Writing and Editing Tools for Self-publishing Indie Authors

This is a good list of software that will help you as a writer. None of it replaces a good human editor, but it will make you look better when you hand the manuscript over!

Welsh indie author Karl Drinkwater shares a handy guide to writing and editing apps to help you self-edit your work and make your self-published book the best

Source: Writing and Editing Tools for Self-publishing Indie Authors

Have your ebook sales dropped in 2014?

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Mark Coker of Smashwords.com offers his insight and analysis of the future of the ebook market and how to survive as an idie author.

http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/11/ebook-publishing-gets-more-difficult.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Smashwords+%28Smashwords%29

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Marketing Approach: Funnel or Circle?

Karon Thackston discusses the idea of authors creating a marketing circle rather than the traditional funnel approach. I have to agree that keeping my readers informed and engaged is a top priority, but easier said than done!

An Industry Pining for Bookstores | The Scholarly Kitchen

As brick and mortar book stores disappear, how does one “discover” new titles? Once discovered, what motivates the consumer to choose print or digital? Can we really blame Amazon, or are they just at the right place at the right time?

I do have to disagree with one of Mr. Esposito’s conclusions: I write because I have to and would do so even if my books didn’t generate any revenue!

An Industry Pining for Bookstores | The Scholarly Kitchen.

Dowsing the Dead

I ran across a clipping in my archives (read: piles of paper on one of my many “desks” at home) reprinted in the Gettysburg Times by Tony Gonzalez of The Tennessean titled, “Historians use divining rods to find old cemeteries.”

Now, the historians I know are probably going crazy right now. Dowsing falls in the category of the paranormal which, to them, has no place in providing information from the past. The problem for me is that I’ve seen too many times when the documented history has validated paranormally obtained information.

Like the time in the Gettysburg Hotel when Laine Crosby, an Investigative Medium, was “communicating” with a man she said had worked in the hotel when it was a bank. However, she saw him in the blue uniform of a Union soldier and he said that he was from Gettysburg. I told her, indeed, there was a unit that fought at Gettysburg that had been recruited in Adams County, of which Gettysburg is the seat. I asked could she ask him his name. Hesitatingly, as if listening to something that was hard to discern, she said “Cul…bert…son. I don’t know if that’s his whole name or if he’s telling me he’s Culbert’s son.”

Later research confirmed there was a Culbertson who fought with the unit. Skeptics will say she looked it up ahead of time, but from her reaction when we were talking, I’m convinced she didn’t even know there was a unit from Gettysburg. Later, she came up with the name again, while visiting the David Stewart Farm outside of Gettysburg. The Civil War era Culbertson never lived there, but the family later bought the place, and it was a WW II era Culbertson that was communicating with her. This was all confirmed later by the current owner who had the deeds and records of the farm.

As far as dowsing is concerned, I have had several personal experiences that convinced me that something is going on that can’t be explained.

My first experience was with the late Cecil Downing, a soft-spoken, unassuming man who had discovered several hundred wells for people all over the state of Pennsylvania. He dowsed a site on the battlefield known for its numerous camera fails. As he walked with his forked plastic rod, it would dip suddenly toward the ground. He spent well over an hour walking back and forth and determined there were “ley lines”—lines of energy—radiating from one specific area. It was his contention that spirits could travel more easily along these naturally-occurring paths of energy.

It made sense to me. I have the theory that ghosts are “energy thieves.” Since they cannot create their own energy by eating (like living beings create their energy) they have to get it from somewhere, like batteries, natural sources, or living human beings.

My second experience in dowsing was with my wife Carol. Keep in mind she was a biology major in college, in retail for a while and finally ended up in computers. Needless to say, she has a scientific, inquisitive, analytical mind. So when she first picked up dowsing rods, it was with a heavy dose of skepticism.

We were in an abandoned churchyard near Bowling Green, VA. We were told there were emptied graves nearby.  It was fall and the leaves lay in an even carpet through the woods. Carol began walking with the copper rods—two wires bent at a 90 degree angle inserted into a sleeve so they would turn freely. As she walked along, the rods began to cross. She then stepped into a depression which was once a former grave. She backed out of the depression, and the rods uncrossed. This happened several times during the session.

