The actual editing process….part 1

frontiersman

I am happy to report that I am half way through editing the first draft…well at least I’m half way through correcting grammatical errors…so many commas, so little time.  If nothing else, this exercise is reminding me of all of the rules that I have forgotten, or never really cared about.  Once I have completed the comma correction process, I will turn my attention to beefing up the narrative in a couple spots.  Hopefully, I will have all the required punctuation in the rewritten and/or new portions.  🙂

In anticipation of a completed 2nd draft, I am compiling a list of a few chosen ones to read and review it.  If you are interested, please comment on this post.

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Excerpt from chap 11 The Forbes Expedition

Fort Ligonier – Fort Duquesne

‘These incursions, these harassments by the enemy have to stop,’ said Colonel Bouquet to Major Grant.  Since beginning the construction on Fort Ligonier they had been under almost constant attack especially the timber and foraging parties.  ‘I have a plan,’ answered Major Grant, ‘give me 500 men and I will lead a reconnaissance in force.  If we can coax the French into attacking what they think is a forage detail we can deal them a crushing blow.’  ‘I like it but take 750 men,’ replied Bouquet, ‘and be sure to take Sgt. Mulhern, he’s regular army and I know how you dislike the colonial troops.  He at least has their measure and can be relied on to give good counsel.’  ‘Very well, Colonel,’ answered Grant, ‘I consider Sgt. Mulhern as more colonial than regular but will look to him for advice.’  ‘Very well,’ said Bouquet, ‘leave at dawn tomorrow.  If you do not draw the French out by the time you get within 5 miles of their fort, leave some lookouts and return here.’  The next morning at dawn 750 troops left the nearly complete fort unaware that two Ojibway warriors were watching.

Sgt. Mulhern took a drink from his water skin and wiped his face with some of the cool water.  The march had proceeded with surprising speed and this had the hair on the back of Mulhern’s neck stand up.  They were only a couple miles from Duquesne and so far had met no resistance but no amount of talking could convince Major Grant that there could be trouble ahead.  His latest attempt drew nothing but scorn from the Major and now the Major was overstepping his orders by continuing the advance way beyond what Colonel Bouquet had stipulated.  Now the Sgt. found himself in charge of one of three wings Grant had split his force into.  Grant was on the right approaching Fort Duquesne from the Allegheny River side; the left was led by Lieutenant Collins, a new arrival and with no wilderness fighting experience.  He was following the course of the Monongahela River to the fort.  Mulhern had the center and had his men spread out to take advantage of the cover the woods provided.  The reflection of the sun off a series of moving bayonets caught Mulhern’s attention and he barely had time to shout a warning before the first arrows arrived, one catching the corporal standing next to Mulhern in the right shoulder.  ‘Down!  Take cover!  Be sure of a target before you shoot,’ shouted Mulhern as he dragged the corporal over behind a tree.  ‘Be a good lad and hand me your musket after I shoot mine and then reload it.  We’ll take a look at your arm shortly.’  The woods were now alive with the war cries of Ojibway, Ottawa and Shawnee; the sound of musket fire and the screams of the wounded.  Mulhern surveyed the situation and decided they could hold long enough to retreat in an organized fashion.  After about half an hour the French and allies backed off their attack and started back to the fort.  Mulhern gathered up his men and his wounded and headed back to where Grant had split the force.  Survivors of the other two groups began showing up at the defensive position Mulhern had established.  Most of those retreating arrived in chaos many without their muskets; thrown down in fear in the face of the enemy.  Lieutenant Collins had been killed in the first rush.  Many of the dead from his group had been killed while attempting to escape in the river.  Major Grant’s group fared no better; only 100 of the 250 made it back to Mulhern.  The Major and eighteen of his men were captured by the French.  When Mulhern arrived back at Fort Ligonier he had 408 men left alive from the 750 sent out.  He also had one Mohawk with him as Wahta had shown up carrying a message from Liam.

