Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Southern Museum of of Civil War and Locomotive History

Western and Atlantic Railroad No. 3: The Gener...Image via WikipediaThis book, as you may recall, is about Bill, a cavalryman from North Carolina, and Fannie, a carpenter's daughter from Virginia. The story focuses on their experiences at the siege of Petersburg in 1864-5. The General has nothing to do with it.

Nevertheless, Day 5 of the un-vacation found me shortly after noon at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in downtown Kennesaw, GA. I really didn't expect much because, as I said in my last post, this is still the wrong army in the wrong theater of war. Plus, this particular museum is sort of centered around Andrew's Raid, a heroic Yankee exploit.

Boy was I wrong: I learned all kinds of useful things today! Most importantly, though, I finally understand what it was that Fannie's father James did for a living. They have here a display of a carpenter's tool box, with the explanation that passenger cars of the Civil War period were 90% wood in construction, and that shop carpenters, which is what great-great-great-grandfather James was, built furnishings and trim. Mystery solved.

I also found a good reference book (which I later bought for approximately 1/3 the gift shop's asking price on; a hideously expensive pamphlet which was not cheaper online that I now wish I had snagged while I was looking at it; and a potential interview subject for information on Bill's home church.

(Did I mention that my family historically has had a lot of sex without benefit of marriage? I've been wondering what the church would have had to say about all these "premature" and out-of-wedlock babies--four in this novel's cast of characters.)
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Monday, September 19, 2011

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

"Federal entrenchments at the foot of Ken...Image via WikipediaAs our vacation plans have completely collapsed, I found myself this afternoon at the battlefield instead of on the beach.

Kennesaw Mountain is the wrong theatre and therefore the wrong army, not to mention there wasn't a heckuva lot of cavalry action going on there. On the other hand, it's close to the house, so I loaded up my scooter (all by myself!) and off I went.

They've completely renovated the little museum since the last time I was in it, and it's a disaster. First off, it's dark as a closet in there. The text accompanying the sparse exhibits (many of the weapons and flags they used to have on display being in storage now) was either black on gray backgrounds or worse, white on black backgrounds, both of which I can tell you are combinations difficult to read in the dark. Many of the exhibits themselves were also placed on dark backgrounds and were in shadow to boot, disappearing into black holes, as it were. A glove was mounted behind a post. I left with a combination frustration/eye-strain headache.

The bookstore, on the other hand, was a researcher's joy. I found a copy of Bell Irvin Wiley's The Life of Johnny Reb (which I admittedly could and should have bought elsewhere for much less, but hey), and a book on confederate uniforms which is the best I've seen so far. Another, which I regretfully returned to the shelf, contained a photo of the drummer boy from one of the units in my book, Elliott's Greys (6th Virginia). But the pièce de résistance in today's haul is the little pamphlet on camp cooking which I snagged for a mere $3.99, well worth the price for the Roasted Rat recipe alone:
". . . baste with bacon fat and roast before a good fire quickly like canvas back ducks."
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Saturday, September 3, 2011


Cover of "An Uncommon Soldier: The Civil ...Cover via AmazonNo goals set for August, because I hadn't figured out how to set any yet. But I did accomplish some things:

(1) I finished reading An Uncommon Soldier

(2) I read Persia Woolley's book on how to write historical fiction.

(3) I went to the relic show.

(4) I started this blog, opened a Twitter account, and set up a Facebook page--none of which is actual work on the book, of course, but it's part of building a sense of myself as a writer, which in turn obligates me to start acting like one. Or so I hope.

(5) I found an on-line re-enactors' group which is an awesome gold mine of research material, and I joined it. I've already learned so much!

(6) I solved the mystery of where/when my main character surrendered--which, unfortunately, means ditching (or at the least, re-locating) one of the few complete scenes I'd written. Oh, well. Such is the life of a historical novelist.

As for September, I hope to
  1. bring my notebook current (get hard copies of stuff I revised last month printed)
  2. track the pages I read for research so I can set a goal for October that's measurable and achievable (there's the psychologist in me talking!)
  3. finish reading Plot & Structure and Writing Historical Fiction
  4. organize the unholy mess that is OneNote on my laptop
  5. finish processing my photos of the Resaca re-enactment (yeah, yeah, I know--that was last May!)
  6. write up the physical description of my female horse soldier and her mount (from photos I got in May of a female re-enactor)

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