Scene Development: Newport RI

elms.jpg

While I’ve visited Newport before on several occasions, it was never with the intention of gathering first-hand research for scenes which will play out on the pages of my book. Newport in 1912 continued the heyday of the Gilded Age which began in the 1870s. Every “cottage” hosted the elite of Boston, New York and Philadelphia as they attempted to replicate European monarchies. For the past two days, I’ve felt the pull of the ocean along the Cliff Walk, sat in a wooden chair courtside of the Newport Lawn Tennis  Club (and now Tennis Hall of Fame), put my toes in the fine sand of Goosebery Beach unlike the rocky shore of Easton’s Beach, imagined the view from a confectionery store on Thames Street across to a bustling Bowen’s Wharf (before hideous, modern day and over-priced hotels were built), and toured several of the mansions, including The Elms (above) and the Vanderbilt’s Marble House. I needed to place Eliza inside these settings and wonder how they would affect her.

Eliza walked through the front door on Freddy’s arm. The opulence and richness of color surrounded her as if she had drunk from the glass bottle in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and shrunk small enough to walk through a Queen’s jewelry box. Dressed in one of Bea’s flowing evening gowns which no longer fit her, Eliza felt like a princess as she strolled through the rooms embellished with emerald greens, ruby reds, and sapphire blues. Twinkling diamond crystals hung from a chandelier in every room as if tiaras had been strung together with golden thread. Gilded gold adorned every surface; perhaps King Midas had been the first guest to the house. Life during a Newport Season played out like royal fairy tales.

gate and ledge

“Let’s go out. The moon on the water is magnificent. You can’t really get a good view here with the privet growing so high.” Harrison lifted the gate’s latch and stepped out onto the rocky swath of ground, less than eight feet from the cliff’s edge. He reached back for her hand. An imminent danger lay before them. One loose rock, one slip of her boot and they would plummet onto the jagged shore below where the heaving waves crashed onto themselves. A lone seagull cried into the wind as it returned to shore, searching for a sheltered spot for the night. Overhead, one by one stars appeared, sending their shine down onto the sea like silver nuggets sparkling on the black water. Eliza took his hand and followed him toward the ledge.

A pivotal event occurs in Newport and I wanted these scenes to be as authentic as possible. I am fortunate to have found a great little studio in Middletown, half a mile from Easton’s Beach, for easy access to Newport for research, a quiet nook for writing and sunshine overhead to glimpse out to the waves hitting on the other side of the inlet against the Cliff Walk area, and very affordable. Staying for just Sunday night, the owner even accommodated a late check out so I could spend nearly two whole days here. I highly recommend this gem of a spot available on Homeaway: https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p423789vb?noDates=true

10 Hoover Rd

Thank you for reading this post. I invite you to follow my blog and join me on my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in the Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow.

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Mid-May Musings

Morristown books

Where the heck are the May flowers that April showers were supposed to bring? Oh right, apparently we need more May showers. Despite the deluge of gloomy weather, the start of May has been a whirlwind. A few musings which may, or may not, be related to my writing.

  • Morristown NJ has an awesome library which is a short walk from the center green. We visited Morristown the first weekend in May for our nephew’s beautiful wedding. What a treat that we found the library to kill some time before the late afternoon nuptials and reception. Bonus Points:  Scored five books for $6 at their book sale and found a quiet spot to tuck away into for a writing sprint. Looking forward to reading the book finds. Have you read any of them? (see pile above) Which one should be at the top of my TBR (To Be Read) pile?

 

  • Eileen McNamara, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist from The Boston Globe is a dynamic and entertaining speaker. Thank you to my friend, Cathy, who invited me to join her at an evening presentation by Eileen to promote her book, Eunice, The Kennedy Who Changed the World. Eileen shared with us her battles to write and publish the book, from obtaining permission from the Shriver children to access their mother’s personal papers to arguing with her publisher on the subtitle addition. How could Eunice, a Kennedy woman be the Kennedy who changed the world? With a life-long commitment to helping those with intellectual disabilities, Eunice’s influence and policy work extended far beyond the formation of the Special Olympics. Eileen and I shared teary eyes as she inscribed my copy of Eunice as “In memoriam of Frankie”, my cousin whom I never knew but who lived in a group home in Needham. Eunice Kennedy can be an inspiration to me and for my main character, Eliza, and her work on behalf of people with Down Syndrome.

