If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

June Interviews

6/3 Gretchen Archer, Double Trouble
6/10 Kaye George, Deadly Sweet Tooth
6/17 Annette Dashofy, Til Death
6/24 Adam Meyer

Saturday Guest Bloggers

6/6 Mary Keliikoa
6/13 William Ade
6/20 Liz Milliron

WWK Bloggers:

6/27 Kait Carson
6/30 WWK Writers--What We're Reading Now


Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel, and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination! All are winners but without Agatha Teapots. Onto 20121!

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Kaye George's second novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Deadly Sweet Tooth, was released on June 2. Look for the interview here on June 10.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Getting Good at Picking Up the Pieces and Starting Over

Recently, WWK blogger Paula Benson wrote a thoughtful post focused on “persistence” and its importance to writers. http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/2014/03/pondering-persistence.html   I’ve found it an important quality in my own career, and in examining it in the light of Paula’s post, I realized where a tremendous source of my own persistence came from.

Today marks the 175th anniversary of the day the last survivors of the Cherokee Trail of Tears limped and crawled into their final destination in Indian Territory. (There were lesser-known but equally devastating Trails of Tears also for the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole, and several other tribes.) On the Cherokee Trail of Tears, more than 8,000 people died as they were forced to travel about a thousand miles in horrendous conditions under the armed guard of American soldiers. (Much of what we know about what went on during the Trail of Tears comes from the letters and diaries of American soldiers sickened by what they were a part of.)

The surviving Cherokee were starved and desperately ill with no food or clothing or shelter when they arrived finally. But the Cherokee (and Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, etc.) are a hard people to keep down. Within three years, they built a brick Supreme Court building for the first modern judicial system in Indian Territory (not to mention the first brick building). It still stands in the heart of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the town which became the heart and capital of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. In less than a decade, they had a bilingual newspaper in English and Cherokee (replacing the one they’d had back in the old Cherokee Nation in the Southeast) and the Cherokee Female Seminary, the first institution of higher education for women west of the Mississippi, which continues today as Northeastern State University of Oklahoma. They established the first public schools in Indian Territory also.

In fact, the Cherokee did such a remarkable job at picking up the pieces and starting over from nothing that once again the yonega (white men) wanted their prosperous communities, just as they had back East. And once again the US government took the lands away and this time declared the tribe no longer existed. (They did this also to the Choctaw, etc., who had also been too successful at picking themselves up and rebuilding.) But the Cherokee continued to fight in courts and legislatures to have their centuries-old nation reconstituted—and finally won that battle, too. Once again, in the second half of the 20th century, the Cherokee picked up the pieces and rebuilt their nation and all of its institutions from scratch.

With such a history and heritage behind me and my protagonist, Skeet Bannion, how could either of us ever just give up and stop trying? What a letdown we would be to our ancestral spirits if we did!

So please join me today in remembering and paying homage to all those brave souls of whatever tribe who limped off their Trails of Tears and rebuilt their civilizations all over from scratch multiple times. May they continue to be an example of courage, strength, and persistence in the face of the worst kind of difficulties not only to me and their other descendants but to all of us.


Jim Jackson said...

The United States has so many blots on its name similar to our treatment of the Cherokees. I continue to be amazed at the moral superiority some Americans project.

As we shake our heads in knowing dismay at Russia's acquisition of the Crimea, we forget our own history of how Texas became part of the United States.

If we had learned deep lessons from our the ignoble portions of our history, it would not diminish them but at least provide some positive benefit.

Alas, we are left celebrating the persistence of those who refused to be subjugated. The persistence is noteworthy, but hardly just compensation.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

Thank you for the history lesson, Linda. Obviously, that history wasn't taught in my schools so I know very little of the real history from the Native American perspective.

I remember many summers during college, Native Americans set up "camp" on the American University's football field (since we really didn't have a football team this was no hardship). When I saw tepees erected there, I ask and was told they were participating in some government action (not sure if is was a protest or a D. C. Native American counsel). Sorry, it's been a few years since then.

Today, A.U. sponsors summer internships to Native Americans for college credit.

KM Rockwood said...

What is it about humans that permits those in power to take advantage of others? The entire history of the world is filled with instances of suppression of those defined as "not us," and therefore not deserving of reasonable treatment. The US has numerous examples, from Westward Expansion to slavery to the interment of Japanese citizens during WWII, in addition to the situation you address. And yet, as Jim points out, so many of us choose to ignore our own history.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Jim, I think you're so right. Covering up the US's past sins allows some to feel a sense of moral superiority to every other state out there. A lot of those same people tell me and other Native Americans/African American/etc. to "get over it." Without realizing that many of these outrages have continued into our lifetimes. The Cherokee/Choctaw/et. al. only regained their nations legally when I was a young adult. Most people aren't aware that Native Americans weren't American citizens until the 1920s. Etc., etc.

Linda Rodriguez said...

