Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My latest project...what do you think?

Writers write...writers also get stuck.

In traffic.

At the checkout line in the grocery store behind a woman with a zillion coupons.

And at the keyboard.

This is one of those times. I've written about geishas, spies, samurai, CIA agents, FBI guys and gals, countesses and Irish maids, the Titanic, Impressionists, models, cabaret dancers, archaeologists...

I've also written kids' cartoons, travel articles, learning articles, documentaries, daytime drama, and enough blog posts to wrap around the globe twice (not really that many, but you get the idea).

So here I am...working on new projects. And I'm stuck. I know I shouldn't write about a subject that's not "in," but I've always had an avid interest in history, so I decided to tackle another momentous event.

The Civil War.

Yes, I know, it's crazy, but I walked the battlefields as a kid and attended Civil War talks and met with re-enactors..and I just can't forget the fact that around four hundred women disguised themselves and fought as men during the Civil War. Even more fascinating to me is the idea of a modern woman going back in time dressed as a Confederate officer and falling in love with a handsome Union Major.

What if he's a physician? And our modern day heroine challenges his ideas about medicine?

And, damn, she knows how the war will end...what if she could change history and save the hero's life?

What if...

Here's a short excerpt from "The Bride Wore Gray" -- Liberty is the name of my modern day heroine with Major Flynt Stephens as the hero. Let me know what you think!

---Liberty has traveled back to the Battle of Antietam on a September day in 1862; she's been taken prisoner and recruited to assist Union physician Major Stephens at the operating table---

She wiped the sweat off her face with her sleeve. She didn’t dare remove her hat and let her long hair come tumbling down. She noticed many soldiers never removed their hats. Or their uniforms. The unmistakable odor of male sweat was profuse, though Major Stephens insisted his operating area be kept clean and sanitary.

“It’s worse than I thought,” he said, exhaling. “The bullet seriously injured the axillary nerves.”

“Yes, sir,” Liberty said, nodding her head, though she was digging herself in deeper as the minutes passed.

How much longer could she keep this up?

Good God, what's this?” the Major uttered, pulling apart the soldier's arms tightly crossed around his gut. A gaping hole stared back at them where a bullet had ripped apart the soldier's small intestines.

“Has he got a chance?” Liberty asked quietly.

“I'm gonna die, Major, ain't I?” uttered the man lying on the table, his eyes springing open. Liberty jumped back, startled. She had no idea the man was conscious, but she doubted he was in pain. It was routine procedure for the medical corpsman to administer morphine and opium to the wounded before bringing them in from the battlefield.

 “Yes, soldier,” the Major said with a certainty that lay heavy in the air between them. Liberty was shocked by his honesty.

“How can you be so cruel, Major?” she cried out, forgetting herself. “Telling him he won’t survive.”

Control yourself, Lieutenant.”

“I won't stand by and watch you let this man die.”

“Infection is setting in—”

“But if you clean the wound and keep the germs out—“

“What did you say?” he interrupted her.

Germs. Surely you've heard about germs, Major?”

The look in his eyes made her stop, then Major Stephens grabbed her wrist and held it tight. Again she felt her heart racing as a searing heat shot through her.

“Where did you hear about germs, Reb?”

What could she say? That her world was obsessed with sanitizers and soaps and sprays to kill germs? She couldn't tell him the truth.

“Sorry I spoke out of turn, sir,” she said, calming down, “but if the theories of...”

Think, think. Who came up with the germ theory?

“Well, Lieutenant?”

”Pasteur, yes, that's it, Louis Pasteur. The chemist believed soldiers on both sides would have been saved if the medical men hadn’t been so damn slow to accept his ideas about germs.”

“I, too, have read the Frenchmen’s papers, Lieutenant, and believe there is some truth to his ideas,” he said, letting go of her hand. “But a penetrating wound to the abdominal is nearly always fatal. There's nothing we can do for this man.”

Thanks for reading! The action heats up when Liberty tries to escape rather than be transferred to a Yankee prison...

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