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Archive for the ‘Writing Rambles’ Category

I finally managed to get back to Charleston, this time after my story was in its final stages and edits. I wanted to, needed to, walk where my characters did. I wanted to get a better feel for the time and place. Of course with the story set in the 1800’s, it’s not exactly what it was. The cars kind of ruined it. Still, I still got a good feel.

Besides the presence of modern conveniences, fires and wars and progress have decimated a number of buildings featured in the novel. Luckily there’s enough left of historic downtown to soak in the ambience and pretend, a little, it was the 1880’s.

I was amazed at some of the places still standing, such as the Old Jail. I was certain it was long gone and yet there it is, half boarded up. I mourned the loss of the old Charleston Hotel, demolished in the 1960’s or thereabouts. Whoever designed the bank building replacing it, did a marvelous job. While modern, it has elements of the hotel such as the columns.

I strolled through Marion Park and Washington Park where, after the earthquake struck, townspeople camped. The latter is so tiny. How did all those people fit in it?

The train station complex is difficult to envision. Yes, part remains as the visitor center and museums (A replica of ‘The Best of Charleston’, America’s first train is here, free to see), I was hard pressed to get a vibe of how it was back then. There’s surprising, so little information of this particular area.

Of course, the churches are the same and residences and commercial still stand, many with ‘earthquake bolts’ to keep them together. At some sites, such as the Agricultural Hall and the ruins of St. Finbar, I could only gaze and mentally replace what’s there with what was.

All in all, I got what I came for and left Charleston knowing I’ll have to visit again.

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Mark your calendars and get the engines reving. It’s that time of year – Comic Book Day! Get your free special issue comic book at the local dealer.

Not sure where that is? Look it up on the Free Comic Book Day website:

https://www.freecomicbookday.com/

While your there, on the website, check out what else might be going on. Do I what do and pick out what comic book or books you want the most. Most places will let you have three. Dr. Who is always good, if you like Dr. Who. It all depends on your favorite artists and title. I’m thinking of getting the Dr. Who, Little Lulu, and the one with the British comics. Or may the Avengers one since the new Avengers movie is out.

Luckily there are several shops in Columbia and two are holding events. Others around the country are as well. If you’re lucky, perhaps there you’ll be able to meet a comic book artist.

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Snail Mail

As I was deleting texts from my phone, re-reading some of them before they disappeared in the ether forever, I thought: What a pity. It made me remember my days of letter writing, not that I am fond of those because I dislike writing letters. When my grandmother was alive my mother made me write a letter each month and I never knew what to say. It was whatever mundane thing came to mind and the usual – I am fine, how are you. The weather is fine, blah, blah, blah. All this in German, which made it all a little harder. My German grammar was never good.

Years later, when my sister went to Korea for her job, I said I’d write a lot and regretted it because I am really a lousy letter writer. Then I thought: I’ll pretend the cats are writing. With that, letter writing became fun.

I still don’t like writing letters, but, I do wish I could read some of what I wrote back then to get a glimpse of what my life was like. I didn’t do diaries or journals except for trip journals. Being able to read a letter from the past would be really interesting.

And here I was deleting texts, and deleting emails. Little bits of my life. Delete. Delete. In the future, what will people be able to figure out about the people of this era? Especially if everything goes digital? One giant electo-magnetic pulse and it’s all gone.

Delete.

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Writing Update

Another year has come to end, plus another passed as well, and it’s time to reflect on my writing goals for the year. I’m pleased with my writing, but wish I could push myself to go further, get something published. I keep saying, next year, next year. I must do better.

Should I do self-publishing? A friend of mine who knows someone who does that, says it’s like a full time job. They’re constantly calling people, promoting their book. Not easy when you’re working and I dislike telephoning people. I’m a horrid seller of things. I guess I have to see where exactly I want to go. I think, no, I know, my writing is good. It’s just a matter of getting it across to the right person.

I guess that will be my goal next year. Getting ‘stuff’ out to the right people.

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I am shamelessly plugging my new book here.

http://www.blurb.com/b/9072079-christmas-and-mrs-gray

It’s one of my annual Christmas stories based of my cats, Mietze and Talbot.

Noisy, bouncy Talbot is made to join the ‘Little Helpers’ program at school in order to get her grades up. Naturally, she doesn’t tell her parents. She’s going to do this all by herself even if Mrs. Gray, the senior she’s assigned to assist, has her doing yard work and housework that includes painting. It’s not what the other kittens are doing and Talbot’s best friend, Mietze, sets out to help make this right.

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There’s always a problem when you assume something rather than making sure what you write it correct. You could think it’s true, but the truth may be very, very different. Like when I wrote in my Charleston story it’d be easy for former slaves to find family members after the Civil War. So wrong. So, so wrong. Thank goodness I found a book that set me straight.

I suppose that’s one reason why I like writing science fiction over historical fiction. I can make up all sorts of stuff and no one is the wiser. As long as it sounds plausible, it’ll pass muster. Not so, with history or contemporary fiction. Then I obsess over what I write. Is it true? Did it really happen? Is this place really where I said it was?

I read a book recently and the author had The Time Machine written by Jules Verne instead of H.G. Wells. I’m thinking, hah! That’s not true. And I wonder about the author. That’s so how not what I want to be perceived.

The problem is that sometimes I can’t find what I want to know. I need some information on funerals in the 1800’s, but it’s for a specific location and during a specific time. All the books I’ve looked at are too broad. Even trying to contact the Funeral Director’s Association didn’t help. They never got back with me. A pity. Now, I’ll need to be ‘broad’ with my funeral.

 

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I’ve always been a fan of autobiographies and biographies. I remember going through the shelves at the library and pulling out this and that. I read about Jacques Cousteau and how he invented scuba diving (I was positively stoked when I met his grandson, Phillipe.) I read how Werner Van Braun transferred his rocket research from the war to space (it turned out my aunt’s father worked with him. What a small world this is). I read about the forerunners of detectives in a book about Vidoq. The books I read went into so much detail about their lives and had me fascinated.

It was a bit of disappointment when I went through the library at the high school and found most of the biographies were focused on facts and the things students need to write a report. Which, really, is what  students want for them to do. Grab a book, write the report, and that’s it. Now, with the Internet, they get a snapshot of the person’s life, the facts. Birth. Accomplishments. Blah. Blah.

How can you get to know a person that way? Cousteau’s autobiography drew me right in, giving me insights on the sea, making me appreciate the ocean wildlife within. Vidoq’s biography let me know he was kind of a jerk. The other types of books, the kinds my students went for, didn’t allow for that.

A pity.

When I purchased books for the library I tried to balance the collection. I got the fact based kind of nonfiction of major current popular and important people, but I also the ‘story’ kind of sports figures or from authors who I knew would draw the kids in. Walter Dean Myers wrote a few. Russell Freedman is fantastic. And he includes plenty of photographs, always a plus.

Every now and then I get one I think the kids might enjoy, of someone not famous, but will catch their attention. I had a book about a teacher that was popular. The girls liked the drama going on it.

Who knew, maybe I got one of them to read other biographies just for fun.

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