Susannah Dickinson

March is Women’s History Month, yet the women who made the difficult decision to reject safe passage and remain inside the Alamo walls throughout the 1836 siege and battle are often overlooked. They would endure the same hardships and dangers as the garrison’s male defenders displaying the same commitment, courage, and sacrifice as the men.

The most celebrated among those that chose to stay is Susannah [Susanna] Dickinson, the wife of Alamo defender Captain Almeron Dickinson, an artillery officer who on the morning of the final assault manned the cannon inside the church. She is best remembered for her eyewitness account in the aftermath of the Alamo’s fall.

The following excerpt is taken from my book, Chapter Six: By the Grace of God –

Sue, you’ve got to go. Angelina’s whole life is ahead of her. We can’t risk that. Anything might happen to her, or you when the final attack comes.

I’m not leaving you!

I know you love me, Sue, but my fate is sealed. Yours is not. Why risk injury or death for either of you? Go while you can.

What kind of wife would I be if left now? We’ve faced everything together up to this moment. Our deaths are no different. I’m not leaving.

Sue, you’re not deserting me. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers come what may, but I need to know that you’ll be OK. There is no guarantee if you stay.

Almeron, there are no guarantees no matter what I do, and I’ve made up my mind. I’m not leaving!

Lord you are one hardheaded woman, but I love you for it. Promise me, at least, that you’ll stay hidden within the sacristy when the time comes. That’s the safest place for you. We’ll defend the church, but the side rooms should shelter you until the fighting in the main hall is over. By then, my hope is that the Mexicans will realize there are no other combatants in those rooms.

The women and children would take shelter in the sacristy. Those that survived were later interrogated and, when it was determined that they had no information of value to Santa Anna, were given a blanket, two dollars, and released. Susannah Dickinson also received transport to Gonzalez, Texas to spread the word about the Mexican victory along with Santa Anna’s warning that those continuing to defy his rule would meet with a similar end.

My book is currently available in paperback and eBook formats. The hardcover edition is due to be released soon.

Remember the Alamo!

On the morning of March 6, 1836, about an hour before daylight, the Mexican army under the command of Antonio López de Santa Anna attacked and defeated the defenders of Mission San Antonio de Valero, otherwise known to the world as the Alamo. Today marks the 187th anniversary of the battle.

“THE BUGLES WERE silent now. Their loud shrill notes had pierced the predawn darkness rousing those inside the Alamo from their slumber, sending them running to defend the mission’s walls. Their assailants, anticipating the signal to begin the attack, raced toward the fortifications seeking to breach the defenses. Less than ninety minutes later the buglers on both sides had ceased their bugle calls. The Alamo had fallen.”

This excerpt was taken from the Foreword to my latest book.

The following events are currently being coordinated and scheduled to help build buzz for Ghostly Bugles. Look for a book blog tour with Lone Star Literary Life in the very near future. The interactive tour will virtually reach out to readers and also assist with marketing to industry points of contact. Additionally, for those of you that will either be visiting San Antonio or reside in the city, the Twig Bookshop at the Pearl will be hosting me for a book signing on Saturday, May 20th from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

I’d greatly appreciate your participation in either or both events and look forward to your feedback!

One Week

It has been exactly one week since the release of my latest book on the siege and battle of the Alamo. On day seven in 1836 the Mexican Army had continued to move earthen works closer to the mission’s walls while also cutting the water supply to the beleaguered garrison.

“THE OTHER SCARCITY that would adversely affect everyone even more than food was the lack of potable water. The acequias providing this precious commodity to the mission had their source external to the walls and Santa Anna quickly moved to cut off the flow from the San Antonio River. While the human body can endure starvation for a prolonged period, water was absolutely essential. The one existing well couldn’t possibly sustain that many individuals, and though additional wells were dug within the compound in the hopes of meeting the necessity for more water, digging down into the caliche was arduous work, especially to a depth where water might exist. What little was found under the sedimentary rock and clay was inadequate to requirements and everyone inside the Alamo suffered.”

This excerpt was taken from Part One: A Walk among the Ruins, Chapter Five: Grit and Determination.

I want to thank everyone for their many posts supporting the book’s release; especially those who have ordered their copy of the novel. The lifeblood of any book are the comments and reviews from readers like yourselves. Once you’ve received your copies and had the chance to actually read the book, I encourage feedback. You can post your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter, and more in-depth reviews can be published on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m sure that Wild Lark Books also has a forum for your input.

Currently Ghostly Bugles: A Novel of the Alamo is available for purchase in paperback and eBook formats. Look for the release of the hardcover version in 5-8 weeks.

