Those of my friends who have been reading the latest draft of my science fiction novel, The Invisibles, will know why this image is special. Hopefully, many others will know the enjoyment of reading my book sometime this year.
I’m just trying to be transparent.
Photo credit: J.M. Guayasamin et al., ZooKeys (2017) https://zookeys.pensoft.net/articles.php?id=12108
“Hoffman’s Army…like experiencing the war first-hand”
Henry M Eason Jr
A topic as enormous as the American War Between the States (or the Civil War, if your insist) is too great to fully absorb if you read, as I have, a number of the multi-volume sets that purport to explain the whole scope of the conflict. They are bewildering in their comprehensiveness. Perhaps one of the best ways to really understand the war is to have actually lived through it as a participant. As impossible as that sounds, it is almost possible to do in Wooddell’s extraordinary book Hoffman’s Army. Sometimes, you have to put the book down for a while, because it is so real, so genuine that you are anguished by what is happening right in front of you, as though you were marching along, engaged in battle, knowing the madness. Not since Bell Wiley’s Johnny Red and Billy Yank have I been so taken by a book about the war.
I also have the benefit of knowing the author and of having walked the ground of one battlefield with him on his family’s own property in West Virginia. He is a diligent and creative researcher able to make truth come alive. Hoffman’s Army should be required reading for history students and for anyone who really wants to know what it was like to be in the war that should never have been waged–had wiser heads prevailed to surmount the economic and slavery issues that existed among the contending parties.
Henry Eason was a colleague back in the 80’s, and a heck of a journalist. Before I met him, Henry was an investigative reporter on the staff of the Atlanta Constitution Journal. Later, he was a business editor and journalist for Nation’s Business magazine in Washington, DC (where I was photo editor for a couple of years.)
Here’s a link to Henry’s Into the Pacific Fog, a novel of suspense set in San Francisco during WWII. It’s a fun, and lively read, and very well researched.
I don’t think any writer of any worth can do good work without reading. Books give us inspiration. More than that, they give us language, and at the heart of writing is the play of language, the joy of language, and of the language of stories.
Carefully choosing whom to read for content, style, or for effect is important. For instance, I enjoy reading adventure stories with mysteries in them, especially when I’m working on writing fiction. But I try to find tales that go beyond simple pot boilers or who done its. I read such well known authors as Jacquelyn Carey, Lois McMaster Bujold, Alan Furst, Jim Butcher, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Alan Furst, Guy Gavriel Kay Oliver Pötzsch, Jack McDevitt, Alastair Reynolds, James S. A. Corey.
I read those authors because they give more than just a potboiler of a story. Their characters live with me long after I’ve read the book. They make me think.
Recently I read a lovely book by A. M. Rycroft, The Joy Thief. I’ll confess that I’m one of this author’s beta readers, contributing bits of critique, suggesting ways to strengthen a bit of narrative here and there before the book is published. It’s a volunteer thing I do for a few writers. I don’t have time to beta read for just anyone, but I’m glad to do so for Rycroft. She’s a writer with a future. Her stories not only entertain me, but bring me into the minds of her characters. She also uses folk tales within her writing, especially in The Joy Thief in a way that makes me think she is inventing new folk tales.
If you enjoy sword and sorcery, fantasy with heroes of both gender, without a lot of sex, or four letter words, I highly recommend her work. Mycroft’s characters make you want to care about them, especially Aeryn and Theo in Into the Darkness, and in The Joy Thief .
I’ve been active in a group of civil war enthusiasts on FB. and recently offered a free copy of my history of the 31st Virginia Infantry CSA to someone in exchange for an honest review of the book. When one is a self-published author, it is achingly difficult to get reviews. I’m pleased that Chuck Pribbernow found my book worthwhile.
Good luck to all in Cleveland this week at the Republican National Convention. I hope cooler heads will prevail, and peace is not destroyed by the extremists of any belief.
As I saw this week in online posts, there are people claiming to travel to Cleveland for the convention with their guns, intent on stopping at breweries and distilleries along the way to stock up on alcohol, so they can “stand up” to Black Lives Matter, and anyone else who disagrees with them.
That is exactly the kinds of sentiments and intentions that started the Civil War in 1861. Drunk men with guns who wanted to suppress blacks, perpetuate slavery, and tell the country how to govern itself was a losing proposition in that year, and it is a losing proposition in 2016.
Drunk men with guns is a bad prescription for peaceful democratic process. Guns are not the right objects to bring to political conventions, unless one is supporting violence.
Bring brains and logic, understanding and ethics, and yes morality that is based on helping others to your political convention. You want to make America great again? Bring back the middle class way of life. Bring back jobs for Americans. Bring back the dollars earned in the US that have been hidden oversees in banks to keep from having to pay taxes. Bring back the ethics and morality of freedom for all, and justice for all, not just for the wealthy, the whites, and the politically connected. That is what should be brought to this important American political gathering, and yet I understand it is probably not going to happen.
The party of Lincoln that freed the slaves by winning the Civil War is today intent on building walls, violating freedom of religion, and suppressing dissent. It seems intent on disenfranchising as many non-Republicans as possible through gerrymandering, restricting and unconstitutional voting laws. And the reason?
Drunk men with guns is my only explanation for this danger to the United States. Certainly, they could not hold those un-American values if they were sober.
I write serious history books as my main occupation, though it pays little, so I could probably say it is an avocation. And I publish them under my own name, David W. Wooddell.
But my dirty little secret – well, one of them I’m willing to admit to here – is that I write fiction, too.
That’s right. Factually incorrect narratives, with wildly imaginative “facts” that are improbable, but plausible if you squint, and drink enough caffeine, and are excited by space travel, aliens, and new interpretations of physics and biology. And occasional sex. Because sex sells, and it is hilarious to write. Especially when combined with the new interpretations of biology, in which… oh, never mind for now. Just take my word for it.
Evidently, to be a successful fiction author, I need a nom de pen (or should that be nom de word processor?) I’m currently writing a series of science fiction novels. And those will be followed with a series of speculative historical adventure novels with some traces of steam punk levity.
Any suggestion would be gratefully received. I won’t guarantee I’ll use the suggestion. But I do think it would be fun to see what people suggest, and there is always a chance I might like one enough to use it on my books.
If I end up using one of the suggestions, I will award the person an autographed copy of my first science fiction novel, The Invisibles, after it is published later this year.
Who’s in? Make a comment below, or send one to me, here or on FB at my writer page.