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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

October 2014

A New Biographical Sketch for My Media Page

Here's the bio that I've been working on most of the day. I'd appreciate any suggestions for improvement.

Carolyn Schriber hated history classes when she was growing up because they required little but memorization. Once she was so bored by the material that instead of answering an essay exam on the Revolutionary War, she filled in the space by writing several verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The professor gave her an A, which may have suggested that he was as tired of names and dates as she was. Or maybe he was just impressed that she knew more than the first verse. Eventually, however, she discovered a teacher who was an enthusiastic story-teller, and her love of history blossomed. While her husband served as a career Air Force officer, she taught high school Latin and English wherever they happened to be stationed. Then she went on to earn her doctoral degree in medieval history from the University of Colorado and spent the last seventeen years of her teaching career as the kind of college professor she had always wanted to have.

After her retirement from teaching at Rhodes College,  Schriber used her training and talents to examine a little-known event at the beginning of the Civil War. Taking her great-uncle’s letters as a starting point, she analyzed the strategic errors that turned the Battle of Secessionville into a rout (A Scratch with the Rebels, 2007). Then she looked at the life of a nurse who was present at that battle (Beyond All Price, 2010). A missionary who arrived to care for abandoned slaves became the subject of another biography (The Road to Frogmore, 2011). Most recently she has been writing about civilians whose lives were forever disrupted by these events (Left by the Side of the Road, 2012, and Damned Yankee, 2014). The result is a five-volume series, “The Civil War in South Carolina’s Low Country.” Two of the books have received medals from the Military Writers Society of America—a bronze medal for Beyond All Price and a silver medal for The Road to Frogmore.

In 2009, tired of the rigmarole and delays of traditional publishing, Schriber decided to become a self-publisher. She founded her own company, Katzenhaus Books, and since then has assumed total responsibility for producing six  of her own books, including second editions of two that had formerly been issued by traditional houses. (The name “Katzenhaus“ came from the four cats  who share their house with Carolyn and her husband and who spend their days in her office, making sure she keeps writing.)

Being an independent publisher, she notes, is not easy. It involves dealing with skilled professionals who provide editing, design, formatting, and printing. It also calls for knowledge of computer programs, social media, public relations, and finance. But it also has its own rewards, giving the author-publisher complete control over the final product and a closer relationship with customers. In 2012, Schriber turned her experiences as a self-publisher into a manual for others hoping to follow the same path. The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese won a silver medal in the category of Business from the Military Writers Society of America. She now uses that book as a text for addressing writers’ groups and for working in a one-on-one relationship with aspiring writers.

Six Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Me:

1. The only time I ever cheated on a test was when my eighth-grade history teacher made us list from memory all the American presidents in order,with the dates of their terms. I decided it was perfectly reasonable to cheat on an unreasonable assignment, but I still feel guilty about it.

2. I’ve had at least one cat ever since I was three years old. It is my husband, however, who started the practice of having more than one at a time.

3. On my first day as a high school English teacher, the principal presented me with my very own paddle—made of lemonwood, holes drilled through it to make it whistle, and the paddle portion slit into two horizontal layers in order to deliver two swats for the price of one.  Imagine that happening today!

4. My first job, at age sixteen, was fitting girdles in the ladies’ underwear department of our town’s only  department store.I lasted two days.

5. The best dessert I ever ate was a bacon sundae—vanilla ice cream topped with maple syrup and crumbled bacon—at an Italian restaurant on Hilton Head Island.

6. In my spare time, I am an active member of Lions Clubs International, working with others to provide assistance to those who are visually impaired and to help eradicate preventable blindness around the world.

All the News Fit to Print in 1867

Just for fun, here are some of the items that made the front page of the Charleston Daily News in April 1867:

An English clergyman was on hand when a body washed up on the beach. He refused to read the burial service because he couldn’t be sure the man had been baptized. (Surely all that sea water should count for something!)

A Confederate soldier who was killed during the war in New Orleans has now been dug up and will be returned to Charleston for a proper burial, thanks to the discovery of fluids that preserve dead bodies (embalming). Funeral guests are assured they can attend without discomfort or annoyance.

A report is circulating in England that Napoleon was once planning to help the King of Portugal to seize the Spanish throne, in exchange for which he would receive ownership of Cuba. The paper denies the rumor, pointing out that Napoleon may have been many things but he was not a fool!

