Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Hattie Big Sky”

Leading Ladies of Fiction Faves

English: "How dare I, Mrs Reed? How dare ...

English: “How dare I, Mrs Reed? How dare I? Because it is the truth.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve noticed the books that hit my fave list share a commonality: spunky female protagonists

Lizzie Bennet: right smart with her retorts, and loves her trots about the countryside

Jane Eyre: determined and no one is going to door mat her anytime soon

Scout Finch: gotta love a girl who reaches for her overalls in times of stress

Katniss Everdeen: archer supreme, survivor, yet has compassion

Mattie (True Grit): can talk her way into and out of most anything; didn’t let an encounter with a rattler get her down

Hattie (Hattie Big Sky): took on Montana homesteading by herself!

Little Sister (Laddie): I’m pretty sure she and Scout are kindred spirits

Laura Ingalls Wilder: “stout as a Welsh pony”–that’s high praise

Antonia (My Antonia): sassy survivalist of the prairie

These ladies come from different time periods, different backgrounds, and different families, yet they all share the qualities of pluck.  Pluck never goes out of style, at least not in novels.

Got any favorites from the list?  Maybe you can share your own

The Autumn of My Discontent

The Idaho Territory in 1863. © 2004 Matthew Tr...

The Idaho Territory in 1863. © 2004 Matthew Trump Idaho territory in 1864 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The toughest part about writing a historical novel is research. I am discovering researching is becoming as addictive as dark chocolate Dove bites. I can’t seem to stop once I start.

For instance, having characters taking a walk in winter is not a simple undertaking. The month, year, and locale all become significant. There is also clothing considerations, appropriate interactions, and possible terrain aspects.
I ran into this when I decided the sisters would walk outside with two brothers after a neighborly get together. I scampered to my files to find if young people did indeed walk unchaperoned, if  the area had some snow–or too much. Which leads to clothing, which leads to age appropriate mannerisms, which leads to..

It’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie syndrome–one aspect leads to another. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at this point.

Yet, here’s the problem–I’m too far into the novel to abandon it (again). I have this quirk about finishing projects. Especially when I get encouragement from agents, editors, friends, and critique circlers to finish it.

When I do feel bogged down in detail I turn to my inspirational muse, Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson. She won the Newberry Honor for her novel about a sixteen year old girl who inherits her uncle’s Montana homestead claim. It’s a dazzler for historical detail, characterization, and overall verisimilitude. It flows with imagery, sparkles with plot points, and it’s based on her great grandmother’s homesteading adventures. It’s becoming a favorite yearly read.

As inspiring as Larson’s Hattie is, I’ve unfortunately hit that dratted writing wall. Right now I’m stuck between seasons. What would my homesteaders be doing in autumn? Winter and Spring are covered. October and November? Hmmm…

I can see why fantasy novels are popular–creating worlds has got to be easier than traipsing backward to figure out what’s already taken place in ours.

Any Idaho historians out there?

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