 

  • Another amazing woman of history is Margaret Sanger. How appropriate that the Brewster (Cape Cod) “Ladies” Library has not one but two biographies of the champion of birth control on its shelves. Margaret and Eunice each dedicated their lives to a cause they fully supported with unwavering dedication. For Margaret, her advocacy never waned even in the face of arrests and jail time. Once I fell into the rabbit hole of researching Sanger, I found a copy of her Family Limitations pamphlet online. Published in 1917, it’s no wonder it caused an uproar – within the 16 pages there are even hand drawn illustrations of a woman’s “private areas”. Oh my!

 

  • There is a gem of a free museum in Boston, the West End Museum on Staniford Street, a two minute walk from the North Station/ TD Garden parking garage. While it lacks extensive displays, it has detailed summaries of immigrant life in the West End which was eventually razed and its populace displaced in the name of urban renewal. The docent, Bruce, spent the first years of his life in the West End and has memorized his oral history to share with you as you walk through the exhibits. It’s amazing to think of the dichotomy of the two sides of the “Slopes” in this part of Boston. On the North Slope lay the wooden tenements filled with a wide mix of populations who were called out to participate in “Rat Day” with a $50 cash prize going to the person who brought in the most rats to a designated Sanitary Yard. On the South Slope, the brick-faced mansions of Louisburg Square of Beacon Hill are filled with the elite of Boston’s Brahmins. If you go, make sure to bring a few dollars in cash. Donations are appreciated.

 

  • Across the Charles River from the West End, the archivists of Radcliffe College’s Schlesinger Library in Cambridge are super helpful. With an early request to retrieve microfilm, they set me up in their “viewing room” to review the Executive Committee notes and annual reports of The Denison House, one of Boston’s settlement houses located in the South Cove. Prior ancestral research had linked a Florence E. Peirce to Denison House. I found the name listed as a “resident” in 1895. Now the challenge is to find confirmation this Florence Peirce was my grandmother’s aunt. The unusual name, with the spelling of Peirce, and the dates for her supposed age, align, but I still don’t have definitive proof. I’ll have to table that research until I finish this book, although I’m intrigued the story could be the fodder for another novel. Florence Peirce of Denison House “discovered” the talents of Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese teenager who frequented Denison for art lessons.

Florence Peirce

Thank you for reading this post. I invite you to follow my blog and join me on my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in the Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow.

Happy Birthday to The Farm

The Farm.jpg

Happy Publication Day, or rather Happy Birthday to debut author, Joanne Ramos. The Farm releases today ahead of the upcoming celebration of mothers on Sunday. Least you think the book is a story of ewes, mares, and sows, The Farm is the story of two-legged breeders, women who have agreed to become surrogates to the ultimate echelon of wealthy clients.

I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of The Farm back in February and read it immediately. If you liked The Handmaid’s Tale and the thought and discussion provoking issues it generates, I think you’ll be even more intrigued with The Farm, it’s closer to reality than the fiction of Handmaid’s.

The “farm” is the satirical name given to Golden Oaks, a maternity “lodge” with every amenity of comfort provided to the highly-paid surrogates, or hosts and where they reside while awaiting the birth of their client’s baby. The chapters alternate in POV and plot line between four main characters: two hosts, the manager of “the farm” and the aunt of one of the hosts. As a first-time novelist, I applaud Ms. Ramos and her ability to fully develop each POV as an individual character. For my own first-time novel, I am focusing on the POV of one main character which is challenging in itself. Balancing four POVs with clarity and interest is amazing.

I received the ARC through #ReadingwithRobin on Facebook. Robin Kall Homonoff has a dream job if you ask me as a talk show host, influencer and author event producer. I look forward to meeting Robin tomorrow for an event she is producing with another novelist who met incredible success with her first novel, Martha Hall Kelly for her book, Lilac Girls. Ms. Kelly has just published her second novel, Lost Roses, a prequel to Lilac Girls.