The closing of a book store, due to retirement, and selling stock at “a great sacrifice.”

A “Pulmonic Elixir Specific”  which will provide a new cure for consumption, asthma, coughs, and all bleeding in the lungs. It has been created by the local druggist to invigorate, restore warmth, purify the blood, regulate circulation, and expel all diseases, while promising to be  safe, without narcotics or emetics. $1.25 a bottle.

Help Wanted Ads for a good cook, (either white or black); someone who can make men’s clothes and make herself useful in the kitchen and garden; recent German and Irish immigrants to work on a plantation. (Lack of slave labor has become a real crisis.)

Also advertised on front page:  ladies’ bonnets, sewing machines, window shades, kid gloves, hay, hams, coarse ready-made clothing, fine wines, Worcestershire sauce, boots, and hepatic bitters for those needing a tonic.

The Week in Review

What have I been up to this week? It certainly hasn't been blogging, and I apologize to all of you who keep checking back, only to find the same old stuff. Better days are coming, I promise.

This week my only postings had to do with the publication of my boxed set of the early South Carolina books. That's mostly taken care of now, and I can report that pre-orders  are available wherever you prefer to shop --Kindle, B&N Nook, Kobo, or iBooks. Just look for "The Civil War in South Carolina's Low Country."



I was also busy this past week with two Lions events--both were important. First, we attended a Southern College of Optometry meeting for "Dining in the Dark."   The SCO Lions are finishing a drive for new members -- 81 recruits from the First-Year class so far. This experience of what it is like to be blind may inspire others to join.







Then yesterday we spent the morning at "VisionWalk," a Memphis-wide fundraiser for retinal diseases. I spent the week recruiting among the Germantown Lions and had signed up some of its members and friends as part of our mission to help fight the causes of preventable blindness in the world.  We joined a dedicated band of supporters -- all races, all ages, sighted and visually impaired, children and parents accompanied by strollers, babies in arms, and dogs in Halloween costumes.  (Note a little girl using her white cane in the picture below in the lower left corner.) We had 16 participants and raised approximately $620.  Here are a couple of pictures.














Beyond that? Well, I've now completed the initial draft of the first seven chapters of "Yankee Reconstructed," the sequel to "Damned Yankee." That's almost 15,000 words, and I'm starting to see the story taking shape.  The historical period in which it takes place, however, is not one I'm really up to speed on yet, so here's a  lot of research involved.

For example, today, I needed an undertaker, and I wanted him to be as authentic as possible. So I spent yesterday afternoon reading SC newspapers from 1867, looking for ads for undertakers and reading obituaries to get a feel for funeral practices (Yes, someone dies early in the new book!)  I found one, too! That's what makes writing historical fiction so much fun. You can't make these details up.

Thomas E. Dalwick had a shop located on King Street, just across from where The Ordinary stands today.  He advertised his carpentry skills and his upholstery business, and then in small print mentioned that he was an undertaker (using his skills to produce caskets). He also offered 24-hour-a-day service in body removal and disinterment, in case someone needed to move or dig up a body. Look for him when the new book comes out!



What's All This About Pre-Orders?

As I announced a couple of days ago, my new collection of books about "The Civil War in South Carolina's Low Country" is now available for pre-ordering. It's not really "four books in a box," of course, but rather, four electronic books in one easily navigated e-book format. Their publication dates range from 2007 to 2013, but they have much in common -- more than just the author!

All four are set, at least in part, on the Sea Islands of South Carolina -- from Charleston to Savannah -- during the same period of 1861 to 1865. They cover many of the same events, but from different points of view. The war looks very different, depending on whether you're a Confederate soldier, a Union soldier, a battlefield nurse, a well-meaning missionary, an abolitionist, a cotton agent, or an African whose status is still wavering between enslavement and freedom.

Each book is a separate story, but occasionally one character pops up in several books. Jim McCaskey is a featured character in A Scratch with the Rebels, but he also appears briefly in Beyond All Price. Laura Towne and her fellow missionaries have a a brief introduction in Beyond All Price before they take center stage in The Road to Frogmore. Many other minor characters seem unimportant in one book, only to reappear with their own short stories in Left by the Side of the Road.

