Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Books 1 & 2

By Thursday I usually have the next Monday’s blog post well in hand. The operative word is “usually.”

Last Thursday, I not only didn’t have a post well in hand for today. I didn’t even have a topic.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends lately, trying to meet a number of self-imposed writing deadlines and goals. Therefore, today I’ll just catch you up on two writing projects I’ve been working on lately.


Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1

I wrote a local history column for Harrisburg Horizons weekly newspaper from May 2006 through 2012. It’s been my desire ever since to publish those articles in a book. The time has come!

I’ve formatted the first 91 articles, the introduction, and the back matter for Book 1. My sister is helping me with the indexing. With the index, it looks like the paperback book will be about 500 pages.

Formatting and proofreading of the first 91 articles were tedious tasks. My sister is a fantastic proofreader and has been a tremendous help.

A photographer friend of mine took the photograph for the cover on Friday. By Friday night I had created the cover for the e-book. Creating a book cover was a new experience for me and gave me an unbelievable sense of accomplishment. Technology doesn’t come easy for me.

There are still a few details to finish, including the creation of the paperback book cover. I expect that task to be more challenging than the e-book cover, but I’m excited to start on that today.

I hope to be able to announce a publication date in the next couple of weeks I’ll announce on my blog and on Facebook when the e-book and the paperback are available. I hope that’s before Christmas!

Be on the lookout for that surprise blog post!

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 2

I’m formatting and proofreading the second book of local history newspaper columns, which will not only include the last 84 history articles.

I hope to include some of my research done about topics I didn’t get to write about when the newspaper suddenly ceased publication. It depends on how many pages Book 2 is after a get the 84 articles formatted.

It’s been fun rereading the columns because I’ve forgotten some of the details. I anticipate this book will also be available in paperback as well as for Kindle, perhaps in March 2023.


My Website

My website, http://www.janetmorrisonbooks.com is being redesigned. I’ll make an announcement on my blog when the new site is up and running. It will have the same address with the addition of that important “s” after “http” to indicate my site has SSL certification.


Until my next blog post

Thank you for dropping by my blog and lending moral support to this struggling writer.

Keep reading books.

Give thanks for all you have.

Remember the people of Ukraine.

Janet

One Historical Fiction Misconception that Keeps You from Reading It

Not everyone wants to read historical fiction. I understand that. There are several fiction genres that I don’t enjoy, so I avoid them. There are too many books I want to read to take time to read genres that don’t appeal to me. For instance, horror.

I happen to like historical fiction, but there is one big misconception that might be keeping you from reading novels that fall in that category.

Okay, what is that misconception?

Since the word “fiction” is part of the name of the historical fiction genre, there is a misconception that novels in the genre are not historically accurate. If you read reputable historical fiction writers, you know that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The Ballad of Tom Dooley: A Ballad Novel, by Sharyn McCrumb

I had the privilege of hearing Sharyn McCrumb speak in conjunction with the publication of the ninth novel in her ballad series, The Ballad of Tom Dooley. Ms. McCrumb is a meticulous historical researcher. In her speech that day, she adamantly pointed out that some historical fiction books are better researched than history books.

That has really stayed with me more than a decade after hearing Ms. McCrumb speak.

When considering to read a historical novel, I suggest you turn to the back of the book and read the Author Notes. Very often there are several pages after the last chapter in the book in which the author explains her inspiration for the book and a bit of the research involved in writing the book.

The topic of literary license is often addressed in the Author Notes. Good historical fiction writers are transparent and quick to point out any instances in which they adjusted the time or place of an event to make the story flow more smoothly.

You might not be convinced yet to read historical fiction. You might think that just because historical novels contain conversations that cannot be documented, the book cannot be trusted as being true. If written by a conscientious writer, conversations and narrative in the novel will be true to the time and place to the best of the author’s ability. Keep in mind that it’s a work of fiction, and don’t get bent out of shape if some of the dialogue doesn’t ring true to you.

I write history and I write historical fiction. The research I do for the writing of historical fiction is just as detailed and important as the research I do for the writing of history.

English Through the Ages, by William Brohaugh

You might be surprised to know that in the 1760s historical fiction I’m writing, I’m careful not to use words that were not in general use during that time. I keep English Through the Ages, by William Brohaugh within arm’s reach while I’m writing. Sometimes there is a perfect word I want a character to say but then I discover it wasn’t in general usage until later. I have to find another word.

And you thought I spent all my time just gazing out the window and eating bonbons!

Next week’s blog post topic

Next week I plan to blog about something that happened on October 31, 1849 in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. I wrote about it for a newspaper article a few years ago. I look forward to sharing a bit of that well-researched article with you on my blog.

Since my last blog

I’ve worked on my novel, The Heirloom, every day except yesterday. (I really try to set aside Sunday as a day of rest.) I feel great about how the manuscript is coming along. I’m really having fun with it, imagining myself on The Great Wagon Road in 1766.

I’ve made progress toward getting my website redesigned. I’m excited about that and will keep you posted.

I finished formatting Harrisburg, Did You Know?—Book 1 on Saturday. The proofreading will take another couple of weeks. By then, I hope to have a photograph to use for the cover. Everything seems to be falling in place within the publication schedule I set for myself. By this time next month, I hope to be close to it being available as an e-book.

A word about my blog

You might have noticed on my blog where it says “Join ___ other followers,” the number plummeted this week. I spent the better part of an hour in chat with WordPress tech support before they identified the cause.

The verdict was that the widget that enables me to show the number of followers on my blog changed last week without bloggers (or apparently tech support) being told.

On Wednesday it said, “Join 2,104 other followers,” but on Thursday night it said, “Join 988 other followers.” My heart sank! Tech support stayed on the case until it was determined that now the widget only displays the number of email and WordPress bloggers who follow me. It no longer includes the 1,000+ people who follow my blog on social media.

If you have a WordPress blog, did you notice this change?

Until my next blog

I hope you have a good book to read – and time to read it!

Remember the brave people of Ukraine.

Janet

4 Popular Book Bloggers Who Will Give You Book Suggestions

In case you want to know about more book bloggers than I’ve written about in the last weeks, I’m suggesting a few more for you to check out. These are listed in random order.


Photo credit: Ugur Akdemir on Unsplash

The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog

I must admit, I was attracted to this blog by the word “chocolate” being in the title. What can I say?

Davida Chazan is originally from Illinois but moved to Israel at the age of 21. She writes this blog from her home in Jerusalem. She covers a variety of books, and you can always count on an honest review from her.

Here’s the link to Davida’s website: https://tcl-bookreviews.com/. By clicking on “A-Z Index of Book Reviews By Title” at the top of her website, you can bring up an extensive alphabetical list of the books she has reviewed. By “extensive,” I mean extensive!

