Today is the last day of my vacation. I’m pretty sure to be behind at the office, and that’s gnawing at me. I have a fantastic staff, and I’m sure they covered for me, but there are some things I have to handle myself.
I’ve reached a point in my current project where I need to daydream about the next section. This seems to work better for me than freewriting my way through. Because of this, today is a day for distractions and research. I may even take a nap this afternoon.
Part of my research involved digging up the 1972 pilot episode of Kung Fu and watching it. Anything I gleaned here would be for a potential future project, but it could have some minor impact on my current story. If nothing else, it’s a good distraction. I may have to check out a few more episodes. They’re absolutely dated, and don’t have the settings of modern martial arts films, but that can be remedied in whatever I write.
I also did some more research on cannons; siege cannons in specific. These things were not portable, and most of them gained permanent placement as harbor defense weapons.
The most common way of naming these things is based upon the weight of a solid shot. This means a cast iron ball. I found several resources, and different eras and countries did things differently.
My better resource involved the standardization of British cannon sizes. Prior to this, the guns were all unique, and it made for a supply disaster. They came up with weights from four to forty-two pounds.
My story is a fantasy of sorts, so I don’t have to follow the exact rules. I like the pattern involved though, so kept to the references of a gun as being an eight pounder, or an eighteen pounder.
I also researched black powder mortars. These were used in the 1800s in both field and siege models. They fired shells as opposed to shot, meaning they were explosive. Cannon of that era were also capable of firing shells. Obviously a shell will not weigh as much as a solid shot, but I kept the naming convention anyway. Research is important for bringing bits into the story, but not if it overwhelms the story.
I’ve given you the general idea of how big these things were, now let’s talk about siege guns. Imagine a muzzle loading cannon that fires a 1080 pound shot. It took 200 pounds of black powder to fire it. (Who got to lift the ball into the gun?)
Siege mortars also existed. The biggest ones fired a 137 pound shell nearly two and a half miles. Remember the shell weight is lighter than the shot weight. This might be classed as a 200 pound gun.
This is where writing a fantasy helps. Most of this data is from the 1800s. The era I’m writing about is earlier than that. It most likely would have fallen back when all the guns were unique. I took the liberty of massaging a bit. This way they can capture guns and munitions with a reasonable hope of being able to use them.
There were rockets back then too. Those are even referenced in our National Anthem. (USA) These were usually inaccurate fizzling devices that proved pretty worthless. Their best hope was to start a fire somewhere. I wove a couple of those into my story, and made them just as worthless as they sound.
I had the privilege of visiting Fort McHenry when I was in Baltimore years ago. That’s where the song lyrics came into being. It was bombarded with ship born mortars, and I got to see some shell fragments. The advantage to mortars is they fly over a wall and blow up inside the fort. Cannons don’t do well against earthen forts.
Don’t know why I decided to share all this with you today, but maybe some of you will find it interesting.
If you managed to read this far, I have one more piece of data. There are two Lisa Burton Radio shows scheduled for July, and one who asked for a special date in August. That’s it…
Lisa needs more guests, and I would love to get a few in the works. I’m not going to run out her sign shaker image this time, because last time I got too many responses. Authors started to get mad and dropped out after I did 100% of my part. There are still half a dozen shticks out there somewhere that the author never responded to.
If you have a new release, or are planning a push, drop me a line and maybe we can get you on the schedule. It’s been a pretty popular spot and I’d like to keep it available for everyone.