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Guest Blog: The War of 1812

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Every once in awhile you meet someone who loves the things you love. Like history for instance. I write during England's Regency era, officially 1811-1820. I am not an expert on the war from either side of the Pond. I know a little bit about both. If you ever watched a movie titled, The Madness of King George, you'll find out just how frustrated George III was about losing the colonies. In 1812, his son who was declared the Prince Regent (because the king was insane) ruled over Great Britain and Ireland.

Please welcome Debra Marvin who will take you on a tour of The War of 1812 and will return in two weeks on October 9th with a discussion on naval vessels which is sure to be fascinating. 

Thank you for inviting me into your drawing room, Jillian!

Depending on what decade…or century your readers hale from, I’m obsessing about a little event called The War of 1812, or the Anglo American War. Right now, History buffs in Canada and the U.S are commemorating that period in history.

I feel its odd to say ‘celebrate’ when we talk of war, don’t you?

In 1812, President James Madison and many Washington insiders were for war. Britain was ignoring our sovereignty as a nation by telling us who we could and could not trade with. Other reasons for Madison’s declaration of war included: impressment of American sailors and privateers into service for His Majesty’s Navy, Britain’s arming of the Native population, or First Peoples, in the northwest (Ohio valley and western Great Lakes) and …
not so altruistic, the desire by some to gain Canada’s vast reserves of natural resources.

“WarHawks” were ready to take over the continent and there was little to stop them. Or so they thought. Wouldn’t Canadians want to be out from under the monarchy too? And what better timing? Britain was very busy with Napoleon on the Continent.

This year, I’ve been researching sea and land battles, politics of the time, uniforms, army and naval strategy, and life set against the Regency/Federalist period on both sides of the conflict.
I’ve visited three reenactments this year around the Great Lakes and Niagara frontier and just last week took a day sail on the US Brig Niagara. I’m digging in deep for my next series, and loving all the amazing opportunities.

While many Americans know little of this period, or care even less, Canada celebrates the War of 1812 as a turning point in their national identity. War with Britain for the United States became war with our good neighbor Canada.
Canadian citizens, as subjects of King George, had to take a stand. With so few British soldiers available, it was local militia, Native allies, and various groups banding together by ancestry that capably supplemented the British Regulars. Standing together against the invading U.S. forces bonded these wide spread people together on their great wild land.

Similarly, the eventual successes of the United States’ small army and even smaller navy against the greatest army and navy in the world created a national pride in a divided nation. At one point, strong Federalist sentiment in New England threatened a secession because they couldn’t abide or support the war efforts. Enter Francis Scott Key and his poem The Star-Spangled Banner, and a few American victories. Just in time to save the union!

What do you think of these bumper stickers: “We won  the War of 1812” and there’s a U.S version and a Canadian version, sold next to each other on the shelf! I guess the jury is still out on that.

By 1815 The British had already stopped their practice of impressing seaman but it was the Treaty of Ghent that officially ended the war. Too bad it took months before the fighting stopped. Nothing really changed – no gains or losses other than the human toll.

I hope you enjoy my photos and (warning) I’m happy to chat about the War of 1812. I post about it on my group blog Inkwell Inspirations as the War of 1812 Groupie, and my facebook and twitter accounts are thick with history. I’d love to hear from you.

Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. Debra likes to write, weed and wander and is blessed to have the best family and friends in the world. She has decided she needs to live closer to her grandchildren. She’s thankful each day that God is in control, that He chooses to bless us despite ourselves and that He has a sense of  humor. Her work has finaled in the TARA, Great Expectations, Heart of the Rockies, Maggie, Rattler and most recently, the Daphne DuMaurier for the second time. Not too bad considering she’s trying a mashup of gospel and . . .  gothic.


Three Things I've Learned from James Scott Bell

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

James Scott Bell came to Cincinnati on September 15th-16th with his next level fiction writing seminar. I've been studying what I call, "The Bell Method" for years now. Why you ask? Because Jim is one out-standing teacher. In the words of Hunter, for those of you who remember the show, "It works for me." I think it works for a lot of other writers too.

 I met Jim at Mt. Hermon a half dozen years ago. I was unpublished and had been studying the craft for at least 17 years. That's a long time to hang on to a dream of getting published, but I'm just too stubborn to quit. So of course the first thing I learned from Jim is rather obvious for those with a stubborn streak, keep writing. :) Yep that's it. And I did. It's the quality of our books and word of mouth that will sell our books. If you want to be successful you have to keep turning out quality work.

This past weekend though we focused on important areas that I can't come close to covering here. But here's three of my favorites.


     Most of us know that when editors and agents read a manuscript they may very well look for white space before they start reading. That's frequently a clue about use of dialogue in a manuscript verses long sections of narrative and/or description.  We want to write dialogue that moves our stories forward and shows conflict between characters, reveals speech patterns, and pick the best words we can  in order to capture our readers attention.

     The Voice Journal is another tip that Jim suggested. I'd never done this before and it was a lot of fun and very useful. For instance if you want to work with the way your characters sound, make a voice journal and start writing the way you think that character would talk. For instance, in my novel Secrets of the Heart, I have an orphan named Danny. My heroine Madeline is trying to make an impact on his life.
          "What would you like to be when you are grown?"
          "Dunno. Do mad folk get to be somethin' when they's growed up, Lady Majesty?"
          "Danny, you are strong-minded. You are not mad."
          "Sure am. Mr. Sullivan says I'm batty more than most my age."
          "I'll have a talk with Mr. Sullivan. You are as normal as any boy your age. Just because you have no parents does not make you mad."
          "You sure?"
          "I'm sure."
          "Good. Then I'll be . . . a pickpocket."

