This week’s autographed book winners are: Gayle Larson and Carole Fiore. Congratulations to both of you. The new contest is underway now; to enter, simply comment, and you’re in. Winners will be chosen at random, notified, and announced here next Monday, along with a new contest.
I’ve been working hard on NORTH OF EDEN, and I’m loving the story and the characters, as I hope you will, too. Because I am equal parts Confederate and Union, at least by heritage, I have deep feelings for all my story people, whether Northern or Southern. (The Laels are originally from North Carolina, and the Bleeckers, my mother’s people, hailing from Massachusetts, ran a Union hospital.) I cry sometimes, and even find reasons to laugh, despite the horrible circumstances of this and all wars. Recently, listening to a book called STRANGE AND OBSCURE STORIES OF THE CIVIL WAR, by a man named Rowland, I wept over the account of General Lee’s dignified surrender at App, ; when he rode in, in full regalia, on his wonderful stallion, Traveller, the Yankee boys doffed their hats and stood solemnly as he passed. I cried because there wasn’t a single cat-call; these boys in blue, broken, battle-weary and homesick as they were, treated the defeated army with dignity and respect. I was as proud as if I’d been there. Later, a Confederate officer rode in, tears pouring down his face, and said (I’m paraphrasing), “Gentlemen, we are starving.” On General Grant’s orders, food was sent to his troops immediately. (I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that this same grub had actually been stolen from a Confederate supply train a few days before.)
While I am certainly opposed to slavery, so were many Confederate soldiers and Southern citizens. I will never forget something I once heard the late Shelby Foote say; when captured and asked by a Yankee officer why he was fighting, a young rebel replied, “Because you’re down here.” I know my Lael relatives were not slave holders; they, like most Southerners, were too poor. They did, however, employ black workers to help with the farm work, and this was by no means uncommon.
Lastly, no matter how busy I am, I always find time to read/listen to books. This week’s hands down favorite was MY SOUTHERN JOURNEY, by the Pulitzer prize-winning author, Rick Bragg. I laughed and cried and loved every word of that book. Little wonder Mr. Bragg won the most prestigious prize in literature–he is gifted.
And now it is time to bed down and get a good night’s sleep. Lots of writing to do tomorrow!