WATERS PLANTATION

Great News! WATERS PLANTATION, the long-awaited sequel to THE DOCTOR’S WIFE and to STEIN HOUSE  is available. It follows many of the characters from both books who move from the Indianola seaport to Washington County, Texas, and continue their story during the political turmoil that builds after Reconstruction.

WATERS PLANTATION, my tenth book, is historical fiction. It will be available on November 6, but you may preorder on Amazon.

Here is an overview:

It is 1875 in Texas, and Albert Waters takes pride in his image––prosperous merchant and plantation owner who freed his wife’s slaves before the Civil War and gave them land after her death. Then his son Toby, ready to depart for Harvard Medical College, demands answers. Was his mother a slave?

How does a man account for the truth that on a drunken night, when all he could think about was Amelia his long-ago lover, he gave into the touch of a slave girl?

Al and the Waters plantation co-operative of former slaves create a community that prospers as they educate their children and work their land. They organize against political forces regaining control through rape, lynchings, and the rise of the KKK.

Al believes he has been given a new life when Amelia arrives with dreams of moving her family from the hurricane dangers of the Texas coast. In the rapidly changing world swirling around him, Al will have to confront the image he has held of himself if he wants to keep Toby and Amelia, the two people he loves most.

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Meet & Greet–Texas Book Festival

Myra Hargrave McIlvain

Author of Stein House

Saturday, October 25

Writers’ League of Texas

Booth 414-15

2-2:45 pm

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Sunday, October 26

Texas Association of Authors

Booth 604, 605, 610

1-3:00 pm

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Harker Heights Public Library

Local Author Fair

400 Indian Trail

Harker Heights, TX 76548

Saturday, November 1

9:00 am – 1 pm

Hope to See You There!

Myra Invites You!

9781491709542_COVER.indd

 

 

Internet Radio Interview

Thursday, June 19, from 9 to 9:30am (CST)

 

Myra talks about Stein House, her award-winning historical novel

Tough Talk with Tony Gambone

www.toughtalkwithtonygambone.com

click: Listen Live

(Be patient—it takes a few seconds to load)Texas Assoc of Authors Winner[16]

 

Saturday, June 21, from 1 to 6pm

Malvern Book Store

613 W. 29th

Austin

Book Signing for Stein House

 

Myra will read from Stein House at 1:15

Hope to see you there

Book Signing Invite

9781491709542_COVER.inddTo all you lovers of Texas history who faithfully read my weekly blog, I am sending a very personal invitation to two book signings for Stein House.  If you have been on board for a few months, you already know that Stein House is historical fiction (the history is accurate) set in the thriving Texas seaport of Indianola between 1853 and 1886.

I’ve already written about how I came to tell the story of Helga Heinrich the German immigrant and her children who sail into Indianola determined to overcome the memory and haunting legacy of Max, her husband and their papa, who drowned in a drunken leap from the dock as their ship pulled away from the German port.

The family operates Stein House for boarders of all stripes whose involvement in the rigors of a town on the edge of frontier influences and molds all their lives: the cruelties of yellow fever and slavery, the wrenching choices of Civil War and Reconstruction, murder, alcoholism, and the devastation wrought by the hurricane of 1886.

If you, dear reader, are in Sweden or Australia or India or one of the iced-over states in the U.S., I know you probably can’t make it to the book signings, so here’s my offer:  The publisher of Stein House has given me some free E-book stubs. If you would like to read Stein House, just let me know, and I’ll be tickled to send you the secret code for downloading a copy to one of your electronic devices.

I have ten copies to give away. Of course, I am secretly hoping that you will like Stein House, and that you will write a gentle review, and that you will spread good words about Stein House to your many friends.  If you prefer a real, between the covers copy of Stein House, you can order it by clicking on the link on the right side of this blog.

