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Kourtney Lowery

Kourtney Lowery

Kourtney Lowery received a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Maryland, College Park and lives in the area featured in The Pressman's Last Notice, historic Sharpsburg, MD and the surrounding area.
She is a freelance writer and has a marketing background. Kourtney currently works at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts as an Education/Marketing Associate. She enjoys the research process and presented a paper on "Farming Lore and Almanacs" at the Appalachian Studies Conference in 2014. This topic is touched upon in "The Pressman's Last Notice."She worked as a Research Associate at the University of Maryland, College Park and interned at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
Her favorite subgenres include: Appalachian, historical fiction, and literature, and as they say, "write what you want to read," so she did.

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Success! The Pressman's Last Notice sold 11 pre-orders by May 4, 2016, was pitched to 6 publishers, and will be self published.

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The Pressman's Last Notice

A burdened man in the 1820's battles the railroad, his town, family, and own self.

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Literary Fiction Historical Fiction
Maryland, United States
90,000 words
75% complete
1 publisher interested

Synopsis


I am currently writing a historical-fiction novel entitled T
he Pressman’s Last Notice. A burdened man in the 1820’s western Maryland. It is an introspective look at how  an outside world weaves a complicated tapestry and chooses which ends to snip.
Elias Stine’s house burns down on the first page of the book; another kick to him as he is dealing with life alone.  His father, mother, brother, and sister have opted to move out west and contact is gone. This element is known to the town characters, but it is gray to the audience. His family’s abandonment weighs on his psyche throughout the novel.  Being a man with no close kin, he obfuscates help and goes to the woods. The backstory is gradually revealed as he moves on with his life, build his life again and eventually marries Eustachia Jenkins. 

The emotional weight is manifested in his fight with the railroad, canal, town, and how the world is not conforming to his principals. In the final chapter, he receives  the presumed notice of his father’s death. Realizing he needs them and this time he acts on his feelings, instead of dwelling. However, the rash decision takes his life and leaves his wife and sons alone to weep. The resolution allows Elias to forgive his parents and siblings and move on but at the cost of repeating the loss to his beloved wife and children.

All the while, the world is infringing upon his small town and home. The canal, backed by the state, and the railroad, backed by the federal government battled each other in court and politics.  

I have a long-standing interest in agricultural history and the

Republican era of American history. The region where I live is at a
cultural crossroads similar to this period in time. This connection
appealed to me as a writer to try to see such change through the eyes of
an 1820's farmer.

I enjoy reading and writing
The Pressman's Last Notice.  It, like real life, has those good days that propel you forward, the humorous times and people you know, and those twists you did not see coming. I have incorporated this realism with natural time, such as the seasons and agricultural work with a broader scope of the progressive shift of isolated areas to a connected country.

I find there is a need for books with a traditional hero.
It offers a story
that even when one want a "simple life", for many people, just as in the
world today, external circumstances and trauma from the past make this
an epic task. The audience roots for Elias Stine and his friends without
diminishing their adversaries to stock characters.

Outline


The three main acts  of
The Pressman's Last Notice fall under leaving, living, and loving. Elias fleeing to the woods and his breakdown there; resolving to live back in town; and creating a new family and forgiving the one that left. The living part shows the toil in the dirt, ways of life, and Elias’s struggle to stay put. The final part, in which Elias has settled and “peace has crossed his mind” highlights his relationship with his wife, Eustachia and his sons. The contentment stirs up his regret, and he continues to struggle, until his reconciliation with his father.
This set-up allows the audience to work out Elias' struggle along side of him. The characters know more than the audience which allows for suspense and moving of the sub-plots, but also mimics what it is like to be an outsider in Shaffersville. 

Back in town, after he resolves in the woods to seek out help, he

goes to the beloved town “Squire” Jacob Maddox. Jacob Maddox gives him a
job a journeyman pressman and farm laborer. However, being back in
town, Elias struggles to live amongst people he disrespects and learns
of the impending railroad and canal.