The collection will be published and available on November 15, 2014, for $7.99. Why are there pre-orders? Well, they serve several purposes. I was originally encouraged to put the four books together because recent sales have suggested that readers are going back to earlier books to pick up a greater understanding of the events. I wanted to make it easier (and cheaper) for them to do so, but at the same time, I wanted to give those readers some advance notice that they could save money by ordering the set now and waiting for the release date.. (At the moment, purchasing the four individual books would cost $12.96; the boxed set at pre-order price, $6.00 or slightly higher on iBooks.)

There's a benefit for me, as well. Pre-order sales are not charged until the day of the scheduled release, so on that first day, as all the pre-order sales hit the sales lists at once, there's a better chance that the collection will break into the 100 best-seller category and encourage others to buy the book, albeit at the slightly higher official list price of $7.99.

The best news is that these pre-orders are available NOW. You can order a Kindle edition at: http://www.amazon.com/Civil-War-South-Carolinas-Country-ebook/dp/B00OKUZF4M. The set is also available in iBooks (in the Apple Bookstore) and on Kobo, by searching under my name, Carolyn P. Schriber. I expect the Nook edition to be ready within the week, as well.

Happy Reading!


Announcing a New "Boxed " Set of My Favorite Books

The Civil War in South Carolina's Low Country


This "boxed" set is a value-priced collection of biographical stories about the people history books forget -- families, children, abandoned slaves, missionaries and teachers, spies, ordinary soldiers and government tax collectors, greedy cotton agents and land speculators. All are real people; all of them lived through historical events we only read about.

In November 1861, the Union Navy set out with a fleet of 88 ships and 12,000 ground troops to capture a large harbor somewhere in South Carolina. They were looking for a broad expanse of water that could be used to repair and re-supply the ships of the Atlantic Blockade. They found that Port Royal Sound, just off the coast of Hilton Head Island, suited all of their requirements. The sheet of water was too wide for shore guns to fire across, and it was guarded by only two small forts manned by fewer than 200 men. The naval forces opened fire on those forts on the morning of November 7th, and by 2:00 pm, the Confederate troops had struck their colors and fled for the safety of Charleston. Hot on their heels were the civilian plantation owners. They abandoned cotton crops, homes, and slaves in their haste to take their families to safety. Some 10,000 slaves now found themselves without protection and occupying an uncomfortable gray status between freedom and slavery. These are the stories of some of the unknown people whose lives were forever changed by the events of November 7, 1861.

"A Scratch with the Rebels" tells the stories of two ordinary soldiers. One was a backwoods Pennsylvania farm boy named James McCaskey; the other, a college student named Augustine Smythe, from an aristocratic family in South Carolina. Both were of Scotch-Irish descent, Presbyterian by faith and conviction, and first-generation Americans. They entered the service of their respective armies on the same day, served in the Sea Islands of South Carolina, and met only once -- in a battle from which only one would survive.

"Beyond All Price" picks up the story of a nurse in the 100th Pennsylvania Regiment, more familiarly known as The Roundhead Regiment. Nellie Chase was an abused wife who sought the protection of James McCaskey and his comrades because life in the midst of war seemed safer than life with a drunken gambler on the run from the law. Her story reveals a side of the Civil War that historians seldom talk about.

"The Road to Frogmore" introduces the band of teachers and missionaries who came to the Low Country of South Carolina to bring education and medical care to those 10,000 abandoned slaves left behind when their masters fled from the Union forces. The book concentrates on the role of Laura Towne, who came to offer medical care for slave children and then spent the rest of her life -- some 40 years -- establishing schools to give them the education they would need to make use of their new freedom.

"Left by the Side of the Road" is a book of short stories. Their characters are fascinating individuals -- soldiers, slaves, well-intentioned women, spies, tax collectors, and greedy cotton agents. They all play a role in the changing economic landscape of South Carolina, but for one reason or another, their small stories did not fit into the longer sagas of this series on "The Civil War in South Carolina's Low Country."

Official launch date is November 15, 2014. Pre-orders will be available soon at Barnes and Noble Nook Books, Apple iBooks, and Kobo electronic editions. Pre-publication price will be $6.00 for an electronic edition that contains all four books. A Kindle pre-order is also in the works. Stay tuned!