Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Good Morning! Happy April 1st!

Today’s post is doing double-duty. It’s no April Fool’s. The first Wednesday of the month (today), I post in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. And on April 1st (today), we kick off the A to Z Blog Challenge with our ‘A’ post for the day.

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts a question for each month. We don’t have to write to that question prompt, but usually I do.

The question posed to us for this month is:

April 1 question – The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

Here’s a shout out to the awesome co-hosts for the April 1 posting of the IWSG  —  Diane Burton, JH Moncrieff, Anna @ Emaginette, Karen @ Reprobate Typewriter, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

I’m only going to briefly address the ‘How are things in your world?’ question. I’m home for at least two weeks, not working. It could be extended past April 7th. With this unexpected extra time at home, I should have turned into a writing fool, cranking out the words by the thousands. I haven’t. I have accomplished some writing, a very little bit – and a great deal of attacking the prolific weeds that are threatening to overtake the back yard. Fortunately, we’re both home and virus free. And so far, it hasn’t touched anyone I know or love.

The first two days I binged on Facebook. After hardly spending any time on there at all, suddenly I found myself on there almost all day long. Liking, commenting, posting, sharing. And then – I reached a point where it all seems the same. I’m trying to stay positive and optimistic throughout all this, but to do that I need to limit my time on social media.

So that’s all I’m saying about the virus at the moment. On to A to Z, with my first ‘A’ post for the day. During April I’m going to be sharing about writing historical fiction. Today we kick off the month with ‘American Eras’.

Thanks for stopping by today. I do hope all is well in your world and you also are tucked safely and securely at home and aren’t one that’s dealing with the horrific devastation of the lives it has touched.

American Eras

I had a legitimate question. After Sir Google directed me to one of the top go-to sites, Wikipedia, I think I’m more confused than before I started. But, I’ll ramble a bit here and share my confusion with Eras and timelines with you. Then, we’ll all be confused. Excepting the more academic historians here in the group that probably have a better handle on this subject than I do.

I’d seen a post on Facebook that brought this question to mind. It was a post by our featured author that week, Nancy Bilyeau. It was in conjunction with her recently released book, Dreamland, and a trip to Cooney Island she took to celebrate its release. On one of her posts, she mentioned the phrase ‘Gilded Age.’

Truthfully, I wasn’t quite sure when the Gilded Age was. I knew when some eras were – such as the Civil War era, or my own personal favorite time to read and write about, the Depression or Post-Depression era, but I was at a loss placing when the Gilded Age was.

This quest to find how when this period in time was landed me on Wikipedia’s ‘Gilded Age’ page. According to Wikipedia:

In United States history, the Gilded Age was an era that occurred during the late 19th century, from the 1870s to about 1900. The term for this period came into use in the 1920s and 1930s and was derived from writer Mark Twain’s and Charles Dudley Warner’s 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, which satirized an era of serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding. The early half of the Gilded Age roughly coincided with the mid-Victorian era in Britain and the Belle Époque in France. Its beginning, in the years after the American Civil War, overlaps the Reconstruction Era (which ended in 1877).[1] It was followed in the 1890s by the Progressive Era.

What confused me was that looking at the years here, I’d tended to think of that period of time as the Victorian Era. Further down the page, there was a list of Periods in United States history. The Gilded Age was there, but no Victorian Era. Looking further, it’s because the Victorian Era and Edwardian period are listed as times in UK history – not American history.

I suppose the reason I was confused dates back to the degree I got so many (many) years ago. No, it wasn’t literature or English, but Interior Design. I knew I’d spent a good many hours studying and designing rooms and elements that were from the Victorian period. So, how could there not be a Victorian-era in American periods? Back to Wikipedia I went, but this time with the focus of Interior Design. There it was. I wasn’t remembering wrong.

There was not one dominant style of furniture in the Victorian period. Designers rather used and modified many styles taken from various time periods in history like Gothic, Tudor, Elizabethan, English Rococo, Neoclassical and others. The Gothic and Rococo revival style were the most common styles to be seen in furniture during this time in history.