Liam and Wahta had watched the ambush of Major Grant’s group unable to render any aid and saw him captured and taken to Fort Duquesne.  They could also see the battle taking place with Mulhern’s command and could tell that he would withstand the attack.  Liam told Wahta to go find Sgt. Mulhern while he headed to Fort Duquesne.  ‘There are a couple things I need to do,’ Liam told Wahta, ‘Jimmy Two Birds needs to know about Frontenac falling and what’s coming his way.  I know he’s French but I owe him and he’s a good contact to have.  I’m also going to take a look at the French garrison; see what kind of shape they’re in, the mood of the troops, can they hold out in a prolonged siege.’  Tell Mulhern to tell Washington that I’ll be along in two days.’

Fort Duquesne

Liam gave his horse to Wahta, poured water over his face and streaked it with dirt and ran to catch up with the French.  He fell in next to a wounded Marine and helped him limp into the fort all the time keeping an eye out for Huritt.  Fortunately Huritt had been leading the attack on Lieutenant Collins group and was even now a mile away on his way back to the fort with Collins’ scalp a new trophy hanging from his war lance.  Leaving the wounded marine in the care of a surgeon Liam made his way to Jimmy Two Birds’ tavern.  He entered through the back door and went into the kitchen area and gave a coin to the cook sending her to get Jimmy and then went down the hall to wait for him.  A few minutes later Two Birds walked in, ‘Liam, my boy, why am I not surprised, seems like things are coming to a head around here.’

‘Quicker than you may think, my friend,’ Liam replied, ‘Frontenac has been taken from the French and General Forbes has assembled more than enough men to take this place.’

‘Frontenac taken?  Mon Dieu!  That cuts the supply line rather effectively.  Well, I knew this day was coming.  A word of warning, however, the French commander, Lignery is an aggressive sort as you can tell from today’s little action.  He may not just roll over and play dead for General Forbes.’

Liam stood up and walked around the room gesturing to all the hides, the wine and ale casks, ‘What are you going to do?  Things could get ugly once the British overrun the garrison here.’

‘No need to worry about me.  I’m an adapter, besides our friend Mr. Trent has allowed me to use the land where his trading post was.  I’ve built a few storehouses so the bulk of my goods will be safe.  Once the British rebuild this fort, I will simply open a new tavern, with a British name, of course.’

‘Rebuild?  Why would the fort need to be rebuilt?  Some sections perhaps because of the artillery bombardment but surely not the whole place.’

‘You underestimate Ligerny.  He will blow this place to kingdom come rather than surrender it.  He may be running out of provisions but he has plenty of ammunition and he’s not the type who leaves things for his enemies.’

Liam spent the night at the tavern and when he awoke it was to the news that the Ojibway, Ottawa and Shawnee had decided to pack up their new trophies and head back to their homes leaving defense of the fort strictly to the French garrison of less than 1500 men.  With a hearty handshake Liam left Jimmy Two Birds with the promise to return at war’s end.  With Jimmy’s help Liam was able to slip out of the fort using a gate in the outer defense perimeter that only Jimmy knew about having it built for just such emergencies.

Fort Ligonier

Washington after getting Liam’s report was taking him to see General Forbes.  The General had finally arrived at Ligonier having to make the journey by litter being too ill to sit a horse or ride in a wagon.  They entered the General’s tent and found him lying in bed dictating notes to his secretary about troop dispositions for defense and construction.  “Ah, Colonel Washington, I presume this young man is the famous Mr. Mallory.  Come, sit down.  Please pardon my appearance Mr. Mallory, dying of the bloody flux, you see; damned nuisance to say the least.  So tell me Mr. Mallory, how are things in Fort Duquesne?’

