"Roundheads and Ramblings"
Welcome to Katzenhaus Books, where we tell - the stories behind the history.
RSS Follow Become a Fan

Delivered by FeedBurner


Recent Posts

Another Thankful Morning--This Time for Alert Cats.
Connections
Meeting Some More Roundheads
Meet the Roundheads
Preparing Gingerly for My First Trader Joe’s Visit

Categories

A new contest
Abolition
absurdity
academic myopia
Agents
Almost Free
Amazon
ancestors
Announcement
apocalypse
Applications and software
Appomattox
Arnulf of Lisieux
art of speaking
attracting readers
audience
audio books
Author Central
Author Gifts
author's Plea
awards
baseball
basketball
Battle of Port Royal
Battles
biographical
birthdays
blind artists
blockade
blog chain
Book Club Guides
Book Design
Book Launch
book stores
book trailer
bookstores
Boxed Set
bright ideas
Building a platform
business
Business plan
Busy-ness
Butterflies
Career choices
cats
celebrations
cemetery research
Census
challenges
characterization
Characters
Charleston
children
children's books
choosing a publisher
Choosing a Title
Christmas
Christmas Past
Civil War
Clues
commercials
Computer Hacks
Confederates
Conferences
Connections
constitutional amendments
construction
Contract labor
cotton
Countdown Sale
Countdown to Launch
Cover Designs
Cover images
CreateSpace
cutting and pasting
Cyber Monday
daily drama
daily events
Dead Mules
Deal of the Day
decisions
depression
diversions
dogs
Do-Overs
DRM
earthquake
e-book pricing
e-books
editing
elections
elevator speech
elmore leonard
Elves and Holidays
Emancipation
England
English class
evidence
Excerpt
exclusivity
Exercise
Expertise
Facebook
fact and fiction
failures
fame and fortune
family affairs
Favorites
Fear of Failure
fires
Fish
flood waters
flowers
food delights
Formatting
Fort Pulaski
free chapter
Free Days
freebies
Friendship
Frogmore
garden
gardens
genealogy
Getting organized
ghost stories
Giveaway
Goals
good business
good news
Goodreads
grammar cops
gratitude
gray horses
gripes
grocery shopping
guest blogs
Gullah
handicaps
hardbound books
Harriet Tubman
Hiatus
Historical background
Historical Fiction
historical puzzlers
historical thinking
history lessons
Holidays
home office
hope and kindness
horse races
horses
hurricanes
identifying your audience
illustrations
imagination
indie authors
Inspiration
inspirations
internet
internet history
intruders
ISBN
Kalamazoo
karma
Kindle
Kindle links
Kindle rankings
Kindle Serials
kings
Klout
Ku Klux Klan
Lack of co-ordination
landmarks
language
Laughs
launch dates
Laura Towne
Layouts
legal matters
lending library
Lessons Learned
lessons unlearned
libraries
literary genres
local news
loss
love story
making choices
Marketing
Matchbooks
medicine
medieval-isms
Meet the Characters
Memorial Day
memories
Milestones
military matters
mind-mapping
Misfis
Monthly Musings
name recognition
NaNoWriMo
Nellie Chase
Nellie M. Chase
New Blog
New Book
New England
New Research
New Year
newsletters
nonfiction
non-profits
nostalgia
Nurses
oddities
odds and ends
olympics
omens
opening lines
outrage
Oxford
Papacy
parties
Penn Center
photographs
photos
picture book
Pinterest
Pinterest and copyrights
Pirates
planning ahead
plot
point of view
polite society
politics
portraits
powerful women
Predictions
pre-orders
press release
previews
pricing
Principles
procrastination
productivity
Profiles
Progress Report
Promotions
proofs
pros and cons
publishing
publishing companies
publishing ploys
publishing rights
pure sentimentality
puzzlements
quiz
rain
random thoughts
RBOC
read an ebook
readership
Reading Enhancement
recipes
Reconstruction
Relaxation
research
Resolutions
reviews
road trip
rough draft
Roundhead Reports
royalties
rules
SALE
Sales
scams
schedules
Scoop It
ScoopIt
seasons
Secessionville
second edition
Second Mouse
self-publishing
settings
Shiloh
Short Stories
Silliness
slander
Slavery
small world
Smashwords
Smile of the Day
snow, living in the south
social media
software
software disasters
South Carolina
Speechless!
sports
Spring
story arc
Substitutes
Success
summer
Synopsis
Taking a Break
Taxes
Thank You
the difficulties of blogging
The Gideonites
Theme
Tongue-in-cheek
Traditions
trailer
Travelog
trilogies
Trivia, Nostalgia
trolls
Tweet
Twitter
Upcoming Events
using commas
Vacation
vacation photos
Valentine
video
Visitor
vocabulary
Volunteering
voting
warnings
weather
weather trauma
website
word counts
Word-of-Mouth
Words
Words of Warning
Writer Beware!
Writer's Block
Writing Advice
Writing as Career
writing process
X-Rays

