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  • History Friday – From Ancient Grudge

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 12th October 2012 (All posts by )

    “From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”

    When I was deep in the midst of researching and writing the Adelsverein Trilogy, of course I wound up reading a great towering pile of books about the Civil War. I had to do that – even though my trilogy isn’t really about the Civil War, per se. It’s about the German settlements in mid-19th century Texas. But for the final volume, I had to put myself into the mind of a character who has come home from it all; weary, maimed and heartsick – to find upon arriving (on foot and with no fanfare) that everything has changed. His mother and stepfather are dead, his brothers have all fallen on various battlefields and his sister-in-law is a bitter last-stand Confederate. He isn’t fit enough to get work as a laborer, and being attainted as an ex-rebel soldier, can’t do the work he was schooled for, before the war began. This was all in the service of advancing my story, of how great cattle baronies came to be established in Texas and in the West, after the war and before the spread of barbed wire, rail transport to practically every little town and several years of atrociously bad winters. So are legends born, but to me a close look at the real basis for the legends was totally fascinating and much more nuanced – the Civil War and the cattle ranching empires, both.
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    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, History, North America, Uncategorized, USA, War and Peace | 3 Comments »

    Friday Historical Diversion: The Mild, Mild West

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 24th August 2012 (All posts by )

    Some years ago, I succumbed to the blandishments of the overloaded bookshelves at Half-Price Books. I knew I shouldn’t have wandered into the section housing assortments of ‘Texiana’ but I did and I was tempted. Since I can resist anything but temptation, I gave in and bought a slightly oversized volume (with color plates!) with the gripping title of German Artist on the Texas Frontier: Friedrich Richard Petri for a sum slightly less than the current price on Amazon. Who was Friedrich Richard Petri, you might ask – and rightfully so for chances are practically no one outside of the local area might have heard of him, he finished very few substantial paintings, was only resident in the Hill Country of Texas for about seven years, and died relatively young.

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    Posted in Arts & Letters, Europe, Germany, History, USA | 7 Comments »

    A Little Bit of History – The Nueces Fight

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 2nd August 2012 (All posts by )

    As I am going up to Comfort, Texas on the 11th of August, to take part in the 150th anniversary observences of the Nueces Fight, and since this Civil War event is very little known outside of Texas — herewith some background. It’s longish, so in two parts, the second part posted tomorrow.)
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    Posted in Americas, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, History, War and Peace | 7 Comments »

    The Southern Belle With the Spine of Steel

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 13th July 2012 (All posts by )

    Stephen Vincent Benet nailed down the type, in his poem epic John Brown’s Body, in a phrase that has resonated with me ever since I read it so long ago that I don’t recall when I read it – the quintessential southern belle, who propped up the South on a swansdown fan:

    Mary Lou Wingate, as slightly made
    And as hard to break as a rapier-blade.
    Bristol’s daughter and Wingate’s bride,
    Never well since the last child died
    But staring at pain with courteous eyes.

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    Posted in Americas, Biography, History, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    In Translation

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 10th January 2012 (All posts by )

    Ever since I finished the Adelsverein Trilogy, I’ve wanted to have a German language version out there.
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    Posted in Blogging, Book Notes, Diversions, Germany, Miscellaneous, North America, Personal Narrative | Comments Off on In Translation

    Looking Ahead, Looking Over My Shoulder

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 3rd January 2012 (All posts by )

    The month of January is associated with the Roman godlet Janus, conventionally pictured with two faces, one looking forward and one looking back. I’m looking forward at 2012 with subdued anticipation, wondering if the new year will be as much of a mixed bag as the old one was. Personally, during 2011, I felt as if I were skidding from one extreme to the other, in between every kind of loss and gain imaginable, both personal and professional. We lost my father, for one – the day after Christmas, 2010. Then I had a book to launch early in the year, and the sequel to it to finish in time for the Christmas rush – plus the all-in-one edition of the Trilogy. I had a round of speaking engagements – much fun ensuing from those, including keeping a straight face when urged to join the Sons of the Confederacy Ladies’ Auxiliary. I didn’t mention that my ever so-g-g-grandfather the Quaker abolitionist and Underground Railway safe-house keeper probably was a major disqualifier.

    I severed a professional relationship with one publisher, and moved over to another, smaller and local publisher. I had sufficient paying projects as a free-lance writer and editor in 2011. Between the freelancing, my books and partnership in the Tiny Local Bidness, I didn’t need to take on a job such as I had to take some years ago, in a telephone call center. I’m starting off this year with a guest appearance on a local internet radio show – this Thursday afternoon at three CST on the Yankie Grant Show. For books in the new year? I’ll be working on the research for the next one for sure, a picaresque adventure set in California during the Gold Rush years. I’ve always wanted to write a novel about the Gold Rush, where an extraordinary number and variety of people came to California all at once, seeking their fortunes in the mines or from the miners.
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    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Diversions, Personal Narrative | 7 Comments »