Sgt. Mulhern having been ordered by Colonel Washington to step up the patrols was pleased to have Liam and Wahta as companions.  General Forbes put the fort on full alert after hearing Liam’s assessment of the conditions at Duquesne and the probable attack from the ever audacious Ligerny; an attack that was being shadowed by Mulhern, Liam and Wahta.  They sent the rest of their patrol back to warn the fort while they followed and planned a small ambush for the inevitable retreating French force.  Soon they heard the booming of two French cannon and headed over to see about eliminating that threat.    The advancing 1200 French were met with a withering musket volley followed by an artillery barrage of grape and canister shot.  The results were devastating and dozens of attackers were felled.  Liam took aim and let an arrow fly hitting the artilleryman in the hand as he was about to light the fuse.  Mulhern and Wahta raised their muskets and with Liam advanced on the six French soldiers manning the cannon.  None of them were armed other than with ramrods and six pairs of arms were soon raised in surrender.

Encouraged by the results of the French attack, Forbes decided it was time for an all-out assault on Duquesne.  Despite the pain of his illness, Forbes insisted on being in command and so accompanied his 2500 man force though he sent Washington to the front of the march to take charge of the actual fighting.  They were still a few miles away when night came so they made camp, sending out a patrol and setting a line of double sentries around the perimeter.

At the fort, Ligerny, who was under orders not to surrender the fort, was supervising the setting of demolition charges and the preparations for his garrison to leave in the middle of the night; heading for Fort Le Boeuf 50 miles north on the shore of Lake Erie.  If he could not defend the position, then he would at least deny the British not only the use of the fort but also the use of his store of cannon and ammunition.  Jimmy Two Birds also made his plans for evacuation and soon his wagon load of goods and his whores were headed to Trent’s old place though he remained behind to say farewell to Ligerny and to prepare for the coming British.

Liam, Wahta, Daniel, Markus and Sgt. Mulhern had led the patrol in a wide circuit around Fort Duquesne and were now camped by the ford on the Allegheny River the army would use in the morning.  The explosion shook the ground where they lay sleeping and at once the night sky was aflame with fire and the smoke rose thick enough to blot out some of the stars.  The members of the patrol were all startled awake.  Liam and Mulhern stood together as more explosions ripped through the now blazing fort.  ‘Aye now,’ exclaimed Sgt. Mulhern, ‘sure that’ll make taking the fort a mite easier but what a bloody waste of ammunition.’  Liam nodded and pointed, ‘There go the last of the French troops, most likely the demolition team and there on horseback; that must be the commander.  Not much chance we’ll catch them now.’

General Forbes, unable to sleep was drinking a concoction of ground hart shorn mixed in beer, a mixture his surgeon suggested.  While he wasn’t sure how much good the drink was doing him it was certainly better than being bled or purged.  He had the mug to his lips when the first explosion surprised him, the mug falling from his grasp and spilling on his blanket.  ‘God’s bollocks, the French bastard blew the fort,’ he said to the doctor, ‘go find Colonel Washington.  I need to know the extent of the damage and the whereabouts of the French.’

Washington and a platoon of infantry crossed the Allegheny and met up with Liam’s patrol.  He saw Liam conferring with Wahta and Markus who were now running in the direction the French took out of the fort.  ‘Well Colonel that surely was a rude way to wake up.  Two Birds told me this might happen but I thought the French would at least put up a fight.’  ‘From what I can see,’ replied Washington, ‘most of the fort itself is burning though there are some buildings outside the walls that are still standing.  I hope your friend Two Birds made it out of there.’  ‘Climb on down from your horse, Colonel, sir,’ said Sgt. Mulhern, ‘I have the boys making coffee and it will be a while before Wahta and Markus returns with news of the French.’  Liam held the halter while the Colonel clambered out of the saddle, ‘I wouldn’t be worrying too much about old Two Birds.  I’m guessing the rascal will be there to greet us in the morning; probably draped in a Union Jack.’  This elicited a chuckle from Washington, ‘I look forward to making his acquaintance.’

