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!

 

 

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International Women’s Day

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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.

I Love My Village

Happy_Valentines_day_hearts_clip_art.jpg

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I say it takes a village to write a book. On the approach to Valentine’s Day, when we stop to express our love to those most dearest to us, I’d like to share my love and gratitude to members of my village who are helping me write my first novel.

To my brother Mark who is underway with the first round of edits for Part One. Good grief – I’ve driven him to drink. Or, so he exclaims with this photo – serious editing demands a seriously good glass of wine. Should I be inspired or fearful of the amount of red ink on the page? I do trust his judgement as a English major from Williams College, even if he isn’t interested in my genre of women’s historical fiction, I value his feedback and direction.

editing.jpeg To my husband and sons who continue to support my desire to pursue this dream and sit to listen to snippets of a story which they, too, would have no personal interest in reading themselves. Who would have thought I’d have a need to ask Brendan for his opinion on the way I described what a pulled hamstring feels like?

Bent at his waist, he clutched at a searing sensation scorched within his thigh and radiating down his entire leg….”A pulled hamstring for sure. I felt the depression where the string is torn. When I bend your knee, Mr. Shaw, how did that feel? Better or worse?”

To my “sisters”, my Wheaton friends, book club friends and fellow writing friends who encourage me every step of the way to write with their likes and comments on my posts, their push to type out another hundred words during a writing sprint, or listen to my read-alouds for practice and feedback on chapter openings.

I hope I am returning the love to support whatever my village’s passions may be. I’ll start with the recommendation for a Wheaton sister who agreed to read my full manuscript drawing on her own expertise as a published writer of historical fiction. I connected with Ashley Sweeney after seeing her write-up in her Class Notes in our Wheaton alumnae magazine. Of course I had to order and read her first novel, Eliza Waite. Yes – Eliza! And, can’t wait to meet her in May – we share a reunion year. 🙂

Here’s my 5-star rating and review of Eliza Waite.

What would you call a coming of age story when the main character is in her late 20’s? Coming alive. Inspired by the writings of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Eliza Waite discovers an interior strength to move forward from tragedy and loss to choose a life where she is the decision maker, an awakened woman, physically and spiritually. Set in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest’s San Juan Islands, Eliza, the widow of the local minister who has also lost her only child, forges her way further north to the even wilder Alaskan Territory as the Yukon goldrush heightens in 1898. In the town of Skagway, an unlikely woman befriends Eliza, becoming her closest friend, the madam of the local bordello, Pearly Brown. Pearly encourages the quiet Eliza who withholds any glimpse into her former life. Ultimately, Eliza’s transformation from a shunned woman of St. Louis to the proprietress of her own bakery and café aligns with the beginnings of the suffragette movement and modern feminism. Ms. Sweeney deftly weaves in quotes from Chopin’s The Awakening at appropriate scenes, as well as recipes from Eliza’s file box, to blend the non-traditional and traditional resulting in a story of inspiration and self-determination proving that the ultimate freedom is the freedom to choose one’s path. From The Awakening: “There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it?” Eliza Waite finds her something and someone, all of which is worth the wait.

Eliza Waite

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.

 

Moral Courage

William S Peirce crop

“Sic transit Gloria mundi” (“So passeth the glory of the world.”)

A love of history drives my writing journey as much as the creative act of writing itself. At times I considered majoring in history until I discovered the study of psychology at Wheaton and the many more applications it would offer for future employment. Understanding human motivations has definitely helped me succeed in a career of marketing and sales.

History and psychology also merge when considering character development in a historical fiction. Thanks to Google and the Philadelphia Historical Society, I am fortunate to have unearthed several references to my great-great grandfather, Judge William Peirce, upon whom I’ve modeled my MC’s grandfather.

From FamousAmericans.net: “He was an earnest advocate of emancipation, and was the counsel of the slave in nearly every fugitive-slave case that occurred in Philadelphia under the Fugitive-Slave Act of 1850. The last important case was the great Dangerfield case, in which trial he and his colleagues (Gibbons and Hopper) argued before the court and jury from the opening of the court until sunrise the next morning. Peirce began his arguments at 4 a.m.”

He supported abolitionism despite the lack of support from many of his peers. The Philadelphia Bar Association even notes his leadership in the cause while admitting the misdeeds of its other members: “The championship of so desperate and so unpopular a cause demanded physical, no less than moral courage on the part of its advocates. The bar, as a body, conservatively gave it the cold shoulder and Mr. Hopper and his associates were, in truth, the victims, frequently, of positively uncivil treatment at the hands of their brother lawyers.”