Also sometime in the fall, again with leaves obscuring any depressions in the ground, we were at one of the temporary cemeteries established after the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864. These graves, too, had been emptied years before, the bodies taken to the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. Again, as Carol walked along, the rods began to cross, then she stepped into a depression. She back out, and the rods uncrossed.

Finally, for my book, Civil War Ghost Trails we were conducting a “mini-investigation” at Shiloh Battlefield in Tennessee. I was using a recorder to get EVP. We had heard that after the battle, there were so many Confederate dead that they were forced to bury them in mass graves. The Park Service knows that there were eleven or twelve mass graves, but the 19th Century commission could only locate five. Carol, using her dowsing rods, with me video recording the event, tested the ability of the rods to find graves over a known mass grave. Indeed, they reacted. Carol then moved behind the site and the rods began to react again. Individual graves now lost? Possibly.

Writing Blood and Ghosts with Katherine Ramsland and working with Gregg McCrary, former FBI profiler taught me that investigators should not rule out any method that leads to clues or evidence. In conversation, Gregg said, “Whatever works.” Perhaps historians’ and other investigators’ concerns about obtaining evidence paranormally can be summed up by one of the historians working in Tennessee to locate graves with dowsing rods before they are destroyed by modern development: “I can dowse, but I do not trust this method. It can’t be explained why it works.”

But it does work.

Mark Nesbitt Ghosts of Gettysburg Quote

July 2 Gettysburg Campaign: Everything On the LIne

Yesterday Franklin Horner and the 12th Pennsylvania Reserves marched until 1:00 a.m., some twenty-five miles. Today they began marching at 6:00 a.m. He writes that they have halted within sight of the rebels and are expecting to march onto the battlefield soon. Suddenly, his writing changes to present tense, the immediacy so great he forgets punctuation: “ evening we are on the battlefield and in line of battle the boys are determined to drive the rebels out of the state the battle is rageing [sic} fiercely now we will soon be in.”

From Thomas Ware’s diary on this Thursday we learn that he marches through Cashtown and came in sight of Gettysburg. They rested in an “old field” until 2:00 p.m. “…at which time we left to Attack the Enemy. After passing through a very heavy shelling for 20 minutes we rested and then formed a line of battle. Here at the foot of the mountain the engagement became general & fierce…”

Franklin Horner, exhausted from marching, lack of sleep, little food and the sheer nervousness of not knowing whether, in ten minutes, he would be alive or dead, ends up on the boulder-strewn west slope of a small hill south of Gettysburg, which would later come to be known as Little Round Top. It is from there he writes his entry in his diary.

Thomas Ware, his brother Robert, and the rest of the men of the 15th Georgia have marched hours with but little rest to finally end up at the lower end of an oddly-shaped triangular field near a jumble of huge boulders the locals call the Devils Den. Just beyond Ware in the Triangular Field, within musket-range in fact, is the upper slope of Little Round Top where Horner stands, two American enemies, after 35 days of campaigning, finally on the same part of the battlefield at Gettysburg.

It is here where I must end my narrative. I do not want to spoil the ending of the book for those interested in reading it. A hint as to how it ends: one soldier lives, the other dies.

I will share an interesting story, a “perk” so to speak, associated with the writing of the book. Several years after it was published, I received a letter from a resident of Washington, Georgia, asking if I would like to speak to the descendents of Thomas Ware. That was a particularly busy year for me so I deferred, suggesting perhaps a later time. I honestly never expected to hear from him again. But Gary Norman was persistent, and the next year my wife Carol and I flew to Atlanta and drove our rental car through a night-time thunderstorm to Washington. We were put up in a delightfully restored building owned by the president of the local historical society. The next day we were treated to lunch with over 25 Wares, Normans, and Remsens, names which appear in the roster of Company G, 15th Georgia Infantry.

One person I was particularly interested in meeting was Mary Lucy (Ware) Probst, Thomas Ware’s grand-niece, whose name had been given to me by family member Ken Norman early in my research. Every family should be lucky enough to have someone like Mary Lucy in it, for if they did their heritage would never be lost. I spoke with and wrote to her numerous times during the development of the book. It was only fitting that I should present to her, on behalf of the family, the microfilmed copy of Thomas Ware’s entire diary, which I had purchased from the University of North Carolina, Southern Historical Collection for my research. Now, anyone in the family can read first hand of their relative’s heroic, harrowing journeys.

