Nothing's definite but at this moment my editor and I both like Within My Memory Yet as a title for the Shelton Laurel Massacre book. It's a line from "Lorena" --- a Civil War era song that was popular on both sides. I reference it several times in the book, and, beyond that, the line captures the long-lasting scars, grudges, pain, suspicion, and hatred engendered by the war and, more specifically by the massacre that is the key issue of my novel.
You can listen to the song "Lorena" HERE,accompanied by some haunting images from the Civil War. If you look closely, you will see a map that includes Marshall, NC and Greenville and Maryville, TN, the sites of much of the action in my book.
The photos on this page are some that I will offer as possible covers -- just imagine the words Within My Memory Yet and by Vicki Lane in some elegant font superimposed on the images.
Martin, my longtime blog/FB friend in England surprised me with this wonderful book, saying he knew I'd been charmed by the English countryside. And I was, and still am.
The book is a marvel -- beautifully and poetically expressed, it is one man's close observations, by day and night throughout a year, of a 5.7 acre field on which sheep and cows are grazed part-time, hay is cut, and bits are left to the wild.
Lewis-Stempel's book made me think at first of Thoreau who had "traveled much in Walden," and of Annie Dillard and Hal Borland. And then of the Square Foot Challenge a science teacher I knew used to set her kids in which they were to mark off a square foot outside and identify every living thing within that area.
The author has done this with his field, keenly observing the comings and goings of badgers and foxes, voles, shrews, and moles (aka mouldywarps!), hedgehogs and rabbits and birds in abundance, butterflies and moths, down to worms, slugs, grubs and more insects than seems even probable.
Toss in some country lore, science and history: Sorrel, we learn, bears the Latin name rumex acetosa. Rumex was a type of Roman javelin; acetosa means vinegary. Sorrel has a javelin-shaped, sour tasting leaf which was cultivated till the 1600's and used as 'green sauce' for fish. Agricultural workers used to chew the leaf to stimulate saliva. Sorrel's red seeds are food for goldfinches and the caterpillars of the small copper butterfly feed on its leaves.
Whew! I thought I had a handle on most of the flora and fauna around me but I can see I have a very long way to go. I went outside yesterday -- our first sunny day in a while -- to observe closely and realized I don't know the name of that spider up there (that's chickweed to his right) nor am I quite sure what that tiny lavender flower is. Apple of Peru? No, that's a similar flower but larger. This one may be Speedwell - or Veronica persica. (Now I need to find why it's called speedwell.)The one below is periwinkle, once called Joy of the Ground, I believe.
And I am at a loss to put a name to the common 'weed' below -- popweed? bitter cress? It will take more investigation.
But now, after a few minute with Mr. Google, I know this: the name speedwell comes from an archaic usage of speed meaning to thrive. And little speedwell does just that, spreading merrily in my flower beds.
Many thanks, Martin, for this lovely book that is going to make me pay closer attention to the things in my field! (I only wish there were badgers and hedgehogs.)
My Civil War novel has found a home! After wandering in the wilderness for way too long, it will be published in the fall of 2020 by Regal House Publishing -- a small traditional press out of Raleigh, NC! I am impressed with what I've learned about Regal and believe that they will give this child of my heart their best attention.
At the moment, the title is undecided. My working tile was THE WAY OF IT, but I have never really been satisfied with it. So some brainstorming is going on with the editorial staff.
I have been installed on Regal House's Website with a bio and a photo. (I would have loved to send in an old one but since my last decent photo is about ten years old and my hair is different now, I felt obliged to face up to the current me.)
"Well, at least you look like a serious author," John said in regard to the glasses and my inability to smile for a camera.
Thanks to all of you who have helped and encouraged me over the years since I began this project. Thanks for not asking too often when the book would ever be published. And major thanks to the folks who helped me with research -- Drew and Louise Langsner, Susan Moore, Dr. James Allen, Priscilla Hope, Dan Slagle, Kimberly Shelton, and especially Patricia Wallin and her family who took me to see the graves of the massacre victims. You can follow the link HEREto my author's page at Regal House.
I should be getting our tax information together but instead I'm proofreading and tweaking that first (unpublished) Elizabeth Goodweather novel. I've decided to venture into self-publishing with this orphan before doing Birdie's stories, as I want to add a few more tales before I self-publish them.
And the Civil War novel? After my agent dropped out of the hunt, I spent much of January researching small presses and submitting the novel. This entailed all sorts of hoop-jumping -- constructing a query letter, writing synopses (not easy at any time but a real bitch when your novel has one storyline and five protagonists,) producing a marketing plan (most publishers don't ask for this up front but some do,) and formatting my manuscript to various fiddly specifications -- header/no header, page numbers top right, page numbers bottom center, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
It was wearisome but I learned a lot. In the classes I teach, I've always felt inadequate when it came to answering questions about seeking publication without an agent and about self-publishing. I know more now about the former and will soon know more about the latter.
And, AND . . . I think that soon I will have good news for those of you who've been waiting patiently for my Civil War novel. I can't say more at the moment but hold that thought. . .
All images and content are subject to copyright and are the sole property of Vicki Lane Mysteries. If you would like to use something from my blog on your blog or website, please email me and ask first. I'll probably say yes.