Also, she has a fun drop-down list of authors you can access by clicking on “Countdown Questions Author Index.” You can really have some fun with this. Click on a book listed under the author’s name and it brings her Davida’s review of that book. Click on the author’s name, though, and it brings up a delightful list of questions Davida asked the author along with the author’s answers. The last time I checked, there are more than 40 authors on that particular list.

The website also has a clickable “Women in Translation” button at the top. Click on it to see the authors who write in a language other than English. They are celebrated in the month of August.


Photo by James Barker on Unsplash

The Reading Ladies Book Club

Carol, a retired fifth-grade teacher is the brains behind this book blog. Her favorite genres are historical fiction, literary fiction, and contemporary fiction. She is an ardent reader and enjoys sharing her thoughts about the books she reads.

Here’s the link to The Reading Ladies Book Club website: http://Reading Ladies – Book Club. On the home page, you can easily peruse and click on the titles and covers of the books Carol has recently reviewed.

Click on “Blogging Resources for Bloggers” at the top of her website for blog posts in which Carol has shared advice for bloggers.

If you’re in a book club (or if you aren’t in a book club), I highly recommend you click on “Book Club Recommendations” at the top of her website. As you might guess, it brings up a list of books by genre and how many stars Carol gave each one.

To see a list of the books Carol has reviewed, click on “Book Reviews A-Z & Book Lists.” After the alphabetical list of books is a list of her blog posts that were about more than one book.

There is a section to click on if you’re just interested in nonfiction books, and she has a special section that harkens back to her days as a teacher: “My Newberry Award Project.” Click on that button to bring up a list of the annual winner of The John Newberry Medal every year4 since 1922! That award is given by the American Library Association to the author deemed to have made the best contribution to American books for children.

As you can see, there’s something for everyone in The Reading Ladies Book Club Blog.


Photo credit: Gülfer ERGİN on Unsplash

Steph’s Book Blog

I love the subtitle of Steph’s Book Blog:  “Read a Book – Be Amazed – Tell the World.” How great is that?

Steph says she is a lifelong reader who also dabbles in genealogy, local history, and photography. (Sounds a lot like me!)

By clicking on “Blog Posts” at the top of her website, https://stephsbookblog.com, you can scroll through her recent book reviews. Or, if you’re looking for her review of a book by a particular author, you can click on “Authors” for a drop-down menu of authors by alphabet.

There’s also a search box in which you can type a book title or author’s name.

Some authors participate in a “Blog Tour” in which various book bloggers read and review a specific book of theirs (usually a new release) on an organized schedule. Steph has a clickable “Blog Tours” button through which you can find a list of the books she has reviewed as part of a blog tour.


Photo by Eliabe Costa on Unsplash

Bonnie Reads and Writes

I just recently found this book blog via Twitter. Bonnie says she’s “lucky enough to live in the Smoky Mountains.” I’d say she is, therefore, “lucky enough.” I love the Great Smoky Mountains! But I digress.

Here’s the link to her blog: https://bonniereadsandwrites.com/. Bonnie blogs throughout the week. One thing I really appreciate is that she sometimes has “Indie Weekend” blog posts in which she reviews indie-published books. For instance, on October 8, 2022, her “Indie Weekend” blog post highlighted Distant Flickers, a new collection of short stories by eight authors, including Elizabeth Gauffreau. That link is http://Indie Weekend: Distant Flickers #shortstorycollections #choices #crossroads – Bonnie Reads and Writes.

In addition to reviewing books on her blog, Bonnie reviews books for Historical Novels Review Magazine, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society.

On Tuesdays, Bonnie blogs a ‘Top 10” list. A recent one was about her 10 favorite bookstores or bookstores she’d like to visit.


In case you missed my earlier posts about book bloggers

Two of my last four blog posts were about book bloggers I enjoy following. In case you missed those posts, here are the links: Do you know about these 5 book bloggers? and This Week: An Additional 5 Book Bloggers.


Since my last blog post

The ”Launch a Bestseller” course by Tim Grahl is going great! I have learned so much already and have gotten back on track with my writing.

I continue to format my “Did You Know?” local history newspaper articles for publication as a couple of Kindle books.


Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read – and time to read it!

Remember the brave people of Ukraine, the grieving people of Uvalde, the Floridians who lost so much to Hurricane Ian, and the people grieving last week’s mass murder in Raleigh.

Janet

Spy Thriller, WWI Novel, Nonfiction, and Historical Mystery Read Last Month

In addition to the three novels I blogged about last week, in September I read three other novels and one nonfiction book. It’s my pleasure today to blog about those four books. I hope at least one of them will appeal to you enough that you’ll decide to read it. Support your local public library and your local independent bookstore!


The New Neighbor, by Karen Cleveland

The New Neighbor, by Karen Cleveland

I read Need to Know, by Karen Cleveland in March 2018 and blogged about it in my April 2, 2018 blog post, More March 2018 Reading. I really enjoyed that novel, so I don’t know what it took me more than four years (has it really been four years since 2018?) to read another of her books.

The New Neighbor is a spy thriller. The main character and most of her neighbors on a quiet cul-de-sac work for the CIA. She’s been trying to identify and take down a spy who is working against the United States for 18 years of her career. The code name for this person is “The New Neighbor,” so it’s a constant play on words throughout the book – Is the new neighbor the actual new neighbor on the cul-de-sac, or is it one of her long-time neighbors and friends on the cul-de-sac, or is it someone who lives who knows where, or is it …?

I look forward to reading another of Karen Cleveland’s novels as soon as I pare down my current reading list. She is a former CIA Analyst.


Switchboard Soldiers: A Novel of the Heroic Women Who Served in the US Signal Corps in World War I, by Jennifer Chiaverini

Switchboard Soldiers, by Jennifer Chiaverini

This historical novel made me aware of the first women to serve in the United States Army. It was World War I and General John Pershing needed efficient telephone operators who were fluent in both English and French to serve throughout France – including the front lines.

It was taking male soldiers one minute to connect a call. That was unacceptable, so General Pershing did a radical thing. He put out a call for qualified female telephone operators. More than 7,600 women responded. The women could connect a phone call in ten seconds.

They proved themselves just as qualified and dedicated as any male American soldiers and were credited in helping the Allies win World War I. It’s a shame their story hasn’t been told for more than a century, but author Jennifer Chiaverini has down a wonderful job telling us their story now.

I learned in the Author Notes at the end of the book that, although they were considered soldiers in the US Army during World War I, took the oath of office, were issued uniforms, had to go through the rigorous gas mask training, had to obey all rules and regulations of the US Army, etc. – after the war they were not considered military veterans and were not eligible for any veterans’ benefits until 1977 when President Jimmy Carter proclaimed them to be veterans. Of course, by then fewer than 60 of the 7,600 women were still alive to enjoy any of the benefits.

