Saturday, June 21, 2008


As is more than amply evident from other links on this website, my new novel Nor the Battle to the Strong launches on July Fourth at Malaprop's Bookstore in Asheville. Just yesterday I received an early shipment of author's copies of the book, and if I do say so myself, it looks pretty darn good. Once again my publisher, Deric Beil of Savannah, has confirmed his long-held reputation as one of the finest book designers in the business.

Of course it's a delight for any author to handle his or her newest book for the first time--especially after a gestation period as long as this one (seven years from inspiration to publication). Naturally I basked for a while in a pleasurable glow, paging through the actual artifact after such a tiresome and often discouraging wait when the image of the book shimmered distantly in imagination only. But then I scanned the Afterword where I had acknowledged the help of those who had assisted me, and a ghastly realization struck me.

I had neglected to mention two of the people who had done the most for me! First among them is my dear friend and colleague Britt Kaufmann, who poured her incredible array of talents and boundless enthusiasm into designing this website; conceiving the composition of the cover; writing promotional materials without number; and arranging several interviews with me which have appeared, and will appear, in various venues. Nor was this all. A dedicated feminist, pacifist and indifferent student of historical fiction, Britt not only read my novel about the Revolutionary War, she found merit in it and even insisted with her typical passion that it offered important lessons for those like herself who harbor reservations about war. She has photographed me to such advantage that I actually appear presentable on this website, encouraged me when my own confidence flagged, cussed me out when I gave in to doubts and self-pity, and always resolutely believed in the importance of my work. Bear in mind that Britt is a stay-at-home mom with three young children, and also a gifted, oft-published and anthologized poet in her own right. She was busy enough without me. My wife Ruth and I call her our surrogate daughter, a title she tolerates, and we are more fond of her than we can say. But I have served her ill, and I am sorry.

The second person I neglected to thank is Bob Yankle of Burlington, the subject of my last log entry. It was Bob who encouraged me to take photographs with his personal digital camera at a cavalry re-enactment last November at Cowpens, SC and who spent most of the day shooting pictures himself, both of us hoping to capture an image that would suit Britt's book-jacket conception. Bob is a pro and this was the first time I'd ever used a digital camera, so it was sheer dumb luck that I got a shot which ended up on the cover of the novel. It's a credit to Bob's generosity that he assured me mine was the best shot. I may have snapped the picture, but we were both aiming to fulfill Britt's composition, so the final cover image is the result of a completely collaborative effort.

Why did I fail to mention Britt and Bob's help? I have no good answer save that I wrote the acknowledgements at the time of the original submission of the manuscript, years before my friends rendered their invaluable last-minute, pre-publication services. Then, when the galleys arrived a few weeks ago to be proofed--the time when I should've added a paragraph of gratitude--I fixated instead on the technical job of reviewing the typesetting and simply forgot to update my thank-yous.

So, my two unthanked angels, I hope you can forgive me for failing to praise you when and where I should've. My heart is full of love and gratitude for you both, and I assure you I'll try to make up for my omissions as I circulate on tour. People are going to know about what you did for me, I promise.

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