I absorbed history, poetry, tidying, and craft of writing books last month

“They” say a writer must read a lot if they aspire to be good at their craft. I can’t argue with that, but the last couple of months have not been conducive for me t,o get a lot of reading done. I’m learning that some months a writer has to concentrate on their writing and the business or being a writer. Otherwise, no one will know I’ve written anything.

I hope you’re not on book marketing overload from my recent blog posts and Facebook postings. There’s more to come for I have more projects in the works. You’ve been warned!

Since it’s the first Monday in the month, I’ll tell you about the books I read in December. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a novel in the bunch.


Threshold: Poems, by Ray Griffin

Threshold: Poems, by Ray Griffin

I received this book of poetry early in December. In such a busy month, I was grateful to have an excuse to steal away every night for some quiet moments to read poetry.

In this collection of poetry, Mr. Griffin touches on many facets of life. Some poems embrace the beauty of the natural world as it is observed and enjoyed today, and some stem from the writer’s reflections on a life well lived.

Many of those memories are also rooted in special times in the Appalachian Mountains and the beaches on the east coast of America, but there are also pieces that bring to life memories of trips in the western states and the unique wonders that part of the that area hold. There are sweet poems of the love of a life partner as well as verses that pay tribute to and bring to mind memories of departed parents. One poem reveals the poet’s feelings of guilt for not being with his parents when they died.

There are poems that express one’s feelings after a cancer diagnosis. There are poems about the current war in Ukraine and wars in the past.

This collection of heart-felt poems will pull at your heartstrings. Some bring a smile, while others bring a tear to your eye. However, the poet almost always brings you to a positive state of mind in the final lines of each. I regretted coming to the end of the book. I wanted more poems, but at least for the time being I’ll have to be satisfied with re-reading a few of the poems each day until Mr. Griffin graces us with additional verses from his heart.

Threshold is Ray Griffin’s third book of poetry. His second book, Winsome Morning Breeze, was published in 2020. Both books are available on Amazon or look for them or request them at your favorite bookstore. Here’s the Amazon link to Threshold: Poems by Ray Griffin: https://www.amazon.com/THRESHOLD-RAY-GRIFFIN/dp/B0BLQYMR11/ .


Writing Vivid Dialogue: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors, by Rayne Hall

Writing Vivid Dialogue, by Rayne Hall

I tend to have more trouble writing narrative than writing dialogue. At least that’s what I think. I found this book helpful, though.

One issue briefly addressed in this book was that of authenticity versus political correctness. When writing dialogue for someone in the 18th or 19th and even in the 20th century, some characters, to be authentic to their time and place, would use words that are offensive to our 21st century ears. This most often comes into play in racist remarks, but it is also an issue when writing the words of a character who is misogynistic. Should the writer shy away from such words because they are not politically correct today? That is something each writer has to decide for herself or himself.


The Battle of Cowan’s Ford: General Davidson’s Stand on the Catawba River and its place in North Carolina History, by O.C. Stonestreet IV

The Battle of Cowan’s Ford, by O.C. Stonestreet IV

This little book about our regional history in the southern piedmont of North Carolina made me aware of some details about the Battle of Cowan’s Ford in the American Revolutionary War. I recommend it to anyone interested in the American Revolution or North Carolina history.

In case you didn’t know, General William Davidson was killed in the battle. The nearby town of Davidson and Davidson College are named for him.

When Duke Power Company created Lake Norman in 196_, the site of the battle was covered by the lake. As a tip of the hat to history, I suppose, Duke’s hydroelectric dam near the site of the ford and the battle was named Cowan’s Ford Dam. That’s little consolation to history buffs.


How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career, by James Scott Bell

How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career, by James Scott Bell

This book was a tremendous help to me in my writing career status. Until reading it, I planned to publish a book of four or five short stories in 2023. It was going to be my way of introducing you to my fiction writing.

A few months ago, I started reading advice for novice fiction writers that/which said I needed to give away my writing in order to attract readers. No one wants to be told to give away things they’ve worked hard to create. I’m no exception. However, in reading James Scott Bell’s book, I finally had an epiphany!

I started thinking in terms of making my historical short stories available free of charge as e-books. The more I researched my options and the length of the stories I’ve written, a new plan materialized. My current plan is to self-publish Slip Sliding Away as an historical novelette in February.

Mr. Bell’s book prompted me to look into Kindle Direct Publishing’s “Select” program. That program will give me the opportunity to publish Slip Sliding Away on Amazon for 90 days. The novelette will be free for five of those days and probably for 99 cents the other 85 days.

I will alert you to that publication and it’s five free days in a blog post in February, so stay turned!


Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life, by Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein

Joy at Work, by Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein

You’re probably familiar with Marie Kondo’s bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life, is the third book in her “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” series.

Much of this book didn’t apply to my situation since I work at home and I’m basically my own boss. The main thing I took away from the book was how to go about tidying up my emails and my electronic and paper documents.

It remains to be seen if I’ll follow through and put those recommendations into practice. I need to give it a try.


#OnThisDay: As a result of the oil crisis that started in 1973, the US Congress enacted the 1974 Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act. The act imposed a 55 mile-per-hour speed limit nationwide in an effort to decrease gasoline usage. It was not well received.


Since my last blog post

I’ve formatted more than 62,000 words for Harrisburg, Did You Know?  Cabarrus History, Book 2. It’s on schedule for self-publication on Amazon later this month. Watch for an announcement.

