Sunday, June 4, 2017

Crossing the River
Chapter One, Pages 5-7
 


As I complete writing my second novel, “Alsoomse and Wanchese,” I think back six years to when I was about to have my first historical novel, “Crossing the River,” printed.  I knew little then about the ins and outs of print-on-demand publication and self-promotion of product. One piece of advice I followed was to create and maintain this blog site. ( I have appreciated considerably your interest)

 

The hardest part of sales of one’s product is getting the general public to know it exists.  To date, a majority of the purchasers of “Crossing the River” have been people who know me.  Stranger are much harder to reach. Book reviews, which can be found on amazon.com, helped. So did my postings on goodreads.com. I would like to think that what I have presented on this blog site has also helped.

 

Because the contents of this novel are historically accurate, three years ago I emailed to well over one hundred high schools (mostly in Oregon) free pdf copies that American history teachers could use as they saw fit – a different attempt by me to proclaim the book’s existence.  One teacher bought immediately a paperback copy.  A year ago somebody bought 27 paperback copies, that person, I assume, being a teacher who wanted a classroom set. 

 

I haven’t attempted to promote this book recently.  I want to now.  I don’t want it to pass into total oblivion.   What is true about the perceptions and actions of participants in the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the British army’s retreat back to Charlestown and Boston April 19, 1775, does not change or cease to be important because the novel is six years old.  The novel will continue to provide history buffs and fans of historical fiction value as long as potential readers know it exists.  I plan to post on this blog site over the next several months successive segments of the novel’s first three chapters.  Here is the first segment.  

 

 

 

 
 
F
eeling his wife's hand on his right shoulder, MacKenzie put down his quill.
     “You laugh,” she teased.
     Closing his eyes, he placed the back of his head against her enlarged abdomen.
     “You are a sober sides, husband,” she said, cupping his right ear. “Pray that your soldiers hear you guffaw … on occasion.”
     “Pah!  Twould be the regiment’s ruination!”
     “Lieutenant Frederick Mackenzie, 23rd Welsh Fusiliers Regiment of Foot,” she mocked. “Lieutenant Discipline. Though at times, … devoted father.”
     “At all times.”
     “Would that the soldier with dirty cross belts receive such devotion.”
     He chuckled.
     “The proof, dear husband, is not to be found in your words but in your actions. Your daughters demand your attention.” She tapped his left shoulder.
     He secured her forearm. He stroked it. As vivacious and radiant as when he had courted her, she was his counterweight to what with rare exception had been a tedious existence. “But a few minutes more, my dear,” he responded. “To order my thoughts.” Enjoying her close proximity, he gazed at the half-filled page of his journal.
     “Ill-formed words, Frederick, from such an …”
     “Ill-forged mind?”
     Orderly mind. You should not interrupt. Wiggly words I should have said. Pray what has aroused your humor? I must preserve it. Store it in a bottle.”
     Face beaming, he pointed at his compressed lips.
     Speak, chuff cove! Do not make sport with me!” To observe him better, she walked half way around his desk.
     He touched the folded dispatch beside his journal. “General Gage inquires if there are officers with drawing experience that would make sketches of the countryside.” He studied her expression.
     “Why is that … basis for mirth?” The skin at the corners of her eyes crinkled.
     “Tis not his words, my dear, but his intentions that I find amusing.”
     “General Gage would enjoy your description of his intentions.”
     “I will not provide him the opportunity.” He smiled, wryly. “You have misconstrued my meaning. His intention, to find somebody to ‘sketch the countryside,’ is reasonable. What amuses me is what he tries in this dispatch to hide.”
     “Oh? And what, Mister Constable,” she said merrily, “is that?” She was surprised at his change of expression.
     “Something rather dangerous actually. For those who volunteer.”
     “Indeed.”
     “He wants officers that will map roads and bridges to Worcester and just as probably Concord, where the provincials are storing powder and such. He desires, in a word, spies. Having the ability to draw.”
     “And you?” she asked, after a lengthy pause.
     “Not I.”
     She maintained her doubting look. He felt a rush of temper.
     “I sketch what interests me. As you well know,” he said, gruffly. “I am not a young whelp. I have you and our family and our future child to factor. I’ll not be risking my neck and your welfare to play at spying!”
     “That is a comfort.”
     “Somebody else, somebody reckless, will!” He touched his eyelids, blinked, tapped with an index finger his blotter. “You needn’t worry,” he said, less aggressively. “The General will having lean pickings. He should be the one to worry, not you.”
     Neither her head, her arms, nor her hands moved. “Why does he want maps of roads and bridges?”
     He scowled. “To know what obstacles lay before him when he sends foot soldiers. Nancy! Trust what I say! It will not be me!”
     He watched her dissect his words.
     At length she asked, “Will they fight?”
     “Who?”
     “The provincials! Your friends believe they’re cowards. Will they?”
     “Have they not made preparations to?”
     She studied him a full five seconds. “Attend your daughters when you deem it convenient,” she said. Averting her face, she left the room.
     It was her accustomed way to punishing him.
     Knowing that she expected him to follow, he stared, resentfully, at his written words.
 
     January 8, 1775. It has been signified to the Army, that if any officers of the different regiments are capable to taking sketches of a country, they are to send their names to the Deputy-Adjutant General.
 
     “Will they fight?” She had gotten to the heart of it.
     Angry commoners in the Boston streets shouted their contempt daily. A year ago they had destroyed a ship’s entire cargo of tea. 4,000 soldiers were encamped on Boston’s narrow peninsula. Angry? Rebellious? Yes. Would they wage war against His Majesty's Foot? He didn’t think so.
     Nevertheless, Gage's spies would operate at great risk. The General would do well not to select officers motivated by the desire for promotion, or fire brands ablaze for adventure. Who else but the reckless or the ambitious would apply? Gage needed experienced officers possessing wisdom, judgment. He would not get them. Utilizing those attributes, they would decline to volunteer.
     As for the ability to draw maps, “I am afraid,” MacKenzie wrote, “not many officers of this Army will be found qualified for this service. It is a branch of Military education too little attended to, or sought by our officers, and yet is not only extremely necessary and useful in time of war, but very entertaining and instructive.”