The other novels by Ms. Chiaverini that I’ve enjoyed are Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker (which I read in April 2013 before I started regularly blogging about the books I read); Resistance Women (see my September 2, 2019 blog post, 3.5 of the 5.5 Books I Read in August 2019; and Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters (see my August 10, 2020 blog post, Two Other Books I Read in July 2020.)


Listening Well: Bringing Stories of Hope to Life, by Heather Morris

Listening Well, by Heather Morris

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I’ve read three excellent novels by Heather Morris.

To refresh your memory, I blogged about her first novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz in my November 15, 2018 blog post, Many Good Books Read in October!; I blogged about her second novel, Cilka’s Journey, in my December 2, 2019 blog post, I stretched my reading horizons in November; and I blogged about her third novel, Three Sisters, in my January 3, 2022 blog post, Books Read in December 2021.

In Listening Well, Ms. Morris writes a lot about her life. She grew up in New Zealand and now lives in Melbourne, Australia. She writes about her growing up years as a way to tell us about the elders in her family and how they – especially her great-grandfather – taught her to listen.     

She recommends that we all practice listening actively and then she sets about to give practical tips of how to listen to elders and how to listen to children. She also encourages us to listen to ourselves and trust ourselves because if we can trust ourselves and be a friend to ourselves, we can be a good friend to someone else.

She writes about listening to Lale Sokolov, the tattooist of Auschwitz, and what an honor it was to listen to him.

Ms. Morris says that all too often we listen to someone only to think of what we can say and how we can turn the conversation about us and not the other person.

This is a good read. I imagine most of us can learn something from it.


Second Street Station: A Mary Handley Mystery, by Lawrence H. Levy

Second Street Station, by Lawrence H. Levy

I wanted to read this book because it is a categorized as historical mystery. I read about 60% of it. It was a bit of stretch for there to be a female detective in the 1890s, but I was willing to suspend disbelief and go along with it.

It was a bit of a stretch to think of Thomas A. Edison being a criminal, but I kept reading. Where the wheels fell off the wagon for me, though, was when Mary Handley was able to watch the trajectory of ricocheting bullets and roll out of their way.

Since there had been no reference to Mary Handley having such superpowers, I felt completely pulled out of the story at that point. I read a few more pages and decided to move on to other library books that were needing my attention. It suddenly felt like historical fiction meets sci-fi.

If the book had been publicized as such, that would have been fine – and probably would make an interesting genre; however, that wasn’t a direction I expected “historical mystery” to take. I’ve since read several reviews online that were also thrown off by this part of the novel.

All that being said, though, I hesitate to be critical of a novel since I’ve yet to publish one of my own. I have much to learn about writing historical fiction. If you enjoy historical mysteries, give Second Street Station a try and let me know what you think of it. I’d like to be proven wrong in my assessment.


Since my last blog post

I took a free 3-Day online “How to Write a Series” course offered by Carissa Andrews of The Author Revolution. It was very helpful. And did you hear me say it was free? It will probably be offered again next year, so if you aspire to write a book series, I recommend you check out The Author Revolution online.

The historical fiction series I’m working on just might be five books instead of four. Book 2, The Doubloon is written and put away. Book 1, The Heirloom is my work in progress. Books 3-5, The Betrayal, The Revolution, and The Banjo are in various states of being outlined. My body is telling me I should have started this project decades ago.

I continued to format the local history newspaper articles I wrote from 2006 through 2012 for publication as two Kindle books. Look for future announcements about Harrisburg, Did You Know?- Book 1 and Harrisburg, Did You Know? – Book 2.

I started working through the video modules in Tim Grahl’s “Launch a Bestseller” course last week. The modules have already helped me understand the marketing tasks I need to do beginning seven to nine months before I publish my first novel.

In terms of marketing, I’ll have to condense some of those early tasks into just a couple of months or so for Harrisburg, Did You Know? – Book 1 and The Aunts in the Kitchen.

Me thinks I have too many irons in the fire!


Until my next blog post

Today I start taking the five-week online “Sticky Blogging – Master Class: “Attract Your True Fans” Course. Who knows? Perhaps in the coming weeks and months I’ll write better blog posts. Maybe I’ll come up with more interesting and eye-catching post titles.

I hope you have a good book to read.

Remember the brave people of Ukraine, the grieving people of Uvalde, and the devastated people of Florida.

Janet

Four of Eight Books Read in August 2022

August turned out to be one of those months when many books I’d been on the waitlist for at the public library all became available at the same time. I had to scramble to read and listen to so many books in a month. I guess it was a good thing August had 31 days.

Today’s blog post is about four of the eight books I read last month. I’ll blog about the other four next Monday.


The German Wife, by Kelly Rimmer

The German Wife, by Kelly Rimmer

The basis of this novel is “Operation Paperclip,” although that secret US intelligence program isn’t mentioned by name until the author’s note at the end of the book.

I listened to this historical novel on CD. I almost gave up on it after the second of 11 discs because I felt like as soon as I became invested in Sofie’s story, I was yanked into Lizzie’s story. I found the random switching from Lizzie’s 1930s in the Dust Bowl days in Texas to Sofie’s 1950s in Huntsville, Alabama to Sofie’s 1930s in Berlin to Lizzie’s 1950s in Huntsville, Alabama more than a bit disorienting.

That said, a couple more discs into the book, I couldn’t stop listening.

One thread that runs throughout the novel is how people can justify their actions (or inactions) in the name of keeping themselves or their families safe. How many times in history and perhaps in our own lives does the excuse, “I was just following orders” come into play?

Another thread in the book is prejudice and discrimination. Family dynamics play heavily in the book. One of the characters is a World War II veteran suffering from what was then called battle fatigue but is now known as posttraumatic stress disorder. His sister, Lizzie, tries her best to help him, but in the process she enables him.

I found the book’s description of the horrors of the dust storms in the US during the 1930s to be so realistic that I felt like I was choking as Lizzie’s family tried in vain to keep the dust out of their house.

Sofie’s abiding friendship with Mayim, a Jewish woman, is a part of the story that will stay with me. It reminds us that there were Germans who were friends with Jews and whose hearts were broken by what the Nazis did to them. I’d like to think I wouldn’t have turned my back on Jewish friends – and Jewish strangers – if I’d been in Sofie’s place. But how easily humans can be brainwashed! We’re seeing it in our own country now.

The book shines a light on how German rocket scientists were brought to the United States after World War II to help develop NASA’s space program. I was aware of this, of course, but I’d never stopped to think about the interpersonal logistics of the Germans’ being accepted by the Americans so soon after the war.  The fact that some of those German scientists had been complicit in Nazi war crimes was swept under the rug, as their pasts were erased by the US government to make it possible for them to work for the US space program.

