When I started this blog, I had the best of intentions. I was going to write something at a minimum of once a month. Isn't it funny how life gets in the way of things we want to do.
In October, I went to Tucson, Arizona for the Women Writing the West Conference. I was thrilled to be honored with a WILLA award for Best Non-Fiction book. It was not only exciting, but overwhelming. It was a poignant moment, and it caused me to reflect on my journey with "Laundress." (The award is made of glass. I am holding it in the photo, though it is difficult to see.)
It began when a friend asked me to present the women's role in the western frontier army. While I knew absolutely nothing about it, I figured a little research would tell me all I needed to know. Little did I know that research would go on for a number of years, resulting in trips to various forts with friends, and later, my husband Mark. All along the way, they encouraged me to write a book about laundresses.
One day, I looked at the spiral notebooks, scraps of paper, and photocopies of information that were haphazardly tossed in a plastic tote, and decided it was time to write the book. I did, and pitched it to my publisher, Nancy Curtis at High Plains Press in Glendo, Wyoming. I wanted to keep it local if I could, and that was my first choice. (Any place in Wyoming can be considered local, with a state population that hovers around half-a-million people at any given time. We are just a small town with long streets.) Nancy liked the idea, and the rewriting began, as did many other tasks associated with writing a book.
"Laundress" was finally out in print, and my whirlwind adventures began. It has been a journey filled with travel, speaking engagements, and award ceremonies. I have met some great people along the way. At almost every stop I learn even more about "my ladies," and the role of the United States army in the American West. That new information gets filed away, but I am a little more organized now. I have an expanding file, instead of a plastic tote.
I also have a couple other book ideas I am playing with. One is another non-fiction book. I am currently doing some research to make sure it is a viable idea, and I will be pitching it this spring. Another is a children's chapter book.
We will see where those ideas go. Meanwhile, the "Laundress" adventure just keeps going. I will be on the road again this weekend, giving a talk and signing books. If you are in the area, come see me at Fort Caspar, in Casper, Wyoming on Saturday at 1 p.m. Cow and her friends will be riding along with me.
#Writing #WILLA #Tucson #Army #Laundress #Women
Jennie Lawrence is the author of Soap Suds Row - The Bold Lives of Army Laundresses 1802 -1876. She also writes a regular column for African Violet Magazine, and has done freelance work. She has started to dabble in children's literature as well.