Thursday, August 23, 2012

Proposal to the Historical Novel Society

I have joined the Historical Novel Society and want to be an active participant. They have issued a call for proposals for the 2013 meeting which will be in St. Petersburg, Florida at the Renaissance Vinoy Hotel
June 21-23, 2013. This year they are in London!

The call for proposals states: 

The 2013 HNS North American Conference Board is pleased to announce a Call For Proposals to be a speaker for next year’s program in St. Petersburg, FL.  We’re trying something a little different this time in order to more fully engage the variety of people who attend our conferences. We all love historical fiction of course, but we’re in different places in our appreciation: writers (new and established), readers and fans, and bloggers. Some of us are in all of these categories, and in many places along the roads in between.
We’re planning to organize conference activities along the following lines:
  • Writing Historical Fiction: From beginning writers to the published greats.
  • Publishing and Marketing Historical Fiction: Old school and new tools.
  • Reading Historical Fiction: What do readers and bloggers want to see?


So, I have written a proposal that I plan to submit that I will share with you. I will probably have sent it before you have time to critique it, but comment anyway if you like, because it will help me with my next proposal. 

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To the Victor Belongs the Spoils – and the Story: The Silenced Voice of the Native American Speaks Out
By: Sharman Burson Ramsey

"Writing Historical Fiction: Being present in the past, or how not to inject today’s attitudes into yesterday"
Historical Novel Society Conference
St. Petersburg, Florida
June 21-23, 2013
Should you approve this topic, I would introduce this panel with a song from Nightwish with John Two Hawks entitled “Creek Mary’s Blood” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&NR=1&v=CLq2pUo4UgY). The words of this song convey the motivation of many of us who now speak for the voiceless ones whose story is seldom told. 

Soon I will be here no more
You'll hear my tale
Through my blood
Through my people
And the eagle's cry
The bear within will never lay to rest
Wandering on Horizon Road
Following the trail of tears.

Andrew Jackson, an icon in American history, began his road to glory in the Creek War, often a footnote of the larger war of which it was a part, the War of 1812. As the result of this war and the Treaty of Fort Jackson, 25,000,000 acres of land came into the hands of land agents and a flood of settlers claimed the lands of the Creek Indians. Yet, Article 9 of the Treaty of Ghent, an international treaty, provided that the United States would end hostilities with the Indians and would restore to the tribes “all the possessions, rights and privileges which they may have enjoyed or be entitled to in one thousand eight hundred and eleven previous to such hostilities.” Jackson claimed the Treaty of Fort Jackson took precedence over the international treaty and by the power of his personality and the reputation he had attained at the Battle of New Orleans he prevailed. 

The story of those Native Americans with whom he fought and left defeated and destitute was left untold in a nearly forgotten time and place in American history. “Remember Fort Mims” was once a rally cry as potent as “Remember the Maine” and “Remember the Alamo.” The names and stories of those who fought along side of Jackson are remembered and honored in genealogical societies throughout the nation, but only recently with the current popularity of finding ones roots has the silence been lifted and the shame of one’s Native American heritage become a thing of the past so that the rest of the story could be told. 

The ancestry of my fourth great grandmother was kept silent for years. Ironically, her husband, a friend of Jackson’s, was called to herd cattle in the Fort Mims area for the war he anticipated with Spain. Jackson came frequently to visit and ate at her table. It was discovering her Native American heritage that led to the writing of Swimming with Serpents set during the Creek War (Mercer University Press, 2012) and Nest of Vipers set against the backdrop of the First Seminole War (Mercer University Press, 2013). 

Who were these people who then became my people? Why did they fight that war? What happened to them once that war was over? Though my own ancestors prospered and integrated well into society, my grandmother’s first cousin Chief James Vann of the Cherokee Indians had his lands confiscated by the Georgians. That was the case where Andrew Jackson made his famous proclamation "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!" In 1838, her kin were sent on the Trail of Tears. Her own family hid their heritage and it has taken six generations to rediscover it.


With the 2013 Conference being located in Florida, the location of Nest of Vipers, and the final resting place of many of those silent ones, this topic would certainly be relevant.


As in the song, I am one of that blood. My books have become a voice to speak out of the silence in an effort to be present in the past, casting off attitudes of bias and discrimination against a heritage long hidden. 

I am a newly published author and a new member of the Historical Novel Society. I appreciate your consideration.

Respectfully submitted,
Sharman Burson Ramsey

1 comment:

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