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Posts Tagged ‘Love Abideth Still’

BLOGWORDS – Friday 13 January 2017 – FIRST LINE FRIDAY – LOVE ABIDETH STILL by SCOTT R. REZER

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FIRST LINE FRIDAY – LOVE ABIDETH STILL by SCOTT R. REZER

 

 

 Reading is My SuperPower

Bookworm Mama

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THE BLURB:    

A grieving widow…
A country torn by civil war…
A handful of letters professing a husband’s love…

Five months after his death, the body of Sarah’s husband, a Union soldier, finally comes home for burial in Philadelphia. Taylor’s burial, though, rather than putting her unresolved grief to rest, begins a journey that will not just test her faith, but will plumb the depths of her devotion to her dead husband. Pushed to the edge of anger and despair, Sarah turns to the few letters sent to her by Taylor from the front lines in a desperate need to understand the guilt she feels over his death. From the bloody battlefields of Winchester and Bull Run to the quiet streets of Philadelphia, comes a tale of war and forgiveness–of a love rekindled from beyond the grave.

 

THE FIRST LINE:   

March 1883. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The solemn gray heavens of early March wept a gentle rain, washing away the last snowy vestiges of winter.

 

MY THOUGHTS:    

The history in this book! The passion of both husband and wife, as seen in the letters. The crushing blows of war. Mr. Rezer has written a compelling story, his knowledge of the war and its effects clear and evident. For me, it got bogged down with too much telling and narrative in places, but Mr. Rezer has won a reader-fan in me.

GENRE:

Historical fiction.

 

STARS:

slide4     Four stars.

 

#Blogwords, First Line Friday, #FLF, Love Abideth Still, Scott R. Rezer, Historical Fiction

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NEW WEEK NEW FACE – 31  October 2016 – GUEST POST by SCOTT R. REZER

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On the Altar of My Country

By: Scott R. Rezer

 

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Next month, our nation, as it should, will once more take time to honor the veterans of our military, so it is appropriate to take a moment of reflection and look back at the idea of sacrificial duty as seen through the eyes of the Civil War soldier. In my novel, Love Abideth Still, I wrote a plain, unvarnished story of the sacrifice the soldiers of the Civil War endured, using actual letters as a model for the fictional letters between the two main characters. The letters, diaries, and personal accounts of the soldiers, and their loved ones back home, tell a far different, far more intimate story than history affords us.

 

Although primarily about love and forgiveness, the subtle, though constant, the themes of duty and sacrifice run deep throughout the story, providing tension not just between a husband and a wife, but between families and friends as well. In a letter to his wife Sarah, Taylor writes from the battlefield, “we have all been called to this duty.  I am prepared to die if need be, though I pray it does not come to such a sacrifice for anyone of us”. These were not just empty words of a soldier trying to convince his loved ones at home of his beliefs and the necessity of his duty. It was quite common for soldiers on both sides of the Civil War to describe their deaths in the line of duty using such poetic terms as a sacrifice upon the altar of their country.
In his book, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999), James M. McPherson examines the values that motivated the soldiers of both the Union and Confederate armies during the war based on hundreds of letters and diaries still in existence. For the soldiers of the Civil War, the conflict was unlike any other, before or after. Until recently, historians often stated that Billy Yank and Johnnie Reb fought in the war simply out of duty with little understanding or regard for the reasons why he fought. Nothing could be further from the truth. No one statement can accurately describe the thoughts and motives of every soldier who fought in the Civil War. In general terms, the Confederates fought to achieve independence based on a set of values they held dear, particularly in regards to states’ rights and the continued institution of slavery, while the Union soldiers fought to preserve all they, and their forefathers, had fought to secure in the last eighty and seven years in creating a unified nation.

When President Lincoln initially called for 75,000 men to quell the uprising, the response was overwhelming.  The South witnessed a similar reaction to their call to arms in defense of their newly established Confederacy.  As McPherson writes, “How could it be otherwise? This was, after all, a civil war. Its outcome would determine the fate of the nation—of two nations, if the Confederacy won. It would shape the future of American society and of every person in that society. Civil War soldiers lived in the world’s most politicized and democratic country in the mid-nineteenth century. They had come of age in the 1850s when highly charged partisan and ideological debates consumed the American polity. A majority of them had voted in the election of 1860, the most heated and momentous election in American history. When they enlisted, many of them did so for patriotic and ideological reasons—to shoot as they had voted, so to speak… “.