Book Release

The release of “Ghostly Bugles” is now less than ten days away! To those of you who expressed interest in purchasing a copy of the book ahead of the actual publication date, here is the pre-order link:

For anyone interested in finding out more about the book or looking for author information, you can google Wild Lark Books Lubbock, click on the website, scroll down to Upcoming Releases and select Learn More.

Though not affiliated in any way with the official celebration of the siege and battle that occurs yearly at the Alamo, the book’s release on February 23rd coincides with the arrival of the Mexican army on this date in 1836. It’s an acknowledgment of the historical moment when the fate of Texas was held in the balance by a few determined individuals who faced overwhelming odds against a superior military force and held out for thirteen days. Both my publisher and I recognized the significance of this date and deliberately made the decision to coincide the release of “Ghostly Bugles” on this day, the 187th anniversary of the siege and battle.

“Remember the Alamo!”

Formatting & Final Edits

I’ve been working all this week with my publisher on the final steps before the book goes to print (checking font, word alignment, spelling, grammar, etc.) Unless you’re a writer, I doubt that anyone truly realizes the number of times you have to go over the material before everyone involved is satisfied that it is ready to publish. I’m definitely ready to move on to the next phase, marketing the book to potential readers.

I look forward to receipt of my author copies, the hardbound book in my hands. I have to admit that patience is not one of my virtues, and there are still twenty-six days to the book’s release. February 23rd cannot get here soon enough!

My anxiety about the book’s release and reception pale in comparison to the anxiety felt by the Alamo defenders as the siege wore on and their fate was all but certain.

COLD RAINY WEATHER, the constant need to shore up the walls battered the night before, the Mexican drummers and buglers incessantly playing the tune El Deguello (“slit throat”) nightly as a prelude to the cannons opening up, the mounting suspense over when an attack might follow, the disappointment that no reinforcements had come to their aid, the lack of adequate clothing, food and medicine, and the lack of sleep slowly but surely took their toll. Under the unbearable strain, men shouted out, “Come on damn you! Get it over with!” They were nearing the end of their endurance; their nerves were shot.

The above excerpt comes from Part One: Thirteen Days, Chapter Fifteen: Growing Despondency.

Ghostly Bugles has been in the works for some time. I cannot express enough my appreciation for your patience and continued readership. I promise to keep you posted on developments, and hope to also receive your comments and feedback on these posts and my upcoming novel.

Cover Reveal: Week Two

I’ve been very gratified with the response to my book cover. The finished product is a collaboration that required the publisher, Wild Lark Books, to take my conceptual ideas and translate them into an image that not only captured my thoughts but conveys to readers what the book is about.

Ghostly Bugles is not a straightforward chronological re-telling of the traditional Alamo story. Many books and screen interpretations of the famous siege and battle had already done that. I wanted to write it from the unique perspective of ongoing contemporary efforts at reimagining the historic site in downtown San Antonio combined with flashbacks to the 1836 siege and battle from the optics of an old man long fascinated by and associated with the Alamo… very much like my own personal experience.

“Perhaps it was his advanced age that now brought on moments of clarity that he couldn’t possibly explain. Clarity…were he to share his experiences with anyone, he doubted they would classify his dreams, his intuitions, his feelings, his visions in the same manner. They would be seen as the delusions of an imaginative if not senile old man. He didn’t mind, really. He rather preferred keeping these intuitive moments to himself. What he was experiencing was more than just a close bond forged over years of visits, historical research, reactions to fictional books and movies on the subject, and even working for a time as a docent under the tutelage of the curator and head of the educational department. He intimately sensed the presence of souls long deceased; he envisioned the circumstances under which they lived and died, he even felt their pain at the moment of their demise.”

The excerpt is from Part One: A Walk Among the Ruins, Chapter One: Privilege and a Curse.

You the readers will ultimately decide whether this approach is successful. I look forward to your thoughts, comments, and reviews. The release date for Ghostly Bugles is February 23, 2023.

Coming Soon

Bringing in the New Year with a preview of my book cover and the announcement that Wild Lark Books will be releasing Ghostly Bugles to coincide with 187th anniversary of the siege and battle of the Alamo!

There have been many books, both fiction and non-fiction, that have been published about one of the most famous battles in history. However, Ghostly Bugles goes beyond the myth and the legend to tell a story that alternates between current efforts to reimagine the Shrine to Texas liberty and elevate the Alamo to a more reverent status, and the events that transpired in 1836 as revealed to an old man experiencing dreams, visions, emotions and insights that could only come from the people who lived and died over those thirteen fateful days.

Are these insights real? Can the souls of the Alamo dead reach out from beyond the grave and the funeral pyres? Do echoes of the past resound through the ages? If so, are such revelations a privilege or a curse? The old man grapples with these questions and his own mortality in Ghostly Bugles in a unique re-examination and re-telling of the Alamo story.