So you see how I could practice this type of conversation when I'm developing my characters even if I do consider myself an organic writer and not the well organized outliner.


          Jim uses film when he teaches and I love this. This clip from Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorites and not one of the clips that Jim used. Lizzy and Mr. Collins Listen carefully to the dialogue as the scene progresses. Another trick I learned somewhere along the way long ago is that you might also want to watch the clip without the use of sound if you want to improve on actions that may accompany the dialogue you write. So much fun. So seek out some of your favorite movies and have fun improving upon your craft.


          I love writing in scenes but I don't do it in a very organized fashion. I've even bought the software called, Scrivener and haven't used it yet. I'm going to try it as I develop my next series and see how it goes. Jim reminded us to cut out all the dull parts or the parts people like to skip. If there's no conflict, no internal pressure, and everyone is happy then we don't have much of an interesting story. We want to make our readers worry about what will happen to our characters. And as an ex-trial lawyer Jim used a great acronym we should all remember.

Unexpected in

There was so much information packed into this seminar. If you ever get the chance to learn from Jim don't miss the opportunity. Jim makes learning fun! Oops, was that an exclamation mark?  Jim blogs every Sunday at The Kill Zone.  

Jim served as fiction columnist for Writer's Digest magazine, to which he frequently contributes, and has written four craft books for Writer’s Digest Books: Plot & Structure, Revision & Self-Editing, The Art of War for Writers and Conflict & Suspense.

Craft is important to all of us who seek to improve our writing. What's one thing you learned this past year that's made a difference in your skill level?

12 Questions

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Who Are You?
I recently had a good time answering questions over at the Killzone with Joe Hartlaub and his blog post, Let's Have Some Fun It was a great way to get to know others a bit better. So if you're up to the challenge let's find out who you are. Here's my questions and answers. Now it's your turn.

  1. What is your favorite place to eat? The Grand Finale in Cincinnati.
  2. Who is your favorite actor and/or actress? Sandra Bullock/Hugh Jackman
  3. If you could visit anywhere in the world where would you go? Australia
  4. What's the last movie you watched more than once? Pride and Prejudice
  5. How many pets do you have and what are they? One dog and four cats.
  6. What's the last concert you attended? Brad Paisley
  7. How many siblings do you have? My youngest brother is deceased. I have an older and awesome half brother.
  8. What's your birthday? Month and day only.  January 11th
  9. What was one of the most exciting moments of your life? Getting married.
  10. What book are you currently reading? Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts.
  11. What's your favorite board game? Trouble.
  12. What's your favorite sport to watch/play? All things equestrian.

The Organic Writer

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

In the October 2012 Writer's Digest the editor, Jessica Strawser, asked Patricia Cornwell if she uses an outline when she writes. Ms. Cornwell explained that she's an "organic" writer. I was thrilled. I'm no longer a-seat-of-the-pants writer, I'm an organic writer. Yippee! You may be thinking, so what? Here's what:

 1) I like the idea that someone as successful as Patricia Cornwell doesn't outline her story. It gives me    tingles all over and confirmation that someone of her caliber develops her story in a similar manner to the way I develop my own stories.

2) I've never liked the term seat-of-the-pants writer. It's so unattractive. Organic is lovely. A definition of Organic at  is "developing naturally." I develop my story naturally. Synonyms include the words: inherent, fundamental, basic.
    3) Creativity is organic. It's imagination at work. It's chasing rainbows, blowing bubbles, and throwing confetti.

     Okay. So I'm an organic writer. It's a process. It's sometimes a complicated process but it's the way my mind works best at developing story. Sure I sometimes get lost in the maze of creativity, but that's what makes it fun. I believe I'm a better writer because I get lost, it's finding my way through and being surprised along the way that inspires. I know it's not a favorite process when on deadline. I have learned the hard way. But I think it's a matter of finding the time you need to develop your story this way that can ultimately be very satisfying.

    If you are attending ACFW this year I noticed an interesting workshop. 

    Rene Gutteridge and Susan Meissner titled, Special Ops:
    Outliners & Pantsters Combine Forces

    But don't despair if you can't make it to conference this year. You'll be able to order the CD's the Monday after conference ends. So go ahead and look at what's being presented this year and plan to enjoy it whenever you can via audio. I can't make it to conference so you can bet I'll be ordering the MP3 so I can listen to the entire event. Next year though I WILL be in Indianapolis.

    So what about you? Have you found the perfect balance in your own search to write great stories? Organic? or Out-liner?


    Monday, September 3, 2012

    It's been a wonderful week with Diane Stortz visiting my blog. I hope all of you who would like to try reading through the Bible in a year will consider using, A Woman's Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year.   If you read it by yourself or with a group I think your experience will be enhanced and your walk with God will grow by the time spent you spend with Him.

    The winners are:


    CONGRATULATIONS! Diane and I will be in touch. Happy Labor Day!

    Thanks to everyone who left comments or dropped by to read the post. If you get a chance come visit me today at Just The Write Charisma where I blog with my fellow REALMS authors. May your Labor Day be filled with rest, joy, and family.

    Smiles and Blessings,