As McPherson relates, one young Union soldier in 1863 summarized his duty as, “first my God, second my country, third my mother. Oh my country, how my heart bleeds for your welfare. If this poor life of mine could save you, how willingly would I make the sacrifice”. Another, older Union officer likewise wrote his wife in the same year, “If I never get home you will not say my life has been thrown away for naught. My country, glorious country, if we have only made it truly the land of the free… I count not my life dear to me if only I can help that glorious cause along”.

Perhaps, it was the romantic, Victorian mentality of mid-19th century America—people certainly do not write with such passion these days—a time we little understand or grasp today, which permitted these brave men to see their deaths as sacrifices upon the altar of their nation—they could see it as little else. “Theirs was an age of romanticisma sentimental age when strong men were not afraid to cry (or weep, as they would say)… They were not posturing for public show. They were not looking back from years later through a haze of memory and myth about the Civil War. They were writing during the immediacy of their experiences…” (McPherson).

Now, let us not think for a moment that these valiant volunteers simply went off to war whispering a death wish on their grinning lips. Every soldier, every wife, mother, father, sister, brother, son and daughter, every cousin, aunt and uncle, every grandparent, friend and neighbor, knew they had little chance of returning home. As the war dragged on, that knowledge grew with every day spent on the lines, fighting the enemy. Despite the necessity of the war, not everyone took comfort in knowing their soldier risked life and limb for a cause that some found hard to understand. For too many, the eloquent statements of sacrifice the soldiers’ wrote became a reality. In the four years of the war, historians estimate that well more than 620,000 men were killed in action. To put that number in perspective, the combined total of losses in the eleven other conflicts in American history since is 648, 000, not to mention the more than 475, 000 wounded soldiers who returned home. In the North, one out every ten men lost their life, while in the South the ratio is three out of ten.

 

The list of casualties from the war is staggering even today. Despite the tremendous loss of life, though, the most tragic sacrifice upon the altar of the country may have been President Lincoln’s own at the close of the war. It was as if God had loaned him to the nation for just a short while and then took him back again, leaving the nation to grieve. Some believe that his death united the country more than anything he accomplished in life.

 

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In Love Abideth Still, Sarah’s reaction to Taylor’s bold statement of duty and sacrifice is not well received in the story, at least at first, but Taylor continually tries to convince her of his reasons for fighting in the war. His words are eloquent, perhaps romantic, in the grand vein of the mid-19th century mindset. His words, however, ring true, echoing the sentiment of soldiers in countless letters of the war. “It is not lightly,” he wrote,” that we have resolved to take on our duty, nor is it some flight of fancy that has taken hold of us to join the war and fight.  We do so because we believe the survival of our nation, our very way of life, hangs in the balance.  We do so knowing well that many of us through injury or sickness or mortal blows will not return home. It is a great struggle that runs far deeper than the seeming political issues that many say divide us.  I firmly believe either it is a testing of God to unify our resolve to be one nation or a terrible plague birthed in the fires of Hell meant to destroy the bastion of freedom our grandfathers fought so valiantly to create… It is to this cause we have been called forth to serve; it is for this just cause we must emerge victorious, however terrible the cost to each one of us.  I pray only you will understand my actions, not that you would accept them… To what calamitous purpose God has allowed this war with its sacrifice and ruin of so many precious souls upon the altar of our country’s unity, is yet to be seen; but I have seen far too much of the evil men can do to one another, and it has affected me far more deeply than I would like… I have been through the worse a man can endure and still survive.  Still, even with the loss of so much life, I would not abandon my duty to protect our bleeding country… I have committed myself anew to my sworn duty. I dare not break my oath to our regiment, or to our country…”

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Love Abideth Still is far more than a simple story of a tragic war; it is a fictional novel of my own 3rd great-grandparents, Taylor Brant and Sarah Ann Rezer. Taylor died as a paroled prisoner of war, offering up his life on the altar of his country—the last full measure of duty. I may have put fictitious words into the mouth of my Civil War ancestor in his letters, but I am certain that he, as well as his comrades, would have felt and lived every word he wrote. Remembering the sacrifice of those who have paid the ultimate price for their duty is the least we can do to honor our veterans.