As part of my own Mother’s Day gift to myself, in addition to the evening author event, I have a busy week ahead of researching and writing. Tonight, I’m attending another author event with Eileen McNamara from The Boston Globe who will be presenting her book on Eunice Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics. Tomorrow is a full day before the Martha Kelly event with in-person research in the archives of Radcliffe and the Harvard Law Library and a trip to the West End Museum in Boston to better understand life in that section of the city in the early 1900s and the importance of “settlement houses” for the immigrant populations who lived in the area.

DID YOU KNOW? Mother’s Day started in Philadelphia as evidenced by this street sign I found on my research trip last summer.

Mothers Day Phil.jpg

And, to all will be celebrating this weekend with their mothers, reflecting on their mothers or being treated to special pampering from their kids –

Happy Mothers Day

Thank you for reading this post. I invite you to follow my blog and join me on my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in the Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow.

 

 

   

Shine a Spotlight

Juliette Fay Blog

I had the good fortune to meet Juliette Fay yesterday. Although she is currently on tour for the release of her latest novel, City of Flickering Light, I caught up with her not at your typical author book presentation signing event, but for a one-on-one coffee sit down. While lots of folks follow bands and sports teams as fans and groupies, I’ve discovered I’ve become an author groupie. Juliette is well deserving of my fandom.

Ms. Fay is a Massachusetts based author of five published books, three of contemporary fiction and her two most recent releases in the historical fiction genre. I read her book about the American Vaudeville business, The Tumbling Turner Sisters, last year as part of my period research of the early 1900s. There are four Turner Sisters, Nell, Gert, Winnie and Kit, who travel across the country in 1919 performing their tumbling and acrobatic act as a means to earn a living and send wages home to their parents after their father loses his job to an injury.

The Turner sisters are a story about family binds who bend and contort their way through the seedier sides of acts occurring on stage and off stage in an effort of survival. Their characters are raw and real and Ms. Fay develops each one as an endearing woman of substance.

When I saw she was releasing another historical novel, City of Flickering Light, which follows three friends into the flickering lights of early Hollywood and the silent motion pictures business, and realized her book tour stops were centered in Eastern Massachusetts, I made the assumption she lived in the area. I took a stab and emailed her. Would she be available to meet with me to impart any tips and suggestions for a first time novelist? In the midst of eleven appearances over two weeks, an upcoming college graduation for her son and planning an international trip with her elderly father, she said yes. There are few people, and I suspect, few authors with such renown, who would offer up an hour of their time to meet with an unknown, green, author groupie. I can’t say thank you enough to her.

In the sixty minutes we spent together, we discussed the importance of networking (obviously!!), connections, confidence, the onus of marketing placed on authors, choosing an editor to help polish a manuscript, finding an agent who matches your style and passion for your story, battles over cover designs, whether to wear a flapper dress for an author appearance about your book set in the 1920’s (yes! do it!) and opinions of a few other authors we have both met. Whew!

Thank you, Juliette. I am so grateful for your time and wisdom. Feel free to follow Juliette through her newsletter and all the normal social media channels, www.juliettefay.com. I’ve already made note when she’ll be on Cape Cod this summer.

I highly recommend The Tumbling Turner Sisters, and as soon as I finish my autographed copy of City of Flickering Light, I’m sure I’ll have a glowing review post up soon.

signed

Thank you for reading this post. I invite you to follow my blog and join me on my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in the Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow.

 

 

Looking for a Story

Inside Book A

Spring, I think and hope, has finally come to our mountain-side home in central New Hampshire. While we still have sand-covered snowbanks at the end of the driveaway and the lake is still frozen, the temperatures have risen above the bone-chilling teens, 20’s and 30’s which drop even further when the wind blows. And, here at the top of our road, the wind does blow. Now, I can finally tie on my sneakers, strap on my new Samsung Gear fancy watch (Christmas present), and head out for mind-clearing walk. Well, maybe not a walk, more like a climb. Today’s trek for a 1.5 mile walk logged 28 flights of stairs according to my watch. There is no road out of my driveway which doesn’t go down, which means I also have to go up to get home.

In the past week, I’ve learned how helpful these solitary walks are in helping me dive inside my story, find it and summon ideas inside my brain to work out plot lines and character conflicts. Staring down at the sand collected at the edge of the road, rather than looking up and seeing the hill ahead, I let my mind wander to see settings. In the quiet, I hear dialogue. With fresh air filling my lungs, I feel life.

I’m hoping I can work out a few more uncharted plot directions soon. I’ve only got four more weeks until it’s black fly season.

