We Hold Our Hearts Before Us

04 July 2013

To my great excitement, Katie is hosting Actually Finishing Something [in] July again this year! As the event that witnessed the genesis of Rifles in the South Field last summer, it is quite fitting that it should be the medium for this project's climax. Midsummer has passed us by; the zenith came and went. The sensation of time slipping through my fingers as we drop closer to school's beginning in mid August kindles in me a desire to waste not one second. This July crusade could not have arrived at a more fitting hour.

week one questions

1) What is your writing goal?

My general goal is to get into a schedule of writing at a more regular pace every day as I progress towards the end of Rifles in the South Field. 

2) Give us a short synopsis of your project. What makes it unique?

Susannah Dixon is no stranger to trial. Like her ancestors of old, she's witnessed both birth and death in her short lifetime and hasn't broken under the weight yet. All her security is placed in her father and their expansive Georgian plantation home, and even the whispers of revolt against the British Crown that begin trickling down from the North can't put cracks in her firm foundation.

But when those whispers develop into a full-fledged gale and Mr. Dixon is compelled to join the Continental Army in the ongoing fight for freedom, Susannah senses the world's threads slipping from her control. As both her home and her country unravel, she clings desperately to the pieces of her life that remain in her control, vowing that above all else, she will preserve the plantation. That's all that matters now.

3) How long have you been working on this project?

Over a year. I began plotting for Rifles in June 2012, but it wasn't until a month later that I started putting the words on paper.

4)  How often do you intend to write in order to reach your goal by August 1st? 

Ideally speaking, an hour or two every day. I have a hard time keeping to a regular writing schedule — I tend to fly up on the wings of inspiration, and then go stagnant when writer's block bares its ugly face — and I want to change that this month.

5) Introduce us to three of your favorite characters in this project.

Last summer I introduced Susannah Dixon, her father, and Aunt Nelly, the beloved plantation cook. That was before I knew much of Kenneth Hughes and his family's part in the story. It seems only fair that they should get their time in the limelight this round.

Kenneth Hughes is twenty two years of age, but he seems at least a decade older. Bitter and disenchanted with the glory of war, the only reason he became a British soldier in the first place was to please his mother. Though he was raised on stories of his own father's exploits in the Seven Years War, he vows he will be a very different sort of soldier than the late Major General Hughes.

Mrs. Hughes is a firm, capable woman, entirely lacking in motherly affection. Acquaintances claim she was a cheery sort before her husband's early death on the battlefield, but since that horrible day, none have seen so much as a smile cross her lips. She wants her son to follow in his father's footsteps and despises his nonchalance, seeing it as a sign of cowardice. Not a soul would guess that each night she raises a fervent prayer to Heaven that the Lord will spare his life.

Evangeline (Eva) Hughes is young, rather spoiled, and a bit too concerned with beaux. She can't understand why her father would go off to fight, nor why her mother always seems so hardpressed that Kenneth should do the same. Gossip, dancing, and playing the pianoforte with great enthusiasm fill her days, and she has no time to concern herself with such dull matters as war.

6)  Go to page 16 (or 6, 26, or 66!) of your writing project. Share your favorite line or snippet on the page.

This is from page 26:

She was always in a wide field, and the dry grass around her was painted red with blood. No matter where she looked, men were crying out for water, screaming in pain, or lying soundless, almost as if they welcomed death. The air tasted of smoke and flame, and it clouded her lungs until she felt suffocated. She wanted to run, to leave this horrid place, but her legs felt as heavy as lead.
Rifles in the South Field

7) Tea or coffee? 

"You can't buy happiness, but you can buy tea, and that's kind of the same thing."

8 epistles:

  1. Cultivating good writing habits, I see. That makes one of us. :P I've always liked the sound of Rifles in the South Field - its plot, its title, its cover... I'm glad to see you still working on it. I hope you plan on making this book available to the reading public. After reading little pieces of it (like this excellent nightmare-scape of a snippet), I long to read the thing in full. Keep it up, old bean!

    1. Cultivating being the key word here — I can lay no claim to habits that have yet to be established. :P

      I'm glad you like the sound of Rifles! I rather like it myself, but I've been told I'm a bit biased. It makes me happy to know others are enjoying the little snippets I've shared, especially when the person in question is such an Illustrious Published Author such as yourself. ^.^

  2. This sounds fabulous! I love historical fiction! And I love the name Kenneth. :) I wish you the best of luck on finishing your goal! :)

    1. Thank you, Beth! I'm partial to the name myself; I'm glad to be using it for a character at long last. :)

  3. I've always been piqued by all that I've heard of Rifles in the South Field, and the more I hear of it, the more I want to read it. I can't wait to read it in fact, and have the book sitting next to Violets are Blue on my shelf, and I am so glad to see you motivated to write in it again after not hearing about it in a while ^_^. Kenneth's character has piqued my interest immensely, as his mother has too. But Jemima sounds like such a fun character to write. Just guessing. I want to hear more of her. Ooo, and I loved that snippet immensely - how vivid the images are, painful and nightmarish. Well done, Elizabeth dear!

    I also want to really push through with my writing of A Love that Never Fails, and though I am not so sure if I will join Katie's event, I shall try to motivate myself to get back into writing :D

    Go, girl!

    P.S. will you, by the way, be joining in my party-tag? :)

    1. I haven't written many scenes with Jemima as of yet, but I have several planned that will be penned this month. She's both amusing and frustrating in turns — I'm pleased you enjoy her, but your opinion might be different if you were the one writing her. Still, I do have a passing fondness for her, stubborn lass that she is. :)

  4. Keep up the good (GREAT) work, Elizabeth. I am loving the sound of Rifles in the South Field even more. I considered joined Katie's Actually Finishing Something with my WIP, but I'm not sure at the moment. Anyway, again, keep it up and thanks so much for sharing more of this novel! Love, Annie-Jo Elizabeth
    PS. How old is Susanna? I have been wondering this for ages. :)

    1. Thank you, Annie-Jo! I'd highly recommend joining Katie's event — I loved the accountability it gave me last summer in getting the first few chapters of Rifles hashed out.

      To answer your question, Susannah is around seventeen years old at the novel's beginning.


"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body." —Proverbs 16:24

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