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  • The Year of Wonder and Miracles

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 4th October 2013 (All posts by )

    Another Texas author recently put a question up on one of those interminable LinkedIn author discussion forums; which, of all the years in the 19th century was the most exciting, the most pivotal, the year where everything happened, the most significant when it came to what America was and what it would be. There’s a case to be made and argued for at least a dozen or more, but I put up an argument for 1876. That was that Centennial year; the United (and occasionally dis-united) States observed a hundred years of existence. American citizens looked back on a hundred years and were generally pleased and satisfied with what had been accomplished; an independent country, a democratic republic, based on the active participation of engaged and responsible citizens; no hereditary ruling class, no established nobility or royalty, just a from-the-bottom-up administration drawn from the local and state level, feeding into a relatively restrained federal establishment! And it had managed to last a hundred years! It had succeeded politically, militarily, socially, and technologically, establishing dominion over a large swath of the American continent, from sea to shining sea. Much of the evidence of this was on proud display at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, America’s very first World’s Fair. It is estimated that visitors to the Exposition amounted to about a fifth of the U.S. population of the time. One exhibit, of an authentic colonial period kitchen, kicked off an enthusiasm for architecture and interior decorating in what had then been an archaic style.
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    Posted in Announcements, Book Notes, Diversions, History | 3 Comments »

    History Friday: The Fight at Plum Creek

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th June 2013 (All posts by )

    The historian T.R. Fehrenbach postulated that the unique character of Texas came from one thing which differentiated it from other trans-Mississippi states; that it was in a constant state of war for the best part of half a century and so the readiness to fight for life at a moment’s notice became ingrained. Usually the fight was with the Comanches, who lived for war, plunder and ransom. While the Anglo settlers occasionally took a break from fighting to farm or ranch, or take up some peaceable trade, the Comanches never did; there was no other means of advancing in their culture, save being a fearless warrior and raider. At the high noon-time of their peak, they were the lords of the southern plains, from the Arkansas River to the Balcones Escarpment, having ruthlessly pushed other tribes out – the Tonkawa, Lipan Apache, the Karankawa and others. The Comanche ranged and raided as far as they pleased, occasionally interrupted by a fragile peace treaty.

    A relative period of peace between the Penateka, or southern Comanche, and the Republic of Texas came to a spectacularly violent end in the spring of 1840 during the course of what had been intended as a peace conference in San Antonio. A contingent of chiefs and Texan peace commissioners met in a large building adjoining the town jail, on Main Plaza and Market Street. In token of their good faith, the chiefs had promised – or led the Texans to believe they had been promised – to turn over a number of captives, and sign a peace treaty. But the Penateka only released one; a teenaged girl, Matilda Lockhart, who had been savagely abused, raped and mutilated during a year of captivity. She told the disappointed and outraged Texan officials that the Comanches camped outside the town held more than a dozen other captives, including her own sister, but meant to extort large ransoms for each. When the chiefs and the peace commissioners met again, the commissioners asked about the other captives. The leader of the chiefs answered that they had brought in the only one they had. The others were with other tribes. And then he added, insolently, “How do you like that answer?”
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    Posted in History, Human Behavior, North America, War and Peace | 12 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 »

    Further Adventures in Book Marketing

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 16th June 2012 (All posts by )

    Well, no one ever really considered our family or anyone in it as cutting-edge … although it might be fairly argued that we were mosying so slowly along behind everyone else in our practices and preferences that the cutting-edge, tres-up to the minute actually came around full circle in the last half-decade and caught up to us at last. Home-made everything, home vegetable garden, chores for children, no television, tidy small houses and abstention from debt of every sort, from student to credit-card … an enthusiasm for all such things are now apparently trendy and forward-thinking.
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    Posted in Blogging, Book Notes | Comments Off on Further Adventures in Book Marketing

    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 »