During February’s celebration of Black History Month, I would argue the white abolitionists who would defend the rights of a black man, without any Constitutional backing, and under the shadow of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 which required the return of runaway slaves, deserve celebration as well. We need to remember and honor them. In the words of William Peirce, “It is a duty we owe to our profession to cherish the memory of those who have gone before us, And I respectfully suggest to you young gentlemen, to form the habit of remembering the incidents of your profession, and of transmitting them to those who come after you. For so passeth the glory of the world”. 

Thanks to my great-great grandfather and his associates, one black man, Daniel Dangerfield, a runaway from Virginia, won his freedom. How many of his descendants know of the Philadelphia lawyers who forever changed their lives?

Perhaps that’s an idea for another book. Tracking them down, possibly in Canada. For despite a not-guilty verdict and becoming free, Dangerfield was still not safe. Slave hunters dismissed the verdict and continued to seek him for the bounty placed on his head by his Virginia owners. Dangerfield was placed on the trek of the Underground Railroad to Canada.

For now, I am drawing upon the concepts and character traits of moral courage to help define my novel’s characters. A moral courage to defend the defenseless, care for those unable to care for themselves. A woman who will become a Doctor in 1901.

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.

 

 

Medical Research

pinkham ad cropped

Wow! Why didn’t I know about Lydia Pinkham’s Remedy when I needed it a few years ago for my “woman’s ills”? Perhaps because it isn’t as effective since they dropped the alcohol content from 20%. Today, you might as well take a swig of whiskey for the same curative powers which Lydia Pinkham offered millions of women in the late 1800s and into the 20th century. For the brave, the modified formulation is still available at Walmart and is even an Amazon Prime product.

The study of medicine is so far a field of anything I would have ever imagined in my own life. I am drawn more to the humanities than the sciences, despite my degree in psychology. I even made sure to avoid the psycho-biology classes. Yet now, in researching for my novel to provide authenticity, I have found fascinating tidbits which influenced generations of women, and men, in the name of medicine.

How would a Doctor of the early 1900s react to their patients who swear by Lydia Pinkham’s? Especially a woman doctor when she opens a newspaper or Ladies Home Journal and sees advertisements proclaiming 500,000 women can’t be wrong. Or, condemnations of the drugs she may prescribe which have been researched for effectiveness: The medicine the druggist offers you is only an experiment. All he knows about it is that he can make a little more profit on it than he can on what you want. Demand the medicine you know is all right. Or, an assertion: It will cure entirely the worst form of Female Complaints, and is particularly adapted to the Change of Life.

While the research of Lydia Pinkham’s provided some chuckles – you had to laugh at the advertisements – and silent thank yous that menopausal women are no longer described as hysterical or worthy of commitment to insane asylums, the other topic I researched this weekend is much darker. The Eugenics movement in the US began in the 1880s and continued with alarming levels of support until WWII when the atrocities of the Holocaust were revealed. During this time, over 30 states passed compulsory sterilization laws which led to the sterilizations of over 60,000 disabled individuals. So disturbing.

My Main Character, as a student of Sympathy and Science, would be troubled by the Eugenics movement and find some solace that the Governor of Pennsylvania vetoed the first presentation of a bill in 1905, “An Act for the Prevention of Idiocy”. Unfortunately, there were always some who disregarded the laws.

More research into medical and social / public health issues to come. At this point, however, I need to take a break from these heavy, depressing topics. I think it’s time for a game of tennis, another subject I know nothing about.

 

 

Fashion Forward

fashionGiven I rarely see a movie when it first debuts in the theatres, combined with the political overtones woven into acceptance speeches, the only part of an Awards show I watch now are the red carpet entrances. While I didn’t catch Emma Stone during the recent Golden Globes broadcast, thanks to my niece who works for Louis Vuitton, I can see highlights from her Instagram posts. Thanks @magpiejd!

The peach and silver gown Emma Stone chose caught my eye with its simplicity and modesty, a rarity for most red carpet appearances. Emma also proves red-heads can wear peach and dusty rose tones without clashing; rather her hair tones complement and blend in at her shoulder.  