Excerpt from Chap. 11 Clash of Empires

frontiersman

Shawnee camp north east of Duquesne

Liam, Wahta and Deganawidah were able to track the movement of Huritt and those with him but were not able to come into contact with them given the head start Huritt had.  They followed his trail with little trouble and finally today they spotted his camp nestled along a small creek in one of the many valleys northeast of Fort Duquesne in the Allegheny Mountains.  The camp was fairly large as there were contingents of Ojibway and Ottawa along with Huritt and his Shawnee.  ‘Definitely too many for us to take on,’ said Liam looking down at the camp venting his frustration by snapping a tree branch over his knee.  ‘Snake Slayer my brother, we need only wait,’ answered Wahta pointing to some movement in the camp below, ‘Huritt is most likely headed to the Duquesne fort but the others are not.  They will be heading to their homes in the land of the big lakes after selling their captives to the French at Detroit.’  ‘You are right my brother,’ answered Liam, ‘let’s go back further in the trees and make camp.’

That night Liam had trouble sleeping, he kept going over the coming showdown with Huritt and his mind just would not let go of the images.  Finally a couple hours before dawn he gave up and walked down to the creek at the bottom of the hill they were camped on.  He bent down and scooped up a handful of water and took a drink watching the reflected stars in the ripples caused by his hand.  He sat with his back up against the trunk of a pine and just stared up in the sky and gradually his mind emptied of the images keeping him awake.  He dozed off with his head bowed over his chest.  Suddenly a snort from something across the creek startled him awake.  It was dawn, a gray, eerie dawn with a swirling mist rising off the surface of the creek.  Through the mist Liam saw a buffalo watching him.  It gave another snort, pawed the ground and left.  Liam felt as if he was still asleep and that the scene unfolding before him was just a dream.  At first the scene was of Huritt leaving the camp and heading south.  He was devoid of any weapons but wore a buffalo head as a headpiece; its hide draped over him as a robe.  The scene then switched to a pleasant looking meadow carpeted in wildflowers that spread out in all directions ending at the beach of a large lake. A settler’s wagon then entered the meadow; the wife and children frolicking in the flowers.  The man driving the wagon looked at Liam with a pleading cry coming silently from his mouth.  A party of Delaware warriors rose up from the beach and made for the helpless family of settlers.   A lone buffalo sat atop a mound of sand pawing the ground and nodding his massive head.  The dream came to an end with the buffalo reappearing in the creek mist.  It looked at Liam, nodded once and vanished once more.  Liam came completely awake knowing that he was going to abandon the chase of Huritt and instead find his way to the large lake that lay a day’s march to the northwest.

Having told the others of the visit from his spirit brother, the three, after taking once last look at Huritt’s camp, started their march to the lake.  The first day of the trek was up and down heavily wooded hills.  Wahta was in the lead, his speed was uncanny for a man his size and his strides were long and graceful.  Liam followed about 5 yards behind Wahta, his bow in his left hand, a musket strapped over his shoulder and hanging at an angle across his back.  Deganawidah brought up the rear, pausing every so often to listen and watch for anyone who may be following.  The second day they came down out of the foothills to a flatter landscape that was a mix of small open meadows, marshy creeks and pockets of maple and oak.  They avoided most of the marshy areas until they came to one that was too large to skirt and so splashed their way across scaring up scores of turtles and frogs.  When they reached dry ground again Liam stopped and pointed ahead saying, ‘This is the place.  That mound of sand there in the distance is where I saw my spirit brother.’  They switched from a speedy approach to a more cautious one and headed to the mound.  From there they could see out over the meadow of wildflowers and in the distance a wagon was coming toward them.  It was still a mile or so away and the occupants were as of yet aware of the three men standing on the mound or of the converging band of Delaware coming at them from the woods that edge the beach.  Liam sprang from the mound leaping the distance to the bottom and was off racing at top speed pulling an arrow from his quiver with Wahta and Deganawidah right behind muskets at the ready.