Archives

November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010

powered by

"Roundheads and Ramblings"

August 2018

A Glimpse Out of the Past

By now, I hope you have seen the new cover of the revised and illustrated second edition of “Beyond All Price.” It features the never-before-seen photograph of Nellie M. Chase, the plucky young woman who served as the matron of Pennsylvania’s Roundhead Regiment. After a year with them, she moved on to become one of the best-known nurses of the Civil War. The men she cared for christened her with titles like Angel of Mercy, The Florence Nightingale of the Western Army, and a Woman Beyond All Price. With that kind of reputation, it’s not surprising that there’s a lovely photograph of her.

There’s quite a story behind the image that graces this book cover. The photograph is taken from a carte de visite—a visiting card of sorts, but much more than that. Two developments in the 1850s made it possible. The first was a photographic process developed in France in 1854. With it, a photographer could print multiple copies of a small image, which could then be pasted onto a sturdy cardboard backing to make it durable. The second was a Civil War that took thousands of young men (and a few hundred women) away from their homes and families in 1861 to serve their country. These new little cards became keepsakes—a way for families and friends to remember their missing loved ones. At the urgings of their families, soldiers flocked to get their pictures taken, and a new fad was born. 

The cards are small. The backing measures about two and a half by four inches. 
The photographic sheets were smaller—approximately two by three and a half inches. (If you look closely at the image, you can see the borders). And then the image itself was often no larger than a penny..  As photographers grew more skilled and cameras more complex, the images became more detailed and often filled the entire card. But Nellie’s photograph was made in 1863, and it’s no larger than an inch. On the reverse of the card is a stamp identifying the photographer, but there are no identifying words printed on these cards because they were meant only for those who knew the individual. 

As I began to research Nellie’s story, I learned that she had a carte de visite, which she could give to patients who asked for one. A small paragraph in a Philadelphia newspaper announced that Frederick Gutekunst had taken her photograph, but no such card existed in any of the boxes of documents that recorded her history. Members of the Society of the Roundheads began searching for her picture, but it was not until this past spring that one actually turned up. 

The card displays only the tiny headshot. The reverse has Gutekunst’s seal and Nellie’s handwritten signature (which you will also see on the cover of my new book. The signature indicates that she gave this card to a  “W. W. Blackman of North Carolina.” So far, his identity has eluded investigation. The card also has a penciled note in another later hand that identifies her as the “wife of Geo. W. Earnest of the 15th Pa. (name spelled wrong). and says they both died of smallpox (although it was actually yellow fever).  But for me, this little card is--like Nellie herself--another treasure "Beyond All Price."

A National Snake

Did you see it? Yesterday, the Bronx Zoo Cobra came out of his long Twitter hibernation to comment on what was--to him--the most important news story of the day. Barnum and Bailey Animal Crackers announced that from now on, the animals on their boxes would be free to roam rather than being kept in cages. Freedom at last! BZ Cobra sighed a long--very long--sigh and commented, "Well, good for them, I guess." How sad he sounded. How lonely.

BZ always tried to be a good snake. True, he escaped once and scared half of NYC into believing that poisonous cobras were about to take over the world. But BZ had no such plans. H simply wanted to live the life he was born to live. He took delight in the natural world he discovered outside his cage. He threatened no one. He took only what he needed for his own survival. He took pride in being who he was, tried his best to love all other creatures, and danced to music only he could hear.

But the people with power and zoo credentials captured him anyway and thrust him back into captivity. It broke his little heart. They silenced his pithy little observations about the foibles he saw in those around him. They condemned him for being a snake, and they placed him on display so other creatures could mock him and call him names.

One of the saddest things about the Bronx Zoo cobra is that he probably does not know how many people live lives similar to his--caged, not behind bars, but by bureaucracy, poverty, prejudice, and other spirit-breaking events of the day. I'm hoping we hear more from him in the coming days. Surely our world could benefit from the wisdom of this little guy. He has suffered a long captivity, but he can still rejoice in the success of others. 

Stick with us, little fellow. Maybe someday we can declare you our "National Snake."

What was the First Book You Really Loved?

A touch of nostalgia here this late Sunday afternoon, just to let everyone know I'm still around.

