Meals: A Big Part of the CCC Day

Food. Fuel, pleasure, and sometimes one more key helpful in unlocking a character’s life. Writing Hitch, I’d have missed something important if I hadn’t considered it. This is a story set during the hungry years of the Great Depression, and for young men signing up for hitches in the Civilian Conservation Corps, food–the three regular meals a day that were a staple of CCC life—was a big deal. In a folder at the National Archives regional facility … Read More

Heirlooms Can be Key in Unlocking Characters

The key into a character can be as simple as a sewing basket that goes unnoticed until something causes me to remember why I’ve kept it.  It belonged to my mother.  Her mother made it. Memories flood in—hours in fabric departments. Mom laying out a pattern.  Cutting, matching notches, pinning, fitting. Machine stitching. Marking the hem—Stand still!  Finishing and pressing.  Here!  Try it on! What do you think? Mom poured all of her talent—and love—into the things she made for … Read More

Using Photos to Jump-Start Writing

I begin writing by looking. Every book comes with its own set of possibilities and problems.  The right format must be found. Fiction must be reconciled with sometimes pesky fact. Elusive characters must be brought to life, and there is no one single best way to do that. More often than not, though, for me it’s a visual process. Working on historical novels like HITCH means I have to move from a 21st century mindset into the … Read More