In Ms. Rimmer’s author’s note at the end of the book, she explains how she, an Australian, learned about this piece of history in a roundabout way in a park in New South Wales. The fact that she learned about “Operation Paperclip” in 2019 and has already researched and written this novel, is amazing.

This is the fourth novel of Kelly Rimmer’s that I’ve read. In case you’re interested in reading or re-reading what I blogged about the other three books, please visit my September 9, 2019 post, #BringBackOurGirls, my October 7, 2019 post, Thrillers and a Dark Novel I Read Last Month, and my July 12, 2021 post, 4 Other Books I Read in June 2021.

If you want to learn more about “Operation Paperclip” – the secret US intelligence program that brought more than 1,600 German scientists and engineers to America between 1945 and 1959 so they could work for the US government, do an online search for it and then follow up at your local public library.


The Lord is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm, by Harold S. Kushner

The Lord is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm, by Harold S. Kushner

Many years ago I read Rabbi Harold S. Kushner’s book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Although Rabbi Kushner is Jewish and I’m a Christian, I found that book insightful and reassuring. It echoed many of my core beliefs. God didn’t promise us a carefree life. He promised to be with us.

When I found Rabbi Kushner’s book, The Lord is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm on CD for sale at a book sale at the public library, I was sad that it had been weeded from the collection. I had myself to blame, though. I’d never checked it out. Perhaps no one had checked it out in years and, therefore, it needed to be removed from the library shelf to make room for a new book. I was eager to read it, so I bought it – probably for fifty cents.

That was months ago, and I finally got around to listening to it. I enjoyed hearing the book read by the author. It was only four discs. I listened to the entire book over a two-day period.

In the book, Rabbi Kushner wrote about the Twenty-Third Psalm, line by line. He is a student of the Psalms and I appreciated his perspective. I like it when a Bible scholar tells me the nuances of the original Hebrew in which the Old Testament books were written. Rabbi Kushner did that numerous times throughout this book.

Being a Christian, I didn’t agree with what Rabbi Kushner had to say about the coming of the Messiah, but it was interesting to hear his Jewish perspective. Also, I believe that God created everything from nothing. Rabbi Kushner believes that everything already existed and God created order out of the chaos.

In The Lord is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm, Rabbi Kushner repeatedly revisits the theme that God doesn’t promise us a carefree life; He promises to be with us. On that, Rabbi Kushner and I agree.

Now that I’ve listened to this book, I plan to donate it to Goodwill where someone else can acquire it and ponder the Twenty-Third Psalm along with Rabbi Kushner.


Cold, Cold Bones, by Kathy Reichs

Cold, Cold Bones: A Temperance Brennan Novel, by Kathy Reichs

I really enjoyed listening to Cold, Cold Bones, by Kathy Reichs. It had the suspense we’ve come to expect in her novels with the added bonus of references to many locations in and around Charlotte.

Concord, the Appalachian Trail, and even Robeson County got mentioned. Of course, they were all mispronounced on the CD audio recording of the book, but that’s to be expected. I’m sure the reader wasn’t from North Carolina.

There were numerous clues given, and each one took me down another rabbit hole. All the time, though, I knew in the end Ms. Reichs would connect the dots and show how each thread came together.

The layers of this novel were revealed much like one peels layer after layer from an onion. Ms. Reichs certainly has pacing down pat. It kept me guessing who the chief villain was and what the common thread of each incident was until the very end.

This was a very entertaining read, and makes me eager to read another Kathy Reichs novel. The last novel of hers that I’d read was way back in May 2020. In my June 1, 2020 blog post, Books Read in May 2020, I wrote about her novel, A Conspiracy of Bones.

I don’t know why I waited two years to read another of her books. In case you aren’t familiar with Kathy Reichs, she is an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a highly-regarded forensic anthropologist who splits her time between Charlotte and Montreal. The television series, “Bones” was loosely-based on her life and ran for 11 seasons from 2005 until 2016.


The Many Daughters of Afong Moy: A Novel, by Jamie Ford

The Many Daughters of Afong Moy, by Jamie Ford

I’ve enjoyed the other novels I’ve read by Jamie Ford, but I found this one difficult to follow. It’s received rave reviews. The writing is outstanding, but I found the jumping back and forth between centuries (past, present, and future) and the five points-of-view hard to follow.

I listened to nine of the 11 discs of this book on CD. I found the voice of one of the readers very irritating to my southern ears and the range in volume from soft to yelling was equally irritating to me as I have hearing loss and I was often listening to the book after I’d gone to bed.

All that said, the basis of the novel is a fascinating topic: epigenetics. It began with the first Chinese woman who came to America and how she became a spectacle due to her bound feet. She suffered physical and emotional pain as a result of this ancient Chinese tradition that crippled girls and women and kept them under the thumb of male society. The novel follows generations of her female descendants who carried her emotional scars.

Epigenetics is an interesting topic of study. There is debate about whether emotional traits and emotional traumas are passed from generation to generation through DNA or through a family’s traditions and oral history.

If you want to read my comments about one of Jamie Ford’s earlier books, Love and Other Consolation Prizes, go to my July 17, 2017 blog post, Reading South Africa and South Carolina Novels. I must have read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet before I started blogging about the books I read. It was good, too.

It was the format and not the prose in which The Many Daughters of Afong Moy was presented that didn’t appeal to me. I’ll still look forward to Jamie Ford’s next novel.


Since my last blog post

It’s been a strange week with some unexpected tasks and distractions. I continue to read more than write because those library books are still piling up. It’s a nice problem to have and I’m grateful to live in a country and a region with such vast free public library resources.

The arrival of September was a rude awakening. How is it that summer flies by and winter drags on and on? My Seasonal Affective Disorder is already rearing its ugly head, so I must strive to get and keep a positive attitude.


Until my next blog post

I hope you have so many books at your fingertips that you can’t decide what to read next.

Life is short. Spend time with family and friends, and make time for a hobby.

Don’t forget the people of Ukraine, Uvalde, and Highland Park, etc

Janet

My Brush with Fame

After blogging about a heavy and complicated topic last week – the Wilmot Proviso – I decided to give my readers and myself a break this week. Let’s have some fun today with my brush with fame.

Do you remember a suspenseful television series from a decade ago that was filled with political intrigue? The name of the show was “Homeland.”

Before it was named. I had my brush of fame in it as an “extra.”

Most of the show’s early seasons were filmed in Charlotte. A segment was to be filmed at Avondale Presbyterian Church on Park Road because it resembled a New England church sanctuary.

Photo from Avondale Presbyterian Church website.