One day last week, Penny Sansevieri asked a question on Facebook that spurred a lot of answers: "What was the first book you really loved?" I didn't even have to think about it. My choice was "What About Willie" by LeGrand. Now I didn't expect anyone else to know what I was talking about. This was a Little Golden Book, published the same year I was born (1939), and maybe the first book I really owned. My long-suffering parents read me the story night after night--for years-- until I had it memorized and had taught myself to read by reciting it and picking out the words. As I commented to Penny, the book started my love affair with books and cats at the same time. 

When a couple of other people remembered the book, I became curious. Is it true that you can find anything you want on Amazon?  In this case, it was. I'm not alone in my choice of books after all. This one is on Amazon and for sale as a collector's item, with prices running as high as $75.00. Fortunately there was one reasonably priced one and--on a whim--I ordered it. It was listed as in 'good" condition, with some wear and tear on cover and edges. That didn't bother me. I kept mine until it literally fell apart.

Now I'm waiting anxiously to take a trip back to my childhood. I no longer remember the whole story, but I can still its repeated refrain: "Willie was cold. Willie was wet. Willie was lost. Willie was looking for a new home."  I'll let you know if it is still as good a story as i remember!


My Love/Hate Relationship with Pre-Orders

What’s not to love about pre-orders on Amazon? I can understand the appeal. Customers get their hands on the book early, the price is often reduced, and they also know that their favorite authors are getting a small plug every time someone places a pre-order. For a major publishing house, pre-orders are a valuable clue as to the size of the initial print run. And for an author, the pre-orders all register as sales on the day of publication, thus giving the first Amazon sales rating a boost that can carry the title to the top of the best-seller list, at least in its own category.
So why do I still have reservations about their value?
 
For those of you who will purchase the Kindle edition, the only advantage I see is a possible price reduction. Pre-orders and orders placed on the first day of publication go out at the same time. Electronic publishers have no need to know how many books to print because they don’t print—they just click and send. As for authors, I admit that first ratings boost is rewarding, but it doesn’t last beyond the first few days. For readers who purchase a trade paper edition of a new book, there are advantages. Price reductions are more important when the price is higher. If your author offers autographed pre-orders, that may clinch the argument.
 
But here are a couple of facts you may not know. Amazon does not allow independent writers and small publishers to offer pre-ordering of printed books. That privilege is reserved for the largest publishing houses, who may receive thousands of orders. And even their Kindle store has strict rules about who may and may not pre-order. For example, I was recently punished with a one-year suspension of my ability to offer pre-ordering. What was my sin? On my last pre-order, I submitted a typo that set my publishing date ahead by three months. I asked for a correction, which they granted. It was one number: change month 6 to month 9. It could have been done by any third grader I know. However, asking for  a changed date is “against the rules,” so they suspended me.
 
And that, dear readers, is why there are no pre-orders for the Kindle version of my new edition of Beyond All Price. All is not lost, however. If you want to pre-order   a new print copy of Beyond All Price—the one with Nellie Chase’s photograph and signature on the cover and my autograph on the title page, just visit the “Store” page on this website and order away. The offer there will be good from now until Monday, August 27, 2018.

The Facebook Ties that Bind

Facebook has come in for a lot of criticism over the past few weeks, and I admit that I don’t like some of their practices. However, there are times when I realize that the friendships I have made on Facebook have also enriched my life. One such incident occurred this week.
 
To set the scene. I write historical fiction and creative biographies based on the lives of historical figures. Two of my early books were based on the letters of my great uncle James McCaskey, who enlisted with the 100 Pennsylvania Regiment (known as the “Roundheads”) during the Civil War. After several months of training and marching, the regiment ended up in South Carolina’s Sea Islands. There, my Uncle James died, along with his friend Jacob Leary, in their first battle. The letter sent to my great grandparents described their horrific deaths—hit by a cannon ball that blew off their legs. They bled out and died on the battlefield and were buried with some 500 others in a mass grave at the site. Their company lost four men, with several others gravely wounded.
 
Now, some 156 years later, the Little Beaver Historical Society in Darlington, Pennsylvania, is planning a Roundheads Reunion for descendants of that regiment. They have made arrangements with me to sell copies of my first book, A Scratch with the Rebels, and to give away two copies of the second book, Beyond All Price, which is coming out in a new edition just in time for the reunion. The first book is already on offer on their Facebook page.
 
This week, an order came in from someone who had just joined the “Society of the Roundheads.” His posting stated that he wanted the book because it might tell him something about his uncle, Jacob Leary, who had been in the Roundhead Regiment. Yes. His uncle and my uncle were friends, and they died together on that fateful day, June 16, 1862, at Secessionville, South Carolina. I immediately posted a comment, telling him what I knew of Jacob’s life in the regiment. We have begun a friendship based on a bond of shared grief at the meaningless deaths of our uncles and the ties that kept them together into their shared grave. We will both be the richer for it.