Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Family

Today I welcome author Bess McBride to Terry's Place.

Write what you know they say. The problem is I know a little about a lot but hardly a lot about almost anything…or so it seems when I put on my “write what you know cap” when I’m brainstorming a new story. I’m suddenly beset with a case of “Wait, I don’t know anything about anything.” Could be a confidence problem, could be reality… Who can say?


I recently decided to return to work full time, accepted a fairly well-paying job and moved to a state I’ve only visited before. But that visit was the reason I found myself able to apply for employment in a strange town. Last fall…on our way down to our winter grazing grounds on the fabulous Gulf Coast.

I made the trip that many of us often long to do…at least once in our lives…a genealogical journey through the towns, cities and final resting places of my grandparents, their parents and their parents before them. In my case, these particular grandparents had come to roost in Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa as they followed the railroad.

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With the help of a third cousin whom I met online, I found everyone I was looking for, although they were all deceased. Still, I found my family…their homes, their towns, their cemeteries, their tombstones. And I was compelled to start a book. Write what you know they say. As an amateur genealogist, did I know enough to write a book around the subject? As a newcomer to the Midwest, did I know enough about the area to write a book set here? As a child born to traveling parents who never met her extended family, did I know enough about family to write about their lives?

None of that seems to matter. One thing we all know about is the power of love…even if it is the love of a granddaughter for grandparents she never knew, or a great-granddaughter for the great-grandparents who would never know her. The power of love gives me the inspiration to forge ahead with my next story of love…set among the cemeteries in the wonderful windy loess hills along the Missouri River between Nebraska and Iowa.

For a gal who has a glaring absence of family, I seem to have accumulated lots and lots of cousins through my interest in genealogy. Two of those cousins (second cousins who are 15-20 years older than me) happened to be attending a family reunion on their grandmother’s side of the family (our connection is through our grandfathers who were brothers) this weekend, only an hour away. I drove up to the big city, and we met, shared historical letters and photographs and traveled on to a nearby town to see our mutual great-grandparents’ graves while they shared memories of their grandparents and even my grandparents whom I never had the chance to meet.

The sense of continuity is strong when I am with my living cousins, and I feel connected to this place where my ancestors lived out their lives. I have many more cousins within a day’s drive whom I have not yet met, descendents of our mutual great-great grandparents. I look forward to finding more family and sharing stories and connections…and writing about what I thought I would never know about…Family.

Bess McBride writes sweet to sensual romance novels for The Wild Rose Press. Her next release, On a Warm Sea of Love, will be available from The Wild Rose Press on September 29, 2009. She is currently at work on a story set in Western Iowa. She welcomes visitors to her web site at www.bessmcbride.com.

19 comments:

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Bess,
How wonderful for you to catch up with your relatives like this.It must have been such a thrill. My sister is into geneology too, in fact I would have to say our family history has become an obsession with her.
Regards
Margaret

Debra St. John said...

What a fabulous journey. It is always amazing to trace our past.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hey Bess,
How amazing to be discovering family members you didn't know you had. A story in there for sure. :)
Jane x

Terry Odell said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, ladies. My dad and my husband are both big into tracing family trees. On my mom's side, one of my second cousins has traced that branch of the family back several hundred years.

Sheila Deeth said...

My brother's the one looking into our family tree, and he seems to find out the most fascinating stuff. Food for many novels hiding in there.

Bess McBride said...

Hi Margaret!

Thanks for leaving a comment. My family history has become an obsession with me as well...too much as it's getting in the way of my writing! :-) See you soon!

Bess

Bess McBride said...

It is great to trace my past, Debra, and it's fodder for another story or two!

Bess

Bess McBride said...

Hi ya, Jane!

Thanks for stopping by Terry's blog... I love making new family connections, but I'm terrible at keeping up with them.

Bess

Bess McBride said...

Hi Sheila! I agree. Lots of stories there. In fact, I like to use ancestor's member's names in my books. A little tribute to them.

Bess

Bess McBride said...

Thanks for having me here today, Terry!

Bess

Mary Ricksen said...

I wish I could follow my family history. Unfortunately my grandparents all came over on the boat and have lost contact with family there.

Terry Odell said...

Bess -- my pleasure.

Dara Edmondson said...

Best of luck writing the new book - and on the new release! Good post.

Celia Yeary said...

BESS--We never did find Aunt Lizzie. My sisters and I have spent days and hours tromping around cemeteries in North Texas, locating headstones for this one or that one. In one old small cemetery, we were looking for some woman, can't remember the name, because it was an odd one--but she held an important link somewhere in the never-ending chain of relatives. We looked for a long time, when in a corner, the toe of my shoe came in contact with a corner of concrete--or square rock.With my foot,I swished back and forth over the top of the flat stone and discovered one of those old headstones made of rock, chisled into a rectangle, and carved with crude letters and dates. I called my sisters over and my older sister cried--this was our last lost relative--besides Aunt Lizzie. It was so old, we had to use that paper and chalk to read the words and numbers. Now, where is Aunt Lizzie?.....You know I loved this post, Bess. Celia

amber polo said...

Welcome back, Bess,
I moved to a state where I knew no one at least 4 times because of a job. It's scary and exciting and has given me more locales than I could ever write about, though I am trying.
Amber

Bess McBride said...

Which boat, Mary? It's hard to track folks "across the pond." The records are so sketchy...

Thanks for popping by, Mary. Talk to you soon!

Bess

Bess McBride said...

Thank you for the good wishes, Dara!

Bess

Bess McBride said...

Aw, Celia...what a great story. You do know how to pull at the heartstrings. :-)

Bess

Bess McBride said...

Hey, Amber! It's good to hear from you as well. What can I say... I'm a non-adventurous wanna be gypsy!

Bess