 

 

 

 

slide-13Scott R. Rezer was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania in 1963. He met his wife and best friend while serving in the U.S. Air Force. They have two grown children and live in the Southwest. He is an indie published author of five historical fiction novels ranging from the Civil War to the Crusades to ancient Biblical history. Two of his books have garnered Editor’s Choice selections by the Historical Novel Society (The Leper King and Shadow of the Mountain). He is currently at work on a second Civil War novel.
As a maintenance technician in the U.S. Air Force, he worked on an aging, outdated nuclear missile system of questionable safety. He believes he may have been unwittingly exposed to radioactive material that altered his DNA and gave him his writing ability—well, maybe not. It could be he simply acquired his ability from his grandmother who was a local historian and writer. He could never ask her a simple question without hearing her say with a wink, “Go look it up.” In so doing, she managed to instill in him a love of history and a wonderful sense of discovery that have stuck with him ever since.

 

 

Website: www.scottrezer.weebly.com

Facebook Author Page: http://on.fb.me/1ngMVgE

Pinterest: http://bit.ly/1FvcibA

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1IJ7H7n

 

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Scott R. Rezer, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, On the Altar of my Country, Love Abideth Still

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Manly Man July Blitz Author Interview – SCOTT REZER

 

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“I write firstly and most importantly, because I love it; secondly–and this is where you the reader comes in–I write because I like to hear how much others enjoyed what I have written–not how wonderful or how talented you think I am as a writer.”

 

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“I write about things I care about or that interest me, not to attract readers. I hope that attraction comes about because people like what I write.”

 

rem:  I’d like to give a big welcome to Scott Rezer to my blog. Scott is a member of my street team; he’s a great encourager, and I’m glad to have him on my blog! Scott, thank you for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

SCOTT:  I was born in Doylestown PA, but have lived in Tucson AZ where I met my wife since 1982.

rem:  Tell us three things about yourself.

SCOTT:  1) I pretty much love anything historical; 2) I have a terrible fear of heights; 3) I have seen Raiders of the Lost Ark probably about a hundred times, and I still love it!

rem:  And that love of history shows up in your writing! Beer in a bottle or a can?

SCOTT:  Beer in a bottle—Root Beer, that is—ice cold and in a frosty mug!

rem:  That’s one thing I never did care for! Star Wars or Star Trek? Which character do you most resemble? Why?

SCOTT:  Love them both, but definitely Star Wars! I would say I most resemble R2-D2 because I am quiet and prone to wander off on my own.

rem:  I think all authors wander off, even if mentally (and that only when they can’t leave physically!) If you could have any super power what would it be?

SCOTT:  Photographic memory—if I could remember everything I have ever read or seen it would be awesome, especially when it comes to writing. I have to go back and look up so much, and too often can’t remember where I saw it!

rem:  That would be especially handy with historical factoids! What is your most treasured possession?

SCOTT:  My most treasured possession is my great-great grandfather’s pocket watch. He was born in 1842 and served as a Confederate soldier in the Civil War. It still runs perfectly.

rem:  It’s obviously been well cared for! I can see why it’s so precious to you. What do you do as a hobby?

SCOTT:  Guess!

rem:  oh, I dunno, historical research maybe? tee hee hee What do you most value in a friend? What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?

SCOTT:  Loyalty—everything else pretty much flows from this one quality.

rem:  Good answer, and one which keeps showing up to this question. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

SCOTT:  A short, little-known book called The King of Elfland’s Daughter published by Lord Dunsany in 1924, considered by some as the most influential fantasy novel ever written. I have lost count how many times I have read it and it still entertains me.

rem:  Well, I Googled it—and ordered it! Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

SCOTT:  Brother Cadfael from Ellis Peters’ mystery series. He is a man who has seen the world, and its abuses, from both sides of the proverbial cloth, and yet, he remains devoted to God and his fellow man, even when his convictions and beliefs make his life more difficult. The PBS series starring Derek Jacobi makes the character even better.

rem:  Another one that sounds intriguing. Which is more important: plot or characters?

SCOTT:  Characters—well-written characters always drive a good plot.

rem:  Tell us a little about your writing journey.

SCOTT:  My writing journey has been very long and rewarding. I knew from the time I was twelve or thirteen I wanted to be a writer, but it wasn’t until I was around twenty-five that I actively began pursuing it. I once hoped, like most writers, to make it big one day as a traditionally published author. I tried for years to get my first manuscript into print, but found no success. I wrote another story, and still no success. I continued to write, even if only a few friends and family read my stories. When indie publishing became a viable alternative, several years ago I jumped at the chance. I will never look back. I realize now I could never confine myself to a contract with a traditional publisher where someone else makes all the decisions about my work. I would rather live in obscurity and enjoy the freedom of indie publishing than have my voice defined by someone else’s ideas. Oh, I just published my fifth novel in three years.

rem:  I’ve teetered on the trad-indie wall, too, but in the long run, I agree—I want to make the critical decisions about my own stories! You are well versed in all things Civil War. What piqued this interest?

