About that Civil War Novel in Seven Parts

cropped-wilderness2.jpgWilliam Hanlin needs help . . . okay, William’s obviously pretty self-reliant and the mysterious J.A.W. is long dead but, well, his story needs a little help getting out there.

As some of you know, I’ve spent a lot of time since July putting together a narrative non-fiction book proposal with several sample chapters.

That’s out there – all 86 pages of it – with a literary agent out of New York I was referred to and . . . we’ll see.

In the meantime, there’s William, the project I vastly prefer to be working on. Two books done, William left out in the woods near Mechanicsville VA in the early morning hours of the beginning of the Seven Days battle.

The third book, The Widening Gyre is two-thirds typed, completely written, and about four weeks from being ‘finished.’ Less with help. Or I wake up tomorrow with the sudden ability to type fast and well.

The Hanlin novels are not in play with the agent. My choice, I was asked about them.

Here’s the deal – the fourth novel, The Blood Dimmed Tide is half Death-sedgwickwritten and edited as well. The novel in seven parts is outlined in depth, chapters, scenes, and long strings of dialogue have been written all the way through, including the ending.

As someone who’s read a few thousand novels, I can say with confidence that you haven’t seen anything yet.

If I went the traditional route with this the best case scenario for the release of The Rough Beast (Volume 7) would be around 2021 – it takes them 12-18 months to go from manuscript to print.

I love the Hanlin books, I want everyone else to love the story as well. I also want it over (I do, after all, know how it ends) so I can move on to other, partially written, fully outlined novels. That includes, as my friend Fred deduced months ago, J.A.W.’s story after he parts from William’s company.

1384800895013-AP-Finding-Lincolns-AddressWe’ve had a lot of great reviews, I get emails all the time, calls to get this to Netflix or HBO, etc. What we haven’t had is great sales, largely attributed to my hedging on the distribution channel and not spending to promote.

I have ample evidence, however, that the first two novels have been widely loaned out. A while back I was told by a video store (remember them) owner that the most stolen title in the industry was Office Space. Love the movie – I don’t know why but it somehow makes sense. It’s a neat little tidbit when you’re a bestseller, but …

Anyway, here’s what I want to do: I would like to sell 500 signed copies of the first two books from my ecwid site – signed because I want/need to add to my email base. I get no information from Amazon on who bought the books, have no way to communicate with those readers, though a few have sought me out (thank you).

So, everyone on the list will start getting some perks in the next monthSAM_1322– a monthly newsletter with insights and historical notes; deleted scenes (there’s quite a few, actually); the option to be galley readers if you wish, earn rewards for spotting misprints, and errata; vote on covers; get Forlorn Hope T-shirts (in the works); a lot more.

For my part, I need to put money into promotions, do a few ads, go on the road to book clubs and bookstores. I also need to go to Gettysburg for a day or two to walk the areas where I expect William and the 21st to walk. (Yes, I already know, exactly where and when and what happens July 1-4 1863, I just need to be sure it’s feasible on foot within real time constraints).

I did this at Antietam last summer was thrilled to death that what I envisioned William doing on September 17, 1862 was, indeed, possible. As you will see in The Widening Gyre. I will also be headed back to the Shenandoah Valley where the bulk of Pitiless as the Sun occurs.

The-Peninsula-Va.-The-staff-of-Gen.-Fitz-John-Porter-Lts.-William-G.-Jones-and-George-A.-Custer-So, I’m hoping you all can take a few moments out of your day to help promote the Hanlin series – send emails, I’ll be posting on my blog and Facebook, (if you haven’t already, please follow and all that stuff). LinkedIn, etc, could use a quick recommendation/ share. If you know of book clubs, Civil War groups, etc., please ask them to try it … if they’re not in the middle of nowhere, I might just be available to talk to them. Any and all ideas and referrals are welcome.

I’m thinking of doing a moderate Kickstarter campaign so I can really ramp this and the next two books up and take the time to put together a teleplay – I do have a few places to send one. Gifts would be everything from ebooks, to paperbacks, T-shirts, framed pages of the original manuscript, and, springing for a B&B for two nights for a couple of people to tour either Antietam or Gettysburg with me. If anyone has an opinion on this, please (please) let me know.

That’s it… Thanks so much for your encouragement . . .


That means more inmates. . .

“It’s a business,” he says. “And we’re gonna take all the advantage we can to bring in more business if possible. . . That means more inmates.”    ~ Joe Alexandre, mayoral candidate, Raymondville TX

I don’t know Joe Alexandre, haven’t seen a picture of him, just heard his voice this morning on NPR. He’s running for mayor of Raymondville, Texas and I’d vote for him in a heartbeat because he’s an honest man . . .  I know he’s honest because only an honest man would utter the words above.