The hue also reminded me of one of the dresses I’ve chosen for Eliza.  Rich, deep embroidery offers classic lines and accents the bodice without crossing the line of immodesty. The train is simple and the capped short sleeves allow for lovely above-the elbow gloves, perfect for a special occasion in May 1912. Maybe the lace pieces inset around the chest and hem are from famous Irish lacemakers.

Searching for style inspirations is a dangerous trip down the rabbit hole of Pinterest, but it makes for a fun afternoon on a cold, winter day. Vivid descriptions of a character’s clothing offers a subtle way to reveal insights into a personality. Is she bold enough to wear the bloomers which women start to wear as bicycling becomes a new mode of transportation? How long would, or should, a widow wear black? What if she stops before the respectable year of mourning ends? Anyone else remember the scene of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind when she bemoans having to wear black and being unable to dance at a charity ball?

Here are a few more inspirations for Part One of Eliza’s story, circa 1897. Do you have a favorite? dresses

#louisvuitton #nicolasghesquiere

 

2018 Books In Review

2018 books

One of the most important activities in becoming a good writer is to be an active reader. Books which didn’t make a great impression on me slipped my mind, but thanks to an accessible Kindle and Audible library, my own bookshelf and an online history of books checked out of my library, I’ve compiled a list of the 33 books I’ve read this year. I’d say it’s an impressive list. The fact that I plowed through this many titles while working full time and getting over 40,000 words written for my own novel made for a productive year. My favorites for each category are starred.

Books Read for My “Book Ends” Book Club – great suggestions by all the hostesses this year followed by lively discussions, and yes, yummy appetizers and soothing glasses of wine. Looking forward to more great selections for 2019 and treasured evenings with our group. Several of us have been in the club for over 20 years!!!

JAN:  Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. A contemporary take on suburban life rocked by underlying dysfunctional families which keep them together and tear them apart.

*FEB: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. A favorite author delivers another winner in which she again draws upon the mother-daughter relationship. A powerful story with rich history of the Chinese tea trade. See also Books Carry You Away.

*MAR: Woman in the Window by AJ Finn. Despite a few parallels with Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, this psychological thriller pulls you in, engages the reader throughout the story with despicable characters and keeps you guessing until the very end. See also Certified.

APR: A special outing. A group of us went to dinner and then to a local appearance and reading by Lisa See. Always interesting to hear the back story of a book’s plotline and exciting to learn about Ms. See’s upcoming release in March 2019, The Island of Sea Women. Sounds like another winner in the wings. Also looking forward to another Asian based novel up for our Feb 2019 read: Pachinko.

MAY: The Brave by Nicholas Evans. A glimpse into 1950’s Hollywood and the rise of television told through the eyes of a young boy. Provoking family drama entwining multiple generations of a British family.

*JUN: Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. A non-fiction account of the 1936 US men’s crew team and their rise to Gold from the wilds of Washington state during the Great Depression. A lengthy read, but worth it. I had read it before, but listened to it on Audible for a refresh to prepare for my turn as hostess. See also Pulling Together.

JUL:  Off month for summer schedules.

*AUG: The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve. Despite living in MA my entire life, I never knew a wildfire ravaged the Maine coastline in 1947. At the core of the story, relationships are burnt and lit driven by their pasts, and their futures. See also Destination Unknown #historicalfiction

*SEP: Beneath the Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. While there has been a recent avalanche of WWII novels, Sullivan gets my vote for introducing us to the real-life story of a member of the Italian resistance. Knowing the book is based on the first-hand retelling of Pino Lella’s work in the resistance and first love as a impressionable 18 year old makes the book all the more fascinating. Looking forward to hearing the story again through Audible to share it with Jim for our drive south. #historicalfiction

OCT: Monster – The Story of a Young Mary Shelley by Mark Arnold. The backstory on how and why a young woman of privileged means in the early 1800’s could write a novel like Frankenstein. Which comes first? Creativity or madness? Does one drive the other? #historicalfiction

NOV: Switch by Geoff Visgilio. A blizzard in NH kept me home, but I joined our meeting via Skype (thank you Mary W) to meet and hear the author who attended. Excited to learn he is also a Wheaton alum and self-published. A fast-paced quick read which also explores the intimacy of a relationship gone bad.

DEC: The 13th Gift – A True Story of a Christmas Miracle by Joanne Huist Smith. Somehow I missed the sub-title when I first started reading. I thought the story was a sweet, light Christmas story – a printed version of a Hallmark movie. My opinion of the story soared when I realized it is autobiographical and the events in the book help us all find the good in others and neighborly care.