I spoke that afternoon to some thirty heirs to the legacy of the one Confederate soldier, out of several hundred thousand, whom I had chosen to represent all the rest. For me it was emotional to have gotten to know their ancestor so well, and to pass that information on to them. I spoke about observations he had made of the land through which he was marching and how many of those landmarks remain. I talked about how astounded I was that throughout his entire diary, there were no references to slavery for this Southerner. The only “N” word Thomas ever used was “Negro” speaking of someone named Steve who sent him some food from home. I told them of the admiration I had for their kin, who endured more, physically and emotionally, than anyone should have to protect his family back in Georgia. I told them how honored I was that they should invite me to speak to them.

Gary Norman’s wife Suzanne is a Ware. They sponsored a reception at their house after my speech to the family. Speaking to Suzanne about the research and miles traveled to produce the book, I told of my one disappointment. In all the volumes of books and papers I perused and the archives I visited, I never found a photo of Thomas Ware. I had no idea what this young man, whose life I had chronicled, whose most intimate hopes and fears I was privy to,  looked like.

“Oh,” Suzanne said. “I have his photo hanging on my wall.” She walked me into the house and handed me a small picture of the young man whose life took up so much of my life for the past several years. I felt a well of emotion as I looked into his face. Two words, probably sounding strange to the rest of the Ware family who had gathered around, but summing up all that he and I had been through over the several years it took to research and write his book came out of my mouth:

“Hello, Thomas.”

Thomas Ware

Thomas Ware

July 1 Gettysburg Campaign: “None in the world”

Franklin Horner begins his day at 5:00 a.m. They marched nearly the whole day putting in fifteen miles and crossing the Maryland-Pennsylvania line into York County. Somewhere he hears they are within five or six miles of the rebels and they expect to get into a fight tomorrow. He records that he hears some firing in their front, that the wagons are all being sent to the rear and a night march is expected.

Thomas Ware begins his march at 4:00 p.m., and marches through the night. They stop and rest somewhere east of Fayetteville and west of Cashtown on the Chambersburg Pike.

The firing Horner hears is coming from the fields to the west and north of Gettysburg, PA, a town of about 2,400 souls at the intersection of several roads.

The night before, on June 30, General John Buford’s Union cavalry trotted through the town from the south and spread out to the west. As was standard practice for the cavalry, they sent out videttes—single horsemen ahead of groups of horsemen—to locate any enemy that might be near. No doubt they saw or heard Confederates to the west. Confederate general Johnston Pettigrew reported back to his corps commander at Cashtown that night that on his scout toward Gettysburg he had run into Federal cavalry and had heard drums behind them, indicating there might be infantry backing them up. General Lee had let it be known that he did not want to bring on a general engagement since his army was not concentrated yet, so Pettigrew backed off.

Pettigrew’s report to corps commander A. P. Hill took place at the Cashtown Inn and was overheard by one of Hill’s division commanders, General Henry Heth. Hill didn’t believe that there could be infantry in Gettysburg; his reports all said that the Army of the Potomac was still in Maryland. Pettigrew listened while Hill threw away fresh intelligence about the enemy for stale. Heth asked if Hill had any objections if he went into Gettysburg the next morning and procured supplies—especially shoes—for his command. “None in the world,” Hill said. Those four words would bring on what some historians think was the watershed battle of the American Civil War.

The morning of July 1, Heth’s men drew fire from Buford’s videttes, but pressed on until they struck the main cavalry line. They were held up by Buford’s men, who had sent couriers back through the town of Gettysburg to inform the nearest infantry that the fight was on. They found the Union Army First Corps, under the command of Major General John F. Reynolds (whose home was Lancaster, PA) on the road the Confederates would march to Philadelphia, if they were successful in driving back his troops. With a will only a man fighting to defend his own home and family could summon, Reynolds rode ahead of his troops, through the Seminary to the ridges and swales to the west. He had turned in his saddle to watch his troops march toward him when a minie ball struck him high in the back of the neck. He had been on the battlefield just a few minutes.