The production people wanted a full sanctuary for the filming of a funeral scene. An email went out to the churches in the Presbytery of Charlotte, part of the Presbyterian Church USA. The secretary at Rocky River Presbyterian Church sent out a notice to inform members of the congregation that extras were needed for the filming on August 12, 2011.

My sister and I had never considered doing anything like that, but it sounded interesting and exciting. We were advised to wear appropriate clothes for a funeral. We weren’t going to be paid, but lunch would be available.

We had nothing better to do that day, so off we went. It turned out to be a learning experience and one of those incidents that people who know me would probably be surprised to know.

Upon arrival, we were herded into the church’s fellowship hall. We sat with strangers around round tables. It was immediately time to “hurry up and wait.”

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

After several hours, we were led into the sanctuary. Sound and lighting were tested. I can’t remember now if the stars of that episode of the show, Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, were involved in our first visit to the sanctuary.

We were told in no uncertain terms to memorize where we were sitting because later in the day we’d have to arrange ourselves exactly in the same place and in the same order. That was a bit stressful when you’re sitting on a church pew in a sanctuary you’ve never been in before and all the walls are covered in plastic to control the lighting.

It must have been at that point that we were served lunch. I can’t remember what it was, but I never turn down a free meal.

After that, we were left to just hang out in the fellowship hall. I’ve never had good timing. I took a minute to take a bathroom break. When I came back to the fellowship hall, my sister and a man we’d only met that morning were gone. The remaining extras at our table told me that someone came and asked them to go outside for the shooting of another scene.

This man had irritated us all morning, and now Marie was stuck being with him for filming outside. He was a loud know-it-all and we’d wished we could move to another table. Even so, I was a little envious because Marie was at least getting to do something, but I mostly pitied her for having to spend more time with this obnoxious man.

Marie and her new “husband” eventually returned to the fellowship hall. They’d had to walk together up the sidewalk leading to the church entrance over and over and over and over as if arriving for the funeral. Marie looked shell shocked and feared people would think they were an actual couple.

A little while later, we were instructed to return to the sanctuary. (All this time I’d been playing over in my head the clues I’d tried to detect that would help me sit exactly where I had earlier.)

As soon as everyone seated themselves where they’d sat that morning, members of the production crew started pointing and saying, “You. You, go sit over there. And you. You go sit over there.” This drill went on for a while until I’d completely lost sight of Marie and I was nowhere near where I’d started. I hoped she wasn’t being paired off with “obnoxious man.”

I liked where I ended up. I was near the aisle, and Claire Danes stood just feet away from me while she waited for her cue to walk forward. We even made eye contact while we waited. It was probably because I looked like a deer caught in headlights.

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

Filming finally started. Damian Lewis eulogized his deceased best friend from the Army. Over and over and over and over again. Claire Danes eventually got to walk up the aisle (over and over again) to her appointed seat.

In the middle of Damian Lewis’ eulogy, an actor portraying another of their Army buddies as noisily as possible dropped his crutches. The sound was quite startling to those of us in the audience who didn’t have a clue what was happening. That quite loud segment was filmed over and over again.

At one point, they were filming as if we were all sad and talking among ourselves about how sad it was that this Army veteran had died. It was hard to keep from laughing as we turned to the complete strangers sitting next to us and were instructed to quietly make specific comments about how tragic the whole thing was. By then it was late in the day and most of us were a bit sorry we’d volunteered for this unknown television show that probably would never even air.

“Homeland” did air. It was a successful series that lasted eight seasons. Marie and I watched almost every episode. It was fun to pick out local sights in the various episodes during the first several years when it was filmed in the Charlotte area. There was the staged explosion at Marshall Park in downtown Charlotte and even a scene at a small mom and pop motel in Mt. Pleasant here in Cabarrus County. And, of course, there was the episode that included the funeral at Avondale Presbyterian Church.

When the episode aired, we learned that Damian Lewis’ character had in fact murdered the man we heard him eulogizing.

It turned out that Marie and I were both seated so near the back of the sanctuary that we couldn’t even pick out ourselves in the crowd when the episode aired. Much to Marie’s relief, the entire segment of her and “obnoxious man” walking arm-in-arm to the church ended up on the cutting room floor.

Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash

Nevertheless, we know we were in Season 1 Episode 6 (“Good Soldier”) of “Homeland” and in the process we learned that it can take eight hours to film a two-minute segment of a television show. I don’t know how actors stand it.

We came to like the part Mandy Patinkin played in the series and regretted that we didn’t get to see him during our day of hurry up and wait.

It was more than a bit out of character for Marie and me, but we were glad we did it. It wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, but parts of it were fun and it gave us a whole new appreciation for the tedium actors must endure.

Since my last blog post

I continue to work on the family cookbook, The Aunts in the Kitchen. It’s time to figure out the cover and write the bios for each of the aunts.

I also continue to work on my genealogy.

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading The Librarian Spy: A Novel of World War II, by Madeline Martin.

Until my next blog post

Find time for family, friends, and a hobby.

Don’t forget the people of Ukraine, Uvalde, and Highland Park, etc. and the people in Kentucky whose lives have been turned upside down by flooding.

Janet

#OnThisDay: The Wilmot Proviso of 1846

“The what?” you say. I must admit I’m guilty, too. I had to look it up.

In a nutshell, the Wilmot Proviso of 1846 was a failed attempt in the US Congress to ban slavery in the western territories the US obtained as a result of the Mexican-American War. It was just this type action that paved the way for the American Civil War in 1861.

Photo by Tasha Jolley on Unsplash

The proviso was named for David Wilmot, the Congressman from Pennsylvania who introduced it on August 8, 1846. The proviso was a rider on a $2 million appropriations bill three months into the Mexican-American War. The bill passed in the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate.

Some background

Photo by Edgar Moran on Unsplash

Perhaps in the southwestern US states, the Mexican-American War is taught in elementary and high schools, but it was my experience in North Carolina that the two-year war in the 1840s was just mentioned in passing. Or perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention. Anyway, I had to do some research to find the details of the Wilmot Proviso.

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 prohibited slavery in the remaining Louisiana Territory above the 36th parallel, 30 north latitude line. The “compromise” was that Missouri was admitted to the Union as a slave state at the same time Maine was admitted as a free state.

Photo by Ray Shrewsberry on Unsplash

The controversy over the annexation of the Republic of Texas enters into the story, as did New Mexico and California, which had been captured by the US during the Mexican-American War. After substantial land area gains by the US early in the war, Congress started setting its sights on more expansion from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Slavery was a hot button issue and Democrats and Whigs (the two main political parties in the US at that time) tried to keep it out of national politics. There was no way to avoid it, however. It was the proverbial “elephant in the room.”

