The Sun and the Moon Part 2

Last week I talked about how the sun and moon shape the environment and how some of the reasons they can be important to a soldier. This week I’d like to explore another concept in which the sun and moon play critical parts: TIME.

In my cultural studies before deploying to the Balkans in the ‘90s, one difference that stood out was how different cultures perceive time. As an American who grew up in suburbia, for me time was strictly linear: one thing happens after another. Minutes tick by into infinity; what happened before is old news. I was surprised to learn that not all cultures understand time that way.

For many people, time is cyclic. The sun rises and sets, rises and sets. The moon moves through its phases over and over. Winter, spring, summer, fall, winter, spring, summer, fall. Crops are planted and harvested, planted and harvested. Generation after generation of people are born, grow up, have children, grow old, and die.

It took me a while to understand this concept. After all, time is linear, right? Things have a beginning and an end! As I have grown a little older, I have begun to notice the cycles more. To be honest, the lunar cycle is probably my favorite, and not just because of the moonlit military shenanigans I described in my last post. To me, the moon is an honest broker of time. A glance up at a moonlit sky grounds me, and reminds me of where and when I am. This was never truer than when I was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. I wrote my family often, and in particular when I wrote to my son I would make note of when the moon was full: this served as a sort of a countdown. “Hey buddy, it’s a full moon! Only eleven more to go before I come home!” For me the full moon was a shared point of reference for my family and me.

sundial-philadelphia

Now my son is in the last quarter of his senior year in high school. We have shared a lot of full moons. When I step back and look at his progress, I can clearly see the cycle in action: He was born, he has grown, and he is about ready to step out into the world on his own, to jump straight into this adventure called life. All is as it should be.

So, is time really linear? Yes and no. Yes, time marches on into infinity, but it also repeats itself in cycles. That is its nature, and it will continue to do so as long as the sun rises and sets, and the moon moves through its phases.

U.S. Naval Observatory Sun and Moon Data for One Day: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.php

Robert Krenzel Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/RobertKrenzelAuthor/

Gideon Hawke Novels Facebook Page: https://m.facebook.com/GideonHawkeNovels/

Endangered History: The Sutfin Farm

I have visited a lot of old battlefields. My career as a soldier, and my frequent personal travel, took me to many places where history was made.

In Germany I walked in the footsteps of both Roman legionaries and Napoleon’s Grande Armee. I have gazed across the field at Waterloo, down from Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, and into the Crater at Petersburg. I have seen century-old shell craters at Verdun and felt the sand on Omaha Beach. With my fellow officers I even stood in awe on the spot where our regimental forebears of the Greatest Generation broke through the German lines at Bastogne.

In some cases these locations were well-preserved, as though time stood still; Antietam is such a place. Sometimes monuments and natural activity have altered the landscape, as at Gettysburg. But almost always there a sense of reverence: a subconscious nod to great events of long ago. Rarely have I been appalled by what I saw in one of these places: until the Sutfin House.

The Sutfin farmhouse was built in the early 1700s; the Sutfins were apparently peaceful people, just trying to extract a living from the fertile New Jersey soil. Until, that is, the British Army marched past in June, 1778. The family wisely hid their valuables and fled. The next day, on June 28th,  the Continental Army marched by the Sutfin Farm and attacked the British rear guard at Monmouth Courthouse, just down the road. In the seesaw fighting that followed, the Sutfin home was at the epicenter of the biggest artillery duel of the American Revolution. It was an anchor for the British right flank at the climax of the battle, and it bore mute witness to the Continental counterattack at the close of the battle. Today it remains a key point of reference in understanding the flow of the battle.

Sadly, the years have not been kind. The Sutfin house today is a dilapidated, graffiti-covered abomination. It broke my heart to see what has become of what should be a historic landmark.

Sutfin Farmhouse

The Sutfin House on the Monmouth Battlefield. Photo taken on May 29th, 2017: Memorial Day.

I do not accept the status quo. I am hereby resolved that in some way Gideon Hawke and his series will work to protect and restore both the Sutfin House and the Monmouth Battlefield. It is not much, but is the least I can do to honor the memory of those who were there, and perhaps restore some of that missing sense of reverence.