IMG_3110Newfound Lake, Bristol NH

Thank you for reading this post. I invite you to follow my blog and join me on my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in the Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow.

 

 

Reach Out and Read

BOYS READING

This picture may be one of my favorites. My non-stop balls of energy are spending quiet time together. At seven, Peirce would have been in the second grade and starting to read simple chapter books, but here he is sitting with four-year-old Brendan, reading a picture book to him to capture Brendan’s interest.

Early childhood literacy has long been one of my passions. Watching children read a book, or sitting next to them and reading aloud brings a special closeness and wonder to all of us. Children begin to imagine worlds beyond themselves with people and places different from them. Reading stimulates their minds and helps them grow.

But in order to read, children need to be surrounded by books. I was amazed to learn a kindergarten classroom should have 20 books available for each student. With a class of 20, that’s 400 books and none of them are generally provided by the school. Peirce’s girlfriend Kristen, a kindergarten teacher, shared this information with me as she begins to build her classroom library, one book at a time. $2,000 or more is a lot of money out of the pocket of a teacher. If you still have children in school, consider a book for the classroom as a holiday or year-end gift. It will be more appreciated than another coffee mug or apple-themed desk item.

K books

Before children get to school, it is also important to begin a foundation for a love of books and reading. One organization which is making a difference in the lives of younger children is Reach Out and Read. Founded 27 years ago in Boston by two pediatricians with the Boston Medical Center, they seek to help disadvantaged children and their families be encouraging reading at home. To facilitate their mission, they provide a free book to parents when they bring their babies and toddlers in for check-ups. Their initial research proved that parents who are given books and literacy guidance are four times more likely to report reading aloud at home. Today, “Reach Out Read is a national organization that works through more than 6,000 program sites and serves 4.7 million young children each year, including one in four children living in poverty in this country.” A bond between parent and child is strengthened with at-home book sharing and children involved with the program significantly increased their language skills.

This March during National Childhood Literacy Month, I had the support of my workplace to organize a book drive to benefit Reach Out and Read. I am thrilled with the donation bins – over 100 new and gently used books collected from our 35-person office.

REACH OUT AND READ AI have also adapted the mission of Reach Out and Read into my novel. Before I knew in my head my whole story arc, I created a scene where Eliza reminiscences of reading Alice in Wonderland with her Aunt Florence. Since that chapter, I’ve moved on to bring in references to The Secret Garden and the Thorton Burgess series of animal stories which I grew up reading, handed down to us from our Dad and his cousin. I spent many summer nights reading and re-reading these stories and knew I needed to include them in my novel, too.

Thorton Burgess

No matter what your age, you’re never too old to Reach Out and Read.

For more information on Reach Out and Read, including ways to help them, please visit their website: http://www.reachoutandread.org/ctma/

Thank you for reading this post. I invite you to follow my blog and join me on my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in the Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow.

 

Book Review Round Up Q1 2019

Q1 2019 books

In the Chinese calendar, 2019 is The Year of the Pig which isn’t the best metaphor to think about my reading pile from the past three months. My list and recommendations are far from slovenly. Perhaps a better idiom choice, as I write from the start of mud season in New Hampshire, would be I’ve been as happy as a pig in mud reading most of the ten books pictured. Each book falls into one of three categories: NCL Book Club selection, research for my WIP and pleasure reading choice of my own.

Following are my recommendations and reviews for each title. I hope one will spark your interest and you’ll pick it up, or hit PLAY on an audible book.  From left to right and top to bottom.

Man Proposes by Eliot H. Robinson. Read for Research, hardcover. Pure coincidence that one of my grandfather’s novels is first. If you want to read this one, I suggest you borrow a copy from me or one of my brothers. There is a $28 paperback copy available on Amazon, but I would not recommend anyone spend $28 on this sappy romance novel. Sorry grandfather, but Danielle Steele-esque is not one of my favorite go-to genres. Add on the dense style of writing in 1916 where one sentence can comprise an entire paragraph and I felt like a member of the younger generation seeking instant gratification for the chapter to end. Instead I had to plow through the 359 pages since family myth holds this book of his was partially auto-biographical. The main character is a Harvard educated lawyer (like my grandfather) who is sent to Newport to investigate a pending divorce case. There are enough nuggets of ideas, however, that I’ve been able to adapt and adopt into my WIP loosely based on his wife, my grandmother. RATING **

