A PEEK INTO THE PAST: Legacies From My Mother


Have you ever wondered where a writer gets the idea for a particular book and what is involved in the creation of the story that looks so enticing in the book’s description? In a series of blog posts this month, I will touch on what is involved in creating a novel while trying to remain faithful to history, move into a character interview, and end with a reading from the novel. I’ll start with the idea for the novel, which was inspired by both my mother’s stories about homesteading in No Man’s Land and my great-grandmother’s recipes for herbal cures—she was a medicine woman.

Within the tattered pages of the old Dr. Chase’s book, published sometime in the 1800s, were my great-grandmother’s handwritten recipes for medicines written on the blank pages at the end of chapters. They contained weird ingredients such as sugar of lead, chloroform, sarsaparilla, sulphuric ether and acid, iodide of potash, stillingia, poke root, morphine, to name just a few. Her cures covered diphtheria, blood purifier and liver regulator, piles, worms, and a host of other ailments. With her concoctions, she healed ill and dying patients who had been given up to die by the doctors. Unfortunately, she never passed down the tradition of healing with herbs.

As I considered how I could use the herbal healing in a novel, what story I could tell, I remembered all those family stories my mother told me about homesteading in No Man’s Land. As a child, I used to beg her to retell the stories, and she would laugh and say, “Oh, you don’t want to hear that again.” But she always recounted those fascinating tales of digging the dugout, confronting outlaws, and surviving the war between the cattlemen and the settlers. I never tired of hearing about those frightening experiences of what it was like to homestead in that wild and untamed territory.

The story, Nelly of No Man’s Land takes place in Oklahoma over a two-year period. A pioneer family homesteads in The Strip where they struggle to survive in a lawless territory. Nelly Duncan is a dying woman who battles to regain her health while struggling to resolve the personal pain of her husband’s alcohol addiction and infidelity. Through the help of a medicine man, she regains her health there. Then the past returns to haunt her: the handsome peddler she turned to for comfort during her husband’s unfaithfulness and who fathered a child her husband thinks is his own, reappears in her life.

Take a step back in time and travel with me through the pages of Nelly of No Man’s Land as I share the journey with you. The historical novel is scheduled for publication around the first week of December, just in time for Christmas.


And read more about B. J. Myrick and her books at amazon.com.

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Thanks to vintagefeedsacks for their images.
Explore posts in the same categories: Creating a Historical Novel

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4 Comments on “A PEEK INTO THE PAST: Legacies From My Mother”

  1. arlenegraber@cox.net Says:

    Bonnie, congrats to you and good luck with the book. Your trailer is awesome and well done. arlene

    Arlene Rains Graber author of Devoted to Travel, A Plane Tree in Provence, and Angel on My Shoulder. http://www.arlenerainsgraber.com

    • myrickeaton Says:

      Thank you so much for your comment, Arlene. It is quite a relief after two and a half years of writing the story to be so close to publishing. As I dipped into those years of 1890, even with the solid background I had to begin with, so much research was involved. I lucked out by having the old book of my great grandmother’s medicinal cures to draw from. I’ve often wished she would have passed down the art of healing with herbs. And my mother’s stories of homesteading experiences were a joy to develop.

      • Wes Brummer Says:

        I just saw the Ken Burns documentary about the Dust Bowl which centers around the Oklahome panhandle area call “No Man’s Land.” So I’m pumped to read a story that takes place 40 plus years before that. When it is coming out?

  2. myrickeaton Says:

    Wes–I never knew history could be so exciting. I plan to publish sometime the first week of December. It’s hard to catch all the mistakes, even with three pair of eyes critiquing for mistakes. My business partner has gone through it three times, and I am on the fourth time around searching for those missing periods, quotes, dropped words–all the thing an indie writer has to do on top of writing the manuscript. Appreciate your comment a bunch. The next post will be about the research involved–you know about that, don’t you, since you’re writing about the depression era days.

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