The War of 1812


The Great and Powerful A to Z Theme Reveal Blogfest!

 What were you taught about The War of 1812 in school? Who actually won it? Who lost? Okay it happened two hundred years ago, but for me it matters. Why?

First, it is the theme that I have chosen for this year’s A to Z Challenge in April – I was told having a theme was fun, and last year the guys that know these things were right. I took part in 2014 and now have a collection of shorts almost ready – Gossamer Flames. I also enjoyed other people’s themes, which were varied and in many cases clever.

Second, The War of 1812 is one plotline in my current WIP, “Seeking A Knife”, in which a young journalist in Texas receives a Memoir written in the war by a Royal Navy Officer. The ‘why’, the disappearance of the officer’s knife, and the death of the sender, only add to the mystery.

Third, I get a chance to give you an overview of my research into the events that mattered two hundred years ago to the people living in the United States and Canada. It might even help me find some hidden gems that I can use as I write the Memoir sections of the novel.

Early English Naval Dirk with Sheath

Early English Naval Dirk with Sheath

Your perspective on the War will change according to where you grew up and were educated, although judging by some online comments, I wonder.

The War of 1812, which lasted from 1812 to 1814, was a military conflict between the United States and Great Britain. As a colony of Great Britain, Canada was swept up in the War of 1812 and was invaded a number of times by the Americans. For the First Nations this was a chance to halt American expansionism west, and to preserve their land and culture. However, in war there are winners and losers, and often the losers are on both sides.

So join me in April and find out how the British Navy met its match, how the White House was burned to the ground, when The Star Spangled Banner was written, who the Coloured Corps were, who was Tecumseh, and who was betrayed once the conflict ended.


War of 1812 Montage from Wikipedia

Oh, and being English, I never learnt about the War of 1812, except as a theatre in the Napoleonic Wars – a theatre that was not as significant to our History teacher as the Peninsular War. Then I went to Canada, and now I’m married to an American.

Finally, this War of 1812 theme gives me the chance today to participate in this whole separate blogfest!

As the organisers say, “Two years ago A to Z participant Mina Lobo started the Theme Reveal, and we thought it was such a great idea that we made it tradition. It is now our very own, grand and festive way of rolling out our themes together!”

Finally, apologies for those that read this a month ago, when I posted a few weeks early. And my thanks to Sarah Zama for pointing out the error.

Best of luck everyone with A to Z next month.

Visit other participants by clicking here – and have fun.

Armand Sabatier ~ Sidekick or Assassin?

English: Rancocas ( Helis Stock ) Farm is an A...

English: Rancocas ( Helis Stock ) Farm is an American thoroughbred horse racing stud farm and racing stable located on Monmouth Road (County Road 537) in Springfield Township, Burlington County, New Jersey, Jobstown, New Jersey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


As the winter snows threaten, I need to draw my interviews at Du Noroît Stud to a close. Arranging the final interviews has been a challenge – as head groom, Odette Fedon has a schedule that seems like 24/7, while I was beginning to feel that Armand Sabatier was as evasive as a wolf. Is that why he’s called Loup, French for wolf? However, he has finally agreed to talk on the understanding that he has the right to remain silent. (Although there are ways to unravel the mystery, here.)

Bonjour Armand. Many thanks for agreeing to talk about yourself. First, what was your life like growing up in France?

My childhood will always be a precious memory, even if life was hard for mes parents with four children. Our farm in the Cevennes provided more than enough to feed us well: l’agneau – the lamb, vegetables, and les châtaignes – chestnuts that my mother even used for bread. The region is beautiful, especially in the autumn with the trees. But it’s all no more. Just memories.

What went wrong? Did your parents lose the farm?

Non, but to see us educated they had to take other work and rent out the farm, as it wouldn’t sell. Now they live in Montpelier, je pense. My older brother, Laurent lives there but the rest of us… moved away.


L’Aigoual, near Cabrillac – Le lac du Salagou


This is all before ‘Spiral of Hooves’ begins? What made you leave?

Back in my teens I dreamt of helping the environment by finding safer ways of doing things in the Cevennes. I managed to get a degree in Biodiversity, Ecology, Evolution at the University of Montpelier, but then I… changed… careers.

A change of direction? In what way? Positive one, I hope.

Merde, je souffre. It hurts to remember. Just know that I failed badly, and betrayed the trust of my closest friends. The price was too high. Even now the guilt is too much… but I had to run. I still pay for mon erreur.

You came here to escape? Or to build a new future?

Especially in the Fall, this area reminds me of the home I abandoned. And my past is… buried. Gilles has given me a chance of… something better. Here my degree was a means to move on.

Is that why your new friends see you as a bookworm?

You misunderstand. The books and my qualifications are the future. Here I can forget… and move on.

But Roman Boissard believes that “the scruffy academic is a born criminal” because of your evasive manner. He wants your “contract terminated”. Yet, the others trust you. Are you concerned?

Non, Gilles always supports his friends. As he says, we are a team and when we move to his stud in England, we will be out of Roman’s way. Life will be better.

Fenburgh Stud, the one he found with Odette Fedon? So she’ll go as well and I can interview her there. Perhaps she won’t be so busy.

Exactement, she works too hard… as does Lina. I worry about them, but there is little I can do.

But you gave Lina a dog for protection. And although she sees Gilles as the hero, she sees you ‘Loup’ as his sidekick. By the way, why the nickname?

