Sunday, April 22, 2012

Are We Communicating?

Rainy day relaxing after many hours of driving over the last few days... I'm following my intention of reading the Sunday New York Times with no time pressure and few electronic distractions while sipping strong, hot coffee. I so enjoy the tactility of holding a newspaper and after reading my first go-to section of the paper today, the Sunday Review, I can't wait to get a copy of Sherry Turkle's book, "Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other."  I like what she says about the value of face to face conversation unfolding slowly unlike our sound bites in digital text.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Writing As Curiosity and Healing

Over the many years that it took to birth Each Other I see now that I was sparked by two things: curiosity and a desire to present my words and ideas, bringing alive my findings if you will, in a creative manner of self-healing. For me, writing is a creative form of therapy and personal growth.  I can identify with writers who express the difficulty of self-criticism, that inner voice that arises to question one’s skill, the scratchy inner voice that asks, "Do you really think that you can write?"

Who knew that at the time I started my first drafts of the book until now, we'd move into a world where I can share ideas before or after my work day with whoever decides to read it worldwide on the internet. When I started Each Other in the mid-1990s, around 1995, we didn't have cell phones or the internet to work with and a few years later when one of my friends had a "mobile phone" it was the size of a large woman's shoe, not pocket-sized like today. I had my share of rejection over the years through several drafts but with each rejection I felt more determined to believe in my characters, the story woven through actual historical events and the belief that I could write, despite the critical voices in my own head. My biggest rejection letter inspired me to rewrite the entire book in first person from its original version in third-person and I think that it created a much stronger story.

As a very visual learner and interpreter, I first saw the scenes of the story in my head as if in a film and then interpreted those ‘scenes’ into words and paragraphs as a translator would to put them down on paper for later editing. Writing fearlessly as described here is a method of trusting the creative process and quieting the noisy voices within oneself to let the characters and the time period shape the chapters. My curiosity led me to study the social and political climate of 1862 in detail: the weather the troops faced, their uniforms, the herbs used to heal, the events of the day such as the passage of the Homestead Act and the Emancipation Proclamation and the daily life of pumping water from a well, chopping wood to heat it and finally washing the dishes with that water. My experience living in a cabin in Maine as an 18-year-old many years ago, helped me to make those descriptions come to life.

I’ve been very fortunate to have an adventurous life with many unusual experiences and it is those life experiences that I drew on to build my story. Contrary to a quiet life of research and writing, my research and writing time was built into the multitasking that I had to do to raise one son and help raise four stepsons, work full-time for 27 of the last 30 years in classrooms and libraries and more, and in the midst of all that, go to grad school.

Now in the hectic time that is 2012, 150 years after 1862, I am reminded of the value of finding balance and slowing down the day whenever possible. Your comments?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Each Other soon to be available from Apple, Barnes and Noble, and more!

Each Other made it to Premium Catalog and will be available from other ebook vendors in the coming weeks. With this coupon code: LC35P at, the book is available at a 20% discount until September 1.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Backstories

Each Other was a tough baby to deliver. I tried many times to let the story go, to put it away, shelve it and forget it but it wouldn't let me go. The outline for the story came to me one afternoon while I was at home in Tucson, AZ. It felt as though the main characters, Annie and Warren, were tapping me on the shoulder, tugging at my sleeve and saying, "Tell our story." In fact, about one year into the writing, my family made a dramatic move from the southwestern U.S. to the northeast and in that long process of selling a house and 70% of our belongings, packing up, finishing school schedules and finding new jobs, my book was put on hold for several months and eventually, packed up too. We drove two cars across country in June of 1997 with a very patient and adventurous eleven year old son and no relief driver. Exhausted, I had nightmares each night. The theme of the dream was the same in each nightmare: I had neglected a child, a young baby, only to find it in its crib, hungry and whithered where I had forgotten it. I was haunted by this image and had to figure out what the baby represented. Rubbing my  tired eyes over a cup of coffee in a restaurant somewhere in Iowa one morning, I realized it (the baby in my dream) was symbolic for my book. The baby , neglected and needing care,had been abandoned and was waiting for me. Then finally, many weeks later when we got settled in a new home, I returned to my box of books and papers and the beginnings of a novel that I was determined to reconnect with, to research and write.

Annie Cunningham, the main character in Each Other is a Union spy living in nothern Virginia. As a writer and reader myself, I had never been interested in the topic of female spies of the Civil War until one day  when I was purchasing books for a library that I managed, and I became intrigued by a book that told the stories of many women spies from history, some of whom had dressed as men and were not discovered to be the opposite sex until they were wounded. As I read on about the topic, I discovered that women spies were key to important events on both sides of the (American) Civil War.
They passed notes, gave safe harbor to other spies who had to pass between the lines, learned of troop movements and battle plans all at their own peril to follow their convictions.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Each Other Available at!

Finally! After 17 years of writing, researching and sitting on the bookshelf in my home,  Each Other: A Novel is available for downloading from If you'd care to start off with an excerpt at no charge, go for it. That's a good way to tell if this is a book you'd like to read.

Each Other has many back stories in the making but the bottom line is that this is a story that wouldn't let me go, no matter how hard I tried, and the topic of the Civil War...? I thought it would be the last topic I'd write about. However, as a librarian, purchasing books  for a high school library in the southwest, I found a book about women spies of the (American) Civil War (1861-1865) and was intrigued by the means those women took to follow their convictions, whether political, social, moral or emotional. As a former history teacher having just returned from the set of a major Hollywood film as an extra where stories 'magically' came to life, I saw the scenes from Each Other develop in my mind before I could put them down on paper. This book and their characters wouldn't let me go and I found myself researching and writing late at night, during my son's roller skating parties, riding as a passenger in the car and any place I could squeeze in time around my very full-time job. As a wrap-around novel that begins and ends in 1891 when Annie Cunningham is called to the death bed of a woman she had never met and never planned to meet, most of the story is set during the Civil War in 1862 in northern Virginia where Annie is living as a spy for the Union.
Next time....the back stories of Each Other

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Each Other - A New Novel Set in the Civil War

Coming Soon!  Each Other - A Novel  by Pamela Erickson will soon to be published on  Each Other is the story of Annie Cunningham, a Union spy during the (American) Civil War and the complications created against the backdrop of her love affair with Warren Dodd, a Confederate Captain.

Beginning and ending in 1891, the novel wraps around a story of Annie and Warren through the events of 1862 in northern Virginia. Historical events are woven through the story and fictionalized for the novel. Watch Night celebrated by new England churches on New Year's Eve 1862 to honor those who fought for freedom was held on the eve of ushering in the Emancipation Proclamation. This event is described in Each Other and potentially significant in the year 2012, the 150th anniversary of the event.

As the story unravels, we learn that Annie and her sister Sarah, encouraged by the Abolitionist movement in their native Massachusetts take great risks to  join the spying effort after the death of their youngest brother, one of the war's early casualties. An herbalist and healer, Annie works in extreme conditions as a nurse in a nearby hospital, mainly as an attempt to work her way into the adjacent prison to arrange an escape fo the Union captives there.

Set in a slower time, Each Other and the historical events that create a backdrop for this work of fiction, remind us that we are who we are because of one another. The themes in Each Other still ring true today
as the characters and events of the book express the themes of life during war, personal freedom and conviction, empowerment and connection across Time.