Now I’m sidetracked a little, as I think back on all those classes I took so many years ago. I’m wondering if perhaps all those semesters of History of Architecture and History of Interiors influenced my love of historical fiction. Or, is a love of the past going to show itself in whatever facet of life we’re in at that moment?

Regardless of what drew me to historical fiction, here is a list of the eras, or periods, that are listed on the Gilded Age page. I don’t know as I agree with all of them. I still think that even though the Victorian Era is listed as a UK historical time period, I think the influence was felt here in America just the same. But, Wikipedia didn’t ask my opinion. And, some of the others that are listed – the Jacksonian Era? Really? It appears that I have a lot more studying to do.

Periods in United States history:

Colonial period                       1607-1765
American Revolution              1765-1783
Confederation Period              1783-1788
Federalist Era                          1788-1801
Jeffersonian Era                      1801-1817
Era of Good Feelings`             1817-1825
Jacksonian Era                        1825-1849
Civil War Era                          1850-1865
Reconstruction Era                 1865-1877
Gilded Age                             1877-1895
Progressive Era                       1896-1916
World War I                           1917-1919
Roaring Twenties                    1920-1929
Great Depression Era              1929-1941
World War II                          1941-1945
Post-War Era                          1945-1964
Civil Rights Era                      1965-1980
Reagan Era                              1981-

Thanks for stopping by. Come back tomorrow when we’re going to talk about – Building a Log Cabin!

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dear arlie_3 friends

Melissa Face

IMG_8286 Cookies by Shirley Dietz

By Melissa Face

While I am still about a month away from the retail release day of my essay collection on parenting, I Love You More Than Coffee, I have had copies in hand since December. And because I couldn’t wait to get my feet wet (and take advantage of Valentine’s Day shopping opportunities), I have been holding pre-launch events since early February. So far I have been having a blast and learning more about the process than I ever imagined. For anyone who is preparing for a book launch or who is already hosting readings and signings, here are a few things that have worked well for me:

1. Celebrate It! – I treated my first couple of events with the same celebratory attitude as I do my children’s birthday parties. They are pretty similar, after all. From its conception, my book has been…

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IWSG

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t have to write in response to the question posed. Usually I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post. However, this month, I’m taking a break from my norm to do a little shameless self-promotion for a historical fiction short story contest I’m holding.

The March 4 question (which I’m not answering this month)- Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

The awesome co-hosts for the March 4 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

 

Historical Fiction Short Story Contest

Part of being a writer involves marketing and self-promotion. That’s not always a good mix for the ‘Insecure’ part that qualifies me to be part of this lovely group! But, no matter where a person is on the insecure spectrum, it’s always good to grow and move outside of one’s comfort zone.

So, here I go – breaking with my tradition of answering the monthly question posed by the fearless leaders at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

Because…well, writers! There’s lots of writers here and I’d like to reach a few more to let them know about a short story contest coming up.

It’s historical fiction. So, no sci-fi, romance, thriller, or terror. Sorry! But if you write historical fiction and feel like taking a chance to win a $50 gift certificate – keep reading.

I have a weekly newsletter that celebrates historical fiction – Pages of the Past. We also have a Facebook group. We’re having a short story contest every quarter. This is our second contest.

TO ENTER:

Write a 400-600 word story to one of the three pictures below.

Email your entry to texastrishafaye@yahoo.com with ‘CONTEST ENTRY – (title of your story)’ in the subject line.

Entries are due by midnight, Friday, March 20th.

The stories will be printed in the April 3rd newsletter. A PDF will be compiled with all the stories and posted on Facebook, allowing others a chance to read the stories and send in their votes. The contest will run until April 12th at midnight. The winner will be announced in the April17th newsletter.

The winner receives a $50 gift card.

If you’d like to read the stories that were submitted in our first contest, click here.

