The lieutenant of artillery looked down upon a scene he never imagined and would never forget: hundreds of men in blue torn apart by point-blank cannon fire. He turned to General Mahone. “We’ve held them, sir.”
Mahone continued staring at the slaughter. “It’s a turkey shoot.”
Today is the sesquicentennial of the Battle of the Crater. I wrote of the battle in Dawn Drums. I’ve posted that selection, along with a reading comprehension exercise, on my Dawn Drums website http://dawndrums.wordpress.com/blogs/. Please feel free to use it with your students.
A selection of my previously published poems is appearing in the new eZine poetry journal Verse-Virtual. I am grateful that editor Firestone Feinberg chose “Dawn Drums”, the villanelle I composed to begin my novel of the same name, as the lead poem. I spent a lot of time on that villanelle! It was a case of a poem grabbing the poet and hauling him kicking and screaming to better craftsmanship!
The Society for Classical Poets published a poem of mine I began many years ago after Jo Hansen died. I’ve been to many funerals since and each helped me shape this poem. It feels right now. Here’s the link:
And here’s a photo by Jon Walton – just for the heck of it!
Many great story-tellers never write down a word. Ed Mckean’s long ago campfire yarns inspired me to write this story and I thank KBR for publishing it. I hope Ed will like it and that it will call to mind all those big eyes across the fire – Jeremy’s, Jon’s, Patrick’s, Laura’s, Christina’s and Paul’s.
I wrote this story some years ago and it won the Central Coast Writers 2011 contest. I thought I did a good job with it and am glad to have it achieve new publication. Beryl Belsky, editor of The Writer’s Drawer, kindly featured it in a recent post. Please do add a comment at her site if you have time!
“Joaquin’s Gold” is a western adventure set in 19th Century California. Its main character is Joaquin Murrieta, the famous bandit. It’s based on Central California legends and is set in Pinnacles National Park. I wrote it for my 8th grade students thirty years ago and have rewritten it many times since. Beryl Belsky has kindly published the story on her Writer’s Drawer website:
I’ve made a common core short story unit for “Joaquin” available on the TPT site:
Joaquin has become one of my favorite characters. I’ve written eight stories for him and for California long before freeways. I hope to make them all available for teachers in the next few years!
Friend Martin Doolan got a chance to read Chaos Gate for the first time recently. He had this to say:
“It took me a little while to get into it at the start, when I couldn’t see why the events were happening and why I should get involved, but the short, speedy sentences and original turns of phrase and vivid mini-descriptions kept me going.
Then I realized that I just had to hang in and follow the tale, an adventure game where the characters discover a maze and hidden doors and perhaps something beyond the doors. And suddenly the chase was on, first by guards and then by Sweetums, a terrifying character with its purposeful, powerful, dogged, unstoppable drive to kill our heroes.
Then the tale speeds up further, with imaginative and surprising twists and turns coming at increasing speed. As reader, I was now on a roller-coaster. And the ending (before the epilogue to quieten the spirits) is no let-down but an exciting just-in-time culmination.
I thoroughly enjoyed Chaos Gate. I know the genre, but this was a gripping version with, of course, your skill with short, precise ‘action’ sentences (no fat on them to slow them down) and succinct ‘descriptive’ sentences to help us visualize the scene.
I guess it was as much fun for you writing it as it was for me reading it. Some of the adrenalin you must have experienced when coming up with your creative imaginings cross the page to enter the reader’s world and provide an engrossing, entertaining read.”
All of you who don’t know my book, please take note! It’s still available on Amazon!