Books Read for Research – a combination of fiction and non-fiction. In no particular order with those starred as recommendations for general enjoyment.

#historicalfiction

  • House of Mirth by Edith Wharton – ugh, so long and verbose!
  • Murder at Astor Place by Victoria Thompson – Hallmark Channel mystery-esque
  • Bachelor Girl by Kim van Alkamade – interesting read if you like baseball, too. See also The “New Woman”
  • Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin* – silent film stars and the script writers of early Hollywood. Benjamin is a prolific historical fiction writer – love everything I’ve read of hers.
  • As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner* – excellent presentation from multiple POVs dealing with an event less covered in novels and news, the Spanish Flu epidemic. See also Part I: Done
  • Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz – YA, connected with the author in a FB group, listened to on Audible, good read for young teen girls
  • An Irish Country Practice by Patrick Taylor – another entry for a Hallmark Channel serial, see also Introducing Daniel Breen
  • I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon – a bit choppy writing the story in reverse but the ending was worth the roller-coaster

Non-Fiction

  • Germantown in the Civil War
  • Out of the Dead House
  • A New and Untried Course
  • Sympathy & Science
  • Send Us a Lady Doctor

Books Read for Me – squeezed in a few “unassigned” pleasure books by listening to some of them on Audible during a fall filled with work travel. Is listening to a book, still reading? In no particular order with those starred as recommendations.

  • How to Land a Dream Job If Your Dad Doesn’t Own the Team by Rob Thompson – a close friend from my time with Disney and an inspiration to pursue writing and self publishing
  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – after loving The Nightingale and Winter Garden, I found Hannah’s latest release too long and drawn out and can’t quite grasp the hoopla and accolades. See also Parallel Lines. #historicalfiction
  • Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman – a mystery which pushed the envelope on believability which hurt the overall storyline
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens*- many similarities to The Great Alone, but much more enjoyable from a first-time fiction author. Great insights and translations of a setting defining a plot and character development. See also Parallel Lines
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – admitting to the fact I never read the book until I saw it featured on the PBS series, The Great American Read. See also Adventures in Writing
  • Work It! by Carrie Kerpen – another friend from my time with Disney and an inspiration to pursue writing. See also Books Carry You Away
  • Educated by Tara Westover* – in the same vein as The Glass Castle, an autobiographical rags to riches story when the riches come in the form of education
  • Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate* – moving story based on facts surrounding poverty-stricken families in TN in the late 1930s woven with present-day political family power and intrigue. #historicalfiction
  • Monticello: A Daughter and Her Father by Sally Cabot Gunning* – fictional account based on letters, research and visits to Monticello to tell the story of Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, Martha. See also The Writer, The Laborer #historicalfiction
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell* – my all time favorite I re-read again to share at my writers’ retreat. I loved hearing one of my fellow attendees, a gentleman from Georgia remark, “Or as it’s known in Georgia, the King James Bible” and to see it was voted as a finalist in The Great American Read, coming in #6 on the Top 100 list. See also #GreatReadPBS #historicalfiction

Finally, I abandoned two books this year, a rarity for me. Once I start a book, I want to finish it, but these didn’t hold my interest, including one which also made the top five of The Great American Read, Pride and Prejudice. The other was The Weight of Ink. Both dragged on forever. I gave them a good shot getting through at least the first quarter but had to bail.

How many of these have you read? Do we share any favorites? I’d love to hear your recommendations to build my TBR (to be read) list for 2019.

If you haven’t signed up to follow this blog yet, please do. I’ll be posting more book recommendations in 2019 along with updates on the progress of my historical fiction.

Cheers!!

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.