Meantime, here’s the invite for dear readers who live in this neck of the Texas woods:

 Meet and Greet the Author at Barnes & Noble, Arboretum

10,000 Research Blvd., #158

Austin, TX 78759

Saturday, February 1, 2014

 2 to 4 pm

Meet and Greet the Author at Hastings Books

5206 N. Navarro

Victoria, TX 77901

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Noon to 4 pm

I hope to see you there. 

Stein House is Published

For several weeks I have been blogging about the central coast of Texas where the first huge wave of German settlers landed in

Texas Historical Fiction

Texas Historical Fiction

December 1844 on a bare shell beach that developed into the thriving seaport of Indianola. The blog posts have been an introduction to the exciting history of the place where Stein House, my latest historical novel, opens in 1853 as Helga Heinrich and her four children sail into Indianola to begin their new life.  They are determined to overcome the memory and haunting legacy of Max, her husband and their papa, who drowned in a drunken leap from the dock as their ship pulled away from the German port.

Helga is anxious to be reunited with her sister Amelia, and she’s grateful her wealthy brother-in-law, Dr. Joseph Stein, fulfills his part of the bargain that brought the family to the new world, even without Max to run Dr. Stein’s mercantile store.  Helga takes charge of Stein’s massive boarding house overlooking the road to Texas’ interior and the fickle waves of Matagorda Bay.

A woman of strong passions, Helga operates Stein House for boarders of all stripes whose involvement in the rigors of a town on the edge of frontier influences and molds all their lives: the cruelties of yellow fever and slavery, the wrenching choices of Civil War and Reconstruction, murder, alcoholism, and the devastation wrought by the hurricane of 1886.

The following is an excerpt taken from the first chapter as Helga and her children walk with Amelia to their new home:

A crowd had gathered in front of an impressive white two-story building.  A sign over the door read Casimir House.

Amelia whispered, “Let’s cross to the other side.  It’s a slave auction.”

Helga’s breath caught, and she stood transfixed, staring at a black boy, not more than ten, chained by his ankle and wrist to a giant black man.  Both slaves had been oiled until their flesh shined like polished ebony, outlining every detail of their muscles.

“They look so strong.” Hermie spoke barely above a whisper. “Have you ever seen such muscles on a boy?’

Helga had not.  The child’s massive shoulders bulged under the faded, sleeveless shirt, his powerful arms hanging loosely at his sides, seemingly waiting for the next command.  She looked down at the round softness of Hermie and Paul.  How could she think their life was hard?  Yet in this new land she intended to see their lives improve.

Suddenly the crowd parted, and Helga recognized the top of Anna’s blonde head as the child stepped onto the porch and very lightly stroked the black, manacled hand of the boy.  The contact made the boy jump—the only indication of his fright.  The crowd burst into merry laughter as Anna examined her fingertip for color.

Helga pushed her way into the throng and took Anna firmly by the hand. “Please forgive her,” she whispered, her eyes riveted to the black child’s steady gaze.

The amused spectators patted Anna’s head and made comments about the lovely little German lass until the auctioneer began chanting excitedly.  Almost immediately, the bidding reached a fever pitch.

Gretchen said, “Is that man selling those people?”

“It’s legal.  A few locals use slaves as domestics.  Mostly, they’re sold to planters who take them upriver.”  Amelia kept her voice low.

Helga couldn’t speak.  She clutched Anna’s hand and stared at the boy, who continued to look into her stricken face, his eyes bold and defiant, so little remaining of the child within that fully developed body.

We must go.  You don’t want to see them taken away.” Amelia tugged at Helga’s arm.

“I’ve got to see where he goes,” Helga whispered.

A planter stepped forward wearing a big, broad-brimmed hat and a green satin vest that made his stomach bulge like he was about to strut at the head of a parade.  He paid an amazing $900 for the boy and $1,200 for the man.  The auctioneer nodded dismissively at the slaves, who trotted behind the planter in a rhythm that kept them from entangling their jangling chains.  With one smooth motion, both black bodies heaved themselves into the back of a wagon.  It creaked slowly away, the older slave glaring sullenly into the upturned faces, the boy continuing to stare over the crowd at Helga.

