I just returned from the east coast where I had two speaking engagements about my book. To shorten the drive, I stopped at my brother’s home in Kentucky for Easter weekend before continuing the journey April 18th. I left quite early that morning expecting to arrive in Delaware by mid-afternoon, but a freak snowstorm struck in the Alleghany mountains, delaying me four hours. It was the worst weather I’ve ever seen on the road, causing multiple accidents along the way and long periods of stuck traffic. After three hours the worst was behind, and traffic began moving. Arriving at the hotel that evening, I was quite exhausted. Fortunately, I had allowed plenty of time to reach the destination, recover from the long drive, and go over last-minute preparations.
The meeting for the speech was not until 6:00 PM the next day. After resting, I went over my outline and notes, going through the slide program to be sure it worked as expected. I arrived early for the meeting and got the projector and screen set up and checked before activities began. The room was nearly full with over twenty attendees, and all seemed interested in what I would say.
My talk began with how I came to write the book then moved to the main characters and one of the principal battles. A previous speech was solely on why and how I wrote the book, but the current talk was focused more on a series of battles in upper East Tennessee, believing this would be of greater interest. Since not as much is written on the Civil War in this region, it is a new material for many history fans. Most attendees never heard of many of the characters in the book, a reason for curious history buffs to read it. I was pleased at both meetings that a majority of the audience bought the book. Although expenses exceeded income, the trip was a success as an educational venture, promoting study of history and allowing me to meet many people with similar interests.
Within two weeks I was on the road again, this time to a gun show in Asheville, North Carolina. I try to make all the shows there since this is the setting for my book: the town, and surrounding mountains during the last two years of the Civil War. I have met people with stories about ancestors during that period. One reader said an obscure bridge cited in the book was named after a relative who was a large landowner at the time. Another said she had studied local history all her life but learned a lot new in my work. Nothing is more gratifying than to hear of readers seeing something connected to their own histories. I intentionally tried to fill the book with facts to aid future historians and genealogists. What might be considered excess detail to a reviewer critical of the book’s length may be a gem to a serious student and the only hope for such a discovery is from an inclusive and complete account. Through four years of research, I gathered a vast amount of information, putting much of it in the book, wanting it to be comprehensive, perhaps sparing a future writer from having to plow the same ground. Also, I intentionally included soldiers’ names I found, to remember their sacrifice and to aid readers investigating ancestry. The book is dedicated to H.F. Scaife, the former Macbeth Light Artillery officer whose hope was his old unit would be remembered in history. Although he didn’t see it in his lifetime, the publication of “War in the Mountains” partly fulfilled his dream. Since Civil War histories are a niche market, the book will likely never be profitable, but I believe I’ve already met my goal for writing it. Also I had meant to write at least one other book to cover the Macbeth’s earlier years in the war, but now that I’m publishing a contemporary novel it may not happen.