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

There was disagreement within the Democratic Party over the way Martin Van Buren had been denied the party’s nomination for US President in 1844 when southern delegates uncovered an old convention rule that required a nominee to receive a two-thirds vote by delegates. (I didn’t take time to thoroughly research that. I’m sure there’s more to the story than meets the eye.)

More and more over time, the Mexican-American War was more popular in the southern states than in the northern states. It was seen by many in the south as a way to gain more territory where slavery would be accepted.

Back to the Wilmot Proviso

President James K. Polk sent a request to Congress for $2 million to boost negotiations with Mexico to end the war. That was on Saturday, August 8, 1846. Congress was scheduled to adjourn two days later. A special night session was arranged by the Democrats so the request could be considered.

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

Rules mandated that debate be limited to two hours. No one member of Congress could speak for more than ten minutes. A Polk supporter and friend to many southerners, David Wilmot was selected to present the bill to help ensure its passage.

The following language was included in the proviso that would apply to all territory the United States would acquire from Mexico by virtue of any peace treaty: “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of said territory, except for crime, whereof the party shall first be duly convicted.”

The Senate took up the House bill and there was a push to pass it with the exception of the Wilmot Proviso. The Democratic politicians thought the House would then be forced to pass the bill without the proviso due to the bewitching midnight hour when Congress had to adjourn.

Senator John Davis, a Massachusetts Whig, schemed that he would speak on the floor of the Senate so long that the Senate would have to vote on the bill as written because it would be too late to return the bill to the House of Representatives.

Does anyone know what time it is?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

In a twist of fate (or by design?), there was an eight-minute difference in the official clocks of the Senate and the House. The clock in the House struck midnight before Davis could call for the vote in the Senate. The 1846 session of Congress had adjourned without full passage of the $2 million bill.

Proponents introduced the bill again in 1847 as a $3 million bill, but it had the same results. There were efforts to resurrect the proviso in 1848 as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, but those efforts also failed.

The Wilmot Proviso would have effectively made the 1820 Missouri Compromise null and void.

What happened about slavery in the western territories/states?

California’s constitution banned slavery, so it was given statehood as a free state in 1850. Nevada was admitted to the Union as a free state in 1864. The US. acquired New Mexico and Utah in 1848, and slavery was legal in those territories until slavery was banned in all US territories in 1862.

How did Texas play into this?

My research about the Wilmot Proviso prompted me to delve into the history of Texas. The Republic of Texas was annexed by the United States and granted statehood in 1845 – just months before the debates over the Wilmot Proviso began. I knew there were slaves in Texas. We just recently celebrated Juneteenth, marking the anniversary of the slaves in Texas finally being told they were free.

I learned that there were African slaves in Texas as early as 1529. Texas joined the United States as a slave state. Slavery was a deciding factor in the annexation of the Republic of Texas while James K. Polk was US president.

Photo by Vivian Arcidiacono on Unsplash

Therefore, since Texas was already a US state prior to the debate over the Wilmot Proviso of 1846, slavery in Texas wouldn’t have been affected by the proviso, had it passed. It would have only pertained to territories the US gained as a result of the Mexican-American War.

What a difference one action or inaction can make

My research last week brought to mind how nations evolve and how peoples’ lives can turn on a dime with decisions made by governments. What if the Wilmot Proviso had passed in 1846 (or 1847 or 1848?) What if Texas had not been a state in 1846? What if the US had not won the Mexican-American War? What if the South had won the Civil War? What if African slaves had never been brought to North America? What if America had been defeated in the American Revolutionary War? What if Germany and Japan had won World War II?

How different world history would be if just one of those decisions or wars had gone the other way!

Aftermath of the Wilmot Proviso

If nothing else, the Wilmot Proviso brought to light how divided the United States was between the North and the South. The Democrats and Whigs were both split by regional loyalties.

Neither party wanted to vote on the issue of slavery, but the vote on the Wilmot Proviso pulled the cover off and began to lay bare the true division within the country. What had begun some 70 years earlier as an experiment in democracy was now under more pressure than ever and would ultimately be tested in a civil war just 15 years later.

Photo by Juan Manuel Merino on Unsplash

Even with the end of that civil war, the issue of race relations in the United States would not be settled and, sadly, remains a point of conflict to this day. It is still “the elephant in the room” – that difficult conversation we still struggle with in our society today.

Since my last blog post

As you might guess, I spent several hours researching the Wilmot Proviso and condensing my findings into a somewhat digestible blog post. You’re probably saying, “That was more than I wanted to know about the Wilmot Proviso.” I felt the same way as the history got increasingly complicated.

With the Wilmot Proviso out of the way, I turned my focus to working on my family cookbook project, my historical short stories, and some reading.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’ve already read a one this month and I’m ready to share my thoughts about it in my September 5 blog post.

Life is short. Make time for friends and family.

If you don’t have a hobby, find one.

Don’t forget the people of Ukraine, Uvalde, and Highland Park, etc. and the people in Kentucky whose lives have been turned upside down by flooding.

Janet

Books Read in July 2022

Suddenly, it’s the first Monday in August! Summer months fly back too quickly for me. (I’m not a fall or winter person.) Today’s blog post is about the books I read in July. I hope my comments will prompt you to read one or more of them.

I try to always point out that I’m not a book reviewer. I just like to share my thoughts about some of the books I read. I don’t follow any book review guidelines. I don’t receive books for review. I get 99.9% of my books from the public library. I’m not beholding to any of the authors I mention – or to any publishers. Reading is just part of my journey as a writer.


The Foundling, by Ann Leary

The Foundling, by Ann Leary

This novel is based on an experience of the author’s grandmother. It’s Ms. Leary’s fourth novel, but the first one of hers that I’ve read.

Set in 1927, The Foundling is the story of two women who grew up in the same orphanage.

As an adult, one of them is falsely accused of being “simple-minded” and is incarcerated in a facility for such women of child-bearing age. They’ll all be released when they can no longer have a child. The “reasoning” behind that policy is that a simple-minded woman will pass on her mental deficiencies to her children.

As an adult, the other woman gets a job working in the facility where her long ago childhood friend is being held against her will.

The female worker is determined to get her friend released because she knows she shouldn’t be in the facility. Along the way, the worker befriends a newspaper reporter who has always wanted to write an exposé about the facility.

At times, I found the worker to be too gullible, but I was completely drawn into the story and had to keep reading to find out what happened in the end.


Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet, by Sally Cronin

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet, by Sally Cronin

This is an e-book I purchase several years ago. It landed on my TBR and there it stayed. I follow Sally Cronin’s blog and she follows mine. Please check out one of her posts from yesterday. ( https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2022/07/31/smorgasbord-posts-from-my-archives-memoir-waterford-ireland-history-the-colour-of-life-the-shop-and-bakery-family-1840s-1940s-by-geoff-cronin/).