Amelia pulled at Helga’s arm.  “Come.  You can make yourself sick over something you can’t change.”

Anna tucked her finger protectively into the fold of her skirt.

You may order Stein House here to read the rest of the story of this family as they settle into the life of this bustling seaport that rivaled Galveston until two hurricanes finally created a ghost town.

Next week, I will return to my regular Texas history tales.

Backstory of Historical Fiction

In the early 1970s, while living on the Texas coast, I interviewed a ninety-four-year-old woman about her German ancestors who had come into Texas through the thriving seaport of Indianola.  Her family did not travel inland as so many other Germans had done.  Instead, they stayed and helped build the farming and cattle region along the central Texas coast.

My old black tape recorder made her nervous, which forced me to scribble notes as I listened to her account of those long-ago days.  She shared her memory of the 1886 storm that totally destroyed the thriving seaport of Indianola.  She was six years old when the hurricane hit, and fortunately her family lived several miles from Indianola.  She recalled her parents lowering her into a dry cistern during the storm.  She remembered her father climbing a ladder to the top of the cistern, lifting the lid and saying, “there goes the barn.”  Finally, he said, “there goes the house.”

Her stories kept stirring my imagination over the years as I delved deeper into the history of Indianola, which had become a ghost town as the result of that storm.  On Sunday afternoons, when we joined other families at the Indianola Beach to water ski and sail, I was captured by the desolate, flat shoreline where a lone shellcrete cistern weathered among the weeds, and the foundation of the old courthouse peeked above the waves just beyond the shore.

When I wrote Legacy, a coming-of-age novel set in a small Texas town during the last year of World War II, some of the imagery I captured from that long-ago interview became the words that Miranda, the young girl in Legacy, loved to hear about her grandpappy’s experiences on the Chisholm Trail:  “So many cattle being driven north that one trail almost ran into the next.  At night, when the cowboys settled down, they could see off ahead and way behind, little firefly flickers of other campfires dotting the countryside.

“Indians lined the way.  Never bothered them except to slip away with a loose cow or one of the extra horses.  Sometimes they rode past swarms of Indians standing along the trail like they were watching to see if the men might look away, give them a chance to pick up a meal for their whole outfit.

“When storms came and lightning flashed, the herds got scared and started to run.  They had to ride hard, turn the herd back onto itself.  Grandpappy said he never let himself think of the prairie dog holes his horses might step in as he rode.  He always laughed real husky and whispered, “if I’d thought of it, I’d a shook out of my boots right there in those stirrups.  No sir, a man’s got to do some things without thinking.”

She also told me that when she was a young woman, back before there was a causeway, she sailed her sloop across the bay to teach school all week.  If the weather was good on Friday afternoons, she sailed back for the weekend at her parent’s home.  Mrs. Watkins, one of the characters in Legacy, shared that story about her own girlhood.

But the one story I heard in that interview that haunted me all these years was something she mentioned only in passing:  A German woman and her children arrived in Indianola after watching her husband and their papa, who was drunk, leap back and forth from the ship to the dock.  As the ship pulled away, he fell to his death in the river.  That story filled my imagination and finally developed into Stein House, my latest historical novel, a family saga set in Indianola between 1853 and 1886. Helga Heinrich became that German widow who operates Dr. Stein’s boarding house overlooking the road to Texas’ interior and the fickle waves of Matagorda Bay. The colorful characters that live in the Stein House are entwined with the turmoil of the Civil War, the threats of yellow fever and the horror of the infamous 1886 hurricane. Stein House is a tale about Texas history that evolved from an afternoon interview almost forty years ago.  It is in production, and I will let you know when it’s published.  In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the amazing history that took place on the Central Texas Coast.

Diorama created by Jeff Underwood, photograph by Philip Thomae from the Collection of the Calhoun County Museum, Port Lavaca, Texas.

Diorama of Indianola in 1875, created by Jeff Underwood, photograph by Philip Thomae from the Collection of the Calhoun County Museum, Port Lavaca, Texas.