If you like to read or write historical fiction, you can sign up here for Pages of the Past, delivered to your inbox every Friday.

We now return you to your regularly programmed station and we’ll be back the first Wednesday in April – answering the monthly question.

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A Writer of History

When people learn that I’m an author, they often ask about my writing process, the characters I create, and how I come up with ideas for stories.Today, author Mary Sheeran talks about creating characters for her novels.Interesting stuff! When she isn’t writing, Mary is singing or performing in some way and has played leads in Brigadoon, Stop the World, and Cabaret.

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Keeping Historical Figures Real – by Mary Sheeran

Novels deal with real people. Just because the people are creations of our imagination does not make them unreal. If you’re like me, you live with your characters, and they live with you. And I try to remember: every character in my novel is mine, made from my imagination and my knowledge.

In historical novels, however, some of those people may have walked the earth. Readers may even know their names and have opinions about…

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IWSG

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month’s question is:

Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

The awesome co-hosts for the The awesome co-hosts for the February 5 posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Jennifer Hawes, Cathrina Constantine, and Tyrean Martinson!

dear arlie_3 friends

Snapshots from the Past

I’m laughing as I re-read this month’s question, posted to us from the awesome Insecure Writer’s Support Group. You’re asking me – the self-proclaimed Queen of the Antique Stores? The one who can’t always afford to buy the coveted treasures she sees displayed on the shelves and counters?

Ah, but never feat…I can afford to buy photographs and postcards, and thus have filled up my own coffers with these wondrous paper delights. Some of these photographs, and many of the postcards, have been making their way into my Vintage Daze Short Stories. Although many tales are still in the ‘In Progress’ status, and some in the done–but-editing-phase, one short story is completed and published.

Dear Arlie began with some postcards I inherited from Pauline, an elderly woman that I grew up next door to. The postcards she sent to a friend from 1907-1911 kicked off the story, but then I added vintage photographs from her companion, Bea’s, scrapbook to embellish Dear Arlie.

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Another postcard that I discovered in an antique store on one of my jaunts inspired the beginning of a story, The Grotto. The Grotto is a magnificent creation in Iowa that is still in existence.  On this story, I had many snippets of Iowa history that I wanted to include, but they were from a wide range of time. Wanting to stay within a short story length and not have a full saga, on this story I have a current day woman visiting her grandmother that suffers from dementia. This way the different periods of time come out in varying memories through their visits. This story is only about halfway completed. It got pushed aside last year so I could start working on some Christmas short stories and I haven’t returned to it yet.

I have a feeling that many authors reading this will be nodding their heads in agreement about the ‘never returned to it yet’ phrase.

Now, thanks to this delightful prompt from my IWSG friends, I feel inspired to blow the dust off of the sitting stories and finish a few of them up in this brand new year and brand new decade. Thanks IWSG!

 

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BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Sweta S Vikram_BrevityBy Sweta Vikram

Remember the joy and pain of writing your novel or memoir or poetry book or short story collection or set of essays? Remember the pride, the emotional exhaustion, the enthrallment, and the physical pain of bringing your book in this world? The rush, the celebrations, the book events, the sleepless nights, the book tour, burning the midnight oil, the reviews, the media bytes, the interviews, the social media attention and all of that? But a few weeks or months later, everything begins to grow quiet. Initially, there might be gratitude for the breather but slowly the realization hits: the big day is over and there is an emptiness that envelops the author. Not everyone has a book come out every year, so how do you channel the creative energy in that moment of winding down?

My novel, Louisiana Catch was published by Modern History Press in April…

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A Visit with Cari Resnick

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Welcome to Writers Zen, Cari! Today, we’d like to chat with you a little bit about your new book of poetry and reflections, The Lord is Good, and talk to you about your writing journey. This is not your first publication, you’ve been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, several anthologies, and have co-authored a book. What was your first published piece, and how did it change your world?

