Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ollie and Andy

    Considering the overall premise of my book as a narrative comparison of the impact of the persecution of individual members of two cultures, (Irish and Choctaw) by powerful leaders with strong military credentials, a discussion of those leaders seems inevitable.  Although these leaders occupy different times in history, the impact of the earlier tends to be the predilection of the impact of the latter.
    Neither 'Ollie' (Oliver Cromwell) the earlier, nor 'Andy' (Andrew Jackson) the latter, are characters in the book, the world conditions that flourished under their similar leadership resulted in both being documented as heroes by one segment of society and villains by another.  Both were sole surviving sons from common stock, landed, but not aristocratic.  Both were brilliant, but not academic.   
    Ollie ascribed his military victories over Royalists and Irish Catholics to 'divine intervention', while Andy was a firm believer in 'manifest destiny', God's will that the native peoples be removed so that their land be given to white invaders.
    Ollie ordered Irish Catholics to 'Hell or Connacht', which meant to move west of the Shannon River and occupy land which for generations was peopled by clans of Western Ireland.  Andy had the same mind set in ordering Eastern Woodland tribes, (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Shawnee, Seminole and Creek, et. al., to Oklahoma, land already occupied by  Caddo, Osage, Quapaw, Comanche, and others.
    In the 17th century, under Ollie's leadership, the Parliamentarians beheaded Charles I, then his New Model Army slaughtered or enslaved Irish fighters and Royalist officers at Drogheda and Wexford as a warning for other besieged cities to capitulate.  Andy did pretty much the same in the 19th century slaughtering Creek warriors who had sided with the British in 1812 war.  The other tribes knew his reputation when he ordered their removal.
    Both Ollie, a Puritan and Andy, a Scot-Irish Presbyterian, shared a hatred of British Anglicans.  Both men rose to high levels in their respective countries.  Ollie declared himself, not 'king', but 'Lord Protector of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  Andy, as you know, became the President of the United States.

Monday, December 21, 2015


  • Is there any other job out there where you would get paid for not being on the job because you're out looking for another  job?  Only the Congress of the U.S.A. grants that privilege to those trying to become president.
  • Can you believe that Congress, which gets almost unlimited days off with pay would vote against giving working Americans at least one week off?
  • Does anyone in the  Republican Congress deserve to be president when their main agenda for the past eight years has been to work hard to assure that the president fails?  And then consider that they failed at that, and they refuse to admit the successes that have been accomplished.
  • And more locally... How many executives and managers of Dominion would be willing to move their families to Drum Point in proximity to their LNG export facility?
  • And by the same token, would any of the Calvert County Commissioners be willing to move their families to Drum Point?
  • And what is wrong with a country's leaders when it takes a retired comedian activist to get Congress to pay for the health problems suffered by 9/11 first responders?


Saturday, December 12, 2015

A Bad Sign

The rhetoric of hate and fear that is filling the media is reminiscent of Germany 1938.  The fire bombing of a mosque in California and the cowardly attacks on Muslim women is shameful, and should be recognized  for what it is.  Those of us old enough to know the meaning of 'Kristallnacht' will understand.

There is a gentle, yet powerful song called 'Yellow Triangle' sung by Christie Moore.  Jews in Germany were ordered to wear the yellow triangle on their coats.  Then blue triangles for the gypsies, pink for the gays and so on.

The song warns:  first they came for the Jews, then the gypsies, then the gays, then the mentally ill and so on, until the last line:

'Then they came for me'


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Ongoing Dilemma of Writing Historical Fiction

What's a writer to do?  There are things in history that I never learned in school.  Important things that I believe people should know about.  But they need another way to know, because these things never found their way into the history books; at least not the history books that I studied.  As a writer, I struggle and work hard to show more and tell less.  The dialog and the action show these things happening because they are salient pieces of the story.

Extensive research provides strong validation of events included in my narrative.  Fact checking and cross referencing, I work to be careful not to misappropriate information. (Covered in detail in earlier blog) And even with these extra steps and discipline, as a writer, I still am aware that there are those in the publishing world who will still declare my work as didactic or preachy despite all my efforts to not be neither.  Any historical fiction writers with any advice?  Input welcomed.

I find it interesting (and somewhat amusing) when reading advice from agents and editors about do's and don'ts of fiction. And yet, reading great fiction one often finds many examples of successful books just full of things from the "don't" list.

I was chided by agents for entering a where and when, place and date on my first page.  So I wonder if Ken Follett got the same gaff when he submitted "The Pillars of the Earth"?  And I recently read what a writer should never do at the beginning of a novel. i.e. Have the protagonist introduce themselves by name.  Gee, I guess that if Melville would have left "Call me Ishmael" out, maybe "Moby Dick" would have been a bit more successful.

So, I repeat, What's a writer to do?