Today we have a sneak peek from author Guntis Goncarovs’ historical fiction novel, Convergence of Valor.
The Federal blockade was strangling Charleston into submission. The Confederacy was struggling to maintain existence. General Pierre T. Beauregard listened as President Jefferson Davis promised the people of Charleston they would never fall. On the Cooper River dock sat Beauregard’s only hope to meet Davis’ promise — a submarine that had already taken thirteen sailors to a watery grave. He needed to find eight more brave men to take the vessel on one more suicide mission. Convergence of Valor is the story of how the lives of those eight brave men converged in Charleston and marked history on the night of February 17, 1864.
Convergence of Valor is available through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Amazon UK.
Here is an excerpt from Convergence of Valor…
He heard the raspy breaths of the five other exhausted crank men. Like him, they were physically spent from horsing the vessel four miles out and a mile back. No other sounds now from the dark silence. No panic in the Hunley. No one clamored toward the hatchways for escape. No one screamed in fear of the possible death sentence they faced, ten fathoms under water in a fragile tube. Silently, they obeyed the code of valor.
He leaned forward on his crank handle and rested for a moment. A sweat-laden, mixed odor of whiskey and acorn-shell, coffee-tainted stench oozed from every man’s pores, then hovered like a thick soupy haze, like the sweltering summer night haze he remembered from Mobile. As much as he hated those suffocating nights, he longed for them now.
The forward area of the vessel flashed to life. Dixon’s face glowed, ghostly but alive, next to the freshly lit candle he held in his hand. He set it in the wooden hold near his hatchway, then began rifling through the compartment at his station at the front of the vessel. The flickering candlelight illuminated each face. Ghoulish yet comforting shadows moved, confirming that, in fact, they had survived. Gunter knew he was not alone in fixing his gaze toward Dixon, who had pulled a watch from his jacket and was comparing it to his papers.
“Two hours when the candle goes out,” Frank Collins whispered, leaning over to J. F. Carlsen, his peg-like teeth beaming as he spoke.
Carlsen nodded. Gunter cracked a grin. It was the first time he could remember Collins had ever saying anything civil to Carlsen.
“Tell Miller. He didn’t do the duration test neither,” he added.
“Collins said —”
“Wicks told me.” Gunter politely cut off Carlsen, whose boyish, thick red hair lay pasted by sweat to his forehead. “But thank you.”
Gunter rested his forehead on the handle of his crank station. He did not feel he had to correct Collins. He was on the duration test. But it didn’t really matter now.
“I reckon about two hours before the tide turns,” Dixon announced, then folded up his tide chart and stored it. He slipped his watch back into his pocket, fiddled for a moment, then sighed deeply. A renewed confidence slowly but clearly crossed his face.
It was the coin, Gunter thought. As courageous as Dixon was, he still used that coin in his pocket, the coin that saved his life at Shiloh, to harden his mettle whenever it wavered.
“Report on the chains, Mr. Ridgaway?” Dixon called to the rear over the crew. All heads turned aft, where Joseph Ridgaway and James Wicks had already lit another candle and were methodically prodding the gears and chains. Wicks, the only man on the boat who was close to Gunter’s age, had weaseled his wiry body back to join Ridgaway at the chains that connected the gears on the cranks to the propeller outside the vessel.