7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Longhunters

One cannot read colonial-era stories for long without finding mention of the longhunters—or long hunters, depending upon the writer. But just who were these people?

Only known portrait of Daniel Boone during his lifetime (1820)
The era of the longhunter probably starts with the expedition led by Dr. Thomas Walker in 1750 along the frontier of Virginia, into what is now Tennessee and Kentucky by way of Cumberland Gap, who reported on a land of unbelievable richness, with buffalo and beaver and all kinds of other game whose hides and pelts brought a great deal of money out East, and in trade to England. It wasn’t long before various parties of men followed, venturing into the wilderness for “long hunts”—expeditions that, like Walker’s, could last from several months to more than a year. The most famous of the hardy (some might say foolhardy) men who set out on these hunts was Daniel Boone, but he was by no means the only one.

The era reached its peak during the 1760’s. Up until that time, politics between France and England, and resistance from native tribes, kept most from venturing west. Tensions were bad enough during the French and Indian War, and at the close of that conflict in 1763, King George made it essentially illegal to hunt west of the Appalachians without a trading license. The vast majority of hunters ignored his proclamation. One accounts says that Daniel Boone himself did not make his first trip west until 1769, after a visit by English trader John Finley, but others say his first long hunt was in 1750. I'm inclined to believe the latter. Boone’s adventures included capture by the Cherokee and Shawnee, having his pelts confiscated, probable adoption as a native, returning home after so long that his wife had given him up for dead, and the later loss of a son to Indian attack. None of this deterred him from making the hunting grounds his eventual home, and persuading others to join him there.

Other notable longhunters included James Harrod (for whom Harrodsburg, KY is named), Simon Kenton, Elisha Walden (also called Wallen/Walling, for whom Wallen’s Ridge at Cumberland Gap is named), Abraham and Isaac Bledsoe (yes, from the same real-life family I used in both Defending Truth and The Cumberland Bride), and Benjamin Cutbirth (almost certainly a mispronunciation and subsequent mispelling of Cuthbert).

1852 painting of Squire Boone Crossing the mountains
By the time the American Revolution ended, the heyday of the longhunter had passed. The unbelievable abundance of game across Kentucky and Tennessee had thinned considerably, probably less by hunting than pushed westward by the rising tide of settlers. And so the explorers and adventurers went further west, as well. In the process, the Boones and Bledsoes left a trail across Tennessee and into central Missouri of both place names and descendants.

More reading:

William Blevins, Long Hunter
Daniel Boone (and at Wiki)
Simon Kenton
Longhunters (at Wiki)
Bledsoe's Station in Tennessee

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

1000 Posts - The Best of Colonial Quills

"My dear, are you finished penning your article for Colonial Quills?"

Celebrating 1000 Colonial Quills blog posts!!

In Colonials America stone markers were set up along the way to show the miles along the road. Today we are putting up our own milestone marking our 1,000 blog post here at Colonial Quills!

We have gone through a lot of virtual ink and quills during our 7 year journey of blogging. During that time our Quillers have written many wonderful articles about our country's Colonial heritage. We've shared about life in 18th century America, brought you along on our research trips, and told you about our experiences writing Colonial fiction. We've also celebrated our many book releases during our famous Colonial Quills tea parties which our dear readers have been our honored guests! We've had over a million page views on our blog. In honor of this milestone, here are the top ten posts of all time.

We hope that you'll take some time to peruse some of these highlights.

Do YOU have a particularly favorite post from our archives? What type of posts do you enjoy reading best? Please post it in the comments.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Writing Active Historical Fiction

A long-time reader of historical romance, I grew up in the literary fiction tradition. I dreamed of penning the next epic novel, a thick tome fortified by months of research, rife with details, and paced like a golden afternoon in the Victorian countryside. I scribbled many notebooks full of stories. I attended journalism school, where I learned AP style. I almost got my dreamed-of story published right out of college. Almost.

Rare post-college pic of me & the hubs
Life happened. Marriage. A job in public relations. Two daughters. Multiple moves. Editing, desktop publishing, and magazine writing from home. Then, I reached for my book writing once more. A novella came out, then a series. Yea! I was on my way. Wasn’t I?

Progress screeched to a halt as editors, publishers, and agents relayed shocking news. Writing had changed. I almost fainted when I got back my first manuscript marked in the unfamiliar track changes setting. The comments spoke an unsettling language.

Publishers like formulas, not rambling forever; scenes, not snapshots. Avoid information dumps. Start with the action. Cut the adverbs. Cut the unnecessary details. And most of all, don’t write in passive voice! What? My default setting? But wasn’t that my voice, an embodiment of old-fashioned-sounding historical fiction?