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Read for Book Club, Audible. When I started Eleanor which was read with a British accent (book is set in Glasgow Scotland), I feared it would be a re-hash of Bridget Jones which I did not enjoy as a whiny, unlikeable character. As the book unfolded, Ms. Honeyman gave us a character that you want to reach out and hug tight. Eleanor is not completely fine, even though she tells us repeatedly she is, which is of course the irony of the book. She is a deeply damaged soul and a loner who makes you laugh without her having any intention of wanting to make you laugh. The Mommy Dearest character is pure evil. The voiceover in the Audible version sends chills down your spine. I’m sure if I had read the words, it would have been the same. I could consider this a research book as well for Honeyman’s expertise in character development. RATING *****

Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. Read for Book Club, Kindle, Re-Read for Pleasure, Audible. I didn’t plan this visual very well. My two 5-starred reviews are showing up one after the other. I loved Scarlet Sky when I read it last fall with my book club. Although it is another WWII historical fiction which has been one of the hottest topics for recent publishing, I devoured the story of Pino Lella, a 17-year old boy who becomes a man in Milan at the height of the War. This is not a coming of age story. This is the remarkable true story of love, loss, patriotism, espionage, faith, sympathy and familial ties. Knowing the story and Jim’s interests in books, I chose Scarlet Sky as our drive to and from Florida book on tape. Fair warning – it is 524 pages. We needed the entire drive down and back to finish it. Jim was equally amazed with the story, and we’ve already sent a copy to his brother for his birthday. RATING *****

The Farm by Joanne Ramos. Read for Pleasure, hardcover. Facebook may be under fire these days for jeopardizing our privacy, but for now, I’ll continue to use it for maintaining and making connections with friends, my writing community and reading groups I’ve joined. One page I discovered and recommend is #ReadingwithRobin. Robin Kall Homonoff has a dream job if you ask me, talk show host, influencer and author event producer. Through following her page, I entered a giveaway for an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of The Farm which is set for release on May 7th, hmm, the week before Mother’s Day. Coincidence? I think not. The Farm is the satirical name given to a maternity lodge (?) where surrogates, or hosts, reside while awaiting the birth of their client’s baby. The chapters alternate in POV and plot line between four main characters: two hosts, the manager of “the farm” and the aunt of one of the hosts. If you liked The Handmaid’s Tale, I think you’ll be even more intrigued with The Farm, it’s closer to reality than the fiction of Handmaid’s. I’ll be interested to see the formal release and how Robin promotes the book around Mother’s Day. I have the same marketing strategy on my list, tying my publication date to a significant event. RATING ****

Pachinko by Min Jee Lee. Read for Book Club, Kindle. I was away in FLA for our meeting to discuss Pachinko and I missed what I’m sure was an insightful conversation like all of our meetings. Another 500+ page book which had a few unnecessary sections which if cut would have made the book flow better. There were extraneous characters brought in and then disappeared quickly. They did not move the plot forward as my writing professor would say. And yet, it was nominated as a National Book Finalist. Go figure. I always enjoy learning about new cultures and the setting which takes you from Korea to Japan prior and during WWII was interesting. I was hoping there would have been a deeper examination of life in Japan during the war, but there isn’t. The main character, Sunja and her family go to live on a farm sheltered from the war with the exception of her brother-in-law being injured by the atomic bomb drop in Hiroshima. RATING ***

A Well Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. Read for Research, hardcover. I’m glad I was able to borrow this one from my local library. I wouldn’t have wanted to waste even one of my Audible credits on it. I had posted a question in my Facebook Historical Fiction Lovers group for recommendations about life at the turn of the century. While the accuracy and detail helped me a bit with scenes to be set in Newport and the shallow characters found there, I was disappointed the book ended right when life was getting interesting for Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont. I would have been much more interested in how she went on to become involved in the suffragette movement than the intricacies of marrying her daughter off to British nobility and staging the ultimate parties in Newport and on Fifth Avenue.  RATING **