Time is another character in the book. My favorite portrayal is how it becomes something personally constructed, through the seasons and work and a pocketwatch to its standardization with the railroad and keeping schedule with the rest of the country – strangers one never meets play into this personal constraint. This shift is shown through the pacing of the novel.

In regards to format, I envision the book being 275 pages in length. I would like to put newspaper graphics throughout the book as Elias is a pressman and the newspaper will further immerse the reader.  

Audience


The target audiences for this novel consists of railroad enthusiasts, early American history buffs, readers that enjoy nineteenth century literature, and Appalachian literature. My novel will engage such audiences and fills that American love of the yeoman ideal.

The growth of  the "Back to the Land" movement will build my audience and network. The popularity of farmers markets, organic food, an overall environmental awareness works for
The Pressman's Last Notice . The novel's agricultural setting and theme of control in a changing world resonates with those following this movement.

Author


I have always enjoyed history and working with the land. My family were farmers and we have now been 2 generations off the land.  Besides, writing, gardening and farming is an inherent occupation for me. Since I do not yet possess a working farm, I live out the life and struggle through Elias Stine and Eustachia Jenkins. 

My environment further shaped me through its strong historical ties. I live by Antietam Battlefield and our valley was an early migration route.

 I was a freelance writer for local magazine. This position allowed me to explore my region and take a turn at writing articles. 

Promotion


I have a nascent blog
stopandsitaspell.wordpress.com[1]. I have a professional marketing background. I have experience writing articles, blog-entry, and content creation in magazines and non-profits. I am versatile with digital needs as well as print media.
I currently manage the social media and website for the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. I understand the give and get in social media and how to push events, exhibitions, and fundraising appeals. Organizing and creating content is my forte, because I enjoy finding an organization's niche and merge it with their mission to create a genuine identity or "brand."
I plan to expand my blog and twitter/facebook presence. Guest bloggers and upcoming writers and book reviews will grow my audience and network. 

My social media presence can be expanded by reaching out to popular bloggers, book clubs, podcasts, literary reviewers as well as to those groups and organizations with historical and railroad enthusiasts which are prevalent in my region. I also foresee cross-promoting my novel at historical/Appalachian/railroad-related events, conferences, and museums. Because the book is set in Appalachia, I can use my contacts in Appalachian literature.

My geographic location is an asset as locally there are strong writing and book groups, but I will easily attract the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. markets and use that as leverage to gain access to the coveted northeastern audiences.  Having worked at an independent bookstore, I also understand how to use independent booksellers and nationally their organization to get books on the shelves from new authors.

[1]: http://stopandsitaspell.wordpress.com

Competition


1.
Serena by Ron Rash
2.
Tess of the D'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy 
3.
A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House

4. Iron Rails, Iron Men and the Race to Link the Nation:  The Story of the Transcontinental Railroad by Martin Sandler

5. Coal River by Ellen Marie Wiseman

1. Serena

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2815590-serena[1]
The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.

Rash's masterful balance of violence and beauty yields a riveting novel that, at its core, tells of love both honored and betrayed.

2. Tess of the D’Ubervilles

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/...[2]
Highly controversial because of its frank look at the sexual hypocrisy of Victorian society, Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles was nonetheless a great commercial success when it appeared in 1891. It is now considered one of the finest novels in English.

Using richly poetic language to frame a shattering narrative of love, seduction, betrayal, and murder, Hardy tells the story of Tess Durbeyfield, a beautiful young woman living with her impoverished family in Wessex, the southwestern English county immortalized by Hardy. After the family learns of their connection to the wealthy d’Urbervilles, they send Tess to claim a portion of their fortune. She meets and is seduced by the dissolute Alec d’Urberville and secretly bears a child, Sorrow, who dies in infancy. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer Tess love and salvation, but he rejects her—on their wedding night—after learning of her past. Emotionally bereft, financially impoverished, and victimized by the self-righteous rigidity of English social morality, Tess escapes from her vise of passion through a horrible, desperate act.

With its compassionate portrait of a young rural woman, powerful criticism of social convention, and disarming consideration of the role of destiny in human life, Tess of the D’Urbervilles is one of the most moving and memorable of Hardy’s novels.

