Back on New Year’s 2015 I wrote a piece on the history of resolutions for the Duplin Times, the weekly newspaper I called home for several years. Interestingly, making resolutions as a new year begins can be traced back to ancient times. So I’m in good company, since I plan to discuss a resolution or two I’ll be making today.
I like to eat during the monthlong holiday period that stretches from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. And good eating includes sweets – pies, candy and cookies. At the beginning of October, I managed to reduce my weight to 173 pounds. That weight is no longer applicable. To hazard a guess, I’d say I’m now 183 or 184 pounds. Too many See’s Candies, Cheryl’s cookies and Marie Callender’s pies. Hey, at least I haven’t eaten any cakes.
I can truly say I need to start a new regimen of neighborhood walking – at least 45 minutes a day five or six days per week. And no sweets. Instead, I know I should start eating salads and vegetables. More visits to Sunset Station’s buffet… a good salad bar, healthy vegetables, and no-sugar added deserts. Yep, that’s my first resolution… I present the proverbial “I am going to lose weight in 2016.” Or until Thanksgiving rolls around in eleven months.
I’ve another resolution I’m going to make public to all Writing Wranglers & Warriors readers. That way in a month or two you can inquire, “How’s that writing resolution coming? You know… the one about outlining the new novel.”
I’m going to write The Great American Civil War Novel. First, though, I have to outline the plot, or as I visualize, write an extended synopsis of the tale. With the synopsis in hand, I’ll then do a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, providing a roadmap for when I start to actually write the novel.
When I think of classic Civil War novels, I think of two – Killer Angels by Michael Shaara and Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore. While I’ve read far more Civil War fiction than these two, they are the ones I think of when I look back at novels I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Both were read during an era when I participated in a Confederate Civil War re-enactment outfit homebased in Lancaster, Ohio. That’s right… the hometown of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.
Through the decades I’ve scoured the Gettysburg National Battlefield Park. I’ve seen the battle locations – Cemetery Ridge, Culp’s Hill, Spangler’s Spring, Little Round Top, the Peach Orchard, the Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, McPherson Ridge and the Railroad Cut. Shaara’s words in Killer Angels and my mental images conjured the battle come to life.
I love time travel novels, and Bring the Jubilee is one of the best. Moore presents an alternate history where the United States lost the war. The novel takes place in the impoverished rump U.S. in the mid-20th century. The most powerful nation in the Western Hemisphere is the Confederate States of America. War looms between the C.S.A. and its rival, the German Union. Then one day historian Hodge Backmaker decides to travel back in time to Gettysburg in July 1863 to witness the moment when the South won the war.
I’ve no title yet for my Civil War novel. But I do have some concrete ideas for the plot. The major action will take place in North Carolina and on the Chancellorsville battlefield. The Tarheel State locales will include Wilmington and the Duplin County towns of Kenansville and Wallace, back then called Duplin Roads. During the war, the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad played a pivotal role keeping war supplies flowing to Richmond and General Robert Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Confederate blockade runners brought war supplies into the port of Wilmington and trains shipped the supplies north into Virginia. After Rose Greenhow’s returning blockade runner ran around in October 1864 off Wilmington, she drowned when her rowboat overturned as she tried to escape a Union gunboat. She’d sewn gold into her dress, dooming her. Most of the action will take place in 1862 and 1863, but I’ll see if I can figure out how to include Greenhow in the novel. Maybe I can have my major protagonist, Bill Bradford, back in Wilmington recovering from a war wound suffered at Gettysburg and then being reassigned to help man the walls of nearby Fort Fisher. That would put him close to where Greenhow dies.
Bradford will join up with the 18th North Carolina at Wilmington. The regiment is rather famous as the unit that accidentally shot General Stonewall Jackson in May 1863 at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Of course, Bradford will be there to witness the general’s wounding (Jackson died eight days later of pneumonia complications from the wounds). I think I’ll have Bradford wounded during the march to a Pennsylvania crossroads town called Gettysburg. Back in Wilmington, he’ll be present for a Union cavalry raid on a sword factory in Kenansville. When back in Wilmington, he’ll be able to renew a romance with a southern girl from Duplin Roads.
Now I have to put these myriad thoughts into a coherent chronological plot. Just writing this post has helped. What do you think? Do I have a winner? Would you buy the novel?
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Hey, I’m an author, a fantasy trilogy to my credit. Larenia’s Shadow… three novels, The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin, and Assassins’ Lair, just published this month. They’re published by Wings ePress. You can buy them in ebook formats on the websites of Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashswords. If you like the feel of a paperback, you can purchase them on the Amazon website.