Friday, April 29, 2011

Marilyn Tisdale

My Darling Allie,

What Caitlyn has done breaks my heart, but how can I let you go? You have always been such a dear child! So sweet and loving, with a bit of spirit too. Now I've already said all that I can in hope that you will stay, but now that you are opening this letter, you are already gone.

But even as the train takes you farther and father away from me and all your troubles here in Boston, do not forget that your father and I love you and pray for you constantly, Darling Girl! Do not forget us as you make a life for yourself in California. We are bound by flesh and blood and can never be parted in that sense, but don't let us slip from your mind, even if you must banish all thoughts of Caitlyn.

The package attached to my letter contains a bottle of that cologne I like so much. I hope it is a pleasant reminder every time your wear it. Remember not to be beautiful for anyone but your husband-to-be. If it helps, remember, "least said, soon mended," "grin and bear it," and all those other things I said to you growing up.

I love you more than words can express, Allison.

All my love,


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ian McConnell

April 13, 1874

Sam came stumbling into my clinic with a rather sorry limp. He had been running up and down Main Street yelling, "I won! I won! I won my bet!" Too bad for Sam, he also stepped in a hole and sprained his ankle. It's purple and swollen because after stepping in the hole, he tried to keep running and twisted it. He was moaning like a pathetic baby when he got to my office. I checked the joint and wrapped it. He should feel better after a week, but I told him not to go to work for at least two days if he wants it to heal in a timely manner. Problem is, he's more brawn than brains. His pride always gets the better of him. I feel sorry for the poor woman on the other end of his bet. She's in for a shock.

telegram for Mr. Samuel Hancock of North Bloomfield, California

April 11, 1874
Mr. Samuel Hancock
North Bloomfield, California

I accept offer. STOP. Will start travel once I receive funds. STOP. Looking forward to meeting you. STOP. Allison Tisdale.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

to Miss Allison Tisdale from Mr. Samuel Hancock in North Bloomfield, California

March 20, 1874

Dear Miss Tisdale,

I was real happy to get your reply to my advertisement. You sound like a very nice lady. Do you think you could be happy here with me in North Bloomfield? It's an awful long way away from Boston. If life out in California would be agreeable to you, I will gladly send the money you'll need to travel west.

I am a miner here in Bloomfield for the French Company [North Bloomfield Gravel Mining Co.]. My wages are very honest, I promise you. I'm a church-going man - every Sunday. I don't lie or cheat. I can send you references if you want them. I got light brown hair, brownish colored eyes, and no beard or mustache. I'm five feet, eleven inches tall.

Because of the requirements in my advertisement, I'm sure that you are a good and upstanding lady yourself. Being clean and good. You're from the east and of good family, am I right?

Would you like to correspond some before you start traveling? I'm not sure I have much to say, but I can try my best to answer any questions you may have. If you have no qualms about coming to me soon, I can wire [telegraph] you the money.

I am looking forward to meeting you Miss Tisdale.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The National Exchange Hotel

I'm currently working on an alternate beginning for Allison's story, and I've located my setting!!! It took me a while of sorting through information filled with gaps during the year Allison would have been in the Nevada County area, but I finally found a hotel for her to stay in... the place where her California Panic begins! If I should choose my alternate beginning, you will find Allie in a muddle within her National Exchange Hotel room.

I liked the National Hotel the minute I saw it in my google search, but I couldn't find the details I needed to know if it had been in operation in 1874. But a little more searching revealed that it was! The clue I had been searching for was in a sample page from google books mentioning a flagpole that was erected in front of it in January of 1874!!!

So look for Allie at the National Hotel! Not really. She's fictional. But that's the point of Historical Fiction! Taking real places and dumping a fictional character int he middle of them.

Malakoff Monitor

Within the first twenty pages of Allison's story, Ian tells her about a "monitor." She doesn't quite understand what he is talking about, and he has to explain further. This is the "monitor" that Ian was speaking of. The Minors in Malakoff Diggins pointed these Water Canons at the hillsides to wash away the dirt and reveal the gold hidden within.

Malakoff Diggins

This is where Allison's story takes place. I hope it gives you a good mental picture. =)


 February 26, 1874

A year wished away is forever gone
A day wasted on worry can never be undone
An hour spent fussing over nonsense cannot be regained
A moment spent in silence is of more use than another spent spewing useless talk
A second of hesitation could save you a lifetime of regret

Have I thought my intentions through?
Will I regret them in some later year?
My heart pangs violently with anticipation. 
My future is before me, 
My past is behind.
The person I will become depends on me alone. 

Are the choices I have made wise?
Dear LORD, I pray that they are so!

I have cried all the tears I can and my eyes are dry - my cheeks are stiff. I saw an ad in the paper this morning. A young man in California is seeking a wife. He says she must be of good upbringing and refined. I am both. Has God sent me an answer to my prayers for relief?

I do not go outside any longer. People stare when I pass by, and I cannot bear the contempt in their glares. I told Mamma of this as well as the ad I saw. She cried for me. I think my leaving will be no different than if I die. I know Mamma loves me. When her tears subsided, she told me to write the young man.

I will do so when I finish penning my thoughts on this page. [tear smudge]


Monday, April 25, 2011

Ian Alistair McConnell

February 20, 1874

Evelyn Davis came into the clinic today believing that she had broken the second toe on her right foot. She dropped a flatiron on it. It was a bluish color when she came in and swelling badly. After a brief examination, I was able to convince her that it was not broken. A few days, maybe a week or two should have the toe feeling fine once more. I'll check with her in a few days.