SCOTT:  I grew up in a small town north of Philadelphia, surrounded by historical sites, particularly the American Revolution—places like Valley Forge and Washington’s Crossing—but my trips to Gettysburg and Fort Sumter on a summer vacation with my family one year had a huge impact on my interest with the Civil War. My interest in genealogy also began around the same time and the discovery that so many of my relatives fought and died in the war had a profound effect on me. It has only grown with me as I grew older. Now, that interest has found a voice in my writing.

rem:  What’s the most interesting or fascinating thing you’ve discovered in your research?

SCOTT:  I write historical fiction, so I discover things all the time. I usually research more in depth as I write, so it is amazing how many things I find, after I start a novel, that fall right into my storyline, things I never intended.  While writing Love Abideth Still: A Novel of the Civil War, we weren’t sure how or when my great-grandfather was captured during the war so I tried to make an guess based on the available records, but half way through the manuscript we discovered the truth, and it fit so much better with the story I wanted to tell. I also learned that during his time as a paroled prisoner of war, the commanding officer of the camp was Union General Lew Wallace who later wrote Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, which happens to be one of my favorite books! It is times like those that it makes you feel as if your story is meant to be told!

rem:  I love when the story aka facts, sneak up on you like that! What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

SCOTT: Routine?! Are you kidding me? I wish I had one—and a place to write. Unfortunately, my muse hits me when I have absolutely nothing on which to write it all down and I have to try to remember my ideas until I can get down on paper! I write everything out longhand first, usually on small notepads or scraps of paper. Filling up a small piece of paper with words just feels so empowering in some way. Once I transfer all those “notes” to a composition notebook, I type it into my laptop as the first rough draft. A final draft comes much, much later after I have read and reread it far too many times.

rem:  I hear ya! I guess that’s why we always [should] have pen and paper with us! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

SCOTT:  I struggle with two things: acceptance and perfection. I have overcome both to some degree, however, by accepting that both can actually make me a better writer. Struggling to find acceptance makes me determined to write my best. If someone still finds fault, it is their problem, not mine. Of course, having two novels selected as an Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society has certainly boosted my confidence in my abilities. As for perfection, it does much the same thing. It makes me take the extra step to insure that what I write is as accurate as can be, although there are times you just have to pray you are right when you cannot find the answer. I have spent hours—did I say hours; I meant days or weeks—pouring through old records, or books, or online, searching for the smallest detail. I recently spent three days scanning through soldier’s records online trying to verify a single crucial detail that will be critical for my current novel. The beauty of writing historical fiction is that in the end, yes, the story is historical, but you still have the luxury of tweaking the facts if necessary. It is a story based on history; it is not history—it is a novel.

rem:  oh, perfection is a wicked task master! I realized this years ago and now strive for excellence instead! Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

SCOTT:  Without a doubt, creating. I hate editing with a passion, although I am learning to accept it. Every word seems precious to me, so it is hard to cut the excess, even when I know it makes the story better. The fun I try to have with editing is finding a way to rewrite something using the least amount of words and still have it sound wonderfully poetic or moving. My problem sometimes is trying to be too clever and it falls flat! Usually by then, I have to walk away for a while and come back later. Editing is hard work, but it’s worth the effort.

rem:  I know! Those words are my babies and now I have to cut them from the story??? I do at least, save the more lengthy passages to a file to use later if I should need it. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

SCOTT:  The best part of writing is looking at things in ways most people never think about and creating a unique story to match. For instance, in my current novel, I could have simply described a battle scene from my protagonist’s point of view; instead, I chose to write about the smaller, seemingly insignificant incidents leading up to and around the battle—and how those things affected my character, his fears, his longings, his sorrows. Again, it is a character vs. plot thing. Developing the character has defined the plot. Creating memorable characters will stick with a reader long after the story has ended, and that is the joy—or frustration—of writing.

rem:  We definitely see things differently. I like what you say about events defining your characters, I think that’s so true. What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

SCOTT:  Hardest: a good cover. Easiest: Knowing I only have to please myself with what I write! Everything else is just gravy.

rem:  Your covers are amazing! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would you recommend not doing?

