Friday, June 29, 2012

"A House Divided Against Itself" by Bob O'Connor

Gettysburg. The word conjures images of the bloody fighting of 1863, of death and carnage. With Bob O’Connor’s publication of “A House Divided Against Itself,” the tragedy takes on human faces. 

O’Connor leaves the more commonly told stories of generals and big strategies; he examines the events from the perspective of four real individuals: brothers John Wesley (known as Wesley) Culp and William Esias Culp, Wesley’s friend Johnston “Jack” Skelly, Jr., and Jack’s sweetheart Mary Virginia “Jennie” Wade, all from Gettysburg.

The Culp brothers found themselves on opposite sides in the fighting and faced each other in battle on at least two occasions. Wesley fought for the South, William and Jack fought for the Union. Through their stories, the reader experiences both the day-to-day routine and the heart-pounding terrors of battle.
O’Connor uses painstaking research to share the accounts. Drawing on historical military documents, existing personal records and an empathic interpretation of them, he puts the events into fictional monologues from each character’s perspective. These are real people and events, illuminated by the author’s interpretation.

If you enjoy history, you’ll revel in “House.” Filled with the kind of detail that brings events to life, the book allows readers to walk the roads with the soldiers and see things from the enlisted man’s point of view. Actual photographs and maps are scattered throughout the volume. Although labeled fiction, the book’s careful scholarship lifts it to a new level.

If the reader is unprepared, he may find one slightly disquieting aspect to the book. Because each character recounts the events of a time period from a personal perspective, some things are referenced more than once. Simply pay attention to each chapter’s title and you’ll have no problems. The approach adds an ironic touch to the story, such as each character viewing the passing of a comet as an indication of God’s blessings on his cause.

The monologues are written in common conversational language and read more like a chat with the speaker than a novel. There is a highly personal element to the book that draws the reader into the events on a less overwhelming level than many accounts of the war. Yet that same personal aspect makes the situation all the more tragic. The numbing effect of reading about thousands of casualties is negated by the personal accounts in “House.” These are people, not statistics.

“A House Divided Against Itself” takes the reader on a well-written journey into a nation’s nightmare through the eyes of real participants. I place this book on the “must read” list for any Civil War buff as well as those with an interest in American history in general. It delivers historical fact, adventure and romance and does it well.

“A House Divided Against Itself” by Bob O’Connor
Published by Infinity Publishing
ISBN-10: 0741469375
ISBN-13: 978-0741469373

Disclaimer: This review is based on a copy of the book provided by the author. No constraints were placed on the review. The opinions are my own.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guest Post by Lacie Nezbeth: Interview with Chip MacGregor

Following is a guest post from Lacie Nezbeth. She's interviewing author/agent Chip MacGregor, one of the guests of the upcoming  "Write to Inspire" conference in Elk Grove, CA. For more with Chip or his fellow guest, author Susy Flory, visit the Inspire Christian Writers website. The conference happens July 20 and 21. Get registered now! 
Blessings, Mary Beth

Let’s get to know Chip MacGregor!

Most writers know of Chip MacGregor. He’s legendary. But, if you’re unfamiliar with his long list of career successes, you’ve probably at least heard about his kilt-wearing, fun-loving, sometimes-snarky self.

Today we get the rare opportunity to take a peek behind the curtain to see who he really is…outside of writing or agenting. If you’ve ever wondered about Chip, read on!

LN: How would you describe yourself in five words?

CM: Very. Much. Like. Brad. Pitt. Or, if you need something better, how about:
Loves humor, books, words, God.

LN: As writers, most of the time we’re quaking in our boots at the thought of approaching an industry professional. What intimidates you?

CM: What intimidates me? Um… on the book side, not much. I have a great appreciation for those who are more gifted at something than me, so I love reading someone such as Lisa Samson or Gina Holmes orSusan Meissner, who are so ridiculously talented they amaze me. But they don’t intimidate me, I just appreciate talent. But on the personal side, I’m intimidated by bad cab drivers, large mean drunks, cancer, heights, the US debt, and car trouble.

LN: When you’re not spending your time working, reading or writing, what are some of your hobbies or favorite family past times? How do you relax?

CM: I read history for pleasure (Barbara Tuchman is a favorite), play music and sing with a group of people, and LOVE talking, practicing, and performing card magic. We’ve always enjoyed traveling, and have spent a lot of time over in Europe. I also enjoy dancing and good wine, which I mention because I think the combination of dancing, drinking, and playing cards might very well scare off some of your more conservative members!

LN: What does your dream vacation look like?

CM: I fly to Kauai. I sit on a beach. I read books. I have great meals that are shared with friends. We listen to live music and dance. My cell phone fails to ring, unless it’s one of my kids calling to say they just wanted to ask about my day. Occasionally a publisher emails me to share the good news that an author I have the pleasure of working with has just hit the New York Times bestseller list. We celebrate by drinking a mai tai. The perfect vacation…

LN: Brad Pitt, card magic, and dancing…all things I learned about Chip from this interview. (Personally, I’ve been traumatized by a bad comedy show involving card magic. One of those horrible moments when the entertainer called me to the stage and used me for their material. Chip, I hope you’re tricks are used for good and not evil!)

Stayed tuned for more with the hilarious Chip!

Did you learn anything today about Chip MacGregor? Chip enjoys card magic. Do you have any secret hobbies?

Register now for the 2012 Write to Inspire Conference. Our writing contest deadlines are July 1. Be sure to get your submissions in!
Lacie NezbethFrom her earliest years, Lacie Nezbeth knew two things—she longed to be a stay at home mom, and stories, in any form, captivated her. Today, those two passions have culminated into a fairy tale life that continually points her to God’s overflowing goodness. Her love of history, traveling and research made her decision to write Historical Romances an obvious and fitting choice. When Lacie isn’t working on one of her stories or tackling the unending mountain of laundry produced by her three small kids, she can be found chauffeuring her children to their various activities, talking to herself in the grocery store or plotting ways to get her entire family on another Caribbean cruise.