Harrisburg, Did You Know?  Cabarrus History, Book 1 can be purchased in Harrisburg at Gift Innovations (4555 NC Hwy. 49) or Second Look Books (4519 School House Commons.) If those locations aren’t convenient for you, look for the paperback and the e-book on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Harrisburg-Did-You-Know-Cabarrus/dp/1888858044/

While you’re at Gift Innovations, look for my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. (It’s also available in paperback and e-book from Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Ridge-Mountains-Carolina-Postcard-History-ebook/dp/B00NB5FJIO/.)

My website is being redesigned. Watch for an announcement about it soon.

I’ve designed the cover for my historical e-novelette, Slip Sliding Away, and will decide soon if I should also publish it in paperback.


Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I hope to read at least one novel this month.

Make time for family, friends, and a hobby.

Remember the freezing but very brave people of Ukraine.

Janet

#OnThisDay: 8 Valley Forge facts that will actually surprise you on this 245th anniversary

The encampment of the Continental Army at Valley Forge began 245 years ago today. We’re all familiar with the image of George Washington leading his troops across the frigid Delaware River. We know that it was a bitterly cold winter, but there are some interesting facts I hope to surprise you with today.

            1,700 to 2,000 soldiers died of disease at the six-month encampment.

            Food for the troops was scarce. The Oneida delegation, allies of the Patriots, arrived in May 1778 with white corn. Polly Cooper of the delegation instructed them on how to safely prepare the corn for consumption and stayed after most of her fellow Oneidans had left. She received a shawl from Martha Washington in thanks for her assistance.

            In December it went down to 6 degrees F., 12 degrees F. in January, 12 degrees F. in February, and 8 degrees F. in March.

            It was the last time United States soldiers served in a racially-integrated army until the Korean War in the 1950s.

            The volunteer drill master was Baron von Steubon, a Prussian military commander. The Prussian military drills and tactics he taught the troops were used by the United States military for the next 30 years.

            It is thought that 250 to 400 women were in the encampment, serving as cooks, nurses, laundresses, and menders of clothing.

            Mary Ludwig Hayes, a.k.a., Molly Pitcher, was at Valley Forge with her husband. She is remembered for jumping into service to help load a cannon at the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse after her husband was wounded.

            Hannah Till was an enslaved cook for George Washington at Valley Forge. She purchased her freedom a few years later and became a salaried cook.

            We hear a lot about our “forefathers” but not enough about our “foremothers!”


Since my last blog post

Look who’s reading my book! He must have found it on Amazon or in Harrisburg, NC at Second Look Books or Gift Innovations! It’s in short supply in Harrisburg until I get my next shipment. If you prefer an e-book, remember it’s available for e-book and in paperback from Amazon.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas or whatever holidays you are celebrating.

I hope you enjoy time with family and friends.

Remember the suffering people of Ukraine.

I’ll see you again here at my blog on December 26 – the last Monday in 2022!

Janet

What I Tried to Read in November and How to Buy My Book

On the first Monday of the month I usually blog about the books I read the previous month. There was a good reason that didn’t work out this month. My local history book, Harrisburg, Did You Know?  Cabarrus History, Book 1, had been published and I couldn’t wait to announce it on my blog last week.

It was a good month for that to happen because I didn’t have any earth-shattering news about the books I read in November. Working toward getting several books published in the coming days and months left me little time to read.

Most of my reading time was spent on books about the craft of writing and history books I needed for research. Those aren’t necessarily the type books my blog readers want to know about.

Those books included Sketches of Virginia, by Henry Foote and Artisans of the North Carolina Backcountry, by Johanna Miller Lewis. The “Artisans” book was especially helpful as I worked on my novel.              

I tried to read some fiction. It just didn’t work out well – partly because of my time constraints and partly because the books I chose didn’t grab my attention enough for me to make time for them.

I started reading Less is Lost, by Andrew Sean Greer. I really enjoyed his earlier book, Less. It was humorous. Less is Lost is probably humorous, too. I only got to page 12 in the large print edition. I’ll check it out again later.

I started reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce. It is an odd story about a man who sets out one morning to walk to the mailbox. He’s worried about a former co-worker who has cancer and lives far away. Instead of stopping at the mailbox to mail a letter to her, he just keeps walking. I got to page 66 in the large print edition. He was still walking. I didn’t have time to read the next 381 pages to see if he made it to his destination.

I started listening to Mad Honey, by Jodi Picoult. After falling asleep too many times to count and having to re-listen to the first several discs, when I got to disc number four I seriously questioned why I was trying so hard. I don’t know if it was me or the book. It just didn’t work out. I’ve enjoyed other Jodi Picoult books I’ve read, but this one just didn’t work for me.


Until my next blog post

Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1 is available on Amazon in many countries. Here’s the link to it in the United States: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1888858044/ for e-book; https://www.amazon.com/dp/1888858044/ for paperback. (Thank you, Rebecca Cunningham for cluing me in that there’s a way to shorten those outrageously long URLs Amazon gives a book.! This looks much better. I hope the links work!)

In case you live in the Harrisburg area and prefer to purchase Harrisburg, Did You Know?  Cabarrus History, Book 1 locally instead of ordering it online, it is now available in limited numbers in Harrisburg at Second Look Books at 4519 School House Commons and at Gift Innovations at 4555 NC Hwy. 49. I’m pleased to announce that those local small businesses will have my book!

I hope you have a good book to read. If it happens to be Harrisburg, Did You Know?  Cabarrus History, Book 1, then all the better!

Remember the brave people of Ukraine.

Janet