Logistical Note re: Brave in Heart

The first book I published almost two years ago was a historical romance set during the American Civil War called Brave in Heart. It’s little (40Kish words) and it’s very much a first book, but I’m proud of it. Which is why I asked my publisher for my rights back. And today I got them.

What this means is that Brave in Heart will be disappearing from retailers in the next few weeks. So if you want it, you should act fast. (And it is currently in Kindle Unlimited and Scribd, FYI.) At some point I’ll produce a new cover and self-publish it. Heck, maybe I’ll even finish the sequel I teased you with at Valentine’s, but that won’t happen any time soon. I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing and the market and I need to figure some things out before I have time to focus on Brave in Heart.

So the tl;dr version: Brave in Heart is going to be off the market soon but it may return…someday.

PS The anniversary of the start of the Battle of Chancellorsville is tomorrow. Chancellorsville plays an important role in the novel. I went there, took pictures, and talked about it here.

Land Where Our Fathers Died

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The day was hot; summer announcing itself. There’s a smell in the south — warm earth and wilting verdure — that I forget every fall and rediscover in the late spring: the smell of summer. The breeze stirring my hair didn’t cool me, though it moved the wheat in which I stood. From the top of the hill, looking down over the field, I tried to imagine the scene 150 years earlier when the Battle of Chancellorsville raged.

I stood at the spot where Robert Lee’s Confederate troops flanked Joseph Hooker’s Federal forces. Among the Federal troops at Chancellorsville was the Connecticut Fifth, the unit to which the hero in my forthcoming novel, Brave in Heart, belongs. Without spoiling the book, the battle is significant to the story I’m telling. I’ve looked at engravings. Read survivors’ accounts. But I needed to see it for myself.

Continue reading “Land Where Our Fathers Died”

Anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville

One hundred and fifty years ago today in northern Virginia, the Battle of Chancellorsville began. It would take a week and claim 24,000 lives. That’s a number that requires a moment to sink in. Maybe it helps to write it out: twenty-four thousand men perished there in fighting over seven days.

Aside from the massive human cost, Chancellorsville is interesting to me because it was the beginning of the apex of the Confederacy militarily. Between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg it seemed quite likely that the Confederacy would win the war.

After years of study as a curious amateur, then as scholar, and now as a writer, I still can’t understand why things were so close for two + years and particularly for those two months. How could the Union — with more than twice as many people (the ratio gets even more unbalanced when you take into account Confederate unwillingness to arm the sizable enslaved population), almost all of the industrial production, and vastly superior infrastructure and wealth — not crush the Confederacy immediately?

The answers to that question (e.g., weak military leadership, hubris, bad luck, differences in culture, etc.) proved so costly it makes me ill. The American Civil War should have ended quickly, but it did not and thus 660,000 people died and cultural rifts were entrenched that still haven’t fully healed (see Confederates in the Attic).

But back to Chancellorsville! It was a decisive Confederate victory, though the death of Stonewall Jackson clouds this assessment, and it set up the dynamic for the war’s true turning point, Gettysburg. Because of his win at Chancellorsville — a win that occurred entirely because of tactics as he had been badly unnumbered — Robert E. Lee felt emboldened to invade the Union and that turned out to be a mistake, though the war wouldn’t end for two more years.

Chancellorsville has a long and prestigious literary history as the subject of Stephen Crane’s novella The Red Badge of Courage, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story “A Night at Chancellorsville,” a poem by Herman Melville entitled “Stonewall  Jackson,” and a diary entry by Walt Whitman from the very underrated Specimen Days in America.

On July 1, I’ll be waltzing quite brazenly into the party with my novel Brave in Heart, a historical romance that finds it’s turning point on the Chancellorsville battlefield. I hope you’ll join me there.