"Roundheads and Ramblings"
Katzenhaus Books is on Thanksgiving Break, but while we take time to give thanks, eat too much, do a little shopping, and get caught up on a backlog of housekeeping chores, faithful readers can find some bargains here.
First, over on Smashwords.com, those of you who use e-readers or who like to read on your computer, will find three of our books on sale for just $0.99 each. They all come in various e-formats, including .mobi, .epub. and .html. Start by entering the following link:
To purchase The Road to Frogmore, enter coupon code GA66L at checkout.
To purchase Beyond All Price, enter coupon code AA23P at checkout.
To purchase The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese, enter coupon code ZN52K at checkout.
All three coupons will expire sometime near midnight on Monday, Nov. 26 (California time).
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If you'd rather get something for free, take advantage of the FREE DAYS at KDP Select.
Those are my gifts to you for being faithful readers during the past year. Happy Reading!
If you're anything like me, you've already designated this week as the beginning of the holiday season, which also means the end of being productive at your main job, whatever that happens to be. I know I won't be getting much writing done, although I hope to do some planning and plotting while I stand in supermarket checkout lines or wait for the oven to heat up. My desk, which usually sports research books and publishing notes, now features a grocery list, recipes, and a calendar to keep track of our commitments to Christmas parties and travel arrangements.
Will there be time to bake Christmas cookies before we leave for a week in South Carolina? Can we find a free evening to go see "Lincoln" with friends? Can we visit all our outlets for Lions pecans and make sure they have enough stock to last them through the end of the year? What about Christmas shopping and Christmas cards? What are we eating for Thanksgiving, and how can I make Christmas dinner both spectacular and different from Thanksgiving -- a particularly difficult question because we may not get home until Dec. 23rd?
And worst - - - -What about book promotion? My new book just hit the shelves and electronic book catalogs within the last week. It deserves almost non-stop promotion to be sure my readers all "get the word" before they finish their Christmas shopping. Will I find time to do it? Probably not. Sigh!
That's the down side to the holidays -- that feeling that you'll never, ever, get everything done. But there's a brighter side, too. I keep reminding myself that everyone is similarly busy. No one is going to mind a haphazard dinner now and then. Friends will understand the quick wave rather than the extended visit, since they don't have time to chat, either. And along the way, in these crazy, wonderful days, there will be times when the world slows down -- when the turkey is in the oven, and there's nothing to do but wait -- when an unexpected snowfall causes a cancellation of the usual activities and allows for time to curl up with a good book in front of the fire -- when we finally let go of the rat race and stop to look -- really look -- at the beautiful scenes of the season.
So I'm wishing you a season of delightful moments -- and if you can fill some of them with a book, all the better. You know where to find mine -- just visit the other pages on this website.. And if you're looking for a different kind of read, here's a list of some of the best books of the year.
My new book, The Road to Frogmore
, devotes several chapters to what was going on in South Carolina in November, 1862. Along the coast, the Union army was fully in charge, plantation owners had fled to the safety of locations further inland, and the slaves who had been abandoned on coastal plantations were beginning to learn what it meant to be free. Abolitionists, missionaries, and Union army officials were busy planning celebrations for the upcoming Emancipation Day, scheduled for January 1, 1863. My main character, Miss Laura Towne, was already anticipating the formalities that would take place on Hilton Head Island. They included speeches, military bands, and a public appearance by the "1st. South Carolina Colored Infantry Regiment." There would be free ox-roasts for all comers, black and white, as well as a fancy-dress ball for Army officials.
My characters were justifiably excited by the prospect of freedom, but that was not the case in other parts of the South -- for example, in Memphis, where runaway slaves were still being hunted down and punished, while Union officials struggled to enforce the new laws. the excerpts below, taken from local Memphis newspapers, demonstrate the depths of the animosity.
Nov. 13, 1862
(Classified Ad) $25 Reward! Ran away from the subscriber, a Negro Boy
named John. He is aged about thirty years, is black, about five feet
six inches high, limps when he walks and has several scars on his neck
and legs. I will pay the above reward if lodged in jail or for his
delivery to me. J.B. Townsend
Nov. 15, 1862
Memphis Intelligence — From the city papers, we learn that Judge
Swayne, of the criminal court, was met at his first step in discharging
the duties devolved upon him by the laws of the State, by a peremptory
interference on the part of the Federal authorities ... The order says
... "that any attempt to execute State laws at variance with the orders
of the President and the military commanders will be construed as a
contempt of the authorities of the United States, and will be summarily
punished. The status of the negro is involved in the war now existing,
and will, in its progress be clearly determined. In the meantime the
runaway slave must be treated as 'free.'"
Nov. 18, 1862
The Appeal Battery — We publish from "An Eye-Witness" an interesting
account of the conduct and efficiency of the Appeal battery in the
fights at Corinth and Hatchie Bridge: (Excerpt) "It was in the battle of
Hatchie Bridge that the Appeal Battery was particularly serviceable ...
The gunner fell, wounded, and as quick as thought Lieutenant Scott
sprang from his horse and took his place, and above the rattle of
musketry I heard the clear ringing voice of Lieutenant Hoyer, ordering,
'double-shot with canister, and let them have it.' Instantly the guns
were belching forth a shower of iron hail upon the advancing foe, and
for about forty minutes the guns were worked with a rapidity and
precision rarely, if ever witnessed on a battlefield, within easy musket
range of the enemy ... I am satisfied you will be proud to know that in
its maiden battle your namesake baptised itself in a rivulet of Yankee
blood." (In September this year replica cannons, including the kind used
by the Appeal battery sponsored by the newspaper in 1862, were
installed in Confederate Park; see http://bit.ly/QcXtAf
This article, Blind Vision, comes straight from the Nov. 1, 2012, issue of the Memphis Flyer. I'm reposting it here because the artist is a friend and his new project is both important and inspiring.
