A Lengthy Hiatus

It’s been a long year to be sure, and I for one am ready for 2012 to be in the books and lost in the “discard” stacks.

Many apologies for the lack of blog posts over the past several months. When things go wrong in one’s personal life, many interests tend to fall by the wayside, and this blog was no exception. (In fact, I had started a modest blog on baseball card collecting on Jan. 31–another one of my passions–that was also a casualty in the wayside department.)  It’s been a trying year both personally and professionally. The company which I worked for folded early on, leaving me among the millions of other Americans seeking employment. Job opportunities in my fields of experience and interest have been few.

In the meantime, I started a small publishing business called BrayBree Publishing. In addition to reprinting my previous titles, I also published a well-researched book of local interest on the robbery of the Union Bank of Tennessee in Jackson and the murder of its clerk in 1859. It’s very much a niche company specializing in books on Tennessee history, so sales have been meager thus far.

Once I added some new material to a previously published biography of Adam Huntsman and republished it this fall, I found myself looking for a new writing project. I have a few different subjects in mind, but I haven’t fully committed to one yet.

I intend to write more posts about my writing projects, interests, and random musings as 2012 closes. There will be a few speaking engagements this winter and spring which I’ll announce in the coming weeks.  Thank you to everyone who has supported my books over the past year!


Kitty League Site Update Coming Soon

While I’ve been focusing on promoting my book Hurst’s Wurst and other projects, I’ve neglected my five websites: the Kitty League, Indy Graveyard, Ken Boyer, Fielding Hurst, and Adam Huntsman.

Last weekend, I gave a presentation about the Kitty League’s ties to the Southern Association at the 2008 Southern Association Conference in Nashville, TN. All the work I did to prepare for it sparked my interest again in the Kitty League–which had stagnated–and the book(s) I’m supposed to be writing about it. So I decided to take the first step back on that path by redesigning and revamping the Kitty League site. There will be a new look and hopefully some fresh content posted next week.

Merry Christmas!

I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! It’s a special time of the year when we spend a little extra time with our families, treasure memories of our childhoods, and make new ones with our own children. It’s also a time to remember our loved ones who have gone to be with the Lord.

I pray that everyone will be safe in their holiday travels (even those who choose to pass in the right lane or drive 90+ mph). Give yourself a little extra time to get there.

Seriously, thank you to everyone who reads this humble blog and cares about the goings-on in my writing life. Merry Christmas–may God bless you and your family!

My Blog is…Priceless?

Did you know your blog is actually worth something?

Of course it’s worth something; why else would someone devote their time, talent, and energy to writing one if it wasn’t worth anything?

Well, it turns out there’s actually a tool that can calculate how much your blog is worth in currency. The POD People blog discovered an applet that will determine it simply by entering its URL. Emily discovered that the above blog is worth $16,371.66! Wow! That kind of information will definitely make you feel good about yourself, not to mention justifying your time spent blogging.

Of course, I had to see how this humble blog measured up in the statistical eyes of the applet. And here’s the result:

That was definitely a confidence boost! 🙂

Book Trailer

Recently I learned that authors (particularly self-published ones) are creating their own video trailers to promote their books and posting them on sites such as YouTube. I think it’s a great concept and gives authors a new venue to promote their work.

So I decided to make one for my book Hurst’s Wurst. It wasn’t very difficult to create a trailer using Windows Movie Maker, a few spare hours, and a healthy dose of patience. It was neat to explain the gist of a book in visual form.

A Sense of Accomplishment

I’m sure it’s the same for any author, whether one’s work is published by a traditional publisher or it’s been self-published. After all those months (or years) of dedication to a project and enduring numerous drafts, revisions, and corrections, it’s a special moment when the UPS man pulls into the driveway and brings a box filled with books, books that you’ve created.

My wife Cindy was having a yard sale when the UPS man scaled our driveway (our house is on a steep slope) with my books. Of course she had to be the one who opened it, which I didn’t really mind. Even though it was me who wrote, re-wrote, edited, and published the 160-page masterpiece. But that’s OK. She was thrilled like it was Christmas. She was very proud of me and of them, the first order of 30 paperbacks of Hurst’s Wurst. She showed them to her friend and her mother who were both helping with the yard sale. I love to see her happy with something I’ve written.

I’m not one to promote myself, to gloat or say, “Hey, look at me! Look what I’ve done!” (Which of course is bad if you’re responsible for the marketing and promotion of a self-published work.) But Cindy has always been my biggest supporter in everything I’ve done. She has promoted my books to anyone on any occasion. She is proud of what I’ve done; I couldn’t help but have an inner sense of satisfaction and accomplishment myself.

