 duck coat, pants, vest
6 towels
1 pocket matchbox, buttons, needles and thread comb, mirror, toothbrush
etc. mosquito netting/1 dunnage bag
1 sleeping bag/medicine chest
pack saddles, complete horses
flat sleighs
100 lbs. navy beans
150 lbs. bacon
400 lbs. flour
40 lbs. rolled oats
20 lbs. corn meal
10 lbs. rice
25 lbs. sugar
10 lbs. tea
20 lbs. coffee
10 lbs. baking powder
20 lbs. salt
1 lb. pepper
2 lbs. baking soda
1/2 lb. mustard
1/4 lb. vinegar
2 doz. condensed milk
20 lbs. evaporated potatoes
5 lbs. evaporated onions
6 tins/4 oz. extract beef
75 lbs. evaporated fruits
4 pkgs. yeast cakes
20 lbs. candles
1 pkg. tin matches
6 cakes borax
6 lbs. laundry soap
1/2 lb. ground ginger
25 lbs. hard tack
1 lb. citric acid
2 bottles Jamaica ginger
*This list found on Adventure Learning Foundation Site. http://www.questconnect.org/index.htm

Remember, all of this per person had to be hauled over a mountain range. That’s what we’ll talk about next time. J

Find out more about Jennifer

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Nature Inspired

One of my favorite things to do to help me relax or unwind is to enjoy the outdoors especially during the spring time.  The smell of budding flowers and spring rains bring about a sense of new beginnings but also a jump start into the creative writing world.

I find that taking a walk along a wooded area, stream, or within a quiet park often inspires me with a story.  My mind begins to wonder about the past life of a character I've been stewing over or even about the struggles my hero/heroine may be facing.  

It's amazing how stepping out for just a thirty minute walk or meditation in the sunlight can invigorate my creativity.  I'm not quite sure if it's the sun's rays or just the fresh air that awakens my subconscious.  Whatever it is, I believe it's definitely a simple; however, an effective way to rejuvenate a stalled story line or produce a new project. 

Even watching squirrels as they play can get my mind spinning about a fight scene between the hero and villain. The mating dance of birds also provide some stimulating love scene ideas for a story.  Yes, it's quite the show observing these detailed; yet, simple displays of nature within its own environment. 

So, does nature inspire your stories or stimulates your creative side?  Is there something else which gets your subconscious mind to take over with story ideas or plots?  I'd love to hear what's worked for you.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Fever

While this winter was milder than most, I still love watching a new spring appear. There's something about watching the grass turn green, the trees blossoming, the flowers blooming, the birds chirping, the frogs croaking, and the sun shining overhead. I love spring. I also love the thunderstorms that come with it. Not the violent, shake your house kind of storms, but the ones that are more bluster than harmful. The ones where the growl is worse than the bite. I love those type of storms with the full thunderclouds steadily moving eastward, the surprising cracks of thunder that make you jump and the kind of lighting that lights up the darkened sky. There's something about a good thunderstorm that makes you feel alive.

However, spring is also a time of new beginnings, not just for mother nature, but for us as well. Spring is a time to start new projects, explore new words, and conquer all of those things we have been putting off until tomorrow. So, I am hoping this spring that I can finally get my butt in gear and write more over the summer. I know, I say it all the time, but I think this year is going to be different (fingers crossed).

What is your favorite season? Do you get spring fever? What goals do you have for the upcoming summer?

Monday, April 2, 2012

What a Great Community

Monday, March 26, was like Oscar nomination day in the romance world. The Romance Writers of America announced the finalists in the RITA and Golden Heart contests. *Happy sigh* The excitement, the flurry, the tweets and Facebook statuses (stati?) blowing up with congratulations and heart-pounding messages. Even those of us who didn't have entries in these prestigious contests watched with obsessive anxiety, ready to congratulate or console our friends.

Speaking of...CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR VERY OWN ANGEL, CECILY!! She finaled in the Golden Heart, YA category.

What struck me as I watched my Twitter and Facebook feeds scroll at highway speeds was how supportive everyone was. While I should be used to it by now, it never stops amazing me. Perhaps because I've seen several writing communities become wastelands of trolling and mud-slinging. Or other writers (not romance) non-constructively rip an excerpt to shreds, because s/he "had studied the craft for years," despite never having published any of their work. I've also worked in offices with a lot of women, and within weeks, the atmosphere is replete with back-stabbing, gossip, and politics.

Not in the romance community. At least, not that I've ever seen, even at a national conference, where approximately 2000 women (and a handful of men) are in the same building for four days.

Instead, I've had readers offer to beta read my stories, for no other reason than they love to read. Published authors have offered to critique my work, with no expectation of anything in return. My first online forum was on the Eloisa James/Julia Quinn bulletin board, where I met some of the most amazing women, and Eloisa and Julia often answered questions themselves. Every day, there's a Twitter hashtag where you can go to get motivation to write in the form of a #1k1hr (1000 words in 1 hour) challenge. This one isn't all romance authors, but a lot of them are. Published and unpublished alike.

Some people question why Romanceland is like this, wondering if it's because we are all in a group sneered at by other genre writers. I'm not going to question it, though, and instead be thankful I belong to such a great group of people. They motivate, inspire, and encourage. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Where do you get your motivation? Do you belong to a group like this, outside of the romance community?