On October 15, 2022, the Skaneateles Historical Society hosted my first-ever Book Signing Event, although it became much more than that. I gulped when Julie DiBagio ushered me into a room with a dozen chairs that arced before an antique table. "Holy mackeral," I said to myself. "If anyone shows up, this won't be just a Book Signing, this is going to become an Author Talk. What the heck can I say about 1835 Philadelphia that will be of interest to a bunch of people in Skaneateles, NY?"
The first person to walk in the door was Judith G. Bryant, the great-great-grandniece of Harriet Tubman. Somewhat star-struck, I yammered something about being in the presence of royalty, she smiled and sat down, and we were off. I mentioned that Harriet passed through Philadelphia during her escape from enslavement in 1849 and that she will make an appearance in Rian Krieger's Journey starting with Book 6. We established that we were both present when Skaneateles High School burned down (my first memory, she was a junior in high school) in 1952.
Before I knew it, a dozen people had filtered in. We went through introductions and chatted for a bit. Julie introduced me by saying that she and her best friend Kitty Conners used to tease me when we were kids (they were a couple of years older than I was). I said I had a mad crush on Kitty and therefore, any attention was awesome. Then I just started to spew in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way.
45 minutes later, we wrapped up, including a very stimulating Q&A. Then, I was shocked to see standing before me, my old crush Kitty Conners and her brother Jimmie, who was my best friend from kindergarten until he went off to college. Dang, it was so much more than a Book Signing. It was a meeting with a woman whose family stories weave through Rian Krieger's Journey, a successful Author Talk, and a reunion of old friends.
Print and electronic copies of The Conductor - Book 1 of Rian Krieger's Journey are now available on Amazon and printer versions may be ordered directly from my publisher, Sunbury Press. If you order from Amazon, key in The Conductor Book 1 of Rian Krieger's Journey. Apparently there are a lot of books called The Conductor in their stable and mine hasn't climbed up the chart yet. But it will with your help!
FYI: I am also making online applications to independent book stores. Apparently that's how it's done in this era, but I'm afraid it will take some time for the owners/deciders to choose to order and stock my book. My target markets are Cape Cod (playing the "Local Author" card), Central PA (where we lived and worked for 41 years), and Philadelphia (the setting for Book 1). If you have a favorite local bookshop, (whether in my target markets or not) please let me know and I will be sure to apply to them as well.
And thanks again to all of you who have wished me well (not to mention those who have already bought The Conductor). This is a pretty amazing time.
I heard my grandmother Helen Warrior Betts say those words a hundred times and they were spot on. She was feisty, opinionated, and tenacious. But this piece isn’t about Grandma Betts. It’s about her father, Christopher Warrior.
My father dabbled in family genealogy and the Warrior branch of our tree always dead-ended with my great-grandfather Christopher. We knew
little more about him than that he was born on March 29, 1844 and he became a tailor to the well-to-do in Titusville, Pennsylvania.
Speculation was that Warrior was a made-up name, but no one really knew. After Dad died, my niece Maggie picked up the genealogy baton. With the internet, she had access to many more resources, but Christopher Warrior remained a mystery.
For the past five years, I have been writing a series of historical novels that starts in Philadelphia in 1835. My protagonist, who we meet in Book 1 as an 11-year-old girl, is the daughter of a German father and an Irish mother. In the book's first draft, her last name was Reichter. She was feisty, of course, and one inspired morning I thought of injecting Grandma Betts’s motto - “I’m a Warrior by name and a warrior by nature” - into the storyline. Googletranslate told me that the German word for warrior is krieger. Thus my protagonist became Rian Krieger with the push of Edit / Find-and-Replace.
I finished Book 1 and sent it off to beta readers, including Maggie, for critique. She and I talk about Rian Krieger’s journey whenever we are together. She loves that I injected some family lore into the storyline.
The other night, Maggie was poking around ancestry.com. In her own moment of inspiration (“Could it really be that easy?”), she changed Christopher Warrior in her list of ancestors to Chrisopher Krieger, then went to DNA Matches and clicked on Common Ancestors.
Maggie’s DNA matched a man named Vinnie in Baltimore who listed Christopher Krieger in his family tree. According to the 1850 census, Christopher Krieger, age 6, lived in Baltimore with his parents, George Michael Krieger, born in 1813 in Hesse, and Josephine Bamsberger, born in 1816 in Switzerland. By 1870, Christopher had changed his name to Warrior and moved to Titusville.
Now, a new mystery arises, and more speculation. Why did Christopher Krieger change his name to Christopher Warrior? Here’s my best guess:
In 1848, a series of revolutions swept across Europe, including in the Germanic Confederation, causing massive unrest. Largely unsuccessful, those on the losing side became "the ‘48ers," immigrants who fled world-wide, especially to America, Brazil, and Australia. The Germanic influx into the USA was HUGE.
Those who came to America mostly headed to what is now the Midwest (think Milwaukee and beer). There was a marked increase in anti-German activity during this time, because the nativists didn't like the immigrants' otherness, their religion, or their alcohol.
It isn't a great leap to think that amidst all this rancor, and with the desire to assimilate, Christopher Krieger changed his name to Christopher Warrior.
So is Rian Krieger going to encounter this wave of anti-German sentiment? Most likely, but by the late 1840’s, we will be well into Book 4: The Suffragist, and Rian will be living in Newport, Pennsylvania under the assumed name Sarah Smith (punctuated by occasional trips to Harrisburg as Jakob Wainwright).
Hang on. It’s going to be a helluva ride.