As an author, and then an editor myself, I began to open to the New Ways. Because who doesn’t want to read a historical where you can smell the horse lather and hear the gun go off in your ear and feel the swish of silk against your skin? Even stories designed as those golden afternoons in the Victorian countryside rather than nail-biters should immerse us. Here are some tips and tricks I learned to help write historical fiction with an active, rather than a passive or stagnant, tone:

       Ask yourself if each scene advances the plot by showing the reader something new, either internally or externally.
       Where possible, yes, change passive voice to active. (Her purse was stolen by someone. –to– Someone stole her purse.)
       Show with verbs and adjectives rather than telling with many adverbs. (He ran quickly and sneakily. –to– He darted.)
       Delete unnecessary speaker tags, or change to beats of action. (“I’m Sandy,” she said, flipping her hair. –to– “I’m Sandy.” She flipped her hair.)
       Search and rewrite instances of “she/he thought-felt-wondered-saw-heard-noticed.” The reader knows your character is the one doing these things.
       Use deep point of view rather than a narrator’s voice. (If Sandy is our third person heroine, and she and her friend are walking, say “they walked” rather than “the girls walked.” Relate only what Sandy would see/feel/hear/think, not what others would. Keep us in her head.)
       Add historical details rather than vague generalities (i.e. tell what type of dance, dinner service, car, dress, etc.). Here’s where your level of research shows, but keep it concise.
       Use sensory details to create historical setting—smell of wood smoke or leather, sounds of a particular song (name it), touch of a particular material or a pinching corset. Part of expanding deep point of view.

Writers, what helps you create fresh, active historical fiction? Readers, are there particular titles that do a great job of this? What are your pet peeves that fizzle out historicals? 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Fortress America: The Forts That Defended America, 1600 to Present -- Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Fortress America: The Forts That Defended America, 1600 to Present
By J. E. Kaufman and H. W. Kaufman
Illustrated by Tomasz Idzikowski
Da Capo Press, a Division of Perseus Books Group (hardcover 2004, paperback 2007, now available in ebook, also)
416 pages

Publisher's Description:

From the earliest colonial settlements to recent Cold War bunkers, the North American continent has been home to thousands of forts and fortress structures. Seacoast forts were the nation's primary means of strategic defense from the 1790s until World War II. Almost every seaport on both coasts had at least one fort to protect it at one time or another. Inland forts were built to defend against attacks by Native Americans, or to defend against the English, the French, or the Spanish. So many forts were built-most in the 1800s-that there are few places in the continental United States more than fifty miles from a fort location. Yet, despite their prominence and importance, there has never been-until now-a single volume devoted to American forts and homeland fortification defense.As in their previous and very successful books, experts J. E. and H. W. Kaufmann include never-before-published photographs, extraordinary drawings, cut-aways, and diagrams to illustrate Fortress America.

IF you have a FORT in your story you WANT this book!!!

-- Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

This is a great compendium with some limits that I will address. What it does cover are the main forts in America with great illustrations and explanations of the forts. I was looking for specific forts and their information and I found limitations. Given that this is a book touching on so very many forts and locations, the reader is not going to get in depth information.

There is a great deal of narrative history that attempts to illustrate the uses of forts in specific instances. And there are many nuggets of information contained in those passages. However, the reader should look at this as an encapsulated overview. There is an extensive bibliography in the back which allows the reader to pursue further information from the original source.

About a quarter of the book is from the colonial era to American Revolutionary War era. This is one of the few books I've come across that had comprehensive information about forts. In the back is also a glossary of fort terms, which is handy. Having grown up near a couple of re-created forts in Michigan, I've heard much of the life at colonial forts. Don't expect that from this book. As the title says, these is more about the fort's defensive purposes.

I'm glad to have this book in my research library. I will say for researchers of specific forts, such as those put up for settlers in the backcountry of America during the French-Indian War, you're unlikely to find them in this compendium. When doing further research for my novella, "Shenandoah Hearts", in The Backcountry Brides (Barbour, Mary 2018) I happily stumbled upon a book referencing Fort Holmes, where one of my ancestors was born. It was in an Indy published book from an author local to the region where the fort stood. And for specific forts that have been re-created, some of the best books can be found in the museum's bookstores.

Recommended for: Serious writers who have fort settings in their books across time frames in America. Also, military historians should enjoy this book.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Colonial Quills Blog SEVEN YEAR Anniversary Party!

