September 14, 2011

Tomes and White Phosphorus

First off, I would like to remark that The Soldier's Cross has recently been reviewed on two blogs - Eva's The Watered Garden Letters and Ashley's The Epic Reader. If you would like to see their thoughts on the book, just trot over and take a peek!

And now on to the subject of this post. A few days ago the rough draft of The White Sail's Shaking passed 100,000 words (I do realize that the sidebar doesn't say as much, because I haven't added the current chapter to the main document, but thankfully even my math skills can handle adding 5,000 into 97,000). It's a little sad that since November 2010 I've only added 50,000 words to the total, but I like to think they have been good words...and anyways, milestones are nice. I am now about three-fourths of the way through the novel's first draft, which is quite exciting when I don't allow myself to look at what I still have to do, so I thought I would write a kind of celebratory post.

This week I've been doing some research - research on phosphorus, to be precise - and jotting down notes for chemicals to be used in a future story, so my brain is in search-mode. In general I have to admit that I would rather be writing than researching, but there are times when I find something quite fascinating and I can hardly drag myself away from it, like the ingredients in match heads or Naval Documents related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers. This is the mood I am currently in, and so in honor of white phosphorus and having reached 100,000 words in White Sail's, I thought I would shine some light on my favorite resources for my work in progress.

naval documents of the barbary wars

I only discovered this fairly recently. It would be a massive tome if it were in book-form and costs about $500, but fortunately the whole thing is available online. It has letters, journal entries, and legal forms from the time period of the two Barbary Wars and is helpful for finding the movements of ships on specific dates, as well as for checking the information in the books I have. Searching by subject gets a wee bit tiresome, so I don't usually go to this resource first, but when I do the results are almost always worth it.

edward preble: a naval biography [by christopher mckee]

Edward Preble was the Commodore of the American squadron in the Mediterranean during the time in which The White Sail's Shaking takes place, and I had originally planned for Tip to be on Preble's flagship, the Constitution. That was subsequently changed, but I still read this biography from cover to cover to learn more about Preble. And I wouldn't do it again just for fun. Nothing much happened to Preble prior to the First Barbary War, except for a few events during the American Revolution, and so all and all the first half of the biography made for pretty dull reading. The chapters dealing with the Barbary War, however, are wonderfully thorough - and they have diagrams and maps! (Yes, I am still inordinately fond of pictures in books.)

six frigates [by ian toll]

I can't forget about this one, since it inspired White Sail's to start with. This book isn't as in depth as Edward Preble, but then, it makes for a much lighter and more enjoyable read. I use this for looking up the major movements of the squadron and the Americans' relationship with the British, then look up the details in Preble. This book also has some good information on Stephen Decatur, which is very nice.

the barbary wars [by frank lambert]

Despite the fact that this is a whole book on the two Barbary Wars, it is not in-depth and deals with the events in fairly cursory detail. It's easy to search things in because of its small size, so I use it first to see if I can find what I need before turning to the larger books. Although not really applicable to my novel, it does have some interesting information on life in Tripoli itself.

biography of stephen decatur

I have yet to find a biography of Stephen Decatur that I like; they all tend to be oozing with hero-worship until I'm pretty sure even he would be ashamed to read them. I am inclined to think him an amazing man, but the triteness of the biographies makes him seem trivial. The number of mistakes in this particular book is also a downer. On the other hand, like The Barbary Wars, this is easy to glance through and when I find an interesting "fact" I can check it off some other, more reliable work.

I have other books as well, not to mention a random website here and there, but these are the ones that get carted around the house from one computer to the other (and which always seem to be at the wrong one when needed). I researched prior to 2010 NaNo, but there were so many facts that had to be crammed into my brain that naturally a lot of them fell out again and I have to keep restocking. It's a fascinating business, though - almost as fascinating as white phosphorus.


  1. Congratulations on your big milestone!! This sounds so interested and I can not wait for it to be published so I can read it.

  2. Thank you! Every little success with White Sail's is cause for celebration - at least in my mind. I'm so pleased to have gotten this far.

  3. I agree with you. With each milestone I make, I celebrate. When I mark down how far I've come writing a manuscript, it encourages me to continue and not to give up hope.


meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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