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Sunday, April 13, 2008

More than a Bride

My dream book that I would love to have the time to research and write is a historical (fictional) biography of the army wives who have accompanied their soldiers into, and out of, wars.

Over spring break we visited Ft. Sumter in Charleston harbor (South Carolina). It's this itty-bitty island with almost nothing in the way of beach. It honestly looks more like a prison than a fort, but there were wives there during wars. During the Civil War officers wives from both sides wound up there, supporting their husbands, tending the wounded, and being the silent soldiers who defended causes they believed strongly in. Can you imagine 80 people one a mile wide island under bombardment and one was a woman in hoop skirts? Can you imagine what she felt when her husband asked her to retire for the night knowing that they were still under attack? How the wives felt each time their side triumphed, or surrendered?

It's an amazingly emotional and passionate story and I've never seen it on the shelves.

Other wives went west with husbands. They were stationed at forts defending against everything, treating people in need, daydreaming (maybe) about life back East. During the Spanish-American war there was one battalion pulled from a caravan of settlers, some of the men left their wives and children, other wives traveled from the Mississippi to California with their husbands. No one asked them. No one paid them. No one thanked them.

In the history books these wives get no mention. There aren't songs about them. Most people don't know they existed. Like so many quiet heroes they've been forgotten. I would love to tell their tale.

It means a lot of research to keep it accurate. Most these women, for lack of a boon companion I expect, kept journals. My first step to writing the book will be to get those journals and check to see if anything like this has been done. I don't read much in the way of historical novels so I can't say for 100% certain that no one has written these stories. I don't *think* they have but I want to be sure. Then I need to read the journals, or what I can find of them. Study my history. And then set up an outline that makes sense and a framework for the story.

I didn't used to write with outlines but I'm getting better at working with one. One thing I know I need to know the timeline and to know exactly what each chapter should do.

It's a dream. At the moment it needs to sit on the backburner because we're int he process of moving. But, when I have some free time, that's a project I want to work on.

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