Welcome to our SEVENTH Blog Anniversary on Colonial Quills! Pull up a chair and we'll pour you some tea!

Welcome from the Ladies of CQ!!!


Founder of Colonial American Christian Writers and
Administrator for Colonial Quills Blog, Author Carrie Fancett Pagels
Since our last blog anniversary, I've been delighted to release My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring which received an RT Book Reviews Top Pick. I've also had novellas in several collections from Barbour: Seven Brides for Seven Mail Order Husbands, The Captive Brides Collection, First Love Forever Collection and the latest--with stories from our Colonial Quills members--The Backcountry Brides Collection! I've had two books go into large print hardcover with Thorndike Press! I was blessed to be a finalist in the prestigious Holt Medallion contest for my Early American novella set in Virginia -- The Steeplechase.

Colonial Quills Blog Designer, Author Carla Gade
 I can hardly believe its been SEVEN years that we've been blogging here at Colonial Quills! Since that time we've been bringing our readers gleanings from our historical research from Colonial times. We've covered a lot of miles through the years and a lot of years through the miles!! We hope our passion for Colonial history has shown through. Since we started blogging, the Quillers have penned almost 1,000 articles. We will have a special post coming soon when we hit that milestone! We would be remiss if we did not extend our gratitude to Mistress Carrie, our founder, for bringing us all together! I'm blessed to have been along on this journey for these seven years. Since then I've had ten books published including my two colonials Pattern for Romance and Colonial Courtships (which was repackaged in the American Dream Romance Collection.) I'm currently dreaming up new stories!

Roseanna M. White
What a joy it's been to be a part of this wonderful blog since its inception! Seven years? Wow, the time has flown by!! Seven years ago, I was rejoicing in a contract from Summerside/Guideposts for my first Colonial-era book (and my first book published by anyone but my own company), Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland. I've now re-published it as A Heart's Revolution and have a total of 21 books either published or under contract. I've been so blessed to work with my dream publishers--Harvest House, Bethany House, and Guideposts--and to grow the publishing company my husband and I founded as well, WhiteFire Publishing. And all along the way, I've known that Colonial Quills was here to celebrate with me, teach me new things from these other amazing authors, and let me share some of the fun tidbits I'd learned, too!  

GIVEAWAY ~ I'm happy to offer a paperback to a US address or digital to an international reader of one of my early American novels (A Heart's RevolutionRing of Secrets, or Whispers from the Shadows)

Author Shannon McNear
I joined CQ back in 2013, after receiving my first publishing contract for the novella Defending Truth in A Pioneer Christmas Collection. I've had a lot to celebrate since then! That first novella was nominated for a RITA® award, then two more novella contracts (with a summer in between spent caring for my mother, who passed away that following winter) and after 35 years of writing novel-length fiction, a totally out-of-the-blue opportunity for my first full-length, which releases in October. (The Cumberland Bride, #5 of Daughter of the Mayflower, Barbour) I also have had the honor of signing with two amazing agents, first with Susan Brower and then two years ago with the stellar Tamela Hancock Murray. I'm a blessed woman to be part of this group!

If you're a Patriot, you might wish for us to pour you
 some COFFEE rather than TEA! Simply let us know!

Author J.M. Hochstetler
Joan, AKA J.M. Hochstetler, was one of our original founding members of the Colonial American Christian Writers group and a Colonial Quills contributor and we're glad to have her back contributing.

Author Pegg Thomas
Pegg Thomas is both an author and an editor. This past year has been a busy one with her duties at Lighthouse of the Carolinas as Editor. And she's been busy publishing books, including her contribution to The Backcountry Brides Collection, The Pony Express Romance Collection and A Bouquet of Brides Collection -- all from Barbour Books. She started as a guest post on CQ in 2012 and became a montly contributor in 2015. She's giving one U.S. commenter a paperback copy of A Bouquet of Brides, which includes her story, In Sheep's Clothing.

Author Janet Grunst
Last May, the first story of my Revolutionary War trilogy, A Heart Set Free won the Selah Award for Historical Romance. The sequel, but stand-alone novel, A Heart For Freedom was contracted by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and releases October 1, 2018. I'm currently working on the third story as well as a Highland novella. I have learned so much from the other Colonial Quillers and it has been such a delight to be part of the Colonial Quills Team. (CFP: Janet was another original member of Colonial Quills!) GIVEAWAY: One copy of A Heart Set Free by Janet Grunst will go to one commenter. 
Author Denise Weimer
Wow! A lot has happened in my writing life since May of 2017. This picture was taken on my daughter's graduation day, when I signed my contract with Barbour Publishing to take part in the Backcountry Brides Collection. Through that venture, I gained an amazing agent, Linda S. Glaz, of Hartline Literary. About the same time, I signed a contract to edit historical manuscripts for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I consider these three happenings a trio of blessings God, bestowed through my author friends at Colonial Quills blog.

