Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trapped in the Crossfire: A Civil War Saga

Pictured (artist unknown): writer's inspiration for two characters, Perry & Sarah Williams.

Why would a woman pursue, for years, the research & writing of a story about war, especially one so dark and deadly as the Civil War? Why? Because Margaret Mitchell and other writers have glorified that era. Why? To demonstrate, through this real-life couple, how true love can survive through the worst of times.

Much historical truth has been overlooked or hidden. The War Between the States was conceived in minds filled with pride & finger-pointing, sectional divisions (New England made rich by child labor in textile mills vs. Deep South made rich by slaves producing cotton needed for those mills) & envy. The war actually began half a century earlier than declared, when a New England statesman pushed for secession from the Union. Later an unfair taxation issue came about, resulting in southern shouts of "States rights!" Narcissists and power-hungry men vied, not to serve the nation in office, but for control over its citizens.

Beware, free citizens living in America today! History tends to repeat itself. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

General Hood's Last Play with His "Poker Chips"

 Union Soldiers at Stevenson, AL trail depot in December, 1864, awaiting transport to Nashville, and there to battle General Hood's "poker chips", barefoot old men and boys, many clad in rags.
Nashville citizens on a hilltop overlooking the battle in progress, a slaughter of the Confederates led by Hood, who many believe was insane. Hood was removed from duty, fled in disgrace after this battle.

The Battle of Nashville is rarely spoken of today, even by historians. What Union soldier was willing to boast of picking off men easy as ripe grapes? Most Confederates now had nothing to load in their rifles, were sitting at the feet of the Union troops in snow and ice, near death and starving. 

The South, ill equipped to fight even at the war's onset, in 1864 reached a critical point of starvation and suffering from lack of munitions. Rebels were shaking the bushes for any male civilian they might kidnap and compel into service. Thus their troops included many bare cheeked boys and white-whiskered old men. My manuscript's protagonist, Perry Williams, was taken at gunpoint, forced into battle and starved along with other soldiers. His wife Sarah was left alone to fight off marauders, fend for herself and their children. 

Will enduring love and determination be enough to see the couple through the war? Did Perry survive the Battle of Nashville to return to his wife? When his Captain defied General Hood and yelled, "Every man for himself... head for the hills!" did Perry obey, break and run? Love in the Crossfire: A Civil War Saga, currently being pitched to presses, reveals truth gleaned from soldiers diaries.  


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Slave Trail (compliments of the Smithsonian)

One of the most challenging tasks of a writer of historical fiction is knowing when to pull the plug on our research. No sooner do I make plans to hit the send button, then a needed edit or rewrite comes to mind.  This photo comes from a Smithsonian article, and portrays the actual means of transporting slaves across a landmass. I shuddered, reading of this inhumanity. Not until I saw the artists' rendition though, was I moved to add a scene (necessary, as my characters were travelling this same route during that era and surely saw this happen) to my historical novel manuscript. 

A sidebar note on rewrites: I was recently asked to edit a manuscript for a writer friend, and she offered a substantial fee. After reading the first ten pages for free, I suggested rewrites were needed before I agree to take the job. There are plenty of money-grabber editors in the business. I refuse to be one.

Be inspired to be true to your calling.