I finally got around to reading one of her books. Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet is a delightful collection of Sally’s stories. They run the gamut from humorous to sad and bittersweet. I enjoyed each one and found it impossible to choose a favorite.

It’s not the only book of yours I’ll read, Sally! I promise!


Sparring Partners, by John Grisham

Sparring Partners, by John Grisham

This latest book by John Grisham is a collection of three novellas. By definition, a novella is longer than a short story and shorter than a novel.

If you do an online search for guidelines about word counts, you’ll find there’s no ironclad publishing industry agreement. Trust me. I’ve tried to find definitive guidelines. I tend to give more credence to Brian A. Klems, the online editor for Writer’s Digest magazine than to some of the other sources. Mr. Klems said a short story is 1,500 to 30,000 words; a novella is 30,000 to 50,000 words; and a novel is 55,000 to 300,000 words. As you can see, there’s a lot of leeway in there.

That being said, I don’t know the word counts of Mr. Grisham’s novellas in Sparring Partners. The title of the book is a clue that each of the novellas is about lawyers.

The first one is the longest of the three novellas. It’s about a lawyer who steals settlement money from clients and then abandons his family and flees the United States. He’s had no contact with anyone for years. The plot gets quite involved. A local reporter is determined to unravel the mystery of the lawyer’s disappearance. Rumors swirl about the lawyer’s whereabouts and there’s speculation he has returned to the area. His wife is dying of cancer. One of their two daughters wants to talk to him. Is he being investigated or have the authorities just written him off?

The second novella is called “Strawberry Moon.” It was my favorite of the three, which probably qualifies me as a proverbial “bleeding heart liberal.” It is a touching story about a young man who is in the wrong place at the wrong time as a young teen and ends up on death row. That’s where he’s been for 15 years and he’s scheduled to be executed tonight.

Mr. Grisham has a knack for getting across his philosophy about a moral issue in his books – something that novice authors are advised to avoid. I love how Mr. Grisham is able to pull it off and remain one of America’s most prolific authors. The moral issue he tackles in “Strawberry Moon” is capital punishment. He also conveys the importance of books and how books (and a person who gets books into the hands of a death row prisoner) can have a profound impact on a prisoner.

“Strawberry Moon” brought me to tears – which a story rarely does.

The third novella in Sparring Partners is about a young man who enters a hospital for relatively routine surgery and leaves the hospital paralyzed. A lawyer wants to make a big splash by winning a tremendous settlement from the hospital for his client.

I had trouble getting into this novella and completely lost interest in the plot when it came to light that there was a snake in someone’s house. It was after midnight when I got to that part of the story. Not good! I didn’t read the rest of the story. Just sayin’.

I highly recommend the first two novellas in Sparring Partners. I’ve heard that Mr. Grisham enjoyed writing this format, so maybe he’ll write more novellas for us. I hope so – as long as he leaves the snakes out!


Gray Mountain, by John Grisham

Gray Mountain, by John Grisham

It was coincidental that I read two books last month by John Grisham. That can happen when you’re on the waitlist at the public library for multiple books by one author. Murphy’s Law sometimes kicks in, and you get both books at the same time.

When I logged into my Goodreads.com account to list this novel on my “Currently Reading” list, I discovered that I’d already read the book and given it four stars. The funny (and slightly frightening thing) is that I have no recollection of having read the book.

The “up” side of that is that I got to enjoy it all over again. With absolutely no memory of the plot, every twist, turn, and development was a surprise.

In true Grisham fashion, this legal thriller grabbed my interest from the beginning and never let me go. It took me back to the dark economic days of 2008 with the failures of huge financial institutions and the uncertainly of the time.

The book follows Samantha Cofer from the day she is laid off by a large financial institution in New York City and given the option of working for a short-listed nonprofit organization for free for one year. The reward would be that she might get a job again with the company that laid her off.

Samantha signs on with a nonprofit in southwestern Virginia’s coal country and is introduced to the underbelly of big coal companies and the way in which they rape the Appalachian Mountains and leave wildlife and people in dire straits and in worse conditions than they were before strip mining started destroying mountains from the top down with the resulting debris cutting off streams and the resulting slurry behind forever – or until a dam breaks and it crashes down the mountains to pollute the water, destroy homes, and wreck peoples’ lives.

I listened to Gray Mountain on a Playaway device while I took my daily walks. Some days I walked longer than planned, because I wanted to keep listening to the book. Books can be good for your physical health, as well as good for your mental health.

I highly recommend the book… even if you’ve read it. Or, especially if you’ve read it but forgotten all about it.


Since my last blog post

My sister and I have been busy compiling family favorite recipes and typing them in my new Atticus writing software program. We hope to publish them! I’ll keep you posted on our progress toward that goal.

I’ve also been organizing my thoughts toward publishing some historical short stories. One I’m considering writing has led me to early 18th century research about Essex County, Virginia – a place one of my ancestors lived in the early 1700s.

My historical novels are on the back burner but not forgotten as I turn my immediate attention to things I can start publishing on a smaller scale.


Until my next blog post

Keep reading! I hope you have at least one good book to read.

Make time for family, friends, and a hobby.

Start writing a journal or a book. You know you have a book in you that’s begging to come out!

Don’t forget the people of Ukraine, Uvalde, or Highland Park, etc.

Also, add to that list the people of eastern Kentucky as well as the wildfire areas in the western United States. Do what you can.

Janet

Three Books Read in June 2022

The month of June brought a nice variety of books to me. I found myself listening to one on a Playaway device while I walked, listening to one on CD, reading part of a very long print book, as well as parts of a couple of e-books.

Here are my thoughts on three of those books.


What Happened to the Bennetts, by Lisa Scottoline

What Happened to the Bennetts, by Lisa Scottoline

A pickup truck driver appears to want to carjack the Bennett family in this latest book by Lisa Scottoline, but nothing in this novel turns out to be as it seems. In the incident, the Bennett daughter is killed. Her parents and brother are put in the witness protection program, but it soon becomes clear that all the FBI agents aren’t on the up-and-up.

The book is written in first-person, from the viewpoint of Mr. Bennett.

For my taste, this novel was longer than it should have been. Perhaps that’s because I was listening to it on Playaway from the public library.

My main takeaway from the novel was how innocent, victimized people can have their lives turned upside down when forced to enter the witness protection program for their own safety.


A Sacred Oath, by Mark T. Esper

A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times, by Mark T. Esper

When I requested this book by former US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, I didn’t realize it was more than 700 pages long. I admit that I didn’t read every word of it.

Secretary Esper writes about his efforts to modernize and improve the US military.

The book did refresh my memory about some things that Trump did while in the White House. Secretary Esper’s book gives some details of conflicts he had with Trump. Esper was especially irritated about Trump’s constant attempt to politicize the military.

