Cover Ideas: A Nest of Hornets

It doesn’t really have anything to do with winged, stinging insects!

In the winter of 1777 British forces, reeling from defeats at Trenton and Princeton, abandoned most of New Jersey. From their last remaining posts along the Raritan River in New Brunswick and the Amboys they had to launch foraging expeditions in the Jersey countryside; the Continental Army and New Jersey Militia resisted these expeditions so vigorously that one British officer described the experience as “walking into a nest of hornets.”

Gideon Hawke #3, A Nest of Hornets, is set during the “Forage War” in New Jersey. We find Gideon and his mates stalking the British through frozen woods, icy brooks, and snow-covered fields. We also discover that someone on the American side is forewarning the British about American plans. Will Gideon be able to find the spy, or will he walk into a trap?

I would love some feedback on potential book covers: recurring images in A Nest of Hornets include snow-covered fields and forests, snow-covered roads, and written messages. I have used to develop 4 potential cover designs; Which do YOU like best?

Cover idea #1: anh-cover1

Cover idea #2: anh-cover2Cover idea #3: anh-cover3


Cover idea #4: anh-cover4

Please share your thoughts!



I am very sad to report that I have done virtually NO WRITING in the past few weeks! Aaargghhh!

Life, and work, has happened. The past few weeks have been a blur of long hours at work on top of other commitments, and trifling things like keeping a roof over my family’s heads have conspired to keep me from banging away on the keyboard.

That said I have gotten a few things done in the distributions/marketing department:

  • I discovered that my local library has a “Local Author’s Program.” I filled out a few forms and am waiting on a copy of This Glorious Cause to come in so I can submit it and Times. With any luck I will at least get some local buzz and circulation.
  • I sent off a copy of Times That Try Men’s Souls as an entry in a notable book award contest. I somehow doubt anything will come of it, but it is free, and you can’t win if you don’t enter.
  • I checked off one of my pre-publication tasks on A Nest of Hornets: I asked my son’s French teacher to edit a few lines of French dialogue! It is a little scary relying on others to translate your words, so it is reassuring to have someone reliable double-check! At least in German I can fumble my own way through a few common phrases. My job would be easier if soldiers in the American Revolution commonly shouted “Stop or I’ll Shoot!” in Arabic or Serbo-Croat; I know how to say those things!
  • I have decided upon a few critical plot points for A Constant Thunder. Book 4 in the Gideon Hawke Series will most certainly include a defining moment in the relationship between Gideon and Ruth. We may also bid farewell to a couple of characters, while being introduced to a few others. At least one new character I am sure readers will love to hate!

I suppose that from a literary perspective the last few weeks have not been a total waste. Be that as it may, I definitely need to get a story or two out of my head and into digits!

Robert Krenzel Author Facebook page:

Gideon Hawke Novels Facebook page:

Quill and Ink: What’s a Hessian?

Hessian soldiers have earned themselves a strange place in American history: often mocked as ruthless mercenaries or scorned as incompetent drunkards. In reality, they were neither. So who were they?

In the Eighteenth Century modern-day Germany was divided into many smaller states, often ruled by kings, dukes, electors, or landgraves. The Kingdom of Prussia, under Frederick the Great, is probably the most well-known, but there were many others. Largely agrarian in nature, and thus with poor tax bases, it was difficult for these small states to raise funds to support basic government functions, especially the standing armies needed to keep their rulers on their thrones. One marketable resource they did have was trained and disciplined soldiers. Since the Seventeenth Century the Landgraves of Hesse-Cassel, among others, had been “leasing” military units on a contract basis to foreign powers; Great Britain was one of their biggest customers.


A small, wealthy nation with a large navy but relatively small, far-flung army, Great Britain faced considerable difficulties in raising large armies on short notice. It was more economical to rent military units from agreeable German states. So, when the American colonies rose in rebellion and King George III resolved to crush the revolutionary upstarts, he turned to the German states for troops.

Great Britain signed treaties with several German states for the provision of troops in exchange for payment and, in some cases, defensive treaties. In exchange for the provisions of a corps of 12,000 troops guaranteed to fight together under a unified command, the Langrave of Hesse-Cassel received a defensive alliance and over £100,000 per year, plus a stipend (or “blood money”) for every soldier killed and every three wounded. Ultimately nearly 30,000 German soldiers served for the British in the Americas, hailing from Hesse-Cassel, Hesse-Hanau, Braunschweig (Brunswick), Anspach-Bayreuth, Waldeck, and Anhalt-Zerbst. The largest complement, and the first to arrive in North America, were the Hesse-Cassel contingent; hence forth all German troops fighting for the British were known as “Hessians.”

The units sent to America were led by professional soldiers, many with significant combat experience. The individual soldier were an eclectic bunch, many volunteers, some forcibly inducted (although typically only “foreigners” were impressed). Typically they were prepared and organized along Prussian lines, so training was hard and discipline fierce. Altogether they formed an effective fighting force. They did however, have some limitations.

