#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller
Tomorrow’s the Day

Finally.

After dreaming and studying and visiting battlefields for nearly thirty years–not to mention writing approximately 140,000 words–it’s happening.  

Tomorrow, May 7, 2019, THE YANKEE WIDOW, my new book, will be released in hardcover and as an audiobook.  

Like any author, I hope my ‘book baby’ will be well received, but, basically, seeing these long-cherished characters come to life, sharing their joys and sorrows, triumphs and failures, is a huge reward in and of itself.  I lived with these people for decades, remember.

Lots of people have asked me why I wanted to write about the Civil War in particular, especially when I’m known for my western romances–I love those, by the way, and plan to continue to write them–and I think there are many answers to that question.  

I don’t remember studying the subject in high school history (I didn’t get around to attending college); we covered Abraham Lincoln, I’m sure, but only in a fairly superficial way.  (I didn’t begin to understand this amazing man until a few years ago, when I read Doris Kerne Goodwin’s marvel of a book, Team of Rivals.)  And then there were those episodic stories on Walt Disney World–I loved them, especially the series about Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, but I’m not sure the Civil War was ever depicted.  (If it was, the actors would have been too well-scrubbed, with clean, combed hair, very white teeth and spotless uniforms, both blue and gray, for all concerned.)

The truth was considerably less glamorous, of course–Union soldiers were supplied with uniforms, boots, weapons and decent rations, at least early in the war.  The Confederates, on the other hand, showed up to fight in whatever clothing they happened to have–the spiffy gray uniforms belonged primarily to the officers, though some of the troops wore them, too.

Nobody–and I mean nobody–was clean, at least by today’s standards.

Frankly, my dear, I strongly suspect that my original inspiration was Gone With the Wind, first the book, then the movie.  The spectacles: epic battles, with casts of thousands, smoke and cannon–Atlanta in flames–and dear, obnoxious Scarlett, foolishly pursuing the wrong man when Rhett Butler–Rhett Butler for heaven’s sake!–clearly loved her.  Still, she kept her little band of friends and relations alive in the midst of utter disaster, and that, as we say out West, took some doin’.  Scarlett might have been stubborn, selfish, and sneaky, but she had grit, all right.

I didn’t set out to recreate Scarlett–that would have been impossible, of course–but the idea of a great nation tearing itself apart certainly stuck with me.  

I became an avid student of American history, largely self-educated; there were questions buzzing around in my head, the main one being: how could a country founded on such profound principles of freedom tolerate so abhorrent an institution as slavery?  Words like ‘liberty and justice for all’ were a mockery, obviously, when one human being could own another–or many others.

Clearly, the whole subject is complex, and one blog entry isn’t going to change that.  I’ve studied this war and its many causes for years, and yet I know so little.

So, the quest continues.  

There is so much more to learn, to understand, to know.

Expect more books.

 

A Dream Comes True!

On May 7, one of my biggest dreams will come true: my Civil War novel, THE YANKEE WIDOW, will be released in hardcover by Mira Books.

This is a big, sprawling rough-and-tumble brawl of a story, with strong characters and lots of research behind it.

In early July of 1863, as many of you will know, two massive armies collided in and around the small but bustling market town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  The resulting 3-day battle was, of course, horrendous, with terrible casualties on both sides of the struggle.

Caroline Hammond is a farm-wife, with a young daughter and a husband away fighting for the Union side.  She’s a competent, hard-working woman, determined to preserve the farm (and that year’s crops), with the help of a free black man named Enoch.  The land has been in her husband’s family for several generations, and Caroline wants to keep the place running until Corporal Jacob Hammond comes marching home again.  If he comes marching home again.  Both Union and Confederate soldiers are killed, maimed or struck down by disease every day of the week, in huge numbers, and civilians are subject to raids by renegades, deserters and other outlaws.

Gettysburg is such a peaceful place that it’s hard to imagine it as a battlefield, this little gem of a city nestled in a lushly verdant, sun-washed countryside, but on July 1, 2 and 3, 1863, the fields ran crimson with blood; there were shrieks of pain, from men and from horses and mules, too.  The cannon-fire was so deafeningly loud that it was heard as far away as Philadelphia.  Just imagine what it would have been like for people like Caroline, just a few miles outside of town–soon, there will be hospital tents in her side yard.  She will work tirelessly, as so many of Gettysburg’s women did, tending the wounded, both friend and foe.  She will look into the true face of war, up close and personal, and she will stand her ground.

This book is not a glorification of war, full of gallant generals and battle strategies, but a study of the way ordinary people, primarily women, coped with such enormous challenges–and with the often nightmarish aftermath: nursing the fallen and dying with few, if any, medical supplies, burying the dead, human and animal, looking after homes and children and protecting property.  THE YANKEE WIDOW, to me, is a celebration of the human spirit and the power of common courage, faith, determination and compassion.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey into our nation’s turbulent past, with all its joy and sorrows, saints and sinners, valor and cowardice.  Come along, and meet a diverse group of characters–young Jacob Hammond, Caroline’s husband, far from home and grievously wounded, strong, wise Enoch, who is both friend and hired hand to the Hammonds, Jubie, the runaway slave, Captains Rogan McBride (Union), and Bridger Winslow (Confederate)–best friends since boyhood, and fighting on opposite sides.

I’ll have more to say about the book, and the Civil War in general, in coming days.  You’ll hear about my research, my motivation for tackling such an unwieldy subject, the sequel I am writing now, and the disturbing parallels I see between the political climate of then and the division and polarity we’re seeing now.

My message is the same as it would have been back then: We are ALL Americans.  We are all entitled to our opinions; good people have died to preserve that right.  We need to stop shouting each other down, cool it with the petty squabbling, roll up our sleeves, and get to work.  Remember: Together we stand, divided we fall.

‘Nough said.

 

 

 

Texas was the most active gunfighting state, with some 160 shoot-outs from the 1850’s through the 1890’s.

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