The raiders saw the three pursuers and split their group sending three to attack the wagon and the five remaining warriors turned to face the new threat.  Liam shot one of them in the hip with an arrow let loose while he was on the run.  He continued toward the wagon nocking another arrow.  Wahta and Deganawidah each fired their muskets wounding one of the attackers in the shoulder and killing the other.  With no time to reload Deganawidah pulled out his tomahawk and Wahta his war club and charged the two remaining Delaware facing them.  Deganawidah was knocked to the ground with his opponent on top of him.  The Delaware brought his tomahawk down and struck Deganawidah in the temple, the blade cracking through the skull and into the brain.  Deganawidah was dead but the Delaware was also as his momentum had carried him onto the blade of Deganawidah’s tomahawk and it tore open his throat.  The two dead warriors were clasped in a sort of grim death embrace their blood saturating the ground around them.  Wahta simply barreled over his foe and then clubbed him on the side of his head caving in his skull.

At the wagon, Albert Jameson, a baker built more like a blacksmith, climbed down from the wagon seat grabbing his two muskets, ammo pouch and powder horn and knelt by the front wheel.  He handed the extra gun and ammo to his wife Margaret who along with their fifteen year old daughter Rebecca had crawled under the wagon.  When the three charging Delaware were in range Albert fired striking the closest one in the chest, the musket ball breaking through the ribcage, puncturing a lung and exiting out of his back.  Margaret quickly handed him the second musket and with no time to spare Albert shot the next brave point blank in the face.  He had just enough time to parry a tomahawk strike from the last raider with the barrel of the musket but the force of the charge knocked him flat on his back.  The Delaware made ready to strike a killing blow.  As he raised his arm he was knocked sideways and looking down he saw the arrow shaft protruding from under his armpit.  The arrow head ripped through his heart and he fell to the ground dead.   Albert, his face streaked with the blood from his second victim, heaved the body of the third one off of him, stood up and saw Liam and Wahta approaching.

The events are real, subject, of course, to fictional intrusion :-) – part 4

frontiersman

Among the many challenges facing me in putting together a full length novel was concocting enough material to fill the spaces between the war chapters.  After all life continues in some fashion even in a dangerous frontier.  So in addition to writing battle scenes full of action, gore, death and bravery there were also other things like character development in some of the other human endeavors.  My characters had to feel friendship, loyalty, betrayal, success, loss and to my surprise they had to find love.  I don’t know what was harder to pen, the battle stuff or the romance; both were fun to figure out.  In chapter one we see a romantic relationship between Liza and Henry that had it’s roots prior to the beginning of the book.  I like the way it played out with Liza being the more forceful one; I also had fun with their dialogue – I just can’t seem to write without having some humor involved.  There are a couple more love stories that involve the two brothers, Daniel and Liam.  I don’t know that I originally intended to have as many romances as I have but the thought occurred to me that if I wanted to carry this story on into a family saga covering over 100 years then I needed characters having sex and having kids.  Now don’t get all in a tizzy, nothing graphic mind you just pure and wholesome descriptive behavior.  🙂

The events are real, subject, of course, to fictional intrusion :-) – part 3

170px-Muse_reading_Louvre_CA2220

Often times when I am working on my book I amaze myself at some of the things that I come up with.  I’ve come to the conclusion that at least some of the material has to be inspired so I’ve adopted the stance that I have a Muse that does the inspiring(the picture above is one of the 3 or 9 Muses – depending on who you read the number varies – this one is probably Clio the Muse of history).  From Wikipedia: ‘The Muses, the personification of knowledge and the arts, especially literature, dance and music, are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne(memory personified). Hesiod’s account and description of the Muses was the one generally followed by the writers of antiquity. It was not until Roman times that the following functions were assigned to them, and even then there was some variation in both their names and their attributes:Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Euterpe (flutes and lyric poetry), Thalia (comedy and pastoral poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Terpsichore(dance), Erato (love poetry), Polyhymnia (sacred poetry), Urania (astronomy).’

