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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

August 2013

Help! I've Been Buried Alive!



The good news is that the proof pages for "Left by the Side of the Road" have  arrived.  They look pretty good, and I've managed to print them off so that my red pen can edit can edit away to its heart's content. The bad news is that it's a holiday weekend, and I once had hopes of taking some time off to vegetate and get ready for fall. However . . . .! 

The good news is that this gives me time, not only to run a final line edit of the whole work, but also to set in play the formats for various electronic versions. And that means I can offer a few weeks of pre-orders for faithful readers who have been asking when the book will be available. The bad news is that such a plan -- while good in the long term -- makes the next couple of weeks incredibly complicated.

Enjoy your labor Day Weekend, everyone. And save a hot dog or two for those of us who are spending it laboring.

Shortages: Horses, Locomotives, Teachers, and. . . Nothing to Capture?

In recognition of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, “Civil War-Era Memories” features excerpts from The Memphis Daily Appeal of 150 years ago. The Appeal is publishing from Atlanta. Perspective from our staff is in italics.

Aug. 20, 1863

Horses for Gen. Forrest — Major C.S. Severson, General Forrest’s quartermaster, advertises in another column for seventy-five horses, to make up the deficiency in Gen. Forrest’s artillery train ... When we consider the immense sacrifices that have been made by those portions of our country that have been overrun, or subjected to the raids of the enemy, and contrast them with that which is now asked of us in depriving ourselves of an extra riding, carriage or buggy horse, for which we are to receive a fair valuation, the matter assumes its real and proper aspect.

Aug. 21, 1863

Memphis Intelligence — The board of school visitors met for the purpose of deliberating upon the expediency of establishing a high school for the more advanced classes of the public schools. After mature thought they decided that such a school was necessary for the public good, and that a house be at once selected in some central location for that purpose. Dr. Allen M. Scott was nominated to fill the teacher’s chair for the ensuing scholastic year. It was determined that the salary should be $1500 a year.

Aug. 24, 1863

The Raids in Mississippi — Two large raids, one from Yazoo City, the other from Memphis, were sent out for the purpose of destroying the immense quantity of railroad stock accumulated at Grenada. (Confederate General) Chalmers engaged the Memphis column near Panola and was defeated. The Yazoo columns reached Grenada, and destroyed forty locomotives and a large number of passenger and freight cars, sent there for safety ... The damage inflicted is incalculable and irreparable.

Aug. 25, 1863

From the Tennessee River — There has been no firing from the enemy’s batteries opposite Chattanooga since Saturday evening, but the enemy continues to hold his position. The town has been almost entirely evacuated — the public stores having been removed, and almost all the non-combatants have sought a place of safety.

Ideas That Caught My Eye Today

Back to searching the web today for news that doesn't make the news.  After being away for a few weeks, I found some really interesting articles to pass along.

The Historian's Point of View:  The Experiences of the Past, Seen through Current Events
On this site, I'll be gathering articles about the craft of history -- new discoveries, new methods, new controversies.  Today's article is about history in the making -- a new roadway that even a wildlife organization can love. Find it at http://www.scoop.it/t/the-historian-s-point-of-view

The Writing Game: A Collection of Advice and Clever Tips for Writers of all Genres
Every writer has a set of tricks to help navigate through thorny spots in the writing process. Maybe some of them will help you, too. One problem we all face is the avid fan or family member who wants to know more about what you are writing than you know yourself.  Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/the-writing-game

Self-Publisher: How To Be Your Own Publisher without Going Bankrupt
Current views and helpful tips from authors who have switched to self-publishing.  One of our hardest jobs is learning how to be a successful marketer.  Here's a quick and dirty way to make the end of your e-book do the marketing work for you. Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/self-publisher 

The Civil War in South Carolina
As I once again plunge into the history of the Civil War in South Carolina, I notice more and more internet articles that touch on my research.  Some of them inform my next book, "Damed Yankee" while others remind me of incidents in "Beyond All Price,"  "Left by the Side of the Road,"  and "The Road to Frogmore." I'm collecting them here for my own information and to fill my readers in on stories about  Civil War history they may not have heard in school. Today's article explores the question of what happened when black Union soldiers fell prisoner to the confederate army.  They example used is a group featured in my "The Road to Frogmore."  Find it at http://www.scoop.it/t/civil-war-in-south-carolina

The Owl and the Pussycat

Do you remember Edward Lear's wonderful nonsense poem, "The Owl and the Pussycat?" It began . . . .

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea    
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,    
Wrapped up in a five pound note.

I always loved it, but this morning someone sent me a YouTube video that topped it for sheer fun, beauty, and inspiration.  Here it is. Enjoy!

You need Flash Player in order to view this.
FUM AND GEBRA, 2012, THE RETURN
"Avui si" English song lyrics, courtesy of Roger Margarit TODAY, YES!Avoiding lethargy and getting as bored as a flan we put our trainers on and go out on an excursion.Always walking forwa...

Speaking Different Languages

Have you noticed how many ads there are on Facebook recently for foreign language instruction and translation software? There's also a popular article circulating that argues that when we speak a different language, we become a different personality. Apparently failure to communicate affects even the world's cats.


I've been wondering about the validity of that finding, and it occurs to me that the change may work in the opposite direction. 
Since I started writing full time, I've developed a whole new vocabulary--one that may be fairly meaningless or hopelessly confusing to others.  For example:

  • I talk about arcs and ARCs, but I'm not talking about mathematical curves or geophysical phenomena, or even a biblical boat.
  • Today I've been creating a bookmark, with lots of talk about trim size, which has nothing to do with the way my clothes fit, and bleeding, which does not call for a bandaid.
  • I'm waiting for a proof, but I'm not looking for incontrovertible evidence or a geometrical argument.
  • Spine width has nothing to do with a backbone.
  • Trade paper does not mean I'll check yours and you check mine.
  • Smashwords is not nearly as violent as it sounds. 
  • Twitter can sometimes express profound truths.
  • Cloud computing does not require a bird-like ability to fly.
  • Scapple is not a badly spelled version of a surgeon's knife.

So, the next time you complain that your friends and family do not understand what it is like to be a writer, maybe it's because you now speak a different language.

Can you think of other examples? Feel free to add to this list.