Someone asked about the process I used when researching information for my debut novel, Summer Rain: Getsikahvda Anitsalagi (The Removal of the People).

 

And I'm asked many times over how to pronounce "that second part" - and what it even means.

 

First, the easy question: how to pronounce these two Cherokee words in my native tongue of Tsalagi.

 

Gay.chee.kaw.huh.dah // Ah.nee.cha.la.gee is the Cherokee phrase that literally means "removing or removal of the People".

 

Tsalagi is a polysynthetic language; it's like Shrek said … it has layers. There are 85 characters that comprise the Cherokee language, so when you begin to learn this complex language, it’s almost like taking on two languages simultaneously. And you have to learn them both at the same time.

 

I was in constant contact with my Tsalagi instructor when choosing this phrase due to all the layers of the language; this had to be spot-on and perfect.

 

Before deciding how to word what I wanted to say, it had to be determined whether the thing being removed was animal, human, inanimate, a liquid or flexible item. (It does make a huge difference!) After several emails back and forth, my language instructor reminded me that we are speaking of human removal, and the Cherokee people are the anitsalagi - yvwi being "people" and Tsalagi being Cherokee.

 

Why did I choose to add Cherokee wording to my title?

 

Simply put, my publisher asked me to provide a subtitle due to the fact that there were some other books on the market by the title, "Summer Rain". My novel culminates with the Trail of Tears, thus my subtitle choice.

 

How I researched for my information: For almost a year, I carried a large three-subject notebook everywhere I went. Each section of the notebook was sectioned off with its own pocket divider, allowing my newspaper clippings, pictures, articles from magazines - my research - to be placed into categories. Pens of multiple colors, pencils, erasers, and a pocket pencil sharpener still remain in my purse, along with a couple notebooks of various sizes.


Like just about every other writer, my pen was scratching across paper at every hour of the day. I spent a few 24-hour periods with no sleep because I had a brainstorm that had to be put to paper or risk losing the inspiration. Not all of those late-night sessions were used for this manuscript, so the unused portions were filed away for future use.


One thing I found useful was the external hard drive my husband bought me for a gift. My desktop was becoming crowded with so many files and my laptop screen had been filling up with files all on its own ... the external storage space not only alleviated that space, but also ensured that nothing would be lost. That alone is a good feeling for a writer; our "entire lives" are on our computers!


I asked questions, emailed people, replied on blogs, contacted chambers of commerce for information. And kept notes on things that I didn't even know whether or not I would even be using.


Many of the things I needed to clarify and check for factual accuracy came straight off the Cherokee Nation’s website, so there was little need to make multiple searches. From the areas within that site and stories I've heard and remembered over the years from ancestors who walked The Trail of Tears, (along with things I read here and there), I found such a wealth of information that I was able to gather notes for perhaps another three books in this genre and niche.

 

Chapter 10 required insight into the world of hunting and skinning large animals, which I have no experience in whatever. This information came from a good friend of mine who is actually a bear hunter … she’s short, blond, speaks quietly. Yes, I said “she”. You would never have her pegged as a hunter just to look at her, but boy, did she give me the gory low-down!

 

I watched a few youtube videos on skinning and found drawings of homes from 1800s Georgia, which I used in describing the village and Rain’s home.

 

Taking all these things into consideration (along with my vivid imagination), Summer Rain: Getsihahvda Anitsalagi (The Removal of the People) has come to life and is now living in my editor’s office, waiting for the rest of its journey into a book store near you!