News of the World by Paulette Jiles. Read for Book Club, hardcover. Another National Book Award Finalist and in my opinion, more deserving as reflected in the great discussion we had about this gentle story of a man and young girl traversing the Republic of Texas in the late 1800s. Jiles created a seamless story where the friendship between the two main characters is believable and not in any way perverted. The bonus was learning about the politics of the wild west of Texas before statehood and the occupation the main character, Captain Jefferson Kidd, who reads the newspaper aloud in small towns to an illiterate population. RATING ****

Eliza Waite by Ashley Sweeney. Read for Pleasure and Research, paperback. Previously reviewed in February: I Love My Village. I can’t wait to meet Ashley at our shared Wheaton reunion in May. RATING ****

The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Read for Research, paperback. I had a copy of this controversial novel on my shelf from last year meaning to read it for research. When I noticed how well Ashley had referenced it in Eliza Waite as a pivotal read for women in the 1890s, I knew my character Eliza would need to read it as well as a New Woman. Chopin uses one phrase which she brings in within the first few pages of the book and then repeats it at the end, The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude. This phrase sums up the book. Edna Pointellier, the wife of a wealthy New Orleans businessman contemplates her life and its meaning with tragic consequences. RATING ****

The Scarlet Plague by Jack London. Read for Research, Kindle. What book might my Eliza be reading in 1912? Who would have thought it would be a short story first published in The London Times as a serial by Jack London, author of the White Fang and Call of the Wild? Eliza is surprised as well. But as a doctor, she finds the storyline intriguing. A plague has nearly destroyed the world’s population. The Scarlet Plague exemplifies a versatility for London as a writer to compose such divergent themes. Even more interesting, London wrote the story in 1912, just six years before the Spanish influenza epidemic took the lives of 30 million people world-wide. Did London have a presentiment* this would happen?  RATING ***

*Bonus point for me – I used the WORD for March 24th from my WORD OF THE DAY calendar!

Next up on my TBR pile (To Be Read) is another ARC I received from Reading with Robin. I do recommend you follow her for the chance at giveaways and information on upcoming events. I’ve already purchased my ticket to attend the one she is producing in Boston with Martha Hall Kelley for Kelley’s launch of Lost Roses, her prequel to Lilac Girls. More on Lilac Girls, here: Spring’s Eternal Freshness. I’m sure Lost Roses will be another interesting and well-researched novel from Kelley.

I haven’t started Cape May yet, but Robin, you had me at enclosing the martini glass bookmark.  Stay tuned for my late June/early July post for a review.

Cape May ARC.jpg

Thank you for reading this post. I invite you to follow my blog and join me on my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in the Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow.

 

 

Reminiscences of the Emerald Isle

Ireland fields

Little did I know during our trip to Ireland in May 2017 the imagery of the landscapes and villages would play into my un-started novel. I also drew upon the history of Ireland to shape a primary character who becomes involved with Eliza.

At one point, he offers an Irish prayer as a toast. I think it’s lovely and different enough from the well-known, traditional Irish blessing, “May the Road Rise Up to Greet You” to stand on its own:

May God give you for every storm, a rainbow.

For every tear, a smile.

For every care, a promise, and a blessing in each trial.

For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share.

For every sigh, a sweet song, and an answer for each prayer. 

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY. Sláinte!

Thank you for reading this post. I invite you to follow my blog and join me on my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in the Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow.

 

 

International Women’s Day

Slide1

Today, we remember and recognize women’s contributions to our world, our society and our lives. There are many women in my life who have inspired and led me to become the woman I am today. My mother, my grandmothers, work mentors and friends. As a writer of women’s historical fiction, I look to other authors like Anita Diamant and Melanie Benjamin, as well as the women in my writers’ group, for encouragement and direction. But there are two women, in particular, who have helped me craft my storyline for my current work in progress.

Anandibai Joshi (Anandi)

“[The] determination which has brought me to your country against the combined opposition of my friends and caste ought to go a long way towards helping me to carry out the purpose for which I came, i.e. is to render to my poor suffering country women the true medical aid they so sadly stand in need of and which they would rather die than accept at the hands of a male physician. The voice of humanity is with me and I must not fail. My soul is moved to help the many who cannot help themselves.”  – Anandibai Joshi, Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, Class of 1886, First Female Doctor from India

Anandi’s words spoke to me. I needed to write about Anandi and her classmates at the Women’s Medical College (WMC), the first medical school to grant accredited degrees to women. Pioneers of a new age, in the late 1800s / early 1900s, women represented less than 5% of all doctors. Their desire to help other women called them to one of the nobliest professions despite the discrimination and doubts of their abilities they faced from the day they stepped into a classroom, operating theater, or hospital.

