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BLOG: An Author's Travel Journal, Part 2

Hello, readers!

I'm writing this installment from Rozet, Wyoming. It has been such an incredible journey. I've seen so much fascinating history while following the Lewis & Clark Trail, as well as digging into more research for my next project.

I'm posting a few more highlights of our journey. Continuing into the mid-west, we paused in Sioux City, Iowa to visit the grave of Sergeant Charles Floyd, a member of Lewis & Clark's Corps of Discovery. Sergeant Floyd was the only man to die on the expedition, and it wasn't due to an accident or attack by natives. It's believed that Floyd died of appendicitis, and he was buried near his place of death along the Missouri River.

The Dakotas offered a lot of fascinating museums and monuments pertaining to the Native American presence that was vital to the success of Lewis & Clark's progress upstream. In Washburn, North Dakota, in the middle of heavy rainstorms, we stopped by the Fort Mandan Interpretive Center. Had it not been for the hospitality of the Native Americans, like Chief Sheheke Shote of the Mandans, the expedition would have failed. Standing in the downpour that kept me indoors that day was a bronze set of statues, depicting, Lewis and Clark meeting with Chief Sheheke for the first time.

I've said before that it takes a LOT of people to write a historical novel. One of the historians I met while researching WEST OF SANTILLANE was Shannon Kelly, who is presently an interpreter at Pompey's Pillar National Monument. She and I spent hours on the phone together as I was writing, hashing out details about the story-line that would be acceptable alongside the historical record. I'm always reminded that historical fiction has to have fiction that is plausible when accompanying the plot. Shannon also did me the honor of reviewing my book after it was published. So, it was a true joy to finally get to meet her while we were encamped near Billings, Montana.

And what exactly do history geeks like Shannon and I do? Attend a super-cool re-enactment, of course! She and I spent a lovely and HOT (it was 102F) afternoon at the nearby Bighorn Battlefield National Monument on the Crow Indian Reservation, watching as hundreds of re-enactors participated in the yearly Battle of the Little Bighorn Reenactment. I can't begin to describe how much I enjoyed this event. It was extremely well-done and I really was happy to have been lucky enough to have been in the area for it. And the photo below of the cavalrymen crossing the river--that really WAS the Little Bighorn River!

At Pompey's Pillar, I was able to view the only tangible/visible evidence of Lewis & Clark's journey. On a hot late July day, in 1806, William Clark chiseled his name into a huge rock formation, next to where they'd banked their canoes along the river. Clark named the big rock "Pompey's Pillar" after Sakakawea's little toddler, whom he'd nicknamed "Pomp".

Inside Pompey's Pillar, I was thrilled to see WEST OF SANTILLANE displayed on the shelves, above Stephen Ambrose's UNDAUNTED COURAGE! What humbling company! I feel so honored to have my book inside the visitor center of a US National Monument.

Don't forget to order YOUR next summer read!

And READ ON, everybody!

***To order, click on the book cover!***

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