[Armand closes his eyes] Was it because I was stealthy? Perhaps. I forget. It’s just a name, but I like the idea of being a sidekick, un assistant.  Peut-être, like Gilles’s Watson, as at university where I tried to help. Or maybe I’ll be like Sam in your favourite book. Although at what cost? Does somebody have to die again? Is this a murder mystery? I suspect that I will find out, too late as usual.

What sort of danger do you fear? Are you suggesting that you might be the one committing the crime? Or perhaps you’re a victim? Apologies if that is dragging up the past you want to forget.

[Armand shakes, then breathes slowly.] Too late, it already haunts me. I have learnt to count death as an unwelcome but ever present companion. The dead lurk in the shadows… as if I’m to blame for them all. Yet death can confront us at the end of a gun, crossing the street or riding a horse.

Marcel Pagnol (1895-1974) was a French novelis...

Marcel Pagnol (1895-1974) was a French novelist, playwright, and filmmaker. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I assure you that Armand Sabatier will be remembered, even if death comes back. Sorry, but it is an essential part of you. However, I will change the subject and ask who is your favourite author?

Merçi, and I will accept my fate, even if I have to reluctantly use force again.  As for the author, my apologies it’s not Tolkien. It has to be someone French – you know French authors have won more Literature Nobel Prizes than those of any other nation. It’s tempting to quote one of those, but instead I will choose Marcel Pagnol. He wasn’t just a writer, but excelled in almost every genre – memoir, novel, play and film. Peut-être, you know him from ‘L’Eau des Collines’, the series based on his 1952 film ‘Manon des Sources’, which was remade by Claude Berri in 1986. Je suis désolé, I am sorry I’m getting all academic.

Except that is how everyone sees you. Don’t apologise. Just tell me, what are your three most prized possessions?

A photo of Cabrillac, where I grew up – customs wouldn’t allow me to bring a dried leaf into Canada. And I have two pieces of jewellery to remind me… [Armand lowers his head, tears forming in his eyes].

My apologies for dragging the past up, again. Merçi Armand, this has been a fascinating and insightful interview.

Non, merçi pour tout, it is not good to hide my guilt, especially when death still stalks me. Better to face what I will become. Maybe England will be an opportunity to absolve myself of my failure.


Cover credit: Danielle Sands

Cover credit: Danielle Sands

‘Spiral of Hooves’ is a murder mystery set against the competitive horse world. For further information click here.

Other interviews: 

Carly Tanner ~ Leading Lady & Athlete

Gilles Boissard – heroic playboy?

Lina Jardero ~ Scientist & Adviser?

Major Roman Boissard ~ Entrepreneur or Thorn?


Forthcoming interviews:             

Odette Fedon, Head groom at Du Noroît Stud

Peter Tanner, Architect & Trainer (England)

blood in the snow

blood in the snow (Photo credit: Anosmia)


Beyond the Monotony

A foggy evening 01

A foggy evening 01 (Photo credit: AnneCN)

What would you do after three months of editing?

Variety is the spice of life they say, but how do you achieve it? Stop editing and write? Switch projects? What happens if you have five draft novels all needing editing and two new plots pounding at your mind?

Most sensible writers seem to blend the editing and writing successfully, judging by their Blogs and their Facebook posts. But living with MS makes that hard. If I work at the revision then I no longer have the energy to do anything more than chill out. Which is why it has just taken me three months to complete the third revision of my 97k novel Wyrm Bait. Yesterday I sent it off to my editor for detailed analysis; also sent it to four beta readers for their thoughts.

Some time ago, I would have switched into writing mode and produced another draft novel, which is why there are so many lurking around, waiting to be edited. Heading the queue is that blast from my past, my first novel Spiral of Hooves. It’s been with the editors for the US ebook publishers – one English, one American – and is due back any day.

Decision made, therefore: I have to revise that next, addressing their input = another month or so of editing.

You Want Me To Go Down Where?!

You Want Me To Go Down Where?! (Photo credit: tobym)

Do I scream? It’s a change of setting, characters, plot and of problems to be addressed. But it’s still editing – NOT writing.

But editing is part of the writing process, the experts tell us. I need to learn to love the revision stage. The short cut of editing as I write is a gag on my creative flow. I prefer to plot carefully, write freely, and edit gradually. Except three times five novels = 15 months of editing. But total revision for each novel is far longer, which cuts out the creation. Doesn’t it?

However no new novels won’t work, not if I want to satisfy my urge to create and my potential readers urge for new words. When Spiral of Hooves sells, the readers should want the sequel, but it’s not written.

One source of new material has been NaNoWriMo in November and I have heard rumours of a June challenge as well. Is that the solution? NaNoWriMo has produced two first drafts: The Last Leaf (2011) and Wyrm Blood (2012). One took a month but the other was almost three to first draft completion. Even have two ideas in plotting process; if I can decide which one comes first in the penning order. Probably Tortuous Terrain the sequel to Spiral of Hooves. However Seeking A Knife is more alive in my mind. Decisions, decisions.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Need more time. Maths not looking good. Something needs to give. But what? Social media? Emails? Gaming? All cut to a minimum and part of my survival plan, whether to maintain contact or to chill and reward myself.

One solution is to blog rather than create new novels. Still writing and far faster, requiring quick editing. Revert to short stories and simplify my inspiration. Even novellas not novels. All ideas to be swept along in the tide of editing. And high tide is approaching. With MS lurking to dash the plans with exhaustion and pain.

So what do you do? What advise can you give the Silver Scribbler?