Author Debra E. Marvin
Hello dear friends! I've been a contributing member of Colonial Quills for well over five years. I'm always impressed with the attention to historic detail our team uses in their blog posts. I so enjoy being part of a group that shares a love of colonial history and Christian fiction. As a special #GIVEAWAY treat for our anniversary, for anyone who is interested, please nominate (in a comment) a friend who has not read the Backcountry Brides collection and I will read through the comments, gather the names of you and your nominee, and randomly choose one winner of a paperback. (Ends June 1, 2018 9pm)  Thank you to all of my fellow contributors and the very supportive and faithful readers here who mean so much to us! Besides my time here, I host book reviewers on my group blog Inkwell Inspirations, and I'm published with WhiteFire Publishing, Forget Me Not Romances, Journey Fiction and of course, Barbour Publishing.

Author Christy Distler
Greetings to all! I've been with Colonial Quills for about three years now. I started doing guest posting while researching for a historical novel, then moved to a more regular posting schedule. I may be the only member who's not yet published as far as historical fiction, although that will be changing soon (more to come about that!). When not writing fiction, I edit for three CBA publishing houses as well as individual authors. Being part of the Colonial Quills family has been wonderful, and I thank all our readers!

Author Angel K. Couch
I've only been along for the ride for the last two years, but what a great blessing Colonial Quills has been to me. Not just the amazing facts posted here every week, but what a great group of women to spend time with! This past year has seen the release of the first half of my Revolutionary War series, including The Scarlet Coat and The Patriot and the Loyalist. Lots of anticipation for this fall when book three, The Tory's Daughter makes it's debut!

Author Susan F. Craft
Susan F. Craft is the author of Women of the American Revolution Trilogy which includes: The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia. She also authored a Writer's Guide to Horses which assists authors who want to write about horses in their works. She's been a member of Colonial Quills from the beginning. She'll be back posting again on the blog in the autumn.

Author Elaine Cooper
I  suppose the old adage of time flying when you're having fun is true—especially when you've been a part of such a lovely group of ladies as I've been with here at Colonial Quills! Although I've not been a regular contributor to CQ in the last year or so, I've maintained my connection with this awesome group of writers. I've been so busy, I hardly know where to begin.
My last release was Saratoga Letters, finalist in the Selah Award for historical romance. My first 4 Colonial American Books are Road to Deer Run, Promise of Deer Run, Legacy of Deer Run, and the Selah award winner, Fields of the Fatherless. I am in the middle of writing a 4-book series entitled Dawn of America. This historical romance series is set in Connecticut during the American Revolution. The first two books are complete and going through editing.
I want to thank all these wonderful CQ writers who have enriched my world with friendship and knowledge. I also want to express my gratitude to all the many readers who peruse the pages of our historical novels—and keep requesting more. You readers are a gift to authors! :)

Aren't our bloggers "CHARMING"?
We've got a giveaway of a sterling silver Quill charm for one of our Seven Year Jubilee Anniversary Guests!

Author Vicki McCollum

Author Gabrielle Meyer
Author Tamera Kraft
Colonial Quills Reader/Reviewer Tina St.Clair Rice

Author Cynthia Howerter


Some of our original members:

Colonial Quills Writing Team meeting at ACFW Conference September, 2011, Janet Grunst, Gina Welborn, Roseanna White, Rachel Wilder, and Laura Frantz

Some of our Colonial Quills contributors have come and gone in the last seven years, but we appreciate what they contributed to the blog!

Author MaryLu Tyndall

Author Lisa Norato
Author Rita Gerlach

Author Kelly Long
Author Dina Sleimann


GIVEAWAYS Be sure to leave a comment on Monday's review post for a chance to win a copy of The Backcountry Brides Collection with stories by eight of our authors! And leave a comment on THIS party post for another chance to win a copy of The Backcountry Brides Collection with autographs by Shannon McNear, Denise Weimer, and Carrie Fancett Pagels.
Winner's choice of one of these books by Carrie: My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring, Seven Brides for Seven Mail Order Husbands, or The Captive Brides Collection. 
One copy of A Heart Set Free by Janet Grunst.
Winner's choice of A Heart's Revolution, Ring of Secrets, or Whispers from the Shadows by Roseanna M. White
A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas, paperback copy to one USA resident winner.