3. A Parchment of Leaves

http://www.goodreads.com/book/...[3]
"So it is that Vine, Cherokee-born and raised in the early 1900s, trains her eye on a young white man, forsaking her family and their homeland to settle in with Saul's people: his smart-as-a-whip, slow-to-love mother, Esme; his brother Aaron, a gifted banjo player, hot tempered and unpredictable; and Aaron's flightly and chattery Melungeon wife, Aidia." It's a delicate negotiation into this new family and culture, one that Vine's mother had predicted would not go smoothly. But it's worse than she could have imagined. Vine is viewed as an outsider by the townspeople. Aaron, she slowly realizes, is strangely fixated on her. But what is at first difficult becomes a test of her spirit. And in the violent turn of events that ensues, she learns what it means to forgive others and, most important, how to forgive herself.

4. Iron Rails, Iron Men

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/...[4]
Experience the race of rails to link the country—and meet the

men behind this incredible feat—in a riveting story about the building
of the transcontinental railroad, brought to life with archival photos.
In
the 1850s, gold fever swept the West, but people had to walk, sail, or
ride horses for months on end to seek their fortune. The question of
faster, safer transportation was posed by national leaders. But with
1,800 miles of seemingly impenetrable mountains, searing deserts, and
endless plains between the Missouri River and San Francisco, could a
transcontinental railroad be built? It seemed impossible. Eventually,
two railroad companies, the Central Pacific, which laid the tracks
eastward, and the Union Pacific, which moved west, began the job. In one
great race between iron men with iron wills, tens of thousands of
workers blasted the longest tunnels that had ever been constructed,
built the highest bridges that had ever been created, and finally linked
the nation by two bands of steel, changing America forever.

5. Coal River by Ellen Marie Wiseman

from:
Goodreads[5]

As a child, Emma Malloy left isolated Coal River, Pennsylvania, vowing never to return. Now, orphaned and penniless at nineteen, she accepts a train ticket from her aunt and uncle and travels back to the rough-hewn community. Treated like a servant by her relatives, Emma works for free in the company store. There, miners and their impoverished families must pay inflated prices for food, clothing, and tools, while those who owe money are turned away to starve.

Most heartrending of all are the breaker boys Emma sees around the village--young children who toil all day sorting coal amid treacherous machinery. Their soot-stained faces remind Emma of the little brother she lost long ago, and she begins leaving stolen food on families' doorsteps, and marking the miners' bills as paid.

Though Emma's actions draw ire from the mine owner and police captain, they lead to an alliance with a charismatic miner who offers to help her expose the truth. And as the lines blur between what is legal and what is just, Emma must risk everything to follow her conscience.

An emotional, compelling novel that rings with authenticity--
Coal River is a deft and honest portrait of resilience in the face of hardship, and of the simple acts of courage that can change everything.
The style and language from Tess and Thomas Hardy's novels. I am deeply influenced by his work, rural characters and landscape.  Serena, the story of a new wife brought to Appalachia focuses on the timber industry and culture. Its rich characters, dialect, and setting and pacing is similar to my novel. People being at the mercy of progress and major industries that change them and their physical environments are themes in Serena and Coal River.
The Pressman's Last Notice also shares the internal struggles and character conflicts. 
The railroad and the expansion of America are popular, but there has not been a novel that takes

these historical aspects and presents them from the point of view of a
Maryland farmer being directly affected by this change. 

There are novels that have dealt with 1800's America, but their style and voice is contemporary which takes the reader away from that time and its characters. I have set out to use styles and language specific for the time and region. The pacing and exposition will lend itself to a later style such as Hardy's.

[1]: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2815590-serena
[2]: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tess-of-the-durbervilles-thomas-hardy/1116741801?ean=9781593082284#productInfoTabs
[3]: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24804.A_Parchment_of_Leaves
[4]: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/iron-rails-iron-men-and-the-race-to-link-the-nation-martin-w-sandler/1121069195?ean=9780763665272&quickview=true#productInfoTabs
[5]: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25406912-coal-river

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