WILLACY_2(1)He’s commenting on the fact that the town and county’s number one business/tax-payer/employer closed rather abruptly last month when the for profit Willacy County Correctional Center shut down after the 2800 inmates there went wild and basically tore it apart. They were somewhat unhappy with the conditions.

Now the county’s getting an insurance settlement to fix the o-THE-WALKING-DEAD-PRISON-facebook(extensive) damage and rebuild the prison. Both the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the private operator, Management & Training Corporation (MTC), have bolted, leaving the county with a very large, very ruined, very empty prison.  Absent Rick and company seeking another prison refuge in the coastal Texas area, the only other use for the prison is to, well, be a prison. Hence the need for inmates.

A need Alexandre is upfront and honest about. Unlike the spokesperson for MTC – “MTC is now the third largest operator of adult correctional facilities in the nation . . . Our reputation is that of rehabilitation, second only to security.”

That’s pretty much like The Gatling Gun Corporation saying, “Peace is our goal, second only to mowing down rows of advancing infantry.”

Perhaps Willacy County will start running ads in prison newsletters throughout the country -“Come to Willacy, we learned from the riot!” They’ll offer perks, full packages of stuff other prisons skimp on – like free toothpaste, edible food, and, dare I say it, real classes.

What if they start stealing inmates away from other prison systems? Starting a run on inmate recruitment? This could end up like NCAA Division 1 basketball and football recruiting, private prisons attending preliminary court hearings to get in on the ground floor on the most eligible inmates.

Wow, the whole system would change . . .  except for the whole couple of million people behind bars thing, but hey, people and towns got to make a living. Right?

A Quick Ad Before I Go Back to Ranting about Bullies …

A Signed Pre-release Edition of


  • The Falcon, Book Two of William Hanlin’s Civil War will be out shortly. From now until February 2nd, a special pre-release edition is available.
  • Each copy will be personalized & signed.The Falcon 1st take
  • Everyone who purchases an autographed copy will be able to download the Kindle version for free for a limited time in February. [You will be notified by email]
  • Everyone who downloads the Kindle edition and writes an Amazon verified purchaser review receives the next book of the Hanlin Series, A Widening Gyre, signed and delivered at no charge.
  • $19.95* plus $2,00 shipping, click on the cover above or the button below to order.
  • *The Falcon comes in at a solid hundred plus pages more than the Ceremony of Innocence, so it’s a couple dollars more. Buy Now Button with Credit Cards


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Halloween Thoughts From William Hanlin’s World

In glades they meet skull after skull
Where pine-cones lay–the rusted gun,
Green shoes full of bones, the mouldering coat
And cuddled-up skeleton;
And scores of such. Some start as in dreams,
And comrades lost bemoan:
By the edge of those wilds Stonewall had charged–
But the Year and the Man were gone.

Bones in the Wilderness

Bones in the Wilderness

When William Hanlin and the men from Connecticut step into the Wilderness on May 5, 1864, they step into an almost impassible snarl of secondary growth – briars, thorns, brambles – under a heavy tangle of budding tree branches. Worse, the armies had fought in the same area almost exactly a year earlier, as Herman Melville points out above, skulls and mouldering coats were scattered everywhere.

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A Litigator, A Psychotic Kitchen Supervisor, and A Memoir

Why now? Why this moment to pull the trigger on a memoir that ostensibly could have been written four years ago? Why so damn resistant to the advice of award-winning, best-selling authors? Why so resistant, period?

Questions I’ve been asked repeatedly over the last month or so. My standard reply is “Hey, it feels right, won’t get in the way of the novels, might even help,” and a host of canned responses each as overflowing with utter bullshit as the others.

The reason it’s now is this – I had a bad experience a few months ago that whipped up an earlier, much worse experience and the two combined and lingered and festered long enough and strong enough for me to settle on exorcism as the only viable cure. Continue reading

Dear Everyone . . .


I greatly appreciate the fact that people are reading and enjoying William Hanlin’s Civil War . . . many readers have been thoughtful enough to point out some rogue punctuation and spelling – for which I take full responsibility. Thanks for pointing them out, they have been fixed (most likely). However, please, please, please stop correcting Base Ball to baseball —- for many, many years, baseball was base ball. William Hanlin loved baseball – it was base ball when he played, it remained base ball to him always, so it’s base ball in the books (and yes, he does get to play during the war).

Thanks …