SCOTT:  Recommendations: 1) Be a reader! 2) Be a writer! 3) Be yourself and never give up. Avoidances: 1) Worrying about whether you’ll make it big as an author. If you do, you do; if you don’t, you don’t. It’s that simple. 2) Writing to please a critic. Just don’t. 3) The desire to do it alone. Seek out help if necessary—and accept it.

rem:  All very good and valid points! Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

SCOTT:  I would say my best story ideas come from the things that interest me most—things that fire my imagination, not what I think readers will read. It may not always inspire a great number of readers, but it keeps me interested in writing! Many times, I will hear or see something and an idea of a story just pops into my thoughts full-blown. Rarely have I ever had to think about what I wanted to write. The trouble is having too many ideas. I will never write all the stories swimming around in my head!

rem:  Historical fiction is my favourite genre, Biblical fiction especially! Makes history so much more real and personal. As authors we sometimes give our characters one or more of our personal traits. Have you ever taken on a trait of your character that you didn’t have before?

SCOTT:  Actually, in Shadow of the Mountain: A Novel of the Flood, my Biblical story of Noah, I found I based a lot of the interaction between Noah and his wife on my relationship between my wife and me. Although I cannot say I have taken on any Noah’s personal traits (much to my wife’s disappointment!), I have become more aware of the things I based his character on in myself. Does that make sense?

rem:  Makes perfect sense! Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?

SCOTT:  Although it was neither the most fun to write nor the most difficult, I have to say Love Abideth Still: A Novel of the Civil War was the most inspiring and rewarding. I based the story on the lives on my third-great grandparents, Taylor and Sarah Rezer, so to write about them, to breathe life into them again, was an unbelievably different kind of experience. They are my flesh and blood. I never knew them, but I feel as though I know them intimately now. As a military veteran, I can appreciate the sacrifices they made—whether on the battle lines and on the home front—and it fills me with pride. At times, I felt a little uncomfortable recording their story, as though I was listening in on their private conversations and thoughts, or reading their letters to each other. But to experience their joys and their sorrows—of which there were many—even in a fictional novel was a deeply humbling privilege, and one I am glad I shared with them.

rem:  Wow! Scott, that’s fascinating—and makes me want to delve into some family history! Which character in the story is most like/least like you?

SCOTT:  As you said, a bit of a writer’s personality invariably finds its way into the characters they create. I could not agree more. After all, we do write about the things we know. In the case of Love Abideth Still, I would have to say I feel most like Taylor. In the story, he has trouble expressing himself verbally to his wife Sarah, but in his letters, the words just seem to flow like poetry, whether he is describing the hardships he endured, the regrets of his mistakes in life, or the love he feels towards her. My wife has often told me much the same about myself; I can write a beautiful poem or letter to her, but when it comes to simply expressing my thoughts and feelings aloud, I too can stumble.

rem:  Maybe that’s a difficulty for all writers? I know it is for me. Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

SCOTT:  I just published the second book in my Biblical series (The Children of Ararat) called, Land of the Two Rivers: A Novel of Shinar. It continues the story of Noah’s descendants as they rebuild a new civilization from the flooded remnants of the old. My current writing project, Love Remembreth Not, is another Civil War novel (Letters from War series) about my ancestors due out next year—hopefully. It tells the story of Henry and Geneva, my second-great grandparents. Henry is a young man orphaned as a child in Charleston, South Carolina, who enlists in the Confederate army, not because he believes in the war effort, but because he has no other choice. The experience of losing friends and loved ones through four long years of war has left him broken and alone. After the war, weary and suffering from sickness and malnutrition, he meets a young woman in Maryland who, in her determination to discover the secrets he keeps, becomes the balm to heal his wounded heart.

rem:  Can’t wait to read it! Can’t wait to read all of your books! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

SCOTT:  At the heart of each of my novels is a story of sacrifice. It is my hope that readers will identify with the sacrifice my characters make for the sake of others. We all endure hardship and trials; it is only when we put others first that we have the ability to overcome those burdens to experience true triumph.

rem:  Very true and very profound. Scott, thank you so much for joining us today!  It has been my pleasure to have you here!

 

 

“If you are a reader, be patient (at least with me!). Sometimes, great stories just take time to percolate in the writer’s mind—or the writer is just busy trying to enjoy their craft!

 

 

Website: www.scottrezer.weebly.com

Facebook Author Page: http://on.fb.me/1ngMVgE

Pinterest: http://bit.ly/1FvcibA

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1IJ7H7n

 

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Scott Rezer, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Historical Fiction, Biblical Fiction, Love Abideth Still, The Leper King, The Pawns of Sion, Shadow of the Mountain, The Children of Ararat

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