Monday, June 30, 2014

Not a Western? Really? Color Ginger Shocked!

It's a free Monday and I thought I might share a blog that was published two years ago.  This is still one  of my favorite books, and I hope it will become one of yours.


I've just recently decided to re-release the book that was voted best historical romance of 2009 by Love Romance Cafe.  What debuted as Sparta Rose has now become Ellie's Legacy because I definitely thought the story was worth an attempt to garner more readership.  The one thing that surprised me the most when I promoted the book as a "Western" historical romance, was finding out that anything on the east side of the Mississippi river is not considered a western.  Dang!

But then, I was recently reading this wonderful book The Politically Incorrect Guide to The South (and Why It Will Rise Again) by Clint Johnson, and I pretty much felt vindicated in having my story take place in Tennessee and still consider Ellie's Legacy a western-themed novel.

Now please note that all of my references here are attributed to Mr. Johnson who, I must say, wrote a very compelling and moving history of the South.  I learned a lot from this book, especially discovering that the western expansion of the United States is due largely to 140 southerners who had "adopted" God's will that the United States spread from ocean to ocean.  The period of time was between 1830 and 1850, and of the six presidents who served during this period, five were from the south.  The following details were provided by Mr. Johnson's research:

In the mid 1840s - Georgia-born John C. Fremont and Kentucky-born Kit Carson headed explorations of the west, mapping and exploring routes to encourage settlers to travel of California and Oregon.

The Mexican War (1846-1848) was led by Virginia-born generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott.  The president at the time was James K. Polk who hailed from North Carolina and Tennessee.

After the Mexican War, The Gadsden Purchase, made by South Carolinian, James Gadsden, acquired portions of Arizona and New Mexico to hopefully allow for a cross-country railroad stretching from the south to California.

Had not these brave souls from the south had the chutzpah to explore uncharted lands, unlike New Englanders who wanted to limit the size of the Union, we might never have realized life in the old west as we know it.  As Mr. Johnson states, in this case,"we would not have been a United States stretching from 'sea to shining sea.'"

So, I'm quite proud my ranch foreman, Tyler Bishop is patterned after the Stetson-wearing, rope-tossing cowboys of the west.  I can guarantee, if you read the book, you won't see much difference between Tennessee pride and that of those who settled in the areas we recognize from TV cowboy and Indian sagas.  In fact, if you read a lot of historical novels, you might recall that the lion's share of wagon trains began in Missouri with folks headed for Oregon and California.  They don't call "it" the "Oregon trail" for nothin'. 

There are so many things I didn't know about the south...  Little things like: Fourteen of the nation's top Ivy League schools are in the south, and since the inception of the Miss America pageant in 1921, one-third of the winners have been southern. Slavery was not legalized in the south, and the Confederate battle flag is symbolic of Christianity, modeled after St. Andrew's Cross (seen in Scotland's national flag and in the Union Jack of Great Britain.)

 I was born and raised in California, but since moving to Tennessee, I've come to the conclusion I was meant to be here.  Pride, honor and faith is alive and well in the south.

By the way, if you'd like to check out my work, please visit my website where I have all my books featured, along with videos/blurbs. I'm happy to say I'm still alive and kicking, and as long as I am, I'll keep pumping out western historical novels. I'm currently working on two historicals...Yellow Moon and The Well. means a lot of research, but I'm learning as I go.

Special thanks to my friend Ronnie Brown who loaned me The Politically Incorrect Guide to the South by Clint Johnson, and again to Mr. Johnson for letting me in on his southern knowledge.  Loved it!


Tabitha Shay said...

Loved this article....Go Miz Ging!...Keep telling it like it is!...Hugs...Tabs

Alison E. Bruce said...

This is one of those perspective things, isn't it? Who would the native Americans preferred, the westward-ho southerners or northerners who were willing to limit the expansion of white America.

Nothing is that simple of course, but it makes you think.

Thanks Ginger!

Meg said...

Even Louis couldn't figure it out, Ginger! “If you write a book about a bygone period that lies east of the Mississippi River, then it’s a historical novel. If it’s west of the Mississippi, it’s a western, a different category. There’s no sense to it.” –Louis L’Amour

Jacquie Rogers said...

Yes, it really is a matter of perspective. I live in Seattle so Texas and Wyoming are back east to us. Hawaii and Alaska are west. Los Angeles is southeast.

Our trip to the Smithsonians was enlightening--everything 50 miles west of DC is considered "west." They pretty much skip over the whole continent, mention the California 49ers, and that's about it.

My opinion--"old west" is more of a mindset than a geographic region. You don't see a whole lot of stories about the Willamette, yet that was the destination of a good share of those who embarked on the Oregon Trail.

Marcus and Narcissa Whitman went west in 1836 and established a mission in the Walla Walla Valley to convert the Cayuse. That was truly the wild west, yet those of us who don't live in the Pacific Northwest probably never heard of them.

This whole perspective thing is why I decided to set my ♥ Hearts of Owyhee ♥ series in Owyhee County, Idaho Territory. Most people don't think of Idaho as the wild west but it was--mainly because no one paid any attention to it. People there are, to this day, fiercely independent and are determined to make their own way, much more so than more urban areas. By urban, I mean locations where the population density is higher than one person per square mile.

So yes, Tennessee very well could be a "western" setting, depending on the story. It certainly is to those on the Atlantic Seaboard, east of those little foothills called the Appalachians. :)

Caroline Clemmons said...

Ginger, I know there are cattle ranches in Florida, so West of the Mississippi doesn't contain all of the cowboys. Wishing you more success and good health.

Lauri said...

Interesting! I too remember when I first heard the historical vs western rule...Glad to know Louis didn't think it made since either. LOL.

Great post!