Posts Tagged With: Crickhollow Books

From Jubilation to Mourning

In Hattie’s War, Hattie and her family celebrate the war’s end with the rest of Milwaukee. Little did she know how quickly the joy would pass. The city was still decked out in red, white, and blue when the news came from Washington–President Lincoln had been shot and killed. Those who can remember President Kennedy’s assassination, or the days after 9/11, can imagine the grief and horror experienced by the people of Milwaukee when the news reached them on Saturday.

The Milwaukee Daily News for Sunday, April 16, 1865 headline read “The City of Milwaukee in Mourning.”
The appearance of our streets yesterday presented a sad and striking contrast with that of last Monday. Upon the receipt of the news of the fearful crime at the National Capital, the people were stricken with a paralyzing grief and horror. Men gathered together in little groups at the corners of  streets, and many wept while listening to the recital of, or perusing the dispatches. Never has such a deep gloom settled upon the people. So sudden and unexpected was the whole affair, that it seemed like a frightful dream, and people seemed to be in a [d]aze — loth to believe the report till the signature of Secretary Stanton confirmed it beyond doubt. The mayor, Abner Kirby, promptly issued a proclamation requesting the suspension of business, and that all buildings be clothed in mourning. The request was at once complied with. Flags upon buildings and vessels were placed at half-mast, and the solemn black and white drapery was hung out from very many buildings, reminding one and all of the sorrowful calamity. The whole of East Water Street was clothed in mourning — far different from the colors which were exhibited on Monday last. All business was suspended. There was no bustle, no activity. Men and women walked in silence, many bearing some emblem of mourning. No one but expressed sorrow and regret, and denounced the murderers. Less than one week ago it was our lot to chronicle one of the most jubilant celebrations Milwaukee ever witnessed, today one of the greatest reasons of mourning. May we in future be spared the latter trial.

In my last post, I mentioned that Colonel Buttrick had been put in charge of the celebration parade for the city. Here’s the rest of the story.

The Death of the President— The Funeral Ceremonies In Milwaukee
“The celebration of the nation’s victories, fixed for the 20th, is abandoned, and in its stead the people are called upon to pay tribute of respect to the memory of our chief magistrate, whose tragic death has filled us with horror, and whose loss to the nation has bound us together with the bonds of a common sorrow. The funeral ceremonies, consisting of a procession and orations, will take place on the day of the funeral of President Lincoln to be announced hereafter. Meanwhile, all associations, societies and organizations in the city are requested to report as soon as practicable, to the undersigned that they may be assigned a place in the procession. We have called upon those who have been and still are in the service, to rejoice with us. We ask them now to unite with us in our public manifestation of respect to the memory of one whom a nation honors and whom history will make immortal. Details will be published hereafter.
By direction of the committee,
E. L. BUTTRICK,
Chief Marshal”

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Categories: Civil War, Hattie's War | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Authors and Artists

Plank Road dolls needle-felted by fiber artist Kat Lutze

Plank Road dolls designed by Kat Lutze

Once a story has been read, the characters are no longer solely the author’s creations; they are continually reshaped by the minds of readers.

Recently my daughter Kat Lutze literally shaped the Plank Road Summer characters Katie McEachron and Florence Mather by needle-felting little dolls of wool roving, Katie with brown braids and a crimson dress, Florence with fair hair and a green dress.

When the dolls were posed with copies of our books for a craft fair in Union Grove, Wisconsin, I was reminded of another artist’s interpretation of the Plank Road characters. In 2009 Kathleen Spale sent several cover sketches to our editor Phil Martin of Crickhollow Books. As you can see here, one of those concepts looks startlingly like the photograph of those felted dolls.

An early cover concept sketch by artist Kathleen Spale

An early cover concept sketch by Kathleen Spale

Categories: On Writing, Plank Road Summer book, Plank Road Winter, Uncategorized, Wisconsin | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Back to the Writing Life

Emily outside the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison

One of our favorite places to write is Madison, Wisconsin, and one of our favorite places in Madison is the Wisconsin Historical Society.  On our Plank Road trip back in the summer of 2000, Emily and I made fascinating discoveries in the Historical Society archives.

After showing proper identification, stowing our belongings in lockers, and putting on white gloves, we were allowed to touch the artifacts in the Society’s collection of historical images.  We were so delighted with our finds–a wagon on a plank road, a tollgate–that we probably annoyed other less excitable researchers in the room.

Reading Room of the Wisconsin Historical Society

Now that Plank Road Winter is in the hands of our trusty editor, Philip Martin of Crickhollow Books, Emily and I are back in Madison working on our new book.  This morning while I attended my class at UW Write-by-the-Lake, Emily spent hours at the Historical Society transcribing a Civil War soldier’s handwritten account.

Over lunch at the UW Union we discussed our respective mornings and plotted the next phase of our writing project. Then we spent a quiet hour together in the beautifully restored Reading Room of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Life is good.

Categories: On Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Delights of Talking Shop

“One of your fans is here.”  That’s what an old college friend said to me at his fiftieth birthday party.  Don introduced me to eleven year-old Taylor, who had read Plank Road Summer.

I figured that asking “Did you like the book?” would risk a quick end to the conversation, so I said, “Who was your favorite character?”

“Oh, definitely the grandmother.”

“Gran Mather? What did you like so much about her?”

“She was really smart.  Gran always knew just what to do.”

“Gran is one of my favorites, too,” I told Taylor.  “I love when she  thwacked Mister Ives with her staff.”

Our conversation turned to the joys and frustrations of writing.  Taylor was working on a fantasy, and she described the setting of the story vividly. When I asked about the characters, Taylor said she hadn’t quite figured out what the main character’s “issues” are.

I confessed that in an early draft of Plank Road Summer, Katie and Florence were so completely lacking in issues that a friend who read the story said, “It’s very pretty.  Where’s the conflict?”

Taylor and I agreed that having trusted readers look over a draft is important.  A good editor can suggest changes that will help a writer bring out the real story.  I told Taylor that editor Philip Martin of Crickhollow Books had convinced us to cut two chapters from the published version of Plank Road Summer.

However, in the early stages of a writing project, an editor might get overly involved.  Taylor and I agreed that parents, for example, are generally very helpful, but sometimes they want to change too much.

Soon Taylor’s mother and father drifted over toward us, a little curious as to the subject of our conversation.

I smiled. “Oh, you know how writers are.  We were just talking shop.”

Categories: On Writing, Plank Road Summer book | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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