Artist Michael Williams, who suffers from a sight-impairment known as
Stargardt disease, may not have the best vision. But most would agree
that he's a visionary.
In June, the award-winning artist launched the International Association
for Sight-Impaired Artists-Global, a nonprofit aimed at empowering
blind artists from all over the world.
The group will serve as an umbrella organization for chapters across the
country, but so far, it only boasts a local chapter, the Memphis
Association for Sight-Impaired Artists, which is headquartered out of
the Memphis Center for Independent Living on Madison.
"There are blind artists all over the country, but before this, there
was no centralized organization to pool everyone together to show off
their work," Williams said. "It's a one-stop shop for artists to get
their art and their foot into the door. We can help with getting work on
the market and putting on art shows, auctions, festivals, and
The first such event will be an art show of regional work by
sight-impaired artists at the Clovernook Center for the Blind and
Visually Impaired throughout the month of December. The Memphis
Association for Sight-Impaired Artists is accepting submissions through
Williams is hoping to receive work from 20 artists, but
he currently only has commitments from four artists, including himself.
"There are about 80,000 sight-impaired people in the Mid-South, and you
would think there are a lot of people out there who could benefit from
being involved in this show," Williams said. "There's an untapped
resource for talent, and we want to find them."
Christina Clift, one of the organization's board members, has a theory
on why they're having a difficult time locating blind artists.
"I think one of the reasons we haven't had as many artists come to the
forefront is because when you're a child with any kind of disability,
especially a visual disability, teachers are not trained on how to work
with that child and get them involved in art," Clift said.
At age 10, Williams learned to paint from his mother, who painted
landscapes as a hobby. Although his sight-impairment, a form of juvenile
macular degeneration, only worsened as he aged, Williams simply
adjusted the way he painted. His peripheral vision is okay, but he
cannot see using the central part of his eyes.
In 2009, Williams entered his work into the American Printing House for
the Blind's art contest. He won third place out of 400 entries. In the
years that followed, Williams took home a second place and most
recently, a first-place award in the competition.
"After I won first place, I decided that it was time for others to know
about the opportunities out there for sight-impaired artists and go full
steam ahead with this program," Williams said.
Williams would eventually like to open an art gallery in Memphis of work
by blind artists, and the organization has plans for expanding their
chapters city by city each year. Since the headquarters is in Memphis,
Williams hopes to host an international competition for blind artists
here next fall.
Visually impaired artists who would like to submit work for the first local art show in December should visit iasia-global.org
Do you know a visually-impaired person in your area who might be interested? Would your local Lions Club like to get involved in this effort? Please keep this information circulating.
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 Grenada, Miss.
Nov. 5, 1862
SUPERABUNDANCE OF MEN. There is, according to the census, an excess
of 733,258 males over females in the United States. That fact is
noteworthy and ought to quiet the apprehensions of those who feared the
war would cause an undue preponderance of women after peace was
(Fact check: The usual figure cited for total deaths in Civil war is 620,000. Recently, however, prominent historians have suggested that the figure should be closer to 750,000. That gender balance appears to have been shakier than we knew!)
Nov. 6, 1862
The Federals at Memphis, we are informed, have been lately reinforced
to a considerable extent, and they are in constant fear of attack. In
the event of one being made, and their inability to hold the city, they
are free in declaring their intention of destroying it.
Nov. 7, 1862
It seems that General Sherman has issued another tyrannical order in
Memphis, which is a twin brother in that regarding the expulsion of
families. The substance of it, as we have been informed, is that the
head of that family nearest whose residence the body of a murdered
Federal is found shall be held responsible for the killing. (Logical, isn't it, even if somewhat unfair Who else would you blame?)
The Federals do not love Mississippians, and if they ever succeed in
getting a foothold in our State, they will show us no mercy. It is their
purpose, as they have been repeatedly heard to say in Memphis, to come
"with the sword in one hand and a torch in the other." Let us then be
prepared, in every respect, to give them a cordial welcome, "with bloody
hands to hospitable grave." (Uh, doesn't occupying both Memphis and Nashville count as a "foothold?)
Nov. 8, 1862
We learn that St. Agnes Academy, heretofore popular Memphis
institution, continues to enjoy public favor. The list of pupils is
large and the same excellent attention is bestowed as formerly to secure
health and advance the mental culture of all who are consigned to the
care of the worthy sisters of St. Agnes. (Note: St. Agnes is still going strong. I met a teacher from there at my book signing in Charleston over the weekend.)
CAST AWAY GLOOM AND DESPONDENCY. We must reasonably expect to meet
with reverses, amounting sometimes to serious disasters, and again, we
will be cheered with brilliant victories. No war of the magnitude of
this, ever occurred in which there were not alternate victories and
defeats. Moderation in victory and a resolute determination in the hour
of defeat, should be cultivated by us all.
Nov. 9, 1862
From persons recently from Memphis we learn that the Federals there
do not disguise their plans for the invasion of Mississippi this winter.
Their programme is to move in three columns, one from Memphis, one from
LaGrange or Holly Springs, and one from Corinth.
Nov. 10, 1862
Reliable sources insist it is true that General Buell boxed Andy
Johnson's ears publicly at Nashville a few weeks ago. The altercation
occurred after Lincoln's representative in Tennessee called the general a
traitor. (This might have been fun to watch!)