My second historical novel. After all the extensive research on my first historical novel, Thank God for Michigan, and when I finally decided to write another novel, I decided to write a story that would only require a minimum of research. I also decided to just have fun with this newest endeavor.
As I began to write this one, I had no idea where I was going with it, and I didn’t even have a title for it yet. I began to do what I refer to as improvisational writing, which is very liberating and quite fun. One of my favorite movies is Finding Forrester, starring Sean Connery, whose character William Forrester is a reclusive Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. In the movie, William Forrester explains to a young man who is a talented writer, and who needs guidance, “The secret to writing is, you write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is to write, not to think.
That pretty much sums up how I wrote Jacob’s Ladder of Vengeance.
I don’t do outlines before I write, I just write whatever comes into my head. The ideas seem to flow from my head, down my arm to my fingers, and then my pencil begins to move. On occasion, I have encountered people who said, “I wish I could write a book.” I always respond that, “if you think you would like to write, sit down with a pad of paper and a pencil. Write down the first word that comes into your head. If you are meant to be a writer, the other words will soon follow.”
As I progressed, I did not have the names for the characters, how many would there be, what is their journey going to be, what will each chapter contain? I didn’t even know how the story would end until I was about to complete the chapter before the last chapter. It was a surprise ending that was even a surprise to me.
Should anyone read Jacob’s Ladder of Vengeance, please keep in mind that I simply wrote it for the fun of it.
Hello Mike: Your book is one of the best on the common soldier in the Civil War, covering enlistment, training, campaigning, battle, prison, and of course, the voyage on the Sultana. I was glad to be a small part of your writing experience. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the life of a Civil War soldier and the experiences of some of the men on the steamboat Sultana. Gene Salecker
Thank you for that, it means a lot to me.
When I discovered a comment from you, it only showed about half of the first sentence because I had to give approval before they published it. I am still learning this website business so I had to figure out where to go in order to approve your comment.
I sent emails to the Sultana Museum, to Jonathan Matthews at Cahaba, and to the Andersonville gift shop. I have yet to hear from the first two, but I did hear from Andersonville. The problem here is that the gift shop is apparently run by americannationalparks.org. They have a bunch of forms that I would be required to fill out before they even give me approval. Frankly, I am a somewhat intelligent man but, a lot of what they ask I don’t understand at all. I think I may pass on that one.