The fighting would rage with Confederates assaulting the Union lines along McPherson’s Ridge from the west. As more Union troops came through the town, they attempted to gain the high ground to the north on Oak Hill. Just as they approached the hill, Confederates arriving from the north as part of the rebel army’s concentration planted themselves on it. The Union troops “refused” their line, or bent it back, to receive any attack.

As in any battle there were moments of serious hard fighting as well as lulls. As more Union troops arrived on the field they took up position north of the town, straddling the approach routes there, and holding off Confederate assaults as best they could from behind the only protection they could find—some post and rail fences. The Federal line formed a rough, sideways “L” blocking Confederates first coming from the west in the morning, then from the north in the afternoon. Fighting continued through the afternoon until Confederate forces finally arrived from the east and attacked the Union flank on Barlow’s knoll. It crumpled and the entire Federal line imploded, moving rapidly through the town.

It seemed a complete Confederate victory on the first day. Lee, who had not wanted to bring on a general engagement, observed the rout as he arrived on the battlefield from Cashtown and must have been pleased at what he saw. Was it this vision that changed his strategy from avoiding an engagement to, “The enemy is there, and I am going to strike him”?

And while the Federals where whipped on the first day, they fell back to the high ground south of the town and began to form, as the rest of the army came up from the south, one of the strongest positions they could have found; One that most military men credit with the eventual Union victory.

Yet, for all the momentous, history-changing events that are occurring just a few miles from them and toward which they are inexorably being drawn, neither Franklin Horner nor Thomas Ware mentions the name Gettysburg.

Mark Nesbitt Ghosts of Gettysburg Quote

June 30 Gettysburg Campaign: Pay Day

This Tuesday, the last day of June, was the day Franklin Horner and his fellow Union soldiers mustered for pay. They took up the line of march at 7:00 a.m. and marched until 7:00 p.m. covering some 20 miles. As they passed through several towns they uncased the colors—their flags—and had their bands play martial music.

Thomas Ware began their march about 9:00 a.m. It was a short day ending at 1:00 p.m. stopping to camp in the town of Fayetteville. His comrades gathered a large amount of cherries, which were in season in Pennsylvania and, as he put it, “We made fences fly…” for firewood, of course. He has some time to write a letter home.

Horner casually mentions that they marched twenty miles this day, but it was probably one of the hardest marches he’s had to make. They are on the move for twelve hours, which means a lot of it was stop and go before they could go into camp and take a long rest.

Since it is the end of the month, there are some administrative duties each company has to take care of. They determine how many men are present and accounted for so that they can requisition money from the government to pay them for their service. In the Union army, pay was $13 per month.

The end-of-the-month muster also gives us a general—but not specific—idea of the troop strengths at the time. When historians analyzed the muster records, they felt confident in determining the number of soldiers present on July 1, the opening of the Battle of Gettysburg. But there are variables: men get sick overnight, or drop out of the ranks marching the next day. In addition, the muster rolls give only an approximate number of combat troops. There were thousands more non-combatants, from teamsters to farriers to personal servants to “camp followers” who accompanied the armies and remained behind the lines during combat. The total number of human beings being drawn to this part of Pennsylvania as if caught in a whirlpool may never be known; but it certainly was more that the 97,000 Union and 75.000 Confederate combat troop figures we used in the National Park Service.

Once again, the Federals are marching an inside arc to the Confederates’ sweep northward and eastward. The rebels had been reported in York and so Horner’s unit is sent toward the east, always trying to be the buffer between the enemy and their capital. Music playing and flags flying while marching through northern towns were more for the civilians’ benefit than the soldiers. Horner, who had lived through the bloodiest single day in all of American History at the Battle of Antietam, knows he is headed toward yet another, and potentially bloodier battle with one of the finest and most deadly armies on the face of the planet; one that had already whipped his army more than once before. The cheering civilian residents of the towns may not have exactly inculcated Horner and his fellow veterans with confidence.

Perhaps because of the extra free time he has thanks to a short march, Ware’s thoughts turn homeward and he records in a sort of code that he has been using, that he wrote a letter to “J. B. F.” Throughout his diary, Thomas Ware uses his alphabet code to record letters he sends to someone at home. Could it be that he has a sweetheart in Washington, Georgia?

This night, Ware and Horner are only thirty-seven miles apart, a day’s march for each of these American enemies to a collision-point.

Mark Nesbitt Ghosts of Gettysburg Quote