Series: The Whitcomb Discoveries
Current Status: Writing
Series Teaser for Yosemite Discovered
When miners and Indians clash in the goldfields, more is discovered than just Yosemite Valley.
Hear and see a video of the first draft for Chapter One
My current work in progress unfolds the tale of an orphaned teen and his younger sister who must choose between survival or justice, forgiveness or revenge when they travel West with the man who leads California settlers into Yosemite to rout out marauding Indians.
In May, I went to Yosemite to conduct further research for the book, and to attend a five-day writing immersion class with six other writers and writing “guru,” Margie Lawson. What an amazing trip! You can find some of the pics and videos on my Facebook page and author page. I hope to incorporate many of the techniques Margie taught us as I complete the rest of my first draft for the novel. My goal is to complete the first draft by the end of September. Stay tuned. Grandma duty may sideline this goal when grandbaby #2 arrives around July 19!
The pictured cover is just a place-holder sample I created with one of the photos from my trip. Since it hasn’t been published yet, an actual book covered hasn’t been created.
Below is an excerpt from chapter one. During my research time in Yosemite, I located many of the places where the historical figure, Jim Savage, had trading posts. See https://vimeo.com/273221089 for a video clip of the actual site for the opening scene in Yosemite Discovered, Jim’s trading post in Big Oak Flat near Yosemite.
An Inside Look at Yosemite Discovered
Excerpt from Chapter One
Big Oak Flat, California Gold Country
April 10, 1849
Daniel woke to a room filled with smoke that stung his eyes, clawed his throat, and jumbled his thoughts. "I’ve got to get Ma and Pa out of the house."
He threw off his blanket and scrambled off the cot. When his feet hit the floor, he stopped. This wasn’t Illinois. He wasn’t thirteen. And his parents weren’t upstairs. He was nearly seventeen, and his parents were dead. He was in the trading post run by his guardian, Jim Savage, in the California gold fields. For the past three nights, he and Savage’s clerks had slept inside the post because they’d heard rumors of a Yosemite Indian attack.
Squinting against the sun’s early rays that bled through the edges of the canvas doorway, Daniel made out the hazy silhouette of Jim across the room.
“Grab your rifles.” Jim’s curt command cut through the smoke as he waved the men outside. “The Yosemites are here.”
Daniel yanked up his trousers over his long underwear and thumbed up his suspenders. “Anyone hurt? What’s on the fire?”
The stench of singed wool made him gag. He coughed to clear his lungs and grabbed his rifle. Jim’s Indian wives beat their blankets against small fires started by flaming tree limbs the Yosemites had tossed into the trading post.
The high-pitched cries of attacking braves iced Daniel’s blood. Two of Jim’s clerks, Banyon and Greeley, rushed past him to join Jim outside. Daniel followed, crouching next to them behind the iron-rimmed wheels of their transport wagon. Pops of gunfire echoed through the forest. Two other clerks, poking out from a large boulder fifty feet ahead, brought down four Yosemites.
Loin-clothed Indians slunk into the woods. Someone next to Daniel screamed. He turned to see Banyon, one of Jim’s store clerks, tug at the shaft of an arrow that pierced his shoulder.
“Greeley! Jim turned to the clerk on his right. “Take care of Banyon. Watch for Indians that might double back. Daniel, Cunningham, Lugo. Follow me.”
I recently visited the Roberto Adobe in San Jose, CA (Willow Glen). This structure existed in San Jose when my fictional character, Daniel, passed through this town in 1849 to visit the historical person of Virginia Reed, whom Daniel met as a 13-year-old on the wagon train in 1846. Virginia Reed’s family settled in San Jose and several streets are named after them, including Reed, Virginia, Martha, Margaret, and Keyes Street.
In addition to exploring the Roberto Adobe, I also visited the Heritage Park Museum in Sunnyvale. Virginia Reed married into the Murphy family in 1850, and the Murphy home at the Heritage Park Museum was built by her brother-in-law, Martin Murphy, Jr. The Murphy family came West on a wagon train two years before the Reed family and the Donner party came to California.
Be sure to check out my Pinterest images to see more of the research discovered at the Roberto Adobe and the Heritage Park Museum. It also includes images gleaned from my research at the San Juan Bautista Mission, the Martin Luther King Jr. Library’s California Room, and the Bancroft Library on the Berkeley campus.