Ghostly Bugles honors all those who lived, fought, and died at the Alamo. I hope readers like you appreciate the cover design and look forward to reading the book. Remember the Alamo!

Cover Design

“You can’t judge a book by its cover” is a common enough expression used in contemporary jargon to express that a person shouldn’t judge someone or something without an appreciation for the full story or all the facts. In literature the expression dates back to the Victorian era and British author/poet Mary Ann Evans, who wrote under the pen name George Eliot, in her work “The Mill on the Floss” published in 1860. In my case, however, it’s simply a statement of fact as I still do not have a cover design approved for my book, “Ghostly Bugles: A Novel of the Alamo.”

To say the least it’s frustrating. I had previously planned for a cover reveal to happen this month. That’s not to say my publisher won’t get a design to me tomorrow, next week, or before the end of the month that I like (I’ve rejected two previous submissions,) but with Christmas just days away and the New Year fast approaching, it’s unlikely.

I don’t fault anyone. It’s not uncommon for a book cover to go through several iterations before it is finally finished and ready to print. As the author, I have a concept in my mind that I’m attempting to convey in words to a graphic designer or illustrator. But translating my words into an image that captures what I see in my mind’s eye takes both time and collaboration to get it right.

So, for those of you who follow along on social media, please be patient a little longer. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from the book that speaks to the frustrations of the Alamo commander, William Barret Travis:

TRAVIS NEVER showed his disillusion or disappointment in front of the men, but privately he gave in to despondency. What good were his words if they failed to arouse fellow Texians and countrymen to come to the Alamo’s aid? Hunched over his writing desk with quill in hand he pondered the many requests for help that had gone unanswered. Albert Martin, James Butler Bonham, Juan Seguín and countless others had ridden out with requests for help. To what purpose? The Mexican forces continued to close in, and there was no sign of relief. Giving in to his frustration, Travis penned the following:

If my countrymen do not rally to my relief

I am determined to perish in defense of this place,

and my bones shall reproach my country for her neglect.

The excerpt is taken from Chapter Seventeen, “All Glory Is Fleeting.”

Native American Heritage Month

November is a month-long celebration of the history, heritage, and culture of Native Americans. It is an opportunity for readers to revisit the Indian Wars and uncover the events that led to the eventual demise of a people that had inhabited this country long before the arrival of white settlers.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century westward expansion into Indian territory ushered in an era of increased conflict. The two cultures fought over the land with the construction of frontier forts and settlements, broken treaties and promises, the decimation of the buffalo herds, and a burgeoning cattle industry all threatening a way of life that had existed for centuries.

As a Texas writer the focus of my book, Palo Duro, is on the Southwestern Plains Indians – the Comanche, the Southern Cheyene, the Kiowa, and the Apache – and their fight to protect their customs and homelands. Internal struggles and differences between the tribes as well as the overwhelming odds against them, ensured their defeat. Their days were numbered.

“For my part, I’ve tried to portray the savage nature of the conflict between the Southern Plains Indians and white settlers, buffalo hunters, merchants and soldiers as evenly as possible without bias to either side.”

My book was first published in 2016, but as we celebrate Native American Heritage Month, I hope that it continues to recall an era many refer to as the “Old West,” without the stereotypes or bias that often characterize that period in our history.

Palo Duro is available at online bookstores.

Gang Violence

I had thought to update readers on the status of my latest book Ghostly Bugles, but as I write this post, I haven’t received any new information from the publisher. It’s been awfully quiet on that end with the last word being that the manuscript was undergoing formatting, and the cover jacket design was in the works. So, lacking any new developments, I thought to revisit the subject matter of my last published work.

Those of you who follow my blog and other social media platforms know that I write historical fiction, incorporating the historical record into a narrative that brings to life actual events and people along with a storyline that uses fictional characters and dialogue to highlight the impact of history on contemporary issues. Hence the brand and title that I write under, Life is History – Our Past Is Prologue.

Today, as I was scanning the news, I came across an article that once again highlights the subject matter of my last book. Tarnished Brass examined a thirty-year-old conflict in the Central American country of El Salvador, America’s involvement, and the rise/continuing influence of one of the most violent gangs in all the world, MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha). “An ongoing crackdown by the Salvadoran government has resulted in the incarceration of 55,000 gang members. Emergency powers were enacted to allow the arrests without warrants.”

If you’re interested in learning what led to the formation of MS-13 and how gang violence has replaced and even surpassed the brutality of the conflict that was fought from 1980-1992, and now threatens not just Central America but many cities in the United States, Tarnished Brass remains a timely examination of this menace and its root causes.

You can pick up a copy at most online bookstores.