Allison "Sonny" Emilia Tisdale

 February, 1874
Dearest Diary,

I'm not quite sure why Caitlyn is the way she is. We're twins. Shouldn't we be more alike than different? Caitlyn seems to be everything I'm not. She's without scruples, a liar, and O dear me! Yes! A tramp!

For years, it didn't really matter so much that we were so different. I wouldn't have been happy, but I could have lived taking the blame for her escapades. But then the trouble she got into became so much more serious. She began to drink - something a lady should never do - and flirt with men so beneath her. Caitlyn does everything she can now to bring shame to poor Papa, and I have no idea why! Why dear Caitlyn? Why?

She cut bangs, so that her hair looks like mine now. I'm not sure how anyone will be able to tell us apart.It doesn't help that I caught her with my beau last night. I'll confront her when she gets home. She's been gone all night! Oh! What has Caitlyn done now? I'm sure to be blamed since she was with my beau and she looks just like me. She's never stooped this low.

What will I do? I say now that I'll confront her, but when she comes laughing through the door, I'll freeze, completely terrified to say anything. Mamma and Papa will know I'm innocent, but what of everyone else? I'll probably run. That's what I'll do. How will I explain this to everyone? I don't want to explain to everyone. Explaining means exposing Caitlyn for the tramp she is. I still love Caitlyn. I won't do that to her - even if she would do it to me. I'll just leave and start over somewhere. I'm of marriageable age. I'll be fine. I hope. 


Saturday, April 23, 2011

North Bloomfield, California

I'd like to introduce you to the setting of my newest, nameless project (I have yet to think of a title). North Bloomfield is a ghost town of sorts in Nevada County (Northern CA). I've had the privilege of visiting the town once, and would like to do so again before I complete the manuscript.

Mrs. Evelyn Davis' home, where much of the story takes place, is a fictional place in the town, but you will find that the Mercantile/General Store, McKillican's, is a real place. It went through several name changes during the life of the town and closed around 1910 I believe - I'll have to check my research.

If you're trying to picture North Bloomfield, start with how you would imagine a mining town, faded clapboard buildings and bustling dirt streets. Now add some evergreen and deciduous trees - there is a lot of color in the fall. If you travel a few miles west, you will find Malakoff Diggins, a hydraulic mine with high pressure monitors blasting water at the hillsides. If any man gets in the way of those streams of water, he'll be blown away and badly injured.

I hope that I have given you a mental image of where I am placing Allison Tisdale and Ian McConnell. I'll tell you a bit more about my characters later. For now, all you need know, is that Allison is a naive eastern miss turn mail order bride, and Ian is a doctor who can't seen to decide who his father is. And I hope I don't confuse you too much when I throw Sonny McConnell on the scene!

North Bloomfield/Malakoff Diggins

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mt. Hermon

 Mary DeMuth
 Lauraine Snelling
 James Scott Bell
  Mona Hodgson


Mount Hermon Writers' Conference

From April 13th to the 19th, I was up at the Mount Hermon Writers' Conference. It was my first year, and never has so much information been stuffed up in my head.

I had the privilege of attending their Head Start program with Mary DeMuth. Mary was really great and gave me a lot of valuable information about writing. I you don't already know, the use of the words "was" and "had" are not encouraged in the writing business. We were also informed that "ly" adverbs indicate weak verbs. Hear that writers?! Beef up your verb vocabulary!

We had a huge discussion about plot and developing characters in most of the workshops I attended. Plot is huge in a story. It has to hook your reader and keep them from setting the story down. They have to be in constant wonder and worry as to what will happen to the character next. Will they achieve their goal? Hopes? Dreams? Don't forget that you can't drop happy people in Happy Land! It doesn't make for a very interesting story. Characters have to face some sort of opposition - not necessarily an outright Villain - someone whose goal stands in the way of the protagonist.

Many Stories are plot driven, others, are character driven. If you plan to write a character driven novel (you want this for a plot driven novel too!) you need to fully develop your characters. The reader should be fully aware of what your character wants, their inner desires, what they look like, who their friends are, what their faults are... etc. A fully developed character will draw sympathy from your reader - they will be able to relate to the character.

No boring chapters allowed! There's no such thing as an ordinary day. Each chapter must drive the plot somehow. If it can be removed from the manuscript and the story still makes sense - take it out! You'll loose your reader if you don't. And try not to give the back-story at the beginning of the novel. Leak the character's past out slowly through the novel. It creates more interest - especially for mysterious characters or those who have secrets to keep. No wrap-up endings either. End your story when the conflict is resolved.

I hope I have imparted to you some little tidbit that will help with your own writing. Happy writing!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Hello followers!
My name is Emily Bergstrom, and there is absolutely nothing I'd rather spend the day doing than writing, so I guess blogging is second best. For some time, I have been writing about the fictional Hansson Family. Those stories take place during the 1850's, shortly before the civil war. The first of those stories (there are 3 so far) can be found on amazon.

My newest project is Allison Tisdale. This story takes place in the late 1870's, early 1880's in North Bloomfield California during the Gold Rush. It should be an 80,000 word project upon completion. I'll keep you posted. But as this is a new project, don't be afraid to send me any information you might have that will add interest to the story or help with my research!