He writes about how he and Gen. Mark A. Milley felt duped and used by Trump on June 1, 2020 when he instructed them to go with him to see the damage that had been done to St. John’s Episcopal Church the night before during protests against the murder of George Floyd. It turned out to just be a political photo op for Trump, which made Secretary Esper incredibly uncomfortable.

Secretary Esper writes about Trump’s dislike for Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel and the president’s knee-jerk request that the Department of Defense pull 9,500 military personnel and their 10,000 to 20,000 family members out of Germany in three months.

And there was Trump’s grandiose desire for a military parade in Washington, DC that would have rivaled those typical of Russia, China, and North Korea.

I hope Secretary Esper spoke for most of us when he wrote the following:

“The most shocking and troubling event of the Trump presidency was the organization and incitement of a pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and stopped the constitutional process Congress was following to affirm the election and transfer of power to a new president. I never thought I would see what happened on Capitol Hill that day.”

It’s a sad narrative when the US Secretary of Defense has to see himself as a buffer between the US President and the US Constitution. I’ve just hit the highlights.


The Alzheimer’s Prevention Food Guide, by Sue Stillman Linja, RDN LD and SeAnne Sefaii-Waite PhD RDN LD

The Alzheimer’s Prevention Food Guide, by Sue Stillman Linja, RDN LD and SeAnne Sefaii-Waite PhD RDN LD

After reading about the MIND diet, which is based on the theory that we might be able to postpone getting Alzheimer’s Disease for a few years by eating certain foods and avoiding certain other foods, I found The Alzheimer’s Prevention Food Guide at the public library.

I found it to be a thorough, yet simple, food guide. It is well organized and takes a great many foods one-by-one and tells exactly why each one is good for us and why it is particularly good if you’re trying to take steps to possibly postpone Alzheimer’s Disease. Among the benefits listed for each one are anti-inflammatory, cognitive function, nerve function, memory, cell regeneration, and sleep enhancement.

The foods addressed in the book are all healthy. Their connection to Alzheimer’s isn’t totally proven, but what do you have to lose by giving them a try?


Since my last blog post

I appreciate Sally Cronin highlighting my June 27, 2022 blog post on her blog, https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2022/07/02/smorgasbord-blogger-weekly-july-2nd-2022-writing-d-g-kaye-with-wendy-van-camp-review-olga-nunez-miret-stress-david-kanigan-idioms-janet-morrison-wip-stevie-turner-personalities-cheryl/ . (That’s a long URL. I hope it works!) My blog has been visited by a number of Sally’s readers. If you’ve never visited her blog, I highly recommend it. She blogs about book, music, and throws in some humorous videos and cartoons. It really is a smorgasbord.

I’ve continued to work on my genealogy.

I’m considering buying Atticus writing/book publishing software to help me get some of my projects e-published or possibly published in paperback form. I’ve been impressed with their customer service. I e-mailed them a question and have received two prompt and helpful replies!


Until my next blog post

I hope you have at least one good book to read and a rewarding hobby to relax with.

Spend some quality time with family and friends.

Remember the people of Ukraine; Uvalde, Texas; and the people of Highland Park, Illinois – especially the orphaned two-year-old boy and the partially-paralyzed little boy.

Janet

A Book Chock-Full of Gems

Early last summer, I finished reading Madeleine L’Engle {Herself}: Reflections on a Writing Life, compiled by Carole F. Chase. It’s a collection of Ms. L’Engle’s statements about writing and other topics. You might be familiar with her Newberry Medal winner A Wrinkle in Time or one of her other 49 books.

Madeleine L’Engle {Herself} is a book to be savored. Each page is a quote of something Ms. L’Engle said or wrote about life.

Each quote is a gem. Therefore, I allowed myself to read no more than two pages per day. I wanted the reading of the book to last as long as possible. My few minutes with the book each day soon became my favorite part of the day. I’ve tried finding another book of equal quality and richness that I can read in tiny snatches each day, but nothing has measured up to this book.

It’s one of those rare books that I visit again and again. I enjoy just reading and savoring each random page.

I considered making memes of Ms. L’Engle’s words of wisdom for Facebook, Twitter, or my blog, but there was no way to settle on just a few. To use all of them or even a sizeable percentage of them would put me under the jail for copyright infringement.

Therefore, I’ll share just a few quotes from the book with you, and leave it to you to pamper yourself by reading the entire book.

From page 19, “Again and Again”

Photo credit: Jason Heung on unsplash.com

“With free will, we are able to try something new. Maybe it doesn’t work, or we make mistakes and learn from them. We try something else. That doesn’t work, either. So we try yet something else again. When I study the working processes of the great artists I am awed at the hundreds and hundreds of sketches made before the painter begins to be ready to put anything on the canvas. It gives me fresh courage to know of the massive revision Dostoyevsky make of all his books – the hundreds of pages that got written and thrown out before one was kept. A performer must rehearse and rehearse and rehearse, making mistakes, discarding, trying again and again.”

From page 164, “Creativity in Children”

Photo credit: Catherine Hammond on unsplash.com

“I don’t think all children have to write, but I think they all have to read. Reading is an incredibly creative act. Once a schoolchild asked about all the illustrations in my books and was a little bit surprised that they’re not illustrated. He’d read them and seen the illustrations in his own mind. So to read a book is to create a book. To read a book is to listen, to visualize, to see. If the reader, child or adult, cannot create the book along with the writer, the book is stillborn.”

From page 145, “Story Is Revelatory”

“Your point of view as a human being is going to come over in your work whether you know it or not. There’s no way you can hide it. So if you are a Christian, your work is going to be Christian. There’s no way you can hide that. If you’re not, you can talk about Jesus all you like and it’s not going to be Christian. If you are someone who cares about human beings, that’s going to come over in your work. If you are indifferent to the fate of other people, that’s also going to show.

“You cannot hide yourself, and that’s a very scary thing – particularly true, oddly enough in fiction. Sometimes in nonfiction you can hide yourself behind statistics and facts, but in fiction you are writing story, and story is revelatory. One of the wonderful things that comes out of story is that you not only find out more about your characters, ultimately you are helping to write your own story.”

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. If you’re like me, you have more books you want to read than you have time to read them.

Madeleine L’Engle {Herself}: Reflections on a Writing Life, compiled by Carole F. Chase

After reading the above quotes from Madeleine L’Engle {Herself}: Reflections on a Writing Life, compiled by Carole F. Chase, I hope you’ll decide to add that book to your collection. You’ll want to read it more than once.

Make time for a hobby. I’ve let my dulcimer sit in its case in the corner of the room for so long that the case needs to be dusted. That’s never a good sign if you’re trying to learn how to play a musical instrument.

Remember the people of Ukraine and Uvalde, Texas.

Janet