 

Friends of Monmouth Battlefield: http://www.friendsofmonmouth.org/

Monmouth Battlefield State Park: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/monbat.html

Robert Krenzel Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/RobertKrenzelAuthor/

Gideon Hawke Novels Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/GideonHawkeNovels/

A Constant Thunder: Time

Time. That’s the killer!

If I could plug a USB cable into my head, I could probably download A Constant Thunder in its entirety. Unfortunately that is not how it works! (Actually, I’m pretty glad it doesn’t work that way. Who knows what weirdness might spill out of my head!)

In my mind’s eye I can see pretty much all of Gideon Hawke #4. The march north from New Jersey, the water journey up the Hudson, Gideon’s first encounter with his native American enemies (OK, I wrote that part already), the skirmishing in the primeval forests, the savage fighting at Freeman’s Farm and Bemis Heights, etc. But it is so hard to scrape together the time to commit it all to digits! And all the while, my self-imposed deadline races closer and closer.

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking / Racing around to come up behind you again.*

I know that somehow it will get done. It always does.

I am incredibly excited about this novel, even more so than the first three. Maybe it is because of how the Saratoga Battlefield spoke to me—unlike Boston, the Raritan Crossing, Trenton, or Princeton it has not been developed. Certainly it has changed dramatically in nearly 240 years, but at Saratoga you can peer out from behind a tree and almost see the red coats and gleaming muskets emerging from the Great Ravine. I so want to get this novel written!

Besides that, I have another problem: A Constant Thunder is jostling for room in my head with Gideon Hawke #5 and #6! Yes, in large part I already have them roughly outlined in my head, and I have some brilliant ideas for individual scenes. I have more research to do for each, but before long they will be ready for USB download as well! So much writing to do! So little time! Will I get it all done?

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time / Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines*

No. I will not fail. I will bring these novels to life! If nothing else I owe to the characters who live in my head, and to my small but wonderful group of loyal readers!

So…enough blogging. Pink Floyd and I need to get back to writing historical fiction. Until next week!

Robert Krenzel Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RobertKrenzelAuthor

Gideon Hawke Novels Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GideonHawkeNovels/

* Props to Roger Waters for the lyrics from Time: Poetry at its finest.

Juggling Projects

I have reached a dangerous and challenging time and place: the space between two novels!

Draft #3 of A Nest of Hornets is complete. My editor, and more importantly my wife, have given me some great ideas. Now I have a bit of fine-tuning to do before it is fully ready for publication. But in my mind, this story is nearly told. So my thoughts are drifting…

I have begun writing Gideon Hawke #4, A Constant Thunder. I am truly pleased with the 1000+ words I have thus far! And with my recent excursion to Saratoga is fresh in my mind I am full of ideas that are begging to be committed to paper. What to do?

The next few weeks will be fraught with tough decisions as I parcel out my precious writing time between two novels. The good news, I suppose, is that this is a pretty good problem to have!

Gideon Hawke Novels Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/GideonHawkeNovels/

My GoodReads Review of “2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love”

2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is nothing really new in this book, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t with a read.

2k to 10k gives the reader common sense tips to make the process of writing and editing more efficient and fun.

When I wrote my first novel I dove into the woods. Sure, I had sort of made an outline, and I eventually built a timeline, but I spent literally months wandering around.

After getting halfway through 2k to 10k I stopped work on my current novel and started scene mapping it. I immediately changed the order of two of the chapters, linked scenes far more effectively, and found ways to squeeze more “juice” out of many scenes. Now, when I actually write those scenes, I will know where I am going and how I will get there.

2k to 10k is not the last word on writing fiction, but I wish I’d read it before I started wandering through the woods. It is a short, easy read, written by an author who earns a living by her writing. I strongly recommend it to anyone who writes fiction, or is thinking about doing so.

View all my reviews

Finding Time to Write

One of the most common book-related questions I am asked:

When did you find time to write a book?

The simple answer: wherever and whenever I could! Ideas come to me at weird times, that’s why I try to keep my writer’s notebook handy, so I can capture them for later. Then it is a matter of finding a little bit of time here and there. Between work and family life it can be a challenge to find a few dedicated hours to sit and write. The Notes app on my iPhone is one of my secret weapons: I can type up a few sentences or paragraphs and later email them to myself. This allows me to assemble my story bit by bit. When I think of all of the places where I worked on This Glorious Cause I have to wonder how it came together. I guess the answer to that is in the editing process, but more about that later!