Category Archives: Literature

SO YOU THINK WE HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH?

A few weeks ago I sought the web page for the NY Public Library, checking to see about opening hours for this magnificent building. What greeted me was a display of various books that had been banned or censored over the years, most of which were well known to me as an avid reader. What I didn’t know was that the last week in September is Banned Books Week, “Celebrating the Freedom to Read.” I wondered whether the freedom to read coexists with the freedom to write? Continue reading

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TWO VIEWS ON THE OREGON TRAIL

When I was in school, Francis Parkman’s The Oregon Trail was on my reading list. At the age of thirteen, the formal writing and the lengthy, detailed descriptions of a time, scenery and people who did not in the least interest me, turned me towards another choice of book. So here I am, some fifty years later, with other interests, more tolerance, and certainly a more receptive mind.

Francis Parkman

Francis Parkman

Francis Parkman was born into an aristocratic Boston family, son of a well-connected and wealthy Unitarian minister. Plagued by illness most of his childhood, he was often sent into the countryside in an attempt to make him more robust. This, combined with his own enjoyment of James Fenimore Cooper’s novels, seems to have had a lasting effect on the young man whose walks in the woods always entailed carrying a rifle, just as his hero, Hawkeye, did. Continue reading

OF THE SHINING BIG-SEA-WATER

Munising Falls

Munising Falls

Two days ago, as Cristal and I made the long, tedious journey to Munising, situated in the Hiawatha National Forest, we sought ideas to amuse ourselves. Cristal decided on reading the epic poem, Hiawatha—a notion that soon lost favor when she saw the length of it, and realized it might prove as tedious as the journey. Instead, she looked up Wikipedia information on the background of the poem to settle our dispute: I said the poem was based on the Iroquois in New York, she said the poem was based on native Americans from the Lake Superior area. In a way, we both were correct.

Inspired by the native Americans he met on Boston Common, as well as stories told by an Indian agent and other narratives, Longfellow set out to tell the tale of Manabozho, an Ojibwe hero, whose history is usually set near The Pictured Rocks here on the lake. For whatever reason, Longfellow decided to change the name of his hero to Hiawatha, a name he believed a commonly accepted alternative to Manabozho. It wasn’t. It’s an Iroquois name of the Five Nations settled in NY and PA. Thus began a long history of misinformation resulting in numerous Hiawatha place-names and company names in the Lake Superior region, an area devoid of any Iroquois. You might say this gave Cristal and me a bit of a mini-haha (sorry, I couldn’t resist!).

We were due to go visit these famed Pictured Rocks

Cristal at Sandy Point, The Pictured Rocks in right hand background

Cristal at Sandy Point, The Pictured Rocks in right hand background

by boat, the first designated National Lakeshore in the U.S. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. On arrival at the ticket office, we were told that some boats were coming back as there was a three to five foot swell, yet we should go anyway as our boat might make it. Stalwart veterans of yesterday’s four minute cruise to Grand Island, we took our new tickets and walked away, pictures of the two road-trippers dying by drowning in our head. We returned to the desk and the woman reassured us it was safe and we would get a refund if the boat didn’t make it. Not only that, but Dramamine was sold at the souvenirs desk. Dairy Queen having been recently guzzled, we thought again of the five foot swell and returned once and for all for a refund.

So…no pictures of the Pictured Rocks. We took two walks to waterfalls and are watching the boats from our window.

Miner's Falls

Miner’s Falls

 

 

 

 

POSTERITY

839855_20247821While doing research for writing western historical novels I often read memoirs or autobiographies of the period.  Not only are they informative but they also set the tone and bring me back in time.  Yet they pose a query in my mind.  Continue reading

An Interview with Rhonda Penders, Editor-in-Chief of The Wild Rose Press

Back in 2011, I was searching around for a publisher that would take on my western historical romance, Loveland.  The name of The Wild Rose Press kept cropping up.  It held the title of Best Publisher of the Year from Preditors and Editors (http://www.preditorsandeditors.com/)2012 Best Publisher Icon and had a well-earned reputation for good communication with their authors and a high level of professionalism.  Today, Rhonda Penders is my Editor-in-Chief and I’m honored and delighted to have the opportunity to interview her here. Continue reading

HOOKS, FIRST LINES, AND STINKERS

Call me Ishmael.”1397608_60967692

No, not me personally, but hopefully if you’re a reader or writer, have been to school, have any education in American Lit. whatsoever, you may recognize that line.  And no, it’s not, as my daughter suggested, from the Bible.  How about:  “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”  Is that the romance writer’s motto?  Or one of the most famous lines in English literature? Continue reading

My Baby Has Arrived

Writing a book is like having a baby–the only real difference is that there is more struggle in the conception of a book.  And once the book is handed over to a publisher, a midwife willing to help you bring forth your cherished creation, there are months of editing as the baby moves towards taking its final shape.  There are months of waiting as other people do what they must to make sure the baby is healthy, months of trying to get on with your normal life, write the next great opus, and continue to wait while kindly friends and relatives politely ask—this time without patting your stomach—how you’re doing. What they really mean is, what’s taking so long?  And long it is:  the months pass; you make the preparations for the baby’s arrival.  In the case of the book, you blog like hell, get your name out in the social media, build a platform and wait some more. Continue reading

AWESOME? WELL, I’M NOT SO SURE ABOUT THAT.

The English language is wonderfully malleable.  It shifts and changes, casts off the unwanted or unused portions of its being while scooping up both new words Continue reading