Charles Web Journal

My blog is intended to show how I construct and write a historical novel. It will be a journal of my daily writing activity, as I write a new historical novel.

Location: Evansburg, Alberta, Canada

I am a retired school teacher with a B. Ed in English literature a B.A. in History. After a long career as a teacher of English and history, I now write historical novels based on Canadian history.

Sunday, February 27, 2005


It seems that my last post is lost. Oh well. I'll try again tomorrow!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Ok, so Daniel got the job

Daniel got the job on the track laying crew of the Canadian Pacific Railway as it pushes across the prairies. Unfortunately, some of the crew are not happy with him because of his enthusiasm and energy although Barnie, the foreman, appreciates his attitude.
Barnie leaves suddenly and Jake, who, for some reason, does not like Daniel takes over bossing the crew.
I'm not sure what will happen to Daniel now, but I should know tomorrow. I plan to finish the chapter tomorrow and if it goes according to my outline, it should be a positive situation for Daniel.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Today was a better day as far as the writing went.
Daniel applied for a job on a work crew constructing the railroad line to the east of Fort Calgary. Although he is willing and capable, his age and size were against him; he had difficulty convincing the boss and foreman that he could do the job. Eventually he was hired and assigned to a work crew that didn't want him.
I hope he survives and has a good experience with the railroad.
The time period is 1882 and the Canadian Pacific Railroad is making its way across the western prairies of the North West Territories through the districts of Assiniboia and Alberta that will become the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Back at it

Well, after a gap of several days, I'm finally back at work on my novel. Today, I continued with chapter three. First, I reviewed what I wrote before to get back in the groove, so to speak. Daniel was now working on a new ranch that was established in the foothills south and west of Fort Macleod.
Cattle and ranching were a new experience for him so he had much to learn about breaking horses, rounding up cows, roping and branding, and the lonely life of a cowboy. Today, he rode a wild bronco but did not break it. As well, he learned how to round up and rope calves to be branded.
He didn't find the experience to be pleasant so he now has second thought about that kind of life. Perhaps he will move on to something else. If all goes according to my plan, he will, but I'm never sure if my characters will follow my vision of their life.
The writing progress well, but I'm not sure that I'm satisfied with it. Tomorrow, I'll review it; maybe it will require a rewrite.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I'm back

Hi, I'm back after being away for several days to attend the funeral of a favorite uncle.
Now to get back at my writing. I started chapter three, but didn't get to do any writing today as I answered e-mails, snail mail, and attended to some other chores.
Unfortunately, tomorrow is a lost day as I have to go into the city of Edmonton to attend to some business which will take most of the day.
As well, this weekend is a long weekend as Monday is a statuatory holiday--Heritage Day, so I won't get much done until next Tuesday although I'm itching to get back at my novel.
I picked up two books for research on ranching in southern Alberta in the last quarter of the 19th century, just the era that this chapter is all about, so I'll probably sneak in some time to read them.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The end of chapter two

Yesterday, I finished chapter two and today I started chapter three.
In chapter two, Daniel finally succeeds in being hired as a scout for the the NWMP after several frustrations and disappointments.
In chapter three, after a year as a scout, he decides that he wants more than that in his future, so he joins a ranch in the southern foothills of the Rockies.
That's where I'm at now. I don't think he'll stay long with this job, but I'll have to see where he goes from here.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

No work today

Today, I didn't write a single word of my novel. I took the day off from it although I did some other writing chores.
I'll probably get back to it tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Daniel's dilemma

Today, Daniel returned to Fort Calgary and asked the commander there, Inspector Denny, for a job as a scout. Denny gave him the job but was forced to resign his position in the force for a number of reasons. The new commander, influenced by Corporal Shepherd, revoked the assignment, and Daniel no longer had the job.
That summarizes what happened to Daniel in today's episode.
Writing was easy today and the scene worked well. Of course, it will require rewriting and some facts need to be verified.
When I read the summary, it sounds trite and contrived, but I hope the actual writing will make it sound more realistic. Nevertheless, the story is moving forward.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Not a good day!

Today was not a good writing day. The scene I planned to write did not happen as I expected or hope, but I will let it rest and review it tomorrow.
I started writing it and realized that I did not have enough information about one of the characters that was necessary to accomplish what I wanted. Nevertheless, I wrote the scene although it was a slow laborious job.
On other occasions, I've found that such scenes in retrospect are often as good a those that seem to write themselves.
I'm sure that has happened to most writers. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Chapter two

Today, I started Chapter Two. Daniel is now a dispatch rider carrying messages and mail between the scatterd NWMP posts, but he dreams of becoming a scout like the renowned Jerry Potts. He requests such a job but learns that his age, sixteen years old, is against him, yet he knows that he is capable of doing the job.
The first scene went well, but it got off to a shaky start; yet as it progressed it became easier and easier. It may need some rewriting, but for now I'll let it incubate over the weekend.
As I mentioned before, I seldom write much on the weekends and when I do, it's on other projects, short stories or articles. And now, maybe, my blog.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The end of chapter one

Well, today I finished chapter one and it ended with a bit of surprise as a well-known figure from the early days of the province stepped into the scene.
Jerry Potts, a renowned scout and interpreter of the North West Mounted Police appeared on the scene and helped my protagonist, Daniel Martin, out of a tight spot.
Tomorrow it's on to chapter two.
Oh, by the way, I'll titled the first chapter, The Orphan. Although Daniel is fifteen years old, which was often consider a man or adult, he is orphaned when his parents die of small pox, a serious and dangerous disease in the late 1800's in Western Canada.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The fight

Writing today went very well. The confrontation between Daniel and Ed Shepherd turned into a fist fight, but unfortunately Daniel was not the winner.
I suppose that was expected, but I'm never sure until it happens that it will occur. Since this conflict was planned, I should have expected it.
Tomorrow is the last scene in this first chapter. Again, I'm not sure how it will end.
So this first chapter is set at Fort Calgary in 1880 when it was a principal post of the North West Mounted Police, the force established in 1873 to bring law and order to western Canada's North West Territories. My protagonist is fifteen-year-old Daniel Martin a French-Canadian youth who has just been orphaned when his parents die of smallpox, a not unusual happening in those years.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Back on schedule

Today I got back on schedule and worked for three hours on my novel, the third scene of the first chapter. My young hero meets two antagonists, one apparent and the other not so obvious. As a matter of fact, one befriends young Daniel Martin who is now a dispatch rider for the North West Mounted Police.
The scene unfolded well, and the writing progress with ease, not as it is sometimes--a trial.
I'm sure that happens to most writers, but I find that later I can't tell what writing was an ordeal and what was feast, so to speak.
So far, I'm happy with the way in which the first chapter is progressing. I might say that I always start my writing day by reviewing what I wrote during the previous session. I only make minor corrections and changes unless I spot something that definitely needs a rewrite.
Of course, if my characters have cause major changes in characterization, plot, or some other aspect of the novel, I make those changes in my outline, plan, and character sketches. I do this so I will not make major errors or oops later on.