My first published piece of work ever was actually when I was in elementary school, sometime between 4th and 6th grade. A writer came to our class and talked to us about poetry. I don’t remember all the little details but I do remember writing a very short poem about a strawberry describing human emotions. The writer was surprised with my finished poem and ended up submitting it to one of those huge poetry anthologies and I was published in it. I wish I still had that book. I had loved writing short stories before that, but that experience with the visiting writer and then getting published really sparked my love for poetry and grew my passion for writing even more.

The Lord is Good consists of poems about your faith, and your works in the anthologies are poems, but the book you co-authored, Loving You, A Journey Through Forever, is written in journal entry form. Which is your favorite writing style, and why?

My favorite form of writing is poetry. I love all writing and I definitely dabble in a bit of everything. I can get lost in the world of a story, but poetry has just always come easy to me and has flowed pretty naturally.

How was co-authoring a book different from writing poems?

Co-authoring Loving You, A Journey Through Forever with my sister was a big labor of love on both of our parts and I love that we did it together. Since it was in journal entry form and we each had a character we were responsible for, we depended on one another, she couldn’t write her entry until I finished mine and vice versa.  Writing my poems is totally different.  When inspiration strikes I can get out my journal and pen and write until I can’t write anymore and I’m only accountable to myself for what I get done, which is a blessing and a curse.

As with other authors, writing is not your whole life. You’re the wife of a fireman, and the mother of three young boys – 23 months apart! I remember when I had two young boys, four years apart, and I went back to college and tried to fit in classes and homework around my mothering and how difficult that was. How do you fit writing and poetry into your life while keeping a handle on your sanity?

How do I fit writing into my life while keeping a handle on my sanity? Good question. First off I am not at all sane.  My house is a circus and I’m not sure if I’m the ringmaster or one of the monkeys most days. I have really struggled with finding the time to write or even making the time to write. When my kids were little I thought I would do it during nap time. As my kids got older I thought I would do it while they are at school. And the truth is that at this point, I don’t have a routine or schedule unless I am doing a project that has a deadline. As a writer I have to write when the ideas come to me, which can be so inconvenient. I wish I were more creative during the day, but typically I am most creative in the evening after my people are in bed. Some weeks see more creativity than others. Sometimes I have dry spells for months at a time when all I write are text messages. My mind and my soul craves writing though, and I do have so many thoughts and ideas that need to be let out, often times the two big things holding me back are the laundry and the dishes!

Your poetry in The Lord is Good is an expression of your faith and your love for God. Did your poetry come out of wanting to express your thoughts of living a faith-based life, or were you a poet first and naturally ended up writing about the things in life you were passionate about? Or is that like asking what came first, the chicken or the egg?

I didn’t grow up with any kind of faith in anything. My parents were both non practicing Jews. I first became curious about God in high school after attending my sisters church, but it wasn’t until our oldest was born in 2007 that it struck me hard that I wanted to give my kids more. So my husband and I found a local church that we liked and started attending regularly and it was there that I really learned who God is and His great love for me.  So living a life of faith has inspired my poetry, but my love of poetry came first.

Thank you for joining us today, Cari, and sharing pieces of your life and your writing journey with us. We excited to see you grow – in your love for God, in your role as a wife and mother, and as a writer. Kudos to you for weaving all these aspect together into a life that you’re enjoying living. We wish you all the best in this New Year and new decade!

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Here is one of Cari’s poems from The Lord is Good.

You can find her book on Amazon.

Created For More

By Cari Resnick

You were not created for a 9-5

Or to be a million-dollar woman or man.

Your purpose isn’t in your job,

You are so much more than that.

You were created for God’s love,

To carry out a purpose in His plan.

He has loved you every second since the

Moment you were born.

He didn’t make you to help Him you see,

He made you because He loves.

On days when you’re feeling empty and lost,

Remember, you were created for more.

You were created with gifts and talents,

To be God’s hands and feet on this earth.

You were created to worship,

Created to love,

Created to be loved by God.

So let the God of the universe love you.

Let the creator of the universe use you.

You were created for more.

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