Writing a book is something everyone says they want to do (writing the “Great American Novel”) but often never do. Anyone who commits themselves to cultivating an idea, building and taking away from it, nurturing it through thought, research, and imagination, and sees it to a published end deserves to feel that sense of accomplishment. The reward is to open that cardboard box and see books with your own name on them. The financial rewards don’t hurt either. Still nothing can quite compare to opening that box.

Exchanges of Opinion

The Civil War still evokes passion from both sides of the conflict after over 140 years. Now add the fact that some Southerners fought for the Union instead of the Confederacy and generously stir into the mix. It certainly makes for some interesting exchanges!

Below is an e-mail sent to me by Mr. Gene Wade, whose ancestors fell victim to the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry:

My thoughts: I recently visited the old graveyard near Purdy where many of the Hurst family is buried. Although I know that Fielding Hurst was not buried here I understand that many of his “troopers” are buried here. I am a combat veteran with over 27 years service in the US Army but I honestly felt evil lurked here; possibly magnified because of the darkness. I felt so threatened by “haints” that I returned to my car to retrieve my 40 Cal Glock and shoved it in my waistband for protection form the evil I honestly sensed lurked there. Seldom have I felt so much evil and so threatened. It was a feeling I never had before or afterward, even in Viet Nam. Perhaps I was unduly affected, but I did feel threatened and felt the presence of what I felt was evil.

I might add that I have several times visited the grave of Fielding Hurst at the church cemetery where he is buried, the name of which I cannot recall, and like my late cousin did on an annual basis, I unashamedly urinated on the grave of Fielding Hurst. I plan to repeat my “performance” every time I return to that area. Perhaps I should not feel the way I do but I just do. Perhaps because so many of my Confederate ancestor relatives simply disappeared in the “Hurst Nation” has something to do with it. And perhaps because I think Fielding Hurst was truly EVIL and caused the mutilation and execution of numerous Confederates, destruction of cities and homes and was never called to answer for his outrages and for his murderous actions. I frankly cannot see how anyone, faced with known documentation, can really defend Fielding Hurst.

That’s just the way I feel. Sorry if I offend, but that’s what I feel………..

Gene Wade
Loganville, GA

Below was my response:


Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Hurst. I disagree with some of your feelings, not so much about Hurst as about the men in the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry. Granted there were some bad men in its ranks who committed terrible crimes outside the boundaries of “civilized” warfare against both soldiers and civilians and Hurst himself deserves his fair share of the blame. But Confederate soldiers and guerrillas committed equally brutal crimes against Unionist soldiers, their families, and civilians as well. Not all were the noble and virtuous men that history has portrayed them. Guerrilla warfare is a nasty way to fight and both sides–Union and Confederate–were guilty of thievery, arson, and murder in West Tennessee and other parts of the South.

The Unionists retaliated against their neighbors, who had persecuted them before and during the war because they sided with the Union rather than embrace the Confederacy. I believe that is where the animosity started and what fueled Hurst and others to do what they did, right or wrong.

I feel that Hurst was a brave man who like many of the men under his command had the courage to stand up for their country when most everyone around them were ready to destroy it. He could have fled north and escaped the persecution, but instead he sought a military commission to raise a cavalry regiment and fight. But he also misused his military authority against all Confederates, soldiers and civilians alike, and extorted money under the threat of arson. War does not bring forth the noblest of traits, to paraphrase John Allan Wyeth.

I’m sure we will agree to disagree, but still I appreciate the dialogue.


Kevin McCann

We are all entitled to our viewpoints and I welcome the exchange of opinions regarding Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry. Mr. Wade had ancestors who lost their lives to members of the regiment, just as many other descendants in West Tennessee and north Mississippi. I’m sure the resentment he feels toward Hurst and his men is indicative of their sentiments as well and I can certainly understand their feelings.

But I honestly believe not every member of the Sixth Tennessee was “evil.” It’s true there were some bad seeds (Hurst could be numbered among them) who sought vengence for wrongs committed against them and their families. But there were also honest men who had principles and sincerely wanted the Union to remain whole and who opposed slavery. These are the men who deserve to be honored for their courage and their determination to stand up for what they believed. They did not fight for a “Lost Cause.”

Hopefully my book will give at least a glimpse into what Southern Unionists endured before, during, and after the war and provide a more objective view of them that has been given in the past.