 

2018 Reflections on a WIP

2018 year end

As 2018 draws to a close, I feel it has been a very successful twelve months for my WIP (Work in Progress) in writing a historical fiction. I’ve completed the first draft of Part One and have a solid outline for Part Two. A quick recap by the numbers:

  • 44,672 word count which will translate into 178 published pages. RESULT: On track for the expected length of a first time historical novel.
  • 1 Main Character (MC) presented and developed through facing 4 major conflicts in Part One. RESULT: Solid and plausible resolutions for each conflict achieved.
  • 11 Supporting Characters introduced. RESULT: Each one with a purpose to add to the plot and move the MC’s story forward.
  • 5 senses included. RESULT: The scent of a succulent, peppered pork roast, the nutty taste of sherry on her tongue, the sound of a shrill jingle of a candlestick phone, the touch of a sharp prick of a pin on a finger, the sight of a bank of lilac bushes with an explosion of conical lavender clusters.
  • 10 books, fiction and non-fiction, read for research. RESULT: Additional notes made on style, language, items to insert as representative of the period (parasols to carry, shawls to wear, cigarette boxes to pocket, overshoes for rain, Lydia Pinkham’s Remedy to cure all manner of female ills).
  • 17 virtual classmates met at an informative, fun and productive writers’ retreat. RESULT: Connections made with other writers from around the world to share our progress and request critical feedback of our writings – may 2019 be productive for you, too, Dennis and Chelsa!
  • 8 Facebook groups joined. RESULT: Research and community for ideas, tips for editing and marketing, and encouragement from other writers.
  • 10 hour-long writing sprints attended. RESULT: 5,787 words typed for 13% of the year’s total yield.
  • 48 – now 49 blog posts. RESULT: Consistent commitment to posting almost once a week.
  • 1,493 views of my posts. RESULT: Enticing headlines to prompt e-mail opens and click overs from Facebook posts; happy to report the top viewed posts included Warning: Archivist @ Work which documented my fabulous trip to Philadelphia and a day spent in the archives of the Women’s Medical College (now Drexel).
  • 56 family members, friends, classmates, work associates (past and present), and others signed up to follow this blog. RESULT: A decent start in developing a following as I continue my journey toward publication.

I’ll close today with a thank you to the 56 of you following this blog. I try to come up with fresh ideas for each post. I hope you’ve found them interesting or entertaining, or both. Most of all, thank you for the support, the likes and the comments. Writing this novel is a long process, thank you for joining me on the journey.

Best wishes to you all for a Happy & Healthy 2019, one year closer to publication of Eliza’s Story (working title – a mystery reveal for 2019?). 

 

Communication 101

Communication

One reason I chose the time period of my grandmother’s life for my first novel (focus on 1897-1947) is the amount of rich fodder to draw upon and examine for an interesting historical fiction. Beyond the major world events of the period, take a moment to think of the advancements which occurred during that time across several industries. For example, when my other grandmother (Jean Hird Davidson Bonney) was born in 1898, the primary mode of transportation was horse and carriage, or trolley cars if you lived in a city. In 1969, at the age of 71, she watched, on a television no less, man walk on the moon. Think about it…

In similar fashion, the advancements in communication are tremendous. For my WIP, I am in the middle of 1912. I need a conversation to happen between two characters, one is in Philadelphia and one is in Boston. Very few homes at the time had phones, those which did, would have had a “candlestick” phone. The two piece, corded metal version of Alexander Graham Bell’s invention from the 1880’s.

Fast forward to today, 116 years later. Fewer and fewer homes have a hard-line telephone. We’ve replaced phones with text, tweets, posts, chats, images, pins and videos. Yet, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Here’s a line from my WIP circa 1912: “Miss Livingstone won’t install one (phone) at the boarding house, thinks it’ll be the downfall of womankind, giving women more time and ways to spread idle chatter and gossip“.

We’ve also moved our business communications to a reliance on the explosion of social media. I have spent my career in marketing and sales and have tried to stay current with the methods brands and products are using to communicate with their customer audiences. It is a daunting, full-time task. Now, as I plan ahead for a book publication, I have learned I need to get started with building my own brand and develop a following. This blog is my first step, but apparently to gain the interest of agents and publishers, I need to do more.

I need social media accounts separate from my personal accounts. I need to be on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as the primary platforms. I need to post regularly and engage with potential readers. In reality, it’s not going to happen – work full time, travel for work, write/edit/polish a novel, prep it for pitching and… create and maintain a social media presence.

I have decided to farm out this task. Over the holiday break, I will be looking for a college student majoring in marketing, history, or English with skills in social media (pretty sure nearly 100% of them are more adept than I am) who would like to take on an internship project from start to launch which they can highlight on a resume. A perfect internship – can be done remote, no set hours, minimal time required. I may consider offering up a monetary performance bonus based on the growth in followers attained. If you happen to know anyone, have them get in touch with me. I’ll be drafting up a description over the next couple of weeks.