I imagine that I have been inspired by more than one of the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne but Clio seems to be the most likely given my penchant for my lifelong reading about and studying history.  Sometimes I portray my relationship with my creative sources as being a fickle and often a frustrating one.  Fickle because many of the thoughts and ideas for the story come when I cannot write them down as I am behind the wheel of my car…frustrating as there are periods of time when I can think of nothing at all to add.  Still, however, I am more pleased than pissed with their involvement.

Having chosen which battles or events I want to portray I now have to plan what part(s) my fictional characters will play without disturbing the historical event too much.  An example of this is the ill-fated attempt by General Braddock to take Fort Duquesne(Pittsburgh) from the French.  In this battle my fictional characters do play a part as they utilize the woodland skills I have given them and as scouts for the colonial militia they are instrumental in helping the historical character of Washington in keeping the rout from becoming worse.  This type of integration of my fictional characters with the historical ones does present challenges as I do not want to distort the event yet I want the result to be a compelling read.

The process of making up events that fill out the story and plot lines in part 4.

The events are real, subject, of course, to fictional intrusion :-) – part 2

One of the more enjoyable parts of writing about a historical event or period is that the writer must learn about that which he is going to write.  One book I found to be an excellent source was Empires at War by William M. Fowler.

empiresatwar

 

With the information gathered from this book I scoured the Web for information on the battles and the personalities involved in this, the real first world war.  Websites maintained by the various forts and historical sites proved to be lucrative places to learn.  Also invaluable were the various pages devoted to Native American life and history; especially when finding names and learning about the daily life of the Mohawk, Shawnee, Ojibway, Ottawa and the many other tribes affected by the war.  Wikipedia was also an important source, so much so that I even ponied up a few bucks for this incredible site.  These tools were relied upon heavily when writing about a historical character.  I tried to represent them as truthfully as possible, e.g. most British officers had a disdainful attitude toward the colonial troops at their disposal and that trait is evident in men like General John Braddock, Colonel Munro, etc, etc.  For the person of George Washington I attempt to show him as an intelligent and compassionate man and leader.  This period of his life is one of learning the craft of war and learning the craft of dealing with politicians, important steppingstones to the man he will become.  In the case of the Ottawa war chief, Pontiac, I found extreme opinions on his actual part in the conflict called Pontiac’s Rebellion.  I chose to portray him as a sort of Vercingetorix, uniting the tribes in order to overthrow their new masters, the British.

However, a writer does not live on research alone.  Nay, the author must still call upon his/her muse because stuff still needs to be made up.    More in part 3.

The events are real, subject, of course, to fictional intrusion :-) – part 1

Since I happen to read a lot of historical-fiction, I found it as no surprise when I started thinking of writing a full length novel that it would be of that genre.  It was more of a challenge to find the setting, the time period, the historical event to write about.  It didn’t seem prudent to look to ancient history even though Egyptians, Greeks & Romans fill my bookshelves both with historical and fictional tomes and while I may know a bit about those civilizations, I felt more comfortable tackling something closer to home.  Besides, I have come to know a few authors(via social media) who are much more attuned to those time periods than I could ever be.  The same holds true for the Dark Ages, medieval Europe, the Crusades, The Norman conquest of Britain, etc,etc.  Fortunately for me there is an abundance of material to choose from in the forming of the United States and the historical sites are a lot closer to me than the Roman ruins in Europe and Britain.  🙂

The French and Indian War turned out to be the perfect precursor to the colonies breaking free from King George and that in turn spurred my idea for a series of novels that would follow a fictional family through American history in the 18th and 19th centuries.  The name of the family, Mallory, I took from my own family history.  My paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Mallory and she hailed from central PA. (Altoona) where Clash of Empires primarily takes place.

more to come in part 2…