EB, please don't feel bad. This history isn't taught in most schools. As Jim pointed out, we as a country whitewash our history for our own purposes. If you ever get to Cherokee, NC (home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, descendants of those who hid in mountain caves and starved for generations) or to Tahlequah, OK, however, visit their museums and historical exhibits and re-enactments.

Warren Bull said...

Thanks for reminding of us of the faults and mistakes of our government. A more balanced approach makes us more cautious about out present and futures schemes. The tribes provide evidence of human determination, survival and achievement that we can all benefit from.

Linda Rodriguez said...

KM, I don't know what it is. There is certainly a dark side to human nature, but there's also a light side that fights against and triumphs over that dark side. I think that's what we write about when we write crime fiction. Folks always ask how we write about such dark stuff as murder, but I reply that we're really writing about good people overcoming that dark stuff and restoring peace and order to the world.

The US government tried to wipe us Indians out of existence--and did manage it with a few tribes. But most of us are still here. Not in the same shape we once were, yes. Not with the same freedom we once had, yes. But that we are here at all after centuries of smallpox blankets, forced marches, constant battle, etc. is, I believe, a huge testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit.

Anonymous said...

Observing this occasion, thinking of my late Aunt Bernice, of Creek heritage, in Oklahoma. She was an educator for many years. She went to Bacone College in Muskogee, and received her Masters Degree from Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University).

Gail Streun

Gloria Alden said...

Linda, I knew about the Trail of Tears and the other horrors perpetrated against Native Americans, but I didn't learn about it in school. Of course, that was a long time ago when those things were glossed over or not mentioned in history books.

Like the others who have commented on the fact, I'm appalled by those who think America is without fault. Those of us who know about the atrocities our country committed over the years, doesn't mean we don't love our country, but we hate what she sus and in some instances is still doing.

Thanks, Linda, for reminding us of this as we feel superior to Russia for what they're doing now.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, I think you've hit on it. Balance. Balance is very important to the traditional Cherokee spiritual tradition, and I suspect is what we're missing in US politics.

Linda Rodriguez said...

All honor to your Aunt Bernice, Gail. It's important to respect those who came before us and made the important sacrifices and put forth tremendous effort so that we would have more opportunity and better lives. I suspect if we all did that--Native and non-Native--we'd live in a better world.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, it's a complex relationship we have with the United States. In part, because of the deep ties and commitment we have to the land which is now the US, but on which our ancestors have lived for millennia. In spite of what the US did to Indian peoples, we have the highest percentage of soldiers who fight in US wars, way out of proportion to our percentage of the general population.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Linda, thank you for this very important post about a people who represent the essence of America. Learning about Cherokee heritage and culture has always been fascinating to me. Cherokee resilience is a testament not only to the past, but the future.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Paula, I think it's important for people to learn about what the Cherokee have been through, but also what the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole and other Southeastern tribes have been through, each of which had its own Trail of Tears. Also, tribes like the Lenape (Delaware), Shawnee, and others that started in the east and were pushed ever farther and farther west as European Americans wanted their lands. The Dine (Navajo) have their own Trail of Tears of sorts in The Long Walk when they also lost thousands. Many of the California tribes were considered extinct but they'd just gone underground to deal with a society that had a bounty on Indian heads into the 1930s. Now, they're resurfacing. Resilience is the name of the game for Native Americans.

Sarah Henning said...

What a great summation, Linda. Such a dark space in our history and it definitely needs to be commemorated.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Sarah, I think we can all learn great lessons on persistence and perseverance and never giving up when we study not only these events but the history of the African slaves brought to this country under wretched circumstances (more than half died on the slave ships). They might as well have been taken by aliens to another planet--different language, culture, landscape, climate, no way to EVER go home, cruel treatment by people who saw them as non-human possessions, families torn apart, etc. To me, it's a miracle they didn't all commit suicide. The strength to stand up under all that and keep on going and, once freed but left with nothing, to build lives and communities--well, it's simply a testament to the most remarkable qualities of the human species. Makes a little discouragement, a bad review, even poverty of a sort seem like nothing.

Kara Cerise said...

Thank you for this important blog, Linda. I knew about the Cherokee Trail of Tears but didn't realize that other tribes had Trails of Tears, too. I'm amazed at what these people endured and how they persisted. It puts life into perspective.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Yes, Kara. The Cherokee are the biggest tribe and one of the best known, and during the Removal they fought it in the courts all the way to the Supreme Court and won--Chief John Ross's son was the first Native to try a case before the court but Andrew Jackson ignored the court--so people knew about theirs. But it happened to lots of other tribes. The Choctaw and other so-called Five Civilized Tribes each lost thousands of members on their forced journeys while tribes like the Lenape (Delaware), etc., lost similar numbers over longer spreads of time with less drastic, multiple forced relocations.

When I want to whine over some small setback, I have to face those ancestors on the Cherokee and Choctaw sides who went through the Trails of Tears, and I just have to shut up and buckle down to work.