British troops in America adapted effectively to American conditions. British officers often modified uniforms, tactics, and training in order to maximize their units’ effectiveness. For example they adopted open formations and tended to move quickly on the battlefield, jogging to close the distance to American troops, and relying heavily on the bayonet. The Hessian troops remained beholden to their princely rulers, who often forbade modifications to uniforms, training, and tactics that proven effective on the rolling plains of Europe, but which proved to be liabilities in the wooded hills and valleys of North America. The British tended to regard the Hessians as slow and inflexible. They were however, very efficient when they came to grips with the Americans.

On Long Island and Manhattan the Hessians earned a reputation for ferocity, with tales hessiantold of them pinning American riflemen to trees with their bayonets. In the assault on Fort Washington Hessian discipline and training proved devastatingly effective. Their reputation suffered a significant blow when an entire brigade of Hessians was captured at Trenton on January 26th, 1776. Contrary to myth, the Hessians in Trenton were not drunk. In fact, they were on high alert and patrolling actively; those not on duty were sleeping in their uniforms with weapons at their side. Washington was able to achieve tactical surprise due to a combination of good luck and fearsome weather, and the Americans’ aggressiveness prevented a coordinated response. The British command, and officer corps, was highly critical of the Hessians for the loss at Trenton, so it was with understandable satisfaction that the Hessian officers viewed the subsequent American capture of most of a British brigade at Princeton.

German troops fought throughout the American Revolution. When well-led they proved very effective, but like all soldiers their morale suffered when used incompetently. For the most part they did their duty well, fighting on the losing side in an unpopular war far from home. For many of them the strange, distant land of America would become their final resting place.


American > Hessians:

Gideon Hawke Novels Facebook page:

Goodreads Giveaway!

April 19th, 1775: British troops enter Lexington Massachusetts and confront the Lexington Militia. Firing breaks out, and the American Revolution is underway! In honor of this momentous anniversary, Goodreads members can enter to win an autographed copy of Times That Try Men’s Souls!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Times That Try Men's Souls by Robert Krenzel

Times That Try Men’s Souls

by Robert Krenzel

Giveaway ends May 17, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


I did it again!

I was mowing again…and worked out the dialogue for the culminating scene of A Nest of Hornets! I did not have my notebook with me, but shortly after finishing the yard work I was able to sketch an outline of the scene. Thank goodness for the notes function on my iPhone! I have enough down to tie the threads together! Now I just have to make the time to write it…

Familiar ground

I recently finished Chapter 6 of A Nest of Hornets. It is amazing to research and write about events that took place in and among the stomping grounds of my youth. In the forthcoming Times That Try Men’s Souls I wrote about great events which happened in my home state of New Jersey. But I always kind of knew that there were battles in Trenton and Princeton, and it was part of the lore of my alma mater, Rutgers University, that Alexander Hamilton’s battery had covered the retreat across the Raritan from campus grounds. But in researching the Forage War of 1777 I have finally gained an appreciation for the scale of the fighting that took place in New Jersey. Many of the actions were small–skirmishes at best. But they were constant and wide-ranging. The opposing armies criss-crossed the state in a constant duel, and men and women lost their lives every day.

My own experience of combat never involved a major battle. In Iraq and Afghanistan I experienced war with a lower case “w.” But when I felt the shock wave of an IED or lay face down on the ground waiting for a rocket impact, it was very intense and very personal.

None of my combat actions will be in any history book, just as most of the actions of the Forage War never made it into the books. But for the participants in 1777, as well as my characters, those events were very intense and very personal. I hope I do them justice.

A new battlefield

Yesterday I finished Chapter 4 of A Nest of Hornets. In past novels I have placed my main character, Gideon Hawke, on many different battlefields. This time Gideon’s battlefield is very different: it is a dining room table in an elegant mansion, and he’s not sure who the enemy is…he’s not even sure there is a battle at first! Usually Gideon fights under the watchful eye of his friend, Andrew Johnston, but in this battle his only ally is his love, Ruth Munroe. Fortunately she is better prepared for this fight than Gideon!

While A Nest of Hornets remains deeply rooted in the history of the American Revolution, the plot gives me much more room to explore characters and dive into the divisive political tensions  that made the American War of Independence a civil war as well as a political revolution. I am enjoying it immensely!


As Times That Try Men’s Souls (Gideon Hawke #2) works its way through the process of publication, I have turned more of my attention toward A Nest of Hornets (Gideon Hawke #3). This weekend saw me revise the novel’s timeline and outline. I feel the story is much stronger now, and I have sketched out a few chapters in detail, in addition to those already completed.

This novel deals with more obscure events, and more of the storyline focuses on Gideon, Ruth, and a few creative threads, so I hope it will be a bit more suspenseful than the previous two installments!

Teaser: There may be a spy in the Continental Camp! Gideon certainly thinks there is, and he means to catch him!