The fact that Anandi wrote these words as part of her application to WMC as a Hindu woman, married at age 9, who became a mother at 14, lost her 10-day old baby and decided at the age of 17 to attend medical college in America makes her sentiments and story more astounding.

Gina Francisco

Flash forward 130 years. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, 2017 marked the first time more women are enrolled in U.S. medical schools than men (50.7%). One of those students is Gina Francisco, a 4th year student at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

I discovered Gina on Instagram where she posted the following within a group I follow for content and ideas to better understand the life of a doctor, #womeninmedicine. Gina’s words represent the core beliefs every doctor must embrace. I send my thanks to the medical professionals who demonstrate this level of dedication to their profession, starting from the moment they decide to enter medical school.

@ginfrancisco – Yesterday was my last day working as a med student in a hospital. The next time I wear a white lab coat, it’ll be much longer, with the letters M.D. behind it – which of course comes with great responsibility. What a privilege it has been to take care of so many patients with so many illnesses. By going through medical school and seven different hospitals I feel like I’ve experienced a lifetime of adventure, pain and suffering, excitement, fear, and pure joy. Sometimes I can’t believe how brave I was. And I would do it all over again – and would encourage anyone thinking about medicine to pursue it. (Permission received from Gina to re-post).

Two women out of millions who are now practicing medicine. Helping others who cannot help themselves. Living through their own pain, experiencing the pain of others. Today I salute and honor Anandi and Gina. The world is a better place thanks to your dedication.

#internationalwomensday

#womeninhistory

#womenshistorymonth

Thank you for reading this post. I invite you to follow my blog and join me on my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in the Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow.

Treasured Words & Moments

Honeymoon

Reposting this picture of my grandparents on their honeymoon as sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. One year ago, Jim and I were in Savannah. Using the caption of this photo, “Now touring Southern States”, as inspiration, I developed the idea that a stop on their tour could include Savannah. Of course, in my novel, it’s Eliza and Harrison, not Elizabeth and Eliot. See prior post here: Midnight in the Garden

Now, one year later, I am writing Chapter 18 where reference to incidents which occur in Savannah will foreshadow events to come. Intrigue and angst. What better place than the mystical city of Savannah with its Spanish-moss draped trees to explore these dark emotions?

The good news – I’m on Chapter 18. I have outlined 22 chapters. Maybe, just maybe, I can reach my goal of finishing the first draft by May. My writing group has designated April as another #WeWriMo month which should help keep me focused.

The harsh news – it has taken me a year to complete 18 chapters. I still have editing ahead, beta readers, more editing based on their feedback and then queries and pitches to try for traditional publishing. The chances are getting slimmer I will publish by May 2021, unless I self-publish.

Yet, I will persevere thanks to the continued encouragement I receive. I am grateful I was able to visit with Karyn, an old Disney friend, during a business trip to Chicago this past week. I haven’t seen her in nearly five years. It meant so much to me that one of her first catch-up questions she asked was how my writing is coming along.

The same interest and encouragement came from a visit with my dear sister-in-law, Laura, this week down in Florida. Having friends and family know how much this writing means to me really does touch my heart.

The third tug on my heart also came this week in the form of an email from Dennis, a friend I made at my writer’s retreat last June. He had offered to read my early chapters and I took him up on the offer knowing he was also working on a historical fiction. His critique left me with tingles.

Beautiful as is. Beautifully written, wonderfully paced, wonderfully descriptive. If you are a betting person, you should bet on what you have already written, and not read anything that follows. If you read further, note that I write what I would do, not what you should do.

He then continues on with well-thought through feedback for three pages of notes. I hope I will be able to return the favor for his work-in-progress.

Words from these three people in one week, knowing my brother still toils away with red pen in hand editing Chapters 1-14, and everyone else who gives me a thumbs up and “keep going” are the ones I need to thank for joining me on this journey.

Thank you for reading this post. I invite you to follow my blog and join me on my journey toward writing my first historical fiction. More information in the Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow.