Peter Serko

Table of Contents

Browse everything in the Hattie’s War section of this site.

A family trip and a tattered cardboard box

A family trip and a tattered cardboard box

Trip to Gettysburg I was sixteen years old in 1970 when our family visited Gettysburg National Military Park in southeastern Pennsylvania. During the four-hour drive, my mother mentioned a relative fought and died at Gettysburg. But, unfortunately, all she knew…

7 min read
So Many Questions

So Many Questions

Hannibal Howell and his two younger brothers, Byron and Tappan, responded to President Lincoln’s plea in 1861 for volunteers to bolster the Union Army in the early days of the…

4 min read
Page One

Page One

A story has to start somewhere. I wrote this scene for my blog before I began working on the manuscript. It, in effect, became the starting point for the novel.…

7 min read
Who is Hattie?

Who is Hattie?

Hattie’s War is a work of historical fiction loosely based on threads of known information.  Once I decided the story should be told by Hattie I needed to figure out…

3 min read
Hannibal Howell

Hannibal Howell

From the 1860 Census. Note: Hattie hasn’t been born yet. Long before beginning work on Hattie’s War, I spent considerable time digging for information about Hannibal Howell, my great-great-great grandfather.  There are…

6 min read
Bryon Howell

Bryon Howell

After Hattie, Bryon Howell is the second most important character in the story. To review… Byron is Hattie’s uncle, her father Hannibal’s brother. Byron enlisted in the Union Army in…

3 min read
Who, When, Where

Who, When, Where

Uniforms of the Confederate and Union Armies – Library of Congress It’s said that no other topic has more written about it than the American Civil War.    Every aspect…

5 min read
Photos and Drawings… the gory details

Photos and Drawings… the gory details

Photographers following the troops. -Library of Congress The Civil War was the first war to be photo-documented, leaving us with a vast collection of graphic imagery of the horrors of…

4 min read
Never Stop Digging!

Never Stop Digging!

One thing I’ve learned in writing Hattie’s War is never stop digging. Time and again, often when I least expected it, a new tidbit of information, a new resource, or…

11 min read
Jump the hoops of traditional publishing

Jump the hoops of traditional publishing

Get ready because the real work is about to begin. These days getting published by a major publisher requires a literary agent. Few if any publishers accept submissions directly from…

4 min read
The New York 76th Volunteer Regiment

The New York 76th Volunteer Regiment

The New York 76th Volunteer Regiment Tappan Howell Antietam Nat. Cemetery Hannibal’s regiment, the NY 76th, is well-documented. There is a website devoted to the NY 76th and a history of…

6 min read
Civil War Books for Young Readers

Civil War Books for Young Readers

The American Civil War is the most studied and written about event in human history.  It’s estimated that over 60,000 books have been written about the war. Dozens of books…

1 min read
Anatomy Of The Cover

Anatomy Of The Cover

Cover is everything these days in book publishing. Think about it, when you’re browsing the bookshelves at the library, local bookstore, or on Amazon, it’s a book’s cover that draws…

6 min read
How To Use This Website

How To Use This Website

Historical fiction for young readers (and old too!) Hattie’s War is a historical fiction novel. That means the book is a fictional story based on real historical events, in this…

3 min read
Surprising things you can learn from a map

Surprising things you can learn from a map

I recently decided to look online for old maps of the Finger Lakes region of New York, the area where Hattie’s War is set. To my surprise, I stumbled on…

2 min read
The Elliot Burial Map

The Elliot Burial Map

In Chapter #5, Crosses Marked The Graves; Uncle Byron sends Hattie a map of The Battle of Gettysburg. The map is attributed to SG Elliot, although there is some question…

2 min read
True stuff from the book

True stuff from the book

My original concept for the book was to intersperse the story with non-fiction informational sections explaining some matter mentioned in the story. I purposefully inserted social and cultural practices into…

25 min read
Who’s in your family tree?

Who’s in your family tree?

As I mentioned elsewhere, Hattie’s War began with an exploration of my family genealogy. Genealogy is the study of one’s family history. The goal is to be able to construct…

3 min read
New York 76th At Gettysburg

New York 76th At Gettysburg

A number of New York State regiments fought during the war. Here is a list of them. For our purposes, we are focusing on the NY 76th Regiment. Below find…

2 min read
The Census

The Census

The US Census has been conducted every ten years since 1790. Census data is subject to the “72-year rule.” Detailed census data can not be released until 72 years have…

3 min read
A few suggestions for aspiring writers of all ages

A few suggestions for aspiring writers of all ages

Read – From Stephen King: “You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t…

2 min read
Mental Health – Depression in the story

Mental Health – Depression in the story

The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton, published 1621 A major plot point is Hattie’s battle with melancholy. Nowadays, we call it depression. Hattie faces a number of challenges in the…

4 min read
Establishing time and place

Establishing time and place

Since the story is set in the late 1870s, I had to make a concerted effort to establish in the reader’s mind, particularly young readers, that Hattie’s world was very…

5 min read
Draft #3 – The Hero’s Journey

Draft #3 – The Hero’s Journey

Hattie’s War follows the Hero’s Journey narrative framework first described by mythologist Joesph Campbell.   Never heard of it? Well, you sure you know it. It’s the story framework for…

7 min read
Use all the senses

Use all the senses

My copy editor, Becky, had an eye-opening suggestion. Use ALL the senses in describing a scene. What? Duh! I’d never thought much about that. From her notes: Smell Hattie bakes…

3 min read
Draft #1 – Show, don’t tell.

Draft #1 – Show, don’t tell.

April 11, 2020 – 3:10 p.m.  I began the Hattie’s War manuscript by writing a series of letters between Hattie and her uncle Bryon. That is how I got started.…

9 min read
Becoming a writer

Becoming a writer

Me at the Kaypro 2 computer circa 1984 Hattie’s War is my first novel. I’m almost 70 years old.  I always wanted to be a writer…

4 min read
Research – Books

Research – Books

Books A treasure trove of written materials exists on the Civil War era ranging from memoirs to historical fiction to academic writings dating from the time of the conflict up…

10 min read
Research – it’s more than Google and Wikipedia.

Research – it’s more than Google and Wikipedia.

I love Google and Wikipedia as much as the next guy, but if you are going to write historical fiction, you better be prepared to understand the facts and details…

2 min read
Library of Congress – Civil War Glass Negatives (Photographs)

Library of Congress – Civil War Glass Negatives (Photographs)

Galleries The Library of Congress collection of Civil War material is so vast that it’s sometimes hard to navigate and find what you’re looking for. This page shows the search…

1 min read
Library of Congress – Drawings and Sketches

Library of Congress – Drawings and Sketches

Galleries The Library of Congress collection of Civil War material is so big that it’s sometimes hard to navigate and find what you’re looking for. This page shows the search…

1 min read
Library of Congress – Liljenquist Family Collection (Portraits)

Library of Congress – Liljenquist Family Collection (Portraits)

Galleries The Library of Congress collection of Civil War material is so big that it’s sometimes hard to navigate and find what you’re looking for. This page shows the search…

1 min read
The Cover: See – Think – Wonder

The Cover: See – Think – Wonder

See – Think – Wonder activity comes from the Harvard School of Education Project Zero. This strategy is a fun and non-threatening way to introduce the book. It is designed…

1 min read
I Used to Think… Now I think…

I Used to Think… Now I think…

What: Group activity to get students to reflect on new learning. The Hattie’s War website contains a lot of background information about the book and how it was created. In…

2 min read
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